Thursday, November 13, 2008
I've been wanting to tell a bit more of my story here, and I think this is the place to do it. This is going to be very long, but I'd like to share it with everyone who can take the time to read it.
I've battled with my weight since my kids were young. I went through my pregnancies and lost all my "baby fat" quite easily, but a few years after that I just gradually continued to creep upwards. Many times I've been successful at losing pounds, but it has always come back on.
The last few years have been the worst. I lost about 40 pounds and swore I would never let it come back on because I felt so good! But then the events of my life took over.
In the summer of 2001, my 22 year old son Shawn went into military training and while he was there he became very ill. There was a problem with his lungs that turned into ARDS, and left him in a coma for 7 months with a very poor prognosis. Several times they wanted us to remove his life support, because most of the doctors felt he had no chance of survival, or if he did he might be left with no capabilities. I moved across the country from Winnipeg to Edmonton and lived in a hotel for those months. I sat by his bedside and held his hand while I prayed. The hardest part was not knowing.... wondering if each day would be his last.
There were hundreds of people all across the country praying for Shawn and he DID live. But it was a very long journey and a hard struggle back to recovery. After waking up he faced a grueling course in rehab. We were flown back to a Winnipeg hospital by air ambulance and he spent another several months there. All his joints were locked up. It was weeks before he could speak, and a month before he could scratch his nose. The road was long. Through pure force of will Shawn wrestled his life back. He relearned many things, including talking, eating, sitting, standing and walking. Finally, after more than a year in hospital, on Sept 10, 2002 he came home.
Shawn was left with many disabilities. His lungs were very damaged and the rest of his body had suffered much. He needed continual oxygen, and although he could walk a little, he spent most of his time in a wheelchair because he had no strength.
His girlfriend Barb stuck by him through it all and they married in 2004. It was a difficult life for both of them, but they loved each other deeply and were thrilled to finally be together. Shawn still spent much of his time in the hospital due to frequent infections. Just a cold for us was a big deal for him. Slowly over the months his condition was worsening to the point where I cried after most visits with him.... it hurt to see him suffer so much. But he was a very courageous young man.... he accepted all that had been dealt to him and never complained.
In 2006, Shawn had a double lung transplant, a heart-wrenching 12 hour surgery. Better than just surviving it, he felt he had been given a new life. He still had many problems, but he and his new wife were able to do some travelling and experience many of the things that we think nothing of every day.
In the fall of 2007, my husband Don developed a flu and it suddenly turned much worse. He was rushed to the hospital and in two days was in exactly the same situation as our son had been all those months ago. He was in the ICU, in a drug induced coma, on life support, and stayed there for about two months. Again, the prognosis was not good. Again they told us he would most likely not survive. Again I sat by his bedside day after day, wondering if he would live through the day. They said he had two heart attacks, his kidneys failed and he was put on dialysis. There were problems with his pancreas and he had a bad allergic reaction to some of the drugs they put him on.
It was like a bad dream for me, I could not believe this was happening again. Although I have a strong faith in God and know that He helped me always, the stress through these years tore me down. All I could do was attempt to get through each day as it came.
Don did recover and came home after about 4 months. Again, we went through the long recovery and all the caretaking, although this time was easier than with Shawn.
The doctor referred Don to a cardiac rehab program at a wellness centre near us. I went with him to all his classes including the exercise, because I didn't want him to give up and quit. He has made a miraculous recovery and is back now to near full health.
By this time my weight had reached an all time high, 285 lbs. I felt terrible all the time and had absolutely NO energy. I HATED going to the gym, but somehow I got through those 4 months. We did however, learn a LOT in the classes, about nutrition and what we'd been doing to our bodies all those years. We wanted to change.
About the time we started that program, Shawn was again in the hospital. His condition had been slowly worsening again over the past number of months, and although they had been investigating the possibility of retransplant, it seemed that hope for him was running out. He and his wife had just had a new baby girl in January. He was so thrilled with his new chance at life, and now his new baby daughter, but it was not to be his for long. We lost our boy on March 11 of this year.
Sometimes it seems that I have been numb for the last few years, and as I said before, it's just been a necessity to make it to the end of each day. When Shawn became ill, I quit my job to go and stay with him, and have never gone back. I was very involved in Shawn's care, when he was in the hospital, and even more so once he came home. When he got married I continued to be involved. When Shawn's wife was working or away, I was there to help him and take him to most of his doctor's appointments, which took up a large part of his life. Then it switched to caring for my husband, and recently back again to Shawn, his wife and Ayva, their baby.
The last few months have been a combination of mourning and trying to get back on track with life. My husband is still off work on disability, and is not sure if he may still return to work one day or go into early retirement. We took about a month and travelled a bit, just visiting with friends and family and doing some site seeing. We've kept our memberships at the wellness centre, but I have found it a continuing burden to make myself go and do it. I've had many months of not sleeping well and my energy level has been lower than ever.
About 2 1/2 weeks ago, my daughter Wendy referred me to the Sparks website. She and some of her friends were just starting out here, and she thought I might be interested too. I spent almost the first two days just reading here! I started right away, and already I feel a tremendous difference!
I know I have spend wayyy too much time here, reading and cruising everyone's pages, and I won't always be able to do that! But it's so interesting and I love the interaction with so many others who are on the same journey. Seeing everyone else's progress in so encouraging to me.
I've lost almost 10 lbs now and it feels greattt! Other differences I've noticed:
My blood pressure is going down, down, down. I suspect I'll be losing some meds the next time I see my doctor.
I'm sleeping better.
I have at least a LITTLE more energy when I get up in the morning.
My digestive problems are improving.
I no longer have to take Zantac before I go to bed at night because I've eaten a bunch of stuff I shouldn't!
The exercising is still tough, but there have actually been a few times when I almost thought I was enjoying it!
I'm taking note of how badly I was eating, not enough of some things and way too much of others, especially SALT!
Don was away for a few days on a hunting trip and returned last night. He noticed the progress I've made right away and said my stomach looks quite a bit smaller! Then he said he's gonna have to start doing the same things I am. That will make it easier for me too if we're both doing it!
I am thrilled with the way things are going so far, and so encouraged by all that I've been discovering here. I love the support that I see all of you giving each other, and I'm looking forward to both giving and getting myself. :o)