The final chapter….
I tried finishing this up yesterday in my fabo mood, but I just couldn’t quiet myself long enough to write anything more. I played with Sophie girl; we had a blast. I went shopping with her mother. Fun, even if it was the grocery store. Sophie had everyone’s full attention. I love my children and now grand children. You heard me right, grand children plural, because a little boy will arrive just in time for Christmas–hear the smile in my voice? What a wonderful present. I had a very good day shopping for food–smiling big again –so happy to get to continue eating. So it was hard to hunker down and tell you the last (well of what I will share) of my terrifying hurdles to jump. Unlike the other posts, this one leads us back into the woman you see most days on my blog, the happy-Not-so-mad-NOT-so-fat-woman.
Yes, this last major challenge did upset us all. It was a terrifying and protracted, but it leads back to what is creating the immense joy in all of our lives at this moment. It leads to the wonder of why yesterday was so incredibly joyful, and why my life feels on fire at his moment. On fire with joy, peace, and hope for a bright future. How can one truly appreciate the good things in life without experiencing the horrible, the terrible, or the mind-numbingly-painful? There is a saying, “We comfort those with the comfort we have received.” That statement makes me think of joy I feel and the question I just asked. If one has known no hardship, pain, or difficulty in life can one truly perceive the depths of fulfilling joy, peace, happiness, or anything else for that matter? I am sure it is possible, but I think the sharper the pain — the sweeter the victory and joy associated with one’s life with the conquering of, any and all, mountainous challenges. Divinely stunningly and charmed become all life’s little joys, magnified as the rare jewels they are. Life properly adored for the gift that it is. That is where I find myself today, in this my present, cherishing the people, the moments, and tiny-little joys of a baby giggle and smile. Life is Good, if only we take a moment to look for the blessings, we will find them even in the darkest night. Promise.
With that said, let’s get back to finishing this tale of mine. Mike would remember (he isn’t here or reachable by phone so you will have to do with me for now), but I know it was right smack dab in the middle of all this turmoil, at a date and time I cannot remember, we learn that I am diabetic, have high blood pressure. Top that off with a dash of they still have no answer for the chronic fatigue or fibro problems, just more questions, and the mytral-valve and the hole the found in my heart had been massively irritated by the excess weight. I assume that the memory eludes me because I don’t want to recall anything from this time clearly, period, not really. I just want it all to fade away. Little good that does me; memory is a funny thing: it picks strange times to remind you of what you have chosen to bury. As if I didn’t have enough problems, lets throw medical problems on top of hurt children, owning a family business, and then there is the obesity. Something I have not been able to kick no matter how hard I try, which by-the-way was creating the new health issues I now faced. Add to that how utterly disgusted I felt about how looked for years and now the shame of creating life threatening problems to deal with. YUM. The doctors, wanting to impress upon me the gravity of my situation, made bold underlines of my looming death, striking fear in hearts of myself and my already fragile family. Our hearts were constantly heavy and weary from the sludge of daily wading through life with brain damage and autism; now we have the looming premature demise of mom. How much pain can a body bear?
Dear readers, you feel like dearest of friends because of how much of my heart I am sharing with you. You must realize how back-breakingly heavy the weight of this our new burden was to bear. We all put smiles on our faces to cover the terror that griped at our hearts. We did not often speak of the looming dead elephant in the living room. We just tried poorly to shove this new problem out of our minds, by attempting numerous, FAILED, attempts to lose weight. Mike and I bough a treadmill for me to walk on since I couldn’t really go outside for exercise and I WAS NOT going to a gym to parade my obesity for all to see. I started walking, if you could call it that. I walked for 5 minutes at a time and would fall back into the bed. I still walked several times a day. It soon grew into 20 minutes, then 30 minutes, then an hour. Once I got to the hour my feet hurt so bad from the pressure of my weight I could barely do any other activities, but still I pressed on with little weight loss result. We pressed in with walking, weight loss, Collin’s behavioral training, helping Will learn to live after the accident (not too great for a long while), and then with the rest of us learning to want to live. That is harder than you think.
You might miss that we were suffering from the practiced smiles and calm tones of our voices if you spoke with us in passing. We were pretty good at Faking it. We seemed to most like a family holding its own. You might miss there was anything unusually painful in our lives if you were only seeking shallow interest by-way-of casual conversation. If you should chose to pause, you might see that what appeared steady and confident was more determination to live acted out in a state of shock. Even now, our voices go uncharacteristically flat and lifeless when we speak of this time in our lives. Our eyes glaze over slightly, and there is a deep seat of pain and loss in them if you take a moment to notice. Are we sad tragic figures? NO! Just real. Living, loving, and laughing through real tears and a pain so deep that it feels, even now–if pondered too long–that we would drown from its weight.
Yes, we laughed, and we strove to live, regardless of the beating life was dishing out. My family’s faces wore a mask formed from continual exposure to shock, horror, and pain when they faced the new terror of my fragile health conditions. Sadly, sorrow gnawed at my heart, because, now, I am the burden my family has to bear. I don’t know if you can truly understand the pain that gave me. I knew a man who died a horrible death from diabetic complications, and another who was slipping into dementia from being a brittle diabetic. The reality of what my family would face ate at my soul and caused me to grieve. I forced Mike to talk about how we would deal with me if I should slip into these horrifying conditions. I watched how the men I mentioned families struggled and agonized with the crushing responsibilities their illnesses created. I did not want this for Mike and my children. These were real source of dread, because up to this point, we had seen more death of hope and real destruction in our lives than people should really know. What happens if I cannot correct these multiple problems; who will care for Collin; how will Mike manage? God help me, how can I manage one more thing in my life?
I called my good and faithful advisor. I have not asked her permission to share her name, so we will call her Serenity, because her words filled my heart with peace and confidence. It was her kind voice that directed my steps in the dark hours. She reminded me of the promises of scripture. She used logic and natural wisdom to assist me in my trials with Will, with Collin, and with my health. Her voice directed me to many professional services that would make our path less rocky and dangerous. In this my latest in a long series of trials, she said was just an opportunity for me to learn that I counted. That this was but a place for me to learn to care for myself and my needs so that I would be strong and able to be around for the duration. She said that previously I had been burning myself out at record speed. I had to learn to slow down. I had to learn that my needs were just as important as the emergencies of my family’s needs. She further instructed me that I must to learn to enjoy my journey (I am sure you can imagine how insanely I looked at her through the phone–you can’t show disrespect to Serenity). I had to learn to enjoy each phase of my life, because this too was my life, and if I did not learn this lesson, my life would pass without my having savored the living of it. What a waste that would be. As always, she was wise in her words, and with time I saw that she was correct. Refreshed, with this thin grain of hope, I stood and faced my life head on, determined to choose joy and life in spite of my foreshadowed doom.
This is where the lovely “Trainer Nazi” came in. This is where life with Will had developed its own new-natural rhythm, and Collin was functioning reasonably well. Life was calming down, except for my weight loss/health problem. The fear and dread still hung over our lives like a cloud of impending doom. Somewhere in all this, I decided I was going to live my life to the fullest and that I was going to stop waiting to live until I lost weight. So off I went with my fat self, and I started doing all the things that I could manage, which is quite a lot as it turns out when you are doggedly determined. I climbed down into the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde. Trouped all over Monument Valley in 115 degree heat. Rode ATV’s to the edge of the Grand Canyon (I promptly passed out when we got back from heat exhaustion–I prayed God don’t let me die on our first day; it would ruin their vacation). I rode ATV’s all over the cliffs of Aruba. I climbed all over Sequoia Notational forest, beautiful. Climbed up to some very low lakes in the Rocky Mountain National park … and so many … many other things. I have to say, that I am looking forward to going back to see how many more interesting activities I can do at these places now that I can motor around so much better. One cannot miss one’s own life for fear. One must live. Life is so very fragile and precious; it can change with the blinking of an eye … seize your days my friends … seize your days!
One day not terribly long ago, but before OptiFast, my lovely daughter Erica shared with me a daily fear she had for many years. It was shortly after I had a very the terrifying and shameful experience of being taken from our home on what looked like an appliance dolly (I was too large to go by normal stretcher and we have high stairs) by paramedics with a heart attack scare, while my neighbors watched and cared for my children (see I told you they came around). It was just two meds that did not mix well, but it was horribly traumatic for my family. Erica sat down across from my bed, because this is where I spent most of my days before OptiFast, Sleep Apnea Machine, and thyroid medications (sometimes I still spend more time than I like there). She looked up at me and said, “Some days I am afraid to open the door.” I asked her why. With solemn eyes she whispered, “I am afraid I will open the door and you won’t be breathing anymore. I am so scared.” This broke my heart. I shared this information with Mike, and he looked at me with sad eyes and shared this had been his constant daily fear as well. Heart breaking, to cause such pain. I knew what they were feeling … we had all gone through it with Will’s accident … intense pain flooded my heart with there tearful expressions.
You have to understand that before OptiFast, one of my family members would call me or I would call them and talk to me on the phone if I had to walk down any of our stairs. They wished to be on the phone with me should I fall so that they could call 911. I had numerous falls, and everyone worried I would lay on the floor unaided and not make it through. They were all very protective of me and watched over me constantly. They are amazing … I guess you can see this. I am such a blessed woman.
My husband and daughters are so relieved … so filled with joy these days. I do not know how to express how this affects me. Will called and asked his dad (he lives in Alaska), “has mom lost weight? Her face looks so much smaller on FaceBook.” He then called me to express how happy he was for me (Yes, this is the TBI boy). Collin, being his usual self, expressed how happy he was I was not so fat anymore, but wondered when I wasn’t fat anymore if I would look old. He reminded me I had been fat a long time and it could be a problem. You have to understand how hard I laughed at this–of course he voiced my exact worries. He let me know that I am doing pretty good and that I don’t look too old (Smiling big). I feel so blessed. It is like we have won some enormous lottery. I guess we have. I have the promise, now, of a normal future and a more timely death. That sounds so morose, but it isn’t. It is joyous. My family has now put the fear of my premature death away for another later day. This is truly a wondrous and beautiful thing.
Ahhh … Which brings us full circle to Ducky’s comment about how pleased my hubby must be and my hubby’s subsequent response. Followed by my mentioning my son’s announcement of his son’s birth–the reason for walk down nightmare lane. I should tell you I walked down nightmare lane, this time, with a smile. This is the young man who seemed lost, and who we never expected to have any sort of a normal life is excited that he has a wonderful lady in his life and now they are having a baby. I know my struggles aren’t over. I know Collin’s struggles aren’t over (we have a HUGE one facing us before school starts … uugg). I know Will’s struggles aren’t over. However, I must say that I am very excited about my life right now, even with the major struggles that are facing me; the ones I currently know about. There are some pretty big struggles going on as I type, but gosh, I just have to sigh … and say Life’s Good.
Into every life, a little rain must fall, because without that rain nothing beautiful would grow. Can you feel my satisfied smile? I am at peace with myself, my life, and my lot–I pray that you are as well.