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Back at It...

When my ex and I were together, I used to joke (or, honestly, wrap the truth in a joking tone that fooled no one) about how after we had kids I’d probably need “a re-up” on my gastric bypass surgery. I was terrified of regaining the weight I’d lost – I’d already regained about 20 lbs, give or take another 15 on any given day, and I knew from reading about longer-term GB patients that it was common for them to regain all of the weight, even going over their original weight in a sort of pendulum reaction. This is true of diets in general: they screw up your metabolism and cause more gain than loss in the long term. So why any of us should imagine that literally starving ourselves would lead to long-term, maintainable weight loss, I’m not sure. But despite all my jokes, I was in no way prepared to actually face the reality that science told me was coming. But I’m coming up against it now. I haven’t regained all the weight (yet), but I’ve been steadily getting larger – a combinatio
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What Does It Mean to Have Patience and Grace When There's No End in Sight?

Wowwwwww I have owed you all an update on my anemia for a long time, and yet that’s not even what I came here to write about – let’s blame the pandemic/police brutality/election/wildfires/general apocalyptic nature of 2020 for any distraction or slackery on my part.   First, the update: the second round of infusions WORKED and my iron levels are GOOD and I can actually WALK UP A FLIGHT OF STAIRS WITHOUT FEELING DIZZY and if the all-caps don’t express it well enough I’ll just say outright that I AM SO RELIEVED. Of course, it’s not over yet, because we don’t know if/how quickly I’ll drop back into anemia – my levels are already lower by about 2/3 just three months after the initial post-infusion test – but for the moment I’m back to being human, and that is an amazing feeling.   Now, the thing I came here to write about, which is not so good: I’ve been backsliding pretty badly into negative body image, and that’s due in large part to the fact that my body itself has changed. I h

Something in the Blood: An Update

“Ting, ting,” my husband goofs as he taps my skin. “Do you feel strong from all that iron?” We have to make dorky jokes like this – otherwise we’ll go into a joint fugue state at the understanding of how much my anemia has upended our plans and drained my savings account (because ’murica). I wrote about this back in November , when I thought I just had to get some iron put directly into my blood and that would ‘fix me up for a year or two.’ Ah, my sweet summer child… Not only did the four IV infusions I did (to the tune of $900, for my part after insurance ) not make me feel better, but my next blood test showed my iron levels had dropped even further – I was at 3% saturation in January! All I could think to say when we got the results was “what happens when I get to 0%?” The next thought I had was “what the fuck is going on with my body?” After all, it made sense that I couldn’t absorb enough iron from my ironically super iron-rich diet –  I did have asurgeon rearrange

Iron deficiency anemia and self-gaslighting: a story of physical and mental health

View this post on Instagram The benefit of being trapped in a chair for an hour while liquid iron drips slowly into my anemic veins: nothing to do but work on my book! #amrevising #forcedwritingtime #mybodyisanoldjalopy A post shared by Anne H. Putnam (@ahputnam) on Nov 8, 2019 at 11:24am PST Even though I warned her, my new doctor was still startled by my iron levels. “The low end of normal is nearly twice this number,” she insisted, educating me even as I nodded along – I knew this already. “Last time it was a point lower,” I told her, but she (like most people) didn’t seem to care how bad it used to be. She cared about getting me healthy now. “People get blood transfusions around these numbers.” I raised my eyebrows in surprise – not mock, but a bit exaggerated, trying to give her the reaction I felt she was after. It wasn’t that I didn’t care, but rather that my anemia had been a concern for so lon

The more things change, the more they stay the same

A lot has happened since my last post, and yet little has changed. My body still feels… alien to me in a way it hasn’t since my mid-twenties; I still haven’t seen a doctor (I actually did try, a lot, but it seems that post-GB follow-up is not something bariatric doctors are willing to do with people they haven’t sliced open personally); and I’m still struggling to find the balance between making healthy choices, like getting more cardio in, and making my peace with the changes in my body. One thing that has changed is my state of unemployment. Since we moved to Washington I’ve been in a kind of limbo where my career is concerned – you can read more about the writing side of that over on the author blog , but besides that I’ve been unsure what to do about a day job. The ultimate goal is teaching at the college level, but while I work on that I’ve been living off savings, and as I’m sure you can imagine that is unsustainable. So I picked up part-time work

To Do: Figure my shit out!

It’s been on my TeuxDeux list for months now, just rolling over to the next day and the next. Every time I open my laptop or check the app to make sure I’m on top of schoolwork and life admin, it’s staring at me: make appt with bariatric dr. When I can’t take it anymore I move it ahead a few days, manually, telling myself I’ll do it when things are calmer or the apartment is quieter or it stops raining… These excuses are bunk, of course – for one thing, a Pacific-Northwesterner* should never wait to do anything until the rain stops. But I’ve been putting it off, because I’m scared. I’m terrified that I’ll be weighed and measured and found…what’s the opposite of wanting? Overabundant? I’m afraid I’ll succumb to pressure and tacitly agree that the weight is the problem, not my attitude about it (or my hoped-for response, the whole reason I’m going to a bariatric doctor at all: that my post-GB body processes food and exercise differently and there’s some key element I’m missing

Saying goodbye to the dress, and hello to a whole lot of complicated feelings

“It was weird, though,” I say, turning to look briefly at my boyfriend’s face and check my blind spot before turning off the main road into our little potholed neighborhood. “I’m standing there, surrounded by all these beautiful dresses, and half of me is like ‘ooh, yeah, I am so coming here when we get engaged,’ and super excited about the selection, and the other half…the other half is basically like ‘are you really going to do this again? Are you really going to try on dresses and put down deposits and announce to the world that you're happy and in love – and trust that the world isn't going to laugh in your face and bitch-slap you in return?’” I pause for a breath as I turn onto our block, dodging the ancient, rickety trailer that haunts the curb at the corner. He’s quiet, so I try to smooth over the rough stuff I’ve just let fly: “Don’t worry; I’m working on all this. I’ll figure it out.” I’m not at all sure I’ll figure it out, but I’m desperate