‘Erin, you look great! I can see SUCH a difference in your face.’ I appreciate the compliments, but deep down I’m hurt. People were judging my body before I made adjustments.’ Woman’s pain diagnosed nearly 2 decades after childhood car accident

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“Lately I have been hearing from people, ‘Erin, you look great.’ Or, ‘I can see such a difference in your face and stomach!’

As appreciative as I am to receive compliments, truly, deep down, I’m hurt that the people giving the compliments don’t realize they were judging me by my body type before I made adjustments. They didn’t do this consciously or to even be rude. It is a natural instinct for someone to compliment a person for such great accomplishments.

I am 29 years old and stuck with the wonderfully short height of 5-foot-3 and a horrible hour glass figure, meaning my body will show your eyes every flaw, pound, and inch (to top it all off, my Italian heritage just keeps everything glued to me). I’m fun-sized and love pasta.

In 2007, my final year of high school, I was chubby, big-boned. I weighed in right around 165-170 pounds. I went to Hempfield, which has a very high rate of bullying, body shaming, and just down right pieces of garbage who judge any book by its cover! As expected, I didn’t give a s*** about any person I went to school with because I knew what I had went through and was currently living through.

In 07/2009, I was about to get married weighing in at 175 pounds.

In 10/2010, I gave birth to my first child, with me weighing in at the heaviest I have ever been, 240 pounds with stretch marks that looked like went on for miles. I never said this before, but I was beyond depressed about my body. Even though I had our ‘Precious Miracle,’ I hated looking at myself. I was disappointed and disgusted.

Between 2011 and early 2014, my weight would go up and down. A lot of tears, buckets of tears, pep talks to myself, and even multiple outfit changes. I refused to go into the dressing rooms. I refused to get clothes. I was so unhappy with myself.

In 11/2015, I was shockingly surprised that I was pregnant with my second child. This was unplanned, but considered or ‘Happy Surprise,’ while weighing in at 210 pounds. As over joyful as I was to be honored to become a mom to a second child, I couldn’t help but to think and worry about how much more ‘fat’ I was going to get.

Within this second pregnancy, my body went through some ups and downs of minor medical issues that a lot of women obtain: gestational diabetes. My OB had put me on a safe medication to get it controlled, while a pretty strict diet. I had maintained this diet, but don’t get me wrong, what pregnant woman doesn’t slip up with those cravings?

In 8/2016, before giving birth, I spiked to now my new highest weight of 260 pounds, but a few days after birth, I dropped down to 220 pounds.

October 2016, it was time for me to go back to the doctor for a checkup after giving birth and I am still weighing around 215-220. I had decided I wanted to be put back on birth control but refused the pill, so I was weighing my options. Please keep in mind while reading the rest of this, I am only 27 and have been ‘suffering’ from continuous headaches/migraines since I was an early teenager…I just toughed it out and never did or told anyone about them.

During this visit, it turns out those minor medical issues followed me and caused diabetes. Completely unsure how my body will react to any other birth control options, we discussed getting an IUD placed. The headaches continued, gaining even more tension as the days go on, but I was assured by the OBGYN that this placement has nothing to do with my headaches.

Early in 2017, I was put on multiple medications to help control the diabetes and headaches (no insulin though): 3 migraine medicines, 2 high blood pressure, and one muscle relaxer. Daily! Now what am I doing? 27 years old and my body can’t get its s*** together? I am even more miserable, getting angry all the time, feeling ways that no person should ever feel.

November 2017, my OB retired and thankfully the new OB listened to me vent, cry, and b**** that I am so beyond convinced that this IUD is making it worse and it needs to be removed. He was there, he believed me, and we discussed other options and agreed on a tubal ligation. Meaning, I was making the body altering decision to get my tubes tied, taking away my maternal rights to my body and making sure I don’t have to add any hormones into my body. I finally convinced myself the additional hormones weren’t helping my migraines go away and was stopping my body from losing weight. I knew I needed to lose the weight to help reduce the strain on my head. December 2017, I went into surgery to get ‘fixed’.

It is now February 2018, and this is when I realized I needed to get my s*** together and get out of this horrible depression. When I realized that most of these issues is from my weight and family history, I started working on changes. I talked with my PCP, and she referred me to two pain specialists to look into my head.

Mid-2018, my body had gone through so many adjustments, being poked with needles, sliced, pulled, and many many many tubes of blood. After all hormones (that weren’t natural) was removed from my body, the pain and pressure was still there? I made this appointment to the pain specialists and after a 3-hour visit, poked, stretched, and 3-xrays, they found the problem!

Now, do you know how long I have been dealing with this? 3 other specialists over the years thought I was CRAZY? Granted, I am Italian, and we can be eccentric, but all these wonderful doctors did was LISTEN and spent more than 20 minutes with me.

I left, way past their closing time, 1.5 hours away from home, in a snow storm with happy tears running down my face.

The next visit came so fast and we put together the plan of action. But let me tell you what the problem was! C1-C7 in my neck was the problem from a car accident when in was EIGHT! C4-C6 was the worst, Stage 2 Early Degeneration while in a reversed curve. Unfortunately, non-fixable without surgery, but manageable. The steps? Reduce the pressure on the spine by trying to ‘push’ the vertebrae’s back to their proper spots. Weeks of therapy, stretching (yes, my neck was being stretched with weights), maintaining the pain with injections into my shoulders and mists through my sinus cavity that numbed this area. Did I care that this sounded painful? HELL NO. This sounded amazing, joyful and music to my ears.

While treatment was getting started, I started exercising and eating better. Halfway (close to the end of 2018) through my first 3 months of treatment, I was able to remove myself from ALL medicines.

February 2019, I don’t have diabetes, I don’t take any medicine to control anything. I still see the migraine specialist as the problem in my neck/head but not weekly, not bi-weekly, but monthly.

But what about my weight? It is all over the place, gaining muscle, losing inches and I am okay. I hate it, but I can only fix one problem at a time and removing the daily migraines was my number one priority.

Now, it is early July 2019, I haven’t been to the specialist since March, but the headaches come and go. I will be going on the 17th for a routine injection and to get rid of this current lingering headache, but what I am even more happy about? I weigh 205 pounds… Am I comfortable with my weight? ABSOLUTELY NOT. But I am only five pounds away from my small goal. 30 pounds away from my ultimate goal. I hurt daily, but for the better. I am using muscles I had forgotten about. I finally see what everyone was complimenting me on.

Again, I know when someone says that you look great, they weren’t intentionally stating that you didn’t before (even though it feels like it), they’re encouraging you to keep going.

Now, for the jerks who still look at me as overweight, please judge me. Seriously, it is fine. I don’t care, and I’ll never be worried enough to give you my time. But if you’re going to do this, at least do it to my face so I can tell you the story of what hell my temple has been through in the last decade…10 years of beautiful pregnancies/births, destruction of genetics, medications, medication adjustments, fights with myself, work work work, and depression.”

Erin Nightman

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Erin Nightman, 29, of Pennsylvania. Submit your story here, and subscribe to our best love stories here.

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