Keeping Promises - dedicated to my Brother John and LIFE.
Thursday, August 30, 2012
I can't believe I'm writing this, even though I know it's true it still seems incredible to me - I have reached and passed through my first Goal of losing 30lbs.
I have never lost so much weight before - I have lost 14lbs on several occasions just to pile it all back on and more, and hated myself because of it. This time is sooo different, and it's all about good nourishment, hydration, a healthy lifestyle, support and accountability.
I am one of 5 Children - I am the baby - hence my name Babs. My eldest Brother is now 76 and is as fit as a flea. My Sister is 75 and apart from a bit of arthritis is fit and healthy and slim. My Brother Brian is 73, he drinks a little too much home made wine, but is also slim and healthy.
My Brother John would have been 72 today, but unfortunately he passed away 2 weeks into his retirement aged 65 due to a horrendous mix Diabetes, Heart desease, High blood pressure, Cholestral and Obesity.
John and I were soul twins, when my Mother passed away I was 13 years old and he was just 23, but he bacame both Mother and Father to me, and most importantly, he was my best friend. When I think of the things I put him through - teenage mood swings, temper tantrums and emotional heartache - he was trying to hold down a full time job, look after me and my Dad who for at least a year after my Mom passed wondered around like a lost soul, just going through the motions of living -- and my wonderful Brother coped with it all.
My Father worked permanent nights, so if John had to work a night shift as well ( they were both in the Hotel trade) it meant I was on my own. I hated those nights, but I found consolment in food and sweets. Thinking he was helping John would leave me "Treats" of Chocolate, sweets or Ice cream. I would quite easily eat my way through the lot, before falling in to bed and sleeping till morning, to wake and find both Dad and John home from work. John found his own emotional crutch too, working in a Hotel for 50 hrs a week he had access to everything produced in the kitchens . He would eat at work, and then come home and eat more, and bring home Desserts that the Chef had made for us, and we would both tuck into them. As well as all of this he liked a smoke and a drink - in total a recipe for disaster.
By the age of 16, Dad and I had moved to a new house, John had moved to Wales and was working as Assistant Hotel Manager in a very prestige Hotel. Long working hours, bad eating habits, and still smoking and drinking took a toll on his health. He was 26 yrs old and he had his first heart attack. I was so frightened i could hardly breathe. He recovered, and went straight back to work. By the age of 36 he had bought a run down hotel in Caernafon in North Wales and was now working all hours - keeping the residents bar open until 3 a.m - going to bed and getting up at 7am to start his day. While he was building up the business he never gave himself a day off - this went on for the next 10 years, when at the age of 46 he met and fell in love with Viv, a local woman who was Housekeeper at one of the larger hotels in a near by coastal town.. They married and settled in to running the business together, which finally took some of the weight of Johns shoulders.
Unfortunately by now the damage had been done - he had another Heart attack, and ended up in a London hospital having a 3 way heart by pass. He was so ill for months after, I really thought we had lost him this time, but no he fought back and within a further 6 months was back at work again. The Business was a sucess, he had a total of 20 staff, so at the age of 58 he was finally prepared to take a holiday, and leave his Hotel in the hands of his staff. They went to California for a 3 week vacation, I was so happy for them both
I received a phonecall from Viv 4 days into their holiday - John had suffered a massive heart attack, and he wasn;t expected to recover - I couldn't afford to go to his side, and so I had to wait by the phone for news. 2 das later i had a call to say he was in Intensive Care, and they were preparing to perform groundbreaking surgery on him that wasn't available in England-
God Bless America - they saved his life. After a great deal of care he was sent on a flight home 6 weeks later with his own Nurse, and taken straight to a local hospital in Wales for recouperation . Fortunately he was fully covered with Health insurance for his trip, as the total bill was $46,000.
With the damage that his lifestyle had done to his health he never really recovered completely. He already had heart problems, high blood pressure and cholestoral, and a weight problem - then the final bell tolled with his onset of Diabetes. He was taking so much medication, trying to control his weight, but still working all hours that he could. I would travel to Wales as often as I could, most Friday nights after work found me at the Railway station with my week-end bag packed, kissing Pete and Daniel goodbye until the following Monday when I would return to go back to work on the Tuesday.
He struggled with his health every day, and constantly told me to take control of my health, and live a long life.
I was with him when he died, I was sitting by his bed holding his hand. I watched in horror and despair as he doubled up with pain, as his body shut down one organ after another - he cried and said he didn't want to die, he wasn't ready, He asked me to promise to do 2 things for him - look after Viv, and sort out my health - I promised him I would
I loved my Brother so much, and I had so much to be grateful to him for - he took on a rebellious 13 year old and turned her into a caring, responsible young woman. He made sure that he got to Birmingham to help me through a horrendous divorce, supporting me all the way - taking me back to Wales with him for 3 weeks to get me back on my feet again, and setting me up with the money to get myself a flat. He gave me away at my wedding to Peter, and was at the hospital in Birmingham when my Son was born. Every year after that he made sure that we had a family room in his hotel for 2 weeks of the Summer, food and drink, without any charge - he knew we struggled to make ends meet.
For several years after he died I forgot my one promise, and concentrated on looking after Viv, but still eating away my grief and pain with food.
We moved to Wales ourselves almost 2 years ago. It was the first time I had returned since John died,. We found a little house and settled down, but still I had not done anything about my second promise. In March of this year I was diagnosed as Type 2 Diabetic, so along with my High BP and Cholestoral, being Obese and taking meds for Anxiety and Depression I was almost on an even keel with John before he died - and finally, finally, I realised I had to take control, if it wasn't too late.
So we have come full circle in my story. I have now taken control, I have lost 30lbs, my Blood sugars are under control, my BP is well down and improving at every check, as is my Cholestoral. I still take my anviety meds, I have been told that I will always have to take them as I suffer with Generalised Anxiety Disorder - I take a BP pill every morning, but hopefully that will go as my health improves. So I feel happy now that the promises I made my Brother are now being fulfilled.
I am now getting ready to try and complete an 8 mile sponsored walk to help raise funds for the local Hospice here in North Wales - I am doing it in rememberance of my Beautiful Brother, and for myself - to celebrate being alive and my newly confirmed good health.
I'm sorry if you have read this blog and found it over long and rambling, but anyone that knows me on this site will tell you that my main failing is my tendency to ramble. I just wanted to share my story with you - Friends old and new, who have helped me get this far, and hopefully will carry on travelling with me -- I love you all. xx