Category: Reflections and Commentary
Wow. Both of my kids are off at college. Incredible. The time has flown by so fast. It seems like yesterday that I was bringing my babies home from the hospital.
People have been asking all week if I’m ok. Am I sad? Is the empty nest hard? I have to say I am not sad or depressed. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been too busy to be unhappy. Perhaps it’s because I have no regrets. I loved being a Mom. I totally threw myself into being a full time at home Mom for years. It wasn’t until DD started Middle School that I even considered going back to work. Then I was working part time at her school.
My goal has been to raise two productive, healthy, godly young adults. To hold them back from their dreams and plans for the future would be unnatural.
That having been said, I did pamper them a bit the last week that they were both at home. I fixed a lot of their favorite foods. Spinach with raisins and butternut squash for SS. Pumpkin with ginger and green beans with basil and garlic for DD. Watermelon and mango for SS. Papaya, kiwi, and nectarines for DD. Eye of round roast for SS. Fresh salmon for DD. It was fun to plan meals that I know they like, and that they won’t get when they are off at school.
The distance doesn’t seem as great as it did when I went off to college in the 70s. Long distance phone calls were expensive, and letters took 2-3 days to reach their destinations back then. I’ve talked with DD on the cell phone every day. She called me from the grocery store this afternoon asking my opinion about fruit juice and soy milk. It was fun to imagine her and her roommate loading up their shopping cart.
I heard this statement earlier in the summer, “When you are a mother, the days go by slowly, but the years go by quickly.” It’s hard to grasp that when you are struggling with a 2-year-old or negotiating with a 13-year-old. But when you hug your 18-year-old and your 23-year-old good-bye, you realize how true it is.
We had barely gotten home from our vacation when I got a call from my Mom at 8 am. She can't hear a thing over the phone; she just said to me, "Dad has fallen, please come." That's not an easy thing to do, on the spur of the moment. They are a 3 1/2 hour drive away. I called a friend from their church to go by and give me a first hand report. Then I packed my bags.
It turns out that my Dad (90 years old) had symptoms of a urinary tract infection, but ignored them. Then he started running a low grade fever. He decided that the medications he takes every day might be related to the fever, so he stopped taking everything - prescriptions and vitamins. He got weaker and weaker. Right before I left on vacation he admitted the UTI symptoms, and got antibiotics. He took them just long enough to get relief, then stopped, then started again. He continued to get weaker, until one night he was in the bathroom with his walker and his legs collapsed and he sat down on the floor. Fortunately it wasn't really a fall. He just slumped and couldn't get up.
By the time I got there, friends had carried him to bed. He wasn't making much sense, and he was seeing illusions. I called his doctor. Some of the medication he was on must not be stopped suddenly. If it is, it causes -- muscle weakness. The sporadically treated UTI had come roaring back - causing confusion and weakness. The doctor prescribed antibiotics and said get him back on his meds.
For several days I thought he would not recover. Fortunately today he is talking sense again. He is still too weak to stand by himself - even with the walker. He has lost a great deal of the independence that is so important to him. We have a home health care worker taking care of him 9-5 every day. My Mom (at 92) can't get him in a sitting position to eat and she can't roll him over to change his sheets.
I once read a book on natural home remedies. It had a vitamin or herb therapy for almost everything imaginable. I looked up strep throat, and the author wrote this: (I'm paraphrasing) If you have symptoms of strep throat, go to the doctor and get antibiotics. This is serious. It is not the time to take vitamin C.
I feel the same advice is true for any number of bacterial infections. There is a time for preventive care. There is a time for home remedies. There is a time for beneficial food on the best diet in the world. But, there is a time for modern medicine.
I'll say the same thing to you that I'm saying to my Dad, now that he can talk coherently again. If you have symptoms of an infection, don't ignore them. Call the doctor. If you want to cut back on your meds, tell your doctor and find out the safe way to do it. Don't stop cold turkey. You can get very sick, very quickly if you ignore an infection and suddenly stop your meds.
We have a friend who says, “Money can’t buy happiness, but it can sure make you comfortable.” The statement always gets a laugh because it’s true. Almost everyone wishes they had more money, but they can see that the rich are some of the unhappiest people in the world.
It’s equally true that food can’t make you happy. In spite of all the magazine articles about comfort food; eating with the wrong motivation just compounds problems, it never makes them go away.
My Darling Daughter and I had a conversation on this topic this morning. It started when she said, “Food makes you happy, Mom, but I’ve never really liked to eat.” At first I wanted to flatly deny both parts of the statement, but I couldn’t.
I do enjoy eating. I like the flavors and textures of food. I don’t care for gourmet cooking with fancy sauces and decorations. Simple food simply prepared is my style. However, I do get pleasure from cooking and eating.
DD on the other hand, says she has never really liked to eat. I remember that when she was a little tyke, she rarely finished her breakfast or lunch in one sitting. She would eat a few bites, then leave the table and go play. An hour later I’d see her back at the table, eating a little bit more.
This has made it hard for her to gain weight this year. She doesn’t like feeling full. She doesn’t want to have to eat snacks in between meals. She especially doesn’t like eating before she goes to bed.
I reminded her that while she didn’t eat a lot when she was little, in her middle school and early high school years she would come home from school, watch TV and snack. That was different, she explained. TV and munching seemed to go together. It wasn’t so much that she liked eating, but she liked keeping her hands and mouth busy while she watched. And she certainly didn’t like the weight that she put on during those years.
She told me how unhappy she was when her jeans wouldn’t fit. “So you worked hard and lost weight – too much weight,” I said. “Did that make you happy?” No she admitted that it hadn’t. “Now you’re almost at your goal of a healthy weight, does that make you happy.” Again the answer was no.
Food doesn’t make you happy. Happiness and joy come from inside. (The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22) Happiness is more about your faith than about how much you eat or how much is in your bank account.
I hope that DD will come to learn that while the right kind and right amount of food can bring health, a happy heart is much more than weight or dress size or the image in the mirror.
I think I'm beginning to see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. School is out. My class really worked hard the last two weeks, and most of the yearbook pages are done. The editor has to wrap up the division pages that tie the book together, and I have plenty of proofing to do. But it's a manageable amount of work. It all has to be in the mail a week from Friday.
Graduation was last Saturday. I'm going to brag a bit on my darling daughter. She was the valedictorian of the senior class. She gave a lovely and positive speech. She stayed far away from the cake at the reception, even though pictures of the seniors were on top of the cake in colored icing. How do they do that? What kinds of chemicals and artificial colors must it take? It's fascinating to look at, but I wasn't tempted to eat it.
I've eaten well during this stressful time, but I haven't had nearly enough sleep. I have a fever blister!! The first in more than 20 years. I know it's the lack of rest. I have rarely been to bed before midnight in the past 3 weeks. More nights than I care to admit, my light was still burning at 2am. It's not quite 10:00 as I type this blog. I have one more e-mail to write, then I intend to crawl into bed and read for a few minutes before I close my eyes.
From time to time I’ve blogged about our friends J and M who live in Alabama. J is diabetic and Type A. He read the Health Library Diabetes book and followed it for a while, but eventually stopped. It was too hard for him to give up beef, potatoes, and fried foods. He has chosen to take medication to control his diabetes.
His brother, also a Type A diabetic and only in his late 50s, passed away a couple of weeks ago. The brother had heart failure that was a complication of the diabetes. J and M came to Texas for the funeral, and we got to see them several times.
The same week other friends arrived from Oklahoma. D is also diabetic. However he has taken the diagnosis very seriously. He has lost a lot of weight, and carefully watches what he eats.
These visits came just after my Honorable Husband got his lab work that for the first time shows his blood sugar just over the line. When he got the lab report, it didn’t have too much of an impact. The doctor just scribbled a little note saying, “Watch your diet.” It didn’t seem to HH to be that big of a deal. But J’s brother’s funeral and seeing two friends diagnosed with diabetes got his attention.
He asked both J and D a lot of questions. He asked me what the Blood Type Diet had to say about diabetes. I went online and bought the Heath Library Diabetes book. (Since the GenoType Diet book came out, there are some really good deals on some of the Health Library books. I’ve been adding to my collection.)
The book arrived and he is reading it! Not only that, he is discussing it with me. He has agreed that he wants to get his blood sugar down now, when it is just over the line. He already takes blood pressure and cholesterol medication. He does not want to add another daily med for diabetes.
I am thrilled to have him consciously on board, rather than a passive participant in the BTD. The first step has to weed out the non-compliant food that I have allowed in the house to keep him happy. He has grieved over ice cream. I’ve said, “If you keep your blood sugar under the line, you don’t have to say that you’ll never eat ice cream again. We just won’t have it in the house. But you could splurge a little when we are out with friends. However, if you let yourself develop full blown diabetes, that is when you have to give it up altogether.” The second step will be to enter the Diabetes food lists into our database.
I haven’t written about exercise in a while, but that does not mean I’ve been neglecting it. Especially as I go into the high stress part of my year, with end of school activities and yearbook deadlines, exercise is extremely important to my frame of mind.
DD and I continue to go to the fitness room in the subdivision three days a week. I’m always pushing myself to increase either repetitions or pounds on the weight machine. I know it’s good for my bones, and it certainly is strenuous.
Tuesday night for the first time I lifted 60 pounds! It was on one of the leg machines. I often say that my lower body is larger than my upper body. My lower body is also much stronger. There are some of the upper body exercises where I still struggle with 20 pounds. I was pleased. Sixty pounds is a milestone.
I can tell a difference in my overall muscle tone since we started this routine. I can see flesh and muscle covering some of my upper body bones, where there was none at the first of the year. This inspires me to keep pushing myself.
I can also see better muscle definition in my legs. I fight the menopause skin on my thighs and upper arms. But there is nothing to do for that but take HRT, and I’d rather have goosey skin than take a chance on cancer.
DD finds herself liking aerobic exercise more and more, in spite of being a Type A. She never enjoyed competitive racing, and she abandoned aerobics in favor of dance and stretching when we started the BTD. However, when she wanted to lose weight and tone her legs, she realized that there was no substitute for the harder work that aerobic exercise demands.
One thing DD and I are both struggling with is the competition between exercise and sleep. She is every bit as busy as I am, as high school senior with three dual credit courses. There is not a spare minute in her day.
Both of us just run out of hours sometimes. Last night at 11:15 we had a choice to make. I chose sleep; she chose exercise.
We had two sets friends in from out of town last week and over the weekend. One came for a funeral. The other came for fun. We had a wonderful time visiting with both, and we ate out at restaurants more than we usually do. I was able to find delightful beneficial food everywhere we went. One avoid snuck in unexpectedly, but that will have to wait for another blog. Today I’m reminiscing about a conversation yesterday at school.
The librarian – a Type A who integrates a lot of BTD principals into her diet – grabbed me in the hall and said there was a student in the library doing internet research about being a vegan. She wanted me to talk to her.
The girl does not know her blood type. She thinks her mother said she was something with a B in it, but she didn’t remember if it was B or AB. She told me that the reason she wants to be a vegan is not because of health or weight issues. She just loves animals and thinks it’s wrong to mistreat them.
I agreed with her on both points. I love animals and don’t want to see them mistreated. But I also said that if you go back to the Bible, God created animals for many purposes and one of them was a food source. I can say that in a Christian school – I’d probably be fired in a public school.
I told her that if she wasn’t a Type A, that she would probably not be happy or healthy long term on a vegetarian diet. She said that she hadn’t eaten meat in 3 years, and that she felt fine. I began to talk about essential amino acids, and that everyone including vegetarians must have protein. I encouraged her to look into food combining.
I reminded her that vegan came from the same root word as vegetable, and that she needed to be careful to get most of her foods from vegetables, fruits, and legumes. I began to suspect that when she stopped eating meat, she began to eat what was easily available – bread, candy, and potato chips. Beware, I said, of too much starch and sugar.
She countered with concern about hormones and antibiotics in meat. I agreed, but added that meats are not the only foods altered and changed by food processors. I asked if she knew about GMO and pesticides that affect the quality of grains. She did not know. I told her that white flour, white rice and other highly processed food could actually be worse for her than the meat that she was afraid of. I told her that if she was going to be a healthy vegan or vegetarian, it would involve lots of research and planning.
Eventually the conversation worked its way back to her primary concern – her love for cute animals. I reminded her that it is possible to buy naturally raised beef, lamb, and poultry. I don’t always do it because of the expense – but if that is her main concern, it is not hard to find in our area. By then there were several students gathered around listening, and one asked whether dogs went to heaven. Everyone had a strong opinion about that topic.
I said that I was very cautious to be dogmatic in areas where the Bible was silent. The Bible says that God created all of the animals. The Bible says that a sparrow doesn’t fall to the ground without God knowing and caring. But the Bible says nothing about animals in the afterlife. I am content to know that God’s plan for animals is good, even though I have no idea what it is.