• Tuesday, 9 June 2004

Dog walks, AC & home improvements…

The gray skies, muggy weather, and threats of rain made me move faster.  I was eager to be done with the morning walk and return to the comforts of home: air conditioning and a cup of coffee top the list at this time of day.  Miss Zoë trotted along at a good pace and was not prone to linger either.  I am ensconced in my chair under the ceiling fan in the TV room and Miss Z has heaved a doggie sigh and is snoozing on the loft behind me, dreaming doggie dreams no doubt. 


This week our snow princess claimed the loft that Mark built in the TV room several weeks ago.  This unique furniture item spans one wall of the room and is comprised of a desk (for sewing), three bookshelves, a sleeping/lounging platform with storage underneath and a staircase to make access easier to the top. 


Early the other morning I headed down the hall past the TV room and caught a glimpse of Miss Zoë curled up in a deep sleep on the loft platform.  Since then she has adopted it as her space and casually ascends and descends at will now.


When this wolf-like creature stands up on the platform, stretches her trim body and stands regally surveying the room with her steely blue eyes, it is a bit disconcerting, maybe even a bit threatening, to those of us seated below!  I momentarily flash back to novels such as Call of the Wild.  I half expect her to throw back her head, howl like a wolf and then leap off the platform to attack.  I feel as though I have a wild animal in my presence.  I wonder if she has similar thoughts. 


Miss Zoë has decided to work out a bit too, or so it seems.  Last night Miss Zoë discovered my small weights, which actually do resemble a high tech bone of some sort.  I use these 3 and 5 pound barbells to do a series of repetitions when I watch TV. 


Usually the weights live on the windowsill where they are out of the way, yet easily available for me to use should the spirit move me.   Yesterday I left them on the floor near the dog’s bed.  Later I looked up to see my Siberian headed toward the hallway with a purple barbell in her mouth!  Maybe she felt the need to do a little toning.


  • Friday, 4 June 2004

Remembering Dad, dealing with diabetes & losing all my files…


Today is the anniversary of my father’s birth.  I think of him often these days. Memorial Day and the 60th anniversary of D-Day in particular make me think of him.   


Memorial Day always belonged to Dad.  He took so much pleasure in orchestrating the color guard and taking care of various functions pertaining to the days events in Le Mars.  There was always a wonderful parade followed by ceremonies at the cemeteries and in later years the drama of the Avenue of Flags on the courthouse lawn. 


Dad was a WWII veteran and was instrumental in establishing the Army National Guard in town so he had many roles to play in coordinating the events.  


This year, in Washington DC, a memorial to veterans of WWII was dedicated.  Viewing the photographs and news coverage made me pause and think about how Dad would have felt.  President Bush is in Italy today.  He is making his way through Europe commemorating D-Day at various functions. 


I cannot think of my father’s birthday without remembering his delight when it looked like his granddaughter Moriah would actually share the same birthday.  Moriah started her arrival preparations in the late afternoon on a hot, sunny Sunday in the kitchen at my parent’s home in Le Mars. 


Mark was home on leave from Alaska so the family gathered to celebrate his arrival and Dad’s birthday.  The family was in the dining room, sipping iced tea, talking, laughing and playing cards (or Scrabble). 


It was Dad’s birthday so there must have been cake and ice cream earlier but what I remember is standing at the kitchen counter scooping melon balls from a ripe, red, juicy watermelon.  I gradually realized the initial stages of labor and by six PM I was on my way to Floyd Valley Hospital to deliver our beautiful baby girl.  She held out for her own birthday though – she did not arrive until sometime after midnight. 


I recently found of wonderful photograph of Dad holding Moriah in his arms.  It is a black and white image of a happy grandfather gazing proudly at his cherished grandchild.  It captured a moment to remember.  I mailed that photo to my daughter so she can see in his eyes the love he had for her, right from the start. 


This has been a challenging week.  Mark’s diabetes diagnosis will no doubt delay our Peace Corps timeline and most likely will restrict our assignment opportunities.  I am eager to move forward, but there is no way to expedite the treatment.  We will not have any definitive answers on these things for quite some time so we get to practice living with ambiguity.  The positive take on that is that I have the opportunity to practice living in the present…Zen….  


The doctor’s appointment was anticlimactic since we merely listened as the doctor reviewed Mark’s lab results indicating diabetes blood sugar levels in excess of three times normal!).  He indicated that a nutritionist and diabetics educator would contact us soon.  He also advised Mark to lose about 40 pounds immediately. 


Mark lost about 30 pounds last year and was surprised to learn that he was still considered “obese” on body mass indicator charts.  Diet and exercise for now.  Once he reaches the target weight he may be placed on medication, if necessary. 


The doctor told us about his own life style changes.  He lost about 40 pounds himself by reducing portion sizes.  I was surprised when he shared examples of his daily menu: Breakfast was an English muffin with margarine and a bit of marmalade; juice, and three times a week, a boiled egg.  He lunches on a small packet of crackers and a diet cola.  Dinner is a small serving of rice or potatoes, 4 ounces of skinless, broiled chicken, and lots of veggies.  No deserts.  No snacks. 


He may be at the proper weight, but his lunch choices don’t conform to most of the advice one hears! 


The bigger challenge I am facing this week is the loss of all my computer files.  I am filled with some anger, but there is no where to direct it.  I am grieving the loss of so many meaningful items: all my journal entries, my writing, stored letters from family and friends, photographs, collections of data for various projects…all gone.  I am having a hard time letting go of this melancholy…


I am grateful for friends and family who have e-mailed notes and called me to talk about this.  I am taking it hard and I almost feel like I am choosing to take it hard.  I am sure this is tied in with some delayed grief about other losses and changes in my life (job changes, deaths, moves, Mark’s health…) and I guess there are some control issues too.


 I feel as though a person has died and I am at a loss as to where to direct my feelings… I am generally resilient.  I will be fine, but what if I’m not?  I am soooo tired.   


PS (This is extracted from an e-mail to family)

Mark's lab results indicate his blood sugar is three times normal levels and other indicators support a diagnosis of diabetes, type II.  Mark's not really ready to share this yet, (but he has spoken to Moriah and I have spoken to my sister and a couple friends....   He/We haven't met with the nutritionist or educators yet, but the doctor said Mark needs to lose about 40 pounds.  The first step is to manage things through diet and exercise.  Of course Russ ad Kent both have diabetes so it should not have been such a surprise, but it was.  In retrospect though there were clues I guess.


The doctor left the diagnosis on our answering machine on the Friday before Memorial Day so we could not speak to anyone at the hospital to determine what the ramifications were...sigh....We did see the doctor on Thursday, but he really only went over test results.  The nutritionist will call us...We go to Augusta (70 miles) for medical adventures so it is not convenient.  I hope we can get a local nutritionist and educator, though they may be more professional at the Army medical center - people in Greenwood are pretty casual about protocols.


Mark's doing OK with the idea actually.  He immediately eliminated sugar from his diet (which takes some vigilance) and is reading labels to determine carbohydrate exchanges, etc.  He also tuned up his bike and we rode a few times.  He's riding it to work now.  We also stepped up the dog walk pace a notch.  He is monitoring serving sizes and using information from websites run by diabetic professionals. 


We'll see the doctor again Thursday to resume our Peace Corps physicals...This should only delay our opportunity and may limit where we can serve.  We can't submit the medical package until we have our dental stuff done too. 


This month I have four appointments and I also have to get my TB test and of course if the doctor finds anything on Thursday, I may have additional visits.  After we submit our packages the timeline continues to drag (partly because we told them we are not available till after December and they handle processing based on potential shipping dates) with a wait of 3-10 weeks.  Sooooo...


Eliminating sugar seems to agree with Mark - he's sleeping through the night really well...I'm in the game too...


So, the dance with diabetes begins...if we actually start dancing, maybe we can slow the monster down!           


  • Tuesday, 1 June 2004

The diabetes scare


The start of a new month and a new week…Yes it is Tuesday, but yesterday was Memorial Day.  I feel energized in many ways and also frustrated.  It seems like everything has become work. Mark reformatted my computer so of course things are missing, programs have changed, etc.  There is some frustration associated with that.   The small annoyances and delays take a toll when they reach a cumulative level.


Today the to-do list dominates my thoughts.  Actually Mark’s news keeps surfacing in my mind.  I made an appointment for Mark for Thursday at 2:15.  The lab work last week showed blood sugar levels at triple the normal amount so now he is facing Type II Diabetes. 


A few years ago a teacher at Emerald died of complications with diabetes following a dental appointment.  He died over the Christmas holidays and was not discovered until school resumed and he was not there to teach classes.  It appears, he had gone home from the dentist’s office, crawled into bed and never woke up.  


I am distancing myself from this topic I guess.  I am concerned and saddened, but not ready to put down on paper what is on my mind. 


Tasks to accomplish: mail Moriah’s birthday box, call Wal-Mart about empty boxes (for packing), call Charleston Passenger Terminal for flight schedules (HOP to Reno in July), wash and hang laundry, clean refrigerator, sort and organize Vogel’s photos…nope…I seem incapable of even making a good list today…No writing…just do.