My friends — I am back!
My goodness, what a past 6-months.
On October 11th (I think it was) I wrote about my mom having been diagnosed with brain cancer. I wrote about losing my (stupid short term temp) job and I wrote about missing personal training appointment and I wrote about the possibility that I might get fat (again).
Most importantly, mom finally surrendered to brain cancer; Stage 4 Glioblastoma late January 2014. The stages in this process were rough–for all of us, though obviously mostly for her. Not going to lie to you – my precious mother was a difficult patient and until she became grounded in bed, she was angry, generally unwilling to accept help, unable to coordinate the use of eating utensils, and refused the help of hired sitters So, it was up to me and my dad and her long time home assistant — nobody else and mom needed to be watch at.all.times.
Mom was already using a walker pre-surgery for back issues (and old age). As her illness progressed she became less and less able to let us help her getting into/onto her bed, as as well, the toilet. In trying to do things for herself, she fell and was resistant let us help her back up. In the early stages, while she was still almost strong, she fought us helping her and fought harder when she no longer had the strength to help us help her — no resistance strength from her so we had to lift her as dead weight… and this was very hard on her back which caused pain and more resistance. Eventually she became fully bed ridden in a hospital bed; yes we had-in home Hospice.
In her earlier stages of illness after surgery, she was not able to speak; that is, could not finish a sentience. She left us hanging in suspense over the last word that never came out. I had to tease her when she’d say, for example, “I’d like to …… ” and I’d say to her, try telling us the last word first… I am in suspense! I could joke with her, at first.
Moving forward, once mom was bed ridden she turned to sleep (willingly or unwilling) and did so without moving for up to 30-hours in some stretches. The last phases of the illness were quite rapid. In a highly acclaimed little booklet that Hospice provides, Gone from My Sight, it seemed that mom followed all the rules of the final stages that unfolded before my eyes. Unbelievable. I mean literally, it was unbelievable that “my” mom got sick and suffered through such a horrible time; this extremely dynamic, opinionated, confidant and once independent woman became unable to speak, communicate, write, hold a fork or feed herself.
There was no pain. The brain itself does not know pain itself although, I suppose in lay terms, it knows how to deliver it. Pre-surgery, post-surgery and through the days and final days — not once did she have pain. So, there are the agonizing and painful cancers like pancreatic, liver, lung, and breast cancer. I wonder if you had to chose a cancer, would it be the one that silences you and yet gives you no pain, or one that doesn’t silence you but is painful.
How this affected me was simple. My commitment to my mother was that she would see me most times (and toward the end, each time) that she woke up and opened her eyes. I wanted her to know I was there — always there and would be til the end and mom would never wake up alone. When she woke I’d tell her about the day, something I read, or something from the news. It was important to engage her because after all, she wasn’t dead, or dumb. She was completely coherent up until the last 18-hours of her life.I know this because she smiled at me, held my hand and asked questions, or said, “say that again”?!
In the final 2-weeks I had moved into her house and shared the room with her; her on the hospital bed and me in the twin bed sleeper beside it. Other family member(s) were not as invested in the ‘sitting’ as I was. The other primary in the family felt that if she was dying she was dying. Not being insensitive, but more like a man, he told me that she would die when it was time no matter where he, or I was at the time and life goes on. True — but on my watch… she will die with me right here.
I struggled to focus on much other than her. I went to have dinner with her most nights until later when I moved in, and promised myself that my life should not change and part of that would be going to the gym after I had dinner with her and saw her to bed. But, most nights were not easy. Her eating was atrocious and when someone tried to help she became infuriated. This fueled anger and different sets of family challenges. I’d be so upset, or emotionally worn out each time I left that the idea of taking care of myself; by going to the gym for example was so off the beaten path, so far out of my wildest imaginations — Doing so however, would have been the best thing I could have done for myself mentally and physically. But I just couldn’t pull myself together and that made me even angrier.
This next part was tricky too and this is something I MUST see past myself from here on out and forever. It’ll be hard to explain so bear with me. I was gaining weight – by the day. My step-father was losing weight — by the day. He was dieting. Last February 2013 I began personal training and aggressively lost weight and toned up to the tune of 52-lbs gone. During that time my step-father insisted (not verbally by in actions and expressions) that I could have lost the weight for free. After all, (well, lets call a spade a spade, he got jealous back then and started losing) he was losing, too. And all he did, he said was watch what he ate. Personally, I am sure there are stomach problems for him. I lived with him (while mom was ill) for almost 4-months and every trip to the bathroom was… loose and spattered.
But anyway, the more I gained the more my mom was looking at my stomach. For once, just this once I am glad she was silenced so I wouldn’t have to put up with the comments coming from her eyes. But ‘he’ kept telling me every day — and I never asked, he told company that rarely came over to visit mom – though they never asked, he told them that he was losing weight. “Another pound today”! (behind his back people would say to me, “?” and “who cares?”) and he did this constantly. But I was in this position that I would not discuss weight with him, would not compliment him because it would generate discussion about my weight and so when it was time to eat…. If he ordered pizza, I was going to eat pizza. I would not cave in and tell him I would only have a salad, for example because it would generate 2-thing: a nod to me that I had gained weight, and/or a nod to himself that he was losing. I didn’t want to hear about it let any food or manipulation on his part make me talk about it.
So I went with the flow. What I ate was off-limits for discussion and while I could have/should have been cautious and open about what I would eat and wouldn’t eat, and wasn’t going to admit I was gaining. And frankly, my weight was not my concern. I HAD been professionally trained for 9-months and when the time came I knew exactly what had to be done to lose. So when it was time, I would lose it.
I hope you guys understood that? The issue now is that I won’t go to the gym because I don’t want my trainer to see the 21-lbs I gained. And trust me, hiding from him is not helping. He is the Assistant manager at the gym and always there. So I haven’t been going. This is NOT good.
After mom passed (so tragic) I immediately switched horses to (probably) avoid the reality of her horrific death and jumped right into her Celebration of Life. It took me a month to pull it together and ultimately it was a beautiful Celebration. 80-people in a beautiful setting. I didn’t watch my weight (yet) (although I did hit the gym for a couple of days — go me) too much. I regretted having to buy a new outfit in a new size (one size up) black pencil skirt, black light knit black top and a lightweight over sweater — HATED the over sweater part — we all know why we wear them! I was stressed about finding something classy and suitable to wear that would not reveal the gain. So sad that I did spend 9-months getting to look the way I should and be exempt from these problems — but the weight gain was an epic fail and I regret not taking care of myself. But who can blame me? Should I be bouncing around in a gym while my mother sleeps and wakes and doesn’t see me sitting there? She woke at all times of the day and night. So, therefore I sat.
And now, mom has passed, the celebration of life is over, we did a mini-second service yesterday for the residents at their community and I have little reason left to have excused to not take care of myself.
I am the sole survivor of the family. My dad died in 2000, my brother in 2002. End of a era is me. For once I have NOBODY to be accountable for or to– nobody, ‘cept the guy… but you guys know what I mean…. and this new-found unaccountability and by the way, no job, has tried to turn me in a lady in the lap.of.luxury leisure (with no substantial money to back up that title — who DO I think I am?) – waking up early and getting to go back to bed, watching too much TV, running errands that turn into shopping excursions.
I understand the Psych 101 aspect of my behavior.
New found freedom can be destructive.
I need structure.
My actions are screaming for it.
So here is the plan:
If I have all this time on my hands, and I have all this discomfort and anxiety about my weight – then I’m going to have to break down and go to my gym, trainer there or not and face the music when I see him. He’ll be disappointed, but he knows the situation I’ve been in and while he is young and hasn’t lost a parent yet, he seems to understand. Still, in texts I told him I didn’t want him to see me – I was too fat.
BUT! I finally realize that the only think keeping me from going to the gym is him. And yet, he is the ONLY one who gave me structure and required accountability from me. I hated training, I hated going to the gym every day (well, not really – it became natural) but I LOVED what it did to my body. So with a great deal of free time on my hands, I do believe it must be spent in a gym — or interviewing. Period!
And I apologize for the long and poorly written and depressing story. But it’s one that I needed to tell. Stay tuned for more uplifting posts!