Have you heard the joke about the man who asks God why he wasn’t saved from a flood… forgetting about the warning, canoe, motorboat and helicopter all sent to save him?
Welcome to my life.
I missed a lot of my life as a parent due to my weight. I watched instead of participated because quite frankly, I just couldn’t. I was too heavy for certain rides like the sky lift at the zoo, and too self-conscious to do things like attend the mother-son dances.
I haven’t had a date in nearly 13 years because… well… who would want to date someone as heavy as I am? On the other side of the same coin, I don’t attend a lot of functions at friends’ homes because it’s just no fun to be the heaviest person in the room.
Now none of this isn’t to say that I haven’t tried. I listened when I was put on high blood pressure meds a few years back. I took them, but figured, eh, the blood pressure is under control. Then I left a job with health insurance to a job that I thought would have health insurance. When that fell through, I kept the job but ditched the health care follow up.
In that time, I have tried diets, exercises, and even have a home gym growing in what used to be my dining room. I have eaten better, lost a few pounds, gained some energy… and then… fallen back.
It turns out, along the things sent to save me (time lost with my kids and friends, high blood pressure, and gym equipment) was a therapist who diagnosed me with being a food addict. Don’t say it – I didn’t think such a thing existed either. Except that, have you ever eaten food straight from the container while standing in the fridge and then play dumb and ask the kids where it all went the next morning? Have you ever eaten until you felt so full you were certain you were going to be sick… then picked at the leftovers some more? Oh, I mean, yeah, it’s a thing.
I have had the support of friends, encouragement of family, and access to the knowledge of professionals. It has been so powerful… and yet… way less powerful than the call of a double cheeseburger, or a plate of nachos.
In any case, I confess all that to tell you this:
I drove myself to the emergency room two days ago. I thought it was a complication of the asthma that has plagued me the last couple of winters. It took less than fifteen minutes for the staff to check me in, bypass the E.R. and took me straight to the cardiac ward.
My blood pressure was 247 over 156.
For those of you who don’t know… that is stroke level. That’s actually beyond stroke level. That’s pack on the nitro pack, have a nurse stationed at the door, have needle after needle stuck into your arm to draw blood and run emergency lab reports kind of high. Within hours, I was admitted.
I could tell you about the blown veins from the amount of drugs they pumped into me to bring the pressure down, or the fact that it took seventeen hours for the pressure to finally drop. I could tell you about the lack of sleep in a hospital bed, or the excruciating pain of the entire process.
I could even tell you about the look on my sons’ faces as they each entered my hospital room to see their mom hooked up to leads, monitors, and blood pressure cuffs.
But those weren’t the moments that changed my world.
It was when the doctor, a man I’ve never met and likely will never see again, looked pissed off that I was wasting my life. These next words will stay with me for what is left of the rest of my life:
“Your heart is a muscle, and it is dying. A wall in one of the chambers is becoming rigid and losing its ability to help pump blood through your heart. You are on the edge of congestive heart failure at the age of 41.”
There is no one to blame for that – except me. Not the lack of health insurance, not the “you’re beautiful the way you are” comments from friends and family, not the belief that just because it felt normal meant it was normal… none of that could have nor was it meant to prevent my ability to become healthy on my own.
Recently my kids asked that I stop writing about them. They’re older now, and aren’t so comfortable with the tales of their lives out there for all to read. I need to be able to share my story, and hold myself accountable for my actions.
So let’s say good-bye to the Single Mom Slice of Life, and say instead, hi. My name is Wendy. I am a recovering food addict. Welcome to my journey.
Have you ever had a moment that made you shift your life completely? What was it and what did you do?