Friday, February 20, 2015

More Top Ten Signs That Says "Baby, It's Cold Outside"

In acknowledgement of the apocalyptic record setting cold temperatures most of the country has enjoyed lately here are the top ten signs that say, "Baby, it's cold outside!"

10. The fire in the fireplace has frozen solid.
 9.  The ground cracks with every step you take.
 8.  You've tuned Tokyo in so close that you're starting to speak the language.
 7.  Runny noses are no longer running. They're frozen snot.
 6.  The surfer dudes are like "Dude, where's my shirt?"
 5.  No bare chested, bare breasted or butt cracks in sight.
 4.  The weather people are like, "Told ya so."
 3.  I haven't taken down my outside Christmas decorations yet.
 2.  The groundhog is on everyone's most wanted list.
 1.  Bite me, Mother Nature! This crap ain't funny no more.

Monday, February 16, 2015

My Life As A Human Pincushion


No matter how you say it, it's still a dirty word. According to, in 2012, approximately 29.1 million people had diabetes in the U.S.; that's nearly 10% of the population.

I'm one of those people.

Luckily, I didn't get it until 1998, when I had just turned 30. That puts me right smack in the middle of being a Type 1 and a Type 2 diabetic. One of my doctors always told me I was a Type 1 1/2 (I would be less than thrilled about this if it was on a scale of 1-10.). I guess I consider myself lucky because I got to enjoy life before the needles became such a big part of my life. My second cousin, Andrew Eichenlaub, was diagnosed as a baby and has never had the freedom to eat what he wants to or go off with his friends or do anything, really, without thinking about his disease and all that entails.

I'm not complaining, mind you, because I would rather have diabetes than, say, being six feet under, but sometimes, it's a real drag. Everyone in my family has diabetes. Practically, everyone I have ever met on my father's side of the family has diabetes; it's a genetic thing, I guess. And, unfortunately, it's not the kind that can be controlled by diet and exercise either.

In my family, needles are a part of everyday life. My mother, brother and I all use a pen needle or a syringe to inject insulin into ourselves. My sister, having had diabetes the longest prefers to use the insulin pump which requires an injection every three days due to the rotation of where the needle is placed inside the body temporarily.

The pump is preferable to many Type 1 diabetics or those that have had the disease since an early age. It varies according to some sources, but Type 1 or Juvenile Diabetes occurs before age 30 and Type 2 occurs after age 30. The pump delivers a steady stream of insulin called the basal rate or background rate which is based on the patient's specific needs. In addition, at mealtimes, extra amounts of quick-acting insulin can be administered based on the carbohydrate intake of the individual. In a way, most diabetics can look at any food, figure the carbs and do the mathematical equations based on their current plan and convert that into a numerical number in a few seconds. Yes, we count carbs...and are good at it.

For example: a simple one cup serving of mashed potatoes has approximately 15 carbohydrates. My ratio is 1-5 which means for every five carbs I need one unit of quick-acting insulin. So for 15 carbs, I will inject myself with three units. Broken down like that, it's not that hard to figure out the math. The problem is knowing how many carbohydrates are in any given food. That's why a lot of new diabetics are sent to school to learn how to count carbs and learn other valuable nutritional information. As with a lot of things, it can be quite overwhelming if you think about it too much.

If you don't have diabetes or know someone that has it you might be surprised at how expensive it is to treat. Taking insurance out of the equation here are some average costs associated with being a diabetic. As with any product, prices could be higher or lower depending upon where you live.

1. Test strips (100) $75+

2. Box of syringes (90) $30+

3. Box of pen needles (100) $20+

4. Lantus or Levemir 24-hr insulin 100 ml vial $200+

5. Humalog or Novolog fast-acting insulin 100 ml vial $175+

6. Box of 24-hr insulin (5 pens of 220 units ea) $350+

7. Box of fast-acting insulin (5 pens of 220 units ea) $350+

As you can see the costs are staggering and the list doesn't include any medicines in pill form. One of the pills that I have taken in the past was over $475 for a 30-day supply. I know there are more expensive drugs but when you add it with the other maintenance drugs you can pay over a $1000 a month just to keep the beast under control.

Control? Did I say control? On any given day, at any given time, an insulin-dependent diabetic can be having the time of their life one minute and the next minute be fighting for their life. You could have done everything right--eaten the best meal; given the correct dosage; had a great laugh; gone to a movie; gone to bed; gone fishing; gone to work or got behind the wheel of a car and then WHAM! It hits you! You're sweating. You're slurring your words. People look at you like you're an idiot. Your eyes glaze over. And you start to shake. Within seconds of the first symptom you are into a full-blown seizure and you better hope that you were prepared or those around you know what to do.

Hypoglycemia or low-sugar is a very bad thing and can be deadly. One of my childhood friends, Rhonda Edmisten, also a diabetic, was killed when the car she was driving veered in to the lane of oncoming traffic and met a tractor trailer head on. Reports said she had probably lapsed into a coma while driving and nothing could have been done. She was a sweet person, a nurse and played piano at our church. She is buried in the same cemetery as my father and I always try and pay my respects when I'm there.

Another thing that diabetics have to be conscious about is injecting in public. Every time I leave my house I carry an insulin pen with me. Oftentimes, I inject myself before going into a restaurant or if I'm with my family I'll inject right at the table. I have, on more than one occasion been subjected to questioning looks or a raised eyebrow when I've been forced to inject in mixed company. I can understand some people have a thing about needles so that's why I try to be discreet.

One of the nicest things to occur when I was presented with this delicate situation recently (injecting in a group of non family members) was this remark from one of the conference speakers as I got up to leave: "Where are you going? You don't have to leave. Who cares, doll. Do what you have to do." (Thanks, Gina.)

I did one of those unofficial surveys on Facebook looking for a representative sample of people with or people who know someone with diabetes about the average amount of times that a needle is injected into the body daily. The results were mixed but six seemed to be the most common answer. That's about what I average: three insulin injections and three blood glucose tests a day. That's a lot of sticks and when seen under a magnifying glass my injection sites do resemble a pincushion. But, hey, it could be worse, right? A positive attitude has always been one of my finer points and that's how I deal with my disease every day.

Diabetes is one of those hidden illnesses. On a good day, when seeing someone that has it walk by you would never know that anything was wrong.

That's what we all hope for.

But on those days, when things aren't working right and it has a mind of its own, don't look the other way, offer to help and take charge when you have to--sometimes the one with low sugar can't function or make decisions--you might just save a life.

And gain a new friend.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Perfect Food For A Cold Winter's Day

In my family, homemade macaroni and cheese has a place of honor. It all started with my Mamaw, my dad's mother, and has continued on through the family, at least with my sister and me.

Mamaw's macaroni and cheese was to die for. I only got to eat it one or two times a year, usually Christmas or Thanksgiving, but the weeks leading up to those festive occasions never went fast enough for me. I couldn't wait for the holiday season to begin on Cherry Fork Road. We hosted a dinner party every Christmas and Mamaw's macaroni & cheese was always on the menu. We ate it until we were as stuffed as the holiday bird.

Once we moved to Georgia and began to go our separate ways the macaroni and cheese seemed to be forgotten. Mamaw had passed away, Sister was always working, I was in college and Mom made a version of mac & cheese that none of us liked. I'm not sure what she put in it but I think onions and some kind of topping were included and that was nowhere close to Mamaw's recipe.

Over the next few years Sister changed jobs and had a bit more time around the Holidays. We usually got together for about 48 hours when she would fly to Atlanta on Christmas Eve and then Mom would drive her back to Ohio to spend a few days. This was a happy time because Sister had mastered (if not bettered) Mamaw's recipe and we would eat enough to keep us going until the next year.

Somewhere along the line I grew tired of waiting for the annual macaroni and cheese dinner. I worked for the Post Office for almost ten years through the holiday season and was often, so tired, during our visit that I forgot to get seconds on the mac & cheese and Brother would eat it all. I didn't like that. I didn't like that at all.

So I did what any mac & cheese loving individual would do; I learned to make it for myself. As you can see from the photo, it does look mouth-watering:

You can't have any.

There's nothing that that gets you through a cold winter day better than good old macaroni and cheese. By the way, if you're wondering what is so special about our family's recipe, just be sure and ask the next time I have you over for dinner. Until then...I'm warm and cozy...and I'm keeping it all to myself.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day

I was looking through Valentine's Day cards the other day trying to find just the perfect ones to give to family and friends when I became totally disgusted at how expensive they were--five bucks for a card--I don't think so. Anyhow, being the somewhat intelligent and extremely clever person that I am, I remembered getting valentines when I was in school for everyone in my class and they all came in one box.


What a great idea! They each came with their own envelope and were generally large enough to be sent through the mail. The sayings might be seen as childish, but others might think they were cute and I could always insert a heartfelt hand written note inside. Plus, there were usually thirty cards in a box and they came relatively cheap. It sounded like a good idea...



I didn't know it would be so damn hard to find a box of ordinary old-timey valentines. Geesh! Here I was at Wallyworld and the only thing I could find was Hannah Montana, Jonas Brothers and iCarly, and they weren't even regular valentines; they were stickers and activity sets. No, thanks. You can keep them! I left there and went to another store, then another and finally ended up at Dollar General, where I struck gold, or, so I thought.

They had boxes of valentines but the cards didn't come with any envelopes. Crap. I reached further down into the display where the cards were and I pulled out the very last box of valentines that had envelops. I was excited that something had finally gone my way, made my purchase and tore into the box of valentines as soon as I got into the car. It wasn't too long before my excitement began to fade as I realized that all of the cards had the same picture on them: A skunk.

Have you ever received a skunky valentine?

If I remember correctly, the skunk valentine was given to someone that you didn't like and for some reason I received quite a few. What does that mean?.

Do my family and friends really want to receive a Valentine's Day card that says "I love're a stinker too?"

Happy Valentine's Day!


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Wish I Was There...Wordless Wednesday

Outer Banks, NC

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Call Of The Brownies

Food network

One thing I've learned over the last few years as I continue to lose weight is that my body has a mind of its own, and at times, has way too much power. As with a lot of women, perhaps men, too, but I'm no expert on how their bodies work, at certain times during the month it is necessary for me to consume copious amounts of chocolate in many various forms.

In the past, a simple Hershey bar has done wonders to calm the nerves.

Sometimes, it takes two.

And other times, it takes a whole damn bag of Hershey kisses to calm it down. (I use "it" because I don't really have a better name for it. It could be called the roar of the feminine reproductive cycle but that doesn't quite have the catchy title I was going for. It will have to do.)

Having just returned from a short trip I had neglected to stop at the local gas station where on more than one occasion I have walked in with a $20 bill and walked out with a plastic bag filled with chocolate in as many forms as I can stand, one $2 lottery ticket and $.38 in change. Big mistake! (Hey! You can't blame me cause I HATE to stop anywhere when I am trying to get home. I just want to get off the road already.)

Did I say big mistake?

Well, it definitely was a huge mistake because as soon as I got my bag unpacked and the first load of laundry in the washer, it started working on my body. I immediately went to the candy jar and it was empty.

Next, I looked in the freezer and there wasn't any ice cream.

Then it was the fridge, where, Aha! I had Hershey's syrup but the ensuing sniffing of the milk jug negated that find. It was six days beyond the "best by date."

Moving next to the pantry where I never have anything that has chocolate in it but hoping nonetheless that I might have misplaced a brownie mix or a bag of chocolate chips I came up empty.

Finally, on to the last place where there might possibly be a chocolate find of some kind. I searched through the assorted mixes but only found a mix for blueberry muffins. They are okay most of the time but it wanted something wanted brownies.

Then the phone rang..."Hello?" I answered.

"What are you doing?" my mom asked.

"I'm looking for chocolate. It has taken over me with a vengeance."

"Oh, dear. Why didn't you stop on the way home?"

"You know I hate to stop anywhere," I replied.

"I know. You're just like your father," she said. "Listen, did you get everything out of your car?"

"I think so. Did you forget something?"

"I bought a brownie mix when we stopped at the store and now I can't find it. I've got a hankering for some brownies."

"I'll go look in the car and call you back."

"Don't worry about it," she said. "I've got enough chocolate here to last a lifetime." (Jealous.)

Hanging up the phone, I slipped my shoes on and went out to my car--there stuck between the seats was the mix. Smiling to myself with a satisfied grin I went back inside and began the preparations. Soon enough, I had a gorgeous plate of the most delicious brownies that I had ever seen.

I'd like to say that I didn't eat the entire plate but I can't because the call of the brownies was too strong. (Well, I didn't eat all of them because I dropped one on the floor.)

Sometimes, you win at the dieting game, and sometimes, when it calls you have to answer, eat what you need to and start again the next day.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Carbonation Is Mesmerizing

This is one of those photos that I just happened to get at precisely the right moment. This was the first time I had seen Wally in such deep concentration over my Diet Coke.

I wonder what he is thinking....

Thursday, February 5, 2015

What Do You Stop On?

I was pumping gas the other day and had left the nozzle on automatic. After it clicked off I began my usual battle with the pump dispenser to get the dollar amount just perfect.

Here are my preferred choices:

1. I like the amount to be a nice round number. When filling up my car these days, that amount is around $30.00.

2. I like the total to end in a zero.

3. I can handle it if it stops on a five.

With my timing and luck it is nearly impossible to get the pump to stop on a zero or five. It always goes past to .01 or .06 and I end up with $27.56 or $28.01. Before you know it, I've put so much additional gas in the tank that it starts to overflow because I can't get the blasted thing to stop where my OCD thinks it should. Talk about annoying.

My mom thinks it's hysterical when she sees me doing this. Why don't you just let it stop wherever, she says, or better yet, pay with cash and they do the stopping for you!

So, is it just me?

Zero, five or whatever...?

What do you stop on?

Monday, February 2, 2015

Sharing My Good News

Way back in early 2008, a decidedly unpleasant trip to the doctor sent me on a downward spiral. I had stopped smoking two years earlier and replaced one vice for another. Food had become my new passion and I ate like there was no tomorrow.

The medical assistant that weighed me in gave me a shy, unsure smile as we both read the digital scale. "Is that right?" I asked slowly.

"Yes," she said. "It was calibrated last week."

"Well, I guess I did it,"I said. "I'm now officially a middle-aged fat woman."

"You don't look middle-aged to me," she said.

I noticed she left out the fat woman part of what I said, but it didn't really matter. I was heavy. Overweight. And totally distraught.

"I'm so glad you were able to stop smoking," one of my doctors told me. "You've added ten years to your life expectancy."

I wasn't so sure. I had gained nearly 60 pounds since I had quit smoking and routine, ordinary tasks had become exceedingly difficult.

Here are a few examples:

I could no longer bend over to put my shoes on; I had sit down and prop my feet up on the bed to tie my shoes.

I couldn't walk up a flight of stairs without gasping for breath.

Walking up the hill to get the mail required me to stop and catch my breath at least once.

Other activities that were now next to impossible to enjoy included going to movies, going to a ball game, flying somewhere or going to a concert. Heck, I couldn't even sit in a booth at a restaurant because I couldn't fit.

Eventually, I stopped doing most of those things.

Over the next two years, I gained another 40 pounds which made the total over a 100 pounds that I had gained since I gave the old smokes the heave ho. Yes, I could certainly breathe better but I was so heavy I couldn't enjoy the freedom of being a nonsmoker.

There was nobody to blame but myself. Nobody held the fork to my mouth; no one had to convince me to "have one more chip". No, I accomplished that all by myself.

Over the years, I lost some of the weight but it always came back.

In my defense, I do have several medical conditions that can slow the metabolism and take medications that can cause you to gain weight. But they can't shoulder all the blame; most of it was me. Just me.

Shortly after my birthday in 2013, my mother mentioned that she was going on another trip and it might be nice if I came along.

What? Me on a trip? Me on a plane?

"I'm too fat," I said a few days later.

"Well, lose some weight," she said simply. "It's time to get back into the world and stop hiding."

"I don't know if I can," I said.

"Sure you can. I'm not getting any younger, you know. You just have to put your mind to it."

Somehow, as only a mother can do, I got the nudge that I so badly needed. It hasn't been a "lose weight quick" plan or a "strictly starve yourself to death" plan but a sensible everyday goal of just not eating as much.

That didn't work every day, but some days it did.

Lately, I've had some intestinal issues that have necessitated an even bigger reduction in my caloric intake and my choice of foods. For now, lettuce and spaghetti sauce are forbidden foods. I've adapted to not having lettuce (I never was a big salad eater) but going without spaghetti has been challenging. I do love a big plate of spaghetti, especially Gold Star Chili from Cincinnati.

I'm also avoiding spicy foods, eating out so much and have really laid off the potato chips which is a HUGE accomplishment in itself.

And the good news is this: I have now lost nearly 60 pounds since that fateful conversation with my mother. We've taken two trips together and are going on another this coming fall.

I got on a plane, went to a concert and go to the movies at least once a month.

I still have about 40 pounds to go and it might take another few years. But, that's all right, because I can now put my shoes on without any help and when I do go out to eat, I sit anywhere I want to.

It's a good feeling.



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