My first post, Welcome to The Healing Paradox, mentioned that plotting out my detailed story would be book length. Although my history will naturally unfold throughout posts, I offered key highlights leading to a major turning point.
Our household income decreased when I attended school full-time. My medication copays were inexpensive, but I was unable to cover the several hundred a month for various therapies. Scaling back on these remains one of my worst decisions.
Retrospectively, I wish I’d thought outside the box and found a new career without returning to school. I ended up heavily relying on medications while my activity level plummeted to mostly sedentary. The following highlights cover the second part of my saga.
- Gained another 36 pounds by early 2016, totaling 70 pounds in 4 years.
- Tired, often short of breath, avoided friends, and started questioning everything about life.
- Embraced a minimalist mindset in 2016, a major downsize in material items temporarily helped with mental health.
- Despite an improved mindset, struggled to find work after graduation and suffered major depression.
- Hit my highest weight mid 2017, gaining 81 pounds in just over 5 years (BMI 35).
I experienced daily pain despite prescription and over the counter medications. As I had been taking them so long, I experienced medication tolerance and now my pain was only dulled enough for minimal daily tasks and function.
Obesity and Pain
Pausing here is vital, as outlining my weight gain is in no way meant to belittle or shame anyone who is overweight/obese. I am 5’6” with a small/medium frame. I was mostly a healthy weight except for several years in the early 2000s when I gained due to a life changing event. I eventually recovered, lost weight, and maintained until my 2014 hip injury.
While vanity played a factor as I hit this high number, 90% of my concern was for my health and wellbeing. My pain originated from my joints and the extra pounds resulted in added pressure. I do believe that maintaining a healthy weight is a tool in decreasing pain, but I also understand that it’s not a cure-all.
I find Body Mass Index (BMI) a useful calculation in assessing my health. However, it is only one measurement and does not represent an accurate picture for everyone. The same is true for bathroom scales, as a specific number of pounds or kilograms must consider a person’s unique characteristics.
I have lost weight very slowly, am still considered “obese,” but I do have less pain. So if you feel that extra pounds are amplifying your pain, know that there are ways to reduce pain even with periods of slow or stalled weight loss.
Rock bottom and still digging
- Started a new career October 2017, my entire life revolved around getting ready for work and surviving the day.
- Endured low back pain with continued neck and hip pain.
- Difficulty walking more than short distances, often iced my back at work.
- Anticipated the need for an assistive walking device within months.
- Unable to help my spouse with household chores.
- Lost energy and desire to see friends.
Food as healing medicine
- Heard about the Ketogenic (Keto) diet in the spring of 2018.
- Desperate to lose weight, thinking it would resolve my pain.
- Started Keto in July 2018 after researching it on my own.
The ketogenic diet became an essential part of my life. There are many low carb diet variations and I do not always adhere to the 70% fat (or higher), 25% protein, and 5% carbs found on a typical ketogenic diet. “Low carb” is what my primary care practitioner had recommended around the time of my keto start, but I didn’t receive specific guidance.
Keto often results in notable weight loss, but other medical conditions play an important factor. I initially lost 32 pounds before I stalled and regained 10. However,
I do believe Keto saved me from needing an assistive device to walk. It has reduced inflammation thus decreasing my pain.
I attended KetoCon in 2019 and spent a great deal of time tearful as I listened to other people’s stories. It was a life changing conference and I am forever grateful to the wonderful online Keto and low carb communities that I have found. It also opened my eyes to the importance of conducting my own research and acting as my own health advocate.
You can follow my nutrition endeavors on instagram.
The topic of nutrition will be thoroughly covered in future posts.
The beach is calling
- Felt better by summer 2019 but tired of the extreme Colorado weather.
- Denver’s drastic weather and barometric pressure changes significantly affected my pain level.
- Left Colorado in April 2020 and relocated to Florida.
Despite traveling dilemmas during the pandemic lockdowns, this was a major turning point in the right direction and a stellar decision for my health. The first six months here were stressful due to changing medications, that is a whole story in and of itself.
I am currently figuring out a “new baseline” and the best way to continue managing pain while taking steps toward eliminating it. I seek a life without daily pain. This has occurred on occasion over the last year giving me hope for a pain free life.
These highlights hopefully provide you a broad picture of my complicated path over the last decade or so. More details will emerge as I share what has worked for me, along with future experiences and experiments.
Does any of this resonate with your pain journey?
Perhaps something I’ve shared makes you remember better decisions or possibly others that are now regretful?
Pain creates a brain fog and anxiety that I struggle explaining to others. It’s easier now that I am improving to see all the poor choices I made. I often shake my head and mutter “what were you thinking?”
If you can relate to that, give yourself grace.
“I have no desire to suffer twice, in reality and then in retrospect.”
― Sophocles, Oedipus Rex