Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Parenting Classes

We are 1/2 through with our parenting classes, called MAPP training or classes towards adoption! I guess last week was hubby's week, this week was mine. Last week we had to do this visualization and then tell how it made you feel. Well it made Stephen feel very angry. This week we were learning about different parenting styles, Positive and negative consequences. Negative consequences are like questioning, sarcasm, and more. And, I don't mean the child's actions, I mean the parents. More specifically parent's reactions to children's actions. I saw a lot of my childhood in the "negative" consequences. I found it hard to keep from crying and to leave the room. It's all a process and I made it through. :)
On the plus side, I made semi-sweet chocolate chip cookies with pecans and splenda and everyone loved them.
I am thinking of taking my 4 year old little cousin to swim lessons this summer, that would be fun!

Early signs of fibromyalgia

by Dr. Deborah Bauers
 Fibromyalgia has been called both a disease and a syndrome. From its earliest signs through the development and duration of its more chronic symptoms it is neither life threatening nor degenerative. Its pathology does not manifest as a true disease process and yet the chronic pain that a fibromyalgia sufferer experiences can make it a debilitating condition. Its complex set of physiological abnormalities make it a recognized health issue that can create significant pain and fatigue.
Fibromyalgia is a rheumatoid-like condition that impacts the soft tissues, tendons, and muscles of the body causing exhaustion and discomfort. One of its earliest but most conclusive signs is often recognized and identified as the presence of pressure sensitive trigger points that are quite painful when palpated.  These pressure points are usually located behind the head and neck, on the shoulders, and behind the knees and elbows.
There are numerous symptoms often associated with fibromyalgia many of which can also be symptomatic of other autoimmune diseases.  For this reason, a rheumatologist or physician who specializes in treating autoimmune diseases is the best healthcare professional to diagnose fibromyalgia. Before the diagnosis can be made, blood work and x-rays must be done to rule out osteoarthritis, thyroid problems, and other auto-immune diseases such as lupus, Sjrogen’s syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis.
Earliest symptoms, together with specific pressure points, that often suggest the onset of fibromyalgia include the following:
1. Pain in the groin
2. Difficulty climbing stairs and hills
3. Chronic sinus problems
4. Dry mouth
5.  Stiffness upon waking
6. Dry eyes
7.  Difficulty swallowing
8.  Chronic fatigue
Numerous other symptoms may occur and become chronic as an individual struggles with fibromyalgia over time.  These include:
1. Irritable bowel
2.  Headaches
3. Tingling and/or numbness in the extremities
4.  Depression
5. Bladder spasms
6. Difficulty concentrating
7. Memory loss
8. Dizziness
9. Sleep disturbances
Much controversy surrounds the origins and precipitating factors that may result in an individual having fibromyalgia.  While it was originally believed that this syndrome was largely the result of the psycho-social factors, more recent studies suggest that it may onset after a virus or illness.  Physical trauma to the body, endocrine imbalances, and deficits in the production of neurotransmitters are all being studied as possible stimuli for the onset of fibromyalgia. 
Fibromyalgia sufferers frequently experience hyper-sensitivity to certain sounds, smells, and tactile experiences and are uncomfortable in large crowds or in the midst of a lot of confusion. Prolonged exposure to overstimulation tends to exacerbate both pain and fatigue.
Overall mental health, coping mechanisms, support systems, and ability to manage stress also appear to intensify pain that is felt by fibromyalgia sufferers.  Certain personality types appear more prone to develop this syndrome and individuals who tend to be more negative in their thinking experience greater levels of fibromyalgia-related pain.
Fibromyalgia is best treated by a comprehensive plan that includes pain management, cognitive and physical therapies, and stress management techniques. Fibromyalgia sufferers must learn to set boundaries that ensure that they get enough rest and moderate exercise, while learning strategies to overcome the perception of helplessness that often accompanies the syndrome.

Southwestern Steak Salad with Salsa-Spiked Dressing

Yields 4 servings
1 lb. flank steak
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp mild chili powder
¼ tsp salt
Nonstick cooking spray
½ red onion, diced
½ lb. mixed greens (about 6 cups)
½ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1 can (15-oz.) black beans, drained, well-rinsed
1 green or red bell pepper, seeded, diced
½ cup tomato salsa
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp cumin powder
1 Tbsp olive oil
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Sprinkle the flank steak with cinnamon, chili powder and salt. Heat a large skillet over high heat. Coat with a thin layer of cooking spray. Place the steak in the skillet and reduce the heat to medium. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, turning once until the steak is lightly browned on both sides. Transfer to the oven and cook 12 minutes for medium rare, 15 to 17 minutes for medium. Transfer to a cutting board.
Place the greens, black beans, pepper, onion and cilantro in a large bowl.
Prepare the dressing: Place the salsa, lime juice, cumin, olive oil and black pepper in a small bowl and whisk until combined. Drizzle over the greens and toss until the greens are coated. Transfer the salad to a large platter.
Thinly slice the steak and transfer to platter. Serve immediately.
Nutritional Facts (per servings): calories 330, fat
13 g (sat. fat 4 g), cholesterol 53 mg, protein 31
g, carbohydrates 26 g, fiber 8 g, sodium 620 mg,
sugars 48 g

This recipe is from

Insulin Time

Last week, or maybe the week before, I went to my doctor for a physical needed for the adoption process. She checked my blood sugar. I had just eaten a granola bar. I didn't think with only 12 grams of sugar they would cause a problem with my blood sugar, wow was I wrong.
I admit I haven't checked my blood sugar in a long long time. I kept procrastinating ordering a new meter. I had finally ordered a new meter and supplies the week before I went to the doctor, and it arrived, thankfully, just a few days after my appointment. What I haven't told you yet is how high my blood sugar was at the doctor's office. My doctor asked her nurse to check my blood sugar with their meter and it was 264! My doctor also ordered blood tests. A few days later the nurse called to tell me my blood sugar was out of control and my doctor feels it is time for me to start insulin. INSULIN!
The nurse scheduled me for an appointment with the specialist, I go next week. I am still scared but I have been doing some research. (of course, I have!)
One of the most important things I learned was actually from a diabetes magazine I had brought home from the doctor's office. The magazine is called "Guide to Diabetes". The website is The article to which I am referring is a real life story "Insulin has been a blessing". One thing that helped me stop beating myself up about the granola bars is this quote "I thought taking insulin means you have failed, you didn't do a good job of managing diabetes, and it meant you were near the end". Further "As type 2 diabetes progresses over time, the pancreas produces less insulin even when you are doing everything right to control your sugar levels. Many people with type 2 diabetes will probably need some form of insulin replacement after eight to 10 years, says Luigi Meneghini, MD. MBA, director of the Eleanor and Joseph Kosow Diabetes Treatment Center at the Diabetes Research Institute in Miami".
I'm not pushing off the blame. I need to lose weight, and thanks to well I don't know which of the new medications I'm on that has caused my appetite to disappear, but I'm grateful. I'm watching my carbs especially. For instance, we had a Memorial Day barbecue. I had 1/2 a hamburger bun, a hamburger, and a bratwurst. I didn't eat any veg but I didn't eat any chips either. Tonight we went to Steak & Shake before our parenting class. Instead of a double steakburger with a full order of fries and a shake. I had a single steakburger, I cut the meat and bun in half and doubled the meat using just 1/2 the bun, ate 1/3 order of fries and had coke zero. Later for a snack I ate 1 chocolate chip cookie made with splenda and semisweet chocolate chips (and pecans), and a few raw carrot sticks. I am down 11 pounds so far! 11!! I admit I have been feeling a little weak and shaky, but this is possibly due to my blood sugar. A fasting blood sugar is still 130, way too high. I'm hoping once I start using insulin I will feel better and maybe even start walking the dog a little further each day again. Although June is not the time to start long walks in Florida!!! In the coming week I will receive a blood sugar / food journal in the mail from the manufacturer of my new glucose meter. I'm hoping to start keeping track of my meals, and sugar levels too.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Psoriatic Arthritis: A REAL Diagnosis at last???

In January I was sent to a new rheumatologist. Dr Youngblood sent me for a series of xrays, blood tests, urine tests, and frankly that was January so I'm not sure what else! I finally had my follow up appointment today. She was very nice and spent a lot of time with me. She had immediately thought what previous doctors had misdiagnosed as rheumatoid arthritis, peripheral neuropathy, and other miscellaneous  diseases, disorders whatever, as an inflammatory arthritis. The tests were to determine what type. 

The test ruled out lupus, which was another doctor's first instinct, and after tons of research mine too. But, lupus is in the inflammatory arthritis family. The tests did not determine which type of inflammatory arthritis, but confirmed the existence of general inflammatory arthritis. Including inflammation, of course, bone spurs heavily in my feet, ankles, sacroiliac joints, spine, and knuckles. The ones in my hands aren't so bad but there is also the presence of osteoarthritis. The bone spurs in my spine are creating bridges and fusing my spine together. Nothing that sounds like any fun! Apparently my elbows are showing early signs of psoriasis, which is why she thinks it is psoriatic arthritis. If it is not psoriatic arthritis, she said it is something close. She says there are too many possibilities to maybe narrow the diagnosis 100%.
Dr Youngblood prescribed new medication. Meloxicam is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug used to relieve the symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.Sulfazine EC is also an anti-inflammatory drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Plus, I have to start taking flexeril 3 times a day for rib spasms, trust me those are no fun! I'm not sure what treatment happens for the bone spurs, but this is a start. I go back in two months.
So lets all cross our fingers (if you can) and hope first, this diagnosis is finally accurate, and, second that the treatment helps. :)

Heart Gallery & Adoption

Stephen and I have always talked about fostering kids or adopting. I don't know where this desire in me comes from, except I know there are so many kids out there who are having a worse childhood than mine, and need a good home. This past Christmas I was watching the Dave Thomas Home for the Holidays special and I couldn't take it anymore. I'm 42. If we are going to do this, we better do it soon! I immediately went on the website for the Heart Gallery and found a 12 year old boy and his short story ripped open my heart. Soon, I had Stephen convinced. He's a big pushover so he didn't need much convincing. Plus, he would love a son to play video games with and teach hockey to. Next, we went to orientation. The second step is taking 10 weeks of parenting classes, these are called MAPP classes. Unfortunately, the March classes were already full so we had to wait until May, but guess what? It's MAY!! We start next Tuesday and we are so excited!
Of course we are scared, we've never had a child to be responsible for! But, one thing we are not afraid of is having a support system. I have a large extended family with my Aunt, and cousins, plus my niece & nephew. My aunt & cousins took me in when I didn't have any other family. My husband's mom and brother are pretty terrific (shhhh don't tell them I said that!), plus he has a large family of multiple aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents that live nearby. I also have my two best friends. One I've had for about 27 years, and the other about 14 years. I have absolutely no doubt that every one of our family members will embrace an adopted child as if he or she was born in our family and had grown up with us their entire lives. I'm so excited to be able to offer our kid not only ourselves but the wonderful extended families we have.
I'm currently reading Ashley Judd's book entitled "All That Is Bitter and Sweet". Her first chapter is called "Family of Chance, Family of Choice". She says "My family of choice is a colorful assortment of surrogate grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends who infuse me with love, belonging, and acceptance. My family of origin, the one into which I was born, was also brimming with love but was not a healthy family system." Lets be honest, who's family is ever a 100% healthy family system? We can not choose our family of chance it's our family of origin, we get what we get. But, we have our families of choice. We can choose to surround ourselves with love and support. I've had a friend or two over the years who I was close to, long term friends. Over time these relationships became toxic to me. Filling my life with their negativity about my marriage, my life. I made a choice. As tough as it was I ended those friendships, because it's my choice. My family of choice is supportive and loving. My family of choice does include members of my family of chance, not everyone, but I'm learning with family, not just friends it is a matter of choice.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Grandparents... the best memories

My best memories are of my grandma and grandpa. I was talking to my best friend the other day about grandparents. My mother wouldn't agree with this, but she isn't really involved in my niece and nephews life. She was when my Dad was alive, but not really since he passed. Her mom doesn't either. This seems so different from when I was growing up. When I was a kid Grandpa would take us to the store to pick up a case of beer, we'd also pick up a bag of Brach's candies, and we got to make the mix! Another treat would be going to the Dairy Queen. My cousins lived in Dubuque, just over the bridge and my cousin Tracy was close to my age so I always begged for her to come stay when I did. Of course we had our moments! Tracy will tell you the truth, we'd argue, I'd go in the bedroom and lock the door. I'd lay down and fall asleep and when I woke up the door would be open :) and all would be fine.
One of our favorite things to do was to go to happy hour at the marina. Grandma and grandpa would get a beer and we'd get soda. I think there was a bowl of peanuts or something. Looking back I'm not sure what made it so magical, except maybe feeling grown-up sitting at the bar with our grandparents.
Other times grandpa might take us to "the beach". It's funny to think of that little strip of beach now. Comparing it to the beaches here in Florida it seems so small, probably dirty. But, it was quiet. No one was ever there, no sunbathing or swimming on the shores of the Mississippi under the Dubuque/East Dubuque bridge, but we walked and picked up seashells. If we were good we might get to go downtown for a hotdog. Just so you know the population of East Dubuque is less than 2,000 and the "downtown" was about 2 blocks long. The hot dogs were decadent, I am not sure, but I think the name of the bar was Mullgrew's. I could be wrong about that. There was also a pharmacy, and an Okey-Dokey grocery store. It seems so foreign now as little kids we could walk the mile into town by ourselves. I remember when I was about 5 (this was one of my Dad's favorite stories) I asked my Dad if could go to the little corner store to get some gum. He said no. Well, determined as I was I took my little purse outside and put some pretty white decorative rocks from our yard and filled it up. I then walked the couple of blocks to the store and tried to buy gum with the rocks. One of the neighbor kids, older kids who babysat, was there, took pity on me and bought the gum. Man was I in trouble. It took an incredible amount of gum to confess who bought it for me. But the thing is even at 5 it wasn't a big deal to walk to the corner store or go across the street to the park, alone. Now.... wow, times have changed!