In Memory of My Father


Dearest Readers:

Below is an essay written before my father’s death – July 6, 1999

WALTER W. PERKINS

Mr. Sandpiper, 1998

Born an identical twin on December 19, 1914, Walter W. Perkins will soon celebrate his 84th birthday and he is the only surviving family member left of his generation.  His identical twin brother was named Lewis.  The Perkins Family included a total of six siblings, three boys, and three girls.  Growing up as twins (Lewis and Walter) shared more than most siblings and they were inseparable — virtually impossible to tell apart.   Known as The Perkins Twins, they sang harmonically in church choirs while preaching the gospel.  They traveled to many cities, touring as The Perkins Twins and found this to be their calling in life; however, their future together, billed as The Perkins Twins, was short-lived.  Lewis became ill at the age of 26 and died suddenly.

Because he loves meeting people and does it so well, Dad chose the hotel industry for his profession while pursuing his dream as a writer and poet.  In the early 1960’s he wrote a poem titled, Living Words, based somewhat on Sir Winston Churchill.  Living Words was published and today is on display at the Winston Churchill Museum.  At the age of 65, Dad retired from the Rodeway Inn, Atlanta, GA.  He is divorced and the father of four daughters.  Before becoming ill, he lived at the Canterbury House in downtown Charleston and took daily strolls for relaxation.

Dad is a tall and proud man and he can recite poetry like a Shakespearean actor.  He is a lover of words and can paint a magnificent poetic picture while he recites the historical stories and events of times past.  An avid sports buff, he knows almost every popular football or baseball star by name, position and statistic and he can tell many interesting stories about sports, especially baseball.  If you do not care for sports, you will learn to find it an interesting fascination, just by listening to the stories Dad shares.

Dad has always loved the magic of words, and as a young man, he wished to make the family tradition of journal writing part of his daily activities.  He has an impressive collection of family diaries and his daily ritual includes writing the days events in his personal diary.  He started this ritual many years ago and has quite an invaluable collection of diaries.  He has researched our family genealogy, dating us back to the early 1600’s.  One impressive member of our family (distant but still very special) is the late Diana, Princess of Wales.  Our heritage dates back to the Spencer Family.

Today, Dad still believes in rituals and he records special things in his journal of diaries.  From historical moments, to births, deaths, marriages, and yes, even the sad times, are recorded as part of the Perkins History.  Significant events are recorded in “Strolling in Memories Gardens.”

As a father, he instilled many beliefs in me and I am proud to call him Dad!  He taught me to look inside of a person, to see the inner beauty and not just the face or the smile.  He encouraged me to believe in myself and to always “make it a good day!”  He has lived a wonderful and proud life and I have never been more proud of him than I have during this year.  Walter W. Perkins is truly my bright and shining star, my beautiful aromatic rose, and he is the most loyal and dedicated father, family and friend I have ever known!

Sun Sets in Hawaii
Dad spoke of sunsets and sunrises, sharing with me that he was in the sunset of his life. Maybe that is why I have such passion for sunsets. Rest in peace, my precious father. How I miss you!

Barbie Perkins-Cooper

December 19, 1998

Featured

LEARN TO CONTROL YOUR DIABETES, BEFORE IT CONTROLS YOU


Late one evening while watching TV with my husband Phil, I reminded him to check his glucose level. His reply was the usual, ‘I’ll do it later.’ Knowing him as I do, I was frustrated. He has the tendency to procrastinate, so I chose a different approach. “Why don’t you check mine and let’s compare.”

Never did I expect my little psychological game to backfire. Pricking my finger, I waited in anticipation. When the meter flashed 468 on the screen, I laughed. “Something’s wrong with your machine. I do not have Diabetes. I do not have any symptoms. I’m fine.”

“You’re always tired,” my husband said.

“Isn’t everyone? If someone else walked in my shoes, they would be tired too.”

While it was true I was always tired, I suffered from insomnia and never felt rested. I worked ten-hour days at work and at home, working as a professional and moonlighting at night pursuing my writing career. My fingers were not numb, I didn’t suffer from increased thirst, and I certainly did not have unexplained weight loss. My mother had Diabetes so it does run in the family. Unexplained weight gain? Could that be a symptom?

The next morning I visited the doctor’s office, confirming the diagnosis of Type II Diabetes. My glucose level at Dr. Knepper’s office was 362. When he opened the door to discuss my condition, I was in tears. How could this happen to me? I ate properly, at least I thought I did. I did not exercise, and fast food was a part of my weekly meals, due to my crazy work schedule. Dr. Knepper reassured me I could recover and he encouraged me to learn all I could about Diabetes.

“I’m a writer,” I said. “I can become an advocate, if needed.”

Soft spoken and kind, Dr. Knepper nodded. “Let’s take it slow for now. We can get this under control. I want you to focus on your food intake, and what you are eating. Watch carbohydrates, increase your water intake and exercise. Check your glucose level at least three times daily and keep a record of it. I want to see you in three months. We’ll do blood work to see what your A1C level is.”

I had a lot to learn about Type II Diabetes. Leaving his office armed with a handful of prescriptions, a meter, booklets, and a fearful look on my face, I chose to learn all I could about Type II Diabetes.

That afternoon, I performed a Google search, typing in the key word of Diabetes. The wealth of information was informative, especially the web site of the American Diabetes Association, http://www.diabetes.org/home.jsp. I was able to click on information about Type II Diabetes, condition and treatment, a listing of resources, and so much more. Recognizing it was time for me to make a lifestyle change; I started building a plan of attack.

My New Years resolution for 2005 was to join a gym and lose weight. After the diagnosis of Diabetes, I was motivated and determined to change my life. I stopped visiting fast food joints for lunch, choosing to eat fresh vegetables and healthy snacks, instead of chocolate, or desserts. After work, I drove to the gym, worked out, and learned more about proper nutrition. I attended a nutrition class with a Diabetes nutritionist, asked lots of questions, and changed my diet, discovering the art of portion control.

Much to my surprise, I learned that sugar was not necessarily the enemy for people with Diabetes. Portion control, monitoring glucose levels, and limiting carbohydrates were the keys to success for Diabetes management.

Checking my glucose levels three times daily encouraged my husband to monitor his levels. He was diagnosed with Diabetes in 1992 and he rarely monitored or practiced portion control. My determination to get my Diabetes under control encouraged him; however, when his levels were higher than mine were, he was defiant.

“I don’t understand. You had the same thing for dinner that I did, and your levels are lower. It’s not fair,” he said, shaking his hands.

“Portion control,” I teased. “You had seconds. I never clean my plate. You go back for seconds, and you always snack late at night.”

“Whatever,” he grumbled.

Our competitive game of Diabetes management was underway and this time, I was the winner!

Three months later, my doctor was amazed how quickly my A1C level had dropped from 8.5 to 5.4. His goal was ‘6.5, but that could take a year,’ he said to me in February 2005. ‘Now, you’re my new poster child for Diabetes.’

Pleased with how quickly my eating and Diabetes management habits changed, I was still a bit annoyed that I was not losing weight. Inches were falling off of me. In three months I dropped two inches from my chest, four inches from my waistline, and two inches from my hips. My weight failed to drop at all.

“It’s hard for a Diabetic to lose weight, especially if you have insulin resistance,” Dr. Knepper said. “Don’t get discouraged. Your A1C level is great. I’m amazed how quickly you got it under control.”

“Insulin resistance,” I moaned. “Is that why my glucose level is so much higher in the morning?”

“Probably. Keep doing what you are doing, and don’t get discouraged. I’ll see you in three months.”

In June 2005 my position at the university ended when the campus relocated. With the closing of that door, I chose to open a window to my writing career. Now I had a bit of freedom to do what I wanted to do. I walked my dogs every day, worked out three to five times a week, and my weight decreased. By August 2006, I had lost a total of 26 pounds, and many inches. A1C levels were averaging 5.9, cholesterol levels were decreased to a healthier level, and I had more energy and self-confidence. Dr. Knepper was amazed and so proud of me. He had no idea how proud I was. Meanwhile, Phil’s A1C levels continued on a dangerous roller coaster ride. His doctors prescribed additional prescriptions and insulin injections. His reluctance to change his eating habits with portion control inspired me to continue monitoring my eating habits and glucose levels. Horrified of needles, I was determined not to join him. Each time he reached for his injection, I left the room.

Controlling Diabetes is now a lifetime commitment for me. My daily routine is a personal allegiance to educate myself and the public about the proper steps to Control Diabetes. My doctor is pleased with how quickly I was able to get my Diabetes under control. As for myself, I am proud of my new willpower. Before Diabetes, I procrastinated about life, my health, and my writing career. I made excuses for everything. Now, as a Diabetic, I want to do all I can to educate others, while educating myself. Diabetes is not a death sentence, but a way of life. A condition that can be monitored and managed through exercise, proper eating habits, portion control, and modern medicine. I plan to live my life as a healthy diabetic. So can you.

Daily Rituals to Monitor Type 2 Diabetes

  1. Seek professional care. Follow your doctor’s advice and learn all that you can about Type 2 Diabetes.
  2. Monitor glucose levels. I check my levels every morning, afternoon and evening.
  3. Exercise. Take daily walks. You will learn to appreciate the little things in life again – like hearing a chirping bird, saying hello to neighbors, and enjoying the freshness of morning air.
  4. Change your eating habits. Instead of going back for seconds, do not. Learn to eat slower, while enjoying the taste of food.
  5. Get regular physicalGulf Shores, AL 2008 082s. I confess, I did not, until Type 2 Diabetes knocked on my door. Now, I follow the advice of my doctor, and myself.
  6. Do not get discouraged if you have difficulty losing weight. Keep active and have a daily exercise routine.
  7. Visit the web site http://www.diabetes.org/home.jsp and learn all that you can about Diabetes. Knowledge is power.
  8. Diabetes is a lifestyle change, not a restriction of distasteful meals and social restraint.
  9. Think of portion control. Working as a professional photojournalist, there are times when my willpower is put to the test, especially during luncheons or special dinners. When dessert is placed before me, I eat one or two bites and leave the rest. Portion control is the key, not a constraint.
  10. Monitor. Your food intake. Your glucose levels, and your weight. Even a small reduction in weight is better than an increase.

PARENT TO PARENT…CARE GIVING IN AMERICA


IMG_0620_editedHolidays of 1997

During the holidays of 1997, my life was extremely busy until a shocking reality forced me to readjust my schedule, to make time for a new, unsuspecting emergency when my father needed me the most, during his illness.  I was stepping into a new chapter of my life, green and naive of the responsibilities I would endure.  The roles of life were reversing, and before the Christmas holidays of 1997 ended, I learned about new duties while serving as the primary caregiver to my beloved, headstrong, and courageous father, Walter W. Perkins.
On December 9, I sat alone at the hospital waiting for the results of an endoscopy, feeling confident my dad would be okay.  I flipped the pages of a magazine while waiting for the test results.  When his doctor approached, I realized from his body language and the look in his eyes he did not have good news to report.  When he whispered esophageal cancer, I screamed. Standing in the corridor of Roper Hospital, my entire body shook. This cannot be true. It must be a mistake. My dad is a tower of strength. Nothing gets him down. Nothing!
Later, I regained my composure, while the hurtful words of cancer echoed in my head.  How could this be?  I pondered the diagnosis.  Dad would need chemotherapy and radiation.  I did not know if he would agree to the treatments, realizing that if he found the courage to fight such a dreadful cancer, he would become dreadfully sick.  According to the doctors, chemotherapy could help, or because it was so toxic and potent, it could kill him.
The prognosis was not a positive forecast.  The oncologist estimated that he could live possibly six months; nevertheless, he was not able to retain food now and was malnourished.  He needed a feeding tube, to pump nutrition into his stomach.  If he did not respond and maintain food soon, he would probably be dead within two weeks from malnourishment.

My heart palpitated as I realized my role model, mentor and advisor of life was terminally ill with a dreadful disease, and I was helpless to stop it.  My father was my guiding light of life, always strong and healthy.  Now, he would fight the battle of his life, and I did not doubt that I would be by his side for the duration of his illness.  Our roles in life were reversing, only this time, I would become the caregiver to my devoted, charming, and loving 82-year old father.

I was not sure I was ready for this challenge, but I knew I would not allow him to fight the disease without me.  Although I failed to understand the correct definition of a primary caregiver, I would learn, and change my lifestyle schedule to be by his side.  Realizing the nightmarish roller coaster ride I was on was a wake-up call I hope never to experience again.

I was a proud, energetic, fulfilled woman of the baby boomer generation, the generation designated to babies born during the years of 1946-1964.  I was involved in a demanding career, relieved that my son was grown and living on his own, planning to get married soon.  Now, it was time for me to do what I wanted to do until I realized my father would need me now, more than he needed anyone in his lifetime.  I was the parent to my parent.

LIFE WAS SPINNING, OUT OF CONTROL
I accepted the challenge, never understanding how the cycles of life were spinning uncontrollably while I slowly stepped into the dreadful middle age years, stepping into a new chapter of my life as a caregiver.
Americans of the baby boomer generation are aging.  Approximately one of four American households are involved in some form of caregiving.  The number of primary care providers is diminishing because many family members live far away or cannot become involved. They work. They have careers. Demands. No time is left for cancer and caregiving.  Where does this leave the elderly?  Who will feed them, dress them, and provide for their needs and companionship?  Who will see that their medical, financial, and personal needs are met?

In America, hospital and long-term care is skyrocketing.  Medicare will not cover the needs sufficiently.  Only a small amount of American families can afford private nursing home care or long-term medical care.  Approximately 36% of primary caregivers are over the age of 65.  As the baby boomers reach senior citizen status, the elderly population is projected to increase significantly and will require physical, emotional, assisted living and special needs.  Although the majority of caregivers are usually women, many of these women must juggle a full-time job and children still living at home, while managing the care of an elderly parent.  These demands can lead to physical ailments, including depression or burn out.
I was under the impression that Medicare would take care of the medical needs of my father, along with the elderly.  I was sadly mistaken.  Medicare would not pay for his prescriptions unless he was hospitalized; and if he needed long-term care, Medicare would only cover twenty days.  Fighting for his life, Dad worried about the bills, along with how he would afford the expense of cancer.  He was encouraged to file for Medicaid.
While the toxic brown bag of chemotherapy dripped into my father’s thinning veins, I realized I had to take charge of his life, at least for now.  Although I did not feel emotionally strong enough to endure the horrors of filing for Medicaid, I knew I had to become his voice, his nurse, and advocate.

I made an appointment to file for Medicaid. The process to file is a three-hour process where the social worker asks questions dating back to my paternal grandparents and great-grandparents. Since my parents were divorced, I had to find the divorce papers and other documents proving that my father was not a wealthy man.

 

LIFE WAS SPINNING LIKE A WHIRLPOOL
I adjusted my schedule, missing weeks of work, along with months of sleep.  When I visited him, I smiled while struggling to camouflage my emotions.  Dad was so weak and nauseated from the chemotherapy, he failed to notice, and I was thankful.  I wore myself out physically, almost to the point of exhaustion.  My emotional life was spinning out of control, trapped in a whirlpool I could not escape.

Returning to work after a nine-day absence, I had a meeting. During the meeting, I fell asleep, so exhausted I could not find the strength to work. I prayed for God to give me strength to survive.

To my surprise, I found an inner strength within myself, focusing on my father’s medical, financial, and physical needs.  We developed a closer relationship, and although we never discussed how it felt for him to suffer a terminal disease, I still remember his poignant words to me during one hospital visit.  He reached for my hand, whispering, he said, “You know, Barbara, cancer is not contagious.”
Tears filled my eyes as I turned my head away so he could not see me crying.  “I know, Dad.”  I kissed him on the lips, telling him I loved him.  I was proud to be his caregiver, and I was thankful he had confidence in me.

Emotions were pouring out of me so I rushed to the arboretum at Roper Hospital. Opening the door, I discovered no one was around. I sat down, wiping the gushing ocean of tears from my face. I rushed to the balcony. Opening the doorway, I closed it and started screaming. At first, just a whimper of screams. Listening to the traffic along Calhoun Street, I realized no one could hear me, so I let the fears, tears, and heartache of Dad’s illness escape. Afterwards, I realized I felt better.

PRIMARY CAREGIVER SUGGESTIONS
If you serve as a primary caregiver, be good to yourself.  Find time to be alone, while juggling the demands of caregiving, even if it means you must close the door for a bit of privacy for only a few minutes.  Make the most of your days, especially while caring for your loved one.  Take charge of your life.  Do not feed the doubts, or listen to the negative aspects of your new lifestyle change.  Repeat to yourself that you are taking life one day at a time, and make the most of every day, even if it is a dark and dreary day.  Be thankful for your blessings and the days that you and your loved are sharing.
Learn to speak up and fight for your rights, and the rights of the terminally ill, or elderly person you are caring for.  Watch for signs of depression, in yourself and your loved one.  Some of the symptoms of depression include: inability to sleep, inability to concentrate, and a mind that constantly races, especially at night, sometimes referred to as circular thinking, lack of appetite, irrational behavior, crying, or irritability.  I was in denial of my emotions, unable to see the warning signs.

DYING WITH DIGNITY
While serving as a primary caregiver, encourage your loved one to be strong, to fight for life, and to be courageous.  Let the person you care for make some of the decisions.  Most of all, open your heart, your mind, and share your love.  Never leave your loved one without a touch of affection and the simple words I love you, because you may not have tomorrow to express those affections.  Discover the rights of the elderly.  And when the time comes, allow your loved one to die with dignity, if that is his or her wish.
Search on the Internet for caregiving issues, publications, and become an advocate about elderly care.  I found numerous websites, and I read them passionately late at night, when I could not sleep.  Stand up for your rights, trust your instincts, and support your loved one’s wishes.  Make the most of every day, without making excuses for mistakes you make, appointments you must cancel, or demands you can no longer meet.  Become familiar with the Family Medical Leave Act, and do not allow others, especially co-workers or a boss, to intimidate you.

After I missed so many days of work, my boss met with me, wanting to know why I wasn’t dedicating myself to work anymore. Suddenly it seemed I was not efficient at my job and I appeared not to be dedicated to working so many hours, including weekends. I cannot give my all right now, I said. My priorities are my family, not my job.

One month later, I resigned, taking another job with ‘flexible’ hours and compassion for my situation.
Walter W. Perkins died on July 6, 1999, and although I am no longer a caregiver, I still consider myself an advocate for elderly care, especially where the rights of residents of nursing homes are concerned.

During the many nights I failed to sleep, I wrote CONDITION OF LIMBO,” a memoir based on the stressful experience of serving as a caregiver, and the lack of assistance for terminal illnesses. Published in 2001, the book discusses many of the issues my father and I experienced while he desired to die with dignity.

NO ISN’T AN OPTION

During Dad’s illness, I never took no for an answer, and I learned everything I could about Medicare, Medicaid and the rights of the elderly.  I wanted to be the voice my father could not be because he was so gravely ill and frail.  I have no regrets, and I am proud to say my father was my top priority in life, during his illness, and residency in a nursing home.  Although he died while I was walking into his room for my daily visit, I know that he knew I loved him, and I was devoted to him.  He was my life, and now he is my shining star.  A few days before he died, he reminded me to make the most of every day of my life, and I still strive to live life to its fullest, remembering his wisdom, his love, along with the passions he held for others.

LIFE AS A CAREGIVER

You, as a caregiver, or a baby boomer, could be the next family member to walk into a nursing home or a hospital, while your loved one is dying.  Live for the moment, hoping to see the sunrise and sunset of a new tomorrow.  Never forget to share your love and special times with the terminally ill or elderly.

After the death of my father, I fell apart.  As I dug my way out of the darkness of despair, I realized I was lost in a world of depression, unable to confront my emotional well being.  It was my darkest moment.  I managed to join a grief therapy session, while I learned to accept his death.

WAKE-UP CALL

Watching my father battle the debilitating disease of esophageal cancer, as he struggled to maintain his dignity, gave me a wake-up call I will never forget.  Now, I make the time to search for flowers, rainbows, birds and butterflies  and I enjoy the little things in life while enjoying life’s effervescent sunrises and sunsets.

PROUD TO SERVE

Be proud to be a caregiver, while serving as a parent to your parent, and never look back!  Life is too short to be trapped into a spider web of despair and regrets.  We must remember to make the best out of a problematic situation, feeding the decisive moments, while forgetting the negative and hopeless feelings we as caregivers experience.  We must educate ourselves about caregiving.  We must trust our instincts, and know that what we are doing is not a sacrifice, but an act of unconditional love while we learn to adjust and place our needs aside.  We are sharing and teaching, and growing into the citizens and family members that we need and desire to be.  We must stand up, not only for our rights but also for the rights of those who we love during their hour of need.  With the support of our families, friends and other caregivers, we are building memories to cherish for the rest of our lives.
May God bless caregivers, the family members, and loved ones we care for; and may we as caregivers continue to find ways to improve the lives of the ones we love and want to remember — one day at a time!

 

https://www.amazon.com/Condition-Limbo-Barbie-Perkins-Cooper/dp/1588511774

 

Weight Watchers Is Not a Diet – It’s A Community of People…


Dearest Readers:

This will probably be a short posting about something we learned at the Weight Watchers meeting Thursday, March 8, 2017. Two of my closest friends in Charleston are Tammy and Sara. Neither were at the meeting on Thursday…Just me, my shadow and other friends I’ve met thru Weight Watchers. Tammy moved to Florida a few months ago. How I miss her. Sara is out of town. We are keeping in touch and I need to send Tammy a text – something we do lately on Thursdays.

On Thursday, I lost .06 pounds. I’ll take it, I said – finally happy to be losing again. I hit plateaus that seem to last FOREVER. My goal was to lose 15 pounds by my class reunion in May. Since I lose so slowly, I do not believe I’ll achieve that goal, so now, I’m saying I’d love to lose five pounds by May. I’m hopeful the dress I bought two years ago will fit. I’ll let you know about that goal IF I wear it to the reunion. More on that – Later!

Looking around our meeting room at Weight Watchers I realized I joined this amazing group of ladies, and a few men, seven years ago. Back then, I wanted to achieve my ‘goal weight’ that year. Believe me, I’m still struggling to achieve that goal weight — WHATEVER the goal weight is for me. No one has mentioned I should weigh this ___, or I should weigh that ___! I realized it is up to me, and maybe my doctor, to select my goal weight; nevertheless, If (and WHEN) I reach that number, I will weigh less than I weighed in high school. I confess, during the four years of high school, I attended six high schools!  No, I wasn’t the kind of student to be kicked out of school. Changing high schools so many times was simply because my parents moved us as a family, and when I was 15, my parents separated and divorced, so we moved to Columbus, GA – to a mill village.

Needless to say, my teenage life was a life filled with stress, the inability to make friends, and many unpredictable situations I’ve written about on this blog. Fortunately, I graduated from high school and now, I’m happy to have a fulfilled life in Charleston, SC.

As mentioned, losing weight is not an easy task for me. Now, I’m back to working out and using the Freestyle of Weight Watchers.

During our meeting on Thursday, someone mentioned that Weight Watchers IS NOT A DIET…IT’S A COMMUNITY! How interesting and true that statement is. We have ladies (and a few men) wanting to lose weight. One special lady has been ‘lifetime since she was 17!’ She’s had many setbacks, but to look at her now, she is beautiful, slim and such an inspiration, especially to me. Other women have fought and struggled many times. Just like ME! Nevertheless, all of these Weight Watchers admitted they could not lose weight alone. They had to attend meetings! They had to face the scale once weekly, and they had to keep attending meetings. So like me! A beautiful lady sitting next to me stated she had her son’s wedding coming up so she understood my goal of ‘knocking ’em dead.’

I must confess, in high school I was a wallflower. My parents were divorcing. We lived with our maternal grandparents in a two-bedroom mill village house – with one bathroom. No washer, or dryer. No air conditioning. Simply a TINY house of brick and mortar. I did not make many friends in high school, nor did I date high school guys! Why would I? If I did, we as a family would pack up and move again. We lived like gypsies. Never having a home that would build me into the woman I am today. When I go back to my ‘home town’ I do not have any roots to remember. NOTHING. I thank God I survived and didn’t end up as a child with many problems. I credit that reality to my stubbornness, determination and independence and attending church regularly!

The one indiscretion I did have, and still have is the hunger for food. My grandmother made the most fluffy and delicious homemade biscuits ever. They seemed to just melt in my mouth and each time she made them, I ate my share. After my husband’s heart surgery in 1998, I changed the way I cooked, learning to cook healthier. Fortunately, I never learned to make Grandma’s homemade biscuits. Each time I tried, my husband called them hockey pucks. I do believe his description is correct!

My friends still ask me, “Are you STILL doing Weight Watchers?”

Yes. I’m still doing Weight Watchers and when I reach Lifetime, I will continue attending the meetings on each Thursday. I remind myself: This I do for ME! Nothing interrupts my Thursday meetings. I will miss my meeting when we go to my class reunion, but the next week I’ll get back on that scale again, still seeking “Lifetime!”

After all – for me, Weight Watchers IS A COMMUNITY. A community of encouraging women (and a few men) — haven’t I said that before? Even if we, as a community, have only five, 10, 20, 30, 40 or even 50 pounds to lose, together we can do this. I have anchors I use to remind me to continue. One of my anchors is a poem I repeat daily:

“It’s when things seem worse, you mustn’t quit,” and I say: “This too shall pass,” whenever I gain. I’ve learned not to beat myself up when I am not successful, and I keep reminding myself that Weight Watchers is what I do for me. No one else. No, I’m not working out daily and doing my best to lose weight for my husband, family, or shame. I am doing this for me. I look in the mirror daily. I wear makeup – DAILY. I style my hair – DAILY and now, I do my best to be accountable and to accept whenever I gain, or lose only “.06 of a pound.” A loss is a loss, I tell myself. Together, as a community WE can do this!

After all, Weight Watchers IS my life now! Next Thursday, I’ll be at the meetings. And the next….and the NEXT….continuing my journey to lose my weight, and to look the best that I can look at the class reunion and beyond!

Yes, I’m vain. I want to look the best I can look – for eternity and ‘beyond!’DSC_0061

 

Surviving Hurricanes


Dearest Readers:

We survived the wrath of a potential Hurricane Irma. I say potential since she dropped down to a tropical storm when she visited Charleston, SC.

We watched The Weather Channel. I must compliment them on their coverage and I am so thankful we survived. We lost power for less than two hours. Amazing. I would like to thank South Carolina Electric & Gas [SCEIMG_5582G] for that!

My sister and her family who live in a rural, beautiful country area miles from Atlanta, Georgia lost their power and did not get it back until 6:30 last night! I sent them a text congratulating them on joining civilization again! There’s nothing like flipping the light switch and seeing a light come on instantly! Of course, there’s nothing more comforting and cooling than air conditioning! And, who likes cold baths? I do. I learned to like them after 14 days without power after Hurricane Hugo.

Originally, we planned to leave Charleston on Monday morning since the hurricane wasn’t anticipated until Tuesday. I booked a hotel reservation for Monday – Wednesday in Georgia. Only miles from the home of my family. Was I ever thankful we cancelled that reservation on Saturday! The silly Irma did more damage there with electricity than she did here. Whoever thought hurricanes would hit the inlands? I did. I remember Hurricane Hugo and how she tore into Columbia, SC and Charlotte, NC. Hurricanes aren’t just for the coastal areas after all!

Today, I was able to return to my Weight Watchers meeting. “I’m checking in,” I said. “But I’m not weighing in today!”

The leader of our meeting, Kathy, simply laughed and shook her head. She probably knew I was only one of the members who would not weigh in today.

Why?

I have no excuse, with exception of a hurricane…fast food – when it was available…junk food… I asked my husband to go to the grocery store once, to get us something to eat. Rule number two of a hurricane [I’ll let you imagine what rule number one is]. Do not send your husband to a grocery store for hurricane foods.

What did he bring home?

Here’s only a brief list:

Blueberry muffins

Bread (we had two loaves sitting on the counter)

Boars Head meats

Cheese

Ice cream

Aren’t we under a hurricane warning? Just what do we do when the power goes out?

“Eat melted ice cream,” I said.

So much for Weight Watchers.

Today, I’ve promised to get myself back on track. Much to my surprise, when I checked e-tools on my iPhone, I discovered I have been super negligent with tracking! Checking back to December, 2016, I discovered I haven’t tracked much at all. I must improve that! Just how can a girl lose weight IF she is negligent?

Today is a new day. The sun is shining beautifully. It is warm, but not too humid. Tomorrow I will work in the yard, picking up the debris of sticks, tree and shrub branches and I shall rake everything into one pile.

Since my dogs LOVE to play with sticks, maybe I can get them to help me collect my debris and place it in my utility cart.

On second thought – maybe not! They love to jump into the piles and chew sticks. I don’t imagine that would be a good idea for their digestive system.

At least tomorrow I’ll get LOTS of exercise tracking with my Fitbit.

Tomorrow is a new day. I’m so thankful we survived!

And now, IF I can find my motivation. Track what I eat, and exercise!

 

 

 

Hurricane Harvey and the Devastation of the Lone Star State of Texas


Dearest Readers:

I admit it, I’ve been glued to the TV this week, watching and crying about the tragedies of a Hurricane named Harvey. I had the pleasure to visit this great Lone Star State a few years ago and I must say, I fell in love with Texas, especially Beaumont, Texas.

The hurricane has tormented Houston and all of the surrounding areas for much too long. I know what a hurricane experience is like, surviving Hurricane Hugo, 1989 in Charleston, South Carolina. I sat supervising 60 students who were stuck at a local college. My husband was deployed with the National Guard, so I volunteered. Last year, we had Hurricane Matthew. My husband and I chose to remain at home with our pups. We lost power for less than 24 hours. With Hugo, we were out of power for 14 days. I learned to appreciate cold bubble baths after that experience!

Now, sitting at my computer while still glued to the Weather Channel, I am curious if the East Coast will have a visit from Irma. I pray she fizzles out. I’m not certain our country could handle another tragic hurricane. I’ve faced the reality that if a Hurricane Harvey hit Charleston, South Carolina, the Low country would be the next tragedy. We’ve had an astronomical amount of growth in our area. Years ago, when a developer wanted to build a community, trees were protected. Now, they bulldoze almost every tree, leaving an open field for monster homes to be built. It makes me ill just to look at them. No doubt this city will have major flooding. It’s only a matter of time, and hurricanes or tropical storms.

Nevertheless; I am still praying for everyone in the State of Texas. One of my FAVORITE states! I have two cousins in Dallas. Lots of friends around the surrounding areas and in Beaumont. I feel confident some of them were forced to evacuate due to all of the astronomical flooding. Watching the TV this afternoon, I saw where some houses in a rural area approximately 90 miles from Houston were flooded UP to the roof! I pray everyone got rescued. Earlier, it was announced that 23 people have died as a result of Hurricane Harvey.

Now, my heart breaks for the loss of animals. Many people left their animals at home. Possibly anticipating they would return to get them in a day or two. While I cannot fathom leaving my animals, I imagine many of these people will never see their animals again.

 

Air Boat

Air Boats in Texas. Just how many air boats are in use now, rescuing people, animals, and helping to save the lives in such a devastated area. I truly admire how people are coming together to help one another. After all, it’s the Lone Star State of Texas where hospitality embraces everyone.

First -Hurricane Harvey
Second – Flooding
Third – Devastation
Fourth – People helping People
Fifth – Moving to shelters

and now – price gouging??? I pray it is only a fabrication some sick person placed on the Net. My heart breaks just watching the rescues. My donation will be to an animal shelter. Just not certain which one.

Last night, I only slept two hours so concerned about the residents and friends I made in Texas. How I pray for all of you. I’ve been through several hurricanes, none that can surpass what you are experiencing now.

Please know, my heart, thoughts and prayers are with you Texas. You will have more devastating times, especially when filing insurance claims. Flooding claims, etc. Be prepared. In South Carolina, we had to file with FEMA and the Small Business Disaster Relief since our homeowners insurance with State Farm “Did not cover our claim” in 2015 during the endless rains we had over four days. When I inquired as to why we did not have coverage our adjustor said the ‘regulations recently changed.’

How convenient. One month later, I shopped for homeowner’s insurance and cancelled State Farm. Isn’t it convenient how nice insurance companies can be — UNTIL you file a claim and discover “you’re not covered!”

My tip for those of you filing claims – be diplomatic when speaking with the customer service reps and the adjustor. DOCUMENT EVERYTHING! Names. Dates. Times. Discussions. EVERYTHING!

Texas, I pray this doesn’t happen to you. I hope you do not have to hear “No” over and over. I learned to push with diplomacy! We’ve had flood insurance for many years, but we didn’t have floods in 2015 — only a destroyed roof – destroyed by wind and hail damage. Funny, we had wind and hail insurance and were still told “You’re not covered!”

Lessons Learned!

I pray all of the residents of Texas will soon breathe a bit of fresh air, and I pray the sunshine will return to the Lone Star State and to you. May God bless you during this torrential, heart breaking time.

I have a quote next to my writing desk. Perhaps a quote that could help you to cope:

“When things go wrong, as they sometimes will. When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill. When the funds are low and the debts are too high…And you want to smile, but you have to sigh. When care is pressing you down a bit…Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.”

“The silver tint in the clouds of doubt. And you never can tell how close you are. It might be near, when it seems afar. So, stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit — It’s when things seem worse, you mustn’t quit!”

-Author Anonymous-

‘God Bless Texas!’

Sun shining on a beautiful day in Beaumont, Texas during my visit, just a few years ago.

DSC_0080

Steroids…Weight Gain…Weight Watchers…


IMG_0572

Dearest Readers:

Have you ever gotten so ill that your doctor prescribed steroids? Years ago, my doctor prescribed Prednisone to me. After taking it, I noticed my cognitive abilities were affected. I could not sleep. During the day, I was wired, and while driving, I drove off the road! Fortunately, no one was nearby!

I shared these side effects with my doctor, telling him I would refuse any prescriptions for Prednisone. What I should’ve told him was I will not take steroids! After my steroid consumption in June, I will let him know the side effects and I will not take ANY STEROIDS again! I mentioned to him how I struggled to communicate a simple sentence while taking Prednisone! Since I am a writer, my cognitive abilities must be sharp! For the life of me now, I cannot recall what the name of the drug was, although I do remember it started with a D. I took this drug faithfully, anticipating I would be better within a few days. I finished the medication and was still so weak, so ill, and coughing so hard, so I phoned my doctor. He refilled the same prescription.

Two weeks later, I was still sick, but getting better. My breathing meter said I was stronger, in the green area of the meter, and I was feeling better, with one exception.

I wanted to eat anything and everything within my home. I actually felt as if I would eat the kitchen cabinets IF they were flavored and edible. During one day, I went to the pantry, finding Ritz crackers. I took a sleeve of the crackers out, eating them in one sitting. Eating like this is NOT something I do. I joined Weight Watchers years ago. Before getting so sick, I had two pounds to lose to hit my first goal. Not the official goal at Weight Watchers to become lifetime, but my official first goal since it would be the number I weighed when I graduated from high school.

What is wrong with me? I am so hungry and I cannot stop this ridiculous eating! 

I phoned my husband. “Ice Cream. Ice Cream. I want ice cream.”

That evening, he brought ice cream home. I was eating everything I should not eat, and I was not tracking anything.

I glanced at my calendar, recognizing I had missed three Weight Watchers meetings. When I returned, I gained almost five pounds. At first, I blamed the gain on the steroids. Believe me when I say they have a serious side effect. Constant hunger and weight gain!

I was furious with myself. I cannot blame the steroid for making me gain weight, after all, I am the one who controls what goes into my mouth. Meanwhile, I’m still eating. Finally I realized I had to get control.

According to the Mayo Clinic website, http://www.mayoclinic.org/steroids/ART-20045692?pg=2, oral steroids, commonly referred to as Corticosteroids, some of the side effects are:

  • Elevated pressure in the eyes (glaucoma)
  • Fluid retention, causing swelling in your lower legs
  • High blood pressure
  • Problems with mood, memory, behavior and other psychological effects
  • Weight gain, with fat deposits in your abdomen, face and the back of your neck

My eyes were affected with blurred vision. I did not notice fluid retention in my legs, but I certainly gained weight and I was furious with myself. My blood pressure increased, along with my blood sugars. On several mornings, my blood sugar was over 200.

I was definitely moody. Snapping at my husband over the least little thing, and when the phone rang when I recognized it was another telemarketer telling me I had won another cruise…Would I like to attend a seminar about hearing issues, time shares, how to invest retirement funds, blah…blah…blah. Well, let’s just say I used a bit of colorful language telling them to stop calling this number! I started blocking almost every phone number, including two of my best friends. Fortunately, I’ve learned how to correct these errors. It certainly is quieter in my home now, without the constantly ringing telephone. Maybe we should cancel our landline!

Yep. You guessed it. Steroids were making me a B-I-T-C-H! Funny, the phone isn’t ringing much now! Thank goodness!

August 7 was exactly seven weeks since I took the last of the steroid prescription. When I see my doctor in October, I will tell him I cannot take steroids OF ANY KIND now. For me, it isn’t worth the risk. I find it interesting that medical professionals will tell us when we need to lose weight; nevertheless, when we become ill with an acute illness such as acute bronchial asthma, the professionals will prescribe steroids. The side effect of steroids is weight gain, only I’ve never had this side effect until June when I was so weak and ill.

How I pray I will remain well for a bit. I find it a bit funny that I was scheduled for ‘clinical testing’ to see if my asthma would respond to new medications. When I went for the clinical testing, my breathing was ‘too healthy’ to be considered for the clinical testing.

Suppose I’ll be happy now that I am able to breathe so much better and I can walk and exercise again! Thank you, God!

What did I learn after taking steroids? Simple. I learned that my body cannot accept them or allow them to be taken orally. For me, the side effect of weight gain and being such an arrogant maniac just isn’t worth the risk. I like myself when I am the real me…Not the B-I-T-C-H I become, thanks to steroids. Once, while in California, I saw a bumper sticker on a car. I loved it, wrote it down and practice it. It revealed:

I’m a Bitch.

B = Beautiful

I = Intelligent

T = Talented

C = Charming

H = Honest — in all honesty – the H = horny, but I changed that! There’s no need to advertise when hormones kick in!

Yeah. I suppose I could say I’m a Bitch…but a Nice One!