Friday, February 28, 2014

39 Things to do Before I Turn 40

My birthday was Wednesday, I turned 39.  As I said in a prior post, aging doesn't really bother me too much.  Maybe that will change, but right now I just get amused by people (mostly women) who freak out at a grey hair or a wrinkle.  I love the silver in my hair; I think it looks like glitter.  How awesome is that?

I decided to try something this year, and maybe (hopefully) it will be come a yearly thing.  I wanted to come up with a list of things I wanted to do before my next birthday, in this case before I turned 40.  I had a mental list of things I wanted to do this year anyway, so why not put it on paper and make a game of it.

39 things is harder than it sounds.

So far I have 12 on the list.  I will keep adding things; I have a year, right?  Some are pretty innocuous, others more challenging.  Here's what I have so far (I'll add to it when I come up with more):

  1. Take the Cold Forging 1 class (this is silver and copper work)  Signed up for the March class
  2. Take the Beginning Lapidary class (stonecutting)
  3. Get a massage a month   January and February are down
  4. Go back to Brevard, NC with the Hooband
  5. Drop 15lb
  6. Got to that climbing wall in Manheim, PA
  7. Try snowboarding
  8. Got to a drive-in movie with the Hooband
  9. Make one garment a month for myself   January is done
  10. Learn to knit   I'm in the process of teaching myself and I hate it
  11. Go rollerskating again
  12. Get a cover for my old, fading tattoo
I'm trying to avoid things like "Go for more walks with Tillman" because that is pretty vague.  What is more?  How many?  Being specific is best.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

My First (Finished) Crocheted Garment!!

I do a lot of artsy-craftsy things.  I used to make Temari balls.  I make jewelry and sell it on Etsy (visit my Etsy store, see below on right for widget).  

I also learned to crochet in college and over the past couple years learned that there is more than the one stitch I was taught then and have been experimenting with a variety of different patterns.

I just finished my first sweater!  It is a free pattern from Lion Brand (with a free membership), and I just fell in love with it at first sight:

Image of <font color=red>Ladylike</font> PulloverI also happened to have a J Crew sweater I'd gotten from Goodwill two years ago that developed a half dollar-sized hole in the upper left shoulder.  I couldn't repair it, so I decided to unravel the entire thing and reuse the gorgeous denim-blue wool yarn.

I got a LOT of yarn out of it, four huge balls in fact.  I used nearly 3 in this sweater - it was the perfect yarn for it. So, I still have a ball left to do something else with.

It was only AFTER I started the pattern that I actually read some of the details.  Isn't that always how it is?  This was considered a project for an "experienced" crocheter.  I felt I was intermediate at best.  There were some things with the pattern that confused me, but it turned out I was just making it harder than it really was!

And here is the finished item:

I'm very happy with it.  The body was worked in the round, once piece.  The sleeves worked separately and attached just below where the lacy part starts.  I didn't make the turtleneck part quite as long as it called for (6" instead of 8").  I can always add on if I want.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Old Man Winter is Still Kicking

After 8 inches of snow a couple weeks ago, followed by a bunch of sleet and freezing rain last week (none of which has melted because it's been so cold), we just got whumped with about 16" of snow again today, to be followed with anywhere from 1-6 more tonight depending on who you believe.

Not to mention another possible storm this weekend with 4-6".

Then, if you believe them, it will be near 50* three or so days next week, so maybe we will have flooding, too!

We haven't had a serious winter like this in a long time.  At least 20 years.  It is rare to have this many snow storms and this many days of such cold.

Tillman loves it, though, as you can see.

Matt and I built a snowman this afternoon, too!

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Gut Feelings, 4: New Doc, New Diagnoses

So.  A new doctor, a new diagnosis, a new eating plan, and a new set of questions.
First, I like the doctor.  He threw his pen down 4 times in shock of what tests and procedures had NOT been done at various times in my medical story.  I like that.  He is a squirrelly little guy, not what I expected, but he definitely knows his stuff.  I like him.  But of course I liked the other guy, too, so we’ll see how this goes.
He wants to do another endoscopy on me with biopsies this time, as Barrett’s Esophagus cannot truly be diagnosed without biopsies to check the cell structure.  He will also measure the hiatal hernia and a few other things that have never been done before.
He diagnosed me with gastroparesis, which is delayed emptying of the stomach.  Literal translation is “stomach paralysis.”  Mine is not bad, thank goodness, as some people are on all liquid diets or feeding tubes because they can’t tolerate foods at all.  I knew I had delayed stomach emptying, but my previous doc left me feeling that it was a minor symptom of my existing gut issues.  I had no idea it was an actual condition or something that stood on its own, so to speak.
There is no cure, no drug to fix it, and diet changes only manage symptoms.  You can’t make it permanently worse by eating wrong, but you will exacerbate the short-term symptoms.
Turns out the diet for this excludes EXACTLY WHAT I HAVE BEEN EATING THE PAST FEW MONTHS to control my acid reflux:  nuts (because they are alkaline), dried fruit and whole grains (because they soak up stomach acid).  All these things take so long to digest they are not recommended for GP.  Great.  Also, no (NONE) raw veggies (this means no salads), no veggies or fruits with skins (apples, green beans, dried beans, celery, figs, etc.).  No berries. 
All veggies need to be cooked.  I can have potatoes (white or sweet) without skins, most other root veggies, some greens, cooked peas (shelled), carrots, tomatoes (but I’m not supposed to have them because of the GERD), etc.  No beef or pork.  Chicken and fish are ok but I can only have 2oz portions at a time.  Protein drinks, soups, purees, smoothies, juices, etc., are recommended as supplements.  Dairy is ok. 
So, at this point I’m wondering if the GERD exacerbates the gastroparesis, or vice versa.  We will see how things turn out as I change my diet yet again.  I’m eating a small meal about every 2 hours.  One thing I can say is it is helping me with some slow weight loss.  My meals tend to look like this:
  • 9:30 – Cascadian Farm granola with almond milk 
  • 11:30 – an Orgain shake  
  • 1ish – leftovers or soup or something similar.  I hate soup. 
  • 3ish – crackers with almond butter and a banana   
  • 4:30 – yogurt or cottage cheese and a hardboiled egg or something  
  • 6:30 – dinner.  This is my biggest problem, as my husband is a serious carnivore and I     can’t really do that anymore.  So, I make a “normal” dinner, then eat what I can.  I usually go to bed hungry and wake up even hungrier.
I didn’t have any of these gastroparesis symptoms until a couple years or so after I started taking Prilosec.  I really do think the meds caused it or made my stomach somehow lazy, but very very few studies have been done on anything with GP, so the doctor pretty much told me the answer was no, there was no correlation.  Right.
I’ve found a fantastic resource in Crystal Saltrelli, CHC.  She is a certified health counselor who has gastroparesis and has worked to gather information to help sufferers deal better. She has videos, books, podcasts, a blog, and has worked to put a lot of information into the hands of people who have this condition.  I'm grateful she has.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Old Man Winter is Serious This Year

I like winter - no, really, I do - and this year is really no different.  I enjoy the break, the time to reflect on the past year.  Plan the next year.  Nest.  Replenish the soul, so to speak.  Don't want to sound too flowery, but you know what I mean.

I live in the southest-centralist part of PA, right on the Mason Dixon line near Gettysburg.  We haven't had a good, hard winter here in years.  I mean one where it was cold and snowy for extended periods of time.  We had a couple good blizzards in 1993 and 1994, a couple more in 2010.  But the last two winters were especially wimpy with snow, and any cold we had was a day or two here and there, but there didn't seem to be a commitment.

This year is making up for all that.

It is only February 2nd, and we have already had more snow than (I think) the past 3 years put together.  We've had weeks in the single digits, day and night, with a few nights dipping into the negatives, especially if you count wind chill.  Wind, oh, yes, it's been windy.  And tonight into tomorrow we are going to get another whumping of snow, maybe 6-8" or more.

We've heard next weekend there may be a storm of 32-46" or more.  We'll see.

And today?  Yeah, it was 53* outside.  I almost got out the short sleeved shirts.  Almost.

We just can't get over this weather.  People are making jokes about global warming, of course.  I'm kind of liking it.  This is one of those years we will talk about for, well, years.  

(This post's theme song is the tune I sing whenever I drive in the snow: Slip Sliding Away by Paul Simon