Monday, December 27, 2010

Fructose Malabsorption?

Glancing back through previous posts, I'm always amazed how quickly time passes - though it seems like the last three months have been the longest I've experienced in a while.

My 12-year-old got sick the last week in September, stomach/intestinal problems mostly, but unusual and ongoing enough that we sought medical care right away, followed by some significant testing. It took nine weeks, but finally a diagnosis was reached of "fructose malabsorption."

It appears that for the past two years, while we've been treating her as if she's had acid reflux, truly she was working up to what will go down in history (for me at least) as an exercise in over-parenting. :-)  Of course, I'm really kidding, but it does kind of feel like that. At the onset of sickness we (myself and the doctor) were concerned with dehydration (she was losing fluids at a fast rate) and so we treated her with the obvious regimen: gatorade, popsicles, fruit juices. This, along with a BRAT diet. Nothing seemed to work and she just got worse. After many blood tests, x-rays, a gallbladder refraction, endoscopy and colonoscopy, we finally did the FM test - thankfully a diagnosis! But not before I had spent nine weeks filling her with every sugar I could! I feel so badly now, though I know it couldn't be helped. I had never heard of FM and was actually operating on the doctor's advice. I am, though, very excited that this diagnosis only means a dietary change.

Unfortunately, the dietary changes means just 1-2 servings of sugar (or any derivation thereof) a day. While that doesn't sound dramatic, it actually is. There is sugar in everything, in some form or other. Specifically, if you don't see sugar in the list of ingredients, look for sorbitol, HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), xinnitol, etc. It's going to take a while for us to work out the specifics of this diet, but right now we're on a basic meat and potato regimen, with some extras. Luckily my other daughter works at an organic food store and she has great information for us! We've had a couple of slip-ups (including the sugar-free gum someone gave her that's main ingredient was sorbitol - that made her sick for 2-1/2 days), but her attitude and health are so much better, I'm feeling very optimistic.

So for my Christmas post, while it seems an unlikely one, I want to encourage you all to start reading the list of ingredients on everything you eat. If you don't recognize an ingredient, look it up! There's a reason the great country of America is becoming more and more obese at an alarming rate, and it's right there in black and white on your box of cereal or your loaf of bread or your potato chip bag: SUGAR, people, it's in there. Check it out and take a stand; it's time for us all to get healthy and get back to basics. Just say NO to HFCS (high fructose corn syrup)! :-)

Friday, October 1, 2010

A trainful of friends...

I have great friends. Very close friends, not as close friends, wonderful acquaintances, work friends, school friends, parents of other kids friends, friends who work in the same field as me, past work friends, and friends who I can't even remember how we became friends; all just amazing friends.

Our local fair just came and went. It was there, at the fair, that I experienced this latest overwhelming epiphany. I have great, wonderful, amazing friends. And the having of these friends is what makes my life full, completely, almost to bursting. The kind of full I have felt recently when holding my first grandchild for the first time, the "I don't deserve this much happiness and goodness, but I'm so thankful for it" kind of full.

Three is usually the minimum amount of times I go to the fair: once to work, once for my daughter to ride the rides, and once to just take it all in. If I can fit in more, I do, but three is usually my minimum.

My trips to the fair this year included the more-than-normal amount of running into friends. A number of them were ones I haven't seen in 15 to 20 years. It was a beautiful thing to reach back in time and hug these people again. And in doing so, to realize that, though my journey has been long, there have been other people on their own journey, too, in a kind of parallel universe, all happening at the same time, in the same kind of order, all of us giving birth, raising toddlers, working through the middle school pains, into the graduation years and, most recently, the reinvention of ourselves as grandparents.

The cycle of life, we all have our ticket and have gotten on board and, though we may be on a different track, most of the trains are going in a very similar direction. There's no turning back, but our train does now obviously seem to be on a circular bent - quite surprising! Just like the earth circles the sun once a year, my train has made a wide loop around its original, more tight path so that now, from a distance, I can see back to the significant events in my story that directly relate to the happenings in my children's lives: Childhood, friendships, graduation, choices in dating, career paths, marriage, children.

What does it say that the last in the series, children, is the first one to hit me so smack dab in the middle of my forehead and wake me up to what's been going on around me this whole time? :-)

This, now, I know, is what our parents experienced, and their parents before them. And, in time, 25-30 years from now, what our children will realize, too. Life. A returning of all things to the cycle. Get on the train or just watch as the trains depart, but the trains are leaving all the time and to really fully experience the journey you have to get on board.

My friends, then, have been passengers with me on this wonderful, ever-evolving train ride. There have been stops along the way, some get on, some get off, but my train seems to be specifically mine and I seem to have become the conductor. I, alone, determine the track and its direction. I don't, however, determine all of the passengers! Serendipity, really, plays a part. And to be completely honest, I do believe at times I have let Serendipity be the conductor. :-)

I love my friends, I love my journey, I love my family, I love my life.

Half of a century it's taken me to be able to embrace all the pieces and understand their meaning; I hope that I will be fortunate and have close to another half of a century to share in the train rides of my friends and family, and *this time* to be more cognizant of the ride and my role in it. To be more of a participant and to give to each of my riders what they have given to me: The ride of a lifetime! A chance to let go completely and feel the joy that is the ride!

I love my life.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Goodness, it's amazing how time flies! I've been away too long, so much has gone on, it's hard to know just exactly what to write about. I jest really - there's nothing I want to write about more than my new grandchild.

Beautiful. Though I've tried to describe her in so many ways, it really does just come back to one single word: beautiful. Beautiful fingers, beautiful toes, beautiful eyes, a beautiful bend to her knee, simple, tiny little beautiful fingernails, completely and utterly new baby skin with not a single flaw. Beautiful in just every way.

Having had four children of my own, I thought I knew - or had a clue anyway - what being a grandparent might be about. I was prepared for this more than most, I thought. I really probably considered myself something of an expert on children and the asundry items that accompany them.

But no, it was untrue! The first time I held this new being it hit me like a wall of bricks, that she, too, is a part of this family unit, that there's a part of me in her just as surely as there's parts of me in my children, that her life will now be a reflection back to her parents' lives, that my son lives through her, around her, with her, and that I was really only right about one thing. That being a grandmother is a great, wonderful warm gift. It's a gift that your children give to you almost unintentionally, just as a part of the intricate scheme of their own lives, happenstance almost. As a part of their building a life together, creating a family of their own, they have children. And the having of children brings to their own parents the most unbelievable second chance at living again through the eyes of a child. A truly special present, one that should be given the utmost attention, handled carefully, and never kept on a shelf.

My granddaughter just recently celebrated being five months old. In that time she has grown already so much, from a newborn unable to focus on a face, entirely dependent upon the goodness of her mother and those caring for her, to an exuberant personality bubbling at her own seams. She smiles always. She has few bad moments - much like her father was, she is easy to decipher, most times it's obvious what her immediate need is. An easy, happy baby, her mother loves her completely and almost to fault, as do we all. Already it's clear she will have the clear strong blue eyes of her mom and those eyes seem to bring you in, all the way from across the room.

A stroke of luck for me, I have a daughter-in-law who seems to understand my need to hold the child. :-) Just teasing really, but I only have to walk in the room and she hands her over. What a joy! I've babysat a few times, but this weekend I'm scheduled to have her overnight for the first time. I don't believe I'll sleep! I expect to just watch her sleep all night, as she's been doing for months now. There is the remote possibility that her teething will keep her up - in which case we'll be awake together! I better get a rocking chair...

And a personal note: Thank you, Meri, for your kind words. It helps to write, but is even more helpful to know that someone is listening. You are yourself an inspiration - I'm not sure how you keep it up! I love your photos and musings... Since I'm not sure if my reply to your earlier comment will get back to you, I'm also trying this method. Hopefully you'll catch this post and go back and see my comment. :-)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

New life on its way!

Less than four weeks to go. It's a fact impending, though not certain. First babies can be early, can be late, but rarely are they exactly on time. :-)

Not that it matters; I will be here waiting, listening, caring, working. I will be here. Very little seems important now except this. Waiting for my first grandchild to arrive is carrying more concern with it than I remember with my own. Obviously that can't be true, but I do believe the uncertainty of this future is greater, as I will only be on the periphery. This life will be dependent upon my offspring and his spouse. For a person who likes to maintain control in all areas, what a tough prospect!

They are good, they are concerned, they will love this child with their entire beings. All will be well - all will be wonderful.

Grandparenthood: It's supposed to be wonderful, being able to spend time and then hand them back in time for baths, burping, bad times. There's an edge to the world right now, like I can't get a deep breath. I'm hovering on the edge of the next generation and not clear where the edge really is. All while I listen to Karen Carpenter's silky voice softly singing in the background. Raising children is really best done by the young; the old get lost in their memories.

What's the saying about seasons? To everything there is a season - and the birth of this child will knock me perceptibly into the fall of my life. Maybe I'm already there, but I've been unaware. It's all around me and yet I don't see it. But I am not alone here, there are others living in this season, too, thinking they're in another. It helps us to continue. We're not really delusional, but while deluding ourselves to some degree; not purposefully.

I love that I am here, I truly do. I can't wait to be called "grandma" or "nana" or whatever works best for this wonderful new person who will only be a quarter of me. And then not necessarily a whole quarter, more like a part of a half.

I must stop watching the old videos, they are making me somber.

Children. The best things in life. They grow so quickly. They procreate. A plan, a good plan, a way of life. A great, wonderful plan.

Now Sarah McLachlan. Building a mystery. How appropriate.

I can't believe how quickly the fall of life has arrived. The next thing I know, it will be winter. Ah, well, I do love the snow...

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Time Capsule

The house is in disarray, but is it possible to have "good" disarray? Ask me if I feel that way in a couple of days, when the mess is still here... :-)

Actually, my son, who moved back in a couple of months ago when he joined the unemployed - along with so many more - has tackled the bedroom he is supposed to be living in. Since it had become a storage room because I have no attic or basement space, there was a lot to be done! The room is looking better, but now there are significant piles of organized chaos throughout the rest of the house. Hopefully it doesn't take too long to get through them all, and hopefully, again, I can bring myself to let go of some of these things!

Why do we hang onto the past? What is it that makes us feel that it was a better time? Really, was it?

As my son and his girlfriend made their way through the room, they made it a goal to get rid of anything that they labeled "garbage," which to them many times meant paper products: newspaper, invoices, school papers, etc. They had spent more than a day filling plastic bags with this garbage when I came upon just a couple of examples where we might disagree:
  1. In one pile of newspaper I located the group that had been saved of the coverage of my husband's dog attack.
  2. Located only by the obvious goldenrod color, my copies of a school newsletter I had worked on for many years had made it into the garbage bag already.
Why do I keep these things? What makes me "need" them in the future? Certainly my son didn't know or understand the significance. Shouldn't my memories keep me; do I really need the papers to help me remember?

The single most obvious answer for me is: Yes. Watching my mom deal with her Alzheimer's for just the short three months she's been here now, I can tell you that in time I won't even think about these things anymore, let alone be able to remember the details. I keep them as a sort of a "time capsule" - something I can pull out later, wander through and remember what was going on during that period of my life in a very specific way: they are dated! Even with photos it's becoming more and more difficult to do this. I have whole collections of photos that have no date on them, and those are the ones that have made it to be printed. I won't even talk about the ones stored on my computer, that, while they are dated, run the risk of hard drive failure.

Along with the two examples I've already cited, you can also find in my capsule: A spiral bound book of hand-drawings from my third child's 2nd grade class, entitled "Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed;" every report card I received in high school, and an assortment from other years; a copy of my SAT scores and my college transcript (two single pages, seriously!); notes from a Cub Scout planning session with info from each family (names!) on who would be responsible for what items at the upcoming camping trip; various assorted drawings and photos drawn or taken by my artsy kids; and two copies of my daughter's scoliosis x-rays, one early on and the other as her spine was beginning to resolve - much straighter!

Really, there's more. Obviously. My kids just roll their eyes at me, but I'm not ready to give up these things yet, if I ever will be. I am looking forward to the day when I pull out the - hopefully single - box that contains these precious items and can spend a couple of hours just perusing my past, remembering the teacher who went the extra mile and documented early drawings, the efforts that went into college, the 10 years as a Cub Scout leader (yes, I'll be remembering all three groups for whom I was den leader, as well as my three years with the Girl Scouts!), the wonderful fact that I gave birth to different kinds of people - some with artistic talent, and just how far we were able to come to better my daughter's life as she walks into adulthood much taller and straighter.

I can feel the warmth of it all already. The gratefulness of a life well-spent, the acknowledgement of the many years as a parent, and earlier as a young adult. For all of this I am thankful. And hopeful - in less than two months I will become a grandparent for the first time. Think of all the new things I can add to my box!

Overall, I would say it has been a good week. :0)

Saturday, February 13, 2010


As a blogger, I really am terrible. Trying to get a handle on expressing myself, it's difficult to find the time in the day for this. However, it has been pointed out to me that to take proper care of oneself, you must do it every day. For example, walking is great exercise, but not if you do 20 miles one day and then don't do it any more for three months. Half an hour a day will do ya! But you really do have to make the time each day. So here I am again, planning a specific half-hour period to force myself to participate in thinking about my day.

I suppose most bloggers have a much better plan in mind, but I'm really here to maybe touch the lives of others or be touched back. Specifically, I started out thinking that I could just talk about everything, but really, I need to talk about two things: Alzheimer's (my mom) and RSD or CRPS (my husband).

My mom made the move back up to where we'd grown up, and where I still live, just a little over two months ago. I'd made the arrangements for her to live in an independent facility; a place that offers the ability to move to assisted and further for her care as we move forward. She is now fully installed, new doctors have been found, and we're beginning to settle into a routine. I see her two to four times a week, but mostly on Sundays when I take her to church, then to brunch, and after that we do something of her choosing. Life with mom right now isn't bad: she's bright and intelligent, though having trouble with her memory, but the biggest problem appears to be paranoia. It's not terrible, but I can see that it is the one thing that causes her the most grief - and those around her.

I've begun reading books on Alzheimer's and hope to better educated about what to expect as we move through this process. I had a close friend at work whose father lived for nearly ten years with his diagnosis, and towards the end it was very difficult for all concerned, but it helps me to have some perspective.

My husband was diagnosed with RSD (reflux sympathetic dystrophy, now more commonly known as CRPS-chronic regional pain syndrome) five years ago. Unfortunately, the diagnosis came late for us, as if it's caught early there's more help for the patient. Most likely his disease process came about as a result of one of the many surgeries which followed an initial injury more than ten years ago when he was attacked by two dogs, Rottweilers. He had actually recovered fairly well, though with significant pain and problems in one forearm, but was back to work and a contributing member of society. He began having more serious swelling in his lower left leg, one of the other serious dog attack sites, which progressed rather rapidly and later moved to the other leg. As anyone with CRPS knows, there are other symptoms, but it's not really my intention to educate people here about the disease, there are much better sites for that information!

So here we are today: my husband spends more than 23 hours a day in his bed to keep his legs elevated and help alleviate both the swelling and the pain. He's on significant medications, which have really changed him as a person. I don't think even he realizes how much. Though he has a reasonable disability package through his last job, he has become addicted to online purchasing. He's run through quite a number of items of choice but nothing which I'll be able to make much money off of in return.

Though I have tried not to go there, I am now taking over everything - though with much struggle. He doesn't feel like he's contributing and so doesn't want to give anything up: paying the bills, etc. Our relationship has deteriorated to the point that I don't even know whether we can save it, or if he really wants to. I don't plan to leave him, but I do have a young daughter for whom I'm responsible and I will do whatever I have to in order to make certain she has what she needs to thrive - and that includes a good atmosphere in the house.

Recently having hit a real wall in the relationship, we came to agreement on four specific items, one of which was me taking over responsibility for most things. Assuming he follows through, then I will stay, but I have nearly reached the point of no return. I have to be able to know that the bills are being paid and that we are at least solvent, or I will go and find a place where I can be solvent on my own.

That seems like enough for today! I've danced around these two topics for a while now, and now they're really out there. Maybe tonight I'll be able to sleep - something that's eluded me for a long time. From here on out I hope that I'll be able to just talk about our daily activities and how we're dealing with the two significant health issues in our lives - and looking for any insight as to good ways to deal with them!