Family life, Paleo-ish eating and Coping with Chronic Illness

Archive for the ‘Health and Nutrition’ Category

Getting Older and Help From the Village

We’re going random again today.  That seems to work.  Just a few silly thoughts as they come to me.  Let’s start with this. If I have not thanked you already for reading my blog, I’d like to do that now.  I know you’re busy; I don’t take you for granted.

If we’re Facebook friends, you may have seen this picture I posted this week:

jeanne and miki


That is a picture of me singing with my oldest friend.  We met in the nursery at church when we were babies.   I think we were trying to look like “Charlie’s Angels” in this picture.  What I’m embarrassed about is how provocatively we dressed back then.   That’s just how we were; free love, and all that.  You can see my friend’s chin and forearms in that outfit, and that just doesn’t seem right.

I’m the one in the back.  I look like I’m wearing a shiny mushroom cap on my head.  That’s my hair.   Don’t try denying how good that looks.  It’s like a little mullet- mushroom, brought to you by Vidal Sassoon.

Do you remember when I told you I have some ADHD issues?  I told you that I’ve made it through life thanks to my sisters and girlfriends.  I definitely need to thank that little gal standing next to me in that picture for her assistance in my life. She is what you call a real friend. We went to college together, and she was always part best friend, part mom to me.  I love her.

In that picture we were a part of some performance at church.  They asked us to play our flutes.  I said yes, sounds good, except for I don’t know how to play the flute.  Yes. I carried a flute in a flute case to band with me every day at school.  I just didn’t ever use the flute, practice the flute, or know how to play the flute.  But, I did like the IDEA of playing the flute.  That should count for something.

Plus, I liked  the way my mushroom cap hair bounced  when I played.  It made me look professional.  I could really carry on; I would move forward and backward, like I was really feeling the music.   I wasn’t really playing, but I should get some credit for my acting.

I don’t really remember much of anything about the concert in this picture.  I only remember that I knew I could just move my fingers on the flute.  I knew that my friend would know our part for real.  She could play the real notes.  I know what you’re thinking.  Everyone should have a friend as good as me.

I’m sorry I volunteered for that flute duet.   I don’t know why I did.  You would think that someone like me would like being on a stage.  I don’t.  It’s a weird thing..  I will get up in front of people if I HAVE to, but only if you make me.  It’s not my favorite.

When I posted this picture on Facebook, my best friend’s little brother commented.  He’s a well respected Pastor now.  Unfortunately, he also has a well respected memory. The kid doesn’t forget a thing.

He reminded me of the time my family forced me to sing a duet at church.   My family was a version of the Von Trapps.  Everybody is musical, except me.  I like listening to music, but I’m not one bit interested in how it’s made.

My sister,  who is closest in age to me,  used to stand by the record player and listen to choir music.  She would pretend she was part of the choir.  Did you hear me?  She would pretend she was PART OF THE CHOIR?  I would cry just to see her doing that.   I wanted her to play with me instead.  I didn’t know how any kid could voluntarily do something so boring. Why don’t we just go pick the lint out of Grandpa’s belly button, if you’re looking for ways to torture me.

My parents REALLY wanted me to  sing this duet with my choir-singing-sister.   I kept telling them I didn’t want to do it.  I didn’t want to get up in front of people, and my singing wasn’t exactly special. Some people just have to learn the hard way.

We were up on stage at church, and the background music started to play. My sister had the harmony and I had the melody.  We may have sang one full sentence before I started to giggle.  You would think I could have pulled it together.  I didn’t.  I giggled for the entire song.   Nervous, uncontrollable giggling. It was kind of like giggling and crying all at once.  I was trapped in my giggling body, and I didn’t know how to turn it off.

Do you know how long a 3 minute song is when you’re giggling the entire time, the church is completely silent and an entire congregation is staring at you?  A life time, my friend.  A life time.

My sister might have decided to improvise, and make it a solo, but she had memorized the harmony.  So, she stood there staring at her sister.  She wanted to take one last look at me before they took me away to  that special home, or that special place of rest (after dad got a hold of me).

We all learned a lesson that day.  My folks learned that when your kid says they don’t want to get up in front of people, there’s a good chance she means it.  My sister learned that she should always choose to sing the melody.  And, the congregation was the biggest winner.  They learned two things: church really can be fun.  And,  for as long as that congregation lived, no one could ever do a worse job of singing than me.

I was young then.  Now I’m getting old.  Things are happening to me.  Scary things.  I’m losing  my mental edge.  I think many people have experienced walking into a room to get something, only to forget what that something is.  That happens to me all the time now.  What is different is that I don’t even bother taking the time to try to remember what it is that I forgot anymore.  I just walk away.   I know that thought is gone.  Permanently.

I was starting to worry about my memory issues.  Then I started thinking of it as an advantage.  One minute I’m like, “Oh my goodness, I have dementia!”  The next minute I forgot that I was worried that I had dementia.  If I forget to worry about all the things that I like to worry about, my problems are solved, right? Have you ever thought of that?

I also am experiencing some physical symptoms of getting older.  I haven’t always had what you would call cat like reflexes.  But, I played sports.  I like physical fitness.  Lately,  I’ve noticed that my body is a little slow to obey my brain.  It’s odd.

I was at the food court at the mall with Olivia this winter.  I had my legs crossed and I was very absorbed in this text I was trying to send.  Olivia was looking down and eating her food.  For some reason I lost my balance while I was sitting there.  I felt myself starting to fall.  I couldn’t get my legs uncrossed in time to regain my balance.  I started thinking, “I’m falling out of my chair.  Is this happening?  This is happening.”

Olivia suddenly looked up from her food and I was laying on my side on the mall floor.  She had an expression that was a little bit sympathetic, but a lot more mortification.  She said, “Mom! Get up! What are you doing on the floor?!”

“I don’t know, Olivia.  I really don’t know.”

That’s the kind of weird stuff that’s been happening to me.

What are you doing on May 18th?  If you live near by, I hope you will come to a special benefit for my friend and her family.  Let me back up.  You know that our family has had some struggles, right?  Eddie has been sick a really long time.  One day I wrote a blog post about what it’s like to be on the receiving end of other people’s generosity.   It’s incredible and terrifying.  I never posted that blog.

People are outstanding.  I mean, seriously outstanding.  I cannot believe how kind and generous people have been to our family over the years.   When we were going to take out a second mortgage to send Eddie to this special clinic in Wichita, our community paid for it.   We have received so many gifts and kind gestures over the years.  It brings tears to my eyes just to retell it.   But, there is no denying that it is often easier to give than to receive.  Especially for people like my husband.

I didn’t post that blog, because this subject is almost too personal.  Some people just set out in life to work hard and take care of their family.  They’ll be the first to lend a hand,  if you need it.  But, it is a very painful thing for them to take a lending hand.  I married someone like that.

One of our Doctors who I adore, adore, adore, told me a good story one time.  She was trying to help me understand that it was okay to receive help from people who cared.  She said that in primitive villages, where there is no health care, there is also no shame.  She said it is universally accepted in those villages that when a family is in distress, the people of the village rally around that family.  The villagers rally, knowing that today it is their neighbor’s turn to receive help, support and comfort.  Tomorrow it will be their turn.

The help and comfort the villagers receive from their neighbors and friends is not called charity, it’s called community.  My doctor told me that today it was my family’s turn, tomorrow we could help someone else.

One of my dearest friends and her family need the community.  My friend, Amy,  and her husband, Jeff, have a big, beautiful family.  They had their heads down.  They were working hard and taking care of their family.  Then Jeff was diagnosed with cancer.   This beautiful family is trying to keep their small business going, and manage their mounting medical bills.  They need our help, and I, for one, cannot think of anything else I would rather do than help them.

This family was always there to offer my family help when we needed it.  They need to know that this has nothing to do with charity.  This is just community.  So, I’d be honored if you’d help us rally.  Here’s a flyer, or check out the details on Facebook:


chrislerfitnesschallenge flyer (1)









Rocking Retirement

You know what day is coming soon in Wisconsin, don’t you? The day we have to put away our sleeping bag coats. Guess what happens then? Everyone gets to see what you’ve been hiding under there all winter. You’re gonna be sorry. You’re gonna be very sorry you haven’t been walking the dog a few blocks in the morning, and doing 4 squats every other month while you stand at the copy machine like I have. That’s just how I roll; I’m hard core.

Oh sweet mammacita. Don’t make me put my sleeping bag coat away. I have an idea what’s happening underneath my coat, I’m just not ready to see it, think about it, or take its picture. I’ve gotten soft. I’m so far from the fit specimen I was in my competitive speed skating days. When I was training for the Olympics. The nice thing about blogs is you can just make stuff up.

I’ve never been a super fit specimen, but I have always attempted fitness. I actually am fairly interested in fitness, health and nutrition; always have been. As I’ve rolled into my early 40’s my philosophy on health and fitness has changed.

I want to tell you that I’m not vain, but I always feel weird when I lie. I’ll admit it. I feel compelled to be my best self. For as long as I can remember, I have probably spent a disproportionate amount of time thinking about how to pull off being my best self. I am relieved to say that I don’t usually think about these things in relationship to other people. People who are very healthy and fit inspire me. I just feel competitive with myself. I like thinking about my highest physical goals and how to achieve them.

My highest physical goals have changed. I still want to be strong, and I still want to be fit; not just because I want to feel comfortable in a swim suit, or see a nice number on the scale (you’re right, those things are cool too). I want to be strong because I have a vision. I have a vision of this retired lady. When I was in my 20’s and 30’s, I didn’t know this lady existed. I never thought about her. Now I do.

This lady is busy. She is excited about life when she wakes up in the morning. She chases her grandkids (if she doesn’t have any, she finds someone else’s) around and has the stamina to watch them when their tired parents need sleep; she goes on short term mission trips to help women and children in third world countries; she’s still curious and tries to learn new things; she enjoys adventures with her husband like hiking and kayaking; she enjoys her husband. You know. Like a friend. Let’s not be gross.

This lady feels good. She does not take pills just to keep her body going. She can tell she’s getting older, but only before bed, after a long, productive day. She wakes up refreshed.


I want to be that retired lady, only I might join a basketball league instead of the cheer squad. Do you think it’s possible? I do. But I need to revamp the routine.

Hear me on this. I’m not looking for the Fountain of Youth. I don’t want to look younger than my age. And, I am not afraid to die.

I love that song that goes, “This world is not my home, I’m just passing through.” Wait a minute. That’s such a good song. I need to sing it out loud. Okay, I did. I wish you could have heard me. That was outstanding. I gave myself the chills.

That song is what I believe. My time on Earth is temporary and short, relative to eternity. But, I also think I’m here for a reason. I like it here, and I want to make the most of the time I have. Being the best version of whatever age I currently am, is one way to do that.

In an effort to be the best version of the retired person I envision, I decided to preserve my joints. I quit running several years ago. Before that, I had run regularly since my freshman year of college; a long time. I eventually started training for half marathons and then a marathon. My hips and knees started to hurt. Not in a good way; in a bad way. In a, this-will-eventually-require-surgery-way. I could tell I was sacrificing my joints in pursuit of my running goals; and why? So I could run the slowest half marathon in the history of the world. That’s silly. I just needed to get a little older before I figured that out.

I quit the marathons and I started walking every day. That felt much better. I also did a little homemade yoga, cross-fit and good ol’ fashion strength training. I like that mix.

This winter has been sooo fleepin’ cold; my 30 – 45 minute walks have turned into 5 – 15 minute walks. My strength training, yoga and cross-fit have almost disappeared, except for the 4 squats by the copy machine. Those are intense.

That kind of fitness regimen is NOT going to help me achieve my vision. I’ve got the nutrition thing worked out. That’s important. You know what they say; you can’t out exercise poor nutrition. I totally agree. We could eat all the garbage we want, work out for hours every day, and be just as skinny as we’d like. That kind of skinny has nothing to do with longevity and good health. Longevity and good health are what I’m after. It’s the fitness portion of my plan that has been unraveling. Now I’m back.

I told Scott that I was ready to get back in shape, and I could use some help. Why did I do that? You DON’T do that. You NEVER ask Scott to help you get in shape, especially if you don’t like working very hard, and I don’t.

Scott gave me a note card. He said, “Write this down. Do 20 squats, 20 lunges, 20 jump squats, 20 push-ups, and 20 jump lunges.”

I asked, “When you say 20 lunges, do you mean 20 lunges on each leg, or 10 on each leg?”

He said, “10 on each leg.”

I said, “Oh, that’s a relief. I was thinking you meant 20 on each leg, and that would be really hard.”

He said, “Finish that cycle. Repeat it two more times.”

Then I said, “I’m filing for divorce.”

I made it half way through one cycle. Guess what? It didn’t actually feel too bad; until I woke up the next day. Oh, dear, sweet, mother of pearl. Pain. Pure pain. I thought about just cutting my legs off to get some relief.

Those legs were perfectly innocent. They were very happy to slowly walk a few blocks each morning. Then I had to get all crazy on them. They did nothing to deserve that, and they really didn’t understand the point.

Those legs are starting to toughen up. I’m still not up to even two cycles of that leg work out though. But, I’m back. Maybe I won’t ever achieve my vision, but I won’t let it be because I didn’t try.

And another thing I won’t do is ask Scott for more tips on getting in shape. I don’t need another note card. The next one might say, “Run to nearest tall building. Take body to top of tall building. Throw body off tall building. Repeat twice.” I’ll figure this one out on my own.

healthy retired lady 2

Why I Think I Have ADD Do You Like My Sweater?

My mom recently posted this picture on Facebook:


I have been thinking about that little upside down hanging girl ever since I first saw her. I totally get her. She looks like she’s having fun, right? I mean, what’s not fun about hanging upside down and swinging like a monkey? That’s a good time.

I’ll tell you what’s not fun about it. What’s NOT fun are those four little punks standing next to her. What a bunch of goody two shoes. They’re paying attention to the teacher and are going to know exactly where to put their arms and feet at the dance recital. They’re going to make poor little monkey girl look bad; she’s going to just have to stand there and wave at Grandma to try to distract folks from realizing she doesn’t have a single idea what she is supposed to be doing. You know how I know that’s going to happen to her? Because I AM her.

On one of our many, many trips to the Doctor over the years, I remember a conversation with a Pediatric Neurologist. I would guess that about 95% of the Doctors we have spoken to in search for Eddie’s cure have been really terrific. Just the tiniest portion of them, in my opinion, have needed a gentle throat punch. This Neurologist was one of them. She was crabby and condescending. I knew right away that I wasn’t going to be her fan. One reason I knew that was because she told me that I probably had ADD.

Really? You’re going to have a 15 minute conversation with me and tell me I have ADD? I told her that I was pretty sure she had Rheumatoid Arthritis. Just based on my initial tests, which I gave her magically, with my brainwaves. You can’t diagnose someone with ADD without some kind of official test, right? I didn’t think so.

But, do you remember that I’m a bit of a hypochondriac too? I couldn’t just let her suggestion sit there without pulling out all my medical journals and taking all the on line tests to figure it out for myself. Here’s what I learned. I am on the ADD spectrum. Here’s how I feel about that. A lot of other people are too.

I think many of the people I know have some ADD and OCD tendencies. I know that ADD and OCD can become debilitating, but for a lot of people (like me) it’s just a nuisance, and something you have to try to manage. And, I guess, sometimes, in a weird way, those gene mutations (that’s the scientific explanation that I made up) can occasionally help you succeed as well.

After my conversation with the Neurologist, I started figuring a lot of things out. Do you realize how useful this ADD knowledge would have been to me when I was younger? I drove my parents crazy. I was a disaster. And now I KNOW that is because I have a MEDICAL CONDITION!!!! A medical condition, people! How are you supposed to get your homework done, keep your room clean and remember to go to piano lessons with a medical condition? Now I have proof that all that stuff wasn’t my fault. My parents were just being cruel to me and my medical condition.

I remember many times being the only one in my grade school class to forget to return important papers. I also have some vague memories of teachers making a fuss over me in first grade. I was given some special testing, and there was some talk about moving me ahead a grade. Then they spent more time with me. They changed their minds. They decided reading well wouldn’t help me in the next grade if I couldn’t actually remember to do my work or bring my backpack to school.

I also remember when I graduated from high school, I came home from the graduation ceremony in my cap and gown. I was so excited! I pulled in to the drive way and my dad came out of the house and said, “Go back to school. You have to return your cap and gown. You were the only one in the class who didn’t understand that is what you’re supposed to do.”

That stuff didn’t bother me at all. It happened all the time. It was part of living with my brain. I almost always didn’t hear instructions, because I almost always was hanging upside down, thinking about something else when the instructions were being given.

I started thinking about my life as a young mother too. When my children were pre schoolers, I would meet my friends with our children at McDonalds every Wednesday morning. One morning, our 3-year-old little girls were up in the slide for quite a while. They were especially quiet. When they came down, all of them had lipstick on their lips, cheeks and faces. Olivia had given them makeovers.

One of my friends was a super mom and drill sergeant. She was mad. Her girls NEVER played with make up. She wanted an explanation from me. I said, “I’m sorry. Olivia really likes lipstick. I gave her mine this morning.”

She said, “Did it ever occur to you that just because your kids want to do something, doesn’t mean they always can?”

I said, “No. That hardly ever occurs to me. But, I’m going to try harder.”

My ADD tendencies have certainly affected my parenting. It’s soooo hard to keep track of other people, when you can’t keep track of yourself. I mostly think kids are awesome, funny and clever. I’m very weak at discipline. It’s tedious.

I recently ran into another mom from my children’s preschool days. We lived in another town then. We were laughing and catching up. She said, “I was just talking to some of our other friends the other day. We were wondering how you are surviving without us to manage your calendar.”

I told her, “Not very well, at first.” It did take me a while to adjust when I moved away from those ladies. They would just tell me where to be and when to be there; story time tomorrow at 10:00; park at 3:00 this afternoon; Karen’s house for lunch. I think it’s called enabling. I love enablers.

When I started thinking about having ADD, I started feeling sorry for Scott. What kind of a joke is it, to have someone with ADD tendencies paired up with someone with OCD tendencies? Maybe it happens a lot, because you’re attracted to people who have strengths where you are deficient. I like that theory.

Scott and I had some decent challenges in our first 5 years of marriage. Now I know why. He wasn’t fond of the way I started sentences and didn’t finish them when I became distracted with my own thoughts. Or, I would start with one thought, and then abruptly move to another. Sometimes I would start in the middle of a thought. I’d say something like, “…he isn’t going to need the car on Friday.”

He’d say, “What is that supposed to mean? Who’s he? What car?”

It’s always the third degree with him. He likes information, and he wants to know the details. Every painful, boring, mind numbing detail. I hate details.

I was always thinking, “Jeez, do I have to spell it out? Can’t you just figure out what I mean, without me having to say it?”

He can’t. It doesn’t work. I have learned that you actually have to say the words that you mean for people to hear. It’s super annoying.

It was kind of nice to figure out why my brain has been sort of fogged over my whole life. It also made me feel badly. I don’t like having malfunctioning parts, especially if I have passed them down to any of my children, and I have…to at least one.

I knew there had to be something positive in this new information. There is. You know those drill sergeant, super moms? They’re not very flexible. I’ve been on committees with moms like that. They’re good. They’re really, really good. They are organized. They follow through. They are reliable, but they find compromising to be more difficult. They have a hard time switching gears. I don’t.

Oh, you want to change the color of the decorations? Sounds good to me. What’s that you say? You want to have the event on a different day? Sounds good to me. Oh, you don’t like the venue. You have a better idea? Sounds good to me.

I’ve been in the middle of conversations where more than one woman is trying to enforce her agenda, because she’s really attached to it. I pretend to get what all the fuss is about, but I really don’t. Because it all sounds good to me.

Let’s also not forget that a person with ADD has the ability to hyperfocus. When you want to accomplish something at warp speed, get someone with ADD to get excited and engaged about your idea. A lot of folks with ADD do not know how to pace themselves when they’re excited or engaged. They will get something done in a fraction of the time it would take a normal person to do the same thing. What is strange to me, is that Scott actually told me that I had this trait many years before I read about it in a book, or knew it was related to my “Medical Condition”! Oh, you know I love a good medical condition.

The other positive is thinking about how I have developed strategies for coping over the years. I wish I could have learned some management techniques 35 years ago. I didn’t. I had to figure things out on my own.

One of my best strategies is right in that picture up above. It’s those four little girls who are NOT hanging from the bar. See how they’re all looking at the teacher? They are listening and learning what they’re supposed to be doing.

I was just kidding when I called those cute little girls punks. They’re actually super sweet, and they’re going to save their upside down friend’s butt…again. They’re going to whisper in her ear at the recital and tell her when she needs to run out on stage, when she needs to point her toes and when she need needs take a bow. They are so nice to her.

Plus, that little upside down girl is going to be watching her four friends. She sees how nicely they act. She likes the way they take care of their things and do things in a nice, logical order. She knows her brain doesn’t want to do things the way they do, but she is smart. She can watch them, and copy them. When she does copy them, she realizes their orderly ways are good. She likes order; it helps her relax.

So, thank you to all my sisters and friends for paying attention while I was upside down. You didn’t even know how much you were helping me, but you were. Who needs medication, when they have sisters and friends like you? Because I really think I have ADD do you like my sweater?

Why I Did Not Kill a Guy…

You may remember my last post was on positive thoughts. Those work. You may not think talking about killing is very positive. But, see I’m talking about NOT killing someone. So, THAT actually is good. Meditate on it.

Last week we had an inspector come to our house to evaluate our levels of environmental allergens. This is a guy you never want to invite to your house. We hired him to tell us what our potential problems are and where. We had an air quality test done a while back. Everything checked out fine. Apparently those tests can change day to day and are not totally reliable.

We have been asking ourselves (again) if there is something in our house that is making Eddie sick. If so, we were prepared to just burn the thing down. Well, after FIVE hours of going through every inch of our living space with a fine tooth comb, the inspector told us that our house is in pretty good shape. And by pretty good shape, I mean, we live in complete filth.

I do NOT recommend anyone go through this exercise. Bru – Tal! If you are a germaphope and you have this guy come to your house, just make sure you make your reservation at the mental institution in advance; that is where his information will send you.

I am aware that I am not a 5 star housekeeper. I think I might give myself 2.5 stars. Then again, I have been known to be overly confident. Maybe I am actually a 2 star. I know what a 5 star is too. My mom, Aunt and cousins are five stars. They’re like “The Ritz Carlton”, I-dust-the-top-of-my-water-heater-every-week type of housekeepers. I’m like the “Motel 6”, I haven’t-seen-my-kitchen-counter-in-a-month type of housekeeper.

Well, turns out “Motel 6” housekeeping isn’t cutting it in the allergen free department. Did you know that dust is actually human skin? We shed skin all day, and it lands on our TV and underneath our refrigerator. And if knowing your skin is hanging out on the TV doesn’t impress you, then I can tell you that mites live in that skin dust. These little dust mites poop all day long. Dust mite poop is toxic. Isn’t that awesome?

More good news is that your bedding is full of this shed skin. So, sheets are the perfect breeding ground for mites and their turds. COME ON, MAN!!!! Don’t you think I have enough to worry about? Now you’re telling me that my family is sleeping in poop?

The inspector did other fun things, like show me mold that is growing in the refrigerator (in places you need to get on your hands and knees and use a flashlight to see.) And, he explained that the beautiful antiques in our house are also home to mold. Right there. That is the time I considered delivering a karate chop to his neck.

After the inspector’s horror house tour, he told me our home checked out pretty well. Then he handed me a 5-page, double-sided list of things we need to do to rid our home of allergens. Here are just a few of the items on my list:

1. Buy new pillows
2. Wash sheets every week
3. Spray vinegar inside toilet tank
4. Spray vinegar and wipe down underneath and all over every antique (getting rid of them is even better).
5. Buy special attachment for vacuum to clean the bottom/underneath the refrigerator.
6. Pull everything out of the refrigerator. Clean every inch.
7. Buy a new dehumidifier with a hose.
8. Recaulk the bath tub.
9. Dust every few days.
10. Spray insulation in all openings in the basement.

There are at least 200 more items on this list! Excellent.

We have already started. We are not expecting this to cure Eddie. But, it is definitely going to help (I’m a positive person, remember?). People with healthy immune systems have the luxury of being able to lay in poop and serve themselves up plates full of mold, if they’re in the mood for it; no harm done. But, if your health is compromised, all this stuff is taxing on your system. We’re going to bust through this list, and it is going to help Eddie feel better. And for THAT reason alone, I let that inspector live to see another day.

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