Sunday, June 17, 2012

finding a new path

Over the past two years my life has been rife with change, some good, some bad, some neutral, some unexpected, some much anticipated.

We've bought a new house and moved ourselves, our animals, and (most) of our belongings. It turns out that a move is a move with all the attendant disruption and financial pressures, even if the distance between the old house and new house is 25 feet.  A few months after the move, we took in a second stray dog - a 6 month old who still needed house training, and who chewed everything in sight (including some of the molding on the doors of the new house).

My mother descended rapidly into dementia and dealing with her bizarre delusions turned daily conversations into an emotional mine field. Ultimately six months ago, she had to be placed in 24 hour care.  At which point the pace of change ramped up.  The family house had to go on the market, decisions had to be made about belongings. Then suddenly mother had a heart attack and died. The family house got sold. Because of distance, lack of time, lack of resources, lack of energy, and lack of space here at home, the only realistic choice was let all those material things from my childhood go. Yes it would have been nice to have some of the beautiful pieces of furniture that my father had made in his workshop, or some of the delicate china and glass treasures that my mother had received from her parents. Now that choice is no longer available, all that represented my childhood has gone.

A week after my mother died, my older dog died.  For a long time, my day had been anchored in the evening by two things, walking my dog and calling my mother. Both anchors disappeared within a week of each other.

Six weeks after the dog died, I learned that my eating over which I'd lost control during this stressful period and the inevitable weight gain had thrown me over the threshold into full-blown diabetes. The fiction I carefully constructed for 50 years blew-up; that fiction was that being overweight didn't matter because I had good genes and the weight didn't affect my health . I'd always felt sorry for other people who had to watch what they ate. For 50 years, my cholesterol was normal, my blood pressure was not just normal but actually low, and my sugar metabolism was the envy of laboratory technicians in 5 states. Little did I realize the damage that I was doing, and that the bill would eventually have to be paid.

The next week while I was just beginning to figure out how to eat as a diabetic, my brothers came from California bearing not only mom's ashes, but also dad's (he died 2 and 1/2 years ago), to inter them in the cemetary in dad's home town in Virginia, which meant restaurants and family meals.

On the good change side, I received a modest inheritance, paid off all our consumer debts, paid down the new house, set aside some savings, and still had some left to indulge some long pent up demand - like replacing all the pillows and rugs that the young dog destroyed in her first year with us. But, being in debt had been part of my life for 40 years, since graduating from college, so this also is new, uncertain territory.

I was beginning to get a handle on how to eat, and how to exercise again (after hurting my back May 4 and breaking some ribs May 16), when the most recent blow fell this past Thursday from the cardiologist. The tiredness, exhaustion and shortness of breath - is probably some blockage in the cardiac arteries. How much blockage and where I go from here has to wait on more tests.

I have lots of friends who have been dealing with heart disease and with diabetes, several with both,  for many years.  I know that life can go on, and be a very rewarding life. I just don't quite know yet what that path looks like.