Mourning the Living: Dissecting the Five Stages of Grief on a Personal Level – Bargaining

I suppose I did morph into this stage of grieving although I can’t really place my finger on specifics. We always come up with a myriad of “if only’s” regardless of any situation. “If only I hadn’t been working so much”; “If only I had paid closer attention”; “If only I had made more money so we could afford regular doctor’s visits”. You name it, I am sure everyone has bargained away thoughts and feelings…or accountability and responsibility…at some point in their lives. I suppose my main bargaining excuse was about getting quicker medical attention, but even that was out of my control.

My husband had no pain or inflammation, seepage, or anything prior to the culminating, searing, pain in his head which spurred us to the doctor’s. Yes, he had had issues with his right ear before, but there had always been some kind of indication something was wrong. Not this time. He just woke up one morning with this debilitating pain in his head that wouldn’t go away with Tylenol or Ibuprofen, sleep, coffee, or anything else. He couldn’t lay down and he couldn’t put pressure on his head. For a solid week, he slept sitting up in his recliner chair, and I didn’t push him to go to the doctor’s. I was too busy. I was working. He was working. Kids were in school. It was just a headache, right?

After about a week of the pain, I finally made the decision to get him checked out so it was off to RediMed (the first course of action to be taken according to his (then) insurance coverage). A simple check in his ear and the diagnosis was an inner ear infection. He was given a wide-spectrum antibiotic and sent home with the follow up instructions to return if the pain doesn’t wane within 48 hours. The pain did not decrease. As a matter of fact, it increased…AND…a weird looking contraption came out of his ear as we were sitting in our living room one night. It almost looked like the stem of a nose ring or some other piercing…or like the “y” shape of Fallopian tubes. I had never seen anything like that before in my life so…72 hours later, we were sitting in the ER (having been sent there by RediMed because they felt they were no longer able to help). Pain meds brought him some much needed relief and sleep. Then came the cat scan and they wheeled him off to radiology. He returned and promptly fell asleep again and I sat there, in his room, for hours. Not just one or two hours…but FOUR HOURS…waiting for the results of his scan. (It turns out that the hardware that had fallen out of his ear was a tube that had been put in almost 10 years before. Really?? Those things fall out??) And in the pit of my stomach, I just knew…something wasn’t right. It just doesn’t take that long to read a scan.

The doctor finally came back into the room, and with no explanation or diagnosis or suggestions, he simply says, “You have an appointment tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. with an ENT specialist. Don’t miss it”. That was all. No suggested follow up directions. No “call if you aren’t feeling better in the next couple of days”. Just…”go to this appointment no matter what”.

And so we went.

My husband, bless his heart, has the tact of a brick (he’s British) and doesn’t like to mince words or pussy-foot around. He sits down in the chair and tells the specialist, Dr. Schreck, to “just tell it to me straight”. Dr. Schreck’s six word response literally stopped my breath…”Either we operate, or you die”.

Whoa.

He then went on to explain that all of this was caused by an inner ear infection that we had NO idea my husband even had. He could have had it for months, or even a year or two, and we had no clue. There had been no pain. Some wax build up, but who doesn’t get that every now and again? The infection had made it’s way into the mastoid bone behind his right ear and had been eating away at the bone so much that all that was left was a very thin layer (about the thickness of a fingernail…and not a strong fingernail either) of honeycombed bone separating this infection and the cranial cavity. As it was put to us, had that infection made it’s way into the cranial cavity, it would have then been diagnosed as meningitis and, once it penetrated the brain area, there would have been no stopping it. It would have killed him. And in not so little time.

And the guilt set in.

I suppose bargaining is another way of blaming or feeling guilty for what we could or couldn’t have done. Had I made him go for his annual check-ups, would they have caught it sooner? If I had paid closer attention, would I have noticed the seepage on his pillow in the morning? If I had been more aware, would I have noticed the odor of infection coming from his ear? If, if, if… 

Bargaining. “The normal reaction to feelings of helplessness and vulnerability is often a need to regain control–

  • If only we had sought medical attention sooner…
  • If only we got a second opinion from another doctor…
  • If only we had tried to be a better person toward them…

Secretly, we may make a deal with God or our higher power in an attempt to postpone the inevitable. This is a weaker line of defense to protect us from the painful reality. 

Two weeks later, I sat in the ENT outpatient hospital as my husband was wheeled back into the surgery room where they cut behind his ear; from the top to the bottom, and folded his ear forward and they proceeded to grind down the mastoid bone, with all the infection living in the honeycomb pockets, in an attempt to get all the infection out. In order to relieve the pressure on his brain, they had to drill a hole into his skull so now he, literally, has another hole in his head. It was this pressure on the brain that has caused the TBI and left my husband in the forever state he is in now. The damage done to the frontal lobe has left him with memory and processing issues which can never heal. He lost all hearing in his right ear, and he has permanent vertigo and balance disability. His brain has to work much harder than ours to even complete the simplest of tasks. Even something as simple as walking from the bedroom to the kitchen to make a pot of coffee can leave him exhausted and sweaty. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? I would have thought so, too, if I hadn’t seen it for myself.

I no longer wait to see what will happen. If he is experiencing pain or needs a follow up (well, once we have insurance again…he is currently awaiting the outcome of his medicaid application so he can start getting treated again), he goes to whatever doctor can take care of the issue. I don’t want anymore “what if’s”. I don’t want to bargain or question or make deals anymore. I will not leave any stone unturned. His life depends on my vigilance and our combined fortitude. There are no more bargains to be made. Every issue is a major issue and each answer will be sought out come hell or high water.

TBI Rules My Life

One of the downsides to positive thinking is that when you are having a bad day or a down time (and there are those days), it almost seems like no one allows you to experience those moments without taking it upon themselves to remind you to be grateful or positive or happy with what you have. For me, positive thinking isn’t about being happy and cheerful all the time; it’s about not wallowing in the not-so-positive times, which is where I spent too much time.

I had a rough time today. I deserve to have rough times every now and again because life is not all unicorns and rainbows. Life is a series of good and bad events; some self-inflicted and some inflicted upon you, and it’s okay to have bad times.

Today was a day when I was mourning my life…at least, the life I once had. Living with a TBI survivor has changed that life and I am and always will struggle with adapting to this new one. My new life is one of no plans; broken social engagements; a lot of solitary confinement. I spend most of my time sitting in my bed, watching tv and wishing for something more than my own four walls. I long to be able to travel and go and do things with people and have fun and laugh. I want to experience those things with my husband, but TBI tells me “no” more often than not. TBI dictates if we can plan a cruise or an airplane flight. TBI tells me whether or not we can go outside or for a walk or for a drive. TBI runs my life; I don’t.

I was feeling restless today. I wanted to get out of the house. I made a post on FB about needing more than my four walls to which friends instantly responded that once I was back to work, that would all change. But it’s not about working or being home. It’s about not having anything other than those two things. I see people posting about these wonderful memories they are making with their families, and I want to make those memories, too, but I don’t have that freedom. I can’t plan a vacation because we never know if TBI is going to let us do it. We have to consider things like: how will being on a cruise ship affect his vertigo and balance or how will a plane ride affect the pain in his head. We have to consider the temperature wherever we go because extreme hot and cold affect his head and his stamina. We have no freedom to go and make memories. We have the freedom to sit in the house, hoping for a good day so we might be able to go to the store or to visit my mom.

Then there’s the sociophobic agoraphobia. That keeps us from large crowds like free concerts in the park or fairs and festivals.

And if it’s not about whether or not we can go and do things, it’s about whether or not he will remember the memories. Will he remember the quiet, intimate moments stolen between pre-teen questions? Will he remember where and when a picture was taken? Will it give him the same joy it gave me? Will those family memories be his memories, too? When we sit down, years from now, reflecting on our past together, will we laugh at the same things or will he see himself as daft because he has no recollection? What will our memories be like?

I have toyed with the idea of doing things on my own or with others, but then guilt overrides those ideas and keeps me home…with him; the keeper of my heart. I figure, if he can’t experience those things, why should I? But then I feel trapped; isolated; alone and lonely. I want to experience life with him, but TBI has other plans.

And not to fault my friends, but they don’t get it if they haven’t been through it. They take so much for granted…being able to pack up the car and just drive for hours and hours to a tourist trap destination where they will walk for hours and hours seeing exhibit after exhibit or catching musical performances. And I can’t do those things. So, yes, today was a rough day. I mourn my social life. I’m entitled to. It doesn’t mean I’m not positive about things or that I am falling back into negative thinking. It means that my life holds a balance of negative and positive and I have to take each event as it comes.

For the record, I HATE TBI.

 

Mourning the Living: Dissecting The Five Stages of Grief on a Personal Level – Anger

I cannot tell you when exactly the transition from denial and isolation to anger happened. I just know that it did. One day…in a matter of moments…over the course of time; I don’t really know. I just knew that I was pissed off at the world and nothing anyone said or did made any of it better. So let’s take a look at and dissect anger; the second stage of grief.

Anger.”As the masking effects of denial and isolation begin to wear, reality and its pain re-emerge. We are not ready. The intense emotion is deflected from our vulnerable core, redirected and expressed instead as anger. The anger may be aimed at inanimate objects, complete strangers, friends or family. Anger may be directed at our dying or deceased loved one. Rationally, we know the person is not to be blamed. Emotionally, however, we may resent the person for causing us pain or for leaving us. We feel guilty for being angry, and this makes us more angry.”

Anger is something I am really freaking good at; even before Drew’s illness. I have pretty much always been quick to temper, and never thought it could get any worse, but I was wrong. My anger became irrational; vile; scorching. I deliberately lashed out at others…my family; my friends; my husband. No one understood. No one cared. No one was willing to help. I felt deserted and alone and vulnerable and that pissed me off.

I think my anger period lasted the longest and became the most pronounced. I don’t know if that is true or not, but that is the way I recall it. And I was exhausted by the end of it. It wore me down; physically, mentally, emotionally. I could not get out of bed. I could not function normally. I could not go a day; much less an hour, without complaining or cursing my fate or blaming the world for everything that had befallen me…us. I constantly had friends reaching out to me; seemingly desperate to help me get back on the right track, and I lashed out at them. I accused them of not understanding; of making their issues more important than me, and of not being there for me when I needed them the most. The reality was, they WERE there for me. They just weren’t there to foster and encourage the negativity and anger and resentment I felt.

And, boy, was I ever resentful.

I resented the doctors; the ER staff; the RediMed staff; the medications that didn’t work AND the ones that did. I resented the people who stopped coming around or stopped asking about him. I resented the American healthcare system for (in my viewpoint) sentencing him to a certain death. I resented his family and friends for being so far away, but the saddest thing was: I resented him.

I resented him for getting sick without warning; for not being able to work; for being disabled; for needing me more than I needed him; for leaving everything on my shoulders; for being his date keeper and alarm clock and calendar and taxi driver and, and, and…the list goes on. I supported him but didn’t support him…if that makes any sense. 

I didn’t ask for this and I sure as hell didn’t want it. I didn’t want to be in charge. I didn’t want to be the breadwinner. I didn’t want to be the responsible adult, and I didn’t want to be the widow of a TBI survivor. I wanted my husband back; pre-infection. I wanted the man I married to come swooping through the door to take me into his arms and whisk me away to a remote location where we could live out our days in peace and serenity, but that was not going to happen, and it pissed me off.

I don’t know how or when it changed. I don’t know when I accepted the reality of our new life. Maybe it happened slowly over months or weeks; maybe it was a “wake up one day and bam” kind of thing. I just know that I started working on finding a peace and calm in all the craziness. I had to find that…for me AND him. I was killing myself, and I was hurting him more than the infection ever could. He had his own emotions to work on so it was unfair to unleash mine on him, too. I needed to find a way to cope before it totally destroyed my family and my marriage.

The fact is that many marriage, after TBI, end in divorce for a myriad of reasons, and I didn’t want that. He didn’t want that. So I had to find a way to make peace with myself and our life and to move forward. Easier said than done. But that’s another post.

Mourning the Living: Dissecting The Five Stages of Grief on a Personal Level – Denial and Isolation

I have decided to expand on my journey as a TBI caregiver and delve deeper into the five stages of grief on my own personal level. If nothing else, this gives me a way to process all that has happened in a positive way and; hopefully, maybe even be able to help others so I have decided to make this a series with each blog focusing on one of the stages.

First stage of grief: Denial and isolation. “The first reaction to learning of terminal illness or death of a cherished loved one is to deny the reality of the situation. It is a normal reaction to rationalize overwhelming emotions. It is a defense mechanism that buffers the immediate shock. We block out the words and hide from the facts. This is a temporary response that carries us through the first wave of pain.

When this whole thing began, of course we knew it was serious. We knew it was serious when we sat in the ER for hours; waiting for scan results; watching nurses administer round after round of morphine to keep the never-ending waves of pain away for even a moment, and holding each other’s hand when words of comfort no longer worked. I took little comfort in the small cat naps he would be able to catch; grateful for even the shortest amount of time he could capture pain free. When the ER doctor finally came back and told us they had scheduled an appointment with a specialist the very next morning and to NOT miss it, we knew something was wrong.

The infection was caught in time and the surgery was successful, but something had already happened that would forever change our lives. We can only assume (as we are still awaiting further testing and MRI results…after 2 1/2 years) that it was the pressure that had built up in his skull that damaged his frontal lobe and left him with this condition that will never heal and that he will never recover from.

While I accepted the reality of the situation, I denied that there was or would be any lasting affects. I refused to believe that anyone could understand what I was dealing with. I locked myself away in a world of my own design with my own rules and where nothing existed except those conditions I chose to create. I believed he would be okay…that he was just tired…that life would return to normal.I pretended everything was okay. I pretended that in a few weeks he would be back to work, complaining as usual, and we would go back to making plans for our future and we would be invincible.

I won’t talk to you like a psychiatrist or psychologist. I am not a professional or a scholar. I am simply a woman has…or is trying to…come to terms with a transition that there was no time to prepare for. I am simply a woman trying to make sense of why things happen to people…why awful things happen to good people. I am simply a woman trying to reconnect bits and pieces of a life which seems so long ago and add them to a new life. I don’t know how to advise anyone else to get through a transition like this, but I know it helps to know that someone has been there and is there for you…to help you get through it. There is no timeline and there are no magic words or potions. It is an individual process…a journey…every person must make on their own. You can only take one day at a time. Absorb each piece of information as it comes through and keep pushing and asking for answers. Learn all you can. Read. Find a support group either online or in person. Reach out. Allow yourself to grieve, but don’t wallow and hang out there for too long or it will begin to eat you alive. Recognize and understand that your life will change. It won’t always be bad. It won’t always be stressful, but it will be different. Adapt a new normal and find a way to thrive in it. Cry, laugh, throw a fit every now and again, but don’t bottle your feelings or they will consume you.

Find your path; whatever it may be, but know this: you are not alone.

 

Mourning the Living

The last several years have been very difficult to say the least. Don’t misunderstand, I am NOT dwelling on it, and I have lifted myself out of a very dark place, but I am processing and sharing those feelings and thoughts in the hopes that; perhaps, I can help someone else and save them some misery.

See, my husband got sick. He wasn’t hit by a car or didn’t fall off a ladder. He got an ear infection. Undetected for God only knows how long, the infection ate its way into his skull; devouring a significant portion of the mastoid bone behind his right ear, and was dangerously close to infiltrating the cranial cavity. If that had happened; according to his specialist, it would have morphed/changed/turned into meningitis and it, quite literally, would have killed him. There would have been no course of treatment. There would have only been funeral arrangements.

That’s not being dramatic. That’s being honest and realistic. And we didn’t know how close we had come to that moment until we were thrown into the aftermath we have now.

See, that ear infection…that illness…caused my husband, my partner of now 14 years, to die in ways that weren’t physical. Because of that ear infection, he has been left with a host of conditions including TBI…traumatic brain injury…and he will never be the same. His memory has been severely impacted as well as his attention span and cognitive processing. For a man who has always relied on his intelligence, this has left him devastated beyond words. He has experienced a personality change, and there’s a difference in how he handles stress, tension, pain, etc. He doesn’t get violent; which is certainly a side effect for TBI survivors, but he suffers from other issues like extreme irritability; depression; anxiety, and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). Add to that the myriad of physical ailments, and it really does a number on your psyche.

So that’s the background.

So why did I title this “Mourning the Living”?

Because while those things happened to him; TBI happened to us all..the whole family: him, me, and our children; our extended family, and our friends.

I “lost” my husband…or who he was…and now I have to get to know this new man who I have a history with. It’s an odd situation. One filled with resentment; anger; love; passion; tears; insecurity; doubt; hope. Literally, in the matter of a couple of weeks, my husband was taken from me and a new man stood before me. His confidence rattled; insecurity magnified. He has to learn a whole new way of living; surviving within a set of limitations he neither asked for nor wanted. It has changed us all.

But I never thought of my own journey as one of grief until I got so deeply immersed in a dark tunnel that was bereft of light or hope.  Every day was a question of whether I would even get out of bed or if I would make it through the day. Although I am a chicken shit,and I never would have carried it out, I devised a number of ways I could commit suicide as painlessly and quickly as possible just to escape my new reality. Everything was negative. Everything made me angry. Everything ate at my core and made even daily tasks harder than hell.

In the blink of an eye, everything I knew was gone, and I was given no warning; no chance to process or prepare for. Hell, yes, I was pissed off. I wanted everything to be back to normal…to be as it was…as it will never be again. I mourn my husband of before and while grieving for him; I have this “new” man I have to learn about all over again; with new personality traits; new desires; different motivators and stressors, and everything else. I never got the chance to say goodbye.

It is so hard being in this position where; physically, everything appears to be the same…to be normal, but emotionally, mentally…it’s all different. How does one learn to process that? Sorry to say, but there is no way to process that will work for everyone. I had to hit the absolute bottom of my resolve; of my own psyche, before I could find my way of processing. For some, counseling works (even grief counseling, or so I have been told). I isolated myself and vented on social media. I DON’T recommend that! You tend to lose a lot of friends that way.

I started to read…a lot. And I started with the Five Stages of Grief (it was highly suggested to me from members of a caretakers support group, whom I cherish with all my heart). With this book, it all started to make sense.

  1. Denial and isolation. “The first reaction to learning of terminal illness or death of a cherished loved one is to deny the reality of the situation. It is a normal reaction to rationalize overwhelming emotions. It is a defense mechanism that buffers the immediate shock. We block out the words and hide from the facts. This is a temporary response that carries us through the first wave of pain.
  2. Anger.”As the masking effects of denial and isolation begin to wear, reality and its pain re-emerge. We are not ready. The intense emotion is deflected from our vulnerable core, redirected and expressed instead as anger. The anger may be aimed at inanimate objects, complete strangers, friends or family. Anger may be directed at our dying or deceased loved one. Rationally, we know the person is not to be blamed. Emotionally, however, we may resent the person for causing us pain or for leaving us. We feel guilty for being angry, and this makes us more angry.”
  3. Bargaining. “The normal reaction to feelings of helplessness and vulnerability is often a need to regain control–
    • If only we had sought medical attention sooner…
    • If only we got a second opinion from another doctor…
    • If only we had tried to be a better person toward them…

    Secretly, we may make a deal with God or our higher power in an attempt to postpone the inevitable. This is a weaker line of defense to protect us from the painful reality.”

  4.  Depression. “Two types of depression are associated with mourning. The first one is a reaction to practical implications relating to the loss. Sadness and regret predominate this type of depression. We worry about the costs and burial. We worry that, in our grief, we have spent less time with others that depend on us. This phase may be eased by simple clarification and reassurance. We may need a bit of helpful cooperation and a few kind words.

    The second type of depression is more subtle and, in a sense, perhaps more private. It is our quiet preparation to separate and to bid our loved one farewell. Sometimes all we really need is a hug.

  5. Acceptance. “Reaching this stage of mourning is a gift not afforded to everyone. Death may be sudden and unexpected or we may never see beyond our anger or denial. It is not necessarily a mark of bravery to resist the inevitable and to deny ourselves the opportunity to make our peace. This phase is marked by withdrawal and calm. This is not a period of happiness and must be distinguished from depression.Loved ones that are terminally ill or aging appear to go through a final period of withdrawal. This is by no means a suggestion that they are aware of their own impending death or such, only that physical decline may be sufficient to produce a similar response. Their behavior implies that it is natural to reach a stage at which social interaction is limited. The dignity and grace shown by our dying loved ones may well be their last gift to us.

    Coping with loss is ultimately a deeply personal and singular experience — nobody can help you go through it more easily or understand all the emotions that you’re going through. But others can be there for you and help comfort you through this process. The best thing you can do is to allow yourself to feel the grief as it comes over you. Resisting it only will prolong the natural process of healing.”

It’s taken 2 1/2 years, but I am finally at the acceptance stage. Once I hit that stage, I was able to incorporate new coping mechanisms into my daily routine. One of those things was meditation. I began to take time for me…to get right in my own brain. I needed to do that. I needed to let go of all the people who had let go of me (regardless of why). I needed to let go of the anger, negativity, remorse, loneliness, and I needed to start embracing the positive; the newness; the journey, and the unknown. I couldn’t travel the road before me…before US…until I let go of the past. I haven’t forgotten it as it’s an important part of why I am who and where I am now, but I could no longer permit it to dictate my attitude.

If you are a skeptic like I was, you will probably scoff at the idea of positive thinking, but like attracts like. If you surround yourself with positive, you will receive positive. If you surround yourself with calm; calm comes easier. I handle stress differently. I don’t wallow in the problems. That doesn’t mean I don’t acknowledge them or get upset about them, but I don’t allow them to rule me. I am in control of the problems,not the other way around.

My journey is far from over, and I will slip. I will get angry and resentful and sad, but I will not allow those emotions to linger. I will experience them and then send them on their way so that there is more room for positive emotions which will help project us forward towards a new, simplified, exciting and unknown way of living. I no longer see this as losing the past, but more of an opportunity to have a new beginning.

Here’s to new beginnings.

Fat Chat: Poem Time

When times were simpler, before society imposed it’s definition of beauty upon its unwilling victims
One man chose to see the beauty in women like me
With large breasts, ample hips, and a round belly
And he called them voluptuous, exquisite, Rubenesque
He showed them off to the world in his paintings and they were admired and loved
I am one of those women
And yet you call me obese and lazy, disgusting and an embarrassment,
Unhealthy, a cow, a whale and any other derogatory term your feeble little mind can conjure up
But my flabby arms have held a sobbing teenager and offered the comfort and protection only a mother can
My breasts have nourished a hungry child and offered a cuddly pillow to lay his head on
My larger than life ass has made more than one man smile and still makes my man more than a little excited
And my thighs are so enamored with each other that I just can’t keep them apart no matter how hard I try
Your false concern for my health and your misogynistic standard of beauty will not hold me down
I will wear a bathing suit with pride at the beach and to piss you off, I’ll even wear a bikini
I will dress as sexy as I please and I won’t give a damn if you aren’t turned on by me
I won’t photoshop my pictures or smooth on cellulite cream
I won’t be relegated to wearing moo-moos and caftans simply because my bare flesh makes you uncomfortable
I am a woman of grace and charm, humor and warmth, sensual and sexual, intelligent AND attractive
I cherish and adore my curves, my stretch marks, my peaks and valleys
I bring smiles to people’s faces because my heart is not ugly
If you can’t handle my ass, then I simply say…Kiss it
Because I am what Ruben wanted
I AM Ruben’s muse

Peter_Paul_Rubens-Venus_in_Front_of_the_Mirror-c.1613-14   Peter Paul Rubens

Fat Chat: My Fat, My Funny

I was recently asked why I always crack jokes or make comments about my weight. It was brought to my attention that it makes people uncomfortable. I suppose I should apologize for offending anyone, but…my fat, my funny. I crack the first joke so that no one else has the chance to do it. If I laugh at my fat then the one who tries to shame me doesn’t have the power. Their words don’t hurt me. Well, not as much anyway.

Fat Amy

“Fat Amy” gets it! Besides, let’s be honest. I’m only saying what others are thinking, right? I swear, I’m NOT being paranoid. Like every other person “of size”, I have heard the comments from friends, family members, and anonymous strangers walking down the street or the corridor. I remember I sprained my ankle once and had to walk across campus with a boot on and crutches. A couple of young “men” were behind me as I hobbled my way up the sidewalk, and, with intent and volume, exclaimed, “If she wasn’t so fat, she wouldn’t have broken her foot.” Ha! What did they know? I only sprained it. 🙂

On another occasion, I had to visit an orthopedic specialist for a lump that developed on the back of my calf after an accident in a public pool. His letter to my employer stated, “the patient is morbidly obese and the accident resulting in the loss of work could have been completely unavoidable with enough weight loss”. REALLY?? First of all, “the patient”? I have a name! Use it! Secondly, the only way the accident could have been avoided is if I had never climbed down the ladder to get into the pool. It was as I was stepping down into the water that my leg got lodged between the ladder and the side of the pool. Tell me…how could that have been avoided?

Anyway, I digress. The point is, I am confident enough with myself and my size that I can crack a joke or three and it’s okay. I know I am not degrading myself. I know I mean myself no harm emotionally or mentally. And…it makes for a cheeky ice-breaker. 😉

There is no point in hiding the fact that I am fat. It follows me everywhere. It attends every party I do; it goes out to eat with me and my family, and it won’t even let me pee in private! It is ALWAYS there! So I embrace it and I accept it…and, if I so choose, I change it! But that is not because you poked or prodded or shamed me into it.

By the way, my favorite conversation starter…

“I never have to announce myself when attending a function. My breasts walk in first and do it for me.”

It’s okay to find the funny.