Spotlight: Mickey Oswald (meickle2003)

By Brenda Essig (Zanymuse) on October 31, 2011

This week I am delighted to bring into the Spotlight a lady whose friendly and outgoing nature shines through in her posts in the forums. Interviewing Mickey was a treat. I found her to be everything I had expected her to be and so much more.

Mickey, could you tell us about your childhood and family?

2011-10-27/Zanymuse/79acc2Well I was born in Chillicothe Illinois, where I lived till I was about 5. My dad was a truck driver when I was born, but was soon getting ready to be a Baptist preacher. When I was 5 we moved to Owatonna, Minnesota, where my dad went to 2011-10-27/Zanymuse/9ec332Pillsbury Baptist Bible College for 4 years.  He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree with a Major in Bible.  My mother was the perfect preacher's wife, quiet and reserved, but willing to do the work necessary.  

I have one brother who is 15 years older than I am and one sister who is 13 years older than I am. So they were both in college with dad.

My sister did not graduate.  She left college and went to stay with grandma, but my brother finished and went on to seminary.  He got his doctorate in theology and is now a preacher in North Carolina. My sister went on to go to nursing school and was a Director of Nurses, and just recently retired.

I sort of grew up as an only child. We moved a lot, about every 2 years, first to Pilot Mound Iowa, then Hinkley Minnesota, Cannon Falls Minnesota, Waseca Minnesota, Virginia Illinois, Sutherland Nebraska and then back to Chillicothe Illinois when my dad finally retired. Even though he has retired he still preaches and fills the pulpit for preachers going on vacation and such.  It keeps him busy and still in the Lord's work.

I made friends wherever we were and still keep in touch with quite a few of them. I 2011-10-27/Zanymuse/ce8274have many fond memories of fishing with my dad and going mushrooming. I switched schools so often and changed curriculum so many times that I ended up way ahead of the public school.  I graduated high school early and even took college correspondence courses the last semster of school. I then went to Pillsbury Baptist Bible College for 2 years. I did not graduate, but followed in my sister's footsteps and went into nursing. I also worked my way up to Director of Nurses before I had to retire due to my physical disabilities.

Something that I always remember is that no matter where we lived, no matter how far away we were, we always came back to Chillicothe to grandma's house for Christmas. It was wonderful to be with the whole family, all my aunts and uncles and cousins.  Those cherished memories will never fade. My grandpa died when I was just 7.  He had throat and lung cancer from smoking cigars. Grandma was a strong lady to be able to keep going on like 2011-10-27/Zanymuse/22f9b4she did after he was gone.

The year after grandpa died, my cousin Mike was killed in a car accident.  It was devastating to all of us. My aunt and uncle went to bed and never got up for over a month. They had to move out of that house to get away from those memories. It is still difficult to talk about in the family.

My sister was the first to bring grandchildren on the scene with a boy, who just turned 40, a daughter 26 and another son 28. My brother has 4 children - twin girls 39, another girl 38 and a boy 25. All in all even though my life has been full of movement and little consistency I feel like it has been a fascinating one and I wouldn't pay anyone to take it away.

Well, that's my life and my family in a nutshell.

Your childhood was much like my own in some respects. My father was also a Baptist minister and we too moved  frequently, as he was led to follow his calling from church to church. It  is a way of life that seemed "normal" to me as I grew up and it sounds like you had a good life with a loving and caring family.

Could you tell us a bit about your years as a nurse? Do you have a favorite patient or nursing experience? Did you specialize in any field such as ER, Surgery, Pediatrics, or...

As a nurse I specialized in the field of Geriatrics, caring for the elderly. I called them many times the "forgotten people." So many times our elderly are put away in a nursing home by their families and that is the last time they see them. It is so sad to see the despair on their faces, especially at holidays when no one shows up to see them. So for many of them, the nursing home becomes their family. My goal as a nurse was always to keep moving forward and upward, to where I could make more of a difference in the lives of the elderly.  I feel like I accomplished that goal before I had to retire due to my health. I worked up through the ranks till I was a corporate nurse and was working with the state of Louisiana on the regulations for adult day healthcare programs. I found my career very fulfilling.

I think my favorite patient was one that was younger, my age, and had a mid-brainstem stroke as a result of smoking along with taking birth control pills. At the time of her stroke she was very young, college age, and very intelligent. She was paralyzed from the neck down, so a special computer program was made with a sensor that sits next to her cheek. That way she can use the computer to write notes and things. The stroke affected her body but not her mind.  It remains intact and she communicates through the use of the alphabet and an eyeblink system. It is a slow process but worth it. With her computer she even wrote a book about her life before and after the stroke that is just amazing. ("The Silent One" by Yvonne Hansen ) I still maintain contact with her. I had many other wonderful patients that I cared for but I think she was the most amazing. So that is my 23 year nursing career.

You shared a beautiful picture of your wedding on the daily pictures thread. Would you like to tell us about the romance in your life?

2011-10-27/Zanymuse/d7d188The romance in my life is my husband and soul mate, David. We met in quite an unusual manner. He was from Pennsylvania, but had gone to California at the age of 18 to live on the beach. While there, he made friends with a preacher and accepted Christ as his Savior. A few years after that, the preacher moved to Louisiana to take another pastorate, and Dave followed him because of their great friendship. Dave took a job at the church as well, keeping the building and grounds, and was given a trailer to live in right on the property.

Well, he hadn't been there long when my niece moved down there to teach in the church's private school. She chose there because her uncle on the other side of the family was the head pastor. As things came about, my niece Christy found her heart throb and was going to get married July 26, 1995, there in Louisiana, and  wanted me to do all her decorating. I agreed.

Pretty soon I got a phone call from Christy saying that she met a man that would be just perfect for me and was it alright for her to give him my phone number. Well I said OK, why not. Dave called me a few days later and we talked for about an hour and really hit it off. He started calling almost every day. I also gave him my work number in case he needed to reach me and he occasionally called me there. Then came the question, will you go out with me when you're here for Christy's wedding? Of course my answer was yes.

When I got there for the wedding, I had different things I had to do, but Christy told me to bring Dave along. So I did, and in between times we went on dates. We 2011-10-27/Zanymuse/b2a6cewere practically inseparable the whole week. When it was time to leave, I felt like a part of me was being ripped from my soul. I cried as I left Baton Rouge. I got back to Illinois that evening and unpacked and went to bed because I had to be  back to work the next day.

The next day when I got to work there were flowers and candy waiting for me from Dave. Over the next 4 months we kept in close contact and in November, over Thanksgiving, Dave was going to come for a visit. Well he, unbeknownst to me, asked my dad for my hand in marriage.

On Thanksgiving morning he proposed to me. He hid the ring in a box of Cracker Jacks, which he knows I love. During the Macy's  parade he offered me a box, and we sat there eating it when I found the prize pack. You couldn't tell it had been tampered with so I didn’t think anything of it till I opened it and it was a ring. I sat there staring at the ring. When I came to my senses Dave was on one knee in front of me and he popped the question. Of course my answer was a resounding YES. We were married in July on the 12th. That was 1996, less than a year from the time we met. He remains my heart throb, soul mate, friend, and kindred spirit.

What a wonderful love story.

Would you like to share with us the success of your gastric bypass and subsequent weight loss?

2011-10-27/Zanymuse/8a9377Well, in 2008 the subject of gastric bypass was terrifying to me. If it was brought up, I would turn white as a sheet and have a full blown panic attack. Then in January 2009 my diabetes was out of control and starting to attack my kidneys, so my doctor and I agreed that I should make a trip to Mayo Clinic.

I made a call and was able to get right in, so I went up to Rochester right away. I saw 5 doctors.  First my general internist, then a pulmonologist (lung doc), then a gastroenterologist (stomach doc), then a nephrologist (kidney doc) and finally an endocrinologist (diabetes doc).

Each doc ordered tests that were all done the next morning. I got all the results that afternoon. Four of the 6 docs told me the same thing; if I did not have gastric bypass, I would not live 10 years. I was absolutely scared to death, but knew what I had to do. I asked about having the surgery done up there and they said not to because they were back logged 3 years, and they wanted me to have my surgery right away.

I returned home and immediately went to my doctor with the news.  He knew just who to send me to, so I went to OSF Peoria Surgical Group. They were wonderful. They answered all my questions, and eased my mind. I went through their education program for pre-surgery, had all my tests done and got my surgery date of August 31, 2009.

2011-10-27/Zanymuse/04469cI was nervous all the time, waiting, but on the morning of the surgery I was perfectly calm. The surgery went off without a hitch. In my immediate recovery, we had to leave a drain in for a couple of extra weeks, but other than that I had no problems. At that time I was losing almost a pound a day and not really doing anything to lose it. I lost 55 pounds the first month.

Soon after that I started my own support group for weight loss surgery patients in Chillicothe. It is associated with the OSF Peoria Surgery Group, but open to anyone who is thinking about or has had weight loss surgery. My group has been very successful and I have a good core group of 15 that hardly ever miss.

A lot of people think having gastric bypass is the easy way to lose weight, but it is not. There are a lot of different difficulties that come with the surgery and you still have to exercise and watch what you eat. The surgery is only a tool that helps you lose. The first year it is 80% the surgery and 20% you, but after that it is 20% the surgery and 80% you.

2011-10-27/Zanymuse/effaf9I am just over 2 years out. I have gone from 377 pounds to 155 pounds.  That's a loss of 222 pounds. I started out a size 32 and am now a size 14. I no longer have diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and my asthma is almost nonexistent.

 I actually have to take medication to raise my blood pressure. I have some vitamin deficiencies that we are working to resolve. I did lose my hair for a while but it did grow back, and I stay on supplements to make sure that it doesn't happen again. I feel great and am smaller now than I was in high school. I go workout 3 times a week at our local community center/gym. My husband is happy. People ask me if I would do it again. My answer is, I most certainly would. Yes, it hurt and was hard at first, but it gave me a new lease on life. That is the story of my weight loss journey.

You have been very generous of your time Mickey, and we are almost through. I have just a couple more things I would like to discuss.

Would you please tell us about your other interests such as crafts, painting and hobbies?

Is there anything else that you would like to add?


My favorite craft, currently, is scrapbooking. I have been in the process of making a photo journal of my life in scrapbook form for about the past year and have about 15 years yet to complete.

2011-10-27/Zanymuse/edfa31I also make cement stepping stones with stained glass pictures on top. I design and cut the glass according to the order, and inlay the glass in the cement mold.  They are also personalized with the person’s name in mirrors. I have done such pictures as antique trucks, flags, flowers, cardinals, hummingbirds, tractors and even a golf course.

I enjoy working on the computer and designed and maintain my church's website,  I also do the decorating for the church, teach Sunday school for the 3-5 year old group, sing solo and in the choir.

2011-10-27/Zanymuse/3a95e3  During the summer I enjoy gardening in my flower beds, and am working on getting our yard to a point where it has something blooming all Spring, Summer and Fall. I add new plants to the gardens each year, and next year plan to work especially on Spring blooming plants. I also enjoy my indoor plants year round.




My husband and I both enjoy our fur family consisting of 4 cats (Boots, Squeeker, Smokey Joe, and Little Bits) and 1 dog, Rusty. 






2011-10-27/Zanymuse/51a59b 2011-10-27/Zanymuse/fc75d7 












The only other thing I might add is, do the things that you enjoy, and don’t make life a chore; life is too short to wait till tomorrow for happiness.



Thank you Mickey. You are a remarkable lady.

Related articles:

About Brenda Essig
I believe that everyone has a story worth telling and a uniqueness that sets them apart from the crowd. We are like snow flakes. We look similar at a glance but no two are identical.

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