Tag Archives: death

Home At Last

I am home from my long week in Pittsburgh.  Finally.  It was a very, very long week.  My mother had surgery on her arm which she had broken.  We buried my step-father.  I saw family that I have not seen in years.  It all felt kind of unreal and was very stressful.

I tried as hard as I could to stick close to my diet plan.  I did have a couple of hiccups though.  Then I developed horrible constipation during my last couple of days there.  It got so bad my mother wanted to take me to the ER.  It finally cleared up last night and I was able to make the drive back home safely.  I think it was brought on by a few bad choices and the stress of a very difficult week.  Needless to say, I am very glad that week is over and I am glad to be home.

All that aside, I had three really great experiences I would like to share.

The first, of course, is everyone’s reaction to seeing me 112 pounds smaller.  My stepbrother, Bill, last saw me a couple of years ago.  He and his wife have been getting updates from my mom with pictures.  But pictures really do not do the change I have undergone justice.  When they saw me, they were absolutely flabbergasted.  Bill picked up my baby sister and her husband from the airport and dropped them off at my mom’s house.  He helped bring the luggage in.  When I said hello, he replied with, “OMG Colleen!  When I saw you from the street I thought you were Sandy (my other sister).”  He then gave me a big hug and told me how great I looked.  As we stood there and talked, he just kept shaking his head and saying, “Unbelievable!”  When his wife saw me, she reacted the same way.  Pretty much everyone who saw me had the same reaction.

The other experience had to do with my other stepbrother’s wife.  Michelle had the gastric by-pass surgery a few years ago.  She was so excited when she found out I was getting the surgery.  She has also followed my progress through my mom.  I have not seen her for maybe seven or eight years.  She was always a big woman.  The day of my step-dad’s funeral this tall, thin, gorgeous woman came up to me and gave me a hug to tell me how good it was to see me and how wonderful I looked.  My mouth fell to the floor.  It wasn’t until she started speaking that I knew it was Michelle.  Talk about the tables being turned.

The last and best news that I have to share is I weighed myself when I returned home.  I’ve lost 3 pounds.  I am now down to 183.  At least there is something good that came out of a very long and difficult week.

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Stress, Traveling, And Diet Plans

During times of stress, staying on any diet plan can be very difficult, especially someone who has to stay on a tight schedule such as a bariatric patient.  This week has been difficult for me.

First, I have to say that the people here do not eat.  Well, they do, but not frequently enough.  My mom will eat breakfast, maybe.  I made her eggs on Sunday around 830am.  Then at noon, she didn’t understand why I needed a snack.  My schedule is pretty tight.  I am supposed to have breakfast, protein snack, lunch protein snack, dinner.  I feel like I eat all of the time, and I guess I kind of do.  My body is now trained on this schedule.

At noon when I hadn’t eaten yet, I made my way into the kitchen and started rummaging for appropriate protein snacks, of which my mother has none.  Yes, I know.  I should have been better prepared.  I did try to think ahead and bring my own protein snacks, but I left it on the kitchen counter back in Arlington.  Good thinking, right.

My mom can have breakfast and then not eat again until dinner.  I’m not supposed to do that.  I do not eat a lot for each meal, so I have to eat frequently, plus take vitamins.  I know if I skip meals, forget my vitamins, or wait too long between meals, I feel it.  Not hunger pains so much as the other signs of not eating, irritability, dizziness, etc.  I had to explain this to my family and let them know that while they do not have to eat frequently, I do.

I feel a lot of pressure about this, I have to admit.  Most of it is stress that I am creating myself.  I am worried that every time I eat, they will think I am going back to my old ways and I so want them to see me as doing well.  I’m not saying that I do not occasionally struggle with food, addiction, beating myself up for falling off the wagon sometimes.  I just am doing a lot better and I would like for my family to know that.

Of course traveling, dealing with a death in the family, nursing my mom through surgery, looking through old paperwork to make sure she has what she needs to arrange the funeral, get her survivor benefits from social security, make sure she has everything she needs as far as her insurance paperwork, etc adds to the stress levels.

This has definitely been a very trying week, but it is almost over and I will be back home and back on schedule soon.  Granted, I know I will have to come up here several more times to help my mom out, but things will be much easier, I hope.

Sort Of A Vacation

Well, I was supposed to be on vacation this week, but it has turned into something else.  As I have posted previously, my step-father was battling lung cancer.  Last week, he was in the hospital and they eventually sent him home on Tuesday.  On Wednesday, my mother fell and broke her arm.  She had been caring for my step dad up until then.

Once she broke her arm, she needed treatment too and could no longer take care of him.  My siblings and I decided we needed to schedule trips to Pittsburgh, spreading out the visits to make they would have someone there to help them as often as possible.  My sister drove to Pittsburgh on Thursday.

Saturday morning, my step-dad lost his battle with cancer.  Fortunately, my sister was there with my mom so that she was not alone.  The rest of us made immediate plans to get Pittsburgh.  I was there by 530pm.  My brother shortly after that.  My youngest sister and her husband flew in by 7pm.  The whole family is together again.  Of course, my mother’s house is now quite crowded, but we are all here.

On top of everything else, my mother is having surgery on her arm today.  The funeral will be Friday.

My step-brother and his wife have been an immeasurable help to my mom and step-dad over the past few months.  When my mom broke her arm, they dropped everything to get her to the hospital and get her taken care of as well.  I am so grateful they were there.

This week is very difficult.  Certainly, my whole family is grieving, but our grief is nothing compared to what my mother and my step-siblings are going through.  I know their dad was sick and they knew he would die from his cancer one day, but no one expected this quite so soon.  Nothing prepares you for the reality of a loved one’s death.  And losing a parent is hard.

I also truly feel bad for my mom.  She is really struggling.  I am very concerned about how she will handle things once we all leave town.  I am going to come up here again in a couple of weeks to help her out.  DC is just a short drive from Pittsburgh, so it is easy to get here, even in my teeny-weeny Smart Car, which got pretty good mileage on the way here.

So, blogging may be intermittent this week.  I can tell you that this trip has been rough on my diet.  I don’t think I’m eating anything particularly bad.  I did have to make a quick grocery run to grab some fruit and nonfat Greek yogurt.  I did not bring any protein powder, so I have doubled up on the yogurt.  I’m not too worried about being too low on protein as I am eating about 1200-1400 calories per day.  The Greek yogurt should tide me over until I get home or to a vitamin store or something.

I’ll be back on my regular blogging schedule next week.

WTF? Randomness

So, this is me today…

http://www.queenofwands.net/d/20050408.html

I guess you could say that I am a bit cranky.  It started off as a good day, so I’m not quite sure how I got here.  Well, no that’s not exactly true.  I kind of do.

I was up at about 7am and had breakfast, which consisted of a bit of leftover chicken saag from the Indian restaurant I went to the night before.  I was basically full after about four bites.  I turned the news on and then immediately fell back asleep.

Then I had the strangest dream about the house where I grew up.  My mother sold the house oh about 27 years ago, but it still lives large in my memory I guess.  We lived there from the time I was in first grade until after I graduated high school.  When my mom remarried, we moved and sold the house.

In my dream, my brother and sisters and I went through all of the empty rooms finding memories and keepsakes from our childhood.  It was almost as if we were saying goodbye to the house for the last time.  I awoke with the strangest feelings; a little bit of sadness; a little bit of relief; a sense of release and freedom.  It was a little bit unsettling.

I’m not sure what precipitated that dream.  Maybe it had something to do with the workshop I gave this week where I discussed how I use my real life events and create fictional stories out of them.  During the workshop, I discussed one of my stories and the true story on which it was based.  I also mentioned that I wrote a personal essay about the true story.  Someone asked me which helped explore my feelings about the incident, the fictional piece or the essay.  After thinking about it for a few seconds, I said that I found the personal essay to be a better vehicle for exploring my feelings because I could really tell the truth about the incident for the first time.  I felt a stronger sense of catharsis after writing the essay than the short story.  Of course, I wrote the story about 6 years ago and I wrote the essay about a month ago, so the feelings I explored in the essay are more immediate.  In truth, after writing the essay, I really felt as if I could let go of the incident for probably the first time in my life.

What is this incident you ask?  Well, when I was in high school, there was a boy who was in my circle of friends that I had a crush on.  Before I could really have a chance to find out if he felt the same or go through the normal teenage process of having a crush and getting over it when you find out that he does not feel the same, he died.  He was riding his bike and made an illegal turn the wrong way down a one way street and was hit by an oncoming van.

I can honestly say that I never really got over that.  While it has been many, many years since I actively thought about him every day, I know that the incident has affected me my entire life.  Somehow, writing all of my feelings down and sharing the essay with others seemed to lift this invisible cloud I have been living under.  I suddenly feel open to life and the possibilities that it holds.  I have not felt way in a very long time.

My friends have commented on the change in me too.  I know that losing 97 pounds has a lot to do with that change.  They know that I am writing more, walking more, getting out into the world, etc.  A friend of mine told me recently that it’s as if the extra weight was pushing me down, keeping me from living my life.  She talked about how I am much more confident and happy.

Also during the workshop, I share an embarrassing amount of personal information about myself.  I have felt a little bit self-conscious about that, I have to admit.  It could not be helped.  When one is discussing how they use their personal life to create fiction, one ends up talking about their personal life.  I talked about the bullying that I went through as a child in school.  I talked about the death of my friend.  I talked about changing schools.  I talked other childhood friends I have had.  So, I guess it’s not such a stretch that I would dream about my old house and about saying goodbye to old ghosts.

Now back to the link above and the strangeness of today…

I guess I have been sorting out all of these feelings all morning.  First, I realized that I left my iPhone charger at work.  So, I had to go out and get a new chord for the i5 because all of my i3 phone cords do not fit the i5.  Irritating.  I went to Target to see if they had any cords.  They claim to sell accessories for the i5.  Well, I should say that I went there against my better judgement.  I should have known better after their insult to fat people incident.  I had vowed never to shop there again after the manatee gray dress event.  I already hate their selection of plus sized clothes, did they really need to add further insult to injury?  Well, I should have stuck with my initial instinct, which was not to shop at Target for anything.

I walked over to the electronics section, where all of the sales people were all playing with a scaffold staircase thingy that moves up and down to allow them to reach stuff on higher shelves.  So, ten people standing around goofing off and not one of them came over to help me.   Finally, someone did.

When I asked him about cords for the i5, he proceeded to lecture me about being sure that I use only Apple products.  He then further explained how the i5 has a magnetic connection and why it is important to use their products on the phone.

Don’t care.  Not what I was asking.  I only wanted to know, did they have an Apple i5 cord to sell me.  I tried to interrupt him several times to find this out, but he was on a mission apparently.  Finally, I just talked over him, and said, “Fine! Fine! Do you have one?”  At which point he just laughed and said, “No, we’ve been sold out for weeks.”

Seriously?  Was the diatribe necessary?  Couldn’t he have just told me that upfront?  I was never asking about any other type of cord.  I really hate it when I ask for something, and the idiot guy working in the store feels he needs to explain to the stupid woman why she does not want what she came in for.  I was really irritated after that.  I was hoping to avoid going to the Apple store.  I did not want to go there.  The store is in Clarendon.  The traffic sucks and I usually have to pay for parking.  It’s a mess.  But, I did it.  I have my cord and can charge my phone.

In truth, I was probably still feeling the effects of my dream and the strange feelings I had when I got up this am.  But, now I have had some coffee, had my protein snack, and I am at my new favorite cafe writing.  I am already starting to feel better.

President Obama, Martin Luther King, Jr., and My Father

Today we celebrate the second Inauguration of President Barack Obama.  This is a historic day for many reasons.  One because we are celebrating the second Inauguration of our country’s first black president.  Second, we are celebrating it on Martin Luther King Day, who led the civil rights movement that helped make Obama’s rise to the presidency possible.  This is truly a day worth celebrating.  But for me, January 21 will always be my father’s birthday.

My father passed away in October 1996.  Unfortunately, he never lived to see the election nor the re-election of our first black president.  I think he would have liked to see that.

He saw so many amazing historical events in his life.  He was just five years old when WWII ended.  He saw the beginning and end of the Vietnam war.  He saw the election and assassination of JFK.  The Civil Rights movement.  Martin Luther King’s March on Washington.  The resignation of Richard Nixon.  The rise and  fall of the Berlin Wall.  The collapse of the Soviet Union.  And the end of the Cold War.

He also saw the explosion of technology; everything from transistor radios and microwaves to supercomputers and home PCs.  He even had an email address before he died.  He would call me from Pittsburgh to Maryland every single time he sent me an email, but he had an email address nonetheless.

He was married, divorced, and married again.  He owned his own business at one time.  He witnessed the births of his four children and he watched them grow up.

I sometimes think about all that he’s missed since he died.  Monica Lewinsky. Clinton’s impeachment hearings.  September 11. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The election and re-election of Barack Obama. Laptops.  iPods.  Smart phones. Bloggers.  Facebook. Me and my sisters receiving post-secondary degrees. My sisters’ and my brother’s marriages.  The birth of his granddaughter.

Some of it I’m glad he did not live to see.  Some of it, I know he would not understand.  But when something momentous happens, I wish he were here to celebrate with us.

Happy Birthday, Dad!

dad 3

Three

Three more days.  I have to admit that I am getting very nervous.  This past Thursday I noticed that some  of the anxiety I experienced a few weeks ago was starting to rear its ugly head again.  I was not as crippled by that anxiety as I was the last time I wrote about it, but I was definitely feeling tense.  I recognized it right away, started talking about it, and started taking some action.

I know that it is normal to be nervous before any surgery, especially one  that will be as life-changing as a gastric by-pass.   My challenge is to not let that nervousness prevent me from doing what I need to do to get ready for the surgery.  There is no chance in my mind that my nervousness will prevent me from going through with the surgery.  I have come too far to turn back now.

I want this change.  I need this change.  I just know that I cannot continue to live the way I have been.  Being morbidly obese is difficult.  It is painful.  It is killing me.  I have dangerously too many symptoms that could eventually materialize as heart disease.  My feet and legs hurt a lot much of the time.  My back constantly hurts and makes walking and standing difficult if not nearly impossible. Being morbidly obese is not a prescription for living.  It is a prescription for an early death.

I want to live.