These last few weeks

It’s been a crazy week and few days and I’m sorry I haven’t written.  I have some blog posts ready to go but these last few weeks have been something else… I love cats and most recently (April 2016) adopted … Continue reading

The Journey

It all began with my dad.  It was June of 2009 and dad’s health had been going downhill for quite some time.  He didn’t have energy, was looking pale and, as a good stubborn German man, refused to go to the doctor and had been refusing for months.  I will never forget the Sunday that we had done a trip through the orchards and when mom and dad dropped me off, as usual, I invited them up to my condo which is on the second story.  Dad flat out said “no” because he didn’t have the energy.  I had gone over there a few days later and dad could hardly walk across the living room without stopping to gather his energy so he could keep going.  He had turned into an old, old man in front of our eyes.  My brother emailed me, asking if he needed to fly in from Washington state.  I told him no…but I honestly didn’t think dad was going to make it.  Later, he would tell us that he wasn’t sure he was going to live much longer.

A couple of weeks later I received a phone call while I was at work.  It was my mom and my dad had driven himself to the ER from his part time job at a golf course.  They had found a hernia and would have to do surgery.  When they did the pre surgery blood tests, he came back severely anemic and ordered an upper and lower GI to find out where they internal bleeding was.  Otherwise, why would you have such severe anemia?  The gastroenterologist did the tests and told mom that they biopsied a portion of his upper GI but he was pretty sure it was Celiac Disease.

What?

My mom is super resourceful so started doing research so when the test came back positive for Celiac Disease, she was ready to rock n roll.  Everything got put into a box and I was the proud recipient of TONS of food.  Mom started baking and cooking gluten free, dad was mad at the world.  Here he was, in his 60’s.  He was already a diabetic and had a thyroid condition…why this too?  No bread, no pasta, no beer…Father’s Day was right around the corner so I did my due diligence as his daughter and found gluten free beer.  It was no Bud Light but it worked!

We would later find out that all of these autoimmune diseases work hand in hand and when you have one, you are very likely to have another.

Mom’s research took her to find that if you have a relative with Celiac Disease, you have a 1 in 22 chance of having the disease too. A few months later I took a blood test and it  came back positive for Celiac Disease.  I spoke with my doctor and she told me that as long as I didn’t have the symptoms, to keep on living my life the way I was.  (BTW, this is NOT correct.  If you are diagnosed with Celiac Disease you must IMMEDIATELY start eating gluten free).

As time went on, I starting having symptoms.  I had always been anemic but now I was having intestinal issues.  I would eat and then head straight to the bathroom because it went through me so fast.  I would have severe cramps and would go home and just curl up on my couch, praying they would go away.  I was bloated and had no energy.

I finally decided it was time to go gluten free.  Should be easy, right?  My mom and dad had just gone through it and I was sure it would be easier for me.

I went through the purging process as well, taking food out of my pantry and donating it or giving to it friends.  I then headed to the grocery store, Vitamin Cottage, actually.  I will NEVER forget standing in the pasta aisle, looking at the mac and cheese and wondering which box of $5 mac and cheese was actually any good.  Which $6 pasta was any good.  I was overwhelmed and, before I could start crying, I bought a box of mac and cheese and went home.  It was overwhelming and I cried all the way home.  The mac and cheese sucked.  It was expensive so I ate it all and cried more.

The next day I put on my big girl panties and went to City Market.  I bought a few things because a girl’s gotta eat.  I asked mom for help.  I tried things and figured out which ones weren’t good, although I’d eat it anyway because GF food is EXPENSIVE.  Most breads were only good for toast, buns were hard, eating out was horrible and still can be bad.  It was FRUSTRATING.

But I’ve lived and I’ve figured out what is good, what isn’t, where is safe to eat, where make my tummy hurt and in this, I’ve found friends who are going through the same thing.  It’s so much easier when you have people who know exactly what you are going through.

And that’s my journey, so far.  I know there is more to do, this is my platform and there are many more people who feel alone in this world, or who haven’t been diagnosed with Celiac although they’ve been diagnosed with everything under the sun.  And the true cause is Celiac Disease.

I ask that if you know someone who has Celiac Disease and feels alone in the world, share this blog.  If you have a question for me, ask.  I’m here to help, I’m going on this journey for a reason.

Me and Dad at a Broncos vs. Bears game

Me and Dad at a Broncos vs. Bears game

Coming in like a Lion…

I’m having a hard time believing that March is nearly over.  It seems like the longest, fastest month ever.  I hope you know what that means and, if not, it doesn’t matter.  It’s how this month feels.

March came in like a lion with putting my baby cat, Punky, to sleep.  It’s honestly still hard to be at home, not as hard as it was the first few days but I still find myself looking over my shoulder to make sure she’s not behind me in the kitchen and I still can’t go into her room much, even though it’s technically my office.  All in time, right?

I’m finding that March has been a difficult month for so many of my friends.  From death of family members to hospitalization of family members to cancer treatments to illness to…it just seems like it’s never ending.  I feel for all of my friends that are hurting right now and I worry that I’m not emotionally able to meet their needs because I feel drained.  I want to be there for them and am trying hard.

I wonder, sometimes, why it all hits at once.  Why it seems like everything flows along so well with everything, everything, and then everything blows up.  I’m certain that God is trying to get our attention about something, trying to say “Hey, don’t forget that I’m here” because we often think we can handle things all by ourselves, we want control.

I’m very thoughtful tonight.  Through my run after work, I tried to just clear my mind and focus on my pace.  I was able to do that but found myself going through the list of people in my life who are hurting, who are right now just trying to make it day by day and work through emotions that I, most of the time, can’t even fathom.

So, I have a feeling that March came in like a lion and will leave like a lion as well.

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There’s no easy way to say good-bye

It’s been a long, emotional week.  Sunday was the day that I realized that I would have to say good-bye to my cat, Punky.

Punky is an 18 1/2 year old cat who has been diabetic for 6 1/2 years.  I kind of adopted her by accident.  Here’s the story:

In 1996, my parents took my brother off to college and my grandma was checking in on our cat at the time, Tuffy.  I lived an hour away and when grandma called me to tell me that Tuffy was listless, I told her to take him to the vet.  He died that night.

A month later I was in a pet shop, to get my cat fix, when a little black kitten caught my eye.  I adopted this kitty who was already named Allie.  Around the same time, Mom and Dad adopted Punky.  When I decided to move to Sioux Falls, SD to go to college, Mom and Dad adopted Allie for the time being.  When I moved to Colorado and got my own home, I took both cats with me.

Allie was always the “apple of my eye” but after Allie passed over six year ago, Punky became my protector, the one always by my side.

Punky always had been a cat that didn’t like people, Allie was the people-cat.  After Allie left this earth, Punky filled the void and started coming out of her shell.  Once she realized that people weren’t so scary after all and that she got attention, she became the “bell of the ball”.  Punky was always in the middle of the room, usually on her back waiting for someone to rub her belly.  Otherwise she was always on my lap, purring, looking at me adoringly, like I was the only human for her.  She would touch your face with her paw and then give kisses, both her ways of saying “I love you.”  She would greet me at the door, come when I called or whistled, would sit on command and would get upset on the weekends when I would open the door to her room and then crawl right back into bed.  She has the most loving personality that I’ve ever seen in a cat.  One that makes you realize what unconditional love feels like, should be like.

And tomorrow I will have to say good-bye.  In the past six months she’s had several bladder infections and UTI’s.  The last one has left her incontinent and she has kitty dementia.  The loving look she used to have is replaced with a blank look like she should know who I am but doesn’t.  She doesn’t have great balance, can’t find the litterbox and can’t hear most times when I call her.

This is the hardest decision I have ever made.  This is the part of life that makes me want to build my blanket fort, crawl into it and ignore the world.  This is the part of life where I have to think beyond what I want and think about what is best for Punky.  As my vet, and my friend asked, “would she want this quality of life?”  And I know she wouldn’t.  I know she doesn’t.

So I make the hard decision…and tonight I hold her tight for the last evening.

Punky

Punky

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

February is a fun month.  Last week was an amazing week.  I am a part of the Grand Junction Lions Club and we hold one fundraiser a year.  It is not only the biggest fundraiser among the community groups in Grand Junction, it is the biggest one time fundraiser in Lions Club International.  We are kinda a big deal.

We do a raffle (six-seven weeks of selling raffle tickets) and then do a parade and carnival to finish it off.  The carnival is old timey:  a quarter a paddle and you can win different things like soda, bacon and eggs, candy, flowers and so much more.  We have been doing this for 86 years and it’s a staple in the community and several generations of people have attended.  Each year there is a theme:  this year was Colorado Wild and we did it up right, on a boat!

Me and Shawna (as Katy Perry)

Me and Shawna (as Katy Perry)

"I'm on a boat" crew

“I’m on a boat” crew

Me as a mermaid

Me as a mermaid

 

Yup, we have a good time and do a lot to raise money for the community.  This year we have pledged to give $125,000 to 10 organizations in Grand Junction.  Not too shabby.

Not only was a carnival but it was 10 years since I arrived in Grand Junction.  I’ve never lived anywhere for 10 years so this is huge.  I felt like I was celebrating with my Lions family (although most of them had no idea, but I pretended it was all about me anyway).  It’s a huge accomplishment in my life.

And then there was the worst of times.  Sunday night my cat, Punky, was incontinent not once, but twice.  She is 18 1/2, has been a diabetic for over six years and I know that this is a red flag.  She had been incontinent about a month ago but wrote it off as sleeping really hard, not a big deal.  I should have paid more attention.  So, I took her to the vet on Monday and Dr. Aimee Johnson put her on an antibiotic immediately.  We got the test results back yesterday (bladder infection) but at her age, this is much more than just that.  The incontinence hasn’t gone away, she seems to have a feline dementia (yes, there is such a thing) and…she’s my fur baby.

I’m facing the truth that I may have to make one of the hardest decisions that I’ve ever had to make and that is putting her to sleep.  I have to start looking past my desire to have my fur baby with me and to look at what is best for her.  Whether I should let her live with not knowing who I am (I am starting to look into eyes that sometimes have no idea who I am) or letting her go before she doesn’t even know when or how to eat.  I have to look past my desire to not want to make a hard decision or make a decision that keeps her from pain and suffering.  I have to look past ME.  And this isn’t easy.  I have spent the past two nights crying, hugging her, letting her sleep on my lap and just wondering:  is it time.  I have spent the past two days at work talking to my co worker and boss (who have and are going through the same thing as me) and listening to their advice.  I am fortunate to have a boss that says “when it’s time, take a day”.

And I have a feeling that the day will come soon…and I don’t want to have to make a decision but she is a faithful animal, a kind soul and won’t go…unless I make that decision for her.  That is my gut feeling.

So I had an amazing week last week…and now face an adult decision.  I don’t want to be an adult in this decision.  I want to make a fort, hide and play dolls in it…and forget that hard decisions exist.

This is dedicated to the ones I love

There have been a lot of thoughts going through my mind the last two days. My brother found out that another of his friends took his life this week. My heart hurts for him as he’s had to deal with death so much in his life, almost always people around his age.

Something he wrote on Facebook got me thinking. First, we wear masks. I know a lot of times I “fake it til I make it”. We cover up the fact that we are going through trying times, put on a happy face and make it through the day only to collapse at home. It happens. But having people you can go to is a key.

Second, we need to tell people we love them. The worst feelings in the world are feeling lonely and unloved. Speak it, tell people you love them and show them by giving your time or a simple hug.

Last, be kind. This is one of my favorite sayings:

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Sometimes we speak and it comes out badly, we all have those moments. I know I’m guilty of that. But be kind, speak kindly and approach everyone as if it’s the worst day of their life. What’s the worst that could happen?

My thoughts and prayers are with everyone who had their lives touched by this gentleman. RIP.

Time marches on

15 years. Sounds like a long time, doesn’t it? It is and isn’t all at the same time.

I remember it so clearly. 15 years ago I was finishing up my last class at the University of Sioux Falls. I had just moved into an apartment off campus with two of my friends. Our phone had yet to be hooked up and it was before cell phones were in everyone’s pockets.

I headed to the campus, parked and went inside Jeschke Hall, where my art class was.  I was almost finished with college.  A great feeling!  Then I saw my pastor, Steve Miller, in the hallway.  Steve wasn’t typically at the campus, we had a weekly group that met at church but I was always happy to see him.  His face was grim as he delivered the news:  my cousin, Jay, had been killed in a car accident.

When news like that is delivered, it’s hard to take in.  You want to ask if the person is joking but you know they aren’t.  Jay was young, just 18.  It was his first year in college, he had a girlfriend and his adult life was just beginning.  He was a ornery guy, always playing jokes, always a smile on his face.    There were five cousins on our side at the time so we all were more like siblings than cousins.

All I could think was that I had to tell my brother.  My parents hadn’t been able to get a hold of him so I was the one who went to the campus radio station, where I was manager, picked up the phone and delivered the news.  Not news that you want to deliver to anyone, much less your brother.

So you go through the stages of grief and try to heal but there are still things that bring Jay to mind.  I took pictures of a senior guy a few years ago and he reminded me of Jay.  Frogs remind me of Jay (yes, there is a story there).  Hunting reminds me of Jay and his love of the outdoors.

And every year at this time I have a feeling of sadness wash over me as the anniversary approaches.  The thing that consoles me is that I have happy memories of our time on earth, fond memories of Christmases and family gatherings.  Most of all, I cherish the fact that someday I will see his mischievous grin again.

By the way, the photo below was taken at my high school graduation.  I am in the back with my brother, Scott, and our cousins (from L-R) are Sara, Lisa and Jay.  RIP Jay, you are always missed.

MyHSGrad002