There are two positive things that happen to me when my spirits are very low, and it’s extremely annoying that they only occur when I reach this point.
The first is that I feel compelled to write – not newsy letters to neglected friends and relations who haven’t heard from me for far too long, but attempts at something creative. I seem to regain some sort of serenity when I sit at my desk, hands poised over the keyboard, staring at a blank screen. I disappear somewhere into my mind, surfing my own internal cyberspace. My sadnesses remain far below for a little while as I soar up into the mountains of my imagination or my memory, whichever I’m calling on at the time. I’m a fairly decent typist who doesn’t need to look at the keyboard, and away I fly.
Then – as inevitably happens - a loving partner or a working colleague interrupts, and it feels like being yanked back to earth. However justified the intrusion I feel pinned down, unable to escape, forced to listen to humdrum issues that need to be dealt with. I’m now on a lead, pulling to get away, aching to return to the beautiful place I have just abandoned so abruptly. Once is merely annoying, but I lead the sort of life when I’m rarely alone, so this happens frequently. In the end I just sigh and give up, promising myself that I’ll return to that world as soon as the next chore is finished.
If I’m going through a phase of not cooperating with the lapband, i.e. eating high calorie rubbish, then the second effect of low spirits is that I get back on the wagon, because – well, there’s nowhere to go but up. I know that being slimmer will make me feel better physically and mentally, and I start to apply the rules because I have no choice. Then slowly things begin to improve, and the modest success acquires its own momentum as wellbeing generates a renewed determination to succeed.
This is where I am at the moment. You will note from the “Snail’s Pace” weight chart that there has been no significant loss for several months. The unfill before I went to Argentina in November was necessary for other reasons (stated in previous posts) and I don’t regret it, but apart from slowing down the process of weight loss, more importantly it interrupted the momentum quite significantly. ‘Head hunger’ returned with a vengeance despite a re-fill, and it’s been a losing battle to avoid comfort foods and sugary treats. The gym subscription continues to exit my account every month, but isn’t used.
The trigger is when I reach the point of unhappiness (not necessarily weight related) and I have to acknowledge that whereas I have little or no control over other aspects of my life, controlling my body is something I can do.
In addition I’ve had a timely reminder that my diabetes won’t take care of itself either.
I was very fond of a colleague in a previous job, a big hulk of a man called Steve who was a diabetic of the same age as myself. A warehouse supervisor, he was a gentle giant whose occasional bad temper was invariably due to his hypos – low sugar levels. I was the cause of one such episode on one occasion when I was supposed to fill the cool drinks machine in the warehouse and by mistake put the Coke and the Diet Coke in the wrong slots. As the liquid poured straight into the cups you couldn’t tell what you were having, and when he realised his sugar was getting too low he drank several cups of what he thought was Coke. An hour later he was found staggering around in the warehouse, making aggressive remarks, and fortunately somebody guessed what the problem was and gave him sugar. He always teased me about it thereafter.
c.1992. Steve is at the back on the left
I hated being stuck at the front, of course!
Despite moving to a desk job and being carefully monitored by health professionals, his consumption of insulin was so high that he was eventually put on some concentrated version, but all the same started to lose sensation in his feet and hands. A few years ago a small wound under one foot went unnoticed for too long and very sadly resulted in the amputation of his leg at the knee - a condition not uncommon for diabetics. He was soon up and about and back at work, coping with the prosthesis as if he had been born with it, although with other health issues kicking in, eventually the job proved too much for him and he took early retirement. Then a couple of years later misfortune struck again with his other foot, with the same outcome, and he became wheelchair bound. This week I learned that he had been forced to undergo a further amputation of what was left of one of his legs, and had died during the operation.
He was once a tall, strong man and in his youth liked a drink or two. In 1988 when I first joined the agricultural company where we both worked, I was told stories about his being arrested outside a pub many years earlier because he had got into an affray and that it took five policemen to hold him down. Although he never found a woman he wanted to marry, he didn't lack lady friends who hung around, frequently because they were being badly treated by their boyfriends and they sought his protection. He had calmed down by the time I knew him – it may have been the effect of undiagnosed high sugar levels in the blood - and had stopped drinking altogether (the monochrome picture above ironically shows him being awarded a bottle of spirits for something or other, but he would have given it away).
The baby son of a couple who were friends of his became the apple of his eye, and as the boy grew up Steve was his surrogate uncle. On a Friday you would ask him “What are you doing this weekend Steve?” and his invariable reply was “Don’t know...haven’t been told yet.”
Though a naturally cheerful person, inevitably he struggled with depression over the last few years, and clearly he had better reasons than I did for his negative feelings. I hadn’t visited him in over a year because I felt I would be unable to cheer him up very much. Now I know this was selfish, and that any effort would have been worth it. I’m so sorry Steve.
This is a wake-up call if ever there was one, and time to resume treating my lapband with respect.