How I got sick and how surfing has saved me

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As this year draws to an end, I thought I’d express what happened in 2013 that prompted me to first develop BED and then change my lifestyle for the better and pursue my dream of becoming a surfie chick.

2013 has not been a kind year to me. I will never be the same person I was a year ago because my cat died. It may seem trivial to be so devastated about losing a pet, but that is not what matters. I. Lost. A. Part. Of. Myself.

His name was Puddha. He was a cream Norwegian Forest Cat X that I’d got for my ninth birthday. I was allergic to cats but my mum got sick of me always asking for one and gave in and got me Puddha. He cured my allergy and for many tough years through a turbulent and lonely childhood and adolescence, he was my only friend.

It started as a tooth ache. Being such a well-cared for and loved pet, Puddha was taken to the vet immediately. He had a tooth abscess that needed surgery. He was seventeen so I expressed my concerns about putting him under anaesthetic. The vet assured me that they would do a full blood check and make sure he was up for the surgery before doing anything. She felt his kidneys and said for a cat his age they felt fine.

But they weren’t fine. The blood results showed that his kidneys were failing and they couldn’t operate. Quality of life was brought up. It was a Tuesday. We gave him his medication every day and tried to get him to eat his prescription food. All I could get him to eat was a runny raw egg because his mouth was bothering him too much. When your main job as a “mum” to a cat is to keep him safe, healthy and comfortable and suddenly you can’t feed him, can’t guarantee his comfort and can’t kiss his boo-boos better, it’s the worst. I cannot have children so he was my child. Whenever I thought of suicide, he was the one thing that kept me here. I couldn’t leave Puddh. Not my bubba.

Friday afternoon I said to Rick (my partner) “how will I know when it’s time?” We both just ended up crying.

Saturday morning Rick went to work. I got Puddha up “out of bed” (he spent the early hours of the morning in his cattery, a cat enclosure built to keep him safe from other cats). Puddha had his egg for breakfast then meowed and meowed (he was very vocal – he drove other people nuts) as he made his way into the backyard to drink out of his selected water supply (an old container filled with rain water). I glanced into his cattery. The night before, he had perked up and managed some chicken (his all-time favourite), but there it was, on the ground, beside his little bed. I watched Puddh settle down into the long grass in the middle of the backyard where he could see me in the kitchen, squint at me and then doze off in the morning sun. He looked fine, but I had this overwhelming sense of ‘this is really going to happen’. I put four slices of toast in the toaster. Ate them. I put another four slices of toast in the toaster. I ate them, mushing the bread into lumps and swallowing it hard to stop myself from crying. I contemplated calling Rick. No. Don’t tell anyone he vomited because then it’ll be real. I don’t want it to be real. I put four slices of toast in the toaster. I forced them down and then watched TV.

It rained that night. I was on my way to feed my horse Montana so I called Rick and asked him to bring Puddha in. Puddha had spent the day in his “grass hut”, an overgrown patch of the garden with a hollow inside where he liked to sleep. We kept it overgrown just for him.

Rick said he couldn’t grab him without Puddh wailing in pain. I had just fed Montana and headed back home. I climbed down into the grass hut. Puddh snuggled into my elbow. I carried him and noticed he had sullied himself, something that always deeply shamed him. I cleaned him up and wrapped him in a comfort blanket. It seemed like it was time.

I called my parents, telling them to come say goodbye. They came the next day, miserable and sobbing. Puddh now couldn’t even eat his raw egg, drink, use the toilet or even walk properly. I’d imagined this moment his entire life and dreaded it. But the pain I felt was much worse than the dread I had felt. Carrying him to the vet was the most awful feeling; I can’t even describe it except to write that I can barely type through my tears, nor breathe because my chest is too tight.

I believe he knew what was happening. He just accepted it. He rested his face on my arm and took a deep breath. He was peaceful.

Easter Sunday 2013, I lost my little mate.

A week was all it was for my cat to go from healthy to emaciated and dying. I ate a lot to deal with the grief and emptiness I was left with. I’ve lost relatives and other pets and even friends have died…but losing my cat hurt the most. It put me in such a dark place that I could no longer function properly.

I recognised that I had been eating too much to compensate. It got me a BED diagnosis but not a lot of help. The doctor suggested I speak to a psychologist but I said no, no, no I’m fine. The doctor even said “yes you are fine. A lot of people have BED or compulsive eating disorders they’re not really dangerous and your body is fine.”

In June, Rick took a photo of me. ‘Ew I look fat’ I thought. I hadn’t really noticed weight gain to be honest. I was too busy trying not to fall apart to care how I looked. I brushed my hair maybe once a fortnight. I didn’t bother getting out of bed somedays. But the doctor told me “yes you have a problem but your weight is fine.”

Then, in the midst of a binge, I decided to weigh myself to see…just check how much weight I’d put on since losing Puddh. That number frightened the crap out of me because it had always been the number. The number I would never go past. This number was also the recommended maximum weight for my horse (he’s a 15.2hh Anglo-Arabian). Tomorrow, I thought. Tomorrow I am going back on my diet and losing all this weight.

So I did.

I’m not saying my BED has been cured. Or my depression. I made the choice of choosing to count every single calorie that I ate so that my mind was focused on losing weight instead of the misery I was in.

A lot of this year has been a blur. It’s just come down to lose weight lose weight lose weight lose weight lose weight lose weight. I still binge occasionally. I saw a psychologist and that resulted in a binge because I was forced to face some of my problems. So I lose weight lose weight lose weight.

Surfing has saved me. Getting a surfboard and getting out into the water has lifted my spirits considerably. It’s no longer lose weight lose weight lose weight lose weight lose weight; it’s: go for a surf, eat something healthy; be happy.

So that has been 2013 for me.

I hope 2014 will be much happier.

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7 thoughts on “How I got sick and how surfing has saved me

    • I loved meeting you! You are so upbeat, hopeful and laidback. I hope I can integrate some of your amazing traits into my personality. You are truly an inspiration. Thank you for an amazing day! (and helping me get through my snake phobia hahaha!)

      • I hope so too. I look forward to seeing your blog grow. I’m the inspiration? I think it’s the other way around lady! It didn’t appear that you had a snake phobia at all. Once you were actually in the situation (and out of your mind) you were eager to take photos and watch it slither away, haha!
        Amazing day. Hope to do it again in Canada. Stay in touch ok? If you need anything please let me know!

      • You are certainly an inspiration! I would love to be as adventurous and spontaneous as you are. I also loved that you are a teacher, which I am aspiring to become. You taught me a lot about teaching, blogging and travelling. I can’t wait to travel – Canada is definitely higher on my list now that I’ve met you!

      • Great! I am so glad that we could learn from each other. I really enjoyed our day together. I’ll have those memories forever! You are already more adventurous and spontaneous than you know. You are already a teacher. Teaching so many of us through following your blog. See you in Canada my dear.
        Jessica

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