Posts Tagged ‘health

18
May
12

Kids. Gotta love ’em. Mostly.

I love the shit out of my kids.

I really do.

But holy hell. Sometimes they (kids) take you (me) for a ride to Bolivia and back and you (I) don’t know what just hit you (me.)

I am not alone in this. (Please, dear-sweet-baby-Jesus-in-a-manger-all-swaddled-up-for-some-spices-and-dudes-a-comin’-your-way, tell me that I am not alone in this. Because I’m not sure I could survive that blow too.) I know I am not alone in this. And if I’m wrong, please don’t correct my delusion.

Most of you already know that I am a single mum. Being a mother is a very, very hard job. Being a single mum, depending on your situation, can be both easier (WHAT?!?) and more difficult. Let me clarify that one…

I am incredibly blessed. Don’t get me wrong, I (we) have worked very hard for these blessings, and they didn’t always come easily. But when my ex-husband and I were first married, there was someone in our lives who was going through a terrible, nasty separation and ultimately divorce. As in, these friends split up while we were away on our honeymoon. And that got an interesting conversation started between us.

On our honeymoon, we talked about what we would want it to look like if we were to eventually split up.

Slightly morbid, yes. But I think that conversation set some things in place so that, fast-forward three kids, five years, and a move to England, when we did decide to separate, we had already decided that we wanted to remain a family. Our family would be taking a different shape, undeniably. But we would always be a family.

And I think that’s one that a lot of people miss. It doesn’t actually matter who has done what to whom, or how angry so and so is, if you have kids together, you will ALWAYS be a family. Period.

Now, our situation was such that our relationship just didn’t work anymore. No one had had an affair. No one had gambled away the life-savings. No one had done anything along those lines that brings out the kind of anger that can be hard to move through and get to the other side of. I soooo get that. In that sense, we had a much easier time than lots of people separating. But we talked it through and we decided that ultimately, our kids came first. We wanted to eventually be able to have family gatherings that included each other and new significant others, when the time came. The point was to give our children two happy parents living apart, but who were still a family, rather than two miserable parents living together, destroying any semblance of family unity. And I am so grateful that we both turned out to be the people we hoped we would be throughout the process of splitting up our lives. I credit part of that to the fact that we chose to pull the plug before we hated each other. There was still love. It was just not the kind of love that could sustain each other and a happy, healthy household.

And we have been successful at that. We still have some holiday dinners all together. Birthdays are a common affair. He still has a key to my house, so that he can come in and out with the kids when needs be. He got remarried last summer, and his new wife and I are each other’s biggest supporters, both recognizing that we have tough jobs. My Mother’s Day message to her was this: “Happy Mother’s Day. Thanks for being such a great stepmom to my kids. It takes a village, and I’m so glad that you’re a part of it. ♥” Her message to me was: “Happy mama’s day, sista. I couldn’t have asked for better kids in my life and you’re to thank for that.”

You see, I am blessed. I have three fabulous kids, and a friendly and supportive relationship with their dad and stepmom. We are all still a family. This is what I believe is best for the kids in a divorce situation. It’s not perfect – they still have to go back and forth between two houses, and of course, we still have our issues from time to time. (If things were perfect, we probably wouldn’t have split up in the first place!) But there is a mutual respect and I am forever grateful for that.

The upside to being a single parent? My kids are at their Dad’s house 40% of the time. That means that I have 40% of the time “off.” When my health is acting up, that is a blessing – I don’t have to try and take care of anyone else, and I don’t feel guilty that my kids are taking care of me. When I am in healthier times, I get to be a regular grown-up. I can go out with friends for a meal or a movie. I can stay up late writing. I can make decisions that only affect me. There’s the blessing.

The challenge (or for sake of the phrase, the “curse?”)

I have my kids 60% of the time. I adore my kids. And the older they get, the easier it is getting. HOWEVAH….

It also means that when they’re being little shits (as all children can be, come on now!), there is no one for me to trade off with, no one to back me up, and no one there when I need to take a time out. Parenting requires the patience of Job. And you make concessions you would not make if you were parenting as part of a household team, because there is just not enough energy to police 3 kids, by yourself, in every aspect that you otherwise would.

You pick your battles.

For instance, my kids’ rooms are generally a high holy mess. In fact, most of my house is usually a high holy mess. But, I have only so much energy (less than most, due to my health crap) to mete out. And I choose to spend it with my kids, not against them. That being said, sure they have to clean up their rooms once in a while. But I am not one of those people who will spend my entire day following my kids around, picking up after them (again, I don’t have the energy). So our house is far from a Better Homes and Gardens showcase. The mess makes my skin crawl. When it starts giving me anxiety attacks (which it does), then we attend to it, usually after I’ve lost my shit with them. (Not always the best parenting choice. But there you go.) But I’d rather they got their homework done and we eat a healthy, balanced meal than they have clean rooms. Because I also think it’s important for them to have playtime to just go out and be kids too. Striking a balance is always…something we strive for, and usually miss by a long shot. I’m just picking my battles.

When I get angry, I really struggle through an inner dialogue about whether I am going to stay engaged and in control, or whether I am going to abdicate my parental responsibility, disengage, and go hide in my room, basically just saying, “Fuck it.” Again, maybe that’s because I have less energy than most people to spread out throughout the day and use to meet all my parenting responsibilities. But I’d guess I’m not the only one out there who goes through that process.

Like I said, I love the shit out of my kids, and being a parent is the most important job I have (I did, after all, CHOOSE to bring these three little lives into the world). But it can be a bitch, this parenting thing. Hardest fucking job around.

They push your buttons. They come at you from three sides at once. They are all teenagers, I swear, although none of them are 13 yet. They NEED this and they NEED that and they forgot their lunch and canyoupleasedriveforthisfieldtripmummy and can I have this friend over and I want, I want, I want!!!! Buttons, ladies and gentlemen, buttons.

And then they crawl into bed with you at night, or first thing in the morning, and they fall asleep in your arms, snuggled perfectly into the crook of your shoulder. They look at you and see that you can’t handle even one more tiny thing, and they lift up on their toes and wrap their tiny arms around you and just say, “I love you, Mummy. I love you.”

And suddenly, every challenge you’ve faced along the way, every battle you’ve had to fight with or on behalf of your children, every wet towel on the bathroom floor…they’re all worth it. With that one touch of little body against Mummy’s body, little arms around Mummy’s neck, and that sigh, that exhale, that…release of everything heavy in the world, because they know that you can shoulder it for them for a little while…and it’s all worth it.

I love the shit out of my kids.

Even when they take me to Bolivia.

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08
May
12

Fat is a Four Letter Word.

Ok, so I shared in a recent post that I got to a place of being about 100lbs overweight. Saying that number aloud, I’m front of God and everyone…well, that was a little scary. I had to go hide under the covers and be an alien for a while before I could talk about it any further.

But talk about it we’re going to.

Because I know damn well that I’m not alone. Some of you have left comments or emailed me telling me your stories. And the parallels between us all are really quite overwhelming.

Does anyone want to be overweight? I suppose it’s possible, but it’s nothing I’ve come across in my sphere of experience. To really desire to be overweight? Desire and acceptance are two different things. But to start with, we need to get very, very clear on one thing.

Wanting to maintain a healthy weight – whatever that is for you – and being judgmental about body size are two polar opposites. Let me say it again: there is no place for judgement on this journey.

Zoinks! Bam! Pow! (Think Batman & Robin sound effects and cartoon speech bubbles here.) That’s a hard one, isn’t it? I have, at times, been my own harshest critic. Anyone who has ever dealt with weight issues can probably relate to that. I judge myself more harshly than anyone else ever could. And in turn, I’ve probably done my share of judging others.

I have, eventually, realized that all those awful things I’ve said, and sometimes still catch myself saying, in my head about other overweight people…those are really just criticisms of myself I’m making in my own head before anyone else can say them out loud.

“Fatass.”

“Just back away from the table, asshole.”

“Are you sure that bike can actually support you, lardass?”

“Whoah, wideload.”

These, and worse (far worse), are all things that I’ve said in my head to myself. These, and worse (far worse), are all things I’ve said in my head, and maybe to a friend, about people I’ve seen out and about.

Sometimes I’ve said these things (and worse) to be “funny.” None of these things are funny. Not in any way, shape, form, or context.

Thank goodness the older I get, and the more conscious I get, the more I catch myself earlier in the process. It’s not that those thoughts don’t come (about myself, and about others – which is really another way of criticizing myself), but my immediate response now is to interrupt them, to cut them off, and replace them with compassion.

“Good for them. They’re out getting some exercise. That’s more than I’m doing.”

“You just never know somebody’s situation unless you’re in their shoes. Stop being so judgy, asshole.”

“Send them some love vibes. Just love them. That’s all.”

Notice anything about all those sentiments? Yup, they’re all focused on someone else. I’ve managed to interrupt the negative assault on others and replace it with positive and supportive thoughts. Which are, by the way, entirely genuine. Now that I recognize my own process, when I interrupt it, I genuinely feel love and support for others. But I still have a little more trouble showing myself compassion. I can break into the cycle of judgement and shut it down (sometimes), but the compassion doesn’t always flow so easily, not towards myself. But I’m working on it. One step at a time, right?

One of the most terrifying experiences of my life was being at an amusement park while overweight. Now, at this time I was probably about 70 lbs overweight. I adore roller coasters. Rides that flip you upside down. Adrenaline shit. Love it, love it, love it. But going on rides when I have been quite overweight has been the scariest thing I’ve ever done. Not because the ride itself was scary, but because I was terrified that I would be that story in the newspaper the next morning:

“Obese Woman Falls To Her Death.

Fat, Not Roller Coaster To Blame.”

And instead of enjoying any part of any ride, that’s all I could think about. And it took all the joy out of an experience that should be nothing but joy and laughter.

Did I fall out? Am I here telling you this story? So…obviously no. But was there any joy in the experience? Also no. You know what there was a great deal of?

Shame.

That one’s a powerful word. Shame. Total gut hit. A little bit pukey. Teary. Constricting. Terrifying in every way. Doing something like getting on a ride with a bunch of other people, and having to deal with seatbelts that don’t fit properly, or chest bars that won’t cinch down all the way until the attendant comes and leans on it? That’s shame. And I can never decide which is worse: doing it in front of a bunch of strangers you don’t know but being alone, or doing it in front of people you know but having someone you love there to support you. Both are godawful. And ultimately, I just stopped doing either.

I have talked to more health professionals than most about the issue of my weight, given that it comes up as we talk about all my other trillions of ailments (and the bajillions of doctors, etc. I’ve seen for them.) And they always say the same thing: reduced calories in = weight loss. Throw exercise in there and you’re golden.

Guess what?

After almost 30 years of struggling with my weight and body image issues, and dealing with my body on such an intense, intimate level, I have learned one thing about myself. Yes, there’s something to the above equation. But for me, for this body I live in, my weight is determined by something far, far more deep-rooted than that.

Self-acceptance and gratitude.

Seems like a weird thing to control weight, right? Well, for anything long term or significant to shift in my weight, that’s where it’s at.

At various times in my life I have participated in a lot of eating-related regimes aimed at controlling one’s weight. But I call bullshit. Diets don’t work and the control games played out in dieting wreak havok with my self-acceptance, my self-confidence, and my trust issues. Yeah, you heard me.

I have read a lot of Geneen Roth, who espouses trust as being the number one issue in getting your body to it’s ideal, natural weight, and staying there. Trust in your body’s innate wisdom and trust in yourself and your ability to nourish yourself. Not through a set meal plan. Not by following someone else’s instructions. By listening, really learning to listen and trust your body, and give your body what it’s asking for, and learning to trust that what you want will be there when you want it, so you don’t need to eat it when you don’t actually want it. I’m paraphrasing, and I’m simplifying quite a bit. But ultimately, these are the core beliefs that changed my life. Reading Geneen Roth’s books (pretty sure I’ve read all of them), and working for a stretch with a therapist who specialized in eating disorders (I’m a compulsive eater and an emotional eater) and worked on the same premises that Ms. Roth speaks of, these things made a huge impact on my life. Still, for years my weight went up and down.

And then I had an epiphany moment. (I must say, they’re weird when they strike, but I got over it. I epiphanized.)

I was sitting on my bed one evening, and I felt this overwhelming surge of gratitude for my body. This body that I have fought and hated and judged. And I sat there on the edge of my bed, naked (I was getting ready for bed), and rubbed my thighs. I was enveloped ingratitude for these strong thighs that had carried me through so much in my life. So many struggles, so many trials and tribulations. But there they were, strong and large, keeping me safe. And I just sat there with tears streaming down my face. Instead of wishing them away, I was drowning in thankfulness for a body that had protected me when I had been unable to protect myself. Taken care of me when no one else had been there to take care of me. And I felt love and gratitude for this body as I would a friend who had stood by me through thick and thin.

Now, it’s difficult to write, to explain without sounding cheesy. But as I sat there, running my hands up and down these amazing legs that had brought me from there to here, I really was overcome with emotions beyond explanation.

And that turned the tide.

Once I felt gratitude for my body, love and appreciation, totally devoid of hate or fight or shame, I could release whatever bound that body to me. And the weight started to fall away. At the time I swore I wasn’t eating any differently than I usually did, but the pounds were falling away. 45 pounds, actually. I got to a weight I could have been comfortable being for the rest of my life. At most, 20 pounds away from the lowest I’d really want to go and feel healthy.

Life throws you curve balls, though. After about a year at that weight, I injured my back, became quite immobile, and due to a particular medication, I gained 40 pounds in 6 weeks, and over the ensuing 3-4 years, and various medications, it crept up another 35-40 from there. And that, right there, put me smack at 100 pounds over what I would consider a healthy weight for me. It was within 5 pounds of the weight I saw on the scale just before I gave birth to twins, my full twin pregnancy weight, the highest I’ve ever been in my life. Due to another medication, I am now down 30 over the last 4 months, which puts me right back about where I started when I was having a love-fest with my legs. But I am finally, finally, in a place where I can see straight to appreciate my body for what it has given me. How it has protected me. How it has taken care of me as best it could.

And now, my job is to love my body. Every imperfect roll. Every wrinkle, every line. Every muffin top and chafe-worthy thigh. Every gobble-arm and double chin. Because it’s not about judgement. In fact, if my experience has taught me anything, judgement does the polar opposite of what we are striving for. Acceptance, yes. Love and gratitude? Now we’re talking holy trinity.

This is how I started to send love to people I saw, who I guessed were probably hurting and struggling inside, the same as I have/was/do. And the people who were acting brave and not showing it to the world. And the people who were super-duper badass and had already figured out how to love themselves for what they were, knowing that the package doesn’t matter. Because, as far as appearance goes, I don’t care if you’re 88 pounds or 388 pounds or 688 pounds. We’re all fighting the same demons. And for the precious few who’ve won that battle, who’ve learned to put their demons in their place and love their body, I commend your bravery, your honesty, and your heart. I hope you can help gently guide the rest of us home too.

There does come a time when our health becomes a bigger priority than proving our non-judgementalness about body size. Sometimes losing some weight would make a striking difference in our ability to function. I know that since 30 pounds, my blood sugars have come out of the pre-diabetic range, back into the regular-old-joe range, for instance. I haven’t had my cholesterol numbers checked yet, but I am expecting to see some of the same there too. Most people have an easier time with their joints once they lose some weight.

And that all comes down to a choice, I guess. What’s the priority for you? Staying in a nonjudgemental place about your weight and keeping the status quo? Or staying nonjudgemental about your weight and trying to improve your health? Getting a little more active? A doctor will tell you there is only one right answer. I don’t agree with that. I think that you have a choice, as long as you are clear about the consequences and you make a conscious choice, knowing that there will be a price tag to pay, and you’re willing to pay it. But that requires some very intense self-examination and brutal honesty, because it’s easy to bamboozle yourself into thinking that you’ll pay the price tag because the change is too scary to contemplate. I get that. I’ve been there. I’ve done that.

Either way, we can all strive towards a more accepting, loving, nonjudgemental place when it comes to bodies.

We can probably love each other better. We can probably love ourselves more. It’s so worth doing it. And once again, it starts with gratitude.

{The following is a song I wrote the night of the naked, crying, thigh-rubbing, love-fest with my body. It’s a thank-you letter from me to my body. Maybe you can relate, or use it in your own process. If it helps you in any way, then I’m happy to share it with you. xoxo}

{One caveat: please know that this is a very rough writing demo only. Less than optimally recorded. But seeing as I’m still having MBox / ProTools issues, I couldn’t record a better version of it in time for this post. So you reeeeeally get to hear the nitty gritty! And, for your listening pleasure, you also get to hear many guest appearances by the fan on my laptop. Because that’s cool shit, yo. Click the song title and it’ll take you to the track…fancy, right?)

Fragile Emotions

Thank you for proteecting me when the world fell apart
Thank you for connecting me to the fear in my heart
For sheltering a lonely soul, who had nowhere safe to go

Thank you for keeping promises better left unsaid
Thank you for for the trust I felt, twisted but nonetheless
You kept me safe and when I hated you, took care of me the best way you knew how

Now I release you
Now I embrace you
Oh, I love you
And so I free you
Your guardianship of my fragile emotions is through

Thank you for the walls you built that kept it all at bay
Thank you for the padded cell that kept them all away
Fueling the fire, yearning and burning within

Now I release you
Now I embrace you
Oh, I love you
Yes I adore you
Your guardianship of my fragile emotions is through

The harder I tried, the further we’d collide
A slow angry burn at their failure to provide

Thank you for speaking up for me when I couldn’t find the words
Thank you for your loving curves and the beauty I have learned
The journey has been much bigger than ever I imagined

Now I release you
Now I embrace you
Oh, I love you
And I forgive you
Your guardianship of my fragile emotions is through

24
Apr
12

Long Time Coming

With really only one notable exception, I haven’t posted here in almost a year and a half. That’s a long time, no matter how you slice it. Sit back and hold on – I know this one will shock you – in that time, my life has once more fallen apart and I am trying my damndest to fit the pieces back together, like a Lego tower a toddler builds, destroys, and rebuilds, time and time again.

Does that make me the toddler?

Because I really seem to have a propensity for destroying any semblance of routine or security that I trick myself into believing I have cultivated, only to have to rebuild something in its place.

A quick overview…other than my random Ash Ambirge post (I still love her madly, and have a lot to thank her for, but we’ll get to that later), we last left off in January of 2010. I went back to work in April 2010, and realized how much I loved my job. I got sick again in September 2010 and have been off work since. Joint pain and swelling, nerve pain and weakness/numbness, cognitive dysfunction, memory and speech impairment, extreme fatigue, balance trouble / vertigo, migraines, sleep apnea, some funky heart stuff, and most recently, about 80% hearing loss in my left ear. Those are the big things. Oh, and there are a bunch of lesions on my brain. Sweet. And to top it off, this past winter was perhaps the most debilitating depression I have ever had to contend with. I climbed into a giant hole and took a break from everything, including social media, for several months. There are plenty of other little things I won’t bore you with…I think that’s enough whining.

I now spend my life at doctor’s offices. For a long while, the prevailing theory was that I had MS. But three neurologist, two MS specialists, and 3 MRI’s later, it would seem that is not the diagnosis. And there but for the grace of God…

So, at least for now, that has brought us back to a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia. I guess I’m still having trouble accepting that a diagnosis of FM explains all the stuff I deal with. It doesn’t seem like a big enough diagnosis to explain the fact that sometimes I can’t remember my kids names. (Yup, it’s horrifyingly true.) Or that I can’t get out of bed for days at a time or make myself sound like I’m not drunk when I’m speaking.

It seems to me that we are striking diagnoses off the list one by one. Which is, of course, exactly what has to happen. But each diagnosis requires tests and specialists and time and energy. And energy is one area where I am sadly lacking. So it is a bit of a double-edged sword: getting a diagnosis for an illness, one of whose primary symptoms is fatigue, requires energy. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

Throughout the Fall of 2011, I completed a Chronic Pain Management Course at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver. There was a lot of info I already knew, but it was great having it all tied up in one place. There were a few tidbits of information that I found immensely useful however:

  1. One of the most useful things you can do for yourself is DO THINGS YOU ENJOY. Sounds simple, right? There are so many things that I “need” to get done, and not enough energy to do them, plus I have spent so much time being afraid that insurance companies or work or people in my life who don’t really believe that I’m sick will see me doing something enjoyable and jump to, “well, if you can do that, then you should be able to do this” that I avoid one in order to avoid the other. Turns out, that’s dumb. (Not the first time I’ve made a dumb assumption; undoubtedly it won’t be the last.) In fact, chemically speaking, doing something that you enjoy does all sorts of good juju in your brain, releasing yummy ephrines and opamines and whatnots into the system which help you to feel better. Translation: doing something that you enjoy helps you feel better. Both mentally and physically. Say what? Life can’t just be full of musts and shoulds?
  2. It’s all about pacing. I can’t do all the things I used to. It sucks. Yup. Get over it. I’ve had to. I now have to plan my days and my weeks in such a way that I space activities out. Not too much in one day. Not too many days of tiring activity in a row. Rest time in between. I still feel like an idiot sometimes, but I literally have to plan to sit on the couch and watch TV, read/listen to a book, or nap.
  3. When I am going through a time of depression (October to March, roughly), I have to schedule seeing people and doing things into my calendar so I don’t hole myself up in my house and continue to spiral downwards. Period.
  4. For those of us living with chronic pain, pain is not necessarily a good indicator of injury. In other words, when we get to a point in activity where we hit the pain reaction, that is not indicative of an impending injury. It’s simply our hyper-reactive nervous systems hitting the “flare” point, and we need to learn to push beyond that point – gently, and over time – to become more active. Inactivity and chronic pain dance a frightening dance and one begets the other, and somewhere we have to break into that cycle.

Somewhere in and amongst all of this, my kids and I moved out of our house and into a townhouse. I think it was June of 2010. I had been so terrified of that move for so many reasons, but it turns out that it was the most positive thing that could have happened. Like most things we are staunchly afraid of, the reality surprised the hell out of me, and I couldn’t have been happier. I now have a dear friend who lives across the street. She deals with some of the same emotional issues that I do and is also an artistic soul, and we have been invaluable to each other in making it through the winter. There has been communal parenting when there needed to be. Our kids go to school together, and play out in the townhouse complex and park area constantly. Having a sense of neighbourhood and community was something that was always lacking at my old house, and that in and of itself has made this move worth it.

I think that about brings us up to speed. Now that’s over with, I can get back to posting about more interesting things…

03
Jul
10

I’m making me sick

My back injury was what it was. The fact that it continues to restrict me and affect everything I do is not OK. I am aware that it is potentially a way that I hide from all the things I don’t like to deal with in life…you know, responsibility, and, um, you know, responsibility. (Bloody hell I’m eloquent at 2 am!)  But it is certainly not a conscious choice for it to continue holding me back from participating in my life to the fullest. However, there is a school of thought (which I guess I kind of do actually subscribe to) that says everything in our lives, good, bad, and ugly, WE have attracted. So on some level, I have attracted this injury and its longevity. I guess I need to work on ceasing to give energy to said injury, and instead, consciously attracting healthier somethings into my life.

But I ain’t there yet. Back injury aside, I swear that I am the harbinger of ridiculous and unidentifiable diseases. For the last two weeks I have been bitch-slapped by something that may or may not be parvovirus. It started with the skin all down the back of my arms and across by back hurting. You know the way your skin hurts when you have the flu? Times that by 25 or so, and that’s where I was at. It lasted about 5 days, and a Saturday night visit to the ER (always entertaining), and a few blood draws confirmed that it was not septicemia. I could have told you it wasn’t septicemia. But my sister is a nurse, and she was concerned that, because I had recently gotten a tattoo, I might be septic. And she was right to be concerned. My symptoms were awfully similar to textbook. But I’ve been septic before, and I know how that manifests in my body. I also know how quickly it (and every other malady) goes from 0 to 60 in my body. The last time I was septic, I went from first feeling a sore throat which I knew was the onset of strep throat (later confirmed to be strep group G), to being in shock in the back of an ambulance in….wait….count ’em…..8 whole hours!!! A week in the hostpital, IV and oral antibiotics and painkillers. Oh, it was such good fun. NOT!

Clearly I get easily off track here. So, I was not septic, but I had skin that made my sheets feel like sandpaper when I tried to lie down to sleep. Right. So. That started to settle down after about 5 days. Then I put some lotion on my legs one morning, about 2 days later, which immediately started to sting moderately. Did I stop? No. Why listen to signals like that? All over my legs. And all over my arms. Arms did not sting, just the legs. Within an hour, rash all over my legs (but not my arms!?!) that was clearly blood vessels under the skin having broken. Fabulous. Then there was a weird spot that showed up in my lady bits. We won’t talk about it in detail. But suffice it to say it was weird enough that I went BACK to the ER. And when the doctor has you up in the stirrups, the last thing you want to hear is, “Wow! I’ve never seen anything like that before!” Great. I’m not looking to be a guinea pig for medical science, ladies and gentlemen. Just want to know WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON IN MY HOO-HOO!

Then the kicker. Hands and feet started to swell up. Then wrists and ankles. Then elbows and knees. Thankfully it stopped there.  Didn’t really hit my shoulders or hips. But the swelling got so bad I could barely walk, I couldn’t make a fist, nor could I completely extend and straighten my fingers. Doctors visits. Blood tests – I’m sure they could have fed a vampire village with all the blood they took out of my body. Biopsies. Doctors saying things like, “Well, I doubt that it’s cancer, so I don’t think you should worry about that” while in the stirrups…terrific! The thought of cancer hadn’t crossed my mind yet, but now that you mention it, it will be SO easy not to obsess!

(A dear friend of mine subsequently told me, “You probably shouldn’t worry about it being from massive head trauma, phantom limb syndrome, Ebola, Marfan syndrome, cystic fibrosis, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimers, dwarfism, gigantism, or otherisms for that matter. Just so you don’t focus on it not being from cancer. If you need any other suggestions as to what it’s probably not, let me know.” God bless her!)

After 6 days, the swelling is finally starting to go down somewhat. Most of the blood work came back…inconclusive, really. Indicative of a virus. But in the mean time some other tantalizing tidbits came up. A liver that is not quite cirrhotic. What. The. Hell? I’m not a heavy drinker, nor have I ever been for longer than a couple of months at a time, and those short spurts have only happened 2 or 3 times in my life when I was not dealing well with, well, life. So drinking really doesn’t account for it. Shitty food very well might – and THAT came as a huge shock to me.

So the consequences of my unhealthy relationship with food may be far more terrifying than wearing a size 20. I may have damaged my liver. And as far as I understand it, liver tissues don’t really regenerate with time the same way that some other organs do. For instance, I was a smoker for many years. I know that, having quit, my body will actually start to reverse some of the damage I’ve done to my lungs over the years. It’s a slow process, but it’s headed in the right direction. However, my understanding is that liver tissues do not regenerate the same way lung tissues do. I could be wrong. I hope I’m wrong. But it’s pretty scary to contemplate that I may have done irreversable damage to one of my vital organs because I didn’t value myself highly enough to take care of me in a healthier way than by eating.

I hope that I am at least staunching the flow. If I have done irreversable damage to myself, then it is what it is, and I can’t change the past. What I can do is take better care of myself in the future. Staunch the flow. Do no further damage. Take care of myself. Value myself highly enough to make better choices. Love myself. Treat myself, pamper myself, love myself in ways that do not involve putting something in my mouth. And the things that I do put in my mouth need to be low on the processing scale, high on the natural scale. More salads, chicken and fish. Fewer Oreos, chocolate, and candy.

I am worth taking the time to prepare something that is rewarding to eat, instead of reaching for whatever is already packaged in the cupboard. I am worth cleaning up after making myself something nutritious and delicious instead of grabbing something with just a wrapper I can throw away, no muss, no fuss. I am worth taking the time, the effort, and the planning. I am worth it.

I am worth it.

That’s what my health depends on, and I am worth it.

10
Jun
10

Gentleness

Here’s where today brought me: I need to be gentle with myself.

I am, at heart, a merciless perfectionist.  But when I can’t be perfect, I cease to try.  All or nothing.  In with both feet, body and mind, or lazing around, refusing to even look at the issue.

Which brings me to the next part: I am horrifically and undeniably lazy.  Well…am I?  I’m lazy about the things I don’t like, or aren’t good at.  The things I enjoy and excel at, I’m actually pretty motivated about.  Mostly.  (Except when I’m not.)  So, is that really just another adjunct to being an unbending perfectionist?  The more I think about it, the more it probably is, actually.  If I can’t do a kick-ass job of it (probably in a totally unrealistic timeframe too, just to put the icing on the cake), why bother trying?  Wouldn’t it be better to sit and wallow in self-deprecation, drink in hand?

So, it puts an interesting spin on this whole 21.5.800 project for me.  If I can’t be perfect at it, which, given my physical situation, is a question answered before asked, should I even try?  Or should I just try to find an excuse to let myself off the hook and walk away, never looking back?  Well, of course I should try.  And I should try knowing with absolute certainty that I cannot be perfect at this.  I will not be perfect at this.  Perfection is not the goal.  (I have trouble with this concept.)  The goal is to participate.  To be present.  To honour myself with a little space, love, and time that’s all for me.  In the process, it will happen to help get my body moving, and area in which I desperately need an ass-kicking, and my creative juices flowing.

Where does this all spit me out?  In the land of You-Are-Going-To-Be-More-Gentle-With-Yourself-If-It-Kills-Me-Which-It-Just-Might.  It’s a lovely place, and one for which I’ve had travel plans for a very long time.  My therapist encouraged me for years to purchase an All Access Pass to this fine destination.  Many an abandoned self-help book has pointed my compass in this direction.  But I was apparently riding a particularly stubborn donkey ass, and I always forgot where I was going, instinctually finding my way back to the land of Berate-Yourself-For-Not-Doing-A-Good-Enough-Job-Even-Though-You-Have-Way-Too-Much-On-Your-Plate-And-Are-Incapable-Of-Saying-No.

So, as much as anything, this 21.5.800 project is about learning to be gentle with myself, and revelling in the process, not the perfection.  So you know what?  The fact that I did 20 minutes of yoga today before stopping because it hurt my back too much is OK.  The fact that I listened to my body and only went as deep as it would allow (which was laughably shallow, but hey – I’m deep in lots of other ways), and stopped when it told me to stop is fantastic.  The fact that I spent the rest of the day physically exhausted from the heightened level of pain that ensued was OK too – I listened to my body, I slept for a couple of hours, and I stayed present.  And I won’t let it stop me from doing it again tomorrow.

And no, I won’t manage to make the 800 word count today, because it’s 10:45 and I have to be up at 0400 for work in the morning.  But that’s also OK.  I sat down and I wrote about my process today.  And that’s a good thing.

I’ve also come to realize that this writing journey will focus on my struggles with my health – physical and mental – and how I navigate through them.  And I’m excited to go deeper into it and explore what’s in there.  Terrified.  And excited.

But for now it’s time to turn the computer off and lay my head down on my pillow.  I am bound and determined not to be 2 hours late for work again tomorrow….

27
May
10

Am I Really Back Here, Yet Again?

Really? This? Again?

What. The. Fuck.

I thought I had this all under control a couple of years ago. This business of listening to my body and reacting appropriately to the signals it was so lovingly giving me. The method I spent years learning to put into practice, thanks in no small part to Geneen Roth, and a very fabulous therapist who subscribed for the most part to the Church of Geneen Roth.

But. Ugh. Here I am again, like it or not. And may I just clarify for anyone who was unsure: not. I do not like it one little bit. Three years ago, I had lost 40 lbs naturally, gradually over about 6 months, and without so much as a whisper of the word D-I-E-T. A four letter word, if I’ve ever heard one. I was sitting at a very comfortable size 12. For me, that’s about 185 lbs. It’s a weight that is maintainable over the longterm for me, and as such, I happen to think it’s a very good weight for me. I had achieved this weight without consciously trying, and I didn’t obsess about my weight one way or the other. Hello!?! Can you say breakthrough? We are talking Kodak moment of the psyche! Then my fucking back injury happened, I became immobilized, dealt with chronic pain, and my weight went up.

At first I put on 40 lbs in 6 weeks after I’d been put on Effexor. Take that, pregnancy weight gain! Ha! Even when I was pregnant with twins, it took me 9 months to gain 80 lbs, so 40 lbs in 6 weeks was no small feat. All of a sudden I looked like the Stay-Puffed Marshmallow Man. Not pretty. Not pretty at all. Over the next 2 years flat on my back (and not in a good way), I managed to put on another 10 lbs, just to round it out nicely.

Get it? Round it out? (What can I say? I don’t get out much.)

It horrifies and disgusts me, this extra weight I’m packing around. I don’t like the way I look, I don’t like the way I feel, and I’m constantly embarrassed by my body. I’m trying to start learning to listen to my body again, but it’s hard to trust when I listen and end up eating three iced croissants followed by a box of donut holes for brunch. And tonight my family celebrated the twins’ birthday. I was full before dinner even started – full of decently healthy stuff too: veggies and dip, multigrain tortilla chips and homemade guacamole (fantastic, if I do say so myself.) But I still ate pizza, because I was supposed to. I left 1/4 of it on my plate, but I was still so stuffed as to be uncomfortable. I completely skipped the 2 deserts that followed, and I felt good about listening to my body on that one.

After dinner, I started having awful stomach pains, because I overate so badly. And now, after having gotten naked for bed, I can see in the mirror just exactly how horribly distended my belly is. I look like I might give birth to an alien at any moment. Unfortunately, there will be no such easy way out on this one. I can’t just Sigourney Weaver my way out of this conundrum.

Clearly I need to make better friends with my body. I know from my past experience that when I am constantly trying to escape my body, it holds onto weight differently than when I appreciate and love my body for what it is and what it has done for me. I know any doctor will tell you different, but I do know my body well. And I know that when I am at peace with my body and my weight, and also better to take care of myself and respect my own needs, my body does not feel it has to protect me from everything. And the layers of protection gradually melt away.

The challenge now: get myself back to a place of love and appreciation for a body that I currently do not like or respect, between my weight and the constraints placed upon me by my injury. So here goes a big ol’ nuthin’. I’ll keep ya posted.

19
Jan
10

Been a while

Wow, I just realized how long it’s been since I posted. Some interesting and unexpected shit has been going on, and it looks like I will have to get my ass in gear and get back to writing. I’ve been so wrapped up in the absence of crazy in my life (well, relatively speaking, of course), and my re-entry into the world of the living – and the slow return to the concept of enjoying a social life….whoa. That’s just too much crazy talk.

Of course, we use the word, “crazy” somewhat gingerly around here. The meds make all the difference in the world, but I have no illusions that I’m merely a stone’s throw from the loony bin, and may always be. Super-duper good times!!




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