February 15, 2011


Sunday afternoon, I was on the bus headed to the gym to go for my long run when I felt my phone vibrating. It was my cousin Sarah.
"Hey, Mary ... my dad's trying to get a hold of you ... your dad is in the hospital...
Sitting all the way in the back of the bus, I called my uncle and tried to stay as calm as possible, hoping no one would see the tears welling up in my eyes.
"... in the hospital ... serious leg infections ... amputation ... maybe had another heart attack ... in his blood ... not sure if it was self-inflicted ... he's been having a hard time lately, with losing Nana and Edy and Papa, and fighting with your mom ... talked to the nurses ... he was saying, you know, my kids, my kids..."
The bus is nearly empty, and I'm the only one in the way back. And I'm absolutely bawling at this point. I thank my uncle for the information, get off the bus as soon as possible, and cross the street to catch the bus heading back home. I called Sarah back and asked if I could come over to her place while I made phone calls and got everything figured out.

The story continues, but at this point, I'm going to let you know that my father did not attempt suicide. He did not have another heart attack, and his legs are not being amputated. You should also know that the uncle I spoke to is a total jerk and we're not sure why he would have suggested that as a possibility if he wasn't one hundred percent sure that was what had happened. We're also not one hundred percent sure why my father would have the nurses call one of his brothers and not his immediate family - he is the kind of guy who does not want to cause worry or be a burden to anyone, but still, this is the kind of situation where you need to put all that aside and let your family worry a little bit.

My mom flew down there yesterday and is taking care of the situation now - when she called to check in, she said my dad was glad to see her and that he seemed fine, that his sugar levels and heart rate were under control and his legs are no worse than we knew they were when he left Connecticut. not going to say it, just going to think it.While in Florida taking care of closing down and selling my grandfather's winter home, my father has been trying to be active and eat better. In doing so, however, he has overexerted and undernourished himself - which I had warned him about repeatedly, both before leaving and during every single phone call I've made to check in with him (of which there have been dozens). An imbalance with his blood sugar that he could not seem to regulate was what lead him to call 911, and their reaction to his leg wounds was one of surprise only because they are not his regular doctors and did not yet know his medical history.

I'm glad I am writing about this now and not Sunday night as it all unfolded, because I'm a bit calmer and more level-headed now. Sunday and Monday, I was overwhelmed - the frustration of dealing with my uncle misinforming us mixed with my usual feeling of helplessness from being hundreds of miles away while everyone else gets to be together and take care of one another. I needed to feel control, I needed to feel comfortable ... and so, on Monday, for the first time in over six months ... I binged. And I feel really terrible about it.

I have been so strong, I've found other ways to deal with my anxieties, and I really thought I was over the worst of this. And in a way, I suppose, I am. It was familiar, but somehow not like the binges of my past - I didn't order takeout or make a special trip to the grocery store to get whatever I wanted. I just couldn't stop snacking on things I had in the house - it started with strawberries, a mango, and half a cucumber, then my lunchbox snacks: mini Luna bars, a snack pack of Teddy Grahams, a single-serve container of peanut butter. believe itI skipped the gym and ate about 1000 calories more than I planned to for the day.

There are days when I eat more than others, but those I would not consider binges - that's "just" overeating. For me, the difference between overeating and a binge is my intention. When I eat more than I plan to, I'm usually just a little hungrier that day, and it's not a big deal. With a binge, I'm not eating out of hunger - it's boredom, or stress, or frustration. I'm looking to feel something that isn't my emotional pain, and so I seek the physical feeling of fullness or sores in my mouth. I want the calories to make me sleepy so I can pass out and forget about what's happening. I wanted it, but it didn't happen this time - I stopped myself before it got to that point. 1000 extra calories is just barely over my TDEE for the day - but still, I couldn't shake the feeling that I'd wake up weighing 345 pounds, that I'd have to wear my size 28 work pants, that this has all been a dream and I'm just as bad off as I was in August. That I really can't do this.

Today is a new day for all of us. My mom and dad are together in Florida, awaiting news from the doctors in the ICU about what he can do next, and planning what happens now - in terms of his health, and their relationship. I'm resetting my binge-free count at zero, having my yogurt for breakfast, and thinking about how to move forward from here. I have my gym bag ready to go run after work today. I woke up and could still feel my collarbones and put on my size 16 jeans. I have not failed. I can do this. I am doing it.


Jessica said...


Anonymous said...

Yes, today is a new day! The good news is you are not 345 lbs. and back in size 28 pants again - you are still a fabulous size 16 and can get back on track right this minute. I have confidence in you, Mary. You have achieved so much and inspire me every day!

Amy said...

wowza. I can't imagine what that phone call on the back of the bus felt like. Actually I can, but being on a bus must have been horrible.

The difference between a binge now and then - is that you stopped it before it got out of control, and you are moving past it inside of being mad at yourself and just throwing in the towel.

We all binge at times, and we just have to dust ourselves off an keep going.

I'm so glad that the situation isn't as bad as it was first thought to be, and that your dad is getting the help he needs. I really hope he'll be able to sort through everything and get on a proper eating plan with exercise - and maybe he'll listen to you now :)

P.S. If any of that didn't make sense it's because I'm still in a zombie-like state!

TMLfans.ca said...

I'm glad your mom is there, and that they're getting things looked after! Cheers, Rick

Shannon said...

No, you did not fail - you just slipped, for one day....a very, very difficult day. So, focus on all that you have done, and are doing - don't focus on that one day.

michelle said...

*hugs* for you and your family. i hope your dad continues to improve. hooray for not giving up and giving in! the little battles never end, and you totally won this one

Christie Farrar said...

I'm glad that your father is doing alright and that it was nothing of what your uncle said. Thank goodness for small miracles, right?

Keep your chin up, Mary. You can do this. Stop feeling guilty about the past and live in the now. Go for your run, let your legs move, your heart beat fast, your lungs expand, listen to your breathing, get lost in the music. Feel your run today.

Unknown said...

Today is a new day!! And I'm sorry for what you're going through, but dont let it become an excuse for making poor choices!! You have, and can do better than this!! We are here for you and we support you!!

jayme @ Losing Half My Weight said...

hang in there, friend. you're right. you CAN and will do this. and i'm glad your dad is ok considering the scare you got. will be thinking of y'all.

Unknown said...

Mary, I know from plenty of experience that when a crisis presents itself from out of NOWHERE - BAM! like that, sometimes the body becomes so emotionally unstable that it does the only thing it knows to do in order to keep as calm as possible. I have done (and still do on occasion) exactly what you did; and the fact that we both now choose things we have around the house instead of specifically driving to a fast-food drive thru or bakery shows that progress is being made. You ARE strong, you ARE doing this, and you kept things together under the best of circumstances. Progress is made through trial and error. Without error, we cannot learn from our mistakes. I heart you Mary, and think you're a pretty awesome gal :) Glad to hear things are looking up for your dad. Hang in there.

Katie Warren said...

Mary, just think of how far you've come that this was just a mini-binge. I can't believe you had gone 6 months without one before yesterday! that's amazing! I've had several binges on this road to recovery, including one yesterday. You have made such progress!

I hope everthing with your dad works out!

Maude said...

I'm so glad that you're Dad is doing alright. What a terrible, scary experience. Why, oh why do Dads have such a hard time taking care of themselves!? Don't they understand how much their daughters love them?

As far as the binge goes, I think your response is much more telling than the binge itself. You have the tools to pull yourself out of it now. To aknowledge that it's happening and bring it to an end. Hold onto that and move forward!

And boy, do I know that feeling of being afraid of waking up with all the weight back on. It just takes our brain so much longer than our bodies, which is almost funny when you think about how long it takes the body! But you're here in the moment and you're getting healthy. Just keep touching those collarbones :)

Life as a Caterpillar said...

Oh Mary, i am just catching up now, sorry i am so far behind in reading your blog.

I am so sorry that your father has had a setback, i really hoped for his sake, and yours, that he would be able to make this trip and be ok. I am so sorry you are so stressed. I wish i could say something that would help you feel better.

With regards the 'binge', i wish you weren't looking at it like that, but i totally understand why you are. Recently i have started focusing on gaining my 7 day chip, which is essentially a self-determined award. Mine does not rely on calorie ins and outs, but rather, when i have eaten 'mindfully' for a day, 2 days, 7 days, and eventually 30 days, because emotional binge eating is my biggest problem.
If you feel this would help you re-focus at this time, i would recommend you give it a go

much love


Tim said...

I'm pleased your Mother is now with your Father and that your Father isn't as bad as your Uncle made out. Those phone calls are the worst moments we can probably go through especially when there is little we can do. I send my wishes to your Dad and I wish him the best in the future :)