A Happy Ending

Everyone loves a great happy ending, right?  Who likes to to be disappointed at the end of a movie? When I saw the first Lord of the Rings (and I hadn’t read the books), I was so disappointed. Gandalf the Grey was dead, the Dark Lord Sauron is gaining ground in recovering the Ring from Frodo, a huge battles ensues with orks against Merry, Pippin, Aragorn, Legalos, Glimli; Frodo & Sam continue on to destroy the Ring. Everything is a mess & I had no idea how it was going to get better. (Fortunately, I annoyed my brother & husband to tell me what happens in the next book). But I left the theater in December 2001 in great disappointment.  I wanted some kind of conclusion – any part of the story to be happy.

Most people are like that. And that’s where it’s hard for me in my daily life. I had a massive reconstruction on my heart, diagnosed with sever liver damage. Through many months of healing, some of my health has improved. My relationships in my family have improved, my relationship with God is much deeper (He’s the ONLY One who has been through everything with me every day & night). I can drive again. I can pick up Jack, I can take the kids to the park or out to eat. I have improved some of my health through healthy cooking & eating, meticulously watching my sodium intake, abstaining from unhealthy foods & limiting activity.

But there’s not a happy ending I can tell people. Right now, the health of my heart is good — taking account what they had to work with; it’s good – I didn’t say normal. I have serious side effects: dizzy spells, nosebleeds, palpitations, etc. The surgery saved & extended my life – but in no way did it make me “normal.”  The health of my liver is worsening. Severe damage, expecting it to deteriorate into cirrhosis or cancer.  Both cases lead to failure & needing transplants in the future. The combination is rare, and the procedures are deadly.

So what do I tell people when I have two terminal diseases? Pray for my daily health & struggles, I have a fantastic family, home, church & many blessings.  But there’s no happy ending to this story, on this earth. I will get much worse before I have a chance to get anywhere NEAR transplants. Much more deterioration, much more physical pain, and MUCH tougher surgery to pull through.  My only Hope is Christ alone.

 

An overlooked good health habit

Oral Health. Just pretty teeth? Nope. We always learned to brush our teeth twice daily. But…good oral health includes teeth, gums, tongue, jawbone and gums.  Brushing teeth, flossing, brushing your tongue & using a rinse are all important. If you don’t remove food particle, they can cause infection. Infection into your gums spreads directly into your bloodstream, landing ….that’s right – your heart! An infection in your heart can be treated, but easily results in death.

Scary? Yep….so take the few minutes every day to brush, floss, brush tongue, & rinse.

Meal Planning – Essential for Survival!

Everyone does meal planning differently – and if you don’t plan your family meals / shopping trips, you’re in for trouble for the week.

I used to shop according to what’s on sale, and that still is an element of how I shop. But the most essential aspect of how I shop after having two serious diseases, is by determining the nutritional needs of our family with variety & favorites added. I used to look online at the ads from BiLo, Publix, & Bloom. oh, ok, chicken is on sale, ground beef is on sale. We’ll eat whatever’s on sale, in season, etc. Many of my friends shopped that way, many stay at home moms do.

But what you NEED for your body is different than what’s on sale. And your quality of life is more important than most things.

I start with protein, we really do need to have fish once a week. We need source from chicken, eggs, beef, and turkey. Pork is going to be high fat, high sodium. NOT a need. With animal products, the healthier they are fed and their natural environment, the healthier our bodies are when we consume animal products. I’m sorry, but Walmart eggs are going to be more likely to be tainted with toxins than cage free eggs. I didn’t used to agree with this and was stopped by the price tags. But…think about it. Do you want to eat animals who carry hormones, toxins that can get into your body?

My second factor in shopping is produce – antioxidants, potassium, fiber, – things that keep you disease free. We need a variety, not just apples because they’re cheap or last long at home. Apples are good, BUT blueberries, pineapple, peaches, blackberries, potatoes, carrots, spinach, the list goes on.  And organic produce is much more nutritious and less dangerous to eat. I really wouldn’t want to eat bug spray, so why are pesticides ok?

Nothing good comes from traditional box or canned food. Lunchables, Chef Boy Ardee, Hamburger helper??? I have never fed my kids that stuff.  It’s not real food. It’s processed, chemical packed, sodium packed stuff that has no nutritional value.

So…I sit down twice a week. Once to make a weekly meal plan – Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Dessert (2-3 nights), and snacks.  all the meals, I also plan 1-2 side dishes. I ask Joel & Chloe for a request for a meal or something we have had to much of in the last couple of weeks. Joel & I need to have 10 minutes together to review his work schedule & what evening or lunch would be good for going out to eat. then I review the list in the middle of the week to see what changes we need to make, if we have leftovers, or changes.

A thorough plan saves time and money. You can eat organic IF you plan for it. And the prices at Whole Foods aren’t always higher.  Just like Walmart isn’t always the cheapest (especially after they remodeled!). think about your health needs – what’s in your family genetically handed down from grandma???

Don’t eat what’s convenient or cheapest … your body will know the difference.

 

Official Pre-Liver Transplant Patient

This week I am trying to schedule my next liver tapping appointment at the transplant center.  Although I have been there two times, the full weight of being a regular patient at the transplant center hasn’t hit me until this week. Pre-Liver Transplant patient. I never thought I’d get to this point. It sounds so serious, so final, so last resort. Forget Jillian’s “Last Chance Workout”…this is my last chance for a life on earth, being Joel’s wife, being Chloe’s & Jack’s mommy, being a daughter, sister, member of Emmanuel Bible Church. 

What to do? What to feel? What CAN I do? I can’t change the fact that I have such a serious & final disease. I can’t change the fact that my days are numbered, my liver isn’t regenerating as hoped. Every month I go to the transplant center to have my liver tapped, to relieve the blood vessels and liver of extra fluid. There’s a risk of bleeding out by hitting a blood vessel. We take that risk each month. 

The things I can do: follow the strict medicine & diet set up for me. Exercise 3-4 times a week.  Pray. And live each day to the fullest, keeping my relationships the best they can be.