Changes to my Blog and Talking about Gluten

Good day Readers!  I’ve had this blog for a little over a year now, and I believe it’s time to make a change to it… I want to continue to blog what’s going on with my UC and how to live with it, but I want to take in a slightly different direction…  I want to start a conversation about living gluten free…

There are so many conversations going on about gluten, and I find most of them frustrating… Folks who are NOT GF, writing articles about how GF patrons are bringing down good restaurants, how we whine about how we can’t get true GF foods, etc etc…  I just read one last weekend about how the GF community is bringing down the Italian restaurants because we won’t frequent their establishments… The article bothered me because they were making blanket statements about the GF community… I posted on the article that I knew that Olive Garden has GF options, but the problem was that from what I’m reading of the reviews, no one is teaching the staff at Olive Garden how to cook the pasta or how to keep it from the gluten side of the kitchen… Anyone who’s GF or who cooks GF knows that with GF pasta, there’s a thin line between al dente and soup!  If you’re not properly trained in how to cook that kind of pasta, it’ll be a long road to figuring out why the pasta keeps coming back to the kitchen with complaints!

Now, let me put this comment here: I understand how difficult it is for many restaurants to cook and care for GF meals… I know it takes extra counter space, extra training for their cooks and staff, extra gloves and aprons, extra pots/pans and grillers, etc… I get all of that… AND I appreciate those restaurants who take the time and money to make themselves available to folks like me… I try to frequent those locations and to get the word out to whomever I can about them.. I find that for most of these places, there are upsides AND downsides of frequenting these locations… The upside is that I have a place to eat out safely!  The downside?  The cost… And that is something else I will address in the upcoming updates to my blog…

So that’s the long and short of the changes that you’ll be seeing in the upcoming weeks and months… I want to talk about the GF community and how we live in it… I want to start giving you reviews of GF locations, GF companies, and GF foods that I find in my daily life…

Are YOU GF?  Are you living with someone who is?  Are you friends with someone who is?  Would you like to join my conversation here?  Please do!  I want to hear your experiences, hear about foods or places you’ve tried, your experiences with the store bought processed foods you’ve tried, etc… Let’s open this up and keep the conversation positive and helpful to everyone!

My first experience with gluten poisoning

Good day Dear Readers!

The last two months have been an amazing journey of health, learning, and paranoia… This post will be a bit long, and for that I apologize… But it’s important for you to understand what this particular episode of my life has done to and for me… So I ask your indulgence as you read through it… For those who don’t understand what gluten can do to someone who simply can’t have it, here’s the answer you’re looking for… Ready?  Here we go…

Over 2 weeks ago, I found a jar of gluten free mayonnaise… I was so thrilled that I threw it in the cart and took it home… I used less than a cup to make deviled eggs… I usually eat one whole egg a day for my morning snack… Low fat, high protein, etc… I made them and continued with my week… By Wednesday I noticed a very slight difference in my body, but didn’t think too much of it… But Friday, I knew something was wrong… I was having blood, and other things with almost uncontrollable diarrhea…  Sunday I started analyzing what I’d eaten… I make most of my own food so it wasn’t hard to narrow it down… When I thought about the mayonnaise, I went and got the jar and read it… Sure enough, in two locations, was white distilled vinegar… (For those of you who are unaware, white distilled vinegar is one of those gray areas because we simply can’t know what the original ingredients were, prior to the distilling…) I was so pissed that I wanted to throw the jar across the kitchen… So I shut things down, took myself to a bland diet and hoped I could get myself through it… I ended up not going to work the following that next Monday thru Thursday… I was able to go Friday but I was so weak and made many many trips to the loo…

That weekend I thought I had it beginning to be under control… (We’re now over a week into this…)  Monday, I went to work and felt ok… Just tired and still not eating… Monday night I was laying down when I got a very sharp pain down the left side… Think about your body… If you look down and run your finger from under the ribs on your left side down to where it meets your hip bone, you’re following the basic trail of your descending long intestine… By 2 a.m. Tuesday morning, I couldn’t stand the pain anymore… I debated whether I wanted to call an ambulance or drive myself… I finally made the decision and drove myself… I filled up the food bowl and water bowl for the fuzzies, grabbed my toiletry bag and headed out… I got to the ER about 4:50 a.m. and checked in…  They did a CT scan and decided I had pancreatitis… (Which, if you know anything about where the pancreas is in the body, made no sense at all!)  I spent the next 11 hours waiting for them to find me a bed… In that 11 hours I had no water, no food, and no IV bag… They had put the IV in, but they didn’t have anything on it… The other thing that really pissed me off was they put me on the FAR side of the ER as far from the bathrooms as they could… I requested to move closer because of my condition to which she responded that there was no room… Oh, did I mention that there was only three of us in the entire ER and the other two were in the same room together???

11 hours after I got there, they finally found me a bed at their downtown location, put me in an ambulance and took me down there… Now, I’m still in pain, I’m very hungry, and was sooooo not where I wanted to be… They put me on a bland liquid diet, which was fine… So we’re now into Tuesday night… Wednesday morning one of the GI docs shows up and tells me that they still think it’s pancreatitis, but they’re not sure now… My blood work shows that my white blood cells are way up, which I fully expected and told him so… I explained about the gluten poisoning which he kind of blew off, as I figured he would… For lunch they gave me a regular meal.. I ended up eating only half of the teeny chicken breast and the orange jello… After lunch they decided that they wanted to do a colonoscopy… I told the Doc, “I wish you’d said something 2 hours ago, you could have done it then before I had the damned chicken!!”  He said they hadn’t thought of it… (Thanks dude, seriously…)

So back to the bland liquid diet for dinner and then the Nurse appears with not just one prep for the procedure, but two!!!  NOW, if you’ve never had “prep”, let me try and explain it to you… First of all, it’s a gallon of liquid and you have 4 hours to drink it… Ok, that’s not bad… BUT it’s the taste… Try to imagine very warm salt water, with MASSIVE amounts of salt in it, and then add the worst flavor ocean water you can imagine to it… Some of them are so bad that you have to have anti-nausea medication to even drink the stuff!!  So now this Nurse walks in to two of these things…  Now in the last 48 hours I’d had nothing but a liquid bland diet and half of a small chicken breast… That’s it!  At home, I would have been allowed to eat whatever I wanted and would have only had to do one prep… There was NO way I was doing two of them… Never mind that my long intestine was still in quite a bit of pain and this prep was going to tear it apart!!  They called the doctor and he agreed that one would be enough… So the fun begins…

I start drinking it and within an hour I’m doubled over in pain, nauseous and almost in tears… I asked the Nurse for pain meds which she brought immediately.. The second she hit the plunger I almost threw up on her… She’d given the med too quickly and it was all I could do to make it to the bucket… They gave me another anti-nausea med and left me to do what I needed to do… For the next three hours I was in tears, almost throwing up and running to the loo… They wanted me to drink the whole gallon, but that was not happening… By 11:30 I’d had enough… There was only half of it gone but I just couldn’t take anymore… I turned off the lights and went to bed… I couldn’t sleep; I was in too much pain… Just as I feared, the prep tore my intestine apart!!  3 a.m. I asked for another shot… This time the Nurse (who I ended up really liking) took her time with the shot while I sat there and rambled on for about 20 mins… LOL  I didn’t realize I’d been rambling until I asked her how much longer it would be and she told me she’d finished the shot 15 mins prior!  LOL  It really made me loopy!!  My procedure wasn’t scheduled until 10:30 the next morning, so food was out of the question…

As I prepared for the lovely procedure, a friend of mine asked me to ask the Doc something… So as they brought me into the room, I met the Doc and told him I had a request… Oh, he said… I said “Yea, they want to know if since you’re going to be up there anyway, could you please spackle the rough spots”…  Without blinking an eye he answered “I think we’re out of crack spackle!”   I did NOT expect that answer at all and it was classic!!  I told him that I didn’t normally let guys do things like this to me, without a flower or dinner… He said that it’d have to be a raincheck because he was married… He waved bye-bye at me but I wasn’t going to go that easy… I kept trying to stay awake and engaging the crew… But, as I knew it would, the anesthesia hit me like a brick and out I went… I have this distinct impression though that I talked all the way through the procedure!!  LOL

Soooo they come back to me afterwards and tell me that they think it’s colitis and not necessarily pancreatitis… To which I wanted to respond “REALLY?!!?”  Sheesh… So they put me on a few more IV drugs and saline and call it a day… I got my solid food back, which I really didn’t want… (Most folks are starving after those procedures, but I tend to not want to eat for 10 to 16 hours afterward…)  I nibbled and tried to get back to something decent in my stomach… So now we’re on to Friday when they finally decided to send me home… I was so thrilled to just get home that I didn’t care… A friend came and got me, drove me to my truck, I stopped and got a few meds filled and hit the house… The cats were so happy to see me, for me to refill their food bowls and reassure them…

Like an idiot I tried to go back to work Monday… (We’re now over three full weeks in to this…)  Now I’d been able to work while in the hospital… A friend brought me an iPad and I created my own office in the room, which the Docs thought was funny… So I was up to date on everything, but felt like I needed to show my face… Bad idea… I ended up staying home the rest of the week… But here’s where the hard part of the recovery always comes for me… I shut down from eating… I want to eat, but my brain just won’t let me… I saw my GI the following Thursday and during those two weeks, I’d already lost almost 20 pounds… The brain just won’t let food pass the mouth… I finally started finding some foods that I thought I could handle, but the body said “Nope, not yet honey…back it down…”   *sigh*   So now it’s Sunday, my energy level is not even on the floor, it’s down under the dirt… My “meals” consist of several one or two bite meals… A cup of apple sauce here, 1/8th of a cup of rice there, a dozen pieces of Chex cereal here, half of a small chicken thigh there…

A week after my appointment with the GI, I had one with my Primary Care doc… Her first question was “why are you here?”  I told her it’s because the hospital TOLD me to be there… She wasn’t sure what to do with me and started reading through the hospital notes… OH, I clean forgot to tell you… During my appointment with my regular GI, he asks ME why they put me on antibiotics in the hospital… Uummm, because the two visiting GIs (who ALSO work with my GI) told me to???  So my Primary Care doc is looking through my bloodwork and gets it in her head that there’s a test missing… She has them take three vials of blood, at which point I told her that I already knew that my potassium, iron and sodium were very low… Sure enough, they get the results back and GUESS what they found… Duh…

So, let’s fast forward now 3 weeks… I’m still down 30 pounds because the eating still hasn’t come back fully… Two weekends ago the appetite finally started coming back, but the intestine is going to take a long time to heal and therefore I’m still eating very very small meals and not very interesting ones… Small doses of cottage cheese, cheese sticks, small cups of peaches, Ensure vitamin drinks, small portions of gluten free pasta with bland tomato sauce, and an occasional egg… That’s pretty much my daily intake a day… The jeans are baggy as hell, but I don’t really care… I’m happy to be out and about, even though my energy level is still very low…

So all of this came from a small amount of gluten processed over 5 days… The hospital stay will cost me close to $15,000, not to mention what it’s costing me for everything else… My house is a disaster because I simply don’t have the energy to do anything… I put in one load of clothes in the washer and cleaned out the litterbox and I had to lay down afterwards… I’m not sleeping well because my body gets active late a night… So sleep comes in fits of an hour, maybe 90 mins followed by an attack… The attack will last about 30 mins with a bit of pain but a huge amount of pressure… So little eating, no serious sleep, and no nutrition replacing what I’ve lost…

Another note about what’s gone on the last 2 months… I was making some strides forward with the recovery… I had two Docs who recommended I get the annual flu shot that my Agency hands out… I didn’t think it was a good idea, but went ahead and got it anyway… It really pushed me back… I ended up staying home from work that Friday, and just hoping that I could get it back on track by Monday morning… I’ve taken the shots before, but my body’s never been this far down immunity-wise and it was a mistake to take it…

So all in all I guess you could say that I’m a first class mess!!!  AND I’m not done… About three weeks ago, I noticed that my cat, Beep, was suddenly much thinner than I remembered… I was petting her and felt her spine!  I started paying very close attention and realized that she wasn’t eating!  I took her to the Vet where she ended up staying over a week! At first they thought it was pancreatitis (yes, note the irony there), but the blood/urine/x-rays don’t hold that up… The Vet’s not sure what’s going on, but Beep was being syringe fed because she still refused to eat… She’d lost over 10% of her body weight at that point… We put her on steroids and it took me over a week before I could finally find something she would eat! So on top of having to deal with my own illness, my poor Beep had been languishing and I wasn’t even aware of it!!

There’s another side to this episode: the paranoia… Because of this single jar of mayonnaise, it has forced me to go back into my pantry and my frig and analyze every single particle of food in there… I have contacted companies and requested their “origin” list of where their vinegar comes from… The company I bought the jar of mayo from has it on their website that their vinegar’s origin is “corn and rye”… Well of course corn is GF but rye most certainly is NOT!!!!  Thankfully the other companies that I have been using over the past year to 2 years use other origin products… And for them, I am truly thankful!!!  In my next blog I will be going over the companies with GF products and rating them for any of my readers who are curious… I think it’s important to put this information out there, lest anyone else have to go through what I’ve gone through… But this whole thing has made me angry to a certain degree… Someone made a comment to me that I can’t go through the rest of my life reading every single label, to which I replied “I HAVE to… It’s not an option…”  I realize that they didn’t and still don’t understand… And that’s fine… But yes, I DO have to read EVERY single label… I don’t have a choice… And for those who still think I do?  Go back to the top of this blog and reread it, ’cause you didn’t get it…

As the time goes by, folks tell me I look better so I must feel better… I let them think that because it’s easier than trying to explain to them that the recovery is a very slow dance… It will take me several months to finally be right… Here I am, over 2 months out and I’m still just nibbling food… I had a set back this very weekend, as a matter of fact… I’m not exactly sure what brought it on, but it’s there… So I once again step back, and get back to basics… Folks don’t understand that this isn’t a cold or flu that passes and you get over it… It’s a slow walk… Every day is a struggle for me… Some days are better and I revel in those!  Other days are not, and I have to sit back and wait for them to pass… Beep and I will continue our progress and enjoy our time together in it… And hopefully soon, the recovery will reach a point where I no longer have to pay attention to every single little bit that goes in my mouth… Oh I will continue to read labels… And I’ll continue to make as much of my own food as I can… But hopefully soon I can get back to feeling normal… Where I don’t have to have small amounts of food spread across my desk in order to make sure I 1) actually eat and 2) have whatever it is my body wants at that particular moment, before the moment passes…  Soon…

Boy, life just whizzes by, doesn’t it?

Good day, Readers!  It’s been forever since I updated anything and I do apologize for that… Work has been nuts and non-stop!  My health overall hasn’t been bad… At least until this past week… As careful as I try to be, dear Readers, yours truly got “glutenized” this past week… I got myself into some, what was supposed to be, gluten free mayonnaise… But as it turns out, is not… “But Storm, if the label says Gluten free, shouldn’t it?”   Well, yes, it “should”… But it included white distilled vinegar, which is a gray area for many folks… If you read the webpage at this link:  http://celiacdisease.about.com/od/Gluten-Free-Condiments/f/Gluten-Free-Vinegar.htm  you’ll learn a little more about why I say it’s a gray area… But I can tell you, it’s not gray for me!!!

My first indication was pain in and through my long intestine and colon… Now, if you’re unsure where the long intestine is, I can tell you with absolutely no trouble at all!!  But the pain started Friday afternoon… Followed by very loose, well, ya know… I realized by Saturday morning that I wasn’t going to be making any trips anywhere… It took me until Sunday morning to finally nail down what had caused me to have this reaction… I home cook about 85% of my meals… So I KNEW what was there… I had two meals out, at locations that I’m very familiar with, and have never had issues with before… The only new item in all of this, was the mayo… And I take partial blame for this because I didn’t read the label… I should have… And have learned that lesson well…

So I stayed home today to try and get some rest (ha, yea like that happened), make sure I’m eating what I can, and make sure I was close to the loo…I’m hoping to make it back to work tomorrow, but I won’t know that until I get up in the morning…

The other difficulty that I’ve been dealing with, is trying to sell my motorcycle… Everyone wants a bike with low mileage but no one wants to pay the price for it… So my bike spends week after week on Ebay, just trying to get it sold… It would help me financially if I could get it sold… BUT it is what it is… So I continue on…  :)

Other than that, life is good and I can’t complain!  I have good friends surrounding me, and good work to look forward to every day… My Fuzzies are healthy and happy!  So there’s not much else I can say, ya know?

I hope this finds you all doing well!  I hope everyone has got what they need in life!  Love, Luck and Lollipops!!   :)

Another Year Gone

With tomorrow being another Hatch Day for me, it forces me to think about this past year… The past two years have been quite turbulent for me… My world has been turned upside down… The one thing that I thought I could rely on until the end of my days declared war on me… There isn’t anything or anyone to blame, it just is… And I’ve learned to accept it… I may not always LIKE it, but I accept it… My illness and my aneurism have forced me to have limitations, which I’ve never had to deal with before… It’s forced me to live with little to no money, multiple medications every day, a severe change in my foods, curtailed my travel to nothing but home, work, Dr’s appts, and the grocery store and a complete lack of trust of what I can and can no longer do…

I lived in a very difficult situation for almost 21 years and when I was finally free from that, and had finally gotten back to my roots and moving forward, Fate decided She needed to have some fun… So I was forced to, as they say, drop back and punt… Being the Cowboys fan that I am, I’m ready to punt… (Hey, no nasty comments about Dallas… *grin*) And that, dear readers, is where I am today… I’ve spent the last two years crawling in fear, running in terror, and praying that there would be what I needed at the end of whatever road I was on…

Then I heard a speech today by Stuart Scott… Don’t know who he is? Neither did I until today… He’s a sports commentator on ESPN… He won an award at the ESPYS this past week… Why? Because for the last 7 years this man has been fighting tooth and nail with cancer… He refused to give up… Just prior to the awards show, and I mean JUST prior, he was in the hospital… The last 10 days leading up to the show, he had 4 surgeries, liver failure, and kidney failure… Yet, there he was, on the stage, talking about how he was fighting… He was working out, traveling, and doing what HE wanted to do… It struck me… It really did…

I look around me and I see the disorder… And I know it’s not just in my house… It’s in my head too… It’s time to file all that stuff away… It’s time to step out into the sun again… But it will be baby steps… It has to be… I’ve become an introvert over the last 2 years… Shy, terrified, introspective, and at times quieter than death… Come at me and I’ll run… I can’t help it… But hold out your hand quietly, welcome me with a smile, and help me to step back out… I don’t think I can; I don’t think I WANT to live another year like this… I’m holding out my hand for anyone who will take it gently… It’s tentative and it’s shaking, but it’s out there… I’m ready…

It’s June already?! And life goes on…

It’s hard to believe, dear readers, that almost half a year has gone by… I remember as a child reading that life goes faster, the older you become… I used to think they were daffy!  No, not THAT kind of daffy… The other kind!  But I found out, they were right… I think back over the last 5 months and wonder what all has gone on… Well, tons of things have, actually… Some important… Some not…

First, the news on my aneurism… I found a new Cardiologist and I think he’s wonderful… I love his attitude about his patients, and I love how he thinks outside of his box…What I mean is, he sees me as more than just a heart on a scan… He looks at the whole being… He wants to know what you do with your life, and how any other illnesses that you have interact with your heart… He did a new scan on me; a much more detailed scan… The results were bad AND good… First, the bad news… The little bubble is in one of the worst locations it can be… It’s not in the ascending OR descending aorta… It’s right at the arch where the one becomes the other… What does that mean?  Well, it means no stint for me… And no repair either… When they finally do go in to take care of it, it’ll require a full out replacement… It also means they’ll have to go in full tilt, meaning they’ll have to cut open the sternum bone to get to it… Longer recovery, and more risk…. Ok, that’s the bad news… The GOOD news is that it’s smaller than we originally thought… It’s not 5 centimeters, it’s actually only 4.4 centimeters… That means I’ve got some time before they start talking surgery… He’s hoping that I can go another 20 years before we’ll need to do anything with it, and by then the technology will be such that they’ll have a better way to fix it…

OH, and my heart is not only completely plaque free, it’s also completely calcium free and defect free… And my EF (which means “Ejection Fraction”) is 68 which is fantastic… What EF means is that whenever my heart is pumping, it’s pumping 68% “of the total amount of blood in the left ventricle out with each heartbeat.”  (Thank you Cleveland Clinic for the definition and assistance in understanding this!)  The normal level is 55% to 70%, so I’m at the good end of this spectrum!  (Who knew that bacon diet I’m on would work?!)  The Cardio Doc was very happy with my results and it really helped to put me at ease… I still have to be careful about what I do and we have to make sure my heartrate and BP stay low… But compared to how my other Cardio doc made me feel, I now feel like I at least have something to look forward to!  My new Doc was very clear that he doesn’t want me to put myself “in a bubble”… He repeated over and over again that “you’re too young to be putting yourself in a bubble…  Now, don’t join an Olympic rowing team, or an Olympic weightlifting team and NO marathon running…”  I replied that he had just ruined my weekend plans, dagnabit!!!  LOL

I also have a new UC doc… My other one retired back over the Christmas holidays and it took me 3 months to get to see the new one… I haven’t decided how I feel about this one yet, but hopefully I won’t see much of him and that’s the way I like it… (That means that I’m healthy and have no need to see him…)  So all in all, I’m not too bad with the health side of the house…

On a side note: I asked this new UC about taking a prescription probiotic and he gladly agreed… I started taking it a week ago and it’s done very well for me so far… It’s called VSL#3… It’s a powder that you take once a day… You can add it to milk, water, yogurt, ice cream (yeah!), whatever… It is actually cheaper for me than the other probiotics I was on, so it’s a win-win so far!

The Fuzzy housemates are also fine… We went through a 7 month trip there where all three of my fuzzy ones ended up at the Vet’s… Beep, with her nose and ears.. Sophie, who (believe it or not) blew out an anal gland and have to have surgery to clean it up and stitch it up… And then my fuzzy boy, Squirt, who ended up going in for what the Vet says was pancreatitis… I disagree with his diagnosis, to be honest… And I was NOT happy with the meds he gave my boy… I believe my boy was poisoned, along with another critter that ended up dying under my house… It was just too coincidental that those two events happened at the same time, in my opinion… It’s taken a long time for my boy to heal and get back to normal… He still doesn’t go too far from the house anymore, and for this, I’m grateful… I do want to give a huge shout-out to my best friend… She stepped in at a time I truly needed help, and (although I’m sure she does) has no idea how grateful I am for her help… (BTW, Bestie, I WILL be paying you back for your help… I know, I can hear you from here, but deal with it…  LOL)  LOVE you!!!

I’m still in the process of trying to sell my motorcycle… Unfortunately it’s a smaller bike, which makes it appealing for newer riders, but they don’t want to pay the price for an almost brand new bike… So far I’m ok with it financially, but I do hope to sell it soon…

Overall, life is moving along!  I’m changing my work locations which can be bittersweet… Someone told me yesterday that the “mojo” in our current location seems to have died… And I believe she’s right… I used to love going to work and looked forward to opening my office door each day… Now, it’s an experiment in “what massive screw up will happen today?”… There’s a whole group of us moving and most folks seem excited about the change… I’m going in with my hopes high and eyes looking forward…

On another front, I have become a Grandmother in the last month… My Son had two babies, a week apart… My Grandson Julian and my Granddaughter Rylee are beautiful, fully equipped, and I know will have Blessed lives… Welcome to the World, little ones!  You will only add to the wonder and joy that is this big blue marble…

So, as I bring this to a close, I see the world with a little bit of optimism… It’s guarded, but at least it’s there… So as I leave you, remember this: ask questions (lots of them), don’t accept everything you hear or read at face value, try not to worry (still working on this one) and remember to try and find the humor in all that you do!!  Live well and we’ll talk again soon!

The idea of death, or not…

I’ve been debating all day whether to write this or not… But like so many other things, if I don’t write it, it will sit in my mind and fester until I go nuts… I’ve spent the day getting my Wills in place, making sure I had arrangements for my Cats, getting my Living Will put together, etc… I scared my best friend with some of my emails to her today, and to her I apologize… That was not my intention… My only intention was to put things on paper, and make sure others knew things that they should know… For those of you who are wondering why death is on my mind, allow me to illuminate the situation…  *click – to turn on the light*

I’m always relieved when someone is delivering
a eulogy and I realize I’m listening to it. – George Carlin

First, and probably the most dangerous at the moment, 15 months ago I was diagnosed with an aneurism in the aorta above my heart… Last year, in June, it was 4.7 centimeters long… That’s just under 2 inches in size… I’m going to be confirming that size in about 2 months, sooner if I can get them to agree to it… I also have a polyp in my lung, although I was told it was nothing to worry about… I have afib of the heart, that acts up from time to time… And finally I have UC, Ulcerative Colitis…  In other words, I’m a MESS!  LOL  I’ve never been a hypochondriac in my life, but it seems that I am now… Every time I feel a twinge, a pull, or something else in my heart, my blood goes cold… (Imagine scenes from Sanford and Son; “I’m coming’ ‘Lizabeth!”)  *grin*

A recent survey stated that the average person’s greatest fear is having to give a speech in public. Somehow this ranked even higher than death which was third on the list. So, you’re telling me that at a funeral, most people would rather be the guy in the coffin than have to stand up and give a eulogy?  –JERRY SEINFELD

It makes me want to make sure that folks know the things they should know, that people have the lists they should have, and that folks know how I feel… And shouldn’t we tell those folks how we feel anyway, withOUT the feeling that death is on the doorstep?  So that’s the other reason I’m here… To say those things that we should be saying anyway… And you’ll get this BEFORE my death, so if you have issues with what I say here, say it to me now!  ‘Cause I could croak tomorrow and you wouldn’t have a chance to edit it!  *cackle*

The living are just the dead on holiday – Maurice Maeterlinck

To my kids, Denise and Elric, thank you… Denise, you make me so proud with the things you experience and learn… You were my first child, my first experience at adulthood, and you taught me more than anyone else in my life… You and I experienced things that no one else will ever understand… You are smart, beautiful and have so much to offer… Just remember that YOU come first… Not some man… YOU… Above all else, take care of you before you try to take care of someone else…   To Elric, my smart ass son, you didn’t fall too far from your family tree… You learned quick, learned well and forgot little… I remember our discussions, our arguments and our conversations… You could have been a helluva lawyer… But I loved them!  You are a strong personality and I love that… Be who you want to be… You’ve made your mistakes, and from those mistakes you’ve made decisions… Live with those decisions and improve on them… Be what you want to be, and be the best at it… I love you both…

Quote seen, but no idea who wrote it:  When I die, can someone dress up like the Reaper and attend my ceremony?  Don’t say anything, just stand there…

To my parents, it’s not easy being my parents, I’m sure… But you hung in there… You loved me, asked about me, and made sure I knew you were there… All kids walk a strange path, but once I made it past that path, you were still there for me; waiting…  There are areas of my life that you may not agree with, but please know that I am who I am because of the strength you gave me… Thank you for everything you’ve done for me, and for loving me… I love you both so much!

Johnny Carson: For three days after death, hair and fingernails continue to grow but phone calls taper off.

To my best friend, Karen… You will never know what you’ve meant to me… There are things you’ve taught me, that you’re not even aware of… Your patience, love, humour, and persistence have meant more to me, then I can possibly say here… You have the gentleness of a lamb, but the heart of a Lion!  You’ve stood up for me, when no one else did… You’ve taught me what a loving relationship is supposed to be… Hopefully I’ll have time in my life to put that last lesson to good use… Thank you for being who you are… Thank you and Derek for showing me the good and pain-free side of life… You both have your Angel Wings already, wear them proudly… I love you both!

According to the L.A. Times, Attorney General John Ashcroft wants to take “a harder stance” on the death penalty. What’s a harder stance on the death penalty? We’re already killing the guy? How do you take a harder stance on the death penalty? What, are you going to tickle him first? Give him itching powder? Put a thumbtack on the electric chair?  –JAY LENO

To my other friends, Melissa, ML, Roger, Sharon, Jan, Janice, Anita, James, Victor and Sheila… (If you’re name is not here, it’s not that I don’t think of you too… It’s just that I’m getting old and my mind forgets things from time to time… Now…what was I doing again?)  *grin*  We’ve all shared some fabulous times together!  Some of you I work with, and you make my days go by a little faster, a little easier and a little less stressful… Some of you I know outside of work… (I know; I have a life outside of work?  How can that be?)  You’ve enriched my life, helped me to grow and helped me pave my way to what I’m supposed to be… You all have left your footprint on my heart, and I’m happy that my heart has those prints… I hope in some small way, that I’ve left a paw print for you as well…

I don’t believe in an after life, although I am bringing a change of underwear.
~ Woody Allen

To my Cats: Sophie, Beep and Squirt… You three have been my anchor for the last 9 years… No matter what, you are there, waiting for me, waking me up, being with me when I felt lonely, and reminding me of just what fuzzy love is… Soph, you came out of your shell at my lowest point and proved to me that you really do have a heart… You slept with me, purred for me and checked on me when I just didn’t think I had the strength anymore to get up… Beep, you showed me what a world without sound can be…  With your hearing gone, you increased your purrsonality and your voice volume to make sure you’re heard… And to Squirt, my fuzzy boyfriend, you’re the only man in my life… With your big rabbit feet, you allowed me to sing YMCA, make you fang smile, and in general use your feet for my amusement…

I have lost friends, some by death — others by sheer inability to cross the street.
~ Virginia Woolf

There are so many folks who took a chance on me… And I hope I haven’t disappointed you or made you regret that chance… I hope that in some small way, I’ve helped to make you smile… I believe that we live multiple lives in order to learn something… And that each life we pass through, is another chance to learn the next lesson on our way to whatever version of Heaven you believe in… Everyone reading this has had some small part of my life and in the lessons I needed to learn… Thank you for being there, in whatever capacity you were… And thank you for listening!

There are worse things in life than death. Have you ever spent an evening with an insurance salesman? ~ Woody Allen

So, to death I say, ok I’m ready now… I’ve said my peace, I’ve collected my paperwork, I’ve left behind whatever I’m going to leave behind… Whatever comes, will come… And even though I hope to live and annoy people for at least another 30 to 40 years, I will leave with nothing left unsaid, or love unshown…  So bring it on! Don’t forget the scythe!  It’s just not a proper death without the scythe!  I’d feel so cheated… And just like Ron Weasley said:

“Death’s got an Invisibility Cloak?” Harry interrupted again.
“So he can sneak up on people,” said Ron. “Sometimes he gets bored of running at them, flapping his arms and shrieking…”
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

And our lives continue…

Good morning Dear Readers!  It’s a rainy cold Sunday morning, and it’s exactly my favorite kind!!  I was terrified of storms and rain as a child, but as an adult, nothing makes me happier than waking to hear the rain, seeing it fall outside my window, or listening to Mother Nature’s call when the thunder booms across the world… That thunder is amazing, truly… It rumbles, it rolls, it almost demands your attention, and then just as quickly it continues it’s journey into the distance… Nothing stops it… It’s going to do and go where it wants… It’s YOUR job to acknowledge it, feel it, and allow it to roll through you… I love thunder storms because it reminds me how much power Mother Nature has, and truly how little WE have as humans…

Many things have power over us… We may think we’re the biggest and baddest things on earth, but in truth we’re but a small part of this wonderful blue marble we live on… Oh we can do some damage to her… We can kill, maim, torture, stem the tide of natural processes and selection… At least for a little while… However, we are nothing but an hour to the timeline of this Earth… She can shrug her shoulders at any time, and we’ll become nothing but a memory for her… I often wonder why she doesn’t do that… Why does she not just get tired of these annoying fleas that exist on her surface, shrug her shoulders and let her surface become peaceful once more… The same answer comes back to me every time…

She is a mother… She is OUR mother… She nurtures us, nourishes us, protects us, calms us and teaches us what we need to know… Just as most Mothers will love their children no matter how badly they act, no matter how they try to ignore their mothers, or even pretend they’re dead, Mothers will continue to love their children…  I know I do mine… They try to pretend I don’t exist, tell others that I don’t support them (when often times I’ve been the only one that did), and even tell people that I’ve died… That’s their choice.. They are free to say or do whatever they want…  It doesn’t stop my love for them, it doesn’t stop my joy at seeing them happy, my sadness when the world is cruel to them, or my desire to see or hear from them at least once a decade…  As most children have done at one time or another, my kids think that their Mother was mean to them, or didn’t give them what they wanted… But just like our Earth, I look at them and think “They’re on their own, they have jobs and food, they’re living their own lives, they both have graduated from schools, they’ve not produced any unwanted children, and they’re not in jail… If that is ‘being mean’, then I’ll take the blame for it…”

I’m sure our Mother Earth looks at us the same way… We think that the “Powers that Be” have been neglectful, or mean to us… Yet we live… We eat… We smile at something during the day… We have everything we need at our feet… She has provided all of that for us, and more… And we need to respect that just a little more…

This wasn’t where I wanted today’s blog to go, but like so many things in our lives, I let the water of thought travel where it may, so it’s not my job to deter it… So on this rainy and cold Sunday, I offer you a hearty Hello, and hope that you’ll take the time to enjoy the peace that our Earth has provided us today… And if it’s sunny where you are right now, then enjoy the warmth that she’s given you, and share it with someone else… Enjoy your Earth folks, because just Mothers, she’s the only one we have…