A Shift in Perspective Regarding Weight Loss With Huntington’s
Since my wife, Jill, was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease (HD) in 2018, she’s been concerned about something that plagued her father for a long time before he died from the same condition: weight loss.
Jill’s father was in good health when he was diagnosed with HD, but during his decline, he started having issues with swallowing, also known as dysphagia.
At 6 feet, 2 inches tall, and weighing more than 200 pounds, Jill’s father was a big man. But because he couldn’t swallow well, he lost so much weight that he became gaunt, which led him to have a feeding tube inserted.
Jill did not want this to be her fate. She has deliberately and steadily gained weight over the past several years because she feared losing weight one day.
She understood the risks, but felt that the good outweighed the bad. However, after getting the results of a blood test during an annual physical a few weeks ago, she has changed her mind. Her LDL, or “bad cholesterol,” levels were too high, and her HDL, or “good cholesterol,” levels were too low.
I did some research and found that high cholesterol can cause fatty deposits to develop in a person’s blood vessels, which can make it difficult for enough blood to flow through arteries, potentially leading to a heart attack or stroke.
I didn’t want any of that to happen to Jill, so I asked her what she thought about her blood work and what she planned to do about it.
She said she now realizes that her thoughts about weight gain were flawed because they were based on fear of the future. She now fears her concerns may have been misplaced, and admits she was being shortsighted.
Jill said that if she suffers a stroke or heart attack in the next few years because of a bad diet and lack of exercise, she will have lost the Huntington’s battle before it’s even begun to truly devastate her body and mind.
I’m happy she discovered her cholesterol was high before it began to adversely affect her health, but I’m even more excited that she has decided to change her lifestyle. Breaking unhealthy habits isn’t easy, but the decision wasn’t difficult for Jill. As much as she doesn’t want to starve in the future, she would rather worry about today.
Even though having a terminal illness means she is not truly in control of her health, Jill hopes she can remain “healthy” as long as she can by doing things she can control — like eating healthily and exercising as much as possible.
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