Still Striving to improve myself, one board break at a time

I love the “what would you do for this condition?” posts I read on social media. It seems that people don’t want to go to doctors for help these days. They’d rather depend on a potentially undependable social media network for advice. There’s a variety of symptoms one can Google™ out there. Medical sites abound. You can go to WebMD, hunt up symptom A, go to some other site and hunt up the same symptom. You can be sure you won’t find the same answer to the problem.

When I  had an issue with a condition, I did what any normal person would do. I visited “Mr. Google.”  It was amazing how much information was out there. I took the information with a grain of salt. I depend on the medical professionals who went to school for 10+ years to diagnose me and come up with a treatment plan. I don’t claim to have that knowledge. I depend on these people to treat me. I haven’t always been this way. I’ve been in the “What do you do about this, this or this?” club. I’ve tried to avoid doctors. I guarantee it was a mistake for me.

Why are people so resistant to seeing people who are dedicating their lives to helping others? If someone has gone to the trouble to go to school for that long, they’re not in it for the “look what I’m doing!” factor. They’re doing it to help others.

I guess I’ve lucked out. I have doctors who don’t jump into medicating first. My doctors listen to me, ask questions and don’t tell me to “take two pills and call me in the morning.” They are geniunely interested in treating me as a whole person, not as a number. Could it be that I’ve just lucked out? My general practitioner tries to keep from prescribing meds. He has it as an alternative, but will tell me, “this could work but let’s try this first.”  He referred me to another doctor whom I positively adore. She is the best doctor I’ve ever had. She spent a lot of time with me last year, discussion options for me for a problem I encountered. Ultimately, the cure was drastic, but that was the last option on the table. We explored other options until it became impossible to manage.

I’m not saying that the Internet isn’t a good source of information. I’m just questioning why there are so many “doctors” without medical degrees out there.  I questioned someone this morning about whether they’d seen a doctor and had the condition they were asking about verified.  It’s easy for us to say, “do this, do this, do this, it worked for me.” What works for one person may not work the same way for another. The one thing people tend to discount is that humans are different. Yes, anatomy is similar, but it’s also different.  Your eyes may be blue. Mine are green. My hair is gray-ing. Yours is just as vibrant as the day you were born. What works for me, (visiting my doctor, getting  a lecture about my weight,  talking about the problem I’m there for, getting advice) may not be the choice for you.

Ultimately, you have to use your head and either see a doctor and take the advice you’re paying for or don’t. Whatever you do,  please don’t blame a real Medical Doctor for the advice you’re taking from a social media “doc”.


What defines “family?”

What is the definition of “family?” The traditional definition is parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins. That’s the most common definition. It’s the people related to you by shared blood and DNA. The ones you expect to have around all your life.

Sometimes that doesn’t happen. Sometimes your family unit is torn apart by different things.  Perhaps a family feud occurs and causes your blood family to distance themselves. It happens.  Is it pleasant? No, not really. The ones being left behind might feel confused, wondering what they did wrong.

Then you have people who walk into your life at a possible low point. They’re the ones who are there for you, who listen to you and allow you to call at odd hours of the day. They’re the ones with the patience to tell you, “You’re doing this, this or this …” They don’t hold back on criticisms or compliments. They don’t say you are making mistakes.  They’re there for you when you need them most.

I have several people I consider my “heart” family. These are people who have been involved in my life for many years. They were there when my kids were born, they held my hand, figuratively, during surgeries. These are people I trust implicitly.

There are a handful of people I would love to meet in person. They’ve given me immense support and have listened to my frustrations when other people have betrayed my trust. These people are the ones I feel the most comfortable with.

I cannot say that every single person I know is a “heart sister or brother,” but I can say that I have several people I would call to bail me out of stressful situations. These are the people I call my “heart.” They’re the ones who stand up with me and give me emotional support when I need it.

One of my best friends, I’ve known since high school. Another one, I’ve not met in person (YET), but she’s my rock. She gives me advice and offers herself unconditionally. This is the type of legacy I’d like to leave to my kids. I want them to have people they know they can lean on when their blood family isn’t available.


Random thoughts

My thoughts this evening:

I have one person who constantly tells me how I’m “so good” at various things. That kind of makes me feel awkward, like I’m on some sort of pedestal and if I do just one thing wrong, I’ll be tarnished or fall off that pedestal.

I’m really not as good as all that. I’m argumentative. I’m guilty of holding grudges.  (I think it’s a safe thing to say that’s a learned habit.) I don’t let things go. I yell at my kids. I yell at my husband. I rant a lot. Definitely not pedestal worthy.

We’re born into the human race. It’s up to us to treat each other with respect. I promise to respect you if you’ll reciprocate. Being human and not a mechanical being, I can guarantee I’ll make mistakes. That’s how I learn. Please don’t lift me up where I know  I don’t belong. I may fall and get hurt. Then I’ll get mad and hold grudges and all sorts of other ridiculously human behaviors.

These are just a few of the things that are running through my head tonight. What are you thinking about?




January 1, 2018

Another year is in the books, and a new one has started. It’s going to be a good year. I am going to do my absolute best to not fall into the negativity traps I found last year. I am moving forward with a better mindset.

I started my morning out with a walk. The state of Texas has been visited by an Arctic front. I’m not saying it was cold or anything, but my phone said it was 14 degrees F and the wind chill was +1.  I went out at 7:30 AM and at 1:25 PM, I’m still not warm!!  That’s how cold it was!! I walked a mile and a half in 34 minutes. When I got the first “halfway point reached” notification, I almost dropped my phone. I didn’t think I’d been out that long! At the one-mile mark, when my phone told me I was averaging 20-minutes a mile, I had to laugh.  Only for a second. Breathing hurt!!

So why was I out at 7:30 AM on January 1st? I have decided that for my health, I am going to continue to walk 1.5 miles a day, or I’ll walk it twice a day.  Sitting around, not moving is not healthy and as part of my taking back my health plan, I’m going to “move it, move it.” (Madagascar HD All rights reserved to Dreamworks.)

People often talk about “making resolutions.” I have a good friend who doesn’t believe in resolutions. She plans to make changes since realistically, resolutions only last until mid-month when it becomes tedious and boring. She makes small changes at any given time. I decided that I was going to emulate her. No more “resolutions” to be broken when I get bored and tired of things. I can tell you from experience that I get bored quickly.

I’m working on my daily step goal today. I lack only about 2000 steps or so to hit that, which I should do before the end of the day. I’n not sure I’ll go back outside since I don’t care to freeze again. I’ll either start dancing or get over to the trampoline. I will get my steps in!

Day one is not quite in the books yet. I am on track today to keep up with my personal goals.

364 1/2 more days to go.




Happy New Year’s Eve 2017

It’s December 31st, 2017. It’s the last day of a most challenging year.  My family has had to deal with a lot in the past twelve months.

January: I started my last semester of college. My application to graduate was accepted. I showed to have a  grade point average which allowed me to graduate Cum Laude. (go me!)

February through April was more or less uneventful for us. My son and I had school; there were concerts, and assorted crises to deal with that came along with that. As the semester wound down, tension built for me. I am not a fan of math, which was my Kryptonite that semester.

May. Graduation was May 12th. My class was roughly 800 people. It was long (but shorter than my daughter’s graduation in 2013!) and exciting. I can honestly say that I remember this graduation much more clearly than my high school graduation. I think it meant more to me.

About two weeks after graduation, I went in for a minor procedure.  I had to take some time off work for recovery. I kept in touch with my co-workers and a couple of people who knew what was going on during the time I was out.  It wasn’t bad. The worst thing was trying to make sure I kept physically active. My husband got me out walking a lot during that period. I was able to finish a couple of virtual races, which was my favorite thing this year.

The rest of the summer was uneventful. Our daughter stretched her legs and traveled overseas by herself in early August. She’s already talking about going more places. Since she’s an adult, I am cheering her planning. It’s good to see her testing her wings out.

September and October were difficult months for my husband. He spent two nights at the hospital.  We are now re-learning how to eat, how to exercise, how to live. He’s on long-term medication and has had to make positive changes in his life. I’m starting to get onboard with this as well for myself.

Now it’s the end of December. We’re heading into 2018 with its assorted challenges and trials. I am looking forward to it. We have a graduation on the horizon. There will be many things to do before that happens.

I wish you a very Happy and Prosperous New Year.


Stepping up to the challenge

I’ve gotten a lot more active in the months of September, October and November. I go out and walk at work for two breaks and lunch. I don’t sit at my desk without moving for prolonged periods of time now. While I don’t have a standing desk, I make it a point to get up and move more at work. I have been known to take toner orders standing up. I have music in my office and dance around. Of course, anyone seeing me dancing will likely think I’m insane (I probably am!) but I’m not sure I’m going to worry about that any more.

After my foot surgery last year, I’ve bumped up my steps from 5000 a day to 6000 a day, then went up to 7500 a day and finally 8000 a day. I’ve been blowing past the 8000 steps routinely. My Fitbit has been known to see 10k+ steps. I also use an app on my phone to document my start times on walks and map my routes. I walk a mile and a half at least twice a day. Sometimes it’s three times a day. It usually takes 20 minutes to walk a mile unless I’m dawdling.

I’m more interested in getting myself healthier so that I can keep up with my husband and be here for him for another 26+ years. Once the kids move out, we’re traveling, so I have to get in shape for that.

I haven’t been telling everyone that I’m “working out” because it’s just walking. However, it’s “just walking for my health” at this point. Once I get a few pounds down, then I’ll be more comfortable exploring options like gyms and things like that. For now, I’m doing what works for me…walking and walking a lot!


The Heart

When we’re children, we never think about our internal organs. Human anatomy is taught to us in the form of voluntary and involuntary muscles, the brain, nerves. We know that there are 206 bones in the skeleton and that there are at least 639 named skeletal muscles.  As we grow up, we start paying attention to how our muscles work, how they look and how we look on the outside as our muscles grow.  We think about our bodies as workhorses. We never think about what’s going on inside. We fill our bodies with fuel that may or may not be the best. We eat fried foods, we eat vegetables, fruits, red meat, white meat, fish, shellfish, whatever strikes our fancy.

Suddenly, we’re adults, and we have to contend with the need to be more mindful of our diets. We may learn that we have high cholesterol levels, diabetes or other life-threatening conditions. Obesity is also in the hunt to take over some of us. We don’t think of that as younger adults. We enjoy life and spend our time partying, playing a cosmic game of Risk.

Fast forward to being “middle-aged.” Now we have more time to consider the implication of our previous unhealthy lifestyles. At every physical checkup, blood is drawn and tested.  You feel like a lab rat. You have your blood tested for A1C levels, for cholesterol, for normal functioning. Your doctor tells you to change your habits, your diet. You may or may not be put on medication. Advice to exercise may also be given.  Failure to comply may or may not cause complications.

My husband of twenty-six years was reasonably careful with his diet, but it wasn’t enough, and at the end of August, he complained of feeling weak and nauseous when we were out at dinner. I wasn’t sure if it was a bad meal, but when he put his head down on the table and didn’t respond to me for a couple of seconds, I was more than slightly concerned. He was disoriented when he sat back up. He knew where he was but not that he’d had an ‘episode.’ We waited for a little while before we left. He was feeling “woozy” so I stuck to his side until we got to the car. He dozed off as I drove him home. He was able to get out of the car and into bed without any issue.

The next day, he was still feeling weak, so I took him to an urgent care visit. That doctor checked him over but didn’t run any stress tests or anything. He did recommend that he go to our GP as soon as possible. My husband made an appointment and got in after work one day that week.

At that visit, he was referred to a cardiologist and got an appointment for the next week. I went with him and am very glad that I did. The doctor listened to all the symptoms we described and said, “you need to go to this hospital…NOW.” He told us that it sounded like he had a heart attack or some sort of episode. I was told to drive because he wasn’t willing to risk the chance that something could happen on the way there. He was admitted through ER–it was meant to be temporary, but the bloodwork they ran screamed “worry!” to the doctors.

They took him up that afternoon to the Cardiac Cath lab floor. He was prepped and made ready for an angioplasty. I stayed in his room and waited for the hour or so it took for them to explore his arteries and veins. When he came back to his room, he was the proud owner of two stints in one artery and advice that he’d have to do it over again.

He spent the rest of September eating better, exercising and trying to recover from his first angioplasty. I hovered over him for a few days after his surgery to make sure he didn’t do stupid things (he didn’t!). He went back to work and resumed life. There was a follow-up appointment with the cardiologist who scheduled another angioplasty for him.

That was at the end of the last week. The appointment was on Friday afternoon. We went to the hospital around 1:00, got him checked in and then we went to the room where he’d wait for the next few hours to be taken back to the lab. They took him back thirty minutes after the time they’d told us. I waited in that room until I got a call from the concierge at the hospital who said he was still in surgery, but that it was going well. They told me that he was going to spend the night but that he hadn’t been assigned a room/bed yet. I went to the nurses’ station, asked about it and was told that I could stay in the room I was waiting in, but that it was not the room he’d sleep in. I stayed there for another 30 minutes until someone came to get me. They took me to the second floor, where my husband’s room was. When I got in there, he was flirting with his nurses. They got him tucked in, got water for him and made sure he had a menu for dinner–he was starved!

His doctor came into the room at 7:30 that evening and showed us pictures of where the newest stints were placed. He now has a grand total of four. This doctor is pretty cool, in my opinion. He explained that he wasn’t willing to put a stent in unless he felt it was absolutely necessary. In my husband’s case, it was.

He’s a lucky man. One artery was blocked in two places-100% and 90%. Those were repaired in September. The two arteries opened up this time around were 80% and 70% blocked. He feels better.  He’s been out walking. He walked a mile the day he came home from the hospital.

It’s quite a challenge to see someone you love go through this. I had no idea how dangerous this situation was until we got him to that hospital in September. I’ve always been a champion of heart health but even more so now. I feel lucky that my best friend is still with me.



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