When Breathing is Tough

Well, our move is finally over.  It sucked every bit as much as I imagined it would. I spent Friday night until about 10PM getting more stuff out of cabinets and closets so it would  be ready to move, moved all of the remaining stuff (with help from my 13 year old son)on Saturday, and took care of all the cleaning on Sunday.  My husband worked 12 hour shifts all weekend so I made sure I took care of most of what was left so he could rest, especially since he did all of the really heavy lifting earlier in the week.  By the time it was all said and done, I think the only part of my that body didn't ache was my eyelids.  Even my feet hurt because I slipped on some snow/ice outside and bent both my feet in a bad position.  That only deepened my absolute adoration for snow.  Not! 
The biggest thing I learned is this: cleaning the oven SUCKS and I would rather pay someone to do it than ever have to do it again.  There has to be an easier way, the stuff called "Easy Off" is a little bit misleading! Haha.  My fingers ached and I felt like the skin under my nails was peeling away from the nail.  I will have to implement the aluminum foil trick in our new place.  Anyway, it is done, and the manager complimented us on how nice we left the place looking.  And we are slowly getting stuff put away in the new place so it's starting to feel like home. 
Just after finishing cleaning on Sunday, I received a message from my sister saying she had to take my mom to the emergency room because she was having trouble breathing.  My mom is almost 63 and has been smoking since she was 11 so we all knew her lungs would likely be the thing that took her from us, but other than having a cough and getting colds more frequently than normal, she has been healthy.  My sister was giving me updates via Facebook, first that they may have to admit her if she wasn't better soon, then that she was a little better and might be able to go home, then when she was getting dressed her oxygen dropped again.  During that rollercoaster time, I began to think of the last letter I wrote to her but didn't send yet because I wanted to reread it to make sure it was stated how I wanted it to be.  I told her that she did an excellent job raising us and being a strong role model for us and I told her that I love her.  Why didn't I send that damn letter?!  I imagined the situation where people never get a chance to tell their loved ones just how much they mean to them, and that they love them before they lose them.  She was having a really hard time breathing, so much so that she couldn't have a conversation or walk across the room.  I was so worried, and after having a snowstorm the night before, the thought of driving an hour and a half to see her was filling me with anxiety. 
Fortunately, the hospital staff gave her steroids and breathing treatments and were able to get her oxygen levels up to a place where she could go home.  They told her she has COPD and that she should talk to her doctor about treatment options.  My mother is one of the most stubborn people I've met, so when I heard all this I knew my sister was going to be in for a challenge.  Since my mom lives alone, my sister and my aunt have been taking turns caring for her and checking up on her.  My mother, who got a degree as an operating room assistant but never took a job in the field, is refusing to take her steroids they sent her home with, is trying to get up and move around (even cleaned the snow off her car) and is getting very upset that doing these things makes her have horrible episodes of coughing and that makes her have a hard time catching her breath.  She keeps saying that she doesn't want to be a burden and end up "like grandma".  My grandmother was ill for a few years before she passed, and my mother and the same aunt were the ones that cared for her.  My grandmother had already lost her husband and became depressed, her mobility was bad from diabetes and horrific arthritis, and she demanded help from her children but cried because my mom made her feel so bad about needing help.  My mom would often tell her to stop being a baby and do some things for herself.  That's my mom.  She sees needing help as being weak.  She told my aunt that instead of needing help from my sister, she'd rather drive herself to a far-off desert and lay down and die.  I have been nervous that she is going to try to kill herself, but my sister doesn't think she will.  It sounds like she is starting to feel a little better, but we all know COPD is progressive and it will eventually kill her.  Now is my time to make ammends and tell her she is loved and treasured, even if my heart is reluctant to do that.  You might have guessed that we are not a lovey-dovey family, nor was my mother's own family.  It's hard to say nice things to one another, and that is a huge part of my own issues that have led to emotional and compulsive eating for me.  I am finally starting to heal some of that through books I have read and doing meditation or just focusing on the topic and thinking about the dark stuff I never want to think about, to see if I can see it with fresh eyes.  Maybe the guardian angel was here to tell me not to wait to tell my mother she is loved.  She needs it now more than ever, and it will be healing for me too.  I have to let go of the hurt and anger, she needs warmth now, even if she is reluctant to receive it.  I feel lucky to have a chance to express myself and heal these things before she goes.  She may get better and get on a treatment plan that will help sustain her, no one knows how advanced it is or how much time she has.  I am not going to waste any time showing her I love her.  I have to put my petty issues aside and be the carer in whatever fashion I can be. 
I am really gratful that I turned this leaf over in fall so that I can be strong for this situation now.  One of the main reasons I tried this again is because I was feeling like I wasn't breathing so well.  I, fortunately, got a clean bill of health after a breathing test.  I can't help to relate my issues to the ones my mom is now having, though I've never been a smoker but I've been overweight for the majority of my life.  In the past, I would have nearly eaten myself into a coma from all the stress, but instead on Sunday night, I had a microwavable dinner of chicken breast with mashed potatoes and gravy, and after only a couple bites, the dog got to it while I was checking on some food on the stove.  I gave up and has a few pieces of cheese and a glass of grape Crystal Lite from a wine glass to make it feel fancier because we are out of wine.  I had some popcorn with my son while we were doing homework too, but compared to what it would have looked like a few months ago, I was in control the whole time. 
It's a funny feeling, the switch from being obsessed with thoughts of food to food almost being an afterthought.  I've never felt this way before, even when I was doing good on a diet, it was always about getting to a certain point, then, in my mind, I could "relax a little".  I don't feel that way anymore.  This finally feels like I just changed my lifestyle.  It is hard to get people to understand that I am turning down sweets not because I'm on a diet, but because I simply don't enjoy them as much anymore.  I think instead of saying, "No thanks, I've given up sweets for now." I need to rephrase it to, "No thanks, I'm not much of a sweets person."  It is finally true for me.  People respond to the second one better because it is phrased in a way that doesn't make them perceive my not eating sweets as deprivation.  Isn't it fascinating that even others don't want us to deprive ourselves?  I have been guilty of this myself, with my husband who is one of the most disciplined individuals I have ever met, especially when it comes to fitness and nutrition.  I used to try and tell him he should relax a little and have a small bite, especially when his mom would make him cheesecake for a special event and he'd turn it down even though it's one of his favorite things to eat in the world.  He has loosened up a bit now that he's getting a little older, but now I see that I was doing to him, what is now happening to me.  It would have been different if he genuinely disliked cheesecake, I wouldn't even offer or discuss it.  So, for now on, I will simply say I am not real fond of sweets and leave it at that.  Hopefully that'll do the trick. 
Long post but it truly helped to talk about things.  If I can give one piece of unsolisited advice, fix your relationship with your parents, even if they are no longer with you.  Talk to them, write it down in a letter, send it to heaven with your thoughts if you have to, but heal those things that are broken.  If your parents are alive, it is most vital.  It will be healing and beneficial for you even if they are not receptive to it.  Tell them the things that hurt you, tell them the things you love about them, and tell them you want to put the past behind you and have a fresh start.  It is a great step toward healing some of the parts that make you want to eat when you are not hungry, or drink when you've already had enough, or gamble when you are broke and have lost everything.  It's not an easy step to take but the rewards are more than you can imagine!  Thanks for reading!


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