Tuesday, April 18, 2017

More Cleanup . . .

I'm on vacation for two weeks even though I had two weeks of unexpected leave with both the kidney stone and then my torn retina.  I really, really needed this time, however, and my boss was agreeable.  One of my besties is here for a couple of weeks taking her vacation, too, so that's great!  For the past couple of days we've been hanging out at home. watching various television shows, and going through my cookbooks.

As I continue on my new food journey, I wanted to look at the cookbooks I kept in the last purge.  Gotta tell you - a nice stack of books just went to my local Little Free Library.  I'm looking at recipes with a new eye now.  I did find some wonderful ones to try - lots of little sticky flags on various pages  :-)

I also decided that I needed to deal with my spice cabinet - it escaped the last go-round with the food cabinets.  So - I pulled everything out.  I have no earthly idea how all this stuff fit in that little cabinet . . .

As with the food cupboards, I found a lot of stuff that was expired, and, unfortunately, a lot of stuff that had salt in it!  Spice mixes often have salt - something that had never occurred to me before.

And I guess that stuff does actually wear out/expire . . . These are red pepper flakes.  I don't use them, but have them on hand.

The one on the left I'm sure was my mom's . . . (she's been gone 13 years next month).  The one on the right doesn't expire until 2018.  Quite a color difference!

I went through every bottle and jar - these made the cut because they don't have salt in them - but they have some possibly questionable ingredients in them for someone watching their oxalate.  Again, I don't have to watch my oxalate as closely as most other people who make kidney stones.  Salt is the biggie for me.  I'll be talking to my Health Coach about these.  Crossing my fingers that they will still be OK for me to use!

I have a question for you cooks out there - if a jar of spice has never been opened (i.e., it's still sealed under the lid), is the expiration date still a true expiration date?  

All of these are old - the Dill Weed has a 2006 expiration date and the Cinnamon Sticks don't even have an expiration date - but all of them are still sealed.  Thoughts?

Similar question for extracts - do they really expire/go bad??

Yes - that's a glass bottle with a metal lid.  You know that was my mom's.  :-)  They all have been opened, but they all still smell OK.

So - yeah, the spice cupboard is now set up for success!  The top shelf has all the questionable ingredients that I will be asking about in Jill Harris's Kidney Stone Prevention Course

Looks kinda empty, doesn't it?  I had a lot of spice blends, and, as mentioned, they nearly all had salt/sodium in them.  I'm doing well with limiting my salt.  I'm struggling, however, to get enough calcium and enough potassium in each day.  I'm certainly better than I was, but I'm still learning this new balancing act - and getting enough calcium has proved the most problematic because when I drink too much milk (Lactaid) or too much calcium-enriched orange juice, I have intestinal distress and have to run for the bathroom.  I'm sparing you the details.  You can imagine . . .

I can hardly wait for my course to start tomorrow!!  I know I'm going to learn so much every week - I already have a list of questions!  :-)

Saturday, April 15, 2017

No Autotune Here . . .

Masterful musicians . . .

Happy Saturday  :-)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Setting Myself up for Success . . .

Kind of a wild story, all this kidney stone stuff, huh?  Many thanks for your messages of support  :-)  They mean a lot!

I spent a good part of my weekend working on my cupboards, fridge, and freezer.

I had a 29-year supply of tea - a lot of which was past its "best by" date.  I decided to pretty much let it all go.  There's no point to keeping it in the house when I know I won't be drinking it.

There were a lot of things that have a LOT of salt in them.  I also had a lot of other stuff that was also past its prime.  Often by five or six years . . .  three trash bags went out, and the bags in this photo will go to my cleaning lady if she wants them.  If she doesn't, I will take them to the local food pantry on Monday.

The cupboards are cleaned out, and cleaned up.

There are a few things that once they're gone I won't get again.  There's a lot of room in there now, because most of the stuff that you would keep in cabinets usually has a lot of salt in it.

That's my pantry cupboard.  The brown bags on the bottom are Irish whole wheat flour from King Arthur.  I got them to make Wheaten Bread, which is common in Northern Ireland and which is the best bread ever.  Although whole grains are higher in oxalate, I figure since I'm baking it myself, I should be able to have it once in awhile (particularly if I drink a glass of milk with it).  Besides which, that stuff was spendy  :-D  in the front is my 100% Whole Wheat pasta that I really like - believe it or not, I think I get to go back to regular pasta )although I can tell you that it doesn't taste nearly as good without salt . . .) again because the whole grain is higher in oxalate.

Here's my fridge.  Yes, I really do have an entire freezer shelf devoted to icing devices for multiple part of my body  :-D  I am, however, going to move them down to the bottom shelf!

I think this was a good way for me to really start getting things in order in my kitchen.  It's now imperative that I cook more.

It certainly didn't hurt to clean all this stuff out and wipe down all the shelves.  Kind of like a mini-spring cleaning  :-)  I think I'm ready!  If you have any low-sodium recipes that actually taste good, please share  :-D

Feeling the need for some true singers and amazing harmonies today . . .

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A Week of Doctors, Part IV

We're finally on to Thursday and Friday now.

I spoke with Jill Harris on Thursday morning and made what was an easy decision.  I will be participating in her 6-Week Kidney Stone Prevention Course.  I will be able to learn a great deal about how to successfully (hopefully) manage my new dietary requirements.  If you scroll down the page at that link, you'll see that each week captures a different topic.  The course is limited to 12 people each time and it's very affordable.

In addition, I've also chosen to do some personal coaching with Jill.  I'm doing this because my numbers in a few areas were a little scary.  In fact, she was actually surprised that the urologist hadn't put me on medication immediately.

Apparently the amount of salt I used to consume has been causing my body to leach calcium out of my bones and pour it into my urine so my kidneys can do what they need to do.  I don't understand all the chemistry behind this - and (for once) I don't need to.  For now, I just need to focus on upping my water and lessening my sodium.  I'm thinking that you're probably thinking that this really doesn't seem all that hard - but there are more pieces of the puzzle for me.

While I'm upping my water and lowering my salt, I also have to find ways to up my calcium and potassium, as well as limit my protein and sugar.  Thankfully for me, one thing that I don't need to concentrate on initially is my intake of foods high in oxalate.  That's the lowest item on the list for me.  I'm choosing foods that are lower in oxalate when I can, but again, it's more about water and salt.

 And . . . because I'm trying to help my bladder out at the same time, I've been advised to drink only water. No coffee (no problem - I don't drink it).  No tea (I'll miss it). No spicy foods (again not a problem, I've never been big on super spice).  I am drinking Lactaid milk, however, it's one of the best ways for me to up my calcium - many other dairy products (like cheese) have a lot of sodium in them.  I'm not counting it toward my daily liquid intake - it's all about the calcium.

Jill is wonderful, and if you've happened to find my blog because you were searching on kidney stones, I would encourage you to check her out.  She coaches people all over the country, so you don't have to be local to work with her.

Alrighty then.  I'm hanging in and I'm learning.  It's going to be interesting, that's for sure  :-)

Friday - I had my annual physical with my primary care doc.  My labs came back today and they don't show anything that I wasn't expecting.  My lipid numbers (cholesterol, triglycerides, etc.) are not great.  I'm not surprised, but the changes I'm making with the kidney stone diet will take care of those, as well.

I'm doctored out.


So, that's the rest of the story.  I think you can probably see now why I broke it into four pieces.  There was just too much to capture in one post.

Here's to a great day  :-)

Monday, April 10, 2017

A Week of Doctors, Part III

So - we're still on last Wednesday, and I'm finally seeing my urologist!  Yay!

My stone was 80% calcium oxalate and 20% calcium phosphate.  He told me that calcium oxalate is the most common type of stone.  The results of the 24-hour urine collection tests told him why I made a stone, and he was then able to tell me the areas where I need to make changes to hopefully avoid making another.

For me, the short story is this: "Drink More Water, Eat Less Salt."

The rest of the story, is that I have changes to make and they won't be one-time things.

Here's the deal:  because I've made one stone, I am 40% to 50% more likely to make another.  Dude.  I'm serious.  In order for me to avoid making another stone, the changes I make have to be for the rest of my life.  As I was listening to him give me the test results and explain my treatment plan, I knew that I was going to need help to be successful. 

You can get a little background on my own research and thoughts from my March 12th post. I had continued my own research, and it led me to the University of Chicago, where Dr. Fredric Coe has published what amounts to an online book about kidney stone prevention. 

If you do any research at all into kidney stones, you discover that one person says one thing, and another says the opposite, and they all talk about oxalate in some form or another.  It's extremely confusing.  Since I have such great doctors, I decided to stick with them and work with their guidelines.

My urologist knew of Dr. Coe, and the diet he gave me pretty much came from Dr. Coe.  There is a nurse educator who works with Dr. Coe.  Her name is Jill Harris.  Everything I was reading on both the UofC website and her own website, was telling me that she would likely be a great person to help me on this journey.  She is a private health coach who devotes her entire coaching practice exclusively to the prevention of kidney stones.  Who knew?  I asked my urologist if he would have any objection to my working with someone like Jill to help me be successful.

He was thrilled!

I don't have to take any meds (at this time (and hopefully never)).  It's more water, less salt, and some dietary changes.  That doesn't sound too crazy or difficult until you look closer.

I must drink between three and four liters of water a day.  You guys, that's a lot of water.  Yesterday was the first day I made it to 3 liters.

And sodium - which is in Every. F-ing. Thing. - has to be limited to 1,000 milligrams a day. 

Again, this seems like it should be relatively easy - just stop salting your food.  Well, yeah, that's a given.  But I'm not kidding when I tell you that salt is in EVERY PROCESSED FOOD.  I've been a label reader for decades.  If you're not already a label reader, I encourage you to start.  It will be eye-opening for you.

Here's a label . . . This is the nutritional label for Bay's Original English Muffins (something I was eating many days for breakfast):

At first glance, not horrible, but your eyes likely skipped over the sodium because in your everyday life you're probably more concerned with calories, fat, and maybe sugar.  Look again . . .

When you see that one English muffin has 540 milligrams of sodium - and your daily limit is 1,000 - you begin to see how all-of-a-sudden "eat less sodium"  is no longer such a simple change. 

The urologist told me that he'd like to see what I can do on my own in the three months before I have to see him again.  I left his office with a copy of my 24-hour urine collection results, the kidney stone diet, encouragement, a wonky feeling in the pit of my stomach, and the realization that I had no idea what to eat. 

I emailed Jill Harris as soon as I got back to work . . .

(Yes, there's more  ;-) )

Sunday, April 9, 2017

A Week of Doctors, Part II . . .

Alrighty then.  Moving on to Wednesday . . .

If you've been keeping score at home, you'll remember that I had a kidney stone in late February. The past weeks have been a game of hurry up and wait.  I would be lying if I said I hadn't been worried waiting and waiting to find out the full story - I had no idea how long it takes to make a kidney stone, and I was afraid I might be making another while waiting.

You can reread all the stuff leading up to this point if you click over on the "Kidney Stone" tag toward the bottom of the sidebar over on the right.  Specifically, I chronicled some of the testing and questions leading up to my visit to my new urologist on Wednesday in my March 26th post.  I'm going to return to a couple of sections of that post and elaborate.

There was a question about the amount of follow up I've had since the stone and whether that was normal.  I've come to learn that my urologist (the new one) is absolutely amazing.  The follow up and tests that I've had in the past few weeks are what a urologist should do.  Particularly the two back-to-back 24-hour urine collections.  I've heard that some doctors only get one rather than two.  Two is better because it gives you a much more complete picture of what's going on in your body.  So, all the additional tests were not out of line.  At all.

In addition, I had some personal concerns and wondered if they were why more care was being taken with me.  Neither of them had any bearing on the follow up and number of tests I had.  Kidney disease is not the same as kidney stones, and although the ER doc told me as much, when I told the first urologist that my dad had died at the age of 33 from kidney disease, he wrote down that my dad died from heart disease.  (Yes, he really did - just another reason we weren't a good fit.)  Once I heard the same info from a doctor I trust, it really eased my mind (that I heard it again from my primary care doc on Friday, sealed the deal and allowed me to let that fear go).

So - I finished all the tests his physician's assistant had ordered, and I waited - impatiently, I might add - until this week.  Finally, on Wednesday, I got to actually meet with my new urologist!

Oh. My. God.  What a difference.  Let me tell you that he rocks so hard!!  My primary care doc really picked the perfect "stone guy" for me. Instead of hearing, "get another renal ultrasound in six weeks and make another appointment," I finally got some functional information.

I learned that based on the second ultrasound, it appears as though there are no other stones lurking in my kidneys - but I will have to have another CT scan in three months as part of my follow up - he wants to be very sure. I'll also have to have another follow-up 24-hour urine collection in three months (only one this time  :-) ).  When those things are completed, I'll see him for a followup visit.

The differences between my first urologist and my current one are substantial.  I'm grateful to the first one for getting the stone out of me, but he's history.  My new urologist was kind.  And he listened to me.  And he answered all my questions, as well as as sharing what I need to be able to move forward with my life.

I don't say "move forward with my life" lightly.  There is more to share.  It's not horrible news, but it is life-changing.  And yes, I'm going to make you wait - again - because this post is super-long already  ;-)

Oh - and I've pretty much decided on this pattern:  Penne (Ravelry link) as the winner for that Cubs-colored sock yarn.  I really want to make that cousin something - he's had a rough go lately, and he's a major Cub fan - I think this would cheer him up  :-)  My other pattern choice is the Ben Lomond fingerless mitts, which I actually think is a better choice, but the pattern is written for sport weight yarn rather than the fingering weight I want to use.  Anyone out there a wiz at transposing knitting patterns between yarn weights??  :-)

I'm still wanting to cast on something with that Cyborg Craft Room yarn - sadly, the dyer passed away this last year (I got this last April at YarnCon), so there will be no more from her.  It's 250 yards of DK weight.  Any ideas?

Some Sunday morning laid-back Beatles:


Saturday, April 8, 2017

Decisions, Decisions . . .

I've finished off all my lingering projects except for two that are in hibernation.  That means that I need to cast on!  And I have no idea what I want to knit, so I decided to approach this problem by looking at my yarn and thinking about what yarn I might want to use . . .

I opened the Yarnoire, and these are the things that leaped out at me.
  • 350 Yards of Ewetopia Cashmere Sport in the Indigo colorway - Sport weight
  • 420 Yards of Dragonfly Djinni in the Wrigleyville colorway - Fingering weight
  • 250 Yards of The Cyborg's Craft Room Attack & DK in the We Will Rock Ewe colorway - DK weight
  • 265 Yards of Ewetopia BFL BFF in the Tapestry colorway - DK weight
  • Hearthside Fibers' The New Directions Infinity Scarf kit
I've been trying to figure out something for that Wrigleyville yarn for awhile - I bought for one of my cousins who is a major Cub fan but I haven't round the right manly pattern for him.  I wanted it to be a scarf or a hat.

All the others - I could go any direction with them.

I'm still in Todd Rundgren mode this morning . . .  :-)

Friday, April 7, 2017

A Week of Doctors, Part I . . .

I don't even know where to start this time, so I guess I'll start at the beginning.

Tuesday . . .

As mentioned last time, my retina tore nearly two weeks ago.  On the Sunday evening prior, I had some flashing in my right eye just before I went to bed.  This is usually a precursor to some sort of activity in my eye, but since I've had it before, and it was right as I was getting into bed, I didn't think twice about it.  I got up on that Monday morning and headed in to work, and as I was sitting down at my desk, I caught a glimpse of something out of the corner of my right eye.  Of course, I looked in that direction - and there was a giant, fuzzy caterpillar-like floater with a bunch of Medusa-like snakes/tails flinging themselves hither and yon.

Well crap.

Whenever something like this happens, you have to call your opthamologist and be seen.  So I rang them.  My regular retina guy (whom I like very much) wasn't working that day, but he was working the next, so I asked if I could see him the next morning.  The last time this happened, I was told that I could wait until the next day.  The guy on the phone said he thought I really should be seen that same day, but he made the appointment for me for the next. 

And I kept working.

And about an hour or so later, I realized that there were a LOT of tiny floaters in my eye (along with all the snake tails), and I was having a lot of trouble seeing.

So I put my left hand over my left eye . . . and realized that not only was my right eye a fricking sand storm of floaters, I couldn't really see out of it.  I could see some shapes and colors, but mostly it looked like white static on the telly.  That was it.


I rang the retina guy's office again and told them that I thought I had probably better be seen that day after all and they told me I could be seen in a western suburb of Chicago accessible by the L.  So, a few hours later, I toddled on over and got on the L and then walked over to the office.

I've been through many of these retinal exams before and they are never very fun.  This was no different - until the doctor starting saying things I'd never heard before - things like hemorrhage, and horseshoe tear.  I was cracking jokes attempting to keep myself from freaking out.

There was so much blood in my eye that the doctor couldn't see well enough to do surgery immediately.  I had to sit quietly in the waiting room, with my eyes closed and patched, for what turned out to be two hours. 

Then, when she took another look, she felt that enough of the blood had settled that she could proceed with surgery.  I had emergency laser surgery right then.  Two different procedures.  The first was with a regular laser.  It's not a lot fun, but I kept reminding myself that it wasn't even a patch on kidney stone pain and was able hold still.  She couldn't reach one end of the horseshoe with the regular laser, so she had to use a cryo laser (or, as I call it, a freezy laser).  She was successful in pretty much nailing my retina back together.

I cabbed back to my office to pick up a few things, and then walked to the train.  I didn't get home until 8:30 that night.  It wasn't a very fun day.  I went back in to the city last Tuesday to see my regular retina guy.  He carefully checked everything again and told me that he thought things were going to be fine.  I couldn't drive, and I had to sleep propped up on the sofa - kinda like I had to do when I had shoulder surgery last summer.

After another week off where all I did was sit around and watch old Perry Mason reruns, I went back to work on Monday. 

Which brings us to this most recent Tuesday. 

I went back to my retina guy for him to check my eye again.  Luckily, he said multiple times that my retina looked really good.  I have to see him again in May - they watch this kind of stuff pretty closely.

I still have some floaters, but the haziness seems to be mostly gone.  I'm going to try driving tomorrow.  I was going to try today after work because I needed to go to the store, but I missed my window of opportunity.

So, pretty much feeling exceedingly lucky, and majorly grateful.  My vision will likely return to normal, and these floaters (which are blood) will eventually be reabsorbed by my body.   :-)

That's the update on my eye.  I have lots more to share - but I'll split it up :-)  In the meantime, Todd Rundgren keeps popping up on my Facebook feed.  I don't know why  :-D  specifically his tune, Can We Still Be Friends.  Somehow I missed Todd singing his own work on this one, because I was familiar with the song through a cover that the late Robert Palmer cut (one of my favorite artists).   Both are awesome.  Here's Robert Palmer's version:

And here is Todd's original - different key and a little slower tempo.  I love them both:

Thursday, March 30, 2017

She's Got David Bowie Eyes . . .

This was me on Monday afternoon.

Seems like I can't catch a break here lately . . .

My retina tore on Monday morning.  I had two types of laser surgery procedures to repair a horseshoe tear on Monday afternoon.  I will explain in detail later because I'm extremely limited with computer time - mainly because I still can't see very well and my eye needs to rest.  Can't read much, can't write much.  Can't knit.  I can watch telly. That's really about it.

I'm missing another week of work.

It could take months for the floaters and hazy vision to clear in my right eye.  But I can see out of it again, and that's pretty great.

Here's where I lifted the title from . . .

Monday, March 27, 2017

Spring . . .

Lots of brand new baby lambs at my friend, Michelle's, farm!!  Yay!!

And this morning - in the early dark - when I went outside to place my Fed-Ex package on the porch for pick-up, it was a symphony of birdsong.  I stood for a bit, out there in my pajamas, and just listened.

Spring is here . . .

When you have about 40 minutes, enjoy this, from my favorite composer, in its original score and original purpose.  Appalachian Spring was written as chamber music for a Martha Graham ballet.  She's the one who named the piece, not Copland.  Here's a good article about it if you're interested.  Can't even tell you how much I love that Martha Graham was 50 when she choreographed and originally danced the Bride.  I love it even more, that - in the version below - filmed for telly in 1958, she was 64.  Yup . . .

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Have a beautiful day  :-)

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Sunday Wrap Up . . .

I mentioned the follow up testing I was having this week pertaining to The Kidney Stone Incident., and my friend, Ely, asked me this: "Is this amount of follow-up for stones the norm, or are these just preventative measures because the Drs aren’t sure why you got the stones in the first place??"

I've wondered about that myself, and the answer is that I don't know for sure.  Another friend who has had two stones told me that they were doing 99% more testing on me than she had had (she lives in another state), so there's that.

But I do know that there is a tremendous difference between the first urologist I had (who did my surgery) and the one I have now in terms of interest in my case/wanting to help me avoid another stone.  In addition, I have an excellent primary care physician - he's been on top of this since it started.  As well, I live/work in one of the largest cities in the country with some of the best doctors and hospitals in the world.  Having lived a lot of other places, I can say with certainty that the standard of care here is exceptionally high.

So - these are the tests the new urologist requested since I started with him:
  1. Urinalysis:  I had to pee in a cup there in the office for them to make sure there was no bacteria in my urine.  There wasn't.   
  2. Blood Draw:  My understanding is that the initial blood work I had when I met with the new urologist's physician's assistant a couple of weeks ago was necessary to rule out certain physical causes.  I didn't have any of them.  Yay!  It did show that I was just under the range for hemoglobin, and I was advised to follow up with my primary care doc - which I did.  Nothing to worry about unless it doesn't correct itself by the next time I have a blood draw.
  3. A Follow up Ultrasound: I had this on Thursday.  The first urologist had requested that I have one of these before I saw him again in 6 weeks, so I think this is common.  He never explained it to me however, just told me to get one . . . if you know me at all, you know that didn't go over well with me.  There is good reason for this test - it's to make sure there are no other stones hiding in my kidneys (I don't think there are - no one mentioned any in the ER or hospital), and also to be sure that there was no residual swelling or scarring in my kidney/ureter from the stone.  The one I had on Thursday was far more extensive than the ultrasound I had in the hospital prior to surgery, and the tech spent a lot more time on my left kidney (where the stone was) and looked at it in many more ways than she did the right.  This gave me pause at the time, but I know she can't say anything or she could lose her job, so I didn't question her.
  4. Two, back-to-back 24-hour Urine Collections:  This is the last test, and I've been doing it all weekend. To do this, you have to collect your pee.  All of it.  For two, 24-hour periods.  That means you can't pee anywhere but at home.  If you miss capturing your pee, the test is ruined and you have to start over again.  It's kind of a pain, but it's not difficult.  You just have to follow the instructions they send you with the kit.  I'll be FedEx-ing my samples back to the lab tomorrow morning.  The first urologist mentioned it to me, but he didn't explain or tell me anything about how important is it, so I declined to do it.  The new urologist's PA explained it extremely well, and my own research made it clear to me how important of a test it is.
In fact, this last test is probably the most important one of all.  This is the test that should tell the urologist what caused my stone to form in the first place so he can tell me how I can hopefully avoid having a recurrence.  Unfortunately, once you've had one stone, you are at a much higher risk of having another.  So - four tests.  Is that a lot?  Again, I don't know.  I don't think so, though.  And are they preventive?  No - I think they fall into the diagnostic category.

There are also some additional circumstances that may (or may not) be contributing to the level of testing and care that I've received.  Again, I don't know if these things have any bearing on what's going on or not - but:
  • I couldn't pass the stone on my own even though it was of a size that 60% of the population, in theory, should be able to pass on their own.  Because I couldn't pass it, I had to have surgery to break it up and extract it.
  • I have a family history of kidney disease.  My father died at the age of 33 from kidney disease.  No one except me seems very concerned about this, but I tell every doctor, so maybe they are keeping that in mind.
  • I am extremely motivated to never, ever experience that pain again.  Seriously. Motivated.  I will do whatever they tell me I have to do to avoid another stone.
That's the update from here.  I've nearly finished working on my taxes (yes, I'm about a week behind in pretty much everything), and one load of laundry is done.  Time to get another load of clothes going, and I'm going to block my Hale-Bopp Shawl.

I'm in another 80s mood . . . Back to Germany days . . . bizarre video, he's a terrible lip-syncer (worst than Rod Stewart, and that's saying something  :-), but a super amazing tune.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Hurry Up and Wait . . .

I have been feeling very much at loose ends.  I remain very tired and have low energy since The Kidney Stone Incident.  I feel like it's taken on its own identity and is a proper noun now.  :-D

I saw the physician's assistant at my new urologist's office last week.  She was able to start the ball rolling on the battery of tests I have to have.  That means that I still don't know anything.

They have requested all the imaging and records from the ER, hospitals, and the previous urologist.  I guess that can take some time to get.  In the mean time, I had to pee in a cup, and they took blood for more blood work.  On tap for this week, is another ultrasound of my kidneys and bladder, and a 48-hour urine collection.  That will be my exciting weekend activity  ;-D  Seriously, I'm staying at home because you have to get it all or the test will not be accurate.  Apparently this test is one of the most important for them to be able to tell me what, if anything I might need to adjust to avoid another stone.

Interestingly enough - I was advised to stop drinking all the extra water and to eat how I have normally been eating.  This makes me nervous, but apparently they have to see where I am now to know what, if any, changes might need to be made going forward.  They didn't seem too concerned that I might be forming another stone in the meantime, so I'm doing my best not to worry about it.  I'll see the actual doctor in early April, and then I should know more.

There's a chance that this was a one-off and I might not need to change anything.  I know I keep saying this - I've been saying it for weeks and just said it above, but I'll know more after I see the doctor.  :-D  Through the online portal I was able to see the results of the blood work they did, and apparently I'm a bit anemic.  I suppose that could account for my tiredness, although they did take a ton of blood out of me in the ER and hospital.

In other news of the day - my Run the Year page keeps disappearing.  I think it's something to do with  the HTML for the ticker I've been using.  I think I'm going to have to discontinue that if I want the page to show up again.  Bummer.  I liked the ticker.  In any case, I'm currently behind and haven't had enough energy to get on the bike and rack up some miles.  I will need to do this soon.

I finally finished the Hale-Bopp shawl, which was a mystery knit-along on Ravelry.  I'm not sure that I care for it - but it's done except for blocking.  Photos soon!  And yesterday I picked up a sock for the first time since the Year of Stash Sock group on Ravelry folded.  I was seriously "socked out."  :-D  This is a plain vanilla sock that I started back in November.  That was the month when things went pear-shaped here in the US so it's not really a surprise to me that I haven't looked at a sock in all this time.  I'd like to finish this one, though, mostly just to be done with it.  The yarn has great qualities, but it really is not comfortable to knit with.  I had just finished the cuff and was just in to the leg of the second sock when I set these down.  Time to finish.  :-)

Yesterday I drove over to Valparaiso, Indiana for a craft fair that was billed as "Shipshewana on the Road."  I love Shipshewana - it's Amish country in Indiana and I've been there multiple times.  It's peaceful and pretty and the food is good and the shopping is great - beautiful hand-made things.  I always enjoy the time I spend there, so I thought it would be big fun to drive about an hour east and check out this fair.

What a huge disappointment  :-(   It was mostly commercial vendors with things like tube socks, t-shirts, sweat shirts, junk, makeup overstocks, hot tubs, and more junk.  I picked up a couple of things from the one or two vendors who had interesting/unique stuff, and there were a couple of food vendors in the hall who had Amish food and/or breads without preservatives, etc.  Of course, being Sunday, there were no Amish people in sight.  I'm really sorry I paid four bucks to get in and I certainly won't go again.  It was like going to Swap-O-Rama, where it's mostly permanent vendors, not flea market individual/interesting vendors.

At least it was a nice day for a drive  :-)  And, I was listening to the Oldies radio station and I heard some great music I hadn't heard in forever.  Here's an oldie - not one of the ones I heard yesterday, but one of my favorites . . .

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Sunday Wrap Up

I did go back to work this week - and I was pretty wiped out every evening.  I missed Tai Chi (you know I was tired if I missed Tai Chi).  I'm still going to bed early most nights and sleeping right through.  I also saw my primary care doc this week and that made everything so much easier. 

I am extremely grateful for the insurance I have, and that I have a wonderful doctor.  He has a private medical practice - sometimes called a concierge practice.  He didn't when I first saw him, but he's been my doctor for at least a decade and he's the best doctor I've ever had.  I gladly pay his fee every year to continue to have him as my doctor.

He agreed with me that the urologist I had for the surgery was not a good fit for me, and he's set me up with another urologist in the same medical system.  I'll see the new guy on the 24th and then I'll have more concrete information on everything. 

I did receive the results of the composition of my stone - it was a calcium stone - two different types:  80% Calcium Oxalate Dihydrate, and 20% Calcium Phosphate.  What this means for me going forward isn't clear yet.  I'll know more after I see the urologist.  I do know, however, that he and my primary care doc will likely send me to a dietitian to be able to work on crafting a plan for whatever and however I need to eat going forward.  In the meantime, I'm just to keep on drinking more water. 

The research I've done on my own seems to suggest that it's not a matter of cutting out a bunch of foods - many of which are healthy choices - but rather a matter of eating foods in certain combinations so that molecules combine in the stomach rather than them getting to the kidneys where crystals can be formed that then form into stones.  As mentioned before, my guess is that my last bad habit (salt) might be instrumental going forward.  Something to consider, however, is that as far as I can tell, most of the research has been done on men, not women.  Of course I will have a lot of questions for the "Stone Man," as my primary care doc calls him.  It will be interesting, I'm sure, and, in any case, I will do what he tells me because I never want to have another stone.  Seriously - I think I said this before, but if they told me that I had to learn to stand on my head and do it every day for the rest of my life.  I'd do it.  That's how bad the pain was . . .
It's been a quiet weekend for me - yesterday I ran some errands - took a bag of stuff to the Second Chance Shop, and went to the local framer, who announced on FB that he was retiring after 40 years.  I figured I'd better get the stuff in that I had let sit.  Three etchings of Heidelberg, purchased when I lived there a million years ago (I'm having them redone together), and an original piece by Inuit artist, George Ahgupuk that my father bought back in the 1950s.

A little 80s flashback this afternoon.  I saw Any Trouble on tour with Joan Armatrading back in my Germany days.  This is one of those bands where you have to wonder why they never broke massively large.  They were so great.  They don't really exist as a band any more, although they've reformed a number of times.  Their lead singer, Clive Gregson is still making some great music. 

This has always been one of my favorites - from their third album, Any Trouble.

Enjoy  :-)


Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Sunday Wrap-Up

Every day I am improving.  Mostly I'm tired and my back is sore off and on.  I am also somewhat lightheaded off and on. Not sure what's up with that, but usually after I eat, that goes away.  I have an update email in my primary care doc so he's aware.  I am drinking what seems to me to be a stupid amount of water and peeing like a racehorse, but it's what is supposed to keep my kidneys happy. 

Although I don't have any results back on the stone composition, I've already cut down on my salt intake, just in case.  I always called salt my last bad habit . . .  ;-)

I'm now behind in my miles for Run (Walk) the Year, but I know I can catch back up on my bike.

Today it's warmer out and the sun is putting in occasional appearances.  I took a walk part way around the retention pond  About a mile.  I had to return home due to intestinal distress.  This is something that I've had pretty constantly since Wednesday, and I have an email in to my PCP to ask about it because they told me I would most likely be stopped up from the pain meds.

I'm not.

I also seem to be very light-headed/dizzy multiple times a day.  I'll wait to hear what the doc has to say.  These things concern me because of my commute into the city.  I'd like to go back to work tomorrow, but if these continue, I'm not sure it's advisable.

TMI?  Sorry.

I've been doing a lot of research.  That's not necessarily a good thing because there are so many different schools of thought out there and it's hard to know who and what to believe.  It's my hope that my doc will send me to a dietician again who will work with me on getting a handle on everything.  So many things to think about!

But for now, I'm going to make myself some lunch and and watch a Netflix movie  :-)

Friday, March 3, 2017


I had every intention of catching up here sooner.

I have a good excuse. 

Let me start by saying that I'm OK :-)   And then let me say that I do not recommend kidney stones in any possible way.

I hadn't felt quite well since last Thursday.  On Saturday, the pain started.  Bad pain.  I messaged Linda the Chicken Lady to ask her what it felt like when she would have an attack of diverticulitis.  But it wasn't that.  I lay down for awhile and the pain stopped.  On Sunday I went to a book study at church, and then to the store, and over to the dojo where they were having a vendor market - which was great!  But I left early because it felt like the pain was coming back . . .

It was - and it came back even worse this time.  After a discussion with my primary care doc, I drove myself to the ER with a possible kidney stone.  Level of pain at that time was 7 or 8.  Once I got to the hospital, the pain subsided and I felt like I was wasting everyone's time and my money - but the CT Scan showed a 4mm kidney stone.

This is apparently right on the edge, size-wise.  At 5mm they probably would have admitted me because 5mm is usually too big to pass.  But they sent me home with pain meds and and antibiotic because a 4mm stone should, in theory, pass on its own.  I had some anti-nausea med left over from my shoulder surgery last summer, so I was armed with everything I needed.

I stayed home from work on Monday. Unfortunately my arsenal of drugs were not effective because I was not able to keep anything down.  Who knew that a kidney stone makes you barf.  I couldn't keep the pain meds down and my pain was getting worse and worse.  One of my cousins, S, was on her way over to me because she was going to pick something up for me.  I told her I thought she was going to have to take me back to the ER.

S did drive me back to the ER (second night in a row) on Monday evening and I was - literally - screaming and attempting to throw up (which wasn't really possible since I hadn't been able to keep anything down). I was soaked in sweat and my BP was 187/85 (my normal BP is 110/70).  I have never felt such pain in my life, and I think I was only sicker one time in my life - back in Germany days.

It took them 45 minutes to free up a bed in the ER for me.  In the mean time, they took me out of the waiting room (I'm sure I was scaring everyone) into another interior waiting room where I continued to scream.  It was off the pain chart pain.  Once they got me a bed, I was dosed with another anti-nausea med, and a super strong anti-inflammatory called Toradol.  That worked for awhile and at least I wasn't screaming any longer.  S stayed with me until two of my other cousins, ME and R, came.

The pain returned and it was too soon for another dose of Toradol, so they decided to try morphine.  Apparently I am likely allergic to morphine because I developed a bright rash all over my face.  I'm already allergic to codeine and tramadol, so this wasn't much of a surprise to me.

It became clear that the ER was not going to send me home a second time, so I encouraged ME and R to go home. Rather than admit me where I was, I was transferred to the larger hospital campus of my local hospital around midnight on Monday night because they thought I might have to have surgery, which they couldn't do where I was.

Another rough night, this time in the hospital.  Almost no sleep.  Then, all day Tuesday they tried everything they could to help me pass the stone. Another cousin, K, sat with me all day on Tuesday and conferred with another cousin who is a nurse (her sister, M who is not local, and yes I really do have all these cousins). This was helpful. I really needed K and I was so glad she was there.  The Toradol was no longer working well, and I was apprehensive about trying the morphine again, so they gave me Dilaudid.  It was terrifying and I didn't like how it made me feel, K looked at the nurses and said, "she didn't like the high back in the 70s either."  which is pretty hilarious since I never did anything like that back in the 70s  :-D  Another nurse came in and told me that I could ride out the high or that they could give me Narcan to reverse the effect but then my pain would come back.  I looked at her said, "I'll calm myself down."   It took the pain away.  I made K sit next to me and hold my hand.  That's how bad the drug made me feel. 

Next was a bolus of liquids into me, and then a dose of lasix to make me pee out all the fluid I could in case I could pass it at the last minute.  That didn't work - and it turned out to be quite painful with the fluid pressure on my left kidney and bladder.  I was so dosed with Dilaudid that I couldn't understand how I was feeling any pain again.  The lasix didn't work either.  So, on Tuesday afternoon I had a surgical procedure with a laser that broke up the stone, and then they suctioned out all the bits and put a stent in to help me heal and allow the kidney to drain better after surgery.  They decided to keep me another night in the hospital just in case. 

ME joined K and was there after the surgery, and she picked me up on Wednesday when I got to come home.  You'd think I would have lost weight not being able to eat anything for 2+ days.  Nope.  You'd think I would have stayed the same, though, right?  Nope. I gained like 6 pounds. Seriously, can't a girl get a break?!?  The urologist told me it was all the IV fluids I was given.

Another cousin, J, took me yesterday to my follow up appointment with the urologist where they removed the stent. Later last night, the pain and vomiting came back.  It was controlled this time by the Norco they sent me home with from the ER.  I'm certainly peeing a whole lot, and today I'm not in any pain.  Cross your fingers.

I have to see my primary care doc next week, and then I have another follow up appointment in six weeks with the urologist.  I have to get another renal ultrasound before then.

They should have the results of the stone composition next week - that will help me know what to do/what to avoid/what to eat/what not to eat, etc. going forward. The biggest thing seems to be to drink more water.  According to the urologist, we're supposed to pee out 2-3 liters a day.  ===:-O

I always thought I was a good water drinker - but apparently I have more work to do in that area.

You guys, this has seriously been the No-Fun Plan.  On the positive side, I'm pretty sure that I've met my insurance deductible and blown by my out-of-pocket max for the year again. 

I'm not 100% yet and I'm off the rest of this week. I should be back at work on Monday.

I know that many people all over were keeping me in their thoughts and prayers.  I so appreciate that and I know it helped.  And I continue to be grateful that I have such wonderful family. 

We Are Family indeed.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Catching My Breath . . .

I'm still here.

There are things to share.

I need just a little more time . . .

. . .  to catch my breath.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Soul Support . . .

Today's Soul Support card says:

If you want clarity . . . clear the space.

Guess I have my work cut out for me.  The office is not great at the moment . . .

And I didn't even show you my desk . . .

Sunday, February 5, 2017

A Recipe . . .

Thought I would share this recipe that I got from Linda the Chicken Lady.  She got it from a book about peri-menopause and shared it with me three years ago when I first began the ovo-pescetarian journey.  It has been one of my go-to's every since.

Here is the recipe as Linda gave it to me.  My modifications follow.

Salmon Cakes

1 1/2 C Canned Salmon (use one large can)
1 C Steel Cup Oats
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper
1 C Liquid from the salmon, plus water
2 Eggs
2 T Butter
1/2 C Green Bell Pepper, diced
1/2 C Onion, diced

Drain salmon and save liquid.  Remove very large bones, but smash up smaller ones.  Slightly beat eggs in a medium bowl and add salmon, oats, salt, pepper, and salmon liquid plus water.

Saute diced pepper and ion in butter.  Stir vegetables into salmon mixture.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat inside of a 12-cup muffin plan with non-stick spray.  Spoon salmon mixture into tins and bake for 45 minutes or until firm and golden brown on top.

  •  I use Pillar Rock red salmon.  It's wild, Alaskan salmon - exactly what we should be eating.
  • Omit salt
  • I often add a few pinches of a seasoning.  This could be anything you want to try, yesterday I used ras el hanout, which is Moroccan
  • I don't measure the pepper - just a few grinds of the pepper mill
  • Substitute Olive Oil for the butter and reduce to 1 Tablespoon
  • I use garlic-infused olive oil
  • Substitute Sweet Red Pepper for green pepper.
  • I use 1/2 a pepper and 1/2 an onion rather than measuring 1/2 cup, so I think mine have more veg in them than the original.
  • I call them hockey pucks  ;-D
My putting it together steps accomplish the same thing as the original, I just do them in a slightly different order and I mix the hell out of it.
  • I slice/dice the onion and pepper and get that on to saute immediately.
  • In the bowl, I work with the salmon first.  I remove the black/silver skin as well as the large bones.  I smash/mash really, really well with a fork.  Then, I add the oats and mix again.  Then the pepper and seasoning and mix again, then the liquid/water and mix again, and then the eggs and mix well again.
  • During the mix prep, I keep sauteing the veg.  As soon as the saute is done, I turn the heat off and let it sit on the stove.
  • At the end, I add the sauteed veggies and mix well again.  
Everything else is the same.


It definitely needs to rest in the fridge overnight - or at least 8-9 hours.  If it doesn't rest long enough, the cakes will be crumbly and crunchy because the oats won't have absorbed enough liquid.  As well, I've discovered that you can't let them rest must longer than that.   

Usually I make them in the morning and cook them at night.  Or, make them at night and cook them early in the morning.  If I make them at night but don't cook them until the next night, they don't turn out nearly as well.

They come out of the muffin tin and look like little hockey pucks  :-D  They also freeze REALLY well.  I freeze them two to a package.  When I take them to work, I can open my lunch bag, and pull them out and let them defrost - they're just unfrozen by lunchtime.  Perfect!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Film at 11 . . .

The first quarter of the year is my busiest time at work - particularly January.  I went up and down same five pounds all month, and my exercise was sporadic, at best.  But I was able to do some thinking - the time for which has been in short supply for me lately.  Most days it's all I can do to pound through the day and collapse in my chair when I get home.

It didn't help this week that I had an appointment with the sleep dentist to have my dental appliance checked.  It's fine.  My teeth are fine.  My bite, although a bit fluid, is fine.  The appointment was at 5:30, which rocks because it means that I don't miss any work.  Unfortunately, it lasted a long time, and I missed the last express train home.  That meant I had to wait nearly an hour to take the 7:20 p.m. train home.  The 7:20 means that I didn't get home until 8:30, which means a really late dinner, and not going to be on time, and the cancellation of my Thursday morning workout.  Seriously, it throws me completely off my schedule  :-D 

I made the choice this week to return to being an Ovo-Pescetarian.  Again.  I tried to do it last year with some modifications.  I was not successful.  But, once again, we see that it usually takes me more than one try to get something right.  I thought long and hard this week about when I have felt the best in my recent life.  It was when I was on The Strict Program for Three Months. So, I've started down that path again.  I know it's possible that it will be challenging initially - but I also know that I'm going to feel a whole lot better in relatively short order if I can power through the initial stumbling as I get back in the groove.

Another thing I have been working on again is tracking my sleep.  This is something I've learned that I need to check in with myself periodically about.  The stress and destabilization that the current administration seems hell-bent on has been stressful for me.  One of my friends, who does not share my political beliefs, encouraged me to pick my battles and not fight them all.  She feels that the protesting that it going on is pretty much only partisan in nature and she has a strong faith.  Thankfully she is better able to discuss this than others are, but still - we both know that this is a subject that we will likely need to avoid going forward.  I decided to share my response to her here, because it's the most clear I have been able to be about my feelings about what is happening in my country:
This is the last thing I'm going to say about this to/with you because I know you don't agree with me and would rather I keep quiet.  I can't.  And I can't pick a battle because this IS the battle.  Please remember that I said these things, because if I'm wrong and Trump turns out to be a truly great leader, I'll happily eat my hat.  No one would be happier to be wrong.
He has ushered a white supremacist through the front door of the White House, and put him in a position of great power - a man who has told the free press it should shut up.  He fired the Acting Attorney General for standing up to his unlawful executive order.  It was her JOB to uphold the Constitution.  And, seriously, let's call things what they actually are:  alternative facts????  We call those lies here in the real world.  Alt-Right????  Hello - that's all about white supremacy/neo-Nazism.  These things are not OK and not normal.  He does not have a demonstrable plan to replace the Affordable Care Act - the decimation of which is going to hurt a LOT of people - many of them children without recourse to any other form of health care.  In addition, the Republican Congress is the most hypocritical that I have ever seen - having set their collective cap (on record) to fight every progressive step of the previous administration, now they think everyone should bow down to Trump's destabilizing agenda quietly and without question.  The majority of Mr. Trump's cabinet picks - like him - have no experience, and many of them are on record as wanting to dismantle the very agencies they are being appointed to head.  
No.  This it not normal . . . I don't recall anything like this with either Bush, so no, I don't think it's just a party issue. I don't see any benefit to that things he's doing via executive order.  He seems to be motivated only by greed - to line his own pockets and those of his 1% pals at the expense of all else - who cares if they know anything about government.  This is cronyism at its worst.
I wish I knew why this is happening.  Yes, God is in control but we all have free will, and in my heart of hearts what is happening here is wrong.  I know right from wrong and I cannot (and will not) sit back and take a wait and see attitude while the (quite possibly mentally unstable) leader of the free world appears to be governing at whim and doing his level best to take us backwards in time while rolling back decades of civil and human rights achievements.
This came across my FB feed yesterday:  "If you ever wondered what you would have done in 1933, you're doing it."  I'd like to think I would have been in the thick of it back then, just like I am now.  Viva [sic] La RĂ©sistance.
Yes, I spelled "Vive" wrong.  I didn't touch on my fears about what might possibly happen to Medicare and Social Security - that's another story.

Anyway, it's Saturday.  I had to cancel my workout on Thursday (because of not getting home in a timely manner Wednesday night), and we were scheduled for this morning - and he canceled because he's not feeling well.  I decided to write instead of go out in the freezing cold to the club.  It was my plan already to go tomorrow, so I'm OK with that.

I'm going to catch up with a friend later this morning who reads the Angel Cards - I'm looking forward to that! I need to toddle on out to the kitchen and figure out something good to eat for breakfast, and then I'm going to cast on a Mystery Knit-Along shawl called Hale-Bopp!  It's all the rage on Ravelry!  These are the skeins I'm going to use.

All Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock Lightweight.  The colorways (L to R), are Blade Runner, Yuletide, and Fir-Ever-Green.

This just rolled up on my iTunes.  Enjoy  :-)

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Ovo-Pescetarian . . .

News Flash:  !!Ovo-Pescetarian!!



Film at 11.

Friday, January 27, 2017

You're Gonna Make it After All . . .

Regarding my previous post - I re-read it last night and realized it sounded as though I actually was apologizing for my stand on human rights.

In case there was any doubt:  I do not, and will not apologize for my passion for human rights.  Human rights for ALL.  

Alrighty then.

Well, another piece of my youth has left the planet.  Ask any woman of a certain age who one of her role models was, and the name Mary Tyler Moore will likely show up somewhere in the conversation.

Seriously, who among us hasn't tried tossing their beret in the air?  ;-)

I  kinda think there's going to be a run on black, grey/green and blue yarn, as well as this pattern on Ravelry:  MTM 'Take One' Tam Mary Tyler Moore.

The show's theme is a bright spot of positivity in the dystopian fog I feel like I'm slogging through these days . . .

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

What Comes Next . . . ?

The Women's March on Washington and its sister marches all over the world are done now.  In the United States this was the largest protest of its type ever.   Ever.

If you read this blog, you know that I am a passionate person about any number of things.  One of my readers left a very kind comment recently letting me know that she wasn't going to follow me any longer and why.  I know she's not the only one.  My mom taught me to have the courage of my convictions.  Sometimes that's hard.  I'm sorry that my passion for human rights is causing people to stop following me - and in some cases choosing to not be friends with me any longer - but each of us has to do what is best for ourselves and I understand that. 

I want to share two things today.  First is a chart that made the rounds on Imgur and Facebook last month.  I encourage you to click and biggify this. 

Why am I sharing it? 

Because of the rise of fake news - on both sides of the political fence.  I think it's important to truly educate ourselves on what's really happening here.  Yes, it's comfortable to stick with our own confirmation bias and watch and read things that don't make us uncomfortable.  I don't feel that I have the luxury of that any longer. In addition, the past few days make it more important than ever that we call things what they really are. To that end:

Alternate Facts = LIES

Alt-Right = White Supremacist/Neo Nazi

 Seriously, you can put lipstick on a pig.  It's still a pig.

The second thing I would like to share is actually more than one thing.  10 Actions/100 Days gives us 10 concrete things we can do during this administration's first 100 days to keep the momentum going.  This is going to be key.  One march does not a revolution make  :-)  (but man, it was a pretty awesome start  :-) ).

Also, my friend Michelle at Boulderneigh shared the Indivisible Guide, A Practical Guide to Resisting the Trump Agenda.  You can download the PDF at that link.


Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Resistance . . .

Friday was a difficult day for me.  For months I'd been hoping that somehow Trump would not actually become the 45th President of these United States.

 . . .

I didn't watch any of the inaugural activities - I heard bits and pieces later in the day, and I saw the photos clearly showing that the crowd was NOT the largest ever.  The fact that the new Whitehouse press secretary held a press conference to insist that - all photographic evidence to the contrary - of course it was, is beyond comprehension.

JesusMaryandJoseph, the inmates are most certainly running the asylum.  I mean, I know I shouldn't keep trying to make sense out of the constant stream of lies and Twitter tantrums that sound like a toddler or a five-year-old rather than the leader of the free world.  There is no sense to be made.  I remain convinced that something is wrong with the man, and as I have watched the last months unfold, I continue to stand by my assessment of the then-President Elect: ". . . unqualified, misogynist, racist, hate-spewing schoolyard bully . . ."

Friday night, after work, there was a protest that was to start at Trump Tower.  Of course the police wouldn't allow us to get near the building, but the protest was peaceful, and the police were great.  I joined and began walking.  It was an amazing and uplifting experience.  I live-blogged it on Facebook, and even did some live video there.  I'm not able to share the video here, but here are a few photos.  I'm going to suggest you biggify them to see them well.

And then, yesterday, Saturday, January 21, 2017, I marched in Chicago's sister march to the Women's March on Washington.  I have never experienced anything like this in my entire life.

First of all - it was 55 degrees, and it was the first sunny day in Chicago in months.  In the middle of January.  Here I am with the three friends I marched with.  That's my friend KniftyRed holding my protest sign.   We took the 8:30 train into the city and were there by about 9:30.

To give you an idea of what a truly magnificent day it was - and how beautiful this city I call mine is - this was taken from the bridge over the trains on Van Buren Street.  The bridge you're looking at is the one on Jackson Street.  The building in center with the antenna on it (behind the diamond-shaped building) is Trump Tower.

Instead of the 75,000 people they were expecting, there were 250,000.  To give you some perspective on that number, Soldier Field - where the Bears play - holds 61,500 people.  This was a quarter of a million people.  It was unreal.  And completely peaceful.  And affirming.  And exhilarating.  And exhausting.  And so very amazing.

I asked this woman the significance of her bouquet.  She told me it was for hope and for life and love, and that she didn't have the words and so she brought flowers.  I hugged her.

There were so many people that the march itself was cancelled - except that we did march anyway, and many more streets ended up being blocked off just to be able to move people out of the park.  Again, done in a peaceful and loving manner.  The Chicago PD - so very awesome in how they shepherded and guided and worked the crowd.  

This is on our way out of the park on Van Buren, heading toward Michigan Avenue.  I had no phone reception and no Facebook for quite some time during the rally.  There were just too many people for the networks to keep up.  Since we hadn't been able to learn anything about the actual size of the group or see any photos, I was stunned as we got to this point to see that Michigan Avenue was completely full of people.  In both directions. 

Again, to put the enormity of the scale of this rally/march in perspective, I snagged the following aerial photo of Grant Park from CBS News.  The red markings are mine. Start at the dots on the left side.  That's where we came up from the train.  If you follow the dots along Congress parkway and on to Columbus Drive, you'll see where we eventually ended up.  The arrow on the far right side is pointing toward the stage, which was at Jackson and Columbus.  We never really heard much, and although the jumbotron was across from where we ended up (where the dots end) we couldn't see it well. It wasn't very jumbo, I'm afraid, and needed to have been a little higher up.  But we could see it a little, and we could hear a little better than when we were still on Congress Parkway.

When we learned that we wouldn't be marching the prescribed route, we began to head out of the park back toward Michigan Avenue.  The red arrow in the middle shows our route back out of the park, and the solid red line shows where we cut across one part of the park - on the pavement - to get to Jackson Blvd., and then out on to Michigan Avenue, where we headed North back to our train station.

On the way to the train, I was able to capture this shot of The Bean.  Its real name is "Cloud Gate."  But everyone calls it The Bean - much to the artist's chagrin  ;-)  Plenty of protesters standing at the rail.

We made it back to the train station, had something to eat there, and caught the 1:30 train home.

I think my favorite chant from both marches was a call and response.

Call:  Tell me what democracy looks like.
Response:  THIS is what democracy looks like.

I believe that we are in the midst of history in the making.  I'm so grateful to be a part of it. 

Saturday, January 21, 2017

A Woman's Place . . .

Courtesy of Mississippi artist, Hayley Gilmore (whose site crashed or I would have linked it).

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

I'm Ready . . .

I will be marching in the Chicago sister march to the Women's March on Washington on Saturday, March 21, 2016.

My shirt came last night!!!  That hat is actually for a friend of mine and is headed to Colorado today.  Mine is on the needles still.

Here we go . . .

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Run the Year . . .

Like I said a few days ago, it's all about me this year.

To that end, I've found an app that is similar to a former version of a popular points counting program, and I'm using my old points calculator and my old program materials to get my food going in a way that is sustainable for me over the long-haul.

I'm avoiding added sugar again in a very big way - I'm too young to have constant joint pain.

And I found a program called Run the Year: 2017 in 2017.  You didn't have to run, you could walk!  In theory, it sounded amazing, and I was going to sign right up.  And then I did the math . . . 2017 rolls out to about 5.5 miles DAILY.  For the entire year.  I'm not a runner so I realized pretty quickly that not only is it not realistic for me to think I could do that, it's not reasonable.  And it's probably dangerous.  For sure I would get injured somehow, and that's not in the plan for 2017.  I'm choosing to remain injury-free this year  :-)

5.5 miles daily equates - for me - to approximately 16,000 steps.  DAILY.  Since I've been working on getting 10,000 most weekdays I thought I might be OK because you know they say 10,000 steps is about 5 miles . . . Except not for me.  10,000 steps for me is about 3.5 miles.  Still I was hopeful (if crazed  ;-D) and then, a couple of days before Christmas, I had a 13,000+ step day and it about wiped me out.  I knew right then that 16,000 steps/day was not going to happen - at least not this year.  You could join the Run the Year program as a team of up to four people, but no one I know was particularly interested in participating - and so I let it go.

My trainer is helping me with my strength training - I still meet with him once a week at the club, and he's created a program for me with a list of strength work so I can do another workout during the week, and a core workout at home.  Based on what we do at our normal workout on Thursdays, he chooses what other exercises I need to accomplish before I see him again the next week.  It means one more day in the gym at the club, and also some core and leg work at home.  Every week.  This is great and I'm really excited about it.

I had an extra session with him on December 31st so we could finish going over all the exercises on the sheet and could figure out which ones I could do on my own, which ones I needed his help with, and which wouldn't work at all because of my torn meniscus.  Then, while we were walking on the track, I mentioned the Run the Year 2017 in 2017 program to him and how I thought it would be cool, but that I knew I couldn't do it myself and no one else wanted to do it.  With no hesitation, he looked me right in the eye and said, "I'll do it with you."


We decided to do it on our own rather than signing up for it on the official site.  We are splitting the miles, and since we are customizing it to fit us, we decided that ALL cardio should count - not just running and walking.  So for me, that's walking, biking, and swimming.  He could easily make the 2017 on his own - he's a runner - but we're splitting it.  That means that I'm responsible for 1,008.5 miles on my own this year.  That breaks out to 2.76 miles/a day.  I rounded it up to be safe, and am shooting for 3 miles a day for the rest of the year.

The first week or so has been a bit of a wakeup call.  Yes, I often get in about 3 miles a day in my general walking around and getting to/from work, but I don't get it every day, and on weekends I generally don't get that many steps in on either day.  Plus, I need one rest day a week where I don't do much of anything (remember, I'm staying injury-free this year  :-) ).  I made my goals last week and I used my recumbent bike to get some additional miles in on Friday so I could have Saturday off as my rest day.  Biking is faster than walking, but it still takes me about five minutes to peddle a mile, so it's a minimum of 20 minutes or so to get at least four miles in.  My tailbone doesn't last much longer than that on the bike (at least not right now).

I'm trying to bank some miles in advance for those days where things conspire against me, or I get sick, or any number of other reasons why I might not get my mileage in.  But I'm very cognizant of it because if I miss a day, then all of a sudden it's not 3 miles - it's 6, and that's tough on my mind to catch back up.  3 miles/day seems completely doable in my mind.  6, not so much.

There's a new page on the blog called 2017 Run the Year.  I'm going to chronicle there if you'd like to follow along. I have a mile ticker there (it wouldn't fit in the sidebar and still be legible  :-D).

Updates will be on Thursdays  :-)