Cancer Strikes Again

July 19, 2010

I found out a couple days ago that a close relative has been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (T-Cell). And I’m really, really worried. I’m being vague to respect my relative’s privacy, even though I’m not aware of anyone that knows me personally visiting this blog.

So far we don’t know much. I’m told this week will mark a series of doctor’s visits that will include a full body scan, PET scan and chemo visit #1.  It turns out that there are two types of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma – B cell and T cell. T cell seems to be the one they have a rougher time treating in most cases. What I’m most worried about is their attitude. This person has a tendency to pessimism all their life.

So now I’ve got a relative (child) with Leukemia, and now one with Lymphoma. While I couldn’t participate in the LLS activities this year, several of my friends are. I will be supporting them any way I can. In the meantime, I’ll be researching and trying to find things that will help while they endure the coming treatments. (If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know!) I realize I’ve been posting intermittently before this… I can’t say how this diagnosis might affect my presence here.

If you’re one that prays, I’m asking! And while you’re at it, hubby has an appointment to get some suspicious looking moles checked on Friday.


If it’s not one thing…

July 15, 2010

…then it’s another.

We got our wall knocked down (still need to do some more work on it – mudding, sanding, painting, etc.). It looks great! I love the open feel. I also got my kitchen counter tiles cut & glued back on. Well, when I say I “got” them done, I did it, with some help from MIL. Next step is grout. Turns out we got the wrong grout color. Thankfully I realized this before I started applying it!

Then, we realize our oven isn’t working. WTF? It’s one of the little in-wall jobs. Only like 24 inches. Not easy to find. Oh, and a while back the door on our ice chute quit opening. So if you don’t stick your finger up the hole to hold the door open, the ice doesn’t come down. Key problem here is that it will eventually come down when there’s enough backed up pushing it out. Hubby seemed to  think that worked just fine. Until the ice melted & refroze into a solid block in the chute. NOT FUN!

So, I called out an appliance repair guy. The part for the oven (let’s call it the brain) has been discontinued. Seriously? The freakin thing is only 10 years old!! The part for the fridge is only $15. Labor is $69. But I’m stuck, so I tell him to get the part & come back. He also says he can find basically an aftermarket part for the oven. It will run between $300-375 to fix including labor. Well, this is AT LEAST halfway to a new oven. Thing is, I don’t want a separate oven & cooktop. I have three sections of counter top that are about 1 foot max. If I could get rid of the cooktop, I would gain another 36″ of counter, PLUS the area on either side.

My quandary now is what kind of range to get? I REALLY REALLY REALLY want a smooth top. That means electric. Of course, the kitchen is not set up for electric. We have plans to completely remodel the kitchen in the next few years. So, do I cheap out now & buy new then? Or do I just get what I want now and make sure it will work in the grand plan? I was leaning towards the latter, but the choices for electric ranges are slim. Sure you can find them online, but you don’t have a clue about what they REALLY look like. And all the stores charge a 25% restocking fee if you return it because you don’t like it. (I understand it costs them money to return, but how am I supposed to know how the racks slide? What the configuration is? How the door opens? All with just a photo – that is a thumbnail no less – to base my decision?)

The only one I could actually see was an Electrolux (you know, Kelly Ripa’s brand? LOL) and it was $3000. Before tax, delivery & extended warranty. The least expensive I could find online is $1200. If I just went with a freestanding gas model, I could probably get away under $1000. We’re fortunate to have a Sears outlet (scratch & dent) nearby, and I have the time to shop it daily if I have to. But they don’t even CARRY the electric models I want, so the chances of them getting a return is pretty darned slim.

Oh, and part of the reason I just want to get a new range is because the grates on my cooktop are basically destroyed. I called to see about replacing them (all four, because they are junk) and they want…. drumroll…. $95. EACH. I asked the guy if they were gold-plated. Or at the very least, self-cleaning. Unfortunately, neither.

Damn. I just need to win the freaking lottery.


Moxie Star

July 15, 2010

You know, like movie star?

This crazy cat was an ANGEL for the camera! All they were doing was giving tips (brushing teeth, bathing, etc.) and petting her while they spoke. She was essentially a living prop. She was kinda sketched out at first because the guy behind the camera was tall, broad and had a deep voice, plus, the room had a tile floor (like the vet). Once I got her out of her carrier and brushed her for a minute, she was ready to roll! I think she really liked the intense heat from the set lights. The hardest part of the ordeal was re-assembling her carrier. (Told you she was sketched! She wouldn’t come out!)

Her clips should be available to view in about two weeks. Oh, and she was so good they have requested her back!! I better be careful or she’ll start the crazy demands. I’ll post links once they are up.


Perspective

July 9, 2010

Perspective is such a funny thing! 

Yesterday I had a bit of a difficult day. I wasn’t feeling great and I attempted to grout my new kitchen tiles. My mother-in-law helped me gather up all the supplies at the local hardware store. I have no one to blame but myself – I ended up with the wrong grout color. And of course, I didn’t realize it until AFTER I had mixed it. Oh, and a 25 lb. bag was the smallest unit they had. BAAAA I had also been thinking a lot about “that friend” and all her issues. (No contact for days which is really unusual!) I guess you could say I was having a bit of a pity party. Everyone has those days, right? 

Well, after dinner, hubby & I went for a little cruise in my old Bug that we’ve been working on. We had a loop going where we’d drive by a friend’s house, but he was never home. Until tonight. Now this guy is a walking soap opera. And the perfect one to put anyone’s problems back in proper perspective. His second (?) wife used to be a nice, relatively normal girl. They got pregnant and there were complications. She decided to carry him and he ended up being still-born. I really don’t know the details, but that is a terrible tragedy. She suffered extreme depression (who wouldn’t?) and started taking all sorts of pills (prescribed). They had another baby, and he’s doing great (he’s around seven now). She, however, is a mess. 

NOT the couple in question

 

By mess, I mean she belongs on Maury. Or Jerry. Or Steve Wilcox. Or any of those shows. Maybe even Dr. Phil. She is so messed up on drugs, she doesn’t know which end is up. The parents have alway fought – and I mean knock-down, drag-out fights. The cops know them on a first name basis. Fast-forward: they are divorced, he got screwed in the deal, she’s still messed up on meds, and they have mutual restraining orders. (She’s a trust fund baby, and he’s self-made, mostly from real estate. They live in the most affluent cities in our half of the state too.) 

It seems she had a bit of an accident a few weeks ago, involving compound fractures. Of course this means more meds. And we’re told she’s using alcohol to wash them down. She, in her drug induced fog, just knows they are not divorced so she’s parked herself in his house (much to his current girlfriend’s dismay). Of course, it’s his fault because he’s let her stay for weeks. I’m sure he feels sorry for the mother of his only son, but c’mon pal! 

We found all of this out last night when we stopped by. She was threatening to throw him out. He was convinced the cops would be there any minute. We’re worried about the kid! (Kid does great when she’s not in the picture. He’s an amazing dad.) They are both bound for jail since they’re in violation of the respective restraining orders. What a mess.  Nothing like walking in on something like that (well, we stayed in the driveway, but still) to bring my piddly gripes into proper perspective! 

And yes, what’s up with the crazies in my life? 

_________________________________________________________ 

Note: If I thought for one minute that the child was in any immediate danger,  the police would have been summoned immediately. There were several responsible adults at our friend’s home, and the boy knows them well. Sad as it is, this is a version of “normal” for this family.


Diva Moxie

July 8, 2010

Well, I guess I’m a “stage mom” now!

This picture garnered my sweet little Moxie cat the opportunity to be in a video for a national publication!  So guess what that means? BATH TIME FOR KITTY THIS WEEKEND! She doesn’t really like baths, but she allows me to bathe her. So I’ll fluff her all up, make her smell nice, and hopefully that will translate into a nice, polite kitty. Our call time is Monday at 10. Right in the middle of her morning snooze fest. Assuming this goes well, hopefully she’ll come out of there with the same size ego she already has. Lord knows she doesn’t need to think she’s any cuter than what she already thinks! And God help me if there are demands for homemade cat food, freshly grown catnip or a silver food dish. Let’s keep it in check kitten!

I’m sure by this time on Monday, I’ll have more to tell you about what this is. All I know is that it’s a segment on tips for cat owners. Stay tuned!!


The Program

July 8, 2010

*Just a note to say that I don’t get anything monetary from referrals to either the Break Free program or Saving Dinner. Just the satisfaction in knowing that it will help more people become healthier!

Okay, a few have asked about this diet program I’m on. It’s kind of a diet, but more of a “lifestyle change” – if I can say that without sounding too cliché. It’s called Break Free Boot Camp (BFBC). Some of the description sounds like a high pressure sales pitch. The only reason I trusted it is because I’ve followed Leanne Ely for years. She is the “Dinner Diva” and author of Saving Dinner among other books. She has a service where she puts together meal plans weekly, and includes recipes as well as the shopping list. I have used this service off and on for a while and 99% of the time, liked the food. I know she’s good about making healthful choices and still yummy meals.

What reeled me in was knowing I was totally addicted to certain foods. Coffeemate for example. That’s nothing but chemicals. And I used a lot of it. Wonder what that does to you over years? Eww. Also, I have been having some mild but annoying GI issues (think of the “Idiot’s Day In Church“). Okay, maybe not THAT bad! But more annoyingly, I have been having sinus/allergy issues that more often than not lead to migraines. Migraines lead to ingesting more chemicals or projectile vomiting. Sometimes both. This program (and other research I saw) says that food sensitivities can be blamed in most cases for both of my issues. Not to mention trouble sleeping and lack of energy. Plus, I knew I was eating like crap and a change had to happen. NOW. I was the heaviest I’d ever been in my life. I looked at weight loss as inevitable due to a change in eating (and having more energy), so that wasn’t my focus. However, it IS the most measurable result in a tangible sort of way.

BFBC is run by Leanne (who by the way is a Certified Nutritionist) and JJ Virgin, whom I’d never heard of before. It seems JJ is a celebrity nutrition expert and has worked with Gene Simmons among others. Whatever. She really knows the science behind food and how our bodies use it. She is a very good speaker and salesperson though, and just so you know, she’s got a whole store full of products she recommends. Not sure if they are HER products or what. I didn’t order anything yet, but I do have a gift certificate for signing up early. For me, the product pushing bordered on annoying. I suppose if the products are that good, then no big deal. I guess almost all of the participants bought stuff and from what I saw, everyone seemed happy with it.

Anyway, the idea is that you go through 28 days by removing gluten, eggs, dairy, soy and peanuts. This of course includes anything genetically modified and un-organic. High fructose corn syrup is the devil. The meals do tend to the spicy side, which made hubby happy and me quite sad. There is a forum (on Ning.com) allowing you to pose questions and converse with others in the program. Since that will be going away, we started a Facebook group so we could all stay in touch.

Following the 28 days, you re-introduce foods one at a time. For example, next week, I will reintroduce dairy. Start with a small serving (like greek yogurt) and see what happens. If nothing, continue for a few days and then leave it out for a few days. Nothing? Dairy is OK! Of course there’s more to it than this, but I can’t spill the beans for the whole program! (It wasn’t cheap, either. And hubby knew better than to ask.) And then the following week, you add another food, etc. If you find one that makes you feel explosive (in a bad way) then, Houston, we’ve got a problem. I love eggs and dairy and wheat, so I’m praying I don’t have issues with those. I could probably live without soy – or minimal soy. I don’t like any soy products like soy cheese, soy milk, soy burgers, etc. so that won’t be a problem. And peanuts – I could go either way. I guess we’ll see.

I feel like this program has been worth the money. Now, if you don’t need the classes (four total, plus other handouts) and the forum/access to wellness coaches, you can get a 28 Day Break Free menu from Leanne for under $30. I am considering doing this for my next four weeks while I add things back in. Oh, and if you don’t like chicken, prepare to learn to like it. And brace yourself for the expense in changing from conventional to organic foods. However, I compared this to my inability to get things done around the house and the expense of eating out as much as we did, and so far, it’s about a wash. The winter will be harder, because there aren’t as many veggie choices, but I am fortunate to live in SoCal where so many things are available year round. I couldn’t imagine doing this in England or something. Yuck.

I’m not going to kid you. It’s hard the first week. I had pretty bad headaches and was kind of cranky. I had some nasty cravings. I chalked it all up to detoxing, which basically it was. I have many fewer headaches now and the GI front is pretty quiet. I’ve only had one craving (thanks hormones) and that was satisfied with an ounce of dark chocolate. (Allowed, by the way.) So this program may just work!!

Soybean GMO info: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/07/08/genetically-engineered-soybeans-may-cause-allergies.aspx?aid=CD945

Other GMO info: http://www.nongmoshoppingguide.com/documentFiles/209.pdf


The Big 15

July 7, 2010

Yep – you guessed it! I’ve officially lost OVER 15 pounds. IN THREE WEEKS.

Before you go all “two pounds a week is the maximum amount to lose safely” on me, I can assure you, this is safe.

Since excercise wasn’t involved (um, what IS that anyway), this is all food related. Since I became jobless over nine months ago, I never realized how much I grazed. I knew I had a problem when I was buying a tub of frosting a week. No cake mix, just frosting. That was all I needed. Oh, and a spoon too. Add to that, eating out in drive throughs and pasta places and you’ve got a fat ass that’s growing.

I’ve written a bit about this diet when I first started. Unlike Weight Watchers (which I’ve done multiple times), I’m not COMPLETELY food obsessed. Just kind of. Because this program is all fresh and organic, and eliminated dairy, soy, gluten, eggs, peanuts and anything “GMO”, it’s been a challenge to find all the necessary ingredients. It’s enlightening to realize how much of our food is genetically altered and how random things can contain other random ingredients. Yellow mustard often contains gluten, as does some vinegars (red wine/balsamic).

So anyway, hubby has lost five pounds. He has not been strict on this diet (he eats whatever he wants for lunch and if we are out). And I can’t believe it, but I lost 15 FREAKING POUNDS. My energy is up, my skin looks good (thanks to this and Proactiv), my nails are growing like mad, and I’m not bloated or gassy. (You’d think gas would be an issue with all the beans and veggies, but it’s not!) We eat smoothies for breakfast (sometimes lunch too) and “square” meals for lunch & dinner. We have a “lean, clean protein”, a starch like brown rice, quinoa, lentils, etc. and tons of veggies. Thank GOD wine is allowed! The “rule” is 4 oz. per day. I call bullshit and drink what I want. It’s my only treat.

I think the lesson is moderation. That and to not use meat and starch as the main ingredient in meals. Oh, and the limits on wine – probably mostly to do with the carefree nature that comes along with drinking. I can’t believe my willpower – I haven’t cheated even ONCE. And I’ve had some of my favorite things (home-made from scratch chocolate cake, breakfast – french toast, pancakes, eggs, etc., peaches with brown sugar just asking to turn into cobbler, ice cream, freshly baked bread, and more) all tempting me – mostly from within my own kitchen.

The point of this whole excercise is not to lose weight, but that is a happy side effect. The point is to detox from the forbidden items, and then gauge reactions when they are added back in (one at a time, over the course of a week each). I’ve had some sinus/congestion issues that have been bad, along with a lack of energy and poor mood. It will be interesting to see if any of these are to blame!

We’ve eaten out a few times – especially since my kitchen was out of commission much of the holiday weekend. From Del Taco, I got three burger patties (they aren’t that big) and threw veggies on them. From Subway I got a salad. From CoCo’s I got a steak and a ton of veggies. I was the dork that brought her own dressing in her purse. I learned the importance when I was stuck in L.A. and had to use only lemons to “dress” my salad. Everything else was contraband.  While the burger patties were probably not a good choice (fried I’m sure, and too much meat) I did the best I could with the options at hand. And that’s all I can ask of myself, right?