When life gets tough

Whoever said life isn’t easy is so right. The last couple of weeks have been a challenge for me to not get in my head to derail the progress I’ve been making. I’ve been trying not to get in my head and not let things bother me, but it’s been hard. There have been a couple of things that have happened over the course of the last week that make me question why they happened, but I know that those things were not meant to be and it only means there is something better out there for me. It can be frustrating, but I’m doing my best to roll with the punches. I’ve got a great support group and I’m so grateful that I can turn to them when I need to.

Now onto something a bit more exciting. I’m taking my first vacation in almost 8 years in April. I’m heading to NYC for six days and five nights. I feel so at home and alive in NYC, so I can’t even being to explain how happy I am that this trip is happening so soon. One of the things I am doing while I am there is the Shape Women Run The World Half Marathon. I’ve never done a half marathon in my life and it scares the shit out of me, but it’s time for me to go on adventures and this will definitely be an adventure.

While I’m there I also plan on seeing my friends Natalie and Kevin. While I’m there I’m also going to go to the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum and try to take in a show on Broadway. This time last year I couldn’t have done any of this. Travel was next to impossible for my dad and while there is some feeling of guilt about going, my dad wouldn’t want me to not take advantage of things that life has to offer. I’m doing this for me and I’m doing this for him.

 

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10 weeks…

Tomorrow marks 10 weeks since I lost my dad. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long since he left me. It still feels like it happened yesterday, but I’m coping so much better than I did when I lost my mom. I owe a lot of that to my dad because he wasn’t afraid to have the hard conversations with me about end of life. The bereavement class that I have been attending has also been a huge help. It is a place where it’s okay to grieve and mourn. So many of us share things that we don’t feel like we can share elsewhere and it’s a great atmosphere. I’m grateful for this safe haven.

Now to get you caught up a little bit on me and what’s been happening the last few weeks. I finished the ShapeGoal40 challenge on the 3rd. I’m sad that it has ended, but the support of the wonderful women I’ve met continues on in the group. I’m also happy to say that I was named the goal crusher for the last week of the challenge. I will come back later and share the video here. It’s a great feeling to see how far I’ve come in such a short amount of time.

Another plus is that I saw my doctor yesterday and she’s proud of the progress I’ve been making. Last year before dad died she wanted me to focus on losing weight because I had been putting on weight and pretty quickly. Then my dad died and I turned to food as a comfort, but knew that I couldn’t continue down that path. At my appointment yesterday she told me I was so close to being out of the morbid obesity range. I told her I didn’t even know I had hit that range and she said she didn’t tell me because she didn’t want that to be in my head and make things worse. She wanted to encourage me to move more and to work on eating better. We also talked about things that I’m doing coming up, like my first half marathon in April in NYC. I’m lucky to have a doctor who encourages me. It’s one more person on my team who I know I can turn to if I need support.

I hope you all have a great Tuesday!

Real talk

A lot of this blog is about my journey as a caretaker to my dad, but I’ve also posted some about me trying to get healthy and focus on myself, which I have been doing with the #ShapeGoal40 challenge. It’s been a pretty bumpy ride because of having a head cold, now being on muscle relaxers for a pulled muscle in my back. I wanted to share a bit of my year last year and why doing this challenge is important to me.

A few years after losing my mom to a brain aneurysm I started to get this intense pressure in my head with changing positions, such as kneeling to standing. I didn’t think much of it or mention it to my doctor because I was terrified of finding out if something was seriously wrong with me. I needed to make sure my dad was taken care of, so I just let it go. The head pressure started to become more frequent over the year and started to have headaches almost every day. I did my best to just push through, but last year things got kind of scary for me. I was starting to get dizzy spells, and focusing at work was becoming increasingly more difficult. Within a three week span last year I ended up in the emergency room because of the headaches. One of those trips was me leaving work by ambulance because of how dizzy I was and how much pain my head was in.

The first hospital visit they tried Imitrex, which kicked in within fifteen minutes and I felt so much better, but the next day I was miserable again and the headaches seemed to be getting worse. The subsequent ER visits included a CT of my brain and an MRI/MRV of my brain. Thankfully nothing showed up on those, which was a relief, but my doctor was still at a loss as to what could be causing my headaches. I was referred to Neurology and spent about 10 minutes with the neurologist for a consult that was scheduled for 40 minutes. After replying to a message on if they met my needs, I marked no. I left without any answers or even a plan to help the headaches. The nurse talked to the neurologist and I was put on amitriptyline, which is mainly used as an antidepressant , but has also been found to help migraines.

You may be wondering why I’m sharing this and there’s an answer. Since starting the #ShapeGoal40 I’ve been eating so much better and drinking more water, but haven’t really had any of my weight come off. The head cold and the pulled muscle in my back have been small set backs, but then I remembered being told that a side effect of amitriptyline is weight gain. The hospital where I doctor at uses MyChart for patient’s to access their medical records online and I went back to see when I was started on the amitriptyline, which was 08/23/17. At that time I weighed 189. 32 days later at a follow up appointment with my primary doctor, 09/25/17, I weighed 202. Almost a 15 pound increase in weight in a little over a month time span. Since then my weight has been gradually increasing, even with eating better, drinking more water, and trying to be less sedentary at work. I think the medication is what is preventing me from losing weight. I’m eating enough of what I’m supposed to be eating, plus having healthy snacks throughout the day. I see my doctor in a couple of weeks and I’m going to see if I can trial going off of the amitriptyline to see if that helps me lose weight and to see if my migraines come back or not. If they do I will see what other medication I can try, but having this realization tonight was something I needed.

Self discovery

In a way I feel like this blog is turning into a self discovery blog along with sharing my story of being a caregiver to my father. This is a huge deal for me because I feel like my identity for the past seven years has been that of a caregiver. Putting my dad first, taking him to the ER when needed, doctor appointments, helping him with IV medication at home if needed, bandage changes for wounds. The list goes on.

Today is day 20 of a 40 day challenge I am doing. I’ve posted about it before and it’s called #ShapeGoal40. There’s an amazing private Facebook group for women who are encouraging women, getting real about their struggles, and what their goals are. My goals haven’t changed since I posted them in the last blog and I will post the link to that one at the end of this post.

Tonight’s check in with Jen Widerstrom was just what I needed. My goals didn’t advance a whole lot this week until yesterday and today. The last week has been rough with having the upper respiratory thing that’s going around, dealing with a migraine on Friday, being called an orphan by someone, and attending my first grief class after the passing of my dad. I just didn’t really have the energy or drive to be motivated to move a whole lot, but I didn’t sacrifice my healthy eating and getting my water intake in. Yesterday I was still feeling blah and didn’t want to do anything, but I made myself get up and do Jen’s week three workout for the first time and I was amazed how much better I felt mentally after doing the workout. I pushed myself more today with the workout again and as the reps decreased, I made it a point to increase the weight, even if that meant taking a pause in between reps. I was proud of myself for pushing through and getting it done. I’m getting back on track this week and hitting the gym on the days I promised myself I would.

Another part of tonight’s check in was what do we look for in an accountability partner and what you need in your support system. What I’m looking for in an accountability partner is someone who will go to the gym with me and who will challenge me while I’m there. I also want someone who can help make sure I’m staying on track with my eating and water intake. So far I’ve been doing well with this on my own, but you never know when one bad day can start you back down the rabbit hole of bad habits. As far as me being an accountability partner to someone else, I think that I’m good at being a cheerleader for others. I had to be my dad’s cheerleader when he broke through a milestone in his health, like when he quit smoking after more than 30 years. I’m good at celebrating successes. In this process I’ve also learned that I need to celebrate my own successes as well, which can be hard, but I’m slowly learning that celebrating the small things will help when I reach a milestone goal.

As promised, here’s the link to my original blog post about #ShapeGoal40: https://lifeofacaregiver87.com/2017/12/30/shapegoal40/

 

#ShapeGoal40

I mentioned in a post I made a few days ago that I’m joining Shape Magazine and Jen Widerstrom doing their 40 day challenge. Being a caregiver so long I really didn’t take care of myself the way I should have. I ate like crap, gave into temptation sitting next to the person at work who is always bringing donuts, cookies, and candy in. As hard as these last four and a half weeks have been without my dad, I realize that this is a time in life where I get to rediscover who I am. I don’t have to constantly worry about my dad throughout the day or not get enough rest because he needs help with something in the middle of the night. Don’t get me wrong, I wish he were still here because he was the best dad I could ever have ever wanted, but I knew in the back of my head that I was putting my health on the back burner to make sure he was okay.

The timing of this challenge has been fantastic. Today is day five and since it started I’ve been cooking meals instead of eating out. I’ve been making chicken dishes, healthy sandwiches, eating salads, fruits, and going out of my comfort zone by trying new things like couscous. It’s amazing how in just five days I feel like I have more energy and that my body is functioning better because I am putting good stuff into it. I’ve also significantly cut back on soda, except for a sip or two to get medication down. When I was six I choked on a life saver and my mom had to do the Heimlich on me, so getting pills down has always been an issue for me, and the carbonation seems to help that. If you know of something else for me to try, let me know!

With the ShapeGoal40, there is a fantastic group of amazing people who are all supportive of each other from all over the world and many of us have posted our goals so we can all help each other stay accountable. I want to post that here on my blog as well, so that I make sure I am not only accountable for myself, but for anyone who may be doing this challenge who reads this, can also keep me accountable.

For the first time in almost seven years, I feel like this huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. I love my dad dearly, but now that he’s gone and truly seeing the toll it took on me that I couldn’t see, but everyone else could has been a huge eye opener. 2018 is going to be focusing on me and rediscovering myself and my joy. As I look back in 2017, I don’t know how I managed to do all that I did for my dad. There were times that I was pretty much at rock bottom, but was able to put up this façade to make it seem like everything was fine. I’m ready to conquer 2018. I’ve got big goals and plans for some of the most special people in my life. I really couldn’t have made it through this last year without Justin, Katie, Bri, Gina, Kelly, Jen and so many more.

Here I come 2018 and here are my goals below!

shapegoal40

Taking Care of Myself

For the first time in almost 7 years I have the opportunity to focus on myself and my needs. Being a caregiver to my father who had many health issues was so hard, but I would do it all over again if I had to. My dad was my rock and I can’t believe that it has been a month today since he passed. It doesn’t feel like it has been a full 30 days. I remember vividly the week before he passed when I asked him one day how he was doing he told me he felt like he was dying. I told him he wasn’t and that his infection and other labs were getting better. By 11/28 he could tell it was his time to go. I was in the waiting room with a couple of friends because they were going to get my dad cleaned up. During that time he ended up getting sick and was really agitated, so the nurse called me and asked me to come back to his room. When I did, I could just tell he looked different than he had before and he was more alert. I walked over to his hospital bed and held his hand. He looked at me and said “Remember what we talked about last week baby, I think it’s time”. Hearing those words were heartbreaking. I gave him a big hug and then because I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye to my mom, I was able to get video of my dad telling me he loved me. I’m grateful I was able to get that and I still have several voicemails from him, but something else special that I have is songs that he sang. My dad sung pretty much all his life, and loved Elvis. Once I was done taking care of his arrangements and other running around that needed to be done, I sat down at his computer and pulled up his music. I found a folder that had several songs he recorded and also found a record in the spare bedroom that he was on when his high school choir recorded a Christmas album. I’m so grateful to have these things.

Since my dad’s passing I have been having a hard time with cooking at home. Until last night I had been stopping on my way home to get something through a drive thru or a microwavable dinner. I know those aren’t good for me, so last night I went shopping and actually got some healthy stuff. Yesterday I started a 40 day challenge called ShapeGoal40 being hosted by Jen Widerstrom and Shape magazine. Back in February this year I met Jen after the release of her book Diet Right For Your Personality Type. We talked for a few minutes and she remembered me from one of her DietBet’s I did. She and I have kept in touch since then and I knew that this would be the perfect time to tackle this challenge head on. I have my goals written down and posted to my Instagram (cubbie_87). I convinced a friend to sign up and I’m super excited for these next 40 days. Life has a crazy way of timing sometimes. Part of my goal is to lose weight because I have put on at least 30 pounds since meeting Jen. But there is so much more to my goal than the weight loss, so if you are interested go check out my Instagram and while you’re at it go follow Jen on their as well (@jenwiderstrom). She’s had such an impact on my life and I love that she and I have been able to keep in touch.

As time goes on I will share more about my life as being a caregiver and more of my story, but I felt like today these are the things I really needed to share. It hit me pretty hard this afternoon and needed to get it out so it doesn’t eat away at me inside. If you are interested on doing the ShapeGoal40 with me, you can search for Shape’s page on Facebook and all the information you need is there. I also have a Planet Fitness membership that allows me to take a guest, so if you want to join me at the gym, let me know!