Thursday, September 01, 2016

Kummerspeck

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.

No comments: