Friday, December 30, 2011

It's going to be a long and busy day

Just had breakfast of an egg, thin slice of Canadian bacon and English muffin. It as a frozen store brand, Fred Myers here, but probably Kroegers in the rest of the world. It was a "Lite" version at 220 calories. Not sure of Points since not in Weight Watcher scan app, and I'm too rushed (or lazy) to put in the PointsPlus app. Love these app. Sort of tasty, fast breakfast.

Great visit with my sister last night. She couldn't stop crying when she saw me. I told her I sure hoped they were tears of happiness and not sadness. She laughed.

Husband is here and we're heading out to see my sister this morning, then appointments and then the house (the dreaded house and mass of paperwork).

No internet until I get home on Sunday morning.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Fairbanks, Alaska...hell has frozen over

I'm in the hotel dining room and just had a quick dinner of a salad and a hamburger patty. I took off the bun, and just ate the patty with the lettuce and tomatoes. I said no fries and a salad instead, they still  brought the fries and the salad. They're the skinny, seasoned fries and look really salty. I didn't eat any, didn't really even want them. I honestly can't remember the last time I ate beef. Actually, it tasted pretty good.

About Fairbanks, the most God-forsaken place I've ever been when it's thirty-three degrees below zero. I can't believe I lived in the interior Alaska for thirty years before I left here. I forgot how miserable it is when it's this cold. It literally hurts.

It was pitch dark when I got here at 3:30pm, and so cold I thought I had frostbite by the time I got the car scraped off (covered in ice and snow). It has awesome heated seats...a new requirement for any future Fairbanks rental cars in the winter.

I had a bit of an anxiety attack on the plane. Actually, I had it at work before I left for the airport and it just continued on the plane. A sort of mental breakdown after reading an email from my brother (who I thought liked me). He said I was too hard on my crazy niece, and our sister would want me to be kind to her and help her. I couldn't stop crying. This same thing happened to me after I think my third trip up here. Where the tears wouldn't stop and my heart ached with pain.

Honestly, I'm out of kindness, forgiveness and love when it comes to my niece. She's attacked me for the last time, and I will not fall for the false sweetness which turns to mean, hateful and very hurtful behavior.

I saw a quote in the Oprah January magazine that I left up in the room. Basically, it was about running away from toxic people. I get that. My niece is toxic. If I was to put a label on her, I would guess it's bipolar. I'm not sure, but there's definitely something wrong with her.

My husband is flying in later tonight. Thanks to Sarah's comment, we'll be having a bonfire of paperwork outside at my sister's house. She doesn't have a fireplace, but she has a 123 acres of land, no neighbors and the house sits on a river. Lots of snow too. Of course, not sure how I'll be able to handle the -40 temperature since her place is always ten degrees colder than in town.

Thanks you guys for all your kind comments. Your support and kindness continues to amaze me.

I'm off to see my sister. I hope I don't cry when I see her. It's just so sad, but it's life and I have to make the best of it.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Really? Fairbanks again?!

I swear I have the most dysfunctional, crazy, weird family in the world, and I don't mean that in a good way.

After weeks of listening to the whining and complaining about cleaning out their mother's house, one of my nieces (the most crazy of the crazy) called me yesterday (the first time since she changed all her phone numbers a month ago). She demanded to be paid for her time for helping her mother by cleaning out her mother's house, as well as for her gas for driving the six miles to the house.

Oh.My.God. Are you serious?  Yes, she was serious and NO-FREAKING-WAY will she get paid. I don't get paid and darn don't get paid. May I remind you, this is for your mother! I'm just totally flabbergasted over this latest event. Who are these people?! Their mother, my sister, practically dedicated her life to them and this is how they repay her?

After contacting my attorney, I decided to fly up to Fairbanks tomorrow night. Friday morning I'm having all the locks changed on my sister's house. Then I'm meeting with an auctioneer at the house to discuss how to go about auctioning off all my sister's personal belongings and household items, then to the realtor to sign the listing agreement. My brother will visit the house once a week to make sure it's okay.

The children...they are DONE. I don't want to hearing about it anymore. They seem to take joy in telling me what a mess it is and how they're mother had a shopping problem and how hard they're working. I've had enough. Keep in mind these aren't young people, they're between the ages of 46 to 49 and neither of my nieces even have jobs.

Here's the forecast for Fairbanks, and where my sister's house is located twenty-three miles out of Fairbanks it's always ten degrees colder. That would make it a low of -46 degrees. Yuk.

I'm probably going to stay at my sister's house, which is going to be very weird. No internet, TV, or phone (and my cell phone barely works out there), I had it all turned off to save money. The main reason I'm staying there is I'm on a shredding mission while I'm there, to shred as much paperwork as possible in a day and a half. My sister doesn't own a shredder. That alone should tell you something.

The diet and exercise
Still at it, gym every day as usual. I didn't track my food today, but I don't think I ate enough because my family situation was stressing me out. The worst thing about going to Fairbanks is that I'll miss my Saturday Weight Watcher meeting. Very frustrating.

The good thing about this trip, I get to see my sister, even if it is for a short time. I really miss her.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Giving Weight Watchers a chance

I went to my Weight Watchers meeting on Saturday. I adore, love, admire, respect and practically worship my Weight Watcher leader. Every time I go to one of her meetings I learn something new, and in the process, I get entertained because she's really funny (and smart and sweet). I'm very fortunate to have such a wonderful Weight Watcher leader.

A little history about me and Weight Watchers. I joined in February 2008. I'd joined before, a few times over the years, but I never stuck with it for more than a week. This time, I was on fire. My first blog post was May 13, 2008 (in my "Old Diana's Journey"...long story on what happened and why I had to create a new one). I followed Weight Watchers to the letter. I did exactly what they said to do and guess what? It worked!

It's weird to go back and look at those old posts. I kept writing posts, almost every day, putting my heart and soul into each post. Back then, no one read my blog and no one ever commented. It's pretty funny to go back almost four years ago and read how I was struggling and working so hard when I started out. No one ever commented for several months, and I didn't care. I was dead set on losing weight and keeping a record of it.

I really believed in Weight Watchers, even though I stumbled and fell many times. Gained back a few pounds, lost a few, gained a lot, lost a lot. Back and forth over the years. This year has been particularly difficult. I even completely quit Weight Watchers last August. I decided the BodyMedia was the way to go.

I've missed the meetings and the support. I've really missed my leader. I've missed the accountability. So why did I quit? This is so stupid that I hate to even write it. I didn't like the zero-Point fruit. Pretty silly in hindsight. I wonder if I'd followed the program faithfully and eaten the free fruit without worrying about it, where would I be right now? Probably at goal.

Instead, I made a big stinking deal about the fruit. "Oh my gosh! I can't eat all the fruit I want! I'll gain weight!" That is my lame excuse for wasting an entire year.

So I'm back. Back on plan, back to following the Healthy Eating Guidelines. Back to loving my meetings and my leader. Back to following Weight Watchers as perfectly as life will allow. Back to being on fire.

My weigh in wasn't great, but it could have been much worse. In the four weeks since my last meeting I lost one pound. Saturday's weighin:  183.4. No excuses because really, I don't have any worth talking about.

One other really important, at least for me, is blogging. I feel like I've been so wrapped up in my sister's mess, that I forgot about me. I forgot about my life and what I like and what I want to do. I love blogging and reading other blogs. It's fun and something I've enjoyed for almost four years. I don't want to quit and go off and drown myself in my sister's troubles. That's her life, not mine. It's horrible and sad and I wish to God I could change her situation, but I can't. I can only live my life the best I can, and enjoy whatever pleasure and happiness I can find in it.

In other words, I'm really back.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

Instead of crying myself to sleep last night, I went on a house cleaning rampage. From 8:30 p.m. (when my went to bed) until 4:40 a.m. I cleaned house like I was on speed. I even had a cup of coffee at 10 p.m. to keep me going, and it worked.

The house is spotless, at least the kitchen, dining and living room. Cleaning isn't something I enjoy, but it's a mindless task that kept my hands busy (no night-time eating).

After three hours of sleep, I got up and we put up the tree. We can't find the angel for the top. She's missing. I need to go out to the store anyway to get a few gifts for my husband, so I'll pick up another tree-topper angel. I'm sure the old one is packed away in the garbage somewhere, but I can't find it.

I thought about my sister when I finally crawled into bed. It's truly a sad situation, but there's nothing I can do to make it better. Just make sure she's in a warm, safe environment with good medical care.

A few people mentioned maybe I should see about moving her down here to live near me. I really thought about that while I was in Fairbanks the week after Thanksgiving. I was ready to do it. Then I watched my sister's interaction with her youngest daughter (she's 46). When this niece would walk into the room, my sister would light up with the biggest smile. When my niece bent over to kiss my sister, my sister took her good hand and reached up and touched my niece's cheek and stroked her hair. The particular niece has always had a very close bond with my sister. She visits my sister every day and gives me updates. The other niece (the crazy one) that lives in the same town has only been to see her mother once in five weeks.

Because of the love between my sister and my one niece (the sweet one), I can't break them apart. Even though it would make me feel better to have my sister near me, it would break my sister's heart, as well as my niece. I decided moving her to Seattle wasn't an option I was going to pursue.

I did talk to my sister's doctor a couple weeks ago about taking an anti-depressant and she agreed it would be a good idea. She's been on one for almost a week now, and the non-stop crying has stopped, but she's still not cooperative in her therapy.

About the diet and exercise
Yes, this is still a weight loss blog, even though my sister's situation has consume me lately. The eating has been pretty good. No junk food except a handmade candy cane three days ago (and it was awesome). I started tracking my food about three days ago, using the BodyMedia website and phone app.

My exercise has been really good this week, with the gym every day for the last seven days, plus 55-minute power walks at lunch on two days. Did I mention I have a new gym? L.A. Fitness and I love it! They bought out Bally Fitness (my old gym) and closed the one near my home. The L.A. Fitness I go to now is actually closer and about a hundred times nicer than Bally Fitness. Plus they have THREE really nice, always in working order StairMasters. Love it.

The only thing I don't love  about L.A. Fitness is the free weight area. There's only one and it's too small with only about seven weight benches. Bally had three free weight areas and about fifteen benches. It's always packed with guys lifting super heavy weights. Really though, I appreciate it's new and clean, with nicer equipment.

I'm still going to Weight Watchers and need to get going for the 11:15 a.m. meeting, then the gym before they close at 2 p.m. today. I love the new Weight Watcher scanner app for my phone (see T.J.s post about it here). It's the coolest thing ever. Although I'm not tracking Points this week, doing calories with BodyMedia. Maybe next week I'll try Points again just so I can use the scanner.

Take care and everyone have a Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Trying to find the spirit of Christmas

I'm not in a very festive mood this Christmas. After a lot of debate about whether we should go to Fairbanks, we decided against it. The trip would be rushed since I have to be back at work on Tuesday. We chose Christmas at home.

Home...were there isn't a single Christmas decoration or wrapped gift. I haven't sent a single Christmas card this year or purchased a single gift. I'm just not feeling it. My husband is following my lead. I guess my dark mood is contagious.

My husband has asked me numerous times what I want for Christmas. I keep telling him nothing because it's the truth. There's nothing I want this year. No cool new gadget, no new clothes, no jewelry, nothing. There's nothing that can make me happy.

I know Christmas is more than decorations and gifts, and that's where I'm really feeling sad. My faith is shaken. I can't find any explanation why such a dreadful, horrible thing has happened to my wonderful sister. None of it makes any sense.

The status of my sister isn't good. She's very healthy and eating well. The prognosis is that she will live for many more years. That sounds good, but it's not. She won't participate in any physical, occupational or speech therapy. She refuses to cooperate with the therapists. In fact, she gets angry, screaming gibberish at them and pointing to the door of her room, wanting them to leave.

She refuses to even get out of bed and into a wheelchair. True, it's quite an ordeal for her since she's completely paralyzed on the right side it takes two people to assist her into the chair. I just don't understand how she can just lay in bed 24/7.

Last week she demanded all the family pictures be removed from her walls. She kept pointing to the wall and the door and finally my niece realized she was pointing to the pictures and wanted them out of her room. Now her walls are bare.

I didn't mean for this post to be about my sister, but she's always on my mind. I worry about her. I feel bad I'm not there, cheering her on. I know she's lonely and bored. She doesn't even enjoy watching TV. Our brother bought her an iPad and she refused to even touch it. He bought her a Nook and she wouldn't even look at it. She use to love her computer and loved to read. The words don't make any sense to her and she doesn't even seem to understand the concept of the computer.

I guess not being in a happy, festive mood is normal. I'm still shell-shocked over losing my sister. Basically, that's what happened. She's gone. I can't call her and talk for three hours, finding out we bought the exact same item or did something exactly the same that week. We had a lot of strange coincidences where we did the exactly same thing or had exactly the same thought. I'll never forget when she picked me up at the airport one summer and we were wearing the exact same designer sunglasses, with the same rhinestone pattern. I remember laughing hysterically when we'd talk on the phone for hours. I really miss her.

Tomorrow perhaps I'll write a more cheerful post. Maybe we'll put up the tree, buy a few presents. Maybe I'll write about my plans to lose twenty pounds by the time of the Big Climb on March 25. Or about my Weight Watcher meeting I'm attending tomorrow morning. For now, I think I'll just go cry myself to sleep.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

What you should know if you have a stroke

Please note:  if you don't want this entire post, I beg of you, scroll to the bottom and read the part about stroke symptoms. It's extremely important. Paste it into an email and send it to everyone you know and love.

Where has the time gone? I haven't posted for four weeks. Have I really been that busy? 

I have been busy with trying to keep my sister's medical and financial manners in order. It's not an easy task and not one I would wish on my worst enemy. Lesson learned from this catastrophic event: DO NOT HAVE A DEBILITATING STROKE! More on this later.

I've been busy with work. I'm back at it and have a giant, scary project in front of me. Scary, as in I don't know how the hell I'm going to meet my deadline.

I've also been getting back into a daily exercise routine, which is something that was severely lacking for the last three months. Since my sister's September 21 stroke, I have not made myself a priority. My sister was number one on my radar. I fell into second place.

I read my last post and actually laughed out loud. I was really in the spirit of weight loss the day I posted that entry. Then I went to Fairbanks for a week and got caught up in the circumstances surrounding my sister. Weight loss and my health weren't important anymore.

Then I came down with the flu while in Fairbanks.  Right in the middle of my week that was jam-packed with tasks. Somehow I made it through it, after holding up in my hotel room for 24 hours, living off of NyQuil.

Then it was back to work, to a world from where I'd been missing for most of four months. Since I broke my wrist August 6 I've either been out on extended illness leave for my wrist or on PTO for my sister.

I forgot what normal felt like. It's actually kind of nice to sit in my cubicle, in front of my computer and think about something other than my sister's tragedy. Her health and how I'm going to pay her bills, and function as her guardian and conservator have consumed me for the last three months. Stepping back into my real world was nice, but a shock to my system.

The last two weeks I've been exhausted. All I want to do is sleep. I'm not sure if it's the after effects of the flu or post traumatic shock syndrome of dealing with all things related to my sister. It's probably been a combination of both.

I didn't follow Weight Watchers nor did I count calories or track my food. Not even for a single day.

The past week I made it to the gym four times, two 30-minute workouts, one hour and 20-minute workout (Thursday) and yesterday for an hour. I feel my strength and energy coming back, although my left arm is still weak. Three months in a cast has pretty much decimated most of my muscle in my left arm. I still use 15 or 20 pounds on my right arm, but only 10 or 12 pounds on my left arm. Even the lighter weights are a struggle. I guess it'll just take time.

My weight today at home is 183.4. Since I was 184.4 at Weight Watchers four weeks ago, this means I've really gained a pound or two (since I weighed with clothes and after breakfast at Weight Watchers). If you're wondering, I'm going back to Weight Watchers today.

Considering all I've gone through in the last four weeks, there will be no "beating up of Diana" today. If there's one thing I've learned from the last four months, it's don't sweat the small stuff. There's enough big shit to worry about in life without worrying about the minutia.

Two pounds will come off easily, and the other thirty or so will come off too (albeit not quite as easy). I feel back in control of my eating and exercise. I care about what happens to me. I don't want to end up like my sister, stressed out about life, with high blood pressure and having a stroke. Trust me, you really don't want to go there. It's truly a fate worse than death.

Read this! 

I took the information below from A family member that talked to my sister at 10 a.m. on the day of my sister's stroke said later that she had slurred speech that morning. Since my sister doesn't drink, this was a definite sign of a stroke. The family member is a trained CNA, and has taken numerous nursing classes. Yet she didn't recognize the slurred speech as a symptom of a stroke. She has expressed great remorse about this, but it doesn't matter now. It's too late for my sister, but maybe this will help someone else.

My sister wasn't taken to the hospital until 10 p.m. that night. Twelve hours after her first sign of having a stroke. This unfortunately sealed her fate to a life of being unable to speak, paralyzed and bedridden. If only she'd been taken to the emergency room that morning, things probably would have turned out so much better.

Please read it and remember it. The most important thing is to remember is get to an emergency room as quickly as possible. Time is critical. There's a drug they can give you that will actually stop the damage from the stroke. It's called a t-PA drip (one of the clot-busting drugs, there are others). The doctors in Fairbanks told me about it, but you have to get it within three hours of the first stroke symptom. It doesn't always work, but it gives you a fighting chance. My sister got to the hospital too late, and it's ruined her life.

Every minute-and-a-half, on average, someone in America suffers a stroke.

Warning Signs of Stroke

Learn the many warning signs of a stroke. Act FAST and CALL 9-1-1 IMMEDIATELY at any sign of a stroke.

Use FAST to remember the warning signs: 

NOTE THE TIME WHEN ANY SYMPTOMS FIRST APPEAR. If given within three hours of the first symptom, there is an FDA-approved clot-buster medication that may reduce long-term disability for the most common type of stroke. There are also two other types of stroke treatment available that might help reduce the effects of stroke. Read more about stroke treatment.
Learn as many stroke symptoms as possible so you can recognize stroke as FAST as possible. Click here to download the FAST Wallet Card to keep a reminder of stroke warning signs with you wherever you go!
Stroke symptoms include:
  • SUDDEN numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg - especially on one side of the body.
  • SUDDEN confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
  • SUDDEN trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • SUDDEN trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  • SUDDEN severe headache with no known cause.

Call 9-1-1 immediately if you have any of these symptoms

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Weight was like going home again

I love Weight Watchers! Actually, I love my Weight Watcher leader, Janis. She is absolutely amazing, and very inspiring. She makes me think, makes me want to do better and best of all, she makes me laugh.

The thing about Weight Watchers is that it makes you focus on eating healthy, something that calorie counting alone doesn't really require. I feel excited to be back on a plan. Of course, this means what I eat and how much I exercise will become somewhat of an obsession for me (again). But that's okay. It's what I need right now

Now for the weighin, the post Thanksgiving Day weighin where I ate too much, including pumpkin pie and apple pie. The apple pie was a frozen pie made by Plush Pippin. If you've never had a Plush Pippin pie, well, you haven't lived. They're the best! It's all gone now, so now worries about it until Thanksgiving 2012. The Plush Pippin factory is actually in Kent, Washington, very near to where I live. Funny story but about ten years ago they had an overstock sale and you could buy pies for $1.00 each at their warehouse. I remember standing in line and buying ten pies. They were delicious...and I weighed about 240 pounds then. Now I get one pie a year and share it with my husband...only on Thanksgiving. They're off limits the other 364 days of the year.

I digress...I went from talking about my weighin to talking about pie. Not good. This is what I weighed this morning at Weight Watchers, after two cups of coffee, breakfast and I was fully dressed (obviously!). It's my true weight.


I'm really not upset by it, which is pretty amazing for me. I knew I'd gained weight the last few weeks because I wasn't paying attention. I'm one of those people that absolutely must constantly be aware of what I'm eating and how much. I gain weight easily when I'm not being careful.

This is my starting point. I have goals and the first one is to get under 180. I have a very busy schedule this next week, but I will eat carefully, and track my Points on my phone. I have a brand new Android Samsung Galaxy II S (the best phone ever!). The Weight Watcher app is easy to use so I won't have any excuses to not track.

The hotel I stay at in Fairbanks has a decent gym, with ellipticals and treadmills and a variety of weights. Unfortunately, there isn't a Stairmaster, but there are stairs in the hotel. Only eight floors, but it's something. I can do the elliptical then run the stairs a few times, plus do weights.

I just got home from the gym and now I have to pack. My left arm is still really weak. I can do dumbbell curls easily with my right arm at 15 pounds. My left arm can barely lift eight pounds. It's really pathetic. I'm surprised how three months in a cast and then another two weeks in a splint completely weakened my left arm. I don't have any noticeable muscle tone in my left arm. It's all flab. Really awful.. After my workouts it's so sore it aches. My right arm feels nothing because I kept lifting weights with it the entire time I had the cast. The doctor said it'll take at least six months to even get it close to what it was before my accident. More likely a year. Oh least no surgery on it or it would have been a lot worse.

I probably won't have time to post while I'm in Fairbanks, but when I get back, hopefully life will calm down a bit and I can get back to reading blogs and posting regularly (and leaving comments on all your blogs!).

I'm really excited about Weight Watchers. After four years of being on and off of it, I feel like this is the right thing to do for myself right now. I need the structure and the accountability. It provides both. It's still hard work, but losing weight on any plan is hard work.

Weight Watchers...again!

I quit Weight Watchers several months ago, right before I broke my wrist on August 6. It had lost it's charm, and I never like the new program that was introduced a year ago. Eat all the fruit you want "until you're full" confused me.

I started using the BodyMedia in August and dropped twenty pound in three months, but I've put some of that weight back on. Life happened, and I stumbled.

My sister had a major stroke, and I was in Fairbanks for six weeks of the last nine-week period dealing with a lot of family drama. These are excuses for my slip, but for once in my life I'm cutting myself a little slack on gaining weight.

The last few months have been hideous. It's not over yet, but I see some light at the end of the tunnel. I'm returning to Fairbanks tomorrow for five days. A lot of very serious financial decisions have to be made to secure my sister's future. I have meetings with a real estate attorney, an estate planning attorney, a tax accountant, two real estate agents, the tax assessor (who highly over-appraised her rental property) and my sister's doctor and her speech therapist.  

So here I am, a year later, and I weigh close to what I weighed a year least I think I do. I didn't weigh this morning, but I know I'm within a few pounds (I was 180.4 January 3, 2011).

This means after a year, I've not accomplished much regarding my weight. I guess you could call it maintenance, but at 180+ I really need to lose weight, not maintain. I'm better off than I was in February 2008, when I weighed 240 pounds. I'm happy about maintaining a 60-pound loss, but I really need and want to lose weight.

Today, it's back to Weight Watchers. I just signed up online for the meetings. My plan is the 10 a.m. meeting. I have a lot to do today, do laundry and pack, but there are two things I have to do:  Weight Watchers and the gym, in that order.

I'll post my weigh-in results later today. Since it's post-Thanksgiving, and I'll be dressed versus not dressed when I weigh at home, I'm sure I'll be up a few pounds. That's okay. I have to start somewhere.

Monday, November 21, 2011

High-bred diet????

Sometimes I wonder what's wrong with my brain. Sweet Ida posted that a "hybrid" diet of Weight Watchers and Body Media would probably work for me.

I read "hybrid"and thought " that's how you spell it!". I wrote "high-bred" diet this morning. It didn't look right and of course spell check didn't catch it either. Sometimes I scare myself with my stupidity.

Today didn't go well for eating or exercising. 4:30am wake-up call from work for a problem in Montana, then no gym because I had a 7 a.m. physical therapy appointment, then to work. No time for gym or breakfast, and no time to drink water today.

I came home feeling like I was starving to death. Overate.

Tomorrow will be better...I'll have a "high-bred" day of good eating and good exercise. :)

The dreaded Monday morning weighin

Today's weigh in:


My last weigh in was on October 31, and I was 173.4. That's an eight-pound gain in three weeks. Ugh! It just proves I have to be vigilant and borderline obsessive when it comes to my weight and what I eat.

I have work to do. The Big Climb is March 25, 69 floors in the Columbia building in Seattle. Last year I was 176 pounds for the Big Climb, and it was hard! My goal this year is to weigh 160.

Four months and twenty pounds to lose.

Now I need a plan! I'm tossing around the idea of rejoining Weight Watchers. It helps me to weigh in every week with someone else. That alone is worth the $40/month, plus I love my Weight Watchers leader.

Most likely I'll still do my calorie counting because I love my BodyMedia. It's weight loss plan is exercise, calorie counting and journaling (online). Maybe a hybrid diet of Weight Watchers and BodyMedia. Sound good?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A gain of 5 or 6 pounds? Who did I think I was kidding?

I'm all dressed for the gym. My BodyMedia is on my left arm, along with my Polar Heart rate monitor (which I LOVE!). I've entered my food into the BodyMedia website, calories consumed (so far, 867 and it's 3:45 p.m. - I allow myself 1500).

I noticed something. My workout shirt feels snugger. In my last post I casually mentioned I thought I'd gained a few pounds in the last ten days. The shirt I'm wearing, a t-strap tank, is definitely tighter than it was ten days ago. I remember it billowing around me and that it felt too big. Now it fits, but I prefer the "billowing" effect.

I still haven't weighed. That alone is a sign that in my heart I know I've gained probably more than a "few pounds". My last weigh-in was October 31, 173.4. I bet I'm at least 180 right now, or even more. I know my body. It feels heavy. I felt it yesterday on the StairMaster, the strong pull of gravity when my body gets to a certain weight.

So far today the food has been good. I've really missed fresh fruits and vegetables. Even though my hotel had a microwave and fridge, we ate out almost every meal during my ten days in Fairbanks. 

Tomorrow will be my big weigh in, to figure out where I am and what I need to do. I have the Big Climb 2012 on March 25, and I'd really like to lose 20 pounds by then. Regardless of my current weight - which is unknown right now - I want to lose 20 pounds.

The skies are almost black here, looks like rain or maybe even snow. Guess I'd better get my big, fat derriere to the gym before I find an excuse to stay home, all warm and cozy by the fireplace.

I sister (well, sort of)

 Joyce, 1992...on their property in Alaska, before they built their house. This was an old travel trailer where they stayed on weekends while their house was being build. Check out those legs.

 This is Joyce November 13, 2011. She'd just had her first shower in five weeks. Since she started eating again two weeks previous to this picture (after four weeks of not eating anything), she decided she wanted to get better. I'm doing her hair. She was beautiful after the hair and makeup, but the pictures of her with the family were weird. Something was wrong with her smile. It was more of a grimace. Her best friend told me I couldn't show them to anyone because Joyce would be horrified.

Joyce update (my sister, 73 years old, had a stroke on September 21, 2011)

I'm home and filled with emotions.

My last post was the day of the court hearing. That day was actually very easy. Even though I was a little nervous sitting in front of a judge, in a court room, it went well. I was represented by the assistant Attorney General as well as the Adult Protective Services. It was a done deal before the hearing even started. I was appointed to be my sister's guardian and conservator.

This gave me full control over her medical decisions, and full responsibility of her financial obligations. Unfortunately, all her assets, her home and 100 acres, her apartment complex she owns, her savings and checking accounts, as well as a stock portfolio, were all tied up inside of a family trust. The person in control of that trust, yes, you guessed it...the crazy niece who was refusing to pay any bills.

This meant I had to hire an attorney and petition the court to become the successor trustee. It took about three days for my attorney to gather affidavits from everyone involved, including affidavits from my other niece and my brother to renounce their positions as successor trustee in the second and third positions. The Attorney General stepped in and put a lock on all assets with a TRO (Temporary Restraining Order which the court awarded in 24 hours). This prevented the other niece from touching the assets.

After all of this, "the" niece called my attorney and agreed to voluntarily renounce her position as the #1 trustee. She signed the paperwork at my attorney's office yesterday. She also left a giant box of paperwork regarding my sister's finances at my attorney's office.

I'm now the successor trustee of the trust, and now the real work begins. Sorting out my sister's finances, paying bills (including filing her 2010 income taxes), and selling some of her property. This is all on top of dealing with her doctor, her physical, occupational, and speech therapists. As well as the staff at her assisted living home, that I'm in contact with several days a week, checking on the status of my sister.

I'm returning to Fairbanks the week after Thanksgiving to meet with a real estate attorney and an estate attorney. I need help figuring out how to best manage all this stuff. Apparently there are laws regarding managing an apartment complex, either I have to manage it (representing my sister as the owner), or hire someone with a real estate license. There's also a thing called a Miller Trust that may help protect her home. All stuff to ask the attorneys.

I've taken on quite a bit of responsibility and feel a bit overwhelmed right now. Since I'm being watched by the courts, my every move has to be documented.

This morning I'm going to dig into QuickBooks, so I have a complete accounting of her finances.

The good news is my sister is eating like she's probably never eaten in her life. Yesterday she had apple pancakes and bacon. I doubt she's eaten like this since she was a teenager. For as long as I've known her she's always been on a diet. Always watching every bite she ate, being super careful. She's getting stronger and getting into a wheelchair twice a day for an hour at a time. She's totally different than she was three weeks ago. Her will to live has returned. Thank God.


The diet and exercise update
There's not a lot to say on this topic. I tried to eat healthy while in Fairbanks during my last stay (ten days in a hotel...ugh!). 

My sister's best friend flew up from Palm Springs and stayed with me for the ten days I was there. She's now my BFF. I love her! Her name is Charlie and she's hysterical to be around. She had me laughing at the most serious situations. I met Charlie a few times in the past but never spent much time with her. This gave us a great opportunity to become fast friends. Now I totally understand why she and my sister have been BFFs for over 25 years.

Charlie is skinny and gorgeous, but she works hard to look as fabulous as she does (she's 60, but my God that woman has a hot body). I followed her lead on eating, but after about five days I felt like I was starving to death and started eating a little more. 

I cropped my sister out of this picture. Even though she really is gorgeous, with her hair all curled and makeup, the picture doesn't look like her. She's always had perfect teeth (still does) and a perfect smile. It's like she can't remember how to smile. Since I promised Charlie I wouldn't show it to anyone, I cropped her out. Isn't Charlie gorgeous? The woman should be a standup comic, and she has a heart of gold. Love her!

I know I've gained some weight and I haven't been on the scales yet. Not a lot of weight, probably about five or six pounds. My clothes all fit, but I feel fluffier. Although Charlie works out at home on a regular basis, she just wasn't into it while we were in Fairbanks. In those ten days I only worked out three times. Not good.

I was back at the gym yesterday, doing the StairMaster (preparing for the Big Climb 2012, March 25). I managed 30 minutes but thought I was going to die. I only completed 105 floors. How on earth was I doing 130 floors on that thing a year ago? I swear I couldn't have gone any faster.

Today, it's the gym again, but now I'm wearing my BodyMedia and tracking my food. Just because I have some major things going on, it's not a reason to stop paying attention to my diet and exercise. In fact, it's really important right now that I stay healthy. 

Did I mention how happy I am to be home? I'm super happy to be home with my husband and kitty. Yes, in that order. :)

One last picture for you...the Fairbanks International Airport, November 15, at 2:30pm. Check out that sun. It was -20 degrees (that's below zero), and dropped to -36 that night.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Today is the day

I haven't discussed the real reason I'm in Fairbanks because it was kind of top secret. Since all involved parties now know why I'm here, and the court hearing is at 11 a.m. today, I can talk about it.

On Tuesday of last week I received two very disturbing phone calls. I'd only been home for three days, having returned from a three-week stay in Fairbanks to help care for my sister in her home (two weeks) and then help her transition to an assisted living home (another week).

The first phone call was from the owner of the assisted living home where my sister resides. She was very upset regarding my crazy niece's last two visits to my sister on October 30 and 31. The first visit involved my niece and four teenage boys she brought with her (two children were my niece's sons and two were another niece's grandsons). There was a lot of disruption, with my niece screaming at the boys to behave and then demanding the staff make lunch for the four boys. Not only was my sister upset, but so was the staff and the other residents of the home. The owner was very upset, but there was more.

The second visit involved the Alaska State Protective Services (APS), which were called by the owner of the home during the second visit on Oct. 31. My niece became verbally abusive to both women when they discussed the previous day's visit. She screamed at them that she wanted her mother moved out of the home to the Pioneers Home (an institution-like setting), and furthermore, all her mother's money was gone (there was $50,000 cash in my sister's bank accounts five weeks ago, my niece had me look at the accounts online). She stated she wasn't paying next month's fee of $7,500. All of this was said (screamed) in front of my sister.

APS called me next, and reiterated everything the owner of the home had told me.

Both the owner of the home and APS requested I immediately file for emergency full guardianship of my sister. This had been discussed at length during the previous weeks. Even though my sister has three daughters, none of them are capable of handling her medical and financial affairs.

I discussed this with my other niece, the one that's clinically depressed and has been for seventeen years. She's on a lot of medications for her mental condition and is barely holding on. Both her and her husband (the saint that helped care for my sister during the two weeks after her release from the hospital), agreed I was the best choice. This niece doesn't feel like she can handle it, and I understand. She's extremely close to her mother and she's best at sitting by my sister's bed and holding her hand. Paperwork, paying bills and handling tough decisions isn't something she's capable of doing.

Of course I didn't talk to my other niece, the one that has caused extreme mental distress for this entire family, and especially for my sister. She's already proven she can't handle the responsibility.

There's a third niece that I've only seen twice since my sister's stroke. She lives here (for free in one of the apartments that my sister owns, about 1/2 mile from he home where my sister resides). She's caused a lot of problems for my sister since she was adopted at six years old (she's the only adopted daughter). She came from a home with two alcoholic parents that were charged with abandonment. She came with a lot of emotional and mental issues. She was basically written out of the trust by my sister, so she's really not even in the picture when it comes to the care of my sister.

In the past three days, I would awake every morning at 3:30 a.m., get up and work on a document I was writing for the court. It outlined the series of events that led me to the decision to apply for full guardianship. I would work on it for three hours each morning. The document only touched on a few of the things my niece has done over the last seven weeks, since my sister's stroke. I was preparing it for the Court Visitor, who makes the final decision in the guardianship, both the emergency hearing (which is today) and the final decision for permanent guardianship (which will be in February). Even though it was just a snapshot of some of the horrors that have happened, it was eight pages long. Fortunately, the Court Visitor told me more information is better than less. She was glad I'd written such a lengthy document, to help her with her decision.

I met with the Court Visitor yesterday, and we discussed for an hour the reasons I was applying for guardianship. She almost couldn't believe some of the things I told her about my niece. She told me it was almost a slam-dunk that I would be awarded guardianship. The big gun for me is that the State of Alaska Attorney General's office has filed the petition on my behalf, along with APS (they even waived the fees since they were filing). They both recommend me as guardian for my sister. In addition, they'll have a lawyer from the Attorney General's office in court today to represent me.

It's sort of odd how things work out. The Court Visitor told me she'd stop by and visit my sister yesterday afternoon. I headed over to see my sister at 11 a.m., and brought my sister a bouquet of fresh flowers, a new makeup mirror to put on her beside table so she can learn how to apply her own makeup (something she hasn't even tried yet and I've been doing for her every day), and a new picture to put on one of her walls. At the same time I was arriving, there was Carrie Ann, the Court Visitor. How odd that she actually came in the morning when she said she was coming in the afternoon, and that I was arriving at the exact same time.

She talked with my sister about the guardianship, and my sister indicated she understood. Both my brother and I had already explained it to her, and why I was taking control away from her daughter. As the Court Visitor talked to my sister, she started to cry, but I expected she would cry. The entire issue with her daughter has been very upsetting to her. It breaks my heart that I can't fix her daughter for her, but at least I can protect my sister from her craziness. My sister indicated to the Court Visitor that she was okay with the change. I know my sister never expected that with having four children (her son committed suicide 20 years ago), that her baby sister (me - 17 years younger than my sister) would have to take over her affairs some day.

Another odd event, I've been staying at the Westmark Hotel here in Fairbanks. I love this hotel. It's where our crew stays (I work for an airline that flies into Fairbanks) and I get a really good rate. They upgraded me to a suite this time for the same price (so I don't have to eat out!). It's also only two blocks from my sister's assisted living home. I feel safe in this hotel, and it's very comfortable (with awesome staff).

When I asked to extend my stay through Friday they told me I'd have to move out for 10/7 and 10/8. I pleaded and begged to stay, they said there was a convention and 14 people ahead of me on a wait list. The timing was all wrong for me to have to move (I needed my internet connection to remain unbroken...court documents, emails, etc.). Every day I'd check with the front desk (they all know me). I asked about their no-show factor (there are 400 rooms here - there must be no-shows). They said they rarely have even one no-show, and sorry, but I'd have to leave for those two days. Guess what? Yesterday morning as I was reluctantly looking online for another hotel the front desk called my room. There were 25 no-shows and I could stay here for the rest of my stay through Friday.

It's so weird how so many things have fallen into place for me throughout this entire ordeal. Just odd little things that have made things much easier to deal with.

One tiny thing happened two nights ago that annoyed the hell out of me. Someone stole my extension cord that I used to plug in my rental car. I have to park in back of the hotel where they have deadbolt heaters and yesterday morning, the extension cord was missing. It belongs to the rental car agency, and I'm going to have to buy another one in case the temperature plunges below zero. It's been hovering above zero (like + 5 or +10 degrees), but tomorrow it's suppose to get down to -12 degrees.

It's been non-stop snowing since I got here and the roads are beyond horrible. I had two really close call car accidents yesterday. Both by giant pickup trucks that practically ran me over, through no fault of my own. They act like they own the freaking road, whipping through parking lots, not paying attention to anyone else. I have a tiny Ford Focus. It must be the world's smallest car. Maybe they don't see me because it's so tiny, but my heart practically stopped twice yesterday when I had two near misses with pickup trucks. Fortunately, no accidents so far, but it's sure scary driving around here. The car stops really well, it just can't take off very well on the ice. It doesn't have studded snow tires which I find really strange. I also often can't tell where the road is, or if it's two lanes or one because there's so much ice and snow packed on the roads. Hopefully I'll make it through the rest of the week accident free.

It's almost 6 a.m. so I'm going to get dressed and head over to the gym (they call it "the club" here, it's kind of a nice gym). I'm not sure if I mentioned it but I spoke to the salesperson at the gym where my sister has gone five days a week for almost four years, and asked for a week long free pass. I told them why I was here, and that I live in Seattle and wasn't going to join their gym. I indicated that my sister is still paying for her membership, and she can't use it since she had a stroke, so could I get a pass to go with my niece to water aerobics. They said yes (although I hate water aerobics but I'll go if she goes...she's not going today...this is my good niece).

I'm going to do some cardio and weights, to get myself prepared for the battle of my  life today. I expect fireworks if my crazy niece shows up, and I'm pretty sure she'll be there. My other niece, her husband and my brother will all be there to support me. It should be interesting. :)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Greetings from Fairbanks

Last night I remembered why I moved away from here 25 years ago. It's too cold!

For the first time in my entire life, I arrived at the airport here in Fairbanks and there was no one to greet me and give me a ride to their house. It used to be my mom, then my sister and her husband, then just my sister, then my crazy niece, then my almost depressed niece and her husband, and one.

My brother offered to pick me up, but he lives about 20 miles from the airport. Since I was going to my hotel and renting a car so I wouldn't be stranded for a week, I told him there really wasn't a need for him to meet me at the airport.

It was an odd experience to come down the stairs to baggage and not see a smiling face greeting me. I didn't cry, but there certainly was a feeling of loss.

I got my bag and picked up my keys for the rental car. Walking out to the car in freezing cold and dark at 5:30 p.m. was quite an experience. It was at the end of parking lot at the airport. It's a small airport but dragging my giant suitcase, backpack and my 20-pound purse through the ice and snow to get to it was a challenge.

The doors and trunk of the car were frozen shut. I found one door that I was able to force open and then crawled in and managed to get the driver's door open from the inside. I never got the trunk open, and put my bags in the back seat.

When I got in the car the light for the trunk said it was open. I guess technically it thought it was open but it was shut tight with ice. I finally forced it open with the snow scraper so I could shut it. I thought it was at least 20 degrees below zero, but it was actually 17 degrees above. This is exactly why I moved away from here. Alaska is beautiful and there's a lot to love about this state, but the cold weather is NOT one of them.

I drove to the hotel and my suite is really nice. They upgraded me for the same price as my regular room ($72 a night for my airline discount - can't beat it). I have a microwave and fridge, a little kitchen with a table and chairs, a sitting room with chairs, TV and a computer desk, and then the bedroom with it's own TV. It's not a separate room, but has a half wall. It's pretty nice, although it's a bit large and I keep misplacing things (like my phone!).

After getting settled into the hotel room last night, I went to see my sister. She was asleep so I sat next to her and held her hand. She woke up, saw me and started to cry. She cried for about ten minutes, even though I kept telling her it was okay. For some reason, I didn't cry, but just held her hand and tried to comfort her. She felt like ice and the room was freezing cold. She only had a sheet and a thin cotton blanket on her. The week I was here before she had a down comforter on her every day. There was another blanket in the room which I put on her and she pulled it up to her neck and said "ahhhh!". I know she must have been freezing.

She kept trying to tell me things but I couldn't understand a word of what she was saying. She tried spelling words but I still couldn't get it what she wanted to tell me. I visited for about an hour, but my migraine headache was starting and I was starving. I told her I was going back to my hotel to sleep and kissed her goodnight.

I talked to the nurses and they said she hadn't eaten a bite of anything for two days, Wednesday and Thursday. Since they put the morphine patch on her on Tuesday, all she's been doing is sleeping. They started the morphine patch at the insistence of my crazy niece, because she wants her to sleep all the time. I don't like this one bit and am going to do what I can to get my sister back on the morphine drops, on an as needed basis. My sister can't get better if she doesn't eat and is sleeping 24/7.

I have a huge list of things to do today, talk with my sister's doctor, speech and physical therapists, bring my sister a strawberry milkshake from the homemade ice cream place down the street, and some organic bananas (she used to eat one every day), pick up the book on how to recover from a stroke from Barnes and Noble (should have done that last week), check with the home care people that visited her yesterday (who are they?), look at the bed sore on her heel and check her backside for bed sores, buy her some reading glasses at 2.25. I asked both nieces to do that while I was gone and neither one did. We forgot to bring a pair of hers from home when we moved her, and the only ones the the hotel gift shop I bought her the last time I was here were 1.75.There's one other thing I have to check on but I can't talk about it yet. It's the real reason I'm here.

Number one thing right now is I'm heading down to the hotel gym to workout. I have to keep myself healthy and working out is really important now. Eating wasn't perfect last night, but not a total disaster. I started out tracking my food, but by last night I was too tired, too hungry and my head hurt too much to really even care about it. Today is a new day, and I'll do my best to track my food. At least I'll write down what I'm eating. I bought a few groceries last night so I can eat in my room, which will really help keep the calories in line.

Wish me luck today, it's going to be a rough one.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Leaving on a jet plane...again and again and again

For the third time in almost six weeks I'm sitting in the airport waiting for my flight to Fairbanks. Thanks Google for the free wi-fi at SeaTac.

This trip is going to be a hard one, but what I have to do is necessary. Ethically and morally I don't really have any other options. I can't go into details right now, but I'll post about it after it's all over.

58 days of tracking
I was inspired by Tony's post, Kim Kardashian 72 Day Trim Down. I have also needed to get back to tracking my food. Since my sister's stroke almost six weeks ago I haven't tracked a single day, not even one meal. I have a plan for this trip, I'm going to track all my food. It's the start of the Diana 58-day Trim Down plan. There are 58 days until 2012.

I would love to get to 160 by 2012. It sounds like a reasonable goal. Two months and 13 pounds. It's not a crazy number, although it is the holidays. Add in that there's going to be a lot of pressure on me the next few months. I guess that's why it's even more important than ever to really keep on top of what I'm eating and to keep up on the exercise. I could see myself easily gain a bunch of weight. Well, it's not going to happen if I can help it.

When I get back home I'll get back to using my BodyMedia. I haven't use it at all the last six weeks. I just didn't have time for such a luxury (ah...the good old days when all I had to worry about was the size of my pants). For now I'll just use a little notebook I carry in my purse and track my food and exercise.

Luckily my room is a suite this time at the Westmark (my favorite Fairbanks hotel). I'll have a microwave and fridge so I can heat up a few things in my room and not eat out for every meal. That will not only save money, but save calories too. I'm really sick of eating out.

Well, it's time to head on over to my gate. Boarding is in ten minutes. I hope to have time in Fairbanks to read a few blogs and actually comment. I miss you guys!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Insanity: is it contagious?

A lot has happened since my last post.

After a disastrous lunch with my craziest niece last Saturday, where I attempted to make peace with her, I flew home on Sunday. There is no reasoning with a crazy person. Lesson learned.

I was an emotional basket case when I got home. For the first time in my life I felt like I was losing my mind. After weeks of barely sleeping, even though I was taking Ambien nightly, I felt crazy. Add to that an incredible amount of stress because of my sister's situation and my totally insane and evil niece, I couldn't stop crying. My husband couldn't comfort me, nothing made me feel better. Even sitting in the back yard here at home, with the sun on my face and the fall leaves falling around me with my kitty chasing after them, all I could do was cry. I cried for almost twelve hours straight.

I realize I had just gone through five weeks of high stress and little sleep, but I also believe the Ambien was messing with my head. I decided to forgo the Ambien that night. It was a very rough night, with a three-hour period from midnight to 3 a.m. where I couldn't sleep and couldn't stop crying. I was also having the worst migraine headache of my life. I'd been having severe headaches for three weeks, but this one was off the charts in the pain level.

When I closed my eyes all I could see were bright shooting lights. I'd been having the lights problem for weeks, but this time it was intense. I couldn't picture anything in my head, just the lights. When I finally fell back to sleep around 3 a.m. I had a dream, the first dream I could recall in the past three weeks.

I was climbing up a stairwell, dressed in workout clothes. It was similar to the Big Climb I did last March. In front of me was one of my nieces (the depressed one) and behind me was her husband but he only had one leg. The other leg was a stump sticking through his cut off pants leg. This is the niece and her husband that I spent two weeks with while we were caring for my sister at her house. We were together almost every minute during that time.

As we were climbing, each step became more difficult. I turned to my niece's husband and told him to go in front of me. He went up in front of my niece. Suddenly, I turned around and started running down the stairs as fast as I could go. I could see myself running, my ponytail swinging. I was laughing and so happy. I was going as fast as I could go. Then I reached the bottom and had to turn around and start back up the stairs. Each step was difficult. Then I woke up.

This dream made me realize I'm not crazy, and I'm going to be okay. It was a very rough five weeks, and there are more things that need to be taken care of, but I'm not losing my mind. I feel more at peace and sane than I have in weeks.

Sister update
On 9/21 we moved my sister to an assisted living home that specializes in hospice care. It's a nice place and one I found by calling all twelve of the assisted living homes in Fairbanks. Only two had a bed and could care for someone like my sister. This home has an R.N. and several L.P.N.s and a staff of 16 for 14 residents. They seemed better equipped to deal with my sister's needs.

The move was horrific. Considering how we'd had a phone conversation two weeks before her stroke about how awful it would be to have stroke and how we'd rather die, we also talked about how awful it would be to move into an assisted living home.

I've never seen my sister cry as hard as when they placed her in the bed in the home. She barely shed a tear when her husband past away two years ago (after 51 years of marriage). She just doesn't cry. But that day, she couldn't stop.

On the day of the move my sister hadn't eaten more than a couple bites of food in 33 days and barely drank any water.

Then a weird thing happened. At the home she starting eating and drinking a lot of water. She doesn't eat a lot, maybe five bites of apple pancake for breakfast or a little 4-ounce container of yogurt for lunch and some jello for dinner. But she's eating!

She's also talking non-stop (stroke talk I call it), and sometimes I pick up a word here and there. She also spells words, but jumbles her letters. Except for two days she kept spelling E-???-E, over and over. It sounded like "e-l-e" but she kept shaking her head no. Then one time she said E-???-E-R. Exercise?! Do you want to exercise?!!! A big nod yes. I asked if she wanted to move her paralyzed side. The occupational therapist had showed me some exercises to do with her to keep the muscles moving and I had pleaded with my sister for five weeks to let me do them for her, and always got an emphatic NO. Now she wanted to do exercises. So we did. I asked her if it hurt and she said "a little". I asked if we could keep doing them and she nodded yes.

I talked to her about getting a speech therapist and a physical therapist and she agreed. She wants to get better. I called her doctor and she's arranged for both the ST and the PT to come to the home. Woohoo!

Something transpired in the past two days that is requiring me to return to Fairbanks tonight. I can't go into details, but I'll write more about it later. Don't worry, I'm going to be okay. Whatever happened to me on Sunday has passed. I'm completely off Ambien and have been sleeping. I feel more calm and at peace than I have in months.

About my weight loss
I didn't forget this is really a weight loss blog. I weighed yesterday, after getting my cast removed and I'm 173.4. I was 180.8 when I went to Fairbanks almost five weeks ago on September 22. My plan was to eat carefully but not starve myself. I went out to eat often the last week while at the hotel, but I chose my meals carefully and almost always only ate half of what I was served, leaving the other half on my plate.

For the five weeks I was gone, I had to stay in a hotel for two weeks. The hotel gym was pretty decent, and I worked out there as much as I could.

In case you're wondering, I can't stay with crazy niece because, well, she's crazy (mean crazy). I can't stay with depressed niece because even though she's nice, she doesn't clean her house. So not only is she incredibly depressing to be around (she cries all the freaking time), my allergies go nuts at her house. We went there one night for dinner, and I thought I was going to stop breathing because of all the dust and dog hair. My brother, who I adore, lives out of town and is married to an alcoholic (she went on a big drinking binge while I was there). Ha! And you thought your family was nuts!

My broken wrist update
Well, it's indeed a miracle. My majorly fractured, almost broken in two pieces, scaphoid bone in my wrist has healed and grown back together after three months in a cast. My orthopaedic doctor (Dr. Callahan) and the number one orthopaedic hand/wrist surgeon in Washington (Dr. Buckmiller) looked at my x-rays on Monday. They couldn't believe it, but the bone has grown back together. This almost never happens since this bone has difficulty healing because of a lack of blood supply. They had even told me to expect to have surgery even after three months in a cast. Now no surgery is needed (thank you Jesus...and I really mean that!). I told my husband it was all that wiping my sister's butt after we had to give her an enema at the house (that was three days I'll never forget!).

They made me a custom molded type splint/cast thing that fastens with Velcro. It has a cotton liner (like a stocking thing), and I have two of them. They're washable!

I can take it off to shower or wash my hands. I can take it off to watch TV. I have physical therapy and lots of exercises to do here at home with my wrist. Since it was in a cast for so long, some of the mobility is gone and I'm working on getting it back. I'm still not allowed to lift weights to do bicep curls, but I can use that arm for any machines where the hand isn't doing the work (like lat raises and some other machines). My left wrist (the one that was casted) is 1/2" smaller than my right wrist and my left forearm is a a whole inch smaller than my right forearm, and same for my left bicep, it's one inch smaller too. Definitely some muscle loss and a lot of flabbiness in my upper arm. Probably a little of my weight loss, maybe a pound or so, is from this muscle loss. Oh well, I can get it back, it'll just take some time.

I go back to work on November 16, and I'm really looking forward to it. I have this thing to take care of in Fairbanks this week and I'll get to visit my sister, but life isn't bad right now. In fact, being home for a few days has made me realize just how precious life is and how much I appreciate what I have here. My job, my husband, my kitty, and most of all, my sanity.

Thank you
Lastly, but most importantly (for the few that have read through this incredibly long post), thank you for all your kind comments and emails. I haven't responded to any of you or comment on your blogs because until this week, I only had one hand to type with and it was pretty difficult to even get a post typed up. Soon I will be back to reading blogs and back to my real life. Thanks again for all your support. You really have no idea how much it meant to me during a very difficult and dark time in my life.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Can it really get any worse?

First, a huge thank you for all of your kind words and support. I read every comment and they fill my heart with gratitude. Each comment is very much appreciated and greatly lifts my spirits.

Friday was a horrific day. We moved my sister to the assisted living home for hospice care. Even though I had explained to her several times that she was moving so her daughter (the insane one) would come visit her, at the last minute my sister decided she didn't want to go. It was beyond horrible. The crying and moaning tore my heart into pieces.

After she was moved by ambulance she became non-communicative.She didn't want anything to do with any of us. She fell asleep or pretended to fall asleep. My crazy niece came by for five minutes and then left.

Crazy niece didn't even visit yesterday. I was there all day and had a great visit with my sister for several hours. My other niece who is now seriously depressed only stayed a few hours. She was diagnosed as clinically depressed for the past 17 years and is on a multitude of drugs, bipolar,anti-anxiety, anti-psychotic and several anti-depressants. She's a sweet girl (well, 46 year old woman), but she's not much fun to hang out with. My brother came by a couple of times, bringing me his laptop and a giant TV for our sister's room. He's a laugh a minute so he hung out with us for a few hours.

My sister napped off and on, but was awake most of the time I was there, from 9am to 7:30pm with a break when I went out to lunch and Walmart (yuk!) for some nails to hang pictures. She told me which pictures to hang and where. Her wedding picture made her cry and cry. It was so sad I thought I was going to die. She started talking very sweetly to the picture, and touching her husband's face in the picture, and cried. I told her it was okay to cry. It was just me and crying wasn't a bad thing. I couldn't understand her words but I think she was saying how much she missed him and loved him. I told her I knew she missed her husband of 51 years, and I told her how lucky she was to have been treated like a princess for all those years. We both cried and I held her.

We had a lot of laughs yesterday too. I was trying to adjust her pillows and was having a heck of a time getting them in the position she wanted without pulling her hair. I told I was sorry I was Nurse Ratchet from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest but I was never trained in pillow fluffing. She yelled out "Ouch!", then laughed and laughed. She still has her sense of humor.

It was a really great day with her. The people that work at the home are really nice and the owner that lives there is amazing and a great help in helping me accept this situation.

Unfortunately my crazy niece called me when I got back to the hotel. She wants to get a morphine patch put on her mother so she'll be basically unconscious. My sister has sublingual morphine drops for pain, which work fine when she needs them. She doesn't need a patch with constant morphine.

My niece got hysterical when I told her that her mother was drinking a lot of water. No food, but water. My niece insisted I was pouring it down her throat or holding the glass. I'm not, my sister holds the glass and drinks it.

The conversation went really bad when I lost my temper over the morphine patch and then Linda said she couldn't visit because she "has three young boys" to take care of. I've heard this excuse thousands of times in the last four weeks. The "young" boys are 16, 14 and 9 and she has a husband that's perfectly capable of caring for them. For the very first time in four weeks I completely lost it and called her a stupid, crazy bitch, and I was sick to death of hearing about her "three f--king boys". Yes, not my finest moment but honest to God, I've had it with this woman. She may be my niece, but when this is over if I never hear her whiny voice or see her ugly, angry face again, I will be happy.

I just want my sister's final days to be peaceful and comfortable. I want her to laugh and not be afraid and worried. Water is part of comfort care. My niece wants to withhold water, but fortunately it's in my sister's living trust to provide sustenance such as water and bread for comfort, just no feeding tubes. The morphine patch is ridiculous. She doesn't need it.

I've blocked my crazy niece's phone numbers from my cell phone (there's an app that does that). If she visits her mother today (highly unlikely), I'll leave until she's gone. My hotel is two blocks from the home, so not a problem to just leave for a while. I know if she does visit it'll only be for a few minutes. Without me there for her to attack, it'll be better for everyone. Luckily for me her reputation is well known. I talked to Adult Protection Services yesterday and they knew all about the crazy niece. They work with the local hospital and had already received phone calls about my niece.

Did I mention during the four days I was in Seattle she went to the hospital business office demanding to see someone in charge? No one was available so she laid her body down on the floor, blocking the entrance into the business office. She was physically carried out by security. Just one of her many crazy stunts these last four weeks, documented by the hospital and the police.

My husband is flying up today. When I broke down a couple night's ago after a crazy niece encounter and couldn't stop crying so I could even talk to him, he said he'd fly up. I can't wait to see him.

I'm sure today is going to be a better day. I'll avoid crazy niece, and I get to see my husband. And I still get to make my sister laugh.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Death becomes her

Today marks day 30 since my sister's stroke, and also day 30 of no food and very little water.

It's a strange thing, watching my sister die. Each day, a little more of her slips away. She's a little less aware, a little thinner, and laughing a little less.

Yesterday was a wretched, horrible day. She can no longer get out of bed because it's too painful. Her paralyzed side, with all it's intact and working nerve endings, tortures her with pain if we try to move her even half an inch. Her doctor, who makes house calls, said it's not worth it to move her and have her in so much pain. The morphine sublingual drops don't even help with that intense pain. She doesn't want to move and since the time is short, she remains in one position, on her back, where she is the most comfortable.

I spent several hours alone with her yesterday, as she sat in bed, staring out the picture window, looking at the river and the snow. I did everything I could to make her smile. She would only look at me with tears in her eyes. I kept asking her what was wrong, besides the fact she was dying, why was she so unhappy.

Once again, as she has several times in the past several days, she spelled "E.....L.....I!" I know what this means and it breaks my heart. I asked her, are you asking about Linda again? (heavy sigh on my part) A big nod yes from my sister. Linda, my sister's oldest daughter (49), who lives only ten miles down the road, has not come to see her mother since October 1.

There are a lot of things I could say about Linda, but I hesitate to say anything. I know she's mentally ill, but right now I can't excuse her behavior. Linda told me today that she can't bear to see her mother like this because it hurts her too much. A lot of responses went through my head, mostly that I wanted to tell her she's a spoiled, self-centered little bitch, but instead, I told her I understood and that it was okay.

After spending several hours with Linda today (she's finally talking to me again), she has agreed if we move my sister to a hospice for her last few days, she will visit her there. She just can't come to the house where she only had happy memories. It would ruin it for her.

Again, the thoughts in my head were quite different from what I said to her. I hate the idea of another ambulance ride for my sister. It will be her fourth in four weeks, but this one will be one-way to the hospice. I think dying at home would be better, but I also know my sister's dying wish is to see this daughter. We have almost everything lined up to move my sister tomorrow to the hospice.

My other niece (46) and her husband haven't left my sister's side.  The sad part of this is that this niece, sweet, mild mannered and kind, suffers from severe depression. The kind of clinical depression that  leads  to suicide. There have been many attempts over the years, several were almost successful.

My sister was not only her mother, but her best friend, her support and her confidante. This is a very difficult time for this niece, and I'm not sure she's going to pull through what is undoubtedly the most catastrophic event of her life.

Funny thing about my sister. She's always been a great beauty, she had movie star good looks in the fifties. People would often comment on her beauty. Even though she's 73, she's still gorgeous. She never thought she was pretty. Each day, as she gets weaker and thinner, she becomes even more beautiful. Her wrinkles are disappearing. Her eyes are bluer than I've ever seen them. When she blesses me with a smile, my heart melts.

I already miss her.