23 years ago, I was a very unhappy woman. It shouldn’t have been that way. Instead, I SHOULD have been over the moon. After all, I was embarking on an exciting, romantic adventure, freshly married to Rob, a military officer, and joining him in Europe. We were posted there, right after our wedding — how wonderful! What I could not have anticipated was how adversely I would be affected by the normal stresses of a new marriage, compounded by a major move to a foreign country. Making it even more difficult were the frequent marital separations caused by military manoeuvres, and the numerous pressures imposed upon us by the military officer social cliques.
I floundered under these pressures, and responded by emotionally binge eating my way into oblivion. In about 6 months I gained about 80 pounds. My physical health suffered: each year, from March to September I suffered extreme allergies to the pollens where we lived, for months at a time my mouth was filled with multiple, painful ulcers, I had migraine headaches, I had severe gastrointestinal problems, and I was always getting viral infections. Worse, I became extremely clinically depressed. No amount or combination of medication put a dent in any of my symptoms, and as I suffered, so did my marriage. Two years into his three year posting, Rob requested a compassionate posting back to Canada. Unfortunately, what I needed was to return to my former home city, to heal my marriage in a familiar environment, surrounded by supportive friends. What the military needed was to post Rob to an entirely different city. While I was relieved we were back in our own country, I was still a fish out of water in the new place.
At that time, I gave birth to our son Gary, and three weeks later, I was hospitalized for postpartum depression. The anti depressants I had discontinued during my pregnancy were resumed, and I was “stabilized”. I was a fiercely attentive mother, and cognitively, Gary flourished. He, unfortunately, had some significant physical health problems, and underwent 3 surgeries before he was two years old. He also had a potentially life threatening allergy to dairy, so special formulas and diets were in order. These medical challenges were expensive, the costs of which were not offset by health benefits. There was also an economic recession, and I could not find work. We went under financially, and I became even more depressed, always self-medicating with food.
Our woes continued, in various forms, for years. Finally, in March of 2004, all the psychological stress and my binge eating had taken its toll, and I faced a dramatic health crisis. At the end of February, I was feeling unwell. I developed an excruciating migraine and I was symptomatic of having a urinary tract infection. Since walk-in clinics were closed that day, I went to the ER. They tested my urine — negative for infection. Next they checked my blood glucose — negative for diabetes. The doctor was ready to send me home, advising me to see my family doctor as soon as possible. The ER nurse who was sent to discharge me, however, wasn’t so certain. In fact, she was visibly alarmed, and reported that my blood pressure was dangerously high. Out of earshot, she spoke to a doctor, and returned, looking upset. Indeed, I was being discharged, but she warned me to get my blood pressure checked. Still, she didn’t appear to agree with me being sent home, and as I left the ER, she seemed somewhat shaken. Two days later, when I visited my family doctor, I found out why.
On March 2, 2004, sitting in his office with the still blinding headache, my blood pressure registered at a toxic level – 200/91, and my pulse was racing. I still can’t believe that I had been discharged from the hospital 2 days earlier – I was a walking time bomb, ready to suffer a stroke or a heart attack at any minute. The doctor sent me home with a prescription for diuretics, and over the next few weeks, when my blood pressure remained high, the prescriptions were changed until a beta-blocker was settled on. The doctor also helped me withdraw form the anti depressant that I was taking, because he believed that it was contributing to my run away pulse. Beyond that, I was left to my own devices.
During the following few months, my blood pressure remained high, but out of the toxic zone, and I had various frightening episodes of chest pain. The day I came home from that first doctor’s appointment, Gary, then 11 years old, made me vow to stop the emotional over eating. I kept that promise, and stopped eating all junk food. Over the subsequent months, we converted to a whole foods, semi-vegetarian diet, cooking all of our meals from scratch. I began to lose weight. By June I had lost enough weight to reverse the sleep apnea that I had suffered from since the late 90’s, and I had been gently exercising, walking a little bit each day. By May, 2005, I had lost 98 pounds, arriving at 135 pounds. Better yet, I was able to permanently discontinue all my medications. I had stopped having headaches, allergies that I had suffered from since the 80’s disappeared, and I became extremely active, hiking and gardening, and living life fully and consciously. I eventually achieved my diploma as a Registered Nutritional Consulting Practitioner, because I am committed to maintaining health and wellness, and helping others to achieve the same joys.