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Seven Years Ago.....

Friday, January 06, 2017

This morning I bundled up (two scarfs, boots, three sweaters, etc.) to head out my driveway and get my newspaper on a snowy -5 degree Nebraska morning. I thought back seven years ago to 2010, when I had just started on my journey to get healthier. I actually began on Dec. 14, 2009, and was almost a month into it by this time seven years ago. Seven years. That's a long time. You'd think some of the things I've been doing (for the most part) would be more of a habit, and they are somewhat, but I still fight the urge to eat too much, and the wrong things. I fear that I always will.

My Facebook page popped up memories earlier this week from my birthday celebration in 2010, when my sweet granddaughter Amber was just a baby. And I thought back to what I did on my birthday this year. We once again went out to eat, but in 2010, we went to Olive Garden, and I had a "cheat" meal for my birthday. This year we went to Ruby Tuesday's, and I had a good but healthy meal: the petite sirloin steak, mashed potatoes and salad bar (light salad dressing, and none of the high caloried add-ons), all which comes in around 530 calories. And even though I've had a few bad days in there, the scale continues to drop, I'm down to 162.8 this morning. Very close to that original goal weight, clothes are fitting better and I'm feeling better. Du and I are still committed to losing 10 lbs. by his Oncologist appt. in mid February. I'm afraid we may have to get out the Leslie Walk at Home DVDs, however, as it is much too snowy to play Pickleball in the driveway or even go for a walk outside. We both fear falling. It sucks to get old and have such a fear of falling, but the possibility of breaking a bone is very scary and while I would probably heal (eventually) from a broken hip, Du's poor cancer riddled hips would never heal. My Dad fell late in his cancer battle, and broke his pelvis, from that point on, he was bed-ridden. We don't want that to happen any sooner than necessary. I even bought Du a special pair of shoes for Christmas that are supposedly slip-resistant. Hope they work, because even though we try to avoid going out in the bad weather, sometimes you have to. Yesterday was one of those days, it was his appointment for get his life-saving shots and have his catheter changed at the Urologist's office.

We have had a very stressful week here. It actually started before Christmas when both our cars broke down. All we had was our 1994 pick-up to get around in, and that was okay, but we needed to get the cars going again. The older car (they're both old!), the 2004 Pontiac needed some kind of heating core, and we got it fixed for under $300. WHEW! But the car we drive mostly, the 2006 (also old) Cadillac, needed a new engine. The repair shop has really drug their feet on this one, and we haven't been very pushy, since we got the Pontiac fixed (and it's better in the snow anyway), and we were dreading the cost associated with fixing the Cadillac. The repair place told us that once again the Caddie needed a timing belt, for the fourth time in about three years, ($2,000 every time--not cheap), then deciding it was the engine instead. Considerably more expensive to fix, ($8,000--horribly expensive), but at this point, they had torn into the timing belt area, and were going to charge us $1,000 just for the labor to get our non-working car back, which had had nothing done to it, other than digging into the timing belt area. So frustrating. So when we arranged a loan to pay for a new engine, they decided to forgo the $1,000 labor charge for the erroneous work to try to replace the timing belt (Thanks a lot!). We don't know if we can trust them or not. They seemed determined from the beginning to want to replace that engine, and I feel like telling them they are taking advantage of an old retired couple, living on a fixed income, and the husband has stage 4 cancer. We debated getting a new car instead, leasing cars is fairly reasonable, but still had that $1,000 repair (?) bill to pay and the thought of paying that $1,00 for nothing was just hard to swallow. I hate cars and fixing them, it's so expensive. I think they should have car repair insurance. If we had to pay $100/month for that, it wouldn't be such a hit when something major, like this goes wrong.

To add to this pain, Duane had to have his nephrostomy tube replaced suddenly last Friday, it was clogged, and before his Urologist appointment yesterday (monthly appt. where he gets his shots and his supra-pubic catheter replaced), both tubes were clogged. I had to learn yesterday how to flush the nephrostomy tube, since it comes out his back, and he can't do it himself. He is an expert at flushing the supra-pubic cath, and has done it repeatedly in the last months, as it has repeatedly clogged. We both think he has a raging UTI, his urine is very thick and has a lot of grainy stuff in it (TMI--Sorry), and of course they won't give him antibiotics, knowing he can build resistance to them now and he will need those antibiotics more later, literally to save his life. We know so many people who had cancer, and did not actually die from the cancer, but from an infection. But Du needs to be able to get rid of the urine. The funny (funny, as in BAD) part about this nurse (LPN) showing me how to flush the nephrostomy tube, was that she admitted she had never done it before. Now I know in the medical world, it's "See One, Do One, Teach One." But she had never seen one or done one, and here she was, not only doing one herself, but teaching me how to do it. On the way home I Googled the procedure, and it said NOT to withdraw the liquid once you put it into the kidney, as it can damage the pelvic cavity. She had shown me and told me to repeatedly push the water in and then pull it back out. I'm sure she asked someone (on one of her multiple trips outside the room to "ask" for help), what she should do and when they told her to try flushing the nephrostomy tube and she replied "I've never done that," (we've never had her before, so I'm guessing she is new), they just told her it's just like flushing a regular catheter. But it's evidently NOT the same. When I do it, I will not pull the water back out of the kidney, that's for sure. I trust Google more than an LPN who has never done the procedure before. Once again--NOT GREAT CARE!

So Du's actual physical pain and discomfort only added to our stress over the car situation, and I got testy, and should not have. The night the car repair place actually called about our car needing a new engine to the tune of $8,000, I felt physically ill, and as happens very rarely, I lost my appetite completely. I know I should be grateful that I still have Du with me, but sometimes I lose track of that. I promise to find the compassion deep within my soul and never take the stress out on him. I'm reading a book about Comfort and Care for the Cancer Patient, and it says that often it's the cancer talking and not the person. I knew that. I will try to be better. A cancer patient has so much stress every single day, and a care-giver (and lover of that person) does too, but I need to remember to never take my stress out on him.

So as I was walking down for the paper this morning, I realized that just seven years ago, I would not have attempted that walk. Not because it was slick or cold, but because it was too physically taxing for my over 300 lb. body. So I gave thanks that I can do this confidently now (at least the walking part--if not the snowy and cold part) without thinking, after starting my walking routine in March of 2010. That first warmish March evening, all I could do was walk down that very same driveway (a little less than 2/10 of a mile round-trip) and back up. I went further every day after that, but that first night, walking the driveway was a huge accomplishment at the beginning of my journey. Here's a comparison picture from my birthday seven years ago and what I was doing this year.

My life is so different today than it was back then, when I was so very limited by my size. Even though we have this cancer diagnosis hanging over our heads, I'm so glad at least I took care of that overwhelming weight problem that influenced every area in my life. I know it will make dealing with what is to come easier, if that is even possible. But I realize how much more difficult it would be to take care of Du if I was still over 300 lbs. and still found any movement really taxing and painful.

So I choose to be thankful for what I have in my life today, a new loan to pay for a car repair bill, a husband who has terminal cancer (but is still HERE!), and a body that can do just about anything I ask of it, including walking down a snowy driveway to get the newspaper.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Hi there! Just catching up here...and again, another inspiring, moving blog. Sounding grateful despite setbacks and worries is a good place to go for comfort. The before and after pics are a great reminder. Sorry to hear of car issues, but those can be remedied. The lifeline of your story is the people part. That is what makes this seemingly never-ending battle worth it! You have come so far! Keep Sparking dear friend!
    547 days ago
  • NEWNANCY2012
    It is so good you are able to maintain a healthy life style with all the struggles you have to help you husband. emoticon I will keep both of you in my prayers,
    555 days ago
    You will be strong for Du. Just as strong as your love for him is. You both are lucky to have each other for best friends. emoticon
    556 days ago
    A very positive review of the past seven years of your life...I think it's very cathardic to write it out and review and truly see what's happened and all the changes and how they all effect your lifey and how well both you and Du have handled it! Your concern over not taking out your stress on Du says something about you and that your a good person and love Du! Don't be too hard on yourself...your only human and occasionally we can all lose it!
    I just couldn't believe the "episode" at the Doctor's office and the unskilled LPN trying to train you in something that she didn't know herself! What is mind bending, too, is you were PAYING for that! Wow!
    Your right...I would use the internet for instruction!
    Look at those before and after photos of you...amazing and awesome and what a life saver, literally and figuratively! You have everything back and can function without limits! Bravo!
    Stay warm and safe...this weather is crazy!
    556 days ago
    We had to replace the engine in my Jeep Grand Cherokee a couple years ago because a water pump hose went out and the temperature outside was over 100. We didn't notice anything wrong until too late. $8,000 was our cost too, so yours sounds reasonable if that helps.

    Your Urologist office sounds terrible! If there were someone in that office that knew how to do the procedure, then THAT person needed to get in there! I am surprised they have not been sued before now. I think you have done a great job of making the best of a bad situation.
    556 days ago
  • -RUBIES-
    Life... so full of ups and downs, challenges, but, you are boxing your way though successfully. Way to go!

    556 days ago

    Comment edited on: 1/6/2017 8:39:53 PM
  • KERRYG155
    I'm glad you learned how to do that procedure correctly. I know Du is glad you're taking such good care of him. We have to enjoy every minute we have because none of us know how much timer we have together. Great job on getting that weight back down!
    556 days ago
  • LINDAK25
    You've worked hard for the last seven years. Happy SparkAnniversary! You're almost back to your happy weight, as well. Sigh. Personally, I want to get to a point where I don't have to think about what I eat. So not fair! It should get easier!

    Sorry you're having car problems. We've never had to replace an engine. Wow, it's really expensive. We bought a new car in September and sold the 98 Altima. We didn't have any costly repairs and the car still ran, but we wanted to make sure we had a reliable car and 18 years seemed like a good run. Since my husband can do most of the automotive repair himself it keeps the repair costs down, but it gets to the point where repairs can be more expensive than the car is worth.

    I think I would have been absolutely horrible at the doctor's office. This is one of those times when I think it is absolutely appropriate for an adult to have a tantrum. It's so frustrating! How do you get better care? I truly wish I had the answer!
    556 days ago
    What a great retrospective on the difference between seven years ago and now! It's easy to start taking our health for granted, until those memories pop up... thanks for sharing this powerful motivation to not just get but STAY healthy.
    556 days ago
    You have faced so many challenges. I'm glad you have maintained a healthy weight for your husband and for yourself. I remember your appearance on the Today Show, That success will always be with me. I actually KNEW you, at least virtually.

    I wish you all the best in 2017

    556 days ago
    Sounds like you are handling everything life throws at you! Keep up the good work. emoticon
    557 days ago
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