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Are You In Control Of Your Health?

Who’s in control, You, or your doctors?  Do you blindly do as they suggest or do we do what our gut is telling us?

My first visit with my GI physician was not a good experience. It would be my first and last visit with him.  All I needed, for all intents and purposes, for my insurance, was a visit with him the GI, to get a referral to see a liver specialist, a Hepatologist.   I assumed I would meet with him, review my testing, family history and then he would refer me to someone more qualified.  But then there always seems to be those one of a kind bad apples, who think they have a “God complex” and are the only ones who can help you. Yep, this was the one who walked in the door to see me. He sat down at his computer, didn’t bother to look up at me or my husband to make any sort of eye contact or to  say hello while he looked at my chart and insurance profile.  The first words out of his mouth should have been something like, ”Tell me why you’re here, or tell me about yourself…” Nope! He said, “Well, it looks like your weight is putting a lot of stress on your liver and you’re a great candidate for gastric bypass surgery, it looks like your insurance will cover it completely, let’s talk about it. What do you think?”

I replied in shock with, “What do I think?  I ‘m not here for surgery to lose weight! I’m here to get a referral to a specialist. ”

How he dare think, that because I have great insurance, that my weight is high, that this is the reason I am here to see him for surgery.  He didn’t ask me a single question, anything about my lifestyle, if I ever had any depression, what my pregnancies may have been like, if I experienced any trauma etc.   There are so many reasons people, let alone women put on weight.  I explained to him my past 28 years, with a little we’ll say passion in my voice, “I am accountable to my weight for many reasons.   I have gained and lost weight over the past 25+ years. From 6 high risk bed rest pregnancies, and each one I was able to lose most of the weight.  I dealt with depression on and off throughout my life, being on medication that put weight on.  I have suffered with PTSD which, in itself, is self explanatory.  In short I have been on the roller coaster with my weight for over 25 years.  In high school I was very thin, an athlete, and dealt with anorexia.  I know how to exercise and lose weight.  I am here because in the last 6 months, without any changes to my diet or routine, I put on over 60 pounds, and my father who died from NASH just 5 years prior.  I started to add up some signs and symptoms and I am connecting the dots.”  Then with more emotion, dare I say, a little anger and frustration in my voice I told him, “I AM NOT HERE FOR GASTRIC BYPASS SURGERY, I WANT A REFERAL! I know how to lose the weight; I can do that on my own.”

What he did next was shocking!  He stood up from the little computer desk he sat behind and very frustrated said, “You know that in 10 years you will not be here.  You will not lose the weight without me, your liver and pancreas will fail and you will need a transplant.  If you’re lucky you’ll be put on the transplant list, but less than 30% actually receive an organ.  If you could lose the weight, you would have! If you won’t have the surgery, I won’t be your doctor!”  My husband could see that I was quickly going from frustration to anger.  He gently placed his hand on my leg as to have a quiet and silent reminder, “this isn’t worth it.”  I wanted to yell at the doctor, I wanted to swear at him, to be honest.  I took a deep breath and responded, “I do have a choice, I will not have the surgery and I will not have you for my doctor!”  He grabbed his notes and quickly stormed out of the office.  Ironically, the doors in the office were barn doors on sliders with soft close systems. He tried his hardest to slam the door, and in anticlimactic fashion the door came to a slow – gentle close.  Mike and I just laughed as I began to just cry.  With everything he said, it wasn’t the comments about my weight; I knew I could lose it.  It was the 10 year comment. 

When my dad was diagnosed, he was told he had a couple of years and should think about getting on the transplant list.  He wouldn’t even consider putting himself on the list at the time.  His philosophy was, in order for him to receive a liver, most likely a young motorcyclist would die so he could live.  He believed someone more deserving should receive the liver over him.  He didn’t want to have to be on medications the remainder of his life to maintain the new organ.  He had resigned to his diagnosis; he had lived a great life and would now live out the remainder of it spending as much of it as he could to spoil his grandkids and making memories.

So back to the gentle closing of the door; Mike and I are sitting in silence and I utter out loud, “10 years?” and tears well up in my eyes. I am thinking of my two grandsons, my future grandchildren, my children being left without a mother. My children who haven’t gotten married yet, so on and so forth.  The thoughts are racing and Mike says, “Take a deep breath we will take this one step at a time.  We will find another doctor.”   And then the door starts to slowly reopen. There’s a knock and enters a female physician. She introduces herself and asks, “May I ask what just happened in here?  I have never seen the doctor so furious.”  Mike explained what happened, I was a little emotional and needed to compose myself.  She then said, “That makes sense; No one has ever turned him down or said no to him.  I understand you do not want to follow under him.  Would you like to consider working with me?  What can I do for you?  What do you need?”  I explained what I needed, what I was looking for and we came to an agreement.  We talked for about 20 minutes, she asking me questions about my health history and needs.  She took the time to get to know me!   We agreed upon her following me with labs and scans every 30-60 days while I started a diet modification and as long as things were improving I would stay under her care.  If at any time things looked like they were plateauing or trending downwards then she would refer me to a specialist.

 She was listening to me, taking my feelings and fears into consideration, I felt as though we had a provider to help me. Now I needed someone in the holistic realm to help and I knew exactly who I wanted to help me.  I asked Mike to drive us directly to my friend Angie’s home.  Angie has been a friend for over 25 years, a nurse, a holistic healer, worked with oils, herbs and more.  She was the first person I spoke to about my diagnosis.   

For years the weight would come and go and now I had my WHY for needing and wanting it to stay off.  My weight was the trigger to get me into the doctor’s office for my diagnosis.  My WHY would be my motivation to overcome this disease! This time it would be the last time I lost the weight, improved my health in the process and to prove I would be around longer than 10 years.  So how do you find your WHY?