My love for The University of Alabama

By Tina M. Cameron

Despite what some of my family members believe, I have always liked Alabama football. You see, I’m from Knoxville, so growing up, I went to Tennessee football games with my dad. These are some of my favorite memories. I love the Vols and always will, but, my heart fell in love with The University of Alabama in Fall 2009 when my older son Corey became a Freshman as an Aerospace Engineering major. He changed his major during his junior year to Mechanical Engineering. I made many trips a year while he was there for 5 years. He had so many opportunities and made some wonderful lifelong friends. I fell in love with the campus, the school and the amazing people that I have met there. Oh, and we have a pretty good football team!

13116341_10153813275391645_4307474500324260944_o  I am now a student there full-time. I am a Registered Nurse and have always dreamed of having my BSN degree. That is now becoming a reality. In March of this year I was accepted at The University of Alabama and then 2 weeks later found out that I had been accepted into the RN to BSN Online Distance Learning Program. I will graduate on May 3rd, 2019, exactly 4 years after my son graduated. I will also be wearing his cap and gown.

One of the main reasons I love this school so much is the way the students and parents support each other. I belong to our Alabama Parent Facebook Page, which has over 10,000 members and even though my son has graduated I just can’t unfollow the page. We refer to ourselves as “Bamaly” because it is one big family. We answer questions, give support, help each other’s kids out. We have a map of the U.S. where each parent has flagged themselves on it in case our kids are traveling and breakdown or have a wreck; there is someone always close.

20180108_165108            The University of Alabama is one of the top public universities in the country. My son received an amazing education and is thriving as a Mechanical Engineer. He now lives in Charleston, SC and works for Mercedes-Benz. The nursing program I am enrolled in is also one of the top programs in the country. It is very competitive to get into and I feel blessed and proud that I was admitted. I have dreamed of having a 4-year degree since I was 18 years old and I will graduate 7 months from today. I cannot wait until I can call myself an alumnus. And, one final thing—Roll Tide!!

Its Time to Get Off the Couch

By Tina M. Cameron

As you know from my blog introduction, I recently turned fifty. Well like momma said, it all goes south after forty (regarding vision, metabolism, hearing, etc.). Well, let me say, she is right. Recently, I have been reading online and hearing from friends about the Keto Diet. So yesterday, I filled out a free online form about how to determine your carbohydrate, protein and fat intake. Well, once I completed the height, weight, age, activity level sections, it calculates your BMI and your metabolic age. What an eye-opening, upsetting response I received. My metabolic age is 69!! I know in the past several years I have “let myself go”. I do not workout like I used to and I am at my heaviest weight that I have ever been. My sons are worried about me not taking care of myself.

I know what I need to do. I need to put down the snacks, the remote and get off the couch and get moving. Everyday, I say, I’ll go walk tomorrow, or I’m too tired to workout to a DVD at home. I have been struggling with Bulimia with Anorexic tendencies (at times) since the age of twelve. I will admit, I love snacks—cookies, chips/salsa and Chick-fil-A are my weaknesses. Well, after seeing what my body’s metabolic age is, I need to make a change and I need to make it now.40545204_2292454834102750_450966734241792000_n

So, starting September 18th, I will start my journey. According to my height, I need to lose 67 lbs. Despite having a broken rib and a broken toe (don’t ask, I’m very clumsy), I am going to start walking tomorrow morning and again tomorrow evening. I will weigh myself and take my measurements also in the morning. I have a journal to start recording every single food I put in my mouth. I would love to find someone to do this journey with me, so, if you read this and want a walking/workout buddy, please feel free to email me. I will update in my blog in thirty days my progress. I am not going to post my weight as I am very embarrassed by the number. I think besides making healthier choices for eating, I am going to try the Keto Diet for a month and see how I do. I would love to hear from some of you what has worked for you regarding weight loss.

Good luck to anyone reading this that is also struggling with their weight. You are not alone. We can do this!!

My Day at Magic Kingdom

by Tina M. Cameron

I have always been independent and not wanting to miss out on things because of being single. I attend NASCAR races alone, rock concerts, college football games and today, Magic Kingdom. I had friends say that I was crazy, and some said I was brave to travel from Columbia, SC to Orlando by myself. The trip to the Magic Kingdom came out of wanting to go to Orlando for The University of Alabama’s season opener on September 1st. You see, I am a huge college football fan-moreover the Crimson Tide. This is where I am presently a student in the RN to BSN Distance Learning Program and the university that my oldest son earned his Mechanical Engineering degree from- so, it holds a special place in my heart. So last year when they announced that the season opener would be in Orlando I decided I had to attend. I also decided I wanted to go to Magic Kingdom. I arrived at Disney’s All Stars Sports Resort at 1:45 p.m. today and stepped into the Magic Kingdom at 2:30 p.m. I felt like a kid in a candy store. 20180830_203132

With the help of friends who have recently gone and my cousin Christy, I planned my rides carefully using my three Fast Passes. I was also able to make a reservation nine days before arriving at The Crystal Palace Restaurant which is a buffet style restaurant with the Winnie the Pooh and friends’ characters.

The last time I was at Disney was 20 years ago with my children and parents. My, how things have changed. There are Magic-bands that you are given to use as your ticket, your hotel key at the resorts and to use as your Fast Pass to skip the traditional waiting lines. It is fascinating to me the way that technology has changed even a trip to Disney.

In writing this blog post today, it was not my intent to promote Disney, or college football, but, to inspire people – including women – in getting out and doing things. It doesn’t matter if you are single, if there is something you love to do or dream of doing, then do it. You only get one life and I am trying to make the most out of mine. I do get tired somedays and I don’t get out of my pajama’s. But, fifty years have now gone by and my life is half over. I think that is why I am trying to do as much as I can while I still can. I am finally getting my four-year degree. So, go live your best life. Do things you are interested in and don’t be afraid to travel alone or be the only one in a restaurant surrounded by Winnie the Pooh characters and families. As tired as I am while I am typing this, it was one of the best days of my life. And, tomorrow, I’m off to Animal Kingdom!

Volunteering Does a Heart Good

By Tina Michelle Cameron

Ever since I was young, I have always had the desire to help others. I became a nurse in my early twenties and have been an oncology nurse since 1994. Helping others either professionally as a nurse or by doing volunteer work makes my heart smile. Volunteering can and will change your life as well as those you are helping.

Throughout the years I have volunteered with different cancer walks as well as being a yearly volunteer for the past 10 years with Fight Like a Girl here in Columbia. It was started by 5 amazing twenty-something’s who were diagnosed with breast cancer. They help raise money for unfunded, under insured patients at a large oncology center that I use to work at here in Columbia. I have also been a mentor to at risk youth at Dutch Fork Elementary School.

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Feta, my favorite goat at the zoo

I now volunteer four hours once a week at Riverbanks Zoo. I work in the Farm, zebra/ostrich area as well as the Education Center with snakes, rabbits, opossums, turtles, frogs and Madagascar hissing cock-roaches! It is the highlight of my week to be a “pooper scooper”, to feed and water them, to clean out their homes and to give these sweet babies hugs. I have been a volunteer for 13 months. It is hard manual labor and my doggy can’t quite figure out the different smells on my clothes and shoes when I get home, but, I absolutely love doing it.  I also enjoy helping the wonderful zookeepers at Riverbanks. I have a great love for all animals and it makes me smile to know I am helping them.

Despite my hectic schedule between two jobs, being in school full-time and volunteering, I wouldn’t have it any other way. After I finish my degree next May, I want to become a volunteer at Palmetto Health Richland Children’s Hospital.

There are numerous places to volunteer a few hours a week at. It will change your life and you can impact someone else’s life. Please consider volunteering either at a women’s shelter, the zoo, cancer walks or at a shelter handing out food. It will make your heart smile knowing you have given back to your community and to those who need help. I have listed a few links below for volunteer opportunities.

To become a zoo volunteer, go to https://riverbankszoo.org and complete an application. To help at the yearly breast cancer fundraiser hosted by Fight Like a Girl follow them on Facebook (The Ta-Tini’s)-the event is held every year in April or May.

 

 

 

 

 

The Loss of My Precious Haley

This month, we are introducing our new bloggers not only with their posts, but with a video!

Meet Tina:

By Tina Cameron

The loss of a pet is heartbreaking. It doesn’t matter the circumstances; a pet dying from old age; an illness such as cancer or the difficult decision to send them over the Rainbow Bridge to end their suffering–it is just heartbreaking. This is the story of my precious Haley who was in my life for almost 10 years. She loved food, her stuffed animals and stealing my pillow at night.And, unfortunately, was also sick most of her life.

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At eight months old, she had emergency surgery and was diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease and seizures. At age two, she was diagnosed with liver failure and I was told she would not live past four. I was determined to have her time left with me to be just lots of snuggles, love and any food she wanted to eat. After a few months, we returned to the vet and there was no change in her liver enzymes but, she was still active and thriving, so I decided to change her diet myself since she refused to eat the specialty food from the vet anymore. Within three weeks, her liver enzymes were reduced by half. I was thrilled as was her vet. So, we carried on and still had the occasional Chick-fil-a run.FB_IMG_1510321410447

Year after year she continued to have elevated enzymes and birthdays. In October 2017 her liver enzymes were normal for the first time in 7 years. I was ecstatic since we had just celebrated her 9th birthday on September 20th, 2017. Fast forward to June 13th, 2018 at her next vet visit. She had begun losing weight despite eating like a pig. At the vet, while waiting to be seen, she became lethargic. She was seen right away and after her assessment was rushed for lab work and an x-ray. She had an enlarged heart, a heart murmur, severe constipation, low blood sugar (which explains the lethargy) and with Insulinoma, which is a rare malignant pancreatic tumor that causes low blood sugar, seizures, difficulty walking, and weight loss. She had all of these symptoms. The vet talked to me about options and that quality was more important than quantity.

The next twelve days were a blur as she had to be fed every four hours to keep her sugar elevated. She began to decline rapidly and started distancing herself from me in a way to prepare me for what was coming. On day 12, June 25th, 2018 I made the most difficult decision to put her down and to end her suffering. By this time, she was bleeding and vomiting bright red blood and refused to be syringed fed or watered.

On the way to the vet, we had the windows down, took selfies at red lights, and cranked up Miranda Lambert. She was smiling because I think she knew where we were going. At the vet, her IV was started, pictures were taken, and I wrapped her in her favorite blanket, held her and repeatedly told her through the tears it was okay to go and how much I loved her. The medications were given, and her suffering was over in a minute and a half.

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It has now been four weeks, I am still grieving and missing her every day. My other Yorkie– Peyton Manning is still grieving as well. Pets are our family. So, Haley, please know that you were/are my heart; my chick-fil-a loving, cheese and Pringles crunching loving sweet girl. You brought so much joy into our lives. You were sick more than you were healthy the 9 years, 9 months and 5 days you were on this Earth. You are finally free of pain and can run with all the sweet dogs, cats and bunnies in Heaven. My heart is broken but knowing you are happy and healthy gives me comfort. I will look after Peyton as she is so lost without you. I will love you furever my precious sweet girl.