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

Archive for the ‘thoughts’ Category

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.

 

 

Welcome October

I love October. It’s a month of changes. Leaves turn, days turn cooler, nights get longer. Everything starts slowing down from the constant “run, run, run” of summer, where everything needs to be done to take advantage of the daylight. Now it’s the time to slow down, to start reflecting on how your year has gone. It’s a time of preparation for winter. There is still daylight, but the quality of light has subtly shifted, from a harsh, bright light to a more subdued, softer light.

I’m ready for Samhain as well. I have been itching to get my decorations out since possibly mid-September. Out of respect for my neighbors, who might not be as excited about the season as I am, I didn’t put anything out. Today, however, is another story.  I’m planning. I’ve been thinking about trying to create a Samhain decoration that requires chicken wire and glow in the dark paint. I am still thinking about whether I’m going to do that or not. I have pumpkins to put out. My oldest has put something on the living room window (I’ve not looked at that yet) and is with me about decorating.

I’ve felt like I’ve been cast adrift for the past six to eight weeks. We’ve had some things going on in our home life which has been not quite devastating but serious. We’re making changes.  I also feel like I’ve been shut out by a couple of people. I defended something someone said about something else and that caused hard feelings. Those hard feelings appear not to have abated in six weeks, so…I’m cast off.  I guess I’ll just get over it. I know there are people who don’t care that my mouth opens and stray thoughts walk out unattended. They may not agree with me, but they stand behind me, which is all I ask for.

October is a time of change. My changes are going to be to work on letting go of the hurts that I’ve been carrying.  I’m working on my health and my family’s health.  I’m working on learning to be me.

Change is good.  Welcome October.

Slow down and just BREATHE

We never think of our health until something happens to someone we know. That’s been the case recently. I have been living a super-stressed life for the past few years and haven’t taken time to slow down and appreciate a less stress-filled existence. That has changed recently.

Without going into detail, someone near to me had an experience I wouldn’t wish on anyone. It was a shock to find out about it. Even worse was hearing the doctor’s diagnosis and then seeing them pushed into an urgent situation. This was the wake-up call most of us need at times to make changes.

Watching this, I can say that my outlook has changed slightly. I’ve been making small changes in my own life. I’m meeting with a nutritionist on Wednesday to learn how to eat better. I know that I need to lose weight. Part of my weight issues are also from stress, I’m fairly certain. I’ve always been a stress eater and an emotional eater. I’m working on changing those habits because it’s not a good thing to reach for food to soothe oneself.  Working on the stress aspect is definitely something that I’ve been looking at recently.

According to The Mayo Clinic, “Stress that’s left unchecked can contribute to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Stress affects the body, mood and behavior. It can cause headaches, muscle tension, anxiety, restlessness, over or under eating, angry outbursts, social withdrawal…” The article I read on this site gives suggestions for dealing with stress. It includes “setting aside to do things we enjoy, like reading books; regular social activity and regular physical activity.” This is one of the reasons I go walking as much as I do. I get antsy sitting for hours on end. New research shwos that sitting is as bad for you as smoking.  Things that can happen to you , accordng to an article from May, 2014 in Business Insider, include “Low Energy Expenditure; Slower metabolism; compromised posture; reduced social skills…”

Interesting.

It all ties in. We sit, we become less social, because, well, we’re a nation of phone junkies. Even if we scream about how everyone around us has their noses buried in their phones, we humans live on our phones. That leads to reduced face to face communication. That’s a social skill lost.  That’s stress if and when we finally decide we want to pursue humanity.

This leads me back to my original statement.  I am working on decreasing the amount of stress I’m subjecting myself to. Once I do, I think I’ll have a better chance of being healthy and happy.

 

 

 

September Sunday

I guess it’s time to dust off the blog and start writing again.   I have lots of thoughts in my head which need to get out!

I’ve become a fan of virtual races lately.  I found an excellent site called Yes.fit which has a nice offering. The first race I signed up for was called Zeus on Mount Olympus. That race took me 9 days to finish. I did a lot of that while I was still in school.

We have had an enjoyable summer. It’s been warm, but not so unbearably warm to preclude walking. I’ve managed to finish four more races over the summer. I finished The Ring of Kerry, We the People, Shake Your Tail Feather and The Everglades. I find it vaguely ironic that I finished that last race just after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma hit. My race was done to help support the Everglades National Park.  It was a 51-mile race. Definitely took some discipline to keep pushing myself to walk instead of staying indoors at breaks at work.  I tend to walk more during the week than on weekends, which doesn’t really surprise me. I have someone to walk with, plus I play Pokemon Go during the week which nets me some steps as well.

I’m walking in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s at the end of this month, so I’m putting all of my efforts into training. I’m still dealing with pain in my left foot, but I try to ignore that now. I had one surgery on that foot, and if it’s not right, I’ll just suck it up and deal with it. I have had enough of surgeries for now.

I had someone tell me that my foot issues were caused by my weight. My doctor said it wasn’t. I’m sticking with the physician’s input. I know I’m overweight (okay, it’s “obese,” but I despise that word, even if it does describe me). I’m doing something about it. I document my food on MyFitnessPal, I walk, and I walk some more. I’m also dealing with menopause (TMI!!), and that’s not fun. I can be a right bitch some days! Think hot flashes, and you’ll know what I mean!

As of this morning, I have 13.1 miles left in my current race (Hadrian’s Wall). This race was 67.9 miles, and I started it on 9/5/17.  Considering that it’s the 17th of September, I think I’m making decent headway on it. If I have anything to say about it, I’ll finish it by Friday. I actually can finish by Wednesday as long as I keep moving. I’ll have to see how it goes. My husband may take a step or two for me tomorrow.  He’s borrowing my Fitbit for the day to document how many steps he takes during the day at work. I might just pause my race or change my documentation to manual entry for a little while.

 

 

 

 

School’s out for…ever?

I graduated from college on May 12, 2017. It took me five years to get through all the coursework needed to attain an Associates degree. I freaking EARNED IT!!  It was not a walk in the park. It was a lot of hard work. I busted my butt to earn that degree and I’m proud of myself for it. I went back to school when my kids were in school so that I could finish something I didn’t finish right out of high school. When I was eighteen or nineteen years old, I was more concerned about getting out of the house than I was about going to school. My transcripts showed that. I’ve changed things around, worked my butt off and managed to graduate with honors. I maintained a 3.5 GPA, which makes me a kick ass B student!  I am proud of myself for that. Would I have liked it to be A?  Oh definitely. However, I had a couple of classes that dragged me down (Science with Professor Your Britches are Burning” and English with Professor I Hate Your Writing). I got a C in Math. That was the only class I consider an absolute failure and it wasn’t a failure. I managed to pass the class, just not as well as I could have done. I hope I never have to take another math class in my life (but I bet I will, especially if I go on to get another degree!).

So now what do I do with myself. That’s something I’m working on. I feel lost, cast adrift right now since I don’t have classwork to occupy my time.  I’ve been off work for a week and a half and even THAT feels awkward. I have to be doing SOMETHING. I don’t feel like myself if I’m not obsessing about something!

I’m going to work on studying Italian on my own for a while and see if I can get involved with a local group in Dallas. That seems to be what I feel drawn to at the moment. Who knows, maybe I’ll get back to writing? I love to write. I just have to figure out if what I’m writing about is of interest to people.  Maybe I’ll start researching things that are interesting to me and writing about them.

 

 

Soon to be over…

I am SO looking forward to May 13th!  I am going to come home from work that day and if I haven’t done my finals before then (I think they open up on the 10th!), then I’m going to do both finals and have a huge glass of wine to celebrate!

I’m over school. This semester has been brutal on me. I took a science clas and an English class online. The English wasn’t a problem, other than having a professor who didn’t grade a paper for nearly two months. The Science, on the other hand, was a severe disappointment to me. I was told that there would be very little, if any, math and yet, every single unit has had math in some form or fashion. Some of it was easy enough, but most of it was more complex math. It was math I haven’t had exposure to in well over thirty years.  Ah well. It’s over or almost over now.

I spent Friday doing all of my video labs and my remaining simulations. I did one of the at-home labs today and set the other one up. I have to  test acids and bases. Once that’s done, it’s just a couple more discussions and the final.

English is much easier. I have a paper to write (it’s set up already. I just have to sit down and put words to paper and get them out of my head) and a final test. The final is over The Color Purple, The Namesake and The Bottoms.  I truly enjoyed The Namesake and The Bottoms, but wasn’t as thrilled with it as I thought I’d be.  It wasn’t a horrible book, just not one of my favorites.

As I said, I’m completely ready to be out of school. I’ve got a math class still to take, plus a couple of electives and I’m set to graduate with my Associates’. I will admit, it’s been a very long time in coming. I dropped out of school when I was 19 or 20 and didn’t go back until my daughter graduated high school. I don’t regret my decision to go back for a second.

Two weeks.  I can hold on for two weeks.

Outlander: My thoughts

I’m an avid Outlander fan.  I can’t help myself.  My friend, Lassair, introduced me to the books well over twenty years ago. When it was finally optioned as a series by Ronald D. Moore, I got all “screamy” and excited.  I knew that the series wouldn’t be exactly the same as the books and I’m pretty much okay with that. I understand that it’s difficult to take over 800 pages of a book and condense it into an hour at a time, for a season, which could be as short as eight episodes or longer.

It was with great anticipation that I caught the season two premier last week.  I loved it!  Was it identical to the books?  No, but I expected as much.  I learned a lot of the backstory of what happened to Claire when she came back through the stones.   You could feel her grief. It was just that real!  Even Frank (whom I don’t like, sorry gang!), was awesomely portrayed.  I feel that Tobias Menzies was the best possible choice for that dual role. He’s incredible! He can be the tender, loving husband and the evil, nasty ancester all in one. They struck gold with him!  Jamie and Claire…it goes without saying that I adore the casting choices of them as well.

Anyway…back to what I was saying.  The adaptation was just different enough that even though I’ve read the books multiple times, I felt that the writers more than did justice to Diana Gabaldon’s brainchild. I loved how Claire jumped in at the docks and got all up in that harbor master’s face about the smallpox. And the Comte?  Brrr!  You want to see someone who is trying to figure out how to dispose of someone else?  That would be him. He was so…no, I’d not want to meet HIM in a dark alley. Not that I would. He has underlings for that, but still.  No.

Last night’s episode took a slightly different path as well. They touched on Jamie’s nightmares, Claire’s reluctance to allow the servants to wait on her and of course, the Pretender. It all tied in nicely.  Again, not exactly to the letter of the book, but at this point, I don’t care.  It’s OUTLANDER!!!!

The costumes were…oh, my gosh, the costumes!!  I loved the red dress!  “I can see all the way to your third rib!” “No, you cannot!” (I’m just curious as to when she changed fans from that little red fan she had at the house when they were getting ready to go out to the giant fan with the stags she had during the ball in Versailles.)  The King…Well, he was just petulant enough that I could tell he was a young person. He remembered Jamie, but why did he just look through Claire?  She was wearing that incredible dress!  Oh wait…it was the OTHER dress, the swan dress that had HIS attention!

THE SWAN DRESS!!  I admire anyone who can bring Diana Gabaldon’s visions to life.  Terry Dreshbach.  That’s all I can say.  That dress was oh, so incredible!  I read an interview of how she created it.  If that lady wasn’t pierced, you couldn’t tell!  It was In.Freaking.Credible!!

And the MEN!!  Jamie! Murtagh!! The Comte! The Duke of Sandringham (“Traitor!!”  “Murtagh!  You mustn’t draw a sword in the King’s presence!”)  Murtagh!  He cleans up nicely!!  He’s still bearded and yes, he stands out in a crowd because the French were all clean-shaven. All I can say is WOW!!  I love how clearly the writers have made the men stand out in this series! I loved the sword practice in the garden.  I loved Master Raymond.  Oh hell, I loved the whole thing!!

I love how they’ve taken the bones of the books and have created this splendid masterpiece of beauty, darkness, intrigue and heroism. This series is my favorite Saturday pleasure. I easily binge-watched it three times last night. I appreciate the hard work our writers, our consultant, ALL involved in this series have put into it. Cast, crew, all are giving 110% and it shows.

Now, please ink an agreement for Season 3 already!!

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