Tag Archives: COPD

Skipping the Diet

healthy.jpg

For Christmas, my dad gave me a Fitbit. I am hoping that it, along with some healthier eating choices, will help me create a healthier life style. I am not overweight. I don’t even need to lose more than five pounds but I am hoping that the new year helps motivate me to make some changes. I don’t like diets. I love food too much. I need to learn to eat in moderation and to choose healthier options.

If you know me well, you know that I am quick to jump on a new idea or project. I thought, “Wow! I can turn this into a new blog! A staying healthy blog.”  I have a name for it too! “Skipping the Diet.”  I even began writing it and getting the website ready – but after a few days, (no surprise there…) not being an expert made me feel limited to what I would post. I shared a couple of recipes, an inspirational video – but I can share that stuff on Facebook if I wanted to. So….I think I will just add it to this blog and try to get myself writing again. Maybe it won’t all be about “Kindness” but more inspirational.  I never know where it will take me – usually I just write.

For nearly 2 1/2 years, I wrote daily on this blog. It had been my New Year’s resolution in 2013 and I stuck with it for much longer than I had imagined I could. I began slacking during the summer – maybe it was because I started grad school, my schedule was a lot busier – but it sort of fell to the wayside. I was hoping that by committing myself to a new blog with a new idea, I would inspire myself to write again nearly every day, but more importantly, hold myself accountable and be able to stick to this healthier way of eating.

There is too much “unhealthy food/health issues” in our family. My father and older brother both had major hear surgeries after heart attacks and my mother, who died from complications from COPD, also had several heart attacks. I need to be around for a long time for my two sons and my husband. I want to set a good example for them.  Maybe something is working because my 14 year old went out and bought himself a Fitbit with the Best Buy gift cards he got for Christmas.

This doesn’t mean I won’t eat treats and favorite splurges~ I LOVE food too much for that. I am hoping that I will eat less of them and not as often. I won’t deny myself of my favorite foods. I think that is why so many diets fail.  You will NEVER see me posting selfies of my body on this site. No “before and after” shots of me! I have a hard enough time with self-image and hopefully it will inspire others to make some changes as well.

I’d love to hear from others and find out how they are making healthy lifestyle changes. We can share recipes, tips and advice. I am looking forward to hearing from others and seeing the changes we make -no matter how big or small they are.

SEE

Time for my second Five Minute Friday post:

Here are the rules:
1. Write for five minutes flat for pure unedited love of the written word.
2. Link back to Lisa Jo Baker’s blog with the rest of the Five Minute Friday-ers.
3. Comment on the person who linked up before you.

Please join us!

missing someone

Today’s prompt: SEE

Nearly every night, before I fall asleep, I say a quick prayer to my mom asking her to come see me in my dreams.  Once in awhile she shows up.  Not very often though and rarely in the way I want to see her.  It has been nearly ten months since she died and I miss her dreadfully.  I didn’t see her daily, but we talked… and talked… and talked… probably three times a day and living less than two miles from each other, my kids, who I know miss her so much, saw her just about everyday.

Everyday, I see things that remind me of her, or make me want to pick up the phone and call her.  I will be driving, or walking, or…..doing anything when a memory of her comes back and actually makes me catch my breath.  Is that normal?  I don’t know.  Before she and my sister-in-law Francine died last year, I really was fortunate to not have to deal with death very often in my 43 years.

There is a commercial that I see nearly everyday.  I hate it.  I understand the reason for it.  It is an anti-smoking advertisement.  It shows a man sitting in a chair, struggling for breath, attached to an oxygen tank.  It truly hurts my heart to watch it, knowing that my mom was dealing with this on a daily basis and she was NOT a smoker.  She was just unfortunate enough to wind up with COPD, (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.)

So for now, I will keep asking her to come and see me, and when I picture her in heaven, I see her with her mom, Francine and all the people she loved that went before her and I see her breathing – unattached to hoses and breathing tubes, and of course, she is smiling.

Good Bye 2013 – I can’t say I’m sad to see it end.

life knocked me down

2013 is coming to an end and I cannot say that I am sad for it to be it over.  This was the toughest year of my life and I am very glad that it is complete.  My year began with a phone call from DJ on the morning of January 1st.  He had stayed at my parent’s house for New Years Eve.  During the night, my mom had been rushed to the emergency room with a heart attack.  Fortunately, it was mild, but with all of her other health conditions, she stayed there for a few days until the felt she was well enough to go home.

That same day, I wound up with a migraine.  I have suffered from them for years but little did I know that this headache and many more, would last me EIGHT months. MRI’s, numerous specialists and appointments, various medications did not help but finally, in August, a new doctor suggested a few things to try, and perhaps it was one – or the combination of several, but I went from having five or six headaches a week, to only two or three a month.  This is huge for me and I am so grateful for each day that I wake up headache free. In January and February, my blog focused mainly on kindness and sharing stories that spread kindness.  That was the original intent of my blog.

Then, March came along and my life was changed forever.  On March 8th, my mom, who was suffering from COPD for years, stopped breathing on her way to my grandmother’s house.  It was just a routine 10 minute drive.  They were actually headed to Florida the next day, so this was totally unexpected.  By the time my dad reached the hospital, she had been without oxygen for too long.  She was kept alive on life support for a week but we made the decision as a family to take her off of it on Friday, March 15th . That entire week, I wrote about nothing but my mom.  My blog took a total turn from just writing about kindness, yet was being read by hundreds of people everyday.  My mom had touched the lives of so many people and I have been told that this blog helped them understand what our family was dealing with and getting us all through the hardest time of our lives. Writing her eulogy and then reading it at her funeral, was so hard but I needed to do it and that church was so filled with people that loved her and loved us, it helped begin the healing process for me. Throughout the rest of the month, my entire blog focused on mom and her friends and our first holidays, St. Patrick’s Day and Easter without her.

April arrived.  It has always been one of my favorite months.  Spring had sprung and we had all begun to adjust to mom not being around and then we had the devastating news of my sister-in-law Francine.  What a shock to our family.  Two deaths in our family in less than a month.  She was only 31 and she and my brother Tim had just found out that she was pregnant with twins.   Once again, my blog provided an outlet, for me to write it and for others to read it and try to comprehend what our family was going through.  The day I wrote Francine’s story, over 1000 people saw it.  Incredible to me that so many people were empathizing with our family.   This led to even more blogs about family and coping with death.  Tim had asked me if I’d also do a eulogy for her and of course I said yes.

Although I did not know him well, death touched our family again when my brother-in-law’s father passed away at the end of April.  Bad things happen in 3s. My father could not believe how unfair this year was

I turned 43 in May and although it was not quite the same without mom around, my family and friends did so much to help make is a special one for me.  Our first mothers day without mom was low key and we made it through without too many tears.  All those “firsts” came and went without mom and Francine, birthdays, holidays, Christmas… but we got through them with the support of our family and friends.  Thank God for all of them because without them, I don’t know where we’d be today.

Things really did settle down for us once Summer arrived but then, on Labor Day, my sister’s birthday, she wound up in the hospital for emergency surgery to have her gall bladder removed.  Fortunately that was routine and after a little less than a week, she was home recovering.

I will admit that there were some positive things that happened this year… There is now a beautiful bench dedicated to my mom in the park given by my class and The Kiwanis club.  Dave and I celebrated our 20th Wedding Anniversary. On October 18th, NJ passed the marriage equality law. giving everyone the freedom to marry and to me, that is a huge step in the right direction.  Because of that, we were able to attend the wedding of two friends Eddie and Todd.

I surprised myself by sticking to TWO New Years Resolutions this year.  I did the 52 week money challenge AND wrote my blog everyday this year.  I am trying to find the positive in this year.  My two boys are healthy and happy and enjoying school.  I love my job and look forward to going to work everyday.  Dave got some licenses he needs to move ahead in his career in the mortgage business.  Now, if he could drum up some business for 2014, that will be a huge step in the right direction!So here’s to the end of 2013 – and a positive outlook to the future.  As we move forward, may 2014 bring you and your families happiness and good health!

Christmas Eve Prep

christmas eve prep

Every year on December 23, the women of the family get together to cook the Christmas Eve meal.  It is not as “primitive” as it sounds.  That’s just how it has always been done, but this year, since most of the women are “working women,” (no offense to stay at home moms – I was one myself for a few years and it is the hardest job there is,) but since most of us work outside of the house and can’t be there for the prep, it has changed a bit over the years.

It started way back when my dad and his brothers were little boys.  Their grandma would cook with their mom and aunt and prepare the dinner for everyone.  As the boys got married and moved out with families of their own, Gram and Aunt Dee did all of the cooking.  A few years before Aunt Dee passed away, (I was still a teenager,) Aunt Dale and my mom asked to be a part of it so that they’d know how it was done.  They were given the family recipes and helped each year.  After Aunt Dee died, Dale and my mom got more responsibilities and the granddaughters got to help too.

Over the years, as Gram could do less and less, my mom and Dale did most of it and the granddaughters helped.  I have been doing a lot more of it over the last few years.  As mom’s COPD got worse, she could not do as much so we’d give her the jobs of cutting clams and garlic so she could stay sitting down while Dale and I did the rest.  Last year, December 23 fell on a weekend so more of the cousins could help out.  I had asked one of my cousins to photograph the process so that we could turn it into a cookbook for all of us.  Unfortunately that didn’t work out and we decided that we’d do it this year instead, never knowing that mom would not be here for the preparations this year.

This year, my Aunt Ellen is visiting from Utah so she joined in with us today as we cooked, chopped and created the sauces to serve to 25 people tomorrow night!  My dad’s brother Richie was there too.  The master garlic chopper we called him as he chopped up three big bulbs of garlic for the recipes.  Gram sat in her seat directing and calling out orders letting us know what to do.  Dale and I have it down pretty well though.  We make a good team.  This year, Drew came to help too.  He was so helpful.  He helped carry the “kids” table up from the garage, he set the table, got the drink table in order, decorated gingerbread men and helped clean up.

It was a long but productive day.  We made clam sauce, lobster sauce and mussels in red sauce.  They just need to be heated up tomorrow and served over pasta.  Tomorrow, Dale will go up to gram’s earlier, while we go to church and then we will all meet up for dinner.  There was definitely a missing place at the kitchen table today without mom there, but we kept her a part of it all, reminiscing about past years and stories that although I had heard numerous times, were new to Drew.  No tears, which surprised me, since Dale gets as weepy about things as I do.  We know mom was there watching over us as we cooked and what sealed the deal was when Aunt Ellen pulled the very last clam out of the container to cut up.  She made us all look at it because it had the funniest markings on it and it actually looked like a smiley face.  Dale said, “it is like Ellie is smiling at us letting us know she was there.”  I am sure she was.

IMG_2622e

Condolences

condolences

Last night, my dad and I sat and went through all of the mass cards, sympathy cards and flower cards that people have sent over the last week.  Tonight, I tried to organize all of them for him on a spread sheet so that he and my siblings and I can divide up the thank you notes so it is not too overwhelming for anyone.  Thanks to all of these people,  my mom is going to have prayers and masses said for her all over the country.  I know that this would make her so happy.  She had to stop going to church awhile ago because she just wasn’t able to get through the whole mass with all of her breathing difficulties.  I know that was hard for her – not just her breathing, but emotionally as well.  I know she enjoyed mass.  She always sang louder than anyone there, so for her funeral we chose all of her favorite songs.

I have had so many people come up to me over the last week to offer their condolences.  A lot of them knew my mom.   Some did not, but after reading about her and all of the great things she has done for the community, many of them realized that they actually knew who she was.  Whether they knew her as “The Duck Lady” or” the lady on the bench who talked to everyone,” she was a presence around town.

Her death has made a lot of people sad and although we may not understand why sad things happen, I know that what is helping me, is knowing how much others cared about her.  Her kindness towards others was evident and as more and more people tell me how special she was to them, the more uplifted I become.

Mom

mom hug

Tonight is time  for me to look at gratitude. Last night, my mom, who has been struggling with COPD for many years now, suffered her worst set back yet.  She was in the car with my dad when he heard her make a funny sound.  He turned to her, knew immediately something was wrong and being only a few miles from the hospital, he got her there more quickly than an ambulance could have. When he arrived, she was not breathing and doctors administered CPR  to “bring her back”.  It has been determined that she had been without oxygen to her brain for seven minutes.  The prognosis is grim.  She is attached to a respirator, is in a medicated coma to keep her completely sedated and is suffering seizures.  The doctors have told us to hope for the best but to prepare for the worst.  Of course I am hoping for the best but I am also trying to be realistic.

At 42 years old, I have been fortunate enough to have not had to deal with death often.  My grandpa died when I was a teenager, and some older great aunts and uncles have passed away, but no one that is this close to me has died and I have not really had to deal with this reality. There is no single way to tell someone how to cope with a tragic illness and the death of a loved one and I know that my family and I are all going to deal with it differently.  I know that right now we are going to handle it one minute at a time.  We will all show our grief differently.  It is going to be the most devastating thing that my brothers, sister, father and I will have gone through.  My parents have been together for nearly 50 years.

My mom has been battling COPD so hard and I know that it is time for her body to have a break from it.   We are going to have to take her illness one day at a time and remember all of the good times we spent together.  We are already doing that as we sit in her room or in the waiting room sharing stories about her.  These stories are what are going to get us through the next few days, weeks, months…however long it takes for her to wake up….or not.   What all of the stories have in common is her love and generosity.  Over the last few years she has gotten so tired and old, but the thing is, she’s not old.  She is only 67, but this illness has really aged her quickly.  She was such a funny, giving generous woman.  Her spirit is still there, she is just not as able to share it as she was in the past but what we need to focus on is the time when she was healthy, happy and full of life.  Nothing is going to prepare is for when the moment arrives. I know that we will all go on.  We all have one another not only to take care of, but to take care of us.

Her love for us is what is going to pull us all through this.  Her love for her husband, her children, her grandchildren, her mother-in-law, her sisters and brothers-in-laws, nieces, nephews and the many, many, many people whose lives have been touched by her.  The positive we can all take from this is to reflect on all of the wonderful things she did for others.  She is always putting her family, friends and community before herself and now it is the perfect time for us to think about how she has affected our lives and then apply that towards doing something worthy ourselves.  I know that this would be what would make her the happiest now.  Knowing that everyone who is praying for her right now, is thinking of the positive affect she has had on them and doing something positive in return.