“It’s not easy to be me.”
Superman’s Dead (It’s Not Easy) – Five For Fighting
Superman was always one of the last of the superhero stories I would choose. I was always more of a Batman girl. I don’t know how many Superman films I watched there for a while, but none of them stuck with me as being particularly interesting. I didn’t understand the whole backstory or even the definition or importance of kryptonite.
That’s why, when I read this week’s FTSF prompt, I froze in my tracks, unsure if I would write anything at all, have anything to link up with.
I looked up the meaning, refreshed my memory, but still drew a blank. Kryptonite meaning, basically, weakness and still I was coming up with nothing.
Come on, I nudged myself over the last few days. You’ve got to have a weakness. What is it? What would be the main one?
I am working on writing my memoir. It seemed like a perfect moment in time to start again, as I think back on the twenty years, exactly, that I was diagnosed with kidney disease as a frightened twelve-year-old.
Since that point I have been called brave and inspirational many many times. How did I do it? How was it that I managed to survive feeling so sick, dialysis, and surgery to have a transplanted kidney from my father?
I am not as strong as all those well-meaning family, friends, medical professionals, and acquaintances assumed. I don’t want what happened twenty years ago, what was only really a few years out of my whole life, to define me forever. I try to get past it, really, but I keep going back to it and writing my story down is a big part of that.
Sometimes I wonder if that’s even a good idea. Maybe I should just move on and look ahead. That’s what I am doing, but then I turn my head round and admit to myself that what happened during those rough months, all those years ago now, that stuff left its mark on me and I can’t honestly say I don’t look back in reflection.
My kryptonite is the past. It’s the affect a physical illness had on my body, my mind, the girl I was trying to grow into.
It influences my body image even now, as a grown woman.
When I was treated I was clearly under-weight and malnourished. I was lacking proper vitamins and minerals, things the kidneys are supposed to take care of.
I stayed stable on dialysis and I had the transplant. This got me back to a healthy state, but I went from being barely eighty pounds, maybe less, at age twelve. My puberty was hugely disrupted. I was not growing.
Once I had a working kidney, one being all you technically require, I began to gain weight. I gained weight as a side effect of more than one of the medications I had to go on.
I remember standing on our bathroom scale, realizing I was ninety-two pounds, and starting to panic. I wasn’t relieved I was gaining. I was horrified.
I was weighed every time I went on and off the dialysis machines. This was necessary, to monitor my fluid loss and gain, but it played havoc with my head. I was shown to focus on weight, at a time I shouldn’t have had to, when only months before I was pushed to put on the pounds.
Now, the weight was coming on abnormally quickly and I was visited by dieticians who went over the list of foods to stay away from if I didn’t want to gain even more weight.
So now I like my chocolate but I also like my fruit.
At Easter I love chocolate eggs, but come summer I go nuts eating strawberries, peas straight from the pod, peaches, and apples for weeks and weeks on end. They are really all I want to eat.
All in moderation. Diets don’t work. Or avoid some foods entirely?
I can list all the excuses in the book as to why exercise and weight loss hasn’t been easy for me, but I know I am not alone. I must keep plugging away at it, remaining mindful of it. I don’t want to make excuses, to use chronic pain or my blindness as reasons why I am now gradually gaining weight over time. I only get my kidney checked twice a year, but they still take my weight at the start of these appointments, and I am forced to look back and try to recall what the scale read six months before, to keep track, somewhat, of where I’m at. So although I don’t keep checking my weight on my bathroom scale every morning, I’m made to be accountable, every time November/April rolls around.
Yes, the meds have decreased, things are more moderate now, but the damage is done – floodgates have been wide open for twenty years. I deal with something so many people deal with, I know. Emotions also play a part and my psychological state becomes a factor.
Can I keep things under control? Can I not let the events of my past rule my present or influence the future?
My kryptonite are the stretch marks I’ve had (not from a pregnancy, like most women my age), but since I was on high doses of prednisone, when I was fourteen years old. I can feel the clear visible evidence of how it all began and I feel weak because I can’t keep things in balance as much of the time as I’d like, but that’s why I write about it all. I hope that part doesn’t make me weak. I don’t feel all that brave or inspirational and I don’t want the weaknesses I live with to bring me down. They do serve as reminders of the scars of my past and the toughness, as they’ve driven these bits of my past in deep.
Now I’m off to go eat a mango and some chocolate.
The brains behind this week’s FTSF is
of The Golden Spoons.
And, as always, Kristi of