The DIEt

Cartoon about low-sodium, diabetic diet

The DIEt has been big news around here lately. I’ve been reluctant to talk about it because I wanted to respect Payam’s privacy but lately, it’s become our way of life. It’s a lot.

Then my mom ended up in the hospital and now it looks like she might need to go on THE DIEt too so it’s super relevant.  So, I got everyone’s permission and now I’m sharing.

I’ll talk about my mom first because that is top of mind. My mom had shoulder replacement surgery last Thursday, the 20th of February. She was supposed to have this surgery in December but was hospitalized for an intestinal blockage in November so they put it off until she improved.  It turns out her kidneys have been compromised because of the diabetes medication she takes, which leads to her having complications after her surgery. We are in the thick of those complications. Right now things are looking up but it’s been a sketchy few days and she is far from out of the woods.

She came home from the hospital Friday. She seemed fine but on Sunday she started acting a bit loopy. Bug and I were hanging out with her and she was lost in dreams. We played music for her and she was playing the piano in the air and talking about dead bugs in the towels. She had no pain and started to make less and less sense but then she’d snap back to normal and we would think everything was fine.

Well, it turns out she wasn’t fine. Her kidneys were not processing the pain medication she was on and she was having renal failure. Super scary. I feel partly at fault for this because at one point on Sunday she fell (into her chair, thankfully) and got out of breath. We panicked and called 911 thinking she was having trouble breathing (a side effect of the powerful narcotics the hospital warned us about). The paramedics came out and checked her vitals. Her vitals seemed normal. We all collectively decided it would be more traumatic to take her to the ER than to stay home. This was a mistake. And I should add, my flying-high-as-a-kite mom did not want to go back to the hospital. The last thing she wanted was to go back to that place where they serve her gross disgusting turkey meatloaf. She was so funny, calling the paramedic a cowboy and making nonsensical conversation. But anyway, she stayed home. My dad called the nurse hotline the next day, worried. She still hadn’t urinated in three days.

They told her she needed to go to the ER and now we find out her kidneys have been failing. Her numbers are right at the level where she might have to have dialysis if they don’t improve. But the experts expect her to improve so we wait. We should know by tomorrow and if she is good then she gets to go home. I will keep you posted.

Sigh.

I don’t even feel like talking about the DIEt now which is sad because I had a lot of funny stories to share. Maybe they will come later.  It’s just been a lot, worrying about my mom. I think she is going to be okay. We gifted my parents a cruise to Alaska in May for their 50th (!!) Wedding anniversary (which is actually in October) so we are all hoping and praying that she gets better in time. Of course, her health is the most important thing. Trip Schmip. I’m just thankful that I bought trip insurance so it’s no big deal to cancel the trip if we have to.

I wish my mom lived next door like she used to that one short year I lived in my Grandpa’s mobile home. That was so nice. It would be so great to be able to help my parents with the DIEt and maybe I could even work-out with my dad. Now that my mom has been going through these health problems, I am even more motivated to keep myself healthy. I even took a run this morning which I haven’t done in 10 years. I think I just needed to clear my head like the real runners always say. It’s just too much sometimes when you feel like you can’t control anything.

So if there is anyone else out there trying to control diabetes or has relatives with diabetes and is fighting the good fight with me, I tip my hat to you. This is not for sissies.  We eat to live now.

Woman of a Thousand Worries

woman-of-a-thousand-worries-1

When summer hit this year I started studying about Menopause. I had a blood test done earlier in Spring that pretty much confirmed my worst fear: I am menopausal. Not even peri-menopausal but menopausal.  It was hard news to take at 46. I thought this was something that happened in your fifties. It’s not like I’m looking to hold onto the “young mom” label and have more kids or anything but I wasn’t officially over that stage of my life yet.  It was kind of rude that my hormones decided this for me. Much like getting your period when you are twelve. You don’t ask for these things, they just happen.

I admit I grieved. It was really hard to look at middle age right in the face and realize that it’s only going to go by faster and faster. Old age will be here sooner than I ever thought. All those dreams of living happily ever after? That’s right now. I am living my happily ever after and it’s changing every minute.

A few months went by and I adjusted. I found my optimism. I looked to older women I admire and dreamed up what a fabulous older lady I would be. Grandma style here I come! I yelled. I’m gonna rock it I decided.

And then summer hit and the hot flashes rained down upon me like clouds of heavy dragon breath every fifteen minutes. When they hit I feel almost like a panic attack is starting. No heart palpitations or tightness… just a sense of heavy claustrophobic heat and a desperate need to get outside to cooler air (or inside to cooler air) right away. It’s been awful.

When I talked with my OB about these recent changes she said their usual plan of attack is to do nothing unless symptoms are unbearable. I hate taking any kind of medication so I decided to grin and bear it. Surely there was a way I could manage this holistically. And so my research began…

woman-of-a-thousand-worries-2

Unfortunately for me research turned into anxiety. I never knew how many more things I could worry about until I listened to “Menopause Confidential” on audiobook while I walked my dogs. Micro-fractures! Osteoporosis! Vitamin D deficiencies! Skin cancer!  (I was already worrying about that one) Drooping Eyelids! Dry Vaginas! Ack! I thought puberty was bad. Is it all bad news? I wondered.

I haven’t really talked about having anxiety here because I thought it was something that I should keep private. I’m sure most of my readers already surmised that I’m a bit of a nutcase. I’m sure it leaks through my words and in between sentences. I am a master worrier. When I turned 46 I started anti-anxiety medication. I had to. I was having so much anxiety I was starting to have suicidal thoughts. I thought I was losing my creativity and had no value anymore. I know that seems preposterous since I have a pretty great life but somehow the darkness crept and told me lies. My very own brain lied to me.

I am very thankful to Payam (and Isabel from alpha mom) for comforting me through this and finally convincing me to get help. I thought I was tough. I wasn’t. I thought I could muscle through. I couldn’t. I didn’t want to have some privileged white woman’s disease. I figured I could just force myself through it one step in front of the other but it got to a point where I couldn’t even socialize because I cried too much. It wasn’t until I was bawling my eyes out on a psychiatrist couch that I finally realized that maybe not everyone saw the world the way I did. Maybe I needed meds. Maybe it was okay to finally give up on being tough and cheat a little. I resisted them my whole life but at 46 finally gave in.

At first it was great! I snapped back to my happy self in a few weeks. I was amazed. Having a new base-level of serotonin was bomb! My creativity came back, my enthusiasm for adventure came back, I was more organized with work, I got more done, I was more calm with the kids, I was better at everything! It was great.

Until June Gloom hit and my anxiety came back. The crying came back. I went back to my doctor and she upped my meds by half a pill and told me not to worry, this happens to everyone this time of year. It wasn’t quite enough though. I was better but still a mad list-making fiend who was constantly yelling at myself inside my head for not juggling all of life’s responsibilities better. I should work out earlier, I should work more hours, I should diet more, I should have better relationships, I should cook better food for my kids that they actually like, I should have better kids…. the lectures at myself we’re relentless. It got so bad that I started forgetting things. I became absent minded and huge patches of my memory were lost.

Add to this the fact that my relationship with Bug has changed. She’s still a great kid but I can’t really blog about her anymore. Her life is her own and she documents it herself now. It makes me sad (because who doesn’t want to take pictures of a cute teenager doing amazing things) but I respect her wishes. Things are ever-changing.

Some of those changes are hard. Another tearful doctor’s visit was in order and now I’m up to two pills. It’s still a relatively low dose but I feel so much better. The nagging voices in my head have stopped. I don’t get mad at myself (as much) anymore. I don’t get mad at my kids (as much) and if I do, I keep the anger out of my voice. It’s amazing. I feel a sense of calm I have never felt before. I didn’t know I was broken until I got fixed.

I’ve learned that taking medicine to manage your serotonin levels is more of an art than a science. I know my hormones are all over the place and I will probably have a lot more ups and downs but I’m really happy that I have a really super sweet doctor who really listens. I really like feeling calm.

I was so afraid that “fixing me” would make me not creative anymore but it hasn’t at all. If anything I feel more creative with better direction. I don’t feel as overwhelmed. I’m not chasing my tail. I’m still coming up with great ideas but now I’m actually executing them better. I’m really relieved about that part.

It’s still a little early to be claiming I’ve solved of my life’s mysteries but I wanted to share anyway. I’m sure there are other people out there fighting the menopause blues with me.

woman-of-a-thousand-worries-3

And speaking of menopause blues… let’s talk about going to LA in the super hot summer! Hah! Can you feel the hot flash creeping up your neck?

I feel super silly posting a picture of me sipping on a margarita right after I talk about my mental health. We all know sweet alcoholic drinks are very bad for you, especially when you are battling hot flashes. But I wanted to share some photos of my trip to LA this weekend with Payam and I think my sweaty face pretty much sums it up.

It was a total whim trip. I love total whim adventures.  We hopped on the train and headed for downtown. Only problem is, it was HOT. Hot and sweaty and full of hot flashes. So here I am in a Mexican restaurant having the best chips and salsa and sipping a super sour and delicious skinny margarita, though between you and me it didn’t taste all that skinny.

woman-of-a-thousand-worries-4

Then we rode Angel’s Flight, which is also super sweaty and hot flashy on a hot day. Not a good idea for the menopausasaurus. Phew!

woman-of-a-thousand-worries-5

As the angry, relentless sun crept slowly behind the buildings, giving us glimpses of shade and relief, I remembered the glass slide experience I’d seen on instagram so I looked it up and we headed on over. We were just in time too! Golden hour is the best time to ride up 70 floors to an observation deck to watch the sunset. It was amazing. Except for maybe the 200 other tourists doing the exact same thing. Thankfully, the crowds were restless and we managed to find a seat by the glass for some sighing and photo-taking. It was really lovely.

woman-of-a-thousand-worries-6

I should mention the slide too. It was meh. It’s a really cool idea but the slide itself is only one floor and it goes by so fast you don’t even get a chance to look down. This is good for me since I’m afraid of heights but I did feel a little bit gypped since it cost $33. We didn’t even have drinks in the bar either or it could have been hundreds of dollars. So do visit because the view is amazing and you’ll probably want to try the slide too (it’s $10 worth of the $33) but don’t get your hopes up for any great thrill.

woman-of-a-thousand-worries-7

After that we hustled back to the train station and headed home. It was a good day. Which was really nice after a few weeks of bad days.

woman-of-a-thousand-worries-8

In other news: I am working on a web design for brendaponnay.com. Right now it’s home to my invitation business that is very badly neglected. I’m excited to make secret-agent-josephine a little more personal (ie: talking about anti-anxiety medication) and move all my professional book-related business to a new site. I’ve always been averse to having two websites (something along the lines of loving one master and hating the other) but I think it’s time. I’m excited too. Lots of great things happening on the books front. I will definitely keep you posted as that gets closer.

In the meantime, thank you dear readers. Thank you for being with me all these years. I have no idea what is coming next.