Monthly Archives: April 2015

Hep C, Writing, Fitbit, House

“It says here that I should eat ice cream every day.” Dave looked up from his computer screen and smiled.

I have to give him points for trying – ice cream every day would take the sting out of going through treatment for Hepatitis C a second time.

His new treatment starts next week, and it goes for three months this time. He’ll be taking a new drug, Harvoni (I keep wanting to call it Havarti, like the cheese) along with his old friend Ribavirin. No interferon shots this time, thank God. We couldn’t remember if he had to take the drugs with a high-fat snack the way he did last time, so he was doing research to refresh his memory. (Turns out it was the boceprevir that required the high-fat snack, so no requisite Hershey bars or peanut butter this time around.)

This regimen should have way less side effects, although there will still be a few from the Ribavirin. (If he was treatment-naïve, he would just take the Harvoni which has very few side effects.) We’ll be making bi-weekly trips to Fort Wayne to pick up his medicine (he gets a two week supply each time) and have them check his labs.

I didn’t mean to let so much time go by without an update. I was taking an online class on how to make money from your writing, and it ended this month. By the end of the class I was feeling like I just wanted to write here and not try to actually make any money by writing – and then I stopped writing here, go figure. It was pretty eye-opening, though, and I’m glad I took the class. I had a lot of misconceived notions about writing for magazines, for instance. I didn’t realize that you don’t actually write a piece and submit it (unless it’s an essay, which I discovered is the type of writing I prefer). A magazine article is just an idea when you send a query to a magazine – ‘Hey, how about I write on this subject for you?’ – and then you wait to find out if anyone is interested. If they are, then you write the article.

And a book – well, my memoir has been stalled for months, so it’s not like I was on the verge of being done or anything, but I was still thinking of book publishing as ‘write a book, submit the manuscript and hope it gets accepted, if it does then the publisher promotes it and you hope people buy it.’ No sir. It’s more like, write a book and then try to convince a publisher to accept it by showing how popular you are and all the things YOU can do to promote it. I have NO desire to try to sell a book. I don’t want to have to give talks or readings, I don’t want to do interviews, I don’t want to spend my days begging my friends to buy my book. I just want to write, man. So I figured, screw it, I’m just going to satisfy my urge to write through my blog. And then, like I said, I stopped writing.

I was very caught up in the whole ‘I am not a writer if I don’t get paid for what I write’ thing and it was really messing with my head. So I backed off of everything for a while, I guess.

In other exciting news, sort of related to writing, I got a Fitbit last week. Influenster offered me the eBay Guide badge, where you earn a $25 eBay gift card by writing two eBay guides. It took forever and a day to have both of the guides accepted (they read them and approve them one at a time) and then to actually get the gift card, which was sent in the mail. While I was trying to figure out what to spend it on, they offered me an eBay Guide VIP badge for another $25 gift card. I decided to do two more guides, and held onto the first gift card so I could combine them. The second gift card came via email and voila, I had $50 to spend on eBay.

I had done some research on the Fitbit, and decided on either the Flex or the Charge. I don’t use it for phone stuff so the only thing the Charge really offered that the Flex didn’t have was an on-screen display. I did some pricing and realized I could get the Flex for very little of my own money, so that sealed my decision. I finally snagged a slate blue Fitbit Flex for $60 with free shipping, used my $50 in gift cards and got myself a Fitbit for the low, low out-of-my-pocket price of $10.

I am properly obsessed right now, and I do find myself extending my workouts to get in at least 10,000 steps a day if I can. I don’t really bother with the calorie portion of the app because I use the Livestrong MyPlate website to track my calories, but I do take note of the calories I supposedly burned (according to Fitbit) versus the calories I consumed (according to MyPlate).

I am holding steady with my weight, and I just have seven measly pounds to get to my ultimate, in-my-dreams goal. However, I’ve been within 4 to 7 pounds of that goal for nearly a year now. Maybe the Fitbit will take me over the top. If nothing else, I’ll be more active. Win, win!

Now I’ve gotten a third eBay Guide badge, the VIP Plus, for another $25 gift card. I completed those guides and they were accepted right away, so I’m waiting for the gift card (it usually takes a few weeks). Let me just say, finding topics that I could write on was really hard. You have to use the Influenster topic suggestion tool and use something from there. You click on this ‘inspire me’ button and it spins around and throws out a topic. Most of them were for things I’d never even heard of, or had no idea what to write about (how to replace a manual transmission; pricing Pokemon cards; birds of Asia). I lucked out with a couple of candle topics, one on canning, DIY hair stuff, things like that. It took a lot of clicking to get there, though.

I think we are finally ready to give the garden a go. Dave is out burning the brush pile right now; it has to go because it’s currently in the area we plan to till. Well, I think we may have someone come in and do the tilling for us. We’ve figured the cost of renting a tiller AND a truck (because we can’t fit the tiller in our Hyundai Sonata), and it may be cheaper just to pay someone to come do it for us with their own equipment. One way or another, though, the garden area should be prepared in the next couple of weeks and we can finally begin planting. One more thing – we finally started a compost pile. I’ve never had one, so I keep having to dig through the trash to pull out vegetable peelings, egg shells and the like.

We will miss this little house when we move on, but it won’t be until 2016 at the earliest. Last year was so full of trauma and upheaval, and we are looking forward to just staying put for this year. It is so nice to wake up every day feeling relaxed, wondering where the day will take us. Every day we find new flowers coming up, new buds on the trees. I’m already looking forward to mulberries and raspberries.

Raspberries from our yard last year

Raspberries from our yard last year

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It Only Took 32 Years

… for me to change my attitude on exercise.

When I was in high school, we were required to take gym class. Except for the times we were doing special units (my favorites were roller skating and gymnastics), we had to run a mile every week. We’d get out on the track and, in my case, huff and puff until the punishment was done. I hated doing the mile. Hated it.

It didn’t matter that I was really skinny in high school; I was not physically fit at all. In the beginning, I’d kind of jog along with everybody until I got too tired, and then I’d walk. As the months went by I just said ‘screw this’ and walked right from the start. I was usually last to finish, and I didn’t care.

I often wonder if we’d ever been taught how to work up to running – you know, a Couch to 5K kind of thing – then maybe I wouldn’t have hated it so much. I just could not jog for that long without physical pain. It taught me to hate jogging with a passion.

When I saw my doctor last month for my new patient physical, she asked if I exercised and I told her that I jogged on a mini trampoline daily. “I’m trying to transition to jogging outside,” I added, “but it’s so hard.” “Oh, walking is better for you,” she replied. “There’s less chance for injury.”

When my physical was over, I had a blood test. I was curious to see how my cholesterol levels responded to the daily exercise and 35 pound weight loss. My blood pressure was already showing positive changes; even though I was nervous as hell at my doctor appointment, my blood pressure was 112/70. (I take medication for it.) I see the doctor again in September and there’s even a chance she might take me off the blood pressure medication, which I’ve been on since 1994.

High cholesterol runs in my family, and although it responds a bit if I lose weight, I usually still have high cholesterol if I don’t take medication for it. I have never exercised regularly though; this is the first time in all of my 50 years that I’ve exercised on a regular basis for more than a couple of weeks. (It’s been about a year and a half for me now.) I think the biggest change was my HDL cholesterol, which went from 45 to 64 – the highest it’s ever been.

My overall cholesterol went down just 4 points, but I’m taking a fibrate instead of a statin so that doesn’t surprise me. (My last doctor was trying to get my triglycerides down, so she switched me from the statin.) The fibrate medication does bring my triglycerides down more but it doesn’t really touch my LDL or overall cholesterol much. I was happy that my overall cholesterol was still under 200, even on the fibrate. My LDL went down 14 points, but it’s still a shade over 100 (which is the ‘optimal’ range).

My triglycerides though – holy crap. They are 71, which is so much lower than I’ve ever been. My highest was 237; that was when I was taking prescription fish oil (Lovaza) and ugh, that stuff was horrible. So I really think the exercise is helping my overall health more than I realized, possibly even more than losing weight.

While I was still riding the high of my much-improved results, I happened to see a small notice in our town paper about a 5K to support a local grief support and hospice program, Lory’s Place. I’d just finished reading Being Mortal and really liked what the author had to say about hospice in general, so I was all for doing something to support them. I talked to Dave and he agreed. So I signed us both up to walk our first 5K on May 16.

We’ve been walking outside every day that it isn’t raining. I was pretty sure we could finish a 5K in an hour; I mean a 20 minute mile sounds so leisurely, you know? But we got out and walked around the backyard one day and I was positively gasping, my heart pounding, my thighs screaming … and it took over 22 minutes to walk one mile.

“I’m going to be last!” I despaired. I’d made the mistake of looking at the past race results and noticed that the slowest walking time was about 1:17. I could see myself slowing down after the first mile and doing my subsequent miles in 25 or more minutes each. I actually made Dave promise that if we were last, he would slow down so I could cross the finish line before him and be second to last. (My husband is such a good guy!)

Of course, jogging is out of the realm of possibility here; I can’t even walk that fast, much less jog. But we made it out to an actual paved trail yesterday and did our mile in exactly 17 minutes, so that gives me hope. I was still panting and gasping at the end, but it’s definitely easier to walk on a paved surface versus our soft, lumpy, molehill-ridden backyard.

I’ve decided to just dial back my competitive nature and do this 5K for the fun experience I hope it will be. Maybe with time and practice, it will get easier. Maybe we’ll even sign up for another one in the future.

If you would have told me back in high school that I’d voluntarily walk 3.1 miles, I would’ve thought you were crazy. At least I don’t have to do it wearing a gym suit. ::shudder::

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