The last time I made an entry in this journal, I was in the States with Mädi and Margrit. It was summertime and I was writing on a broken computer. Summer is now over and I have a brand new laptop.
And... I'm back in the States, in my hometown of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Two weeks ago, on a Friday night, I found out that my dad was in the hospital and in critical condition in the intensive care unit. After talking to one of his doctors on the phone, I made arrangements to fly home on Sunday morning. I'm still here and he's still in intensive care. The only way that Mom and I have been able to explain this period in our families life is to say that it is an emotional roller coaster. Although the doctors have continuously reminded us that he is a 'very sick man', we have had rays of hope in the past two weeks and very emotional days where we were preparing ourselves for his death.
He was originally brought in to the hospital with complications due to diabetes. He had an ulcer on the bottom of his right foot that ended up giving him a staph infection. The infection is all over his body and as a result his kidneys have stopped operating and he has daily dialysis treatments, which seem to stress both him and his body. We watch his white blood cell count on a daily basis because it's an indicator of infection. It has remained high and the few days that it had gone down were followed by days of increases. The doctors felt that the only way to save Dad was to eliminate the source of the infection. This past Friday, they amputated the foot that had the sores.
Now, all we can do is wait. His white blood cell count is not going down as quickly as Mom and I had hoped and we don't believe the doctors can do any more than to continue the dialysis and maximum levels of antibiotics.
It's emotionally wrenching to see my dad like this. Laying in a hospital bed with an almost uncountable number of tubes going into his body, including one in his throat that's connected to a ventilator, instead of seeing him sitting on a recliner in his living room with one hand on the remote control.
Mercifully, he seems to be mostly unaware of what is happening around him and to him. His lead doctor told us that he believes that if Dad survives, he will have no memory of having been in the hospital. The brain seems to spare us that way. Unfortunately, the condition of his mind right now, together with the fact that has had a tube in his throat for most of the last two weeks, has made it almost impossible for him to communicate with us. He has, at times, known Mom's name. But he has never recognized me and when we try to explain who I am, he becomes very puzzled and stressed. We continue to talk to him anyway and always tell him who we are.
As I started to write this entry, I hesitated to give any details of Dad's illness, but decided to tell a little bit about it because of two reasons. First, it explains a little of where I am at right now. This is my journal and when I do get around to updating it, I like to be honest about my life and what's going on around me.
The second reason I'm sharing all of this with you is to give a picture of what can happen when you have been diagnosed with diabetes and you don't take care of it. When I first arrived in Cedar Rapids on that Sunday evening, we went straight to the hospital. After trying to absorb that image of Dad in that hospital bed, I decided to talk to Mom about Weight Watchers. She, like Dad, had also been diagnosed with diabetes. Although she has managed her illness by trying to watch what she eats and has been able to stay away from insulin, I felt that we could take advantage of our time together by exercising and eating right. I wanted to make sure that she was on a path to a healthier lifestyle and weight loss that could help keep her diabetes from advancing.
I originally talked about my diet, here in this journal, back in May of 2003 when I started using Weight Watchers online. I wrote then that I would talk about it more if I ever had anything interesting to say. I never felt I did. I have been on and off the diet many times, but have managed to lose weight along the way. There have been times when trips I was on or things that were going on in our life didn't lend themselves well to counting points. However, I found that I never gained much of the weight back and it was always easy to start right back again. I've lost thirty pounds (almost 14 kilos) and know that for me, Weight Watchers is the way to go. I don't think I'd ever make it on a diet where I could only eat from a list of approved food items. I like choices in life and, with Weight Watchers, you can eat whatever you want. You just have to count it and you can't go over your limit of points each day. And if you want more points per day, all you have to do is exercise, which has been a part of my life for years.
Mom was more than open to learning about the diet and has followed it completely for the past two weeks. That's quite an accomplishment for her, considering the stress we're going through right now. She's a stress eater and while trying to deal with Dad's illness, she would have gone through quite a few candy bars and fast food meals. We've only eaten out one time and that was to try the new Weight Watchers menu at Applebee's. (Absolutely delicious, by the way.) She has a membership at a health club and had worked with a trainer to learn how to lift weights. I paid for a one month membership at her club on my first full day here and we've been working out ever since. She's lost five pounds so far and says she feels better. We are both confident that she will continue to try to be healthier, even after I go back to Switzerland.
And now my comments for you... if you're reading this and overweight, do some research on the increasing rate of new cases of diabetes. Think about my dad and how he has not only lost his foot, but is struggling to live. Think about the people in your life and what they would go through if you ended up in the same situation. And then think about making healthy changes in your life. If you need to diet, you don't need to choose Weight Watchers. Just find something that's healthy and works for you.
Enough preaching for this Sunday and enough writing for the day.
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