Health and Wellbeing

I tend to keep this blog centered around creativity and writing, mostly because I hope you’ll find my fumbling journey into my own creative life to be interesting. Or at least amusing. Blogging also helps to hold me accountable, because on the creative road you’re basically only accountable to yourself.

But the pursuit of creativity isn’t the only journey I’m on—I’m also at the beginning stages of my latest trip towards health and fitness.  It is a trip I have tried to make many, many, MANY times in my life.  It is a trip I have always failed to complete.  But it is a trip I am determined to make yet again—and I’m determined to get past the obstacles that have always blocked my path.

I wasn’t sure if I would do any posts about this quest, because it is intensely personal and I’m not looking forward to making myself vulnerable out on the internet.  But then, after a lot of thought, I decided I would write about it, at least to a certain extent. After all, health is the bedrock upon which creativity—and everything else—is built. This goal is really the foundation of all of my other goals.

Then there’s that pesky accountability factor again. Putting things out into the universe makes you vulnerable and is kind of scary, but it’s also important.

And lastly, I thought maybe it would be interesting.

Settle in, bunkies–this is a long one. 


I fell asleep on March 3, 2018. I woke up again on July 1, 2019, give or take a week.

If you’ve followed this blog at all over the past year, you probably know what happened, but I’ll give a brief recap. My mother died unexpectedly overnight. I found her. Fell down a hill trying to tell the neighbor what had happened. Broke my ankle so badly my foot was no longer attached to my leg. Hospital. Rehab facility (really a thinly disguised nursing home). Couldn’t leave the house when I finally got home. Doctors. Physical therapy. Laid off from the day job (fortunately I knew that one was coming before all hell broke loose). Worry as close friends battled VERY scary health crises of their own.  Settling the estate. Coping with the holidays.

I peeked open my eyes for the first time in March 2019. Then a very dear friend died in April. Nope. Not gonna wake up yet. More grief. Watching others mourn triggered the processing of my own experience (which was a good thing, by the way).  

But I wasn’t gonna wake up. Not gonna do it. Not yet.

Then… blink, blink, blink. Hello?

Sometime around the end of June I blearily opened my little eyes once more.  I said to myself. “Huh. That’s weird. Where has all the time gone?”

Then I blinked again and said, “You know what? I think I’ve been depressed.”

I can hear you now. “Yeah, no shit, Sherlock.”

That’s the way it happens sometimes, at least for me. Depression isn’t always “sadness,” or not just sadness.  It’s a withdrawing beyond the point of health.

To be clear, I don’t think that withdrawing itself is necessarily bad.  For me, it is an essential part of my coping process when faced with a traumatic event.  I need to back off, go inward, gain strength, regroup.  Then, and only then am I capable of coming back out into the world. 

That’s fine.  But you can go down too far, dive too deeply. And you forget. First, you forget to swim.  Then you forget there’s a surface you’re trying to swim to.

I went out with friends, I talked to people, I kept up with social media, did a few blog posts, wrote a novella and a novel, but I withdrew. I WANTED to withdraw.  I didn’t WANT to come out. My world had been shaken and my response, as it usually is, was to curl up in a ball. Protect the head. Protect the belly. Fetal position.  This earthquake was worse than usual, so the withdrawal was deeper and longer.  Taking the time to cope was something I desperately needed.  My lack of concern for my health, my life, or the future…wasn’t.

When, on July 1, I did eventually sit up and break the surface I had forgotten was there, I was finally able to take a clear look at my current state of affairs. They weren’t exactly good, especially in the health area.

I was not a paragon of physical fitness before this all happened—faaaaaaaaar from it. But things were much worse now. I’m a type 2 diabetic, and my blood sugar had been through the roof for months. I hadn’t been to the doctor, eye doctor, or dentist in over eight months. I had put on some weight (not as much as I could have for sure, but considering the weight I’d already been carrying, it wasn’t great). My broken leg was okay, but it wasn’t getting any better. The absolute worse was that my energy level and life-force was at an all-time low. After all, a person with diabetes can’t process sugars effectively, and I’d been slowly poisoning myself for over a year by not eating in accordance with my condition. 

So. Huh.  Wasn’t that a kick in the pants?

Obviously, I had some decisions to make.

I’ll admit I wanted to go back to sleep. It’s easier to read books than to write them.  It’s easier to watch Netflix or YouTube than to try to live authentically and well. But I also know that this time I have is a gift. I’d just forgotten that for a little while.

For whatever reason, some keys started to turn.  And for whatever reason, I walked through the doors when they opened instead of slamming them closed again.

The first thing I knew I needed to do, was to get up and get my poor body moving. I’d been sitting too much, and I could tell that not only was my leg not getting better, it was starting to get worse. People with diabetes heal more slowly than normal people anyway, but since my diabetes had been uncontrolled for a long time, the healing was even slower.

What could I do to get moving?  I wanted to take walks, but it is very, very difficult for me to be out in the heat and humidity. In other words—anywhere outside in the summer in the US. So how in the world was I supposed to walk? I guess I could have gone to a gym and walked on a treadmill, but that was so NOT happening. This needed to be something I could do on my time, in my space, and not somewhere where I would feel like I was being judged.

Then I read Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s book “Writing with Chronic Illness” (which is awesome, by the way). She had a throwaway line in one of the chapters that changed everything. To paraphrase, it said— “I always got my 10,000 steps in, even if I stumbled back and forth across the living room.”


Lightbulb moment.

Of course! If I couldn’t walk outside, I could walk inside the house!  

So I started stumbling back and forth in my own house. In the beginning, I did it once or twice a day for a few minutes. My leg hurt. But I knew it was helping.

Then my lovely sister gave me a Fitbit, and everything changed again.

I love that damned thing. I even got it some special wristbands to bling it up a little because it never leaves my wrist unless it’s on its special clip. 

Why do I love it? Because it vibrates to remind me to get up and move every hour throughout the day. And it gives me a star when I do it. Then when I hit my total steps for the day, it vibrates and does a happy little dance, celebrating with me. I’m sure the app is collecting all of my personal data and funneling it into some massive database where it’s being sold for profit. And I don’t care. If it saves my life, they can have whatever data they want.

Thus the forward movement started…

I finished the manuscript for the novel I’d been working on and actually sent it to my copy editor. I was afraid when I hit the “send” button because I was writing it at the same time I was going through all of this other junk.  It was very hard to be creative at that time.  Truthfully, I’m not confident in it yet.  Maybe when my dear editor sends it back and I re-read it, I’ll think it sucks.  Maybe I’ll think it’s brilliant.  It honestly doesn’t matter at this point.  What matters is that I got it finished.  The forward momentum.  Walking through that doorway (as mentioned in the last blog post).

What matters is another key turning.

Once I finished writing the book, I settled back and evaluated things again. The walking I was doing was great, but it wasn’t enough. I can’t do 10,000 steps yet (I’ve tried, but it makes my foot feel like it was loose and ready to fall off).  I had to back it down to 5,000 for now. In fact, I set all of the goals on the Fitbit app so they’d be achievable for me even without being able to do much outside or going on long walks.  It is vital that I have goals I can meet, and that I can get the validation of successfully completing the various badges to keep me going.

But, although I’d started hitting my Fitbit goals every day, I still needed to build up my strength. I needed to do more to strengthen and stretch myself. The walking alone wasn’t enough.  Ideally, whatever the solution was, it would also include guidance on food.  Although I was moving around, and my blood sugar definitely wasn’t at its worse, it hadn’t yet moderated to where it needs to be.

Then another dear friend of mine shared a video on Facebook from DDP Yoga. That’s Diamond Dallas Page’s fitness program. I’d seen inspirational videos from the program before on Facebook and Youtube, and I’d even meant to look into it years ago, but I’d forgotten. Wasn’t it interesting that a video detailing another inspirational transformation should show up in my Facebook news feed right at the time I was looking for something?

Kismet? I think so! Another key turned.

This program is perfect for me because it has levels that go all the way from “I can’t get out of bed” to “I have crazy ninja skill.” I have some balance issues thanks to nerve damage from the fall and constant low-level vertigo from the blood sugar. I need modifications most programs don’t take into account.  This one does.  It meets me where I am now and I’ll be able to stay with it as I gain strength, flexibility, and stability.  It’s also no impact, strength building with isometrics, so it doesn’t hurt my joints.  And, even better, it includes food guidance of various degrees—from the extreme intervention I personally need to “I just want to clean up a little.”

Key, meet lock.

And I started doing that too.

I got the MyFitnessPal app and, between it and the Fitbit app, started tracking my food. I decided to start drinking more water—a hell of a lot more water (although I do have to front-load it so I’m not up running to the potty all night). A person with diabetes needs water because our cells don’t deal with sugars properly, and our bodies need more water to flush it away. And guess what? Drinking more water has really impacted my sugar cravings. I think maybe I was thirsty and didn’t know it. I know I was dehydrated when I started—I really couldn’t get enough water for the first few days.

Another key.

By the way, I read somewhere that moving every hour and drinking water are two ways to spark your metabolism. Who knew?

For more motivation to keep up the momentum (momentum is everything in writing and in life), and because I’m a sucker for tracking, I started tracking things on a paper calendar on my refrigerator. I track four items – Food, Fitbit, DDP, and Writing. If I meet the daily requirements I set up, I get a checkmark for that day for that item. If I get checkmarks for all four items, I get to increment the day in my winning streak. I get five forgiveness points a month—so I can miss requirements on one of them five times during the month. I knew I needed to build in a way where I could stumble, but not blow the streak.  I’m not perfect—I needed a little leniency in the system.

Turned out that was yet another key.

And that brings me to where I am now.

As I said, I’m still at the beginning of my health and fitness quest this time around, but things are headed in the right direction for once. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not celebrating yet. Lord knows I’ve screwed this up before.  MASSIVELY screwed it up.  And fairly recently, too.  I’m just happy to see some progress in the right direction for a change.

The blood sugar is settling, and I’m hoping I’ll be able to decrease the medication soon. My strength and stamina are increasing. It’s only been a few weeks, but I already feel so much more energetic.  There are still a few problem areas I haven’t begun to address, the biggest of which is getting the appropriate amount of sleep every night.

I’ve also set some health goals.  They are extremely modest in the great scheme of things, but they mean the world to me.  I will strive diligently to meet them. 

Mostly, I want my light to shine.  I want to stay awake.  I want to live fully and well.

So, there you go, for what it’s worth.  Do with all of this what you will. Or not. Whatever—it doesn’t matter. I just thought I’d share this journey too.  And I’ll post periodic updates as time goes on.

Off to get my steps for the hour so I can get my next star!


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