It's a brand new day. It's a brand new week. And I'm still here.
It was a bit of a frenetic weekend. Lots of cooking and prep for SC600 - which I managed not to photograph even once. That works out OK, though, because we'll be doing a second SC600: BBQ Edition soon, and I'm really looking forward to it. Sunday brought major exhaustion - including a brief nap that accidentally turned into a three-hour-nap. It also brought with it some major food addiction struggles. I was feeling emotional, and experiencing 2 or 3 out of the 4 "HALT" conditions that can lead to relapse. I fought food cravings all day, and managed to avoid indulging by talking through my emotions, resting, and seeking out healthy food. (Even when hungry while out late, I managed to order a turkey burger instead of something much worse.) I did, however, eat a brownie. I ate it mindfully, just the single-serving I bought. I felt sated and no longer felt the need to cram every kind of everything down my gullet. As I said to Tom earlier in the day - that craving had nothing to do with food. It had to do with wanting not to feel emotion.
But I'm still here. And do you know why? The answer also happens to be the answer for today's Friend Makin' Monday question.
Was there a defining moment in which you realized that you needed to lose weight?
Yes. There was. And it isn't pretty, so if you're looking for rainbows and unicorns, maybe it's best you move along to LisaFrank.com.
My defining moment was actually a defining month. May, 2009. It was the month my mother died.
Mom suffered from an auto-immune disease called ITP - which is a complicated condition, but boils down to her immune system consuming her blood cells, which made her bleed internally unless she took steroids. Which she did for the duration of the disease. Which lasted for twelve years before she passed away. Most people gain weight from a couple of days on steroids. Can you imagine taking them for twelve years? Unfortunately, I can, because I saw it happen. Along with the fatigue from the disease, it caused a vibrant, warm, spitfire of a woman to disappear before my eyes.
Before all of this went down, Mom had issues with behavioral eating (which I've discussed earlier and elsewhere) - and was already morbidly obese. But everything was compounded by the steriods, not to mention being exhausted and having her joints slowly destroyed. Which led to weight gain. Which led to more exhaustion, worse joints, more weight gain, more exhaustion, worse joints, more weight gain. An infinite cycle of it.
There were years of slowly slipping mobility. Of my dad doing all of the housework and caring for her 24/7. There were walkers, wheelchairs, electric wheelchairs, vans with elevators, chairs with mechanisms to lift her out. And after her fall at the end of April 2009, in the retirement home where she was so miserable, there was even a mechanical sling that lifted her from the bed to the toilet on wheels. She couldn't move herself at all anymore. This is when I left Los Angeles to spend what I thought would be a week in my hometown, cheering her up.
But within five days at the retirement home, she'd contracted a blood infection from the pressure sores. Her weight pushed so hard against the surface of the bed that it wounded her. And because of her diabetes, healing would be impossible. She spent the rest of that month in the hospital, and I stayed for all of it.
Soon there was an around-the-clock air pressure mask, for lungs weighted down so that not enough oxygen got to them. Significant mental confusion followed, including an extended period of hallucination that my father and I were working with the mob to have her killed. (Which sounds funny now, but was heartbreaking then.) And eventually, there was the discovery of her congestive heart failure. There were a few precious days of lucidity as we all said our goodbyes. And then there was coma.
And then, there's the day I don't talk about much, or think about much, for that matter. The morning she woke up from the coma. They were flipping her over to try to clean her rotting wounds, when she woke up screaming from the pain. She didn't stop, or fall asleep again, until they administered the dose of morphine that allowed her to relax long enough to die that afternoon. And we were all there with her, horrified, watching her suffer, and then watching her slip away.
I do my best to remember my mother as she was before all of this. A force of life to be reckoned with. Quickest with a joke - with the least appropriate joke for the occasion, in fact. Passionate about family, about celebrating, about understanding and communicating with her loved ones. And those memories make me happy.
But the memory of her dying? I have to return to it now and again. It keeps me on my weight loss journey. Because although it was an auto-immune disease that compounded her health, it was her weight that made that disease so much more difficult to bear. Someday, somehow, I will die, too. And when I do, I do not want my weight to make that experience worse than it needs to be.
Thank you for being here with me today, everyone. This isn't an easy story to share. I work so hard to make my journey to better health one that is filled with joy. I firmly believe that one can find so much to love and live for while one is losing weight, even within that very process. And I promise that I will continue to share my discoveries about the joy of healthy living here, day by day. But some days, I have to remember what set me on this path. I just wish my Mom didn't have to die for it to happen.
Please. Please take care of you. And tell your loved ones how much they mean to you.