Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Doing What I Can to Stay Healthy

Today was a beautiful day here for those of us whom live along the foothills of the mountains of Colorado.  With temperatures in the low to mid-70's (F), folks in shorts and white legs were jogging and walking and pushing babies in strollers in every neighborhood I drove through.  These warm temperatures are great on one hand, but they also bring the danger of fire.  We have not had much moisture in the lowlands of Colorado this winter.  Right now, it feels like we are living in a tinderbox.  When I look at the snows in the eastern part of the country, I am just a bit envious of all the moisture that such storms provide.

I didn't get out to walk in the neighborhood today, but I did yesterday, and it was wonderful to out walking in such pleasant weather.

Sally with Boston

If you look closely at the landscape, you will see how dry the grasses in my neighborhood are.  Also, the trees are very dry.  I am hoping we will get some much needed moisture soon.

I am working very hard at getting healthy again after being so sick during February with a bad sinus infection and acute bronchitis.  It seems there is always a fall out when one goes on antibiotics.  I dread the questions that come when I am sick.  The doctor looks at my long list of drugs that I have reactions to or am allergic to and then asks, "What can you take?"  "Not much," is my standard reply.  I was given three different antibiotics over the past six weeks and prednisone (one day only before I had a reaction that landed me back in the doctor's office)  and now I am struggling with problems which were most likely brought on by medications and a body fighting infection. Heart arrhythmia and tachycardia (rapid heart rate) have been causing me a lot of concern of late.

I saw my cardiologist yesterday for my six month check-up after my recent "download" from the pacemaker.  Thankfully, the data from the pacemaker looked good, but that data was downloaded before I started being symptomatic again.  I am so thankful I have the most phenomenal cardiologist. He knows me well, and he knows Jim well.  He jokes with us, shares stories, talks about some place that has the best food, or just makes us feel like he enjoys visiting with us while he is also taking care of business and checking out the old ticker.  He said that the lung issues I had can trigger the heart to act up and sometimes those issues can take two months to resolve themselves.  He also said that the antibiotics can cause the problems I'm having.  He ordered blood work to check my thyroid since I have Hashimoto's disease.  He then surprised me by saying he was going to have me wear a Holter Monitor to compare its findings with my pacemaker.  I must admit that I was surprised that he is having me do this testing, but I am also relieved because the tachycardia has been quite troublesome in the past few weeks.

In the meantime, I am actually feeling quite well.  I know that sounds crazy, but I do feel good most of the time now.  I just hate having those spells with my heart.  I thought they were all behind me after the pacemaker was implanted nearly two year ago, and after I had the heart ablation.

Besides the heart problems, I am really fighting my weight.  I put on ten pounds quite quickly last year because of a medication I was taking to try and tame the chronic inflammation I have.  The weight gain caused my A1C to go up.  I am trying so hard to keep those diabetic numbers in the range of pre-diabetes.  So far, I have fought pre-diabetes successfully for about eight years.  I'm trying to limit my carbs to 30 per meal, and I am trying to walk or do some sort of exercise daily.  This has been a challenge because it was after an hour's class in water aerobics last week that I suffered a bad spell of tachycardia and arrhythmia.  The cardiologist said to keep up the exercise, but to listen to my body, make sure I stay hydrated when I exercise, and try not to overheat.

The antibiotics also stirred up GI issues.  Can I just say that I really am grateful for antibiotics, but I hate taking them!  They stir up so many problems for those of us with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and SIBO (Small Intestine Bacteria Overgrowth). These are not by any means new problems for me.  Over the last five years or so, my digestive issues have become extreme.

A few years ago, my GI doctor handed me a list of foods to avoid.  She said, "This is the FODMAP Diet and many of my patients have found that following it has really helped them."  I looked at the list, smiled, took it home and filed it away.  Then, she asked if I was following it on my next visit.  The answer was, "No."  Being one who hates diets, when my symptoms became more and more severe, I decided to do a bit of research on the diet.  I downloaded all the materials I could find about it on my phone and bookmarked websites on my computer.  Then, finally, I decided to be brave enough to try to follow the diet.

FODMAPs are short chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols found naturally in foods and in additives to foods.  FODMAPs is an acronym that stands for:

  • Fermentable 
  • Oligosaccharides
  • Disaccharides
  • Monosaccharides
  • and
  • Polyols
To know what those terms mean, read the links I am providing.  I am not about to try to explain it all because I am not scientific enough to do so!  Trust me, it makes sense once you study it, but don't ask me to explain it. 

I follow a dietician from the Boston area who is an educator on the FODMAP diet.  Her website is  You can learn a lot about FODMAP from her.  

I've never been 100% successful at following the diet's 21 day elimination phase faithfully,  but I have been faithful enough at following it to have identified some triggers.  When I avoid these triggers, I do well with my digestion.  When I have a flare-up of symptoms, I can be sidelined for days on end with pain.

My endocrinologist recently thanked me for telling her about the FODMAP diet.  She said she had told some of her patients about it and had seen some wonderful results.  She said it was too early for her to know if it also helped with establishing a diet that helped diabetics.

As I said, I hate diets.  I don't like restrictions in my diet, and I don't like avoiding some foods; however, when one suffers badly enough from digestive pain and problems, one becomes more open to taking the advice a doctor gives.

I am absolutely against fad diets where whole food groups are avoided.  I am also against self-diagnosis and treatment for health problems.  For that reason, I haven't written about the plan I have studied and tried to follow for the past year.  I am now taking it much more seriously and am following it more consistently.  If a food doesn't bother me, then I don't exclude it.  I have followed the plan enough to have learned most of the things I must avoid.

I snapped a photo of a recent lunch I fixed myself that is a suggested lunch on the plan.  I made a salad of mixed greens, grape tomatoes, red peppers, carrots, eggs, kale, and a dressing I made with red wine vinegar, dijon mustard (with no added garlic or onion), and chopped green onion tops.  The dressing made the salad especially good.

My father used to say that no one want to hear about health issues.  I have a hard time writing about health issues for that reason.  I do suffer from a number of issues that have taken years for me to sort out. It has also taken me years to find answers from professionals I trust.  Thankfully, I now have a team of doctors that give me great support and care with two of the health issues that I juggle on a daily basis.  I'm doing what I can on my end to do what I can do be healthy.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

February Notes

Late February may seem a bit early to be doing some spring cleaning, but winter doldrums magnified each time I dealt with dog fur, dander, dust, and dirt accumulating throughout the house.  Vacuuming and dusting just were not dealing with all that debris tracked in by the dog throughout the winter.

Having spent most of the month of February ill and cooped up in the house, I decided spring cleaning needed to come early this year.  The light switches, every surface in the bathrooms, the door knobs, and other frequently touched areas of the house were wiped down with Lysol once I started getting well.

On Monday of the last week in February, the sun was shining and it was warmish enough outside that I opened windows throughout the house so that the house and I could breathe in fresh air.  The dog's bed was carried to the back deck where my hubby vacuumed every square inch of it.  We then moved the bedside tables and vacuumed under them.  Tables throughout the house were cleared of knickknacks.  Sheets were changed on our bed and on the guest bed.  At noon, the carpet cleaner arrived.  Now, I also have clean carpets and much tidier house.

The house is losing its winter doldrum appearance.  Over the weekend, my daughter Amy gifted me with the same flowers she almost always brings for my birthday: daffodils.  Even the daffodils in the yard are poking their head up.

Soon, spring will be here.  In Colorado, that means that we most likely will be having our heaviest snows of the year, but I can handle that because I will know that winter is nearly behind us, and we will experience springtime in the Rockies.

February, the year's shortest month in days, was such a long month this year because I was sick nearly the entire month.  It is rare for me to have colds.  This year, I was hit with a terrible sinus infection and acute bronchitis.  I don't even know when I've ever had bronchitis, but I had it this year. Thankfully, it did not go into pneumonia.  I think that is because I had the Prevnar 13 vaccine for pneumonia a few years ago.  I had also had a vaccine against pneumonia about twenty years ago.  This year, I was grateful to know I had taken precautions against getting pneumonia.  The case of acute bronchitis was scary enough.  In the end, I was given three different antibiotics, and had to have three breathing treatments before I finally began to kick what was making me so sick.

Days were lost.  I don't even know what I did with my time when I was sick.  I didn't feel like reading.  I didn't spend much time on the computer.  I had no appetite.  I drank a lot of tea and water.  I sat in my hubby's easy chair under an electric throw blanket and watched some episodes of The Crown while the cool mist vaporizer beside me helped me breathe.  Through it all, I had two loyal guys by my side:  Jim and Boston.  They certainly made me feel better just by being there.

Sharing a Footstool ~ Sharing a Life

Cozy evenings at home in front of the fireplace brought solace to me during the long winter days of late January and throughout February.  One night, as my hubby and I shared a footstool as we sat quietly beside each other reading, I snapped a photo that captured for me the comfort that comes from sharing a life with a dear companion.

Quite honestly, there were days towards mid-February when I wondered if I'd ever be well again.  We had planned a winter vacation to Southern Utah.  We thought we would go to St. George and perhaps even venture into Zion National Park.  Jim had a week off from work, reservations were made, and we began to plan our adventures.  Then, a day before we were to leave, we had to cancel our plans because I just wasn't well enough to travel.

Then, we thought that perhaps I'd be well enough to go to Mt. Princeton Hot Springs near Buena Vista, Colorado, for the few days leading up to Valentine's Day.  I thought soaking in the hot springs would be just what would make this old girl feel better.  We were able to book a wonderful room, and we were looking forward to a Valentine's Day dinner in the lodge.  A day before we to leave, after I had to go to the ER for my third breathing treatment, we cancelled yet another get-away trip.

I thought our plans for Valentine's Day were doomed, but thankfully, we were able to get last minute reservations for lunch at The Cliff House which is just a short twenty minute or so drive from our house.  The Cliff House was built in 1874 in a tourist area near Colorado Springs called Manitou Springs.  The historic hotel has in recent years become a sought after place for wedding receptions.  The restaurant has become a destination place for those seeking a special meal ever since one of the top chefs from the Broadmoor Hotel came over to be the executive chef.  We were very lucky to get the reservations for lunch on a day when they had been booked for months.

The sky was a beautiful blue, and the sun was shining on the first day I'd had anything to look forward to for weeks.  My spirits were lifted even more when the first thing I saw when I stepped out of the car upon our arrival at this historic hotel were tiny purple crocuses in bloom.  Suddenly, winter's gloom began to lift because I actually had visual confirmation that spring is indeed on its way.

Our Valentine's Day venture across town to enjoy lunch together was just what the doctor ordered.  The smiles and jolly laughter from my dear husband lightened my heart and filled it with gratitude.  I am so blessed to have this wonderful man by my side through sickness and health.

A shared life is a rich life.  We share our ups and our downs, but sharing those ups and downs is so much easier when they are shared with one whom makes one smile, laugh, and is solid and trustworthy.  Such is the man with whom I share my life.  I met him during the springtime of my life, and now as we enter the last season of life,  he remains the young man whose personality, character,  smile, and sparkly eyes first captured this girl's heart.


During those days of youth, my life wasn't just blessed by meeting my dear husband, it was also blessed by meeting some of the most amazing women I know:  my high school girlfriends.  In November, I had committed to hosting the next gathering which was to be held in February.  Then, I took that short lived journey into employment, so my plans to host a gathering had to change.  Thankfully, the girls agreed that meeting at a restaurant would be a good plan.  

Our group was smaller than usual, but girls from Denver, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo all met together in a small community just north of Colorado Springs.  One of the girls recommended we meet at The Bistro on 2nd in Monument, Colorado.  We loved Rick, the owner, and his restaurant, and the food!  Rick gave us a private room and the very best of service.  He also joked with us and made our time together all the more fun.  If you are in the Monument area, stop by the Bistro on 2nd, you will love it.

As usual, we giggled, and laughed, and told stories from our days in high school.  Quite honestly, I can't imagine my life without this group of girls in it.  They are counted as some of my richest blessings.  In Ann VosKamp's book, The Broken Way, she writes of talking to her daughter about friends who "betray and break trust."  Our girlfriends group is not perfect, but of them, I can best describe their characteristics by quoting from VosKamp's  book.

Girls can rival each other, but real women revive each other,
girls can impale each other, but real women empower each other.
Girls can compare each other, but real women champion each other
 and we are all made to be
ground breakers and peace makers and freedom shakers.

I am so blessed to be a part of this group of real women.


We are two years into our seventies.   I have no idea how we got to be this age.  It seems like yesterday these high school girlfriends and I were studying Latin, and English, and algebra, dragging Main Street,  cheering at high school games, going to dances, and having sleepovers.  Now,  we are older, much older, and some of us have had serious heart operations, have been widowed, are nursing loved ones through cancer, and are sharing stories of how we are fighting back against other aspects of aging.  One of us no longer would even know the rest of us because she has Alzheimers and lives in a home in another state.  That doesn't mean we have forgotten her.  A few years ago, a few from the group went to visit her and took a gift of a warm sweater from the rest of us.  It is comforting to celebrate another year of life with girls I've known since long before any of us even thought we would get wrinkles.  When I look into their eyes and receive a smile from them, I know for certain that age is just a number.


Exactly two weeks after Valentine's Day, on the last day of February, I celebrated my birthday.  I was again reminded that I am grateful for each and every birthday I have.  Birthdays are good.  They are so much better than the alternative of not having them.  Daughter Amy and granddaughter Hannah came to celebrate on the weekend before the big day. They brought flowers, presents, and cheer.  Amy's birthday is five days after mine, so we celebrate together most years.  Jim had a beautiful cake made for both of us.

We went to dinner at a sushi place.  My choice.  Granddaughter Hannah said she really didn't like sushi or fish or sushi places.  My response: "That's too bad.  It's my birthday and your mom's and we like sushi, so you can stay home if you wish.
I will have Grandpa bring in McDonald's for you."  Her response:  "Well, maybe I'll try the sushi place."  She liked tempura, and even ate tempura shrimp.  

Amy remembered a story about Julie, my daughter and her sister, that happened many years ago when Julie was in Salt Lake City going to college.  It was New Year's Eve and Jim wanted to go to a fancy steak house.  Julie went with us even though she wasn't very happy about it because she had recently become a vegetarian.  She ordered an expensive steak.  Jim asked her when she stopped being a vegetarian.  She said, "Just now."  He laughed and said, "Now's a fine time to change your mind about meat.  The steak is more expensive than vegetables."  


February, my birthday month, has always been a special time of year for me.  In Colorado, we have a mixture of winter and spring, sometimes both seasons occur in one day.  Yesterday, on my actual birthday, Jim and spent a mostly quiet day together.  We had an early dinner/late lunch at one of our favorite restaurants.  I finished reading the novel I'd been reading.  As I progress into my seventies, I find my definition of celebrating a birthday changes.  An early dinner and quiet evening at home seem perfect.  

A high school friend wrote a phrase on my Facebook page on my birthday: tempus fugit.  That simple phrase meaning time flies is one I can't seem to get out of my mind.  February is gone, and now we are in March.  Winter is nearly over.  Where does the time go?

Today is Ash Wednesday.  In six weeks, in forty-six days, we will celebrate Easter.  We are entering a time of renewal.  Now that my deep spring cleaning has begun on my house, I hope to spend the days during the Lenten Season sweeping out the cobwebs in my heart and soul.  I told my son I have been suffering from political fatigue this past month.  I plan on changing my focus to that which brings me hope.  I hope to spend a bit more time reading the Bible and in prayer.  I am grateful for a season of renewal.