I have a very close family member who is dying of many things. Some are unrelated to her lifestyle and yet others are things that are directly affected by her daily habits. On her list of fatal ailments is disease of the veins, heart conditions, liver disease and emphysema. I don’t know about her vein disease or her heart problems but I do know her advanced liver disease and emphysema are directly related to the beer she drinks and the cigarettes she smokes every day. EVERY DAY. EVERY. DAY. The doctors told her that she needed to stop. She will die and she will die soon if she doesn’t. She doesn’t listen. She just continues to drink and smoke and has 911 on super speed dial for when her inhalers don’t work anymore or her heart feels like it’s going to beat out of her chest or her leg feels like it’s going to fall off. I could never understand why she just couldn’t stop. Until last night. I had an epiphany. An epiphany that I’ve had before but that hit me harder than other times. The coincidence that my family member is back in the hospital today and her prognosis is not at all good only solidifies my realization.
As I said, I could never understand why she didn’t just stop. Cigarettes and alcohol are not something you need to live so just don’t buy them and voila, cured. Right?
A bit of history: I can’t eat pizza with sausage or lasagna with sausage or any kind of sausage other than kielbasa or breakfast sausage without having serious indigestion. I also can’t eat any kind of spaghetti sauce without suffering through serious bouts of GERD. Last night I consciously chose that 2nd piece of homemade sausage filled lasagna with plentiful marinara and as the pain in my gut grew to horrific proportion I knew I had made a really bad choice. I spent a serious amount of time in the upstairs bathroom of my grandparents’ house with no relief. But the horrible, torturous intestinal pain and the lack of relief wasn’t even the worst part. The worst part was when I tried to relieve the pain by visiting the bathroom again. I’m not sure what I did. Maybe I pushed harder than necessary, or maybe the pain was transferring to other parts of my body but suddenly it wasn’t just my guts that felt as though they might burst from my stomach. The overwhelming pain I felt inside my head was excruciating and nauseating and filled me with so much fear that I immediately yanked up my pants and stumbled to the bathroom door to unlock it for fear that I might pass out or god forbid, have a stroke. I leaned on the bathroom sink and stared at myself in the mirror. I wasn’t dizzy but I felt foggy. I couldn’t believe that it had gotten to this point, food induced or otherwise. It took approximately 3 minutes for the pain and that fog in my head to clear.
I decided right then that I wouldn’t call it my aha moment, or that a switch had been flipped. I decided that it was God giving me a second chance. A chance to take a good gander at my life and how I am throwing down the toilet with every bad choice I make. Like my family member who consciously chooses cigarettes and beer despite her ailments, I consciously chose what I knew would hurt me and I didn’t care. The difference between her and I, is that I don’t want to die. I recognize that I have to change to stay alive. No lasagna, or cake or cookie is worth the pain and the fear I felt last night. So, in honor of my family member who is now fighting for her life in the hospital I am going bland. Simple foods to begin with: this morning I ate a plain bowl of oatmeal. This afternoon I had 15 saltine crackers with a triangle of thin turkey breast on each. This evening I see some kind of soup. Bland, healthy, low cal and meanwhile I will pray for my beloved family member while she is in the hospital and pray that she can have the same enlightening moment as I did. She’s 63 years old. She’s stubborn. She’s stuck in her ways but I love her. I don’t want her to die. Maybe God will give her just one more chance to choose life but all I can do is pray and of course I would appreciate your prayers as well.
Her name is Judy.