Food and Weight: An Ongoing Journey

Archive for January 2014


And likely to get colder as this new spate of polar air and snow sets in. In fact, this is a hearty soup for breakfast kind of day, which works because when I couldn’t sleep overnight, I made a big batch of soup. Not my usual formal recipe kind of soup, but a Use-Up-A-Few-Things soup.  This one had leftover pork shoulder, an older bag of 16-bean soup bean mix, the drippings (minus the fat) from the pork shoulder, some farro that needed using up, a can of beef broth a can of crushed tomatoes, a can of Ro*Tel, and one tomato can of water. Came out delicious. I’m planning to – when I package it for freezing and fridging – pull the pork out of one container, puree it in the NutriBullet, then add the pork back for a thicker soup, although I like it just the way it is. Heck, it’s cold enough that I’m seriously thinking of keeping the pot on the stove, and adding things over the course of the day, like some pierogies and some kielbasa. However, I’ll probably just do the pierogies and kielbasa separately for lunch.

Mostly, I’m waiting to call the hospital to postpone my consultation with the surgeon. Their office was closed yesterday, so I left a message, but I want to confirm the cancellation, and get a new date, preferably after the end of this cold spell. One of the things I found out over the last few months is that it’s much harder to travel when it’s cold like this, because the cold is likely to trigger the asthma on top of the heart issues. UPDATE: Appointment has been moved to next Tuesday, at 2 pm.

So, to catch up on my life since the 16th…

I’ve been reading, when I can concentrate enough. One of the books I was able to concentrate enough to read was Lawrence Block’s newest Bernie Rhodenbarr book, The Burglar Who Counted the Spoons, which I enjoyed greatly. It’s no secret that Block is one of my two favorite mystery writers (the other being the late Robert B. Parker), and that Bernie is one of my favorite series of Block’s. This one did not disappoint, and I recommend it to anyone who likes a good, NYC-based tale, with a witty protagonist and cool support characters,  full of sly humor.

 Mostly, though, what concentration I have is reserved for things like writing press releases, editing theses, etc. I need to get more work, but right now it’s a balancing act, and I hate not being able to push myself beyond a certain point. Other than that, I’m mostly online, talking to people, so that I’m not eating my own tail over the whole situation. The mostly good news is that I have adjusted to having had to cut my sister out of my life, even though I’m still very sad that I had to do so. On the other tentacle, my fannish sisters have let me know I’m not alone. The roomie continues to be as helpful as she can – running errands for me so I can conserve energy – being my voice on the phone when my voice gives out, etc. The odd thing is that my voice seems to be coming back very slowly, in fits and starts. There was a whole morning when I sounded like myself. I am hoping that this just means that I strained something, and my voice will eventually come back totally. One of the worst things about this whole mess has been losing my voice so badly. I have a hard enough time making myself understood when people *can* hear me; when they can’t, life becomes that much harder all around.

Most of my friends were at Arisia this past weekend, which I was glad to hear went well for all of them. However, one of my Boston friends had decided that – for various reasons – she would rather skip Arisia and come and visit both me and some of her family in the area. It was delightful to see her, and I wish we could have hung out longer, but we had the whole afternoon together, including lunch at my favorite Indian restaurant (roomie, friend, and me), and then the friend driving me to the fannish party I was going to that evening, since it was on her way to her family’s place. The party went well, and Marc drove me home afterwards, along with pretty much the rest of the guests.

Sunday was pretty quiet, except for a surprise: Amazon.com delivered the cookbook I had ordered (Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook, by Beth Hensperger  and Julie Kaufmann). Four different cooking blogs had recommended this book at different times, and I finally took the hint. I’m glad I did, too; I want to make everything in the book! In fact, I told Marc that I foresaw a lot of soups, stews, and braises in his future.

So, that’s where things are at for the moment. I’ve planned a warm pasta dish for dinner, based on a recipe I found on the Web: Northwest Edible Life’s Cabbage and Pasta with Mustard Cream Sauce. Sounds yummy, and both the roomie and I like cabbage. The roomie and I have been trying to cut down our meat consumption a bit, and this sounds just right for a hideously cold evening. Mind, we are not cutting meat out entirely, and I just downloaded a meat recipe from a friend that I will try when we can next get to the local market. One good thing about our local market, Silver Star on Nostrand Avenue, between Avenues Y & Z, is that it started out as a meat market/butcher. This means that the meat we get there is nice and fresh which is a wonderful thing.

See all of y’all in a couple of days, hopefully.

 

 


I’ve wanted a Magic Bullet blender since I first saw an ad for it on late night TV, but the time was never right to buy one. Either money was tight, or I couldn’t find it on sale. Found the NutriBullet on sale at Sears a couple of weeks at Sears.com, and ordered one. This is their latest innovation, which pulverizes nuts and seeds.

Had my first “green smoothie” about two days ago. It was pretty good once I got over that I was drinking something green. I used spinach, an apple, some grapes, some blueberries, and about 1/8 cup of cashews. Stuffed the spinach into the bottom of the cup (filled it halfway with the spinach), added the other fruit, then put in water until the “Max” line, per the instructions. Put the blade on the cup, put it into the base, and about 30 seconds later, I had my drink.  Tasted pretty good, although a bit bland, but then I didn’t use any sweeteners or anything to amp it up.

Today, I tried something else. Took a packet of the Weight Watchers Smoothie Mix (Creamy Coconut), and added a banana, a pear, and a bit less water than called for. It’s pretty much perfect tastewise. Very happy!

In other news, my primary care guy was as good as his word. Last Wednesday, the cardiologist called me with a referral to a surgeon. I have made an appointment to see him (next Tuesday), and will update you after that. I know I’m not a good candidate for surgery at this point, but what I want to talk to him about is the following:

  • What needs to happen to improve my chances of being a good candidate for the surgery I need (septal myectomy),
  • What are the complications and risks that accompany that surgery, so I know what to put on my Medical Power of Attorney and my Living Will in case things go pear-shaped, and
  • What the probable/possible outcomes of the surgery are.

While I am, in reality, not close to getting the surgery, the good thing is that it feels like there is real progress happening, so I am in a much less hopeless frame of mind.  Even better, should this surgeon not work out for whatever reason, a friend of mine who is an RN has found me two other names to check, one of whom even takes my insurance. She also suggested that I might want to check out AARP re dental insurance, and that way I could possibly have my old dentist, who I adore, back. I just did that, and I now will have real dental insurance as of February 1st, at a price I can sort of afford. I also have a dental appointment for February 5th. So there’s some real progress to point at!

I have made peace with the decision about the toxic family member. As I noted, it was a horrible decision to have to make, but I feel so much better for having made it. I’m feeling a lot more hopeful than I was a month ago; at least I am today. I have to admit, this whole thing has been something of an emotional rollercoaster, which is what has been the hardest thing to deal with. I can deal with not being able to go out a lot, even though there are days when I feel trapped in the house. My friends have taken steps to make sure I get out a little each week, so that’s helpful in fighting that feeing off.

Anyway the upshot is that I’m still hanging in, still in fighting to get things right mode, and fairly happy at the moment.


I did get a call from my cardiologist today, with a referral to a surgeon he knows at Mount Sinai. I asked him about the two my friend the nurse recommended, and his flat response was, “I don’t know them.” My answer to that was that it sure couldn’t hurt for him to get to know them, just in case.

So, my next things to deal with medically are:

1. Set up appointments with the surgeons (I need to see if I can get referrals to the two that my nurse friend found, to deal with the insurance end of things).

2. Set up an appointment with the neurologist that Dr. K. referred me to re the cubital tunnel syndrome and the foot neuropathy.

3. Get a referral from either my internist or my cardiologist for an ENT guy to see what the hell is really wrong with my voice.

4. I know I have a tooth that will eventually need to be root canalled. Since the dentist I got from Medicaid’s only benefit is that he is four blocks away, I need to see if I can get dental coverage from AARP, so that I can go back to my really good dentist in Manhattan.

And, once again, I want to thank all my friends for stepping up to help, no matter what form your help takes. You guys make it hella easier to keep fighting.


So.

NYC, including Brooklyn, is caught in this Polar Vortex that the weather forecasters are talking about. What this means in real life is that we are in one of the worst cold snaps in a while. For folks like me, with heart issues, this means we should stay inside as much as humanly possible, lest we add stress to our already compromised systems. F), or once, I am actually taking their cautions seriously.  Being 61, and wanting to make it to at least 62, I figure caution and treating myself kindly are pretty important right now.

I did go out – briefly – on Monday. Had an appointment with my internist.  While I won’t mention names online, if any of you in Brooklyn are looking for a great practice (two really great doctors, and a third one who is more than competent, but a bit on the arrogant side), catch me privately and I will give you the info. And believe, me I don’t say “great” for nothing; my doctor has saved my life twice, my ex’s life once, and my roommate’s life once.

Anyway, I discussed the situation with my internist, and he agrees with me that a pacemaker would be totally uncalled for in this case. He also let me know that he plans to speak to my cardiologist and make sure that I get a referral to a surgeon, so I can at least discuss what I would need to do (besides the obvious losing weight) to become a viable candidate for the surgery that I need to repair the heart defect. Since my main issue was that I was being rejected by these surgeons without their even meeting me to discuss the situation, the risks, the possible complications, the possible outcomes, etc., this feels like an important step to me.

I have also been dealing with grieving over having to cut a very toxic family member out of my life. This process has been made a lot more tolerable by all the friends, both online and in RL, who have shown themselves willing to step up and fill various parts of that person’s shoes. I have three good friends who are willing to be my medical executors.

And I really got humbled by my friends. Monday, my RL friend C offered to be a designated blood donor for me. We are different blood types, so that won’t work, but instead, she offered to donate a pint in my name, which is superb, because her blood type is one of the rare ones they *always* need. I mentioned this on Facebook, and the next thing I knew, I had a list of ten people, some of which only know me from a Facebook game or two, who were willing to either be a designated donor or donate a pint in my name.

I also just got a phone call from my oldest friend, MK. We met back in sophomore year of high school, and – while our lives have diverged, we manage to find each other again and again. She is a nurse, and did some research last night (she said she couldn’t sleep, so she figured it might be useful) and has found two doctors who specialize in the specific kind of surgery I need. She also found out that I really need to have this done by a specialist, which may be rough to do given that I am on Medicaid. I will see who my internist recommends that I see – perhaps it will be one of these doctors. If not, I will see whoever he recommends first, then call these two doctors. One of them works out of New York Presbyterian. The other works out of St. Lukes. I can live with either of those.

Another thing MK told me to check, which I will, is whether or not my insurance will be accepted if I have to go out of state. This is something that, always having had private insurance before, I never would have even had to ask. Once again, I am humbled that the people who have the knowledge I need are so willing to provide it. She also spent an hour on the phone with me last night, explaining some of the things I will need to discuss with the surgeons when I do see them. These are things that, as a layperson, I would not necessarily thought of on my own, so I am doubly glad for her help.

And other friends have stepped up from all over the place to talk to me at night when things get hairy, to call me during the day to remind me I matter to them, and generally to help however they are able to.

Further, I am grateful today to God who gave me the most useful power of all for this kind of thing: While I damned sure don’t have the answers to much of this stuff, I seem to be able to find the people who can help me get them. This is something I’ve always been able to do, and it has kept my head above water more times than I can think of.

And, just to remind me to lighten up: the roomie just walked in with a big box that the mailman brought. It’s a box of yarn from a dear friend who is an author, including some very beautiful, soft yarn that will eventually be a scarf for me. It’s hard to forget the good things in the world when people are so going out of their way to make sure I remember them.

Anyway, I have some work to do today, so I should get to it.

No matter how I know you, please accept my thanks for bolstering me up through this journey.


First, sorry to be a day late, but adding the frigid temperatures to everything else, I spent much of the last few days huddled under my electric blanket.

Appropriate decisions have been made regarding the toxic family member, and things are being put into action to nullify future attempts to change my wishes and decisions about my health. I hated having to make some of them, but the truth is I don’t need a toxic person in my life ever, but especially right now when it appears I’m going to have to fight to get the appropriate medical care for my condition.

I have a ton of papers to fill out for my disability claim this week, and I even have a bit of editing to do, and a couple of knitting commissions to get my butt in gear on. These are good things, although I’m trying to wait a bit on the knitting because the state I’ve been in there is no way I could keep gauge, and I don’t want my work (both projects with fairly expensive yarns) to suffer.  But I can feel the urge starting up again, so that’s good.

The weather seems to have held the upstairsikehs in, along with most of the neighborhood. The kids are starting to get more rambunctious than usual. For me and the roomie, this generally means having our sleep disturbed at various early hours by thumping, pounding, and screaming, often followed by parental bellowing. The other problem is that, as most of us know, heat rises, so that this apartment is something of an icebox most of the day and night – not what is needed for my health.  But I have sweaters, sweatshirts, sweatpants, shawls, and the aforementioned electric blanket, so I am surviving.

The other bad news is that my tv has been “in the shop” since the 27th of December, which means my background noise is not there. I have a pretty extensive music library on the computer, but the problem is that I don’t tune music out the way I do tv noise. I’m wired to engage with music, so even if it’s an instrumental, my brain pays actual attention to it. Oh, well, I have survived without tv before, and I will this time, too. It just makes things a bit harder for me. Maybe someone can come over and show me how to hook up the old Mac I have sitting in the living room as a tv screen.

Anyway, I need to actually get some editing and writing done today, so I’m going to sign off now and try to do that.


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