Thursday, August 15, 2013

it’s been a strange, rough six months

In February, I was diagnosed with diabetes. I was told I was pre-diabetic in spring 2012, but didn’t pay attention to it. Big mistake.

The doctor prescribed metformin, I went to Diabetes Class at Norwalk Hospital—I guess one needs to learn how to be a diabetic (Stanley went too—so he could learn what’s what and know enough for me not to be able to bullshit him) and embarked on a Mediterranean-type diet. The Flat Belly Diet. Which I’d been on quite successfully in 2008 until my Mother died. All bets were off then and the weight crept back up. The goal is to lose enough weight, and control the blood sugar well enough, to get me off metformin (I hate taking meddies). And also get my hypertension under control so I could go off hydrochlorithiazide and losartan (I have no idea of those are spelled correctly).

The trip to the doctor was initially to check up on my blood pressure, but I’d also gone through a very heavy period. Which was strange considering I am in menopause. So that concerned the doctor as much as the diabetes and he told me to get to the gynecologist right away. I needed to get the usual preventative tests done, anyway, so I saw her the next week, I think.

Pap smear, mammogram both normal. But the gynecologist wanted an ultrasound done to check on the bleeding, and the ultrasound showed a mass was present. Which led to a D&C and biopsy.

I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer in early May. It was weird: I knew I had cancer before it was diagnosed, like in February when I had that heavy period, but it’s hard to hear it confirmed. Worse for Stanley, I think.

By June 12, I was in Bridgeport Hospital getting my uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries removed. Along with some lymph nodes for good measure. By this time, I’d lost 30 pounds, but my blood readings were not settling down into the ranges I wanted them to be in.

But, I had a post-surgical weight gain of 15 pounds! All that work ... it turns out it’s normal to put on a bunch of water weight due to the surgery. I wish they would’ve told me before so I wouldn’t have been so freaked out about it. I managed to get rid of all the extra weight in about three weeks. And the cancer is gone—it hadn’t spread or anything so I didn’t need any further treatment, just a followup every six months for the next few years in case some of the cancer cells escaped and were missed during surgery. I have a lot to say about what I went through, but I’ll save that for future posts.

So that huge worry was lifted off our shoulders.

But the blood sugar levels were still too high, and too uneven, and I started to worry about having to go on insulin sooner or later. I thought I was doing everything right when it came to how I was eating: low fat except for the good fats, kept my calories in way lower than my calories out. Yeah, I lost about five pounds a month, but I was always hungry, had cravings for bread and ice cream and pasta and it was really hard not to eat the entire pint of sea salt caramel gelato all by myself, and my blood sugar readings were all over the map, though not quite as high as they had been in March and April.

Then I watched a TED Talk given by Dr. Peter Attia about obesity and diabetes—it blew me away. Which led me to Gary Taubes’ work on fat and carbohydrates and sugar, then on to other research about diabetes and carbohydrates and how fat doesn’t make you fat ... it all made sense to me: ditch the carbs. (I’ll document the sources later—I’m too sleepy to look everything up now.)

So, on July 2, I switched to a low-carb, high-fat died. No more bread or gluten, no more sugar outside of what I get in fruit. Lost eight pounds in six weeks, which is cool, but even better is my blood sugar seems to be stabilizing at a much lower reading than I ever saw on the low-fat diet. I’m feeling so much better without gluten and all that sugar it’s hard for me to believe it’s not just the placebo effect—how long does that last? I’m in a much better mood. I get more work done and can concentrate longer on the detailed, rote stuff that is the part of designing and building websites I don’t like.

So far, it seems to be working well for me. I had blood labs done earlier this week and will get the results on Monday—I hope my A1C is lower but I recognize that I had the stress of major surgery and recovery during the last three months so I’ll be glad if it hasn’t gone up. I think my doctor ordered a whole range of tests from blood sugar to thyroid to the usual—unless something is seriously out of whack I plan to continue my low-carb ways. Mainly because I feel so damned much better. And my blood pressure is way down, too.

Stanley is very tolerant.

I learned how to make bread out of peanut butter and eggs—that’s what I’ll write about next. Needed it so I could make a grilled cheese sandwich now and then—lettuce just won’t work for that ...

posted by lee on 08/15/13 at 08:12 PM
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Saturday, May 18, 2013

we planted morning glory seeds

Recently, the city put in a new sidewalk. Such at it is—an ugly macadam stretch on one side with a nice cement pavement on the school side. At any rate, they cut back a lot of the hedge fronting the road and later, Stanley thinned out the multitude of rogue maple trees. So it’s looking kind of sparse. Sooner or later it will fill out again (there’s no denying privet). But to fill it out a little, we decided to plant morning glories. So we did: scarlet, pink/chocolate, double-flowered, heavenly blue ... we’ll probably regret it since they are practically a weed around here, but for now I’m looking forward to their blooms in a month or two.

We have a lot of yard work to do over the next couple of weekends. I would like to get the tomatoes in next weekend. I have surgery coming—I won’t know when until Thursday—so I want to get as much as possible done before then.

Surgery. Yes. A hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (removal of the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes). Why?

FINAL DIAGNOSIS:
A. Endocervical curettings: Inflamed endocervical glands. Detached fragments of squamous epithelium without significant histopathologic abnormalities.
B. Endometrial curettings: Complex glandular hyperplasia with atypia focally involving a polyp. Fragments of lytic endometrium. (See Comment).
C. Endometrium, “mass”, tissue: Complex glandular hyperplasia with atypia in a polyp and in detached fragments of endometrial tissue. (See comment).
COMMENT:
In several areas the complex glandular hyperplasia with atypia borders an endometrioid adenocarcinoma. Some of the changes appear to be involving a polyp. Clinical correlation is essential.

I knew, before the d&c and biopsy, that I had endometrial cancer. I don’t know how I did. But it was still a blow to sit and hear my gynecologist, Dr. Marrone, confirm it. I knew it was going to be bad news when she asked if she could bring my husband back. Stanley said when he saw her, he thought “Oh shit.”

Yes, I know it’s very early and I know I’m lucky I actually paid attention and got my post-menopausal bleeding checked out. But it’s still terrifying.

Dr. Marrone set up an appointment with Dr. Masoud Azodi, a gynecologic oncologist from Yale-New Haven. We will see him on May 23. He’s got a terrific reputation. Chances are good that I will get to have da Vinci surgery so I’ll recover faster. I have a hundred questions.

My sister Jamie asked me how I feel about having a hysterectomy. I always thought that I would avoid it at all costs. But I told her that my reaction is “get it out of me—I don’t want to die from cancer.” I’m dreading the operation and the recovery period and I’m afraid of general anesthesia, but I’m trying not to think about it too much until we see Dr. Azodi and can ask him questions.

I found HysterSisters.com and joined that forum. But other than reading their booklet and introducing myself, I haven’t spent much time there. I think because it’s not quite real to me. Or maybe because I’m leery of becoming a, I don’t know how to describe it, professional patient? I think that’s why I haven’t looked at any cancer support forums yet. Right now, I just want to get rid of the problem and move on with my life.

why i hate balloons
Why I really hate balloons. (click to see it big)

posted by lee on 05/18/13 at 07:09 PM
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Monday, October 01, 2012

oh happy dog, and other thoughts

Bingo surrounded by her favorite things
Bingo is the essence of dog. Here she is, in dog heaven, surrounded by her favorite things including backup for them, in the same room with us so she doesn’t have to worry about herding us ... September 21, 2012. (click to see it big!)

It’s a bit odd, but I’ve been feeling a bit calmer lately. Not sure why. Maybe it’s because I know exactly what the problems are these days, if not quite how to solve them. Let’s just say we’re a very long way from ever becoming part of the 1% (oh rub the Powerball God’s belly) or even the 25%, but I believe, finally, that sooner or later, we’ll be okay. (Just wish it wasn’t such a slog!) That’s all we want: to be okay. Health stuff too, but we’re getting there, also.

My October goal: to redesign our company website. It’s like the cobbler’s kids, running around with holes in their shoes because the cobbler is so busy making money to feed them he doesn’t have time to tend to thier shoes.

And to finish organizing the house—which I made a pretty good dent in before we went on vacation in August. Ah, maybe that’s it—why I feel calmer—I think so much better when there are no piles of clutter and when I know exactly what the issues are.

It’s also starting to sink in that as long as I accomplish something, I don’t have to feel badly for not accomplishing everything on my to-do list. I have to remember: they’re goals, not deadlines.

One thing that still puzzles me, though: why would people who barely have a pot to piss in, or will never, ever be in the 25% (let alone the 1%) unless they win the lottery, supporting Romney? I just don’t get it.

posted by lee on 10/01/12 at 03:41 AM
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Sunday, June 10, 2012

slow day, productive but not very

Pepper and Slink
Pepper and Slink trying to figure out what’s going on. (click to see it big!)

Another day of getting back-burnered stuff done. Mainly cleaning up comment spam on two different websites and adding to the blacklists. Installing a program, Carefree Ad Manager by Will Bontrager, that counts impressions and clicks on ads so we can tell advertisers how well (or not) their ads are doing. Which will let us offer another service to our advertisers, perhaps.

What I didn’t get to, again, was updating our company website or company Facebook page. Or cleaning the house. Spent a good amount of time last weekend getting rid of paper so I could clear it off my desk—I tossed and shredded enough to fill at least one huge trash bag. I wanted to empty crap from at least one office cupboard this weekend, but didn’t get a chance. Nor did I get any gardening done—I wanted to at least get one pot planted. Tomorrow I will.

My goals this week, aside from work: spend about 30 minutes a day catching up with the cleaning and another 30 minutes in the garden. And not watch the political blowhard pundits flapping their jaws for at least a few more days. I miss the days when the 24-hours news channels had, you know, news and not wall-to-wall bullshit opinion shows, full of the sound and fury ...

I am being summoned for dinner.

posted by lee on 06/10/12 at 08:36 PM
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Monday, May 28, 2012

how does my garden grow? wild

Steamy out today—lots of sun and lots of muggy. I think we need to get some fresher Off as the stuff we have now doesn’t seem to be working anymore (it’s about five years old ... )

We did get some tomatoes and other plants—the garden is not quite ready for planting, still a little too muddy. And did I say it’s steamy out today? I played with the dogs instead.

white peony May 29, 2012
one of Stanley’s peonies (click to see it big!)

wild wild garden  May 29, 2012
the garden is wonderfully wild (click to see it big!)

image
beautiful but vicious rugosa (click to see it big!)

wild roses  May 29, 2012
we even have wild roses in our tree tops (click to see it big!)

digitalis  May 29, 2012
heart stopping digitalis (click to see it big!)

What fun is there in having new software if you don’t play with it?

image
dali digitalis, © lee fleming, 2012

posted by lee on 05/28/12 at 05:49 PM
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creature features

No particular point to this entry. I just feel like posting some photos of our creatures. Sans Pepper. She remains as hard for me to photograph as she can (Stanley gets better photos of her).

Ruby patiently waiting for her cookies
Ruby patiently waiting for her cookies (click to see it big!)

Ruby always worried about something
Ruby is always worried about something (like not getting her cookies) (click to see it big!)

Bingo hiding from something
Bingo trying to hide from whatever the latest indignity is that Stanley wants to inflict on her. Like taking her picture. She is afraid of the sound of velcro. (click to see it big!)

green eye Slink
Slink literally keeping an eye on what’s going on. © lee fleming, 2012 (click to see it big!)

posted by lee on 05/28/12 at 01:13 PM
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Saturday, May 26, 2012

artistaday.com > tessa houghton

The other day, I received a google alert that Famous Artists School was mentioned somewhere on the web. FAS is a long-time client and we just launched two new courses, so I wanted to see if it was being picked up somewhere.

The alert led me to this guy: Stephen Fisher, a Warren, Rhode Island artists who is an FAS alum. Which led me to explore the artistaday.com. This site impresses the hell out of me—a huge collection of artists from around the world, an artist profiled each day.

Scrolling backwards, I got to , I think, March 17, 2012, and was rendered speechless. Behold a painting by Tessa Houghton:

image
Tessa Houghton, “Elysian Blue,” Oil on canvas (click to see it big!)

Houghton’s website offers an extensive gallery. She is a Brit currently in based in Barcelona.

She paints seascapes mainly—it’s hard to believe the image above is done in oil paint and not is not a photograph. There’s something about the scope and the colors that grab me, the sea ... I think it’s the way she captures the light. I would love to see her work in the real world.

posted by lee on 05/26/12 at 08:10 PM
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Thursday, May 24, 2012

cats

Sometimes, when I’m really absorbed in what I’m working on, I glance to my left and I’m surprised to see the cat snoozing under the window has changed. And I didn’t even notice.

Slink, May 22 2012
Cat 1: Slink, with his lovely green eyes. (click to see it big!)

Pepper, May 23, 2012
Cat 2: Pepper, deep sleep. (click to see it big!)

I’ve been trying to get a good photo of Pepper—good thing pixels are cheap because she’s very hard to photograph. Where Slink has brilliant green eyes, Pepper has beautiful topaz eyes, with just a hint of green ringing the edge of the irises. They have very different personalities, and I can tell them apart just by hearing their purrs.

Pepper's eyes, May 23, 2012
Topaz eyes—Pepper won’t pose for me. (click to see it big!)

I’m glad there’s a long weekend coming up. I’m going to try not to work, Much.

posted by lee on 05/24/12 at 06:14 PM
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Sunday, May 20, 2012

resurrection?

It’s been a long time. I miss blogging.

Things garden:

climbing roses, may 20, 2012
The climbing roses started blooming last week. (click to see it big!)

hidden baptists 5-20-2012
The baptista is hidden in the bramble this year. I need to trim the dead rugosa branches out, but they’re so awful to deal with. (click to see it big!)

stanley trimming the hedge may 20, 2012
Stanley decided to bite the bullet and trim the hedge—we couldn’t see to get out of our driveway safely! (click to see it big!)

triming hedge two may 20, 2012
the weekend is the only time to do it—traffic is deadly on weekdays as Strawberry Hill Avenue turns into a narrow version of I-95. (click to see it big!)

The hedge looks great, the front is complete. However, Stanley fell off the ladder when he was climbing down, and has a scrape on the back of his head and he hurt his wrist. He didn’t knock himself out and he says he’s ok. I plan to hold the ladder the next time—I couldn’t bear it if he ended up in the hospital.

We lost Twitch Thanksgiving weekend. He had a heart murmur and we knew he was on borrowed time, but it still hit us hard. Slink was lost without him, so we knew we needed to get him a buddy. Pepper adopted us when we met her at the Connecticut Humane Society in Westport on December 1, 2012. She’s a tuxedo cat and pretty much runs the house buy now.

Slink and Pepper watching for squirrels April 2012
Slink and Pepper are watching the squirrels and birds on the porch. We have a bird feeder and it provides lots of entertainment for them (and us) (click to see it big!)

Slink escaping April 2012
Slink is such a gorgeous, strange cat. He likes to hang out on his cushion while I work, but keeps a wary eye out for Bingo and Ruby. Especially Ruby. (click to see it big!)

I’ve neglected the housekeeping on the blog—it’s going to take a while to clean out all the spam comments that have accumulated. And upgrade it to the latest and greatest and final version of ExpressionEngine 1x. I need to update the home page to include photos of our current furry family, and update other pages. I’ll get it done.

I do miss blogging. Facebook just doesn’t do it for me—it’s too impersonal. Now that I’ve taken the first step in getting back, I hope I keep going.

cascade of roses
the best part of spring, besides all the other good things about spring (click to see it big!)

posted by lee on 05/20/12 at 05:35 PM
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Sunday, August 07, 2011

moving right along, despite the rain

By Friday evening, Stanley had the tongue-in-groove deck placed. The next steps are trimming the end, sanding, rounding the edges, priming, caulking, then painting. I get to choose the color—I’m not sure yet what color it will be yet, other than it will not not not be battleship gray. He managed to figure out how to deal with one of the framing boards that was way warped. This porch is solid!

Stanley replaces the porch
Wiping up the puddles that got under the tarp—there was an inch of rain last night! (click to see it big!)

Stanley replaces the porch
The deck done, not yet trimmed. (click to see it big!)

Stanley replaces the porch
The edge trimmed, in the middle of sanding. (click to see it big!)

Stanley replaces the porch
A closer look—it’s looking so good. (click to see it big!)

Stanley replaces the porch
Assessing the sanding. (click to see it big!)

Stanley replaces the porch
Getting ready to round the edge. (click to see it big!)

posted by lee on 08/07/11 at 07:42 PM
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