Tuesday, 25 October 2016

So it turns out there might be a medical reason for my weight gain

When I first started piling on weight back in 2012 I was seriously worried that something was medically wrong with me. I assumed I might have poly cystic ovaries since I basically had all the symptoms and it is a ridiculously common thing in women in their 20's as I was at the time. Or perhaps an underactive thyroid was to blame.

My doctor assumed I was just looking for excuses for my weight gain and dismissed me. I was also complaining of gastrointestinal issues at the time but those were also dismissed and I was told I probably had IBS and there wasn't much anyone could do. I was given tablets for the stomach cramps, even although I didn't really have any cramps and basically told to go away.

No matter how many times I went to the doctor it was always the same, 'you just need to watch what you are eating a bit better' blah blah blah. I have eaten like a toddler my whole life and yes I have always been a little overweight but it was spiralling out of control for no obvious reason.

At the time I was in the best physical health of my life, I was also training for a 5k run which is something I would never have contemplated before. I was out running every day either before or after work depending on my shift, every single day! One might expect to lose a few pounds doing all that running but my weight was creeping up and up. At first I put it down to being back at college and eating rubbish canteen food, so I started taking my own lunches and it made no difference.

I ran that 5k in an outfit two sizes bigger than I had been before all this started. I couldn't believe it when I tried it on. How  on earth had I gained weight when all I had been doing was training for the race? I ran the 5k in a little over half an hour which I didn't think was bad for someone who had never ran the length of themselves before.

The weight was bugging me though and I was insistent that something was wrong. it just didn't sit right with me that I was putting on weight when I was doing ten times the amount of exercise I used to do. We moved to the city at this time so I had to register with a new doctor and I told them of my concerns. They agreed to run bloods to check my thyroid but when they came back ok they weren't interested anymore.

I have mentioned it to different doctors at my practice since, the weight gain and the gastro stuff. no one is interested they all keep telling me to join a slimming group. I go to the gym all the time, ok I take the occasional week off but I go to the gym a lot. I don't eat well, I never have and I never will, but I eat better than I ever did before when I was thin.

Then I ended up in the emergency GP one night with suspected gallstones, and finally the GP was interested in something I had to say. They booked a scan for me, which was negative for gallstones but now they at least admitted something might in fact be wrong.

At this time I pointed out that my partner had helicobacter pylori a couple of years ago and had very similar symptoms to what I had been having for years. I was told 'oh we don't routinely test family members of people who have that' I pointed out that I have had symptoms for years and probably have it but was again dismissed. I was started on omeprazole because I was still having what we thought was gallbladder pain before the scan.

When I went back to tell them that the omeprazole did in fact seem to be making a difference I mentioned the helicobacter again and finally my doctor agreed to test me. I really don't know what the fuss is about, if you have never had it before the test is just a simple blood test its hardly difficult. I had the test done that day and a few days later the phone rings.

Its the receptionist from the surgery asking me if I would be available the following day for a phone appointment with the doctor. I knew then that I had been right all along, the test was positive.

As it turns out, unexplained weight gain is a symptom of untreated helicobacter! I have been going on about this for four years and no on has listened! Unfortunately, getting rid of the helicobacter is no guarantee that the weight will drop off but it certainly wont hurt and it should hopefully stop the nasty GI symptoms I have been having.

The treatment is dual antibiotic therapy and working in an admissions unit in the biggest hospital in the country, being on lots of antibiotics is not a great idea when I am at work. Antibiotic use is a risk factor for some nasty infections and I don't want another infection on top of what I already have so I will wait till my annual leave next week before starting it. Hopefully the antibiotics don't make me feel too yukky.

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