November 27th, 2011
By: Lisa Velez
Every day is a constant battle to survive. One does not need to carry firearms to be in a warzone. One does not necessarily need to travel overseas and join the marines or National Guard to be in the fight of their lives. Every moment is a journey towards victory. Every day we struggle to do the right thing, to be a light to others, yet often times we fall short and come up doing the exact opposite. That's life. Every second, every hour, every morning, noon and night we walk on to the battlefield, shields before us, ready to strike at the slightest attack of the enemy, or enemies, as they are; whether they be people, places, or things. Anything and anyone that could potentially harm us deserves the title as "Enemy," and every time we fight them we are on the "battlefield," fighting to survive.
My enemy, most of my life, has been fear. Lately I, with the help of wonderful, Godly brothers and sisters, some of which are my dearest and closest friends, near and precious to my heart, have gotten me so much farther in this department through their positivity, their love and most of all their prayers. They are my family. Yet, still I struggle to some degree. I, Praise God, am being healed in His Power of this enemy called fear. Still, the one thing I am so desperately trying to conquer now, is an eating disorder called, "Compulsive Overeating," or "Binge Eating."
I never thought in a million years that I had been struggling with this eating disorder most of my life. If someone would have told me this years ago I would have told them they were going crazy. Many people see only anorexics; those that starve themselves due to a distorted bodily image, as and having a "right" to be labled "sick" and "In need of help and compassion." While, the heavy and obese, are considered as "Pigs" and "disgusting." We are looked at as non-humans, or at least treated that way. We are pointed and laughed at, ridiculed, called every name in the book, and so much more, yet so many refuse to see what we are going through as a struggle and point it out as also a "Sickness," and we are in need of help just as the obsessively thin are.
Most of my life I have struggled with food and didn't even know it.
Every day was a struggle for me; still is. Growing up with a Dad who physically, emotionally and verbally abused us, I now learned, I was using food, even as a child, for comfort. My Dad would make me cry almost every day, and what did I do? I would retreat to the refrigerator and see what cake, cookies or ice cream I could muster up to make me feel better. Back then I thought I was just eating this way because I liked the taste of it all. Little did I know that this is how my mind chose to deal with fear, anxiety, pain, tears, hurt, anger, worthlessness and so many more feelings. Not until many years later did I begin to realize what I was doing. Only, I realized I was addicted to food; especially sugar; and could not stop; at least I thought I couldn't.
Growing up, as I ate for comfort, I always remained a healthy weight of 128 pounds. Not until working for Wendy's in my mid-teens, did I start to pack on pounds little by little. By the time I reached 18/19 I had already gained 10 pounds, which shocked me. Still, even then, I would have never dreamed, "Eating Disorder." Then, still at the age of 19, almost 20, the scale shocked me even more drastically as I read what it had to say... 167 pounds. I had never been that weight. I was disgusted with myself. I just didn't understand.
June 10, 1995, I married the love of my life, Ramon. Such a wonderful man, yet also, overweight, but not by much at 226 pounds, this handsome Puerto Rican was my Prince, and he loved me no matter what. However, all through our married life of 14 and a half years, we over ate and gained weight together, both for just about the same reason.... comfort. He gained drastically as did I. When I would see the weight pack on to my little 5 foot 2 inch frame I thought, "I'll never be 200 Pounds ever, that's for sure!" Well, it's true what we learn in Church, Never say, "I'll never" anything, because we really don't know. So, what happened? I went right over the bridge of 200 landing at a wopping 228 pounds. I felt like an ugly monster. I didn't understand why my husband loved me. We joined gyms together and went on diets, both losing and gaining all over again, as nothing ever took permanently.
I became diabetic sometime in 2001, which scared the heck out of me, as did any health issue that serious. I was at work, shaking and crying as I found out. I lost weight and went down to 189 pounds and a size 12. My diabetes was controlled no more by pills but by diet alone. I was doing so much better.
Then, in July of 2002, I had a miscarriage. And having panic disorder, that was something almost unbearable to me, yet by the Grace and perfect Love of God, and the prayers and love of others, I got through it, as did my sweet husband. What happened next? The eating started again. I started just putting the diabetes in the back of my mind and doing whatever I wanted. My husband followed and soon gained so much that he weighed over 400 pounds. He tried to go for stomach surgery and the insurance denied him. We went on more see-saw diets, seeing results, but reverting back to our old ways. This time, I not only went to my old weight of 228 pounds, but I also gained an additional ten pounds, finally putting me at 238 pounds. I was mortified. And the harsh reality set in, when some men in a pick up truck, as I was crossing the street, rolled down their windows and yelled "gorda;" which means "Fat" in Spanish; out of their windows, laughing as they passed. I just wanted to hide under a rock and die.
Back in school, I was always made fun of for being ugly, even though I was thin and healthy. Now, it's even worse. I feel fat and ugly. I feel like I'm constantly being stared at and made fun of, or talked about. I am a writer and yet somehow feel it is not always easy putting feelings about a subject like this in to words.
Family and friends, who mean well of course, just say things like, "Stop over eating, it's not good for you. You don't want to get sick. Just eat this. Just eat that. Just stop eating this. Stop eating that. Eat more this, eat more that." Etc, Etc, ETC! Everything they've told us over the years, and still today, I know like the back of my wrist. These people mean so well, bless their hearts, but they can't understand totally unless they are walking, or have walked, in the shoes we've worn or still wear today. For some people, I agree, they just over eat and can stop at any time. Then, there are others who get addicted to sugars, and carbohydrates, just as my husband and I became. As a drug addict or alcoholic uses substances to gain temporary relief, so do those struggling with this life-controlling eating disorder. One can't, or feels they can't just stop. The body gets used to too much of something, like sugar, that when one stops suddenly all together, there come the shakes, mood-swings and other withdrawl symptoms, especially being as sugar is a drug all in itself, properly called as such, by being given the term, "Stimulent." Food, drugs, sex, none of these harmful toxins ever solve problems, they just become so called "Temporary fixes," and when the "high" goes down "low" and the substance is out of our systems, we feel like we need more and more for we realize our problems are still there. Yet, the more we use and abuse, the more at risk we are for disease and even death. My husband, sadly, paid that price.
Toward the end of October (it's so hard to write this), 2009, my husband came down with a terrible flu. He had such bad stomach pain, even after the other symptoms had subsided, I took him to the ER. This particular hospital's Doctor, (whom shall remain nameless), felt my husband's stomach, not in the area he told him hurt, but in a totally different area. The doctor x-rayed his lungs, which were no where near the area Ramon told him was hurting. The X-ray turned out fine, and the doctor said it seemed to be just pain from the leftover flu bug, which we were hoping and thinking it was. And so, the doctor told my husband to take advil and percaset every four hours and sent us home.
A few days later, my husband's pain was so bad, we went to the hospital my Mother works in, where he had requested to go this time, so that he could feel at ease just being near her. This time the doctor and nurse felt his stomach in the right place, saw his fevers were spiked very high and ruled out, finally Cystitis. The doctor admitted him right away.
Ramon spent about a week in the hospital. The fevers went down due to heavy doses every day of an antibiotic. He was still in some pain but feeling better, so the doctor inserted a pic-line and sent him home, knowing we'd have to go every day to a clinic for him to receive his IV antibiotics. And so, that's just what we did.
Every day, back and forth to the clinic, my husband was growing tired, and in fact, so much weaker than before. He couldn't even stand up without help after a while, something wasn't right. Yet, we just kept convincing ourselves it was just leftover infection.
Soon, Ramon became allergic to the antibiotic and broke out with a horrible red, welty rash all over his body. The poor dear hurt so bad I just didn't know what to do. I felt helpless.
Then, what I had feared happened. His fever spiked back up, then down, then up then down, and so on. He went to our regular doctor and got a check up. I don't remember what the doctor said, but I do remember Ramon standing up after the examination. When I gazed at the papered chair he was sitting on, I noticed something on it that looked like blood, but wasn't sure, for it had a brown tone to it. (My Dear Lord, this is so hard to write about, but I must get it out. I am nauseous even thinking about this so much in detail enough to write it down.) We figured it was just some residue from a bowel movement that wasn't cleaned properly. We asked the doctor if it could be blood, but he didn't think so, I still wasn't sure, but we trusted the doctor and went home.
5 am, Ramon awoke to use the bathroom. What he thought was diahreah turned out to be a pool of brownish red blood. We dismissed it, thinking maybe he strained himself and went back to bed. About an hour and half later, it happened again. He seemed so weak, that I didn't care what he said, I rushed him to the ER once again. Again, for some reason, he wanted to go to the hospital my Mother worked in, so I took him there.
I pray one day I forget this image but, as I drove up to the ER to let my husband out of the car go in to the door at a closer distance, he got out and fell. He was so weak he couldn't even get up. I panicked and didn't know what to do, so I went in for help. The staff quickly came, got him on a gerny, and brought him straight to the ER.
I have never been so afraid in my entire life. I paced back and forth in the ER, I just didn't know what else to do. Usually I would sit by my husband when he was in the ER, but this time I couldn't.
The doctors and nurses tried to do a colonoscopy to see what was wrong, but he couldn't. As soon as they "Tried" he let out such a heart wrenching scream and started bleeding pools of blood all over his underneath. They put pads to capture the blood. It was heart-wrenching to watch and listen to.
When my husband first got to the ER his blood pressure was normal. Now, it was falling quickly. He lost so much blood that his pressure went to around 86/11. Only by the Grace of GOD was Ramon still consious. I still don't understand that.
The doctors began giving him blood transfusions and monitoring his blood pressure. However by the next morning, he was still in ICU and bleeding the same and was still on the oxygen he was put on the day before. I went so fast and so early that morning to be by his side, which was so hard to do. Again, like the day before, I paced and twirled my hair and panicked, praying. The doctors still didn't know what was going on.
After the doctor stuck a scope down my poor husband's throat, he knew what was going on. Ramon had an orange-sized ulcer leaning on an artery. Emergency surgery was needed.
Most of the family gathered together to pray and hold each other during the surgery. I even visited the hospital chapel with my Mother during the surgery to pray. I just was so scared, I had a bad feeling. I had faith that God could heal my dear husband, but something made me feel like I wasn't so sure it was God's will to heal him in this world this time.
We went back upstairs and felt like we were waiting a lifetime to find out what was going on.
After a while, the doctor came out and said that the surgery took extra long because when they opened him up all they saw was blood. The doctors and nurses had to suction him out, cut part of his intestine to remove the ulcer, then sow it all back together. The doctor's words at that point, "We got it, the surgery was a success." I was so relieved and cried and cried. I went back in to the waiting room where the family and I gathered in a circle and prayed together, thanking God, as we waited for Ramon to come out of recovery.
A long time passed, and the doctor finally came in to speak to me, yet he wanted to talk to me in private, in the hallway. I knew something was up. He solomnly looked at me as he said, "Mrs. Velez, Ramon's blood pressure is dropping, we just thought you should know that. We are keeping an eye on him." The doctor walked away and I froze like stone. Something in me almost knew, God may take him.
Again, we waited in the waiting room, praying and shaking. I sat there expecting what I knew already. My Mother told me later, the hospital had called a "code" and I didn't even hear it I was so beside myself with my mind.
When I saw the door open and not just the doctor walk in but the nurses too, I knew Ramon went to be with the Lord. The doctor spoke in Spanish but I knew what happened, because my Mother in law started screaming. I just sat frozen as a tear trickled down my cheek.
So, on December 13, 2009, just a week to the day after turning the young age of 40, God called my Darling husband, Ramon, home and took him out of his misery, making me such a young widow (a word I still hate), at the even younger age of 35. It just wasn't fair! I wished it was a bad dream that I would just wake up from. It wasn't.
I thought I had done this to him, being as I stressed him out so much. Yet the doctor said, it was probably because Ramon didn't take care of himself and the way he ate. "The way he ate!" Oh my God in Heaven, I just couldn't believe it!
I even tried to donate Ramon's organs, for I knew that's what he wanted. Yet all his organs wound up being infected with Septis, and he couldn't donate anything. My God, I still can't believe it fully. I sit with my hands on the keys, on my bad at almost four in the morning, Sunday, just shaking my head, thinking, "I can't believe this happend." I just can't believe it.
A lot of the time I even blame the first hospital that misdiagnosed him, calling Ramon's pain as the "remainder of the flu," when it wasn't. I blame them for the way they examined him wrong. I blame them, well not the hospital but the doctor, for telling him to take advil and percaset every four hours, which can increase bleeding. Only this doctor didn't know Ramon was bleeding internally because he didn't check, touch or test the right area on my husband. So, I think, "If it wasn't for this dumb doctor, I probably would still have my husband!" However, thinking that, what is it doing except getting me more upset and feeling angry? The truth is, "Only GOD" knows for sure what would or would not have happened had Ramon been properly treated at this first hospital. Maybe it's better I don't know.
I sit here typing this and shaking, nauseous and crying because I still can't fathom it. I couldn't lie down to try to sleep while writing this because I knew it was hard enough to even have the strength and courage to do so, as I knew all along I should, and was even told by a dear friend in Church to do a while back, but I just couldn't. If I stopped writing it at this point, I would never ever finish, I know it. And God is telling me in my heart and soul that not only do I need to be reminded of what happened to Ramon, but someone reading this now, or will read it in the future, needs to hear too, what happens when we abuse our bodies.
Sometimes I think, Ramon is going to walk right through the door. Or something happens in my life, whether good or bad, and my mouth tries to form the words to say, "Oh I wanna call Ra....." Almost saying his name I realize, only God can tell him now, not me.
I miss Ramon so much that sometimes I ache, like right now. I knew it would be hard writing this, and I'm so glad I type too fast so I don't have to ponder on each word extra long. I could go in to more detail, but my heart just can't.
I never imagined I would learn what compulsive overeating does to a body the hard way. I miss my husband so much. I know I will continue to miss him until I see him again in the Glory of God's Heaven in Eternity; a reward he has so earned in his beautiful life of service to our Savior, Jesus, the only One who truly got me through this, not only by holding me Himself, but by sending me Angels in the dear friends and family I have to help pull me over the hurdles, which I still have from time to time.
It's going on two years now next month, that my sweet husband, Ramon, a true gift from our Creator, went back to be with Him. There are times I still can't believe it. There are times I still blame myself. I used to blame myself all the time, but I am learning that God has the ultimate say in when He wants us back with Him, not I. I don't have that power, and how dare I even believe so. The enemy, satan, is "the accuser of the brethren," so he'd want nothing more than to see my life destroyed over his accusations. Yet, like the song says by the group Casting Crowns, "The voice of truth, tells me a different story, the voice of truth says do not be afraid. The voice of truth says this is for My Glory. And out of all the voices calling out to me, I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of Truth." God, is that "Voice of Truth."
So, the truth God wants me to know is that it wasn't my fault. Yet, what will be my fault is if I die in a similar or the same way for the same reason, compulsive overeating. I know Ramon would be hurt to find out I still wasn't taking care of myself, especially in that way. Why, after two years, am I still not able to stop this sickness within me? God can, but I must let Him. I want to so bad, with every fiber of my being.
My Angel Mother even said, "If you don't lose weight and take care of yourself for anyone else, do it for God, you and in Ramon's memory."
I try for a few days, lose a few pounds, then gain them all back again. A dear, close person in my life today even says to me in a concerned tone, "You're really not serious about losing weight are you?!" The truth is I am, I just feel out of control. I feel like a puppet on strings being controlled by something bigger than I am. Yet, I know that God is bigger than anything and or anyone trying to come against and destroy me. For "If God is for us, who can be against us?" No one and nothing. The Lord also says, "No weapon formed against me shall prosper." I know all this is true, Lord. Help me. I want to do You proud. I want to do Ramon proud. I want to do everyone that loves and is concerned about me proud. I want to do it mostly for Your Glory, God. Help me, I cry again. Please help me.
With diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, I need to stop before it stops me, and that's definitely what the enemy wants so I can't fulfill the plans God has for me, just as The Lord says in His Bible's Chapter: Jeremiah.
Help me, Dear Father, "That I may not sin against you" any longer. I can't do this anymore. Give me Your strength. Like the song Steven Curtis Chapman wrote all those years ago, that same song sung at my dear husband's funeral, "His strength is perfect when our strength is gone. He'll carry us when we can't carry on. Raised in His power the weak become strong. His strength is perfect. His strength is perfect."
I need that perfect strength, Lord. I need You so deeply. My body aches constantly from all this extra weight, Lord, and yet I dangerously over eat, especially while no one is watching, and afterwards feel so ashamed, almost every single day. I know the way, Lord, just please, hold my hand and guide me. I don't want to be lost anymore. You promised that when one of Your lost lambs strays and is lost, You "leave the other 99 and come and rescue the one." Rescue me, Dear Lord. I surrender to You. I surrender. I surrender all. I don't want to destroy Your Holy Temple anymore. Show me the way, Savior. Show me the way; Your way, not mine. I've done it my way for too long, that's for sure.
4:28AM - Praying and thinking on this, I will try to sleep...
Thank you, Father, for loving me no matter how many times I have hurt and failed you. Give me the hope in me that You have, for "Nothing is impossible with You." Nothing. Not even losing 85 pounds is impossible, though it often feels that way. Remind me constantly that all I need is You, sweet precious Jesus. You fill me up better than any drug, drink, food, or anything can. You've made me whole. Please heal me, and make me whole again, in Your Name, Jesus, I pray... Amen †
Thank You, for helping me, and giving me Your Perfect Strength to write this down, Father. I love you.
Give me rest; heart, mind, body, soul and spirit, Lord. I need You more than ever before, to fill me all up with Your Holy Spirit and throw this old me away, curbside and ready for garbage pickup... Or should I say, "ready for recycling and making new?" For in You alone, "The old things are washed away. And You make all things new." Make me new, Dear Savior, in You alone... For You are Life. My life is Yours, not mine. Take all of me.
My life is in Your hands.
Please send Ramon my love...
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