Monday, September 26, 2011

Transitions . . .

From 2011-08-27   

I needed a blogging break.  A break from letting the world know that I felt like a complete failure. The list of failures are vast and are forever expansive.

We bought a house within 28 days.  We took two days to move our family of 5 from our 3-year-rental to our new-to-us home.  A week later, I flew to Boston by my lonesome and moved my mother to our home.  When I arrived, I was shattered by this woman's appearance.  You see, that is not the mother I remember.  She had lost a tremendous amount of weight . . . probably about 15-20 lbs.  At her appointment in August, a month and a half after moving here, she weighed in at 127 lbs.  She said she was about 127 after giving birth to me over 35-years-ago.  She had consistently weighed about 140-160 at her heaviest.  Most drastic was the fact that she walked slower than my toddler.  Her feet hurt.  Her body was weaker.  I saw another person that wasn't my mother.  She had forgotten that I was moving her.  While she didn't refuse to move, she was confused.  I cried for two days.

Her apartment was filthy.  I figured it was all the boxes that were packed.  Those two days were filled with packing and assessing her things.  After talking with my uncle, I came to the conclusion that all that "stuff" was not worth the move.  My husband wouldn't be able to drop everything to fly back to Boston to pack up a small truck to drive 2 days to Madison.  It wasn't worth it.  She was the only thing of value.  She agreed, but would later forget our agreement.  We stayed at a hotel the night before our trip to my home because I needed a good night's sleep and the shuttle drove us to the airport at 4 a.m.

Living with a 6th person has been a difficult adjustment. She is now my 75-year-old, 4th child.  My entire life, I've been translating, interpreting, counseling, advising my mother because I speak both Spanish and English fluently.  I left home at 18 to have a break from being a parentified kid.  Now, I am her parent again.  I am parenting my parent.  I have to repeat things constantly . . . every two minutes, like the contractions of a woman in labor.  For two months she packed, and unpacked.  Talked about going back to Boston.  Asking if she paid rent.  She'd ask if she could go to the bank to get money to give to me.  She'd ask for house keys.  She'd want to go back to Boston to see her sisters.  She would have these very vivid delusions of events and people that just didn't exist.  She'd tell me that she hadn't spoken to my godmother for days when I know she spoke to her the day before.  Old stories were told for the 258th time.  One little act would signal a memory from very long ago.  Puerto Rico is how she referenced Madison; she is constantly reminded of Puerto Rico [I can say from experience that Madison, especially in winter, is not like Puerto Rico].  And she forgot who I was . . . on a couple of occasions.

A few weeks ago, we finally had an opportunity to go to the Memory Clinic.  After a 2.5 hour testing, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.  Thanks, memory Gods for that one.  This was not the way I'd envisioned her life to end.  No one asks to work for over 40 years, raise a daughter by herself, retire, and suffer from severe memory loss at the end of her long life.  She cannot enjoy the things she may have planned on enjoying.  While she doesn't feel pain, I feel it.  I feel a grief  . . the loss of a parent.  I feel an orphan.  When she sits with a blank stare at me and the children, I grieve.

I am not the most patient of caretakers.  I snap too quickly.  We've always had a back and forth, sarcastic and condescending responses to one another--my husband picked up on that one day.  I get frustrated with the questions.  I ask her to sit down or go to her room way too often when I can't cope with her questions or actions.  It is sad.  She deserves better.  She needs better.  Our chaotic home is not conducive to her needs for tranquility.  While I do provide her with a home, room, furniture, bath, food, doctor's appointments, etc., I am feeling overwhelmed and ill equipped to deal with her needs, 3 children, a husband, and a full time job.

On the personal health and weight loss front, Alzheimer's has given me better habits.  The doctor told me that this is hereditary and is passed on the mother's side.  Without saying it, he told me that I need to prepare myself and my children for this disease to strike me.  I don't want to binge.  I don't want to overeat.  I want to take care of me.  I've reduced my carbs to the morning.  I eat salad and protein for lunch and dinner (soup occassionally with my salad).  I don't overeat anymore.  I don't take seconds.  I actually don't want it.  I am grieving still.  I am sad.  And while sadness usually was the fuel for my desire to eat, it isn't anymore.

I tried out for Madison's Biggest Loser (MBL) competition between 5 local gyms.  On a Tuesday, at 5 a.m., I went to the gym and worked out with 28 other contestants.  We ran 1/2 a mile down and up a hill.  We did stair runs, bear crawls, and plyometrics.  While I can easily say that I was one of the fittest woman, I was bummed that I wasn't selected to join the program for free.  I know that there were others who needed it much more.  However, I felt that I needed it for my mental health.  Despite the rejection, I made a plan.  I would continue the low carb diet (which means no carbs after lunch) and would start my own boot camp training program at home.

Last week, I devised a new training plan for our Christmas vacation; either California or Florida.  Last week, I started working out daily and will be working out in 30 day phases.  I've been exercising daily for the last 6 days in Phase I.  Phase I of my program is to alternate Level 1 of Jillian Michael's Ripped in 30 and 30 Day Shred.  It breaks up the monotony of the routines when I alternate the videos.  I have been using 3 lb weights and have been doing a lot of modifications for jumping because I injured my right heel during the pre-screening training when competing for spot on MBL.  I have plantar fasciitis, which I believe is from the excess weight and the plyometrics that I like to do that doesn't agree with my excess weight.

I supplement that routine with a cardio workout afterwards.  I have a treadmill and I have a spin bike, which I alternate per day along with the video.  For example, today, I did 30DS with 3 lb weights, followed by 20 minute walk treadmill.  I plan to incorporate 3 days of Yoga because I need to stretch the lower body muscles, especially downward dog for my heel and hamstrings.  I bought Yogalosophy by Mandy Ingber and will try out the 35 min routine tonight.  I used Biggest Loser Weight Loss Yoga a few days ago after my Jillian DVD and Treadmill routine.  It really helps to loosen tight muscles for the next day.  I am doing one level per 7 days.  On Wednesday, I will go to Level 2 in each DVD; and will change levels every 7 days.  However, at the end of 30 days, I will go to Phase II.

I will have two more phases. These two phases will be an increase in weights and reducing the modifications.  They will still be Ripped in 30 and 30 Day Shred because I like the convenience of the quick, compound movements and done in 20 minutes.  Starting back at Level 1 in the DVDs, Phase II will be 5 lb weights and lesser modifications for 30 days with supplemental cardio and Yoga.  I will start over with Level 1 again with Phase III, which will be 8 lb weights and no modifications for 30 days with supplemental cardio and Yoga.  I anticipate that I can do this barring any injuries or illnesses.  I know for a fact that for the next 90 days, I don't have any vacations or business trips, so there will be no interruptions to my routine.

There may be a lot of criticism about repetitive strength motions and plyometrics with Jillian's DVDs, however, I figure that there are a lot of injuries when the moves are done incorrectly.  I feel a bit sore today in my bum.  However, I have a sedentary job reading and editing papers and petitions, so My butt is literally sore from sitting.  I stretch and move around often. I feel stronger.  I have more energy to walk up the flights of stairs to my car in the parking ramp.  Weeks ago, I didn't have the endurance.  I am literally sprinting up the stairs with a large purse and lunch bag.  This workout is making my body better, not worse.

Most importantly, I am mentally in a better place now that I have a set workout and eating plan.  It isn't so hard anymore.  Before, my issues clouded the simplicity of my plans: eat less, move more, feel better.  My issues have taken a back seat to Nana's issues and that of my trying to delay any personal onset of memory loss for as long as I can.

While I will be back to update as often as life allows, I hope you will support me even if I take days or weeks to write.  It isn't that updating readers lacks priority, it's just that I am trying to make it all work out to the best of my ability.

How do you prioritize life's rewards and challenges and maintain a healthy and fit lifestyle?