Friday, 5 February 2010

Time to Resume, and Tribute to a Friend

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. 
Steve, c.1994

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.


Tina said...

You can do this. I know you can. You can also reclaim your health. Do not forget that you are 47 pounds down and that is a far sight better than you would have been with no band. You are now home, settled and can forge ahead with your weight loss efforts. Not only do I have faith that you will nip your diabetes in the bud (or at least drastically improve it) but you will also get to enjoy all of the fun that comes along with thinness as well!

Anonymous said...

A thought provoking post Caroline, and a reminder that we need to make every day count and not take this precious gift of life for granted - as the saying goes - it's not a dress rehearsal. I can identify with your need to have a bit of 'me' time - I'm a very gregarious person but sometimes it's just so nice to be all alone in your head. I relate to being at a point when you realise it's time for action - that's one of the reasons for my current 12 week challenge. Upward and onwards lovely lady! Z xx

The Travelling Tart said...

For some reason wouldn't let me post my comment as me and the only way I could get it to post was to go anonymous Zanna xx

THE DASH! said...

I am so thankful that you are getting your own health under control, Caroline. You must must, must take care of yourself with your diabetes.. and yet sometimes it's just so very hard.
I had a little cry about Steve - poor man.. I feel so strongly for him. One of my sons is an insulin dependent diabetic (he's 16) and it's been a long hard road. These are the kinds of problems we work so hard at avoiding for him in the future - but really, you never can tell just what is around the corner.
Chin up, lovely lady... each day is a good day.. and another day you can work towards your goal. You have already done so well - just keep pushing.. it's all you can do.
Cara xx

Sandy Lee said...

Powerful post. Thanks for giving us all something to think about. As a young nurse I always wondered why people didn't change when they were given a life ending diagnosis. Having been given several wake-up calls and sleeping through each one, I now know that it isn't easy to make those changes. I have to do the one step at a time and hopefully get to my destination of health now matter the roadblocks in my way. Hope your writing helps you through these times as you are a wonderful writer.

Lonicera said...

Tina - thanks so much for your faith. The last few days have been pretty exemplary, and my restriction has increased apace. Perhaps there's something the theory that if you "unprime" your band by eating little, it shrinks back just a little, enough to make a difference. A particularly busy day at work has also helped - the distraction factor again. I find I just have to plod blindly on, and sooner or later I start to feel better physically. Now I need another pep talk to go to the gym...
Zanna - sorry you had a problem leaving a message, goodness knows I'm so greatful for the ones I get, I don't want to miss out on any. I imagine you to be a very positive person, and your "time for action" springs from that. Trouble is I put up with being an idiot for far too long before I get moving.
Thanks Cara - you're right, it's all I can do. I appreciate very much your taking the time to comment, when your life is so very busy right now...
Sandy Lee - thank you too for such nice comments. It does feel like a double whammy with the diabetes to think about too, but although it was in the genes, it's my fault that it was 'early onset' in my forties. Better habits would have meant that as with other of my relations, I would have not had to worry about it till old age.

Fat Bastard said...

I am getting to this late but I have to say thank you for writing from the heart. I think I know 20 Steves and envisioned all of them while reading your post. I wish you the best in getting back on that wagon.

oozyxena said...

I have not had the time to catch up on all of your post's yet, but just wanted to say how sorry I am to hear of your friend Steve also to hear you are having a difficult time at the moment, You have come so far and I know you are not going to give up, it always feel's like we have to fight every inch for the things that are good for us, so c'mon Caroline get yourself of to the gym take out some frustration there, I have been forcing myself to go and it is the last thing I feel like doing, so I know what you mean.

Love to you Caroline.
Hug xxx Hug xxx Hug xxx

Band Groupie said...

Great blog! I'm glad I just found you. Can't wait to read more! I'm here:

Ramón Minieri said...

Qué pena lo de Steve, Caroline! Lo conocí a través tuyo, y sentí que ha sido una persona digna del mayor afecto.
Espero que vos pases este bajón, y sientas que tu camino es válido. "Es un camino que tiene corazón" como dice don Juan. Dale, fuerza!
Hermosos los párrafos sobre esos momentos de vuelo que nos brinda la escritura. Un abrazo. Ramón

Nola said...

Caroline, as usual, your posts draw me in and get me thinking. You write from the heart and what you write is exceptional. I too know and have known some Steve's in my lifetime. You will climb back up again and shake off the melancholy....I know you will.

Lonicera said...

Thanks you for all the kind remarks. I'm getting through it I think, and will gradually start going downwards again. I'm swimming this coming Sunday for instance - and the gym will be the step after that (though I'd much rather be blogging...)

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