If you’ve ever felt the weight of the world on your shoulders, you may relate to today’s post. This is my first personal article in awhile and there are reasons for that. Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the story or skip to the bottom and find out how my recent life events have affected Live Lighter and where I plan to take the blog moving forward.
Growing older sucks. Remember the days where our biggest worry was what cartoons to watch on Saturday mornings? Every year that passes, we’re exposed to different challenges. Some periods of our lives seem like the boulders keep bounding our way, one after the other faster than we can leap over them!
Since I started this blog in 2007, I’ve had several HUGE life changes that have left me for a loop. Most of them being within the last five years.
The first was my first serious love relationship breakup back in 2011. You can read a little about that and how I chose to deal with it here:
Approximately two short years following the break up, just when I was getting back on my feet (though, honestly, looking back at some of my choices when I was back out on my own, I see they were leading me down the wrong path and I slowly began slipping back into my old addictive ways to deal with life… more on this later…), when another MAJOR life event hit.
Around the time Mom turned 65 in March 2014, there was something wrong with her. I’m an only child from a single parent family and, even though at that time I lived 500 km away from her, I could tell even over the phone. I went to visit her shortly after noticing something amiss and her hoarding was the worst yet. A couple of weeks later (April 2014) I took a week off from my two jobs and came home to help her clear out her house – between myself and our mutual close friend, Mom was finally convinced that she needed help in this area.
But Mom’s hoarding was simply a symptom of more serious health issues. I called her often after I returned to my apartment in the city five hours away and after she told me she almost fell taking out the garbage one day, I phoned TeleHealth with the information I had. They asked me to get Mom on a 3-way call so they could learn more from her.
After speaking with us, the TeleHealth nurse suggested Mom immediately take a taxi to the hospital. It turned out that her blood sugar was through the roof! Her diabetes was being mismanaged and causing her ill-health without her even realizing it.
Weirdly enough, THIS was yet another symptom of a major health issue that no one knew about, not even her. After speaking with her best friend (who worked with her as well), she echoed some of my observations of Mom’s strange behaviour and told me their co-workers noticed changes, too.
Mom & I when we were both healthier in 2008.
Moving Back Home
Needless to say, I knew Mom needed me, even if she didn’t. I contacted my old hometown employer (whom I always visited when I was in town) and was immediately offered a management position and an apartment to rent. I gave notice to both my jobs in the city and my landlord, rented a little trailer, packed up and moved back home. That was in August 2014 (read: Learning to Trust the Universe).
The first few months were rough. New job and position, new apartment, new love relationship, plus Mom kept denying there was anything wrong with her. I called as many people and organizations I could get a hold of to try to get her help but they all said she was the one who had to ask for help.
Finally, I found someone who actually helped me: a volunteer for an organization that protects the elderly. He suggested getting her a geriatric assessment. I was in the middle of that process (not an easy feat!) when I found her naked and unconscious on the floor of her living room on New Year’s Eve.
She was rushed to hospital and diagnosed with ketoacidosis and mild hypothermia. They stabilized her and then sent her off to the nearby city hospital ICU as they had done as much as they could with our limited small town hospital capabilities. She nearly died. Thankfully she didn’t.
Mom shortly after moving into the retirement home in 2015.
Following 2 Years: Mom’s Health & Finances
The geriatric psychiatrist diagnosed Mom with dementia. This helped us understand why she was failing to manage her diabetes. As per the health system in Canada, they wanted her to stay at home for as long as possible. (Her home, by the way, is over a century old and falling down around her.)
For the next 8+ months, we had support workers come into Mom’s home to help her live. I played an important role at this time, too, as the support was limited and shopping or paying bills was difficult for her. I was there almost every day between work and my own small business.
She had retired (without being fully prepared) in May 2014 and was living off of a small pension. She was making so little and overspending that she needed assistance with finances to keep the roof over her head, groceries in her fridge and afford medication. I highly suspect that the dementia had been creeping up on her for a few years, aiding in some poor financial decisions, including refinancing her home for the third time.
Finally, after losing enough weight to be scary, almost setting her home on fire twice and falling three times, the support workers and the doctor agreed that despite all the assistance, Mom was failing with living by herself at home. She was reluctant at first but said she would try living at a retirement home with nursing home capabilities. Whew!
Thankfully, after a few months, she began loving it there! Her health and well-being improved dramatically. Two years later, I’m happy to report she’s still loving it!
At this point in the story, Mom’s health had finally been taken care of but my job with her finances was just beginning. She had only a small retirement fund and still held a substantial mortgage. An appraisal on her house came in at less than what she owed on the house! Plus, her monthly income was coming up short $150 per month to afford the fees at the retirement home (that’s with a shared room and the most cost-effective home in the area).
I was left with no other choice but to borrow money and renovate the house. I put my name on the mortgage and land transfer to carry the costs on my own. The following year was spent renovating and calling as many people I could to increase her monthly income. I couldn’t find more money for her but between income tax returns and her little retirement fund, she was able to squeak by.
Fast forward to today. I just got back from the lawyers signing over the house to a new owner! Yay! It would have been a year next month that it was on the market. We had to lower the price BUT Mom’s financially OK. I can breathe once again!!!
Me on Halloween 2015. I’m a bit heavier now but not as mean – haha (If you don’t recognize the costume, I’m Furiosa from Mad Max: Fury Road).
How All This Has Affected Live Lighter
Obviously, over the last 3+ years, I’ve had to prioritize my time, mainly with making money to help finance all the costs. Unfortunately, I do not make a lot of money with Live Lighter and so it had to be de-prioritized. I halted all personal posts and assumed the role of editor. I also hooked up with Ezoic as they assured me that with the design testing, I would make more advertising revenue.
The choices I made back in the city following the breakup lead me back to the bar scene. As a bartender, you can make some decent money but it can also come with a cost: The Rockstar Lifestyle. This means drinking alcohol to de-stress with your co-workers, even drinking with the clientele, and getting home on average at 4 am.
After moving back home, a lot of this changed. However, I still worked bar 2 to 3 nights of the week and I was in the habit of relying on my old buddy, booze, to decompress after work. I kept up that part of the rockstar lifestyle and felt I had no time or energy for exercise. Although I’ve been eating nutritious food (my main squeeze is a cook and keeps me well-fed with a Mediterranean diet), between the late hours, alcohol and almost non-existent exercise program, it’s caught up to me.
I’m now back up to 170 lbs (I was 145 when I moved back home and 130 following the breakup), was having issues with my immune and digestive systems up until 2 weeks ago, and struggling greatly with stress and anxiety.
Moving Forward with Live Lighter
Things are turning around, though! Mom’s health and finances are stable now, the hours have changed at work (no more late bar nights!), I’ve begun an exercise and cleansing program, and for the last two weeks I’ve been taking Royal Jelly (which I swear has been the mitigating factor of improving my energy, mood and motivation).
Now that the dust is settling (although, I’m currently helping settle the estate of my aunt who recently passed away and assisting her only child who has schizophrenia – yup, the boulders keep on coming!), I finally feel like I have the time and energy now to focus more on Live Lighter.
For the next few months, I’ll be taking the time to fix some of the issues with the blog that have cropped up during my time as editor. For instance, Google informed me that I have “unnatural outbound links that violate Google’s guidelines,” plus I’m super unhappy with the designs/advertising through Ezoic.
This will be `so long for now’ while I take some time for healthy selfishness. I may post on occasion in the next few months to report on my healthy living pursuits, so please don’t unsubscribe! In 2017, be on the lookout for a NEW and IMPROVED Live Lighter where I share how I’ve rediscovered balance, natural health and well-being.