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I really wanted to blog today, but I got busy, so here are some cats.

I meant to blog today – in fact, I have a blog post that’s in the works. Its word count is currently 1,999, and I’m only about halfway done. It’s almost a work of art – it has been painstaking work over the past week. I hope to have it published tomorrow.

So I was going to blog today, but then I walked into Alyssa’s room to check on her cleaning process, and BAM, that slight touch of OCD that I probably inherited from my father kicked in, and next thing you know four hours had gone by and my back was killing me (it still is), but her bedroom had been ripped apart, cleaned out, and put back together. We filled two trash bags with trash, and a third with clothing, hair accessories, and toys for donation.

I’ll leave you with a picture of three of the four cats we’re currently catsitting (the fourth is Gizmo, Freyja’s brother). That’s Mama aka Shyla in the back, with her boys Otis (fluffy tail) and Rebel (non-fluffy-tail). They’re eight months old and have been chowing down on kibbles, canned food, and treats since January, but that doesn’t stop them from nursing – and Mama doesn’t seem to mind, so whatevs. We just find it hilarious because they’re bigger than she is! They used to look like this!

Shyla, Otis, and Rebel

Shyla, Otis, and Rebel

Filed under General

Thinking Of Trying A New Diet? It’s Never Been Easier With These Tops Tips

Sometimes changing the way we eat can have a positive impact on our lives. Whether we choose to do it for health reasons or for how it can make us feel, it can be one of the best things we do. The type of diet you do depends on what you want and how you think. You may need to cut out certain things because they no longer agree with you. Things like dairy products, for example. Or you may choose not to eat meat anymore because of the welfare, and you feel passionate about how animals are treated.

Whatever your reasons are, you find yourself looking at changing your diet. But not knowing where to start. So I thought I would share with you some top tips to help you along the way.

spinach salad
photo credit: Pixabay

Consider the type of diet you want to do

The first thing you need to do is consider the diet you want to change to. Again this will be down to your reasoning behind the change. You could decide to embark on a healthy balanced diet, or go for something different like a plant based diet. The factors you have to consider is why you want to do it and how it will make you feel. You may also want to think about whether or not your family is getting involved in the diet change as well.

Research your options

Once you know the diet you wish to take, you then need to research your options. This might be where you can source ingredients to cook meals with, or recipes on different meals you can make. This is where perhaps going for a vegan diet might make you think that you will struggle. But this is where you are wrong. There are plenty of websites out there and even considering checking out YouTube user Hampton Creek would be a great place to start. You will find that these things are much easier to implement than you would initially believe.

woman typing on laptop keyboard
photo credit: Pexels

Think of ways you can keep to your new diet

Sometimes it’s never easy to keep track of your progress, or even stick to a new diet. Which is why you may need to consider some of the ways that will help encourage you to keep going. You may be a more creative type. Which then may encourage you to start a diary. You could even write an online blog documenting your progress. Many people would be interested to read another person’s experience. You could choose to document it on social media. Perhaps taking to Facebook or Twitter to keep a track on things. However you decide to do it, then now is the time to start documenting.

Set yourself small goals

Don’t be the type of person who expects things to change overnight. Especially if you are embarking on something that is more of a lifestyle choice. It’s too hard to keep any motivation and passion alive. Instead, consider making smaller goals that are more realistic. As you work your way through them, you will be more inclined to hit the next milestone. Making your journey much easier to complete and far more realistic to achieve.

Don’t be too hard on yourself

One thing you shouldn’t do is be too hard on yourself. We are our worst critics, unfortunately. Meaning sometimes you can’t control what goes on in your head. But try and keep positive. A positive thought process throughout will be the key to keeping things going. Negativity will only spur you down a path where you ultimately won’t achieve what you set out to do. It’s easier to change your thought process entirely. You can do this by making a point of turning every negative thought into a positive one. There are many articles online outlining how mindfulness and positive thinking can transform the way you live. Even how things play out.

family eating dinner
photo credit: Flickr

Encourage friends and family to get involved

It is always going to be harder to implement a new diet if it is just you that is doing it. Especially if you have to prepare separate meals for everyone else. This is why trying to get family and friends involved could be one of the greatest things you do. They may worry about sacrificing some of their favorite foods, which is why they may not want to completely convert. But trying old favorite family meals and changing them to coincide with your new diet could be your secret weapon. This means that everyone will be able to eat the same meal. Things like spaghetti bolognese have vegan and vegetarian versions. Just as you can make certain things like pizza gluten-free.

woman wearing baggy jeans
photo credit: Free Stock Photos

Make note of evident changes to your weight and appearance

If you are not up for documenting your progress though a diary or even online in a blog or on social media. It is still a great idea to make a note of weight and your appearance. A great way to do this would be to snap a picture on your phone and make a note of everything in there. This is so it is easily accessible and much easier to compare if things are changing for you. Even if you aren’t so keen on taking pictures, it is still worth while to make a note of your measurements and weight. You will be happy you did.

Have the motivation to stick with it

Finally, always try and keep the motivation to stick with your diet. It may seem like you are not getting anywhere at first, but things like this can take time. It’s very easy to become disheartened with progress. Perhaps it isn’t about losing weight and more about how you feel If you don’t feel those change instantly you may wonder what it is all for. But you will get there, just allow yourself the time to let this diet and lifestyle take affect.

I hope this has inspired you to consider a new diet and the tips help you make a success of it.

Filed under Articles

Figurines Make Excellent Gift Ideas

Whether you’re looking for a special gift to express your friendship, love or other sentiment, the Willow Tree collection offers something for just about any occasion. These beautiful figurines are designed by Susan Lordi and depict a variety of sentiments using just the right body language and enhancements. They offer an attractive tribute to some of life’s most cherished relationships and moments. You’ll find figurines designed especially for new mothers, a favorite sister or a special event in someone’s life. A store like Hallmark, offers these sentimental Demarco figurines as a way to touch the life of those around you in a way they’ll always cherish.

Why Willow Tree Figurines Make an Excellent Gift for Anyone

tree figurine Willow Tree figurines are available in a wide range of designs which ensures there is a sentiment that covers just about any occasion you’d like to remember. While these figurines are well crafted with a wonderful attention to detail that gives them a very distinguished and heartfelt look, these figurines are also extremely affordable, putting them in reach of just about any person’s budget. It’s easy to give someone a special keepsake item that they can cherish without having to break your budget.

Women often have a special bond with the people around them and Willow Tree allows you to express this bond in a wonderful figurine that can be cherished for years to come; however, figurines are not just for women. Celebrate a wedding anniversary, loving aunt or a lifelong friend with the sentiment of a figurine that they will be able to display and enjoy over and over again, for many years to come.

Find Something for Even the Hardest Person to Shop For

Most people have a least a few people on their gift list that seem to be almost impossible to shop for. Perhaps it’s that person who seems to have everything or maybe it’s that family member who is very discerning and their tastes typically exceed your budget. Fortunately, there is a beautiful and affordable figurine that will please any recipient.
Everyone likes to be remembered and knowing that you are special to others can be very heartwarming. That’s why a beautiful figurine can make such a dramatic impact on any recipient. When you want to send a special message, you’ll find a wonderful Willow Tree figurine that expresses your sentiments in a very touching way.

Filed under Articles

Why Ray-Bans Are Ideal for Enjoying Your Favourite Hobby

Finding the right sunglasses for your favourite hobby is important if you want to make the most of your leisure time. Bearing this in mind, there are some very good reasons for believing that a pair of Ray-Bans could be the ideal choice of accessory to make before heading out.

If you want to stay active but also look good at the same them then there is a lot to be said for using these iconic shades and letting them help you. So what are the top benefits that you can expect if you do this?

Ray-Ban sunglasses

Avoid the Glare
The most important reason for using good sunglasses is, of course, to stop the glare from causing you problems. If your hobby requires you to concentrate and pay attention then you will want to be able to avoid the glare of the sun. If you drive, fly or handle a boat then avoiding the glare is even more essential.

By using high quality Ray-Ban sunglasses you can ensure that even the strongest sun won’t cause you any problems. If you have used inferior shades in the past then you will definitely notice a difference when you upgrade to a better standard.

This can be an especially important point if you tend to be in the snow or near the water. In these cases, the reflection of the sun off the surface can be a huge problem if you don’t cover your eyes appropriately at all times.

See Better
Are your attempts to enjoy life outdoors often foiled by poor eyesight? Not being able to see the world around you perfectly is a huge disadvantage when carrying out your favourite hobby. Whether you are driving, playing golf, hiking or doing anything else, seeing perfectly is vital.

You might not realise that you can also get hold of Ray-Ban prescription glasses easily these days too. These models give you all of the famous style and coolness of the popular brand while also helping to correct your vision at the same time.

There is certainly no excuse for straining your eyes and trying desperately to see while you are outside now. Regardless of whether you go cycling, enjoy working in your garden or do anything else, you will note a positive difference in your performance once you can see perfectly again.

Protect Your Eyes
It is certainly not a good idea to use poor quality sunglasses while you enjoy your favourite outdoors hobby. Apart from the issues we have already looked at, there is also the possibility that a fall or other accident causes you serious problems. Even bits of flying sand or dirt getting into your eyes can cause you a lot more long-term problems than you might think.

This is because shoddy shades can break or fall off easily, which could turn out to be even worse than not protecting your eyes at all. By wearing strong and sturdy Ray-Ban sunglasses you can make sure that you are protecting your eyes as well as possible at all times.

You shouldn’t ever take any chances with the health and well-being of your eyes when you are outside and doing something that is potentially dangerous. By protecting them well with strong and well-made sunglasses such as Ray-Bans you will be making sure that you don’t leave them exposed to accidents or any other problems.

Look Amazing
As well as looking at the practical benefits, there is no denying that slipping on a pair of Ray-Bans is going to make you look a lot cooler as well. People have been wearing these classic accessories for decades and they never seem to lose their appeal.

There are few things to beat the feeling of going out to enjoy your leisure time knowing that you look fantastic. If you want to turn your activities into something that is a bit more glamorous and exciting then putting on a stylish pair of Ray-Bans remains a classic choice not to be ignored.

Once you realise that you can look amazing while enjoying your favourite pastimes, there is no reason to settle for second best from now on. Maybe this will give you a new boost of confidence when you get ready for getting out to enjoy your favourite activities.

From now on you can make the hobbies you love even more enjoyable by using terrific fashion accessories like Ray-Bans. There is no need to think that this is going to compromise your lifestyle, when in fact it could turn out to one of the best ways of helping you to improve it.

Filed under Articles

How am I doing?

Truth is, I’ve been battling a pretty debilitating bout of depression, topped with a heaping pile of anxiety, for over a year now. I’m struggling to find enjoyment in anything. Throw in the hospitalizations and the surgeries, and the result is I’m a hot mess, though I’d like to think I’ve done a pretty good job at hiding it. But as I’m working on my physical recovery, it’s become all too apparent that I also need to work on my mental recovery – I need to shake this depression, I need to tamp down the anxiety, and I need to get past the trauma of the surgery complications.

So I’m going to start by blogging. And what better way to jump right into it than to tell you all how I’m doing?

Let’s see. Today is July 10th. I came home from the hospital exactly one month ago. That was after a scheduled abdominal surgery that should have resulted in a 2-day hospital stay, but instead, due to a gastric leak (an uncommon but known complication of a vertical sleeve gastrectomy; in my case because I was having a revision from my 6.5 year old gastric bypass, that rate of complication jumped to 15%), I was in the hospital for 18 days. During that time I dealt with:

I don’t remember much about coming home from the hospital, other than having the brilliant idea of not telling Dan I was being discharged so that I could surprise him. That kind of backfired because the house was a mess and the bed wasn’t made, so when my mom dragged me in (I was so weak she had to practically carry me), everyone had to scramble to clear a path and get the bed made. I was dumped in the tub for a shower, which I was all too happy to have, though Dan had to help me. Then I was tucked into bed, and apparently a home nurse arrived not long after to show Dan and my mom how to administer tube feedings, hook up antibiotic bags to my midline IV pump, and clean my abdominal drain. I was pretty much asleep at that point.

And that’s really all I did for the first two weeks I was home: sleep. I begged my mom to stay with me that first week; she had been with me for 16 of the 18 days I was in the hospital. And bless her, she did. Despite just spending 16 straight days in a hospital with me, during which time she slept right next to my bed and took care of me around the clock (including assistance with toileting and bathing – that’s how sick and weak I was), without hesitation she said yes and spent at least a week (my recollection is a bit fuzzy) at our house with me. Dan slept on the couch so she could sleep beside me (my request). I remember doing a lot of sleeping, being woken up by the IV pump when it was time to switch out/end a tube feed, and watching a lot of Grey’s Anatomy (I made it through the first two seasons while in the hospital, and the other 10 once I was home #dontjudgeme).

* * *

My midline IV fell out six days after I got home, and I ignored the home nurse’s orders to go to the ER to have it replaced. At that point I had been on multiple antibiotics for 3+ weeks; instead I monitored my temperature and abdominal drain output, and agreed to go to the ER only if I spiked a fever or had some other symptom indicating that I wasn’t doing well without the antibiotics. Well, no fever ever occurred, my drain’s daily output continued to go down until it was just 10-15ccs per day, and I otherwise felt fine aside from healing pain, drain pain, and residual splenic infarction pain (that is still persisting).

On June 23rd, exactly one month after surgery, I had a post-op appointment with my bariatric surgeon. But first, I had a barium swallow test to confirm that the gastric leak had healed. Despite having the NJ tube and having a once-daily, 12-hour feeding, I was allowed to have small amounts of water, and I may or may not have sneaked in teensy bites of very soft cheeses just to have something. I was always very careful to have tiny bites, chew them well, and pay close attention to my body for any signs of problems – pain, increased drain output, fever. Quantity-wise, when I say tiny, I mean tiny: over the course of the two weeks I had the NJ tube, I probably had maybe a grand total of four ounces worth of soft cheeses.

Despite this, my anxiety had me convinced that the barium swallow test would reveal a leak, and I’d be stuck with an NJ tube or even need an upgrade to a PEG tube for months. You see, I had been busy doing what they always tell you not to do: Googling symptoms and looking up the experiences other post-ops have had with VSG leaks. Pro tip: DON’T DO THIS.

I was such a wreck I bawled during the test. The doctor broke protocol and showed me all of the images, and also assured me six ways from Sunday that I didn’t have a leak. And when I met with my surgeon a half an hour later (many thanks to Alyssa for pushing my wheelchair from one end of the hospital to another), the first thing she said when she came in the room was, “which tube do you want removed first?”

For those who may ultimately find this post via Googling, the removal of an NJ tube is uncomfortable, but not painful nor gag-inducing. The only sensation I noticed was a rubbing/burning in my sinuses. As for the accordion tube removal, once my surgeon cut the sutures holding it in place, it all but fell out – the last inch she pulled out hurt a bit, and the area was very sore and tender for the next few days, but other than that, it wasn’t bad, either. The JP drain I had last summer hurt a hell of a lot more to come out than the accordion drain did.

Since the 23rd I’ve been on a slow progression of food: a week of clears, then a week of creamy/thick soups and the like, and now I’m onto soft foods. I’m not supposed to try chicken or fish until next week, but I slipped and tried it a couple of days ago. Twice, actually. The first time it came back up. The second time was a success. I’ve had days where everything I try stays down. Then I have days where everything comes up. Other days some stuff stays and some stuff comes up. When the NJ tube was still in I had random bouts of nausea and dry-heaving as well. At this point I’m chalking it up to the healing process and my body not knowing what the fuck happened to it.

Weight-wise, I lost just about 30 pounds between May 23rd and June 10th. When I got home I weighed in at 144.2 pounds, clothes and midline IV pump included. That was four weeks ago. Now, despite adding milk, high-fat cheeses, and even fudge to my diet, I can’t get the scale to budge past 148 pounds. I’m so used to weight coming on if I’m not vigilant that I’m shocked and a bit worried that I can’t get it back on so quickly this time. My clavicles, shoulder bones/blades, ribs, and hip bones are all so disgustingly prominent. My clothes are hanging off of me. I have no ass – in fact, it hurts to sit because I no longer have any ass padding. No lie. I have a thigh gap. I’m gaunt and angular and hollow, and it just goes to further emphasize how sick I was and how weak I still am. And underweight, to top it all off. Considering I have probably a good 20 pounds worth of loose skin hanging off my body, and I’m 5’7”, I’m most definitely underweight. I never thought I’d say this, but I look forward to being able to put on another 10 to 15 pounds. 20, ideally.

* * *

Mentally, I’m not the anxious, weepy mess I was for the first few weeks. Now I’m working hard at getting to a positive place and staying there. I know just how lucky I am, and while coming close to dying (no joke; things were that bad) has been hard on my mind and I’m still struggling to get past that, I logically know I’m healing and am healthy. I’m going to do my best to continue pulling myself together. Not only do I need me, but Dan, Alyssa, and Ryan need me.