A 2020 Thanksgiving

I cancelled Thanksgiving plans with my brother and sister-in-law and will spend the day home alone (well, with the cats, but no people). They probably think I’m over-reacting but I’m just being cautious in this weird 2020 world of Covid. The news is full of stories about hospitals being overwhelmed by patients, with warnings from medical experts about the dangers of gathering in small groups indoors this year. Which most holiday gatherings are because it’s almost December and it’s too cold even in Texas to hang out outside for turkey, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, and pie.

Far, far too many people are ignoring that advice to cancel Thanksgiving. It’s hard to undo tradition and the familiar habits of generations and we all miss our loved ones. But I’m afraid of seeing the hospitalizations and deaths increase through the roof after this. I have pre-existing conditions that make me vulnerable to Covid, so I don’t want to get it myself, but I really really don’t want to give it to someone else. Most people I know who had or have it warn us to NOT get it. So why are so many people walking around doing exactly what they want?

Some are because they’re tired of people telling them what to do. Covid fatigue is a long haul, especially in these days of 24/7 non-stop media and social media coverage of the pandemic. They’re tired of being told to wear a mask and that stores were closing and that they can’t travel to foreign countries because we’re banned from entry. They don’t want government pushing itself on them, not that I’ve actually noticed much of that happening from the feds, anyway.

A scary number don’t believe that Covid is real or can kill people, or at minimum will make a lot of people very sick in ways we won’t really understand for a long time. Some feel that they’ve lived their lives and if God takes them, it’s okay with them. It doesn’t seem that anyone NOT wearing a mask cares if they infect someone else; it’s just all about doing what they want.

If we all wore masks, kept our social distance, and stayed away from other people until there was a vaccine available and distributed, our lives would be different. I actually had a foreboding last winter that this wouldn’t go away quickly. But people aren’t going to pay attention to that. They will just show their independence, individuality, stubborness, and selfishness to do what they want. Which is why 50 million people are traveling for Thanksgiving. I expect the infection and death rates to soar by Christmas.

Me? I’m staying home with the cats. I’ll swap fall decorations for Christmas, eat pork roast instead of turkey, and watch Hallmark movies. I have a 4-day weekend when I don’t have to go anywhere or do anything. Avoiding people on this big family and food holiday is how I’m spending this weird 2020 Thanksgiving. I suspect Christmas will be the same.

That said, I am thankful for my family and their understanding of my need to do this. For my beautiful ginger girls who bring joy and companionship every day. For my friends here and spread across the country, both ones I know in person and ones I met online and who have become close friends. For the strength and focus that allowed me to take weight off in a way that is healthy and sustainable. For a job that lets me serve, sometimes be creative, and learn new skills. For my health and for good doctors. For my home, cozy and now personal after last year’s renovation. For my life.

Thank you, God, for loving me and keeping me safe. Protect those I love and help us to make wise decisions in these extraordinary times.

MyHeart First Screening

Heart with stethoscope

Today was my MyHeart First screening at the local hospital, which is actually seven diagnostic cardiovascular tests bundled together. My primary care doctor suggested it, not because there were problems, but because it could spot something that might be lurking undetected. It also gives me some good baselines on things that have never been checked before. Here are the results:

Cholesterol panel – My Total Cholesterol was 114!!! Down almost 90 points from the high last year. HDL (good cholesterol) was 47 with LDL (bad cholesterol) of 43.8. Triglycerides were 116, also excellent and big improvement over past results.

EKG – Fine, which I expected. I’ve had a lot of these and results were consistent.

CT Coronary Calcium Scoring – A score of 100 to 300 means moderate plaque deposits. The higher the score, the higher the risk of heart disease. My score was 135, which puts me in the 77th percentile for women my age. I can’t bring the score down but I can keep it from going higher (with corresponding risk levels) with diet, exercise, and watching my cholesterol.

Ankle Brachial Index – They used ultrasound and ankle blood pressure readings to see if I had peripheral artery disease. This is the one I was more worried about, because my right foot, which has neuropathy from severe spinal stenosis, sometimes gets colder than the other foot. But the test showed no PAD, which means no increased risk of heart attack, stroke, or poor circulation.

Carotid Artery Ultrasound – No existing blockages to the major arteries of the brain, which can lead to strokes.

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screens – Ultrasound of the abdomen found no weakened and/or bulging areas in the aorta.

Metabolic Disease – Review of the dreaded BMI (yeah, I know all about this one) and discussion of exercise. I knew this was coming.

I didn’t love doing these tests. And I hate conversations that end up discussing how I’m overweight and need to lose more, blah blah blah. I did learn that I’ve shrunk even more. I used to be 5’4″ and now I’m down to 5’2.5″. It was unlikely that I would get taller but I hadn’t realized I was shrinking.

But I’m glad I did this. Glad to have it behind me with good solid results that are even now being sent to my primary care doctor and cardiologist. I’m kind of sick of doctors about now, though I have some more things on the schedule between now and the end of 2020. But at least they’re not cardio-related. Yayyy.

No Gain Campaign

Me on 11/10/20

This afternoon I went to my gym – the one I belong to but haven’t BEEN to since Covid – and stepped on a scale, after lunch and wearing clothes and shoes. Yup. My guess of 253 was spot on and only 3 lbs more than my early morning nekkid body weight, which is the only one that counts in my book.

Why did I do this, you ask? Because they are having a “No Gain Campaign” again this year. Members weigh in this week and then again the first week in January. People who haven’t gained a pound are entered into a pool and could win personal training or massage therapy sessions or other nifty things. But mostly for me it’s making a commitment that I Will Not Gain Weight Over the Holidays.

Most years this is a bigger task, because my community is a holiday party hub, with big fancy parties scattered over the 3 weeks after Thanksgiving. There is food and wine and cookies and desserts and rich sauces on meals and more cookies. Did I mention cookies? So usually just staying even is a challenge. This year, though, in the Covid Universe, I don’t know of a single party. I have no cookies at my house though I do have a small container of Dove milk chocolate square. And a freezer bag of margaritas.

I have no plans to spend the Christmas/New Years holidays anywhere but home with the cats, who do not tempt me with their uneaten stinky cat food. My brother and sister-in-law will be here for Thanksgiving next week, but I still have another 5 weeks to go before my next weigh in. I know I can do this “no gain” thing through Turkey Day and beyond.

Me on New Year’s Eve 2019

Because as of today, I am down 59.8 lbs since January 1st which is ALMOST 60 lbs which is a nice round number of a lot of weight. I’m not blowing this. I worked too hard for it. I’m too comfortable in my body at this size to even really remember how very hard it was to be 60 lbs heavier.

The gym was almost empty and isn’t all that big in the first place. They showed me what I should be able to do easily with my knee injury, at least to start, and I am setting a goal for these next 6 weeks of going twice a week for 20-30 minutes. I have to start back somewhere and I think it will be safe. My body needs the work out. My brain needs to make a commitment and see it through. I’ll check in and let you know how it goes.

What’s wrong with this picture?

At first glance it’s that one foot has a slipper and the other just has pretty red toes. But what’s really wrong is that I’m sitting on the floor. And not on purpose.

My right knee has been wobbly since I tore my MCL back in May, throwing my balance off. The right foot has neuropathy from spinal stenosis which began 18 months ago. And I’ve been dealing with back pain with injections and nerve burns but my right SI joint is still a mess. In fact, I was supposed to get an injection in the joint yesterday until they rescheduled the appointment.

So in a way I’ve been expecting to fall. At least yesterday I was inside when I lost my balance and crashed to the floor – the carpeted floor. There were chairs for leverage in getting up. Oh, did I mention that both knees were replaced 8 years ago? Kneeling is like being on broken glass, which is why getting up is so difficult. So having pillows to support the knee helped, though my first attempt to get up did something to my right foot (naturally, the right side again) and I almost cracked my head on the brick hearth. The next attempt was successful and didn’t cause any more injuries.

Being a klutz, I know the R-I-C-E routine of rest, ice, compression, and elevation and always have several ice packs in the freezer as well as frozen peas. I iced both foot and knee last night but by this morning, I could barely walk on the foot. I don’t think anything is broken and suspect it’s just a sprain but am going to the doctor later today to get it checked out to be sure.

I need a better plan for dealing with possible falls since I live alone. Using a cane, at least until I can have knee surgery (after I lose enough more weight). I’m giving a house key to the security guard and making arrangements with friends I could call if/when this happens again. My upper body needs to be stronger and I can work on that with weights. I need to think about some kind of alert system, though the idea of being that “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” old lady is hard to swallow. But the idea of falling and not being to get up is even worse.

Crockpot Mushroom Risotto

I’ve been playing with recipes for risotto and concocted something I really like based on Farah’s recipe over at Cooking Jar. I made a few changes but nothing huge – reduced butter from 4 TB to 3 TB, added a large sprig of fresh thyme, used reduced-sodium broth instead of regular, and doubled the parmesan cheese. Oh, and I steamed frozen peas to add instead of using canned. Actually, I added peas and carrots because that’s what was in the freezer, but that wasn’t planned.

Oh, and I made this in my new 4-qt Crockpot. Perfect size!
Makes 8 servings.

Calculated at MyFitnessPal

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 8 oz. portabella mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 shallot/ 1/4 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 3/4 cups Arborio rice
  • 4 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Sprig of fresh thyme
  • 1 cup peas (frozen peas, steamed)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Melt the butter and cook mushrooms, shallots and garlic over medium high heat for 5 minutes or until mushrooms have browned and liquid has evaporated
  2. Add in rice, stirring to coat for 2 minutes
  3. Spray the slow cooker with cooking spray and add rice mixture
  4. Pour in broth and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add sprig of thyme.
  5. Stir to combine and cook on high for 1 hour 30 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed
  6. Once it’s cooked, remove thyme. Stir in peas and cheese and mix well
  7. Dish and serve hot