Since I had to quit work my life has become very small. I have a care taker help me out of bed. I do my morning walk across the kitchen and have increased from 12 steps to around 40. I can do my morning bathroom ablutions by myself and then I fix my breakfast. I gather what I will need, my lunch and snack and water and prepare for my day. I spend my time watching tv, or listening to the background noise, do my therapy exercises and play solitaire or monopoly on my Wii. I might watch movies on Netflix or reality shows about house or restaurant renovations. I will look at Facebook once in a while, delete emails, and read or write blogs. My husband will be home in the late afternoon and my daughter/caretaker will come over for supper and spend time with me in the evenings. We proofread/critique/edit new manuscripts and will do some games/exercises on the Wii fit program. As time has passed, I have gotten stronger, but am still housebound and still wear a catheter. In the past week, I have been able to put myself in bed without help, so progress has been made.
Reading all of this has shown me how much my life has changed in a very short amount of time. I used to have a job where I was active and productive all day. It was becoming more difficult, but I was still for the most part independent. Now, I am focusing on my strengthening exercises and my long-term goal of losing weight. The reason for the focus on weight is so that maybe an orthopedic surgeon will agree to give me new knees so I can regain my mobility. They are reluctant to operate because of my lymphedema and my weight. Since Aug 1st, I have lost 21.8 lbs. It is sometimes difficult to feel like this is real progress but in real life…weight gain is easy and weight loss takes time. I will be below 300 lbs. by December. I remember years ago when I weighed over 400 lbs. I lost about 75 lbs and then maintained that for several years. My worsening mobility and my sudden retirement has forced me to now focus on losing weight again.
At age 64, I have lost and gained more weight than most people could imagine. It becomes a way of life that is never quite successful. That tends to wear on you over time. It becomes something you never want to focus on. But now, I have found a program that works for me. I actually find it fun. I got a used Nook and found an app on it called Lose It. It is free to join. You program in your age and weight and decide if you want to maintain or lose weight and it will set a calorie limit for you to follow. I set mine on the maximum of 2 lbs. loss a week and began. You have a huge data base that gives you the calorie count of all the foods you log for your meals or snacks during the day. The program will subtract and keep track of your calories for you, telling you how many more calories you have left for each day. If you eat more than your allotment, your graph will turn red. I find striving to stay in the green is very helpful. The program will also log any exercise you do during the day and add the calories you burn back into your daily allotment. My daughter, my son, my sister and I all started this program within 2 weeks of each other and all of us have lost 18-25 lbs. We encourage each other and share recipes and exercise tips and we have watched each other become successful at losing weight. It has been very satisfying.
Since I spend a lot of each day alone, I have a lot of time for thinking, contemplation and when I don’t forget, prayer. I have found I tend to fill my time with background noise so I don’t have to think too much, but sometimes I can’t help but look to the future. My life has become very isolated and small, but I have to think there is still time for something more. My daughter talks about ‘when you get your knees fixed and can walk again’ but most days, that seems very far away and almost out of reach.
I have realized that despite my isolation, I can still be happy and content. For now, I have all I need. We all want more, so striving for something better is normal. The fact that mine is for better health and mobility seems better than how I used to live. I dreaded the difficulty in going to work, the increasing limits to my mobility and continuing to work as I had for the past 30 years. Now, instead of dreading the difficulties and the stresses involved, I now focus on continuing to gain strength and looking to my continued physical progress. If some days I wonder if it is too late for me, and time is my enemy, then I will draw myself in closer, bolster myself and focus on my progress. Things are working. Progress might be slow, but it has been steady. How do you stay happy? You continue to move forward, you continue to strive and you count your blessings and your achievements. Happiness is living your life the best you can as you continue to look forward. And so, for now, I am content. And the journey continues…