"No man is an
No man stands alone
Each man's joy is my joy
Each man's sorrow is my own
Do not send and ask,
For whom the bells toll
They toll for you.
Throughout history, bells were tolled
for those who were being threatened by marauders or approaching
storms. Bells were also tolled to celebrate happy occasions such as
weddings and to mark sorrowful occasions such as deaths.
Bells have been tolled to gather
village residents to church and for meetings. In 1945, many church
bells tolled to announce the victory of the Allies.
Lately, the bells in my life have
been way too busy.
In mid-December, the warning bell
tolled: my friend found a lump in
her breast. To preserve her
privacy, I'll call her B. B for bravery and B for Belle, my
favorite book-reading Disney character. Any
woman who finds a lump instantly thinks of and fears the worst-case
scenario: breast cancer. Those who don't fall into denial get
it checked right away. B acted on it right away, but her overloaded
HMO doctor was not able to schedule a mammography until January 18.
That meant a whole MONTH of waiting
just to get tested!
The state of not-knowing must have
colored her entire holiday season. The death bell tolled for me:
knowing that overweight, diabetes, breast cancer and early death
form a correlated cluster, I was haunted by the specter of the
possibility of her slow, grueling death like my father's and our
favorite aunt's and uncle's. Could I bear to lose yet another loved
one to the ravages of cancer?
Throughout the holidays, I never
stopped praying for her. DH and I prayed for her, together.
two or more are gathered together..."
January 18 finally came. Within a
short time, the bell happily tolled: the mammography revealed no
cancer. WHEW! The sense of collective relief was gigantic --
for her and all who knew about her scare. I felt a huge weight being
lifted, and I reveled in the freedom of no-fear.
In late February, B decided to take
her reprieve seriously and was ready to make a REAL effort to
finally get healthy by losing the extra weight. She was reading up
and listening to tapes on low-carb diets.
Over lunch, she told me about Luther
Vandross, a self-confessed sugar/carboholic. She fully identified
with what he had to say, especially about how a grain of rice could
trigger his insatiable sugar/carb cravings. Like
an alcoholic at an AA meeting, she confessed to me that she too was
hooked. Hooked on sugar. Hooked on carbs.
News: A Whole New Luther Vandross; Rhythm & Blues
Powerhouse Powerless Over Food
as Poison >> More
exactly when she became a die-hard sugar addict. A doughnuts
binge tripped her full-blown sugar/carb addiction, and within a
short time, she lost her svelte figure.
Of course, I knew she was a sugar/carb
addict. Takes one to know one. I know that addiction all too
well. I was in graduate school, and I too can remember the
time and place when I realized I was a sugar/carbo addict. One day
my blood sugar level dropped so precipitously that I got the
"shakes." I hurried to the vending machine for a
sugar fix, a package of snack cakes. Hostess
Ding Dongs, which were named after the chiming
bells used in its first television commercial.
Those ding dong
bells! How they chimed enticingly at me, and I was such a
ding-a-ling for giving in to them. Thank
God, I snapped out of that self-destructive spiral before I
ballooned out of control. I
woke up to the gift of life, but resisting sugar and carbs is
still a daily struggle, requiring will power and discipline.
B is among the dearest of my kith.
She is my friend, and because I am
hers, ever since she was diagnosed with diabetes last year, I
have been battling her addiction with her, to her face and
behind-the-scenes. While she may be sick of me talking about
diabetes, I always sense that she knows I do it because I care about
her. The mind and spirit can overcome the body, if given a chance. I
won't be an ostrich; her weight and diabetes are sight- and
life-threatening to her.
I want my friend to "grow old
along with me, as the best is yet to be."
I won't pussyfoot around a
"touchy" subject. We openly talk about her weight; her
yoyo-ing; the struggles and tragedies of the diabetics I've known,
including my father, our friend, Wayne H and acquaintances; as well
as my own constant struggles with hypoglycemia. When we lunch, I
conscientiously order a salad, bowl of soup or high-protein
breakfast. I pass on dessert.
In my office, I've asked those I do business with,
staff, and clients-- in NO uncertain terms -- to NOT bring in
sugar or baked treats, especially doughnuts, to tempt me and those
around me. I've brought it up with B's co-workers, who know she is
I don't mince words: "If you have to
bring in something, bring in fruit! Bringing in a box of candy, doughnuts, or muffins -- full of refined
sugar -- into the space of a hypoglycemic (or diabetic) is like waving
a glass of booze under an alcoholic's nose."
Some people just don't get
This past holiday season, as every
holiday season, I received mounds and mounds of sweets
and treats from clients and those with whom I do business.
I take them home and give them away to those who do not have a
weight problem, or I simply dump them out so as not to perpetuate
the travesty of misguided gifting.
Recently, I saw a box of frosted
Valentine's cupcakes sitting on a desk at B's office and I saw red.
Ignorance runs deep. As they say, "The road to hell is paved
with good intentions." With the exception of one person,
believe me, NO one in her office needs the extra empty calories or
poundage. And no one needs that kind of bachi
* for being an enabler
bachi: Divine retribution inflicted on someone who
speaks or acts in a disrespectful, unbelieving, or impure way. Bachi
is a variant form of batsu, meaning punishment. For those
of us from Hawai`i, bachi
is a form of the idea that what goes around comes around
To be direct, I see bringing in
sweets into the workplace, whether it's my office or B's, as a cheap and inconsiderate way of buying
favor or getting in another's good graces. Being "nice,"
but not at all. I sometimes see such gifting as an
insensitivity, a way to appease one's own guilt, or a
I forgive those who don't know that I
am a sugar/carbo addict, but when it is made clear why sweets should
not be present, i.e., "I am
hypoglycemic," then I can only surmise that it is a form of
sadistic cruelty. "If you really care about me as you say you
do, you wouldn't be trying to poison or drug me, would you?"
So, when the waitress came by to ask
B if she had made her dessert selection, B passed on it. The
waitress' face registered total surprise and she said to B,
"But B, you always order dessert! Are you sure?"
"Yes, I'm sure," she
replied, as she crossed her arms in front of her.
I was proud of B, and I made a pact
with her. I would start her no/low carb diet with her.
I'd put on holiday pounds, adding them to those from my comfort food
indulgences after 9-11.
We were doing great. The bells were
tolling jubilantly: My skirts' waistbands are less snug, and B lost six
pounds in two weeks and LOOKED like she'd lost weight.
Together, we created a vivid visual goal. When she reached her
target weight (135) in six months (September), we'd
toss her up and down on an Indian blanket, an expected reward
that she never received when she did well as a wee one.
Then, this past Thursday, when we
least expected it, the bell tolled again. Another warning
toll: B's tongue went numb. I stopped by B's office at
the end of the work day. The numbness had not gone away.
Of course, I immediately thought,
"Overweight, diabetes, cardiovascular
problems...stroke..." I had an aspirin
in my pocket (a rare, synchronistic event), pulled it out and
verbalized my worst fear. She took it, confessing that the
possibility of stroke had crossed her mind, She said she had
spoken to her doctor earlier, who did not seem particularly alarmed
and would see her the next day. An aspirin couldn't
hurt...just in case.
Well, yesterday, I got the
lowdown. The tongue numbing preceded the full-blown onset of
Bell's Palsy, a neurological problem, specifically the inflammation
of the facial cranial nerve. Thank goodness, after her HMO
experience with the mammography, she had upgraded her health care to
a PPO, and was able to get a CT scan the NEXT day.
The good news: it's not a stroke, but
Bell's Palsy, likely
secondary to an ear infection that had bothered her last week.
She is receiving a three-pronged treatment, and it should resolve in
a few weeks. The not-so-good-news: the CT scan revealed a teensy meningioma
-- a brain tumor in her frontal lobe, which is, THANK GOD, benign
but will now be monitored with care.
Since, I have been scouring the 'Net
to learn as much as I can from websites
on Bell's Palsy, a condition that happens 11 in 10,000, and
I trust in the therapeutic
power of intercessory
prayer, especially group prayer, so if you can take a moment,
please send a prayer for B's well-being. The Great Spirit knows who
Visualize a healthy, 135 pound
love of a person being jubilantly tossed in an Indian blanket held
by those who love and adore her.
Yesterday, the bell tolled once again when
she called. It tolled for victory! In spite
of all she'd been through over the past few months -- if not, the
past year -- B was immediately turning these adversities into
strengths. She expressed gratitude that the Bell's Palsy was a
blessing in disguise, as it uncovered the tumor, which is being
caught so early that it will be effectively dealt with.
As B says, "My sense of taste
may be gone, but my sense of humor is still intact: My
tongue's numb and I can't taste my food, and that's only going to
help me lose this weight!"
B for bells, B is for Belle, B for
bravery, B for beacon. B for bosom buddy.
"Life is a Gift."
only gift is a portion of thyself..."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
| what | archives