Friday, December 31, 2010
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Every year my Grandma would make all the grandkids a giant gingerbread house. This is before there were kits, LOL, so she would bake it from scratch, assemble it, and then decorate it herself. Each year it was different, and I thought they were magical! The entire family would get together and have a big dinner at her and Grandpop's house. Then after dinner all of the cousins would gather around Grandma's kitchen table and eat the gingerbread house. Well, or so that was the idea. Most years Bart, Ant, and Joey would attack it or crush it, or somehow destroy it within seconds. Then us girls would gather around to pick up the pieces of candy that hadn't fallen on the floor. :0) Grandma died in the 90's but I still think of her and my cousins every year when I see gingerbread houses.
One holiday tradition that was probably my favorite, and still is - is the buckeye. My Dad's family all lives in Ohio, where he was born and raised. And a tradition in that area is the peanut butter and chocolate buckeye. YUM. Two of my most favorite foods. This tradition is now passed all the way down to Jill and Katie, I have been excluded since I eat too much of the dough (and it makes Jill upset! LOL) but it's soooo good. Every year they make thousands of buckeyes and it's a long and hard process - starting with miking everything in giant pots to hand dipping each and every peanut butter ball in chocolate. I always wait until Christmas morning to eat my first one of the season, and to me, that's Christmas. :0)
Whatever your tradition, and wherever you are in your life, I hope you take the time to enjoy this holiday season!
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
I have always been a planner. I come from a family of planners, we plan everything down to the minute, every little detail taken into consideration. For this reason Ms Rice's advise both intrigued me and scared me to death. But, I decided to give it a shot.
Last night was one of my first attempts at my new plan, and I am happy to say it was incredibly successful. I was called late on Sunday night and asked to help serve chili to homeless families at my local soup kitchen. All I knew was what time to show up, and an address. Two days before trying something new, with complete strangers, and I had no plan, I had no details! But at 4:30 on Tuesday I showed up at the address and walked in with the homeless guys who were standing outside. And for the next two hours I did whatever was asked of me, shouted at me, or simply needed to be done. I made a giant bowl of cole slaw, I dished out apple sauce, I poured glasses of tea, I put 2 rolls on 65 plates and added a slice of butter, I cleaned, I delivered plates to tables, and I simply helped. Those 2 hours were some of the most rewarding I've had in several months. I was helping a church group serve, but it was the homeless men, who one by one all came over to the kitchen and yelled out "Thank you! God Bless You!". Several of the men I see all the time in my neighborhood. It was humbling to me to realize that people I assumed lived down the street, actually had no home, and no food to eat.
Near the end of the night the last round of guys were packing up to leave, and the abundance of left overs was shocking to me. These guys were heading out to go sleep outside in the 40 degree rainy night, and we had leftovers! I grabbed an open pack of cookies and went out into the dining room and offered a younger guy in a Redskin sweatshirt more cookies. He looked at me and smiled and said "oh man, thank you! Wish those were the lemon ones, I love those lemon ones" (OK I hate lemon cookies but to each his own) so I went back into the kitchen and grabbed him an entire pack of lemon cookies and took them out to him and the look on his face was something I will never forget. You would have thought I gave him a car. He was so happy to have some lemon cookies it shocked me. Here is a man who has no place to live, who is sleeping on the streets, and has no food to eat. He has more problems then I could ever imagine, and yet he made me realize how the little things in life really can bring you happiness.
So as I continue on my journey of living without a long term plan, and in this holiday season of stress and overdoing, I wish you all some happiness in whatever your version of the lemon cookie is. :0)
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Ann Quindlen wrote the book after loosing her mother to cancer. She writes how this one event in her life changed the way she lived forever. She no longer was a person who let life pass her by, but she suddenly had an overwhelming desire to live deeply every day. She became a better friend, a better employee, a better listener. She was present, she showed up, she laughed. She ate fudge and she enjoyed it. She went to events instead of sitting home. She started doing all the things she had always planned to do.
This year on Thanksgiving I am grateful for so many things. I have a life full of adventure, wonderful people, and comforts that most people take for granted. But more then that, I realized after reading this book, that I am grateful that I too, have learned the same lesson as Ms. Quindlen, and I share her overwhelming desire to live. I have made most of the same changes she has in her life, and I am a happier person for it. I show up, I listen, I laugh. I have learned how to find happiness in the little things in life, and to never take things for granted.
I will end this with my favorite passage from the book, one that truly explains how I feel, one that reaches into my core:
"I learned to live many years ago. Something really bad happened to me, something that changed my life in ways that, if I had a choice, it would never have been changed at all. And what I learned from it is what, today, sometimes seems to be the hardest lesson of all.
I learned to love the journey, not the destination. I learned that this is not the dress rehearsal, and that today is the only guarantee you get."
Friday, November 19, 2010
The downtown area was full of old historical buildings, beautiful architecture, and so much character. The Wrigley Building was incredible, and in my mind way out shown the Sears Tower. (OK yes, it was impressively tall!) There was a River Walk along the river, as well as a paved bike and running trail all along the lake. The lake, of course, being Lake Michigan, and so large that it looked just like the ocean. Beaches and parks were everywhere. On Sunday when I arrived I walked along the water, and then out onto Navy Pier. What a great family attraction - there were rides, there were restaurants, there was shopping, and there was a large (and free) stained glass museum full of beautiful stain glass works from around the world.
After the pier I walked down the Magnificent Mile. Store after store after store, anything you wanted, it was sold on this stretch of road. There was a huge Macy's with the giant display windows like NYC. And here was one of the best parts - it was so clean! I'm not sure how they do it.
But maybe the best part was the pizza. OK we've all been to Pizzeria Uno's at the mall. LOL. This is nothing at all like that. This was by far the best pizza I have ever had! It was so fresh and full of cheese and so very delicious. I would go back just for the pizza!
So, if you've never been, I highly recommend a weekend trip to Chicago. There is something there for everyone. Be sure to try the pizza! :0)
Saturday, November 13, 2010
But today was for the local vets. Together we raised over $70,000 for Walter Reed Hospital to get outfitted with these new krank bikes. These new bikes provide cardio exercise as well as rehabilitation for all of the disabled vets at the hospital.
It was truly inspiring to me to attend the class with so many vets. I mean think about it - when was the last time you were in a spin class, with an empty wheelchair next to you? There were several vets from Walter Reed in class using the krank bikes. With these bikes these guys can get an awesome cardio workout, as well as build incredible upper body strength.
I am grateful today for many things, that I have two legs that work and that my health is good enough that I can spin for 3 hours. But more then that, I am grateful for all of the vets who have fought, and continue to fight for our freedom. God bless America!
Sunday, November 7, 2010
After cancer, loosing my father, diabetes, loosing my job, and now the crumbling of my marriage I know for a fact, life simply is not fair. Sometimes you can do your best, you can be a nice person, you can go to church and say your prayers, and still have it all fall apart. You can still loose those you love, you can still get sick, and you can still watch all of your dreams float away.
Mom learned this lesson 3 years ago when she lost the man she loved to cancer. They had saved there whole lives for retirement, they had trips planned, they had dreams, they had ideas. But none of those were realized, cancer took Dad before they were able to take those trips, buy those cars. It was recently that Mom told me how hard it was to give up all those dreams, and how difficult it was for her to try and think of new dreams for her future, dreams that could not include Dad. Sadly after 69 years Mom had finally realized, life isn't fair.
This weekend though she took a big step. This weekend she drove 6 hours to visit her best friend in the whole world. I'm sure they are sitting out on Sally's porch now looking at the lake talking, laughing and crying together, true sisters at heart. I'm sure Mom is overjoyed at being there, and seeing Sally in person. And I know that she is thanking God for her friend, and for the lesson that Sally has taught us all - to keep trying. You see 2 years ago Sally, a perfectly healthy 50 year old nurse, mother to 6 kids, had a massive stroke, a stroke that left her paralyzed on an entire side of her body.
The fact that Mom took this step inspires me to keep going and to keep trying. And her best friend Sally reminds me to stop worrying about what is going wrong in life, and always be thankful for what I do have.
Friday, October 22, 2010
Here are the signs to watch out for:
Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening
Change in the size or shape of the breast
Dimpling or puckering of the skin
Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple
Pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast
New pain in one spot that doesn’t go away
The Komen Foundation has a great online tool if you need instructions or tips. Here's the link:
Don't think it can't happen to you. Be smart. Check them.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
I was reminded of this yesterday when I went to Panera Bread. I go to Panera alot to use the Free wi-fi for work, typically I get a coffee and that's it. Yesterday when the cashier scanned my frequent user card she said "Oh! Happy birthday! You get a free bagel!" I was going to say no, and then saw the Pink Ribbon Bagel, and figured I could eat it as my lunch. So I got it plain in a to go bag and took it home with me.
A great cause ( $.50 of each bagel goes to breast cancer research in the month of October), and a really yummy bagel, I ate it plain for lunch and enjoyed it. Then I went online in the afternoon and looked up the points value. 8.5!
So just to make my point clear - for lunch yesterday I had one, plain, pink ribbon bagel.
For that same points value I could have had all of the following:
a chocolate vitamuffin
the whole can of Progresso light Santa Fe Style Chicken soup
Which do you think would fill you up more? One bagel or that list of food?
This is the basis of Weight watchers. The choice is yours, and if you want a bagel sometimes then have it, but if most days you pick the list, you will not be as hungry, and you will loose weight.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Of course I was eager to help! I love to tell other people what to do! LOL. So we started with testing his sugar more then once in awhile, Martin impressively tested for me 4 times a day. He was hitting high levels after eating both lunch and breakfast. So we took a look at what he was eating. Here's his typical day:
Honey Nut Cheerios
Stir fry shrimp and veggies
A few cookies
A lot of empty carbs, so we decided to switch those up and see if there was an improvement in his numbers. After much work on his part he stitched to:
Scrambled egg whites
1 piece whole wheat toast
2 pieces turkey bacon
2 slices whole wheat bread
turkey or ham lunch meat
low fat cheese
Veggies - steamed or stir fried
Brown rice or a smaller serving of white rice
OK now it took over a week to find this pattern, but the changes made his sugar levels drop down and remain impressively low. When he started having some sugar levels that were too low, he researched one of the medications he was taking and figured out he would be better off taking it at another time during the day. With this additional change his high sugar levels have disappeared! Martin is proof that you can take control of your health, you can work at it, tweak it, change it, and you can make a difference. His doctor gave him a decision, and he acted on it, and persisted until he had the outcome that he wanted - better sugar levels. He is proof that what you eat directly effects your health, every-single-meal.
He inspires me to do better and try harder at my own diet, not letting myself fall into a food rut. But more then that, about a week into our "project" he texted me that he was out to dinner with friends and he was having a margarita. And my heart sank I was so disappointed. Then the next day I got an email telling me about this wonderful dinner he had with great friends celebrating there birthdays at a great Mexican restaurant. And it was my turn to learn a lesson, and be inspired further by my friend Martin. He has taught me that life is too short to not stop sometimes and enjoy those special occasions with those we love, and the food we love along with that. It's just one meal, in the long run it wont make a difference to your diet - but the happiness and joy we get from friends and family is something that can never be measured.
Your diet makes a difference in your health and in your life. It goes both ways as Martin and I have proved. Watching things closer can bring you better health and help you feel better. And, letting loose sometimes to enjoy food with family and friends can help you truly live life.
Monday, October 4, 2010
Last week I did catch a cold from Brad. Not thinking I took advil cold and sinus and went along with life. At lunchtime I decided to walk 3 blocks to the ATM and got so dizzy I almost had to sit down. I figured my sugar level was low and didn't think about it again. The next morning I took more advil cold and sinus and went for a run with Brad. About mile 3 I got so dizzy I thought for sure I was going to pass out. I completely lost all of my energy and was just out of it. I never have had an issue with advil before, and I take it all the time. That night when I spoke to my friend Marianne she asked me if I had called the drug nurses before taking it - OOppps! No I didn't. So I called them and they said they didn't know of any drug interactions but to log it all in case I had some side effects. I still had no energy, and I still felt very dizzy - but my sugar levels were fine. So I stopped taking the advil. Within 2 hours I felt 99% better - my energy came back, I was no longer dizzy - sure I had a runny nose and a bit of a sore throat, but the difference was remarkable.
So, I still don't know and can't say if it really was a drug interaction. But if you are out on the Internet like I was last week looking for someone else to tell you they tried this and did not feel good at all, then here you go. I took Advil Cold and Sinus with Neratinib and I lost 80% of my energy level, and felt very dizzy!
Monday, September 27, 2010
Well, she joined. I was so excited I was jumping up and down, and I took her out immediately and bought her good running clothes. Then she asked me if I wanted to come join the team and run with them on a Saturday practice - of course i do!! LOL. So I went, and when the option was given to turn around at 2 miles or go to 5 miles I suggested we go the 5. The coach was shocked, and we were the only girls that went the longer distance. :0) I went to the first meet prepared to not embarrass her. I really tried, but it only lasted about 2 mins when she moved quickly into first place. I was screaming and jumping up and down, running all over the course to keep screaming and jumping up and down. She came in third, her first race ever. I am so proud! First place was her teammate. In each race since she has been in the top two finishers for her school. As I stood at a meet watching her coming far off in the distance I noticed the boys team standing by the fence, so I kept quiet and listened. "That Legs?" one said, "I don't know, she took off fast bet she tired out" the other said back to him. "Nah, not Leg's", he said "she's gonna blow them all away".
To say I am proud of her is an understatement. As Brad said over the weekend, she is the real deal, she is running, she is stretching, and she is eating right. She is eating healthy foods, extra protein, and staying away from anything that can negatively effect her running. And she's having fun. This is from an email I got from her today:
Cross Country is going pretty good. It gets easier every day. I can keep up with the boys at practice now (they can't stand a girl beating them). I only have one more chance to make the 15:00 club on our course before I leave James Wood. I have a meet tomorrow and we are going to dominate for the girls team! I'll have to tell you how it goes.
This week I am inspired by Leg's - now let's all go out and beat the boys!!
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Three simultaneous Walks/5K runs for breast cancer will be held on October 10, 2010 in Leesburg, Middleburg, Warrenton, all named “Cherry Blossom Walks for Breast Cancer and 5K Runs. Conducted during national Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Walks’ net financial objective is $300,000, 80% of which will be awarded to Fauquier and Loudoun charities and nonprofits for breast cancer detection, treatment and education; 20% will be granted to regional research.
The Leesburg Cherry Blossom Walk and 5K Run for Breast Cancer will begin at 1 pm, Sunday, October 10 at Morven Park’s Equestrian Center just north of Leesburg, at Tutt Lane off Route 15.
Come on out and join us for a great cause!! Sign up at:
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
ONE: The Hudson Valley is really very beautiful, and I cannot believe I have never been there before. The combo of water and mountains, farms and city, is just incredible. It should be on everyones bucket list.
TWO: I have a sweet tooth, this I've always known, but now I have confirmation that I get it from my Mom. This could also be called the vacation of desserts. We typically had two per day, one at lunch and one at dinner, and we covered it all, everything from NY cheesecake, to cookies at tea time, to sherbet. We had cake, pies, mousses, cookies, candies, you name it, if it was a dessert we had some. Another plus of the Hudson Valley was the food was incredible. Everything we ate was delicious. And so we ate more.
THIRD: One day of eating out and eating bad makes me feel sick. But what I didn't know, is after eating that way for several days, I stop feeling ill, and I just feel like eating more sweets. Not good. Luckily for me I was smart before I left and I scheduled a session with my personal trainer for the morning after I got back. And it took everything in me to go this morning, but now I feel so much better, and I am back on track and eating healthy and working out.
So I am up a few pounds, but back on the healthy track. And I'm relaxed, restored, and have alot of happy memories from a great trip. :0)
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
About two hours later in a hospital room the morphine kicked in and he stopped talking to us. He lived for another three days, but never woke back up. So orange jello was the last thing I spoke to my Dad about.
I miss him so much some days it physically hurts. Buying an older house Brad and I both commented we wished he could be here to tell us what to look out for, what to check before moving in. And when I lost my job, everything he taught me went thru my head and pushed me to do everything I could to get another job quickly. I miss his advise, which he was always ready to give. I miss his crazy stories. I miss the way he could fix anything at all. I miss driving down the road to the house and seeing him mowing the field in his grey shorts, wife beater, straw hat, and white knee socks. (Gotta watch the Ticks Jen! Those suckers will getcha!) But most days I miss his hands. His hands were like sandpaper, so rough they would scratch you, yet in them was everything he ever taught me and everything he believed in. Life is not handed to you, you have to work hard to earn it. Count your blessings. And no matter what, it could always, always be worse.
It's hard to believe it's been three years since I've held those hands or seen the twinkle in his eye. But I do know that he still pushes me everyday to try, to do the best that I can do, and to LIVE my life to the fullest.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
I knew all of this when I lost my job, which might be more of the reason for all the tears. The good news is I have a really great internal lead on a job that hopefully will pan out for me. Thanks to everyone for the prayers and positive thoughts!
Friday, August 27, 2010
I was called into the office Monday by my manager, who lied to me, and told me there was a meeting to discuss an escalation that had come up and he needed me there to help him present everything we were doing to fix the issue to the customer. I figured it out pretty quick when I entered the conference room and he was the only one there, with a folder with my name on it, and he couldn't look me in the eye. It seemed his new UK based boss had decided that the team should be centered in the UK and he was cutting costs by cutting the US team in half. So half of us were loosing our jobs. After 12 years I was being let go.
To my own surprise, I took it hard. I did not cry when diagnosed with cancer. And to my credit I didn't cry in front of my boss, but I did once I got to my car. I felt, and still feel like a failure. I'm trying to see this as a new opportunity, as a new start. And I realized today that this will officially change everything in my life over the past 3 years - a complete life overhaul.
So with a heavy but hopeful heart, I am off to look for another job. Wish me luck!
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
10. Lightning bugs (as kids we used to catch them in mason jars!)
9. Slurpee's or snow cones on a hot day (orange is my favorite)
8. Thunderstorms - with lots of lightning! (Thanks for the reminder Martin!) :0)
7. Fresh picked corn on the cob
6. Fireworks (OK so technically there are fireworks in the winter, but I think more in summer)
5. Home grown tomato's
4. Lazy afternoons spent sitting by the pool (or in the pool)
3. Peaches (sliced in half, pit removed, juices running down your arm)
2. Outdoor concerts
It'll be gone before you know it, it will be dark at 5pm, and cold. I hope to spend these last few weeks enjoying what I have been taking for granted. :0) Happy Summer!
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Over the past two months I would think about it now and then, and wonder why I felt so at home in the city when I never lived in the city. This morning I went for a run, and I finally made the connection. Grandma Moors!
My Grandma Moors lived inside the city of Philadelphia her entire life. She loved that city with a passion. As a young woman she would walk to mass each morning, then take the subway to her job downtown. She went to the theater, she went to the shows, she went dancing. She walked everywhere. Later, when she married and raised her three children she lived in the city and taught them everything she loved about it.
My grandfather died when I was in middle school, and every summer after he died until I went to college my cousin Bart and I would go stay with her for the whole summer. Those summers were some of the best times of my childhood. She took me to every single museum in Philly. We went to see the Philly's play baseball, we went to Wannamakers to hear the organ play at noon. We went on hikes through Fairmount Park and the zoo. But more then that, I walked with her in the mornings to mass. I walked with her to the grocery store. We picked berries in the park and she taught me how to make jam. We made Bart (who is very tall) pick apples off the trees and she taught me how to make apple sauce. We walked to the library and checked out books. And when it was too hot to walk anywhere she taught me how to crochet and sew. She was always up for an adventure.
The parallels to those summers and my life now are remarkable. I love walking everywhere, I love going to the library again, I love going to the theater and concerts. I am visiting all of my local historical sites. I am doing all of the walking tours in my hood. I am finally home.
So yes I did technically live in the country for most of my life. But my summers were spent in one of America's greatest cities. With one of the greatest role models of my life, my grandma.
Me and Bart downtown Philly....(above)
Grandma, Heidi, and I outside of the Liberty Bell (below)
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Then I lost all the weight, I'm now a size 4, a size 4! and most days I still feel just as fat as I did as a size 14. My thighs still touch enough that I can feel it. Some days my clothes are loose, some days they fit, and some days they are really tight. Sometimes I can eat a giant bowl of watermelon with Brad, and then my belly feels so full when I look down it looks like I have a giant beer gut.
So now I wonder - I've changed my body, I've lost the weight - but now how do I change my mindset? How do I make my head realize that everyone feels fat? How do I make my head realize that this feeling isn't going to go away if I am a size 2 or a size 0, and at those sizes I am still going to have days where I feel fat?
So this is my new plan of action - to keep up with the eating healthy, exercising, and staying active - but to work on the emotional aspect of it - so I can start to enjoy all of my hard work.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
On my side I get a lot of "One day is not going to hurt you" and "I made this diet pie, as well as these cookies for you" LOL. I know they mean well and I do try and keep extra points for the days that I am visiting them.
My husband's family just makes fun of me. They call me a vegetarian, and ask if I would go out to eat if we went to a vegetarian restaurant. When I ask if we can get together and have it not center around food I was actually told "eating out is my hobby, it's what I do". LOL. OK so then that's a no I guess? They laugh at me eating oatmeal, and comment on how much cinnamon I put in it.
So, after the doctor last week I have now the confidence to hold my ground. My healthy eating, and the changes I have made to my diet have greatly influenced my health. Check this out:
Weight: 182 pounds
HGB A1c: 10.4
Total cholesterol: 220
Weight: 134 pounds
HGB A1c: 6.7
Total cholesterol: 183
An HDL of 60 mg/dL and above is considered protective against heart disease. The lower your LDL cholesterol, the lower your risk of heart attack and stroke. Less then 100 is optimal. Triglyceride is a form of fat. People with high triglycerides often have a high total cholesterol level normal is less than 150 mg/dL. The hemoglobin A1c test is an important blood test used to determine how well your diabetes is being controlled. Hemoglobin A1c provides an average of your blood sugar control over a six to 12 week period. For people without diabetes, the normal range for the hemoglobin A1c test is between 4% and 6%. Because studies have repeatedly shown that out-of-control diabetes results in complications from the disease, the goal for people with diabetes is an hemoglobin A1c less than 7%. The higher the hemoglobin A1c, the higher the risks of developing complications related to diabetes. (WebMD March 8, 2009)
Now, keep in mind I have had NO new medications here. I am only on insulin for my diabetes. These changes were all done 100% on diet and exercise.
So I think I'm going to stick to my guns on this one, and do what I want, because in the long run it does make a difference.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
As Dad's cancer progressed I fought with him weekly to find another oncologist. I was certain this guy didn't know what he was doing. My sister and I both offered to drive him to John Hopkins, or the Cleveland Clinic. Dad did eventually go to both of these famous hospitals, but only when his oncologist had referred him to a friend of his there. Every time I brought it up to my Mom she would smile and say "oh I could never do that to him, I could never switch to another doctor".
During the last year of his life Mom and Dad had joint appointments. They would go in together in the same room, talk about Dad and then talk about Mom. Then they'd walk over to the chemo room always together.
It wasn't until about 2 months after Dad died that I finally understood. I had called Mom to ask her how her appointment had gone. She told me it was so hard, and when I asked her what was wrong she said slowly "well, it was the first time I had ever been in that room without your Dad. I got in there and sat on the table and could not stop crying. Dr Red* came in and immediately got the nurse and she held me as he got me a glass of water. Then he talked to me for a good 20 minutes about how it would get easier and it would get better, and I just had to keep pushing myself forward one day at a time. And he's right, and he was so helpful".
It wasn't until that point that I finally understood that Mom and Dad trusted Dr Red. And that is the most important thing to have in a relationship with your doctor. If you don't trust them you will not be honest with them, and then you will never get the health care you need. You need to be able to be open and honest with your doctor and feel comfortable talking to them about anything and everything. And then you need to do it.
I love both of my doctors. I love my oncologist, he is by far the best doctor I have ever had. He has a wonderful sense of humor, and a positive outlook, yet he can be stern and is not afraid to tell you the bad news straight out. The first day I met him he told me, "you are going to hate me, and then you are going to really really hate me, and then slowly you will like me again". Not only do I like him again, I actually look forward to seeing him, and to going to appointments!
I feel the same way about my diabetes doctor. He treats me like an equal, and always takes the time to explain to me in detail whatever questions I have. He is always up to speed on the new treatments that have come out, and the new devices, and he always backs his opinion up with facts. My appointments with him always put my mind at ease, and help me to feel more educated on my medical issues.
It's important to form a medical team that you trust, and that you feel help you to feel and be your best. Don't settle for someone you don't like.
It's your health, don't take it for granted!
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
"Hi! How are you?!"
"I've been diagnosed with breast cancer, and I have questions, do you have a minute?"
"I'm so sorry. Yes, of course, I have all the time in the world."
Sally is a good friend, loyal wife, mother to a two year old girl and a 3 week old son. Yes, you read that right, a 3 week old son. She's 37 years old, and very healthy. To say this call brought me intense sadness is an understatement. But I know that she is strong enough to fight her way through this, and although I was sad to hear her news, I was happy to be able to answer questions and help in any way I could. In case you are out on the internet looking for answers for a friend, family member, or yourself - here are my tips for breast cancer surgery.
First and foremost, the week of surgery take time to take long showers - get some really nice soap and shampoo and wash up and remember it all, enjoy it. You wont be able to lift your arms up comfortably to wash your hair for awhile without pain, trust me on this one.
While your in there shave well. Shaving is not allowed until everything is 100% healed. Nuff said.
Go out and get yourself some Avon Skin So Soft - liquid, not lotion. One of the most painful things for me was getting the surgery bandages off of my swollen breasts. I found out much later if you soak the bandage with the Skin So Soft it comes off with no pain. (And it's in an easy spray bottle!)
A few days before surgery typically the hospital will call you and ask you about 15 minutes of questions. Be ready for this. Have a list of all medications you are on, all pills and dosages you take - even vitamins. And any procedures or surgeries you've had. If they tell you to not take something you think you should, contact your doctor after the call and ask. You are responsible here, follow your instincts.
Go out and purchase tops that are loose, soft, and open in the front. You can't pull tops over your head - they need to button up or zip up.
Make sure you have some ice packs and go ahead and put them in your freezer.
The day of surgery wear something you can get into with little fuss. I was in so much pain Brad had to dress me. Make it easy for them to help.
And this is a given, but take your meds. Take the pain pills. Keep taking the pain pills.
And then the second call/text, yesterday a text from her friends:
"What can we send Sally? Are flowers OK?"
So of course I have suggestions here too. I love flowers, but I don't need 5 arrangements, and flowers are typically sent by the office, if the person works outside of the home. So if you think someone else is probably going to send flowers then skip it.
Cookiegram - a bouquet of cookies - really really good cookies
Fruit bouquet - if they are healthier and wouldn't eat the cookies, the fruit is delicious and still a wonderful display of cheer
Pajamagram - my sister sent me this, and I loved it. Remember to get the kind that opens in the front! There are even breast cancer PJ's with the word Hope on them.
Movies or DVDs - my girlfriends from work sent me 3 DVDs of Kenny Chesney :0)
And just offer to help. I didn't let people help me. But a few friends made me let them. They just showed up and wouldn't leave. LOL. But the laughter they brought me those few days after surgery were just what the doctor ordered, and helped me more then anything else.
Except maybe the cookies....mmmmm....they were good! :0)
*Sally's name has been changed to protect her private information.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Well, last week I got a free copy of the new game in the mail! How exciting!!! It's called the "10 minute cardio workout for a knock out body" and it's for use on the wii (made my nintendo.)
Here is the description:
10 Minute Solution is an exercise program for use with Wii. The software offers activities and workouts involving stretches, aerobics, and sports, broken into ten-minute routines. Most exercises make use of the Wii's motion-sensitive controllers to monitor the workout, and many of the activities are compatible with the Wii Balance Board, as well. Users can customize a in-game character and set-up their own personalized routines. The game also offers diet tips and suggestions for healthy lifestyle choices. ~ T.J. Deci, All Game Guide
When you go into the game you set up a profile, which only takes a few minutes, and then you can pick from a few different workouts. Mainly, one they have already set up for you, or you can pick which moves are your favorite and then tell it to give you only those moves. For both you can pick your scene - choices are things like Venice, a beach, or a gym. And you can also pick your music. Each time you start something new the game makes you practice or listen to an instructor as he tells you how to do the moves. (You can pick him too LOL) Then once you have mastered his moves you are released to play the game, and the instruction is only enforced the first time you go into it. You can also use the balance board with this game, which makes it interesting as it measures how you duck the punches as well as how you throw the punches (you use the numb chuck also).
So I've piled up the positive remarks because now I have to admit, I really didn't love it. Now, keep in mind, I don't play wii every day. I play when I'm around people who love to play, and I hardly ever win. My favorite game, and to date the only one I am any good at is the hula hoop. :0) So I could not get this one to work for me. I was throwing punches like a lunatic and ducking like there were bombs going off in my living room, and all I got over and over was my nice young trainer telling me "oh (sigh) try again" yes, he actually sigh's! So after 10 mins of this I was so frustrated I was ready to punch the TV and throw the numb chuck out the window. So in comes Brad to my rescue. And it did work for him. But not well. He managed to get the game to register his punches, so he advanced out of the training guide portion of the game and we were able to see some more of your options. The scenes are nice, but the music wasn't that great. It was all kinda corny dentist office music. I don't know about you but if I'm punching someone I want to hear some Eminem. LOL.
But in all fairness I know that I am not a good wii player, so I am going to pass this to my niece and nephew, who play wii for several hours each day and have mastered all controls and boards and remotes. And I will get back to you with a better review of this game once they've had a chance to show there Old Aunt Jenny how you are supposed to do it.
For now I will stick with hula hooping!! :0)
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Now, for a little heart lesson I learned yesterday from Manny, my echo cardiogram guy. Below is a picture of what I could see on the screen when he did the test. It is a picture of what your heart looks like, the bottom parts being flaps that open and close as your heart beats. What happens then is the whole circle collapses and expands, kinda like if you make a fist then quickly hold up your hand like you are showing the number 5 on them. (Or doing a high five.) This shows how effectively the heart is pumping the blood. Mine collapses and expands symmetrically, which Manny tells me, means it's a healthy heart. When someone has a heart attack, typically one whole side of this picture "dies" and it no longer collapses and expands, leaving the other side to try and do all the work. And in effect, blood is no longer pumping efficiently. Cool eh? Big thanks to Manny!
Now I'm off to the gym to keep it pumping strong! I will say it again.......
Don't take your health for granted!
Monday, July 19, 2010
The trail is a Battlefield park, typical in Virgina, it had a trail system that lead you around all of the major battles of Winchester with very nice signage explaining where the fighting was, and what the Generals were trying to achieve. I'm not a big Civil War buff, but the trail looked nice, so I strapped on my pedometer and started running.
I was tired, I didn't want to run, it took everything in me to keep going those first 5 minutes. But then a wonderful thing happened. The cows in the pasture next to me started moo-ing very robustly and anxiously. It was so loud and funny it made me laugh and start to watch them. They were chewing and mooing and walking and enjoying there morning hay. Then I approached a really great little stream with a wooden bridge over it, as I ran over it I noticed the cat tails and beautiful wildflowers that flanked each side of the creek. I noticed the fantastic electric blue on the dragon flies flying close to the water's edge, and just up the stream a line of baby ducks swimming behind their mother. As I ran up the hill I entered a large field that had just been mowed. It smelled wonderful, and the straight lines of huge round hay bails made me smile. As I ran on I watched all of the nature around me and noticed all the things I never see on my morning "city" run at home. It was beautiful, and when I looked down at my pedometer I had gone 5 miles. I headed back to the car sweaty, and feeling great.
Running is a wonderful way to stay healthy, and feel great. But what I learned is, if it's feeling like a chore maybe it's time to mix up your route, and find a new place to run. I am inspired again to find a new route here at home and not take my same route. To see something new, and continue to explore on foot.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
I know this is one of my weaknesses, and I realize that it's unhealthy. So with this in my head I tried harder. Yep, I tried harder to learn how to relax. And I'm happy to say, I got better. LOL. Last week I was on vacation with my husband, niece and nephew at Smith Mountain Lake. We had beautiful weather, and a wonderful time. Instead of me organizing meals, and organizing outings, and planning each day - I just didn't. And shockingly the trip was amazing. We all ate whatever we wanted for dinner - even if it meant 4 different meals being cooked at the same time in one small kitchen (who cares?), we swam, we jet skiied, we tubed, we putt putted. I took time each morning to run or go to the Y and work out. Most mornings my niece went with me. One day when they were all going out on the boat and I didn't feel like it, I told them to go ahead and I just sat on the dock and read a book. Gasp! Never before have I done something like this. But what a difference it makes!
Instead of coming home feeling tired and drained and "needing a vacation from my vacation" I actually feel better, rested, and restored. And so I have learned late in life, that you don't have to organize everything all of the time. You don't always have to have a plan. And sometimes it's OK to say no, let the others go, and just do what you want.
Be true to yourself, and happiness will fill your life.
Monday, July 5, 2010
"This is the first summer in six years someone I love isn't going through chemo. I'm going to just take the summer and relax the rules and enjoy life."
Lesson learned Mom, lesson learned.
Friday, July 2, 2010
This past week I learned how wrong I was on so many levels.
As I have said before my dog Jake has cancer. He lost his front leg to a large tumor, and now he has another tennis ball sized tumor on his back leg. He's still happy go lucky though, so we don't worry about it. Until two weeks ago when he started falling down. He'd be walking along and his front leg seemed to just give out and down he'd go. It just broke my heart to see this happen, so I took him to the vet. The vet looked him over and pressed here and there and lifted here and there, not saying much. Then she looked at me and asked both Jake and I to sit down. She then told me Jake had lost all of the feeling in his paws. She then said that this had happened because he had an inflamed spinal cord. She decided that she would give him pills to see if they helped, and we were to give him the pills for two weeks and stay positive that they might help. Then she lowered her eyes, and her voice, and she told me very softly that if they did not help then it was more likely that he had something pressing on his spinal cord which was causing this effect. She then went on to tell me that it was most likely and her best guess, that Jake had another tumor that was growing inside of him, that was causing this, and that he was not strong enough for another surgery to remove it.
It took everything in me not to throw up. I could hear her telling me how sorry she was, and I could feel the tears stinging in my eyes, as I was trying very hard to breathe. Jake and I thanked her and walked out to the receptionist, and she looked at me with great concern and said "Are you ok?" and I realized then and there that I had the same look on my face as Brad did that day in the oncologist office. I learned that day how much harder it is to hear someone you love has cancer.
I made it to the car before I started crying and I called Brad. He was positive the pills would work. There was no doubt in his mind, and he told me not to cry. And I realized again, how strong he is to go through this time and time again with me and with Jake. And how very wrong I was to exclude him from all of my oncology appointments. I realize now, he was not bored he was just trying not to throw up.
We are on week 2 of Jake's pills and he has improved dramatically. I am relearning each day that life is very fragile, and something you can never take for granted.
Monday, June 28, 2010
Then I tried the New Balance Rock & Tone 1442s.
Wow! OK so they aren't exactly "cool" looking, but they make up for it in comfort. Here is my best description - they are squishy! So when you walk it's like they are moving you forward, which I don't know about you but it makes me want to walk more. New Balance was nice enough to send them to me for free since I attended the Fitness Blog Conference this spring, and I've been wearing them now for 3 weeks. I've worn them on concrete, on bricks, on gravel, and in stores, and all seem very comfortable (although I did notice I kept dragging the bottom on the bricks, maybe because the sole is so much thicker?). I am extremely picky on my footwear due to my diabetes, but these shoes have proven there worth! I've had no blisters, and no leg or foot pain.
They come in many different colors on line, and sell for about $88. Not bad for a shoe that just makes you want to go for a walk. So if your looking for something to help you get out there and get moving, I suggest trying these shoes. Or if your current shoes cause you discomfort then try these out!
New Balance Rock & Tone 1442s, "Indulge your wellness".
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Then I went to London. And Paris. And I ate. I ate brownies from a market that melted in my mouth. I ate cheese, lots of cheese. I ate peanut butter spread on sweet "digestive" crackers. I ate nutella crepes, and french bread sammiches. I ate a lot. I exercised way less then I do at home. I went off track. Way off.
On the way back home on the plane I thought about going to the gym. But I didn't. And for the first time in a few years I realized how easy it would be to not be healthy anymore. To eat brownies, cake, peanut butter. To not go to the gym every day. To not count points anymore and to just eat whatever I wanted. To sleep in. How much fun it would be to relax and not do any of it. And for a few hours I realized that this is what Holly meant. This is where people get to and then they give up. Because you know what, food tastes good.
The first 3 days were a big struggle. I was exhausted at the gym. I had a giant piece of cake at my sisters birthday party and I wanted another one. But slowly - slowly I could feel it. As I ate better and exercised more my energy came back, I slept better, and I felt better. It has taken me a week, but I feel now I am finally back on track, dedicated again to a healthy life.
So for those of you out there who want to change but are waiting for tomorrow - take the first step now. Of course it will be hard. But it is worth it. You are worth it. Your health is worth it.
You ARE worth it.
Monday, June 21, 2010
I learned several things about him on this trip, but one of the best is that we are both avid people watchers. This was so fun for me, because my husband simply is not. We were all eyes catching the crazy fashions, the crazy hair, and the outfits and styles that were "just wrong". But it didn't take long for us to be able to pick out the Americans in the crowds. Sadly, this was not because of the amazing outfits they had on, but more because most of them were fat.
This simple fact made me sad, and also made me wonder. But as we spent the week travelling around, and in and out of markets, stores, and restaurants I could see a huge difference in the USA vs. London. Portion sizes. There is no super sized in London. Sandwiches are mostly made of bread and are normal thickness - not huge hoagie rolls with 4 servings of meat and cheese. Cheese there is sold by the slice or in small packages, not huge blocks. Soda does not have free refills. Bags of candy are what we consider our "fun" size. Even the cakes were small. Birthday cakes were half the size of any sold here in the local super markets. It was shocking to me the differences. Sure they had fast food, but there didn't seem to be super sizing, or huge monster hamburgers with bacon.
Along the same lines they walk everywhere. They don't have escalators or elevators like we do in the states. (I'm not sure how handicapped people get around!) Everywhere was stairs. Lots of stairs and lots and lots of walkers. From what I understand there are very high tolls to drive into the city, which makes most Londoner's take public transportation. There isn't parking in front of the store or restaurant like we have here, so people walk everywhere.
Now, I wasn't in the suburbs in the UK so I am basing this on what I saw, and where I live here in the states and the remarkable differences. And I'm not saying everyone in London was fit, or healthly, there was a lot of smoking and a lot of drinking. But I did come back with a new realization of what a normal portion size looks like, and how much more in general I typical get served (and eat).
Think about it at your next meal, maybe even take the time to look at the box and see how many servings are included in what you are getting ready to eat. Try eating just one portion and see if you are full. If you aren't then sure have another. But if you are and if you do this just a few times a day think of all the calories you are saving....portion sizes!
Now if we could just fix some of those crazy weird London outfits! LOL.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
So here is my advise for all of you who still have your Dad's. Appreciate them. My Dad used to complain about everything, and I used to roll my eyes and wonder why he just couldn't be happy one day a year, and now, today, I would give just about anything to listen to him complain. Listen to them, talk to them, and be thankful if nothing else that they are still alive.
Secondly, take a photo of just you and Dad. Sure you can take group shots, but get one of just you and your Dad. If you are lucky enough to be a Dad take a picture with each of your kids, one at a time. As I have hunted through all of my own pictures and my Mom's I have found very very few pictures of my Dad and myself. Don't make the same mistake! It only takes a minute to snap a picture.
I wish everyone a wonderful Father's Day.