Hard Day

Today was rubbish and I am glad it’s almost over. I’m also glad I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow, because then maybe I can find out if what I’m experiencing is normal or if I should be concerned.

I spent a lot of time lying down and when I couldn’t stand that anymore, I was reduced to watching “blooper” videos on YouTube, because that’s the level I was at mentally. Pitiful.

Meanwhile, I need to brag on my daughter Mary. She wrote a post about Frodo (a character in Lord of the Rings) last week and it has gone viral! Last time I checked, it had been shared over 4000 times! It has some excellent insight and of course is brilliantly written. If you haven’t seen it yet, you can find it here:

Hanging in There

Maybe my expectations were just too unrealistic. I am not bouncing back like I had hoped. I was able to be coherent this morning and teach my tutoring student—but then I needed a two-hour nap to recover! It doesn’t help that my recurring sinusitis has recurred, taking advantage of my weakened condition, no doubt. And poor Lina is battling bronchitis!

This evening I had my critique group and writers’ meeting. Fortunately the place where we meet now has some comfy couches so I could sit with a minimum of pain. Our speaker had an amazing story to tell. Still, I was ready to come home by the time Lina arrived to pick me up.

It’s been a relaxing evening and I think I am caught up with my reading for once!

Two Days of Feasting

Yesterday (Sunday) I wisely stayed home from church and rested, knowing I’d need to have some strength later. I did get up long enough to make my world-famous carrot cake, which is my husband’s favorite kind of cake, and yesterday happened to be his birthday.

Mercy and Daniel arrived from Dallas in time for lunch, and it was so good to see them. With some help from Lina, I made a huge batch of ground nut stew and rice, assembled all the toppings, and made the cream cheese icing for the cake. 

The kids stayed here to eat, while Walter and I took our food to our Life Group potluck. Walter had to carry almost everything as I have some pretty strict restrictions on what I can lift or carry. We really love our small group and I was glad to be able to share some of our favorite food with them. It seemed to go over pretty well—and there was enough cake left to share with the kids when we returned home. Because of our small group gathering, we didn’t really “celebrate” Walter’s birthday yesterday, but waited until today when the maximum number of family members could be present.

Today I had no hope of sleeping in because I had class this morning. Yet, thanks to my recovery struggles, I wasn’t up to the mental challenge of teaching new material. Fortunately, we had just finished reading a book, so we watched the movie and still had time to go over our vocabulary. I am determined to be much more functional by next week!

This afternoon Mercy took me to Walmart—my first outing since the hospital! Lina made an apple pie for the birthday boy, and Mercy did most of the work on the chicken enchiladas. I find I still have to lie down fairly often. Lucy also is recovering from several big bruises and sunburn acquired playing rugby on Saturday.

Spencer and Jade were able to join us for supper, making nine of us at the table. The enchiladas disappeared with amazing speed. Although Walter’s main gift was his ticket to the Chinese show last week, we had a few more little things for him and of course pie and ice cream too. Mercy and Daniel had to leave to get home to Dallas so that Mercy can go to work tomorrow.

I have spent most of the evening trying to catch up on my reading so I will be ready for my student tomorrow. I am frustrated by my limitations and by how much rest I still need—but nothing lasts forever . . . .

Some Day the Silver Cord Will Break . . .

This is one of my all-time favorite hymns, and it came to mind today when I learned that a guy I went to high school with was killed in a plane crash this weekend.

Saved By Grace

Fanny Crosby

Some day the silver cord will break,
And I no more as now shall sing;
But oh, the joy when I shall wake
Within the palace of the King!

Refrain

And I shall see Him face to face,
And tell the story—Saved by grace;
And I shall see Him face to face,
And tell the story—Saved by grace.

Some day my earthly house will fall.
I cannot tell how soon ’twill be;
But this I know—my All in All
Has now a place in Heav’n for me.

Refrain

Some day, when fades the golden sun
Beneath the rosy tinted west,
My blessèd Lord will say, “Well done!”
And I shall enter into rest.

Refrain

Some day: till then I’ll watch and wait,
My lamp all trimmed and burning bright,
That when my Savior opens the gate,
My soul to Him may take its flight.

Refrain

Baby Steps

My slow recovery continues to be, well, slow. I had a really rough night last night—slept very well until 3:30 a.m. and not at all afterward. I had some weird symptoms and have felt very sluggish and out-of-sorts all day. My left hand is still red.

But, I am still better than I was. I roasted four chickens today and was able to get two of them “picked” before I had to go lie down. I got a bunch of reading done, and some writing and editing. Not being able to lift things has been really annoying. My husband had to put the chickens in and pull them out of the oven. Jasper had to move things for me. I’m not even supposed to lift a full kettle of water! (Granted, our kettle is large.)

Lucy was away all day at a rugby tournament and came home sunburned and discouraged after they lost three of their four games. This year’s team is very small and inexperienced.

This afternoon, after I posted my rant about the hospital food, my sweet neighbor Anna brought over some keto goodies for me—even some muffins! That really brightened my day.

And let me just say, I have the best neighbors in the world. I hit the jackpot in the neighbor department. Some of them have been my friends for over thirty years! Jasper’s three best friends all live within a block of us. How many people still live in an old-fashioned neighborhood like ours? Since I’ve returned home from the hospital, several neighbors have offered their help—and I know they mean it. We may not live on the “right” side of the railroad tracks, but money cannot buy the kind of community we enjoy here.

Jasper was off at his gaming group all afternoon and evening, so Lina and Walter and I had a quiet supper and watched a movie afterward. It’s not like I was up to doing much else . . .

When Ignorance ISN’T Bliss—It Could Be Dangerous

I want to talk about my hospital stay again—specifically, about the food. My surgery took place starting at 7:00 in the morning, and I didn’t make it to recovery until after 11:00, so I wasn’t offered anything until suppertime—not that I would have wanted anything. My supper tray was a grim array of “clear liquids,” consisting of apple juice, broth, sweet iced tea, a grape popsicle, and jello. The only thing on that tray I could safely have was the insipid and lukewarm broth, which I drank and then threw up later. The girl who brought the food felt bad that she hadn’t known I was a diabetic, and promised I’d have something more appropriate for breakfast.

Meanwhile, my sweet nurse hunted down a sugar-free popsicle and brought it to me because she felt so bad too! Although I normally avoid artificial sweeteners completely, the cold treat really appealed to me, and it hit the spot—until it came back up.

I had vague hopes of bacon and eggs for breakfast the next morning. What I received was a bowl of wheat-based hot cereal, some milk, and another bowl of (regular) jello. The food delivery girl was quite dismayed when I told her I couldn’t eat any of it. She wanted so badly to bring me something I liked! She offered to find me some sugar-free jello. What could I say? I also avoid artificial sweeteners, so any kind of jello is right out for me.

By the way, this is an interesting phenomenon to me. My last hospital stay was in a completely different hospital, but at both hospitals the only “constant” presence during my stay was the food lady. I never had any repeat of nurses, even when the same shift came around again. It was new nurses all the time. But the same lady delivered all three meals a day, every day.

By lunchtime on Thursday, I was really in a bind because I had to prove I could keep food down, and I had failed miserably so far. The girl showed me the meal options and I picked grilled chicken and broccoli, which looked pretty safe. It also came with pasta, but I told her to leave that off.

Now please understand, I had told her I was diabetic so she could only bring me what the hospital dietician approved of for diabetic patients. I got a grilled chicken breast, some broccoli—and a big wheat bun and banana pudding. It was at this point I began to get angry. Not at the sweet food girl, who just delivered the meals, but at the person who was masterminding this atrocious mistreatment of diabetic patients. My lunch meal probably contained more carbohydrates than I would normally eat in a week.

It was exactly this ignorant approach to diabetic dining which led to my diabetes getting so bad so fast. If you are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, and you follow the standard medical advice about diet, you are guaranteed to get worse and worse, until the day you finally have to ask your doctor, “Why do I keep getting worse and having to take more insulin when I’m doing everything right?” And if he or she is honest, like mine was, the answer will be, “Because your pancreas is wearing out.”

And I feel I should point out here that even from the time of my diagnosis, I followed a stricter plan. The diabetes educator in the hospital told me to aim for 150 grams of carbohydrates a day (!!!) I kept it well below 100, and aimed closer to 50—but it was still too much. My blood sugar continued to rise, and it took more and more insulin to control it. I knew I’d soon begin experiencing complications with my eyesight, neuropathy in my feet, poor circulation, etc.

So back to this recent hospital stay. The food girl really wanted me to have a supper I could be happy with. She showed me the menu, and one of the things on it was “Chicken Caesar Salad.” This is a pretty safe choice for me, so I was thrilled—but when I told her I wanted the salad, she said that as I was diabetic, I would not be allowed to have the Caesar dressing and would have to pick an alternate lowfat dressing. I was dumbfounded. I could eat a healthy salad, but I couldn’t dress it with a healthy high-fat dressing.

I realized the hospital is still going with the failed model of a diabetic diet that is high in carbohydrates and low in fat—when it should be the other way around. This was confirmed when I discussed breakfast with the food girl. She cheerily offered me French toast! I wanted to say, “You’re joking, right? Do you even know what diabetes is?” Instead I brought up the fact that I am not only diabetic, but also gluten free. I was offered sweetened gluten-free cereal instead. I reminded her I can’t eat anything with sugar in it. Finally she asked, “Well, what can you have for breakfast?” Eggs, I told her. She brightened up a little. Clearly eggs were something she was allowed to bring me. But when she asked what I wanted with my eggs, and I said sausage or bacon, her face fell. Sausage and bacon were not allowed for diabetic patients.

If I hadn’t been in such a very weakened condition, I would have wanted to march down to the kitchen and speak to someone about this outrageous approach to feeding diabetics. It’s not just less than optimal—it’s downright harmful. If you are diabetic, and you eat from a hospital’s diabetic food plan, you will get worse, not better. Your blood sugar will not be controlled. Yet this is the eating plan that has been endorsed and promoted by the American Diabetes Association, which is why hospitals follow it. It’s like intentional ignorance.

My many long hours of research have turned up exactly two ways to deal effectively with Type 2 diabetes. The first way is to adopt a very strict, very low-fat vegan diet that is also sugar free and involves periodic fasting. I’m glad that is an option for those who really don’t want to eat meat, but it’s not for me. The other way, the one I’m following, is to go with a ketogenic diet that is high in “good” fats, moderate in protein, and very low in carbohydrates (less than 20 grams per day), and also includes fasting. In fact I’d say that a certain amount of fasting is really crucial to getting your diabetes under control, as is avoiding sugar completely.

It infuriates me that these two proven dietary approaches have not been accepted by doctors and hospitals yet. I know one reason is the belief that most people just would not be willing to follow either restrictive plan. I think they would, if they understood the alternative—the long slow death brought on by diabetes complications. The other, more sinister reason is that nobody makes money from people using food to heal their own bodies. The medical diabetes industry is a huge money-maker, and if people can learn to do without all those drugs and related products, that industry will suffer financial losses. So it’s not in their interest to tell you the truth—that you can do without drugs and reverse your diabetes by making smart food choices. I have not heard of one single person who reversed their diabetes by following the plan endorsed by the American Diabetes Association. There are thousands like me who have turned their health around by following one of the two approaches I mentioned above. The results don’t lie.

I wanted to cry when I thought about the newly-diagnosed diabetes patients in the hospital, who trustingly believe they are being fed an appropriate diet for their condition. I was like that several years ago when I was diagnosed with diabetes at the time of my emergency appendectomy. Following the ignorant instructions I was given led to my diabetes raging out of control after only eighteen months! I’m so glad I learned the truth two years ago and have taken charge of my own health! If (heaven forbid) I find myself forced to stay in a hospital again, I will go knowing that I won’t be able to eat the food there, and plan accordingly. If you live near me, I might even hit you up to smuggle in some contraband bacon or avocados.

In Which I am a Tourist Attraction

Can you believe I took my computer to the hospital and actually thought I’d be up to posting from there? LOL. Sometimes I crack myself up.

My surgery went well, although it took over three hours. Apparently there was quite a bit of repair work to do after removing my uterus. My stay in recovery was extended due to my extreme nausea, and as a matter of fact I threw up when they were transporting me to my room. I do not react well to anesthesia apparently, because the same thing happened last time I had surgery.

But anyway, while I was still in recovery I created a bit of a sensation—or at least my left hand did. You could say that I was caught red-handed, in fact:

?

My left hand was covered in tiny red spots all the way up to my elbow. My right hand was just fine and spot-free. It looked like a rash, but no one could figure out what caused it or why it was specific to my left hand. I was a medical mystery! All kinds of people came to look at it and discuss it with each other. They asked me questions, trying to figure out what was different. Even after I was moved to my room, I had a few sightseers come in to check out my hand. Not exactly the kind of celebrity one hopes for. . .

I don’t know if they ever arrived at a definitive answer, but they thought it might be due to a nurse putting the blood pressure cuff below my elbow instead of above before the surgery. Two days later, the redness persists.

Walter and Lina came to spend the afternoon with me on Wednesday, but I’m afraid I wasn’t very good company. It was kind of ridiculous to think I had hoped to go home the same day as the surgery. I was hooked up to so many things: oxygen, an I.V. with morphine pump, inflatable leg cuffs, a catheter, and some kind of monitor on my index finger. I didn’t feel up to sitting up, let alone walking out of there. I had brought my usual types of entertainment—plenty of reading material, a knitting project, and my computer. I didn’t touch any of it. There was a TV in my room, of course, but TV annoys me even at the best of times, so I lost patience with it pretty quickly.

The night was just as much fun as I expected based on past experience. At least they did darken the room for me, but they still came in every hour or so to take my vital signs and at 3:00 a.m. they turned the lights on and came to stick needles in me for lab work. And they still had the nerve to tell me to get a good night’s rest!

Thursday morning I got my hopes up when they took the inflatable cuffs off my legs and removed my catheter. My doctor told me I could leave as soon as I could demonstrate my ability to pee and to keep food down. Over the next few hours, I failed miserably at both goals. My friend Darlene came to visit and told me that morphine had made her very nauseated, so I immediately stopped taking it (not that I had taken very much—but I didn’t want to take chances). I couldn’t even keep water down!

So it was kind of a rough day. My husband kept me company for much of it, and then after he had to leave to go to work, Lina, Spencer and Jasper showed up with flowers and a big “Get Well Soon” balloon! It sure was great to see my kids. They hung around for the rest of the evening.

I had finally passed the “pee” test in the afternoon, so I was just waiting to prove my ability to keep food down. My supper arrived (I am going to do a whole post about the food) and I spilled salad dressing all over myself, but I was able to eat a few bites of salad and keep them down, so I declared victory. My papers were processed, and Walter returned to give me a ride.

The nurse wheeled me down in a wheelchair, and we pulled out of the parking lot at 8:00. Boy did it feel good to be driving away from that place! I have accepted the fact that at my age, it may take a little longer to bounce back from surgery, but I am just so happy to be in my own house. There were some lovely pink tulips waiting for me at home—a gift from one of my students.

So what have I done today? My main accomplishment was taking a shower. I am alternating between resting and being up to do things (easy things like drinking a cup of tea). I’m not allowed to lift anything heavier than 10 pounds for the next two months, so that definitely limits my options. I have opted not to fill my prescription for Tylenol 4, and am managing my pain okay with regular ibuprofen. (Can you tell I am not a fan of narcotics?) I am still fighting a respiratory infection, and I’m sure you can imagine how much fun it is to cough when you’ve just had abdominal surgery. My poor husband has been sick for over a week now and I think he rested almost as much as I did today. It is very rare for him to be sick for more than a day or two.

I was delighted to receive a phone call from Flynn this evening and hear more about his and Tiffany’s new house. And Lina has been a champ, going grocery shopping for me and taking care of the food. I haven’t seen much of Lucy as she left on a rugby trip today.

Waking Up, An Early Birthday Gift, and A Scam

So it’s been quite a day—my last day before going under the knife. Can you tell I’m not a big fan of surgery?

This morning I had my tutoring student to prepare for and teach. Fortunately, my voice is doing better today than it was yesterday.

While working with my student, I received a phone call from a stranger who made some intriguing claims, so I told him to call me back later. I’m not going to waste tutoring time talking on the phone.

I squeezed in a brief nap before heading out to my first book club meeting. I was more than a little apprehensive, but at least I’d finished the book. I was the last to arrive—thanks to the pouring rain which slowed me down and the fact that I “had” to get a cup of tea from the coffee shop first before going upstairs to meet my fellow club members.

There were ten of us, if I remember correctly. One of the other ladies was also “new,” but the rest all knew each other. I had met three of the other members, and have spent quite a bit of time talking to one of them. They had some themed snacks but of course I couldn’t eat them and that is just fine. I’m starting to think of food primarily as decoration!

Anyway, that discussion woke up my brain in a way that I haven’t experienced for a long time, and I enjoyed it very much. I belonged to a book club years ago, which consisted entirely of people I already knew and liked, and that was wonderful in a completely different way. This group is diverse and smart and articulate. I expected that I’d sit quietly and just observe, but that plan went out the window quite early on, especially as the member I knew best kept directing questions to me in particular. I love feeling so engaged and focused mentally. The time flew by, and by the end I had realized something about my reaction to the book that I hadn’t been able to verbalize until our discussion.

I think I’m definitely going to try to keep up with the books so I can keep going, despite all the other reading I have to do. I know that I will get to read some books that I would never have chosen for myself—which is great. I’m always up for learning something new. In fact, I thrive on it.

I had to excuse myself a few minutes early because I was expecting another phone call from the man who had called during the morning, and sure enough he called while I was driving home after the book club. He wanted to talk about my memoir, This Rich & Wondrous Earth. He had a thick accent, but claimed to be calling from San Diego. He said he represented a hybrid publisher that wanted to “feature” my book at a massive book fair in San Diego in April. He knew a lot about it, including its sales rank in a couple of different categories and the positive reviews it’s had. So far so good, but I was waiting for the other shoe to drop, and sure enough, it did. All this positive promotion and marketing would only cost me $550, because his company would pay the other $100! What a deal!

I didn’t commit to anything and asked him to send me all the information by email, which he did. Meanwhile I Googled his company, ReadersMagnet, and discovered that, as I suspected, it is a scam—and it’s run from the Philippines, not California. (The phone number was a California number, but in this day and age, that means nothing.) There were a few positive reviews of the company, but they were all clearly written by someone who doesn’t speak English very well so I assume they were generated by ReadersMagnet staff.  

So, I declined his generous offer and asked him to refrain from contacting me again.

Meanwhile, my husband got an early birthday gift this evening. His birthday is on Sunday, and the kids and I were having a hard time thinking of what to get him. He couldn’t think of anything to put on his birthday list. Then I remembered that a big Chinese show was coming to the university’s performing arts center this week. The tickets were very pricy, but I knew with my husband’s family background in China, he would probably love it. So several of the kids and I banded together to get him a ticket, Lina volunteered to do his cleaning job for him tonight, and after supper he walked over to campus to see the show.

He did really enjoy it, although he was somewhat surprised to find that the show was a propaganda arm of the Chinese Falun Gong cult. It still was an amazing show and I’m glad he got to see it.

It’s going to be an earlier-than-normal night for me. I found out this afternoon that my surgery has been moved up to 7:00 a.m. tomorrow, which means I have to get up at 4:00 in order to be at the hospital by 5:30. Yikes!

A Lost Voice and New Fippers

Yesterday my husband and I both stayed home from church and rested, in hopes of recovering from this respiratory infection. I was not as sick as him, but I was sick enough to be worried about how it might affect my upcoming surgery. I continued doing all the things which I hoped would lesson the duration and severity of my ailment.

In the evening, as I was preparing for my class scheduled for this morning, I had to admit defeat. Not because I felt so dreadfully sick—because my voice deserted me. It is kind of hard to teach if you can’t talk! Otherwise I felt that I was on the mend—but I had to email my students and let them know that they would get President’s Day off after all. I hate not being able to follow through on what I had planned.

This morning my husband still felt terrible, but he went to work anyway and lasted for about three hours. I alternating between resting and doing the things that needed to done, and then had to go the doctor’s office to pay for my surgery in advance. Not that I have any actual money, but paying in advance gets you a twenty percent discount, so I used a credit card.

After a nap on the couch, so as not to disturb my supine spouse, I headed out again, this time to the hospital where I had been ordered to pre-register. I didn’t take a book to read because I figured I’d just fill out a few forms and then come home. Nobody told me that after the form-filling, I’d have a hospital bracelet slapped onto my wrist and be sent into the bowels of the hospital to get lab work done, followed by a chest x-ray and an EKG. I feel like I should have been warned about this. Considerable waiting was involved, time which could have been spent reading.

When I returned home much later than planned, Lina and I set off together for the mall, bent on checking the selection of shoes at Payless, which I’d recently learned is going out of business. This news troubles me, not because I buy shoes often, but because when I do, that’s the only place I know to go that might possibly have something in my size. I wonder what competition has driven them out of business? We couldn’t pass up the occasion of everything being on sale.

So anyway, we got there and fortunately we wear different (large) sizes so we don’t have to worry about competing with each other. I have felt for some time that perhaps the time has come for me to branch out from wearing only flip-flops or clogs. (I do have a pair of casual sandals that are strictly for walking.) Shopping for shoes is one of my least favorite activities of all time, but today wasn’t too bad. Turns out that losing over 100 pounds makes your feet shrink, at least in width, so I was actually able to fit my feet into shoes that were not labeled “extra wide.”

As luck would have it, they even had slippers in my size, to replace the ones that have lately been literally falling apart. My slippers get a lot of wear now that I get cold so much easier. I always want to call them “fippers,” because that’s what Jasper used to call them when he was little. My new “fippers” have a cute leopard print instead of the men’s camo slippers they replace. I also found a pair of casual sandals and some flats that I could wear with a dressy outfit if absolutely necessary. For me to find three pairs of footwear in one outing is I think a new record, and doubles my footwear collection.

From there we zoomed over to Hobby Lobby, where Lina was shopping for yarn and I scored some half-price beads for a project I’m planning. Then we had to hurry home so Lina could help Walter with his cleaning job and I could go to Walmart and stock up on cold medicine, as Lucy has now also fallen victim to the plague.

As you can see, it was a very busy day and I was able to accomplish a lot despite struggling a little with my voice and energy level. I have high hopes of being in pretty good shape for my surgery on Wednesday morning. I mean, my voice isn’t actually necessary for that since I’ll be anesthetized anyway!

Breathe On Me, Breath of God

Breathe On Me, Breath of God

Edwin Hatch

Breathe on me, breath of God,
Fill me with life anew,
That I may love what Thou dost love,
And do what Thou wouldst do.

Breathe on me, breath of God,
Until my heart is pure,
Until with Thee I will one will,
To do and to endure.

Breathe on me, breath of God,
Blend all my soul with Thine,
Until this earthly part of me
Glows with Thy fire divine.

Breathe on me, breath of God,
So shall I never die,
But live with Thee the perfect life
Of Thine eternity.