Monday, September 29, 2014
Son and his wife went to the Cornhusker football game Sat. night, and asked us to watch their three kids. I was glad to accept. I had not seen them since they spent the 6 days with us at the beginning of September while their parents vacationed in NYC. I was missing those little people!
They arrived in mid afternoon with plans to spend the night. I kept busy with little Noah (he's almost 5 months old), and Du entertained Amber, who's 5, and LOVES her Grandpa Du. Duncan, at 8, entertains himself. The big kids loved jumping on the trampoline, then Duncan watched the small TV in his bedroom upstairs, and played on the desktop computer in the kitchen. Since their computers at his house are on the fritz (they have 2 iPads and numerous video game systems however), it is a treat for the kids to play on an antique (even though it's only a little over a year old) desktop computer!
Before they got to our house, the big kids bowled in their junior league and since they got new shirts, their picture was on Facebook!
Duncan is in the back row, on the right (with glasses), Amber is in front, second from the end on the right. After they bowl two games in their league every Sat. morning, they head to their swimming lessons. Busy kids! And Busy Parents!!!
We didn't do much while the kids were here, but it's fun to see the different things they like to do at our house. They expect me to have Cheez-It crackers, so I make sure to have a box of the "Scrabble" version of them. They have letters on them, and Amber likes to identify the alphabet. This time, I only ate ONE little cracker, 5 calories! I'm doing better!! Trampoline jumping is a priority for both big kids, I have lots of coloring books for Amber, and she loves to play in the little sandbox on the front porch. They keep really busy and keep us jumping too.
For supper we just decided to order pizza, which is not great for losing weight. But the kids are super-picky about what they eat, so we just asked Duncan what pizza place he liked best and he picked Pizza Hut. Amber wanted pepperoni pizza and he wanted hamburger pizza, so we got one of each. Duncan had two pieces, Amber ate one, and I limited myself to one piece of pizza. That wasn't easy! I LOVE pizza!
Sunday morning, Amber wanted to go to the city park, so Du took Juno and her to three different parks near our house. Chris, my youngest son, was driving by on his way home and spotted them at the park by the elementary school, so he stopped. Amber was so excited to see Chris, she ran clear across the playground to greet him with a big hug. That sure made Chris feel good. Duncan had elected to stay home and play games and watch videos on the computer. Other than jumping on the trampoline, Duncan prefers to play inside, which is just as good, with his very fair skin. (He is an Albino.)
Noah was a delight all weekend. He rarely fusses, and has gotten so big in the almost-a-month since I had seen him. He rolls over now, which makes changing diapers a challenge. He smiles and coos and talks. Babies are such fun! Lots of work too!
Noah was in his Cornhusker onesie!
Juno adored Noah, and was so gentle with him. Noah, however, wasn't so sure about Juno!
Amber entertained us with "Itsy Bitsy Spider," which she learned at pre-school.
Du fed Noah, and entertained Amber at the same time. He is a multi-tasker!
After Noah showed off by rolling over for us, it looks as if he is ready to take off crawling. It won't be long!!!
Noah's Mom was sure happy to see him Sunday!
Amber asked her Mom to read a couple of books before they left.
It was a lovely weekend. Only my little Mia was missing. But her mom posted this beautiful picture of my 4th grandchild on Facebook, with her puppy Toby. Isn't Mia sweet??
I am a very lucky Grandma!!
Friday, September 26, 2014
I love Fall. I have lots of Fall decorations, not so much Halloween, but more fall-type, pumpkins, harvest, leaf wreaths, etc. I don't like scary....I like pretty things in golds, and yellows and browns. So yesterday I decided it was time to get out my Fall decorations, which are in two storage containers upstairs. I lugged them downstairs, and started pulling the decorations out, one at a time. It's fun to look at the items after almost a year of having them in storage--you haven't seen them in a while--and it's like they're brand new. I experience the same thing at Christmas-time with those decorations. But with Christmas--it's more like 20 storage boxes!!
Anyhow I found a cute little pumpkin candy dish. I believe my Dad had at his house, and when he died, I hung on to it. I'm pretty sure he picked it up at a garage sale, that's where he furnished his house. After Mom died in 1990, he had an auction, got rid of everything and moved in with my brother. When that didn't work out, he bought his own house and had to start all over. Dad was thrifty however, and most of the things in his house were second-hand, picked up at garage sales. I always liked the little pumpkin, in fact when the little ghost who is sticking out over the edge broke last year, I glued it back together.
Then I remembered what happened last year. I bought a bag of candy corn to fill that dish. It seemed innocent enough, just one bag of candy that I wasn't all that crazy about. Plus it was clear in my formal living room, and I don't even go in there all that often. We watch TV in our kitchen and family room, the dining room and living rooms don't get much use. But all of a sudden I remembered what happened last Fall. I started making more trips into the living room and getting "just a handful" of candy corn. More and more I started going in there with one purpose in mind. Then I had to buy another bag of candy corn, and another, and another.
In remembering that candy corn I kept in my little pumpkin dish, I realized, that is where the regain started--allowing myself candy. At first it was occasional, but the more I ate, the more acceptable it became to me. Now even if I eat too many grapes, I feel guilty. But last year and earlier this year, I got the point where I could eat a bunch of candy corn, then six bags of 100-calorie cookies, one after the other, and somehow justify it, or perhaps ignore the behavior. I am the master of ignoring my bad eating behavior. I did it for 30+ years. After Halloween was over, it was Thanksgiving time, and more over-eating, of course followed by Christmas, and it basically began to get completely out of control. I never ate regular cookies, or potato chips, or chocolate candy (the candy I REALLY love), nor did I go through Fast Food drive-thru's as I did in my past. But the over-eating on "healthy" snacks still led to a 32-pound gain. It could have been worse. I practiced some restraint, but I feel sure that I was back on the road to 300+ lbs. It may have taken a few years, but that's where I was headed.
So this year, that candy dish will stay empty. Even though every time I go to the store, there's bags and bags of Halloween candy in every aisle it seems, accosting me, luring me, tempting me, but I refuse to cave. I refuse to give up all this progress I have made. At my Physical Therapist's office there is a HUGE bowl of all sorts of candy, including the chocolates I love. I won't go into detail describing what is in there, I know with me, just reading the name of a candy can start the craving. Suffice it to say, it's good stuff, stuff I used to love and eat constantly. I have made a solemn vow to myself that I will not eat ONE item out of that candy bowl. I have to go there three times a week for five weeks (two weeks down, three more weeks to go), so I'm not home free by a long shot. But I'm sure going to try to avoid that candy. I know where it can lead.
Thursday, September 25, 2014
I am halfway through Dr. Barbara Berkley's book "Refuse to Regain." It is for Junior Maintainers mostly, those who are in their first year of maintenance. But I identify with so much of what she says, and find myself nodding in agreement at her suggestions of ways to help maintain your weight, even though I am in my fourth year (is that possible?) of maintenance!!
Dr. Berkley doesn't pussy-foot. She knows how difficult maintenance is and she tells it like it is. It is HARD! Just this morning I was reading about Rosie O'Donnell, who lose 50 lbs. after WLS. She says that WLS is not a magic pill, and it basically forces you to do what those of us who didn't have WLS are already doing. Some people need that extra shove, that ultimatum, where you HAVE to eat less or you will get ill. I'm glad I didn't have the surgery. I looked into it, went to an informational meeting, then found out my WONDERFUL health insurance covers NOTHING having to do with weight loss. NICE. You already know what a fan I am of my Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan. But maybe this time I'm glad they said "NO!" Now I do not have to deal with the after-effects of WLS, nor did I have the expense and pain of that surgery. And I have seen too many failed WLS patients, who have regained all the weight they initially lost, plus some more, and have also surgically altered their bodies forever. But once again, I do not stand in judgment over those who decided to have WLS. I think it is just part of a complete life overhaul however, and shouldn't be viewed as a magic cure for obesity and bad eating habits. Weight loss is HARD WORK, no matter how you do it, and maintenance is even HARDER, because that's when you discover THIS is forever.
Dr. Berkley endorses the primarian/primal diet: lean meats, fish, poultry, eggs, fruit, nuts, veggies and only non- or low-fat dairy. In the first 90 days of maintenance she says to eat 100% primal, and after that you cut back to only 90% primal diet. In other words, PRIMAL is pretty much how you should eat forever. It will help you maintain a weight loss AND it is extremely healthy. An occasional treat is okay she suggests, but not every day, and hopefully not one of the "S" foods very often. S foods are sugar or starch, which are basically the same foods to your body. You pretty much eliminate all of those S foods from your diet.
I realized that without even calling it "primal," that's pretty much how I've been maintaining my weight loss. I eat little bread, sugar, or fats. Last night I made Du a "Cuban" sandwich. I braised a pork tenderloin early in the morning then left it cooking in the crockpot all day, to get tender. When we got home from the Husker Volleyball game (we won!) last night I shredded the meat, and toasted special buns I had bought earlier. Then I put low-fat mayo (it's the only kind in our house) on one side of the bun, and spicy mustard on the other side. I piled on the shredded pork, added some pickled pepperoncini (mild peppers, which I love), dill pickles and Swiss cheese. I made four sandwiches, and son Chris ate one, and Du ate one. There was two sandwiches left over, because I had my shredded pork, plain on my plate, and flavored it with a tablespoon of barbecue sauce. I didn't eat any of the frozen fries I had heated up in the oven, but did eat some grapes for dessert. I suppose barbecue sauce isn't on the primal diet, since it's loaded with sugar, but it sure made the pork tasty! Perhaps the sauce was my treat for the day?!
When I got off track earlier this year, I probably would have had one of those high-caloried sandwiches I fed to Chris and Du last night. That's what led to 32 extra pounds. I have come to realize that I can't eat like that ever again. Sandwiches need to be rare, and need to be on that 40-calorie/slice diet bread (which is also the only kind of bread I buy, except for the occasional special buns for special Cuban sandwiches) with only 1 tablespoon of mayo. I comfort myself by acknowledging that I have eaten more than my share of those kinds of food in my 300+ lb. past. I ate bags of chips, candy and cookies. I made cakes for no special occasion, but just to snack on, and I always ate the lion's share! And I am alright with accepting the fact that I will never eat like that again. I think that is a major part of successful maintenance, acknowledging and accepting the fact that your life is forever changed.
Dr. Berkley talks abut how those primal foods will start tasting really good, and it is what you will crave. I'm not so sure about that, although I did buy some luscious black grapes, that are firm, juicy and sweet. Must be that time of year, they are even on sale this week! I do love those grapes. I also have some Honeycrisp apples which are the BEST apples on earth. I'm trying to stock up on those, cause they're not available in the stores for very long, but they will last for months in the fridge. I found that out last Fall. We were still eating Honeycrisps when the snow was starting to fall.
Dr. Berkeley also suggests trying to plan out your 'eating' schedule for each day. If you know you have a lunch date that involves eating out, plan on a very light breakfast and dinner. And when she says light, she means LIGHT. She says that nuts and some fruit would suffice for lunch if you're having a more substantial dinner. She endorses eating only one MAIN meal per day, the other meals should be very very light. She is also one who believes that not eating after 8 p.m. is best, since you are more likely to burn off calories the earlier in the day that you eat them. I have read research that goes back and forth on that one. She is also not a huge advocate of eating breakfast, acknowledging however that NOT eating something in the morning could lead to extreme hunger and over-eating later. She does agree that weighing every single morning is vital, and you should set a "scream" weight (that weight at which you will scream if you get there), and if you get close, have a day or two of extreme cutting back on your eating plan, in order to get back into your comfort zone. When I was gaining weight earlier this year, I would go for weeks without weighing. I won't do that again. I not only got to my "scream" weight (160 lbs.), I passed it by 22 pounds!!!
So far, what I am taking from this book is that maintenance is not easy, it's very restrictive, but over time it will become habit. It's stuff I knew already but it's very interesting to read her tips, ideas and beliefs. It's been almost three and a half years of maintenance for me, and it's still really hard, but with this latest resurgence of my good habits (after slipping off track for over 6 months), I find myself rejuvenated, encouraged by the loss of 24 of those 32 pounds, and ready to face a future that involves vigilance, restriction, and self-discipline. It is fun to once again be able to fit into absolutely every item of clothing I bought after I lost weight and I have enjoyed going through my closet and pulling out pretty things I had forgotten about. I have a couple pairs of boots that had gotten quite tight over my calves, and they fit easily again. I can't wait to wear them again.That was a real accomplishment for me, when I could fit into boots, and I hated that I had once again grown too fat for them. I also have a couple extremely tight jackets, they were always tight, and still are, but they zip up now and that is a good thing. Plus once I have them on, I think they make me look slimmer, and I'm all for that! Do you remember that North Face winter coat I bought on-sale at the end of the year last Winter. I complained that it was too tight when it arrived (I bought it on-line and it appeared from the return addresses on the package that it came from China--too difficult to return), and I surmised that perhaps it was a jacket made for a smaller race of people since it was an XL, and should have fit me. But it did NOT fit, not with those extra 32 pounds. But I made a vow then that by next Winter it will fit, and now that I am down 24 of those pounds, it does FIT! Admittedly, I did not try it on with a heavy sweater, but with a rather thin t-shirt, but I'm thinking when I get rid of these last 8 pounds, that pretty pink North Face coat will slide on over anything I'm wearing to stay warm this Winter!
Okay--Style Show Time! I tried on the pink North Face coat, WITH a sweater and it fit. It's tight, but I can zip it up. I also wanted to show how a faux leather coat I got the Fall of 2011 (the year I hit my goal), and was always tight, as well as a tight Husker hoodie I got last Fall all fit over my sweater. WOOHOO!!! Now that's a NSV re-visited!!!
They all fit over this grey sweater I pulled out of my closet this morning!
This last week, Du & I have been meeting for lunch quite often, as I have physical therapy on my knee (still trying to avoid surgery) three days a week, and am already in town over the noon hour. I always try to eat lightly, and lately have RE-discovered fajitas. I usually get the chicken fajitas, which come with grilled peppers and onions. Of course they are also served with shredded cheese, guacamole, sour cream, pico de gallo, and tortillas. I ignore the tortillas and simply eat the chicken, peppers and onions from the bowl they are served in without wrapping them up in those high-caloried tortilla shells. I don't like cheese (except when it's melted, like on PIZZA!-then it's YUMMY!!), and sour cream is no temptation for me either, so I don't touch either of those add-ons. I eat the pico and will have a taste or two of the guacamole, because even though I know how good it is for me, and even though I really love it, I also know how high-caloried it is. We went to a new bar-grill for dinner after the volleyball game last Sat. afternoon. I was worried, not having any idea what was on their menu, but fearing the worst. So I was pleasantly surprised to find the fajitas offered, and they were delicious. Yesterday for lunch we went to our favorite Mexican place. For the last almost five years, I have not ordered my favorite (fried and cheese-filled) chili rellenos there, opting for the grilled chicken salad. But I am really burnt out on that salad. Really I'm getting pretty burnt out on ALL salads. I guess that happens after almost five years of eating A LOT of salad, which I used to love! But yesterday our all-time favorite Mexican place had a new menu, and they now have fajitas. They were too expensive for lunch ($15), but I ordered them anyway. I ended up only eating about half of them, and gave Du the salad which came as a side (I could have had beans or rice as a side), and I will eat the leftover fajitas for my lunch today. Although I have no idea of the calorie content of these fajitas, I'm thinking that the way I eat them, they are pretty healthy, and pretty low-calorie. I also get fajitas when we go to Chili's, and on Monday nights there, they are on special for only $7.99!! I think it is Du's pick of restaurants tonight after bowling (we take turns picking the restaurant), and I think he wants to go back to that bar and grill where we went Saturday. I see more fajitas in my future. I hope I don't burn out on them the way I have with salad. Oh, at the Mexican place, I put four chips on my plate and ate them with salsa. Later I had ONE more chip with some guacamole. Sometimes I eat NO chips, sometimes I eat too many. I think I practiced restraint yesterday, although those chips are definitely an S food. Don't tell Dr. Barbara!
I only talk about my restaurant eating as a way to prove that you can eat out and still stay basically primal or at least eat quite well and maintain a weight loss, or even re-lose some of those gained pounds. At least it's working for me!
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Last Thursday was an awful day. I was completely overwhelmed trying to deal with insurance denials, not knowing where to turn and feeling so lost, helpless, and scared. A $40,000 bill has been hanging over our heads all summer, the insurance company is continuing to deny payment of it, even though they paid the very same bill for the very same treatments, two times previously. I was getting no cooperation from the hospital where the charge was from, only repeated promises to "return my call," but no return calls ever came. I was in tears all day, literally falling apart. I think I hit a low point in this cancer journey....at least a low point up til now. I have no doubt it will get worse.
Later that evening, Du had bowling so I went along. I took a little walk up the hill to clear my head and get some needed steps in, stopping at the CVS Pharmacy. I had a bag of "Skinny Popcorn," in my hand to purchase. The entire bag was less than 400 calories as I recall. But I also knew I didn't need that popcorn, so I eventually set it back down, and left CVS with just a Rachel Ray magazine and some lip balm. Victory!
I was driving to dinner with the family after bowling, (something I look forward to all week) when I hit a curb at about 35 MPH. I hit it hard....I thought I was in the cut-out for the intersection ahead where I was going to turn, but NOT YET! We stopped and checked, and sure enough the front tire was flat and the back tire had a big bulge in it, also ruined. The wheel was also in bad shape. We made it to the restaurant and didn't say anything to the kids. Afterwards, in back of the restaurant in the cold Fall air, shivering, Du changed the flat tire and we limped home in our bruised car. As he worked changing the tire, I apologized over and over. My sweet Du is quite simply the BEST. He kept telling me, "Mistakes happen." He is so sweet and understanding. I remember back when I was working, my boss was telling me about a car accident his wife had, and how he treated her poorly for weeks, blaming her, etc. I thought, "Thank God, my Du isn't like that," but then neither am I. It just doesn't seem like a very good attitude to have towards your partner. Mistakes do indeed happen. I told Du, "Another bad thing for our already horrible day."
When we got home, poor Bulldog Juno had been sick EVERYWHERE. She had it coming out of both ends and I got busy scrubbing the carpet. By now it was 11 p.m., neither of us had got much sleep the night before, due to worry over our insurance coverage, and all I wanted to do when we got home was go to bed. Another Rotten thing in our already rotten day!
But when I finally got to bed, I realized it wasn't such a horrible day. I had Du with me, capable, tough, loving, wonderful Du. Sometime I will look back on that day with regret, when he is no longer with me, taking care of my mistakes. So, as bad as my day was, I was never really alone and for that I am grateful.
P.S. I have confidence that the health insurance deal is going to come out okay, we will know for sure by Oct. 3. The car is repaired--two new tires--and since we had just gotten the tires and had road-hazard on them, it wasn't terribly costly, didn't even hit the insurance deductible. Juno continued to get worse, so Sat. night we took her to an emergency vet, where $570. got us the diagnosis she probably ate something she shouldn't have. She got a shot to calm her nausea, so she could keep the antibiotic pills we got, down. Today, she is much improved, which is quite a relief.
And the best part, together Du & I got through our terrible horrible no-good bad day and together we can get through ANYTHING life throws at us!!
Thursday, September 18, 2014
Cancer is hard. Treatment is super expensive. Fighting with Insurance Companies is frustrating. When cancer didn't depress us or defeat us, the Insurance Company tried to. But we are stronger than they are.
We have two vital services and bills which they have denied, and I have been fighting with them all summer. It's hard to get an answer and you don't know where to turn. You feel so alone. Finally yesterday, with yet another letter telling us the crucial shots Du gets to strengthen his bones every month are NOT pre-authorized and their cost has been denied, we both fell apart. The shots are what is keeping Du working, keeping him living a somewhat normal live, able to pursue normal activities, at least for the time being. Those shots are giving us TIME, precious days and weeks to be together. And they cost over $2,000 every month. This is not money we have available to pay for these shots and we rely on the insurance. That is why it is so important that Du keep working, for that every valuable insurance coverage. So it's a Catch-22. No shots, can't work. Can't work, no insurance. But then if the insurance is not covering cancer treatment anyway.....
We have considered Du taking Disability so he can get on Medicare. But we don't know how long that takes. Does it kick in right away? Where do you find these answers? I think that has been the most frustrating part of all this, we don't know where to turn. Nobody has any answers for us. And we have so many questions.....
I have spent most of the day today filling out appeal forms and trying to get things organized, writing letters and making phone calls. I was on hold with the insurance company for a long time, before she finally said she'd have to call me back. But when she did call back, the news was good....Du's shots will be covered. It was a mistake by his doctor's office in coding, basically, that caused the confusion.
Now, as far as the other bill goes, it's almost $40,000, so it's a huge concern. But right now, we have been told, it's "Under Adjustment," and we are praying it will be covered.
Stress is never good. When you have cancer, stress is particularly bad. They even told us that the first time we visited Cancer Treatment Center of America. But how do you avoid stress when the medical bills don't get paid? We are people who have always paid our bills, and to have HUGE unpaid bills is extremely unsettling.
So cross your fingers, we are to hear by October 3, whether our insurance will be paying this $40,000 bill. They have paid it in the past, so not sure what the problem is this time. We're thinking that once again it was simply a coding SNAFU.
At least, all the stress has robbed me of my appetite. I figure if nothing else, at least I can be a normal sized person dealing with these HUMONGOUS problems. That has to make it a little easier, right??? God, I hope so.
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