Losing weight is not easy, as anyone who has tried to do so can tell you, but this story isn’t just a weight loss story. It is a story of a journey to good health. On October 17, 2013, I got a call from my sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg. She was having some health problems that would result in a hospital stay that began on October 18, 2013, and would last until November 11, 2013. She would go first to Wyoming Medical Center, and then over to Elkhorn Rehabilitation Hospital for physical therapy. Brenda practically had to learn to walk again. This journey was going to be a long struggle, but she stepped up to the plate, prepared to take back her life, and make it better. Brenda had known that something was wrong, and was concerned that she might have to take early retirement or go part time at work, because at that point just getting into the office was a major undertaking. Her journey started with the hope that she could go to Urgent Care and get a prescription to take care of the problem, but that was not to be. Brenda had Cellulitis, and so began her hospital stay. During that stay, she was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure and Sleep Apnea. At this point, so many people would have pretty much given up, taken early retirement, and moved into a wheelchair or Hoveround. That would have led to a slippery slope toward a future on oxygen, other health issues, and eventually total disability.
That is what many people in Brenda’s position would have done…but that was not the choice Brenda made, and that has made all the difference. Brenda decided that she was too young and too interested in living her life to give up and let her future be spent on the sidelines of life sitting in a wheelchair. During her time at Elkhorn, she worked very hard on her physical therapy, and on making changes in her eating habits. That was an amazing feat too, because every step she took required a seriously great amount of effort. The time spent in the hospital had so weakened her that she really had to learn to walk all over again. For many people, this too would have been the point where they gave up…but not Brenda. She joined Weight Watchers Online, and she has faithfully stuck to it, and she faithfully wears her CPAP machine, so that she is getting good oxygen for a better night’s sleep.
It has been a long road, and many people would never have expected Brenda to persevere, but that is because they only think they know Brenda. The real Brenda is very determined to take back her life and her health. She has seen many victories already. For almost all her walking, she does not use the walker now…only using it in bad weather and on her long walks at one of the local shopping centers, where she is now walking five times as long as she could when she first started. She is able to go out and buy her own groceries again, something she really couldn’t do for years. She makes frequent trips to visit friends, including one who was in the hospital…a place Brenda would only go to if she had help before, and she walks a lot at work too. It has been a very hard road, but the other day she told me that she knew that she did not feel good before, but she had no idea how really bad she felt, until she got to where she felt so much better. At her last appointment with her cardiologist, she was told that if she keeps going the way she is, she will actually be able to reverse the Congestive Heart Failure…such good news. To date, Brenda has lost 180 pounds, and she is still going. Brenda, we are sooooo proud of you!! Today is Brenda’s birthday, and the day that she had set as a goal of being free of the walker. Since she only uses it on snow and the long walk at Sunrise Shopping Center, I’d say she has met that goal. I know the future is going to be amazing for her. Happy birthday Brenda!! Have an awesome day!! We love you and we are so proud of you!!
A few days before my first two grandchildren were born, my nephew and his wife at the time, had their daughter, Christina. Maybe because of having their birthdays close together, and maybe not just because of that, Christina and my granddaughter, Shai have always been good friends. For a long time, Christina lived in Texas, and Shai was not able to see much of her, but when she moved back to Casper, it was as if they had never been apart. Cousins aren’t always good friends, but it is a little more common in our family, and since Christina and Shai are the only girls near their age, it made sense that they should be friends.
Christina has always been a bit flashy…not unlike most kids her age. Her favorite thing was to dye her hair is wild ways. Her aunt, my niece, Toni was that way. She dyed her hair just about every color in the book. It is Christina’s goal to dye her hair as many colors as her Aunt Toni. While I don’t dye my own hair, and have always liked my natural color, I know a lot of people like to spice it up a bit, and that is their right. Some of her colors have been wild and crazy, while others are fairly standard colors. Either way, you never know exactly what to expect with Christina.
Still, as spicy as she can be, Christina is a very sweet girl, and I love her very much. She lived in Texas for a number of years, and so we didn’t have as much chance to get to know her as she was growing up. When she came home for visits, she often told me that she missed the closeness to the rest of the family. It is something that goes along with living away from the rest of a close family, unfortunately, and it can be very hard on the kids. It’s no one’s fault…it just is. Now, while Christina misses her mom and little brothers, she is living in Casper again with her dad, step-mom, and little sisters and brother on her dad’s side. I know that there are times that she is torn because of missing the other half of her family, but we are very happy to have her here with us.
Today is Christina’s Sweet Sixteenth Birthday…that very special birthday in the life of a kid. Soon she will be driving and the next thing we know she will be graduating. Time goes by so fast. I remember well the day she was born…and it seems like only yesterday. Happy birthday Christina!! We love you!!