Downloading and cleaning up my camera (you know, one of those things we used before cellphones) I found a couple of photos of the cats. My main view from my “temporary” office is what I call, in my head, “The Cat Window.”
I try to keep flowers on the mantle. “Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes; Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses ... ” by James Oppenheim (one of my favorite union songs).
Slink may be the oldest pet (he’ll be ten years old next month!), but Pepper rules.
Now if I could just figure out why my computer takes 29 minutes (exactly) to start up ...
Testing slideshow software, take two. This is Fotorama, created by Artem Polikarpov, and I love it. It took a while to figure out how to get it to work in ExpressionEngine, but now that I know, it’s easy.
This one can take images from anywhere on the web, so setting it up from a Flickr account will work well. I set this up by uploading images to the photo gallery module in EE and linking to those.
I’m testing slideshows. I need it to have a caption, thumbnail navigation, be responsive, and to open fullscreen. Oh, and it cannot be Flash-based since Flash doesn’t work on very many devices and crashes Firefox more often then not.
This one is WOW Slider, which is pretty pricey, but worth it because it does the job for the ecommerce sites I build. The problem is, in this context, it doesn’t open in fullscreen but within the iframe. I’ve written to tech support there to find out the workaround for this—they’re usually quite good at solving any issues that might come up—but I won’t hear back from them until Monday. Which is fine. UPDATE: tech support at WOW Slider provided me with what I needed—this slider now goes to fullscreen no problem. Turns out I needed to add allowfullscreen (no quotes) to the iframe.
The problem with using this version is the files have to be uploaded via ftp and they are not editable within the CMS, so unwieldy for editing by anybody but me. It has to be set up and captioned in advance.
The other day we received a letter from optimum letting us know that our promotion was about to end and, because we’re such loyal customers (Stanley since 1982!) they are going to extend the promotion. However, our bill will go up $15 per month.
First, we couldn’t figure out what promotion they’re talking about. We have Triple Play, a bundle package that allegedly saves some money if you combine all three. Plus we have the gold package. No promotions. We thought.
So I called. They claim, now, that Triple Play is a promotion, not a bundle package—guess they changed their mind about this since we signed up for it about, I don’t know, 8-10 years ago? For loyal customers, they said, they didn’t end this promotion, just turned it into a “step-up” promo and didn’t just revert the rates to “regular” rates. I asked what the regular rates are for getting three services at the same time, but nobody could tell me and it’s not found on their website, anywhere. I asked why we, as loyal, long-term customers, can’t get the new two-year Triple Play rate. Because, the guy said, we’re not new customers.
I asked how having to pay $15 more per month is any kind of a reward for customer loyalty. Got a bunch of bullshit from the customer service guy. No matter how I asked, or what I asked, I got the same answer, which was no answer at all. So I asked to speak with his supervisor.
Spoke with the supervisor—he called me back. Cablevision is, for the most part, pretty good about calling back, etc. After the same story, where he wouldn’t (or couldn’t) budge on that $15 price hike, I asked to speak with someone who could actually do something.
A while later, he called me back again and said his supervisor said to give me a one-time credit of $180 to cover the price increase over 12 months. Which they did—it’s already applied to our bill. Don’t know why the first person I spoke with couldn’t apply that same discount.
We still pay too much money for cable—and I still deeply resent having to pay $5.98 per month for sports programming since we never, ever watch sports. I want to be able to select the channels I want to pay for—ESPN would NOT be one of them. And it would be a breathe of fresh air if, for real, Cablevision actually did have a customer loyalty program where we could get a significant price break. I wish there were competition. We can’t get Fios, it’s not available, and Frontier is a joke (our clients stuck with Frontier hate it). Optimum claims without the “promotion” our internet connection would be $50/month instead of $30. Which makes no sense.
After dealing with “customer service” at Cablevision, we got a survey to fill out. I did. I was blunt: loyal customers don’t get rewarded by Cablevision. Nope. We get screwed.
So, this afternoon, yet another rep called, to thank me for my “valuable” input, to reiterate the same line of bullshit that enraged me the first five times I heard it. He offered to send the latest modem version since ours is so old, and a wireless router which is, supposedly, ours to keep. I accepted—I doubt we will use the router since Stanley says you have to go through Cablevision to set it up and he’d rather just buy a new router (ours is getting a little long in the tooth).
The rep asked if there was anything else he could do. I told him, “lower my bill.” Ha! I am not appeased. I’m not unhappy with the services themselves—good connections and good service. I’m deeply unhappy with the prices they charge and the bullshit they spew about “customer loyalty.”
Stanley set up our office in a room that is a converted porch. That was, gee, in 2002 or so? Something like that. Very comfortable, though sometimes really cold in the winter until this year, when he insulated the crawlspace underneath it. Changed it to just cold. But, with my heated throw and sometimes the space heater, it works, really well. I love my office.
However, this winter, there was an ice dam above the office, which is an add-on to the main house. And it rained in the office, so we had to move out. Fortunately, our parlor wasn’t used for anything but storage (I won’t get into it ... suffice to say it was not my choice). So Stanley was able to move the cable and phone connections to the parlor after we dug out the crap (almost finished). He rigged up two long tables for desks, and I love my desk and my new, temporary, office digs. He still has a few things to do so we’re completely comfortable in the new office, but it’s getting there.
But ... I want my office back! First, it has to dry out, and Stanley has to find the leaking points and seal it (it really looked like it was raining inside during the worst of it). And it needs to be painted—needed it before the leak since it had been so long and got such heavy use and abuse by, over time, three dogs and three cats plus two humans. I think what I miss the most is being able to watch the birds at the bird feeder, and the squirrel acrobatics to get at the birdseed. We’ll get there.
progress on the health front
I am no longer diabetic. Off all diabetes medication. I’ve been on a low carbohydrate high fat moderate protein ketogenic diet since July 2013. The blood sugar got under control fairly quickly, but my doctor is cautious and waited until December to discontinue the Metformin (though she did decrease it last August). Since I was diagnosed with diabetes, I’ve lost 86 pounds.
Sticking with a ketogenic diet was not and is not an ordeal—it’s just the way I eat. The only sweet stuff I eat are berries and, when my blood sugar drops too low (once in a while), a bar of Trader Joe’s dark chocolate with almond bits. I don’t eat grains of any kind ever, except once in a blue moon I’ll have sushi with rice. I’ll eat French fries once in a while, but not many. No pasta, ever—I like shirataki noodles (konjac) just fine and that’s what I use when I make spaghetti sauce in the slow cooker. (I make my own so I can keep sugar out of it.) I wish I could afford grass-fed, free-range meats, poultry, and fish, but this is rare. So I just eat what we can afford. When I’ve tried a bit of a dessert when we go out, it is always too sweet and I don’t care for it. I don’t miss bread. I have bulletproof coffee every day (about 15 ounces of good coffee with an ounce of Kerrygold unsalted butter, about 1.25 ounces of coconut oil, and heavy cream all blended with a shake machine) and lots of eggs. Unlike most paleo diets, I do eat dairy because I like it.
My psoriasis rarely bothers me, my arthritis is much, much better. I had three gout flares over the past 14 months and am now taking allopurinol to prevent them (and drinking a lot more water than I did before)—the last bout made me unable to walk for a solid week and I am still getting over it. Gout runs in my family, so I am not surprised I’ve had flares and I suspect the flares would’ve been a lot worse had I been eating grains and sugar since they both cause inflammation. I have some kidney problems of unknown origin (suspect the cause was the first gout flare where the hospital put me on heavy duty antibiotics and heavy pain meds that caused some damage), but it’s getting better—a lot better, quickly, since I no longer use aspirin or naproxen for pain.
I still have more weight to lose, because I want to, and plan to start working out with weights again soon (Fred Hahn’s Slow Burn program—which worked really well for me when I actually followed the program in 2007-2008), and maybe add The Five Tibetan Rites—because, why not?
There is a lot of work I need to catch up with—stuff I’m looking forward to doing. I want to update our company site—I’m tired of it being so old fashioned—and learn how to set up a Magento store for one client, and update a hyperlocal media site (which is giving me fits—the software isn’t working the way it should, at least not yet).
Spring is FINALLY getting here, so my mood is much better. I finished the taxes. Money is always a worry, but that’s the norm. I have some health worries about family members, but things are improving with them. No particular rants today about politics and world events—not quite ready to get back to actually paying close attention to that yet. Except I wish there were other Democrats running against Clinton for the primary (and I absolutely hate her campaign logo).
About a month after switching to lchf, ditching sugar and grains in particular, my A1C level went from 8.4 to 5.5.
It’s now one year since I went lchf—did I stick with it? What happened?
Still lchf—it’s not at all difficult to eat this way. Contrary to what “the authorities” claim, it IS sustainable. I’ve lost 35 pounds since I started (and maintained the 30-pound loss I’d already achieved with the low-fat diet). My blood sugar readings have stabilized—I rarely have a glucose reading above 100 and they’re typically in 80-90 range. I need to get my A1C level checked again—shooting to get that done within a week or so. But what’s really great is I’ve lost the additional 35 pounds without ever feeling hungry, without cravings, without that deep hunger that cannot be ignored (you know what I’m talking about!)
Other benefits: my psoriasis has cleared up, my osteoarthritis is vastly improved, no more edema, my HDL went up so high (and triglycerides so low) the test results indicated a negative risk factor for cardiovascular disease. No more brain fog and a lot more energy. LDL cholesterol particles are the big fluffy type. I try sweet things every once in a while but find them unpleasant—and watching people eat things I used to love, such as gelato or cake—doesn’t bother me. I don’t eat potatoes or high-starch vegetables or fruit except once in a while, I’ll indulge in fresh pineapple. I no longer miss bread, though I do miss sandwiches (I’m going to make some paleo bread this weekend, though without honey, to see if it’s worth the trouble).
I’ve learned to be very careful about ordering things such as hamburgers at restaurants—tried one at Sherwood Diner about a month ago and it made me quite ill (not to mention my blood sugar reading shot up)—I assume they use wheat-based filler in them since they menu did not claim they’re 100% beef. I miss pasta, so I have shirataki noodles instead (konjac), and it does the trick for me. I make my own tomato sauce because I can leave out the sugar (commercial tomato sauce has a shocking amount of sugar in it—make sure you check the label!)
I eat lots of eggs, macadamia nuts, walnuts, meat (except lamb, which I don’t care for), fish, cheese, heavy cream, butter, coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, low-starch vegetables (spinach, broccoli, asparagus mostly), small amounts of berries (blueberries and strawberries mainly). I eat more tomatoes than I should—my biggest frequent indulgence. My total carb count averages less than 30 carbs per day. Right now, I try to be ketogenic. No corn oil, canola oil, or other nasty fake oils. I try to eat as clean as I can afford to—I would love to eat nothing but grass-fed meats but they’re really expensive, so I do the best I can.
Would this work for everyone? I don’t know—it’s working for me. When I lose the rest of the weight I want to lose, maybe I’ll add in some more carbs (more fruit, probably) if I want to, but I don’t feel an overwhelming need to do so. Or even a slight need to. I suspect it would be good for anyone with diabetes, autoimmune diseases, neuropathy, fibromyalgia, or other chronic conditions to at least give it a month-long trial to see if it helps. Others have said the first week to ten days of switching to lchf makes them feel kind of ill, but I didn’t find this at all (maybe I was just lucky?) One or two weeks is not long enough to try it—give it at least one month, longer if you wean yourself instead of jumping in with both feet. I couldn’t believe how quickly I started feeling better when I switched—and I switched about two weeks after I’d had major surgery. Experiment with the right level of carbs—it’s different for everyone.
My current problem is most of my clothes are too big and I don’t want to replace them yet because, well, I’ll lose more weight. What a problem to have, huh?
What do I do to make this work? Well, I use FitDay to track what I eat, weigh, do, etc.—tracking and measuring my food and weight helps keep me on track. I follow Diet Doctor, Authority Nutrition, and a few other lchf/paleo sites (most of the ones here: http://www.dietdoctor.com/new and a few others). I track my blood sugar at least three times a day (fasting, before dinner and after dinner). I weigh myself every morning. I drink lots of water. I have bulletproof coffee every day (coffee with coconut oil and butter and heavy cream—my version) because I love it and it gives me good energy. I read Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It by Gary Taubes (excellent book) and recently read Diet 101: The Truth About Low Carb Diets by Jenny Ruhl (pretty good—the reality that it’s not an overnight miracle for weight loss for most people, especially for middle-aged, post-menopausal women!) and this site for diabetes information: Blood Sugar 101 (anything by the American Diabetes Association is bullshit).
It’s been an interesting year. And it feels good to be writing again.
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 ...
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?
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).
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.
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.