Well, for what it’s worth the surgery is done. After a 3 day puke fest and an additional 3 days of gut wrenching pain, I am now at home and healing and feeling surprisingly good. I’m off to a respectable start with 18 pounds gone already. I’m titrating down from the Depakote after showing my psychiatrist my latest liver blood work. (it was almost 3 times high normal). The good news about this is that I know the Depakote would have slowed my progress with the weight loss. The bad news is that I’m going back to 2 out of 3 of my past medications; Lamictal and Abilify. Abilify also causes weight gain but it shouldn’t be as bad as the Depakote and hopefully the surgery will override these effects. It also has a bit of a tranquilizing effect that always made me feel a little underwater. Add to that I know *something* was eating at my stomach before but I never could prove a link to the drugs. Since I’ve pretty much been through the entire list of possible medications in the past 10 years I’m going to have to pick from the lesser of all evils.
So, it seems I’ll still be doing the mind/body balance dance. I guess I always will be. Neither will ever be perfect and that’s ok, I just want to be the healthiest I can be. I’m a little surprised how hungry I still get knowing how small my stomach is right now (4-6 ounces). One of the supposed advantages to this surgery is that they remove the part of your stomach that generates some hunger hormones so I guess I was expecting not to struggle with that feeling. I guess it could be mental, or my hormones rebalancing themselves, but I hope it levels out soon. I have to be super careful to measure out the little bits of food I can eat or I know I could easily consume far beyond my capacity, making myself sick and stretching out my new stomach. I will ask about this at my followup appointment next week.
In the meantime I’m off of work until at least next Thursday. Other than the growing boredom and the underlying guilt about not being at work, I think the downtime is good for me. The last year and especially the last 4 months have been a pretty intense and hectic experience. I’m seeing this 3 weeks as my hitting of the reset button mentally and physically. And watch out, Spring, I plan to emerge from my cocoon reinvented and renewed and ready to take on the world.
So, there are only 2 things that I’ve always struggled with, my mind and my body. Weight has always been a struggle to keep in check, for both mental and physical reasons. When I was finally correctly diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder 1 (rapid cycling) back in 2005 I started taking all sorts of drugs. My brain began to slowly stabilize but my body grew. Since I was taking a complex cocktail it was hard to pinpoint the source of the accelerated weight gain. That plus the unhealthy 100% travel lifestyle I was living at the time made it even harder to figure out. Even though I stabilized mentally, I was never happy with the drugs I was on. I always felt foggy and underwater and I knew they were contributing at some level to the weight. Years later they also started to eat through my stomach so I decided a medical overhaul was due. I took a bit of a sabbatical from the drugs, let my insides heal, and moved on to a new job, a new city, and a new psychiatrist. She was convinced that Depakote was *the* drug for me….the best for rapid cycling. When I began taking it I felt great, as if my brain was working properly for the first time ever. I was no longer under water or foggy. The thing was, the weight gain was insane. When I finally bothered to look it up (I know, I should have done that first) I realized that of all these drugs, Depakote was the most notorious of them all. Most of the bloggers I have read have tried and abandoned it for that reason.
I had a hard, unfair decision to make. Do I choose a healthy mind or a healthy body? So for the past year I chose my mind. It’s been a great year professionally but my body reached that tipping point, more like a domino effect, where I was in serious danger. My liver blood work was dangerously bad which can ironically be caused by either or both obesity and Depakote. I won’t list the trail of ailments that have plagued me the last year but let’s just say when I flipped the coin on mind vs body I may have made the wrong call. I have to do something fast. So, I’m having surgery next month…a sleeve gastrectomy (for weight loss) ,gall bladder removal (already have a huge stone and the majority of the people who have the sleeve end up losing the gall bladder anyway later on). They will also biopsy a lesion on my liver (likely unrelated but they’re right there so why not go for the organ trifecta?)
I’m hoping with this quick weight loss I will undo some of the damage I have done to my body recently. I don’t know if the Depakote will hinder my progress and whether or not it’s the culprit on my liver enzymes. I’ve dragged my feet on a drug change since my brain is so highly functioning right now but I guess a badass brain doesn’t do you much good if you are dead.
My point being, should we have to choose between mind and body? It hardly seems a fair choice, I mean, we kinda need both. Maybe I’ll get lucky post surgery and everything will fall into place. If not, I guess I will have to find a part of me to compromise….literally and figuratively. I wonder, given that choice, what the correct mind/body ratio is. Sort of makes you think. With me luck on Feb 11!