Thursday, August 20, 2009

Loss . . . and Loss

It turns out not all loss is so bad.

For example, I promised you months ago that I was going to go on a diet and lose weight. If I'm going to set an example for others with chronic illness, I have to live a healthier lifestyle, and for me, that starts with food -- what I eat and how much. What I can eat is very limited by my Crohn's disease, gastroparesis, and lactose intolerance. I went to a nutritionist recently who told me to eat several small meals per day, and address sugar cravings with unsweetened apple sauce. If I eat all day, I'm in the bathroom all day -- and anybody who's ever had a sugar craving knows that unsweetened apple sauce is no solution! But I've cut way back on the sugar, and I'm trying to add cooked veggies and yogurt (soy) and, yes, apple sauce to my diet. Three pounds so far this week -- and with all the barium I drank yesterday (I had an MR enterography, and anybody who tells you it's just like an MRI is lying!!!), I'm content with that as a start. I know I'm going to make it. When have I not kept a promise to you?

But sometimes loss just plain sucks. We've been working since day one with an organization that represents lots of patients with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. It's been a great relationship. For a small monthly fee, not only have we provided services to their members, but we've worked with them on public policy issues, and I've traveled the country speaking to their members. It's never been a whole lot of money, but it's been income we've counted on -- and in this economy, any loss of income is scary -- but it's been a relationship that mattered a lot to us, to me. Apparently, it didn't matter as much to them. They had to make some brutal budget cuts, and we ended up in the cut pile. It makes me very sad. It's an organization of which I've been a member for 35 years, to which my family has given many thousands of dollars, and in which I've invested a lot of energy and heart. Losing that relationship is a mourning process. As an organization, with the help of people like Pearl Jam's Mike McCready and his amazing wife Ashley, as well as a handful of others who have been steadfast supporters of Advocacy for Patients, I suspect we'll survive. But it's terribly sad.

The real risk, though, is that one loss will undermine the other. My first reaction when I'm feeling sad and lost is to eat a bag of jelly beans! And that cannot happen. I'm holding onto the good loss regardless of the bad.

And life goes on, the good with the bad. Jennifer

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