Monday, August 15, 2011
My husband's sister called last week and said that they would be driving through our area after visiting family out of state. They wanted to come over and visit. My husband has 2 sisters. Each with 3 children. This particular one has 3 sons ranging in ages from 3 - 13. I wanted to see them all. I missed them.
I made myself go to Target to get back to school supplies for the 3 kids coming over, as well as for his other sister's 3 children. I was not at the store for long. I had a detailed list to save time. Even still, my pain started to cover me like an iron blanket. I drove home and had to lie down. I was swollen and red all over, and had ice packs on my hands and legs to help cool the fire of my nerve and vascular pain.
My husband came home later and said that he was impressed by the items I got for each child. He then looked at my hands and feet and face (as my disease has spread recently), and scolded me for making the trip without him.
"I HAD to do it, don't you see? I wanted this to be from me, not stuff that you bought and put my name on. I just had to do something for them myself", I whined.
I was angry at my disease. Angry for my world shrinking smaller before my eyes. Angry at my pain.
I wanted to do just one little thing for them so badly. Why was that becoming increasingly impossible? He gave me a sad smile, and asked if I needed more ice packs.
I had not seen my husband's family since last November, and I was not feeling like myself even then since I was in a lot of pain. My progressively poor health has prevented me from traveling, really anywhere. The only reason I flew down last November was for a funeral. I sucked it up. I made it work.
You know those fun games we all have played at some point in life, that although small, build family bonds?
Playing Uno, drawing on the sidewalk, teaching a child to snap their fingers, or build a fort out of cardboard boxes?
The texture of that cardboard, the pressure inside my hands and feet, even the sunshine on my face and wind at my back - all bring me pain too often. So when my 7 year old twin nieces walked over in their pretty dresses at that funeral service, leaned on me, and went to hold my hand, their mom said, "Auntie's sick. Why don't you go hold Uncle's hand?"
Will I always be the sick Auntie? Each time I've seen these kids these past 5+ years, the hesitation in their reach to hug me (at their mom's request to "be gentle"), and bit of fear in their eyes breaks my heart.
There are literally dozens of kids in my husband's family. Almost every one knows I am ill. For the older kids who remember me as the goofy and silly aunt who used to play hide and seek under the dining room table with them years ago, I get their sad smiles as they hover around me, but are not sure what to say. I am sort of broken to them; like a toy who's batteries have run out. I just need new batteries, don't you see?
My sister in law and her family came over as planned. I had to disappear for a nap to sleep away some pain, and then huddled in the corner chair through most of their visit. Any time the 3 year old tumbled in my direction, someone would quickly swoop him up and away from me.
I did the best I could, but felt that it was not nearly enough (we are our worst critics of course). This was not how I wanted to them to see me.
But I am sure I could have said no and not opened my home to them. Selfishly I wanted to say no, but I can't crawl into that depression hole anymore.
Does this mean that I should stop referring to myself as a regular gal who has a mean disease, and instead, think of myself as an ill woman who has some good days every year?
I'm afraid that those little hands which currently want to hold mine will be too old to want to reach for my red swollen limbs as time moves on (and I get even worse). They are growing up fast, and slipping away.
I need new batteries. NOW...
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
If a friend asked you to post a photo of yourself, would you be able to pick one immediately? Let me be more direct: If your weight has gone up and down like a roller coaster, which 'you' would you want to have them view???
The 'you' that you wish to get back to? Perhaps a photo of someone else's body that you were striving to be like? How about the bravest of the pack, who post photo's of their true 'you', as in today's version?
Another Spark friend had encouraged me to post a photo on my Spark Page months ago (CANNIE50). I recall being initially terrified since I had been hiding from the camera for a couple of years now - save for one silly photo with the Southwest Airlines Santa last December. My husband and I REALLY needed to shake off some sad feelings after a double funeral that we flew down for that morning. But Southwest's St. Nick was not going to tell anyone, and neither was I.
The idea of not only posing for, but posting a photograph of the 'current me' in transformation mode wafted through every grey wrinkle in my brain like the scent of burning popcorn in the microwave - it just wasn't going to fade away any time soon. As you know, I was still hiding from my mirror until recently, so you can imagine the anxiety I felt about seeing even myself in a pic.
I wasn't prepared emotionally to take a new photo of myself, so I started to look for photos I already had; or photos I had not yet thrown away that is. There have been so many variations of 'me' these past 5 or 6 years, and I was having a hard time picking one.
Have you ever tried to describe a new hairstyle to your hairstylist or a friend? Randomly whipping through magazine pages and often repeating phrases like, "it's like this, but more red like this other picture", or "I like the cut on this one, but the bangs are too short, and I wanted it more bouncy", etc. Well, I was lost at which Bren to pick. It was time to dive in and see what I came up with. I started to look through a small stack of photos.
There were snapshots from 8 years ago, before my disease, when my hands and legs were normal flesh tone and not swollen; before I let it take over my life for a while.
*OK, let's skip anything with full body shots to avoid that dilemma.
The next few pictures were of me when I was far too thin, about 7 years ago. A group of food intolerances decided to jump into the mix for fun, and I looked very pale and unhealthy.
Then I came across a photo from 3 years ago with my husband and another couple, who were both Emergency Room doctors, so they knew a lot about my rare disease. They very discreetly posed in a way to cover my swelling and redness (sweet people!), but there was so much pain in my eyes behind my forced smile, that I couldn't bear to look at it.
I think that was about the time in my life when I gave up the fight and let my disease and the basket-full of autoimmune illnesses drown me for a long while. I was so tired of being attacked from all sides, and I felt very alone.
*Down to the last picture.
No surprise, it's with Southwest Santa. I was almost 30 lbs heavier from swelling and depression weight, and really was not occupying a great place emotionally. I needed something tangible to grab onto and get out of the muck.
I shared with a couple of super duper Spark friends that I had made a promise to myself to pose and post a picture on my Spark Page on my birthday a few weeks ago.
I did my hair, I applied my make up with a butter knife (ha!). I primped and posed. I really tried to be in the moment and let my new appreciation for myself shine through to the camera.
Honestly, I pulled strength from many of you Sparkers, who proudly post their photos, to gather the courage and do so myself, and for that I thank you all. I feel a bit embarrassed now that I hid for so long.
Monday, August 08, 2011
This is the story about the infamous peanut butter jar. The packaging is always easy to recognize since it tends to come in 2 types: heavy rounded glass or a plastic tub of equal size. For PB addicts like me, it's a shape I tend to zero in on, in anyone's cupboard - whether it be in a movie set or in my home.
I don't buy peanut butter these days since I have an unhealthy relationship with it. OK, to be brutally honest, if I had free reign with a jar of PB (AKA Butter from Heaven), I'd eat myself sick (again). My husband used to think this was funny too.
Recently while at Safeway, my husband bought the luscious stuff, right in front of me (!!!).
I asked him not to. Actually, I pleaded: "Noooooooo! Please don't. It's so hard for me to have that in the house".
"Well, that's not fair to me and I want to have it around for when I crave PB&J sandwiches", he replied. He was right, but my mind was consumed with its presence. I swear it sang to me at night.
If peanut butter had a voice, it would sing like Dean Martin...
I had a tough time being in the kitchen after that. Every time I opened the cupboard for something, the jar's signature silhouette would taunt me.
Ain't That a Kick in the Head?
My husband had to go out of town soon after that grocery run, and I knew I couldn't trust myself overnight when the singing started, nagging and whispering sticky creamy lullaby's, and dissolving my sane eating goals. I was worried that the challenge would be too much for me.
Do you know what I did with that jar the day before he flew out? I brought it to work. I figured that if I left it at work, then I would not be tempted by the nuttiness and drive myself nutty in the process.
Well, it worked! I brought the little fellar home that following Monday and wiped the sweat off my brow since I tackled the nut butter test (this time).
I'm not going to lie and tell you it's been all roses since then. I have this strange attraction to peanut and almond butter; almost like a crazy obsession (think Gwen Close and Michael Douglass in Fatal Attraction). I can't recall ever scooping out a petite proper spoonful and relishing it - Nope. I'd grab a kitchen spatula and take that jar over!
And hubbie knows this. He KNOWS how hard it is for me, but I guess he didn't really UNDERSTAND, and there is a big difference between those words. That probably explains why he has thrown PB in the shopping basket a few times (again with me). Is it bizarre to pray that the craving go away?
Let Me Go, Lover!
Last weekend was different. We walked into the store, grabbed what we needed, and got in line. Then my husband said, "I'll be right back. I want peanut butter and jelly for sandwiches", and started to walk off.
My heart sank. Ugh, Will this ever get easier? Must I fight my food triggers all of the time? - I thought to myself.
Then the most amazing thing happened. He came back to my side and said, "Never mind. I know it's hard on you. It's not your fault". And we left the store.
I was so thankful that he did that. I'm an emotional eater if you couldn't already tell, and for now, I need to pick my food battles. That is something I work on daily. One less oily, churned PB assault is a relief.
I think my husband might actually understand my challenges a bit more. I don't feel so much like I am on one side of the chalk line and him on the other. He's next to me now. It's a great feeling.
Wednesday, August 03, 2011
I think it's been about 8 months since I really took a good look in the mirror, or at least looked South of my face when applying make-up anyway. I had been so down and depressed about the weight I had gained, the pain I was in emotionally and the chronic pain I struggle with each day.
I remember catching a glimpse of myself in a full length mirror as my husband and I walked past a store a long time ago. I swear, I did not even recognize that the person in the reflection was in fact me. The mental self loathing and bashing immediately climbed on board with the extra weight, and I somehow sentenced myself to 'mirror blindness' from then on.
I don't really like to shop, so it wasn't too hard to avoid the mirror at first, but I kept gaining weight from my emotional eating, and also from the bodily swelling with my disease, so I needed bigger clothes. I HAD to shop.
Personally I felt that the discount stores plotted against me since I went up a size (or 3). I swear I could not find anything for my growing thighs that wasn't already tagged as 'irregular'. I FELT irregular, so why didn't it fit??? I never left with clothes in hand. Sure, I had some great gardenia shower gel in a slightly sticky bottle, and a dusty candle with fingernail marks on top of it (what is that about anyway?), but no jackpot on well-fitting clothing.
Clearly I had to go to department stores. My poor husband would drag me there, taking my hand, leading me to the larger circular racks, and even dive in for me. Bless that man for putting up with my bottom lip pouting and refusal to like anything.
I was angry that we were spending hard earned money to literally cover my a**.
Plus, we all know that only the cruelest people in the world design dressing rooms; detailing each mirrored coffin with oh-so attractive fluorescent lighting, bleeding it's cellulite highlighting rays over my head.
Should I also mention that I am convinced that the same Mean Team of gremlins also build women's restrooms to have too few stalls, and thus, add to the wait time for women of the ENTIRE world?
Sorry, back to the bathroom mirror...
It was common practice for me to face away from the mirror while dressing and undressing, and making sure the door to whatever room I was changing in was tightly closed. If I could have hermetically sealed that sucker, I would have.
Inside I was treading water in the sludge of self loathing, and needing a life preserver, in more ways than you can imagine.
I stumbled onto Spark People and decided to join. I quickly connected with some incredibly supportive Sparklers and Teams. After 4 months, I feel lighter. Not just physically, but emotionally. I can share about my challenges with food and even talk to others about my rare disease - not feeling broken because of them. I have found more strength and support than I thought Imaginable, and am learning so much about myself.
Spark has not only pulled me out of the sticky sludge, but empowered me to take on my inner demons, laugh at myself, and love myself more.
I looked in the mirror while putting on my make-up today. I went to apply the blush brush to my cheeks and didn't have to fake that cheery smile to do it - I WAS smiling. My eyes seemed more focused and present. I took a breath and turned my gaze downwards and thought, 'here we go... deep breath!'
I expected the usual skin buffet of scars & spots, freckles & dots, but this was different.
I looked like a woman.
Big or small, this is ME. I can either turn away from the surgery scars, sun damage and wrinkles as if I were not worthy of self confidence, or I could use the tools before me and honor my body.
I won't be doing the running man in front of the mirror in a bikini, but let's just say that I am not closing the door anymore when I change at home. And I am only getting better...
Saturday, July 30, 2011
Was it the one less California Roll? Perhaps the lack of sushi rolls lately??
Pretend I am a news anchor about to break some rather graphic news. Be sure that your children are away from your computer screen before reading further.
And my apologies in advance, as this all takes place in the women's bathroom at work...
How many of you have willingly put on a pair of nylons in front of your significant other? I don't see one hand raised. Want to know why? I'll tell you, because it is the LEAST ATTRACTIVE THING that I believe anyone can do in front of someone else, even the dog. It's humbling, yet horrifying , all at the same time, right? We put up with a lot as gals, but throw nylons in there, and I suddenly feel like a whining 5 year old. "I don't want to!"
I wear nylons every workday, and over the years have drifted into what feels like a size 'S' if there was such a thing, on that Tetris game looking grid on the back of the cardboard pantyhose package.
Size 'A' was a distant dream from decades ago.
Size 'B', also not part of my reality.
Size 'C' was barely cutting it (or, err, covering it).
Emotionally, I felt like I was a size 'S' for Sumo-Sized.
But for now, let's get back to the bathroom stall:
I went to the restroom to tinkle from all of the water I am consuming these days (gurgle), and did my business. I then performed the usual routine of squatting like a Sumo wrestler and yanking my nylons up and over my belly rolls.
They were noticeably easier to hike up! I looked down and realized that I had one less roll to strap down with my nylons!
Does this mean that the 6 day a week workouts and daily attempts to eat well are actually working??? I was jumping up and down with my virtual pom poms!
If you've read my recent blog about falling off the tootsie roll wagon, basically defining the term 'emotional eating', then you know that I took 1 step forward and 2HUGE steps backwards recently into a puddle of nutella and a wall of carrot cake.
As one of my Spark friends said recently, "it wadn't purdy".
So how is that that just 4 days ago I blew it so badly, and today notice less roll-age? I knew I needed to stop over-thinking the 'why' of it all, and just be happy. Actually, I was overjoyed about the whole pantyhose exercise.
Thank GOD no one else was in the restroom, since I repeated my Sumo Stance over and over again just to make sure that the extra roll had left the building like Elvis.
What ever will I do with that extra room in my hose?
Should I keep the TV remote in there so my husband never gets to watch college football again? (Hmm, enticing thought). Perhaps I should put my reusable grocery bags in there instead of shoving them under my armpit like too many of us do. Oooh, maybe I could keep my sunglasses in there so that I am not digging for them in my purse. Maybe not. I just got a visual of Ben Stiller in Zoolander yanking on his underwear.
I am so happy that my body is rewarding me on the outside for what I am trying to do to the inside. The Sumo Stance Dance was just what I need to stay motivated to workout. Perhaps someday soon I won't need to wear the tri-force-spandex type of nylons that I had committed myself to wrestling with daily, and opt for the less strength pair. What would that be, Size 'CJ' for 'Clean and Jerk Olympic Weight Lifting? : )
I feel like greasing my hair back into a low pony tail, sticking my favorite pair of chop sticks in my short pockets and dusting my hands with baby powder - I am ready to wrestle this weight off, SUMO STYLE!!!
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