If I Should Wake Before I Die

Yes, that title is a bit morbid. But look at it again. It’s not the children’s prayer that says “If I should die before I wake.” This says I have to wake before I die. It’s about living with depression. And how, for most of us, living longer is not necessarily our lifelong goal.

Over the course of my life, I have not been too keen on living for a long time. I don’t mean that I walk in front of trucks, or take drugs to rot my liver on purpose, or anything like that. I just mean, you know, the whole increase the number of days you live your life thing. Add 10 or 20 years to my life? Why? So I can live in a nursing home for twenty years? So I can continue to fight depression every day? Hand me that ice cream cone.

Yes, I quit smoking. The impetus? A radiologist found emphysema on my x-ray. I decided I’d rather breathe.

Yes, I quit drinking. It caused me more problems than it solved, and it made me suicidal. I decided that if I was going to walk that close to the line, and still live, I’d just as soon get rid of it.

Yes, I quit chasing boys. But that was not really voluntary. They stopped chasing me. It’s a good thing, though, as Martha Stewart would say. They weren’t as much fun as they looked.

Now here we are, once again, at the whole diet-and-exercise impasse.

How. Many. Times.

I have lost weight, re-gained it, been a fitness nut, given up sugar and flour, done the whole OA and FA thang, I’ve gotten jiggle with it, the whole nine yards. No that’s not a typo. I jiggle! And I’m NOT INTERESTED. Just hand me the Twinkie and nobody dies.

But I have to admit, after reading a letter from a doctor recently, seeing the words “may become pre-cancerous” made my stomach lurch.

And that’s crazy. Number one, I have had pre-cancerous cells elsewhere before, and there’s lots of cancer in my family. I’m not worried. We all gotta go sometime, right?

Number two, there is no number two.

But maybe it’s the where that is bothering me.

This is in my esophagus, and the worst death I ever witnessed as a nurse was when my patient died from esophageal cancer.

So, let’s go there. Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease, also referred to as G.E.R.D., refers to the reflux, or regurgitation, of stomach contents into the esophagus. I’ve had that for a number of years. I’ve been on a whole slew of medications to treat it, and have currently been on Nexium 40 mg daily for about 2 years.

Recently, though, it had stopped working. So I was re-experiencing that back wash, shall we call it, in the middle of the night. Plus, I’d had laryngitis without any respiratory symptoms for about 14 weeks. So I asked my doctor for an endoscopy, a test whereby a scope goes over the river and through the mouth, down the esophagus, and into the stomach. (Some of you may recall that I was supposed to have the colonoscopy as well, but it was deferred). In the meanwhile, she increased my Nexium, and encouraged me to follow through with putting the head of my bed up.

Well, lo and behold, and of no surprise to me, the doctor who did the endoscopy found a small hiatal hernia. WebMD says: “Any time an internal body part pushes into an area where it doesn’t belong, it’s called a hernia. The hiatus is an opening in the diaphragm – the muscular wall separating the chest cavity from the abdomen. Normally, the esophagus (food pipe) goes through the hiatus and attaches to the stomach. In a hiatal hernia (also called hiatus hernia), the stomach bulges up into the chest through that opening… Some doctors believe a hiatal hernia may weaken the [lower esophageal sphincter] and increase the risk for gastroesophageal reflux.”

Clear as mud? You can read more about it here.

So. Here I am with this reflux thing, and now a hiatal hernia, that’s fine, I still just have to be careful what I eat, when. Right?

Then I got the letter, on Saturday. The letter said that the “routine biopsies” they had done showed Barrett’s Esophagus, which is “a change in the tissue of the esophagus that occurs due to exposure to acid reflux over many years. In most people, Barrett’s esophagus will never evolve into anything of concern. In a small proportion of people, however, this tissue can transform into a pre-cancerous state.”

According to several resources, this esophageal tissue can then become more like the tissue of the small intestine than that of the esophagus. So it is more than just irritated. It is physically changed. Isn’t that what cancer is? When normal cells undergo a physical change? So it makes sense, then, that this tissue can become pre-cancerous.

credit: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.

Immediately I flash back to my esophageal cancer patient. She is bleeding profusely from her mouth and throat. She gulps for air, but breathes in copious amounts of blood. She is medicated for pain and anxiety, but there is nothing to insulate her from reality. And there is nothing for her poor husband as he watches helplessly. He will not leave the room. And he will never forget what he has seen.

And here I am, making something so horrible all about me. I am sorry. It was not about me at the time. It was all about her then, trust me. I felt so helpless to do anything for her! It broke my heart!

But now I am at a point where I have to make a decision. And normally I might just shrug and wait until things get more serious, and then decide.

Before now, when I tried to lose the weight, I would tell myself different things to motivate myself. Like, If you lose it, you will breathe easier. You will look better in your clothes. It will be a good witness to others that you have the Lord in your life. You are supposed to be a good steward of what God has given you, and that includes your body. I’ve tried all these rationales to get myself to stop overeating, and stop eating foods that are bad for me. My cholesterol is already too high. My blood pressure, too. Apparently that’s not enough to motivate me, either. And I have prayed, and prayed, and prayed.

Even now I am bargaining: “Let me eat ‘this’ for a little longer.” Or, “‘that’ doesn’t bother me if I don’t eat it too late.”

Then there’s the deal-breaker: Coffee.

NOOOooooooo! Please don’t take my coffee!!!

As to how? God has already provided some of the means. I have a friend who is working on her own weight loss, and she is taking part in a medical program consisting of dieticians, medical monitoring, and exercise. She is more than willing to help me do this, and has built-in support people who will also help me. She also works in a gastrointestinal physician’s office, and knows how to help my primary care doctor to write a referral. Couldn’t be more perfect.

But God has to be part of the equation.

And that is where you all come in. I covet your prayers for me to be motivated, to have the right motivation, and to do this right.

No sweat, right?

Oh dang. I have to do that, too?

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40 thoughts on “If I Should Wake Before I Die

  1. Lulabelle-a-bloggin

    I just came from Bible study and at one point someone brought up praying for motivation to do things. I’ve prayed to have energy to do a certain task (I have low energy naturally) and the next day I had a burst of energy. Not saying this will be the same for you, but I encourage you to try and ask Jesus for motivation and energy. Prayers going your way. 🙂

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    1. kbailey374 Post author

      yes! Thank you!

      Funny story. With the cigarettes I DID NOT want to quit. Nuh uh. So I started praying to want to WANT to quit. Well I got to the point I wanted to quit but then there was the power. I kept praying.

      Well, God is funny. I ended up in a mental hospital for a month!

      You can’t smoke in a mental hospital!

      As an aside, though, you sure can EAT! lol

      Liked by 3 people

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  2. Quixie

    My best friend’s mom has esophageal cancer 😢 in her case it’s from being a chain smoker and alcoholic.

    I’m so sorry you have GERD and hope these changes don’t become cancerous. Would weight loss help this issue?

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    1. kbailey374 Post author

      I smoked for 30 years, and was alcoholic til I was 25, I don’t think really the alcohol had time to do much damage, but the smoking, I’m sure.

      Yep, I need to lose about 60-70 lb, I’m sure that any amount of weight loss would help.

      Thanks Quixie! 🙂

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      1. Quixie

        Am glad you quit, I hear it’s rough! Motivation is a tough one. Especially with depression. Don’t have any answers here. Sorry, I’m no help!

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          1. Quixie

            Oh! Well good then. 😄 Yay!

            I feel like I should say “kbailey, stop eating those twinkies and get your axx in gear!” But I’m no drill sergeant so I won’t say that…LOL

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  3. pattyalcala

    You have received some difficult news. I watched many people die of end-stage esophageal disease as a nurse and a PA. But my most personal experience was with my sweet son, Alex, who lost his battle much too young. He was too young to make the decision on his own when we chose for him to have an esophagectomy with a colonic interposition after he was diagnosed with Barrett’s esophagus. We were told that it was not if, but when, it would turn to cancer. What we saw when it was removed was a six inch piece of hamburger meat. How did he live like that? Please, I do not say these things to scare you, but to let you know that you truly have to give some thought to it. My prayers are with you.

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    1. kbailey374 Post author

      I am so sorry! I remember reading this when I first “met” you but of course I did not have the dx then. 😦 I am getting another opinion thru my friend’s employer (she works for a GI specialist). It is frightening! God love you and comfort you … wish I could give you a hug myself! xo

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  4. Zoe

    I got anxiety for you reading this post. Such terrifying times. All medical procedures just throw me into complete insanity. Praying for you my friend. Praying hard.

    Liked by 1 person

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  5. paulfg

    KB – WOW and OWW! What a post!

    What was that short and sweet post you put up for “particularly rough days”? Gotta tell you – that changed my perspective. And it went through my mind as I was reading your words today.

    Where this ends up … ?
    But today, right now – that is still yours. Today will always be yours.
    And something else – each “today” you are surrounded by the words and hugs of so many.

    Where this ends up … ?
    Controlling the future – today – is a real bitch!

    ((hugs))

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  6. Julie

    I’m sorry for your scary news, Kathy. I’ll tell you what I keep telling myself: God designed your body to heal itself, so do your part, Jules – give your body healthy fuel to work with, get enough sleep and go for a walk. You do your part and let your body do its thing.

    I’ll be praying for your motivation every time I pray for mine. It’s been an ongoing cycle: I start to feel really, really crummy, eat healthy food like my life depends on it, start to feel better, truck along for awhile feeling fine, then slack off on the healthy eating until I feel really, really crummy again. I’m smack dab in the middle of crummy right now. But this week I’ve been drinking a fruit and kefir smoothie every morning (better go make one) and taking a walk each evening. And I am starting to feel better.

    Dear God, will you please help Kathy and me eat enough good fruit today, and enough good veggies? Will you create in us an aversion for the foods that are harmful to our cells? Will you compel us to go for a brisk walk today, to trust the healing mechanisms you have built into our bodies. Will you give us energy? Will you strengthen the muscles of Kathy’s diaphragm so no more acid escapes? Will you reverse that hernia? Will you give her peace? I’m asking because You said you give good gifts to Your children when we ask. I’m asking because I would do these things for her and I am not kinder than You. I’m asking because You are always good and You always love us, come what may.

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  7. peggyricewi

    I echo Julie’s prayer, otherwise known as “amen!”
    I will be praying for motivation for you, Kathy, and for Julie (and for me). We all know that getting moving and making healthy food choices help with the fight against depression. So then, why don’t we do it!? I am not doing any consistent exercise, but I know I would feel better if I did, even just a little sense of accomplishment for a little extra moving of my body! I am pleased when I take a walk or go for a swim – I just haven’t made it any kind of habit. But I want to – isn’t that the silliest thing! I want to, but not enough to actually do it!
    Thanks for sharing this post – it’s a brave step, because now you’ve said it out loud, and so we can ask you how it’s going. Darn that accountability! But yay that encouragement!

    Liked by 1 person

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  8. painkills2

    I was just reading an article about treating overactive bladder with Botox, and I’m wondering if it would also work on acid reflux/GERD? I had Botox injections in my temples for the TMJ-caused head pain, but it didn’t help. But, it didn’t cause any harm, either. Anyway, something to think about. Maybe.

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    1. kbailey374 Post author

      Wow interesting thought! I get botox into my neck for my spasmodic torticollis which is almost as much a picnic as my migraines were. Will have to check it out! Wow what a shame to get nothing out of them when you had them 😦

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  9. DotedOn

    Dear K,
    I wish I could say something that motivates you to lose some weight. I want to lose 3lb… yes, you read that right, ONLY 3 (actually 4 now because for some reason, the damn scale gave me the wrong numbers this morning).
    Yesterday, I made a bet with a blogger friend. I will not tell you what I have to do if I lose the bet 😀 (I’m shy!), but let’s say that thinking about that is motivating me enough to keep my mouth shut…
    And I’ll try praying too because for the past year, I can’t reach the weight I want (not that I really tried hard to do it, I don’t exercise, or eat less… I just want to wake up in the morning and be thinner… I also would love to speak a few more languages, be near the sea in a tropical island and have a husband on the other side of the bed….).

    Am I asking much?? Come one, I have to get something!! 😀
    hugs!

    I hope the reflux gets better and that you don’t have anything bad ❤

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