Fat Girl Wearing Thin

Life beyond the loss.

   Jun 02

Food Monsters and Spring Photos

Things here at Casa Recup are moving along, albeit slowly.  I’m having deja-vu with my caregiver responsibilities.  This time I’m the strong, healthy one leading around the foggy-headed, washed out, tummy-sensitive spouse.  It’s amazing how anesthesia affects people differently.  Craig is finding it hard to concentrate but nothing like what I was suffering last year (remember when I thought I was taking one of those online quizzes and found that I’d actually signed up for a dating service?) Yeah, he’s not that bad, thank goodness. 

Yesterday the both of us were a bit disheartened because for a brief time, Craig’s mystery pain came back.  It was so bad, he had to go back to bed for the rest of the morning.  I immediately went into panic mode and without even thinking about it began looking around in the kitchen for something – anything sweet.  I knew what I was doing and consciously made the decision to focus on what I was going to find instead of how it would make me feel afterward.  It’s amazing how determined one can get when she sets her mind to something.  If I had that kind of intense focus on other parts of my life I’d probably be rich. 

What is it about stress and food, specifically?  I’m reading other blogs where my cohorts are having the same issues: things get tough and all they want to do is comfort that fear, that loss of control, like I do –  with food.  What is it about our brain wiring that makes us head straight for the pantry when we know that it isn’t healthy for us to do so?  For me, that part of my brain just shuts off and I have tunnel vision until I achieve what I’ve set out to do: push that fear down with food until that uncomfortable feeling in my gut is all have left to think about.   I didn’t binge eat, but I did have the beginnings of a pretty good stomachache by the time I was done.  Mission…accomplished?  I’ve gotta find a different way.   On the bright side, I am able to manage these thoughts when I’m having run off the ordinary every day stress. It’s the kind of stress that shakes my world which causes me to seek out that sugar and carb abyss. 

It wasn’t until later that evening that I started thinking back about my own surgery last year.  I remembered something that I brought to Craig’s attention. 

As I was being wheeled back into my room after having had my hysterectomy I recall having the worst menstrual cramps of my life.  My first thought: What the hell?!  Didn’t I just have my gut opened up and worked on so that I never had to suffer this pain again?  What is happening? 

I relayed this memory to Craig and assured him that of course he will be having pain in the area that’s been causing him grief for nearly two months.  He just had surgery in that very spot and it’s going to take time to heal; we simply can’t make judgments this soon in his recovery.  Yes, it is unfortunate and unfair that we have more waiting to do, but this is the way things are and we just have to be patient.  What other choice do we have? 

I am so grateful that whenever I’m going through a personal crisis, there is usually something good happening to balance it out. 

When I was going through my first divorce, I became friends with Craig. 

When Patty died last year and I had my surgery, my art business was born. 

This year, as Craig and I deal with his health issues, surgeries and the unknown, my art career is beginning to move slowly forward.  I have been selling consistently at the gallery in Indianapolis (thanks in part, to a few very loyal collectors) and I was asked to provide nine framed prints of some previous work for an animal hospital that just opened this past week in my town.  In fact, they officially opened in their new building the day of Craig’s surgery.  So, while I’ve been caring for Craig I’ve also been getting work together to take to the hospital before their Open House next week. 

One would think I’d have no time to fool with unhealthy eating habits but hey, at least I’ve got a few surprises left to share, huh? 

Not having had time to paint, I’ve been taking lots of photos in my yard which is buzzing with activity.  Here’s a couple that have made me really happy this week: 


Poppies are my absolute favorite flowers; I’ve always wanted to paint them but was determined that they came from my own yard.  I haven’t painted flowers in a long time so you might be looking at my next painting. 



My peonies are up as well, so of course I had to include Shaylee, my favorite fairy that watches over my creek every summer.  I’ve used her in a couple of paintings, one of which was claimed by one of my favorite people last year – Teresa from Spirit Grooves.  Photographing this sweet wonder along with my flowers and the many birds that stop by to cheer us up is enough to get me through the rough patches, and I really do feel blessed in my life.  This is just a hiccup, and I need to figure out more appropriate ways to deal with the challenges life brings.  I think as always, awareness is the first step. 

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  1. NewMe says:

    As you say, things are moving forward, albeit slowly. And as we all know, recovery is never a straight, upwards line. Two steps forward, one step back…

    I’m just thinking about adhesions. I myself am dealing with pain in my operated hip that my osteopath, acupuncturist and I are suspecting is linked to adhesions that formed after two practically back to back surgeries 9 years ago.

    It might be a bit too early to try this as the wound is still very fresh, but eventually, you could try rubbing the affected area with cold-pressed castor oil (get it at the health food store) and then applying heat (hot water bottle or heating pad) for fifteen minutes. This helps to loosen adhesions. I’ve just started doing it myself and we’ll see what it yields.

    I’m curious about your need to binge. I know that you’ve had some difficult times with certain family members all through your life. Did you always turn to sweets to get you through the pain? And would it be worthwhile exploring this pain further through some type of therapy? Just asking, not prescribing!

    Thinking good thoughts for you and Craig.

    • Ellen says:

      Thank you for the suggestion. I will not only mention this to Craig but try it on myself as well. I have heard that there are many sufferers of adhesions with a hysterectomy. More surgeries to remove the adhesions unfortunately ends up with more adhesions….
      I am a classic textbook-case when it comes to food and why I gravitate to it whenever things get really tough. I was bullied terribly as a child and had no friends until the 6th grade. So much stress for a child to endure. Food and I became well-acquainted way back then, but I didn’t begin seriously adding the weight until I went to college. It was that transition which gave me an ‘eat or run’ mentality. I stuck it out but gained the weight during the process.

  2. vickie says:

    neuropathways (brain loops) and years and years of conditioning are why we have those food responses. If you/we had learned to do another activity or pray or something else, that is what we would be doing instead. As a parent it is amazing how often one WANTS to offer food to a child (condolence, boredom, not feeling well, etc). Have to be really aware. Some kids get wired in to repeat behaviors very easily. (All in my opinion.)

    • Ellen says:

      Answering NewMe’s question from above just cleared that up for me, Vickie. Recalling early memories and how food was always there for me lines up perfectly with your comment.
      I am still offered food by my elders when I’m upset. It’s just what they did when they couldn’t do anything else. And I have caught myself doing the exact same thing; thankfully I realized what I was doing and put a quick stop to it. Very scary how we can slip into the shoes of those before us.

      • Vickie says:

        I have written a fair amount about this over the years. Look under my “habits/neuropathways/loops” post label and also “Jill Bolte Taylor” post label.

  3. Good for you for catching yourself “in the act”, so to speak. These past habits have a way of sneaking up on us. :)

    I love that photo of the poppies! I wonder if I can grow them here. {off to research, but wishing you and Craig a better day today!}

    • Ellen says:

      Cammy, I’d bet you could grow poppies there. They have so many different kinds. Right now I’m waiting for a peach variety to open up. It has a deep, deep eggplant center. Prettiest thing ever.

  4. Lenore says:


    The picture of the poppies makes me think that the orange poppy is “shucking” the red poppies chin. And, that angel looks like she’s blowing bubbles. 😀

    Great photos and a healthy recovery to Craig!

    • Ellen says:

      Lenore, are you an artist? You see things the way I do! Thank you for the good wishes :)

      • Lenore says:

        I am a “frustrated” artist. I tried my hand, but I’m still learning how to accept the imperfections. :) I enjoy your work and appreciate your blog!

  5. didi says:

    I’ve been nervously snacking a tad more myself. Thankfully the damage done over the last few weeks was only about a pound; in the past it would have been ten. Progress! You wrote it yourself- you didn’t binge, but had the beginnings of a stomach ache. When the chips are down accept the little wins. Instead of an all out food marathon you just did a little over indulging.
    You’re right about the healing process- surgeries hurt while they are healing. It’s an unpleasant truth.
    There’s some really nice depth of field in those pictures. I especially like the second one. It’s enchanting.

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