Finding the right solution

By Lisa Baker

Here we are the week before Christmas and I’m writing yet another blog for December.

Mom and Dad have been together for two weeks at the same facility sharing a room.

Things seem ok at first.  But then they start arguing.  She feels that she must correct him and he is far enough along in his dementia that he doesn’t remember exactly the way things were.  He gets very agitated the more she corrects him.  So right now I’m not sure how this will end.  The facility wants us to give it a little more time, so that’s what we are doing.

pictureExcept for the phone call to let me know Dad put his fist through a double pane glass window.  No, he did not get hurt.  Seems he had just enough presence of mind to wrap the curtain around his hand before hitting the glass.  We now will be replacing this lovely window.

A day or two later I get another phone call.  Dad is acting very unlike his normal self.  Muttering, not really talking.  Had not slept for 48 hours.  Not taking his medicine.

The nurse was calling to let me know that she was sending him to the ER.  We later find out that he does have a UTI.  Word to the wise here.  Dementia patients can and will have very strong reactions to a UTI from being very unresponsive to bouncing off the walls.

ER sent Dad back to his facility.  Where he then tries to overturn any furniture that he is able to move.  The nurse sends him back to ER where they now give him something to make him sleep and bring him back to his facility.

He slept all day and most of the early evening.

It was decided that at least for that night it would be best for Mom to sleep in another room.  The next morning Dad is still just mumbling, not talking and will not take his medicine.  But he is also a bit on the combative side, even hitting Mom.  This time he was admitted into the hospital and will be there at least a few days.  They will be doing other test just to rule out other possibilities such as other infections.

Mom misses him and begs to go see him.  However, at this point he isn’t even aware of where he is.  So no visits right now, they would only upset her even more.

We are hoping that he will be back with her in a few days and that his temperament will improve.  If not, it is yet again very possible that we may have to move Mom to another room or even another facility.  Above all we want them both to be safe.

Here’s hoping the New Year will bring us and all of you much peace and happiness.

D-I-E-T… That Dirty Four Letter Word

By Marianna Boyce

KermitThe new year is upon us and I know many of us make that pesky “diet” resolution with all good intentions.  I did for many years, until I decided to swear them off all together.  I was tired of all the unsustainable fad diets I had tried.  I was ready to try something different.  The premise was quite simple.  The cost?  Zero dollars.  I actually resolved on 12-31-13 NOT to diet!  This revolutionized my life.  It could potentially do the same for you.  Did you just roll your eyes?  Please keep reading…

I was 45 years old and weighed 155 lbs at the time.  My goal was to lose 25 lbs by the summer of 2014.  For me, the download of an app on the new iPad I received from Santa that year was all it took.  There were many calorie counting apps available but I chose the “Lose It” app.

cookiesWhat did I eat?  Anything I wanted, EXCEPT I was quite diligent in not eating above the number of calories allotted for me by the app.  Yes, I had tough days where Zestos or Rush’s was my choice for the day, but I logged in everything anyway!  My device never once exploded in my hand or fussed at me!  I never allowed one bad day here and there to derail my plan.

In 28 days, I had lost 10 lbs!  I was thrilled!  It had everything to do with calories, calories, calories!   Combining better food choices with a brisk walk at least three times a week in the early spring melted away the last 15 lbs.  By summertime, 2014, I was at my sister’s pool very confident in my new mint green and pink bathing suit.  I hadn’t owned a two piece in years!  I felt incredible!

All it took was dedicating 5 to 10 minutes every day to log my calorie intake.  I remained dedicated for a full 2 ½ years.  This kept me honest and my weight was always very well maintained in the 130 to 135 lb range for that entire time.

It was June, 2016, when my life was turned upside down.  My mysterious illness, and the daily chronic pain that came along with it, caused me to stop logging completely.  That was the first time my extra weight returned.  Now that I’m feeling somewhat better, I have set a new goal for myself.  Trust me, if this hadn’t worked for me the first time, I wouldn’t be doing it again!

If you want to try it, download any free calorie counting app on your device.  Input the initial information it asks…age, weight, height, goal weight, etc.  No one else will ever see this info unless you choose to share it.  Just know that it will not work unless you are 100% honest all the time!  Trust me!  I tried fibbing my way through here and there and it didn’t work!  If you do it right, you will lose weight.

If you plan to try this method, I have a word to the wise.  I would be conservative on your GOAL weight to start with.  Let’s say you weigh 250 lbs and need to lose 100 lbs.  Set your goal weight at 240 lbs.  This allows you more calories to start with so its not such a drastic change.  This is more incremental and less stressful.  (Baby steps ladies!)  Once you lose your first ten lbs, pat yourself on the back and set a new goal for 230 lbs, and so forth and so on.

I’ve lost eight lbs since 10-18-18.  This equates to about a pound a week.  I could’ve been further along, but I still lost weight…Thanksgiving included!  (Of course I was over on calories that day.)  The pound cake I had was heavenly!  It was definitely worth every calorie, and I logged in all three pieces!

applesWe never have to wait for a new year to improve our health and wellness but it just so happens 2019 is here now.  If you’re tired of fad diets and you’re ready to make a change, this may very well be for you.  Of course, feel free to check with your doctor before starting anything new.  I wouldn’t consider this a diet per se.  It’s simply a lifestyle change.

I hope you choose to join me.  What have you got to lose?  I will share tips that help me, and will also continue to update my progress in an upcoming post.

Happy New Year everyone…especially if you’ve chosen NOT to diet!

Don’t Kiss My Preemie. Actually, Don’t Visit at All.

By Kate Morrow

This year as my husband and I put up the Christmas tree and decorated the mantle for the pending holiday, I could not help but reflect to this time last year. I instantly felt a lump in my throat. My heart started beating faster. I pushed those thoughts down and continued decorating.

Last year was the most traumatic year of my life. My twins, Jack and Lilly, were born too soon on September 14 at just 28 weeks gestation. We spent 76 days in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). I thought that was the worst of it, but as we were preparing to discharge, I quickly realized life after the NICU was going to be much tougher than life in the NICU.

As we made plans for discharge, we were being advised and told all of the things preemie parents hear from their NICU care team:

They cannot go to traditional daycare.

 You need to isolate yourselves.

 You can’t have unvaccinated caregivers in the home.

 If anyone has a cough, spray them with Lysol and RUN. (Kidding, but they might as well have said this!)

 As a preemie mom, you are constantly conflicted with the overwhelming blessing of having living miracles. You are grateful. You are thankful. You are in awe. At the same time, you are also conflicted with the selfish thoughts of, “I didn’t get what everyone else got.”

This selfish thought hit me most in two ways:

First on their birth date— In my mind, I would have two beautiful twins. We would snuggle in the hospital room while Daddy loaded us up with vending machine snacks and family filtered in and out of our room. We would dress them in beautiful outfits, take pictures, post sappy social media posts, and we would go home together. None of this happened. I didn’t get to see or hold them after their birth. And instead of taking them home, I went home with a hospital grade breast pump. All of my dreams and visions of being a brand-new twin Mommy went out the window in an instant. I was a NICU mom. That was a surreal reality.

newborn-1399155_1920Secondly, our first week at home. The whole time we were in the NICU, I dreamed about going home. I rationalized in my head that as soon as we discharged, life would be normal and I would get all of those dreamy things. Our friends coming over to finally meet them, having Sip and Sees to replace the baby showers we never got, and more. But instead, we discharged on the brink of one of the worst flu seasons and I learned that life after the NICU is just as precious and fragile as life in the NICU.

This hit me the hardest a week after we were home. My three best girlfriends came to town for our traditional Christmas shopping weekend. I couldn’t go, obviously, and they asked if they could meet the babies through the window. I thought, “Sure! That’s such a great ideas!”

After they left, I ugly cried harder than I had since September 14. “This is not fair, I thought!— My best friends should be in here ooh-ing and aww-ing over my babies. I deserve this. I want this! I am longing for this!”

And then it’s almost as if God himself came and tapped me on the shoulder and it hit me as fiercely as the cold air outside. This isn’t about me. It’s about them. It’s about keeping these two precious babies who fought so fiercely for their lives safe. It’s about ensuring that they have years upon years to live and enjoy life.

And so began the most isolated winter of our lives. I became Momma bear and I hibernated with my baby bears. We isolated ourselves. Everyone who came into the house had to “scrub in”. If anyone had been at a large gathering or around a sick person, they had to wait 72 hours in case symptoms showed. We ordered everything off Shipt and Amazon and for things that could not wait—we masked up. We hand washed. We bought more antibacterial hand sanitizer than you would think imaginable.

You, like many of our friends and family, may think this is a tad bit ridiculous. But it is not. We would be rich if I collected a dime for every time I heard, “Babies need to be exposed to build their immune system.” FACT! Preemies do NOT have an immune system. Especially micropreemies who missed the transfer of antibodies in mom’s third trimester. A simple cold or mild flu could be devastating and send a preemie back to the hospital. Especially for preemies who had chronic lung disease or were on a ventilator at any time during their NICU stay.

So, please, as we approach winter, help me out. Help me with the following so other preemie moms do not feel as isolated and alone as I did last year.

  1. Get your flu vaccine.
  2. Don’t kiss the babies! Any baby!
  3. If you have a sniffle, let your healthy newborn baby visit wait.
  4. If you’re the friend or relative of a newborn preemie, wait. Don’t pressure them. Assure them that, “When the time is right, you cannot wait to meet their bundle of joy!” Every parent in medical isolation with a preemie deeply fears that no one will be excited to meet their baby when the time comes. Offer to drop dinner off on the porch. Offer to run an errand so they don’t have to expose themselves.

As I write this, my twins are now 14 months old and have their very first sniffle. I wiped Jack’s nose and went about my day. My how things have changed as I put up this year’s Christmas tree.

 

Our 2018 Christmas Commercial

We’re pleased to present our 2018 Christmas commercial. It focuses on acts of kindness. We filmed it at our hospital and in our community. Some of the actors are our employees.

It’s the 12th year in a row that our hospital has created and produced its own Christmas commercial. The spot opens with a doctor giving up a parking space at a crowded mall. Several acts of kindness eventually lead back to the same physician receiving a kind deed himself.

Reminiscing and Ginger Bread Houses

By Rhonda Woods

Oh, Christmas, you are only a few days away.  The children are excited for Santa to come.  Parents and grandparents are trying to find all the items on their sweet little lists. Some people go all out with decorations, while some, like me, keep it simple (barely getting the tree up). Secret Santa, playing the White Elephant gift exchange game (not sure where that name came from) and holiday music on every station.  Calendars are filled with special events, cantatas, drive through light shows, and of course, food…lots of food.  Pace yourself and forgo the fancy fitted frocks.  Opt for “eating pants”, as we say, you know the ones that allow a little room in the waist for “I just want a little taste”…of everything!

Last Christmas was the beginning of what I think will be a tradition in my family.  With my sweet husband in the hospital, I had no time to shop or even think about gift giving.  Talking about it, we decided to give each of our children and their spouses a set amount of money to purchase a special gift for themselves, and their children.  The instructions that came with the money was specific.  They must wrap their own gifts and place them under our tree to be opened on Christmas day in front of us, thus surprising us with the gifts they chose.  Worked great, but I must admit, with all that was going on, it was a blur.  Shopping has never been a favorite for me.  Hard to believe, right?  Now, keep in mind, I’m no Scrooge or Grinch, I just can’t seem to get into the “Christmas Spirit”, especially this year.

My mama was reminiscing about the foods we enjoyed on Christmas Eve at my grandmother’s house as we were making our newer version of fruitcake last Saturday.  Now, Fruit Cake was something my mama and her grandmother made every year…early, like right after Thanksgiving! They would wrap them in cloth, place them in tins, and occasionally brush with some blackberry wine to “keep them moist”!  My sweet husband would say, “That’ll go good with my coffee in the morning”.   She told us about how they would go downtown in Columbia to Silvers on Main Street to purchase the candied fruits, not in the containers like today, but weighed by the clerk at the counter from bins. Mama also reminded us about the deli meats, cheeses, mustard, Kosher pickles and breads that were purchased from Groucho’s Deli in Five Points and served at my grandmothers house.  The food list went on describing things like celery stuffed with a cheese spread, olives, nuts, and deviled eggs.  We will honor her requests for all of these and more at our family Christmas gathering this year.

So, as we race through the last few day of school before Winter Break, my students are making Gingerbread Houses.  It’s a process and a lesson in patience.   Each one rolls and cuts the house parts from the cookie dough.  I bake them, and then the patience part comes into play when they assemble them using royal icing.  Each students customizes their house with a variety of candies and other edible decorations. I’m looking forward to seeing their final projects.

With limited time to spare these busy days, I have included a few quick and easy sweet treats, dips and spreads for you to try.  Merry Christmas Ya’ll!

May God bless you and your family as He continues to bless ours,

Chef Woods

Appetizers and Dips

Zesty Crab Cakes

Squares

Spinach Dip

Roasted Red Pepper Remoulade Sauce

Quick Fudge with Nuts

Pimento Cheese

Double layer fudge

Hot Spinach & Artichoke Dip

Orange Glazed Pecans

Reflecting

By Tina Michelle Cameron

As 2018 is winding down and 2019 is just around the corner, I have been reminiscing about everything that has happened to me this year. Overall, it has been a wonderful year, but, has also been filled with sadness in the passing of my beloved Yorkie, Haley. I have been blessed to have opportunities come my way such as being accepted into an amazing RN to BSN program at The University of Alabama; being chosen to be a blogger for Every Woman, and a very brief (few seconds) shot in Lexington Medical Center’s Christmas commercial.

I have been back in school since January 2016 working on prerequisites just to apply to the RN to BSN program at Alabama. I cried when I received the acceptance letter. It has been my dream to have a four-year degree since I was 18. That dream is coming true and I will graduate on May 3rd, 2019. I just completed my second semester and have all A’s-I am so proud of myself as one of my classes required two papers that you must pass. Let’s just say that APA format is not my friend! I also was chosen for a scholarship. I could not believe it and felt very blessed to have been chosen. It was the Barbara Hester Lowery Memorial Endowed Scholarship. Dr. Lowery was director of the Lowery Resource Learning Center, Capstone College of Nursing at The University of Alabama. I intend on paying it forward and starting a scholarship for single moms returning to school to finish their BSN degree.

I never thought after entering a contest on Facebook that I would be chosen to be a blogger for Every Woman Blog. I remember sitting there when I found out with my mouth open for a few minutes—in shock. I have had the pleasure of meeting some outstanding, fabulous women and fellow bloggers. Together we are all successful women with a variety of backgrounds-chef, nurse, teacher, cancer survivor. It had always been in my mind that I wanted to blog, and it has been an honor. I look forward to blogging for a longtime to come. Thank you to Emily and Jennifer for your support. You ladies are a blessing.

facebook_1544749125589 I must talk again about the incredible loss I had on June 25th, 2018. My beloved 9 ½ year old Yorkie—Ms. Haley Michelle Cameron. Unless you are a dog lover, no one really understands how dogs become family and that people mourn their loss just as you do a family member. I think of her every single day. I always said she was the daughter I never had. She was very girly and frou-frou. I can still hear her high-pitched, ear-piercing barking. The way she would stare at me until I gave her a Chick-fil-A nugget or waffle fry and how she used to have to sleep with her fur-babies (stuffed animals). As I unpacked our Christmas boxes to decorate last month, the first box I opened had our stockings in it and hers was on top-I immediately broke out in tears. My heart still hurts and my other Yorkie—Peyton Manning is not the same. She will come and cuddle with me and just whimper. She just seems lost.

facebook_1544749060590In closing, I want to thank my wonderful sons Corey and Hunter, my parents and my friends who have supported me this year and helped me with school. Thank you for listening to me cry over APA format and papers and especially the support of my loss. I love you all very much and could not be doing any of this without your support.

I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Looking forward to 2019 and what the future holds for me.

 

 

A Celiac Friendly Christmas Craft

By Rachel Sircy

I think I mentioned last year that I make Christmas ornaments for our friends and family every year. I have wanted to make homemade clay ornaments for some time, but I haven’t done it because most homemade clay recipes use wheat flour as a base for the clay. I try to keep my home and especially my kitchen as free as possible from contaminants and so I don’t bring wheat flour into my house at all. Once, I had the idea that I could use gluten free all-purpose flour to do the same job, but let’s face it, at more than $4 a pound, it would be cheaper to go out and buy ornaments than to make them out of gluten free flour.

But, I’ve found more and more lately that Pinterest has the answers to most of life’s problems. It was there that I came across pictures of lovely white ornaments made from cornstarch clay. In cornstarch clay, cornstarch and baking soda take the place of flour as the base of the clay. So, I had the answer to my homemade clay problem. Here is the recipe that I followed from a blog called, Kleinworth & Co.:

1 Cup Cornstarch

2 Cups Baking Soda

1 ½ cups Water

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly. It takes a while, but the ingredients will eventually start to resemble mashed potatoes. Once you get to the mashed potato phase, scrape the mixture out into a glass bowl and cover with a damp kitchen towel and leave to cool for 30 minutes.

This is what it looks like cooking:

pic 1

And this is what it looks like in its mashed potatoes phase:

pic 2

At this point, you can roll out the clay and cut out shapes with a cookie or biscuit cutter. I also used a clay stamp and a metal button, to stamp the image of a crown and the words “Peace” and “Joy” into each ornament. Now, the point where I differ with Kleinworth & Co. is after the ornaments are made. Their recipe calls for the ornaments to be baked at 175 degrees for 30 minutes and then air-dried for another 24 hours. I found that this baking process actually dried out my ornaments too quickly and they ended up cracking. So, I actually threw out the first batch of ornaments that I had made and made a second batch, which I allowed to air-dry overnight on the plastic table cloth where I’d rolled them out, After that, I transferred them to cookie cooling racks and allowed them to dry out for about a week. This seems like a long time, but it kept my ornaments from cracking. If you need them to dry out sooner, I might recommend drying them for a shorter time in the oven and then allowing them to air-dry overnight.

Here is the finished product:

pic-3-1.jpg

And my daughter even got in on the ornament making fun.

pic 4

If your children are celiac, this is the perfect clay to allow them to make hand prints. There’s no risk of contamination with this clay. Although, of course, I wouldn’t exactly recommend letting them eat any!

Have fun and have a Merry Gluten Free Christmas!