Grace brings us face-to-face with aging as she relates her experiences, her memories, advice for surviving the aging process...with Grace. This is a place for humor, sharing, and learning as well as what I hope are some entertaining meanderings of my thoughts.

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Do You ROKU?

Are you still chained to your cable provider, paying higher fees than you'd like?  We certainly were!  Our cable TV bill was more than eighty dollars every month, and most of the programs were not fit for us to watch.  There is too much foul language, violence and a lot of not-so-funny sitcoms.

Have you heard the hype about the new devices that allow you to stream TV and movies to your computer or TV - there are several.  We decided to "test drive" the ROKU device after a couple of friends told us about them.  I researched the options, and finally decided to order the ROKU from Amazon.  This is not a review of the is just my story.  We tested it for a week before realizing it would do just fine.  We found more than plenty of movies and TV shows to watch.

There are many free channels, and some like Netflix, Amazon & Hulu Plus that one needs to subscribe to in order to have access.  We already had subscriptions to two of them, so we were off to a good start.  We found we can even get one local station for news!  Okay, we are happy campers now.

Before we knew it, we were hooked on Downton Abbey, a series that airs on PBS!  We watched all four seasons and are wondering how we can manage to wait months for season five!  We have found documentaries, and old TV series we love to absorb.

The most exciting part of ditching the cable TV is getting rid of the bill that we used to get monthly!  Don't you just love new technology?  I do, especially if it will save us some money.  What's new in your household?

Hugs, GraceinAZ (Pat)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Why I Have Been AWOL / My Journey Into Kidney Disease

My Kidney Disease Journey...or why I have been among the missing bloggers for so long!  

In November of 2012, my Primary Care Doctor told me my lab reports showed I had Chronic Kidney Disease.  I was shocked, scared, and totally clueless as to what this meant.  I was told “it is nothing to worry about.  Drink more water and watch your sodium.”  He gave me an order to see the local Kidney Specialist.  I did & she told me “it is nothing to worry about.  Drink more water and watch your sodium.”  My GFR (a number calculated using the Modification of Diet in Renal Disease Formula) was 36.  It should be greater than 60.  At this point I didn’t understand much about this disease and I let myself become complacent.  I didn’t change the way I did anything.  I told only a very few friends and no one in my family about this new development.

When February, 2014, I had my annual follow up with the local Kidney Specialist after having new lab work done.  My GFR was now at 43.  I thought this might be good news, but by now I had learned that kidney disease is a progressive disease – it cannot be cured or reversed, but it can be slowed by changing diet and being aware of Potassium, Phosphorus, Protein and Sodium levels.  So, what did the rise in number mean?  It wasn’t even explained to me.  She said she’d see me annually with annual lab work to monitor the situation.

I wasn’t pleased.  After reading books, articles online and visiting forums, I learned that it is all too common for doctors to not tell patients they have kidney disease until they reach Stage 4 or 5 and they are ready for dialysis or a kidney transplant. The doctors who do tell us we have the disease, do not always explain it or give it much concern.  This was discouraging news, because so many people and sources said you can postpone the inevitable dialysis with a proper diet for the Stage you are in.  I decided to be proactive, but my Kidney doctor wasn’t (it seemed to me) willing to be my partner in this.  She just tried to appease me, but didn’t explain much or offer suggestions.

In April, 2014, I scheduled an appointment with another Kidney Specialist, this one is in Tucson.  She turned out to be everything I was hoping for!  She was very detailed, easy to understand, discussed my labs with me, my symptoms, and addressed my questions and concerns. She explained why my GFR was up.   She told me what to eat more of, what foods to avoid, why I need to drink more water and what my guidelines should be for PPPS (Potassium, Phosphorus, Protein, Sodium).  She took a urine sample and with a lab right there in the office had immediate results.  They were not good, so I will see her again in two weeks (in Sierra Vista – she comes down here once a month) with new lab work and we will see if anything has changed and go from there.  I left her office really feeling encouraged for the first time in more than a year.

I also found a group on Facebook that is for people with kidney disease…all stages.  It is a sort of online support group and filled with friendly, eager-to-help folks who have learned things the hard way.  This, too, has been encouraging.

My kidney disease likely started or was exacerbated by having a CT scan with contrast (injectible dye).  I also have high blood pressure, which is another risk factor, as is my age.  It can also be caused by hereditary factors, or taking too many NSAIDS for long periods of time.

So, what is next?  I don’t know for sure.  I will adjust my diet and continue to learn what to eat and what not to eat.  I'll be shopping more at the local Farmer's Market for fresh fruits and veggies.  I will have lab work every 3-6 months to see how I am doing.  I will exercise more, de-stress my life, rest often – and make sure I am hydrated at all times.  I will advocate for this disease and for patients to be proactive and be involved with their Kidney Specialist and decisions for their own care.  I will keep insisting that family, friends & everyone get copies of their lab reports, learn what they mean, and ask questions if something is high or low – and to know if their GFR is 60 or less!  If doctors will not tell us, we must know enough about this to ask questions, so we can make changes sooner rather than later or not at all!

I will have this disease the rest of my life, which I hope is long and uneventful for many years!  If I move on to Stage 4 or 5, I will hope I have good support from family and friends and many prayers to get me though it all.  I am telling you all now so you will understand, that while I may look fine & say I am fine, I am not fine inside and I may need a little virtual hug or extra patience from you from time to time.  I am grieving the loss of the life I had.  I get frightened, I get mad, I get discouraged, I get depressed, yet I try to be positive, too.  Sounds crazy I suppose, but then, if you know me…you know I tend to laugh when I want to cry.  I know many of you know about dealing with invisible illnesses.  I don’t want pity & I think you know that.  I gladly accept prayers and moral support, though.

Thanks for taking a minute to ready this…I wanted you to know what’s been going on with me and to know why I am stepping back on some things now that I have the energy to concentrate on only a few things.  I now have proof that I am not Super Woman…not even close.  J

Hugs, GraceinAZ (Pat)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Lost Woman on My Bench!

Have you ever parked the car in the driveway, loaded up your arms with lunch from Subway or your favorite fast food place, waltzed into your entryway and - poof - found a stranger sitting there waiting for you?  Whew...that is a startling experience, I can tell you! 

There I was, face-to-face with a strange woman who was casually sitting on our bench, smoking a cigarette.  She ask me if Joseph (blank) lived here.  I told her no.  She asked again & I said I am sure.  She thought it was his house.  When I asked her if she would take her cigarette out of the entryway, she got up and walked off. 

After I unlocked the door and went in to put our lunch down, I opened the app on my phone for our security cameras.  I found she not only had been there for about 25 minutes, but she also lay face down on the rug there, and did something across from the bench.  When I went back out to check to see what she was doing, I found her box of cigarettes in a planter, her gloves in a red hat sculpture, and a sock behind a painted rock.  Nothing else was disturbed - except me, of course.

She had not rung the doorbell or knocked on the door.  HB (HoneyBunny) and our dog, Jacob who were home at the time, did not even know she was there!   So, what should I do?  After some thought and debating with myself, I did what any sane woman would do - I posted about it on facebook!  Oh, come would have done the same thing, right?
Several of my f/b friends thought I should call the police, even though I had stated that this woman was never threatening in any way.  But, I listened, and I called them.  An officer came out, reviewed our camera recording and we both wondered if this was just a homeless person.  He did not recognize her, but felt that her demeanor suggested this might be the case.  I decided not to file a trespass report, and we left her belongings where she had placed them thinking she might return for them. 

It turns out the neighbor kids, my Avon lady and another neighbor had all seen her sitting and/or lying on the sidewalk at the end of our culdesac.  A little later the officer came back followed by the woman's husband.  He collected her things, gave them to her husband and they left to continue searching for her.  I can only hope they found her and that she is safe at home with loved ones now.
Lesson learned...NEVER let my guard down and always check the entryway before getting out of the car!  That could have been someone meaning me harm!  How alert are you when you arrive home?
P.S.  After aggravating health issues that kept me away from blogging for so long, it feels great to be back here telling you my stories again!  Thanks to all who have sent me good wishes and prayers.  I am feeling better and will tell you more in another post!  I love you all, and thanks to each of you who have stuck with me through all of this!
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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Green Thumb Black Thumb

Arizona Springtime is here.  We are having days in the upper 70s and lower 80s and I am feeling that annual urge to plant things.  Oh, it has nothing to do with my ability as a gardener.  Nope...that would be a totally wrong assumption.  There was a time when my plants loved me and I played music for them and they prospered under my care.  There was even a time eons ago when I helped in the family garden growing up.   I weeded, harvested, cooked, baked and all was as it should be.

I'm not sure what happened or where I made a wrong turn, but nowadays I am pretty much a failure at growing things.  Flowers wilt and dry up.  Plants commit suicide.  Trees die.  Everything looks so nice when it is newly planted and I water it faithfully.  Then life interferes (that's my story anyway) and the downhill slide begins. 

Not being one to give up, this year I plan to give it all another try.  I want HB (HoneyBunny) to build me a pallet raised garden using the model above.  I will need to figure out how to raise it enough to keep my back happy and the dogs out, but  am sure it can be done.

Source: via Pat on Pinterest

Perhaps I will try this one, with storage and benches for resting my weary bones as I toil in the soil.  I am thinking lettuce, onions, carrots, and beans might be good to try.  Tomatoes, too, since we both love them.  Our compost bin is not ready for prime time yet, so we will buy compost and mulch and good potting soil for growing.  Also, high on my list of "needs" is a water faucet out back so we don't need to traipse back and forth to the front of the house to turn the hose on and off. 

Source: via Pat on Pinterest

Now, here is the ideal height for me, and easy to make.  I may see if HB likes this one better than the others.  Ahhh...the dreams I have.  How is it that I love to work in the yard, but my plantings survive quite by accident.  I'd absolutely love to have a cottage garden full of colorful flowers and shrubs.  Sigh...maybe one day, yes?

How does your garden grow?

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Comfort Food Memories

Lately I have been thinking a lot about the meals I had growing up.  We ate a lot of the same foods over and over...probably because money was hard to come by and we ate what was most affordable.  Tuna and noodles was a favorite.  Although my Dad was a meat and potatoes person, my Mom sneaked in some casseroles every once in a while.  It was simple...just tuna, noodles and a can of soup, but we loved it.

The most popular meal (if you asked us kids) would have been the Velveeta macaroni and cheese.  It was quick to fix and tasted just right!  I am guessing it fit the budget just right, too, as often as it seems we had it on the dinner table.  I thought Mom's tasted better than Kraft's and I'm sticking to that story!

The overall winner was Mom's fried chicken.  We raised chickens for many years, so it was our Sunday dinner every week.  She fried it in lots of Crisco Oil (amazing that none of us had clogged arteries!) and my favorite part was picking the crispy breading pieces out of the frying pan after the chicken was placed on the platter.  Yum...full of grease and oh-so-yummy! 

Just remembering these meals and our simple life makes me want to step into a time capsule and go back to those days.  Life was good and we didn't realized just how good until much later.

Do you have certain foods that bring back memories?
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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Have you ever noticed...I mean really taken a good look see at the folks sitting around you at church?   Not just your best church buddies that always sit nearby, but the others, who are a few rows in front of you or off to one side.  It can be utterly amazing to study the variety of people in one room.

There is Loud Lola, who seems to be auditioning for a place on the worship team.  She would be the one sitting either directly in front of me, or close behind.  I wondered if the ushers would ask her to please sing quieter, as she was quite a distraction, but they didn't.  At least not then.  She was only there a few times and I never have seen her again.

Another favorite is the snugly couple who frequently sits in front of us.  Apparently they don't have a chance to chat before church, so they catch up on the day's events after they sit down, heads together, whispering throughout the teaching.

The arm raisers are a study all by themselves.  Some don't raise their arms, just their hands.  Others cautiously lift their hands above their heads with their palms facing away.  Then, there are those who feel full of the Spirit and wave arms while dancing in place.  It's all good, but it fascinates me with the variety of the gestures.  Me?  I am of the one arm raised straight up group. 

Ours is a casual church, but sometimes the younger crowd gets a little bit more casual than common sense would dictate.  There will be jeans, shorts, and in between, pony tails, Mohawks, and shaved heads, and sunglasses on top of the heads, ball caps and such.  No one complains...this church originated in the 60's and welcomed surfers right off the beach, so clothing does not determine one's faith or lack thereof.  Young and old, casual and dressed up all fit together beautifully here.

From my regular seat...oh, yes, HB (HoneyBunny) and I are "those" folks who think we have to sit in the same place each time...I can see so many types of people and I marvel at how we all come together for the same purpose - to worship the same God - no matter our background, age, or what we look like.  Isn't life wonderful?

What do you notice about those who sit nearby?  Do you have any favorites?

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Has Spring Sprung?

Here in Arizona it appears that either Spring is here with gusto...or, we jumped right into Summer!  It has been in the 80's the last couple of days, with more in the forecast - even some places in the 90's. 

That's okay with me, however.  I am ready for warmer weather.  I love having windows open, and the dogs love lying in front of the door looking out to see if the neighborhood cats are trespassing.  Life is good.

Gardener is not exactly a term that one would use to describe me, but I do love working in the yard.  Now that I have some of my energy back, I have been doing a little raking and cleaning up in the backyard.  It's a meager effort that makes me feel good.  Baby steps...that's the key.  I'll do what I can and ask for help with what I can't.

It is time to put the outdoor plants back outside.  They've wintered in the house long enough.  Warmth and sunshine will bring them back to their ol' selves and my carpet will no longer be clothed with brown leaves.  I refer to this as the "greening of the entryway."  (chuckle)  A bit of nature to welcome guests.

There you have it - my to-do list for the next week or two.  How's the weather in your neck of the woods?  Are you puttering in your garden?

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