Gasping for air, I tried to resurface to catch a breath. But try as I may, I could not break through. It didn’t take long to realize my head was deliberately being held down under water and for a brief moment I wondered, “Is this it?” Thankfully our coach was on deck and told the girl to let me up. My legs were weak and I was coughing up water and it took a few minutes to get my bearings again.
How did this happen? Our swim team was playing water polo for our “swim practice” that day. The ball had been thrown to me and as soon as I caught it, she pushed my head under water and would not let me up. Why you ask? His name was Toby.
Toby had befriended me; he had actually been giving me rides from swim practice to Kaiser Hospital where my dad was laying in a coma in his last days of life. But this girl liked Toby. And she didn’t like me. So in a way I guess she was trying to get rid of her competition.
I’m sorry but no boy at that point in my life was worth dying for so I stopped talking to Toby, stopped accepting his rides, his friendship and she won in that situation.
However, 30 years later I did have someone to “live” for. Four someones to live for. I was extremely overweight and had started experiencing severe joint pain. I could no longer open a water bottle or use a can opener. I could barely grasp a shopping bag without it slipping through my hands. I knew something was seriously wrong. It would take about 6 months to find out that I had Rheumatoid Arthritis, which is an autoimmune disease. I was on prednisone for about 1 year after the diagnosis, which just added more weight to my frame and my blood pressure continued to climb.
I was grasping for air, for answers, for help. It was at this point that I really remember beginning to pray about my situation. It was at this point I started unloading responsibilities like the 2nd full time job, the parent/teacher coordinator at school, the school newsletter, the chess club helper, the swim team treasurer, the bible fellowship coordinator, etc.
I had tried all kinds of “diet” plans. My Rheumatologist sent me to the Metabolic Center as it had helped one of her patients drop 50 pounds. Me – I lost about 20 and then I could not maintain a 1000 calorie a day diet and I couldn’t take all the supplements they wanted me to take. They said they were ALL necessary to lose weight. I called BS.
Through a series of events that I won’t recount here I ended up at Gold’s Gym and met a trainer named Ryan who (long story short) taught me how to eat. Do you know that after just 12 weeks of changing my eating, my blood pressure was normal, my RA blood work showed ZERO inflammation (and has stayed that way) and my thyroid meds needed adjustment downwards. All this and I was still 240 pounds. The big change had been my eating.
I truly believe what we put in our bodies affects us in so many ways – whether it be mood, swelling, blood pressure, bloating, anxiety, and so much more. I’ve proven this in my own life these past two years.
I am “fighting” for my life by staying faithful to all I have been taught and by being always open to learn more. People say, “How do you stick with it?” Well, remember that 19 year old girl who was being held under water because of a boy? I don’t ever ever want to feel that way again. I don’t want to be fighting to live.
Every day of this journey I am doing something new; something I haven’t been able to do the past 15 years because of my health. I don’t want to lose that! It’s not worth it. Just as Toby was not worth it to me back then; going backwards on my journey is NOT worth it to me now. I have Dave, Jess, Joe, Ben and ME to live for and I am enjoying every day going forward.