Sunday, June 18, 2017

More Lymphedema Information And Progress Report

The Lymphatic System:  sewer of the body.  Next topic.

That's what my Lymphedema therapist told me her doctor said he was taught in medical school about the Lymphatic System.  Isn't that just about the saddest thing you ever heard, especially since there are actually so many people who suffer with Lymphedema, most of whom don't even get properly diagnosed and therefore don't even know WHAT THEY HAVE???? 

My first treatment with Kay was on Wednesday.  Kay told me beforehand to wear shorts because she was going above the knee, so I dug around and found some, which was a pure-dee miracle because I haven't worn shorts in over 20 years, and I did a big clean-out of my closets and donated a bunch of stuff a couple of years ago, having given up hope, then, of ever being able to wear those smaller sizes.  Now I kind of regret that I let my hot-pink size 12 jeans with the pink polka-dot ruffled top go.  Oh, I suppose I'm too old to wear something like that now.

As she busied herself with smearing her hands with lotion and massaging it into my legs in an upwards direction, stopping periodically to lightly massage a lump, she answered my questions and corrected any mis-information I had collected up to then, from various sources.  She told me how Lymphedema became one of the conditions that she was educated to treat, kind of an accidental development, it seemed.  But I find there are never any accidental developments.  Oh, yeah, we might make choices that don't turn out well.  That's us and our dang Free Will, which is mostly a curse as far as I can see, because we don't generally make the RIGHT choice.  But when doors open right when you're standing in front of them, that's God trying to tell you to step across the threshold.  Kay was wise enough to do that.  And now that Lymphedema is becoming better known for what it is, she's being kept pretty darn busy doing what she has been trained to do.  If that ain't Job Security, I don't know what is. 

I realize I may have ranted at some point about how the food and drug industry doesn't care if their products make us sick, since we are heavily marketed to and we drag that stuff into our homes, like rats do with rat poison, and pass the buying habits to the next generation, therefore their profits are not diminished when we sicken and die.  And I may have said that the medical industry and the fitness industry lives off us when we are sick.  But this does not mean I'm not glad they are there for us.  I am especially impressed with BPR because they try very hard to help us get stronger and thus be able to escape having to have surgery.  Surgery often doesn't have to be the answer and I really wish I'd tried going to BPR when I first tore the meniscus in my knee.  I might've been able to avoid the surgery I had for the repair, and then the total knee replacement that followed.  And my quality of life would be better today, for sure.

I told Kay that my shoulder guy's PA had told me that they just don't know of any physical therapists who treat Lymphedema in NorthEastern Oklahoma OTHER than at BPR (Bartlesville Physical Rehab), and that if they have patients who don't want to go to Bartlesville for therapy, the best they can do for them is to send them to a massage therapist.  I wonder if Medicare pays for that, as it seems like someone told me once about how they'd love to have massage for their back problems, but that Medicare doesn't pay for it.  And, yikes, massage costs about a dollar a minute.  It's probably higher than that in some places.  But anyway. 

Kay told me that there is a group of doctors in Oklahoma City who are doing a lot of work in Lymphedema treatment.  I did a search on the Internet and what popped up was Oklahoma Vein and Lymphatic Specialists, at two different addresses.  There is also a physical therapist named Don Landis who had a private practice in Edmond up to Febuary of 2017, at which time he suspended his work due to health reasons.  According to the web page I was on, he still does seminars for those wanting to become certified in this field.  The Lymphology Association of North America (LANA) has a website where you can search for a certified Lymphedema physical therapist in your area. 

All this makes me feel very hopeful, and yes, grateful.

I asked Kay if the cellulite, or "cottage cheese", that so many women complain about in their thighs and buttocks is due to Lymphedema, and she said no, that those are fat deposits.  She said if cellulite becomes inflamed, that's known as Cellulitis, and there is treatment for that condition, as well.

I asked her if Lymphedema has any connection to Elephantitis and she said yes, because it is a possible complication of having a long history of untreated Lymphedema.  The skin loses its elasticity, stretches out, and then folds.  It starts taking on a gray-ish cast as bacteria begins to grow in the folds.  She said now and then she sees someone whose skin is beginning to show signs of developing these problems, and that she has them use a wipe that contains bleach to kill the bacteria. 

I'm telling you, this bacteria stuff is going to kill us all someday.  Our neighbor is finally up and about after having contracted flesh-eating bacteria in the hospital.  It was a scarey story that he told, about how he couldn't even get anyone to take his problem seriously until he needed emergency surgery to remove the dead flesh, and it was a long healing process during which he lost a serious amount of weight and looked very ill. 

All THIS makes me feel scared, and yes, motivated to do everything I can so that won't happen to me.  I'm not in panic mode, because I believe them when they say I'm not as advanced as some cases they have seen, and that we have caught it before my skin has been damaged.  Grandma and Aunt Viv never had it that bad.  But it is more important than ever that I get these next thirty-five pounds off.  What I have already lost has taken me from a seam-stressed size 20 to a loose size 16.  I don't think I have ever, even when I was a girl, worn anything that was lower than a size 10 or 12, except for maybe a few expensive clothes that were marked as an outrageously small size, yet fit about the same as my size 12's.  Oh, these marketing people.  They know how women love to brag that they wear a "size 2".  So they mark their clothing line accordingly and it flies right off the shelves.  OMG, we are SUCH a bunch of gullible little lambs.

But anyway.

I am having trouble wrapping my brain around exactly how it is that the Lymphatic system can get the water and all those impurities out of the bloodstream and how all that works.  Apparently I have misunderstood about it being a spongy material as it is not, it is a set of veins, separate from the blood veins yet able to pull fluids from the tissues.  There are lymph nodes in most of the places where people sweat and when you receive massage for movement of lymph fluids, the direction of the massage is toward these sites.  On Pinterest, I found an image of the same chart that Kay showed me.  Maybe some of you will find it helpful:
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/555350197774273867/
I am painfully aware of the lymph nodes behind my knees.  I often have swelling and pain there, and have had since before I was 40.  When I look at that chart, I can see that there are three veins that form a junction behind the knee, and of course they all come from below.  So I, indeed, probably did cut off the circulation in the back of my thighs and knees sitting on all those horrible ill-fitting chairs my employers provided me over the years.  Sit on your butt, not on the backs of your legs, my darlings, that's why it has all that "padding".  If you scroll down on this page there are lots of things to look at on the subject. 

Lately I've been looking at information on "dry brushing", I've watched several YouTubes on the subject, here is one:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZ7dm_wNdcw
I had a brush that was a wooden back brush and it had natural bristles, it would've been perfect, but I can't find the darn thing.  But as I watched the demonstration, I couldn't help wondering why the same things couldn't be done with a dry, rough-surfaced washcloth, or one of those big Luffa sponges? 

Of course those of you who know me, know that I just loooooooove Pinterest.  I could easily spend all day, going from one thing to another, guided by Pinterest.  I click on the picture, the picture enlarges in a new tab, then I can press the "read it" button or I can scroll down and see what's on the list of "More Like This", and that invariably has me opening so many new tabs that I have to go back and close some.  Whenever I am on Pinterest, I have a word-processing document open where I can copy and paste URL's to sites I want to return to at some point.  Sometimes, just copying the picture and pasting it in my pictures file is enough, if I don't need the whole article about it.  I do that when searching for decorating ideas, or crafts, or quilt blocks, that sort of thing. 

There is a lot of wrong information on the Internet, so we do have to be careful.  And Kay confirmed that there certainly IS a lot of wrong information out there about the lymph system, because we, meaning our nation's doctors, have not studied it in depth for very long and there's a lot they, and therefore WE, still don't know about it. 

I just hate that Grandma and Aunt Viv had to struggle with it without the help and/or understanding of anyone who treated them.  They took all kinds of diuretics, became less active when they couldn't put on their shoes, and, in short, did all the wrong things.

But on the other hand, I'm so grateful to the BPR therapists and their support staff who cared enough to introduce me to the subject, you can't dispatch the enemy if you don't know what or who it is, and for actually having people trained to treat it, seeing as how Bartlesville so often seems to me to be this little closed-off community where if you want or need anything out of the ordinary, everybody you talk to just gives you this befuddled look and you just get dismissed because they don't have any idea what you're talking about.  I'm grateful to my shoulder guy in Tulsa who likes and trusts BPR, and who was willing to order the treatment when my family doctor went off on vacation right in the middle of the process and left me holdin' the ball.

And so I continue to learn about the condition, as much as I can absorb.  Since my last post, I've swapped out my desk chair for one of those big exercise balls, and I bounce on it some of the time.  I've read where the bouncing movement helps the lymphatic system keep moving.  I've also read that those mini-trampolines (rebounders) are wonderful for this.  Here is a YouTube about that, there are tons of videos about rebounding for lymph drainage on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdx6DxUklls

OMG, looks like I might have to ease into that, and yikes, would falling be a risk?  I looked for one while we were garaging, and I did see one, but I want the one with springs that hold the tarp.  The one we saw just had straps made of webbing.  So I didn't buy it.  I think I'll just gently hop, when and if I find one.  Last time I was on a REAL trampoline, it made me have to pee.  So not sure I'd want an audience, if you know what I mean.  Bouncing on the exercise ball doesn't bother me, though.  One of the girls at the workout center has an exercise ball chair.  Seriously!  Just do a search on "exercise ball chair", you'll see I'm not making this up.  Boy, wish I had had one of those 30 years ago.....

Kay wishes I had compression stockings, but those will need to be made to my measurements, as I've never been able to find any over-the-counter that fit, and they don't want to order the made-to-measurements pair until I can be gotten down to what is normal size for me.  Medicare will not pay for them and so I will have to, and they are kind of expensive.  Until that point, I'm wearing stretchy yoga pants and I am too fat to wear them and look ok, so I wear a big T-shirt that covers up my big rear-end.  I bought some of those "Jeggings", but they are less stretchy and they make my "bionic knee" hurt.  I had to wash them because the tag said they'd bleed for awhile and I didn't want that on my skin.  So I guess I can't return them now.  I guess I'll just wait till I lose a few more pounds and maybe then they'll be comfortable for my knee. 

Hubs and I hit the garage sales on Saturday and I found six pair of yoga pants in the right size and in good condition, some for only a quarter, others for twice that.  I was looking for bicycle pants, as I could wear them when my legs are bandaged, but the yoga pants are comfortable, they are smooth enough that, in the evening after my shower I can prop my legs up and do self-massage through the fabric without having to smear on any lotion.  Maybe God will bless me with bicycle pants the next time.

This weekend I bought a gravity table, made by IRONMAN.  Maximum weight tolerance, 270 pounds.  You hook your feet into it and then turn yourself so you hang like a bat.  Back when I was having so much trouble with back spasms, one of my co-workers told me he uses one for his back, and that it really helps.  I thought it would be nice to have if I tie the tether tighter so it'll only let me go to about the 4 or 5:00 position.  I have read on the Internet that you don't want to use these if you have high blood pressure or glaucoma, which is an eye condition that slowly takes your vision away, because of too much pressure in the eye.  My eye pressures are checked regularly and they have always been good.  And my blood pressure is good, too.  So those are not issues for me.  Still, if God intended for us to hang upside down he'd have put special stuff on our feet, and though I sometimes hung off the Jungle Gym from my knees when I was a kid, and my kids used to hang off their swings when THEY were kids, I just don't think it's good to push the envelope when you're not young anymore. 


I am trying to be more active, I'm better at going with Hubs to the workout center, where I use the recumbent bike for 20 minutes and then I walk around the padded track till I have done a mile.  Hubs and I went to a couple of free tai chi lessons at a local church, but some of the arm movements are big and swooping, and I hurt my shoulder.  I talked to my shoulder therapist, Kim, about it at my last shoulder appointment and she measured my range and asked a few questions and then said she didn't think I'd torn anything, but that I might want to self-modify some of those tai chi movements.  I'm not really happy with that tai chi class, anyway.  The warm-up is so long that it just wears us out before we even get to the actual tai chi movements (they call them "forms").  I don't know about Hubs, but by then my brain is tired, too, and it seems like it's harder to follow along and do the forms than it was when I tried to learn by following along with a YouTube presentation, which is, if I haven't shared it with you on the last post, here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjYhoAuGqUU
Or here:

At least I could stop and back up the YouTube and watch something over again if I needed to. 

Another problem is that the local lessons are using different forms than any I can find on YouTube or anywhere else online, for that matter, so I can't practice at home.  They call it "8-Form Yang-Style Tai Chi", and they sent me a list of the names of the movements.  They are:  (1) Sunrise/Sunset; (2) Windsong; (3) Hold Ball/ Block and Push; (4) Rainbow / Read Book; (5) Read Book / Pull Through / Push Back; (6) Wind Song / Hold The Mouse / Pet The Mouse; (7) Wind Song / Cross Hands; (8) Pick Up Tigers.  After two lessons, reading the list, I can't envision the movements for most of these and wouldn't be able to do them without following along with someone else.

I was already eating right, so I'm continuing with that.  I have kale in the garden so I've been experimenting with ways to make myself like it.  There is a method of pouring on a little olive oil and some vinegar and then "massaging" it into the kale, it helps break it down so it's easier to digest.  From there you can add things.  I've decided I like it this way and I have a big bowl of it with a couple of hard-boiled eggs and maybe some other things like tomatoes, onions, shredded carrot, whatever.  As long as it doesn't add too many calories.  That's been my breakfast.  For lunch I've been having a little piece of lean meat and maybe some salad or some kind of veggie.  By suppertime I'm not even very hungry, so I have my cantaloupe and banana and maybe an apple.  I haven't had any bread so I'll toast half a bun and butter it, and finish off with that.  My weight is yo-yo-ing right now, at BPR they think it might have something to do with the water weight I'm carrying.  I'm drinking more water and a lot less coffee.  I've seen some people recommend not consuming dairy, as it makes mucus in the body.  I've heard that before from people who say to stop dairy when having sinus problems.  But I don't know if that's true and I haven't asked Kay.  These same people recommend macrobiotics, including yogurt, and that's dairy, so I'm not sure what that's about.  I do enjoy my cottage cheese, and if I'm not fighting a plateau, I might have a medium baked potato with cold cottage cheese on it.  I'm at the point where that just tastes DEE-lishious.  And when I have my bread and real butter, it tastes better than cake ever did.

One of the things they talked about in tai chi class was about breathing right, and I've seen some people talking about how proper breathing helps the lymphatic system work better.  I was a chubby ten- or twelve-year old, and I remember about then my mom bought me a dress that was turquoise, made of polished cotton, which I thought was actually satin at the time, and was "long torso", with rhinestones in the band that joined the bodice to the skirt.  Oh, I felt beautiful in that dress!  Well, my belly stuck out and one day my mom said to me,  "You know, you can weigh more than you should and still look nice if you carry yourself well."  And that's when she taught me to suck in my belly and breathe shallowly.  She did not do me any favors teaching me that.  I have gotten in the habit of it so much that it has become a way of life.  The few times that I have had to go to the Emergency Room, the first thing they do is put oxygen on me because they say my breathing is shallow.  So I have been taking in less oxygen than I should for a lifetime.  It's just a miracle I'm not dead by now.  Here is a WebMD article about deep breathing exercises.  Apparently it can be "overdone", just so ya know...
http://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/stress-management-breathing-exercises-for-relaxation

Who remembers Jack LaLanne and his exercise show in the early 1960's and all those deep breaths he used to take?  Seems to me, if I just breathe so that my belly (below the waistline) goes in and out, every time I notice it's not, eventually maybe I could train my body to breathe right without my  having to be conscious of it.  I suspect that one of the reasons interval training is so good for us is because it makes us gasp for breath, and we take in more oxygen as a result.

Here is a YouTube explaining all that:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jd78W66mA2U

Let's see.....  have I covered everything? 

Antiperspirants.  We don't want to be applying those chemicals to our armpits.  Some major lymphatic tissue is there.  WalMart carries almost no deodorant that is not also an antiperspirant.  I finally found one made by Arm and Hammer, called Essentials Natural.  So far it seems to be working well enough for me.  Yes, I do stink a little at the end of the day.  But if I was going to be among people who would be offended by odors, I could probably clean up and reapply in the middle of the day, or after coming in out of the garden, and be ok.  I don't even wear make-up very often anymore.  I don't like putting that stuff on my skin or letting it migrate into my eyes.

Sweating is good.  Yuk.  I don't like to.  Some people say, "try a sauna".  Hell, this is Oklahoma.  Just go outside.

Don't stress.  Yeah, right.  I don't know anyone that has family that doesn't stress.  There was a time when I couldn't eliminate stress because of my family any other way than if I just got in my car, drove until I ran out of gas, and then took a waitress job in the nearest small town, under an assumed name.  And don't think I didn't think about it.  Often. 

Alternate hot and cold water in the shower.  Yikes, I don't know if I could do this without shrieking, scaring Hubs half to death and making all the dogs in the neighborhood bark.

Don't wear a tight or underwire bra.  The lymphatic system is quite concentrated in that area, both back and front. 

That's about all I can think of.  Monday is the first of my "three times a week" treatments.  Looking forward to it.  For now, I need to get up and get moving.  It's going to be a good day today.  We had rain.  Hugs to all....  xoxoxoxo

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Well, Don't That Beat All....

I have had my last therapy sessions for my shoulder.  I have full range of motion and pain only now and then.  I'm sleeping a lot better.  I feel blessed to have gone to Bartlesville Physical Rehab for that reason and more.  One of the reasons is that their people are so kind and caring.  Oh, yeah, they laugh and say they just love making people feel pain but I found them to be as gentle as is possible, considering that pain is often necessary to open new areas to healing.  And you know, I think that's true of any pain, whether it's orthopedic, emotional, or whatever.  But I won't expand on that as I don't want to get off topic here. 

About midway in my therapy I mentioned to one of their non-therapist employees that I was trying to lose weight and one of the reasons (but not the only) was that I had gotten so fat in my shin area, just under my knees, and it's ugly as hell.  I mean, I just feel like I'm carrying a ham strapped onto each knee.  Let me state here that I am sturdily built; meant to be strong peasant stock, that's where I get my body type from.  So, even as a girl, I did not have delicate ankles.  The camera flash is kind of in the way here, but you get the idea.

Maybe these two will show better.....


DANG!!  Another camera flash in the wrong place. 

I'm a little older and heavier here, obviously it wasn't uncomfortable for me, then, to wear tight clothes.....  But even being in this curled-up position, no hams....

Then, as an adult, it seemed like every job I had required me to sit at a desk eight hours a day.  When I was in my mid-30's I started going home every day with swollen feet and ankles, and sometimes I would have pain and swelling behind my knees.  Employers provided chairs to sit in at those desks, but they were not ever very good chairs.  Some were too long in the seat and I'm sure reduced the circulation in my lower legs.  If I had it to do over again, I would've provided my own chair or at least put a pillow behind my back to keep me from sitting all the way back in the chair.  As it was, I started walking for exercise about then, mostly because I was suffering from depression because of some things that were going on in my personal life, but it helped also with the circulation in my legs.  I have always struggled with my weight and walking helped with that, too.  I noticed my swelling problems went away when I would get my weight down to normal. 

My dad's mother had big-time swelling issues in her feet and ankles and she had one of those hourglass figures.  It wasn't so when she was younger, but by the time I knew her, she was vastly overweight.  So when I gained weight and started galumping along on puffy feet and ankles, wide calves and thunder thighs, my mother's voice began to haunt me, "You're JUST like your Grandma!".  She would say this to me every time she was exasperated with me, which was often.  She and Dad's mom did not get along, and Grandma, for Dad's sake, put up with a lot of crap from my mom.  She knew Mom had the upper hand.  Wives always have the upper hand when it comes to their relationship with their MIL, because sex always tips the scales, and Grandma, having three sons, was well aware of this.  Grandma went to a nursing home when she was in her early 80's and I went to see her from time to time.  If I mentioned to Grandma something my mom had said or done, she'd just lean back and roll her eyes.  But anyway.

Aunt Viv, who was dad's sister, had problems with her legs, and obesity, too.  Aunt Viv had hip replacement and didn't get any kind of rehab, so she reached a point where she just had a hospital bed put in her living room in front of the TV and then she never walked again.  So sad, especially when you consider that Aunt Viv just loved to throw herself into her old car and go places.  I used to love to watch Aunt Viv walk, because she went with a purpose and her whole body took part: elbows pumping, head bobbing, usually she was runnin' her mouth the whole way.  It made me smile, but not in a hateful way.  I loved my Aunt Viv.  It was just part of HER.  She said what she thought, you always knew where you stood with her, and she didn't have malice behind anything she ever did or said.  She didn't carry a grudge unless you just drove her to it.  And my mom did that.  Sheesh.  But I found Aunt Viv refreshing and worth respecting. 

So, up until I started carrying hams just below my knee, I just thought my swelling problems were because I "took after" that side of my family.  Always before, when I got my weight under control I'd have normal-looking legs.  I'm sure the "hams" came on so gradually that I didn't notice, until one day I looked in the mirror and thought, "What the hell??"  Most recently I tried on some jeans I put away because I'd gotten too big for them, and found I was able to get them on, they were loose in the hips and the waistband, but were so tight in the calf that I knew I wouldn't be able to wear them for any amount of time.  So the mirror and my jeans told me there was something terribly wrong and different than ever before.  And yes, I am well aware of what I look like in the mirror.  I did a little research on the internet and for awhile I thought maybe I'd overstretched my calf muscles and caused shin-swelling.  That was a possibility, because since all this stuff with my knee, I haven't been able to kneel in the garden and I have been bending at the waist to plant and to weed. 



That's all me in those pants.  No wrapping or anything on those thunder-calves. 

All this leads up to the additional blessing(s) I have received from BPR.  Because that employee that I spoke to about my "hams" seemed well aware of my funny-shaped legs already, and she said, "I think you should show your legs to your therapist".  And then she told me about a thing that they see a lot of people with, that's called Lymphatic Edema, or Lymphedema.  Well, I took her advice and my therapist gave me more information, and then I came home and did some research on the Internet and then I got an appointment with my doctor.

Don't get me wrong, I am very fond of my doctor.  She has treated me for many years and usually she takes pretty good care of me.  But this time, when I told her about why I have come to suspect I have lymphatic edema, and how it is that BPR offers therapy for this, instead of handing me the prescription sheet for therapy she just ordered a bloodwork panel and a Doppler of my leg veins and said we'd go from there.  Then she went on two weeks of vacation, with appointments backed up such that it would be more like four weeks before I'd be able to see her again, and all the instructions the PA had was to call in a prescription for a diuretic!!  And yes, I know doctors desperately NEED their "down time" and I'm not begrudging her that.  It's just, it was an inopportune time for me in my situation.  Especially since I read on the internet that diuretics can actually make Lymphatic Edema worse.  I went to the doctors office and asked the girls for a copy of my bloodwork panel and the Doppler.  The bloodwork panel showed that, though all my blood chemicals were within normal limits, my potassium level was in the lower part of acceptable.  Like, that's ALL I need, to be taking a diuretic that is not potassium-sparing.  There are potassium supplements that can be taken but I really think it best not to tinker with potassium levels.  The Doppler was just fine.  My blood pressure and pulse rate are really good and she heard no abnormalities when she listened to my heart.

So I mentioned my predicament to my shoulder ortho surgeon when I went for my follow-up there, and showed him the copies of my Doppler and blood panel.  He smiled at me and said, "Oh, would you like me to order physical therapy for that?" and I said "Yes!  Please."  However, then we ran into a problem in that Medicare will not pay for more than three therapy sessions a week.  They don't care what it's for, though, as long as there are doctors' orders, so the therapists put their heads together and decided they could do two shoulder therapies and one leg therapy a week, with me doing shoulder exercises at home to make up for the loss of one of the therapy sessions.  This has worked out OK for my shoulder and they've made a comparison of the measurements of my legs and have found that I have become smaller there since getting therapy, it's just that it's not a big improvement, what with only one treatment a week when normally three are done.  But starting next week, I will get three treatments since my shoulder therapy will be finished.  I have a follow-up appointment with my GP in a few weeks and I want to be able to show her a big improvement so that I can make my case.  If she will take over ordering the therapy then when my visits to Tulsa for my shoulder are over, I won't have to KEEP going to Tulsa just to get the therapy ordered for my legs. 

An additional issue is that the therapist who normally does the therapy has hurt her shoulder, and I've watched her as she does her shoulder exercises with a real vengeance, and a lot of pain, so that she can get back to work as quickly as possible.  So much so that I've worried about her a few times.  But she knows what she's doing so she's in a position to know what's crossed over the line to "too much".  There is one other therapist who can do lymphedema therapy, he has been doing the work on me this past month and I like him well enough, but he is not as experienced as she is and, well, you know how it is, we tend to want the person with the most experience.  It turns out that BPR is the only physical therapy group in this area that does lymphedema therapy.  At the orthopedic doctor's office, they told me that they don't know of anyone else, not even in Tulsa, although they have some massage therapists they sometimes send people to, if they do not want to come to Bartlesville for treatment.  Thus the blessing in my being sent to BPR for my shoulder.  Otherwise none of this would've unfolded and I'd still be thinking these hams on my legs were just wacky fat distribution. 

Lymphedema is different than just ordinary edema.  The lymphatic system does not have "pumps".  It depends on the movements of muscles and joints, so if you are sedentary and you have it in your family, that's a double whammy.  You can have it in your legs or in your arms, generally people who have it in their arms have it because some of their lymph glands were removed or injured during breast surgery.  People who have it in their legs could have it because of damage during surgery, but if it is in both legs, it's probably hereditary.  Here is a good explanation of how the lymphatic system works, and it certainly was new information to me.  Apparently this is not something that many medical doctors have had in their medical training, either.  Considering how much of our population is forced to sit at a desk all day, there are probably a lot of people walking around that have it and just think their legs are fat.
http://www.lymphnotes.com/article.php/id/151/
There are lots of YouTube videos available.  Just go there and enter "lymphatic system" in the search box if you're interested. 

Since the job of the lymphatic system is to remove fats, wastes, toxins, and cancer cells from your body, this is an important part of your (and my) anatomy, and is the best reason that I know of, at least for me, not to be sedentary.

Of course, all this has made me super-observant, now I'm seeing people's legs first and I've seen several who have legs like mine.  I'm never sure what to do.  Should I, a stranger, walk up to them and ask them if they know they have lymphatic edema?  I mean, I really appreciated being told.  But not sure if I would get that same reaction....

Next best thing:  those of you who are reading this now:  go to your mirror, look at your legs.  Do you have legs like mine???  Do your friends have legs like mine???

If you don't, THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS!!!  If you do, now you know why.  Maybe where you live, you can find someone who does lymphedema therapy.  If you can't, there are some things you can do.  Eat clean and healthy.  Walk, at least every other day.  Lotion and rub your legs in an upward motion from ankles to knee.  Lose weight if you need to.  If you can get a good pair of compression stockings, wear those.  Otherwise, it's helpful to wear stretchy yoga pants.  I'll be getting compression stockings made to fit my measurements after they get all the lumps out.  Because here's what happens, untreated:  The fluids in your lymphatic system dry out and form something similar to a gel, and that becomes lumpy places and big areas of extra thicknesses that build up over time.  I'm told this can get very painful, but I have not had much pain at all.  They tell me I'm not nearly as bad as some they have seen, and that with the proper treatment and management, I can be normal again.  (Now, don't that beat all, I've never been normal before......  Oh!  They mean my legs.  )  Heh.  I've even seen on the internet where they say that lymphedema causes the cellulite that every woman hates if she discovers it in the back of the thighs.  Not sure if that's right, but I'm going to ask them at BPR.  I've already asked them if lymphedema is the same thing as Elephantitis, and they say it's not.  I'll keep you posted how I do. 

May you all know the blessings of God, may you hear His little whispers and discern the thoughts He puts in your head, and the words of people He puts in your path.  May you use your afflictions and blessings as a way to reach out and help others.  We're all in this together, my dears.  Let my story be a blessing to you.  If you are not taking the best care of your body you possibly can, then you really must change your ways so that you can be a healthy and vibrant old person.  It might not make much difference to you now, but later on, and believe me, those years pass quickly, it might make the difference between independence and The Nursing Home.  Regardless, all the best to you.  You continue to rock on wherever you are, and I will do the same.  Hugs xoxoxo

Monday, May 29, 2017

Weight Loss Progress -- FINALLY!!

I am happy to be able to tell you that I have finally been able to break through my weight-loss plateau.  It is such a treat to be able to see the scales going down again.  I wonder if I could get addicted to THAT?  Heh.  That's just trading one eating disorder for the one on the other end of the spectrum.  Nope.  Not going there.  But I have a long way to go before that's a concern, anyway.

I am past the point in my life where I care whether I am more attractive or not.  There were four girls and a boy in my birth family.  Two of us girls were more attractive than the other two, and the ones that were not very attractive took it out on those who were, whenever they could.  It's not like they didn't have boyfriends, and they both married and had families, so they had lives that were as happy as they allowed themselves to be.  People were attracted to them because of their personalities, which is more permanent than just good looks.  You either ARE pretty or you're not, and if you're not, it's not the end of the world, for heaven's sake.  Personally, I don't give a rat's ass whether someone is pretty or not.  It's whether they're a joy to be around, is what I'm concerned with.  Pretty people have their burdens.  Opportunities come to them sometimes just because they're a pleasure to look at.  People are attracted to them in the same way.  It's a superficial thing and it's easy to get spoiled by it such that some pretty people don't try very hard to develop their personalities or use their brains.  But pretty is lost when pounds creep up, at least in the minds of many people, especially men.  And some pretty people don't age very well.  When your beauty is lost, you need to have your personality and your smarts to fall back on.  That is not to say that there cannot be beauty in people who are overweight.  It's just that obesity is hard on overall health, especially when it gets out of hand.  And also it is not to say that there are not beautiful old people.  Some beautiful old people were not thought to be all that attractive when they were young.  The really odd thing is that, when you are beautiful INSIDE, it shines through.  I felt this way about one of my sisters for many years.  I was pretty crushed to learn how she really felt about me, however.  *Sigh*.  That is ancient history now that she is 76 and I am 70.  The wounds have healed, I'm sorry that she felt the need to do those things she did, and there will always be a scar, but life goes on. 

I wish I knew, back when I first started struggling with keeping off the pounds, what I know now.  Research has been slow to happen on obesity, due to the widespread opinion of the general public, and most doctors, that obese people are just self-centered gluttons; eating machines that lie around stuffing their faces instead of getting out and doing things.  Slugs, if you will.  Nobody felt bad about fat-shaming us because we "deserved it", and, well, if we didn't like it, we could just lose the weight, right???  And then we all learned that there are just some people that would be the survivors if ever there was famine, because they have metabolisms that protect their fat stores.  The only problem with that is that there is NOT famine, at least not in such a way that there is widespread hunger among adults in our country. 

Things began to change somewhere around the 1950's, when the selling point was "convenience", or sometimes "economy".  We ran out and bought frozen pot-pies and boxes of Kraft Macaroni And Cheese, Swanson Cake Mix, instant mashed potatoes, Minute Rice, and instant skim milk powder, because the idea of getting in and out of the kitchen in record time appealed to the "housewife".  And it was helpful to younger women who didn't have many cooking skills, because along about that time, there was less on teaching "home economics" to girls.  Once our food producers found they could take something they had a surplus of to make something for pennies, market it as The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread, and sell it for dollars, the die was cast to the point where we have an abundance of processed fake foods the likes of which God never intended, full of sugar, salt, fat and flavor-enhancing chemicals.  The thing we didn't know then was that these "ingredients" turn on certain switches that mess up our metabolisms.  Suddenly we are insatiably hungry, all the time.  Oh, they SAY that without all their innovative chemicals, there would be world hunger.  When you see a morbidly obese person galumping along, consider that actually there IS world hunger -- for healthy, non-processed, non-adulterated REAL food, and that is what it looks like.  This doesn't have anything to do with keeping us alive, because in fact we are dying a slow death from it.  It has to do with keeping the profit margins alive of the big chemical and food processing plants in our country. 

More and more people are finding themselves diabetic and/or insulin-resistant, at which point the weight comes on very quickly and is then very, very hard to lose and keep off.  If you are overweight and not insulin-resistant yet, it is imperative that you change the way you eat and lose the weight before that happens.  Because if you don't, it WILL happen.  Then losing weight will become an emergency health necessity.  You will have to work your ass off to make that happen and when you have succeeded, you will have to be vigilant, always, so that it doesn't creep back on.

It's like we are the prey.  First the fake food industry preys upon us to get us to eat more.  And then the weight-loss industry and the medical industry preys upon us for the rest of our lives.  There is one big lie that they tell us over and over, and that is that we must get on a strenuous exercise program in order to lose weight and keep it off.  Pie?  Sure, we can have pie.  Just run three miles to work it off.  What they're really doing is making us work harder so their precious profits will continue to rise.  They can continue to sell us sugar-, fat-, and salt-laden foods and their peers, who make their money from the weight-loss and physical exercise industries will also be able to make big profits.  Keep us well enough to work and make money so we can continue to buy and consume their crap.  When we're finally so sick we can't work, we're in real danger of just being "thrown away".  By then, they don't need us anymore, because they have the next generation, or two, whom we have trained to crave their processed products.  It's a genius plan, actually.

I feel blessed that I still am able to lose weight by just cutting back on portion sizes and avoiding fake food.  But that doesn't mean that I don't still hear the siren song of ice-cream, pie, cake, cookies.  It doesn't mean that I don't start to salivate when the food commercials come on TV.  But at least my brain knows that I am under assault at that time, so there are many times during which I can feel annoyed pissed off at those jerks who are lining their pockets at our expense and I don't internalize it and start feeling deprived.  Don't tell me things like, "You've been doing so well, you deserve a treat!"  Hell, no, I don't deserve that, and I'm annoyed that anybody would tell me such a thing!  I have done nothing to deserve sabotage, which is what that comes down to.  They wouldn't tell me I deserved it if I had an allergic reaction to it.  They wouldn't tell me that if I had a diabetic reaction to it.  They wouldn't tell me that if it was alcoholic and my difficulty was with that.  But it's OK to say things that might make me feel deprived if all it's going to do is make me gain weight I can't afford to gain.  And yes, I know they don't realize that's what they're doing and that they mean well.

I do have certain health issues that would decrease dramatically, or in fact might go away entirely, if I got my weight to a normal level and kept it there.  And I want to be healthy and feel well as long as I possibly can. 

It wasn't all that long ago that doctors had the opinion that all you had to do to not be fat was to "push yourself away from the table".  Finally, they're beginning to understand that it's a lot more complicated than that, as are most things in life, it seems.  But they still want to hand you a diet sheet, or prescribe a pill.  They do not seem to know yet that weight control is not cookie-cutter.  And it's not going to happen with temporary fixes.  It involves learning how your particular body works (or doesn't work) and how it reacts to certain things, then managing it, as one would manage any incurable disease.  What that means is that permanent lifestyle changes must be made, some of which may not be entirely pleasant.  But is it pleasant, what being overweight does to our health?  Yes, you do need an exercise program in order to be physically, and mentally, healthy.  But it doesn't have to be the workout that consumes your life.  Prior to 1950, the percentage of our population that were overweight was much lower.  And what they call "morbidly obese" was just practically unheard of.  But only bodybuilders went to the gym.  Everybody else just lived their lives.  What has changed?  LOTS of things.  Nobody had a television then.  Lots of people didn't even have a land-line phone.  We loved the radio but it was a big thing that had to be plugged into the wall.  I remember when the transistor radio came out in the 1960's.  I got one for Christmas when I was about 16.  OMG.  Best Christmas Present EVER!  Heh.  It had EARPHONES.  I could listen to Wildman Jack late at night while Mom thought I was asleep. 

Personally, I think a tendency to obesity is learned.  Food has come to mean love to too many.  When people want to celebrate something, such as an anniversary or maybe they're just out on a date, what do they do?  Why, they go out to eat.  And now that we live in such a stress-filled world we're anesthetizing ourselves with food.  A bad day at work, a fight with our best friend or our love-interest has us eating ice-cream out of the carton with a spoon.  At most family "get-togethers", there's so much food that everyone just stuffs themselves.  Then everyone sits around, actually miserable, with their belts loosened until the discomfort passes and then they go back into where the food is and do it again before they go home.  The industry is now telling us that our problem is that we SIT too much.  What the hell??  People, throughout history, have sat whenever they wanted to and have not been obese.  It's not the sitting.  It's what we're spooning into our mouth while we sit.  Several industries are in a symbiotic relationship with each other, they want us to be hyper-exercisers because it benefits the food industry, in that we can still shovel it in, AND the physical exercise industry, where we then must turn so that we can burn it off.  Plus there's the clothing industry that supplies us with all these cute exercise clothes that we think we have to wear to the gym, and all those expensive running shoes that we're told we have to replace BEFORE we wear the bottoms smooth, in order to protect our feet.  And then we wear out our joints and doom ourselves to plantar faciaitis so that we can thus have surgery to remove heel spurs and to replace our joints with metal ones that are far inferior to our original equipment.  Make no mistake: this industry is second to none

Hubs and I went to a grand-daughter's high school graduation last week, and we got there early because we wouldn't have been able to get a good parking place or a good seat if we hadn't.  So we sat there for about an hour before anything started happening and, being on the front row, we had the sad opportunity to watch people as they filed past, searching for seats.  I have to say that I think the obese percentage has increased from 30% to at least 50%, if not more.  I mean, here I sit, having gone through my closet trying to find something I felt like I looked nice in, only to sit there and watch people go by in short or skin-tight clothing that left nothing to the imagination, not that I would try to imagine because I would find that unpleasant.  I have true compassion for people who struggle with their weight, mostly because I'm one of them, and I understand.  But sometimes I wonder if a lot of us even know we're obese.  And then I wonder how some of us can not see how much better we'd look if we wore clothes that fit looser.  I am troubled annoyed by this latest trend that seems to be popular among female TV news and weather personalities in Tulsa to wear their clothing so tight that the fabric is tightly stretched across their breasts and they cannot possibly bend over or sit down without allowing all of us to see "To Paris, France", if you know what I mean.  But apparently that is a fashion statement that nearly everyone is making, and actually many people, obese or not, would look a lot better in their clothes if they'd just buy a couple of sizes bigger.  Sheesh.  There is no benefit to saying we wear a size 8, for instance, if everyone can see that we actually need a size 12.  But there IS a benefit to the clothing industry, because if you gain ANY weight at all, you cannot get those tight clothes ON!  So then you have to go out and buy more tight clothes, in the next size up.

The workout center where Hubs and I go to exercise has a section that is devoted to people who have been ordered to go there by their doctors.  Usually it's a heart condition, and the cardiologist has delivered a speech about how they will be dead in pretty short order if they don't do something.  So they arrive in varying degrees of sheer fright all the way down to annoyance at their doctor, and everyone that's there for the sole purpose of helping them.  One man in particular comes in, swipes his card to show that he was there on the computer, then goes to the break room and reads the paper.  Many times someone will have brought something from the bakery to share with the others because they've had a birthday and I seriously don't understand why a hospital wellness center even allows anyone to do that, but anyway, if there are birthday treats in the break room he will always have some before he rolls up his paper and sets out for home.  My heart just goes out to some people that come to the workout center.  They are so obese that they can barely walk.  Not to mention how labored their breathing is and how just getting where they need to go makes them break a sweat.  There, but for The Grace of God, go I.  Each painful step has to be made carefully, lest balance be lost.  No one wants to fall.  One of the therapists where I go for my shoulder says, "It's not the fall that hurts.  It's the landing and the getting back up." 

You who come here to read regularly know how I feel about sugar and other sweeteners, corn syrup among them.  I know that this is the culprit as far as I'm concerned.  And that is true for many.  Once free of the "sugar demon", I find myself craving salty things.  What the hell??  Will it never end??  There is still so much confusion and contradicting information available to us that it all just feels conspiratorial to me, but maybe it's just that we're learning right along about how obesity happens and some of the "experts" have gotten behind.  I've seen "truths" become "untruths" and back again such that it's like the stoplight down at the corner.  Now and then I'll pick up a book about one diet or another at a garage sale.  I mean, I already know it didn't work for whoever bought the book, or it wouldn't be so poorly regarded that it's offered up at only twenty-five cents.  But sometimes I'm curious as to what it is that makes this or that "diet" so popular.  I have found that, after awhile, the books all seem the same.  The first half of the book is case histories and arguments as to why this method is THE method.  Then a few pages about how to implement the diet.  Then the last of the book is recipes on how to make healthy food taste like the unhealthy food does.  *Sigh*. 

The fact that I have reached a goal with my weight loss plan does not mean I'm there yet.  I have at least 25 more pounds to lose, if not more.  We'll see when I get there.  In case you're interested, following are things that have been working for me:
  • Eat to live, don't live to eat.  This is imperative and for me, required a complete re-tool of many of my attitudes that I had about food in general. 
  • Food is not love.  Do not self-medicate with food.  Replace it with something else.  Write a letter you will never mail.  Go for a walk.  Dig in the dirt.  Work a puzzle.  Do a craft.  Visit or phone a neighbor or a friend.
  • Don't eat just because it's time to eat on the clock.  Put it off till you are feeling hungry, but not so long that you are ravenously hungry.
  • Eat REAL food whenever possible.  Read those labels.  Avoid soy and corn because almost all of it is GMO grown.  (soy beans and corn, grown in your own garden, is fine though).  Watch for hidden sugars (anything ending in -ose is suspect).  Remember "cellulose" is a filler product so they can say it's "high fiber" and can be anything from ground-up wood to GMO cotton.
  • Pay attention while you are eating.  Savor it.  Imagine how healthy it is making your body.  There is merit to eating slowly.  It gives your stomach time to signal your brain.  Know that the human stomach is only meant to hold about a quart at a time, so that if you have eaten too fast, you will be able to stop eating before the signal is given, knowing that it will be sent when the stomach catches up.  There is merit to chewing food well.  Chewing is the necessary breaking down of food tissues so that the acids in the stomach can begin the digestive process.  The reason why juicing is considered to be so healthy is because the chewing process has been done for you, and the trip from mouth to the intestines is much quicker.  The problem with juicing is that you need that fiber going through your intestinal tract too, because it isn't just undigested food tissue that you excrete.  It's other body waste materials as well, and they don't pass through the intestinal tract as well if there is not fiber.  And yes, you need that daily BM, because you don't want your body's waste materials laying around somewhere in your body waiting for enough to accumulate so that the signal will be given that it's ready to be ejected. 
  • Water is necessary to flush out the "ashes" of burned fat and to keep your BM soft enough that it is easy to expel.  Also seems like it doesn't smell as bad.  Water dilutes any salt that might be present in your food.  I do not salt anything, and I'm learning to taste things as they are meant to taste.  But many things already have salt in them.  Cheese, for example. 
  • I weigh every morning.  Some people don't like to do this.  But I write my weight on a calendar I keep just for that purpose.  After awhile, I'm able to see ups and downs and know they are cyclical, or the result of something I ate that I might want to eat less of in the future.
  • Many people believe it is too expensive to eat healthy.  I had to rethink that.  Think what a bag of M&M's costs.  Or a package of Oreo's.  Or a carton of ice-cream.  Or that package of potato chips.  The price of all these things has sky-rocketed just within the last few years.  So has the price of a doctor's office visit.  I remember, in the 1970's, it was only $8.  The last time I noticed what the cost was, it was $145.
  • I don't drink diet soda.  I drink water, or unsweetened tea.  Oh, yes, I miss the fizz, but not as much as I used to.  It's not too hard to imagine that fizz dissolving my bones, either.  That's what an imbalance of phosphorus in the absence of calcium does, according to my orthopedic specialist. 
  • My biggest challenge has been that I have to cook for Hubs, and he will not eat many of the things I eat.  He makes his own breakfast, and he buys sandwich fixings for his lunches because that's what he insists on doing.  So I only have to cook his evening meal.  I make his favorite dishes in quantity and portion it out into freezer meals.  Usually I do this cooking early in the morning when I've had my breakfast and am not hungry.  You know, this is just the best that I can do.  He tolerates his "frozen dinners" because he doesn't want to have to eat what I eat or cook for himself, and that's what would have to happen.  It's not like he doesn't know how.  Sometimes he buys fast food.  And no, I don't think, "Boo-hoo, I can't have any."  I think, "Woo-hoo!  I don't have to cook!!"  Frankly, KFC is GREASY.  Burgers are on buns that are tasteless and downright GOOEY.  Many deep-fried foods have a bitter aftertaste.
  • I get to have bread whenever I want it (within reason) because I grind local wheat for that bread and it is truly 100% whole wheat bread.  No preservatives, only enough salt, olive oil and honey to make and hold the yeast rise and nothing more.  Water as the liquid ingredient, not milk.
  • I try not to overdo the caffeine.  I add water to my coffee, about 1 part water to 2 parts coffee.
  • When I shop, I look for short ingredient lists without additives.  Mostly fresh fruit and vegetables.  I like cottage cheese better than yogurt.  I buy olive oil and coconut oil and real butter.
  • This is not to say I don't eat meat.  I just eat less of it.  The Frugal Gourmet used to say that meat should be used as a flavoring, not as the main ingredient, and I agree with that.  We buy our beef from a local butcher shop.  Pork is usually bought by the loin when it goes on sale at one of our local grocery stores.  It is already well trimmed of fat, and we have it cut into slices and cook it grilled like "chops", or the slices are cut into small chunks and used as one of the ingredients in stir-fry or casseroles, with plenty of vegetables, and with the starch component served on the side.  Hubs will usually eat these, too.  I buy grocery store chicken and I'm aware it's not the best choice due to several factors, including the fact that they add salt water to it whenever and wherever they can.  I just haven't found a source for anything better yet.  I save the bones in the freezer till I have enough for a batch of bone broth, which only takes an hour in my stove-top pressure cooker.  I would be lost without my pressure cooker.  (This is not the same as a pressure canner.  It holds six quarts of liquid, not jars.)  I can make a batch of beans in less than an hour and a batch of rice in much less time than that.  (Use the metal insert that comes with the cooker.  Pour in about two cups of hot water.  Then put the rice and the correct ratio of hot water necessary for cooking it in a bowl (I use a Pyrex 2-quart bowl) and set it down onto the metal insert.  Put the lid on and begin.  Only takes a few minutes once the pressure has started to build.  For white rice, all you need to do is let the pressure get to the point where the weight begins to jiggle, and that's all you need.)
So.  What is it that I eat, you might ask?  It changes.  For quite awhile now I've been starting the morning with a glass of water that has a tablespoon of good cider vinegar in it.  Then I have my coffee.  Later on, when I'm hungry, I have about 1/4 of a cantaloupe and a banana.  This stays with me until about 10am (I'm an early riser).  When I'm hungry, I'll toast half a bun (I bake my bread in hamburger-buns because they hold together better for sandwiches.  Before baking, the dough for the buns weighs out to about 3.2 oz. each).  On my toasted half-bun, I'll usually spread on some cottage cheese.  If I'm still hungry, I'll have the other half of the bun.  Or a little something else, like a carrot, or some almonds or a spoon of peanut butter.  Sometimes I delay lunch, if I'm not hungry for it, till about 2pm.  I keep soup in the refrigerator most of the time.  It's made from all the vegetables I am able to get my hands on at the time.  Mostly it's that old cabbage soup recipe that went the weight-loss rounds some years ago.  Sometimes, if I have beans cooked, I will have a bowl of beans.  My system is accustomed to beans and cabbage and I don't experience the gas that some people do.  If you're one of those persons whose body is going to grip you around the belly and say, "What the HELL is THIS?????", you may need to build up slowly.  I also keep mixed salad greens, usually including kale, and shredded carrot in a plastic bowl with a lid that seals down tight.  I have some home-dehydrated cherries or cranberries that I might throw into the mix.  When I'm ready for salad I might add extra things to my individual bowl, like sunflower seeds, grated swiss cheese, sometimes a chopped hard-boiled egg, ....whatever.  So if I have soup for lunch, I have salad for supper, and vice-versa.  I don't do salad dressings.  It's the juice from half a fresh lemon and maybe a small squirt of olive oil.  If I'm hungry in between lunch and supper, I might have half a bun and smear on crunchy peanut butter.  Or more cottage cheese.  And I have unsalted almonds on the counter for if I just want a little something "on the go".  But I'm careful with these as I can get carried away with them.  Sometimes, if what Hubs is having is reasonably healthy, I'll have some of that for supper or as a leftover for lunch the day after.  It just all depends on what it is.  If I think I want to eat after supper, I'll have an apple.  Often I'll just decide to go upstairs and have my bath.  Hubs will go up with me and have his shower, and then we just lay in bed and watch TV.  The refrigerator is far enough away at that point that I don't hear if anything in it calls to me. 

Really, I try not to think too much about food.  Been there, done that, doesn't work for me.  I cannot tolerate my stomach chewing a hole anywhere, but beyond that, I try not to pay too much attention to it.  Eat to live, remember??  Some people don't want to eat the same things every day, but as long as it's something I like, I don't mind that, at least for awhile.  I can change it up any time I want to, and I do make modifications sometimes.  For awhile, I was having an egg, fried on a lightly-oiled cast-iron griddle, on half a bun with melted swiss cheese for breakfast and then fruit later on in the day instead of toast.  Sometimes the fruit that I have is different, depending on what's in season.  For awhile we had fresh strawberries and sometimes there are grapes.  I try to always have some type of melon or cucumber every day because it helps me with water retention.  And the banana is a good source of potassium.  Not so good for those who are easily constipated, though.  When the weather is hot, I might use that banana, blueberries if I have any, some dry milk powder and a little vanilla protein powder and some ice and make a smoothie in the blender.  The protein powder is artificially sweetened, so I don't use very much of it and sometimes not any.  Banana and blueberries have a lot of natural sweetness and I don't mind not having any additional sweetener.  At any point, if I just want a little pick-me-up, I'll make a cup of hot green tea and put a spoon of honey in it.  I buy honey every summer at our local farmer's market.  It's from TuckerBees in Kansas.  Near Niotaze, I think.

Well, this is just about all I can think of to say for this time.   Except..... (and you knew that was coming, right?)

I want you to remember, if you are carrying too many pounds, that you DESERVE to be the best YOU that you can be.  You DESERVE to feel good, and to be healthy.  You DESERVE to look your best, and to enjoy looking in the mirror.  You DESERVE to show those people who love to shame you how pounds can be lost, but stupidity and cruelty are forever with their host.  It sucks to be THEM, but it's THEIR problem.  God gave you your body, it is one of His true miracles.  He expects you to take care of it, and He knows joy when He sees you at your best.  Hugs xoxoxoxo

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Catch Up Time, Yet Again, Second Week of May

I am woefully behind on posts.  I keep thinking I should do a bunch of little short ones instead of these long things but I don't seem to be organized enough to do so. 

Hubs and I have been plugging along while I try to recover from shoulder surgery.  I'm making good progress but the doctor authorized another month of therapy and said he wanted me to be "good as new".  I like that orthopedic shoulder guy a lot better than I liked the orthopedic knee guy.  He is so kind and seems like he really cares about his patients.  I don't know much about the knee guy.  I never saw anybody but his PA except for the day of surgery, and I was out cold by the time he showed up.  I wouldn't know him if we passed on the street, and I'm pretty sure he wouldn't recognize me, either.

I cannot let this opportunity pass without saying something political.  Sorry.

Hubs and I watch "The View" and yes, it is heavily Democrat slanted.  But hey.  Watch FOX news and you will find that they are so heavily slanted the other way and they are pretty darned petty and offensive about it with all this, "Democrats are just mad because they lost" chant.  That, to my mind, is like a married man that says, "My wife doesn't understand me".  It's a wide generalization and not true anyway, because the real truth is all so much more complicated than that.  If they so want Democrats to "get over it", they need to quit bringing it up and throwing it in our faces all the time.  Sheesh.

Up until this year, I have always voted for the "man" and not for the "party".  I personally haven't given a rat's ass what party anybody is registered as and I think too many people have a history of voting for someone just because it's showing solidarity along party lines.  That is just such a stupid thing to do.  We have not had time to feel the full force of the lack of wisdom in doing this but I believe that we will.  So far, several things have happened that make me feel like turning to certain people who voted for Trump and saying, "How do you like him NOW?"  But that would be rude.  Not that quite a few Republicans haven't been rude to me when they have found out I'm a Democrat, mind you.  If we are reduced to voting for someone ONLY because of their party, we might as well all stay home and let the election board just count how many people are registered for each party.  Botta bing.  We need voter reform soooooooo bad.  Personally, I'm considering changing my party from Democrat to Republican just so I can go to the primaries and vote against the most incompetent candidates from the git-go.  It's a dirty job but somebody has to do it.  Lots of somebodies, apparently. 

But anyway.

They had senator Kirsten Gillibrand on The View on 5/8.  She is a Democrat and I really liked some of the things she said, they were just so common sense.  Just so ya know, when they brought her on, I thought she was a Republican.  One of her ideas was that medical insurance should be a not for profit institution so people could have affordable protection.  We all know it's because of their huge profit margins that they don't want to insure anybody that might actually submit a claim.  I'd go one further and say pharmaceuticals should also be not for profit.  Here's her website if you'd like to look around. 
https://www.gillibrand.senate.gov/

She seems to be a sharp young female attorney and you mark my words, we'll be asking her to run for president someday.   It both amazes me and annoys me that so many Americans are secretly (or not) afraid to have a woman president.   Mostly men, and same people that don't like to work for a female boss.  A woman was our FIRST boss -- our mother.  And that expression, "If you want a job done right, give it to a woman", is spot on.  Women get together, figure out what needs to be done, and do it.  Men get together, ideas are presented, then their egos get in the way and they all want their idea to be picked whether it's any good or not.  They start bullying each other, eventually it turns out to be the guy with the most political clout or the most money whose idea is picked and they're through early with no idea how to implement it because they want to stand around and stick their chests out and pat each other on the back in front of a TV camera. 

On this same program they also had information about a way that people can help teachers.  You know, this country's public school teachers are some of the lowest-paid people in our country.  And they pay for their supplies out of their own pockets.  Here's a website that helps teachers, and apparently it's up to all of us to help teachers because there isn't any part of government that's doing much of anything for them:
https://www.donorschoose.org/about

I know all this tax stuff is compartmentalized and complicated and I don't see how it needs to be, but I am just an old Redneck woman afterall.  Something feels terribly wrong in Oklahoma to me.  Our state governor is slapping new taxes on all sorts of things, cutting back on programs, laying people off, talking about shutting down state parks.  Meanwhile, the City of Tulsa is on the news really often because they are just spending money like it was Monopoly Money and they haven't got the sense not to brag about it.  I thought that play tower they imported from Germany for The Gathering Place was just outrageous considering all, they even used the same word but I guess they have a different dictionary than I do.  Here's a piece on it if you want to read it.
http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/gatheringplace/towers-playground-equipment-making-journey-from-germany-for-a-gathering/article_6473adef-7f32-5721-98a9-f036a33f6d9b.html

I guess that's enough ranting for now.  I can't have you getting used to me not ranting, you know.

There is a bird that is commonly seen out here where we live that is called a "Killdeer".  Cornell Labs says its name has something to do with the sound of it's call, but I don't know that I hear that.  It sounds very much like a seagull, it's in the same family, I think.  Plover?  Hubs encounters them often when he's mowing The North Fourth.  They lay their eggs on the ground, right out in the open.
Not a wise choice, if you ask me.  Lots of things can happen to eggs on the ground.  But aren't they beautiful?

Mama is always very protective.  Hubs had me walk out with him because I had told him the next time there were eggs, I wanted to get a picture.  She was on the eggs as we walked out.  (Between the two trees near the bottom of the top half of the picture, the fleck of white is her head)

But as soon as she saw us approaching, she went into high gear.

She chose a spot some distance away from her eggs, threw herself on the ground, and made churring noises, trying to get us to see her.  She flopped around trying to make us think she was hurt.  When Hubs mows, if there are eggs on the ground the mother actually runs around frantically in front of the mower.  Once he knows where the eggs are, he's always careful to avoid them.  And her.


All this to protect her eggs.  Cardinals do this sort of thing, too, but it's the male that pretends he is hurt.  I guess that's because he is the one that's red and easier to see.  I am always so touched with sadness as I see how they struggle to protect their eggs and their young, and I think what a hostile environment it is, yet they persevere.

We have coyotes, possums and skunks out here.  And the neighbors' dogs roam free on everyone's open land.  All consider eggs to be a nice treat.  Right after I took these pictures, it rained and rained for days and days.  After the rains were over I went out to see if the eggs were still there and they were not.  I hope mother Killdeer was able to hatch her eggs and get her young to safety till they can be off on their own.

I'm not sure where the wild geese have their eggs, but this is hatching time for them, too.  It's always a treat to see them walking their young around.  Father goose is part of the procession, honking, flapping his wings while he walks, ever watchful, ready to throw himself into the face of danger, literally.  All the little hatchlings following behind, Mother goose bringing up the rear, to watch for stragglers.  Such a great distance they walk those little ones, from one pond to another.  Little short gosling legs must get so tired.

The smaller birds are collecting stuff for nests and laying eggs.  It's kind of a nuisance, sometimes, as they like to nest in inconvenient places.  They've clogged up the rain gutters such that Hubs is out today to do what he can to clear them out.  Clogged rain gutters overflow to the point where there isn't much point in having rain gutters at all.

Sue has a good post over on The Iowa Housewife (link on my sidebar) about making fruit crisps, and that reminded me of how my sister used to make what she called "Dump Cake", she'd put some kind of fresh fruit with a little sugar and maybe just enough water to moisten, if needed, or if she didn't have fresh fruit she'd use a can of pie filling, on the bottom of a greased baking dish, cut about half a stick of butter into a dry cake mix and scatter it on top of the fruit and then bake.  It gets all bubbly as it browns on the top and it's done when the top starts to brown.  I made one, just to make sure I was telling you right.  I used blackberries I found in the freezer, saved from last June's harvest.  Blackberry cobbler is comfort food for Hubs, so he will eat almost all of it, a piece or two every day.  I offered to freeze half of it and he said no.  No is his favorite word, by the way....

Turns out kind of rich and calorific, but if you make it in a 9x14 cake pan and serve pieces same size as if they were a regular cake, you're not getting many more calories than if you ate it as cake, when you consider that you would put frosting on a cake.  But then, if you're going to top this with whipped cream, or a dollop of vanilla ice cream, that would change things. 

I may have posted this recipe before, it's one my mother used to use a lot and I've used it quite a bit over the years.  It's very economical because it calls for canned fruit, and I have modified it so that fresh fruit can be used instead, if that's what you have.

Easy Peach Cobbler
This recipe can be made quickly with no fuss, from things kept on hand. I prefer about half as much margarine in the recipe, however, and I prefer to stir it into the batter before pouring it into a greased pan. Otherwise I would try to incorporate the melted butter from the edges towards the center, as it tends to collect on the edges.  This makes for really buttery outside pieces but the persons that get the center pieces miss out. This doesn’t seem like much flour for a 9x13 pan, but trust me, one cup is the correct amount.

To make low fat, add 1/2 tsp. salt to the batter and omit the stick of margarine. Coat the pan with cooking spray. It's not as good this way, but that's the way of it.

May substitute 4 cups fresh berries or other fresh fruit for the peaches, but in that case, melt 1/4 C. sugar in 1 C. water and pour over the top of the fruit, before sprinkling on the sugar and spice mixture.

Mix Together:
1 C. flour
3/4 C. sugar
1 T. baking powder
3/4 C. milk

Melt 1 stick (1/2 cup) margarine or butter in warmed 9”x13” cake pan. Pour batter over melted margarine. Arrange sliced peaches and juice from a 29 oz can or a quart, if home-canned, on top of batter.  (I hold a spoon above the batter and pour the juice into the spoon, that way it doesn't disturb the batter as much.)  Mix together 1/2 C. sugar and 1 T. flour (may add 1/2 t. cinnamon or nutmeg if desired) and sprinkle evenly over all. Bake at 350ยบ about 35 minutes or till brown. Serve with whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Makes 8 or 9 servings and is best if served warm.

Sue also had a post with a casserole recipe on the blog, and included the link to a .pdf downloadable copy of an old Good Housekeeping Women's cookbook.  When I went there, I was delighted to find that this site has many other downloadable cookbooks.  My only problem is that I hate my current version of Acrobat Reader.  I was forced, some months ago, to upgrade the version that I had and the upgrade is just really crappy, if you ask me.  Or even if you don't.  I suppose they're thinking, "What do you expect for free", but it doesn't much make me want to buy any of their other products.  Anyway, here is that site:
http://digital.lib.msu.edu/projects/cookbooks/html/browse.html

Well, what with surgery and all I haven't been very good about being careful what I'm eating.  God blessed me with a lot of things that might be good in some other environment, but are not so wonderful in my current situation.  And one of those things is a good appetite and the ability to efficiently pack away part of everything I eat "for a rainy day", if you know what I mean.  Not that I'd need anything for a rainy day because being cooped up in the house all day makes me want to cook and then eat what I cooked.  Sheesh.

Dr. Oz has been presenting a plethora of weight loss plans and I guess it's good for us to be informed but he presented one method via Tim Tebow a few months ago that totally got me off track.  I've been kind of stalled out since then.  It was just stupid of me, I know what works for me, this ain't my first rodeo.  I like Dr. Oz and I think his heart is in the right place and he does have a show to put on five days a week so I get where he's coming from.  It's just that I find myself watching his show with the attitude of a critic.  And we all have to do this with most advice that is given us about a lot of things besides losing weight.  Some things that work for somebody else work for us, some don't.  I am, however, getting awfully annoyed at all those women he keeps introducing to us, who say they've lost a great many pounds, and all I see is that they're so poured into their clothes, my guess being that they're wearing one of those "Spanx" girdle things all the movie stars seem to be so taken with, because they look like they're very compressed, and it makes me wonder if we'd be able to tell any difference between their "now" as compared to a "before" picture without the Spanx.  I'm happy for anyone when they're able to lose weight they need to lose in order to be more healthy.  But just don't try to make it look more impressive than it is.  It's not fair to us, not fair to them, and damages your credibility. 

Something I found interesting, though, was a piece he did about cottage cheese.  I was surprised to see that there were some people in his audience who had never eaten cottage cheese.  It has earned kudos in the past for it's high protein content, and then other times it's been sort of "blacklisted" because of its high fat content.  But Dr. Oz was in favor of it and in fact they are now marketing a smooth cottage cheese that can be eaten instead of sour cream, cream cheese, and/or greek yogurt. 

My mother made cottage cheese when we still lived on The Farm.  I was just little, but I remember her putting a big ball of it in the center of a muslin tea towel and then hanging it on the clothesline by securing all the corners of the towel onto the line with several clothespins.  It would drip for several hours and the ducks would gather under it to eat the whey that dripped on the grass.  When it was done dripping, she brought it in and stirred cream into it.  Oh, that was good!  After we moved to town, we'd have to settle for store cottage cheese but she bought it often.  And when I was raising my kids, I would buy it to serve with things that I didn't think had much protein, such as pot pies or the canned ravioli that my kids were crazy about.

I bought a 24 oz container of large curd cottage cheese at Homeland and it was almost $4.  OMG.  Today Hubs informed me that one of the stores has it advertised for $1.99, so I will buy several.  I actually have enjoyed eating cottage cheese on toast before but I never tried blending it smooth, so I decided to give that a whing. 


Well, I'm not exactly fond of it on toast that way, because it just tastes too salty.  I did enjoy it on a baked potato with some chopped green onion.  I just didn't add salt to my potato to allow for the salt in the cheese.  Not sure if I could find a low-salt version or not.  I find a lot of things taste so salty that they aren't even fun to eat anymore.  I much prefer popcorn, popped in coconut oil, and then with regular salt, instead of potato chips or corn chips.  At least I can control the amount of salt in that, and it has the crunch I want.  Less fat.  Cheaper.  I kind of suspect I might have a little bit of an addiction to salty, crunchy things almost as big as my addiction to sugary things.  My doctor's PA was telling me the other day that his father has heart disease and has to be on a diet, and that they found that the only cheese that doesn't contain a lot of salt is swiss cheese.  Hmmmm.  That's good to know. 

There are a lot of things we can switch out for some of the less nutritious stuff we've learned to love, and sometimes this is a smart thing to do, sometimes it's just more work than it's worth.  You have to be the judge of that for yourself.  I read on someone's blog that doing stuff like this is "like having sex with your pants on".  I had actually never heard it put quite that way and I'm not sure it's a good analogy but oh, well, whatever.  Their point was that you need to retrain your palate to enjoy things that are good for you rather than trying to fool it into thinking it's getting pie.  And we need to learn to "eat to live" and not to "live to eat".  I hear what they're saying but we all have our weak moments when we just want a piece of pie and if we can't have it we will literally eat everything else in the refrigerator trying to satisfy the craving, know what I mean?  Anything that is made with artificial flavors and sweeteners just actually makes you crave again the next day, or maybe even as little as a few hours later, and that's a bunch of unhealthy chemicals you're putting into your body, so it's probably a better idea to nip it in the bud when it first rears it's ugly head rather than to just kick the can down the road.  And there's something to be said for retraining yourself and breaking certain habits you have.  Such as having to have a little something sweet after a meal.  Or eating in front of the TV after you've already had a meal, like between dinner and bedtime.  It's best to go through the discomfort of breaking those habits but if it is just impossible, you can do things like keep a bowl of unshelled sunflower seeds around.  The sunflower seed is good for you and it's not like you can grab a handful of them and pop them in your mouth.  It's still better to break the habit, as there's going to come a day when you are out of sunflower seeds and then you'll walk the floor, anyway, trying to stay out of the refrigerator.  So diversionary tactics are in order.  Get up off the couch and take a short walk.  Or phone a friend and have a short visit.  Or pick up some needlework or some kind or a crossword puzzle.  Sometimes even a jigsaw puzzle on a card table in the room will make a good diversion and you can still know what's happening on the TV.  They say if you can do something for 30 days you can create a habit or break one.

I think we also need to actively train our stomachs not to expect so much volume of food.  This is often referred to as "shrinking the stomach", and it's not so much that as it is figuring out at what point your stomach is going to stop growling at you, and stopping there.  I think this is why they sometimes recommend you have six small meals a day rather than three larger ones.  If you do this consistently, one day you'll notice that when somebody gives you a plate that's piled full, you just won't be able, or won't want, to eat the whole thing.  The adult stomach is only meant to hold approximately a quart. 

Our garden, such as it is, is drying out after getting too much rain.  We expect rain, possibly tonight, and then for three days and two more nights.  So I will try to get some transplanting done today.  I have a Maypop coming up where I don't want it, and not coming up where I DO.  That's Maypop for you.  I found some Lamb's Ear that I transplanted to a spot under one of the fruit trees because it was being walked on, where it was.  And I have several things growing in bunches because they were wintersown and I just took the whole thing out of the jug and popped it into a hole I made, since I knew I'd be out of commission when it was really a better time to transplant.  Some things died, some made it.  I have a good stand of Calendula Resina that I think will divide well for its transplant as it all looks healthy, just too crowded. 

I have planted beet seed twice and I just haven't seen much happening at all.  I can't imagine why.  The seed I used for the first planting was packed for last year, but I've had good results from seed planted before that was a lot older than that.  And the seed I planted most recently was packed for this year.   I haven't seen that it's made much of a difference.  There are pea pods on the spring peas, and the fava beans have been in bloom for what seems like forever with no beans formed yet.  Spinach bolted to seed before it even got very big.  I do have some nice little clumps of Buttercrunch lettuce out there, but I just saw another dang rat run across the patio last night and so far it's been able to eat the bait without tripping the trap.  If it makes it out to the garden, goodbye, lettuce.  I read somewhere if they're getting plenty to eat elsewhere, your trap will work better if you put a ball of cotton in it, as they will be looking for nest materials.  So I did that with one of the traps.  I saw the rat again this morning, it was checking out the compost bucket I'd set out there.

And though it isn't June yet, we are starting to get June Bugs banging themselves against things in the early morning if the patio light is on.  I get up early so I've been having my coffee out there and I pick them up and drop them into an empty milk jug.  The birds have gotten used to my putting grubworms out for them and they are pretty prompt at taking them.  But they weren't interested in the June Bugs I left for them yesterday.  So this morning I burned trash and threw the ones from yesterday and today in the fire.  I could take them to Brent and Rebecca, around the corner, for their chickens, but you know, sometimes things like this are just a burden for people to let you think you're doing something FOR them.

The onions are looking good and coming along.  I have one row of open-pollinated "Sweet Candy", and then all those hybrid Candy onions Paula sent me for my birthday (thanks again, Paula).  The garlic are putting on scapes and should be ready for harvest in early June.  These are from garlic sent to me by a man who frequented the same gardening forum I did, back when we lived at The Ponca House, and I have kept them going every year. 

The Albion strawberries I was so proud of have winterkilled, except for about three small clumps.  I hope those three will spread this summer and maybe I can learn a better method for helping them through next winter. 

Potatoes are blooming.  I'm growing some blue ones this year.  Also some Yukon Golds and some red-skinned ones, in addition to some tan-skinned potatoes from last year's garden and some big brown baking potatoes that came from the grocery store and sprouted in the bowl in the kitchen. 

Maybe next post I will have some garden pictures.  OMG the clover in the pathways is really growing, and blooming, and the bees are loving it.  But so are the weeds and I'm having a helluva time with that.  I don't think planting annual rye grass as living mulch was all that good an idea.  It's all starting to make seed now so I'll probably be fighting that for the rest of my life.  I had Hubs go out with the weed-wacker, finally, because I just couldn't get on top of it. 

Well, this is probably not a very good post, but it's the best I can do for now.  At least y'all know I'm still amongst the living.  Must get out there and get some things done.  Till next time....

Rock on.....  Hugs xoxoxo  (Hubs just yelled at me from outside!  Just now caught that dang rat!!)