Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

Imagine that! Two posts in two days! Don't get used to it, though. This is anomaly...

Well, Happy New Year to one and all! Terry and I are settled in to our customary New Year's Eve positions--him in his chair, and I in mine. We have never been big partiers, and that's fine. When I was a kid, my parents usually stayed in on New Year's Eve, and we had our own party. My mother made her homemade cheese dip and Chef Boy-ar-Dee pizza, and we had a big time staying up until midnight. We even got an extra pop. At midnight, we hollered out the door and rang bells and used noisemakers. When I was in high school, I went to parties with friends sometimes, but when I was home from college, it was back to the family nights.

For the first few years of our marriage, Terry and I continued the tradition and went to Mom and Dad's house for the evening. My sister and her husband did, as well. After a while, though, Terry decided he didn't want to drive on New Year's Eve, especially once the kids came along, so we started staying home. My sister and her family continued going in to my parents' house and still do. We started our own party night at home. I made special snacks, and the kids could stay up until midnight and had extra pop. Sound familiar? We added renting movies to the routine. We didn't rent movies much, so this was a big deal. At midnight, we would go outside and holler, "Happy New Year!" to no one in particular. Terry and the kids took turns shooting the shotgun in the air (there was no one around to hit), and I rang bells. It was usually pretty festive. I do remember one year when he was working, and I tried to make the evening fun for the kids. We made party hats and played games. Alissa and Chip had a good time, but it seems Doug didn't enjoy himself so much--at least that's what it looks like in the pictures! Of course, he was only 3, and midnight was pretty late for him.

As the kids grew older, they started bringing friends home for the movies and snacks. We were glad to have them home and off the streets on the biggest party night of the year. Now they are all out on their own, doing their own thing, and we are back to just the two of us. We no longer have the special snacks and the movies, as we try to eat healthy, and Terry says movies aren't his thing. New Year's Eve is just another evening for us, watching reruns of shows that weren't that good to begin with. We do watch the ball drop at midnight. We are real party animals! However, we can look forward to a good pork roast meal at Dad's tomorrow and to the fellowship of the family, most of whom will gather there.

Oh, yeah--resolutions? I don't really believe in them, as most people don't keep them anyway. I just want to try to live in good health and let others live as they choose to. And I want to strive for contentment and compassion. That would be good. Best wishes to everyone!

Saturday, December 30, 2006


Welcome to my number one pet peeve! Having just seen another story about obesity and its dire effects on our population, I am ready to comment, and Terry is tired of listening to me, so I am writing it down. You can read it or skip it if it doesn't strike a chord with you...

I am fat. Not chubby, large, plus-sized, overweight, or even obese, just fat. It seems that I have been that way or fighting it for the last 50 years, so that is most of my life. I was a large baby at birth, but I was anemic and didn't thrive for awhile, so until I was about 8, I was actually skinny. Then, for no apparent reason, I began to put on weight, and I became "chubby," or "pretty plus," as they said in the girls' clothing department. My weight gain was not due to overeating or snacking or eating junk. My mother, who was overweight herself, was very careful to feed all 3 of us children a balanced and healthy diet, even when we didn't want it! We ALWAYS had to have at least a small serving of whatever vegetable was served, and one always was. Some I liked, some not, and eating them didn't help me like them any better, as she hoped it would. (I still can't look peas in the face! ) We didn't have after-school snacks, like many of my friends, and we didn't snack at night. Soft drinks were a once-a-week treat. I got sufficient exercise, although it was not one of my favorite things to do. While I would have rather read a book or played with dolls, my mom was always encouraging me to get out and ride my bike or skate or play something active. There wasn't much t.v. watching, either. However, I continued to gain weight.

As I grew into my teen years, the problem continued, only now I was aware of my appearance and was often on a diet. For all of my high school years, a friend and I carried melba toast, apples and hard boiled eggs to school for our lunch. I watched what I ate at home, but I did go out to drive-in restaurants on occasion. I was one of the first devotees of Diet Rite Cola, and I have continued to drink diet soft drinks until this day, only now Diet Dr. Pepper is the drink of choice. In spite of all my efforts, I remained a size 12-14, when most of my friends were a size 8-10.

For many years, I dieted off and on, the famous yoyo syndrome that we didn't know was bad at the time. I remained, through college and the first 8 years of marriage, a size 12-14. I managed to have two children and return to that weight. Before my second child was born, the doctor said that my thyroid gland was underactive, and he put me on medication, which helped keep the weight constant.

Then I turned 30. We moved to a small farm, and my doctor retired, leaving me off the medication. The next doctor I saw said I didn't need it. Meanwhile, for no apparent reason again, I gained 35 pounds in 6 months. I couldn't understand it. On the farm, I was doing at least twice as much physical activity as I had in the suburbs, and I was eating less. Still the pounds piled on. Then I got pregnant, adding another 30 pounds, only 20 of which I managed to lose. Now I was up 45 pounds and growing!

I was really frustrated, and when my husband had to go on a low fat diet, I went with him, eating 1200 calories a day to his 1500. In three months, he lost over 30 pounds, I lost 5. That's when I decided that was it. No more diets for me. At 35, I gave up dieting forever. I tried to exercise and not pig out, and that was it. I continued to gain weight. I finally came to the conclusion that if I lost weight, it would be because I was sick with some dread disease.

Meanwhile, society kept bombarding us with pictures of waif-thin people and telling us that being fat was unhealthy and costing the health care system millions of dollars. Now we get to that peeve. I do not and have never had high blood pressure, high cholesterol or triglycerides, diabetes or any other serious obesity-blamed condition. I do have rheumatoid arthritis and some osteoarthritis. The rheumatoid is not weight-related, but the osteo- probably is. Overall, I am in good health and can do most of what I would want to do. I am back on thyroid medication. I do take care of myself, trying to get those 5-9 servings of fruit and vegetables and the 3 dairy most days. I eat little restaurant or convenience food anymore. I try to watch the fat intake, and I work out daily, 3 times a week at Curves and the rest at home. Guess what--I'm still fat! That's okay with me--I would rather be healthy than skinny, and if anyone would judge me because of my size, I figure that's their problem. I just wish that the media would quit portraying all fat people as couch-potato junk food aficionados. That is a gross (ha ha) generalization! Life is good!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry Christmas!

I know it is only Christmas Eve, but now is the time to wish everyone a Merry Christmas! Although this is not a "normal" Christmas around our house, it is still an occasion for comfort and joy. We are very blessed in many ways, and Christmas is a time to be grateful for all those blessings. Terry is recovering, albeit slowly, but at least he is headed in the right direction. I am healthy enough to get around and do all I want and need to do. All of our children are well and have established adult lives. We have wonderful grandchildren. My dad is still thriving. The rest of our family is doing fine. We have enough money to live comfortably and help our family and others when it is needed. We don't seem to lack for anything that is important in life. Overall, we have a very good life and are luckier than many. Sometimes we get discouraged, as most people do, at circumstances that we can't control. However, when I think about it, I am extremely grateful for all we have been given. I know I have done nothing outstanding to merit all this, so all I can do is say, "Thank you, God."--And Life is good, of course!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A Spark of Life

If you are tired of hearing about our adventures in hip surgery, I don't blame you. We are tired of living it. However, today I witnessed a spark of life. For the first time in 6 weeks, I saw a glimmer of the REAL old guy that usually lives here. He has been absent for these 6 weeks, replaced by a sad and grumpy invalid. Now I understand why he has been a sad and grumpy invalid, mind you. It has been a rough road for him, and I know it. However, I admit to sometimes feeling just the tiniest bit impatient for the REAL guy to reappear. Today he peeked out. He woke up well-rested and hungry. He ate 3 decent-sized meals. He kidded around throughout the day. He did his exercises and seems to be looking forward to physical therapy tomorrow. It appears that all of a sudden he realizes that he is recovering. It seems as though we may have reached the intersection and are getting ready to turn the corner. Of course, I am trying not to count my chickens before they are hatched. He may wake up tomorrow and feel terrible. However, we had a good day today, so I know that more will be coming. Life is good!

Of course, if he knew I were writing about him on the internet, he wouldn't be happy. He thinks blogs are a waste of time, so I haven't told him about this one. What he doesn't know won't hurt him, right?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

In the Middle

It seems like I have spent a lot of my life in the middle. First I was the middle child of three. Although my parents went out of their way to be fair, some other relatives didn't. My brother was favored because he was the oldest, and my sister because she was the cute youngest. I was the one in the middle. And even though my parents were scrupulously fair, there were some things that turned out unfair anyway, just because of the ages we were at the time and how things changed as we got older. That's life, and I didn't mind most of the time. I was pleased that my parents worked so hard to be fair to us all.

Since I've grown up, I've often found myself in the middle of other situations. After I married, sometimes my family traditions and my husband's wishes conflicted. He came from a family that was not nearly as close as mine, and traditions weren't as important to them. I often found myself trying to find the way to please everyone while listening to both sides tell me their wishes. Although my parents would never demand that we do the family things, I wanted to, and they wanted us to be included, too. As it turned out, life was sort of a compromise. We didn't spend as much time with my family as I would have liked, but more than my husband would have chosen.

I have found myself in similar situations at work, getting caught between colleagues who got along with me, but not with each other. I ended up listening to a lot of grievances. The same is true with some friendships. I would imagine this happens to many people and that I am not unique.

Now I find myself in the middle again, between my husband and the rest of our family. Whenever he gets sick, he decides he doesn't want company. The family wants to visit. Most people like to have company for short visits during an illness or recuperation period, but he does not. I have tried to explain to him that the visits are not only for him, but that everyone else wants to see him and know that he is okay. Our kids particularly want to see for themselves that he is recovering. They are not happy at being kept away. Guess who is in the middle. They let me know they aren't happy, and he is telling me that he just wishes that everyone would honor his request.

For the record, I HATE being in the middle! But life is good, anyway. The patient is mending, and all will work out in the end.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Let's Try This Again

Terry and I have just returned at 8:00 tonight from another sojourn in the hospital. It seems that the complications that Terry was so afraid of before his surgery did, indeed, occur. When we last left our recovering patient, about a week after he returned from rehab, it seemed he had cabin fever, complaining about feeling sick and tired and totally without energy. He was even pining for the days BEFORE the hip replacement. That should have clued me in to a real problem, but he tends to be a complainer when he doesn't feel well (as most men do, I think), so I didn't have a whole lot of sympathy. I didn't call him on it and remained patient towards him, but I admit I did think he was malingering and just feeling sorry for himself.

Then last Tuesday night he could barely drag himself out of his chair and get to the bed. He sank down on the bed, weak and short of breath. When he lay down, he talked of a burning feeling in his leg, the one that had been fixed. He had eaten and drunk steadily less in the last few weeks, and I thought he was dehydrating. I was really concerned by this time. We called the doctor, but he didn't call back. I called 911. They came, but his vital signs seemed strong, so they were reluctant to take him to the hospital because it would not be covered by insurance. They said he would get seen just as fast if I took him, so we bundled him into the car at 3:30 A.M. and headed to the hospital. We sat in the waiting room of the emergency room for 4 hours with only 3 people ahead of us. Seems there was only one doctor, and he was busy seeing people brought in by ambulance! Finally at 8:30, we got to go back. They did tests and discovered that it was highly probable that he had pulmonary emboli, and his kidney function was impaired. He was in bad shape, after all, and was admitted. By Thursday, many tests had been run, and his orthopedic surgeon began treating him for an infection in the incision, which we found out later was staph, that MRSA thing. He was given blood thinners for the clots, and he started eating and drinking, so his kidney function steadily improved. Seems I was right in thinking he was dehydrated. The doctors did all kinds of tests to see if they could find anything wrong with the kidneys, lungs, and heart, but all seemed to be fine. The greater problem is now the staph infection, which is bad news.

However, he can't very well stay in the hospital indefinitely, just to be given a course of intravenous antibiotics every day. The solution was to send him home to get the drugs IV there. They inserted a PICC line so it could stay longer than just a few days, and now we will be spending a few quality hours together daily while he gets the medication. After a home health nurse shows me how, it will fall to me to administer the medicine every day. I am somewhat nervous about this, but everyone assures me that it will be easy. We'll see. I will take copious notes so I remember each step in the process. So far, the antibiotic has had a very noticeabe effect, so we are expecting good results. It may take up to 6 weeks, though.

Meanwhile, I think this is the Christmas season, but it has been pretty hard to get into the swing of it so far. My shopping is only about 2/3 done, and no decorations have even been thought about. I designed a Christmas card, but they haven't been printed yet. No gifts are wrapped. I'm not too sure when I will have time to finish the shopping, decorating, wrapping, and card writing, but it will get done, and I guess I won't have to do my shopping at the hospital gift shop, as Alissa suspected. Life is good! Oh, and Merry Christmas!