Twenty Six and Counting

Today Marshall and I celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary. You know how holidays and special days go — some rate higher than others.  For example, for our 20th Anniversary we flew to England where we stayed  in a beautiful hotel and explored the city of York.  Now that was pretty awesome and quite frankly it’s pretty hard to top.  But I have to tell you that today’s celebration was pretty special even in comparison to that.  We didn’t leave the country or even the city for that matter.  

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April Showers. . .

 

I cannot believe that it is already April.  Don’t get me wrong — I am not at all sad that we are leaving the cold weather behind. But time has just been flying by these past few months.   It has been a bit blustery the last few days but then I suppose that is what spring is all about.  We’ve all heard the saying, “April Showers brings May flowers!”

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Spring Has Sprung

With the first day of spring behind us, I have officially survived another midwest winter.  Rochester had record amounts of snow this year (of course) and the snow was piled about 4 feet high in our front yard.  Most of the mailboxes down are street were barely peaking above the snowline for several months.  But after about a week of temperatures in the 40’s (yay!) the snow melted surprisingly quickly.  Even with a surprise snow storm that laid down a couple of inches earlier this week, we can now see almost all of the front lawn.

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How Sweet It is

I am so lucky to have spent the last 25 years married to my best friend.  Through those years we have experienced so much in life.  We have raised a family, pursued our dreams, struggled and succeeded, enjoyed life together and had a lot of fun.   So it’s been difficult for me to adjust to living with hubby’s chronic illness and the uncertainty that our future holds.  The empty nest years have hardly been what we planned and dreamed of  — at least not yet.

These days I try to focus on the many blessings we have and the little things we enjoy each day.  Yesterday I had an especially sweet moment and I wanted to share it.  I was at the hospital visiting hubby who has been there for the past week. Late in the afternoon I started to feel a headache coming on so I took some pain reliever and waited.  Before long my headache turned into a full blown migraine.  My head felt like it was going to explode into a million pieces and I actually welcomed the idea of that happening if it would stop the pain.  Hubby knew that I really needed to lay down and so he suggested that I lay down next to him.   The pain continued to rage and before I knew it Marshall left the room and returned with an ice pack for me.  Not only that, but he walked down to the patient lounge and bought me a soda and pretzels.  Now how many women are lucky to have a husband who is that thoughtful and caring at any time but especially when he is in the hospital and needing to be cared for himself?  Yes,  I consider myself one of the luckiest girls in the world and I am so grateful for a husband who makes my life so sweet.

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Devilish Good Day

Today was an awesome day!

First of all, I have finally turned a corner with the medical issues I’ve been dealing with.  In actuality, recovering from the surgery itself hasn’t been too bad.  What I didn’t expect is to have an allergic reaction to the sterilization solution they used which resulted in a horrible rash over much of my upper body.  I have been so itchy that I have wanted to crawl right out of my skin.  I have tried every non-itch cream and lotion on the market and while a few of them will temporarily soothe the itchiness, it does not last long and I have been going crazy.  I am grateful to say that the rash seems to finally be going away.

Second, I got to sleep in today.  This may not seem like a luxury considering our current work status, but we have literally had appointments every single day for weeks. With some confusion over the time change last night, I managed to oversleep and miss church today. I felt bad that I missed church, but it was so nice to sleep as late as I wanted to and then basically be lazy all day long.  So I surfed the internet and did some artwork.  It was wonderful!

Third, we received some letters from friends this weekend and read through them today.  We loved the thoughtful notes and the sweet picture.  We feel very blessed to have good friends who think of us and keep us in their prayers.  And by the way, I had a doctor tell me this week that they have done research that shows that prayers actually do work (not that I am surprised by that, but I think it’s interesting that the medical community acknowledges it.)  So, thank you for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers.

And to top off our day, we had a special dessert.  You see, we have  had to eliminate milk completely from my daughter’s diet.  That means milk and butter substitutes and NO chocolate (because of the milk in it).  But I found a great recipe for Devil’s Food cake with chocolate mousse and chocolate ganache and it was entirely dairy free.  This was a great recipe that I would use again even if I didn’t need it to be dairy free.  The recipe was also egg free but I used a real egg since I didn’t have any of the egg substitute on hand.  You can find the recipe here:

So I’m hoping that this is just the first day of a really great week.  The weather is supposed to be warming up and we’re even supposed to see 50 degrees on Wednesday!  I hope everyone else has a great week as well.

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Chocolate Decadence

It’s no secret that I love to bake.  As a friend once told me that it is my “happy place” which is definitely true.  The thing is, I’ve been having an internal struggle for the past while because while I know that baking makes me happy ( good thing), it also results in yummy, high calorie treats that are a temptation for my hubby who has been focusing on losing weight (bad thing).  I have been debating what to do with this situation for quite some time.  I secretly hoped that if I hung in there long enough that the medical issues would pass and life would be back to normal.  I suppose that I have finally come to terms that the medical issues are really not going to resolve in the near future and even when they do, we are going to have to adjust our lifestyle.  So, while I am not giving up entirely on decadent desserts that have far too many calories, I have decided that I must focus more on food that is healthy for us and some desserts that can be eaten without completely blowing one’s diet.

Today’s recipe is taken from a magazine that we’ve enjoyed the past while called Eating Well.  I love that they have the nutritional info on each recipe so that I know it fits within the calorie and sodium restrictions.  The February issue has some great chocolate desserts that have a reasonable amount of calories.

I decided to try the flourless chocolate cake called “Chocolate Decadence.”  This recipe is proof that you can have decadence without destruction.  Most flourless chocolate cakes call for tons of butter and eggs which, although delicious, really hike up the calories.  This version calls for heating a small amount of flour, sugar and low-fat milk (rather than cream)  on the stove and then pouring it over high quality cocoa and chocolate.  Then egg whites are whipped and added to it.  It is baked, cooled and then refrigerated overnight before serving (if you can wait that long).  You can find the recipe here.

I was extremely pleased with the way this turned out and definitely consider this a go-to recipe from now on.   One serving is 164 calories but the cake is so rich that you could definitely get by with a smaller piece and still feel completely satisfied.

I totally wanted a picture to put with this post but unfortunately I do not have one.  When I served it the first time it was rather late in the evening and I didn’t feel like taking the time to style and photograph it.  Then we ended up serving the rest of it rather spontaneously one night when we had company, and I didn’t even think of it until I had licked my plate clean.  Well, I guess you know what that means — I’m just going to HAVE to make this recipe again real soon.  Give it a try yourself — I think you’ll really like it!

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Feeling a Bit Pink

These past months have been full of changes and new experiences.  The end of last year and the beginning of 2011 felt like a whirlwind and I hoped that the month of February might bring some calm with it.  We have been getting settled in to the new house and our new surroundings and in that respect things have definitely been in a good place.

Several weeks ago, I showed up for a routine mammogram and that set in motion a chain of events that really opened my eyes and changed my life.  I received a call a few hours after my test that I would need to go back for additional mammograms. I returned the next morning and not only had additional scans but also had an ultrasound.  I couldn’t believe it when they wanted to do a biopsy that very afternoon.  I was in a fair amount of shock so I scheduled the biopsy for a few days later.  Long story short — they diagnosed Atypical Ductal Hyperplasia and I needed surgery to remove the precancerous growth.

Monday I arrived at the hospital at 6:45 (that’s a.m.)  They had to place a needle which they left in as a marker so that the surgeon would know where to cut.  Now this gets rather humerous, although I admit I was not laughing at the time.  The needle poked out about 4 inches and I had to wait until they were ready for me in the operating room so it was a little awkward to say the least.  So in a state of the art facility where they are on the cutting edge of research what do you suppose was the solution?  A Plastic Cup.  Yup, a Solo Brand plastic cup!  It was taped on and I had the pleasure of sporting this fashion accessory for the next FIVE hours.  I was so done with that by the time I got to surgery that I really couldn’t wait for them to put me out.  One thing that I thought was cool was that my surgeon had me pick a CD that they played on headphones for me during the surgery and recovery.  I don’t remember it at all but apparently they have found that it helps the patient relax more during the procedure.  I was worried that I would be sick from the anesthetic but they were able to give me some medication that made it so it didn’t even bother me.

I am happy to say that the surgery went as expected and everything looks good.  I am grateful for wonderful doctors and nurses and a great surgeon.  I am also grateful that I was able to find out about this at an early stage.  My family has pampered me and and I am improving each day.

So I now consider myself a member of the pink ribbon club.  I am at four times greater risk of getting breast cancer in the future so I will get regular checkups to follow up.  I will also be taking some medication that will help reduce the chances of getting cancer.  I am hoping that each person who reads this will make an appointment to get a mammogram and to make sure to do it regularly.  There will be 200,000 people diagnosed with breast cancer this year.  Let’s make sure that if it’s one of us we find it as early as possible.

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Time Flies

You’ve all heard the expression, “Time flies when you’re having fun.”  Well, these past few months have flown by, but they have been anything but fun.  Honestly, they’ve been the hardest two months of my life.  Each day seemed to bring a brand new challenge heaped upon the other unresolved trials we were dealing with.  I am happy to say that I finally feel like I can breathe — a little.

I could probably write an entire book on the events of these past several weeks.  But since I don’t care to relive every minute detail of it and I’m sure my readers don’t either, I will make due with a short recap.  So here goes:

Marshall was hospitalized 5 times between November and January.  He was in two comas during December and what we planned on as having a wonderful Christmas all together ended up being spent with Marshall in the hospital and he has no memory of it.  With the help of many many friends we packed and moved a three story house to a two bedroom home three hours away.  It’s been two months of dealing with insurance companies and social security and we are still waiting. We’ve had an assortment of additional medical issues that the entire family has been dealing with.  And we’ve had lots and lots of snow which I think everyone knows I do NOT enjoy.

But, on a high note, Marshall has been doing much better with the ensephalopathy.  He has managed to stay out of the hospital for three weeks now and has been doing well with the diet and has gone back to the Cardio Lab for exercise.  We are slowly getting settled in the house and have found most everything we need although the silverware is still mysteriously nowhere to be found. Orion is finally home with us and being in a different house didn’t even seem to phase him.  He was just thrilled to be with his family.  (Thank you Chrissy and Jeff for being the best foster parents a dog could ever have — you are one of the biggest blessings we have had!)

 

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