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.