December 17, 2009

A Week Without the Computer

I knew I was in trouble when all the red lights started flashing on the computer. I thought it was my computer security, but it was a fake and stuff started downloading like crazy.

Anyway, it's back and clean as a whistle inside and out, just like I will be by tomorrow. Yep, have to have a colonoscopy and endoscopy tomorrow. I think my new purpose in life is to confound doctors. After the upper GI, I was sent to a gastroenterologist. The ENT doctor thinks the pressure in my throat is acid reflux but the gastroenterologist disagrees. He thinks I may have an ulcer on my esophagus. He also thinks the upper GI is a waste of time, money, and radiation since scoping is always done afterward anyway. Great.

He also doesn't think I have candida, or at least he doesn't think it can be diagnosed with just a symptoms questionaire, so the colonoscopy should answer the question as to why I have such a digestive problem.

Oh, and get this. The doctor's office called this morning and said my insurance company (BCBS) has a limit of $500 for preventative procedures and since I already had a mammogram this year, they were going to pay almost nothing. The doctor's office was submitting the colonoscopy as a preventative until I discussed my issues with them. Now it is classified to diagnostic. It's a shame that insurance companies will spend more to fix a problem (if possible) than to prevent one.

Talking to this doctor, I realized why I gained so much weight since this summer. I have been blaming it on the cortizone shot and inactivity, but it's actually this pressure in my throat. When it gets really uncomfortable, eating something makes it better temporarily, so I am always eating something. Doing this diet and making an effort NOT to graze all day made me aware of when and why the feeling of a lump in my throat is worse, even though it has gotten better since I quit the protein shakes and all the supplements. Once the doctors finally figure out what it is and treat it, the urge to eat something to ease the pressure should go away, and sticking to the diet should be easier.

Saving the good news for last, Tuesday evening I got a call to do a day's work, and once I got the computer back yesterday, I spent all day online researching. I get paid by the day for this whether it is an eight hour day or a twelve hour day and this turned in to just over a ten hour job, but I love doing the work, and it's a nice bonus this time of year. There was also a hint that there could be more work next week.

More good news is that I have lost another two pounds, just eating low carb. That brings my total to seven pounds lost. I have quit wearing my size 16 jeans and am comfortably in a 14. Unfortunately, I only have one pair of size 14 jeans and I'm not going to go buy anymore. I'll either have to wear droopy 16's or cropped jeans. Eeek! Baby, it's cold outside!

Until next time, may you have blessings and no confounded problems,

December 15, 2009

Another Year Has Gone By

It just doesn't seem possible, but this year has flown by so fast. Lil graduated from college, both girls took jobs and moved to other states, our beloved Gordon Setter Roxie died, and we have accomplished many of the goals we set in January. I have successfully wiped my exact age out of my memory bank, so unless I do the math, I'm not quite sure how old I am today, and that's a good thing.

The only goal I feel is a miserable failure is weight loss. I put on a pair of jeans yesterday that just didn't fit, and I thought I had grabbed a pair from the "small size of the closet", looked at the tag and no, they were my usual size. I was bummed, and chalked it up to eating junk while sitting home alone all weekend. So today I am wearing a pair from the "large size of the closet", a pair I have been meaning to take up, but now I'm grateful to have.

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Yesterday I went out to stack the patio chairs and found a West Nile virus incubation center in a flower pot on the patio. (When I bumped the pot, a huge cloud of mosquitoes came out of it.) Evidently the drainage hole had plugged up and all the water from the last rain had filled the pot. Armed with a shovel, I tried to remove the soil from the pot so the water could drain out. I call it soil, but it was actually sloppy mud, which I got all over the patio, all over the shovel, and all over me. From the knees down I looked just like the Mister Rogers mud monster statue, but smelled like swamp thing.

Until next time, may you have blessings and good drainage,

December 10, 2009

The Sounds of Christmas…Pop, Pop, Pop!

Actually that’s the sound of breaking light bulbs when they fall and hit the sidewalk below.

It looks like Christmas preparations are finally underway at our house. I wanted to do this over the beautiful Thanksgiving weekend, but our plans changed when we suddenly decided to go to Tulsa to meet our girls, and that was much more important.

Since then, the weather has been bad or I haven’t felt well enough to even help from the ground. But Tuesday afternoon was nice, so when Hubby got home from work, we began pulling out boxes of lights, but only got one string up before the sun went down. Yesterday, he got home earlier and we began again. Yesterday wasn’t as nice as Tuesday. It was cold and breezy. I had on my warmest coat, lined gloves and a wool cap, and I was still cold. It’s also hard to change out lightbulbs with thick leather gloves on so I had to keep taking them off. Brrr!

I am usually the one who puts the lights on the house, but since I haven’t been feeling well, Hubby didn’t want me on the roof. He didn’t want on the roof either, but he did it so I would promise not to go up there. I promised. With a step stool, I can do the lower lines of the roof, but I can’t do the gables without moving a ladder every few feet, so I usually just get on the roof and do it from there, especially since I have to get up there to do the ridge. One part of our roof is really steep (12 in 12 pitch) and is surrounded by concrete. A fall from it would definitely mean a trip to the hospital. Hubby won’t get up there at all, so if it gets done, I do it. For him to offer was really something.

What I didn’t know is that he didn’t intend to do the ridges and he only got on the roof to do the gable on the part of the roof that isn’t steep (6 in 12 pitch). For the steep gable he used the ladder. Made a mess of the flower beds too, but I guess that’s ok. It’s just dirt and flowers. So with him on the ladder and me handing up strings of light, we did the roofline on house and garage. It’s funny how much of a difference a few lights make. Our old house seems so warm and cheery now. (I’ll add a picture tonight.)

We had been out there about an hour when our mail carrier came by. She’s from Canada and was driving an old postal Jeep with the door open. She had on a jacket, but no hat or gloves. She grinned at me and I asked her if she was cold and she said no. So I laughed at her and she laughed at me.

Until next time, may you have blessings and twinkling lights,

P.S. Diet update: I lost another pound just eating low carb. Yippee. That makes a total of five pounds.

P.S.2. UGI results. The ENT doctor called and said the UGI didn't show anything major and he still suspects something like acid reflux (despite me never having heartburn) and wants me to see a gastroenterologist to be scoped. Sounds veddy uncomfortable.

December 09, 2009

Upper GI

I got really lucky this morning at the hospital. The parking lot was straight-in parking (which is always a pain in a big vehicle) and the rows were close so turning was tight. At first I thought there weren't any parking places and then I saw two people parked next to each other both coming out at the same time. Gave me plenty of room to back in, and then getting out was a breeze. I think I might have hit something if I had had to get into those tight spaces otherwise. So that too could have been worse.

When I dressed for the UGI appointment, I decided to wear a sports bra and knit top so they wouldn't make me take it off. I knew metal was bad. I hadn't bought a new sports bra in a while, or make that a few pounds, and it was like trying to put a rubber band on a water balloon, but I finally got it on. Then, because I had a metal in my jeans, they made me take off everything! Wouldn't have been so bad wearing nothing but a hospital gown if it weren't so cold, even inside the hospital. Well that and that I had chosen to wear black jean, black socks, and black walking shoes. They let me keep the socks and shoes on, and let me tell you, black shoes and socks look smashing with a blue and white hospital gown.

The UGI could have been better, but it was tolerable. They make you take a granular powder like Fizzies (remember those?) followed by about a tablespoon of water. Then drink some thick bluish stuff (tasted bad) and then drink some really nasty white stuff. I thought I was going to lose the white stuff, but I kept it down. Afterward, the assistant told me to drink a lot of water to get the barium out because it can cause constipation. She gave me a really funny look when I said that was great, and told me I had to flush it out anyway.

After getting back home, I was starving - as usual - and ate and then, sure enough, spent time in the library. So much for constipation. Liars.

Until next time, may you have blessings and all your original parts,

It Could Be Worse

As much of a pain it is to drive the beastmobile every day, it could be worse. At least the hood isn't held on with bungee cords.

December 07, 2009

Six Week Cure to the Middle Aged Middle Update

If anyone is wondering, here's an update on The 7 Week Cure to the Middle-Aged Middle.

First of all, I think it's expensive. The first two weeks are supposed to be for cleansing the liver of fat, and it consists of drinking three low carb whey protein shakes a day and eating one fairly normal meal. When I first read that I thought it was a lazy dieter's dream come true. I could drink them for breakfast, lunch, and snack, and then fix the normal meal to share with Hubby so he wouldn't have to suffer. Perfect, right? After doing the diet for almost a week, I went back and read the fine print, and no where did it say the shakes were delicious, or even good. It's really even a stretch to call them shakes.

My little town doesn't have a health food store or anywhere else that sells nutritional stuff except the usual big box stores and drug stores. Walmart had a couple of protein powders but none that met the requirements. So I bought a container of the stuff from Whole Foods Market when we were in Tulsa, along with another ingredient the book said was recommended. Since I was determined to do it right and stick it out, I grimaced at the $60.00 price tag but paid it.

Then I had to have a multivitamin with 100% of the RDI. Since I couldn't find one with all that, I bought a generic multivitamin with most of list at 100% and bought a few supplements to bump all the requirements to 100%. Another $90.00.

So then I was set, and got up December 1 ready to take off the weight. The first shake of the morning consisted of the whey protein, frozen strawberries, a little cream, a pasturized raw egg, a packet of stevia, another protein powder, and ice. It looked good, but looks are deceiving.

It made two full glasses, probably because the blender and ice fluffed out everything. The ice also hit every raw nerve in my teeth, and I finally managed to drink and swallow quickly so it didn't have a lot of time to touch my teeth - or my taste buds. I decided to take a few of the supplements after each shake so I wouldn't have them all rattling around together.

I left the ice out of the second shake, and it tasted much worse but at least wasn't painful to drink. Same with the third. The meal I chose for dinner was grilled flank steak with broccoli. It was really good, even Hubby liked it.

All that day I felt good, never hungry and was really optimistic.

The second morning, I tried a chocolate shake. Despite what the label says, chocolate and whey are not a good mix. It was so awful I thought I wouldn't get it all down. And then I really didn't feel good and spent the next hour in the bathroom which will be referred to as "the library" from here on.

At lunch, I had another strawberry shake, with the same results as my breakfast shake. Also, the taste of whey seems to be getting worse with every shake. I dreaded drinking the afternoon shake, but I did, and repeated the trip to the library. Dinner was good, but even after it, I couldn't escape the library.

Day three started out with time in the library, and I decided to cut the amount of whey powder to one scoop even though the diet recommends two scoops for my weight. It didn't taste quite as bad with one scoop, but it was still hard to swallow. The faster, the better, I found. On this day, I spent nearly all day in the library. I was really running short of reading material by the end of the day. I've always wondered why anyone would want a magazine rack in the bathroom, but now I know why. Or I think I do.

The authors of this plan have a website with a discussion board and I searched it to find out if this was a common problem and found that for some it is. The recommended solution was to put flax seed powder in the shake. I had some flax seed I was going to use in a microwave heating pad until my sister-in-law stole my idea, so I dug that out and used Hubby's coffee grinder to pulverize it into a powder.

The next morning, day four, I mixed the flax powder with the shake, but still spent most of the day in the library. I guess this shows my lost optimism because I had put a couple of books and magazines in there the night before. Also on day four, I discovered that blueberry skins don't get chopped up in the blender. They made it much harder to swallow the shake quickly. Raspberries taste okay in a shake, but the seeds settle to the bottom of the glass which can be a good excuse not to drink the last of the shake. Having only one scoop of the whey protein left me with a slightly hungry feeling, but not hungry enough to want the shakes. I put off my lunch shake as long as possible and then decided if I had the snack time shake, I wouldn't want dinner, so I skipped it for the greater good of making sure Hubby had a good dinner. Hey, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

The next morning, Saturday (day five), I mixed the flax powder with the shake once again, and once again, I had to seek out the library. That's when I called it quits. At that point I didn't really care if I never lost another ounce, I could not let these shakes keep me hostage any longer. I wanted to go to church on Sunday, and I had plans for the next week, so the situation had to change.

Also, a throat problem I already had, was getting worse. I didn't know if it was the shakes or all the vitamins and supplements, but I quit taking all of it. By Saturday night, after two normal meals, I was feeling much better, and decided I could continue on with the recommended menus for week 1 & 2, just not the shakes and pills. Whatever cleansing my liver got in those four plus days was all it was going to get.

The next morning I weighed before breakfast, and amazingly I have lost four pounds. Whether it will stay off once I resume life outside the library remains to be seen.

I have to say that this part of the diet is a really bad thing except for people with a cast iron stomach, and I don't know many middle-aged people who have one. Most people I know have to be careful of something. Both in the book and on the discussion board (which seems to have been created to discuss the diet created by a prior book Protein Power) they talk about this diet not causing any problems for most people. I know I am not most people (no brag, just fact as Walter Brennan would say) because I have always had an irritable stomach. I have battled candida albicans for years and even when I think I have it beat or at least under control, I know it has spies lurking in the dark recesses of my gut waiting for a reason to wage war.

Also, the throat problem I mentioned started when I took Fosamax. I was waiting for it to go away by itself, and had intended to see a doctor in December if it hadn't. Why it suddenly got worse, I don't know, but it changed from a slight feeling of discomfort you get when you swallow a pill and it gets stuck in your throat, to a feeling that there is an object pressing against my throat. I hoped after a day and a half of no shakes or pills that it would be better today, but it wasn't, so I made an appointment with an ENT. Amazing that they had an opening tomorrow.

I know the Adkins Plan and other low carb diets work, at least for awhile, but I worry about being on that kind of diet for any length of time. When I started this diet, I had no intention of making it a new lifestyle. I thought I would lose as much weight as I could, and then start eating normal, healthy food. This diet has a lot, and I do mean a lot, of fat in it. Heavy cream in the shakes, heavy cream on fruit for dessert, red meats, pork, and bacon. Oddly enough, as much as I love bacon, I really don't want to eat it again for a very long time. It will be interesting to see if I continue to lose weight, plateau, or start gaining again.

Until next time, may you have blessings and a well-stocked library,

12/8/09 Update to my update. Went to the ENT today and he thinks I have Dysphagia, Odynophagia...whatever that is. Some kind of spasms of the esophagus. Probably not good, but still a big relief after the things I've been thinking. Tomorrow I go for an upper GI.

December 06, 2009

My First Scammer

I listed our dining table and chairs on Craig's List, thinking that the holidays and family gatherings would be a good time to sell. What I didn't think is that it is also a good time for scammers.

I have had a lot of spam from Craig's List ads in the past, usually with something in the title asking me if I need to make money. The two I have received from this ad are a bit different, in that they seem to come from someone with a real first and last name, and ask a legitimate question about the table. Both, however, had spam filters on their email - something I found quite ironic.

The first scammer was a cheapskate. He only offered me $30.00 more than I was asking and said he would send a money order with his assistant. The second one was the typical Nigerian scam. He told me he couldn't come see it himself because he just got married and was on his honeymoon, but it looked perfect and he would send a cashier's check for well over the asking price, with instructions to pay his shipper and send the cash balance back to him.

The marriage was a variation on the overseas business trip which I haven't heard before. This scammer may be new to scamming if he thinks anyone is going to believe he is on his honeymoon and spending his free time surfing Craig's List looking for furniture.

My reply to this second scammer? Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha.

December 01, 2009

D-Day Has Arrived

That's diet day, by the way.

This morning I weighed, measured, and started the plan, or the cure as they call it. I don't know why, but my height was a full inch taller than I have ever measured. I even measured on two different walls to make sure. I have no idea why, but I'll take it. The last time I was measured at the doctor's office, they said I was 5' 1". I have always been 5' 2-1/2" so I thought I was already seeing the shrinking effects of old age. But when I measured at home later, I was once again 5' 2". I'll get Hubby to remeasure me again tonight, but 5' 3" sounds really good to me.

My goal is to lose thirty pounds though I will be pretty happy just to lose twenty. The doctor wants me to lose at least forty and I think he will be disappointed. I'll try to post about the diet as it goes along, good or bad.

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving holiday. We went to Tulsa where our eldest daughter lives and our youngest daughter met us there. We talked, ate, and shopped - at least the females in the family did. Hubby shopped a little, and napped in the car a lot.

Oh, and bad news on the sewing machine. We took the beastmobile to Tulsa because we had to take some furniture to Brownie, and the transmission is definitely on it's last legs. So instead of a sewing machine, we need to start a transmission fund. Oh well. The new ones are probably too complicated for me anyway.

Until next time, may you have blessings and added height,