miscellaneous everything

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?

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.

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!)

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?

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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Sunday, May 20, 2012


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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Thursday, January 27, 2011

noooo, please, uncle, enough already!

More snow. Another 17 inches. Or 15 inches, depending on what measurement you believe. Yesterday we got three inches. I am so tired. Another day of work lost to shoveling. Stanley did most of it (he’s still out working on enough more so we have a turnaround). We’re legal, the sidewalk has a foot-wide path between 3.5-feet-tall snow walls. The car is cleared off, including the top so we don’t get a ticket.

Nor'easter January 27, 2011
View from the porch. [click to enlarge] © 2011, lee fleming thompson

Nor'easter January 27, 2011
Another view from the porch. [click to enlarge] © 2011, lee fleming thompson

Stanley, Nor'easter January 27, 2011
Oh crap, not again, Stanley shovels. [click to enlarge] © 2011, lee fleming thompson

Stanley, Nor'easter January 27, 2011
Piled higher and deeper—Stanley at a familiar task. [click to enlarge] © 2011, lee fleming thompson

spot of yellow,  Nor'easter January 27, 2011
A spot of yellow. [click to enlarge] © 2011, lee fleming thompson

snowy chairs,  Nor'easter January 27, 2011
Chairs dream summer dreams. [click to enlarge] © 2011, lee fleming thompson

ghost dog, Bingo, January 27, 2011
Ghost dog in the window, Bingo. [click to enlarge] © 2011, lee fleming thompson

Mama cardinal and sparrows, January 27, 2011
Birds gotta eat. Mrs. Cardinal joins the Sparrow family. [click to enlarge] © 2011, lee fleming thompson

posted by lee on 01/27/11 at 05:17 PM
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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

just ‘cause

Twitch drinking
thirsty cat [click to enlarge] ©2011 by lee fleming thompson

posted by lee on 01/25/11 at 05:52 PM
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ruby again

It’s been such a worrying thing I dread the thought of posting the entire story, so I’ll just refer you to Stanley’s blog (which he is finally resurrecting) to read the details.

What he doesn’t go into detail about is that the perforation was caused by the Deramaxx that was prescribed by vet Matthew Palmisano of VCA/Norwalk, who did the fifth knee surgery operation. We still don’t know why he prescribed this as he KNEW—or should have known since it was on the paperwork we gave him—Ruby was getting carafate and pepcid—stuff to soothe her stomach because an ulcer was suspected (she did not get Deramaxx after her 4th surgery). I suspect he didn’t bother reading what meds she was on and just prescribed the standard post-op stuff—SOP for far too many specialists, both animal docs and human docs. So, he might be a fine orthopedic surgeon and he might have done a fine job on Ruby, but if he kills the dog in the process because he’s careless about reading her case history, he’s not such a great vet, is he?

What really made us angry was the people at VCA—the receptionists treating us like shit and the vets we saw, one of whom was the medical director or something, denying VCA did anything wrong, arguing with us about it. And then telling us that it would cost us between $6500 and $7600 for them to fix Dr. Palmisano’s mistake with only a 50% chance of Ruby even recovering.

All I could think of is all the pain Ruby would go through at that place, how frightened she’d be, and to go through all of that with a shitty prognosis, I just couldn’t do it to her and we just couldn’t afford it, not for such an awful prognosis.

Dr. Kurose and the staff at Strawberry Hill Animal Hospital saved Ruby—she’s still doing well (knock on wood)—which amazes us. He asked if he could try to save her and assured me that he would make sure she was on pain medication, and we knew she loves the staff at SHAH, so she wouldn’t be so alone and frightened. I wept when he offered to try to save her. He and the staff did a wonderful job—we just have to figure out how we can repay them for all the extra miles they went to save Ruby’s life.

Since our encounter with VCA, we’ve heard nothing but bad things about them. We weren’t especially happy with them after our first encounter with them when Ginger needed to be rehydrated back in 2008 during her battle with lymphoma. They charged way too much money for what they did and when we got her back, she smelled so bad we couldn’t believe it—she didn’t smell bad when we brought her in less than 24 hours earlier. So I have my doubts about the sanitary conditions there.

One colleague told us they ruled out the condition that actually killed his dog, and another colleague told us they charged a fortune for exploratory surgery to try to figure out what was wrong with his dog.

And this time, VCA charged us $1000 for a two-hour emergency stay, giving her an ultrasound and some tests to see what was wrong with her (they didn’t even locate the perforation).

The VCA receptionists were horrible—we had no idea why we had to fill out more paperwork for Ruby when they had just seen her a couple of days before we brought her in and one receptionist tracked us down in the clinic to hand us a bill when we had no idea what was going on, and laughed when we told her we had no idea what was going on.

We need to find another emergency animal hospital—I never want to go back to VCA unless we have absolutely no choice. I’ll drive to New Haven if I have to.

Okay, my rant is done I think.

posted by lee on 01/25/11 at 04:58 PM
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