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