Welcome back to Joy’s story and continuing on with her life events and how they have shaped her today. (This is a weekly 8 part series.) If you missed any of the earlier segments, please get refreshed on the website under “A Healthier You” (Testimonies):
In 2008, I decided, it was the last time I was ever going to diet again. I went on another diet and worked out at Curves 6 days a week. I white knuckled my way down, 85 pounds, and was now 167 pounds by year’s end. Done, right? Nope, because after everything I’ve been through, food had always been my way of coping with non-food issues. Wished I’d have figured that out then!
Over the next few years, I was thrown curve balls that I just couldn’t deal with. My dear sweet mother had a mild heart attack and had to have a stent put in. Problem was, she only had one kidney (only had one for 40 years). The dye used in that lifesaving procedure killed her barely hanging on kidney. At 75, she was placed on dialysis as my 79 year old father watched helplessly. I stepped in to help out and put myself last again. It’s what a good daughter does, right?! No more dieting, exercising, etc. Who had time for that?! I just didn’t stop to think that if I’m in poor health, I can’t take care of anybody. I was eating hospital food, fast food, and made quick unhealthy meals for the family, and I watched my weight creep back up to 245 lbs. – UGH!
After almost 3 years on dialysis, my mother declined, and we were losing hope. September 17, 2013, she received THE call from Mayo at 9:30 a.m., and later that afternoon she had a kidney transplant. Praise God! The next morning she had another heart attack and emergency surgery to put in another stent. Two days later, she had fluid on her brain – no! All the while, her new kidney functioned wonderfully. Mom was a woman of very strong Christian faith, and the Lord was not ready for her just yet. I thank Him every day that I still have her and my sweet daddy too.
Now it’s the day before Thanksgiving, November 27, 2013, and I awaken at 7:00 a.m. to find myself in the middle of a stroke. My entire right side was quickly becoming numb. I was rushed to the ER at Mayo and spent the next 6 days in the hospital before being released to a 10 day in-patient stroke rehab program at Brooks. I finally went home 12/12/13.
I was recovering quite well and then while watching TV with my husband and son (1/3/14), all of the sudden my whole right side felt as if it were swollen 3 times the size of my left. Visually, it was not but I knew something wasn’t right and back to the ER I went. As a result of where my stroke took place (Thalamus of my brain), I had developed Thalamic Pain Syndrome. It’s a debilitating nerve condition which affects my entire right side. It’s best described as “brain chaos”, and I was lucky the neurologist on call knew exactly what was wrong with me. So many people go undiagnosed and are put on all kinds of pain meds for years. Pain meds do not work for this condition, so I was prescribed Gabapentin and eventually they added Lyrica as well. They’re both membrane suppressants and help to quiet the chaos inside the brain. Thanks to Mayo’s PRC (Pain Rehab Center), which I attended for 3 weeks in the Summer of 2014, I was given the tools to help manage this chronic condition and actually “live” again. Of course, we’re told at PRC, “while this won’t kill you, you will die with it”. Now if that’s not a slap into reality, I don’t know what is!
Wow, Joy has been through some challenges! But… there is hope! See you next Monday, (date) for the conclusion of Joy’s journey through health, wellness and weight loss!