Monday, December 1, 2014

So worried about my mother

My mom is a survivor of breast cancer. She had a lumpectomy 17 years ago. Her lump was just 1 cm and there were no nodes involved. She had radiation therapy as a precaution, and was followed with tamoxifen. All went well. She had yearly check-ups. All clear.

This year's mammogram showed a mass on the other breast. In mid-October she had a pre-surgery sonogram with guide wires, and then a lumpectomy, with nodes removed.

She doesn't know how large the tumor was, or how many nodes may be involved. She has been given a bunch of follow-up scans and exams. Both the surgeon and her oncologist have been on vacation.
She has had a raging infection in her breast where the lumpectomy took place. The doctors have had her on antibiotics, and they have drawn out the fluid three times now. The fluid removal procedure is so painful, my mom said she will kill herself before letting them do that again.
She just saw a doctor again on November 19 and she still knows nothing, except that after the infection clears up, the doctor "will go back in and clean up." So now we know the margins were not clean.
Next step: my brother and I are trying to get some medical proxy and HIPPA authorization forms. Also, I'm making a list of questions for my mother to take with her to the doctor.


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Some thoughts and milestones on my weight loss journey...m

I'm long overdue for an update.

Drum roll please...

I am down about 45 pounds now. I say “about” because weight loss for me is not a straight line. (Also, my scale gives me 5 different readings when I step on it 10 times. I try to average what I think is correct.) 

So far this year, I have lost 27 pounds, which is about .6 pounds a week, or about 2.25 pounds per month. That amount of weight loss can be hard to see when our bodies change so much from day to day. A late meal, or even my state of hydration, can overshadow .6 pounds per week weight loss.

But the amount of loss is better than my previous two years combined: just 11 pounds for all of 2013, and only 7 pounds for all of 2012.

And even better, my weight loss has been cumulative, and 27 + 11 + 7 still adds up to 45 pounds lost, whether I did it in one year or three.

So how did I do it? Well, I've changed a lot since my last weight report. I started by making a lot of little changes:

1. I have learned to be patient with myself.
I record just the lower numbers as I lose weight. I look at these numbers as stepping stones and milestones. I do not stress that the scale goes up again the next day: it will continue to go down.

2. I've been changing the way I look at food.
Food is fuel for my body. Of course we all know that at some level. But reminding myself of that makes me make better choices.
Food is not comfort, nor is it a reward. Those two ideas are harder to accept, but accepting those ideas helps me to avoid temptations.

When I have a treat, I try to limit it to one serving. I don't accept giveaways. I went to choir last week, and one of the nuns offered me a donut. In the past, I would have had one (or two). Many places have a bowl of candy available, I have been really trying to just pass it by.

3. I've been changing the way I eat.
I put smaller portions on my plate; I take smaller bites; I eat more slowly.

4. I've been changing what I eat.
I make better choices. I've been eating lots more fresh fruit and veggies. I've been eating a lot less carbs.
Breakfast is yogurt and fruit, rather than a bowl of cereal.
When there are choices, I avoid bread, pasta, rice, and pizza, by having a very small serving or no serving.

5. I've been changing the way I cook meals.
I try to serve meals with protein plus lots of veggies. I try not to serve carbs at all.

However, my family still loves their carbs. So if supper is carb-heavy, I make adjustments for myself. Pasta & sausages for them becomes just a small serving of pasta, a sausage, but a large salad or lots of cherry tomatoes. Veggie subs, becomes just the veggies (similar to Subway's "sub in a tub"). On pizza nights, I'll eat just one slice, or even better, just one half slice of pizza, and fill up on cherry tomatoes.

6. I've been changing the way I buy groceries.
I have been buying so much more fresh fruit and veggies, and simple proteins.
I buy less food at a time but shop more often so that the perishable foods stay fresh. I'll get just 1 gallon milk, and one container each of strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. Then I'll get more of the same later in the week.
I buy much less prepared foods, and I don't buy junk food.
I stopped buying our favorite treats: ice cream, cookies, chocolate, and butter cookies. I didn't go back to the stores on November 1 to buy candy on sale. I find that all of us eat less junk food when it's not in the house.

7. I changed the way I looked at exercising.
Exercising is not a chore. Exercising makes me stronger. Every time I exercise, I am a winner. I have been using step counters, and my daily steps have been increasing steadily for the last 3 years. I've been walking the dog more often, and for longer walks.

8. I started a training program.
I'm doing Couch to 5K by RunDouble. Theoretically, a person can go from being a couch potato to running a 5K race in just 9 weeks. I took me close to a year to run the distance of 5K.

I was doing well with the running. I got up to 3.5 miles in a run, and I was running 3 to 6 times a week. But we had some illnesses, I had the craft fair, and it has gotten real cold. I jog while I walk the dog, and he tries to keep up. I also jog in place when he stops. Maybe I can interest my girls in doing some "just Dance" on the Wii with me. I need to figure how to incorporate exercise when the weather is bad, or someone is sick, or I'm too busy.

I am happy to see that 45 pounds lost is getting some more milestones for me. I have achieved more than 68% of my weight loss goal, and I am more than 23% lighter overall than when I started. I started at a BMI of 34%, which is in the middle of Obese, I now have a BMI of 29%, which is the lower end of Overweight. Just 10 more pounds will get me to 24%, and the upper range of Healthy. My goal is another 10 pounds down from there, at 22%.

My clothes are all loose. I look better. I feel much better. The other day, I took Pink Ballerina shopping for a dress for a formal. While we were there, I bought myself some two new concert black dresses (from the clearance section, each dress was only $14.99). They both are classic styles and they look great on me.

I also have more energy. On our way out of the mall, we passed a Toys R Us with a floor piano on display. Lots of people were walking on it, but just hitting random notes. I went on it, jumped around, and played Chop Sticks. Pink Ballerina was embarrassed, but a woman came up to me and said it sounded great. All the way home I kept saying, “I played Chop Sticks, on a floor piano!” (For Whovians, I used the voice of the 11th Doctor, when he said “Dinosaurs, on a space ship!”)

Many people are noticing either that I look great or that I’ve lost a lot of weight. A man from church stopped me in the grocery. He couldn’t place me. I told him we go to the same church. “Oh, you’ve lost a lot of weight!” Debbie from choir says “you look smaller and smaller, even smaller than you did last week.” I said “that’s because I’m still losing weight.” Liz just calls me “the incredible shrinking woman.” Hubby keeps saying how beautiful I am. With encouragement like that, I want to keep going.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent. For many, "ashes to ashes, and dust to dust" begins their Lenten journey. Actually, what the priest or minister says during the distribution of ashes is "Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return."

I find the whole ashes and dust thing very depressing. Jesus calls us to love and follow him.

Many people don't realize that there is another option: "Repent, and believe in the Gospel." In fact, in many missals, the order has changed. The repent is now listed first, the ashes is second.

I served for Ash Wednesday. While giving out ashes at Mass, I used "Repent, and believe in the Gospel." One person responded "I do." Another said "thank you."

May you find peace in Christ's Light this Lenten season.