VAL503   10,295
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A Short Update

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Oh, where to begin?
My health has continued to improve on my new vegan lifestyle. I have been eating well, exercising, and have continued to lose weight. It has slowed down quite a bit, but that is to be expected as I near my goal weight.
My husband and I were blessed with our first grandchild in August, then in October we were blessed with twin grandsons! So, we went from no grandchildren to three almost at once. What a wonderful addidtion to our lives!
My mother-in-law had to go into an assisted living facility, so we have adopted her rat terrier, Hobo. I wasn't sure I was ready to have another dog after losing our beloved Scarlet, but he has wiggled his way into our hearts and he is a good fit for our family.
My dear husband has joined me on my get healthy plan, and has lost 50 pounds. I am so proud of him, and we are feeling younger every day. Unfortunately, he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, and will be undergoing surgery in February. We are doing our best to stay in the moment and not worry about what the future may bring, and it has brought us closer together.
We just got back from Mexico, and had one of those vacations where anything that could go wrong, did. DH fell while taking a picture, injured his foot, broke the camera, and ended up hobbling around the rest of the trip. I came down with a horrible illness.. still not sure if I had Dengue fever or H1N1, but whatever it was, I survived. We also missed out flight home, a hazard of this day and age of paperless, ticketless travel. But all in all, we laughed off our misfortunes and mistakes, and took each day as the blessing it was.
I will do my best to get some new pictures added to my blog and log in with some more frequent updates.
All the best to my spark friends and family. Happy Holidays to you all!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JUSTDUCKY1405 12/28/2009 10:09PM

    WoW! What a roller coaster ride I was on! I went from being over joyed for the grandchildren, and proud of how you and your hubby are doing healthy lifestyle wise, to quite saddened to hear of the news of your husband - he will be just fine!!! - to such a misfortunate holiday, to proud of how you handled and viewed it all!

And.. I am glad the new puppy has been a great addition to your lives!

Missed yah, nice seeing yah around! Take care... and ENJOY!

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JLITT62 12/24/2009 5:30AM

    I will keep you & your DH in my prayers. I keep hoping that my DH will be inspired, too! Someday, maybe. And what a wonderful attitude about your vacation -- now THAT's living!

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BRIGHTSPARK7 12/23/2009 9:22PM

    Hello Val,
I came across your blog in the Thanksgiving community and feel moved to cheer you on for your positive presence. Congratulations on becoming a Grandmother. There is so much that is life affirming in your blog. My best wishes to you and your husband as you journey through life. I'm impressed that he has also lost weight and shares your get healthy plan, a strong and vibrant foundation from which to tackle anything.
Love to you, xo Usha.

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KARBIE18 12/23/2009 3:43PM

    How wonderful to hear from you, and to hear how well you are doing. Congratulations on becoming a grandma, three times!!! So glad that DH is on the bandwagon, and taking good care of himself, especially now that he's going to fight this thing off. Positive thoughts and prayers are headed your way, but with your attitude I know you won't need them. Keep it up!!

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On the road to Wellville

Saturday, August 29, 2009

I have been through a lot of changes since my last blog update. I am happy to report that my health is much better, and I am feeling a little stronger each day. Due to all the health issues I have been struggling with, I have completely changed my lifestyle. I was having gallbladder issues, and also was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis, and was really going downhill. I was so sick from the gallbladder attacks, and nothing seemed to help... then on top of that the joint pain and inflammation from the arthritis just really put me on the sidelines for quite a while. I have been doing lots of research on inflammation and gallbladder issues, and decided to completely change my diet. This may sound radical to some, and practical to others, but it is really working for me. I have given up any and all meat, including chicken and fish, dairy, eggs, basically, if it comes from an animal, I no longer eat it. I also gave up caffeine, alcohol, butter or oil of any kind, and various other things. Within 6 weeks of eating this way, I have lost 11 pounds, and feel better than I have in several months. I am up to walking for an hour, hills and all, and sometimes go for a second walk in the evening. I am practicing yoga again, riding my bike, and feel like I have my old self back.. (actually, I feel much better than my old self!). Oh yeah, in case you are wondering what DO I eat? Quinoa, brown rice, bulgur, barley, etc.. (whole grains), and veggies, veggies, veggies (organic and local) right now mostly out of my own garden, and fruit. (and yes, I am getting enough protein mom ;-). I am completely satisfied, and don't miss any of the stuff I used to eat. I am doing this solely for my health and well-being, and it somehow makes it much easier than just being on a "diet". I have had enough of those to last a lifetime, and was really discouraged by the up and down numbers on the scale, and feeling like a failure. I used to think I was trying to lose weight for my health, but until something happened to me, I really didn't "get it". I know that I may have another flare up of arthritis in the future, but I am doing everything in my power to get as healthy as possible, and want to hold off on taking any dangerous drugs for as long as I am able.
Thank you, all my dear SparkFriends, for supporting me. I so appreciate all your get well wishes! I am sorry for not being around very much these past several months, but I am going to be checking in more often from now on :-)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KAIRIS 11/5/2009 1:57PM

    Hey Val Im so glad to hear that you are feeling better! I would love it if yiu could share with me some recipes and books about the way you are eating now. I could really benefit from your habits since I have no gallbladder at all! so happy for you! emoticon emoticon


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    I have missed you! And it is nice to hear that you have discovered the foods that are right for your body and are on the road back to health. Pretty amazing what can happen when we listen to, and stop fighting our body, huh?

Check in when you have a chance. I'd love to hear from you.

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JLITT62 8/30/2009 6:00AM

    I've had several family members with gallbladder problems, so I know what a misery that can be.

I'm a little surprised at giving up all oils tho. What about the good stuff? Olive oil, flax oil, that sort of stuff?

Altho I do eat everything, I mostly eat vegetarian & often vegan. And yes, you feel so good when you're eating vegan, if you do it right. I bought my first quinoa, but haven't yet made it.

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KARBIE18 8/29/2009 10:24PM

    Oh Val! It's so great to hear from you, and to know you're feeling better. I knew you were having trouble with your gallbladder, and having difficulty getting it under control. So glad you've found the answers you were looking for. And how wonderful that you're meeting other goals because of it. You sound great!!

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Hope and a health update

Friday, June 19, 2009

I have been debating with myself.. should I or shouldn't I put my health info in my blog? At the risk of sounding like my grandma's bridge club, lol... Here goes.
Since last summer I have been dealing with bouts of severe abdominal pain after meals. I have been to several doctors, had numerous tests, and the culprit is my gall bladder. However, I don't have gallstones, so they are hesitant to take it out. I also am dealing with severe gastritis (irritation of the stomach lining) and acid reflux. I have one more test on my gall bladder in late July, and then I will know if they are going to remove it or not.
I was going along okay with all that, and staying active, trying to eat better, etc.
Then, in March, I started having joint pain for no apparent reason and have been feeling like I've been run over by a truck these past few months. I also had this really itchy rash on my elbow, so they tested for several other conditions that can have gastric/rash/joint pain symptoms... like Crohn's disease, celiac disease, colitis, etc. So far, I don't have any of those, and it still looks like my gall bladder is the culprit of my stomach woes...
Long story short (I hope!).. Turns out the rash on my elbow is Psoriasis, and my first bout with it was about 12 years ago. Back then, the doctor just told me to put hydrocortisone on it, and after several months it finally went away. Now, it's back, and along with it, the joint pain. After several more rounds with the doctors, and tons of blood work, (last time they took 10 vials.. eek!), They are leaning towards a diagnosis of Psoriatic Arthritis. It is an autoimmune disease similar to Rheumatoid Arthritis.
It not only affects the joints, but also ligaments, tendons, and fascia.

Anyway, I'm not blogging this to complain, but wanted to give a little background and also let all my dear Sparkfriends know where I've been all this time!

I am taking this one step at a time, trying to keep my spirits up, and trying to exercise a little each day. I am having joint and tendon pain that keeps me up at night, and I even have inflammation in my eyes.. So, being on the computer, watching TV, driving, and reading are all painful to do for very long.
I feel like I went from a healthy, 41 year old adventurer who could stand to lose a few pounds, to double that age, could stand to lose a few more pounds, with a condition that I have associated in my mind with being elderly.

I have been meditating, and trying to do some gentle yoga stretches, and walking . I still go to the park, but don't go through the ravines anymore, and only go around once, so I am only walking for 30 minutes or so. I'm trying to build on it slowly, and know that this too shall pass. Everything changes... everything.. the good and the bad.
My spirits are up for the most part, even though my body is down, I try to stay positive. Even though I haven't been online, I still think of my gratitude and awakening team. Every morning before I get out of bed, I list to myself all that I am grateful for, just like I would post it if I were online :-)

Thanks dear spark friends, for all your support and well wishes. I will try to check in more often.
I wish joy and sunshine to you all, and hope you are having a happy summer!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KAIRIS 11/5/2009 1:51PM

    Hi Val! I decided to check out your page after a long bout of health issues myself. I'm so sorry about your diagnosis. Just take it slow. I had my galbladder removed in 2004 and I had no stones too. I had a calcified galbladder and it was functioning at 16%! you never know! I hope you are doing better by now, and I must check a more recent blog from you. emoticon kairis

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NOJUBL 7/19/2009 5:08AM

    Hi Val!

Reading your blog just struck a chord with me. I am 55 and a couple of years ago started experiencing so many of the same symptoms you're having. I finally went to my doctor in november last year with a list of symptoms that included stomach pain, joint pain, just overall tiredness. I had all kinds of blood tests and finally an MR scan that revealed a large gallstone. I finally had my gall bladder removed in may of this year and I immediately felt like a new person. Or I should say like my old self! It is really hard to understand how a small thing like a gall bladder can cause so many problems. But I'm really not trying to sound dramatic. I just felt like I had a great revelation, I had no idea actually how sick I was until I felt normal again.

I also have joint pain, but I just have some arthritis, nothing too serious. I've had tendonitis in both my shoulders, but got much better after a couple of cortizone shots.

I'm telling you this because after I got so sick I started desperately searching for help and I found out that this is a common situation for many women. I have never felt so depressed and so unhealthy in my life. And I was shocked when I got my life back after removing the gall bladder. No one can really relate to this unless they have lived through it.

One thing that happened during this process that was positive, was that I started drinking a lot of water. And I started paying attention to what I was eating. And I got on a program of walking for at least an hour, three times a week. I was determined to get well again.

Now, I am well again. I have slipped back into some bad habits. Not walking as often, eating too much junk again. But reading your blog made me stop and think about how fragile our health can be. So it has helped me to realize that I can't let myself get back in that desperate state again. Thanks for sharing your story.

Good luck! I hope you feel well soon. Julia

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MAZZYR 6/19/2009 7:15PM

    Oh, I'm so sorry to hear about your health issues.

Thinking about all that you have to be grateful for is so positive. It's getting me through the worst of times.

My prayers are with you.


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CAROLYN4033 6/19/2009 4:20PM

    Dear Val,

I think you disappeared shortly after I started posting on the Thanksgiving Community.

I am so sorry to hear of your health issues. I hope they find out exactly what is going on with you. I had my gallbladder removed many years ago, (when the new procedure was just being started). I have never had any complications with that, but you really need to watch your fat intake once it is out.

Regarding your joint pain have you ever considered checking out a Massage Therapist in your area? My sister is one and I used to run her office and the relief that people experienced was completely amazing to me.

I will be praying for relief for you......Peace, Carolyn

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JLITT62 6/19/2009 3:30PM

    I am so sorry to hear that you're having to deal with so much. It's times like these that you need all our vibes the most! But I can understand how tiring/painful it must be to be online right now.

Just out of curiosity, did they test your thyroid too? Some of those symptoms sound like thyroid symptoms, too.

Both my mother & my SIL have had their gall bladders out, and I know that can be such a misery.

I'll be thinking only good thoughts for you.

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VALERIEMAHA 6/19/2009 1:47PM

    Oh Val, thank you...THANK YOU for filling us in. Your buds need to know what's going on.

Whoa!!! Now THAT'S a whole bunch to deal with...this arthritis stuff, do you know if diet can impact it? I'm sure diet figures with the gastritis/acid reflux, as well as the gall bladder. How are you about having the gall bladder removed?Damn! How to have you life turned around, huh. As I said earlier, our health is so precious...AND so delicate. And you're so right, everything changes...continuously, and perhaps you will return to much better health again!!!

I'm glad to hear your meditation practice has continued unabated...good for you! That's a big'un! There must be some gentle yoga classes around. Viniyoga, from the Desikachar tradition, would be a good alternative.

I'm putting your name on my altar to send up mantra for your optimal good health, my dear friend.

Much love,

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January but shorter!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I am already tired of whining.. I can hear sighs of relief all over Spark land :-)
This one will be short, there really is no point in rehashing all the negativity, and since this really is February, and I am in a different place, I would like to get back to being positive :-)
January's challenges:
New Year's Eve... too much food, drink, stress
My 41st birthday.. huge fight with DH, visiting family, too much food.. stress!
My DH's birthday.. more dining out and dessert, still resenting DH for fight on my birthday.. stress
Family "winter birthday" celebration.. too much food, dessert, stress
Family medical issues with DH's parents, aging, illness, and the worry that they may not be able to care for themselves much longer.
Family issues with some of our kids losing their jobs, losing college funding, having addiction issues.
That about wraps up January.. I am up 8 more pounds.. I have been stuffing down my emotions with food.
February gets more sane, I promise!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JUSTDUCKY1405 2/23/2009 2:27AM

    Looking forward to hearing about February! Sounds like you have a lot on your plate! But, I am sure you know it... you are back here... and things are bound to only get better!

P.S. Did I mention how happy I am that you are back???

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VALERIEMAHA 2/20/2009 10:22AM

    Ahhhhh...the relief of *seeing* you around again. I am SUCH a worry-er...but I won't EVEN go there since it's all "past tense" now!

You made it another yearl! Blessings on your head, BIRTHDAY GIRL!!! And I'm so sorry for the "dot" on that special day . I hope you and DH have opened wide the gates of understanding and support and love.

(I see the dot in the Yin Yang symbol as being the negative/difficulty/struggle in an otherwise positive image/event/ get the picture!)

This being human, as we've shared with another more than once, is a continuous "new arrival" and our job is to "welcome and entertain them all!" (YIKES!) --

The Guest House
~ Rumi ~

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Much love and understanding,
Maha emoticon

Comment edited on: 2/20/2009 10:27:27 AM

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SWIRLINGIRL 2/19/2009 2:04PM

    Hi Val- thanks for your comment guess we're both up 8lbs too. I hear all your stress! Maybe we can get back to being loving and positive to ourselves.

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JLITT62 2/18/2009 6:59PM

    I also don't think you're whining -- you're venting, and that's a different thing altogether. Sometimes life just seems to throw us an awful lot of curveballs.

I'm still so happy that you're back & sharing. You know that when you're under the most stress that's when you need us most, but I know how hard it can be to reach out when you're feeling so under water.

It's a new year . . . here's to a new you!

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KARBIE18 2/18/2009 6:29PM

    Glad to hear February gets more sane - not because I think you've been whining (as you wrote), but because you've been struggling. It sounds like you've had quite a lot to deal with, but I'm happy you're back so we can share some of the load. I hope you're getting some yoga in, as I know it's had a calming effect for you in the past. If there's anything you need, don't hesitate to stop by. You know where to find me.


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December Blog

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

After all the stress of travel and Thanksgiving, we decided to go to the beach for a week. My bag still wasn't unpacked from my trip, I just threw it in the closet (so unlike me!). We arrived and it was a beautiful day. I was thinking okay, I can do this.. I can relax, walk on the beach and everything will start to come back.. the peace, the stillness, the feeling of well-being. The next morning, we woke up to SNOW.. on the Oregon coast! I know it happens sometimes, but it was surprising. Of course it was beautiful, and we were really excited to get out on the beach and walk in all that beauty. We ventured forth, and it was so cold, and there was ice on the beach, and the walk didn't last long!
The next day there was even more snow, and we ended up staying in the house for a couple of days. We watched the weather reports, and tried to go home on the best day possible, but what usually takes about 90 minutes took 5 hours! We made it home safely, and were happy to be home safe and sound.
Unfortunately, not long after we got home, the snow started falling.. it was beautiful and fun the first couple of days. As it started piling up, we got a little more nervous.. I know this blog sounds ridiculous for someone who lives where it snows all the time, but in Portland, Oregon, it doesn't happen all that often, so we are faced not only with terrible road conditions, and not enough snowplows and equipment to take care of the metro area, but also have to contend with folks out on the road who aren't able to drive in it. I grew up in an area where it snowed every winter, but it was bad even for me. We ended up stuck in the house for over a week, and had to move into the guest room due to several heavy tree limbs on the roof, and the rest of the large pine tree leaning precariously over the house right over the master bedroom. We lost power several times, several of our trees broke, and the roof of our storage shed collapsed, but we came through relatively unscathed compared to some.
Needless to say, we were unable to go Christmas shopping... (I felt guilty for taking a trip and not getting it done in November)
We ended up postponing Christmas and getting together with family at a later date. It actually ended up working out great, because we got to hit the after Christmas sales :-)
One bright spot in the month was our son and daughter-in-law announced that they are expecting, so we were very happy! They had a miscarriage previously, so we were cautiously wating to make sure everything was okay.
So that about wraps up December.. more travel, more unhealthy meals, more stress, and less exercise. After six weeks of this, I am up about 7 pounds, and starting to feel very negative and hopeless. I feel like I am on train tracks that only go one way, and I can't get off.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KARBIE18 2/18/2009 6:24PM

    I'm so sorry to hear you felt so hopeless. Fortunately there were some bright spots, and the rest is in the past. From your email, I know that you're up more than just the 7 pounds. But, overall you're still down 25 pounds! In Sparkese, these past few months are have been the one step back phase of your journey. Now it's time for the two steps forward!

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