Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Managing It . . .

In the past week or so, I had an epiphany.

It's about the size of my ass.

Over the holidays I went up on the scale, and every time I thought I had a handle on it, something would come along and derail me again.  Still, I was able to catch things relatively quickly - but I also made some choices that were not best for me.  Mostly where sugar is concerned.

It's like crack.  I mean really.  You get a taste and your body says,  "Um . . . . yeah, let's have some more of that, shall we?"  Oh, Hell No. . .

And about a week ago it struck me that, much like asthma, my struggles with food and body shape/size are part of a chronic condition.  Really?  What does that mean?

I fought hard against my diagnosed-as-an-adult, allergy-induced asthma.  I didn't want to have it, and yet, there is was.  I would pretend I didn't have it and not take my meds - which always eventually led to a very bad crash involving feeling like crap, not breathing well, and having to take the short course Prednisone Bomb.  Oh, it's never ever fun, that.

It actually didn't take me very long to figure out why I was behaving like a moron where my lungs were concerned - but it took me a very long time to come to terms with it.

In another life I was a professional singer - I defined myself as a singer long before I defined myself as an actor (something else I used to do professionally) - from the time I was about six or seven years old.  I was always a singer/musician first and foremost.  The meds I have to take to manage my asthma robbed me of my vocal control.  I realized this at a Karaoke night that was part of a work conference . . . Imagine if you will, that you are a singer.  You know what you sound like - you know what songs are going to be good for you to sing.  You have perfect relative pitch.  You've pretty much always known these things.  You know when you open your mouth for that first number that people are going you want you to sing another.  And probably another . . .  it's pretty much always been that way for you - your voice is your instrument.  It's a nightclub voice - a musical theater voice - even a bluesy voice once in awhile.  You know it intimately and you know what it can do.

And then, imagine that on a stage in front of a lot of people - many of whom you know - you open your mouth to sing a number that you've sung a hundred times or more, and what comes out is nothing like what you KNOW you sound like.  Imagine that you are missing notes left and right - and even worse, that you are, in the current vernacular, pitchy.  Nothing works like it should.  You can't place your notes.   You can't focus your tone.  And forget nuance.  There is no story-telling, no spell-weaving with what's coming out of your mouth.  You start to sweat because you're only a few bars in and nothing is OK and you have to get through this number but you can't control anything that's coming out of your mouth . . .

Angry.  So effing angry to be robbed of something I truly considered my birthright.  The long and the short of it all is that the asthma meds I have to take to ensure that I breathe well, affect my vocal control, i.e., I don't have any any longer.  So angry . . . and so I wouldn't take my meds if I wanted to sing, which of course would eventually lead to a crisis and even higher doses of medication until I could get it settled back down.

Who was I if I wasn't a singer?  Heavy stuff . . .  I went on in this ridiculous pattern for a number of years before my asthma doctor here sat me down one day, looked me in the eye and said, "A, I can't make you take your meds.  I can only tell you that if you would take your meds and learn to manage this, you would be a lot happier.  Let me ask you this:  If you had high blood pressure, would you take medication to control it?"

I said, "Yes - that's a no-brainer - of course I would.  They call it the silent killer and my mom had high blood pressure.  Ignoring something doesn't mean that it's not doing damage or serious harm."

And he said, "Asthma is like high blood pressure.  It's a chronic condition."  And he looked at me as the light bulb went on over my head. . . .

Chronic:  (1) constant; habitual (2) continuing a long time or recurring frequently; (3) having long had a disease, habit, or weakness.

So, I learned to manage my asthma.

I still sing. Sometimes I sound like old times.  Sometimes like the Aflac duck.  And, unfortunately, there has never been any way for me to tell which it's going to be.  You opens your mouth and you takes your chances.  I still sing - in the car, around the house, in the shower, occasionally in a choir -  not solo and certainly not for money anymore (I mean, you can't take people's money to sing at their wedding or event when you have no earthly idea what might come out of your mouth).

So, what has this got to do with the size of my ass?

Well, Yay Me!!!  I'm managing it.  I did go up over the holidays and my indiscretions with sugar ( a little makes you want a lot) came home to roost in my joints.  One full week of actually paying attention, tracking, and avoiding sugar, and I'm right back on the wagon and moving forward.  To know that I can do that is huge.  In the past, what I gained would have sent me on a downward - or should I say upward - spiral.  I would have felt like I failed and just chucked it all.  But, I've come too far this time to let my anger at "not being like other people who can eat whatever they want whenever they want it" lead me down the garden path.  I mean, really, that's pretty much magical thinking, isn't it?  Some of us struggle more with food, some of us less - it's never the black and white that I would like it to be.  No matter.

If I can manage asthma, I can manage the size of my ass.  What a revelation.  Really.  It's not always easy, but yeah, it's a no-brainer.


Michelle said...

I salute your insight. I've had a related discussion with my MIL. She was defined by being "Mrs.", by being "Mom." When her husband died and her kids grew up, she was lost; still is, really. "Who am I?" she asks. I don't know if it is a difference in personality, or the way I was raised (I think it is the later, and am so thankful for my mom!), but I can't relate and told her so. If Rick dies, I'm still ME. When Brian is ready to launch out as an adult, I'll be kicking him out the door – and I'll still be ME. If I lose any of my physical abilities I'll be sad, but I'll still be ME.

A :-) said...

Thanks Michelle :-) I'd like to recommend the writings of Joan Anderson to your MIL. Here is her website: much of Joan's work is about who we are beyond the roles that we play (mom, wife, singer, teacher, etc.) She's pretty amazing your MIL might gain some great insights. Have her start with Joan's first book, "A Year By the Sea."

I love that you know who you are and that circumstances don't seem to alter that for you :-)

candy said...

Sorry about your voice problems, I have never heard you sing. You are so talented!