Throw this worry away and give me another, please.

June 10, 2016

Throw this worry away
and give me another.
Any thought has to be better. 
This one bounces all around my brain:
I have seen the future.

Eighteen months of knowing
and being reminded every day
that I am going to die
and not that far into the future.

Family and friends need something else
to think about too.
Life has enough obligations,
without adding dying people
to your list of responsibilities.

Thoughts of death
cause pain and agony for everyone. 
Better to be dead;
I am looking forward to the day.

Every morning when I wake up;
I think about my short future
and all the things I haven’t accomplished or done.
But it doesn’t give me the energy or the focus I need.
Better to be dead.

June 10, 2020

I’m posting this for the people out there who have cirrhosis or fatty liver disease or diabetes or high cholesterol or all of the above. (I also had colon cancer, too – at the same time.) Four years have passed since I wrote this and I’m still here. This is not a poem in favor of suicide, in fact, it is just the opposite. I am living proof that things will get way, way better; if you just listen and act. If I can do it, anyone can.

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My Haven and my Penitentiary

Books, Objets d’art
Two cats and tile floors
Granddaughter toys
Friends who visited
Working and worrying
Loving and Dreaming.
Conversations and arguments
With all kinds of people
Young and old
And some in between.
I work here
I sleep here
I eat here.
I watch tv here.
I compute here.
I live my life here
In this room.

Sometimes I leave
And go for a walk.
Once in a while
I get in my car
And pick up groceries.
But not often.

My life has changed.
Has taken over.
Now I worry
About my family
And my friends
And the whole world.

My life has changed
But not really
For the worse:
It’s just different.

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Sugar is Poison

It’s Poison but It Tastes So Good                                                                              

When I was a kid (in the fifties,) I remember people calling it Sugar Diabetes. By the time I was grown it was just referred to as Diabetes. Sometimes people think ignorance is bliss.

The result of sugar addiction is not bliss. In fact, it is eventual death and it is not a pleasant way to go. So, when I look back on all the times that a fried pie or an ice cream or a piece of cake or some cookies made me feel all better inside: I want to throw up.

You see, five years ago I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Cirrhosis of the liver. Nope, it wasn’t alcohol that caused my liver to become fatty and very scarred. It was shriveled up and barely functioning because of Fatty Liver Disease. (NAFLD – short for Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease.)

Five Doctors in my local emergency room were aghast that I had no idea that my liver was in such bad shape. One, said, while they all stared at me, “Lady, you need a liver transplant and right away.” Another said, “What made you keep drinking all that alcohol?” Another said, “How did you not know? Didn’t you go to a Doctor, ever?”

Yep. That’s right, Fatty Liver Disease may present no symptoms until your liver is shriveled up and almost dead. Many doctors have only recently begun to run blood tests which include liver enzyme tests with yearly checkups.

Of course, it’s not only sugar. Sugars are carbs. It is not only sweets that cause NAFLD. So does bread and pasta and potatoes – basically any food that is white or has white ingredients in it. In other words – everything Americans are masters at eating. (Cauliflower is the only white food I am aware of that is fairly low in carbs.)

I’m just a gal from Texas with no medical or scientific background.  I did not participate in a study about the low carb cure for NAFLD. All I can tell you is – I no longer need a liver transplant because I changed the way I eat.

My liver Doctor (the best there is, as far as I am concerned) told me recently, there are only two cures for a fatty liver – changing the way you eat or a liver transplant. Lucky for me, I opted for the lifestyle change. I am forever grateful. Going without all the foods you love is not all that hard when you actually see yourself needing a liver transplant.

Ask your doctor for a liver enzyme test if you are overweight (Body Mass Index of 30 or higher.) If your BMI is higher than 30 then talk to your doctor, get the blood test, and make the lifestyle changes you need to make. I am living proof that it works and you can do it.

Thirty percent of the US population currently has NAFLD and the number is expected to hit 50 percent over the next 10 years. Why? Because we evolved over hundreds of thousands of years as hunter-gatherers. It has only been in the last 7500 years that humans learned how to farm grains and mill them. Potatoes weren’t discovered until after Christopher Columbus arrived in the Americas. Evolution takes way longer than even 10,000 years.

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Finding your voice

Almost all authors struggle with finding their voice. It took me years to figure out how to find it. In fact, I looked so hard, I almost missed it. Sometimes the simplest things give you the most trouble.

There are three things you need to possess.

  1. Confidence that there is someone out there; who thinks enough like you: to be interested in what you have to say. Writing as much and as often as you can is the only way to gain the confidence you need. Reading is required also. Write whatever interests you and there will be people who want to read it. There are billions of people in the world, after all.
  2. Something to be Passionate about. It really does not matter what it is.
  3. Practice listening to your speaking voice. Listen to the cadence, the words and notice the times when people really listen. Those are the times you are hearing your writing voice.

Voice is not the same as style. Characters, storylines, genres, have a style. Style has to do with what you are writing about. The writer’s voice, instead, enables the reading to flow smoothly no matter what you are writing. Even when writing nonfiction, you are telling a story to the reader in your voice.

When you are practiced enough your characters will speak in their own voice.

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Why Writers Write

We write to make ourselves happy; to know ourselves better; to leave a record of our existence; to remember what we used to believe or think; to remember how we have grown or not grown; to make our mark on the world; to remind ourselves that who we are and what we think matters, to ourselves at least.

None of us gets to choose what body we are born into, who our parents are, what time we are born in, and where on earth we are born. This distinction is entirely our own, and no one else lives the same life we do. So: we write about it – our life and those around us, then others can learn from our mistakes and triumphs. What we write is the stuff of history. It is what we want to teach others. What we write may be read by many or only a few. What matters is that we continue to do it.

About the act of not writing:

We do not write: when we lose our confidence; when we do not trust ourselves; when we think no one cares about what or why we write; sometimes when grief or extreme sadness fills our hearts; when we think we do not have all the answers or even one worth mentioning.

It is during these times that we most need to write, even if it means forcing ourselves. These are the times when what we have to say (no matter what we may think) is the most likely to help our fellow travelers. We all have good times and bad times, sad times, and boring times. As writers, it is our task to tell about all the times: good, bad, sad, scary, wondrous, right, wrong, beautiful, inspired, ugly, and woeful.

All writing is about the writer and what is in his head or maybe what ought to be there. What others have written and we have read should teach us how to be the best humans we can be.

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Fierce winds blew across the valley as the morning began for Regina. She headed towards the chicken coop and watched as Red bounded across the yard towards her.

“That dog,” she thought, “he thinks I am going to give him an egg. “Depends on how many we get, fella,” she told him. Regina opened the coop door and it slammed against the wall. The chickens were all sitting in the rafters. The wood shutter on the backside of the coop had blown off, leaving only the screen and they were trying to keep out of the wind. They screeched and flapped their wings, wanting out.

“Not today,” she said out loud. “Too windy.” Regina had no interest in trying to round them up, with the weather so bad. She found only one egg and several were broken on the floor. Regina scooped up the broken ones and set them outside for Red. She secured the door but didn’t even try to put the shutter back. That would have to wait until she had some help. Her neighbor, Carl would come by in a day or two to check on her and he would fix it for her.

Red lapped up the precious eggs and continued to bark as he followed her back to the house. She usually didn’t let him in the house but something made her give in. “The weather is too bad’” she thought. The wind forced the door against the house with loud banging sounds. It took all her strength to shut the door.

The water was boiling on her woodstove now and she made her morning coffee and downed a few gulps before she started her breakfast of egg and bacon and biscuits.

The wind grew as the day wore on but finally the snow began to fall.  The wind slowed when that happened and Regina began to feel calmness settle over her. As long as the temperature did not drop too much the animals would be ok.

There was no one to help her anymore. But she would not go to the city with her children even though they begged her, whenever they visited. She had lived in this house since she was a young woman and her husband bought this place for them to spend their lives together.

She would be lost in the city. Oh, she didn’t mind visiting but she could not stay busy there. And being busy is what made her feel fulfilled. Without Warren that was the most important thing to her. Maybe, after the winter was over this year, she would visit her daughter and maybe not.

In the morning Regina didn’t check on the chickens and by midday, Red was howling at the foot of her bed. Her neighbor Carl found her the day after, frozen stiff in her bed with Red curled up beside her.

Written to prompt: winter, lost, fierce and calm – December 15, 2018

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Change the way you eat and save your life

I changed how I eat and now I no longer need a liver transplant or need diabetes medicine or have high cholesterol.

I am writing this for all the people who have one of these problems or more than one or all three. I want to save you from what I went through to get where I am now. I am as healthy as my age and past eating habits allow.

I am 72 years old and ate like most of you do, all of my life. Later I will tell you about the onslaught of my illness, all that I went through, and about the doctors who helped me. My hope is that the stories I tell you will help you have a longer more enjoyable life, without the suffering that I went through.

Perhaps this will help you achieve the same success I have if you make the right decision for yourself and your loved ones. By that I mean: change the way you eat forever.

You will make an old woman very happy if only three of you make the decision to extend your life.

I never thought of myself as a fat overeating style of person. In fact, I always believed I was overweight because I was not very athletic and needed to exercise more but that made me sweat and was uncomfortable. So, although I sometimes exercised; most of my life I did not.

I only weighed my perfect weight (according to standard weight versus height calculations) a few times in my life and not for very long at a time. Until I was over 50, I was never more than 40 pounds past the “perfect weight” for my height. Consequently, I never really worried much about what I ate. I did go on occasional diets and sometimes lost down close to what I should weigh. Of course, it always came back when I returned to my old eating habits.

I saved my life by doing exactly what my doctor told me to do. Not pretty much did it or most of the time or some of the time, but I did it always: every minute of every day and I still do it every day and always will. I did it exactly as I was told to do it and I read everything about it that I could find; so, in the beginning, I was reminded every day of why it was important.

I wanted to live.

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Something impossible has happened to me.

Two and a half years ago
Diagnosed with colon cancer.
Problem: I need a liver transplant.
Liver transplant on hold.
At least three years,
After cancer cured before I can get one.
Duh. Lots of people need liver transplants.
So they dole them out based on the likelihood of keeping it.
Would I live long enough?
Two major operations later,
Nine months of chemotherapy every day.
Radiation five days a week for five months.
A bag of poop hanging on my body for nine.
All day every day.
A shunt in my liver to prevent bleeding to death.
Encephalopathy of the brain,
Cry all the time,
Confused a lot,
Toxins go straight to the brain.
Liver not working at all.
My kids think I’m crazy.
Feel Crazy…
Do I have the will?
Will my kids live thru this?
Do I want to?
They took out the shunt.
I begged them.
No one should live like this,
My doctor agreed.
My mind came back to me.
Happy to see you mind.
Two years cancer free,
One more to go.
Doctor says:
Change the way you eat Becky.
Need you to be healthy,
For the liver transplant.
So I did.
Began to feel better.
Now six months later,
I beat it.
No more liver transplant for me.
Now I want to share that magic–
Heal yourself,
with everyone I meet.

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My Dragon

My dragon fights and slays for me.
My dragon protects me, too.
My dragon takes care of me when I am sick.
My dragon lives for me.
My dragon does my bidding.

Whenever I ask
My dragon is there for me.
Who is my dragon?
I am my dragon.
I try not to fight with me.

My dragon fights for my friends.
My dragon takes care of whomever I ask.
My dragon works for me.
My dragon wants to help and defend.
My dragon lets me be.
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No One Wants to Do This

I didn’t want to go through the last two years of my life. I had no choice however because I have kids and they would not let me just give in and quit before it started.

First, the doctors told me I needed a liver transplant and then, within two weeks, they told me I also had stage 4 colon cancer. For me, that was not only a death knell but a surefire way to be in constant pain.

So if left to my own devices I would have called it quits right then. But my kids needed me to live, so after fighting with them, I fought my way through two years of surgeries and chemotherapy and radiation and in addition: an ileostomy for nine of those months. Now I am cancer free and I still have a transplant staring me in the face. The only difference is: now I know I can handle anything.

I want to live enough now to continue dealing with all that is yet to come; because I still have lots to do… books to write, places to go and friends to make.

What did I learn from all of this? I learned something we have all heard already, but really don’t understand until we truly face the end: that all that really matters in life is now… not the past and not the future but right now.

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