Sunday, August 30, 2015

Condo Living

People ask how we like condo living. We LOVE it! Not having to worry about a yard and shoveling snow is wonderful!

There's nothing like defining “community” than living in a condominium complex! It's like small-town living where everyone knows everyone (maybe not intimately, but they know who you are).

We moved in at the beginning of summer, so we have had ample opportunity to meet people. The annual meeting of the HOA was nine days after we moved in. A month later, we sat with our neighbors to watch the local fireworks.

They go out to eat the first week of every month. It took us until August to make it, but that's a great time of getting to know people more intimately.

Then, of course, there is the pool. Although I wouldn't go so far as to say we moved into this community because of the pool, we are there every day we can be. Hubby and I love being around the pool—I suppose it reminds us of our early marriage when we had an in ground pool. We have met most of the people we know best at the pool.

We didn't jump on the bandwagon to take care of it until we felt more settled, but we did notice when things needed attention, and we don't wait for it to be someone's “turn.” We signed up for pool duty at the end of the summer. This will be our habit. With football season, we will not be traveling in late August and early September.

It's interesting to daily open and close the pool. We have professionals to literally “open” and “close” the pool. It takes us back to the days of checking chemical balances, pump pressure, and adding water as necessary. We have yet to add chlorine. We used liquid back in the day; now we use tablets.

The other thing about dealing with the pool is that we are responsible for opening and closing the clubhouse too. For me, it gives me a sense of ownership. Who forgot to clean that sink? Ok, I'll do it. Wipe off the counter top. Straighten out those magazines. The clubhouse belongs to us all, but it belongs to us as individuals too. If Jerry ticks me off, I can go watch TV there, providing it is not in use! I have used the clubhouse for one event. I left it in better shape than I found it.

The pool and clubhouse are within our view and we do keep our eyes out, as nosy neighbors should. We do have a neighborhood watch. He is eighty-six years old and rides his bike at all times of the day!

Our condo is on the “main drag.” Since you actually see the side of the building, it appears smaller than it is. Our patio and sun room are in the front on the street. We like sitting on our patio and watching people go by. This is not for everyone, but it takes me back to my teen years, when we lived in a house where we sat on the porch and watched the world go by. I love it.

The whole community is located off a main road. You drive off it and make another turn into the complex. It's like driving into another world. A world where people wave at you when you drive by. Try not to hit the guy on the bicycle.

I am not going to pretend I like everyone the same, but I will say I lucked out with our closest neighbors. They are remarkable.

There are still units to be sold. We (well, I am) are on the younger end of the spectrum, but people our age are looking all the time. We look forward to more age diversity. It is not a 55 and over community, but there isn't any reason for a young family to live here. We once talked to a family with a college student that was looking at the community. That would work for a few years for him, but he wouldn't make his lifelong home here.

Why did we choose this community? We are within walking distance of a dollar store, a Drug Mart, an IGA, our bank, my gym, and our Primary Care Physicians. We are way too close to McDonald's. Except for my hairdresser, we've got it made!

I have never in my life, that is MY WHOLE LIFE, nested as quickly in a home. It has everything I want or need, and I have been able to make it my own with my belongings. It is large enough that I will not get cabin fever this winter. 

As I write this, we have the windows open and I'm listening to the crickets. Nothing else. It's 9:00, the pool is closed and everyone's at home.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

My Fitness Journey: The Diagnosis

The news from my X-rays is not what I wanted to hear. “Significant compression between L (lumbar) 5, which is the lowest vertebra and S (Sacral) 1.” I am not going to report the recommended treatment, as I am going to visit a local chiropractor, get a second opinion and treatment will go from there. Then I can tell people what is going on.

It is also important to remember that in this process, I am also due for a visit to my oncologist and he has the results of my DEXA scan, which will agree with this diagnosis. He and I need to talk about Fosomax (of course, I take generic), or something similar. The timing in all of this is very good. We will have everyone talking to everyone.

In the meantime, I hurt and would do just about anything to not hurt. I am not taking any pain medication as that just masks what is going on and how bad it is. I can't tell a doctor the pain is 1-10, unless I know.

Needless to say, I am not doing much, SO, the Virgin Diet is good for me. If you can't exercise, you must eat less. It's not rocket science. I am seeing numbers on the scale that I haven't seen for awhile. That is encouraging!

I don't like being in this “in between” place, anymore than anyone else. But I have learned to be patient. This is nothing like waiting for cancer numbers.

Until we "connect" again.....

Friday, August 21, 2015

My Diet (and Fitness) Update

I’ve promised that I would report on the Virgin Diet as I go along. I am finished with the first 21 days and I have lost 10.5 lbs. We all know that kind of weight loss is not recommended and I will NOT be continuing this “cleanse.” It is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. It is now time to add foods back and the author’s suggestion is a little too stringent for me. In fact, her whole lifestyle is so far removed from what I live, that I will be adjusting!

Thus far, I have learned a few things.

  • I have underestimated the addiction to soft drinks. I am drinking tea and water, which makes me nauseous, and although I am not shaking or anything, I STILL crave a coke! A friend of mine, who kicked soft drinks some time ago, suggested sparkling water. This stuff isn’t cheap, but it’s been a lifesaver.
  • Sugars and soy are hidden everywhere! That’s why I will never be perfect with this. I just do what I can do. Thus far, I see no food intolerances, and I don’t really expect to. I think I just eat too much and too much of the wrong thing.
  • Obviously, my stomach has shrunk in the process. I went out to eat lunch with a girlfriend yesterday and had what I would have normally in times past. I was uncomfortably stuffed. Not sick, mind you, but really uncomfortable, and I knew it! The author says that if I do have an intolerance, I will know it right away. It wasn’t that kind of thing. So, I know I have to eat less. What an epiphany! In this case, take ½ home.

I still have corn, milk and dairy to add (although some cheese has snuck in on some salads with no repercussions). I don’t have any “issues” with the gluten and sugars, beyond the fact that they aren’t good for you!
Now, with regard to my back and knee. I’m not doing much exercise besides walking in the pool. I don’t swim because I really don’t like my head underwater. I don’t have any irrational fears, I just don’t like it anymore! My hubby is walking two miles of an evening. That would kill me even if he walked slowly for me. My knee feels like it’s going to buckle every time I stand up. Now once I am up and moving, there is NO pain.

My back is another matter. It hurts after standing about fifteen minutes. I have to break up all activity, including housekeeping.

Tomorrow will be a test when I go to Cincinnati and have to walk some. I have also received a “notice” from Express-Scripts that I am taking an estrogen inhibitor (for the cancer) but NOT a drug like Fosamax and I should discuss this with my physician. I will talk to my oncologist in September. I didn’t exactly ace my DEXA scan. He’ll probably bring it up!

So, in conclusion, I will continue the diet in moderation and I now know what foods do make me gain weight! Pop and bread. Big news. Must stop it. However, it is nice to be able to buckle my fat clothes again!

The exercise issue MUST be addressed and dealt with! There will be no more boot camp with this back. Even the recumbent bike has hurt my knee, but I believe I started too soon and that should fall back in line. I WANT to walk. I want to walk with my husband.

And when all else fails, lift weights. This I CAN DO!

Reunion Update: Dropping Back to Punt

It happens. It’s happened before, and likely will happen again in the future.

The venue that you have chosen (1) goes out of business, (2) faces financial uncertainty or perhaps (3) burns down!

I don’t want to dis any organization in this blog, so I will speak in generalities. I believe in “buying local.” I have believed that since my husband was a teacher, and we much preferred to spend our money in businesses that paid taxes to support the schools. That’s just me, or us.

So, we chose two locations for the reunion: a local restaurant for Friday evening (which we may still use for a small Thursday night gathering if there is interest), and a local fraternal organization for the Saturday event. Now the fraternal organization is NOT going under (i.e. they are not losing their charter), but the building they operate is not meeting expenses and may be sold. There is another building of a fraternal organization in our town up for sale also! This is not a good trend.

When I heard the scuttlebutt about this organization, I called my former employer, who has been active in their Auxiliary for many years. She bluntly told me to back out.

Planning and implementing a reunion is work, and we know it. But, we have to be able to sleep at night. If that means classmates have to pay a few more pesos, so be it! It’s not going to be enough to matter.

The class reunion committee ahead of us shopped all the major hotel venues in the nearby area. Being only one year later, I see no reason to take my time and gas to reinvent the wheel. I got the information AT their reunion for the venue that they chose. I made an appointment for myself and another member of the committee to meet with the event planner. Having already created a baseline budget, this would “fit in” with my budget. My budget did not include Friday night, but I can assure all classmates that the Friday night event will be no more money than going to a restaurant and ordering an entrĂ©e. Open bar is extra, of course.

We are also reserving a block of rooms in this hotel. I see many good reasons to do this. Sometimes, spouses want some time away from the event. They can easily slip out and go upstairs. If anyone feels ill, they can slip out. And of course, there is no drinking and driving. The hotel isn’t the cheapest in town, but it is nice, and will augment a lovely occasion!

My classmates have stressed over and over that they don’t want to dress up and they like casual. Well, all nights will be casual. Friday night will be cold hors d’oeuvres and Saturday night will be hot hors d’oeuvres, enough to make a meal! Having the hors d’oeuvres set up in the buffet style that they do, people don’t feel glued to any one seat, and can mix during the evening. I know there will be some who dress up more than others, and I certainly want to present my best self also, but classmates will not have to dress up.

Guests are invited to all events. We will not have a “couples” price, because there are so many definitions of couples, and I don’t want to get into that. We DO however, have an “early bird” special.

We are blessed to have a former disc jockey in our group. He has made CDs which he pops in and lets run so he can then go and have a good time. If people want to dance, he can crank up the music a little.

Sunday morning is a brunch. It’s what the hotel does for all guests, and I will look into reserving a corner or whatever we have to do. Everyone will be on their own for that, and then check out.

No matter how early you start or how much you plan, something will always go wrong. We have yet to have a “horrible” reunion. At each “debriefing” we talk about what we would do better next time. In five years, the whole scenario can change and we drop back and punt.

Which is what we did this time. It will be fine. We have good field position.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Losing the Family Patriarch

Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice,
and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? English Standard Version of the Bible.

The word mercy is translated from the Hebrew checed (we often see hesed, Strongs # 2616) and is defined as kindness, but more specifically loving kindness, an active verb that means keeping on.
This was one of the verses that was used at my Uncle Bob’s funeral. It is most appropriate. He was kind and he kept on being kind when it would have been easy not to be. Other words used to describe him were consistent, full of integrity and joy. 
We spent two days celebrating his life, for we have lost the patriarch of the family.
The fact that he is my uncle by marriage is a minor detail. He married my mother’s older sister, who died far too young from cancer, and he was there before I was born. I knew no one else. As my grandparents’ generation passed on, eventually he was the oldest of his clan, which included three children, ten grandchildren and (to date) fifteen great-grandchildren; and which also included step-children, grands and great-grands; and the oldest of the extended clan, which included his nieces and nephews, grands and great-grands. 
I can’t remember a time before him. He was a part of my life from infancy. 
When I was old enough to understand, I found it interesting that my father chose him to be in his wedding instead of his two blood brothers. I was able to see and understand the closeness they had over the accident of birth which he shared with my other uncles. Not to say he did not care about them, but there was a difference.
My first memories of my own relationship with Bob were in Fort Wayne. I suppose that our visits were like a big family with two mommies and two daddies. Four adults, five kids, not bad odds for keeping things in line. I remember going to see the Christmas tree downtown, to the Little League ball games, and I remember going to the place where we could go on the trampoline, which was very cool! And then there was this restaurant called McDonald’s.
When his company (the only company he ever worked for) moved him, he and Aunt Petie took me with their three children when they were serious about the house in Columbus. That house did become my second home. I knew the kitchen as well as our own. I spent many a night there on summer vacations.
I guess I was raised in a home that was different from most in that death was a part of our world with my Dad in the life insurance business. From a very early age, I was aware that Petie and Bob were who I would live with in case something happened to my parents. No kid wants to think about losing her parents, but there was a comfort in that certainty that life would go on with as little interruption as possible. We didn’t talk about it a lot, it was just there.
I always thought of their home as my second home and the two of them as second parents to me. Their opinions carried weight with me, sometimes more than my parents’ did. I was always welcome there, even as an adult!
The year I lived in Columbus especially brought us all full circle. First of all, he found me a job! The first week we had to find someone to work on my car brakes and Bob knew who to call. But I really remember him being sick, and going to sign for me to have my new furniture delivered! It was fun having lunch with Bob and Petie from time to time. I probably ate there more than I should have, but I never felt it inappropriate or unwelcome. When my Dad had his heart attack, Bob and Petie loaded me in the car immediately and we all traipsed over to Springfield to see him. I really needed the support they gave me as Mom was overwhelmed herself.
Dad’s death two years later was hard on all of us. It was only three months before my wedding. I appreciated how Bob supported me during that time. Had more time passed, I am sure that I would have had Bob walk me down the aisle, but it was just so soon that I think I made the right choice for the time, that of me walking alone.
Even after I was married, I continued to feel welcome in their home as their own child would have been. It took a little getting used to those trains (!) but I was as comfortable on Kenridge as I was on Mulford (they moved to a different house the year after I was married). That speaks to both their gift of hospitality, and not the location at all. I remember bringing Jessica up at four months of age, spending the night and watching UD play in the NCAA tournament (1984).
If anyone asks me what my most predominant memory of Uncle Bob is, it will be the way he cared for my aunt during her final illness. He taught us the meaning of “in sickness and in health." May I remember it well.
Later, he made a very wise choice in bringing Nancy into our family. She is a wonderful woman who has blessed us all for almost twenty four years.
He lived a wonderful, long life. He exemplified well how someone should live. This is shown by the good families that his children have. It is a blessing to live long enough to see the fruit of his labor. He has served his Lord and mankind well. 
As his son toasted when we all went out to a restaurant after the funeral, “To Dad—the richest man on earth.”

Uncle Bob as a young father.

Middle Age
Bob and Petie (right) were host and hostess at our wedding.

Petie willed herself to live to see her younger
sister celebrate her silver anniversary. She
would be gone in six weeks. Bob is on the left. 
A few months after his wife passed,
life goes on and we had Christmas.
Here he is holding my son.
This is a picture of Bob with his second wife,
and his three children. This was taken the day of my
brother's funeral in 2007.

The last time the extended family got together was in 2011
at my mother's 80th BD. Bob was 87. Nancy was visiting
one of her children.

Yes, he was at D-Day. We have lost another WW2 vet.

Monday, August 10, 2015

My Fitness Journey: What Dr. Danny Says

Through all the rest of my issues, the lower region of my back hurt. In fact, I have quit a lot of things because I can’t stand in one place for more than twenty minutes. In the everyday, this means breaking up the housework into parts, NOT fixing elaborate prep meals, and shopping online! My semi-monthly grocery trips are hard work for me, but I am moving, so it’s not so bad. If I had to stand and iron like our mothers did, I couldn’t do it all at once.

Because we tend to diagnose ourselves, I thought this pain was coming from the lumbar region. But after Dr. Danny poked and prodded, we both knew we were talking about the sacrum. After all, he has lots of pictures on the walls, and I could just see it. I could also see how the sciatica nerve was shooting pain down my legs. THERE IT IS! That’s EXACTLY what is happening!

Danny is my first-born nephew. I have older nephews and a niece, but he was my first baby, born two days before Elvis died, three months before my wedding. I love all my nieces and nephews, but he has a special place as first (to me). He is now close to his 38th birthday and he remembers me skinny. He looks at my med list and shakes his head. We’ve got to do something here.

The first thing he does is put me on the diet he is on. It’s called “The Virgin Diet,” named for the author. Danny has had some health issues, which I am not at liberty to discuss, and this diet is helping him, so we are "in this together." Fundamentally, the foods I eat and the foods I do not eat impact inflammation and other functions. Some of these foods I "may" have an intolerance for. So--as I begin reading the book--what I have gathered is that I remove seven items from my diet for a period of time. Then I will add them back one at a time and they will let me know shortly if they agree with me. Look for a more in-depth book report later, and how it works for me.

I read articles, and the Naproxen has got to go. We’re going to try something new called Mobic, which does not do as much damage to the stomach. However, right now, I don't need anything at all.

He wants a copy of my latest (July 10th) DEXA Scan and an X-ray of my back. So the next day I see my PCP here in Ohio and she writes my scripts and one for the X-ray so I can just go up to Springfield Regional and of course, insurance will pay for it. Danny wants a disk to look at himself. He’s not going to be impressed with the DEXA Scan number either, but we just have to work with that.

I fax him my latest blood work numbers, the DEXA Scan report and a complete list of my meds, including notes of meds I am going to try and quit. I never needed an allergy med (generic Zyrtec) while we lived out on Chico Ct. I needed it in our last residence, but now we’ve moved. I do not have a meadow out back (by the way, I do miss the meadow!) and perhaps I can get by without that. I am also weaning off another med.

His mother is coming later in the month and will take the CD back with her. Meanwhile, I start the diet and see what happens.

To be continued……

Thursday, August 6, 2015

My Fitness Journey: What a Ride!

My Fitness Journey has been a roller coaster.

It’s been a year or more since I felt good, recovered from cancer surgery and treatment, and was able to participate regularly at the gym.  However, my meniscus tear was not healing, and I was tiring of cortisone shots (the last gave me three weeks relief so I knew it was time to do something). I saw a gastroenterologist, had an endoscopy, and she prescribed two medications for my acid reflux and my hiatal hernia. They seem to have helped.

So, I haven’t been at the gym and froze my membership until I can get some of these things under control. Moving from a house to a condo with only my husband and son and daughter-in-law to help us carry boxes rivals boot camp any day. I was grateful that my upper half was really strong for this, even though the left knee was throbbing.

After settling in, I called the orthopedic surgeon and got right in. With summer vacations, we worked a surgery in, scheduled for July 6th. I got a letter from my oncologist telling me that the staff had scheduled my DEXA Scan (bone density) for July 10th. I called the imaging center and asked if I would be able to do that and they said there would be no problem. I just lay on a table! The DEXA Scan is done every two years because of the Arimidex that I take to block estrogen, and it causes osteoporosis. This is one reason exercise is not negotiable. I must do it!

The day after surgery.
Recovery from the surgery was normal. Percocet for three days, a walker and taking it easy until the sutures came out in 13 days. I couldn’t WAIT to go to the pool and submerge myself…..but on the way home I fell off the side of the sidewalk with my OTHER foot and rolled it. I knew it was not my ankle and I knew it was not a break, but it really hurt! So by evening, I went over to visit my neighbors, both of whom are nurses. They confirmed a deep muscle strain. By the next morning, after Naproxen and enough rest, I could tell you exactly where it was, between the third and fourth metatarsals.

That is just going to take time to heal and I am not even taking pain medicine now for it.

Conversation with the Physician’s Assistant at the Orthopedic Surgeon’s office, after taking my stitches out: I am not to bend my leg more than 90 degrees (so squats are limited) and NOTHING that resembles pounding on the knee. No running, no jumping-jacks, no burpees—mountain climbers are a possibility because the weight is on the feet. This is why I am not anxious to return to Boot Camp, although the toning class might be good for me.

My husband is walking two miles a day and has lost 25 pounds since November (with Christmas in there)! GAME ON! I know I will not be with him this year, and we’ll see what next spring brings. I am walking ½ mile. I know that weight lifting must get back into my life.

When I lift my weights, and to be honest, it hasn’t been more than five-pound since before the cancer diagnosis, my back cracks. So, I think I will have a little talk with my nephew, the chiropractor. Only problem is, he practices in Fort Wayne.

Next time: What Dr. Danny says.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Grandma said....

About a year ago, my hairdresser Joan and I began the discussion of beginning to lighten my hair color. I remember as a child, my grandmother, who colored her own hair until the day she died at 82, telling me that as one ages, they need to go a shade lighter, about every ten years. We all know some dark brunette that continues to color her hair really dark and it looks ridiculous. I wanted to avoid that.

At 60
I was 60 years old and I had very healthy hair and I had a color that people complimented me on. But I knew it was time to start the discussion. I also wanted to grow my bangs out and have my hair be all one length. The jury is still out on this endeavor as my hair is SO fine. Eventually, I will let it all grow to shoulder length before it starts flipping up and I look like Patty Duke.

At 62
It took about four months to finally get the new color on. You start with the regrowth and cut a little bit each time and eventually you can cover it all with the new color. I like this color too, but it is lighter and someone redder. Although there is plenty of red hair in my family, thanks to said grandmother, I didn’t get it. However, I spent way too much time in the sun in my youth and always had “sun-lightened” hair, then became an adult and permed my hair a good bit—so all of this is to say that this lighter shade will not shock anyone!

Joan says that I am about 33% gray overall. Although fine, it still is healthy. I am blessed.

Until we “connect” again……