A Life Lesson…

This is my paternal Grandma, Doreen Iris Mison, she passed away in November 2013 and I miss her every day. She left us at the age of 91 years old – quite an innings. My Grandma was married for over 55 years (until my grandfather Ted passed away 9 years ago – she proudly wore her rings everyday of her life from the day she married).  She had 2 sons, 4 grandchildren, 5 great grandchildren and 3 GREAT great grandchildren!  She lived independently up until her 89th birthday when she fell and broke her leg. This happened the same week that my mum was diagnosed with stage 3 aggressive breast cancer and I took over care of my Grandmother from my mum.Grandma

I have so many fond memories of my relationship with my Grandma, and she’s always been extremely proud of her family.  She was always a positive role model. Of course, when my Granddad passed away she was very sad, they were best friends and after living with him for 55 years it must have been an incredible shock. Then just 5 years ago she lost her oldest son (my uncle) and 3 years ago my dad (her youngest son) passed away suddenly. The shock for her, and us all was indescribable. But she kept on keeping on, knitting for her family, knitting for local and oversea charities, doing her weekly “puzzles” and buying her weekly tattslotto ticket for that elusive big win that was going to save us all!  She knew everything about us all and “skited” to anyone who would listen.  She was a beautiful soul and I loved her dearly.

I was also very sad and frustrated with her. About 3 ½ years ago my parents received a call very early in the morning to say she had been taken by ambulance to the hospital – her blood sugar level was 1 – yes ONE!  By all rights she should have been in a coma. Grandma developed diabetes about 10 years ago and she was insulin dependent.  My mum, and the doctors spent HOURS explaining to Grandma what she needed to do to keep her diabetes under control.  Grandma listened, but there was one problem….

Grandma, for over 80 years, had a fear of getting fat!  The truth is, my grandma had always been a plus-size woman.  Right up til she was 89 she was a size 18-20, and had been for as long as I can remember!

Grandma was so conditioned to be conscious of her weight that she was actually killing herself.

As a diabetic it was CRUCIAL that she eat carbohydrates.  She MUST eat rice, bread, potato etc. etc. but she did everything in her power not to – in fact she had some birds that were regular visitors to her unit who came to eat the bread she threw out the door every day!  I’d often be visiting with her when her when her compulsory plate of sandwiches to eat before she went to bed (Dr’s Orders) arrived and I watched as she was almost physically ill eating them because her mind was telling her that she shouldn’t – but she knew I was watching and she didn’t dare not eat it!!

Obviously at 89 it was too late to change a person’s mind-set. If only that were possible. 

The fascinating thing was, we nearly lost Grandma twice before that year.  When I was very small, my Grandma had a massive brain tumour.  She survived what was likely to be a fatal tumour and then 20 years later she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  She and I often giggled together over the prosthetic breast she had made to replace the breast she had removed, in fact she kept the prosthetic breast in a plastic bag in her cupboard, she always said she was too old to care about whether she had one breast missing… so why is it that that’s ok, but eating so she didn’t lapse into a coma due to a diabetic turn is so hard to accept?

When Grandma was moved to high-care in June 2012, she began to go downhill quite quickly. Her health was failing and her body was giving up on her. She insisted she did not wish to “know” what was “wrong” with her, so the many, many conversations I had with her doctor were not shared with her. The Doctor advised that she most definitely had recurring breast cancer and most likely liver cancer as well. This was quite clear as over the space of a few months Grandma rapidly lost about 30kgs.

Unfortunately, Grandma was absolutely thrilled! At every visit, she’d whip the blanket back from her legs and say “look how skinny my legs are now – I feel great!” I felt sad that she felt great when I knew that cancer was the culprit for her weight loss, but hey, if it made her happy to be “skinny” at 91 who was I to tell her otherwise.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this over the past few months since her passing and marveled at how interesting it is that as a parent or grandparent you are a role model for your offspring – they absorb EVERYTHING you think, do, feel… how is it that I came out with such positive body image and attitude to food?  My mum is a sensational role model, she eats well, leads a healthy lifestyle and always taught me to love myself the way I am TODAY.  It worked! Thanks Mum xox

I’m so grateful for this experience as I see it as a very important life lesson that I’ve been blessed to have been given by my Grandma.  I pledge to myself that I will not fall into the same trap and I urge you all to do the same.

Thanks for another wonderful life lesson Grandma, I miss you!

Love your shape!

Janine x