Sunday, June 16, 2013

Revisiting an old stomping ground

We got home late Saturday night after our trip to the DR.  It was a wonderful trip - plenty of rest, sleep, healthy eating, reading, swimming, shopping, wonderful conversation and general with our daughter and her sweetheart of a soon to be fiancĂ© Cesar, and general hanging out.  We were tired and hungry after our long day of travel, and I will confess right here that at Atlanta airport last night (we had a relatively brief layover after all the rigamarole of Customs) Tom and I went to a McDonalds right next to our gate and ended up each getting a Big Mac meal for dinner!  I can honestly say I haven't eaten at a McDs in possibly 8 years or longer (and I hope that I don't again for that long), but it tasted great!   I know it was a calorie and carb orgy, but I enjoyed every bite and didn't feel one bit guilty.

This morning, I got on the scale to survey what "baggage" I brought home or left behind, and I'm tickled pink to report that my weight was 197!  That was a loss of 3.8lbs.  I was delighted, though not entirely surprised.  We ate wonderful food, much of which was fixed by our daughter and Cesar, but we really only had 2 meals most day, plus snacks here and there.  It was all healthy, freshly prepared either at home or at restaurants, and my blood sugar stayed steady and finally dipped to the high 80s for the last 3 days of our trip.  Plus, we walked miles most days and sweat buckets all days.

I think this is the first time I ever came home from vacation weighing less than when I left!  Today I've reflected a lot about this weight saga I've been writing for myself for so many years.  The loss this time around (22 pounds so far) has been slow, and I see that it's good for me that way.  Going more slowly and focusing on blood sugar rather that purely weight allows me to get comfortable at a lower weight, without somehow triggering old issues that invariably have sent me back up into the Everest region of poundage.  I don't have to see 200+ again, and I hope I don't.  All won't be lost, but I'd rather not have to go on that head trip ever again.  Time will tell, but for now I'm feeling good, and grateful!  And definitely lighter!!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Am swimming again...

My URL is  I picked that back in 2009 because I'd spent many years not swimming because of my body and how I felt about it.  Mind you, I grew up swimming and have always loved to be in water, sluicing, skimming and slithering like an otter.  But I spent way too many years denying myself of this visceral pleasure for reasons of pride, ego, shame, self-hatred and disgust...the usual fat girl's menu of excuses and procrastination for not living life fully.  Poor fat moi.

I've written about all this so many times in 4 years.  I've had 2 separate re-entries into water arenas-one 3 1/2 years ago when we visited our then Peace Corps volunteer daughter in the Dominican Republic (actually I bought a bathing suit and wore it under clothes and never actually went in the water so it doesn't really count =| !); and the second about 2 years ago when I swam laps at my gym about 10 times before slithering back under my fat girl rock.

But.  BUT!  We are currently back in the DR, again visiting our daughter and her soon to be fiancĂ©, and I have put on a bathing suit and swam twice.  Once at a pool and jacuzzi at a beautiful beach condo community, and once at a public beach.  Upon donning said swimsuit, I even looked at myself in the mirror and thought, "I look fine."  Of course I am planning to continue the slow descent down the scale and look forward to looking better with time, but I am where, who, and what I am-and part of that includes loving being in the water.  I feel like I've finally given myself a pass for being an imperfect work in progress.  

Our visit has been great.  I continue to check my blood sugar most days, and it's ranging from 103-118.  Not as good ad when I'm home, but not too bad for vacation.  

Things are good.  No idea where my weight is now-the lowest I saw before we left was 200.8.  I'm still waited with bated breath to break into Onederland, but I'm confident it will happen soon.  And when it does, as previously promised, my blog friends will be among the first to know!  Adios for now ;-).

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Plateaus, the past, and progress

Happy Tuesday, blog friends.  I'm having an eerily quiet morning at work (knock on wood else shit shall hit fan) so thought I'd drop in for a brief update.

It's a happy Tuesday indeed for me because as soon as I get off, Hubby will drop me at the airport and I'm heading to Atlanta for a few days to visit my in-law family.  My FIL died in December, and so I'm mainly going to hang out with my mom-in-law, and of course see other family members.  And here's a kicker...I'm super excited to go!  I have none of my usual "less-than" feelings about being with all the skinny smart beautiful people this go round.  I'm just looking forward to catching up and spending time with them.  Also having a few days off from work, which goes without saying.

Anyone who has read my blog for more than a year or so recalls my trepidations of being with this bunch - I have always gotten along with them famously.  They have always been welcoming and loving with me, and I've always known it was genuine.  But my feelings of fatness and shame always became magnified to the nth degree when I was with them (once I'd entered the endless struggle of disordered eating after my 3rd child was born), and so every encounter with them has been a mix of wonderfulness on the outside and shame and self hate on the inside.

My recent journey that began at the beginning of March, when I fully accepted and owned out loud my Type 2 Diabetes and determined to best it in every arena possible has begun to seriously change me.  I've talked about testing my blood sugar daily, changing up my foods, seeing how different foods affect the blood sugar, lost some weight, plateau'ed for a few weeks and then began losing again, and haven't gotten discouraged when one number (blood sugar) or another (lbs) weren't what I wanted or thought they should be.  Somehow I've stuck with it and am feeling some confidence, for the first time ever since the weight struggles ensued, that I can stay the course and slowly get really better.  And thinner.

It's weird, because I find myself thinking how strange it could be to be in a much slimmer body.  I'm already about 15 pounds down and in different sizes.  I'm soon going to get to the place I got to about 4 years ago, and then began to slowly regain.  Obviously in one way or another I wasn't ready to move into a thinner version of who I'd become over the years...maybe scared, or uncertain of what it would be like or how it would change my core self. I don't know - I hear my possible over-thinking about this, but I realize that I never felt those feelings before.  If I don't take this slowly, and settle at various places in order to find a comfort of some kind at new emotional stops along the way, I may run scared again, and head back up the scale.

The aforementioned plateau really bugged me for a bit, but deep down I thought it was okay.  I knew I hadn't changed anything to make me stop losing weight, and my blood sugar numbers were still decent, so I kept on.  THIS IS NEW BEHAVIOR FOR ME.  And it's fueled by new acceptance of myself and my reality at this stage of my life.  I cannot wait for my next round of blood work in early June, because I know it's going to be great!

My weight this morning was 201.  What I was calling spittin' distance was 204.  This is more like lickin' distance.  I don't know if it will happen while I'm there, because I will enjoy myself and not be restricting my intake.  I will test my blood daily, and make decisions about what is worth slowing my progress for and what isn't.  The way I'm feeling, there won't be much that will seem worth it, but I know that more than just my warm fuzzy feeling right now will play a role in my behaviors. Like emotions, frustrations, fabulous menus and being out of my usual surroundings.  But if I pay attention to my heart, my gut, and my blood sugars, my behaviors will be true choices, and not coping strategies.

Have a good week, guys!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Ordinary days....

....are sometimes harder than extraordinary days!  It's actually been just about 2 months since I set on my mission to arrest and reverse the Type 2 diabetes that has been nipping at my heels for the last several years. Two months in, and things continue to go well.

I'm still checking my fasting blood sugar every morning, and it's ranging from 89-116.  I'm trying to figure out what causes it to be higher some random days, and so far haven't really discovered a culprit.  I've had about one day per week where I stick to my food plan (mainly low carb, around 40-60 gms/day) until dinner, and then I have a few things I leave out the rest of the week.  Brown rice, a potato, a small bag of fritos, a small tube of M&M minis...and my blood sugar seems almost better the next morning - below 100 - when I'm sure it will be a higher.  Other times, I'm sooo "good" and on plan that I'm sure the reading will be great, and it's in the low 100s.  Hard to draw a bead on at this time, but overall I'm really doing great.

Also, my weight is coming along nicely.  I'm down 14 pounds plus from my worst weight prior to getting into the ring with my worthy opponent, which is awesome.  I'm within spittin' distance of Onederland for the first time in several years, and Heaven knows I hope it's my last time having to cross that line!  My motivation remains strong overall, although I have moments where I just want to eat.  Usually, these moments do not involve even one molecule of real hunger...rather they seem to be rooted in boredom, feeling squirrely, or just unidentified angst.  These are the hardest times, as they've always been, but with the Type 2 being successfully beaten back by my hard work for now, I am able to tough them out.  Or at least eat something that isn't stupid.

My oldest son is home for awhile now (the one who had the Guillian-Barre Syndrome in January), and we've been playing tennis a bit!  I was an avid player for years but once I started back to work full time when my youngest started 5th grade, I gradually drifted away from tennis to the point where I hadn't picked up a racquet in about 5 years!  It's been awesome, though excrutiatingly humbling, to begin again.  And great exercise, I might, because I chase the balls I hit all over creation.  That burns some calories, let me tell you.  Little by little I'm getting my mojo back with the racquet, and my inner Venus has been awakened.  Who'd'a'thunk??

That's it for now...I've been busy and out of blogging mood, but rest assured I will be here to announce when I cross over into the single century in the weight realm!  Also, I plan to update more often, but life has a way of altering the best of intentions.  In the meantime, it feels good to still be hanging on to this streak!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Surrender to win

Brief post today, but I have to share my ELATION about my type 2 journey.  I had a good weekend - lots of exercise, clean eating, connections with friends...all stuff that would be great on its own.  But I had a huge surprise this morning.  Actually a shock - my fasting blood sugar was 90.  Ninety!  That's entirely in the normal range.  Not borderline range...NORMAL.

Don't worry, I know I'm not normal and never will be.  But I've been diligent and committed in the last 6 weeks (since my Ground Zero experience), and the number has come down steadily.  It's always going to be up and down, but I know at a deep level that it hasn't been at a normal number, even for a day, in a very long time.  VERY.  My Hgb A1C was proof of that.

I can't know for sure because I was too afraid to know.  Too ashamed to own a "fat person's disease" (in my mind only), too ashamed to go into a store with a prescription for a glucometer because "they" (the pharmacy staff?  people in line?  WTF?) would know I had a problem.  Like anyone couldn't look at me and suspect I was a walking mass of simple processed carbohydrates, not that what anyone else thinks matters. Except it does, of course.  But taken to the extreme, that shame and denial was keeping me sick, sluggish and sloppy.  Hmm - the 3 S's of denial?  They fit for me, which may just be a topic for another post.

My greatest shame/fear has become my greatest asset.  This is a widely discussed phenomenon in AA.  As long as denial, shame, fear, terror, self hatred, etc. keep us stuck in negative drain-circling behavior, nothing can change.  I sit here today and tell you that I didn't have a light bulb moment.  I didn't hear a message emanate from a burning bush.  I wasn't aware of hitting a bottom, because I'd been dwelling on the bottom (and feeding there) for so long.  I'm beginning to suspect that the grace of God has something to do with this, because I couldn't do it for my whole life.  I know that I was able to get and stay sober by this same grace, but had begun to suspect that was all I'd get, and that I'd have to muster up the where-with-all to get healthy and lose weight on my own.

I'm not going all religious here, but I do believe in a spiritual reality(that I call God) that moves among us and is present always.  This is my many years in AA coming through.  I've seen devout agnostics and atheists relieved of the obsession for alcohol after years of devastating drinking, without any concrete belief in any specific deity or doctrine.  And of course, many who are devout in their beliefs as well.  But my current state just couldn't have come from me, because I've been trying, wishing, hoping, and praying for a lifting of my food obsessive behaviors and drives for years.

Another AA saying I've heard a lot over the years but never felt it apply to me, even with my long-term sobriety, is "Surrender to Win".  I didn't even get what it really meant, but I do now.  Accepting (and surrendering to) my type 2 diabetes has given me tools and capabilities I didn't have before.   I see it as a gift, just like my alcoholism has been a gift.  All I can say is that I'm grateful.  The type 2, or I, may all go to hell in a hand basket tomorrow, but for today I'm good.  And happy to be in awe of a fasting blood sugar of 90!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Motivation for moi

Quote from an unknown recovering person:  "IF YOU KEEP DOING WHAT YOU'RE DOING, YOU'LL KEEP GETTING WHAT YOU'RE GETTING."  I know that's true!

Good morning!  Thank you for the helpful comments to my Monday post.  I'm still hanging in, and continuing the learning process of how food affects my blood sugar, energy level, and definitely emotional balance!  It's a never ending story, for sure.

I don't have a lot more to report right now except that I had my lowest fasting blood sugar this morning since I've started paying attention and testing...102.  From a medical standpoint, below 100 is the goal, so it gave me a warm fuzzy feeling and a huge shot of motivation when I saw that this morning.  Of course this is a number that fluctuates constantly, so it won't ever be always "good" or "bad".  But the trend is definitely moving in the right direction.  I'm actually already excited for my June blood work to see how my HgbA1C has been affected (or if).

Also, I'm wearing a pair of pants today, just out of the dryer, that after 2 hours of wearing, are so baggy that I might run home and change, because they look ridiculous.  Like pajama pants.

That's it for me now - have a good Friday eve!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Hungry Monday

The title says it all.  I'm hungry.  HUNGRY.  And I finished lunch only about 45 minutes ago.  I feel so "empty stomach" hungry that I checked my blood sugar, and it's 110.  Pretty decent for 45 minutes after a meal.  And not too low in any way.  So I guess I'm just hungry.

Some days are just hungry days.  I've been doing very well with food and exercise.  Since the day I had my blood drawn, I've lost 9 pounds - a little over a month ago.  Now, a few of those pounds had found their way back onto my Rubenesque body in the weeks before, so on My Fitness Pal, it looks like I've lost only 5.  But trust me, it's 9 with change, as my digital scale weighs in tenths of pounds.  9.4 to be exact.

I've been trying to stay very low carb, - averaging 35-60 gms per day.  If you're comparing that to Atkins Induction, it sounds high.  Compare it to my usual diet prior to attacking my Type 2, and it is paltrier than paltry.  I'm hearing some comments related to "are you losing....?'", which is nice, of course.  I'm in pants I couldn't wear at all, and just bought a couple new cheap pairs at Kohl's in a smaller size.  It's all good.  Yes?

What is happening is what frequently has happened in the past when I began successfully changing things up and dropping weight.  My head is getting squirrely.  Specifically my thinking.  Like squirrels are literally running around up there messing up my circuitry.  I'm wanting to restrict eating to "move this along", but know that is wrong with a capital WRONG.  Or, I want to have a free day and "get back on" tomorrow.  Or go lower on carbs. Or give this whole thing up.  Or fast for a day.  Lots of highly intelligent thoughts, si?  And as an addict of the first order, I know this is where the dysfunction and disordered eating is percolating - tapping my shoulder and trying to woo me over to the dark side.  As in chocolate (preferably not that dark!) and assorted edibles over which I'm truly powerless once they enter into my mouth.

This is like early sobriety when things being settling down, and one is starting to feel much better, and beginning to believe that "maybe I can do this".  And then the thought of a drink buzz, or a nice little journey to oblivion for awhile begins to pop up.  It's destructive thinking, and it can quickly lead to destructive drinking.  Again.  I finally made it through that a couple decades ago with the booze; but I haven't made it through in my quest for recovery from food addiction, overeating and obesity.  YET.

There are some differences this time.  My blood sugar meter is with me most of the time, and when I've had an occasion off-plan indulgence, I check my sugar to see just what the "treat" afforded me in terms of screwing with my sugar.  Seeing a high blood sugar is a lot more concrete and hard core than just wishing I hadn't just eaten whatever it was I ate.  It's like, reality, man!  More than that, by some miracle, I'm willing to check the number, rather than just be afraid of it.  That is still amazing to me.  Somehow, I now get that the number is what it is or (as I've paraphrased) it ALREADY is what it is and not knowing doesn't change it or make it go down.

I feel that I am present in the arena with the type 2 now, and I'm not going to let it betray me, beat me and erode my health.  I'm not fighting and invisible unknown enemy - I am able to monitor its whereabouts and take action to beat it back.  This has become more about Type 2 diabetes than losing weight, oddly enough.  The glucometer doesn't lie.  Sometimes the scale does, or gives me numbers that I can explain away by recalling a salty meal, being bloated, etc.  All the retained water in the world is not going to change my blood sugar.  And being faithful in using the meter and getting the blood sugar down is so far affecting my weight.  So far, so good.

My eating disordered mind still scares me.  I can't suddenly ignore it, or the voices it generates will eventually lure me back to disordered eating.  But I feel I have more tools now to stand up to my crazy ass mind.

This probably sounds like gobbledy gook, but it makes sense to me.  And even moreso as I sit here and write about it.  I had no intention of posting today, but as my hunger was roiling and I was contemplating eating something I'd regret, it seemed a good idea to write about it.  And believe it or not, I feel better for now.

Lastly, I can't say how wonderful it feels to wake up without regret in the morning.  This was an early reward in sobriety for me, and now with my diabetes journey to this point.  Absence of remorse on a daily basis is a great way to start each day.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Learning curve steepens

I have made some important discoveries as I've begun the journey of facing type 2 diabetes head on. Pretty radical stuff, actually.  (Typed with tongue firmly implanted in cheek.)

1.  Having not felt true empty stomach gnawing hunger much at all in the last 10 years or so, I've discovered that it can feel downright uncomfortable. In my previous bursts of "doing good" with weight loss efforts since I started the blog in 2009, an occasional bout of real hunger felt righteous, even good. Over the last couple of weeks as I've experienced HUNGER a lot, there have been times where I've done millions of things to distract myself from "the hungry", including filling up with water, starting a work project, etc..., and finally determined that I must be "low" (blood sugar wise) if I'm feeling that hungry.

Low is really anything below 70.  Well, the lowest I've seen yet is 98.  I'm not putting myself in danger by feeling hungry.  My body and my mind are just totally unaccustomed to sitting through uncomfortable moments.

2.  Having a sane, legal, low-carb snack in a sane, legal, low-carb amount, like one cheese stick or a 100 cal. pack of almonds, doesn't take "the hungry" away immediately.  BUT it DOES work in a little while - 10 minutes or whatever.  Turns out I don't need to eat uncontrollably in order for a reasonable snack to do the trick.  I may want to, but I don't need to.

3.  Allowing myself to sit quietly and feeeeeel the pangs, trying to "be one" with them, embrace them...isn't very interesting.  My monkey mind has many other things to throw at my consciousness.  I've been trying to really focus on and feel the hunger and try to go deeper and see what it is I'm hungry for (besides food, in psychobabble).  Turns out when I'm not binge eating and consuming huge amounts of highly processed carbs and sugars, hunger is actually physiological, NOT psychological.

4.  The discoveries in #3 in no way make it easier to not eat when I WANT TO despite not really being hungry, which is how I most always have eaten.  But the discoveries in #3 DO make it seem tolerable and actually doable, to not eat when I can recognize that I am truly NOT hungry.  Does that make sense?  Thankfully it does to me, which is all that matters since it's my journey.

5.  I thought I'd have this type 2 all wrapped up pretty quickly, given the brisk response of my blood sugars in the first couple of weeks.  I'm staying normal through the days, but so far, the lowest I've gotten my fasting sugar in the morning is 109!  Damn - MY goal is under 100, and preferably lower.  Apparently this is going to take time, and paying close attention to what I eat, when I eat, etc.  It's a process, not a one time event from which I'll graduate.

I've been doing tons of reading up on type 2, recommended food plans, etc.  I see for myself that low carb eating is going to be the way to go for me.  Really low carb, but not as radical as Atkins Induction.  There are so many resources out there now for this condition that I feel lucky, because I've already gotten some great menu and meal ideas, and lots of good recipes.  And I've barely scraped the surface, both on information gathering as well as finding my bliss point.  But I'm grateful to be in the process, and I feel more clear headed and calm than I have in ages.  Maybe I really can say goodbye to "the whites" (sugar, flour, simple high glycemic carbs), and from there anything seems possible.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Don't even get me started

I was all set to write this morning but have had a work day where all hell broke lose early and is just now settling down.  Oh well, they call it Monday for a reason...

I don't have a whole lot today other than to say I'm still checking my blood sugar and have gotten my fastings down to 101, except for this morning when I couldn't test because I ran out of strips.  Now before all the naysayers rally to accuse me of not being prepared and not owning my truth, I can honestly say running out of test strips was not my fault.  I got my glucometer last Wednesday afternoon at my primary care doc's office.  It came with 10 lancets and 10 test strips.

The nurse practitioner gave me scripts for full bottles of testing strips and for the lancets with which one pricks one's finger to obtain one's blood specimen for testing.  (And yes, you may assume from my increasingly crisp verbiage I am in a snit over this episode...)  Saturday morning I took the Rxs to the drug store.  When I went to pick up the stuff, the pharmacy tech asked, "You just had the one prescription??"  I answered that it was really 2, with the strips and the lancets.  Well.  The pharmacist stepped over and told me that they couldn't fill the testing strips until they were precertified by my insurance company.  Are you kidding me?  They're more than happy to pay for the lancets to get the blood, but not the strips to test the blood?

I'm not lying - the pharmacist said this happens all the time.  The strips are expensive - the lancets aren't, so they (the insurance companies) give the patient the runaround and add to the bullshit nonsense busy-work for the busy primary care practice to have to call in and get a precert. for the strips.  In a million years it wouldn't have occurred to me that there would be any problem at all getting test strips for blood sugar.  This is such an example of the absolute shambles in which our country is regarding access to basic healthcare and such.

Had I known there would be drama getting my test strips, I'd have brought home my glucometer from work again, but being a rational sentient being, I assumed it would be a non-issue for a type 2 diabetic to get blood sugar test strips.  So until my precert "comes in", I will be using my work meter for the morning fastings.

It's almost time for me to go home from work and I have errands to do, so I'll stop for now.  But I have a lot of thoughts about being almost 2 full weeks in to fully acknowledging and accepting and OWNING my type 2 and dealing with it.  And also some observations of how I'm feeling physically as I clean up my food and other aspects of my act!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Leslie's life class ensues

Happy Little Friday (a hopeful term coined by a friend of mine to bridge the gap between hump day and the ever popular Real Friday, aka Thursday), blog friends.  I took a day off from blogging yesterday and am eager to get back here.  The accountability in this arena is so important to me and is seeming to yield some good karma at this juncture in my life.

Wednesday morning I woke feeling amazing.  Brain fog continues to subside which makes my head feel so much clearer.  This has always happened when I've given up sugar and it's various relatives.  Why I have known that for years and continue to crawl back to the dark side is baffling.

My FBS was 109 again, 2nd day in a row.  I felt ridiculously good about myself for showing up at both my appointments on Tuesday  (more on that in a sec...).  I returned to work to discover that a couple of suggestions I'd made regarding 2 of our "consumers" had been followed, which was gratifying.

What was different yesterday was that I was in such a big hurry in the morning, in order to get to my 7 a.m. A.A. meeting before work, that I didn't have a lunch prepared.  I grabbed some things to throw together for a salad in my office, but by the time lunch rolled around, I didn't feel like making the salad.  I ate some chicken that was to go into said salad, and had a handful of almonds.  Cue warning music from offstage.  I've been trying to eat VERY low carb, as in Atkins Induction phase.  That plan reliably shuts off my cravings for junk within a day, so I felt fine and satisfied.

As the day wore on, I started thinking about what to fix for dinner that fit the plan (tossing in a potato or something for hubby) and realized nothing sounded good.  But by late afternoon, I started feeling empty stomach hunger pangs that are not present ever when I'm in my addictive crazy eating all day mode.  Obviously.  And still nothing sounded good.  I've noticed this a few times this week, which is a good thing.  But my new education about Type 2 is revealing to me that I need to not get too uncomfortably hungry because my blood sugar can also go too low.  It is just now dawning on me that the next time I experience that feeling, I will check the number, but it didn't dawn on me at the time.

In trying to stay on the almost no/very low carb level, I got some more almonds, and then more.  Then I had a piece of ham and a slice of cheese, and felt fine.  Turns out hubby a church thing to attend, and was happy to fix himself a PB&J sandwich.  He was out of the house by 6:45, at which time I cooked up some turkey burgers to have for lunch the rest of the week.  I had one burger, but after I wanted something else.
I ended up having popcorn - not microwave, but not air-popped either.  I probably had about 5 cups, and that was the last thing I ate for the night.  I figured that might not be a great choice, but it wasn't sugary or sweet, and it satisfied me.

Blood sugar this morning:  118.  Still much better than it had been, but up 9 points from the last 2 days.  This tells me several things.
1.  This is a learning process.  It will take time for me to figure out my body and its tendencies, especially considering how long I've ignored her.
2.  Getting my blood sugar to a normal level is not a one walk dog.  It is a dynamic process that will change continually.
3.  The Atkins induction plan is no longer sustainable for me over more than a few days.  I start feeling deprived quickly of fruit, some vegetables (like carrots), and just getting too focused on eliminating every possible source of even healthy carbs.  I believe low carbing to be a sound way for me to eat, but nothing extreme.
4.  This is a learning process. (yes, repeat of #1)  Emotionally as well as physically.  Even mentally - I tend to black and white thinking - I'm either all good or all bad when it comes to eating.  This has always been a set up for binges, overeating, and bad choices.  Moderation and reasonability are highly coveted states for me, and I know I can get there.

There's more, but that's enough for now.  I just got a wonderful book that is already a good resource, Diabetes Weight Loss Week by Week, written by an RD and Certified Diabetes Educator.  I am at the beginning of this journey (even though almost 4 years in) due to the fact I ignored it for so long.  I'm hungry for information, and ready for success.

The doc appointments went fine.  Especially good was with my Primary's Nurse Practitioner, who said that I don't need medication at this time, given my blood work, because I'm still at levels where I can reverse the course with diet and exercise and education.  She agrees that the classes would be too elementary for me and prescribed a few sessions with a diabetes dietician and educator.  Whether or not my insurance pays, I'm doing that.  She wants me to get bloodwork rechecked in 3 months, which will be early June, to see what's doing.  (translation:  what I'm doing!)  And at the suggestion of Vickie, I did say that my goal was to cure this, not just control it, and the NP agreed that is a doable goal. 

I'm on my way.  Sorry for this long post, but I needed to process some of what went on for me yesterday.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

My new bestie

FBS this morning - 109!  Woot! 

No work today.  Doctor appointments 10:30 and 3.  The glucometer, my worst enemy for several years and thereby relegated to my INACTIVE file has moved to BFF status.  Afterall, don't real friends support and encourage, steadfastly hang in when we stray, and always care enough to tell us the truth, even when it hurts? 

Happy Tuesday, all!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Who is this person?

No long post from me today after my weekend writing marathon.  I mainly want to document that my blood sugar this morning was 128.  Down 4 more points.  I'll take it.  Rome wasn't built in a day, and Leslie isn't going to reverse the clinical evidence of Type 2 and 4 years of ignoring my truth overnight.  I'm off to a good start, though.

When my eyes popped open at 4:45 this morning, I immediately jumped up to go prick my finger and check the number, eagerly anticipating the freedom that coming out of hiding from reality brings.  I'm actually excited for that doctor appointment tomorrow afternoon to discuss all this and get an official plan.  I'm willing to go to any lengths to get better, and to do whatever they suggest to bring it about. 

In the meantime, I'm omitting sugar and staying very low carb in my food choices.  Yesterday afternoon I had a headache that smacked of sugar withdrawal, but a walk in the gorgeous tease of spring we've had this weekend helped, and Vitamin I(buprofen) was NOT needed!  Last night I saw Life of Pi with some friends from AA and it was stunning.  Couldn't get through the book when I tried, but now I'm going to give it another shot. 

All in all, a great weekend, and my Monday starts with a mammogram at 7:45.  My year of Self Care continues.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Shift happens

Good morning!  It's now 8 a.m. Sunday morning.  Yesterday at this time it was 7 a.m.  Doesn't take much to change things substantially.  We'll all really get this annual reminder when it's broad daylight at 7 tonight!  Sorry for the continuation of my morning musings on time change, but as noted in my last post, it fascinates me...the notion of times changing are very relevant in my life now.

And so back to our story from Saturday...the unintended cliffhanger that happened because the day started moving before I had a chance to finish the saga.  Actually this saga will be unfolding over time for the long haul, but on to the next chapter for now...

The blood was drawn Wednesday.  Thursday around 1:15 I was at work, blithely eating my lunch when my cell phone rang, and the number that appeared was that of my doctor's office.  In keeping with my oft-reported neurotic nature, wisps of adrenalin puffed into my solar plexus.  It was the office receptionist who said that my results were in and the doctor wanted me to come in to discuss them.

Knowing full well she couldn't say much, I said I'd make the appointment, but asked she fax me a copy of them.  She replied that the doc didn't like doing that until the results were discussed with the patient.  So I asked to talk to someone.  She put me on hold.

After about a minute, she came back and said that the Nurse Practitioner, who I see as often as the doc,   fully trust and believe to be extremely competent, said to tell me it was to discuss diabetes management and treatment options.  Aha.  Just as I expected.  I scheduled the appointment for this coming Tuesday, hung up, and exhaled deeply.

It was almost a sense of relief to me that this issue was "out in the open", and I knew that a subtle shift had happened inside where I was no longer going to ignore this truth that's been present for close to 4 years.  No more hiding it, no more euphemistic descriptions of my "borderline" status.  I have it.  It's gotten worse over the years.  Turns out ignoring a problem is not a useful strategy.  Magical thinking doesn't exact change.  Not like setting a clock to a different time and calling it a day.

Having not had the doc appointment yet, I haven't found out the particular numbers of my fasting blood sugar and HbA1C, which are the initial 2 indicators of diabetic status.  I haven't been instructed to check my fasting blood sugar daily, or been given diet guidelines.  I haven't been told that I need to go on medication.  Yet.

Shortly after I hung up from talking to the receptionist, I got my work glucometer out and checked my blood sugar.  It was a dumb time to check it, because I'd just eaten lunch (albeit a healthy low carb one) and knew the number would be high.  But how high?  My nursing knowledge is helpful, but it can also be a distinct hurdle in rational action on my own behalf.  I know normal ranges for fasting, but not related to mealtimes, etc.  I thought it could be in the 200s, which would not be good.  It was 167, which is high, but not so bad just after a meal.  2 hours later would have told a different story, but I let it go, just feeling good that I'd had the nerve to check it.

I brought the meter home for the weekend.  Friday night, hubby brought home dinner from his golf club (where we have to spend a certain amount in their dining room quarterly), and from where we usually get outrageously delicious dessert.  I told him in no uncertain terms NOT to get me a dessert, but when he got home, one of the containers had 2 desserts.  I shrieked at him, and he said he'd told them just the one dessert.  He was surprised, and I can assure all of you that he would not attempt to sabotage me.  It was a fluke.  Guess what I did?  I ate it.  And once that sugar was on board, I opened a bag of candy that I was going to send to my son in the Republic of Georgia, and ate that too.  Insane.

Armed with my glucometer, I checked my fasting blood sugar yesterday morning.  Normal value would be less than 100.  Mine was 152.  It was that value and my reaction to it that prompted me to begin writing all this yesterday morning.  I saw it and didn't freak out.  What came was a steely determination and resolve to change it.  Get it down.  It was visceral, real.  That high blood sugar empowered me through the day yesterday, including a baby shower with a full dinner, cake, avoid the simple carbs and sugar.  Also to take in healthy nourishing meals.

This morning my blood sugar was 132.  Still high.  Down 20 points.  Coinkydink?  I think not.  Can I get it lower?  I believe I can.

The awareness is still fresh, almost astonishing as it continues to wash over me.  The facts of my condition, out in the open, motivate me.  Reality vs. wishing and hoping.  A measurable indicator of my  status can help me rather than scare me.  There are many things I cannot control.  But I am not powerless over what I put in my mouth.  Once certain things enter my body (like booze, sugar, highly processed crap), my judgement is impaired.  The person I am before I put in certain substances is different from the one after I ingest them.  That is my biochemical addictive nature.  If I ignore it, all bets are off as to my ability to act on my own behalf.

So - that's where I am at this point.  I am going to test my FastingBloodSugar (FBS) every day now, whether the doc says to or not.  But he will.  I'm not afraid of it anymore.  I'm afraid NOT to do it.  That's a big change.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The times, they are a-changin'

It's 6:15 Saturday morning.  Tomorrow at this time it will be 7:15.  It always fascinates me to think of this related to time change.  Simply change the clock setting, and voila!  Instant new normal, albeit a less drastic one than many.   

Like most other folks at this seasonal juncture, I'm beyond ready for any harbinger of spring to emerge, and daylight savings time is a biggie.  The purple shocks of crocus against winter brown rain/snow dampened earth have been wooing for a few weeks, but repeated storms and last gasp winter onslaughts have kept them from fully flourishing.  But time change...even mother nature can't mess with that.  It immediately and literally brings new light into every moment from dawn to dark.

I generally don't post on a weekend (and no cracks about how I generally don't post much at all these days), but I want to reflect and write out my thoughts this morning.  Recall my Wednesday post about beginning to pay attention to my health, by scheduling appointments, having blood drawn, etc.  Today's musings evolve from there.

Let me note that denial has never been a river in Egypt in my world, but magical thinking with a big dose of ignoring reality have often figured prominently in my operating system.  Before I got sober, I knew my drinking wasn't "normal", but I was having too much fun to worry about it.  Until I wasn't, and even then - armed with the knowledge that I was an alcoholic, I kept doing what I was doing, thinking that eventually I'd stop, or "get over it".  

I determined to quit a million times and meant it with all my heart every time.  But eventually (in a few days, or a few weeks) I'd go back, or rather, pick up the drink.  And I never picked up planning to moderate.  I never wanted a civilized glass of wine with dinner.  I wanted obliteration, but without those pesky blackouts and fights with the husband.  

That is how it's been with my eating and food struggles.  While the consequences in my daily life have been less drastic in the social sense (I have a zillion friends, wonderful family, good job, love and feel loved) than those wreaked by alcohol, they have been painful in my inner life, and increasingly serious to my physical being.  

I've ignored Type 2 diabetes for several years.  It started out around 2009 with warnings that I was showing signs of it (borderline values).  My doctor told me "You can cure yourself", and sent me to a Diabetes Educator/Dietician for food guidelines and menu planning.  I went a few times, began losing weight and my lab values flipped back to normal quickly.  So I figured I could control this thing, and lapsed back to eating what and when I wanted.  My borderline status quickly turned to teetering-on-the- brink, and my doctor gently warned me.  

At one point about 18 months ago, the office nurse called and said that the doc wanted me to take the Diabetes Education classes offered at the local hospital, and I (know it all nurse and pain in the ass patient) said to her, "I'm not going to do that.  I know what to do, and I could probably teach the class myself."  It won't shock you to know that was the last time I had blood drawn, until this past Wednesday.  I had an office visit for a muscle spasm in September of 2012, and the doc gave me a slip for blood work that I hung onto, vowing to self (HAH!) that once I got a "good month of sane eating" under my belt, I'd have it done.

If I waited for that month, I'd likely never get stuck with a needle again.  A moment of clarity, a deep fear, finally wanting to stop NOT WANTING to see family who aren't close by...something I can't explain jolted me into just getting the blood tests done.  

And then the wait for the phone call from the doc's office.  

It didn't take long.  24 hours.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Atta girl, Leslie

I'm high-5ing myself today and daring to be optimistic about some miniscule progress related to my last post.  This morning, as scheduled, I went and had my routine blood work drawn that I've put off for months.  My blood is out there in the ether to be looked at and to reveal the general status of my health.  In the past, I used to play drama queen (to myself only) after walking out of a lab, thinking, "well, the die is cast", with emphasis on the "die"!  Brother - I'm really getting tired of myself with that stuff and see that I can make a choice to be optimistic or pessimistic.  Whatever is, IS.  Not knowing not only doesn't help or change anything, it fuels my anxiety.  The long-held fear dates back to my childhood, and while I know from where it stems, it's very hard to navigate at times.  But the only way through is through.

Upon getting to work, I also scheduled my mammogram for this Monday.  It's late as well, because I'd cancelled one back in October and never got around to rescheduling.  I got an appointment early in the morning, which is my best and brightest time of day, and I'm highly unlikely to chicken out or be "too busy".  I'll have it done and be able to get to work early.  While I don't love these boob-flattening fests, they don't breed dread and fear in me the way having my blood drawn does.

Finally, I go to a fancy schmancy practice GYN care.  The woman gyn. doc I see is no longer accepting new clients, and you have to schedule your annual exam as you leave from your current one, or you might have to wait for well over a year.  I also cancelled that appointment last summer, and never rescheduled.  This morning I called to do so, figuring it would probably be late fall before I'd get in, and by some miracle was told that my doc had a cancellation for this Tuesday at 10:30, so I grabbed it!  I'll just take the day off since it's in the middle of the day.  This also doesn't get me too worked up, though I know she'll gently mention my weight, as always.  Maybe at next year's app't, that won't be an issue!  It could, and should, happen.

Seems like the universe is opening up a sliver for me to take better care of myself, both in having ideal time slots available for what I need, and suspending some of my resistance and fear about health issues.  For someone who's been very healthy my whole life, it's strange that I hate these routine procedures.  But I also know how good it feels to know things are well, and if they aren't, that I am following through on my own behalf.  Details to follow.

Oh - and my food and eating have improved for the last few days.  That helps for sure.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The first day of something

Today is the proverbial first day of the rest of my life.  The day (actually the 2nd day, as I was stellar yesterday) I start back on track with moving toward weight loss, improved fitness, and denial-free attention to my physical well-being.  Mondays are good first-days-of-the-rest-of-my-life.  I should know.  I've had a zillion of them in my 59+ years, yet here I still sit, about 40 pounds overweight, in denial about my borderline (hopefully still borderline) type 2 diabetes, hypertension controlled by medication, and who knows what other weight related issues.  Confession:  initially I wrote "obesity related issues", but it sounded so harsh and ugly that I changed it to the kinder and gentler "weight-related".  This runs deep.

I'm going to spit out some major baggage here - I might as well use this blog for an outlet, since it isn't panning out to be a springboard to writing fame.  I'm too cheap to go to therapy again - been there, done that.  It won't get me skinny or give me any new insights into my demons.  I have to have somewhere to say some of this shit out loud.  Judge me or not.  Something's gotta give if I'm ever to find freedom from a very destructive relationship with food and eating.

I've been blogging since summer of 2009, and it was really only in the first 6 months that I lost a chunk of weight (~25 pounds) that I have of course re-found.  I'm still not as high as I was at the very beginning, but I'm as far from a success story as Obama is from getting Congressional republicans to agree with any words that come out of his mouth.  Truth be told, the reason I stop blogging for long periods (often) is that I get tired of not having anything positive to report.  I always get so much support and kindness here, and yet I feel ashamed about that because I don't deserve it.

I've written before about one of my favorite sayings in AA - "if nothing changes, nothing changes".  I am the poster child for that little nugget of truth.  Many things HAVE changed in my life over the years, and those changes have bore much fruit and richness.  But with the eating, the food, the weight - status quo breeds status quo.  I want to be honest about a few facts of my life.  These won't be new to anyone who has read me for awhile.  They provide good examples of the saying in the paragraph above.

1)  I love my Atlanta in-law family.  They love me.  I'd like to visit more often.  But I dread going, always, because I'm fat.  Still fat.
2)  My beautiful daughter is still living in the Dominican Republic with her wonderful boyfriend and soon to be official fiance.  I love spending time with them both.  We have only been to visit once while she's been there, though she comes home as often as possible.  They are dying for us to come down soon so we can meet Cesar's parents, and visit their beach condo up on a stunningly beautiful tiny penisula off the northeastern coast of the island.  I want to go, but I don't want to go fat.  I can't wear long sleeves and capris on a tropical Caribbean beach.  And I definitely can't wear a bathing suit.  Or meet the parents.
3)  I should have had basic blood work drawn about 7 months ago, and have put it off until I get some "sane eating time" under my belt".  I'm afraid of the type 2.  I'm afraid something horrible and terminal will show up.  I'm afraid of my shadow, I think.   (And whenever I walk with friends, my shadow is always the biggest.  Admittedly I have lean friends, but still...)  I'm afraid of literally everything.  I'm phobic about minor symptoms, in me or my family members.  And I keep this all at bay, inside, so as not to appear as nuts as I feel.  A neurotic mess on the inside.  Cool, wise, AA sponsor/friend/nurse/mom/counselor on the outside.  Let me tell you - it takes a lot of food to keep this all zipped up.

There is a lot more I could say, but my work day is winding down, and I think enough is enough.  Maybe I'll write again soon.  I hope so, but my willful bad self, driven by a million forms of self-centered fear, can call the shots if I'm having a bad day.

Acceptance and the Serenity prayer are my current strategies right now.  There is much I cannot change.  There is much I can.  I even claim wisdom to know the difference between the two.  But action is what matters.  One planned action is that I have an appointment at 8 a.m. on Wednesday morning to have that blood work done.  If it shows I'm gonna croak - so be it.  I'm having it done.  It's a start.  And I'm going to try and resist any sugar, other than fruit, for the rest of the day.  I did that yesterday and it was ridiculously hard, arguing constantly with the voice in my head coaxing me to have just one ___________ that someone brought to a meeting.  I got through the day.  I'd like for a rerun of that today.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

At long last, part deux

Don't faint - I'm still here, still alive, still reading, but haven't posted much.  I thought by doing a post with "Part Une" in the title in early January, I could peer pressure myself into posting sooner that I have.  It's been almost 2 months, and while the scary and unexpected things about the holidays I alluded to in my last post have settled down, I just haven't felt like putting figurative pen to paper.  But I need to.

I think I overwhelmed myself by saying I'd post shortly about the other "big event" that shook up our family holiday gatherings (besides my FIL's passing, which I did write about) - though it didn't begin unfolding (quietly and seemingly innocently) until Christmas Eve.  That day, nor in the next few, I had no idea that odd things were brewing in my middle child, Stephen, and neither did he, though he did start noting some weird physical sensations to me.  Being a nurse, the vague symptoms sounded potentially concerning, but easily explained away by recent physical activity he'd engaged in.  Being a recovering catastrophizer, I kept telling myself to calm down and stop always going to a bad or worst case scenario.  But a few days in, it became clear something real was happening.

The day after Christmas, Steve said the bottoms of his feet felt numb and tingly.  Also that his calves were very painful, but we attributed it to the fact that he'd gone out a run a couple of miles in the freezing cold (and he doesn't run), just for exercise.  Concerning the numbness, I asked if it was really both feet, and he said yes.  A wisp of adrenalin puffed into my gut, because as a nurse, I know bilateral neurological stuff is significant.  But I reminded myself to not get crazy or worried over essentially nothing.  He didn't mention it again for a day or so, but then he told me that his finger tips were tingly and numb, and his arms ached.  "Both arms?"  Yep.  Shit, more bilateral symptomology.  More adrenalin.  More talking myself off the cliff.  Yet he could move everything fine.  "How are your legs and feet?"  His answer was, "Probably worse."  I told him I was going to make a doctor appointment for him the next day, and he told me to not be ridiculous.  HAH!

By now it was New Year's Eve, after 3 p.m., so I figured we'd deal with it, if necessary, on Wednesday, which was Jan. 2nd.  Well.  That night, he had friends over, which he later confessed was because he felt too weird and crappy to go anywhere.  I was asleep by 9:30 while hubby lay next to me and watched the various NYE's going ons on tv.  Tuesday morning I was out of the house by 6:30 to go to a 7 a.m. AA meeting and then breakfast with friends (New Year's Day), and when I walked into the house at 9:45, my husband called out that Steve's "medical condition" had gotten worse.  I flew into the den, and Stephen was sitting there looking entirely pissed off with Tom (hubby), and told me to disregard what "Dad just said".  I asked what was going on, and it turns out his face was feeling "wooden", his tongue was "thick" and he was having a hard time swallowing food.  His speech was even slightly slurry.

Into HIGH GEAR - I said we were going to the ER.  Stephen said no.  I said that I'd call 911, and he said for me to go ahead but that he wasn't going, and then I SCREAMED, "GET YOUR SHOES ON...WE'RE GOING NOW"... and off we went - me driving, Tom next to me telling me to slow down while Stephen reminded me I wasn't driving an ambulance.  I was terrified, even though Steve could walk, he was definitely having some kind of neurological event.  What it turned out to be had actually occurred to me a couple of days earlier, but is such a rare thing that I was sure my mind was being crazy.

He got taken back quickly, and at this point I will try to make a very long story less long by saying that he had a million tests.  All blood tests and CT scan of the head were normal.  And then a neurologist was called in, and that man will be my hero forever.  He did a full neurological exam on Stephen (with me present, since Steve said it was okay), checking reflexes, strength, asking countless detailed questions.  It was during this exam where I became the most scared, terrified really, because I could this doctor was sharp, good, and knew his stuff.  I knew this doctor would figure out what it was, and that was both terrifying and reassuring.

After he finished the exam, he told Steve that based on everything up to that point, he felt fairly confident that what Stephen had was Guillain Barre Syndrome.  This is a very rare condition that you can read a brief description of if you click the link.  Essentially it's an auto-immune response where the body begins attacking the nerves as the exit from the spinal cord.  Cause is unknown, but it often occurs after a respiratory infection or receiving a flu shot.  If you've ever gotten a flu shot, you've seen the condition listed in the consent form you sign prior to getting the vaccine.   I won't go into all the details of this, except to say that it's considered a medical emergency because it is a progressive paralysis that can (but does not in 70% of cases) actually cause a paralysis of the chest muscles that aid in breathing.  It can very in intensity and seriousness, and in worst cases, can actually (though rarely) cause death. 

After the doc told Steve what he thought his condition was, he said that the diagnosis was confirmed by a spinal tap and looking at the spinal fluid under a microscope.  The presence of protein in the fluid is the only way to definitively know for sure.  You can imagine that Stephen was thrilled to hear that, but was a champ for the procedure.  We had to wait a couple of hours for the result, and while we waited, Steve researched the condition on his phone, and his symptoms were essentially a textbook definition of the disease.  Fortunately this condition is treatable, and in the majority of cases, the patient recovers fully.

Turns out, if you hadn't guessed or aren't friends on Facebook, that Stephen did have GBS, and ended up spending 4 days in the hospital in ICU (because he had to be monitored during treatments and for possible chest involvement), for the condition.  It seemed that his symptoms had peaked by the time we got to the ER, because he never got worse.  During his time in the hospital, his facial involvement (recall his lips feeling wooden, face stiff, etc) made it hard for him to even use a straw because he couldn't seal his lips around it.  Crazy, huh? Yet he could always walk pretty well (though his legs also felt "wooden") and really never lost motor function.  Most of his symptoms were more on the sensory end of the nervous system - more what he felt and sensed, rather than how he moved. There is so much more about all this that I won't bore you with (probably too late for that!), but he did well in the hospital, got fantastic care, had lots of company, and tolerated the treatments well.  After discharge he ended up staying home for an extra 3 weeks before going back to working on his cousin's farm in Kentucky.

So this all happened while our daughter Jean and her boyfriend Cesar were here for the holidays.  Obviously it sort of changed a lot of our plans, but Jean and Cesar shifted gears and hung out with Steve in the hospital, and we still had a good time together.  We were all so thankful that Stephen seemed to have a mild case of this syndrome.  It all felt quite surreal, and while we were relieved that his diagnosis turned out to be something entirely treatable and one from which he will fully recover, it definitely was a very scary experience.  Stephen soldiered through well - Mom, not so much.  On the surface I kicked into competent nurse/mom mode, grateful, optimistic, and the family spokesperson.  Inside my tendency to catastrophize and be anxious got very triggered, and I'm still working on regrouping, almost 10 weeks later.

I talked to Stephen on Saturday, and he says he feels pretty good.  He still tires more easily - especially in his arms and legs, and he has the tingling fingers and soles of feet when he first wakes each day.  But after moving around a bit, he says he feels pretty normal.  We are so grateful that this happened while he was at home, rather than while he was at the farm.  The doc said we caught it earlier than a lot of folks do, and that will further ensure eventual full recovery.

I'm sorry for this long post.  Believe when I say it could be MUCH longer, but if I want to publish it before midnight, I have to keep it brief!  Or at least less than a novella.

My food/weight/eating is in about the same place it's been for many months.  I haven't gained, but I haven't lost.  Up and down between 5 pounds.  I'd like to say I'm ready to get this weight off once and for all, and of course I am.  But I don't seem to ready to do what it's going to take, which is get consistent about it.

Writing all this has been exhausting to my emotional reserves - so I'm not even going to proof it.  I intend, hope, and plan to get back to more frequent blogging, but I've said that before.  But at least I've posted once a month, so far, in 2013! 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Holiday Chronicles part une

I hope everyone had a good set of end-of-the-year-holidays - I've been reading my top ten, plus a few other blogs, throughout and it seems most all of you survived them just fine - many thrived.  And staying in touch with the blog world, whether by just reading or occasionally commenting, has been one of the activities that enabled me to stay grounded throughout.

The reason I am posting is because I need to write - about a lot of what our season was like.  And when I came to my blog, the template looked dark and depressing to me me, so I did a quick change.  Hopefully I can fine tune and add some creativity to it, but being a world class non-techie makes that unlikely.  I need someone to sit down with me and show me how to do stuff.  Once I learn, I don't forget, and can figure other stuff out.  But original blog pages apparently aren't my forte. 

Our holidays, starting with Thanksgiving, have been a true mixed bag - wonderful connections with family throughout, but a couple of medical issues arising at the beginning (Thanksgiving night) and at the end (New Years Day) have definitely left this blogger reeling.  I won't get to all of it today in hopes of keeping your eyes from bleeding, but will at least talk a little about the big stuff. 

The first big thing was Thanksgiving.  For the first time since becoming parents, we had no children at home - 2 out of the country, and our middle son Stephen living and working on a farm in Berea, Kentucky.  The farm is owned by his cousin and her husband, and with it being a 10 hour drive and his plan of coming home for Christmas, he stayed and enjoyed the holiday with some extended family.  Tom and I were alone, but thanks to several invites from friends were able to cherry pick from the appetizing menu of wonderful people with whom to share the holiday meal.  (You know the cherry picker was me, btw.  Tom was happy to go anywhere.)

Before we left for our friends that afternoon, Tom's mom in Atlanta called, and reported her hubby, Tom's dad (Tom Sr.) was not feeling well and wanted to ask her "nurse daughter in law" for advice (from 700 miles away?).  At 94 and 9/12, Tom Sr. was beginning to really show the ravages of age.  While his mind remained sharp, other things like balance, swallowing, and speaking had become diminished, and that day certain symptoms became more pronounced and alarming.  To shorten this story significantly, he ended up being 911d to the hospital that night, and several issues were diagnosed that hadn't been identified before.  He did a few days in the hospital, then a week in a rehab where he was utterly miserable and kept saying he was "ready to go", and finally ended up in a hospice facility where he was able to be kept comfortable, literally surrounded by family, until he peacefully passed away on December 15.

My Tom(Jr) made 2 different trips down at various points along this 3 week period, and felt fortunate to be there during his dad's last days.  Virtually all the family besides us live in or much closer to Atlanta, so there was much family camaraderie, connection, love, sharing of memories throughout.  Our daughter from the Dominican Republic was able to fly into Atlanta a few days prior to what she'd originally planned to do with her soon to be fiance, and was able to see Papa before he passed.  The memorial service for Tom Sr. was on Saturday afternoon of December 22, so I flew down early that morning and back home the next day to get ready for Christmas and the family company we were having.  (As I write all this, I realize the huge gaps of significant stuff that are too much for a blog post...but maybe this text will serve as a starting point for me to document it more fully for our family and who knows what else later.)  The service was lovely - with a great turnout of family and friends - and children of their friends.  There was a very lively reception at the church after, and then a big family gathering at the home of one of my father in law's nieces that went on til about 11 that night.  By 5 am the next morning, I was at the airport to return to Philly.  Quite a whirlwind, literally and emotionally.

Anyway - while it was of course a very sad occasion, it was also a celebration of my father in law's full life and remarkable health and hardiness well beyond that of most 90 plus folks.  He was able to keep up with golf, bridge (played a couple of days at his club before his final trip out of their home) and stayed interested in politics and other news currents as well.  Life really didn't owe him much at all, and it was clear he passed peacefully and with full knowledge of how fortunate and blessed he'd been.  I hope he also knew how utterly adored and esteemed he was by his kids and grandkids.  He'd led the typical imperfect human life, and there were things about which he had a hard time self forgiving.  You know - like almost every person who has walked the face of the earth.

I'm going to stop now because my son Stephen just woke up and we're going to meet one of his friends at a local museum.  He figures very significantly in this story and I will need to gather my emotional resources for the retelling of what is still unfolding.

And by the way...Happy Belated New Year.