A Full Plate

Just because I’ve learned to eat better doesn’t mean I don’t overload my plate.

It’s been a few months since I’ve last written here – 10 to be exact so if I were a baby I’d be overdue.  That sounds like me. Over deliver.

I had big plans to walk the Mackinac Bridge for Labor Day 2014 as a reward for my healthy year.  But life – or rather praying for extension of life – took priority.  News flash. Prayer works.

My mother has been in an in-home hospice program since 2012 with bone marrow cancer and last November I moved her to Houston to live with my sister and beat the frigid Michigan winters as I recovered from knee replacement surgery.

The plan was that she would come back with me to Michigan in the spring of 2014.  I’d hoped to walk the bridge and see her smiling face at the end of the bridge urging me on to victory. But mom grew sicker over the summer, took a bad fall and landed in the hospital. We thought we were going to lose her and I wasn’t ready.

She went from 175 pounds in 2013 to 95 pounds in 2014.  She is so small now I call her my “pocket mama.”

But a funny thing happened in the hospital.  Doctors said she was on way too many medications and during her four day stay, she stopped taking many of them.  She still has bone marrow cancer, but her pain is not as severe.  Also gone are her swollen limbs and her delirium.

That was in August, my birthday month; when my only prayer was that my mama remember my name. That was a tough prayer.  Even though we were in my sister’s Houston area home, mama thought I was just one of the workers who came to see her.  It hurt to see her give me that same sweet but non-committal smile that she offered to strangers.

Then three days after my birthday, something clicked and mama look at me with eyes full of memory.  Her arms opened wide and she gave me that big grin.  Her eyes sparkled as she said “Oh Theresa” and pulled me in for a hug.  My heart was full.

Mama was touch and go for several months so I returned to Houston in May.  She has stabilized now.  She is back at home with my sister Vanessa’s family, her grandson and my dog Daisy, who I brought with me in an emotionally intense two-day 22 hour drive.

You see, I’m a three-hour gal. Anything after three hours on the road I’m looking for a plane.  But I had just rescued this beautiful 9-year-old Brittany Spaniel mix. Actually, we rescued one another when I agreed to take her into my home so a spirited feisty stranger could concentrate on battling her own cancers.  I had just lost my dog of 16 years when this opportunity came.

After agreeing to share my life with this beautiful dog, there was no way I would risk putting my 75-pound Daisy on a plane.  So I drove south.  And yes, I was driving Miss Daisy.

We took long walking breaks in fields and neighborhoods as we made our way through Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas Tennessee and finally Texas.  I felt physically strong and proud of myself for pushing past that fear of long distance driving alone.

I knew my mama was non-communicative and not eating. The mantra in Houston was “mama don’t die, Resa’s coming with her dog Daisy.”   That made her smile but all mama could muster was a quizzical “Daisy???” She’d seen pictures of my four-legged friend and was excited to see the real thing.  She would nod and quietly say “ok” and repeat Daisy’s name in a sing-song voice prompting her Hospice nurses to join her in song.

When I arrived she rallied.  She loved Daisy and seemed to blossom and that lasted for a month.  While her legs and feet were bloated, she seemed to grow thinner and sicker until she fell and landed in the hospital.

But you see how God works, that fall proved to be a blessing because the hospice workers couldn’t explain why her limbs were swelling and she showed signs of delirium. We learned in the hospital she had an infection and was dehydrated.

Fast forward to October. Mama is alert, eating and drinking  again and walking around with her cane or walker. She balls up her little fists and says “lets go” as she takes off marching for the car in anticipation of an adventure. We’ll go for drives, but her energy doesn’t last and she falls asleep before reaching any destination. But she is a fighter and she knows my name.

I know my family is in transition and I had to ask God what to do. Since she seems to be her old self right now,  I decided it was a safe time to return to Michigan and close down the house. I left Daisy with mom and the family and flew back to Michigan. I gave myself the month of October to lay the groundwork to take care of myself.

This is where my full plate comes into play. After much prayer, I asked God what path do I take?  Order my steps, I said. I realized I had one more exam to take before graduating from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition as a Certified Health Coach and I’d fallen behind during the four months of helping to take care of mom in Texas.

It’s funny the things we tell ourselves when we live in fear.  I can’t do this.  I’m not organized.  I’m too old to start a new career.  This is too hard.  I am too far behind.  I’ve never done this before.  I’m too scared.

It’s amazing how mountains move when we get out of the way and rely on Spirit. I prayed. I got still. I listened. Then I developed a plan to divide my days into classwork and physical moving prep work. Slowly, deliberately, consistently it got done. I passed my last test. I overcame my apprehension of technical work and created a Facebook page and through IIN I developed my website called TheresaHealthySoul.com.

Today, I graduate from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition as a Certified Health Coach.   I am still working on my house.

In November I return to Texas to care for my mother and be her health advocate as I grow my business supporting and guiding clients on their journey to wellness.

As a wee one I was always taught to pray over my full plate. My plate is definitely full but God is clearing a path. I am all prayed up and ready for my journey. Walk with me.


About Theresa Healthy Soul

Blessings, I am Theresa D. McClellan. After nearly 30 years chronicling the lives of others for the Grand Rapids Press, I semi-retired to explore the second half of my life as a songwriter, entrepreneur and lover of life. My own struggles with obesity, the sudden death of my sister from swine flu followed by a deadly diagnosis of bone marrow cancer for my mother brought me to my knees and sent me on a health journey of mind, body and spirit. Now I write about life, loss, love, death, laughter, food, faith and humor; all the ingredients for a strong mind, body and spirit. Or as I like to say, There's a healthy soul. Here you will find my story as I seek yours. So walk with me, Theresa Healthy Soul!
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