Feeling a Little Naked

We went in to look at wedding rings today. Nick wants to do a little recon before he makes a final decision, you know, to see what the married men are wearing these days, but we have mine selected and purchased now anyhow. I suppose it has to be difficult for a man to wrap his head around wearing a ring for the rest of his life. It occurred to me while he was looking at styles that he probably has no idea as to what his ring size might be.

But then, apparently I am a little off as well. I’ve never made a secret that my left ring finger ring size was last measured at five-and-a-half. In fact, I think I have made every effort to make that bit of information known, in the event that my significant other wants to get all sneaky and pick out an engagement ring without my input. That worked out pretty good for me, huh? Especially when your significant other has excellent taste.

For the last month or so, however, I have been deathly afraid that I was going to accidentally flush my ring down the toilet, or that it would fall off without my notice while I was walking about. I am so scared that I will lose it that I have come to keep that one finger pad touching my palm (when I don’t need the finger for anything productive, of course). You see, in 2010, a five-and-a-half is too loose. That’s right, my already unattractive bony fingers have grown bonier as I have aged.

So, we ordered an extremely beautiful matching wedding band in a five, which is still loose but comfortably so, and I gave the jeweler my ring to be sized smaller. Every now and then, I catch myself reliving my worst nightmare: oh no! Check the toilet! Pull apart the pipes! I’ve flushed my engagement ring!

I’ll have it back in a week, but between now and then, Nick better hide the wrenches.

Learning Empathy

My cousin Michelle and I saw the movie Pearl Harbor in the theatre when it first came out. Michelle was a World War II buff, and we both thought at the time that Josh Hartnett was dreamy. I don’t remember having any reaction to the movie except being bummed out that Josh Hartnett’s character died—sorry for the spoiler, but it really is your own fault if you still haven’t seen the movie since it was released nine years ago. But anyway, yeah, no other reaction to this movie which depicts one of the most tragic days in our history.

You see, at the time, my life had never gone through ups and downs. Every facet of life may not have been peachy keen, but it was all I knew…and it’s all relative, right? To me, movies and other forms of art reflected the stories of other people only. I was a spectator who didn’t really comprehend the emotions on the screen, the page, or the canvas.

Around five years ago, I began one of the most tumultuous periods of my life. For once, everything wasn’t going as planned. I had high highs and low lows, and I was exposed to all sorts of feelings that I had never experienced before. When I first began to have an emotional reaction to media, I self-diagnosed myself as depressed. I had enough to be sad about at the time, and all of the websites specified that letting those sappy Hallmark commercials get to you was a sure sign that you had a chemical imbalance. I don’t know why this country feels the need to put a diagnosis the ability to feel.

Pearl Harbor was on television today, and I tuned in just in time for the attack. At one point, two lone American planes fly over the harbor where dead bodies were floating and live bodies were dodging bullets. Those in the water cheered at the sight of the planes, not that those two pilots could save the day or undo all of the tragedy. My eyes welled with emotion. I know all too well that hope doesn’t have to make sense.

The evolution of a human being from birth to death is a strange journey. I found the parallel interesting as I watched the movie this afternoon. I didn’t live through WWII, and I do not know anyone who fought overseas. However, I understand love and loss, and their story isn’t so different from mine. Variation on a theme, if you will. I no longer think that letting my heartstrings be pulled is a sign of mental illness. I think I am just learning to live in a world where everybody experiences the same aches and joys of life, and I am appreciating that their struggles are not so different from my own.

Announcement

Unknowingly under a ruse on a sunny January day, I accompanied Nick to Olbrich Gardens. He and I have never gone to Olbrich together, but he knew that the place held special memories for me.

Eventually finding a bench, he coaxed me to settle next to him. He asked how I felt, coming back to this mystical little garden in the heart of winter the first time without Mom. I told him that I was a little sad and a little happy because I felt her presence so strongly.

He seemed happy with that reply as he pulled a velvety box out of his coat pocket, telling me that he picked this place so that she could be there for this special moment. Flipping open the box, the ring glittered in the sunlight. At first I was speechless because it was all so unexpected, and I couldn’t comprehend what was happening (but eventually I said yes!).

I feel very fortunate to have such a loving person in my life. I am thrilled to plan my future with Nick by my side, this person who seems to understand and anticipate my needs. I feel cherished!

Heavy Things

So, I set the DVR to record Oprah’s discussion on diabetes the other day. Diabetes runs in both my father’s and my mother’s families, and my mother was diagnosed with high blood sugar while undergoing Cancer treatments. I spent the first 20 years of my life clueless about exercise and nutrition. While I have been living “clean” for almost 10 years now, I worry that my unhealthy childhood has taken years off my life. I know that I am at risk for this disease…but then, we are all at risk. According to the show, six million Americans are walking around with diabetes and they don’t even know it.

The show interviewed a woman who was diagnosed with Diabetes in her 30’s, and had now required dialysis treatments three times a week (three hours each) for the last decade. She has lost the lower half of one leg, and the front half of her other foot. Dr. Oz asked her why the disease is so prevalent, and she said something to the effect of, “People think, ‘it’s just a little sugar.'” Her story was chilling.

I could not help but think of one of my grandmothers, the one that chooses to ignore her disease rather than learn to live with it. She figures that they can just give her more insulin, and it will all be okay―she doesn’t have to change a thing. On the show, they described diabetes as a disease that scrapes your insides with shards of glass. I would rather work on those shards of glass than rely on insulin.

This disease is running rampant. I must make a distinction between Diabetes Type I and Type II. Type I is not yet totally understood enough to know how to prevent the disease (or if it can even be prevented at all). That being said, Type I Diabetes makes up only 10% of all diagnosed cases, meaning that 90% of the diagnosed cases could have been prevented and can be cured through lifestyle changes. Isn’t that amazing?

So, one of the top 10 killers can be wiped out, if the patient is willing.

I think that’s food for thought. Truly, we are killing ourselves.

My weight loss changed my life. Socially, it has alienated me from the people who thought I broke an unwritten code by becoming aware of my lifestyle. Physically, it has given me energy, and the strength that I need to deal with chronic pain and illness. Most of all, I hope that it has put me in a position to prevent disease (which makes the alienation worthwhile). I watched my mother cling to life as long as she could against a disease that she could not control. I feel like I am honoring her love of life by protecting mine.

I only wish that more people would fight for their health. Fanatics talk about the end of the world like it is going to be some terrible natural disaster or biological weapon…but at this rate, we are going to be our own end.