Saturday, June 09, 2018

Square One, All Over Again

Note: cross-posted from Meanderings and Musings, cross-posting to Bad Catholic Anonymous  and Birdcage Wisdom

Take the high road or take the low
No one but you and God will ever know
And you play rough and win or lose
Either way, you'll get the blues
-- Lucinda Williams, "Ugly Truth"

I found myself staring again at something I didn't want to see: ugly truth. The scale didn't lie, and neither did two-plus years worth of knowing I was eating to get away from what was eating me. But two anxiety attacks that awoke me in the middle of the night, scared to death of some physical ailment, the absolute fear not of dying but of leaving people behind and things unfinished -- and knowing I could damn well do something about it........

And facing my worst truth: I'm trying to fill a hole that can never be filled.

I haven't written much in a while -- or spread it out over other outlets -- because I was compartmentalizing things. General stuff here, weight stuff at Weighty Matters, spiritual stuff at Bad Catholic, mental health stuff and grief stuff at Birdcage Wisdom. But to quote the famous George Constanza, "Worlds are colliding" and I find them crashing down on me. The weight gain of the last two years is in direct correlation to a mental health issue from the last 4 years and the crushing weight of grieving 6 losses in 18 months and the effect it has had on my life and spirituality and OH MY GOD IT IS SO MUCH.

You know how Facebook has that "On This Day" feature where you get to look back (and repost) things that you posted on this day x number of years ago? I've noticed so many of mine from 5 years ago were of me checking in at the gym or from walking with my friend Sheri..... and so many of them from 2014 were of me in the early stages of going into another downward spiral of depression and anxiety. Of course, I see it in hindsight -- at the time, I was fine. Just fine. In 2015, it was my recovery from surgery; 2016, the loss of my mom and aunt; last year at this time, it was even more loss and a renewing focus on regaining my mental health. Recipes which 6-8 years ago were all veggie or healthy grains were replaced in the last couple of years by cakes and gooey things and all manner of sweet or unhealthy.

It was watching a person who had worked her ass off (literally) to become the best self ever disintegrate before your eyes back into what used to be.

I'm not crying. Hell no. I'm not sad, I'm not mad, I'm not even pissed. What I am is ready. It took long enough but I am ready. I've worked for the last few years on finding myself again -- while I was losing portions of myself at the same time.

What I am is grateful. I'm grateful for those freak-out, nearly-pass-out moments of anxiety at 2:15 am where I wondered if I was dying and being determined that if I could help it, I was going to ensure that I bury my father and not have him go through the agony of burying another child. I'm grateful for the opportunity to start over, with a few more years of wisdom under the belt, and leaving behind the drill sergeant persona I had developed with myself. The nearly 50-year-old me is going to be a lot kinder on my failures than the 38-year-old me would have been.

This me realizes my worst enemy isn't my body but my mind, but if I work with both of them, I bet we find a happy place where we all can live in peace.

I may never see "Onederland" again but I'm not sure that I care to, really.

What I care about is living. Plain and simple. Just living.

Thursday, September 01, 2016


If you're not familiar with the phrase, it is a singular German word that is their word for the weight gain caused by emotional eating. Quite literally, it translates to "grief bacon." Now, as much as I love bacon, I'm sick of eating grief bacon -- and my grief.

Since my last post 18-ish months ago (oopsie), so much has happened. I had foot surgery in February 2015, and it derailed me for far longer than I planned.... There was more post-surgical swelling in my foot that made it impossible to wear shoes for nearly four months. I am now at the point that standing for a long time doesn't hurt much. I might pay for it the next day but.... I am still wearing kinesiology tape every day on my foot to help control swelling. I have had to accept that I may not ever hit 100% again. My running dream that I held for so many years may remain unfulfilled -- and I am at last okay with that. If I can ever walk a 5K again that will be enough.

At the same time, my mother's mobility was greatly reduced due to an increased tendency to fall. Unable to figure out a way to right herself to get up out of a fallen position -- and in many ways too damn stubborn to try -- she became reliant upon a rollator for assistance.

Later that summer, my brother decided to get healthier again and began working out and following a new eating plan. All was well until he felt he'd pulled a muscle in his abdomen. Days later, he wasn't any better and was running a fever. He went to the ER -- and a few short hours later was going in for surgery for a ruptured appendix. When the surgeon put the laparoscope in, he immediately yelled, RETREAT! and proceeded to perform the first open appendectomy he'd done in 15 years. My brother's appendix had ruptured severely enough to have portions of his intestines adhering to each other. All told, most of the operation involved clean-up of tissue, and resectioning of the colon. I nearly became an only child again after 40 years. He had a residual infection set in again a few weeks later and spent another week in the hospital clearing that up.

Then in November, my turn again.... Only this was nothing that could be easily solved or seen -- or so I thought. I noticed myself getting crankier but chalked it up to the usual bout with SAD. Sure it was odd that it had come on so suddenly, and so far after the time change, but you know..... By the first part of December, there were days I was literally having to take five in the ladies room to give myself a pep talk to hang in for even five more minutes. January's slew of celebrity deaths (some of my favorites) didn't help. Finally a good friend sat me down and told me how this was affecting those around me. I exhaled as if I'd been punched in the gut, and I am not sure I have breathed quite the same way since. I had an appointment with my doctor, who immediately prescribed an SSRI for me. Within two weeks, I felt human again. I still take it every day and if I have to take it the rest of my life, I'll gladly do so. As Glennon Melton Doyle says so eloquently, "Jesus loves me, this I know, for he gave me Lexapro..."

And I needed that chemical boost more than one could ever imagine. 

In the fall, my doctor had set me up on a low-carb plan, to help me lose the weight from the post-surgical inactivity. It was really working well, and I was within about 15 pounds of my goal weight. But four weeks after I went on Lexapro, one of my worst imaginings began to unfold. Mom was more or less was in the throes of a heart attack when I came home that night from a capella practice. We called EMS who rushed her to the hospital. Later that morning, they transferred her to a larger regional hospital with a good cardiac care unit. The hopes was they could figure out what caused her coronary, and get her on a rehab track.

She never came home. She simply never reached a point where she could be transferred. Her condition took sharper declines every three days or so. The lab work got worse and worse.

Tomorrow marks six months since we made the difficult decision to move her to Hospice. She lasted 42 hours there and on Saturday, March 5, she took off with dawn's first light and soared -- or at least that's my prayer. 

Low carbs? Out the window at that point. We're Southern. People bring cakes and pies and macaroni and cheese and fried chicken and mashed potatoes..... And sandwich trays and potato chips. No one brings grilled chicken and salad mix and green beans!

Six months and 50 pounds later, I'm back on plan. I've learned that in middle age, carbs (especially simpler carbs) are not my friend. Greens and cruciferous vegetables and proteins and lots of water -- yes. Fruits -- some are kinder than others but all in smaller amounts. Nuts and cheese -- sparingly but yes. Rice and pasta and potatoes and bread and sweets? No. Just no. And those were some of my staples in the past six months. They were easy and comforting. 

But what comfort is it when you lose all the things you'd worked so hard to achieve, all because you feel like stuffing your emotions -- which are making their way to the surface anyway? Is it worth it to consume your grief in a futile attempt to keep it from consuming you?

No, of course not. 

Three days in and I'm already about 8 down. I can do this. I'm certainly stronger, better, smarter, and braver than any piece of food.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

So far, so good....

So here I am, 11 days into January, and feeling a bit better....... Christmas Eve was an eye-opening experience, and so was New Year's Eve. I stepped up on the scale to see the damage from the holidays -- and it was staring back at me in massive boldface, 72-point type, yelling, "NOW. You have to do something NOW."

My weight was definitely up, but BOY I didn't think it would be that high..... the highest it had been in almost 3 years, which was right around the same time all my health issues came roaring up. Even though it wasn't an official weigh-in, I looked at where I was on 12/31/13 and where I was on 12/31/14 -- a 25-pound gain. YOWZA.

Twenty-five pounds? That was it. I was done. Done, done, done. Tired of feeling tired. Tired of feeling lousy. Tired of feeling sorry for myself for whatever reason. Ready to get moving again in the other direction. Ready to feel like myself again. Sure, I'm going to have to deal with the medical things, but so be it.

I started by getting my butt back to my gym. I can't do three days a week right now -- the schedule simply will not allow it. But I can go two days a week -- so I have been. And I can make better food choices, at least 80-85% of the time -- and I have been. I can track my food. I can move a little more at the office. I can make sure I drink the water I'm supposed to. I can do these little things -- and they may not make huge changes each week, but they will add up to the little changes I need. And perhaps by year's end I'll have that 25 pounds back off, getting ever so close to my goal again.

And remember this.....

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Getting Back In The Game

Tonight I had a rather sobering experience....... I tried on clothes. Well, I've been doing that a lot lately anyway, but tonight's was unpleasant. I'm getting ready for our musical prelude and midnight Mass and nothing I wanted to wear seems to fit. Not even with a shaper. Not even with squeezing, pinching, moving, flattening, shifting, NOTHING.

And it's all on me.

Sure, this year I've had multiple doses of steroids. Sure, I've been in and out of doctor's offices. Sure, I've been waylaid lately (especially) by an injury that I'm having difficulty overcoming. But I've allowed the injury, my work schedule, everything else imaginable to be a reason to just be off my game. And I mean WAY off. Tonight was a reminder that I'm not doing my best.

This isn't about feeling like a failure or reminding myself of my past success. This is about how I feel, physically, emotionally, mentally, and every other way possible. I am tired -- just plain tired. No inspiration. No caring. Allowing myself to be at everyone's else's beck and call and whim because I just plain didn't care enough to say "no" or was just too tired to care. What did I want for dinner? I didn't care. What had I planned for lunch? Nothing, I didn't care. It's one thing to feel up or down, but this "flat-lining"? Not my style, and a little bewildered at how I'd let myself end up there, in such a state.

But does it really matter? No. What does matter is where I go from here...........

And it starts tomorrow, Christmas Day. It's my present to myself -- a golden ticket to find me again in this morass, this swamp of my own making. I think if I feel good again physically, it will boost me in those other areas.

2014 has not been my best year, and for that, I alone bear the responsibility. And I also am the only one who can right the ship.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Scream You Can't Hear

Right now, there's an inner me that's screaming in frustration. The me that has done more 5K's than I can count. The me that loves going to the gym and working on the physical side of self-improvement -- a stronger, healthier body. The me that steps on the scale in frustration the last few weeks because even with trying to watch what I eat, I feel like tossing it all up and saying, "Why bother?"

Yeah, honesty.

Yesterday, the gym bag was packed, in the car, and everything was good..... until around 4:00 PM. I truly could feel my left foot swell. Why? I don't know. I don't know anything about my body lately as I battle this foot/ankle thing. All I know is that I can be at the gym, do things right, and feel fine the next day too .... and the day after that, pain, pain, pain. I have sat and wondered "what if" about a million things and if I think anymore about it, I will send myself into a frenzy. And no, I'm not going to do that.

This morning, I can still see the swelling in my toes, around the left ankle (even though there's no pain), and I'm not sure why.... I took anti-inflammatories all day yesterday because I felt little twinges of pain yesterday morning. I don't get it.

That's the scream: the sound of frustration, the bewilderment of not knowing. Will today be a good day, when I can do a little something and feel good enough to even do 10 minutes of activity ---- or will today be one of those days when I'm all ready to do something and be thwarted by a body part that says, "Mmm, I don't think so, not today."

I know, I know, listen to my body and all that. So what is it trying to tell me now, "I told you so"? Yeah, thanks a lot, that's really helpful.

And to that a little guilt because this is just a foot/ankle thing. Or the occasional migraine at times that frustrates my plans. I have friends who have far worse issues, and I feel like an absolute heel for even whining about this.

But I *am* upset. I worked too hard to get here only to have it fall apart. I am trying so hard now to get back to a place I'd like to be..... like any child, I want to know WHY!!!!! and yet I know there's got to be some sort of higher purpose. Ohm.

So...... I will focus instead on what I can do, when I can do it. If I have a bad day, I just have a bad day. I don't choose when my arthritis will flare up. I don't choose when my migraine brain says, "I got ya now!" And as much as I hate these distractions (TRULY), enjoying my life is just as important.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Some Things You Can't Outrun....

It was early November 1989, and my knees were absolutely killing me. It had been about 3 weeks since they really started hurting after that Mass I went to with my friends, and they hadn't stopped hurting. Really? Could a simple few minutes of kneeling on a makeshift kneeler (basically, a 2x6 covered with a basic loop carpet) cause this much pain?

I would soon have my answer, thanks to the outpatient clinic of the Medical University of South Carolina and the Orthopedics Department. I was just about 2 weeks past my 20th birthday when Dr. Morwessel gave me the diagnosis: osteoarthritis. She gave me a laundry list of everything that would happen to me at various ages and stages -- by the time I was 40, 50, 60, etc. -- if I didn't take care of myself properly. And by properly, she meant get the weight off ASAP.

It took 16 years for her message to really take root -- because honestly (a) I wasn't ready to hear it but (b) I wasn't hurting nearly as bad as I had been at first. Sure the knees popped and swelled occasionally .... as did the fingers. As did the ankles. But really, nothing bad.

And I lost the weight. And I forgot mostly about the diagnosis except on cold and damp mornings, or when my fingers would ache and swell and turn red from the inflammation. But hey pop a few NSAIDs and we'll be fine, right? Same as forever.

Almost three years ago, I had a really painful experience at the gym. I was in the middle of a beautiful set of calf raises when I felt searing pain in my left foot -- diagonally, across the metatarsals. I thought it was perhaps a stress fracture and went to get it checked out at a sports medicine clinic. Nothing showed up on the x-ray (as we suspected it wouldn't), and I got a bootie/sandal type thing to help give my foot some stability; I still use the bootie thing on days when my foot needs that little extra boost. It was good for a while but about a year later, I was still in pain, especially as the colder weather came in. I was really freaking out, because I'd signed up for 4 different 5K's over a 7-week period (including one non-refundable in New Orleans that was really just a great excuse for a girls' weekend). I haven't done a 5K now in over 18 months, and I purely adore doing them. The pain in the left foot has become pretty much constant now.

Within the last 8-9 weeks, I've noticed a new pain -- right foot, in the heel. I thought it was everything from a bone spur in the heel (oh no!) to maybe needing orthotics. Heel supports? Didn't help. Okay, so ball of foot supports? Meh.......

In mid-August, I took a step off the same concrete steps that I have used for the last 35 years when taking Maddox out for a potty break. My ankle was instantly hobbled. I didn't twist it or turn it, but I suddenly had lots of problems putting any pressure or weight on it. I ended up at Urgent Care the next day where they took x-rays of the ankle to ensure there wasn't a break or any major chipping. But the doctor did say something to me that he thought would knock me for a loop:

"Um, wow, did you know you have some major arthritis in that ankle?"

He wasn't prepared for my shrug. He wasn't prepared for me to say, "That's just me outrunning the last 25 years." He just said, "Oh......" and I replied, "I've had a diagnosis since I was 20. This isn't a huge surprise."

It took seven weeks for me to get into the orthopedic clinic here. Yes, seven weeks. Funny how 25 years ago, I got an appointment within a much shorter framework (about 2 weeks, if I remember correctly). But once I got to actually see the orthopedist, well worth it. There were more x-rays needed, primarily of my feet, and after reviewing them, Dr. Anderson gave his verdict: fallen arches (among the issues) and tendonitis. PT for the next 4-6 weeks. New arch supports for my shoes.

The days of really cute cheap shoes? Over. This pain is not worth however cute the shoes may be. Revoke my "Southern Girl Card" because when the throbbing and stabbing pain kicks in, I couldn't give forty damns about how cute the shoes are......

In just about 48 hours, I can tell you that the arch supports are helping a bit. Now to figure out how to wear them 24/7.....

I start PT for the feet/ankles next week. I'm actually looking forward to this, so that I can move past the pain and into better health!

I can't outrun the fact that I have osteoarthritis, but I can do everything possible to manage it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

No Holding Back

This is a post that I have debated for a long time.  I admit, I've done a horrible job over the last couple of years of keeping this blog as relevant as I did when I was losing the weight. And you, my friends and readers, deserve better. You deserve an explanation, if nothing else.

Some of you know that for right around 3 years, my health has been haywire -- as has my weight. I am not at goal weight; this is no surprise. I've been floating around 20-30 pounds north of my lowest weight, and trying to get back to something more manageable. The health struggles started in earnest when I fainted during a meeting. Add stress from a job change due to a merger, a possible cancer scare, other "female" health issues, and a general "woe is me" pity party .... and within 6 months my weight that had been at a decent place (at the time of the fainting episode) was more than the 30 pounds north. I spent the next 18 months battling migraines -- many of which were low-level dull aches which would recur on average every four days. Just dull enough that they wouldn't send me home from work or activities but just enough that I couldn't give 100%.

In short, I battled the bulge as I battled for good health. Believe me when I tell you I have felt like a total failure at times -- wondering why in the world would anyone would want to pay attention to me......... I had that horrid demon of "Perfection" telling me I was worthless unless I was back at my goal weight, looking like a model off the latest "Shape" or "Fitness" cover (can't do that with my bat wings and thunder thighs, right?)

Over the last few months, though, things have changed. Really changed, for the better. And last night I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, and was amazed. I mean, ah-mazed.

Here I am, up 4 pounds from where I was earlier this month (thanks in part to a sprained ankle which curtailed my activity level). But I don't care about the number one whit...... Why?

Because I looked pretty damn good in that mirror.

I saw teensy little shoulders -- but shoulders which are strong enough to have borne the weight of the world, every time I feel that I am worthless because I'm not where I was 5 years ago. Or whenever I see some chippy 30-year-old get back to a bikini body only 5 weeks after birthing a child (to which I think, "WHY is that even important?")

I saw a person who has after years of telling herself she wasn't worthy of (you name it), finally becoming more and more happy at last in her own skin. Even more so than 5 years ago or 10 years ago, and far more so than 15 or 20 years ago. I am someone who is learning -- ever so slowly -- that the only opinion that really counts is my own.

I saw someone who is still a success. Once upon a time, I lost 228 pounds. I still have lost over 190 of those same pounds. Just stop and think about that. I have kept off over 190 pounds lost. And someone will dare call me less than a success over a few pounds here and there of it? REALLY? I beg to differ. Unless you have ever walked through the doors of a weight-loss place, having only some idea of what you weigh (because you know what it said at the doctor's office a couple of months back and that was shameful enough) ..... and having no idea how much you might have to lose, but knowing you have to start somewhere and it might as well be the first pound ...... and running out of options.......

If that's not been you, then you have no.... (expletive deleted) .... idea of what it is to be me. And to still consider 190 pounds out of 228 a success. Now you may be asking why I still step on a scale at this point. Because I have to keep myself in some level of check..... because if I don't, 190 could easily become 170, 150, 130, and creep its way back to a place I never want to go again. Because it's not a weight thing with me anymore, it's a health thing.

You see, this weekend, I got to sit with my mom in the hospital instead of our living room. She was taken there on Friday because of her own heart issues and not taking care of herself (and her heart problems) as she really needed to for the last few years. For me, it's doing everything I can to lessen my odds of being in the same boat.......

It's not about whether I'm up 0.2 this week, oh woe is me, I'm a failure as a human being.
It's not about whether I was at 42:15 in this 5K and oh man, that's a new PB, hot damn I am SOMEONE! (although I would think it, very briefly, if I ever got below 45:00!)

It's about being the best person I can be, with all my limitations and not just in spite of them or because of them. It's just recognizing that they are there, as parameters within which to work and be fruitful.

It is about celebrating your successes and cheering you on.

Really, it's about love. Loving myself. Loving yourself. Sharing it with each other and helping each other out.

What a concept, huh?