Chattahoochee Child, Family, Free Writing

Chattahoochee Child – Walking Into the Fears of Cancer…


Dearest Readers:

Periodically, I post a few stories from the book, “Chattahoochee Child” — my latest work-in-progress. Hope you enjoy!

 

The morning my father and I learned to forgive each other started like most mornings in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. Resting motionless in bed, he reminded me of a frail injured bird with crippled wings. His body was thin. His skin the color of mustard. Peach fuzz of a cotton soft beard kissed his face. My heart broke for him. My arms ached to reach inside his weakened body to pull the cells of cancer away.

Dad was rebelling after the diagnosis, stating in a firm voice that he would not shave his face UNTIL he was given the freedom and luxury of eating food. Meanwhile, the beard continued growing.

Although it was the holiday season of 1997, I could find no happiness or excitement in decking the halls or decorating a Christmas tree. The patriarch of my family tree was terminally ill, destroying my belief in the humanity and meaning of life. Why was it always the good people who suffer the most? Life just wasn’t fair.

During that Christmas holiday spent inside four cold walls of a hospital room, I remember staring outside, watching cars speeding by, ignoring traffic lights. I glanced at Christmas lights blinking off and on, counting the precious moments of life we, as adults, get locked into believing will be forever.

“How much longer do we have?” Suddenly, I shared an unspoken conversation with God as I looked up into the skyline asking why this had to be.

On that particular morning, Dad’s forehead was hot to the touch. I took his temperature. 103.  Sighing, I reached for the phone near his bed. “I’ll get the nurse to check your temp,” I said.

He watched every move I made. “You’re a good daughter,” he said. “I love you.”

I stopped dialing the phone. “I love you too,” I said, realizing he had never expressed those words before. His generation did not believe in showing affections and I was moved to the point of tears.

“Barbara,” he said his voice only a whisper. “I’m sorry for everything.”

I bathed his forehead with a cooling wash cloth, “No need to be sorry for the past,” I said. “You were the parent. I was the bratty, rebellious teenager.”

Dad’s facial muscles struggled to smile. “You always were stubborn and persnickety,” he said as he coughed.

“Just like my father,” I teased. “You rest. We can talk later when you’re stronger.”

“I’m glad you’re here. I can always count on you, even when things are difficult.”

“All of that’s in the past,” I said, brushing a blonde strand of hair from my face with an apricot manicured nail. “The past is history. The future a mystery. This moment is a gift, and that’s why we call it the present.”

Dad’s eyes fluttered. “I’m tired and sleepy.” He said.

“You close your eyes and sleep. I’ll be here when you awaken.”

November, 1997 until July,1999, were years of change, heartache and indescribable fear as I slowly watched my dad melting away from me from the effects of esophageal cancer, the Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy [PEG tube], commonly referred to as a feeding tube and chemotherapy radiation. I watched his tall, sturdy frame slowly bending into an emaciated body that could no longer fight or walk without assistance. It was truly the most painful time of my life.

After the week of Thanksgiving, 1997 my dad phoned, telling me he was a bit nauseated and thought he had cancer. I snickered. My dad did not have cancer. He was the picture of health. He took care of himself, walking daily, eating healthy foods and he lived a good life. Never drinking or smoking. No, Dad doesn’t have cancer. Not my Dad.

The next morning I took Dad to the Emergency Room at Roper Hospital in Charleston. For over eight hours, we sat while medical professionals took blood samples, x-rays and scratched their heads. Deciding to refer Dad to a gastroenterologist, we left the hospital, got a bit of dinner and I drove him back to his apartment. During dinner, he struggled to swallow his food. He apologized for taking so long to eat. When finished, over half of his meal remained on his plate. He did not request a take-out box. I suppose I knew something was wrong, I just did not want to admit that my dad was getting older and weaker each day.

In early December, Dad and I met with the gastroenterologist. An endoscopy was scheduled for the next morning. I phoned my boss letting her know I would not be at the office the next morning. I detected a bit of disappointment with her but remained firm. After all, my dad needed a test. All of my interviews and presentations could wait. Corporate America simply had to understand. My family was important to me.

The next morning, feeling confident Dad’s tests would be negative, I sat alone in the waiting room of the hospital, watching people passing by in a rush, reading newspapers and magazines, and sitting. How I wish I had remembered to pack a book or magazine. I watched the clock tick away. One hour. Two hours. My stomach growled. I hadn’t eaten anything and it was almost lunch time. My cell phone rang, but I couldn’t answer it since the hospital did not permit them to be used while waiting. And so I waited and waited.

Moments seemed like hours. I glanced up at the clock again, stopping to notice my dad’s doctor was approaching. His eyes did not look at me. He held his head down. He sat down by me.

“We found the problem.”

“Oh. He’s just not eating properly? Isn’t that his problem?”

“No. Your dad has cancer. Cancer of the esophagus. Terminal cancer. I’m sorry to say it, but he probably has less than six months to live. He needs a PEG tube so we can get nourishment into him again.”

I sat motionless. Nothing was fazing me. My mouth flew open and I felt dizzy.

“Are you all right?”

“My dad has cancer. You’re saying my dad is dying? My Dad? This can’t be. He’s taken such good care of himself. You must be mistaken.”

“Have you noticed how thin he is?”

“Yes, I suppose. I did notice he didn’t eat much at Thanksgiving. I’ve been so busy at work. I guess I just didn’t pay enough attention.”

I knew my speech wasn’t making sense. People were passing by me, and all I could think of was the dreaded word – cancer.

I thanked the doctor. When he left, I turned my phone on and called my husband.

“Can you…can you please come to the hospital? Please?”

Garrett knew me well. When he arrived at the hospital, I fell limp in his arms. The tears I refused to cry suddenly poured out of me and I screamed. People stared at me, but I didn’t care. My dad was dying. Cancer. Cancer. CANCER.

The next few days were a blur to me. I returned to work, although my heart wasn’t there. All I could think about was my dad and the approaching Christmas holiday season. How could I possibly celebrate Christmas while knowing my dad is battling cancer? What if he chose not to fight cancer?

My prayers were answered one afternoon after a stressful day at work. I walked into my dad’s hospital room. He was resting while watching TV. An intravenous solution was attached to his arm. I touched his cold, resting arm while watching the IV solution of chemotherapy slowly dripping into his body. An amber colored bag covered the solution as it dripped…dripped…dripped ever so slowly into the veins of my father.

His eyes opened slowly. “Chemotherapy,” he said. “The doctors think it might help me live longer.”

My hand squeezed his and I felt his icy cold skin. “Are you warm enough?” I asked.

“Yes, I’m fine. You stop worrying about me.”

I squeezed his hand again. Tears were dancing in my eyes and I turned away. I did not want my father to see me crying. On that day, I recognized a new closeness and bonding between us. Gone was the angry, bitter-tongued father of my youth, replaced by a kinder and caring man who trusted me.

“We’ll fight this together, Dad.” I said, looking deeply into his eyes. “Together. I will be here for you every day. I love you, Dad. Together we will fight.”

Dad squeezed my hand. “You’re a good daughter,” he said. A tear fell down his face. “Will you wipe my eyes with a tissue. They’re watering.”

Still the tower of strength emotionally, Dad would not admit he was crying. I wiped his eyes and kissed his forehead. “I love you, Dad. Together we will beat this monster of cancer.”

During the holidays of 1997, I watched my dad battle chemotherapy radiation with courage and faith. I visited him daily and with each visit, we bonded. Before leaving at night, I would bend over to kiss his forehead. He whispered, “I love you.” Something he never did before cancer knocked on his door.

Cancer changes people. Suddenly life appears to fall into place. The little things in life become important again. No rushing around. No deadlines to battle. No appointments to break, or arguments to tolerate. All that is important is that one special, precious moment of life. Even when Dad had a rough day, we made the best of it. We strove to see the sunshine and sunrise. Life appeared to be simpler, with one exception. Daily I prayed for God to give Dad and me just one more day. One more day to touch his hand, one more day to kiss his forehead and to whisper three simple, caring words that gave me strength. “I love you.” Eight precious letters of the alphabet that guided me in the mornings, during the unexpected stress of each day, and covered me with a blanket of warmth at night. “I love you.” We expressed those words daily. Every day and moment we shared was precious.

After three chemotherapy treatments Dad was so weak, his blood counts so low, the doctors decided his body did not have the strength necessary to receive additional chemotherapy or radiation treatments. His throat was extremely sore, creating more difficulty with swallowing. The medical terminology I was learning educated me about esophageal cancer and other words I hadn’t learned before cancer knocked at our doors. Dysphagia, the inability to swallow. Skilled medical care – meaning 24-hour medical care and, of course, the detested PEG tube. What Dad and I described as an umbilical cord. Since he had a PEG tube, we decided it was necessary for him to reside at a convalescent center. He made friends at the nursing home and adjusted well. I visited him daily, praying for a miracle.

Our miracle granted him additional time with us although his quality of life weakened. He could not swallow food without regurgitating it, so the PEG tube was used, against his wishes. Slowly every quality of his life ended. The ability to enjoy food. The strength to take daily strolls without the assistance of a walker. The independence to live alone, without the assistance of skilled medical care. Father Time was slowly ticking his life away. Tick. Tock. Tick Tock, until he was almost a vegetable lying in his hospital bed.

On July 6, 1999, I arrived at the nursing home thrilled that I had his checkbook in my handbag. Dad kept close tabs on his checkbook and always asked about it. I was pleased that I had balanced his checkbook, and paid the nursing home for another month of nursing care. I was confident he would be pleased that he did not have to ask for his checkbook this month. I was prepared. Approaching his room, I turned my head, acknowledging a nurse. She was pushing a portable oxygen machine. “Oh, that isn’t a good sign,” I said to her. She did not acknowledge me, but followed next to me. Placing our hands on the door of my father’s room, I exhaled. The nurse suggested I wait outside. I was told I could not enter. I knew the time had arrived, and although I had prepared for this moment, his loss tore into my heart and soul. A woman I had never seen before took my hand, moving me to a chair. I was hysterical. She sat next to me, holding my hand until my husband arrived. I have no idea how he knew that Dad was dying. Someone had called him. Much to my surprise, that someone was me, although I do not remember making a phone call. All I can retrieve from that ‘moment’ was the strange, kind woman holding my hand, whispering words of encouragement to me.

The next morning, I drove to the beach, before sunrise. Standing along the shore, I knew Dad was at peace, and in time, I would be thankful that he had the final say. Walking along the shore, I noticed a sandpiper, appearing to follow me. Was this a sign? I would like to believe it was. The tiny sandpiper running next to me was a symbol that Dad and his spirit were now united with his twin brother and his family. Truly, it was a beautiful sunrise on that morning, July 7, 1999. The first morning of my new life as an orphan.Never would my dad and I harmonize a gospel song. Never would we spell vocabulary words, or whisper ‘I Love You.’  A fresh new morning of life for me, although inside, I felt nothing except a deep, debilitating grief.

 

 

Veterans

Welcome Home — Vietnam Veterans Day


Dearest Readers:

Did you know March 29, 2015 was Vietnam Veterans Day??? What?!??? You did not know? Why didn’t the news media share this information? Good question which I do not have the answer!

I confess, I have a special place, bonded tightly within my heart for Vietnam Veterans; after all, my husband is a Vietnam Veteran. I am extremely proud of him. Well, on most days. Returning home from Vietnam, I noticed his temperament was intense. His jealousy grew. There were times when he noticed a man looking at me and he glared, then asking in a most arrogant mannerism, “What the Hell are you looking at?” During those times, I wanted to crawl into the floor and hide. I recognized the gentle, caring man I married and waited on while he was in Vietnam, was not the man I was married to now. That man was still in Vietnam.

Looking at my husband, I saw a man with emptiness in his eyes. While visiting his parents, we knocked on the door of their trailer. His mother opened the door, managing to say, “Oh…You’re here.” We entered the trailer, awaiting hugs and kisses. His mother sat down at the kitchen table, lighting another cigarette. Never did she or his father show any emotion of gratitude for his homecoming. No special meal. No reunion…NOTHING! Strange. When I asked my husband if his parents always reacted with such a frigid demeanor his reply was a simple, “It don’t mean nothing.” The phrase “It don’t mean nothing,” now rang inside my head constantly.

I suppose emotions such as those awaited many Vietnam Veterans. Over the years, I grew afraid of my husband, especially when his jealous rages exploded. I withdrew. Rarely made friends. And if I was away from our home, my husband would phone everyone he knew, including retail stores I shopped at, until — he found me. I was quickly becoming a prisoner inside my own home.

In 2001, my husband played golf with a Vietnam Veteran. I do not know what happened on the golf course, but when he got home, he made a comment I never expected. “Some of the guys think I have PTSD,” he said.

“Think?” I responded…”I KNOW you have PTSD.”

“What makes you think that?” He asked, moving closer to me. My body flinched.

“Your temperament. Impatience. Anger. Jealousy. The rages you get and how you treat me. You’re not nice when that monster gets in your eyes.”

My husband simply walked away. No discussion. No communication.

I knew the warning signs of PTSD — Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. After all, I was living with a man who brought it home from Vietnam.

Vietnam Veterans Deserve…

I find it interesting and extremely sad that the media does not share stories about Vietnam Veterans Day. Listening to the news yesterday, I expected to hear something about it, but did not. My husband and I know many Vietnam Veterans. When I greet them, I always say, “Thank you for your service and Welcome Home.” I’ve seen these veterans choke up at times. I suppose they are getting a bit of relief now about how America treated these Veterans when they returned. One of my neighbors, no longer a part of our neighborhood since she moved, actually told our son that, and I quote, “Your daddy is a baby killer.” Then, she spat in my son’s face. He rushed home. Tears streaming down his face. When I hugged him he told me what he experienced from this neighbor.

“I’ll be right back,” I said. “You stay here.” No doubt my seven-year-old9th Inf Div, Commo Platoon_Aug_2007 son knew where I was going. Knocking on her door, she refused to answer. My knock grew harder. “I’m not leaving until you open this door,” I shouted. The door opened.

“How could you,” I said in a calm voice. “You called my husband a baby killer to my son.”

“That’s what he is,” she said. Her hair was long and stringy. She wore a loose caftan, reminding me of a hippy.

“How dare you to be so cruel. My husband fought in a war for your freedom. It’s a shame that you have the ability to express what others say. It’s a shame you were not fighting a war. But maybe you are…with your drugs, alcohol and fast life. Don’t think the neighborhood doesn’t know about you. You neglect your child and you are always strung out from something you shouldn’t be doing. Your house smells of marijuana. Maybe that’s the style of life you choose…and you can only do it here, alone in your home. You should be thanking the Veterans for your freedom, not wasting it away…”

I spun on my heel and walked away. Never did I see her again.

Yesterday, March 29, 2015, I would like to wish all of our Vietnam Veterans a profound Welcome Home, and Thank you for your service. While it isn’t easy to live a life with a Veteran, I am still very proud that my husband and I weathered the storms in our marriage, and we chose to work through the difficult times…and there were many. Nights of fitful sleep. Nightmares. Days and nights of reassuring him that I loved him and wanted to work through the difficulties. While in therapy, I told my husband and the therapist that the reason I had the strength to place things in perspective and to ‘work it out’ because I still remembered how difficult and alone I was while he was in Vietnam. Newly married, three months later, he flew away to Vietnam, on Thanksgiving Day. Our First Thanksgiving Day. A day I could not give thanks!

Here’s to You — The Vietnam Veterans

Perhaps it has become easier for both of us to become closer again after we reunited with my husband’s platoon. Every fall the 9th Infantry Division, Commo Platoon, have a reunion with the guys and their wives/loves/significant others…I must say, within this group is some of the kindest, most caring, loving people I have ever met. Never do I hear of anyone ridiculing the others, nor do they gossip and criticize others. Isn’t that amazing? We’ve attended just a few of these reunions. My husband is not retired. He finds himself happiest while at work, so there are many times when we cannot travel. Nevertheless, we still hear from all of these ‘bands of brothers’. I appreciate each and everyone of them.

So, to you, the Vietnam Veterans, I do hope your Vietnam Veterans Day was a happy one. I salute all of you, and I thank you for your service. Welcome Home Soldiers. You deserve the best.

http://wtop.com/tag/welcome-home-vietnam-veterans-day/ According to this site, ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Vietnam veterans are getting some long-delayed appreciation in Maryland. Republican Gov. Larry Hogan is signing a bill Monday making March 30 “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day.” Perhaps soon all of the leadership in America will recognize our Vietnam Veterans.

WELCOME HOME VIETNAM VETERANS…THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE TO OUR COUNTRY!

Free Writing, Uncategorized

Hurricane Hugo — The Aftermath of the Storm…September 21, 2014


Dearest Readers:

I have been quiet for a bit. Just a bit perplexed with writing…feeling as if I could not write one word ever again. Alas, I am back — on this day September 21, 2014 — 25 years after Hurricane Hugo strove to destroy the beautiful City of Charleston, SC.

So many people cannot comprehend what it is like to remain in a city during a hurricane. While it is true, I did consider making plans to leave, or even to go to a shelter, I chose to remain here in Charleston. Checking with the shelters I was told I could not bring my animals. At the time, I had two — Muffy, a sweet but hyper little mutt terrier and a small poodle named Buttons. I could not leave my animals and my husband was in the National Guard at the time, activated to work in the downtown areas of Charleston, so I decided to remain so I could check on my animals and keep them safe. Working at a university, I volunteered to assist with students. I supervised over 60 of them during the storm.

Although I have survived tornadoes, I could not understand why the media kept saying to fill your car with gas. Make certain you have cash. Have enough water to drink and enough food to eat for at least three to five days. I laughed. Why would I need my car filled with gas. Why would I need cash and food. After all, it was only a hurricane.

Little did I know!

On September 21, before the storm hit on that evening, I checked on the house, making certain my animals were cared for with water, food and the little necessities I leave for them while I am at work. I closed all of the hall doorways, left food, towels, water and all was well. My home is a brick foundation so I wasn’t concerned with flooding or a disaster. I prayed that all would be fine, and it was. On the evening of Hurricane Hugo, I hunkered down with 60 students in a historical brick building in downtown Charleston. As the rushing, roaring winds increased, the students were horrified, so we moved them from the second floor of the building to another floor where there were no windows. Within an hour, the students fears eased as we sang, told jokes and laughed. Ever so slowly the students stopped talking and laughing. I grabbed a flashlight, walked around the wooden floors, noticing many of the students huddled together — sleeping.

I touched a portion of a brick wall, able to see outside from the cracks of the loose bricks. I could hear the wind whistling…crying…screaming…I said a silent prayer. Moments later, I heard quiet. The eye of the storm. As the calmness eased my fears, I realized this would probably be one of the longest, most frightening nights of my life. How I longed to be inside my home, huddled in a blanket with my animals.

Listening to a portable radio describing the events of the hurricane, I counted the night away. I did not have a cell phone at the time, nor did we have internet capability. The building had emergency lighting, with exception it was not working, so we moved around the floors slowly while keeping our arms outstretched, carefully moving so we did not disturb the students. The room was a large brick warehouse, totally dark. No windows nearby. The only light I saw was when I found a few loose bricks and watched the lightning outside. There was a blanket of darkness everywhere.

Early the next morning as students awoke they asked me if I slept. “No,” I said. “I’ve been here all night.” One student nudged my shoulder. “I didn’t think you slept. Your makeup is still perfect.”

The door to the warehouse opened. Slowly we moved downstairs. The storm was gone. Breakfast was waiting for all of us downstairs, on the second floor. After breakfast many of the students wanted to go outside but I discouraged it. “Live wires are down, along with trees. It isn’t safe for us to leave yet.”

About an hour later my husband arrived, dressed in his National Guard uniform. He rushed to hug me, whispering for me to keep the students inside. “The city looks like a war zone,” he said.

A few hours later, students gone and the university shutting things down, I strolled slowly to my car, careful not to step on downed power lines while being ever so thankful that I had parked it in a garage. I anticipated the car having windows shattered, debris covering it. Much to my surprise, my car was safe with no apparent damage. Driving home, I was lost. The roads were hard to see due to the abundance of hurricane debris. Gone were the familiar street signs and landmarks. Roads were thick with debris, boats, cars, boards, roofs, tin, metal, tree branches and so much debris, it was difficult to determine if I was on the correct side of the road, so I made many detours while my car crawled over branches and the thick debris. I saw an abundance of tin roofs in the road. Yachts. Boats. A tracker trailer, overturned. Driving home to Mt. Pleasant was quite a challenge, and when I turned towards my home, I could not drive down my street. Trees were everywhere. I managed to park my car three blocks from my home. Carefully, I walked, constantly looking for downed power lines, snakes and other creatures.

When I arrived at home, I noticed several homes in my neighborhood were damaged. Tree branches were slammed into the roofs. A couple of homes were missing walls. I walked around the front of my house, opened the door, found my dogs, hugged them and examined my home. All appeared to be ok until I walked towards the back door. The ceiling in the living room was opened with a large tree branch resting on the portion of a missing roof. The ceilings in the back room were wet. Trails of water were on the carpeting. I grabbed the leashes and carried the dogs outside, still cautious of things I might find in the back yard. Several trees were down and my above ground swimming pool was missing — completely. The only part of the swimming pool left was some of the framework. Debris from the pool was tossed around my yard, but my home was safe. A bit injured but I was thankful we had survived.

The dogs and I returned to the house. Cuddling them in my arms, I cried tears of thankfulness. My home was safe. Many people in my neighborhood would return to discover a home so shattered they would need to live elsewhere. Phil and I had been blessed. Our home was damaged, but livable and Muffy and Buttons had survived. A bit shaken, but safe. We were blessed.

I reached to turn the TV on, to get the latest news, realizing we had no power, I laughed. I walked outside again, finding something I did not expect lying in the grass. The Post and Courier had published a newspaper about Hurricane Hugo. Wishing I had a hot cup of coffee, I opened the newspaper. Today was a new, beautiful day in Charleston, SC. Looking like a war zone, I said a silent prayer, hoping no one had died in the storm. Yes, today was a new day. A day to give thanks for the little things in life. Health. Safety. A home a bit tarnished from the storm, but a safe haven for me to rest and be thankful that we had survived.

Perhaps you are curious what I learned from Hurricane Hugo. My response is — to be thankful for the little things in life. If you live in an area where torrential storms happen, please listen to the forecast and take the suggestions shared seriously. I did not fill my car with gas. After all, after the storm, the stores would open and I could get gas. NOT. By the time stores and stations were able to open, the lines were long. Lessons learned.

Have cash. I did not. Fortunately, the university I worked for allowed us to borrow money from them. I borrowed $20.00, paying it back when I was able to get cash. Lessons learned.

Food — non perishable. Since my husband was activated with the National Guard, I did not have much food. By the third day of no power, I cleaned out the fridge, tossing everything in the trash. I managed to find several cans of tuna fish in the pantry, so I made a big batch of tuna fish. I ate dry tuna fish sandwiches for lunch and dinner until it was gone. Funny…I haven’t eaten tuna fish since Hugo!

On the third day, I discovered an old phone in the closet — the type that did not require electricity. I connected it, got a dial tone and phoned my insurance company to file a claim. Meanwhile, I phoned my sister and other family and friends, to let them know we were AOK. On the tenth day of surviving Hugo, our power returned. Three weeks later, the insurance adjuster arrived, apologizing for the delay in responding. I made a fresh pot of coffee, he walked through the house, taking notes and photographs and responded that he could set us up in a hotel while repairs were made. I smiled at him, thanking him for his compassion but I had a bed to sleep in, a home to live in while some of my neighbors were living in campers or moving to small apartments. “We’ve been blessed,” I said.

Surviving in a hurricane taught me appreciation for life. I’m still not certain what I will do the next time we are required to evacuate a storm. In 1999, during a hurricane watch we were supposed to evacuate, and we did — fighting traffic for nine hours, moving only 57 miles on Highway 41. I promised myself that if there was another evacuation, I would stay at home and I probably will.

Let’s just say — the City of Charleston is extremely limited with evacuation routes. It is a nightmare to sit in traffic, bumper-to-bumper, while anticipating a hurricane. Next time? I think I’ll stay at home!

ARTICLES, On My Soapbox!

Domestic Violence in South Carolina…Will It EVER END???


Dearest Readers:

Yesterday, I posted a story related to the book I am working on: “Chattahoochee Child.” The post I published yesterday was written months ago, revised a bit yesterday and published. I suppose the articles I am reading lately, a series from the Post and Courier newspaper titled, “Till Death Do Us Part,” http://www.postandcourier.com/tilldeath/ has really hit home with me. Why? Simple. My mother was a victim, along with my father. For years, I watched both of them brutalizing each other…sometimes with their fists, slaps, and most especially, with their toxic tongues. As the second born child, I stood up to them…unafraid of another slap. I said to myself, “So what if Mommy or Daddy slaps me…it isn’t the first time.”

Yes, it is true….I grew up in a household where slaps, angry words, and volatile tempers ruled the nest. Instead of praise, we learned at an early age that violence makes a statement. For me, the violence left me cold and alone. There were many times I hovered inside my closet. I covered myself with clothing so no one could find me. When thunder roared from the heavens, I screamed. When lightning flashed, I curled my body tightly into a fetal position, comforting myself because I was so afraid. Never did I share my fears with anyone. After all, the domestic violence brewing inside our home was a ‘family matter.’ No one else wanted to get involved, and so, I remained in the closet. Alone. Afraid. Horrified, especially when I listened to the shouting voices of my mother and father.

When I started dating, I apologized to my boyfriends…if I was late…if I was too quiet…If I didn’t please the boyfriend. I suppose I had stars in my eyes, wanting to please everyone. I am happy to say, I no longer behave in such a manner. Years later, married for fourteen years, I learned to stand up for myself during a fight with my husband. After he used abusive language, calling me disrespectful names I shall not repeat, I turned towards him…tears dancing inside my eyes, I said, “If you really loved me, you would not disrespect me in such a way. I’m tired of you belittling me. Stop it now!”

Dumbfounded, my husband glared at me, then he did something totally out of character. He apologized?!?

I suppose our marriage took a turn for the better on that date, after I finally found the strength to stand tall and not take his verbal abuse any longer. For years, I was blind-sighted to his verbal abuse. After all, when a child grows up with criticism and abuse, that is the only behaviors she expects as an adult.

Today, our marriage is better…stronger…and when the fits of PTSD escape from my husband’s body language and lips, I find myself speaking a little softer…and much wiser, telling him he needs to apologize to me because I am a worthy, decent and special person. I deserve better. I surprise myself at times — by the courage I have now to stand up and become an advocate for domestic violence…domestic abuse…and verbal abuse. I am so proud that I chose to turn my back on domestic violence and child abuse and not repeat that vicious cycle.

If you are a victim of domestic abuse or verbal abuse, please — PLEASE find a way to escape. Read the articles on the website, http://www.postandcourier.com/tilldeath/, a series of seven articles worthy of your time. If you are dating someone who is cruel to you, contact – http://www.loveisrespect.org/is-this-abuse/dating-violence-statistics?gclid=CjwKEAjw4PCfBRCz966N9pvJ4GASJAAEdM_KXkD41t_tfyDkHDeVmXwIwmILULyyF6nBN0_atjBskhoCDFXw_wcB or call 1-866-331-9474, text – “loveis” to 22522.

For women, I found this site — http://www.whbw.org/education/the-stages-of-breaking-away/ — call 1-800-abuse95. Hopefully, if you are a victim, you will have family or friends to turn to. That isn’t always the case. As an advocate against domestic abuse of any type, there have been several times I came to the rescue of a victim. On one occasion, the abuser threatened to hit me, if I didn’t shut my mouth. I moved closer to him, daring him to hit me! Much to my surprise “Brutus” turned away, stopping the abuse. Later, this couple divorced.

I suppose these articles touched me in ways I never anticipated. Perhaps bringing back the memories of how I stood between my parents — serving as their referee from the age of five-years-old until I was fifteen. Yes, it is easier to lock those memories away, but I cannot. I have too much passion to do what I can to stop domestic violence…domestic abuse…or whatever titles the ‘good ole boys’ call it. I do not believe that a woman belongs in the home, or two steps behind a man, and I do not believe that a woman is a man’s property. I detest those types of comments and when I hear them — let’s just say — my Julia Sugarbaker charisma kicks in. Just the other evening someone said something demeaning about women and when I heard it — I stood my ground and let him have it! He called me a feminist. I replied, “Yes…thank you for the compliment. I am a feminist and I am proud to stand tall as a feminist. Any questions?”

Please, if you know someone who is dying inside from domestic violence…do not turn away. Encourage them to get help. If you live in South Carolina — well, let’s just say — our state is still behind the times…antiquated. Let us make some noise to get our legislators to awaken — to end domestic violence…Welcome to the State of South Carolina — Number One in Domestic Violence. My…ain’t we proud?!?

Please love yourself by remembering — to love — you must first love yourself!

1 Corinthians 13:4–8a
(New King James Version)
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

Free Writing

To Dream — One Must Sleep — Something I Battle Nightly


Dearest Readers:

Have you missed me? I’ve certainly missed the opportunity to sit down at my desk, glue my butt to the chair and write. I’ve had so many unexpected interruptions and demands I’ve actually wished to run away from myself. Life demands is what I call them.

The City of Charleston, SC has had an amazing amount of rain falling last week, and this week appears to be a repeat. I’m sick of it. I am such a light sleeper that when the roaring, thunderous storms scream with life, I cannot sleep. On one occasion, late at midnight, I awoke to my precious Prince Midnight Shadow crying and moaning from the storm. He is a solid black, beautiful giant schnauzer, a rescue we adopted about 14 months ago. He hates storms! Absolutely detests them and doesn’t want to go outside when he hears them. He will moan and cry until I touch him and rub his fur, and then he moans, moving closer to hug me. He is such a silly guy. Today is no exception! Hearing the storms, he rushes to be by my side. We bought him a thunder shirt, but it doesn’t work with him. Tightly embraced inside the thunder shirt, his body still trembles and he moans, so the only way to hush him is to move closer to him and rub his ears, or stroke his back. It’s no wonder I am so exhausted. I have insomnia and I’m a light sleeper, so when the thunder roars, I toss and turn in bed, wishing to sleep. On the night of the threatening, torrential storm at midnight, lightning crashed, taking out a transformer nearby. Our power was out for over five hours, so no sleep for me. How nice it would be just to close my eyes, listen to my breathing, inhaling…exhaling…drifting to sleep. I envy people who sleep like babies. Those days are gone for this chick!

I haven’t written anything in a few weeks, and I have posted a bit too much on Facebook, so starting tomorrow, I am checking out of Facebook for a bit and write. I do believe I have joined the addictive club of Facebook and I have promised myself that I will break that addiction! If I can learn to control food choices, I can certainly teach myself good habits and start writing again while exiting from such non-interesting social medias such as Facebook.

If only my brain will allow the words to flow again. Wouldn’t that be nice!

This epistle is simply a free writing sample, just to convince myself that I CAN WRITE again! If you read my posts on a regular basis, you will know I am a member of Weight Watchers, losing weight ever so slowly. I have a new NordicTrack treadmill that seems to be helping with the weight loss and every week, I attend the meetings for my weigh-ins. I will be so happy when I reach my ‘unpublished’ goal, and I am not sharing that – with anyone! Let’s just say, I am still taking the journey and when I do reach my goal, you, my readers, will be the first on my blog to read all about it. Yes, I will do a happy dance, and I have warned all of my friends at Weight Watchers that I will SCREAM to the moon and back with delight, so if you should hear a loud scream later this year, you might be able to say, “That must be Barbie, reaching goal!”

This free writing is really getting on my nerves today. Perhaps it is because of all of the late night storms; the rolling, monstrous roar of thunder, and the threatening, horrifying flashing of strobe lightning igniting the late night skies. Each time I see the lightning, I jump – almost out of my skin. I still remember the words from my mother’s lips when I was a child. When we had storms, my mother would say, “You better be a good girl or God will strike you dead from lightning.” Believe me; I worked hard to always be a good girl. I did not want lightning to kill me.

Once I told a friend about my mother’s words and she stopped, glanced back at me saying “Your mother really painted some strong, cruel pictures for you. That is sad.”

I brushed the comments off, thinking that is what a mother does. It is her duty to say such things. Fortunately, after I woke up, recognizing my mother really had a colorful, cruel way to describe life, I decided to step out of those shoes and make my life different. Never has it been easy, but when I became a mother, never did I say such cruelties to my child.

Glancing outside as I sit glued to my chair, I see the clouds are still gray and thick. Just when will these thick clouds leave and allow the sun to shine again? That is almost a $64,000 question now. At least our city is a bit more comfortable now…only 78 degrees at the moment. Isn’t that nice?!?

Suppose I will close for now and stop this free writing exercise, especially since it really isn’t going anywhere. Please stay tuned readers. I will strive to take five minutes to write in my blog a bit more and I do apologize for being a bit reclusive. I did not mean to be so quiet, but with life, there are demands and I’ve had many unexpected demands lately. Hopefully soon things will change, especially since I’ve decided to take a break from Facebook. It is too addictive. There are many people who post way too many personal items there…like – I’m at the store now – shopping, or I’m out with friends at XYZ Bar having drinks…or…I’m on vacation now. I ask you, do these people even consider that we, the social media, never know who is reading our posts. At times I am amazed at the ‘too much information’ posted. I still prefer my privacy.

For now, I think I will close and make the attempt to make a bit of dinner. I have a taste for crab legs…and yes, they are Weight Watcher friendly! Thank you for asking.

The weather report is not calling for storms tonight. Yes, rain is forecast, but no storms…of course, you must realize, the weather forecaster is the only profession where the forecaster can be incorrect and still keep his or her job. Let us hope tonight I will sleep. Wouldn’t that be grand!

Sweet dreams…of course to dream – one must sleep!

Chattahoochee Child, Family, Toasts to the Most Influential People We Meet

Reminiscing on July 6 of Each Year…


Dearest Readers:

July 6 is always a day to remember for me. Why? Allow me to explain. During the stressful days of my dad’s terminal illness with esophageal cancer during December 1997 until his death on July 6, 1999, I have felt such a loss.

I’ve had people tell me I need to move on. “Get over it. Life goes on…” Etc. ETC! It isn’t easy! Tomorrow is July 6, 2014 – exactly 15 years since the death of my dad. I remember the day, as if it was yesterday. After a demanding day at work, I rushed to visit him, like I did every day. I spoke to the nursing home earlier in the day. “Dad was doing fine,” they replied. “Fine!?!” If he’s in a nursing home he isn’t fine. Yes, he was as well as could be expected; nevertheless, over the last six months of his life, I watched his body slowly shutting down. First it was the weakness from esophageal cancer. His inability to retain his food. His legs grew weaker and he fell – LOTS. Each time the nursing home reported the falls to me, like they are required. And each time, I prayed a sigh of relief. Just one more day. Please God, give us one more day.

In March, his heart grew weaker, and I realized the end was near. I stopped praying for a miracle. In my nightly prayers I prayed for God to find a special place for my dad, to use his talents, his voice, and yes – even his temper. Dad could be a tenacious man when he wanted to be!

During my daily visits after March, I noticed Dad no longer walked me to the door, to kiss me goodbye. He simply waved his hand as he closed his Holy Bible. No longer were the visits welcoming or fun. He appeared to be angry at me, always waving me away after about 10 minutes of our time together. His roommate told me Dad was mean to me. “You deserve better,” Dudley said. “He is so mean. He should appreciate you.”

I smiled at Dudley. “Don’t you understand,” I cried. “Dad is dying. He’s angry at life.”
Dad and Dudley were the odd couple of Sandpiper Convalescent Center. They teased and complained, always trying to compete with each other. For a while, Dad had the upper hand since Dudley’s body no longer moved and he remained in the bed, or a special wheelchair. Dudley had difficulty with speech too, but after visiting Dad so often, Dudley and I were able to communicate without a problem. After March, Dudley had the upper hand as we watched Dad sit on his bed, or remain in his bed most of the time. Gone were his daily strolls with his walker.

I suppose I was counting the days down, knowing my dad and I would not share another holiday together. No more birthday parties. No more Christmas trees, Thanksgiving and holiday dinners together. Tick. Tock…How I wish I could make this clock stop and save my dad.

On the moment of his death, I was walking in the corridor of Sandpiper Convalescent Center. A nurse I recognized approached, pushing an oxygen tank. I remember speaking with her, saying Uh, oh. That isn’t a welcoming sign for someone. She nodded, never saying a word to me.

I placed my hand on the door of Dudley and Dad’s room and so did the nurse. Quickly, she nodded, telling me not to come inside.

I screamed.

“Oh, Dear God, No. Please…please….Please God, NO!” I cried.

Someone grabbed me, walking me to a chair and I sat down. I knew. The clock was stopping. My dad way dying.

I heard a voice say, Barbie. We can bring him back.

“No,” I cried. “He’s a DNR. I must honor his wishes.”

Moments seemed like hours. At 6:15 a nurse approached me. “I’m so sorry. Do you want to say goodbye?”
Yes, I nodded.

I waited a few minutes for my husband to arrive and together, we walked in to Dad’s room. Dudley was eating dinner. I could not speak to him. I touched my Dad – his body as cold as ice. His skin clammy. His eyes closed. I kissed him. Told him I loved him and I would never forget him. “You’re still here, inside my heart,” I cried.

I have no idea what happened next. I was numb. Dumbfounded. How would I live without my Dad?
After his funeral, I joined a grief therapy session and learned to move forward. Still, as the day of July 6 of each year approaches, I feel an incredible emptiness. Grief. Heartache. I ask myself, will this pain ever leave?

I think not. July 6, 2014 is only hours away. I must keep myself busy, remembering my Dad, Walter W. Perkins, and the goodness inside of him. Yes, he had moments of temperamental ups and downs, but he was my dad. As a child, I always looked up to him. I held his hand. We sang. He taught me how to harmonize and he always reminded me to “Make this a good day.”

I ask you how? How do I make each day a good day without my dad?

When do we stop grieving over those we’ve loved and lost? When does the heartache end?

After my dad died, I felt like an orphan. I have learned to move on and to recognize that each day is a gift. I plan to have a serious heart-to-heart discussion with my dad in the morning while drinking my morning coffee. I will lift my head high, looking into the Heavens and speak softly to my Dad. Yes, I will probably cry, but now, the tears are good, cleansing tears because I have learned to move forward. To make the most of every day. July 6, 2014 is another day without my dad, but I am so thankful that I was there for him daily while he battled cancer. Yes, I miss you, Dad. I was blessed to share one more day.

Thank you, God for giving us one more day!

Holidays, On My Soapbox!

Happy New Year, 2014


Dearest Readers

Today is New Years Eve. A time for everyone to celebrate, just a bit too much. A time to give thanks that we are able to
‘welcome in the New Year.’

When I think of New Years Eve, I think of friendship, spending time with some of my closest friends and reminiscing about the year. We in America have so much to be thankful for, especially if we have good health.

During New Years Eve 2012, Phil and I celebrated the new year with our friends. I do not recall myself celebrating because I was so sick. Fortunately, for this New Years Eve, I am not sick, but Phil and I have decided to have a quiet New Years Eve. We might go to a movie, or we might just sit at home and watch TV. After all, we have many movies to catch up on since we’ve recorded an abundance of them. I have wine chilled in the fridge and I might open a bottle so I can sip it quietly at home, where I do not have to be the designated driver!

What are your plans for the New Year? In Charleston there are many parties. The Elks Lodge has a private party, although Phil and I have decided not to be out on the roads at New Years. There are too many drivers on the road that should NOT be on the road, due to drinking just a bit too much holiday cheer.

For all of my readers, I would like to wish you a safe and Happy New Year 2014. May you enjoy the best of life. May you have good health and happiness, and may you continue to appreciate your life and family. May 2014 be a prosperous, happy year for you and your family. May you remember to give thanks to God for all that you have and all that you will accomplish in life.

2013 was a pleasant year for our family. A quiet, restful peacefulness within our home. I imagine there will be an abundance of fireworks in our neighborhood, like there is every year, so it will not be beneficial to crawl into bed early. The fireworks exploding in the skies always frighten our pups, and I do not dare to let them outside during this time, for fear that something could frighten them. How I wish our community would make them illegal, but I do not foresee that happening. Fireworks is one of the reasons a few of my neighbors chose to move to Mt. Pleasant. Isn’t that a great reason to move into a community — the freedom to explode fireworks??? Says a lot, doesn’t it!

I suppose I could really jump on my soapbox about fireworks, but why bother –NO ONE OFFICIALLY cares about them in Mt. Pleasant, and the last time I complained I was basically brushed off, leaving me to feel as If I am the problem and not ‘fireworks.’ Can’t help being a bit curious as to how many ’emergencies’ occur due to fireworks. They are dangerous, although children do not see the danger, and neither do the parents permitting the children to shoot them into my yard care!

So for now, I will close and wish all of you a safe and Happy New Year, 2014. Please be considerate of others IF you are popping fireworks at your home, and do us all a favor, don’t shoot them into a neighbor’s lawn or home. Happy New Year.

Fostering, Rescuing Schnauzers

Animals Communicate to Us…


Dearest Readers:

Today, I awaken to another gray day in Charleston. Now, it is raining outside. Raindrops tap, tap, tap, on the windows and I’m thankful I called my four-legged family members inside only moments ago. They are so funny when it rains. When the back door opens, they rush inside, only to stop as the back door closes. They lift their little heads up. Their eyes stare at me, as if to say, “Where’s my towel? I don’t like being wet!”

Drying them is a funny site. First, Sir Shakespeare rushes to the front of the line, to get dried. Sometimes, Sandy Bear is second. He loves to feel the soft, fluffy towel rubbing his fur. Many times, he will moan, as if to say, “Um-mmm. That feels so good.”

Hankster the Prankster is usually third in line to get dried. He doesn’t really care to be touched, but he does allow the soft towel to rub his fur, while he growls, and growls and growls. I continue rubbing him until he backs away. He is such a funny and grouchy little character. Saved from a kill shelter, only to live for a bit with people who did not understand him, this precious, confused little mini-schnauzer communicates his needs to me. After he left our foster home, he communicated to me in three different dreams that he wanted to come back to us. One dream said he wasn’t happy and the people did not understand him. Later, in another dream, I awoke early one morning, in the early gray darkness of an extremely early morning, to hear whining and a familiar bark. In my dream, I slumbered towards the front door. Opening it, I discovered a cold and wet Hankster. He lifted his face towards me as if to say, “May I please come in? I ran away and I’m tired. Hungry and cold. Please, Mom.”

If you, my readers, read my blog at all, you will remember I have visions. Sometimes these visions are so strong that I know, deep inside, that this vision will come true. My last vision about Hankster was the strongest one. In this dream, I was driving along the Interstate. Traffic was bumper to bumper. I was curious as to why the traffic was moving at a snail’s pace. I didn’t see any emergency vehicles. No sign at all of an emergency; however, as my car crawled along, horns were blowing. People were shouting. I looked to the right of the road. In the emergency lane, there stood a small little dog, hovering down. Afraid. The animal advocate in me kicked in and I pulled over. Carefully getting out of the car, I prayed, “Dear God. Keep me safe and please let me capture this scared little fellow.” I moved slowly, making soft noises so the tiny dog would not be afraid of me. He crawled towards me, and when I was able to touch his fur, he howled. Carefully, I picked him up, thinking, wishing and hoping that he was Hankster.

Placing the frightened animal in the back seat, I covered him with a blanket and buckled him. I lifted his collar. “Hank,” I read.

My eyes opened. I looked into the darkened room, hopped out of bed and turned the light on. This dream was so visual…vivid…almost as if Hank was communicating with me. I kissed the pups sleeping soundly in their beds and I rushed to my computer. Downloading e-mail, I discovered an e-mail titled “Hank isn’t working out,” in the subject line. I opened the e-mail. Tears rushed down my face as I realized those dreams were now a reality that Hank needed me.

Two days later I was informed that Hank was coming back to the rescue center. He would be placed in a kennel and re-entered into the foster and adoption program for the rescue center. As silly as my dreams sounded, I notified the director that I needed to be the one to rescue and foster Hank. I mentioned my dreams. Much to my surprise, when I got a reply, the director understood my dreams. She thought our family would be perfect to assist Hankster.

That weekend, we rescued Hankster again. At first, he barked. I allowed him to smell my scent and scooped him in my arms, placing him in the back seat. On the drive home, Hank was fine. He curled himself into a little ball and slept the entire two-hour drive. Arriving home, he rushed inside to the water bowl, then to the toy box. He remembered our home and our four-legged-family.

Some people say that animals cannot communicate simply because they cannot speak our language. I correct those people, letting them know that animals do communicate their needs by their actions, and sometimes, in their dreams. I am convinced that Hankster was communicating to me for weeks and that is why I kept dreaming about him.

Today, Hankster is happy. We adopted him and slowly he took baby steps to improve his attitude and disposition. For a few weeks, he bit my husband’s hand and he chased after his feet, especially whenever my husband moved closer to me. It was obvious that Hank did not like men, nor did he appreciate Phil giving me a hug. His story is one of abuse. After he lost his first home due to death, the family members took him to a kill shelter. Fortunately, Schnauzer Rescue of the Carolinas stepped in to save him. He went to a foster home, then to our home for us to foster him. A few months later, a family adopted him but Hank wasn’t happy, so we re-fostered him, only to fall in love with him and adopt him. Today, Hankster the Prankster is curled at my feet while I write this. Yes, he growls at my husband, but when he realizes he has no reason to growl or be ugly to Phil, he rushes up to him, as if to say, “Hi Daddy. Pet me please.” Hankster has truly grown into a little guy capable but skeptical of trust. Yes, he is still protective with me, and I imagine he always will be my little protector, but he does know how to love and how to accept love. Baby steps. Hankster has finally found the road to happiness.

This morning as the rain pours from the heavens, I give thanks for this precious little bundle that could’ve been put to sleep alone, without anyone to care for him. People ask me why we foster animals. I think Hankster tells the story better than I, or anyone, could by his actions. I will let you, my readers, decide. As for me, I feel blessed to love Hankster and to be the one he rushes to whenever he is wet from raindrops, cold, hungry, or just needing a little pat on his head while he growls. What is his growl saying to me? One word. One syllable. “Thanks…!”

Yes, animals communicate. All we need to do is open our hearts, and our minds, to listen to and welcome them!

Holidays, Losing Weight, To Your Health

Losing Weight, the Weight Watchers Way


Dearest Readers:

If  you read my posts on a regular basis, you might recognize I haven’t written much lately about losing weight. Why? That’s an easy question to answer. I have been stuck in a plateau — for 12 months, bouncing back and forth, trapped inside a spinning wheel, my body refused to drop below a loss of 35 pounds. Inches lost? Many. Until about a month ago, I refused to measure! I worked out. I tracked my food intake. I was so careful; nevertheless, my body applied brakes, refusing to lose just one more teeny tiny pound. At my weekly Weight Watchers meetings, I listened to friends sharing their weight loss, while I sat in a corner near the back, so angry at myself that I contemplated quitting.

BRAKES and EXERCISE!

I missed my meetings. If my morning wasn’t starting on a positive note, I stayed home from the meeting, telling myself that the next week would be so much better because I was confident I would have a weight loss. Laugh. LAUGH. Laugh!

The next week, a weight gain. The week after that, a small loss…and so on. I read articles. I told myself that this too shall pass. I jumped on the treadmill. Maybe I could do ten minutes on it. When ten minutes got easy to this asthmatic woman, I chose to continue the treadmill, increasing the minutes from 10 to 20, then 30…35. A few weeks ago, I actually accomplished 60 minutes non-stop on the treadmill. Dripping with sweat, I screamed. I was euphoric! Oh…My poor four-legged children were not happy with my scream, but they did seem to appreciate their mommy working out while they napped.

I was certain the additional workout would do the trick. It did not. At my doctor’s office, I discussed my situation and how my body had simply stopped in limbo, refusing to allow me to lose any more weight. He nodded. Maybe you should try the Medical Weight Loss programs at the hospital. MUSC has one. I researched those options when I got home. I did not want to succumb to shots, pills or anything so extreme. For me and my self-worth, I wanted to accomplish my goals — shall I say it — MY WAY!

ONWARD

Today is November 21, 2013. Plans are all set for Thanksgiving next week. My husband and I are visiting a close friend for Thanksgiving so food should not be such an issue; however, today at the Weight Watchers meeting, our leader, Kathy, passed out paper plates. She had us look and select our chosen foods on a pretend buffet. I jotted my food choices down and went back to my chair to calculate the power points, discovering that the Thanksgiving meal would set me up for total destruction. My total power points for Thanksgiving will be a whopping 33 points. OUCH! I have decided that I will be most careful on Thanksgiving and I will only eat a bite of each food choice, and if I should weaken, I will simply tell myself that tomorrow is another day! That is one of the most important lessons we, the members of Weight Watchers learn…When we fall off the wagon, we stop. Regroup…and begin our journey once again. We do not beat ourselves up, or discontinue our journey. We move on! And On… AND ON! ONWARD!!!

Last week was a busy week for me. Phil and I were in Murrells Inlet, performing for the Elks Lodge. I think I had the correct mindset during our trip and I am happy to report that this week was the best week I’ve ever experienced with Weight Watchers. Much to my surprise, this week saw a decrease of 3.6 pounds for me, and a total weight loss of 36.6 pounds! Goodbye Plateau!

WHAT DID I DO TO CHANGE THINGS?

Beats the heck out of me. This week, much to the credit of severe insomnia, I have been too exhausted to work out. I have tracked my food intake faithfully, and I started calculating my calories. Yes, I know, Weight Watchers does not count calories, but I was desperate to break this 12-month vicious cycle! I found an App titled Lose It so I downloaded it to my iPhone.  Now, not only do I track my food on Weight Watchers, the Lose It program calculates the amount of calories I eat. At the moment, I calculate less than 1600 calories daily. According to this program, I could hit my goal in September 2014, based on my current history and my exercise routine.

GOALS ESTABLISHED

Losing weight is such a tedious, time-consuming task and when we hit a plateau, we could easily just throw in the towel and give up. For me, that is no longer my style. I made the commitment to lose weight the Weight Watchers way and if I had to change things a bit to make it work for me, it is worth the struggles — at least for me. I have a goal weight established and I am confident today I will accomplish that goal. Today was filled with encouragement for me. Next week is Thanksgiving and I have much to be thankful for, including the weight loss, not to mention the inches and dress sizes I am losing. I have much to be thankful for. Good health. Family. My precious four-legged children who warm my heart daily. A devoted husband. OK…I admit he drives me crazy and he could cause me to binge, but now, I ignore his PTSD attitude and MOVE ON!  I have a few Good friends, and so much more. Much of this is due to Weight Watchers. The friends and acceptance I have made is to the credit of my first step into the doorway of a Weight Watchers meeting. I will never forget how devastated I felt, especially when slipping on to the ‘confidential weigh-in.’ I wanted to place a bag over my head so no one would recognize me. What I discovered is something I never imagined — acceptance and encouragement. Everyone at Weight Watchers has walked in the same shoes.  They have been just as discouraged and fearful as I was, and now, we take it one day…one week…one month…one loss…at a time. Regardless of how long it takes to achieve goal, we are still — WEIGHT WATCHERS.

 

Losing Weight, To Your Health, Uncategorized, Zumba and More Ways to Work Out

Doctor’s Scales vs. Weight Watchers Scales — WHICH One Is Correct???


Dearest Readers:

I hope you are doing well, enjoying the weekend. My plans for this morning were to go outside early and walk my silly children. Unfortunately, it is an overcasting morning with rain in the forecast, so the plans changed. I will play with my children, and hop on the treadmill instead. If I walk in the rain, I run a gigantic chance of getting ill, and for those of you who know, I was dreadfully ill from late October 2012 until January 19, 2013. I do not wish to repeat that illness. Isn’t it a bit funny how I remember the day I awoke feeling better, feeling that finally the acute bronchitis that strove to attack my body indefinitely, succumbed to my determination to get well. Crossing my fingers here for a moment, in hopes I do not get ill this year.

Yesterday, I went to my doctor for my six month check. As you know, I have Type 2 Diabetes. My last blood work was great, with an A1C level of 5.4. I am hopeful my levels this time are still as good, and they certainly should be. It would be great IF my doctor phoned, telling me I no longer needed the oral drugs I must take for Diabetes. Next week, I look forward to the phone call, revealing those reports. Until then, I continue my daily habits. Perhaps “Daily Habits” is the subject matter for this blog today.

Those of you who are regular readers of my blog know that I attend weekly Weight Watchers meetings, and lately, I feel as if I am on a roller coaster ride, or a yo-yo. Allow me to explain. For about seven months I have bounced, back and forth, with weight loss. One week, I drop a pound. The next week, I gain two pounds. Next week, drop .02, and on…and on… At the meetings, I’ve learned this is an expected process; however, after this week, I maintained – the same weight as last week. At my doctor’s office, according to his scale, I weighed exactly five pounds more than I did — the day before — at Weight Watchers??? How can that be? When I visit my doctor, I must fast for the blood work, so it could not be something I ate. I addressed this discovery to my doctor. His reply — “I’d go with the Weight Watchers scale.” Another discovery at my doctor’s office was — his scale is located within the traffic area of his office. To the right of the scale, a nice looking older guy sat. No doubt he was probably reading the scale, so when I jumped off, I moved the weights! Of course, this doctor’s scale is one of those antiquated ones that I have never trusted – the type where the weights must balance, and because of the size of it, there isn’t any privacy. I made a suggestion to my doctor for him to please have the scale located elsewhere – for privacy purposes. “Women prefer privacy,” I said. I don’t know if that will encourage them to move the scales to a different location, but it would make women feel better. What do you think, readers? Have you noticed at doctor’s offices, there is NO PRIVACY for scales??? Aren’t doctors supposed to have Privacy Laws? Isn’t what we weigh — PRIVATE?

My doctor and I discussed many issues this time, including why I was having such difficulty losing weight now. I understand as we age, our metabolism slows down; however, I am an active woman. I work out five to seven days weekly. I eat healthy and track my foods via the Weight Watchers e-tools site. Years prior to Weight Watchers, I tried my best to work out on the treadmill. My goal was ten minutes. At first, I could not move for five minutes on the treadmill without huffing and puffing. I blamed it on asthma. Determined, I started moving on the treadmill more, working up to ten minutes…then 20…30, and now — I am proud to say, I can move on that treadmill for 50.30 minutes. I count it down with the timer on my phone. Never do I get winded now. I am so proud of that accomplishment, and the inches are coming off, but the weight — I do believe the brakes to my weight loss are locked in place.

My doctor suggested going to Metabolic Weight Loss Medical Centers. http://www.goingmetabolic.com/faq.php I did a bit of research, reading their frequently asked questions site, and I have decided to remain with Weight Watchers. Years ago, I was successful with a weight loss program of drugs, shots and special meals, but this time I am determined to do this on my own — with the beauty, encouragement and lifestyle change of Weight Watchers. I have known people who have lost weight in this style and plan, but I am not motivated to go there. I want to accomplish my weight loss on my own — with Weight Watchers! Yes, it has been an incredibly slow process for me, but I have to remind myself that IF I stop and go to some other ‘weight loss’ plan, I will be hurting myself. I walked into Weight Watchers, mortified…ashamed…shaking like a leaf…afraid that someone would recognize me… When the leader saw that ‘familiar look’ on my face, she reached out to me, encouraging me. “We were all in those shoes before,” she said with a beautiful smile. Kathy, my leader, has become a friend. She is there to encourage me when I squeal with a weight loss, and she is still encouraging me when I frown. I do not consider that I am a ‘Loser’ — that is someone who gives up, and I am a ‘winner’ even when the scales say otherwise. Yes, it is taking such a long time, but I am truly liking the person I see, reflecting me, at the full-length mirror.

I joined Weight Watchers because I wanted to accomplish my weight loss on my own. I wanted to be one of the women who says, “This I do for me,” and I wanted to feel the achievement of my own weight loss, regardless of the cost. I still believe I will break this bouncing rubber ball plateau, and I will accomplish my goals. After all, this I do for me. Now — if only I could persuade my doctor’s office to move their scales to a more private area. Wouldn’t that be an accomplishment!