Monday, March 31, 2014

Balancing Act

Recently the diabetic specialist I had been seeing on a regular basis decided to retire. I was told that a new specialist would take her place. However, after the new doctor tried things out at that diabetic clinic for a month, she quit. It was then I decided to take matters into my own hands and find myself a new doctor, one that was hopefully a little closer to home.This task proved to be rather complicated as I had to consider the limitations of our insurance (it will only cover certain, PPO approved physicians,) and the fact that I am an odd duck--a Type 1 diabetic on an insulin pump. As such, I had to find someone who was comfortable handling an insulin pump patient. (Most diabetics are Type 2 and control things with diet, exercise, oral meds, etc.)

I searched the internet for a physician that would satisfy everyone's requirements. After a few days of sorting through endless lists, I narrowed it down to an individual that seemed to stand out. He was on our insurance roster as an approved doctor--and when I called to talk to the nice receptionist, she assured me that he was taking new patients and he had worked with other insulin pump dependent diabetics. Also, he was a D.O.--the type of doctor my youngest son is seeking to become.(Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine.) From what I've learned through experience, and what my son has taught me, D.O.'s tend to be very patient friendly. Also, they are trained to use the best of Western and Eastern medicine. This is extremely cool. =)

Deciding I had struck pay-dirt, I told the receptionist that I would like to lock this doctor in as my new diabetic specialist. That's when I was told that this particular doctor likes to look through files and decide which patients he is willing to add to his clientele. Ah. This was new. Not only was I evaluating him, but he would be going through the same process with me. Interesting.

The next day I received a phone call and was informed that I had been accepted as a patient. I did the dance of joy, hoping this was a good change. About a week later, my husband and I drove to Logan and met up with my new specialist. It was a good experience, even though my A1C test was a little higher than it should've been. (The test that reveals the average blood sugar level for the past 3 months.) Because of that, I was told that I needed to meet with the office dietician--a bright young man that the nurses and my new doctor highly recommended. I still pouted. I mean, seriously? I've been a Type 1 diabetic since I was the tender age of 19. After ten years . . . (Kidding. My 30-year-old son informed me last year that I can no longer be 29. Sigh . . .) okay . . . after 33 years, I think I know what I'm doing . . . most of the time. ;) I knew my blood sugar levels had been bouncing for a couple of months. It's the time of year when my RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) acts up (compliments of the wacky weather) and with the inflammation comes increased blood sugar levels. It's just how my silly body rolls. Everything (and I do mean everything) affects blood sugar levels. Pain, heat, cold, illnesses, exercise, carbs consumed, etc. It proves to be quite the balancing act, and something I live with every day. True character building moments. Back to my story:

After silently protesting, I decided to be a sport. I reasoned that this was a new start . . . a big change. And maybe the dietician could help me get things balanced. On the other hand . . . I've been counting carbs for years--what more was there to learn? I soon found out. About two weeks later, I met with the dietician. I had been asked to keep track of everything during the preceding two weeks: Basal rates, insulin boluses, meals consumed, exercise, the works. I found the old charting graphs I had used when I first became a pump patient and after making copies, I used them to record all of this lovely information.

My mother went with me to this appointment. She was curious about what this new dietician could possibly teach me about diabetes, something we've already established that I've lived with for a gracious long time. An hour and a half later, my mind was reeling with new information. It turns out that things have changed . . . a lot within the past five years. I left the clinic that day so excited, I could barely contain myself. And as everyone had said, the dietician was awesome. He was upbeat, encouraging, and didn't put me on a guilt trip over days when my levels were less than impressive. Instead, he praised my efforts and then used entertaining props to help me understand what my silly body is doing these days.

Later that night, I had to call my oldest son, who is becoming a dietician, and shared my new-found enthusiasm. He understood everything I had learned and told me that it has been amazing what has been discovered about diabetes in recent times. He was excited that I had stumbled onto a doctor and a dietician that make a great team. Though the past few weeks have been challenging (we're in the process of changing basal rates--the insulin levels that drip in continuously from my insulin pump) to get things to balance out, I know it will all be worth it. Eventually, we'll have things stream-lined and I will likely be in better shape than I've been in for a long time.

So I'm realizing . . . again . . . that change is important. It's how we learn, grow, and better ourselves in this crazy world. We weren't meant to exist in a state of constant bliss in an environment that stays the same. We need to be flexible enough to "ride the waves," as they come into our lives and glean those things that will make a positive difference. Though I tend to fall off my "surfboard" . . . a lot (yep, I am a descendant of the dude who fell off the Mayflower--John Howland) I'm learning how crucial it is to keep trying, knowing that someday, the balance I'm seeking will be attained and I will be a better person as a result.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


I'll begin with a little updating.  I'm now beginning chapter three of my new work in progress.  It looks like it's going to be another romantic/suspense novel.  I'm also almost finished going through the second of my seven plastic drawers full of material that might be considered genealogy verification. Sorting through memories is kind of fun, but entering names, dates, etc., in the computer is time consuming and I can see I need more info from several of my nieces. 

Two of my daughters have books coming out this year.  Janice Sperry's book is a middle grade reader with a really cute cover and it's a fun spoof on dozens of fairy tales.  Lezlie Anderson's book is a Christmas booklet and I got a sneak peak at its cute cover a couple of days ago. I'll have more to say about it closer to its fall publication date. 

I just made my first Whitney nomination for 2014!  2013 awards are coming up next month, but it's not too soon to start making nominations for the next round of awards. 

Like almost everyone else, I'm really tired of winter, but all the rain we've gotten the past couple of days has really turned the grass green and it's so inviting to see daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, violets, and some purple flower (I don't know its name) blooming in my yard.  I love spring! My husband even bought two more half barrels so we won't have to fight over which barrels get flowers and which will host vegies this year.  

It's funny but I have a hard time believing it's really spring until April conference has come and gone and my accountant finishes preparing my taxes.  I'll admit I'm a little less than enthused about including children in this year's Women's Conference session, but I'll see how it goes.  It will seem a little strange not to do any conference signings this year.  After twenty years of Celebrating Sisterhood and Ladies' Night, I feel a little left out.  I hope all of my readers won't forget me before I have another book out.  (My old books are still available on Amazon/Kindle and LDS book stores still carry quite a few of them.)  As for taxes--there aren't a lot of happy memories associated with them as there is with conference, but I'll just be glad to know what I have to pay and get the sorry deed over with. 

Today marks eighteen months since the first of the four surgeries that sidelined much of my life for a time.  Both knees are doing fine and the left one serves as a barometer to let me know when we're going to get rain or snow.  My doctor assures me that with the removal of my pancreas I won't ever get pancreatic cancer as so many of my close loved ones have done. I'm still adjusting to using an insulin pump and skipping most of my favorite snacks.  Alas no malt balls, Cadbury eggs, or jelly beans for Easter this year.  On second thought, I might sneak in a stray jelly bean or two on days my glucose count is low.

Friday, March 21, 2014

All I Need to Know....I Learned From The Easter Bunny

I was going to share some serious thoughts on Easter but ran across this and decided to save those thoughts until next month when it is closer to Easter, though you'd never know it by looking at the wares on store shelves!

1. Don't put all your eggs in one basket.
2. Everyone needs a friend who is all ears.
3. There's no such thing as too much candy!
4. All work and no play can make you a basket case.
5. A cute tail attracts a lot of attention.
6. Everyone is entitled to a bad hare day.
7. Let happy thoughts multiply like rabbits.
8. Some body parts should be floppy.
9. Keep your paws off other people's jelly beans.
10. Good things come in small, sugar-coated packages.
11. The grass is always greener in someone else's basket.
12. To show your true colors, you have to come out of the shell.
13. The best things in life are still sweet and gooey.

And I think some of them are actually true!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Caucus Meetings

Tonight in Utah are the caucus meetings for the Republican party. Tuesday were the caucus meetings for the Democratic party. It is a great system of grassroots participation in the political system. A chance for neighbors to get together and choose delegates who will represent their values and expectations in a candidate. Those men and women who wish to run for office must then go to each delegate, introduce themselves, and state their case. It's a way for the office seeker to be vetted, unlike a primary system where the person who has the most money can put up a myriad of flashy signs and win through popularity, not substance.

The United States of America is a Republic not a Democracy.

James Madison, who was called the Father of the Constitution, offered a concise definition of a republic as follows:

     "We may define a republic to be...a government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people, and is administered by persons holding their offices during pleasure for a limited period, or during good behavior." (Federalist Papers, No. 39, p. 241)

Sadly, we've slid away from participation in our government; our voices have been silent in the political system, thereby allowing the duel negative creatures of human nature (power and avarice) to overtake many of our representatives.

Perhaps it's time to reengage in the process. Let's attend our caucus meetings.

Monday, March 17, 2014

An Irish Toast

Today is a holiday that is celebrated in our family. Sometimes we attend St. Patrick's Day parades, or gather together as a clan to enjoy the day. We always enjoy the traditional corned beef and cabbage feast, complete with roasted potatoes and Irish soda bread. We do this in part because of our Irish ancestry. One of my maternal lines is Irish, and we take great delight in this heritage.

Our Irish ancestors were hardy folk who possessed a zest for life, and a determination to succeed. My maternal grandfather was a great example of this. He seemed to understand that despite the difficulties that life at times presents, it's important to look for the good, to press forward, finding the humor in challenging situations.

His was not an easy life. When he was in the 8th grade, his father passed away from something the doctor diagnosed as "Telescope Gut." Now we know that it was a strangulated hiatal hernia. Not a pleasant way to go, but at the time, there wasn't much that could be done. After his father's demise, my grandfather dropped out of school to help support his family. He worked hard, along with his numerous brothers, to provide the basic necessities of life.

They worked hard . . . and played hard, always managing to keep a balance, something my grandfather did his entire life. Growing up in a small cabin in the Grays Lake area in southeastern Idaho, my grandfather came from a large family. Though I'm sure there were times they didn't always get along, I suspect that for the most part, they still managed to have a lot of fun together. I grew up hearing the stories of fishing trips, hunting adventures, hours spent singing, dancing, playing simple card games, and enjoying life. I saw how my grandfather and his siblings enjoyed spending time together during their later years and knew that the bonds established when they were younger helped them to remain close.

My grandfather faced many trials during his life. Among them: the death of a child, worry over two other sons who served in the military, injuries sustained during a terrible car accident, economic setbacks, and being struck by lightening twice. But no matter what the challenges were, he always rose to the occasion, setting an example of courageous fortitude.

It amazes me still how he managed to keep his sense of humor intact. He was always smiling and laughing, and looking on the bright side of things. And he was the type of grandparent that grandchildren love. He  made time for us, teaching us the songs and games he had learned in his youth. He told hilarious stories that made us laugh, and took us with him when he went out on his ranch to take care of his animals. He taught us that animals were to be treated with kindness and respect and he let us experience things like feeding bum lambs, and seeing how his small dairy operated.

He took us fishing on many occasions, patiently sharing his secrets on how to catch the silvery creatures. Since he worked part-time for the local Fish and Game, he knew exactly where to go to find the fish and we always came home with an impressive catch that we would eat for dinner.

In later years, we were saddened to lose this great man. He lived to be in his eighties and had enjoyed amazing health and strength his entire life. Then pancreatic cancer surfaced and he bravely fought his final battle. Though he was in tremendous pain, he still inspired smiles and laughter until the very end.

It hurt to see him go, but I've never forgotten the peaceful joy that most of us felt during his funeral. It was more like a joyous graduation event as we reflected on the great example he had set for us to follow. And so we celebrate days like today as a tribute to our grandfather--a man who represented all that is good about being Irish. I'm sure if he was here with us today, he would stress that the secret of enjoying life is to continually look for the good, learn from the bad, and keep moving forward no matter what.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


I have seven deep file drawers full of stuff.  I don't mean nice orderly files; I mean tossed in and hope I get to it someday stuff.  For more years than I care to mention, I've saved birth announcements, wedding invitations, funeral programs, letters, obituaries, etc., all written verifications of people, places, and events in my family.  These all contain information I want added to my family history records.  The problem is I've never added the information; I've just added it to one of these drawers. 

I've never treated other data this way.  I neatly file tax information, medical records, when cars are serviced, research on my books, and dozens of other categories of information.  I'm not sure why or when I adopted the pack rat method of saving family records.  I have nephews and nieces, old enough to marry and start their own families, I haven't added as children of my siblings yet!  I've done a better job of tracking my ancestors than of keeping a record of my closer family. 

Last week a family member asked me a question I couldn't answer, but I know where the answer is.  It's in a little book my sister gave me many years ago that was compiled by some distant relative of her husband and includes a genealogy record of many generations of his family.  Both my sister and her husband passed away during the past few years so I can't ask them.  So I began looking for the book.  I'm pretty sure it's in one of my seven drawers of stuff.   

Instead of just looking for the book I want to find; I decided it's time to sort through my heaps of stuff and get it entered into my records.  So far I've worked my way through the top four inches of one drawer. I think this may take a long time.  

Friday, March 7, 2014

I Love Spring!!

I love the warmer temperatures that open the tiny buds on my peach trees. I love the sunshine that warms me after winter's cold winds. I love the little green daffodil sprouts that poke up through the cold dirt and then shoot up when the sun hits them to deliver that bright, cheery blossom that waves on its tall slender stem.

I love the little tiny purple crocus that inadvertently got planted behind the daffodils that aren't as spectacular but are every bit as beautiful!

I love the smell of the mock orange and Carolina jasmine that wafts through the air on that spring breeze. I love the snapdragons that make a colorful comeback after hiding their beauty the last few months. And the little purple pansies that somehow weathered the winter! Hardy little things!

I love the bright blue sky that changes from moment to moment. First big fluffy white cotton ball clouds, then the next time I look they are long, wispy mare's tails, or cylindrical space ships, or elephants, dolphins, or even the Easter bunny.

I love the desert after the spring rains when suddenly there is a carpet of yellow, blue, purple and white tiny little flowers everywhere! And the sunrises that start the day with fireworks!

I'm eternally grateful for this beautiful world that was created just for us to enjoy and take care of. My hubby just finished planting three more herbs in my garden - the tomatoes and peppers are nearly 2 feet tall and the artichoke has rejuvenated itself and will soon produce those incredibly funny spiky veggies they do so well.

Life is good! Spring has arrived in all its splendor!!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Animal Farm

I need to re-read Animal Farm by George Orwell. It is a book about talking animals: pigs, horses, that sort of thing. But, it is not a sweet children's book. It is a brilliant cautionary tale about how the pigs on the farm convince the other animals that all of them should overthrow their cruel overlords and then become equal animals. Of course, by the end of the book, the pigs have taken over (which was their intention all along) and they tell the others that all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

The founding father's of the United States recognized the danger in allowing power to be focused in one entity, thereby they reasoned out three branches of government to check and balance each other. They also asserted and believed that the true power of the government was inherent in the voice of a free and informed electorate--the voice of the people. They feared "big government," and the propensity of human nature towards power and avarice. They set a fixed scale of responsibility with the federal government carrying little or no obligation.:

Following is the fixed scale of responsibility as seen by the founders:

The first and foremost level of responsibility is with the individual himself
the second level is the family
then the church
next the community
finally the county
and, in a disaster or emergency, the state.

Under no circumstance is the federal government to become involved in public welfare.

The founders felt it would corrupt the government and also the poor. (the poor would feel obliged to vote for the leaders who took care of them).  No Constitutional authority exists for the federal government to participate in charity or welfare.

[as stated in The 5000 year Leap by W. Cleon Skousen]

Wake up Americans. Become informed. Many of the animals in Animal Farm were content to be told what to do by the pigs. Many thought the pigs smarter. Some of the animals were lazy or thought things would always go on as they had in the past. And, sadly, most of the animals thought the pigs had their best interests at heart.

Perhaps it's time for us all to re-read Animal Farm.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Book Review: Courting Miss Lancaster by Sarah M. Eden

It's possibly a measure of how good this book was that I was halfway through before I realised that I was reading the second in a series. While I'm now keen to read the "prequel", I don't feel I missed anything by not having read it first. This is very much a stand-alone book.

It's also very well written and beautifully conveys the manners, atmosphere and conventions of the time in which it is set. Well, with just a few glaring and disappointing exceptions. At one point the narrator notes that a character "could care less about _____". Ouch. Not only is the correct phrase "couldn't care less", but this common mistake is very much twenty-first century vernacular.

I was very taken by the story, and while the ending might have been predictable in that the hero always gets the girl, there were many times when I couldn't imagine how it could possibly come to pass. The characters were larger-than-life, and yet still believable. It was also laugh-out-loud funny in places, and generally a joy to read. Not gripping, but fun to come back to.