To live or to die?

Yes, that is the question


For many years I didn’t enjoy eating salads.  When mom would make us one, I might take one bite but never with enjoyment.  Now, when she would put some cheese on a pear half and serve that, I loved it!  What a difference it would make in my attitude.

Some how as an adult, I did began to eat a few salads.  But it was a long time before a salad was a preferred menu choice for me.

Life Changed

Image of very pregnant woman

Image of very pregnant woman

I became pregnant when I was 34 years old.  Before that time I had been very active and involved in sports and many physical activities.  I both played and coached softball and volleyball.  I loved racketball, swimming, hiking, and truly enjoyed the outdoors.

However during my pregnancy I gained lots of weight.  Actually I did well until month 7.  I stayed pretty active, but at 7 months I began to have major low back issues.  I was in lots of pain and I had to quit any sport or pretty much all physical activity.  After my daughter was born in June of 1988, I continued to have low back pain – a lot of it.  I couldn’t even hold her and bend over to put her in her car seat.  I couldn’t lift hardly anything.  In addition, she was not a good sleeper and for about six months I had very, very little sleep.  I returned to work when she was 8 weeks old and since it was mostly desk type work, I was able to do it.  But I did have issues carrying things around at work, but I forced myself to do it anyway.

I truly believe that my body changed during and after my pregnancy.  I had gained 50 pounds and I was no longer able to wear my contacts – my eyes couldn’t handle them anymore they were extremely teary and scratchy when I tried to wear my contacts, even new ones.  Also, before my pregnancy, I could never wear a watch because they all stopped on me after a day or so.  After my pregnancy, I found I could wear watches.  So I know something about my body’s electric or magnetic system changed.  The lack of sleep for so many months was awful too.  I was so tired all the time that at one point I thought “how can someone live with so little sleep”.

I continued to work with little sleep and gained more and more weight as time passed.  My back pain would get a little better then I would have a setback and it would hurt again.  This cycle continued for years.  I also took college courses and finally finished my degree in 1999, after attending 5 colleges and 26 years after I finished my first college year when I was 19.

An image of a syringe for injecting insulin.

An image of a syringe for injecting insulin.

I was so overweight that I developed diabetes and began medication for that and eventually had to begin insulin injections.  After a number years, I was also diagnosed with a blood disorder involving my bone marrow producing too many and irregular shaped platelets (Essential Thrombocythemia or ET).  This caused me to become a risk for stroke.  In addition, I developed fibromyalgia and my body began to hurt all over, especially when I would overdo some activity.

In 2001, I and a friend of mine, started a photography business together.  We both love photography and we signed up for training at the New York Institute of Photography.  Even before we had finished our final training there, our studio because successful.  We became one of the most preferred local studio for senior photography and children’s photography.  We stayed extremely busy and once again I lost lots of sleep because of working my day job and then working in the studio evenings and weekends.  I would often be editing images and working on marketing during until the wee hours of the morning.  On the weekend and evenings, we would schedule our photography sessions.

I retired from my civil service job when I was 53, in 2006 and things were a little better but still extremely busy.  However in 2008 I had a detached retinal which was a awful experience.  Luckily I realized what was happening and rushed to my optometrist who set me up for an appointment in Little Rock that afternoon with a retinal specialist.  By 60m that night I was in surgery.  I had a virectomy, where the fluid from the eye is removed and a gas bubble injected after laser repair surgery on my detachment.  I was also given a scleral buckle around that eye.  You can read more about retina repair here.

Our business continued to be successful and we added photographing church directories to our offerings.  In late 2008 and early 2009, we shot directory images for two churches with 300 families each.  During those shoots, I was posing each individual and moving props in and out along with hydraulic stools needing raising and lowering.  After we finished those directories, my back became much worse and I was no longer able to do my work in the studio effectively.  I sold my part of the studio out to my partner at the end of 2009.  I was truly in retirement at that point.  My daughter was married in late 2009 and I visited my chiropractor each day of that week so I would be able to walk down the isle in her wedding.  I did accomplish that but I was still in pain.

I had major surgery for an abdominal hernia and post surgery I clotted and had a stroke which took me over a year to somewhat recover from.  I have visited a neurosurgeon about surgery for my back; however with my health (the diabetes, the platelet issue and the necessity of having rods, screws and bone grafts), his recommendation was to not do surgery as I could end up worse even.  Two years ago I began an 8 month battle with diabetic induced leg and feet ulcers, I started using a wheelchair during that period and have not been able to get back to walking again, although I can stand and do a few steps.

Today

An image of my BLT salad.

An image of my BLT salad.

So here I am today, still diabetic, in my wheelchair and overweight.  I have a real fear of amputation from my diabetes and stroke from my platelet disorder, so becoming healthier is my priority.

During 2016, I managed to lose about 30 pounds doing a whole food diet and have only gained 6 of those pounds back.  I did this by changing the way I eat.  I now eat mostly whole foods, not processed if possible and leaner meats.  I tend to go in cycles eating better then backsliding.  Whenever I backslide, my inflammation and pain returns and convinces me to start eating better.  I now love salads and am fascinated with creating different kinds of salads and adding healthy items to salads.  Blueberries, nuts, seeds, and other healthy items are wonderful in salads.  My goal is to write down recipes for my healthy salads and dressings and share those in a cookbook of my own: “Salads to Live For”.  I’m hoping to finish this during 2017.  I’ll be sharing my progress on my health successes from the way I eat and my cookbook here and some cool images and free recipes.  I hope visitors will enjoy and benefit from my posts.  I also have a another blogsite “Growing Old With Diabetes” you may be interested in reading.

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