Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The 35 year war rages on

Yep. Read it and weep.

30 pounds. 30 fucking pounds heavier than I was this time last year.

This time last year, my body felt reborn. I was about 2 years post surgery, and my weight had stabilized. My clothes fit the same from month to month. The scary drops in weight had stopped, and the bouts with nausea, and the problems with digestion. Everything seemed to have stabilized.

This time last year, I was packing to take the kids to Myrtle Beach. Matty was recovering from a month in the hospital - he had been diagnosed with cancer just a few months before in February, and the pain that landed him in the hospital seemed to be under control, and the chemo seemed to be working, and we were feeling hopeful.

This time last year, I didn't see my parents much, but I knew my dad was getting weaker, and my mom was growing more forgetful.

Within 6 months, I would watch a great many things.

I watched my dad slowly fade away in ICU. I'd bury my dad, move my confused and addled mom into my house, and see the extent of her dementia first hand and the extent of the cancer in her bones, and in her liver, and in her kidneys on MRIs in her kind doctor's office. It would feel oddly familiar. The same doctor had broken the news to us about my mom's breast cancer recurrence 6 years ago, and had gently told Matty and me about HIS diagnosis just the year before.

I watched Matty endure torturous, inhumane, painful treatments that he bravely faced so that he could live through this goddamned thief called cancer and be here for me and the kids.

I also watched all of his friends gather in his honor in NYC to help us celebrate his being able to be there and our marriage which we managed to wedge in among the tragedy and loss and just before his stem cell transplant - yet another hellacious procedure he faced head on without blinking.

Not once.

I tried to be as brave as him when I saw tubes sticking out of his chest that carried the poisons through his body to kill the intruder, and I tried to keep a steady hand when I flushed the lines with saline solution so he could keep receiving the poison.

I watched my kids go though all this too, without complaint. I watched time tick past, and mourned the time lost with them while I worked, or sat in a hospital, or sat with my parents. I mourned time lost with my mom when I was sitting right with her, seeing the look of confusion on her face and realizing that she didn't quite know who I was.

I watched it all. I sat through it all, very still, with hardly any movement at all.

I worked. I remained calm in the face of this shitstorm. I kept plugging.

And slowly, slowly, I relied on what I've always relied on to keep my nerves in check. Food.

I snacked. I rationalized. I began to fall back on old bad habits.

The worst part is, it all feels like vanity. I didn't care that I wasn't exercising. I didn't care that the weight was hurting my heart, or my back. I cared that my clothes didn't fit anymore. It didn't even dawn on me to step on a scale until my summer shorts felt tight. I blocked everything else - the lethargy, the aches, the depression, the loss of strength. None of that clicked, not one damn thing.

Just the shorts.

Stepping on the scale felt like climbing on to the platform and putting the hangman's noose around my neck. Breath held . . . . watching the numbers flash . . . ..

199.6.

I thought my heart was going to stop right there.

I had fought so hard, gone through so much, endured years of waiting, gone to so many doctors, endured so many exams, endured so many years of illness just to qualify for the surgery, and I had lived through all the aftermath, all the throwing up so that I would never have to see numbers like this again.

It took 2 years to recover and stabilize. 2 years.

I fucked it up in 6 months' time.

I am thankful for small favors, I guess. For whatever reason, seeing that little "1" on the scale made me believe that I could fix it . . .something about still not weighing 200 made the panic immediately flood my brain with "it's ok, you can fix this . . . . it's not so bad . . ."

But it is bad. Bad for my heart. Bad for my back. Bad for my body. Bad for the long term prognosis of me remaining free of this disease, or addiction, or shitty set of genes, or collection of habits determined to kill me, or whatever the fuck you want to call it. Bad for my kids that are relying on me to take care of them and bad for Matty that has fought so hard just to be able to LIVE to have me sit here and toss my health in the garbage can.

I owe it to all of them to stay as healthy as I can for their sake. They deserve that.

I barely made it through the day yesterday. Today, the panic is gone, but the sadness is just washing over me in waves.

I must have stepped on that scale 4 times yesterday. I've already been on it twice today.

196 this morning. That little part in my head that always rationalizes was the first to say "See? It will be ok! You'll get back to where you are supposed to! Just need to keep your eye on the ball . . ."

Then that part of me that lived through 35 years of obesity reminds me of how many times I have tried and failed, how many times the weight has come back, how many times I have given up, how many times I have beaten myself up.

I want to do harsh things, of course I do. I want to do nothing but drink hot coffee and melt the weight off through starvation. I want to beat myself up and run until I drop, but I'm so weak, I feel like I can't get up from this chair.

People always say, "Treat yourself kind - take good care of yourself. Don't be so hard on yourself." No part of me wants to be kind or gentle. If kind means eating right, exercising, and abstaining from my crutches, that's about the last thing I have wanted to do lately.

The kind gentle part of ME is the part that lets me keep pretzels in my office drawer, and a bag of jelly beans to absentmindedly pop into my mouth during the long boring hours while I sit here on conference calls, hearing people bitch about our company, and our jobs, and about each other. The kind part of me gives me treats so I can distract myself from the losses, and the sadness and the fear and the shitty hand I'm holding while bluffing fate with an unbreakable poker face. The kind part doesn't make me exercise, and helps me ignore the obvious while I grow weaker and heavier.

That's the part of me that feels kind - the part that feeds the addiction. Making me stick to the plan doesn't feel kind - letting me have what my body craves and playing a nonstop reel of justification in my head feels kind. Like all addicts, I guess.

And that's the part that gets you in the end.

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