I haven’t wanted to talk about it much on the blog—much at all, actually, because it’s been so hard—but in November, Jeff and I said goodbye our sweet Boston terrier, Tippy. She had congestive heart failure which took a turn for the worse, and just when it looked like she would stabilize, out of nowhere, she started having full-body seizures that left her exhausted, confused, and limp as a washcloth.
She couldn’t get many diagnostic tests, as she couldn’t tolerate anesthesia. Given her age and breed, though, the vets guessed that she had a brain tumor and recommended euthanasia. Sick with the thought of losing our girl, but equally sick about her suffering, after multiple consultations and two rounds of hospitalization, we put her to sleep on November 5th. Then, in a total sucker-punch, an autopsy revealed that she’d had a potentially treatable chronic bacterial meningitis. As you can imagine, my husband and I were both devastated.
Still, I wasn’t expecting her loss to hit me so hard. After all, she was “just” a dog. However, it turns out she was so much more.
She was family.
My husband and I don’t have children, so Tippy was the anchor for our little household. She was even a “flower girl” (see the picture above) at our wedding. We didn’t realize it, but our daily routines had grown out of caring for her needs, and her heart was inextricably intertwined with ours. So when she left, there was a gaping hole in her wake: a cold, stark absence where once there had been warmth and cuddles and wet Boston terrier kisses. I was utterly unprepared for a life devoid of the blessings and affection I had all too often taken for granted for 11 wonderful years, since I brought Tippy home as a precious, 3-pound puppy.
I probably shouldn’t admit this, but for weeks after her death, I couldn’t walk in the front door without weeping. Even more embarrassing, for the first week after her passing, I couldn’t bear to be in the house alone, period. I’m a sensitive soul, and reminders of her loss—the empty place where her bed used to be, constantly “seeing” the shadow of her trotting around the corner to greet me, only to realize it was just me—were simply too much to bear.
Unfortunately, to cope with the grief and despair, I ate.
And ate, and ate.
Sadly, I wasn’t making good choices. I ate things I wouldn’t normally dream of—doughnuts and chocolate bars, anything to comfort and distract. As you can imagine, I put on weight, my breast pain came roaring back, and I started getting monthly cramps again (which I hadn’t had since being low-fat and plant-based).
To make things even more challenging, just as we got through the holidays and life felt as though it might return to normal, last week my mom slipped and fell on a patch of snow-covered ice and fractured her ankle (in a parking lot at 5:30 am while opening the polls for a local special election—she is an overachiever)! So for the last week, I’ve been staying with my parents to get her back on her feet.
Luckily, thanks to a daily green smoothie, healthy plant-based meals, and much care on her part, she’s doing swimmingly. (Although she’d like to be better yesterday, thankyouverymuch.) I get the feeling she’ll be back to her 2-hour water aerobics routine in no time!
In the meantime, though, I’m still struggling to right my ship. My dad likes his treats, so my parents’ house is stocked up on trigger foods (cookies galore!). And whereas my dad has excellent self control, I’m having trouble steering clear. I can’t really blame others, though: Even when running errands, I’m struggling to make good choices. I just want to feel better, pronto.
Now, I know I’ve written about emotional eating before, but I obviously need some new strategies.
So I’m asking for your help: How do you manage to eat right in the face of exhaustion, sadness, or stress? If powerful emotions have sent you tumbling from the wagon, how do you pull yourself back on?
I can’t wait to hear from you, because heaven knows I could use some advice! I think 2015 has the potential to be a great year, but I may need a little help from my friends to turn the tide.