Memorial Day Week end: First thing, Thank you to our vets

This week end I am especially thankful to our vets.  Our daughter, Emily, is dating a wonderful man, Joe, who will be going on his 8th tour of duty this fall.  He was in college during the time when 9/11 occurred.  Like so many brave young people, he enlisted within a couple of years of graduation.  He now serves as an Army Ranger.  We think the world of him.  I can’t imagine how his parents have endured these many deployments.  I pray that all of the troops come home soon and that we, as a country, stand by our vets and make sure they get all of the services they need.  

Yesterday I listened to Vice President Biden’s courageous words to our Gold Star Families.  He spoke from the heart to these families, first  recounting his despair after his wife and brother were killed in an automobile accident.  Vice President Biden was a young man, newly elected to the senate.  He had young children.  As you can imagine, he was devastated.  He told the families that he knew what it was like to want to commit suicide.  He acknowledged that some in the audience may struggle daily with such feelings.  He talked about the black hole of pain.  And he promised that if they were able to endure, that one day, when these families thought of their loved one, they would smile at a memory before the tears came.  And that would be a beginning.  Vice President Biden may well have saved some lives with this “straight talk.”  I am so proud of him.  The last thing these families need is platitudes.  They are in the trenches of grief and loss.  Vice President Biden essentially lit a lamp, held it high, and perhaps offered a path through the darkness for these families.  I will be praying hard for our vets and for the families of our vets this week end.  

Lighter matters:

Today I went to the Kennebunk plant and pie sale at the local hardware store.  I came home with some lemon basil and some chives.  I learned that the chive flowers (supposedly) can be used as an edible garnish to add taste and color.  I will be adding both the chive and the lemon basil to this week’s rice salad.  So, the base will be brown rice and lemon juice.  Add-ins are fresh herbs, red sweet peppers, aduki beans, scallions, corn, sweet peas, zest of lemon and orange.  I will put the rice dish on a bed of Arugula or I will sprinkle watercress on top.  Both of these greens are loaded with vitamins A and C.  Watercress has as much vitamin C as an apple.  In fact, it  has so many nutrients that it is known as nature’s multi-vitamin.  Check these greens out if you like the bitter greens of the early growing season.

Late night snack.  Oh, I have missed having milk and cereal before bed.  At last I have found low salt replacements.  Try Mom’s Best Sweetened Wheat-fuls.  An entire cup has only 10 mg sodium.  Wow!  And they taste great.  Really.  For a milk-like substitute, I am using Westsoy’s organic unsweetened soy milk that has only 30 mg sodium per cup.  It  isn’t quite as tasty as milk or other milk subs, but the salt content is far less.  Oh, both of these products pack a great protein punch.  5 and 9 grams, respectively.  I actually fell asleep before the sun rose this morning and I think this snack helped.  In addition, I tried some melatonin.  That seemed to help as well.  i’m hoping I can get my sleep cycle back in order.  I had forgotten how beautiful the morning is!!!  Ah, but I have already gone through a lot of my water supply for the day.  It is amazing how fast that 2 liters can go.

That’s all for now.  Gus is asleep on the couch.  Marc and his Dad are out having coffee.  Phyllis is relaxing and enjoying the day.  I hope you all have a great week end.

Tonight

It has been a day full of fog.  Do you like fog?  I had a friend who said fog made her feel claustrophobic.  I was so surprised, as I have always found fog to be comforting, enveloping, a bit like a cacoon, I imagine.  But I am so glad my friend told me that.  It serves as a reminder that we each experience life in a unique way.  Today, as i enjoyed the fog, I was also aware of another perspective.  I thought, also, about moisture made visible, be it rain or snow or sleet.  That turned my mind to the humidity that is so much a part of my life when I am in Alabama.  The cool tendrils of fog please me, but give me humidity as it forms in the south, and I am miserable. Both are air thick with moisture.  Yet they are so different.

My maiden name comes from the words:  sea farer.  I imagine my ancestors sailing through the seas.  I think of how many years I lived on an island and how the sound of the foghorn and of the bell buoys called to me.  It is good to be home, good to know that i still feel at home here after so many years of living “away.”

I realize I have two homes now.  Alabama is one of those.  I have family and friends and history there now.  Instead of choosing between, I am learning to add on.

Tell me about your homes in this world.  What places call to you?

xo

What a difference a day makes

Tomorrow night I increase my medication again.  This post goes out to my friends and family:  Please remind me that I will feel better as my body adapts.  If you get a call or a text or a post from me in the next few days, and I am having trouble, just remind me of this.

THANK YOU

xo

Rush Limbaugh and Me

If you want the scoop on trashy novels, I’m your girl.  I  have had to pretty much give up literary fiction in favor of escapist novels (and I use the word “novel” loosely) that don’t require much  in the way of thinking or feeling.  My son, Jordan, loves hearing this.  Years ago, he commented that all Marc and I did was “watch depressing movies, read depressing books and listen to depressing music.”  Turns out, he was right.  I’ll never live this down.

I have been rotating through genres and in the last month or so have been reading political thrillers and mysteries.  I had worked my way through the books my father-in-law had around the house, noticing as I did so that these books seemed invariably to be about  American agents pitted against Muslim extremist groups, basically terrorists, who could only be stopped through the use of torture.  I ran out of books a few days ago and asked Marc to pick up a new one for me.  He came home with American Assassin by Vince Flynn.    I read the first few pages, noting the usual plot lines.  I decided to check the copyright date, thinking perhaps all of these books were written right after 9/11 in an attempt to capitalize on a narrow definition of patriotism.  Nope.  Dated 2010.  At that point, I happened to see a quote by none other than Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, stating that the book was “fantastic” and “just fabulous,” respectively.  Hmmmm.  I’m now reading the same novels as these two.  And, since Beck and Limbaugh are the FIRST two people quoted in the accolades, it seems fair to say that other people reading this type of book value the opinion of these gentlemen.  Sigh.  Look how far I’ve come.  I need some help from my friends.  That’s how we get by, right?  Send me your reading suggestions…any genre.  Just so the overall take away isn’t, to quote Jordan again, “soul crushingly depressing.”

 

Standing on your head

Okay, so if you are reading this on anything except an iPhone, you will have noticed that I did indeed figure out how to post a picture, but the picture is upside down. Another vintage Helen moment. The more I thought about it, the more appropriate the upside down picture is. (besides, it will have to stay that way until Jordan comes to visit!)

Life has a way of turning things on its head. We’ve all experiened that. Perhaps this picture. An represent lifes’s most recent capricious turn for me. I’m going to do what I can to appreciate Thisvantage point. 

Cardiomyopathy, or “A strange thing happened to my heart.”

Warning:  Don’t read this if you are a hypochondriac in any way.  A virus snuck up on my heart and attacked it!  Seriously.  Now I have a condition called dilated cardiomyopathy and, because of the cardiomyopathy, I have heart failure.  Cardiomyopathy is an enlarged heart, meaning that my heart  can no longer pump blood well.  My heart stretched in order to adapt  to  try to pump  more blood.  As it stretches, it is less able to pump, and so it goes, weakening further.  Heart failure does NOT mean that my heart has failed, just that it is failing.  I like to just say my heart’s having a hard time doing what it needs to do.

A cardiac MRI showed that my heart is scarred from a virus and now both the left and the right ventricle are compromised.  For a while I was aysmptomatic, except for fatigue, aches and pains.  And who doesn’t have that??  Now I have some other complications, such as edema or swelling.  

Sometimes people get cardiomyopathy due to a heart attack or very high blood pressure.  In those cases, the left ventricle is usually compromised first, which in turn compromises the right ventricle over time.  In my case, it appears that the right ventricle is the most compromised, with the left ventricle moderately compromised.  

hmmm…things I’ve learned:  For all of those people out there who do too much ALL THE TIME, don’t assume your fatigue is due to normal wear and tear; fatigue isn’t always or only due to depression; and ladies, don’t let the doctors blame everything on peri-menopause.  Oh, and watch out for aches and pains,  significant weight gain or weight loss.  

More later on treatment and life the way it is now:)

Anyone else reading this with a heart or health story to share?

Coming soon:  How to be brave and other lessons I learned from my children and my husband.