Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Back to Basics

When I lecture on death/dying, I often talk about how even with all our modern marvels of medicine, human life always comes back to two basic needs- eating and sleeping. When a person is undergoing treatment, neither eating or sleeping is easy to come by. Palliative/comfort care often restores exactly that- the ability to eat and sleep more easily. That is why research shows that people often live longer with palliative care than they do with curative care (chemo, radiation, etc.).

I’ve been thinking about how recently my eating and sleeping have been not been doing so well. Honestly, not eating well has been a lifelong problem. It has been the exception when I have been able to get a handle on eating properly. I’ve actually been successful, but only for brief periods of time. Every day I wake up and attempt to do so again, but usually by 2:00 pm I’ve sunk again. I have all the education I need, I just don’t have the motivation or willpower to follow through. Or something.

I tried to think of a baby step I could take and I came up with setting up a task in my calendar that comes with an alarm. At 8 am every day, I want to have a protein shake. That will start my day correctly and maybe if it is an actual task that needs to be checked off, I can put my OCD to good use. If I can get that to be habitual, my next goal will be to set a reminder up at 9 pm that says, “No more eating” and eventually decrease the time until 7 pm.

Sleeping is another lifelong battle. Even my baby books talk about the problems I had. I’m sure I had night terrors, they just hadn’t been named yet. I’ve done sleep tests at different ages. I’ve tried all the different medicines there are. But lately, I’ve just gotten in a bad habit of watching Netflix until 1 in the morning. Then I don’t want to (or can’t sometimes) get up when I used to. After waking Frankie for school, I go back to sleep. By mid-afternoon I need a nap in order to get through my activities. Vicious cycle. Once I nap, then I’m up at night again.

My baby step was again to add a daily task set up with an alarm. My goal for the first few days is to go to bed at 11 pm, WITHOUT Netflix or anything else. Even if I just lay there, it will help break the habit. Then I can lower the time by 30 minutes until I get to bed at a more decent time for me.

So simple, but sometimes I just have to hit myself over the head. Your eating and sleeping is off, Darcy so it is effecting everything else. You need to fix it.

Tiny, elementary steps that I feel like I shouldn’t need to still be making at 50 years old, but yet here I am. Small, incremental steps are the only way that I know of though, to make changes that won’t make me want to jump off a cliff.

Sigh.

I love the ‘ol AA slogan: One day at a time. It’s better than not trying at all, right?


4 Comments

Food

I am on a new depression medicine, prescribed by an actual psychiatrist. So far, it has been pretty good with the exception of not being able to sleep. I saw the doc today and she says the insomnia is a short term effect, which is good news. If I have my druthers, I would go to sleep by 9 every night and sleep til 7 the next morning. Once this week I was still awake at 4 AM!

Now what does that have to do with food? Well, I’m glad you asked. You also know I’ve been doing this pre-diabetic lifestyle change. Good news, no great news, is that I’ve lost 12 and a half pounds so far. If you know me well, you know that’s a miracle.

I was told once by a nutritionist several years ago that eating at night is like doubling your intake. So if you eat 3 cookies, it’s as if you’ve actually eaten 6. That, of course, is not good.

I do pretty well eating healthy throughout the day. But if I’m home at night, that is my weakness. And if I’m staying up til 1, 2, 3, or 4 AM, that is definitely a long time for me to try and stave off my cravings.

Yesterday morning, Frankie asked me where the Lucky Charms were. He said he could swear we had a box in the basement. I told him I opened them and they were definitely in the cupboard. He couldn’t find them so I looked. The box was gone because there was only a little left in the bag. The bag was there with a tiny bowl of cereal left. Frankie said he just didn’t remembered eating them. I had to confess that it was me. Ok, so one of my late night cheats was a bowl of sugar cereal. I mean, like 4 bowls. Oops.

But the worst happened the other night. Colin bought a bag of Munchos potato chips. If you haven’t ever had them, you really should try them. They are my favorite. Pringles are a close second, but these are the best. I saw the unopened bag on the counter in the kitchen and I resisted the whole day. The entire day I walked by them.

About 1 AM, I couldn’t take it anymore. I got up to get them, and discovered they were no longer on the counter. Damn it! I realized the boys had taken them up to their room, but surely I am the only one in the house that would eat an entire bag in one sitting. (Or leave just a little left like I did with the Lucky Charms!)

So I got my cell phone and turned the flashlight on. I crept up the stairs as silently as I could and walked in the bedroom. I eventually found that stupid bag of chips. Most of the contents were still in there, thank goodness. Getting the bag out without rattling the paper was very difficult. Colin stirred and rolled over. I snuck out on tiptoe.

I asked him the next day if I woke him up. He said he thought it was Frankie but realized I was too tall. Then he just assumed it was a burglar or monster of sorts but he was too out of it to respond. Then it hit him. He knows me. He knows I love Munchos.

I did leave a small amount in the bag. I was thrilled when I got on the scales and discovered I had still lost some weight. I couldn’t help thinking how much lower the number would have been without those late night feeding frenzies.

When you say your prayers for me, ask them I get back to sleeping better. My weight depends on it!