A different type of force: one year to the day

Exactly one year to the moment, I had a mini-stroke. It was Sunday morning, I was doing some writing, as I am now. As I was about to write something, I could think of what I wanted to write but my hands were unable to type. It left me slightly confused, so I actually went down to the keyboard to see what was wrong. Was my hands just numb? There was no sense of comprehension, in any way, so I got away from the screen and lied down on my bed for what felt like 15 minutes but was more like five. I made an attempt to write again and it was not happening. I’m sitting there questioning things, and I wondered if this would be the beginning of my inability to write. It is a fear of mine, the moment when I would no longer be a writer. It wasn’t as if I was saying “I will no longer be a journalist” or “I retire as an author”, I was and have never been hung up on the name tags. I couldn’t write, so I went to take another break again. When I was capable, I called my mom and told her something was wrong. It’s all that I said: “something is wrong”. My sister came over and she wasn’t sure either, although looking back at the moment, they were both obviously concerned, so my mom told me to dress up as she would take me to emergency. It is when my sister said “I think you had a stroke.”

I’ve told the story before, which you may read by clicking here but for obvious reasons, it changed my life. It wasn’t that having a mini-stroke “forced” me to change, I was already making changes to lose weight and improve on my health. Neglecting my health, if not literally ignoring it, is what lead to me having a Transient Ischemic Attack, or a TIA. It was not a full-on stroke but what happened was basically a sign which was a warning to say “something is wrong, and you need to fix it up before it could get far worse”. A TIA doesn’t cause permanent damage, it happens briefly but it’s enough to put an unwanted pause in life. It completely sucks to understand my surroundings but unable to come up with the words to say or how to write it, because I couldn’t. I was told that when I was talking with my mom, I was actually mumbling my words. I am generally in no shortage of words but for something to happen that cuts the crap, leading me to just say “something is wrong”, required me to stop hurting myself.

Since the hospital visit, I’ve lost 40 pounds. In truth, I lost 40 pounds in five months, a major plus. I now wear the size of clothes I haven’t worn since high school. The only bad thing about my mission to lose more weight is that I have hit a “weight loss plateau”, which means I have stopped losing weight since October. I am stuck at a certain pocket to where I will lose and gain five pounds and unable to get out of those numbers. I’ve been doing a lot of reading and it says everything from increasing more activities to adjusting what I eat, and for the time being, I’m still stuck. However, I’m not going to give up, and I don’t want to. I now have 30 pounds to lose for my next short-term goal and if it was as easy as it was when I lost 40 pounds, I just have to take my time. Once I hit the 30 pound loss, then I’ll take on the next short-term goal: another 50 pounds. Sure, feel free to do the math and you will come up with the same equation. Since losing 40 pounds, it’s nice to see less of me, which in turn allows me to see more of me. I don’t know how I’ll be when I get down 80 pounds but I look forward to the moment.

365 days ago, my goal was to take part in a 5k walk in Vancouver, Washington. 5K is a little over three miles, and I said it was not a problem since I was already walking four miles a day. When I got out of the hospital, I started again on walking and I could barely walk a quarter mile before feeling completely exhausted. Today, I now walk six miles a day and I want to go to eight. In time, I would love to get into jogging. Me, jogging? The person I was 20 to 25 years ago would’ve laughed at the older me saying “you, laugh? Yeah right, give me a pizza.” I enjoy the challenges and I enjoy what I have been able to do, to see the progress and actually say “yes, do some more”. I’ve had some rude awakenings in my life, some personal, some economical, some having to do with the loss of a job but nothing compares to the realization that my body basically gave me a time-out as a means to let me rethink…everything. My family supports me, I have online friends that show respect, and I am still aiming to walk this year’s 5k walk. I still have a goal to one day do a mini-marathon and I’d still love to do a bicycle race. Self-improvement doesn’t have to be embarrassing if it matters to yourself, no one can say how you should do better when you’re the one who is doing it for you.

Here’s to another year. Other people may celebrate May 4th today in honor of Star Wars but the force of my body chemistry told me it was time to let go of how I treated myself and smile a bit. In the words of the band Chicago, “tell me you will stay, make me smile”. I still want to stay for awhile and enjoy the good that life can provide.

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