December 17th

Still here, still voiceless and still dealing with the lingering effects of the flu from hell. I am not that sick but my days revolve around inhalers, hot drinks, and trying to keep active enough to keep my lungs clear and as strong as possible. Not exactly the lifestyle that inspires read worthy blogs. On the bright side, I have hacked off a few pounds in the past month so – YAY ME!

Anyway, today is December 17th and that means it is a day that holds special meaning for me. It seems impossible, but it has been twenty-nine years today since my father passed away.

My father and I were always close. He was quiet and peaceful with a quirky sense of humor that never failed to amuse me. He was extremely intelligent with a keen interest in anything mechanical or technical. But mostly, he was just a really good man and a really good father. I was always fortunate to have him in my life, but especially so in the last five years of his. They were difficult years but I learned so much the value of dignity and compassion and strength and unwavering faith from my father in those years.

My father lived with sinus cancer for the last five years of his life. Cancer is merciless at the best of times, sinus cancer particularly so. It was heart wrenching to watch my father go through all that he dealt with. But it was inspiring and amazing to see how he never wavered. When there was virtually nothing physically left of him, he was stronger than most of us ever are.

During those last five years with Dad, my own life was on rocky ground. My first marriage, which had always been dysfunctional, had reached its breaking point. It was bad enough that my father, who seldom if ever told us what to do as adults, took me aside one day and told me that I had to get myself and my children out of that situation. I knew he was right.

Having seen someone you love suffer for five years, you think you are ready. On December 17th, 1993 – I wasn’t ready. I got the call from my mother and I was in shock that it was over. I fumbled through the motions and headed to their home two hours away to be with my mother until the rest of the family could join us.

The next morning, I went to the hospital to pick up my father’s personal effects. As I got out of the car, the cathedral bells were ringing out joyful Christmas carols. As I stepped into the hospital, I was surrounded by Christmas greenery, poinsettias, and glittery and glowing Christmas decorations. As I began climbing the stairs to Dad’s room, the carols suddenly stopped and the cathedral bells tolled out the sombre notes to mark my father’s passing. It was one of those moments in life that one never forgets. My soul shattered. It was over.

And with every step upward and forward, I began to heal. I made it through the arrangements, the wake, and the funeral. A few days later I went home to set up our Christmas tree, wrap presents, and finish the meal preparations – to provide the best Christmas that I could for my children. After Christmas, I focussed on wrapping up my marriage and moving on. In July, I took my children, my dog, and my plant and I moved us out. I was run down and starting off on a wish and a prayer but I knew we would be fine. And whenever I faltered, I knew that Dad was there with us. His faith and strength carried us through, as it always had.

Dad & I
Dad & my son Dan
Jennifer and I visiting Dad in early December 1993
RIP Dad & Mom. You will always both have a place in my heart and in my home. ๐Ÿ’ž

Week 39 – Medicinally Speaking

It has been 39 weeks since I started working out on a regular basis.   I am looking better, feeling better, and doing better than I have been for a long time.  ๐Ÿ˜

67 Years and counting. ๐Ÿ‘

Last week I had my semi-annual appointment with my respiratory specialist.   I have asthma, COPD, and bronchiectasis.  I have permanent lung damage from these conditions and from having a fully collapsed lung due to empyema ten years ago.  I use Advair and Spiriva inhalers daily and use a Ventolin rescue inhaler as needed.   Over the years, I have taken oral steroids (Prednisone), antibiotics, and a variety of inhalers – blue and green and orange and purple… Every color in the rainbow.

I have had recurring pneumonia and bronchitis and have been susceptible to every flu and cold bug that made its rounds.ย  Between the bouts of pneumonia, bronchitis, flu bugs, colds, and asthma attacks… I struggled to ever feel GOOD.ย ย 

In  February, I started working out on a daily basis.  I started with half an hour of dancing to hits from the 50’s – 60’s.  As I felt better, I turned to You Tube and started following a channel that posted dance/exercise classes for seniors.   By May, I was doing You Tube Zumba classes every morning.  By July, I was walking our dog 2-4 km  every day  and doing my Zumba lessons.  In September, I started lifting light weights every evening.  I am up to using 5 lb dumbbells now, plus doing Zumba, plus walking the dog (when weather permits).

And I am feeling good!  I am active! I am strong!   I am looking lean(er)  and fit! I am happy!   I have had one ‘bug’ which was come and go for a few days before it went away – with no need for antibiotics, oral steroids, or the like.

So…  Last week I went to see my respiratory specialist.   He checked my lungs, my blood pressure, my heart rate, my oxygen level.  He asked if I was experiencing any shortness of breath, how I was feeling, any current health concerns.  Everything was good!  I told him about my workouts and he said that was good.  ๐Ÿ˜Š

Then he renewed my inhaler prescriptions and offered to write me one for an antibiotic.  ๐Ÿคฆ WHY? In case I get a lung  infection – bronchitis, pneumonia or the like.    I declined and told him if I needed antibiotics, I would let him know, but I wasn’t anticipating any such need as I am doing great! 

His response was…. “That’s because you are taking your medication”

I have been taking ‘my medication’ for thirty years!  My medication may have kept me alive but it sure as hell didn’t make me feel great!   It didn’t make me healthy and strong and fit! 

Every time I have seen this specialist, I have asked for advice on what I could or should be doing to best manage my asthma, COPD, and bronchiectasis.  He could try this drug or that.  He could send me to a cardiologist or an ENT.  He could send me for scans or pulmonary function tests.  I would ask about exercise – specific exercises that he could recommend.  He would make a vague comment about any activity being helpful and remind me to take my medication. 

Ultimately, I started working out on my own and I found a workout program that worked for me.    I worked it for nine months – and his response to my phenomenal results was “That’s because you are taking your medication.”   ๐Ÿ˜ค๐Ÿคฏ๐Ÿคฌ

It doesn’t matter to me.  I take my inhalers to control my chronic lung  conditions and I do my workouts because I know that they are giving me the quality of life that I want and deserve.

But what about all the other people out there with asthma, COPD,ย  bronchiectasis, or other chronic lung conditions?ย  ย  It is hard to know what will help or hurt when one is already struggling just to breathe.ย ย ย  It is hard to push oneself when one isย  handed a simple fix in the guise of a pill or inhaler.ย ย  It is scary to get any diagnosis of a chronic incurable disease and to believe that it will only get worse.ย ย ย ย  It is just wrong thatย  peopleย  are not hearing what they need and deserveย  to hear from their respiratory specialists and that what they are hearing is only half the answer to living with chronic lung conditions.ย ย  ๐Ÿ˜ข

Molly and Sasha playdate – healthy, happy, and active! ๐Ÿ’ž

Take care and have a great day! ๐Ÿ’ž๐ŸŒž

Week 33 – Setbacks

It is thirty-three weeks since I started working on getting fit and healthy. Things have gone rather well, better than I had ever thought was possible – and with few set backs.

Back in May, I skipped a couple of days of workouts when we went to son Dan’s for the long weekend and my blood pressure rocketed. Once we returned home, it started to drop and has been getting better and more stable all the time. My husband had a bit of a cold/flu/virus thing this summer and I skipped right through that with nary a sneeze. ๐Ÿค—

However, this past Saturday I woke up feeling a bit rough and it only got worse throughout the day. By evening, I had no inclination to do my evening weights and after crawling into bed early, suffered through a miserable night. By Sunday morning, I was feeling somewhat better. I puttered around the house all day and for the first time since the beginning of July, I missed walking Molly. She seemed fairly understanding – at least until I tried to lie down on her spot on the sofa. Having a 70/80 pound dog walk back and forth over you and finally flop down on top of you, is not nearly as restful as it sounds. ๐Ÿ˜ง. I survived the rest of the day napless, got a good night’s sleep, and got up feeling even better this morning.

Molly was feeling something… ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

I got up, fed Molly, made myself a nutritious breakfast, did a sinkload of dishes that should have been done last night, took Molly for a walk, tried to meditate for an hour while Molly tried to sit on my lap, chew on my hands, lick my ears, and half sit on my lap while half standing on the floor while wagging her tail in my face. (That was difficult to ignore.). I persevered and then chased her out into the yard so I could complete a thirty-three minute You Tube Zumba class.

My final challenge of the day will be completing my weight lifts (3 Pound dumbbells) and moving up to 9 sets, 10 reps, of four different lifts. ๐Ÿ’ช

One of the most challenging aspects of working the last few years before I retired, was dealing with health issues. I was never ‘healthy’ and, more often that not, I was dealing with the effects of chronic health issues and catching every bug that came near me. Calling in sick was seldom an option, so I would generally suck it up. But, I really looked forward to the day that I was retired and would have the luxury of pulling a blanket over my head and just wallowing in misery when I got sick.

Now I am retired and in so much better shape since I started working out in February, that I… A I almost never get sick, B – When I do get sick, I recover so quickly and easily that I do not have time to wallow, C – Have learned that wallowing does not really speed up the healing process, and D – Have a dog that does not approve of wallowing. So that retirement dream has run its course! And honestly, I am so much happier feeling healthy and fit that I really don’t mind missing out on the wallowing in illness thing.

That is it for today. Another week of making health and fitness a priority and another week of looking forward to a retirement filled with happy, healthy, adventures with my husband and our Molly dog! ๐Ÿค—

Happy Thanksgiving to any Canadian readers. Take care and have a great day – to all! ๐Ÿ’ž๐ŸŒž

Autumn Gold At The Dog Park

Week 31 – Fitness Update

It has been thirty-one weeks since I started working on improving my health and getting fit. It is not so much a goal anymore, as a new lifestyle that I have embarked on.

When I started on this mission, I was sixty-six years old, exhausted, miserable, weak, cold, and overweight. I was struggling to breathe. My blood pressure was high and my pulse was faster than it should have been. Now, at sixty-seven years old, other than still having a few pounds to lose and some muscle toning to work on, I am doing pretty darn good. I am looking better, my numbers are better, and most important – I am feeling way BETTER.

There are only a couple of things to note this week – is that I have days when I really struggle! Mentally, physically, and/or emotionally, there are days when I am not up to the challenge. But… I have come SO far in seven months! There is NO turning back. I know there are amazing benefits to be had by pushing through and going forward and I know there will be negative consequences for slacking off – so forward it is. Even on the hard days. I have never regretted pushing through.

First – I have days when I really struggle! Mentally, physically, and/or emotionally, there are days when I am not up to the challenge. But… I have come SO far in seven months! There is NO turning back. I know there are amazing benefits to be had by pushing through and going forward and I know there will be negative consequences for slacking off – so forward it is. Even on the hard days.

Second – I have overcome most, if not all, of the excuses that kept me from doing this sooner. My biggest excuses were I did not feel well – that ended when I realized I was never going to feel better if I did not get pro-active and start working on getting ‘better’. I did not have enough room to work out – that ended when I started dancing and following Zumba lessons on You Tube. Activities that didn’t take much room! Finally, I overcame my Exercise doesn’t work excuse and developed an attitude of ‘find the exercise that does work for me AND do it… AND keep doing it!’

So thirty-one weeks down, and the rest of my life to go, and I am still on track! Yay me – especially the me that started this mission in mid February. The first step is the hardest, but the weak, sickly, flabby, cold, exhausted me took that step. Now, I am stepping out every morning with my Molly dog, doing my dance workout when we get home, and lifting (light) weights every evening. (Except on my rest day Sunday, when I just walk Molly) How cool is that? ๐Ÿ˜Š

On the path to health and wellbeing. ๐Ÿ’ž

That’s it for today! Take care and have a great day! ๐Ÿ’ž๐ŸŒž

Week 30 Fitness Update

It has been thirty weeks since I decided that I needed to get more active and serious about my health. I would never have believed that this fitness journey of mine would become such a priority in my life.

It is sad that those of us over a certain age, whatever age that is to us personally, often buy into the idea that fitness is for the young and that our health issues are irreversible and due to a natural aging process.

Some of my personal health issues are chronic and irreversible – a genetic collagen issue I was born with, asthma, COPD, and Bronchiectasis. But, the problems relative to these conditions have been mitigated immensely since I have been working out. And, there are countless other issues which I was led to believe we’re due to aging, that are no longer the issue that they were seven months ago. My heartrate and blood pressure are good, I have less fat and more muscle, my circulation is much better, my balance is better, my flexibility has improved, my mind is clearer, and my mood and attitude are far more positive. That is not to say that I will or want to live forever. But I have a better chance of dying with my boots on than languishing in a nursing home bed for decades so that’s good!

There are two things that I found super positive this week. First… I added one more set of lifts to my dumbbell exercises and I crushed it! I felt the muscles work, in the right way, but I pushed through every night without feeling that I was having to push past a safe and reasonable level. Second.. I started eating a serving of baked oatmeal every morning before walking Molly, and while my version wasn’t great, I ate it and it did wonders for my digestive health, bloating and the like. So yay! I did get a new recipes for Baked Apple Oatmeal from a WordPress friend and I have a Cinnamon Roll Baked Oatmeal recipe to try, so for sure I will keep this as part of my routine.

That is about all I have for this week! Life is good. Time to get outside and put some of this improved health and fitness to work cleaning up the yard and picking some tomatoes and peppers.

I was actually able to take one photo while I was out walking Molly yesterday. I don’t know what happened to this tree (it looked like beavers got it?) but the leaves were a beautiful cream color.

That is it for today. Take care and have a great day! ๐Ÿ’ž๐ŸŒž

Sixty Seven ๐ŸŽ‚

Today I turn sixty seven and I have to admit, I have never been so excited about growing older. ๐Ÿค—

Every year of my life has brought joy and sadness, love and loss, challenge and triumph. This year has been no exception, other than that the past five months have been exceptional when it comes to personal growth, wisdom, and understanding.

It all started so innocently and easily. I felt miserable and looked worse. Physically, mentally, emotionally – I had drifted to a really blah place. One day, enough was enough. I got off my butt, cranked up some tunes from the sixties and danced. I started to eat better and I found ways to improve my diet and fitness level.

  • In the past five months I have:
  • Gone from basic dancing to Zumba (aerobics to music) using free videos on You Tube
  • Mostly given up junk food snacks
  • Spent more time planning and preparing healthy meals
  • Started drinking six ounces of beet juice, and eating a couple of tablespoons of sauerkraut a day. I also eat about a quarter of cup of sunflower seeds a day – which I buy raw and airfry with olive oil, lemon juice and hot sauce.
  • Started to take cold showers in lieu of hot baths
  • Started walking my Pyrenees pup every day
  • Meditated daily for the first three months – not so much lately – but I have been spending a lot of time out and about, enjoying fresh air and the sights and sounds of nature.

Everything I have been doing takes minimal time out of my day, the cost is negligible, and the results have been amazing. Physically, mentally, and emotionally, I have never felt better or stronger. Surprisingly, shockingly actually is that the one change that I have made, that I enjoy the most, is the cold showers. I go from cool water to straight ice cold. The initial discomfort is NOTHING compared to how much better I feel after a cold shower. My dry, itchy skin is gone! Even on a cool day, I am warmer getting out of a cold shower than a hot bath (because the air is warmer than my skin), and I just feel good. One can never imagine a cold shower as being a good thing but it is a game changer. โ˜บ๏ธ

Now for the before and after….

July 2020 – Celebrating my birthday with Dan, Amanda & Family
July 2021 – Celebrating Dan & Amanda’s Wedding Reception 
July 2022 – Feeling better than ever and looking forward to turning 68 just so I can use this photo as another ‘before’ picture.

That’s it for another day – and another year. I have no idea what this next year has in store for me. It will probably be a mixed bag of challenges and blessings – BUT I am ready for both and everything in between. I am so glad that I took that first step five months ago. It is never too soon and never too late. ๐Ÿ‘

Take care and have a great day!๐Ÿ’ž

Sometimes it is hard to tell a challenge from a blessing. ๐Ÿ˜‚

Week 19

It has been nineteen weeks since I started my current, and most successful ever, fitness journey.

I have three things of note on my weekly update!  ๐Ÿค—

#One – My husband came home sick a couple of weeks ago.   I don’t know if it was a chest flu or what,  but he was miserable.   I did feel so bad for him BUT for the first time  since I met Dan twenty-five years ago, I did not catch whatever he had.   Not a single sniffle!   Dan is back on his feet and feeling much better, so I can be happy for him now, as well. ๐Ÿฅฐ

#Two – I am shedding noticeably less hair this week than I have been for the past couple of years.    I don’t know if it is because my health is better or because I started using Dove hair fall rescue shampoo, but YAY!

#Three – Molly and I have started daily walks! ๐ŸŒŸ

I am harnessed up and ready to go! (No idea why she looks so small.  She isn’t.)

On Saturday, we took a short walk around the block.  Molly did not appreciate the traffic, the people, and she was particularly taken aback by the other dog yards.  It did not go well.

Yesterday, I took Molly to the ball diamonds across the street and she did MUCH better.   By the time we returned home, she was walking beside me like a pro.

This morning, I decided we should go back to the ball diamonds to reinforce yesterday’s training. Molly did great until we got half way to the diamonds and a particularly raucous bird startled her.   ๐Ÿ™„ She had almost pulled herself together when there was a loud BANG.   It was probably a vehicle but it really sounded like a gunshot.  WELL, that did it for Molly!  She spun around and decided to hightail it home.  The good news is, I stayed on my feet and managed to hold onto her.  

When we got out of the park, Molly calmed right down and decided she was ready to go for a nice walk afterall.  We walked to the end of our street and turned onto Sherwood.  It was about 8 A.M. and Sherwood is pretty busy at the best of times.    Molly didn’t mind the cars, SUVs, and half-tons. Then she saw a semi. She came to a screeching halt and sat trembling as it went by. This was repeated when she saw the bus. When the garbage truck rattled by, I think she upped the drama queen routine by experiencing a short fainting spell. ๐Ÿ˜ž

We turned right on Elphinstone. The traffic was a bit less of an issue as there were vehicles parked along the side of street, between us and the semis, buses, and garbage trucks. Things were uneventful until we turned onto MacKinley. We met up with a few pedestrians and Molly wanted to be a little too friendly. I kept her in check and I was feeling pretty good about how well we were doing. Molly and me, walking down the street like pros!

Then, for probably the LAST time ever, Molly drifted right. I didn’t see her coming into my path and I stepped on her foot. Molly let out a high pitched YIPE and stopped dead in her tracks. I did not. I went head over tea kettle and did a totally imperfect faceplant. Fortunately, for me (not so much for her), I landed on top of Molly.

I scrambled to my feet (I can do that now, because I am in such good shape), Molly stumbled to hers, and we proceeded home – each on our own side of the sidewalk!

That is about it for week nineteen. I am still doing my Zumba workouts, drinking my beet juice, and eating my sauerkraut. I am looking forward to many more walks with Molly and can’t wait until we are ready to tackle some more challenging parks and hiking trails.

Take care and have a great day! ๐Ÿ’ž