Friday, November 26, 2010

The PARTY isn't over...

until Patrick pukes!! I can say, definitively, that nobody has ever vomited during one one of my Thanksgiving get-togethers before. Before this year, that is. I have to wonder if by making some of the foods just a wee bit healthier I enabled my young nephew to gorge himself so far beyond the point of capacity that his stomach could no longer contain the load.

It doesn't matter. It was funny. Or, I guess it was funny to everyone except poor little Patrick, that is. I have a new Thanksgiving goal, now too: MAKE PEOPLE EAT UNTIL THEY VOMIT...LIKE A ROMAN ORGY!

This wasn't an "out with the old - in with the new" year. I kept a lot of things exactly the same. My sausage and apple stuffing is NOT to be tampered with...nor is my cranberry sauce. We still fried one of the turkeys, but for the roasted bird I rubbed it with olive oil and basted it with pan juices instead of butter. Nobody, including myself, noticed a difference. I cut back the butter and cream in my traditional mashed potatoes to no detriment. On the other hand, I made a separate batch of mashed potatoes with black truffle salt, brie, and more black truffles. I kept my creamed corn recipe as is...which is made with just about an equal ratio of bacon to corn to cream to butter (with a dash of black pepper) but I completely revamped the string beans (no more French's fried onions - yes, I admitted it.) and made a sauce with toasted almonds, shallots and a balsamic vinegar reduction. I left the bleu cheese out of the cucumber salad all together...but by accident, not deliberation. I simply forgot to add it. Nobody noticed.

All in all, it was a successful holiday. I'd seriously considered cancelling because I've been feeling so lousy. I would not have been able to pull things off this year without a LOT of help from my family. We didn't get to the Christmas decorating like we normally do. My general rule is to have the guests hanging lights and ornaments while I'm cooking. This year, I put everyone to work peeling vegetables instead. It would have been impossible to get everything done without everyone pitching in.

One hundred percent healthy or no, I have much to be thankful for this year...including a significantly smaller ass.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thanksgiving is a week...

and a few hours away. With one exception, I have cooked dinner for my family and assorted and sundry friends, friends of friends, and the occasional stranger every year since I was 16 years old. In spite of, or maybe because of, all the current stress going on in my life, I fully intend (and yes, I know what "they" say about the road to hell) to do it again this year.

Considering the number of times I've cooked the meal...often for groups of people pushing 4 dozen or so, I have the whole routine down to a science. I shop. I do all the prep work (with the exception of peeling potatoes - which I've managed to delegate to my younger son in the past few years - SUCKA!) I cook. While I cook, my husband and guests decorate my home for Christmas. After dinner, I rest. My guests clean up. It's a system that's practically written in stone. It's perfect. I love it. I look forward to it most of the year!

This year, I'm a little worried the whole darn thing might go up in flames though...

What's the problem?

The problem is that I DO NOT USE RECIPES!!

Here I close to meeting my goal I can actually SEE the finish line and I've come to this giant hurdle.

But seriously, what's the problem?

Well, the things I cook (without using recipes) would give Paula Deen a heart attack...or a fit of envy. Last year alone, I went through SIX POUNDS OF BUTTER!!! Yes, you read that right. 6. Six. SIX. POUNDS. OF BUTTER. My creamed "corn" alone has about a pound of butter...along with a quart of heavy cream and a couple of pounds of bacon...oh yeah, and there's some corn in there too.

We generally roast one turkey and FRY another...and, depending on the number of guests we're expecting, sometimes BBQ a bunch of extra turkey legs.

My mashed potatoes have nearly an equal ratio of potato to butter to cream (plus black truffle salt.)

For that matter, I can't think of anything besides the cranberry sauce, that doesn't have copious quantities of butter. I make up for the missing butter in the cranberry sauce with lots and lots of sugar, orange juice and a touch of (never mind, it's a secret.)

Even my salads stretch the boundaries. The green salad has tons of marinated artichoke hearts....TONS and the cucumber salad has tons of bleu cheese....TONS. They could be worse, but I know they leave a lot to be desired on the health front.

And therein lies the problem. I KNOW that my traditional Thanksgiving meal is anything but healthy. I need to fix it without ruining it for my family or myself. It will ruin it for my family if I take away all their favorites or change them to the point of being unrecognizable. It will ruin it for me if I have to stress about using "recipes" and measuring this and that.

Is there a way to fix it and make it healthy WITHOUT ruining it for all of us? Right now, I'm leaning towards writing it off as a "once a year - don't worry about it" sort of thing...but I'm afraid that sort of thinking will get me and my ass in all sorts of trouble. There are a LOT of "once a year" sort of things in life. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Just when I thought...

I couldn't be any more freaked out about this stupid liver thing, my cardiologist throws a wrench in the works. The ultrasound of my liver is scheduled for 1:30 tomorrow afternoon. My cardiologist's office made the appointment for me. For some reason today, however, my cardiologist called both me and my husband (left messages for both of us) wanting to know why he hadn't received the test results yet. All I could DO is call his office and say, "the doctor hasn't gotten the results because I haven't had the test." All I could THINK is, "why does he have his panties in such a wad? If this test was such a big deal, why didn't the schedule it RIGHT AWAY?! Maybe it is a BIG DEAL and they were SUPPOSED to schedule it right away!"

I guess the good news is, come what may, I should know something...soon.

The better news is....I made some super lean turkey chili for dinner tonight, so, in spite of my ass wanting to console my fears about my liver with a trip to McDonalds for a SUPER-SIZE McRib value meal and a hot caramel sundae, I'm golden. I love turkey chili!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

This is me and...

my buddy, my pal, Adam Funke. He's the man that had the fit of brilliance that became Real Life Fitness and Health...otherwise known as my "fat camp." I'm thankful that Google found him for me because his program changed my life. By the way, Adam, I forgive you for not calling me back that time your cell phone died and Christy still deserves a raise (even if you already gave her one!) ;)

**Disclaimer** It is ME (not Laila), in the picture...straight from a workout. A sincere thanks goes out to the photographer who was kind enough to leave my ass out of the picture. My ass is still not entirely photo worthy...but it's on the way there!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

This is going to be....

a long, boring story...mostly about my current health issues. Reading it will sort of be like being trapped with your crazy Aunt Mildred at an Easter luncheon listening to stories about her blood sugar fluctuations, ingrown toenails, and halitosis. Fortunately for me, I'm still writing this blog as some sort of cathartic journaling for those of you that expect me to be entertaining or offer some sort of useful might want to just skip this post..that or SUCK IT UP!

Anyhow, for THREE weeks now...I've been mostly sitting around my house. Mostly sitting around my house and occasionally being driven to the medical center by my husband or my mother for one doctor's appointment or test or another. I've been having a very serious PITY PARTY. It sucks.

It all started out with the really bad allergy attack that came on as soon as I crossed the state line into Texas on the drive home from fat camp in Utah. I have determined, without a doubt, that I am allergic to this state. Someday, God-willing, we'll get to move....good economy and cheap housing be damned.

The allergy attack turned into a sinus infection. The sinus infection turned into an ear infection. I called my family doctor, but was unable to get an appointment right away with him and had to see one of his physician's assistants. The physician's assistant put me on antibiotics for my ear infection, Nasonex, and told me to stop taking the Benadryl (that's been working for me my antihistamine of choice for DECADES!) and to start taking Zyrtec-D. I figured, I haven't been to "physician's assistant school" I listened.

My ear infection cleared up (seemingly)...but I continued, as instructed, to take the Zyrtec-D. A few weeks later, my ear started to hurt again. It felt similar to the pain, all those years ago, of a diving injury. I was (am) also having issues with severe vertigo and can hear everything from my heartbeat to my sound of my breathing inside my head...strange stuff. This time, I was able to see MY DOCTOR. Strangely, he found no signs of an infection. NONE. He sent me to my Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) doctor.

The ENT tested my hearing. It's improved significantly since my diving days. He looked in my ear and also didn't see any signs of infection. He gave me a preliminary diagnosis of "patulous eustachian tubes"...which means, in a nutshell, that the tubes in my ears that are supposed to open and CLOSE stay open all the time. Then he sent me off to a cardiologist to find out why I'm getting so dizzy because he thought it might have something to do with my blood pressure being low.

So off to the cardiologist I went. I had an EKG. I got to take a "Holter" monitor home and wear that for 24 hours. My mother and I had an amusing discussion because we were certain that they'd misspelled "halter"...because of how you wore the damn thing...but it turns out it's someones name. Oh well...can't correct everyone all the time. On one day I had an echocardiogram. THAT reminded me how long I'm capable of holding my breath. I think I was making the nurse nervous.

On another day, I got to have a "tilt test." The test consisted primarily of spending about an hour and change being velcroed to a hospital table held upright at about 80 degrees, like Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs. I spent the time chatting with my cardiologist about diving and spear-fishing while they did various and sundry stuff to me, including but not limited to dosing me with nitroglycrin and trying to make me faint. I didn't faint. The only time I felt dizzy was when they initially moved the table. I tried to explain that if they wanted to make me dizzy they needed to move the table back down and back up again...quickly...but, apparently, that wasn't the point of the test.

Based on the results of all these tests, the cardiologist has determined that there isn't a hill of beans worth of anything wrong with my heart. He told me that my vertigo is most likely caused by something in my inner ear and that I should return to the ENT. Go figure. FML.

I have yet to return to the ENT. I'm frustrated with my ear, nose and throat doctor for sending me to the cardiologist in the first place and seriously considering trying to find another doctor. Mostly though, I'm distracted and moderately freaked out by the "surprise" news I got from the cardiologist. "Surprise" in, "Oh by the way, when we were doing your echocardiogram, we noticed a CYST ON YOUR LIVER." You need to get that checked promptly. So, now I get to go see another doctor. And now I get to get another test. And now I have another health issue to worry about. I would sincerely like to NOT have any sort of problems with my liver. I would sincerely like to NOT have any health problems AT ALL, but that's probably too much to ask.

I'm having a little bit of trouble counting my blessings right now, but I'll try. My knees aren't bothering me anymore. My back isn't bothering me anymore. I am the ONLY person in my house that doesn't need glasses. According to the ENT (whom I'm still very irritated with)...I can supposedly hear again too (although I wish I couldn't hear my own heartbeat). We still have private health insurance. I am almost five years thyroid CANCER FREE!

So, like I said, I've been sitting around having a pity party. I've been going down the "worst case scenario" road....the "oh crap, what if I have cancer in my liver?" road. I've been sitting around feeling really sorry for myself. I've been using the vertigo as an excuse not to work out. Yes, I get really dizzy. Yes, I might fall off the friggin' treadmill. (What's new?!) Yes, it's not really safe for me to drive. (How about hauling my fat ass upstairs and using the thousands of dollars of equipment I have at my disposal at home?) If none of that, how about not using everything else as an excuse to "snack" on just a few too many simple carbs. Yeah, I know. I've been letting my ass take the reins. No more. It felt too good to get up off of my ass the past two days and do something. (We painted.) It's time to get back to work on my ass. I'll cross the rest of the bridges when I come to them.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

For a long time...

I've been trying to figure out what I want to be when I "grow up." Considering the fact that I'm pushing the dark side of 40 (it's LOOMING!!)'s really something I should know.

When I was younger, I KNEW. I fell in love with scuba diving and wanted to share my love of diving with everyone and anyone that would don a mask and a pair of fins and hop in the water with me. I taught scuba diving until my ears gave out on me. I miss it. I can still dive, but teaching scuba requires healthier ear drums (with much less scar tissue) than yours truly is stuck with.

Since becoming a "retired" scuba instructor, I've been wandering around fairly aimlessly...I've been first and foremost a wife and a mother...I've owned my own businesses and managed them for others...but, mostly, I've missed teaching people about something that I love.

A few years ago, one of my very best friends suffered a debilitating stroke. She lost most of the use of her right side and most of her ability to communicate. In many ways, her husband lost his wife, her children lost their mother, and I lost my friend. She's still with us, but she's not the same. It was, and is, heartbreaking.

I've spent a lot of time helping my friend since her stroke. I've read as much about physical and occupational and speech therapy as I can find. Initially, it was a struggle for her to transfer from her wheelchair to the toilet and back again. A few weeks ago, I took her to the hair salon. We left the wheelchair at home!! It was a triumphant moment for both of us. She's come a long way.

That triumph made me realize idea I've been fiddling with for a while, but hadn't put into play. I'm a good teacher. When I care about something (or someone) I'm good at explaining things. If I can't make my point one way, I'll make it another way. Perhaps this comes from being a difficult student myself?

Regardless, I've found a new passion...and, quite possibly, figured out what I want to "BE" when I grow up. The joy I find in helping someone relearn physical skills that once came easily to them is beyond anything I've ever experienced. I'm not certain if I have it in me to go back to school for long enough of a time to become an occupational therapist, but it'll be interesting to find out.

In the meantime, I'm going to continue working on getting ME healthy (I can't help anyone if I'm exhausted from hauling my giant ass around all day!)...and, as a segue to occupational therapy, plan to take a personal trainer certification course through NPTI. THAT should be interesting!! Assuming I can get medical clearance from my doctors (those darn ears again!)...I'm going to start the course in January. I'm hoping to drop at least 20 of my last 45 pounds prior to the start date. If being in a classroom full of twenty-something year old personal trainers to be isn't motivation to get my ass into high gear, I don't know what is.