Goodbye, Therapy

Therapy is over, at least for now. I’m so grateful to Grace for her excellent care of me these last two months, and the progress I made with her help. She challenged me to do more than I thought I could do (can we say stairs?) because she knew I could do it, but she also listened when there was something I wanted to do or had problems trying to accomplish a goal. It’s on me now to keep going because I do NOT want to lose ground, though my knee problem is limiting me somewhat.

I do know I’ve lost some upper body strength in spite of using my arms to wheel the chair around everywhere. I have Therabands and small arm weights, and instructions from Susan on how to use them – I just need to actually use them instead of admiring them and leaving them untouched. So I’m going to rearrange things to get those weights closer to where I mostly sit here in my living room. If all I have to do is reach down to get them, I can do those arm exercises several times a day. Let’s start with once.

I’ve also gained weight. This isn’t terribly surprising since I’m not moving all that much and eating all the time – and because the food here is amazing and plentiful. I’m up about 17 pounds and I can tell by the way my body feels and the way my clothes are fitting. I’m not ready to make a commitment to working on weight loss again, but the first step is acknowledging the issue. I worked so hard to lose my weight on Noom and with MyFitnessPal, and I don’t want to go back to where I was.

On my last day of therapy, we went down to my old rehab pod area to use the giant scale. You can roll on with a wheelchair, or get up and stand using a walker, which is what I did. Then we weighed the walker so I could deduct it from the total to give me a realistic number. Which is important, because I have two doctor’s appointments before the end of the year, and they will both want me to get on a scale because doctors ALWAYS want you to get on a scale. But because I know the offices and know the scales, I know there’s nothing to hold on to and the step up is higher than what I’ve done in the last four months. I just don’t feel safe getting up on it, and my therapist concurred. So we arranged to get my weight another way and I’ll pass it along when I get to the doctor.

I’m learning that before I go somewhere, I need to make sure that the space is wheelchair accessible. And I need to be sure I don’t drink much of anything before I go in case their bathrooms are not workable. Even ADA compliant bathrooms may not have much room to maneuver. I also need to schedule my transportation; no more hopping into a car and just going when I want to go somewhere. I haven’t done a car transfer yet and am not sure really how to manage it coming from the wheelchair – from a walker, I could turn around and back in, but from the chair? Lifting my knees up is also a serious limit.

My legs still aren’t very strong. Honestly, who knew how much strength it takes to just stand up and walk around? I need to continue working on the leg muscles, and my therapist confirmed that using the NuStep would definitely help. The machine here is still broken so I’ve found a place to order one for my own apartment, and they’ll deliver and set up completely for an extra fee (of course). I need help rearranging some things in the room where it will go, and think I’ll wait for my brother’s Christmas visit for that. If I decide to sell it later, the same company will buy it back and refurbish it for someone else. But I know that having it right here, and an aide who can help me get on and off safely, will mean I’ll get the workout I need.

Because I want to be able to not use the chair so much. I have this lovely shiny red rollator that I want to be able to use – but I’m not ready yet. Grace explained that my legs aren’t strong enough and I’m putting more weight through my arms on the walker. That doesn’t translate to the rollator, which expects you to have stronger legs and be able to walk faster than I can. So for now, I’m still mostly in the wheelchair but walking in the hall every day with the AFO on the right foot to prevent foot drop. But I’ll get there and have my fancy rollator for when I’m strong enough to use it.

But I made cookies this week with my aide. That involved endurance standing, moving around the counters without falling down, and opening the oven and bending to move cookie sheets without falling or burning myself. Making cookies is part of Christmas for me, and it was important to be able to do this – not to eat myself, but to give away. I felt like a normal person and got a great sense of accomplishment as well as the fun of baking with someone else. The cats didn’t help.

And then there were Girl Scout cookies

You know the story: a child, or grandchild, or niece, or neighbor’s daughter, or the granddaughter of someone you work with puts out word that “It’s Girl Scout Cookie Time!” Those boxes are only $5 each even if they have fewer cookies in them than they used to have. The tastes bring back past delights – Thin Mints and Samoas (now called Caramel Delites, but the same cookie), the Lemon ones, and Tagalongs (now called Peanut Butter Patties, which is a pretty dull if descriptive name). New faves S’more cookies that are JUST like chocolate covered graham crackers but with a little super thin layer of marshmallow.

I want to eat them all. Sometimes I’m strong enough to give them money to support the troop or to pay to send boxes to military or a shelter or some other good cause that’s not in my mouth. This year was not one of those years. I am hyper stressed and Girl Scout cookies fit the moment perfectly. And my mouth, too, if not my food plan. Definitely not the food plan.

I was a Brownie for a year before “crossing over” and becoming a Girl Scout in my green uniform with round patches of badges for things like Knitting, Cooking, and First Aid. Now of course they have badges for Robot Making, Genealogy, Basic Coding, and things that I’m not exactly sure what they are. But it’s exciting that they’ve kept up with the times. Cookie sales are still a Thing, though, but they’ve changed the process to provide buyers with immediate gratification of Cookies in Hand.

Back in my day we put on our uniforms and went door to door in the neighborhood and up and down nearby streets, ringing doorbells and knocking on doors, pulling out our best sales pitch to convince people who didn’t need cookies that they Really Needed These Amazing Cookies sold ONLY by Girl Scouts but which they couldn’t have yet. Then we sent the orders in and the Cookie Mom’s house was packed with cases and cases of cookies that had to be divided up to match the orders. The girls then picked them up and delivered them, often lugging Red Flyer wagons full of cookies around the neighborhood.

It was work. And we had to do it all ourselves. I don’t remember that anyone in my troop had help from parents asking their work colleagues to buy boxes of cookies. We didn’t set up outside stores with boxes of cookies to sell with our winning smiles – because we had to order them all before we actually had cookies in our hands. My mom was my Girl Scout leader and was also the Cookie Mom for at least two years. I think it made her crazy – I know it would me – in part because my father, who adored Thin Mints, might pop down and walk off with a box that he’d eat in secret so Mom wouldn’t know what he was doing. Thin Mint breath usually gave him away.

The cookies are for sale now and I have four boxes in the garage. I’m not sure why I bought this many except a friend was helping her adored granddaughter with sales. I could have said “No” but I didn’t. My plan is to freeze them and hope that does the trick of “out of sight, out of mind.” Except for the ones I’ve already opened, of course.

It’s a cookie kind of day.

Christmas Baking

I’ve turned into a lunatic. In the last 24 hours, I’ve made 5 different kinds of cookies. I love to bake but having cookies sit around isn’t a good idea because, well, I want to eat them. Not all of them, because that’s too much sweetness and it makes me sick. But still. I really do like cookies.

Some of these are Christmas cookies, at least for my family. I’ve been making the molasses cookies since college. The chocolate meringues have nothing Christmassy about them but it was the only time of year Mom made them. Walnut Crescents became Pecan Balls somewhere through the years. I still can’t make the Swedish Spritz cookies that Mom made so well, but that’s okay.

Here are the recipes for the ones I made today:

Recipe: Mincemeat Cookies

These cookies are moist and cake-like. You might need to call them spiced raisin cookies because lots of people don’t like mincemeat without even knowing what it is!

3 1/4 C. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. orange peel
1 C. shortening
1 1/2 C. sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 C. prepared mincemeat (from jar)

Sift flour, salt, soda, and spices.
Cream shortening and sugar. Add eggs and continue beating.
Gradually add flour mixture.
Stir in mincemeat and mix thoroughly.
Drop by teaspoonful about 2″ apart on greased sheet.

Bake in 400 degree oven for 12 minutes.
Cool on wire rack.

Optionally glaze with mixture of powdered sugar and orange or lemon juice.

Recipe: Pecan Balls

These started out as walnut crescents, but now I make them with pecans from the trees in my yard. Walnuts work, too, but pecans are easier for me. And crescents were too hard to make, so balls it is.

1/2 C. butter
1/2 C. shortening
1/3 C. sugar
2 tsp. water
2 tsp. vanilla
2 C. flour
1/2 C. chopped nuts
Confectioner’s sugar

Cream butter, shortening, and sugar. Mix in water and vanilla, then flour and nuts.
Chill 3-4 hours.
Roll into medium size balls. Cookies will not spread so can space close together.
Bake a 325 on ungreased cookie sheet for 15 minutes.
Roll in confectioner’s sugar when removed from oven.
Cool on wire rack.
Yield: approx. 4 dozen