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.

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