As my husband was going to bed and I was playing the Hamilton soundtrack for the hundredth time in the past week, he said, “You have an obsessive personality, don’t you?” I immediately said, “Yes, of course.” It’s absolutely true; I find something I like, and I latch onto it. It’s why I have watched Gilmore Girls through at least ten times. It’s why I can’t stop playing Candy Crush on my phone even though I know it’s a complete waste of time (and man, I get a ridiculous amount of satisfaction out of beating a “hard” level). It’s why I will play an album over and over for weeks on end when I first fall in love with it. It’s why I have to stay up late to finish a good book (and it’s why the few times I got in trouble in school were because I was reading a book when I should have been doing schoolwork). It’s why I will sometimes play events over and over in my head if they were especially good or especially horrible (If the experience was a good one I don’t want to let it go. If it was a bad one, I try to figure out what I could have done or said differently to change the outcome).

My obsessive nature is also more than likely part of the reason why I have such a messed up relationship with food. If I get the idea of a certain food/meal into my head, I have a hard time letting go of it until I eat it. And then I eat it like it’s the last time I’ll ever eat again, eating more than I need or even want. The end result of this is not satisfaction, however; I rarely end up being glad that I indulged in my desire for that cake or cookie or pasta dish. Instead, I end up feeling remorseful that I didn’t exercise better self-control. It’s not that I think eating a cookie is sinful in and of itself. But I know that for me, far too often, I don’t just eat one cookie. Eating the cookie becomes less about enjoying it and more about trying to fill some need that I often can’t even identify or adequately express in words.

What’s a girl with an obsessive personality to do? I could just shrug it off and say it’s just how I am and not think anything else about it. After all, I don’t think it’s crazy to listen to the same CD dozens of times or watch the same TV series over and over. But it may not always be the best, or most productive choice, and sometimes obsession only leads to sin. Is obsession a healthy or helpful thing? Ultimately, no. What I’m missing is balance. I need to figure out how to appreciate and enjoy food (and other things) without letting it control me. I need to figure out how to replace my bad habits with good ones.

These days I feel like I have more problems than solutions, but I am grateful for the awareness and am praying that God will grant me wisdom. And I have a feeling that if I used even half the time I spend thinking about food to read and memorize Scripture, I’d be in a much better place. I guess I better get to it…

Matthew 6:19-21: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Colossians 3:2: “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”


Here Again

Here’s a tip for all of my readers: if you’re feeling dissatisfied with your body, don’t go clothes shopping. It will only make it worse. I knew this, and yet I still decided to try on clothes tonight at Kohl’s. I tried on at least 12 things and hated all but 2 of them. This in itself is nothing new, as finding clothes that I like and that are flattering has always been hard for me, but it was all the more discouraging tonight because I realized that I’m on the borderline between regular clothing and plus sizes. (And can we just take a moment and admit that the way clothes are labeled is stupid? All the terms are obnoxious.)

I can’t believe I am here again: at a weight that I thought I would never see again, about to need a size I thought I would never need to wear again. During my high school and college and grad school years, I spent a lot of time in the plus-sized section of stores, and I hated it. I never wanted to shop with friends because I was almost always the biggest one and knew I’d have to go to a different section of the store or wouldn’t even be able to find any clothes in my size. If I did end up on an outing with friends, I would make up some excuse as to why I wasn’t trying on anything (“I don’t really need anything.” or “I’m saving up for something.” or “I’m just gonna go look at the purses.”). And then after my friends had bought their cute clothes and I was back at home, I’d go in my room and cry and probably eat too much food and wonder what was wrong with me.

What’s wrong with me, of course, is that I’m a glutton. I love food to excess. I obsess about it, and it’s embarrassing to think of how much of my day is spent dwelling on food. Even when I was actively losing weight, thoughts of food were never far from my mind. If I wasn’t eating, I was planning what I was going to eat and trying to figure out if a Twix bar would fit into my calories for the day (I’m not even kidding). Even when I lost 90 pounds, I didn’t defeat gluttony. Sure, sometimes it was dormant for a while, but it always reared its head again. I told myself that I had figured out this food business for good, but I was lying to myself, and that became all too clear after I became pregnant and gave myself permission to ease up on my restrictions because after all, I was “eating for two” (never mind the fact that Charlotte weighed less than 7 pounds at full term). After I had Charlotte, I fought hard to shed the 40+ pounds I had gained, and while it took me a year and a half, I did it, getting back to pre-pregnancy weight in October 2012. However, I wasn’t as disciplined as I had been the first time around, and I let a lot of things slide. It wasn’t uncommon for me to find myself at the end of a bag of chips, not aware that I had eaten half of it. I ate desserts with abandon and then hoped my running would counteract the extra calories. And yet in spite of my struggle, the scale moved in the right direction, so I told myself I was fine and that an occasional slip was not a big deal when I was clearly on the right path.

Then I got sick, sicker than I have ever been in my entire life, and because for the first time in my life food was repulsive to me due to the effects of my disease, I dropped down to a weight I had not seen in my entire adult life. I was elated but also terrified. I didn’t know how to process my smaller size, especially in light of the fact that it was not earned but instead was a reminder of how broken and diseased my body was. I hoped that I could maintain my lower weight after I felt better, but months of prednisone wreaked havoc on my body in ways that ulcerative colitis didn’t, and I watched the number on the scale slowly creep up. On May 1, 2013, I wrote a post with a weigh in and talked about how discouraged I was at the weight I had gained. At the time, it seemed horrible, but I weighed  175 pounds and was upset that over the course of a year I had gained one pound. ONE POUND. Given the fact that at my highest I weighed 261 pounds, 175 is still a great number! I would LOVE to be 175 pounds today! I wish I could go back to my self of 3 years ago and slap her on the head and tell her to lighten up on herself, but I can’t. It’s not as though being hard on myself helped at all. If anything, my feelings of defeat only made me more prone to bingeing and unhealthy habits, and so it’s no wonder that by July 2014, I was over 200 pounds again. It’s there I’ve stayed ever since, with the exception of a few months last year when I briefly dipped down into the 190s. Having hip surgery twice and being immobile for weeks only made matters worse, and so that’s how I found myself in the Kohl’s dressing room wishing I could just disappear instead of face this again.

This isn’t a post about how I have a new plan to lose this weight once and for all. I don’t. I’ve written that post before, and it got me nowhere, and I’m heavier now than I was when I last wrote about my weight. This is a post about how ultimately, the main problem isn’t with the size of my pants or the number on the scale, it’s with my heart. My heart is sinful, and I have not fought the sin of gluttony as I need to. If I’m honest, I don’t even know where to begin, but I do know that it’s wasted energy to try to change the past. So for now I’m just going to wake up tomorrow and pray that the Lord would guide my steps and strengthen me and help me to resist temptation, and I will do my part by not stuffing my face full of cookies or chips or all the other junk I love to eat when I feel despondent. I will soak up the truths of Scripture, knowing that I am loved completely by the God of the universe. I will read resources like this one and this one and plead for wisdom. And then I’ll do the same thing the next day, and the day after that. I don’t know if the number on the scale will go down, but I hope and pray that holiness will win out over gluttony. That’s the battle I really need to win.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Psalm 34:8

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” I Corinthians 10:13

The Seemingly-Endless Recovery

This Monday marked 4 weeks since my second hip surgery. I would love to be able to write something nice and inspirational about my recovery, but the truth is, I’m just over all of it. I’m tired of not sleeping well because of discomfort. I’m tired of using crutches and getting stares from strangers. I’m tired of not being able to carry things. I’m tired of hurting. I’m tired of physical therapy, and I only started that last week! It feels like I’ve been going through this for a year, not just 4 weeks. I wish I could wake up tomorrow and have all of this behind me, but the reality is, healing takes work. Healing takes time. So I have to keep trying and keep waiting and pray for patience that feels so elusive.

Even as I write this I feel a check in my spirit because I know I’m being ungrateful. I should be grateful that my pain has a solution and hopefully an end date. I should be grateful that I have a wonderful support system in place to help me. I should be grateful that I have insurance that allows me to have good care. And I am truly grateful for those things, but I have let all the things that I’m not grateful for crowd out all of the good.

In these moments I keep coming back to my word for last year, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

The Lord wants me to thank Him for ALL things, not just the things I like. Though this seems like an impossible task, if I truly believe that He is sovereign and that all of my life is filtered through His hands, then I can give thanks for all things because He will work them for my good. That means that even stupid crutches are ultimately for my good, as much as I would like to think otherwise. So I will give my grumblings to the Lord and thank Him for making beauty out of a mess.

FAI Surgery #2: First Impressions

I’m now one week post-op for arthroscopic surgery on my left hip, so it’s past time for an update! Here’s a (not-so-brief) recap of how the surgery itself went. I’ll write another post soon about how the recovery is going so far.

Just like with the first surgery, I had to be at Vanderbilt at 5:30 a.m. on Monday. We stayed at a hotel in Nashville on Sunday night and arrived at the hospital right on time. Unlike last time, there were also a lot of other people checking in for surgeries/procedures, and it took a lot longer to get checked in. Once I got back to the pre-op area, I got into the hospital gown (which was purple-yay!). The nurse came to get my IV started, which unfortunately was a terrible experience and resulted in being stuck once in each hand and and gave me an awesome bruise for a souvenir.  After that, I met the anesthesiologist and his assistant and answered the same pre-op questions several times for several different people. Dr. P. also came by, along with one of his assistants. I jokingly told Dr. P. that it was very important that I have scars symmetrical to my first ones, and he said he would do his best (Spoiler alert: they’re not symmetrical. Such a bummer, since I’m so wont to show off my upper thighs!). Stephen got to wait with me until they took me to surgery, which ended up being around 8:00 a.m. After I got to the operating room, they had me move onto the operating table and then I got the spinal injection. I don’t remember much after that besides the anesthesiologist placing the mask over my face and instructing me to breathe deeply. (I also remember talking with a nurse about her Fitbit and the fact that mine was going to spend some lonely time in a drawer for several weeks.) Last time I remember my legs going numb and watching them put the booties on my feet, but I think this time I was out before any of that happened.

Some time later, I woke up in recovery and was in pain and also found it hard to talk. My throat was really sore this time (and ended up being sore for about 3 days after surgery), and the nurse gave me some ice chips. My experience in the recovery room was not as great as it was last time. The nurse I had the first time was very compassionate and attentive, and I felt well cared for. This time, I felt like they were trying to rush me out of there (which they probably were since the place was so busy, but that shouldn’t be obvious to the patient). My nurse wasn’t mean, but she didn’t have quite the same reassuring bedside manner as the previous nurse. She removed my IV fairly quickly, and then I had some strong nausea and vomited and they couldn’t give me any anti-nausea medicine through the IV since she’d already taken it out. They ended up bringing me a pill to swallow instead. She only asked me how my pain was one time, and I remember being asked about my pain level several times last time. My suspicion that they were rushing me out was confirmed when we were able to leave the hospital by 1:30, whereas last time it was sometime after 3. My experience in recovery wasn’t bad, but it was a little disappointing given the stellar treatment I received the first time.

I also didn’t get to talk to Dr. P. after the surgery like I did last time, and even though the nurse paged him, he ended up being tied up with another surgery and unable to come. Stephen did talk to him after the surgery, and what he told me came as a surprise to me: when the doctor looked at my left hip, he discovered that the labrum on that side was not torn. He did shave down the bone on my femur to correct the impingement,  but no labral repair was necessary. I go to see him for a follow-up this Friday and am supposed to bring along the pictures he took during the surgery so he can explain everything to me.

The reason I was surprised that the labrum was not torn is because my left hip started bothering me long before my right hip. The only reason I decided to have surgery on my right hip first is because at the time it was hurting more than the left hip, but the whole time I worried that I had made the wrong decision and that delaying surgery on the left hip would only make things worse. Fortunately, that turned out not to be the case (as is the case with so many things I worry about–life lesson there, friends!), and I’m very thankful that the left hip ended up being in better shape than the right hip. Dr. P. told Stephen that my recovery should be pretty similar to last time because he still had to shave down the bone, but I’m secretly hoping that proves to be untrue and that I will bounce back more quickly this time around.

It’s still hard to believe that I’ve now had not one but two hip surgeries at age 34, but I’m glad to have both of them behind me. I’m praying that by this time next year all that will be left to remind me of this experience are the asymmetrical scars on my hips and that I will be running again and free from pain.