Tuesday, January 4, 2011

How it all started - and how it will end

You know how most people begin their weight loss stories with provisos explaining that weight had always been an issue, and then there is the inevitable "over the years, my weight 'crept' up" follow through - and then by the astonishing confession that at the height (and width) of the problem, the physician's scale recorded ______.  ?

I have another kind of story.

August 19, 2007.  It was dawn, and I was among friends watching the sun rise over Machu Picchu  - at the sun gate, with a cool breeze on my skin and ribbons of exquisite fatigue running up and down my spine.  I had hiked four days through the Peruvian mountains to get here and when I saw this, I felt it had all been worth it:

Wendy and I started down the trail to the city proper, and just about ten steps in, the cell phone towers kick in.  My blackberry - after four days of silence - indicated a message from my Dad.  That message, verbatim:

Dear Jannie,

I just wanted to let you know that I have seen my oncologist and I have a small recurrence of cancer in my bladder.  I am being treated accordingly and expect a full recovery, so I am regarding this development as one of no special importance.




This message, bad as it was, contained more than one announcement, and the unwritten one was the real sledgehammer - the one that made me plant myself against a sturdy centuries old piece of perfect wall of Incan dry masonry and heave while my friends waited for me to gain any shred of composure.  This was the worst email I ever got in my entire life.  Here's what it really said:

Dear Jannie.

I just wanted to let you know that I have seen my oncologist and I have a small recurrence of cancer in my bladder.  I am being treated accordingly and expect  full recovery from bladder cancer.  The  leukemia as I am sure you have by now apprehended, poses a far greater threat, as we can assume from the bladder mishap that both cancers have now returned.  I am being treated accordingly and expect a full recovery from the bladder cancer, so I am regarding the bladder cancer with no special importance.  The leukemia is, and I am sure you are aware, another matter.




I have no idea what a death knell sounds like, but I can assure that as I leaned back against that cool Inca masonry, I learned what it feels like.  As surely as I was helpless to offer him any aid from Peru, I would have been equally useless had I been right by his side.  Cancer is a bitch like that.

So what did I do?  I blew off the tour of Machu Picchu and spent the morning climbing the sugar loaf mountain in the background there,  Wynapichu.  I cried off and on, but when you have been sweating rivulets for days on end, I can assure you that no one can tell the difference.  After the climb, I went home to face what was happening to my family.  On that day, August 19, 2007, I weighed 148 healthy, strong, mountain climbing pounds:

(OK, OK. YES I HAD A HUGE RACK.  But I was thin, rack notwithstanding.)

Now you wouldn't think that the events of August 19, 2007 would cause a person - any person - to gain 100 pounds, would you?   Well think again, because that's exactly what happened, which I will now explain with somewhat more rapidity than is probably warranted.  

  • I got home from Peru.  My dad was diagnosed with recurrent Acute Myelogenous Leukemia, which, DUH, we all knew would happen. 
  • My dad was sent home to die. 
  • My dad stopped communicating with his children, choosing instead to spend his last days with his second wife.  (More on this later.) 
  • I stopped sleeping, thinking at every and any moment, my father would stop breathing and be gone. 
  • I started eating.  I stopped hiking with my friends because what sort of insensitive, selfish, pig of a daughter goes out and has fun with her friends while her father is dying of TWO kinds of cancer?
  • Weight went up. 
  • Father mysteriously did not die. 
  • Insomnia ratcheted up with every single day he remained inexplicably alive.   
  • He still didn't want to see us. 
  • Months went by.  I ate a lot of egg foo young.  I cried a lot and got fatter.  
  • Need I keep explaining?
I think not.  After my father had miraculously not died for 9 whole months my doctor put me on SEROQUEL, a short acting sedative that would put any howling lunatic into a mild coma.  I slept, finally.  And then weight piled on until, lo, the scale read 289.  


And then my dad died anyway - and gosh there is an awful lot more to say on that subject.  But not today.  My point is that my path to obesity - well - it was kind of weird.  Not the usual tale.  Stress, guilt, drugs, stress, food, heartbreak - all in a blender.  

August 19, 2007 is the day it all started, and while I don't know what the middle will look like, I do know how this will end.   

I will be thin again.  Come back and read here to see how it all happens.  

1 comment:

  1. I'm very sorry you had to go through that. I'm so sorry.

    We'll get you back to feeling good about how you feel and look. I bet you discover a lot of healing on this new journey you're taking.

    *BIG hugs*