Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Frustration With Diets and Doctor's Visits...

Throughout this whole ordeal of physical set backs, I am not losing any weight.  In fact, I have gained some.  Lately, I do not even want to try to cook.  Having pain while standing is a huge deterrent.

I have put thought into this whole mess.  I stress myself out over losing weight.  In July, I did the shake diet for two weeks, then tried eating healthy food for another two weeks.  It was not working so well because I was not able to walk much due to pain.  

Rather than continue to complain, I went to the doctor.  I had bloodwork done that scared me - results were indicating kidney failure.  Had the the blood work redone and the kidney values showed a lot of improvement.  However, the ordeal was scary.

Doctor prescribed physical therapy for my back, glutes, and quad muscles.  Slowly, but surely, I started noticing less pain.  Then, *BOOM*, I messed up my right knee in a co-worker's truck due to slick floor mats.  

It is pretty frustrating.  Just when you think you are getting to the point to start moderate exercise, another set back.

I have heard of many suggesting weight loss surgery.  Granted, there are so many bonuses, but if I can lose weight with healthier eating and exercise, then I should do that.  I know people where the surgery made no difference or even worse.

So, I decided, I have a month before seeing my endo for an update on my A1C and so forth.  Fine, the weight went up - QUIT STRESSING OVER IT!!!  That right there is making the blood sugar worse.  Also, quit thinking you can drop 5 lbs right before and all will be well.  That is not going to happen.

Time to make lifestyle changes.  Do not deny yourself, but then again, choose to eat foods that are healthy 80% of the time.  Treat yourself occasionally - quit thinking of food being bad.  No food is bad unless you do not care for it.  Food is food.

I will make this my starting point.  Measure my food and work the plate division.  This will help with properly cutting back and ending the overeating.  The boredom and stress eating will have to noted and deal with the feelings that start it.

I know that this can be done and I can do it.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

What Was I Thining...And Still Thinking?

Last Wednesday, I had dropped Bo and Chloe off at I-20 Animal Medical Center for Chloe's Cushing's recheck.  I leave Bo with Chloe since he has a calming effect on her, so that gave me a little break from the usual routine.

On Thursday afternoon, I receive a text message from Random Cathy asking me if I was interested in meeting for dinner.  At first, I was going to decline.  However, the logistics of eating dinner before picking up the dogs made better sense.  I have been really horrible about eating dinner pretty late these days - say 9:30 - 11:00 PM.  I suppose since my knee issues, I have not been really motivated to stand to cook.

We met an interesting Asian restaurant, which was on my way to get the dogs.  While we were catching up, Cathy told me about having gone to see a presentation called "Oral Fixation."  She explained the concept and commented on how powerful the tales read were. 

At that point, she asked me if I would be interested in trying out for the next show.  The topic was "In the Doghouse."  The topic could be taken literally or metaphorically speaking.  The thought was that I should have plenty of dog stories with the dogs.  That should be true, but at the time, I was not thinking of anything.

The biggest hurdle would be trying to write something before the Monday 6 PM deadline.  Could I do it?

I agreed.  However, as I was driving to get the dogs after dinner, I was not sure what direction to go.  I could talk about the first dog the family had, "Girl".  I could talk about when I was 3 years old and how a dog mourning the death of her pups attacked me.  Discuss how BJ and the subsequent Pomeranians touched our lives.  Ugh - what a multitude.

I managed to put together a piece and submit it on Monday.  I pretty much glossed over each of the above ideas.  Unfortunately, I did not discuss "me" or one dog in particular.  I knew what I submitted was not going to get selected.  Many times, your gut just knows, but I wanted Cathy to be chosen.  She is better at this than I am and for whatever reasons, why did I want to open myself up that much?  

I fought over issues where I felt that were controversial.  I cried while writing the piece as it dredged up things I had deeply hidden.  Nothing was ever unlawful, but the exercise was one of really seeing how my life and ideals had changed so drastically.

Wednesday evening, I received the expected rejection letter.  Bottom line, it was probably one of the nicest rejection letters I had ever received.  I was not upset or hurt.  In fact, I was encouraged to try again.  That was a big positive and made me feel that maybe that there is something there in the writing.

I waited to find out if Cathy had made the cut.  I had already gone to the site to order a ticket, but I wanted to make sure that Cathy would be there.  If Cathy made the cut, there was no doubt about going - I wanted to support her.  However, if neither of us got selected, then I would buy the ticket to go with Cathy for an outing.

As I knew, Cathy made the cut.  I am so happy for her!  I know she will do a fabulous job and I bought my ticket to the show right there and then.  This will be exciting to see.

The next topic is "Too Many Cooks."  I am working on a piece for this.  I remind myself that these shows are recorded for posting on YouTube.  I need to make sure I can navigate this piece appropriately for humor as well as providing insight into me.

This should be interesting, but we shall see if I get picked this next go around...

Physical Update...

Generally speaking, my rear and hamstrings are still stiff in the mornings.  I just wish the dogs were not so demanding and herding first thing in the morning.  I could get a better hamstring stretch going before heading out the door.

Overall, my back kicks up with a sharp pain from time to time, but I stop to evaluate where I am placing my weight.  I try to work harder on improving and strengthening my core muscles.  That is the key.

As for my knee, it still feels like if someone pulled it and popped, it might feel a hell of a lot better.  However, I can tell the physical therapy has helped in strengthening my knee.  The quad muscle on my right leg was sore when I first started working it, but it is getting better.

I am nowhere close to running or walking a marathon, but I think pretty soon, I will be able to return to building up my walking program.  The positive outlook, the more I exercise and eat better, the weight will begin to shed.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Small Ways History Repeats Itself...

Currently, Syria is a war zone.  ISIS (or IS) is waging war to take over the major cities and turn the country over to their rule.  Also, the group knows that there is a great deal of oil in this country - if they can control that, then they can yield their power to attempt to bring down other countries' economies, including the infidel United States of America.

Turkey and other Middle Eastern countries are contributing to helping fight ISIS.  However, many Syrians are trying to escape the country to avoid the bombings and ISIS's interpretation of the sharia law.  The unfortunate part is that Turkey cannot handle further refugees from entering their country, so these people must go elsewhere.

I saw a picture of a woman and several other cars based in Hungary where food and water had been placed along the side of the road.  This was to give the refugees that were crossing the border much needed food and water.

No matter how much of what is being told via the news agencies is propaganda or not, ISIS definitely has the ability to capture attention using social media to show the world exactly the terror it will impose on people.  The UN is well aware of the various human rights atrocities waged against Christians and people of other faiths that do not follow sharia law.  Their acts of violence are without a doubt cruel, but done in the name of their god.

I read a post the other day when someone said "Why does America have to take on everyone else's problems?  Why should we let these refugees in and risk terrorists coming into our country to do more harm?"

Who says that the terrorists do not already live among us?  

The heartbreaking photos I have seen regarding the refugees remind me of a movie I saw in the late 70's called Voyage of the Damned.  I probably was not supposed to watch that movie, but it left a huge impression on me. 

The book and movie are based upon actual events.  The MS St. Louis was set to travel from Hamburg, Germany to Havana, Cuba, carrying about 937 Jews.  These passengers saw this as their chance to escape their impending fate if they were to stay in Germany.  

Unfortunately, the passengers learn that this is just a ploy - the ship is never meant to make it to Cuba.  The belief of the Nazis was that no country would accept the passengers as refugees, so the ship would be forced back to Germany.  This would allow Germany to remain blameless to the Jews fate as no other country would take the refugees.

Cuba rejects the refugees, then the United States refuses the refugees.  The ship has no choice but to turn back to Germany.  Approximately 200 passengers jumped into the sea to avoid their horrific fate.  The captain has intentions of running the ship onto a reef in southern England.

Other countries took in their share of the passengers, but many of them ended up dying in concentration camps.  If you have never seen this movie, do so. 

As I remember this movie, I realize, I know America cannot solve everyone's problems.  We should not have to do that.  However, this is a moment I do not wish to see repeated in history.  I hate the fact that we turned away people who ended up dying in concentration camps and we could have prevented that.

As I think back to the events of 9/11/2001, I hate what a group of terrorists did to this country and the people here.  However, if there is one thing about the people in this country, we are strong and step up when needed.  For these people being persecuted, we need to step up and help them.  

Not Being Completely Electronic/Paperless...

One would think that with as many electronic gadgets to my disposal, I would be pretty much paperless.  Not necessarily.

Each year, I order an organizer or "Master Agenda" from Levenger.  I used to get something similar at Container Store for many years, but I really like the Levenger "Master Agenda" format.  I use it to write down all appointments and such.  I feel I have to have a hard back up copy of anything electronic.  I have been down the path of lost data too many times.

I have been keeping up with Jeff Sander's The 5AM Miracle podcast.  He has provided many suggestions for electronic calendars and such, but I have not really had time to invest in them.  If they cost money to sign up for use, then forget it.  I am cheap - there are plenty of apps out there that can do the job for free, if pushed.

I think for myself and many others, this is one traditional habit that is difficult to break.  While I am about to buy another for 2016, I will say this much, I have actually used the Levenger "Master Agenda" all year.  There have been a couple of weeks I have skipped, but not like other years with different agenda products (where I went months, then dropped the product).

Maybe, at some point, I will sort out the best electronic agenda for my needs.  The Calendar on the iPhone is okay, but I need a bit more.  I will say, I have pretty much gone paperless for my bills and checking account.  I still have some issues with Quicken having sync-ing issues, but I can rectify those by reloading the cloud data.  At this point, I am doing a lot better on handling my budget using that application.  It will be just a matter of time to sort out the agenda and calendar pieces.

Physically - How Am I Doing?

If I were to answer that question today, I would say I was much better this week than last week.  My knee still hurts from time to time, but it is starting to stabilize and that is important.  The pain in my back will start up, but a lot of time, that is because I need to make sure I am properly balancing my entire weight between both legs.

I get frustrated with the various set backs, but I have to realize that this is part of life.  Not everything is the "happy path", as taught by a friend of mine regarding Java programming.  There will always be bumps in the road.

Since seeing the doctor this Tuesday, I have seen some really cool informational postings and classes regarding healthy weight loss.  Right now, I am trying to pay off a couple of credit cards.  Once those are done, I will check with my insurance to see if they will pay for the nutritional courses.  I figure that is one area I could use a bit more help.

As for the activity piece, that will just have to be one day at a time.  As I said to a friend of mine last night, patience is one thing that I have lost - I really do not have any.  I need to be more patient with myself and work harder on getting weight off my frame.  The set backs are going to happen and I need to roll with the punches.

I will ask my new PCP for more information - that never hurts.

One of My Favorite Tech Toys...

As I sit here writing this, I am listening to Tycho on my Logitech Squeezebox Touch.  The device connects to an account on the internet as well as to a server running on my laptop.  I realized today how much I use this device to listen to local radio stations and my own music.  This has to be the best buy I ever made - well, that and the squeezebox clock/radio that got me started with internet radio.

I used my mom's old Sony boom box for many years to listen to various radio stations and CDs.  When I started listening to The Ticket, the radio station would have a lot of issues trying to receive the station.  It was annoying and I really enjoyed the background noise.

As much as I love Apple's iPod products, I do not want to wear headphones all of the time.  However, when the boom box radio just was unable to pick up the stations I wanted to hear, it was frustrating.  The speakers on the laptop just were not cutting it with sound.

After my mother passed away, I started looking for a clock/radio that would charge my iPod and maybe I could listen to my music off the iPod.  In the process, I was looking for a new mouse/keyboard combination for home and work.  While checking out the Logitech website, I came across the Logitech Squeezebox clock/radio.  

Granted, it was not going to help charge my iPod, but at the time, I had also gotten a Bose speaker to hook up the iPods.  But, that simply acts like a speaker with excellent output.  However, I was completely intrigued with the Squeezebox.  It would connect to the internet, so that I could stream a multitude of radio stations.  I got it and instantly fell in love with it.  It was an amazing clock/radio for me.  I was able to lie in bed and listen to BBC programs or pick up whatever podcast I had subscribed.

When the Squeezebox Touch became available, I got it.  I have to admit, it was the best money I ever spent as I used every day.  When it is off, I can see the time.  The device connects to the server running on my laptop and pulls my music and podcasts.  If there is an issue with the laptop, I can still listen to streaming stations by connecting directly via the internet.

 Unfortunately, Logitech has stopped that product line.  I guess it did not take off as well as one would hope.  However, I still enjoy the two product I have.  Sometimes, you nail it and other times, you don't.

Friday, September 11, 2015

School Time and Kids...

Yes, folks, it is that time of the year - School.  

Every morning, I walk the dogs, I see things that blow my mind.  Sometimes, it makes sense why kids today think that they can do whatever they want.  Their parents allow that behavior - on a consistent basis.

My apartment complex is directly across the street of an elementary school.  Around 7:15-7:30 AM, parents and children make the trek over to the school.  Scooters are such a huge thing, so there are so many of these kids running about with their scooters and not paying attention to traffic.  Occasionally, they will stop at the top of the hill and look both ways, until they take off down the hill, then they have no control.  The mothers/fathers will just watch them speed on by and say nothing.

First, just because there is no oncoming traffic either way, there are cars attempting to leave their parking spaces.  Second, if the parent is going to walk their child to school, carrying their backpacks and lunches, the kids need to walk with the parent.  I know I would be annoyed if I had to carry my child's stuff to school, then carry back the scooter.  

Here is where "old, archaic" me comes out and says "When I was a young child, I had to carry my books and such with me back and forth to school.  My mom did not walk me to school."

(Honestly, my father would drive me to school or I would walk, depending on how late I was running.  My mom would sometimes pick me up.  Most of the time, I walked home.)

At one point, I used to ride my bike to school.  The street was pretty busy, but I always made it to school.  I quit riding the bike when a group of boys older than me stole my bike.  The bike was returned, but it was the thought that they would steal my precious bike.

Still, my parents did not follow me to school and carry back whatever got me to school.  Also, I had to carry my own books and such.

I cringe every time I see such acts of stupidity while walking the dogs.  I cannot bear the horrific thought of seeing one of those kids getting hit or worse, killed, because the parent cannot get their child to mind.

I have to admit, a lot of that stupidity happens outside of school as well.  I do not understand the thought process of ignoring what is happening.  The other day, while walking the dogs after work, a group of little girls were playing and one got hurt somehow.  All the while, there are two mothers sitting at the picnic table, chit-chatting.  

Now, keep in mind, I am hobbling around due to my current knee issue.  Once I got past their little group, I have NO idea why, I have this train of little girls, on either bikes, tricycles, and scooters right behind me, pushing me to get out of their way.  In fact, I got "Excuse me, but can you get out of my way?"

I looked at the mothers, then the kids and said "No.  I am a pedestrian and I have right of way."  I refused to try to reason with kids in the sense of I was already walking in this direction and just because they decide to get right behind me is not going to work.  They had other areas to go ride their bikes and such.  The kids just do not get it.  However, I am considered the mean, old lady.  Yeah, well, so be it.

I am generally nice to polite kids.  The ones that calmly come up to me and ask if they can pet the dogs.  The ones I really cannot stand are the ones that run full blast screaming to pet the dogs or the ones that feel that they are entitled to pet the dogs no matter what.  It really angers me, but what can I do?  I try to be nice about the situation, but being nice does not cut it.  The parents do nothing, thinking that I should bow down and allow all of it to happen.  They do not have to pay the vet bills - I DO!

I just do not get why kids today get away with thinking that they are allowed to do anything.

Physically - A Rough Week...

On Tuesday, I contacted my PCP to see about my knee.  I decided to work from home, so that I could continue icing my knee and be closer to the bathroom.  At work, it is quite a hike to make it to the bathroom.

It would seem that I have a small tear in the cartilage within the knee.  Rather than send me to an orthopedic, my doctor has decided that physical therapy would probably help.  Now, some of you are thinking "Why?"  Well, I would rather try this for the following reasons:
  • My apartment has a stair case - that would be heck trying to get up and down that
  • The dogs - they have their needs.
So, I would rather go through PT and rehab the knee than be incapacitated due to surgery.  I do not need that other headache.

For the most part, my knee is starting to stabilize, but it is also still weak.  I went to my regular PT session on Thursday and did pretty much all of the normal exercises, including the one where I stand on one leg for 30 seconds.  My left leg was pretty strong, but my right leg was more of an issue due to the knee problem.  

The funny thing - I had some back problems, but not as I had before the knee problem took place.  Today, however, the back issues returned, but I think I may be able to work out those issues.

If anything, I got so little sleep because my knee was constantly hurting.  On Wednesday, I called the doctor's office to get something for my knee.  Tylenol Extra Strength was not cutting it on the pain control.  Last night, I got some Tylenol with codeine.  I had the best night's sleep in I do not know how long!  It has definitely made a huge difference in dealing with this mess.

I am so thankful to the doctor for the prescription.  I have not taken any more since last night, so that is good.  

Next week, the physical therapist will do an evaluation on my knee and we will work out a plan to rehab both the back and the knee at the same time.  I hope to be back to normal, so that I can walk and get the weight off this frame.  Also, I am going to try to go to YMCA to rid the bike there.  It was a little difficult to pedal yesterday, but I just need to build on it.

I will say this - I am thankful to be able to still walk.  I am also thankful for the cooler weather.  It makes me feel so good to walk in the beautiful, cooler weather.  I know I will get through this - it will just take time and I need patience.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Re-Evaluation of Financial Situation...

I have made great strides with budgeting, but there is more work that needs to be done.  I need to crack down, as with my weight loss, on spending.  One of the things I have noticed was that I have been getting food out a lot.  That needs to stop.

I have managed to purchase a few things that should keep me entertained.  This way, I lower my entertainment spending.  I have signed up for free on-line courses, so that I would not spend any money, but at least, get some more knowledge under my belt.  My biggest problem has been time, but I think scheduling will be the next big obstacle to tackle.

Rather than go out so much, just stay home and get some cleaning done.  Seems that every time I plan to do this stuff on vacations and holiday weekends, then some stupid physical issue raises its ugly head.  That part truly annoys me.

I had charged a few things over the past couple of months.  Now, I am trying to wipe out those charges to see what is left of the monthly charges.  Then, I need to decide if those charges are really necessary.

It sort of sucks that I have not been able to get a mani/pedi since May.  However, I may be able to manage it next month.  I just hate how much it costs.  The last one I had was $100 and the manicure started chipping off within 2 hours.  I was not impressed.

Time to research where to get a decent mani/pedi that is safe and such.  I have to be careful with the care on my feet.  They are important.

Hoping to have all of this under control and sorted out before November.  The cash jar has not been so successful this year, but I hold out hope that next year will be better financially.  I will still work on using more cash.  That prevents me from using the credit cards as well as forcing myself to make real decisions on what I need and can do without.

The World Does Not Stop When You Can't Go...

Not really sure where to begin with this.  It seems like a huge comedy of errors, but it is true.  I find myself in a situation where I planned how to spend my Labor Day weekend and not able to do any of it!  What the heck!

I have been seeing a physical therapist for my back/glute/hamstring issues.  Some times, I can come out of PT feeling okay and other times, I feel worse than before I entered the door.  I realize that it is a process.

On Wednesday night, I noticed that my right knee was a bit stiff.  Thursday morning, it was pretty stiff and hurting.  I went to PT and told the therapist that my knee was bothering me.  I did the exercises, then walked out.  When I went to dinner, I began to notice that my knee was really giving me fits.  I should not have followed my friend to her car because it was the long way around and my car was closer.

Friday, the knee was really beginning to scream.  Getting up and hobbling around was a chore and let's not even talk about walking the dogs.

Saturday - the really worst.  I ended up at CareNow to see if anything could be done.  As I figured, nothing can be done.  Sure - put your leg up and ice it.  Hello - I have things I need to get done!  Argh!  

I am so frustrated with my body right now.  I have difficulty losing weight, sleeping, and now this crap.  Grrrrr.

But you know, life does not stop just because you cannot move around.  Dogs must be walked.  Have to get meds, gas, and food.  I had a pity party on Saturday night for about 10 minutes, then said, "Time to suck it up."

I hobble around to get stuff done.  I wear out on the dog walks and the dogs are never happy about that, but I get the job done.  By the time, I get back to the apartment, I thank God for getting me through it and air conditioning.  (Believe me, I am drenched in sweat and not smelling my best.  The cool air is a blessing once I feel it on my skin.)

I will probably work from home the rest of this week.  That way, I can keep an ice pack on my knee until I can get some weight on it.  Not sure about going to PT because there is no way I can stand on one leg for 30 seconds, do squats, or stretch hip flexors.

I would just like to lose some weight, be able to walk normally with no pain, and be active enough to have some fun.  I suppose I am asking for too much.  I wonder what it will take to get back to where I was in 2014 - when I was able to exercise and eat properly.  

Doing Things With an Expectation...

I recently read a post from a family member where it discussed providing a ride to someone with the intent of using that opportunity as a "witnessing tool" for God.  You know what they call that, doing business.  The act of providing a ride to someone who needed it with the intent of preaching to them what God can do for them to turn their life around is called "doing business." The expectation of the rider is to change their mind regarding their life and turn it around.  That is doing business.

Isn't this how the cults were able to recruit unsuspecting hitch hikers - they would provide them a ride, then attempt to convert them?

First of all, the rider can always get a ride with a police officer, so there is that choice.  Second, contact someone you know for help - never get into a vehicle with someone you do not know.  There is no telling what will happen.

Now, I am not saying that this family member is a bad person, but their well-meaning gesture was not from the heart.  The gesture was done with the expectation that the rider listen to their stories about how God had helped them and that would inspire the rider to clean up his/her life.  Unfortunately, sounds a bit too much like the cults picking up hitch hikers.

I know these people have a good heart.  With that in mind, rather than speak badly about how the rider rejected the ride, put your money where your mouth and heart are - help those organizations that are there to help people clean up their lives.  Volunteer at the homeless shelter or make sandwiches for the roving sandwich bus for those people.  Help those who are trying to help themselves with no expectation of anything in return.  What you will find will be so much greater.

Perhaps, maybe God agreed with me on this.  I spent Friday night and Saturday struggling with my feelings regarding this post.  The next day, I saw the following posted:

"If you're helping someone and expecting something in return, you're doing business not kindness." --Unknown

I truly believe in this and when I do something, I do it with no intentions of getting something in return.  You know why - you set yourself up for disappointment.  Do it from the heart.