Saturday, August 30, 2008

All shapes and sizes

As I sit here on the deck of our park-model trailer at the co-op campground we belong to, I marvel and the variety of shapes and sizes in this small community.

Very few have "perfect" shapes; some are thin; some are not. A few have had bariatric surgery, and some of them have defeated it and gained back all the weight they had the surgery to lose. Some of them have lost the weight and kept it off by whatever methods they chose. One went on a severe calorie-counting plan and lost over 100 pounds. A couple years later, it looks like he's gained back about half of it.

Weight loss is definitely not an easy project. Our bodies have been hard-wired since we started walking upright (and probably before that) to eat when we can because you never know when there won't be any food available. Now that we live in an era of abundant food, much of it not even especially good for us, we still eat as if there's no tomorrow. To not eat excess calories takes effort. It is effort so many of us are not willing to make.

Last January I reached my own milestone in weight. We got back from a lovely week in Jamaica, the Christmas and New Year's holidays came and went, and I climbed onto my scale and was within a pound of 200 pounds! That was a shock.

I'm happy to say that I now weight 185 and have held it for the last couple weeks. My weight loss plan is simple. Fewer cookies, fewer cakes and pies, smaller portions, take some home if I eat out and eat it tomorrow. Yes, it has taken 8 months to lose 15 pounds, roughly 1.8 pounds per month. It could be faster but think of how easy it has been!

I know the times when I'm likely to eat extra sugary foods or foods with butter slathered on. So I've found other things to eat instead that are equally appealing to me. At my age I've learned the necessity of F-I-B-E-R. Fiber One (no they are not paying for this entry, but they should) has a lot of foods that taste good and have more fiber per serving than any other so-called healthy, whole-grain foods. I like their caramel cereal. It has the consistency of a Chex-like cereal but fewer calories. Their granola bars have only 140 calories but 9 grams of fiber. Yes, there's a fair amount of sugar, but that satisfies my sweet tooth and still there are only 140 calories.

I guess I just want to say that I'm serious about losing weight and gaining some stamina. I'm appalled that I can't walk as far as I used to and find it so difficult to climb stairs. Yes, I'm older, but I have a few older friends who have far less trouble than I. Yes, arthritis seems to run in my family, but I don't want to force myself to get new knees and hips. I've already got two bionic shoulders. If I can avoid getting anything else replaced, I really want to do that.

Let's see, my goal is to lose 50 pounds at least. I've lost 15 so that leaves 35. Hmmm. 35 lbs. / 1.8 lbs./mo. = 19.4 months. I can speed that up. I don't know if I will. But I won't stop.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Kung Fu Panda

My friend Betty and I went to see Kung Fu Panda this evening and I'm exhausted. I noted an amazing example of absorbing the opponent's energy and turning it around against the opponent. It was a very good movie. Thanks for the recommendation.

Saw the doctor this afternoon. I only have to use the sling to rest my shoulder and should take it off as much as possible. I was even told I could sleep on my new shoulder, if it doesn't hurt too much. Yeah, right. The instruction to wear the sling at night is because some people sleep very heavily and toss and turn and end up with their arm in positions it's not ready for yet. I can't imagine surviving the pain that would cause. I start physical therapy on the 9th. I only will need 4-6 visits but I know I'll have "homework."

All in all, I'm pleased. I still feel pain (duh, after only 2 weeks, of course I feel pain) but I have the good stuff for night to sleep with and ibuprofen and ice during the day. I guess I'll be ready to drive in and work a full day or 4 next week. In the meantime, I'm still working from home. I have some of my work downloaded to my hard drive and discovered if I disconnect from vpn my computer works much faster. So if anyone from work reads this, that's why I'm not always on top of my Notes e-mail.

Remember, there is no secret ingredient.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Amazing, considering

When I consider how rotten I felt yesterday, I feel really good today. I'm using ibuprofen and acetiminophen instead of vicodin during the day (saving the good stuff for night time sleep) and I'm holding my own. Oh, my arm aches all the way to my finger tips, but I'm not in severe pain.

I've been working since about 7 a.m. My vpn connection to work is amazingly slow, but I can live with that.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


I'm not at all sure I'll be able to work tomorrow. I'm going to have to call the HR nurse and ask what to do.

Yesterday (Saturday) I went to a movie with Betty, Cirque du Soliel's Delirium. Very good but I was glad I was paying movie theater prices for it. Anyway, we stopped for some supper after and by the time I got home I was in extreme pain. At first I couldn't pinpoint the pain. It was all over my arm. Up in my top neck/shoulder muscles where I tense up when I'm in pain...where everybody holds tension. Down the top of my forearm.

The top of my forearm ended up being the primary locus of my pain: in the muscles associated with holding the hand up. If you put your hand palm down on a table and rest your arm all the way up to the elbow on the table and then just lift your hand up, the muscle(s) that does that was what was hurting. It's also how I am able to type but only for short periods of time. Also, just above the elbow on the inner side of the upper arm was cramping up.

I've already tried to go an hour or two past the schedule for vicodin to see if I can survive without it. Nope. Doesn't work. I end up way behind and it takes a couple more hours for the drugs to get ahead of the pain. I won't be very useful working "under the influence." I can do a few small things, but nothing that takes a great deal of thought. And if I'm in a lot of pain because I stop the vicodin, I still won't be too useful. And nothing at Hoffman is "simple."

I'm disappointed.

Friday, August 22, 2008


I've cut my vicodin dosage to one tablet at a time every 4-6 hours. I'm hoping I'll be off it during the day next week so I can start working again. I still won't have much strength in my arm but maybe I'll be able to think more clearly.

I've had to be extremely deliberate when I put something down so I can remember where it is and not have to walk around my apt. 3-4 times looking for it. That was a real problem when I was taking 2 tablets at a time.

Cutting back to one tablet has helped me think more clearly as long as the pain stays at bay. But I still have no energy. I went out Wednesday evening with Ben and Stephanie to refill my prescription. It took 15 minutes for them to get around to telling us they didn't have any at Target. Cub foods did. When I got home I was exhausted.

Last night David took me to Walgreens to see if they had a softer sling. The one the doctor put me in is rubberized and hot and curls in at the edges. Now I have a nice cool one for daytime use. Again, exhausted when I got home.

The photo is the scarf I started before the surgery. I would put up a link but I keep getting a 404 error. Sorry. Basically it's k5 p1 forward and k1 p5 back, then move over a stitch so the p's all move diagonally to the left.

It's a relatively simple pattern that can be worked under the influence of good drugs. But I've only put about 6 rows on it. The problem is my arm can't rotate to a more palm-up position so it's very difficult to do any knitting. Darn. Double darn.

I'd read more, but it puts me to sleep. And I have trouble holding a book. Oooh. Sorry. Merlot, chablis, PORT.

I'm whining again. Maybe if I take a shower and walk all the way to the trash can to throw out my kitchen garbage, I'll feel better. Or be tired enough for a nap.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

3 a.m.

I don't usually get to see 3 a.m. But I was dreaming I was stretched out on a couch with 2 lady friends, talking about life and time and the way things are, and someone was banging on the door and using the knocker and wouldn't go away. On and on and on.... Then, the conscious part of my brain reminded me that when it's cold in the room where I'm sleeping, I dream about snow. So I woke up.

Nobody at my door. No notes shoved underneath. Only someone with a key to the building would be able to bang on my door. I gave my only other key to David but he would have called first if he thought there was a problem.

Overactive imagination. It was time to take my next dose of meds anyway.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


I was just napping (3:15 p.m.) in the recliner and as I was falling asleep I realized it is probably the only time when I can totally relax the muscles in my shoulder. In tai chi we learn to keep our shoulders down so we can be relaxed and breathe deeply. If we hold our shoulders up, our breathing rises to the upper portion of our lungs and we don't get enough oxygen.

If I keep fighting gravity, my shoulder hurts more. The more my shoulder hurts, the tighter I hold the muscles. The tighter I hold the muscles, the more my shoulder hurts. And on and on.

Just an observation.

Hand and brain still somewhat uncoordinated

Fever still down. Yay. Left hand is still pretty spastic. I can lift it but it goes down by itself. Turns palm down automatically. I don't think it's supposed to be palm up anyway.

Tried knitting. That’s humorous. I can’t wrap the yarn around the fingers on my left hand except if I use my right hand to do it. I figure, when I can knit, I’ll be able to work. Assuming I’m not on Vicodin.

Been sweating a lot. Fevers do that and mine still goes up and down. I put a really soft bathsheet towel on the bed and over my pillow and use hand towels under my armpit to absorb sweat from there.

So I cooked myself a lovely flaxseed (fiber), whole wheat, grilled pb and choc sandwich. Target Archer Farms has a chocolate and peanut butter mix that is sinfully good. Probably not the healthiest thing to eat right now but what the heck.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Someone sent me an e-postcard. My computer "bad-stuff-software" stopped a Trojan from entering my computer as a result. If one of my friends sent the postcard, it was really nice of you, but please don't do it again. I won't get it anyway. Just send an e-mail or comment on my blog.

Not much new today. Starting to react to steri-strips over incision. Noticed redness and itching on top couple. Gently ran my fingers over it to alleviate itching (I’ve learned never to use fingernails) and my fingers came away damp. Using a mirror, I lifted the end of 2 steri-strips and cut them away, leaving the incision covered. Water blister beneath. Claritin isn’t enough. But with Vicodin, I don’t really want to use Benedryl.

Fever staying under 100 for a change but it's early, 8:15 a.m. Pain is manageable but Vicodin is good for that. This is all the typing I'm willing to do for now. If I write something that doesn't make sense, let me know.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I'm home

One-handed typing is a challenge.

Thanks to all who have sent prayers and good wishes. Forgive me if I don't write to you all individually. This blog entry will take long enough to complete.

I left the hospital Friday and spent the weekend with David. I'm sure he's happy to have dropped me at my place this afternoon.

No big surprises, really. Fever is within acceptable range according to the handout I got. I have a cooler full of ice for the Cryo-cuff and am trying a blue ice thingy in my armpit. This cryo-cuff is significantly smaller than the one I had before and my arm is very hot on the side away from the ice (i.e., armpit). Pain is manageable but I AM on vicodin. Thinking isn't tooo clear. But I don't have to think, so that's a good thing.

This is the Cryo-cuff ice bucket label. (Please forgive the shaky photos. I'm not too steady shooting one-handed. The cuff can be used on knees as well as shoulders.

This is the inside top of the bucket. I had to refill it with ice a while ago and...

...I missed.

Fortunately, I have a lot of ice. It should last till Ben arrives Wednesday evening with more. ( Ben, bring this much.)

Warning, it looks icky.....

This last photo is David's fault. I figured if he was interested in the gorey details, someone else might be as well.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Surgery went fine

Pain is starting again and I thought, before I take the vicodin and while I'm still able to think, I'd check in. David took a couple photos but I'm not sure you want to see them.

What disappointed me was the incompetence of the nursing staff after the surgery. None of them came sooner than 5 minutes after pressing the nurse call button. I'm glad I wasn't choking on that roast beef I cvoulnd cut (can't type either). We had a colonoscopy nurse on the surgical orthopedic floor. Who thought to put her there? She was the best because, even though she didn't know what to do, she was willing to admit it.

I met a lovely woman (50's maybe) from Tibet. She said that if China is willing to admit to the whole world that the opening ceremonies had a stand in for the little singer (I felt bad for them be told you aren't cute enough but you sing be told your looks are your only asset) and the fireworks were computer generated--if they were willing to admit they were cheating to the whole world, it's no wonder "they treat us the way they do."

Pema came with her husband and 4 (or 5, I cant remember) daughters by way of India where she and her daughters went to school and became educated. Mmmmmm. More later can't type owie.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

How I will spend my next week or so

I'm having a set of these installed in my left shoulder. . . at 2 pm today. No blogging for a few days.

I have my work computer all set up at home, ready for when I can think straight but not drive yet.

On a tastier note, my tomato plant is doing so well that I've already eaten 3. They are about 2 inches across and quite tasty.

Saturday, August 09, 2008


Here's my lovely tomato plant. I originally had it in a small pot like the one to the left. But it got so big I couldn't keep water in it. The poor thing would wilt after less than 24 hours. So, I bought $35 worth of dirt and a big pot for my free tomato plant. I'm using a rope to help hold up the center stem. I ate my first tomato last night.

Friday, August 08, 2008

This 'n' that

Betty and I went to the Stitch 'n' Pitch at the Dome again this year. Here are members of the Barbershop Harmony Society singing the national anthem. They did a great job.

I said in an early post this spring that when the lillies bloomed I'd post some photos.

There was a strong thunderstorm that moved very quickly into our area. The people who own the camper below had left in the morning to go shopping when the sky was blue and it looked like it was going to be a lovely day. They didn't tip one end of their awning down to let the rain drain. As you can see, the water pooled in the awning and got heavy enough to break the tubular support. With the help of others at the camp, it was repaired before the weekend was over enough to get the awning up out of the way. I understand, however, they had to buy a new one.

Years ago, this lovely old oak tree was the support for a wonderful tire swing. The rope was long enough to really get your stomach going. You could swing very high on it. We lost several large trees, but, except for the awning above, there was no major damage to buildings or campers and no people were injured. We have a couple storm shelters on the property, one of which has a little TV set to watch weather warnings.

This lily really needed to have it's picture taken one more time after the rain.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Wish me luck

There's nothing like an up-coming medical procedure to create a period of introspection.

For those who don't know, in less than a week I'm having a total shoulder replacement. There are several websites that discuss the procedure, like this one, and this one has an annimation. There are others out there but you'll get the idea.

Anyway, I decided, after working late this evening on the huge project we are in the middle of (and will be for a few months), that I should take myself out to dinner. I haven't done that in a couple months (or more) and have discovered increased savings. (I have also discovered that not buying fiber [yarn] also increases one's monetary holdings.) Ironically, I was also reading a book called Half-Assed, a weight-loss memoir, by Jennette Fulda. She also has a very nice blog.

Her book is incredibly easy-to-read and thought-provoking. A friend had told me about Jennette's blog months ago when we were discussing our mutual weight problems. I looked at the blog a couple times but wasn't that interested in it. It was a slow-motion study of Jennette's weight-loss program. I mean, I don't expect many people to be interested in my blog. I certainly can't be expected to read everyone else's blogs religiously. (Well, there is the yarn harlot. But that's different.)

I teach tai chi chuan at Chinatown Tai Chi Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, and at first it was a weight-loss program of sorts. I lost a little and gained a lot of muscles. But then I figured out how to eat enough to make up for it. Then a couple months ago, the most wonderful young woman started taking classes. She bicycles 20 miles every day (or something like that) and we got to talking about weight loss. She's lost 50+ pounds since January. I mentioned Jennette's website and the book I knew Jennette had written. Turns out my student bought the book and read it in 2 days! And, she let me borrow it.

I'm inspired. I don't know how well I'll do at weight loss. I have no idea how much extra weight a stainless steel arm bone will add. But I've been eating more healthy food for some time and now it's time to pick up my feet and get moving. Wish me luck.

But first, the surgery.