Thursday, April 07, 2011

More than a Fat Ass.....

It happened. It finally happened. After years of yo-yo-dieting—years of telling myself I needed to lose weight—I've been given a kick in the rear end. I've finally had a doctor tell me I need to lose weight for my health's sake.

Since coming back from my trip to Kentucky two weeks ago, I have had an annoying pain in the upper right quadrant of my abdomen. It's not been incredibly painful. I have not been doubled over in agony. It has simply been an uncomfortable, rather irritating cramp. At first, I assumed it was simply a case of a few too many plates of good old Southern gravy and biscuits. But, when the cramp persisted, I went to see a doctor about it. I was fairly certain that it was a gallbladder problem, and that I would have to have surgery to remove my gallbladder. Though the prospect of surgery was daunting, I have to admit that the idea of being laid up for a couple of days held a strange appeal. The doctor I saw (my primary physician was out of the office for a few weeks), prescribed a comprehensive round of lab work and recommended an abdominal ultrasound. I went Tuesday morning for the ultrasound. Not only did they look at my gallbladder, but also my spleen, liver, and kidneys. I was poked and prodded for half an hour at seven o'clock in the morning on Tuesday--without even being allowed a cup of coffee first. The injustice of it all!

Yesterday, I received a call from the consulting nurse at my clinic informing me that the ultrasound did not show any gallstones. They did, however, find something else of concern on the ultrasound. Immediately my mind jumped to the worst case scenario. It was cancer. I just knew it. The uncomfortable ache below my ribcage was indicative of an abdomen riddled with cancer. But wouldn't the doctor call me herself to tell me I was going to die of cancer? Hmmm...maybe she was busy with another patient? I took a deep breath, braced myself for the inevitable bad news, and asked what they had found. It seems, the nurse explained, that I have a fatty liver. Now, I know I have a fat ass. But a fat liver?!

The nurse indicated that a fatty liver (yes, “fatty liver” is actually the technical medical term) is not something that a physician will necessarily treat. It is, however, something to be aware of and something to be concerned about. It is fairly common. It is also reversible. She suggested I read up on the internet and discuss the findings with my primary care doctor. I immediately called and made an appointment with my primary doctor for April 21st when she returns to the clinic. I am due for a pap I had been avoiding anyway, so why not kill two birds with one stone. Then I hunkered down with a cold Diet Pepsi and began perusing information online about fatty liver disease.

Here is what I learned. There are two types of fatty liver disease. One is related to alcohol consumption and the other is not. The nurse quizzed me about my alcohol use on the phone. Though I have an occasional beer or glass of wine, I am certainly not a “drinker” by any means. I have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. All of the liver destruction with none of the fun. Lucky me! I learned that women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome—a condition I was diagnosed with in my early twenties—have a higher incidence of developing fatty liver disease. As well as insulin resistance, diabetes, heart disease, and a host of other fun conditions. Most people with a fatty liver are symptom-free and it causes no real issues. However, in it's worse form, it can lead to a progressive inflammation of the liver, cirrhosis of the liver, and possible liver failure. Of course, these are extreme conditions. Developing diabetes can cause a worsening of the liver condition. I have a strong family history of diabetes, as well as a medical condition (PCOS) which puts me at greater risk of developing diabetes. Yippy-freaking skippy!

As the nurse explained, a fatty liver is reversible. And can you guess how one reverses a fatty liver? That's right. Diet and exercise! The holy grail of good health. Those elusive healthy practices that have become progressively more difficult for me to accomplish as I've gotten older. Perhaps this is just the kick in the rear end I need to motivate myself to get moving and lose the weight. I absolutely do not want to develop diabetes. I do not want to be insulin dependent. I do not want to grow old with a host of medical problems that keep me from doing the things I want to do. So, as of today, I am kicking the potato chips and cheesecake to the curb. I am going to fill my kitchen with fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Spring is here and I am going to start walking...exercising...getting off the couch and enjoying the great outdoors.

By this time next year, I will be rid of my fatty liver...AND my fat ass.


Jessica said...

First off, loved this quote, "All of the liver destruction with none of the fun". ;)

Secondly, best of luck to you! I hope this motivation helps you easily change your ways (without too much pain and suffering). If nothing else, I foresee hilarious blog posts in the future... You can do it! You will soon be a model of good health!

Madgew said...

Fatty liver-not good but it does sound funny.

Anonymous said...

Now I am going to do my breakfast, once having my breakfast coming
again to read additional news.
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