Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sunday evening check-in

You know, for someone who hates living with a lot of drama, I have had more than my fair share of it lately…

Steve gave me a scare a couple weeks ago. We spent one full day at the Emergency Room, due to his having some pretty severe stomach pain. Considering all he’s been through, this was really scary. The radiologist at the ER said the CT scan showed Steve had an abscess inside his stomach. They said it might be possible to insert a needle into the abscess and draw out the infection, but if not, that further surgery would be required.

But, when we went to Steve’s surgeon the next day, he said he did not believe it was an abscess at all; rather, that it was a build-up of excess fluid. He said that happens sometimes after major surgery. He stuck a huge needle into Steve’s abdomen, bless his heart. Anyway, the doctor gave him two different kinds of strong antibiotics and said they should take care of the pain and the fluid. Steve’s pain persisted for several days, but it did subside over time. He just finished the last of the antibiotics yesterday, and he goes back to see the surgeon tomorrow for a follow-up visit.

My neck and shoulder pain have continued, but the doctor put me on Lyrica and another anti-inflammatory. The meds seem to be working, because my pain has diminished quite a bit and, as long as I remember to take my medicine as directed (several times a day, God help me), then my neck and shoulder feels better.

My low carb diet has been all but thrown out the window for several months now, and I hope to get back to a sensible eating plan soon, as in next week. I’ve gained 20 pounds, and I don’t want to gain any more. I just finished a book, Dr. Gott’s No Flour, No Sugar Diet by Peter Gott, M.D. Someone recommended it who has lost weight doing this plan. It makes a lot of sense to me, and I’m going to give it a whirl.

I stuck to a modified version of the Atkins Diet for almost a year and a half, and was very successful with it – losing over 60 pounds. However, after eating very low carb for so long, I had gotten to the place where I really missed eating things like beans, brown rice, oatmeal, and fruit like pears and apples. I know I cannot stay extremely low carb and be happy. The Dr. Gott plan cuts out a huge amount of carbs from the normal diet, but includes some foods that would be prohibited from the Atkins plan.

I’ll have to actually put this plan in action for awhile to see if it works for me; hopefully it will. If it does not, then I’ll regroup and perhaps go back to Atkins. I know I was successful on that. However, if I can still lose weight and have a little more freedom in my diet, then I’m all over that…

I had my annual evaluation at work the other day. I got a good rating and a nice bonus. I also got the chance to ask my boss about my job security. I felt pretty secure in my job, but wanted some reassurance, I guess, that it wasn’t just wishful thinking on my part. She assured me that we, as a Firm, have excellent future growth potential, and that even in a bad economy, our work will remain steady, and our jobs will remain secure. She said my personal job security level is excellent and I don’t need to worry about that. It did reassure me, because as much as you hope you are safe, the way things have been lately, you never know…

I’m watching a rerun movie on TV right now – “Castaway.” It’s one of my favorite movies and one that I can watch again and again … which is not true of most movies.

Well, I guess I’ve prattled on long enough. It’s been so long since I’ve posted, I guess I had a lot stacked up inside, just waiting to get out!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas 2008

Here are some more photos of my Christmas season.

Chance got two new toys for Christmas, and here they are:

Here's a shot of our tree on Christmas Eve -- lots of presents just waiting to be opened:

Steve collects airplanes (WWII) and I gave him this Italian Airforce Messerschmidt:

I collect nativity scenes, so here are a couple of mine:

And finally, we went over to Steve's sister's house Christmas morning and spent part of the day with their family. Since I don't have permission to post pictures of them, I will show you a shot of their sweet, sweet dog, Jasper, who is 13 years old:

I hope everyone had a happy Christmas and that you got to spend it with those you love.

More later!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

A very merry Christmas to all my friends.

Many blessings,


Monday, December 8, 2008

Another picture

Not much time to post tonight, but here's a shot of our tree and, in the background, our "Mitford" village.

More later --

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Decorating for Christmas

It’s been a good day. Steve and I were up bright and early. We took Chance to the groomer, went out to breakfast, then to Lowe’s. We got a live tree and a live wreath. I’m so excited; we haven’t had a live tree in many years! Our pre-lit one finally bit the dust last year, and I’ve been looking forward to a “real” tree all year… We got a Douglas fir, and it’s beautiful.

Anyway, we were home by 10:30 and spent the rest of the day decorating. Steve put lights outside on the shrubs and around the front door while I decorated inside.

I’ll be posting more pictures, but here’s one I took a little while ago of our kitty, Boots, lying next to a stuffed reindeer we have…looks like he's not too sure about this newcomer.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The easiest roast I've ever made

I made a roast today in my crockpot. It was super easy and turned out great. Here’s how I did it:

One English roast (shoulder roast)
1 pkg. Italian dressing mix
1 pkg. Ranch dressing mix
1 pkg. brown gravy mix
1 onion, chopped
1 can beef broth

Mix everything in crockpot. Cook on low for 8 hours until falling-apart tender.

This was the easiest roast I’ve ever made, and it made its own gravy. When I got home from work, I made a couple of sides, and we were eating dinner by 6:15.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

I got tagged -- 7 things

Wayne John tagged me earlier today. I love these memes, so I will gladly play along and tell seven things you may not know about me. Here goes:

Okay, being the computer guru I am (NOT!), I can't copy the doggone rules from Wayne John's blog. Maybe that could be number one ... I am not savvy at all in computer-ese.

1. See above.

2. I majored in vocal music in college and used to sing a lot in public. The biggest crowd I sang in front of was probably 20,000 ... but that's been a hundred years ago, or so. I still enjoy singing, but now it's for smaller groups at church and that's pretty much it.

3. I get very impatient driving in traffic, and my worst self emerges. Potty mouth and all.

4. My husband is very much a "gadget guy" but I hate technology. I miss having one remote control that did everything. I can't figure out how to use our DVR...

5. I pray every day.

6. I am addicted to carbohydrates. (Okay, so that's not a secret, is it??)

7. I was editor of my high school paper and seriously considered a major in journalism. I still want to write a novel ... someday!

Okay, that was painless. I won't tag anyone else, but if you want to play along, feel free!

Zucchini casserole - my way

Living in Memphis, it's practically a requirement to make casseroles (sort of a "Southern thing," I guess). Here's one that I’ve made for years. It’s great to take to church suppers, family get-togethers, and that sort of thing, because you can bake it the day before, heat it up right before serving, and I think it’s even better the second day. There’s a million versions of this recipe floating around (take a look in any church cookbook you find), but here’s mine:

Zucchini Casserole

2 pounds zucchini, cut into ½ inch slices, then halved (so you have bite-sized chunks)
2 large carrots, grated
1 onion, finely chopped
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 8-ounce container of sour cream
small jar pimentos, drained well
1 box stuffing mix (I buy whatever’s on sale – this last time I used Stovetop Corn Bread Stuffing)
1 stick of butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a saucepan, barely cover the zucchini, carrots, and onion with water. Season with salt and pepper, and cook until crisp-tender, but not too soft (about 6-8 minutes, give or take). Drain well. Mix zucchini mixture with soup, sour cream, and pimentos.

Mix box of stuffing with butter. Add half of stuffing to the zucchini mixture, and place in a 2-quart baking dish. Evenly spread the remaining stuffing on top.

Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown. Let set at least 10 minutes before serving. Longer is better.

Now, I’ve made this while doing a much lower carb diet. The changes I made were to decrease the carrot to only one and increase the amount of zucchini. And, instead of stuffing mix, I've used GG Scandinavian Bran Crispbread crackers, or even Wasa Bread (pulsed in a food processor) – they both work great and save a TON of carbs (especially the crispbread).

Here's a link to the GG Bran Crispbread, in case you're not familiar with it:

Anyway, this makes a great casserole and is well worth the time and effort.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving plans

First of all, let me wish everyone a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving. I’ve got to say, it’s my favorite holiday, because it’s all about family, and it’s not so commercialized, like Christmas.

Anyway, having said that, this is going to be a very different Thanksgiving for us. Traditionally, my family has always tried our best to get together at Thanksgiving – all of us grown siblings/spouses and our mom. But last year brought big changes to our family. I lost my older sister, Barbara, and my oldest brother, Larry, within four months of each other. So our family was basically halved in size. Our mom has dementia and has had a hard year; she’s really gone downhill, both physically and mentally, in the last year.

Mom doesn’t do well these days leaving the nursing home. Within five minutes she’s asking to go home, and she’s miserable (and we’re miserable). So I am going to see my sister and my mom, and we’re going to have Thanksgiving lunch in the nursing home. Mom will be more comfortable and happy and most importantly, we can be together. I’m leaving my sweet husband home, and he will have Thanksgiving dinner with his family who live nearby.

It will be odd, because Steve and I have never been apart for Thanksgiving. But I really feel the need to see my mom. I don’t know how much longer she’ll “know” me, so I want to go. Plus, I don’t want my sister to be alone at Thanksgiving.

You know, it’s hard getting older and having siblings and parents with aging issues. Life can be tough, but I want to make the best of it.

Again, I want to wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you’re spending it with family and that you have a great day. I’ll be back in town Saturday evening, so I’ll check in after that time.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

My birthday!

I had a great birthday. Most of it was spent puttering around the house, which makes me happy. I made us breakfast – scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast. Then I cleaned the bathroom (okay, not very “celebratory,” but hey…it needed to be done).

Steve gave me a beautiful card (it made me cry, I am such a sap). He also gave me an enamel coated cast iron Dutch oven that I’ve been wishing for for the longest. And a DVD set of “Two Fat Ladies” (a British cooking show that used to be on and I loved it). I also got several cards from friends and Steve’s aunt (I’m such a sucker for cards…)

I had a lot of cooking to do to get ready for our Sunday School class and family Thanksgiving lunch today after church. I made a zucchini squash casserole, 40 deviled eggs, and a cookie bar recipe called “Hello Dolly Bars.”

Then, we went to dinner at Bonefish Grill. First of all, we went early (around 5 pm) because we like to avoid the crowds and be home early (I know, we’re sort of “old fogey” that way, but it works for us). Anyway, the atmosphere in the restaurant was beautiful. Dim lights, candles, soft music. It wasn’t loud and clanking and booming like so many places are now. So that made me happy right from the beginning.

We ordered the “Mussels Josephine” as an appetizer, which were “Prince Edward Island mussels sautéed with lemon, garlic, onions, basil, and lemon wine sauce." Oh my gosh – they were incredible. It was a huge pile of them and they served them with crusty bread and a pesto/olive oil mixture on a plate for dipping. We were in heaven!

Then, we both ordered the Gulf Grouper for our entrée. I had Mango Salsa as my sauce for the fish, and Steve had lemon butter sauce. I had garlic mashed potatoes and Hericot Vert (French baby green beans) with mine, and Steve had the au gratin potatoes and succotash with his. We both had leftovers, so we’ve got dinner tonight covered.

The food was absolutely delicious and was a thing of beauty in its presentation. I highly recommend Bonefish Grill if you ever have the chance to go. Here's their website so you can see what they have:

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A good report

My sweet husband went back to the surgeon yesterday for his follow-up visit and got a good report. Basically, the surgeon released him to eat any food he wants and to return to normal activities. Steve was very happy, needless to say. He said he stopped on the way home and ate part of a cheeseburger!

This weekend is my birthday, and I get to choose any restaurant for us to go to. My favorite place is called Paulette’s – it’s a beautiful dining experience. But I think I want to try something new… There are a couple of places I’ve been wanting to try – Texas de Brazil and Bonefish Grill. Right now I’m leaning toward Bonefish Grill, but it’s still to be decided for sure. What fun! We haven’t been out in soooooo long, and I hope it will be a special – and very fun – night.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

On the menu for tomorrow: crockpot taco soup

So, I've got all the fixins for taco soup, and will be making a big pot of it in the crockpot tomorrow. My version is pretty the same as everyone else's (depending on what I have in the pantry), but here's what is going in the soup pot tomorrow:

1 lb. ground beef, browned (I'll cook this up tonight and pop into the frig)
1 large (29 oz.) can of tomatoes (I have diced on hand)
1 can pinto beans
1 can black beans (you can use whatever kind of beans you like best)
1 can corn
1 small can green chilies
1 small jar diced pimentoes
1 package Ranch dressing mix
2-3 Tbsp. taco seasoning (you can use 1 packet of "store-bought" taco seasoning, but I bought it in bulk and just take out what I need)

Throw everything in the crockpot (don't drain any of the canned goods) and simmer on low for 4-6 hours (or all day, in my case ... since I'll be at work).

Easy-peasy, and oh so good on a cold November day...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A shameful product endorsement

Now that the holidays are upon us (WHAT??? The HOLIDAYS! I'm not ready!!), I'm getting in this sort of "nesting" groove ... wanting to make fresh-baked goodies and home-cooked stews and soups and such.

And so I wanted to share an invaluable little gem I have found for use in baking. It's Dr. Fife's Non-Stick Cooking Oil. I buy mine here.

This stuff is worth its weight in gold! It positively, absolutely, without-a-doubt will keep your food from sticking to the pan. I've used it on a number of different pans, including a loaf pan that I'd been ready to pitch, because everything was sticking to it. But this cooking oil is wonderful. It's the best cooking oil I have ever used.

It comes in a little 8-oz. jar, and I usually use a small baggie as a "glove", dip my hand into the jar, and smear a very thin layer on the pan. It works like a dream. And this little jar is going to last me a long, long time, so it's well worth the $4.99 I paid for it!

You know ... it's sad to say, but in the times we live in, it's rare to find a product that actually lives up to its claims. This one does. It just does.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Is it Friday yet?

It’s only Monday, and I’m exhausted.

I feel like I’m working two full-time jobs these days. I worked at home all weekend, cleaning the house and ridding us of a flea problem we discovered. It consisted of getting an exterminator to treat the back yard, Chem Dry to come clean the carpets, and me washing all the washable fabric in the whole house and scrubbing everything that could be scrubbed.

Additionally, I worked a couple hours overtime tonight. So I just feel plain old worn out.

More later…

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Update on Hubby and other stuff ...

Okay, Vikki … this is for you.

Steve is doing really well. He’s getting around amazingly well and is eating more. Tonight for dinner we had green beans with potatoes, creamed corn, and black-eyed peas. Not low-carb at all, but oh well. After working all day, I’m not up to making two different dinners. So I’m taking a break from the low-carb eating for awhile until life gets back on track.

Speaking of work, I’m back this week, and it’s been good. I work with such great people and I really enjoy my job. I’m blessed, I know. I left work a few minutes early today and voted on my way home. It wasn’t bad at all; I was in and out in under 25 minutes.

I’m starting to think about Christmas gifts. I usually have a lot more gifts bought by this time of the year, so I need to get in gear! I’ve decided I’m going to make my Cashew Brittle for co-worker and neighbor gifts. I didn’t make any last year, but everyone asks for it, so I’m going to do it this year. I’ll post that recipe soon – maybe tomorrow night. It’s super fast and easy, totally goof-proof, and delicious.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Remembering Larry ...

Tomorrow is November 4th. Besides being Election Day, it’s also my oldest brother’s birthday. Last year on November 4th, Larry was fighting for his life in a hospice. He lost that fight on November 6, 2007. So naturally, my thoughts are on him especially this week.

My big brother was quite a man. He was a wonderful family man – father to two sons and grandfather to five. He loved his family so much and was a great dad and grandpa, and he left a beautiful legacy behind in his family. He had had a successful career with Magnavox (later Phillips) and had been able to retire early.

Larry took an annual fishing trip to Canada with his buddies – they could only get to the cabin by seaplane and it was very remote and beautiful. He always said it was his favorite place.

He was an Elder at his church and very respected by all who knew him. He loved to travel and he and his wife were able to do quite a bit of traveling the last few years of his life. He was a wise and thoughtful man. I never heard him raise his voice to anyone and I don’t remember ever hearing him speak in anger. He was the person I went to for advice when it came to finances and investments; he was so good at that sort of thing.

Larry was also a great son. Our mom has dementia and is in a nursing home, and Larry visited her as much as he could – usually for about a week every other month.

He was wonderful big brother, and I miss him very, very much.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Deep breath -- it's almost over ...

Can I just say that this election season has exhausted me? I am so tired of automated calls, junk mailings, negative TV ads, and non-stop media coverage that I could scream!

As a conservative, I will vote for McCain and Palin, but I’m not naïve enough to believe that they can make good on all the promises they’ve made. I don’t agree with them 100% on all issues, but I believe John McCain will help keep our country safe and I believe that he is a man of integrity and principle. And for me, that’s a vital ingredient for a leader.

Barack Obama may be that type of man, but I am not convinced. I just feel like I don’t know enough about him to make that judgment call. Too much of his history is a mystery. One thing I do know: as the most liberal member of Congress, his votes have been basically opposite of what mine would have been, so I disagree with him in many areas. However, if the Obama/Biden ticket wins, I will support him as my President and will keep him in my prayers, just as I would McCain.

I hate the way our election process has evolved (or should I say “devolved”?) I hate the negative campaigning and the incredible waste of money that make up elections now. Without millions of dollars to spend, a person doesn’t have a chance to win a major election in this country, regardless of how qualified he or she might be.

Underlying the weariness I feel over this election is a deep concern that, no matter who wins, we are a nation deeply divided. I’ve heard and seen hate-filled words and actions directed to Palin and Obama that I can scarcely believe my ears and eyes. I worry for the safety of our next President and Vice President – whoever they might be.

But for now, I just feel an impending sense of relief that it’s about to be over … at least I hope it is.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Soft Foods 101

Steve has been limited to a soft-foods diet (no bread or meat), which has been a bit of a challenge to me, in terms of keeping it interesting and varied.

His favorite breakfast is two scrambled eggs, so I haven’t tried to change that. I made him oatmeal one morning, but he didn’t eat much of it, and, even though it didn't seem thick to me, I think maybe the consistency wasn’t thin enough for him. [Note to self: make oatmeal thinner next time!] Anyway, I feel good about him getting the protein, so I haven’t pushed him to try anything else as long as he’s happy with eggs. I did buy him a small box of Cream of Wheat, though, just in case he wants something different.

I bought convenience foods he could easily make for lunches and dinners, especially when I go back to work. For example, a meal might consist of Veg-All, very soft-cooked macaroni and cheese, and some Dole pears. Or, creamed spinach (Stouffer’s), creamed corn, and applesauce. Or, mashed potatoes, LeSeur peas, and tropical fruit cocktail. I bought a veggie lasagna and cooked it until it was falling apart-soft, and he and I both have enjoyed that. He also requested Blue Bunny Banana Split ice cream, so I got that, and he’ll have a very small dish of that once every day or two. He’s still drinking the Gatorade, and I’m glad for that because I think he can use all the nutrients he can get. I want to try beans and rice, but I think I'll give him another week or so more before we go there -- I'm so afraid to stress his stomach, and beans might do that ... although they would be such a good source of protein, and I know he really needs that...

I worry that when I go back to work Monday that he’ll just putter around and not really fix himself anything. I’ve got the frig stocked with all sorts of things, as well as practically every kind of Campbell Soup they make, and I want him to eat as balanced a diet as possible. But I know he’ll have what he wants – whatever looks good to him at the time. But it’s just so good to see him eat, I can’t even tell you…

Overall, he’s making good progress and seems to be getting a little stronger every day.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The kitty says Happy Halloween, too

Happy Halloween!

It’s been a good week. I have enjoyed being home and helping Steve this week. He’s making good progress, and we are thinking he will go back to work in a few weeks, hopefully on Monday, November 24. He has a follow-up appointment with the surgeon on Monday the 17th, so we’ll know more then.

I’ve been able to get some rest this week, which is good! I couldn’t have imagined having to go back to work this week. But I’m looking forward to getting back on Monday. By then Steve will be able to do a lot more for himself, so it will be good for him as well, to help him get back on his feet.

We’re feeling very grateful that things turned out the way they did. The outcome could have been so much different, I know, and we are so fortunate.

Tonight is Halloween and I’ve bought some candy for trick-or-treaters. We usually get a fair amount from the neighborhood. There are several families around with young children. It varies from year to year, but last year we had a good number. Hope I have enough candy!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Just a quick check-in...

So, we've been home from the hospital for a couple days now. Steve is doing very well, I think, considering all he's been through. He's moving v-e-r-y slowly and he is still very weak. But he's getting lots of rest and as much nutrition as I can get into him.

They sent us home with instructions to keep to a "mechanically soft diet." So he's had scrambled eggs, oatmeal, soup, soft veggies, fruit, applesauce, and a black bean veggie burger patty over the past couple of days. It takes very little to fill him up, so he's eating very small portions. But I am so happy to see him be able to eat and not feel nauseated. He's had no nausea and less pain than I thought he would, so we are feeling very blessed.

One night in the hospital, we were talking about Steve's surgeon, and I told him, "I think he saved your life." He said, "I think so, too." At the risk of sounding too dramatic ... I truly believe that. It scares me to think how close Steve really came to a life-altering and a life-threatening medical condition. Far too close for comfort, that's for sure!

Anyway, my days are very, very busy right now, but I'm happy we are over the hump and on the downward part of this journey. I'll check in again soon.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A note from the hospital

Steve had his surgery Tuesday morning. It took a lot longer than we had expected, and it ended up being a lot more complex and invasive than we hoped. I've learned that para-esophageal hernias account for only about 3% of all hiatal hernias. Thanks to our wonderful surgeon though, Steve is expected to make a full recovery.

Apparently, there was a “massive” (the word the surgeon used) hole in the top of his stomach wall, next to his esophagus, and his stomach had bulged up into that hole, and twisted around itself. This had completely blocked his esophagus. His stomach was adhering to his heart and lungs, and it was pulling away from the blood vessels that connect it to the small bowel and intestines. The surgeon, once he saw the damage, could not do a laparoscopic repair and also could not wait for another day or two for the other surgeon to do the big surgery. He said we barely made it in time and that if Steve had waited any longer, his stomach would have “died” from blood loss.

The doctor moved Steve’s stomach back down where it belongs, detaching it from the heart and lungs. He then did what is called a Nissen fundiplication wrap, which sort of wrapped his stomach around the esophagus and anchored it there. Then he anchored the stomach’s back walls to the muscles that live behind the stomach. And, he closed up the big hole that didn’t belong.

I think, all things considered, that my husband is doing really well. He is still in the hospital, and I’m staying here with him. He got the last of his tubes out today and started on a liquid diet today. We may get to go home tomorrow or Monday; don’t know for sure yet. It will be so good to be home…for both of us. I’m going to need to become the “soft foods queen” for awhile and figure out what he can have that’s good and will go down easily. No bread, no meat … nothing that will bulk up in his stomach. He must not have any stress on that poor stomach while it’s healing.

It’s been a long week, but we are feeling very grateful for the blessings that have come to him this week, especially when we found out just how close it really was. God is good. I've also been thinking about people not so many years ago who had this problem ... I think they just died a slow and painful death and no one knew what had happened to them.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Less than 12 hours to go...

We saw the surgeon today, and we have to be at the hospital tomorrow morning at 6am. He is going to attempt to do a laparoscopic procedure to repair Steve’s para-esophageal hernia, but he won’t know for sure if he can do the repair laparoscopically, until he actually gets in there and has a good look. So if he can’t, we will have to wait on a different surgeon to do the major surgery, which will take another day or two, since he’s booked solid with heart surgeries tomorrow.

So, we are fervently hoping and praying for a successful laparoscopic procedure! We’re a little nervous, but also feel so relieved that it’s finally happening, and Steve is going to be on the road to recovery very, very soon. We believe all will be well.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Tomorrow is a big day

Steve has an appointment with the surgeon tomorrow, finally. It can't come soon enough for either one of us. He's so weak and has lost probably 50 pounds since this all started in July. At this point, he's only able to hold down liquids, and not those all the time... He's on short-term disability from his job.

I'm going to ask the surgeon to admit him to the hospital, the sooner, the better. Steve needs surgery as soon as possible. I've prepared Steve that he may be going directly to the hospital, and I think he would be relieved (and I know I would) if that actually happened.

I'll post more when I can.

A realization

I came to a realization yesterday. I have been avoiding blogging. In my mind I've told myself it's because Steve is so sick and I'm a lot busier around the house these days. Which is true. I've told myself I don't want my blog to be a "downer" -- that when people read it, I don't want them to come away feeling worse than they did before they read it. Which is true. I've told myself it hasn't even been about low carbing of late, and that's supposed to be the whole foundation for my blog in the first place. Which is true. It's all true...

But yesterday, out of the clear blue, the true reason why I have quit blogging came to me. I had decided - somewhere in the far back corner of my mind - that I wasn't going to blog again until I had some good news. Whether healthwise for Steve or weightwise for me ... just something truly positive to post. And there's the rub. Life is not always positive. I can almost always find something positive out of a situation, but here lately ... it's really been hard. I have felt truly beaten down.

Different people blog for different reasons. Some people want their blog to be educational and actually train people in various tasks. For example, Wayne has this blog, that has really helped me in some technical aspects of my blogging. And my best pal, Vikki, has such a user-friendly cooking blog, it makes even non-cooks want to give it a try.

Some people blog about politics, or their children, or their dog. Some blogs are about just whatever happens to occur on a particular day in a particular life. And they all have their place.

My blog seems to have been a little of all of the above, which is okay, too. But here lately it seems to have been about my health issues and my husband's health issues, which have been pretty negative. Why is that not okay to me? It's what my life has been consumed with. Good or bad, it's life right now. And I need to be able to blog about it, regardless of if it's negative or positive ... without fear of being thought of as a "negative person" or whatever other hooey I tell myself.

So, as of today, I'm back to blogging as often as I can. For the good or for the bad, whether it's an epic, or a couple sentences. I need to express myself, and so I'm going to!

Friday, October 10, 2008

At long last, a true diagnosis!

We got a call from my sweet husband's doctor today. He had another x-ray done yesterday to check his small bowel. And it showed the true problem. He doesn't have just a hiatal hernia; he actually has a large para-esophageal hernia, which means that his stomach is bulging up into his chest cavity. This is a very rare problem, the doctor said, but it can be fixed.

So, we are looking at surgery in the next couple of weeks. The surgeon that our doctor says is "the best in Memphis" for this type of surgery is out of town until next Friday. So it will be the week after before we'll be able to see him.

We are so relieved to have an actual reason for all the nausea and weightloss. And I'm so grateful that it can - and will - be repaired.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sunday night

Wow, sorry I've been AWOL this week. I've been under the weather with some stomach issues and my husband is still sick. He has another appointment on Tuesday with the gastroenterologist, and we are hoping that he'll either change the medicine or up the dosage, because it is not working.

We did make it to church today, for the first time in over a month. It was good to see friends and get out, but he got sick as we were leaving church, so I guess it was too much for him.

We've been talking about our vacation, which is supposed to be coming up in a couple weeks. We may need to cancel it. Even a cabin in the mountains is no fun if you're sick, and it's just too far to drive if he's not well.

I've really let the blogging go to the wayside along with some other things and I'm sorry about that. But there'll be plenty of time to blog when life gets a little easier. So until then, I'll check in as I'm able and not stress about the rest.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Update on hubby

Okay, so we got a call today from the new "super doc" gastroenterologist. Steve's test was positive for gastroparesis, which is when the stomach empties too slowly. He's also fighting some infection of unknown origin. The doc is calling in some medication for the gastroparesis, which concerns me because of the bad side effects that some people encounter. (Apparently, there's only one medicine FDA-approved for this condition, but it has some pretty hairy side effects.)

But I'm trying not to borrow trouble and to just give it a chance and see if the meds will work. I'm fighting some very low spirits and a darkness that seems to have descended in the past few days...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thursday night ... I'm exhausted!

It's been a rough week. My husband has been really sick and vomiting a lot this week. He missed work Monday, and I sent around an emergency email to everyone in my office asking for a referral to a good, proactive, diagnostic gastroenterologist. One of the partners at my law firm made a call for us (actually several) and got an appointment Thursday (today) with "the best GI doctor in Memphis."

Tuesday, Steve went to work, but he was nauseous all day. Tuesday night was a really bad night. Yesterday morning, he got up and tried to get ready for work, but just couldn't do it. So I put my foot down and said "enough." I called my office and told them I wouldn't be in. I then called the GI's office (nurse's voicemail) and begged them to work him in THAT day. Got a call back from the nurse awhile later and she said she'd talked to the doctor, and we should be there at 1:00.

So, I took him and he got a thorough evaluation. They're running more tests and he got a refill on a nausea med that had worked well for him before. He was still sick last night, but went to work today and I think he's feeling a "little better." I sure hope so. I think if he can get through the night tonight without getting sick, that will be a big, big improvement.

We like this doctor. He's a professor at University of TN College of Medicine as well as a practitioner. He asked great questions and actually listened to Steve's answers. He answered our questions. He told us what tests he wanted to do and why. And, best of all, he committed to us that we WILL figure this out. It's not an easily diagnosed problem; there's no "waving red flag," but he is thinking outside the box, and I believe we'll get answers and Steve will get to feeling better.

Selfishly, I have to say that I'm really tired. My husband is a wonderful partner in helping around the house. He does a lot -- wash after I've cooked, vacuum, dust, even clean the bathroom. But he just hasn't been up to it lately, and so I've been trying to do it all. And it's hard!

Monday, September 22, 2008

First Day of Autumn ... Welcome!

Today is the first day of Autumn and I am so happy to see it arrive. It's been a long, hot summer in the Delta, and cooler temperatures are definitely welcome.

I love fall; it's my favorite time of the year. Even more so than New Year's, to me it's a time for fresh starts. The cool and sometimes foggy mornings are so invigorating. I love sweaters, and soft fleecy clothes. I love fires in the fireplace (wood burning, please). I love big pots of soup or stew simmering on the back of the stove. I love hot tea and hot chocolate, and sitting on the sofa under a throw, reading a good book. Most of all, I love the brilliant colors that the trees put on -- reds and golds, and every shade in between.

We're planning a trip to the mountains next month, and I hope the trees will be at peak fall color. I hope Steve is all better, and that we'll be able to spend the days walking and hiking, and our evenings snuggled in front of the fire. I hold that trip in front of me like a golden talisman ... it represents so much that I want for us: health, relaxation, and a peaceful respite from "the real world." Now if we can just get there!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday night check in hasn't been a great weekend. Steve is still really very nauseated and he just can't shake it. He's not eating enough to keep a bird going, and I truly don't know how he thinks he's going to work in the morning... He has a follow-up appointment with the doctor Wednesday morning; I wish it was tomorrow. I'm just beside myself with worry, and have been stress eating out the wazoo. God help us.

I need our life to get back to normal. I need my husband to feel better. I need to stop eating. I need for things to be okay...

Friday, September 19, 2008

Mom always said don't play ball in the house

Okay, to set up tonight's story, I guess the first thing that needs to be said is my husband is truly a trivia buff. Music, classic TV, old movies ... he's really good at coming up with these obscure 70s (and older) references and remarks that, the minute you hear them, you're like, Oh yeah, I remember that!

The second thing that needs to be said is that Steve and I love to play with our dog, Chance, throwing his squeaky toy, then sort of wrestling it out of his mouth to throw it again.

So last night, Steve is throwing Chance's toy. It hits a little decorative lamp I have on top of a small bookcase, and without missing a beat, Steve says, "Mom always said don't play ball in the house."

I rolled! Okay, first, I checked the lamp (unbelievably, it didn't break), but then it hit me what he said, and I laughed so hard. I love being married to someone who can still make me laugh...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Kitty time...

So...last night I was lying on the couch just sort of chilling out, and my cat Boots decided to join me. He gets on the back of the couch right over me, and sort of stretches his paw down and rests it on my shoulder. I snapped a picture and ... well, you get the picture.

He's becoming a very companionable kitty.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A new low carb snack

So, I've discovered a wonderful snack that really helps me scratch that "salty / crunchy" itch. It's Planters Kettle Roasted Peanuts Extra Crunchy Classic Salt.

These are wonderful. Very crunchy, very satisfying. The ingredients are: peanuts, peanut oil, and salt. A serving of these (about an ounce) has 3 net carbs. I buy these at WalMart. Here's a link to show what they look like:

Planters Info

Anyway, if you're looking for a salty, very crunchy treat, give these a try!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Please excuse me while I rant

Gas prices have shown a marked increase since Ike. Here in Memphis they range anywhere from $3.51 to $4.09, depending on the part of town and the station. Two weeks ago they were in the $3.35 range. I fail to see how this is anything besides "price gouging" and taking advantage of a scary weather occurrence. I've seen no documented damage of any oil refineries in the Gulf. And, today I read where crude oil has dropped to under $96 a barrel.

So, where do "they" get off jacking up the price of a gallon of gas? I'm sick of it and I'm taking the only action I feel like I can. I'm contacting the State of Tennessee Consumer Affairs office (1-800-342-8385 or I'm going to give them the name and address of the Mapco Express I passed this morning that is charging $4.09 a gallon. Puts a whole new spin on the term "highway robbery."

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Friday, September 12, 2008

I got "tagged"!

So, my cyber friend Gary (aka "Old Dude") tagged me! I wasn't sure exactly what that meant, but a quick trip to his blog clued me in. Thanks, Gary!

Tag, You're It Meme

1. Where was I 10 years ago?

Let's see ... ten years ago I was living in an apartment by myself, dating Steve, and working for a non-profit international adoption agency.

2. What was on my to-do list today?

First, had to get gas on the way to work. Had some work piled on my desk to get through today, but got waylaid by computer issues. Our IT guy spent half the day at my desk. I was having problems with Word, Outlook, ProLaw (our data management system), and Data Lariat (a "bridge" program that works in conjunction with ProLaw and Office programs). He tried a bunch of fixes and finally ended up uninstalling and reinstalling MS Office. Sheesh! Had to take a box to the UPS store at lunch time (a pair of shoes I'd ordered from that didn't fit). Steve and I were supposed to have dinner with friends tonight at one of our favorite restaurants (it's his best friend's birthday), but Steve called me about 4:00 and said he just didn't feel like going -- his stomach is still messed up (an ongoing issue). So, the evening is free, and I'm glad! Although I sure wish my sweet husband felt better.

3. What would I do if I were a billionaire?

Hmmmm. This reminds me of the old Steve Martin (Saturday Night Live) Christmas sketch where he's sitting in a wingback chair in front of the fireplace. I googled it to get it word for word, and here it is:

"If I had one wish that I could wish this holiday season, it would be that all the children to join hands and sing together in the spirit of harmony and peace. If I had two wishes I could make this holiday season, the first would be for all the children of the world to join hands and sing in the spirit of harmony and peace. And the second would be for 30 million dollars a month to be given to me, tax-free in a Swiss bank account. You know, if I had three wishes I could make this holiday season, the first, of course, would be for all the children of the world to get together and sing, the second would be for the 30 million dollars every month to me, and the third would be for encompassing power over every living being in the entire universe. And if I had four wishes that I could make this holiday season, the first would be the crap about the kids definitely, the second would be for the 30 million, the third would be for all the power, and the fourth would be to set aside one month each year to have an extended 31-day orgasm, to be brought out slowly by Rosanna Arquette and that model Paulina-somebody, I can't think of her name. Of course my lovely wife can come too and she's behind me one hundred percent here, I guarantee it. Wait a minute, maybe the sex thing should be the first wish, so if I made that the first wish, because it could all go boom tomorrow, then what do you got, y'know? No, no, the kids, the kids singing would be great, that would be nice. But wait a minute, who am I kidding? They're not going to be able to get all those kids together. I mean, the logistics of the thing is impossible, more trouble than it's worth! So -- we reorganize! Here we go. First, the sex thing. We go with that. Second, the money. No, we got with the power second, then the money. And then the kids. Oh wait, oh jeez, I forgot about revenge against my enemies! Okay, I need revenge against all my enemies, they should die like pigs in hell! That would be my fourth wish. And, of course, my fifth wish would be for all the children of the world to join hands and sing together in the spirit of harmony and peace. Thank you everybody and Merry Christmas."

That cracks me up! Okay, but I digress. Let's see, I would travel, travel, travel! I would take care of my family and Steve's family. I would support literacy and some mission projects. It's pretty much a moot question, anyway!

4. Five places I've lived

North Manchester, Indiana
Jackson, Mississippi
Dayton, Ohio
El Sobrante, California
Tupelo, Mississippi

5. Bad Habits

Lord a'mercy, where do I start? Let's see ...

Emotional eating (it's a hobby of mine)
A bad temper behind the wheel (potty mouth while driving, big time!)
Impatience with slow store clerks
Laziness (I am loath to admit this, but it is true!)
People pleasing (this is better than it used to be)
Complaining about things that I have no power over
A tendency to see the glass as half empty
Self-sabotaging behavior

I could go on and on, but enough, already!!

And now it's my turn to pass on the fun. So...Vikki, Chai, Niki, Roger, and Suzi -- TAG, you're it!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

What's up with this?

Did you see the news item about Us Weekly? Apparently, they offended a lot of their subscribers with their inflammatory caption on the "Sarah Palin issue."

Ya think?

So, in response to what has apparently been an overwhelming number of subscribers saying, "Cancel my subscription," they are offering subscribers five free issues if they will reconsider and keep their subscription.

Compare the Palin cover with the Obama cover. Nah, there's no media bias in this election ... none at all.

I've never written a "political" blog post before ... but I feel very passionate about this election, and Sarah Palin is the reason -- pure and simple.

I can relate to Sarah Palin. Not the Governor of Alaska, but the mom of five kids, a Christian who is pro-life and not ashamed to be, a woman with values and pride in our country and an appreciation of the absolute privilege we have to live in a country that's free. A woman who wants to "drill now" -- not with reckless abandon, but with an eye toward the future that this is necessary and just a part of the ultimate solution. A strong, independent, capable, intelligent woman with morals and principles. I believe in Sarah Palin. And, I hope -- I dearly hope -- that she is our next Vice President.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

To weigh or not to weigh ... that is the question

So, I've been eating low carb for 15 months now. I've lost about 62 pounds and want to lose maybe another 25-30. I've definitely had my "ups and downs" in this way of eating. I started with the Atkins Induction plan and stayed on that for several months. But as time went on, I have given myself a bigger daily allowance of carbs. I've had good times -- times when it was effortless to eat this way. I was "in the zone" and cruising right along.

Then, on the flip side, there have been times when it's been hard -- very hard -- for me to maintain this way of eating. Unfortunately for me, I have always been and continue to be a stress eater. And unfortunately, there's been a lot of stress in our lives lately. Plus, it's always been my "hobby" (how sick is that?) ... I guess I've always been a recreational eater. Food scratches practically any itch. But, that's a different post for a different day.

As time has gone by and I've become more comfortable in this way of eating / way of life, my focus has shifted away from the scale and more to my long-term health. I have to be very careful not to get obsessed with the scale. I can start a day feeling good in what I'm doing, feeling like I'm making healthy choices for myself, feeling like, wow - I've lost weight - I can just tell! ... then step on the scale and in a heartbeat -- simply because the number didn't budge, or even (God forbid!) went up a few pounds -- go to feeling like a complete and utter failure.

This feeling is exacerbated when I go on these weighing binges. I mean, WHY in the world would a sane person step on a scale three times in a day? What possible result could you expect?? And yet, there it is. Sometimes.

I'm one of those women whose weight fluctuates 5 pounds, easily. Five pounds up or down is sort of "business as usual" on my scale. I know this, yet it still gets to me.

So, I've decided I need to stop weighing for awhile. I need to sharpen my focus on health. I can listen to my body -- I can pay attention to how my clothes feel -- and I can use those feelings and indicators as a guideline of how I'm doing. I don't have to let a number have so much power over my emotions and wellness.

An ideal goal would be to weigh once a month. Or maybe once every two weeks... But there's the rub ... how do I do that? So for now, I'm going to put the scale away. We'll see how long it lasts. But it feels right. For now.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Just another big Saturday night ...

Steve and I had a really nice evening. I made dinner and we ate it on bed trays on our bed while we watched one of our "All Creatures Great and Small" episodes. We're now on Season 2, and I enjoy them so much. They make me want to see Yorkshire -- it's so beautiful. I'm so glad Steve introduced me to those videos. Just hearing the theme music makes me happy... It was a good BBC television show back in the 70s, and I totally missed it. So I'm really glad to be able to see them now.

Anyway, we've had a nice, quiet evening ... just about my favorite thing.

On another note, I finished my latest audio book today, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. What a great book! It's one of those books that when you put it down, you find yourself thinking about it. It's compelling, and funny, and tragic, and triumphant ... a really great read.

If you haven't read it, it's the fictional story of a fiery evangelical Baptist preacher who takes his wife and four daughters into The Congo in the early 1960s. They were woefully unprepared and he was insanely stubborn, refusing to leave even while the people of their small village tried to "vote him out" and while political turmoil and uprising is all around them. A horrible death occurs, which changes everything overnight.

The story is told from the perspectives of the wife, Orleanna, and each of the four daughters: Leah, Adah, Rachel, and Ruth May. I love the way this author gave a voice to each of them -- and such a distinctive voice for each. It was like looking at something that happened from five different views -- really fascinating.

Anyway, I highly recommend this book as a very compelling, can't-put-it-down story.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

How's your self talk?

You know, what we tell ourselves is so important. There's a saying that "perception is reality," and I have found that to be so true. My perception of myself becomes my reality.

Too many times in the past I've beaten myself up with words .... I've verbally bruised and battered myself and said things to me and about me that I would not say to my worst enemy. I've found this to be especially true in my eating and what I have said to myself about my eating. If I -- as humans are apt to do -- "stray" and eat something that is "forbidden" to me, it's a struggle to keep from saying, "Jeez, Patty, what is wrong with you? Why can you not get and keep control??" and worse ... much worse.

I think that many times, we are harder on ourselves than we would be on anyone else. I'll never forget the time many years ago that I was going off about something stupid I had done, and a dear friend stopped me in my tracks and said, "Wait. What would you say to me if I had done that?" I immediately re-framed my thoughts (it was automatic -- I didn't have to even think about it). I started giving her kind affirmations that "a mistake does not define you" ... that "you are a wonderful, giving, awesome person, and you have so much worth and value" ... and on and on. And I meant it; it wasn't just words. She stopped me again and asked me how it was that I could be so generous with her and so stingy and hateful to myself. Whoa ... that was the first time I'd thought of it like that.

So now, I try very hard to be a friend to myself. To be forgiving and loving and willing to say, "You know what, Patty? It's okay. You're human." To say the sort of things to myself that I would say to a friend.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Tuesday evening check-in

It's been a good day. I had the day off, the reason being that I need a day to recuperate from my trip and sort of get back into the groove for the week. So, I did some laundry, went to the grocery store, made stuff for our lunches the rest of the week (egg salad, tuna salad, and a big green salad), made dinner (baked chicken and a broccoli/cheese casserole), AND had time for a nap this afternoon. It felt so luxurious ... sleeping during the day!

I only checked my work email twice, which was good!

I found some good deals at the grocery store (can you believe?), getting a "family pack" of 10 pork chops for $5.99, and some savoy steaks for a really good price as well. They had frozen veggies 10 for $10, so I stocked up on those, too. My freezer is pretty well stocked, yay!

I enjoyed cooking dinner, because Steve is feeling so much better and he's eating again. So I'm happy to get back into that habit.

My sweet husband had cleaned house this weekend, so I came home to a nice, clean house. He's so great with that -- he'll vacuum, dust, even clean the bathroom if he has to!

Boots and Chance were happy to have me home. Boots loves getting brushed, and he missed it while I was gone. Here's a picture I just took of him, sitting on the arm of my recliner -- one of his favorite spots.

Behind him is his other favorite spot -- his "perch" at the window. During the day we raise the blinds and let him keep an eye on the front yard.

All in all, as Dorothy so appropriately said, "There's no place like home."

Monday, September 1, 2008

Back home and so glad to be....

I'm back, and none too soon. I've become such a homebody ... I'm always so happy to be heading home.

Well, my trip had some good and bad. I had a nice visit with my sister, and a couple of good visits with my mom. There was a pretty bad episode, but I chalked it up to basically a sort of sensory overload for her. We had already been out for lunch that day and done pretty well, so I think I was pushing it to attempt to get her out twice in one day. I learned from that and didn't try it again. Anyway, I think she enjoyed my visit for the most part, and I'm glad I went.

But I'm super glad to be home.

More later...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Heading out of town, and dreading it

I'm going to see my mom and sister this weekend. A bit of background: my mom is in a nursing home. She has pretty severe dementia and is unable to care for herself. My sister lives in the same town in southern Arkansas, and bears the brunt of responsibility as far as overseeing mom's care. I feel guilty that I'm not close enough to share the duties, and -- to be brutally honest -- I feel relieved that I'm not close enough to share the duties. It's been too long since I've gone for a visit, and so I've made the commitment that I'll go this weekend.

Mom has deteriorated mentally by leaps and bounds within the last year. It's shocking, really. The good thing is, she almost always recognizes me when I call. She still knows who I am and knows my voice. But the bad thing is, she tends to get very agitated and combative. She will say horrible, hateful things. I know it's the disease talking, but the words are still coming out of my mother's mouth. So it's hard. She's basically become a completely different person than I knew as my mom.

My hope is that she has a good day or two while I'm there. I'm trying to have very realistic expectations that it may be rough, while still hoping for the best. Mostly, I'm going to support my sister and tell her again how much I appreciate what she does.

But, I'm worried about leaving Steve. We still don't have an answer as to what is causing his nausea and pain, and I don't like leaving him under these circumstances.

I'll be leaving directly from work Friday afternoon and driving down that night. I'll return on Monday. Chances are, I'll be offline that entire time. I haven't decided if I'll take my laptop, but I think not, since my sister doesn't have DSL or cable internet, and I am hopelessly spoiled.

So....I'll try to post tomorrow night if I have time, but if not, it will be Monday before I can again. In the meantime, I hope everyone has a good weekend and a good Labor Day.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Back on track eating has not been good for the past week or two. I have allowed stress to dictate my days and as a result, have been making lousy food choices and I am feeling the effects. My anemia issues continue to be a factor, and I have struggled to be able to both take the iron supplements I need and be able to "go".

Yesterday I made the decision that, even though stress is still a major factor, I had to get a grip. I had to get and maintain control over the parts of my life that I can control. As of yesterday, I have gone back to the basics of low carb eating -- plenty of fiber, protein, non-starchy vegetables -- and I know this will result in my feeling better.

As my new cyber-pal Gary (aka "Old Dude") reminded me, if I don't take care of myself, I won't be in a position to really take care of Steve. I needed that reminder, Gary, so thanks for that.

Today's food:

2 cups coffee with Sugar Free Coffee Mate and Sweetzfree

3 deviled egg halves

large spinach salad with smoked turkey, cucumber, bell pepper, tomato, shredded carrots, and Ranch dressing

1 oz. Colby/Jack cheese with 1/4 cup sunflower seeds

roasted chicken, green beans almandine, and turnip greens

For later, if I need a snack, I'll have sugar free Jello

I'm trying to get my water in -- I gotta say, this is hard for me. I can drink iced tea until the cows come home, but I just struggle to drink all the water.

Update on Steve:

He had his ultrasound this morning. He asked, but the tech refused to comment - said the results would go to the doctor to "read" the test, then will be sent to Steve's gastroenterologist. Said it should take "a couple days." If we have not heard anything by Wednesday afternoon, I'll call his doctor's office to inquire. I don't have a wealth of confidence in him at the moment...

After his ultrasound, Steve said he felt hungry, so he stopped by the hospital cafeteria and got a hot breakfast (scrambled eggs, turkey bacon, and a biscuit). He said he ate a fair amount of that. That's very encouraging, because I don't remember the last time he said he was hungry. At lunchtime he wasn't hungry, so I don't think he ate much more than a couple bites. And for dinner tonight, he ate a little. Which is fine -- I'm fine with him eating a little.....just as long as he's able to eat something. He's definitely feeling better -- he's been joking and talking tonight -- much more like the Steve I know and love.

So, I think the medicine that the doctor called in for him is helping. It may be just putting a temporary Band-Aid on the problem, but at this point, we will take that. He needs a respite from the incessant nausea, and I hope he continues to get that. In the meantime, I hope the ultrasound shows something and that we can take definite steps to fix whatever it is. We just want answers at this point.

Finally, to those select few who read my blog -- thank you for the kind words, the good thoughts, the continued visits to read my feeble words and ramblings. It's sort of cathartic and therapeutic to be able to express what's going on and how I'm feeling about it.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Check out my new banner!

My best buddy Vikki created a banner for my blog. I love it! She is such a creative person on so many levels. Just a glimpse at her blog shows her creativity in the kitchen with all things culinary. But beyond that, she was a teacher for many years and loved doing fun and educational projects with her kiddos. Just hearing her talk about those days and some of her experiences makes me wish I'd had a teacher like that. I always say if I had a child I would want them to have a teacher like Vikki.

Anyway, thanks, Vikki, for the banner; it's great.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A case of the blahs...

I've been feeling pretty "bleah" the past few days. My sweet husband is not feeling any better. We should buy stock in Pepto Bismal... I called his doctor yesterday (demanded to speak to him, more like) and basically "cleaned his plow" as we so charmingly say here in the south. I'd had it. We'd been waiting four days for him to call, Steve had called more than once and spoken with his nurse, who had promised she would give the doctor the message and have him return the call.

So anyway, I expressed my concern over the quality of his "care" and pretty much just gave him a piece of my mind (like I had one to spare...) for, oh, a good 10 minutes, give or take. (Need I say, this had been building up inside me?) He gave some half-assed excuse that he did call one day, but didn't leave a message due to HIPAA regulations. To which I replied, let's just go on the record and say, PLEASE feel free to leave a message on Steve's cell phone or our home phone (DUH). Funny that a strange number didn't show up on our caller ID for either phone that day...

Anyway, after speaking with me, he hung up and immediately called Steve. Bottom line is, he called in some new meds for the weekend and Steve now has an appointment Monday morning at 8:15 for an ultrasound. They're going to look at his gallbladder. Hmm.......wasn't that one of the first things we asked about?

Anyway, with Steve not eating and me feeling like I'm living inside a pressure cooker these days, my eating has just gone to hell in a handbasket. I've eaten things this week that have not passed these lips in well over a year... During a very long, drawn-out, intense full day of meetings on Wednesday, I got the shakes about mid-afternoon. It wasn't appropriate for me to leave the room, so I got up and got a Sprite (real, mind you -- not Diet), popped it open and drank it. The shakes went away, and I felt better within 10 minutes. I know that was a low blood sugar issue, but the reason for it in the first place was the junk I'd put into my system earlier that day. Carbage makes me sick...

Oh, and on the "iron supplementation" front ....... when they tell you that liquid iron does not constipate you ....... they lie. I am in a vicious cycle that I won't elaborate on (you're welcome), but let's just say it's not pretty and leave it at that. I'm very frustrated and ill over it. It's basically come down I want to have some energy, or do I want to have a bowel movement? Pick one.

Okay....Saturday morning bitchfest is now officially over. Have a nice day, and I'll try to do the same.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A new "chapter" on "Books I'm Reading, Books I Love"

I downloaded an e-book from our public library the other day. I have enjoyed it soooooo much. I've been putting it on CDs and listening to it each day on my commute. It's called Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns, and it's about a scandal that takes place in the little town of Cold Sassy, Georgia back in the early 1900s. The book is written from the point of view of Will Tweedy, a 14 year old boy, whose grandmother had passed away a couple weeks earlier, and his grandfather has shocked the town by marring a woman half his age (with his wife not yet "cold in the grave"!!) It's so funny and full of real-life-small-town drama, and I am enjoying it so very much. It makes me laugh out loud, which is so nice when you're driving in bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic! The man who is reading the book has a great voice - very expressive and just perfect for the characters in the book.

Back in the day (I was younger and more energetic and working nights with time to kill during the days) I volunteered at a radio station for the blind and visually impaired. Volunteers read the daily newspaper, current magazines, current novels and name it, and the station also provided various music formats as well. I was on the 10am to noon "shift" two days a week, and a team of three of us read The Commercial Appeal (our daily newspaper). I really enjoyed doing that, and would like to do it again sometime. Anyway, I always thought that would be a pretty good job -- reading books for a living. Wonder how one goes about getting a gig like that......? :-)

I just finished a couple Belva Plain books. I've read most all of her
s, but there were two on my shelf that I'd not read yet: Secrets and Random Winds. Her books seem to always be such sagas, spanning generations, and the characters seem to be so real, flaws and all. By the time you finish, you feel like you're intimately familiar with the family and their lives. She's a great writer.

I'm in the middle of the latest John Grisham book, The Appeal, and I'm enjoying it a lot. I love Grisham's legal thrillers. I haven't been as enthusiastic about his other books, like A Painted House. I think he should stick to the legal genre, because he does it so well.

As always, there are bunches of books "in the wings," just waiting to be read. I've got one called These Is My Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881 - 1901. It looks really good, and I already have the sequel to it, Sarah's Quilt. So, I think they'll be next on my list.

Haven't been sleeping well. I guess just too much on my mind. But maybe I'll try to get back to bed and catch another hour or two before I have to get up and "hit the day running".......

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A new look

So....I got a suggestion from a fellow blogger and one of my readers, Gary (aka "Old Dude") about changing the colors in my blog. I gotta say, choosing colors is not a strength of mine. The fact is, I'm color blind. It's rare in a woman, but there you go... I didn't know I was color blind until I was in my mid-20s and applying for an air traffic controller job. It actually disqualified me (which I believe was a blessing in disguise). But I digress...

I think I don't see color in the same way as other people. I mean, I see red, green, blue, yellow -- but I think I don't see the subtleties of shading that most others do. The main result of this is that I usually make very "safe" choices -- like with my blog, I simply chose a template and stuck with those colors and didn't give it much thought... Until Gary questioned me, "why green?" Hmmm. Why not?

So, I've made some changes. I don't know if they "work" or not, but I think they look pretty good. Comments are welcome - you won't hurt my feelings. Well, hopefully not, anyway.

Tuesday morning...dashing out the door

I've just got a minute before I have to leave for work. But I wanted to let you guys know that Steve got a call yesterday from his doctor's office. The biopsy on the polyps they removed from his colon was negative! (Thank YOU!)

Unfortunately, he has not been feeling well since Saturday night and has eaten very little since that time. The doctor is supposed to call him today, and he's going to update the doc on how he's feeling and try to get some help. He's taking the med they prescribed for the hiatal hernia, but it doesn't seem to be doing much of anything. Basically, he's living on Pepto Bismal and the occasional (twice a day) small bowl of cereal...he can't keep that up indefinitely.

I got my liquid iron yesterday (wow...that was fast!) and I'm going to take at least double, perhaps even triple doses until my follow-up doc appointment next month. It actually doesn't taste bad. Or maybe I'm just used to drinking gross stuff.... It's sort of cinnamon-y ... kind of like drinking a cinnamon TicTac. Not bad at all.

Gotta run.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

My test results

So, I saw the doctor a couple weeks ago and at that time, they took 8 vials of blood to run a bunch of tests. I finally got my test results in the mail this week. Apparently, the doctor had been on vacation for several days, and the results had to sit on his desk until he got back before they were sent on to me.

Anyway, the good news is that the vast majority of my tests (4 pages' worth) were normal. Thyroid tests, glucose, liver, coronary risk, calcium level, and a bunch more tests were great. My total cholesterol was 171, HDL was 52, LDL was 96, and triglycerides were 117. Blood pressure was 120/74, which is where it usually is. I credit low carb eating for these good scores.

The problem, as always, is this stinking pernicious anemia. Because I had 4 (weekly) B12 shots in the month of June, and two in July, my B12 levels were okay. But my iron was bottomed big surprise, unfortunately. I've had chronic anemia for many, many years, and test results fluctuate from the bottom of normal to way, way under. Unfortunately, it's way, way under right now. I just don't absorb vitamins and nutrients like I'm supposed to.

My actual iron level was 36. It should be in the 50-170 range. The % saturation was 7%, and normal is 20-50%. Ferritin was at 3, and it's supposed to be anywhere from 10-291.

This is in spite of a daily OTC ferrous sulfate tablet. The doctor's suggestion is to up that to 2 Ferrosequals per day. I have a problem with that, though... If I'm not absorbing the iron from one tablet, why would I absorb it any better from two? Plus there's the whole constipation effect. I'll never be able to go if I'm taking that much iron!

So, I have ordered a liquid iron supplement from It also has B12 and folate in it, which will be good. I've been reading about it, and apparently "normal absorption" of iron tablets is only about 20%, leaving 80% to be eliminated through the body, which causes the constipation. Since I'm not even getting the normal absorption, I don't think the pills are the way to go. Liquid iron, because it doesn't have to be dissolved, has something like a 95-98% absorption rate. And as an added bonus, it supposedly does not cause the same level of constipation that the pills do. Definitely worth a shot...

I figure, what the heck.......I'm already downing liquid glucosamine / chondroitan / MSM and liquid cod liver oil, so what's one more disgusting concoction to get down each day? A small price to pay if I can get my energy levels up and keep them up where they should be...

So that's the plan. Long as I have a plan, I feel better...

Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday night.....yes!

I love Friday nights. The weekend stretches out before you like a winding road, with passages to the right and to the left. Do I want to sleep in, or get up early and hit a few garage sales? Do I want to clean house in the morning and cook in the afternoon, or lie on the couch and read my book I'm totally engrossed in? Do I want to cook dinner and serve it on trays in the bedroom and watch a movie, or go out to eat?

Of course, that whole paragraph is sort of the "perfect world" scenario. Rarely do I have a weekend that stretches out so leisurely and is as full of choices as that. Very rarely. Usually, it's full of things I've GOT to do, because I just flat out did not get them done during the week...

Having said that, this weekend is not totally jam packed, praise be. I'd like to run a couple errands, but it won't be a catastrophe if I don't. I'd like to clean house, but life as we know it won't end if I don't scrub my toilet tomorrow.

The one thing that we are committed to is dinner tomorrow night. Steve and I are "small group leaders" in our Sunday School class. We have a large class, and it's a good way to allow folks sort of get to know each other in a smaller, more relaxed atmosphere. Anyway, we're meeting our group tomorrow night at "On The Border" Mexican Restaurant. I'm looking forward to a fun evening and some fajitas! :-)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

In the still of the night

My sweet husband was sick in the night. It woke me up, and now I guess I am up for the duration. He's back in bed and, I fervently hope, sleeping.

He'll be home today, prepping for the Thursday's colonoscopy. I'll be at work, worrying.

I've been doing so much better, I thought, at not letting my thoughts run away with me about what could possibly be going on with Steve and his stomach issues. But in "the still of the night," it's hard to keep my thoughts corralled.

Please, please......let all be well.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Pan-Fried Catfish

Today has been a domestic sort of a day. This morning, I put on a pot of pinto beans with salt pork in the slow cooker. Yummy. Then, I dusted, Windex'ed, and polished all the furniture, mirrors, and other surfaces in the house. (Just call me Holly Homemaker!)

Then, this afternoon, I sauteed thinly sliced cabbage and onion in EVOO with plenty of cracked black pepper. Then, I made my pan-fried catfish. It's super easy.

4 boneless fish fille
ts (I've used catfish and tilapia - both are great)
2 eggs
1 c. grated Parmesan cheese (the kind in the green canister)
1 T. Old Bay seasoning

fillets and pat dry. Beat eggs in a shallow dish (I use a large paper plate). In a different shallow dish or plate, mix cheese and seasoning. Dip fish into egg, then into cheese, pressing the cheese on well.

Prepare a nonstick skillet with a few tablespoons oil and preheat on medium heat. Lay the fillets in, but don't crowd them. I fry two at a time. Cook for 4-5 minutes on one side, then turn. (Time depends on how thick the fillets are.) Try to only turn once. Fry until cooked through and golden brown.

This is a really good, easy way to fix catfish. I like to serve it with lemon wedges for a last-minute splash of flavor.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The power of words

My name is Patty, and I have a confession to make......I am a sucker for a well-turned phrase.

I love good slogans and mottos and cliche-ey statements. I just can't help it. At any given time I have a few plastered on my monitor or on the wall behind my desk. For example, I have three of them posted in my office right now:

1. "He who angers you, controls you."

Isn't that an awesome statement? It's so true. I've been dealing with anger issues lately, even with drivers who cut me off on the interstate. (I think it's hormonal.) But I've been really trying to consciously remember that statement, and unclench my teeth, and say, "You don't know me and I don't you, and you are NOT going to control me." It works!

2. "Coincidence is when God chooses to remain anonymous."

I love that. It helps me remember to look for the little happy daily occurrences in my life, and just say, "Thank you."

3. "You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late." (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

I actually blogged about this one last month (July 10th) and the impact it made when I read it.

Here's one more, for the road:

4. "The older we get, the fewer things seem worth waiting in line for."

Ain't it the truth?? :-)

A quick update

Wow, it's been a crazy couple of days. First of all, my sweet husband had his appointment at the gastroenterologist. He couldn't pinpoint a cause for his symptoms, so they have scheduled him for a colonoscopy next week. I just hope it sheds some light on what is going on, and that there is a simple solution.

Yesterday was a bad day... I woke up in the middle of Tuesday night -- about 2:30 or so -- and it was sweltering hot in our house. I checked the thermostat and it was 84 degrees! The AC fan was running, but it was blowing warm air. So at 7:00 a.m. I called an AC guy (actually two AC guys). The first one that called me back got the job. By the time he got it fixed (around noon) it was close to 90. Ugh!

He replaced the capacitor and 5 pounds of Freon. I think it's fixed, but it took forever to cool the house down. The humidity had seeped into the walls, the carpet, and even the furniture. When I went to bed last night at about 11:00 it was still 80 degrees. But in the night the house finally got cooled down and we woke up this morning to a nice, cool house.

Today has been rainy and a lot cooler, thank goodness. The heat wave was about to kill me! And we needed the rain so, so much.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I'm worried.......

Okay, so I posted a couple weeks ago about our scary trip to the ER. Steve was diagnosed with a large hiatal hernia and sent home with meds for pain, nausea, and acid reflux.

The trouble is, he doesn't have acid reflux. He hardly ever gets heartburn. But the nausea and pain has continued, off and on, in varying degrees. He's missed a couple days of work since the ER episode....which is so not normal for Steve. He has an impeccable work ethic and just does not miss work.

He had seen a Nurse Practitioner at our GP's office a couple days after the visit to the ER, just for follow-up, and he basically just confirmed that yes, the pain could have been (and probably was) from the hiatal hernia. He also said that it was possible Steve had and passed a kidney stone. Nothing definitive and nothing terribly helpful. Since then, we have wondered if perhaps something else is going on and perhaps the pain and nausea is from another cause...

Yesterday he got sick at lunchtime and stayed the rest of the day at work. He had only eaten a few bites of his lunch. He did not eat dinner. He did eat a few crackers about 9:00 last night, before he went to bed. He spent a bad night and called in today - very nauseated.

So, he called the doctor's office this morning to try to get in today to see someone -- anyone. His appointment was at 11:00 and the NP that he saw basically took one look at him and made an appointment for tomorrow morning at 8:00 with a gastroenterologist. His blood pressure was very low. He's gone back and forth today between the nausea, feeling better, and pain.

I hope and pray the doctor will be able to find the problem tomorrow and that it will be something we can easily fix. (I guess that's always everyone's hope and prayer that goes through something like this, isn't it?) But in the meantime, I gotta say......I'm worried.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Summer tomato salad

It's the middle of summer, and red ripe tomatoes are in abundance. I'm fortunate this year in that there are a couple people in our office whose parents grow more than they can eat, so every week or so, there will be bags or boxes of home-grown tomatoes free for the taking.

There's a recipe that I've made for years, and people always request it when there's a family get-together, so I thought I would share it here.

Summer Tomato Salad

6-8 red, ripe tomatoes (depends on their size and how much you want to make)
Wishbone Italian Dressing
2-3 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
8 oz. Feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 small can sliced black olives, drained
Garlic salt
Fresh parsley, chopped

Peel and cut tomatoes in wedges, draining away the juice. (The juice can be reserved for something else - homemade soup, spaghetti sauce, whatever.) Put the tomato wedges into a large bowl (with a cover), and add the green onions, crumbled Feta, red onion, olives, garlic salt to taste, and parsley. Add the Italian dressing, cover, and refrigerate.

This tastes better if you can make it at least 4-5 hours before serving, and it's even better the second day, after the flavors have had plenty of time to meld together. It's a wonderful addition to any summer meal.


Thursday, July 31, 2008

My doctor's appointment

I saw my doctor today. Can I just say that I love my doctor? He is so wonderful. He's an older man; he could have retired by now, but I'm so glad he hasn't. In my opinion, he can truly be called a "healer." He always seems to be current with research on a wide variety of health issues, and he takes a very pro-active stance in health care.

Anyway, he asked me so many questions (and actually listened to my answers). He agreed to run all the blood tests I requested, plus several more that he thought were appropriate (the nurse took 8 vials of blood!) and he explained what he thinks might be some of the problems I'm facing.

He didn't sugar-coat anything....just told me what he thinks we're looking at, which is exactly what I want. I should get test results in maybe a week, so we may know more then.

He gave me a few prescriptions and told me to come back in a month for a follow-up visit, so that we can evaluate how those are working and if we need to change anything. So, unless the blood tests show something that he's not expecting, I'll see him again in a month.

I'll blog more about this when I know more, but this is today's update.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


I am not tolerating the heat very well these days. The temp today was 101 and the humidity was incredible. Why in the world do we live here?'s food was:

1 cup of Hood milk - chocolate and white, mixed

2 cups of coffee with sugar free Coffee Mate and Sweetzfree

3 deviled eggs halves

2 Hebrew National all-beef hotdogs (no bread) with mustard and 1-carb ketchup

Spinach salad with ranch dressing

3 celery sticks (3 inches long) with Sun Butter

Chicken-veggie stir fry with 2 tomato slices and 2 small pieces of cantaloupe

And that's it. Pretty good day today, food-wise.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Counting my blessings

Today, Steve and I spent some time with an old friend. He and Steve knew each other for years before we met, and since the time Steve and I started dating, he has become my friend as well. He's a very intelligent and interesting guy with a professional career. He's kind, funny, witty, and just a very special man.

He also has cancer.

He's been fighting it now for some time, and his attitude remains really, really good. His faith is strong and he's not discouraged. At least, not that I can tell. One thing that struck me is how many times he talked about being thankful for this or that. Thankful...

There's an old song I remember singing at church when I was growing up, called "Count Your Blessings." Part of it says,

Count your blessings, name them one by one
Count your many blessings, see what God has done

I have to confess, too many times I don't count my blessings. Too many times I find myself worrying over one thing or another. I hear my voice complaining about something (many times it's something I have no control over and can't change the hot weather!) I find myself looking at what we don't have instead of all we do have.

Gratitude is a funny thing. It is contagious. I like being around positive, grateful people because it rubs off on me. I want to be a positive, grateful person that "rubs off" on others.

So tonight I'm counting my blessings. And there's a whole lot to count.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Progress, not perfection

I read a cute saying today. Don't know who said it, so I can't credit the originator:

"The older you get, the tougher it is to lose weight, because by then your body and your fat have gotten to be really good friends."

I love that. It is, unfortunately, all too true. At the low carb forum where I hang out, there's been a discussion today about losing weight for a second (or more) time, and losing weight as an older person as opposed to a younger person. I have to say, this weightloss journey I have been on for the past year has been a slower, rockier trip than I enjoyed in my younger days...

However, it has also been a calmer, more focused, less frenetic journey. I feel very blessed to have found the low carb way of life and to have made the decision to live the rest of my life this way. That just makes things so much easier. I don't have to wonder how I'm going to eat tomorrow or next week or next year. I don't have to obsessively read the newest magazine article that promises I'll lose 20 pounds in 30 days. Best of all, I don't have to live with regret that food controls me. That is such a feeling of freedom and peace.

Even on days when I "veer from the road" (okay, am I taking the "journey" metaphor too far?), I don't panic. It doesn't mean I've failed; it doesn't mean I can't continue eating low carb; it just means I allowed myself to indulge in a food that is out of the ordinary. What a great feeling! I am not perfect, never will be, but as I always say, the goal is progress, not perfection.
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