Monday, June 24, 2019

Monday Musings

I was listening to music today, and this song came on. It's one that I've always loved -- for the music more than the words.  I looked up the words today, and, wow.  The universe works in mysterious ways.

Shotgun Down the Avalanche

I'm riding shotgun down the avalanche, ooh
Tumbling and falling down the avalanche, ooh
So be quiet tonight
The stars shine bright
On this mountain of new fallen snow
But I will raise my voice into the void
You have left me nowhere to go
I love you so much and it's so bizarre
A mystery that goes on and on and on
This is the best thing and the very most hard
And we don't get along
After countless appeals
We keep spinning our wheels
On this mountain of new fallen snow
So I let go the catch and we are over the edge
You have left me nowhere to go
I'm riding shotgun down the avalanche
Sometimes you make me lose my will to live
And just become a beacon for your soul
But the past is stronger than my will to forgive

Friday, June 21, 2019

TGIF - Dieting Saga

What a week.

I had been waiting for a call from the nurse at the Bariatric Center to schedule my sleeve surgery, but that call didn't come.  So I called her.  She told me that I am now required to lose 17 pounds before they will schedule surgery!

That could take months!  I've been on a 1200 a day calorie count for about 3 weeks and lost a total of 2 pounds.  Sigh.

Yes, I did have a big ol' pity party, and I was angry. But I 'talked' with other patients through our on-line support group, and a few reported the same thing.  One woman was told she had to lose 38 pounds!  She lost 20 and then they scheduled her.

These docs and nurses are not foolin' around. It's an elective surgery and they want to make sure you are as prepared as can be.  There is also a battery of tests that need to be done pre-surgery:  colonoscopy, mammogram,  "Well Woman visit with Pap smear."  So I at least have these scheduled so they'll be out of the way by the time I get approved.  I have this terrible feeling I will go through all of this and then will be denied by my insurance company.  Not likely to happen, since they approved all the visits to get to this point, but still.  I'm tired of surprises.  Neither one of the nutritionists I worked with mentioned this large of a weight loss this quickly. 

After two days of raging and crying, I got real.  I ordered a meal-replacement shake that has all kinds of good nutrients in it, low sugar and high plant protein.  I had that for breakfast and lunch today.  I also took a thirty-five minute walk this morning (see lovely trail above) which I haven't been doing. I know I should have been.  I've been taking fifteen minute walks a couple of times a day.  After feeling pretty sluggish starting out, I felt very good when I returned home, both physically and emotionally.  I did it!  Now to keep doing in five to six days a week.  Next week I'm upping it to two thirty minute walks.

I had this scrumptious salad for dinner:  lots of greens, carrots, red pepper, grilled asparagus, garlic, 1/2 cup ow fat cottage cheese and 2 oz. sliced turkey from the deli.  I used 2 tbs of Newman's Own Balsamic to dress it.  (yes, I use measuring cups and spoons) It was delicious and I was starving.  I savored every damn bite.

Granted, I could have been doing this for the last two months.  Dieting is hard; it requires mental and physical discipline.  Frankly, obviously, I wasn't up to it.  The conversation with the nurse was the wake-up call I needed.

These are all  habits I let go of when my lap band was removed in January this year.  I was like a kid in a candy shop -- I ate much more than my body requires, and so I gained 19 pounds in six months.  It was a frickin' free for all, I tell ya.  Moments of pleasure that had very negative side-effects.  For now, lesson learned.  Big time.

I plan to use this post when my resolve is flagging.  And it will.  But not today.

“All things are difficult before they are easy.”  Thomas Fuller

Monday, June 17, 2019

Monday Musings

I watched an excellent movie:  Echo in the Canyon.  The musical goings on in 1965 through 67 in Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles.  If you were influenced by Buffalo Springfield, The Mamas and the Papas, The Byrds, The Beach Boys, this movie is for  you.  Jakob Dylan produced the movie and does the interviews with Jackson Browne, Brian Wilson, Steven Stills, Michelle Phillips, Eric Clapton, Roger McGuinn, and David Crosby.  Mr. Dylan produced a concert featuring current musical artists singing all the old folk/rock songs.  Funny thing, this movie really changed my perception of the Beach Boys.  I won't give away why, but watch it yourself and see.  It was also very nice to get out of the house, be on my own for the afternoon.

I had brunch with Dad, Mom and Sister for Father's Day.  We ate upstairs, though Dad is  really bored with the standard Sunday buffet fare.  Far easier, however, than getting out to a restaurant!    This is one of my favorite photos of Dad and me, and it was taken about 7 or 8 years ago when we were at a baseball game, which we used to go to often.

We had recently moved to Sacramento, and Mom was barely mobile at that point (after her second hip break) so Dad and I would go to the games.  

I'm not a huge fan of organized sports, but I'd go for him, and the pork sliders and the $2 beer.  Good times.

The things we do for those we love, eh?

I've been doing a lot for my husband over the years -- all the mundane but necessary tasks to keep hearth, home and health in good shape.  He did a lot for me as well. I shared this life with someone who enjoyed many of the same things I enjoyed, and whose values aligned with mine.  Who is smart, and funny.

He gave me a life that was comfortable and financially secure -- for the first time in my adult life I wasn't living paycheck to paycheck.  It was a welcomed relief. Sure, he has his quirks, but do I.  Welcome to the human race! I thought we had a good life.  I thought I had found my forever partner.  We had each other to rely on.  Now? Not so much. 

I turn once again to Pema Chodron for some good heart advice. 

“If someone comes along and shoots an arrow into your heart, it’s fruitless to stand there and yell at the person. It would be much better to turn your attention to the fact that there’s an arrow in your heart.” 

 And here I am.  Paying attention to my heart.

Friday, June 14, 2019


I had my birthday on Monday this week.  I got a few sweet birthday cards, and many Facebook posts wishing me good things.  I planned on not making a big deal about the day -- I was happy, content to let the day unfold quietly, perhaps a dinner out with my husband.

Now, however, it is a day that will live in infamy, and will color a few birthdays to come, for as implausible as it seems, I was informed by my husband that he thought we should "split." 


He was dead serious, and the conversation he started came in fits and starts, him try to find the right words.  He was clearly agonizing about it.  I was asking questions to draw out of him what he wanted to say -- slow, careful questions to probe what could be going on.  I told him to be brave and say what he obviously very much needed to say.

Need I say I saw stars before my eyes from the virtual bomb that was dropped in my living room, on the white sofa, surrounded by houseplants and my beloved dogs?  My chest was feeling crushed, and I could not think straight.  What do you do when something catastrophic is unceremoniously dropped into your lap on a day that you expected to celebrate your 62nd birthday? 

I have two surgeries coming up (thyroid and stomach) in the next two months, so I asked him for time and he agreed.  We are living amicably.  We have dedicated ourselves not to fight.  I will get through this.  After my initial grave upset, I am remarkably calm now.  I'm focused on my medical procedures, staying healthy as I can, and talking with friends.  It's a strange in-between state....

He may change his mind when reality reaches him.  Will I?

A definite WTF moment in my life.  I thought I'd seen it all.  I'm planting a flag on June 10, 2019.  Could be a big turning point.

It's awkward to say out loud, to post on my blog.  You may feel awkward reading it.  There is no need to comment, really.  This is the place I write about my life, so I decided to write about even this painful piece of it.

I am supported by friends and it has been a great consolation.  I am surrounded by people who love me and care about me.  I always look for the opportunities that crises can bring.  I've got a therapist and a wealth of inner resources.  This ain't my first rodeo.

A Spark, a flare,
A fire rises in the air.
The heat. the smoke,
Our eyes water and We choke.
The flames spread,
And Our houses, Our memories,
Burn, burn to the ground.
Trees dead,
Our home wreathed in flame.
Burns till there is naught but ash.
We cry and cry,
And curse Our gods.
Our tears put out the flames.
When all is quiet,
And stillness takes hold,
A new fire is kindled.
A fire of grace,
And of love.
A fire We all share.
And from the ashes We rise.
To rebuild Our memories and Our home,
A fire inside ignites.
From the ashes We rise.
To not search for hope for Ourselves,
But create it for all those We love and cherish.
From destruction,
We find mercy.
From despair,
We find strength.
From grief,
We build happiness
From guilt,
We build love.
From all that was lost,
We Find all there is to gain.
From the ashes of the flames,
From the ashes of the fear,
From the ashes of the past,
From the ashes We rise.

Author unknown.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Monday Musings

Oct 2012
This is a photo of me taken in 2012. I weighed 146 lbs, representing a 109 lbs loss since my Lap Band surgery in 2006.  I lost the bulk of it in a couple of years, then stalled for a couple of years.  Then came my divorce and the stress diet.  That dropped me 25 lbs to my goal weight.

Over the years, the weight has slowly crept back on.  Then, this January I had my Lap Band removed because is slipped and was no longer effective.  I really went hog wild after its removal, gaining 18 lbs in six months!  I lost all sense, and all control.  It felt so good to eat a 'normal' sized dinner.  And when we moved into the Big House last year, I let the desserts tempt me.  Everyone here jokes about the 10 lbs weight gain that comes with fine dining here.

The plan after the removal of the band was to have another surgery, this time either a gastric sleeve or a RYN by-pass.  I've chosen the sleeve since I take aspirin for my heart, and the by-pass demands no aspirin, ibuprofen whatsoever as they cause bleeding ulcers for people with that procedure.  Since I must take daily aspirin for my heart, that's a no-go. I've been working with a Bariatric Surgery Group at UC Davis and it's been a good program combining nutritionists, support groups, psychological therapy and top-notch surgeons.

I'm one of those unlucky people that really does have to be very conscientious about my food in-take. I took a holiday from that watchfulness and the result is not good.  One of my biggest hurdles after the next weight loss is learning how to keep it off and not let the pound creep happen.

For people who can eat without close scrutiny of their food choices and portion sizes, and who don't gain excess weight, these surgical options must seem terribly risky.  Why not just diet?  For most people, and for me, long-term success doesn't come with dieting.  I've discovered interesting factoids when looking into surgery again:  obese people tend to have little or no gut bacteria.  GB is restored after surgery - it's wild, but it's true.  I have no GB.  None. Zilch. The presence of GB has enormous consequences to overall health.  Weight loss surgery (WLS) also allows a person to jump start a new way of eating with very few hunger issues.  With my lap band, I had to remind myself to eat on schedule because I wasn't hungry at all.  The same will be true with the new surgery.  That effect will last for a few months and eventually hunger will return.  Then it's up to me to make thoughtful food choices.  I have spent my entire adult life on various weight loss programs, the lap band being the last one and the longest lasting.

I had my final pre-surgery nutritionist visit today and she was not very encouraging.  I took the written test (again) and I was coming up blank on questions such as "How much protein is in 1 oz. of chicken?"  Another was what specific vitamins in the multi-vitamin are critical.  B6 I said, instead of the real answer which is B12.  And do you know I did really know and mean "12?"  I was just so nervous and operating on 4 hours of sleep.  I felt like a dolt.  The good news was I've lost ONE POUND and that's after 3 weeks of meticulous record keeping and staying at 1200 calories (or under) a day.  So, the nutritionist, the psychologist and the surgeon all meet on Thursdays to evaluate cases and assign a surgery date if they believe the patient is ready.  If the decide I am not ready, I'll have to deal with it, keep on doing what I've been doing and tell them I don't test well.  That's why I keep records and my informational book at the ready.

So, feeling down in the dumps today, except that it is my birthday and I've been receiving well wishes from people far and wide.  That's been great fun!  We take the bad with the good, don't we? 

Cross your fingers for my surgery date!

Friday, June 7, 2019


Ode To Tomatoes by Pablo Neruda.      
The street
filled with tomatoes,
light is
its juice
through the streets.
In December,
the tomato
the kitchen,
it enters at lunchtime,
its ease
on countertops,
among glasses,
butter dishes,
blue saltcellars.
It sheds
its own light,
benign majesty.
Unfortunately, we must
murder it:
the knife
into living flesh,
a cool
populates the salads
of Chile,
happily, it is wed
to the clear onion,
and to celebrate the union
child of the olive,
onto its halved hemispheres,
its fragrance,
salt, its magnetism;
it is the wedding
of the day,
its flag,
bubble vigorously,
the aroma
of the roast
at the door,
it's time!
come on!
and, on
the table, at the midpoint
of summer,
the tomato,
star of earth, recurrent
and fertile
its convolutions,
its canals,
its remarkable amplitude
and abundance,
no pit,
no husk,
no leaves or thorns,
the tomato offers
its gift
of fiery color
and cool completeness.

Yellow Cottage, Part 2

I have a dear friend who I met in my Creative Writing class my freshman year in college.  I sent the poem to her for her comments and edits ...