I Want to Go Down Fighting

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Her breathing is heavy.

Her words come in short bursts.

I can hear the anxiety in her voice, and all I want to do is reach through the phone and hold on to my mom, because I know she is sick, and I’m so afraid of losing her.

My mom, like others in my family, has heart disease.

She’s been in and out of Afib for years now.

Sometimes she has good days, sometimes, like today, her heart flops around in her chest like a fish out of water, making it hard for her to catch her breath, making her at a much higher risk for stroke than someone not in Atrial Fibrillation.

She’s already had one cardioversion — she went into the hospital and they shocked her heart back into normal rhythm, but that only lasted for a while before she slipped back into Afib again.

Those terrifying beats come and go in her chest, but the terror in mine never leaves.

I don’t want to lose my mom.

And I don’t want to become her, either.

Every once in a while I feel a flipping in my heart and wonder whether I have the same thing she does, or whether I am headed down that road as I get older.

I’m only 36 now, but I’m seriously overweight, and for some reason, for many reasons, I don’t feel ready to change my life and lose the weight.

But I should, because if I don’t, I feel like I won’t live long enough to be there for my daughter when she needs me in her uncertain adulthood.

I want to be around longer than I probably will be at the rate I am going.

So why is making my health a priority so hard?

I’m 36, and I take seven pills a day to keep my health in check.

Four of them are for my mental health, one for my blood pressure, one for my reflux disease, some are vitamins that I am extremely lacking.

And that isn’t counting the handfuls of Motrin I take day to day to relieve the pain in my joints from all this extra weight I am carrying around.

And still, I do nothing to change.

Is it because I know it’s so hard, and I’m not ready to make the life changes necessary?

Yes, that is definitely part of it.

Is it because I wonder whether losing weight isn’t going to be a cure-all for my health problems?

That’s another part of it.

Fat people know that when we go to the doctor, no matter what we are complaining of, we are going to be told to lose weight.

Sinus infection?

By the way, you need to lose some weight.


Well, it would get better if you lost some weight.

The pressure is always there, and yet the will to do the work just isn’t, and I wonder what the hell is wrong with me that I keep ignoring the things that are so obvious to me — what I need to do — and why I don’t just start doing them.

Is part of the reason that I wonder whether losing weight won’t be the cure-all for all of my issues?

I do wonder.

I wonder whether my joints will continue to deteriorate even if I lose 100 pounds.

I wonder if my heart will start flopping in my chest like my mom’s even if I count calories down to a healthy BMI.

I wonder if the struggle to get healthy is worth it when we’re all facing down certain death, anyway.

My mom is home now, resting on the couch.

As I write this, I watch her face try to relax as she struggles in vain to get her heartbeat under control.

But it isn’t in her control, and it never will be.

I, however, have the ability to get things under control.

I just have to find the will to do it.

In ten days, I’m leaving for vacation, and when I come back, I’m going to start counting calories again.

It’s the only thing that’s ever worked for me, it’s the only thing I know how to do to get the weight off.

I’m not looking forward to it, but I have to do it.

I have to do it for me, I have to do it for my family, I have to do it whether I want to or not.

Because, yes, we are every day hurtling toward the end of our brief, wonderful lives on Earth, and I am not ready to go yet.

And when I do go, I at least want to go down fighting.

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