Sunday, May 24, 2015

Spring Flea

Hi Everyone!

Last weekend, Mr. Bluebird and I headed out to the first  Elkhorn Flea Market of the season.  It was a drizzly, cold morning which kept our "flea-ing" short, but oh, it was sweet, lol!    I picked up three vintage potato harvesting baskets (the one in front is in sad shape), a gorgeous old laundry basket and a super cute copper watering can.  I will show you in an upcoming post where each of these cuties have turned up around the Bluebird house.


I also started a little spring fluffing of our front patio.  The white wicker table had been stashed in our basement for years - I am happy to finally bring it out again.


I moved our red Pier One chairs from the back patio to the front.  The  Medallion pillows were a $9.00 score from WalMart. 



 You may (or may not!) be asking yourself, "why did the red chairs get moved to the front patio?" Well, the new patio furniture from my mother's day haul has been delivered and assembled, leaving no space for the cute red chairs.  I am loving them in the front and how they pop against the white siding and green shutters. I will also have a back patio reveal coming soon - so much work to be done back there yet.  It may be an "in progress" post!

Thanks for stopping by,
Jane

Linking with:
Metamorphosis Monday
Coastal Charm Show & Share
Make it Pretty Monday
Amaze Me Monday
The Scoop
Inspire Me Tuesday
Wow Us Wednesday
Party in Your PJ's

About Me Monday: What's Up With Those Ankles?

Hi Everyone!

Welcome to the third and final installment of my About Me Monday series.  I have divulged a lot of things that I normally would choose to keep private, but from the overwhelming number of comments and emails I have received about sharing my story, I am glad I worked up the courage to share my story with you.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your kind words and support!

This week I want to tell you about my legs and ankles.  Do any of you remember the old Cher commercial she did for a fitness club years ago?  Her catchphrase in the commercial was "even my ankles are fat!"  Of course, the humor was supposed to be that no one has fat ankles.

Well, it seems like no one has fat ankles except me, lol.  I know that is not true, but believe me, it sure feels that way!  As I shared in last week's installment, I have lost over 100 pounds since October. You would think my ankles would be pretty darned slender, wouldn't you? Not only that, but my thighs and calves have been stubborn in letting go of the fat.

This picture of me was taken this past Friday.  I am wearing a size medium tee shirt! Yet, my thighs, calves and ankles are huge and oddly shaped.


See how my thigh kind of overlaps my knee? (I can't believe I am actually pointing this out!!) That is a classic sign of lymphedema. You can't see it in the photo, but there is an overlap of my calf by my ankles as well.  Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

Enter the common thread in all of my "About Me" posts: my chiropractor!  A few months ago, when I was in for a check-in for my weight loss, he expressed surprise that my legs were not slimming like the rest of me.  It was his feeling that I had something called lymphedema. (Without going into the whole scientific definition, it basically is swelling caused by a malfunction in the lymphatic system.) Off I went to an occupational therapist trained in lymphedema massage.  I went four times over a four week period, but really did not see any improvement. She also fitted me with compression leggings that I have to wear 23 hours a day (yep, twenty three hours each & every day). They help to keep the condition from worsening.  I am currently in search of finding a doctor who speciallizes in this disease, as I have read there is more intensive treatment available that will reduce the swelling substantially.  After that occurs, then as a patient, I would need to work on maintaining.

There isn't alot of information out there regarding this rare condition,  so it is hard to find a doctor who specializes in lymphedema. What I have learned - much to my dismay - is that there is no "cure" for it and without proper attention it can get worse and be quite debilitating, both physically and mentally. It definitely is not an attractive condition.  My chiropractor figures I am carrying 30 to 50 pounds of lymphatic fluid in my legs! I am so thankful to have this doctor in my life, as I would have just assumed it was my weight that was causing my legs to look the way they do.  Of course, being a healthy weight will help lessen some of the size, but it is not the only treatment that needs to be done.

So there you have it - my fat and sassy ankle and leg story!  No mini skirts or capris for me - at least for now.  I do have a wedding coming up and am thankful maxi dresses are in style.  Because of my weight, I haven't worn a dress in years.  Years. Years as in probably 15.  While not burning up the runway in model good looks, I am pretty happy with the dress I found.  It will probably shock the relatives when I show up in something other than black dress pants, lol.

I will keep you posted on my lymphedema journey every now and then.  I do believe many women have this condition and just do not realize it. I have become somewhat obsessed with checking out ankles - ankle envy, ha!  I hope I have helped some of you who have faced some of the same issues I have faced.

Now, back to some pretty photos and happy posts!



Happy Memorial Day weekend to you all - remember those who have served to make our country great.

Thanks for stopping by,
Jane
Linking with:
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Coastal Charm Show & Share
Make it Pretty Monday
Amaze Me Monday
The Scoop
Inspire Me Tuesday
Wow Us Wednesday
Party in Your PJ's
.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

About Me Monday: I Always Thought it was a Secret

Hi everyone!

Thanks sooo much for joining me for the second of my three part series, "About Me Monday."  My first installment where I shared my lost year really struck a chord with many of you and I appreciate all of your sweet comments and emails.

Today I am dipping my toe into scary waters and talking about a subject that is very uncomfortable for me to share.  Like, "breaking out in hives and hyperventillating" kind of scary.  It is an area of my life that I have always, always, always kept very private.

Ssshhh....don't tell anyone, but I am fat.  Yes, I have kept that a secret.  No one else has ever known that about me.  Except for my family, friends, co-workers, strangers and any one I have ever met in person or who has seen a photo of me.  Ok, I guess the only person who thought my obesity was a secret was me.  I think I believed if I didn't acknowledge it no one would know........

But I am obese.  Morbidly obese according to all the health charts.


2011

So why I am I sharing this personal and for me, incredibly embarrassing, topic with all of blogland? Well, besides possible insanity, I think I may be able to help and inspire those of you who may need to lose weight but have found it difficult to do so.

After my year long health issues I shared in my last post, I had been feeling so much better once I found the right doctor and the solution to my problems.  Although I was no longer suffering from my illness, I still felt stuck in my armor of fat and my quality of life was really lacking due to the limitations and general lethargy I felt from carrying so much extra weight.  Even though I was well aware my weight was affecting my life, I had resigned myself to living my days with sore feet, ill fitting clothes and limited energy.  I believed it was my lot in life.

Enter again my amazing chiropractor.  Yep, the chiropractor strikes again, lol.  Here's the story:

While waiting for my appointment with my chiropractor to begin, I noticed a sign for a weight loss program he offered through his practice.  It was a six week plan that promised a 25 to 40 pound weight loss.  Intrigued, I asked him about it and long story short, I signed up that day and have not looked back.

Now, to back track a bit, like most people who are severely overweight, I have tried many weight loss programs in the past: Diet Center, Nutri System, Medifast, Slim Fast, juicing, etc., etc., etc.  All with some success, but never lasting and in fact,they were the catalyst for gaining even more weight.


2013

I had a daunting task ahead of me.  I was a good (is that an oxymoron?) 150 #'s overweight.  And of course, what self respecting weight loss plan doesn't start with a weigh in on the scale. Ugh!  It was shocking and heart wrenching to see the reading on the scale: 297.4 pounds. Talk about heartbreaking...not surprising, however it sure was humilating to see it up in lights. But, I went in with a determination - after all it was only six weeks.  I can do anything for six weeks.  Well, this program has clicked for me.  Totally clicked.  Maybe it's the right "diet" or maybe the stars were aligned or it was divine intervention. Regardless, the pounds and inches came off.  I was also never hungry - no cravings, no growling stomach. None. Nada. Zilch. I started at the end of October and I am down about 103 pounds.

The difference I feel in this particular "diet" is that it really isn't a diet in the way a person normally thinks of a diet.  There are no artificially flavored shakes or bars, no processed foods.  You eat healthy, whole foods - veggies, chicken, fish, fruit.  Nothing that comes from a factory or has factory made ingredients.  I do not have the "when I'm done, I can eat _______" mindset anymore.  The phrase, "when I'm done with my diet," always meant, "when I go back to the foods that made me fat." Once I no longer am losing weight, I will still be eating the same foods, just in a higher quantity.  I think that is what's made the difference for me.....I have completely turned about what types of food I like and want to eat.  By eliminating the junk and eating food in balance with one another, my brain no longer calls out for sugars or fats.  It has truly been a miracle for me and quite possibly may have saved my life.


2014

I am not here to promote the particular weight loss program I am on.  If you would like to know what it is called and where to get more information on it, feel free to leave me a message.  I also would be happy to answer any questions you have about my experience.  There are plenty of programs and methods to lose weight.  My purpose for telling you my journey is similar to my experience with searching for a doctor who could help me with my year long mystery illness.  I want to urge any one who has excess pounds to lose - and who wishes to lose them - to keep looking for the "right" weight loss program for you.  I had all but given up, but finally found a plan that works for me and one I feel I can use throughout the rest of my life.


April 2015

I still have a way too go in my weight loss journey, but not nearly as far as I had to go when I first started in late October.  I no longer shop in the plus size aisle.  I don't wonder if I will fit comfortably in a theater seat or look for the closest parking spot at the mall.  I am looking forward (sort of!) to getting into a work out routine.  One thing I use daily is a little exercise bike that I can use when I am at the computer or watch TV.  I try to get 20 minutes in the morning before work and another 30 or so in the evenings.  It really has strengthened my legs and is a great way to get my "steps" in for the day.


April 2015

Believe me, I know "dieting" is personal - I'm hyperventillating as I'm writing, lol!  I've told you I'm fat, how many pounds I've weighed (and if you are good at math, you know how much I currently weigh) and disclosed I'm on a diet.  Yikes!  But, I hope by sharing, I may motivate some of you who feel it is hopeless to look for a plan that works for you and you can start improving your health as well.  Like me, you have people in your lives who love you (no matter what your size) that want you to be happy, healthy and around for a long, long time. I encourage you  to take that first step. Or second. Or tenth. Or, like me, it took countless steps to find something that worked.


Mother's Day 2015




Thanks for stopping by,
Jane

*remember to always consult with your doctor before starting any weight loss or exercise program

Join me for the third and final installment of my "About Me Monday" series: "What's Up With These Ankles?"

Linking with:
Amaze Me Monday
Metamorphosis Monday
Coastal Charm Show & Share
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Wow Us Wednesday
Party in Your ON's
Share Your Style
Grace at Home
Saturday Sparks

Mother's Day Haul

 Hi everyone!

Just wanted to pop in and share my "mother's day haul" from last weekend.  Let me first say that the "haul" I cherish the most is all the love I receive every day from Mr. Bluebird and our sweet daughter.  That is by far more than I can hope for each and every day.

However.....I can't complain about a few gifts now and then, can I?

Mr. Bluebird and I went to my favorite antique mall in our area and I found a few little things.  First up, this cute tomato basket.  Love the patina and it makes a neat spot for some potted plants.



I love advertising graphics, so the green and red on this basket made me smile.  



I also picked up a cool green gallon jug (for $3.00!) and a little vintage 'roo - thought he'd look cute in a vignette.



I love that his paint job is a little worn - all about the character at the Bluebird house.


We also stopped at WalMart (like every one does on Mother's Day.....????)  Picked up a Mason jar style bird feeder.  It looks great hanging from one of our maple trees.


My giant sized Mother's Day gift was Presidio patio furniture from Kohls.  We are adding on to our patio and having a large seating area with a firepit installed.  We have been looking and looking for outdoor wicker and after much research, decided the Presidio was perfect for us.   This is just a photo from the Kohls web site, but I am so looking forward to lounging by the fire this summer and fall.



One of the lounge chairs was delivered on Friday, so Mr. Bluebird got to work and put it together.  I am lucky to have him!  He even put it together with a smile!


Lastly, my favorite, most heartfelt gift came from my daughter.  Come July, she will be moving to Virginia for graduate school....a long, long way from home. I sure will miss her when she is gone, but I am so proud of her as well.


All these years, I tried to tell her to stay within a three county radius of home, lol!


 I was one blessed and spoiled mama this past Mother's Day.  Not sure I deserved it, but who I am I to question? Ha!

Hope you will come back later today for the second of my three part "About Me Monday" series.

Thanks for stopping by,
Jane




Sunday, May 10, 2015

About Me Monday: My Lost Year

Hi everyone!

Today I am starting a three part "about me" series of blog posts.  No, I am not that interesting of a person, but I have been contemplating sharing these stories about my life with you with the hope they will speak to some of you in some way.  Not one to share a lot of personal stuff on my blog, it was a difficult decision to write about myself in such a personal manner.  But, here I am at the keyboard and I am ready to go (sort of).

All of my stories sort of link together, so I will begin at the beginning.  For a good part of 2013 and 2014,  I was very sick.  Like down and out, I think I am going to die sick.  I was awoken one night by a terrible pain in my side that had me doubled over in agony and sick to my stomach.  My first inclination was it must be a nasty bout of stomach flu.



But the pain didn't go away.  I went to my general physician who sent me to have a CT scan and some other tests to see what was up, as he determined it was not a virus.  The tests showed some gallstones, but I was assured they were not the type of stones that would be causing me any pain and that my gallbladder was just fine.  But the pain continued. My doctor suggested I might have liver cancer or pancreatic cancer and that some of my blood tests indicated that as a possibility.  He said I should make sure all my personal affairs were in order.

I was then sent to a GI specialist to have an endoscopy.  He found that I had severe acid reflux (although I had never experienced any heartburn) and I would need to have a repeat endoscopy once my acid reflux was under control with medication.  The second endoscopy didn't show anything remarkable, so the GI specialist sent me to another specialist.  Are you with me here?  The list of specialists and doctor's is getting longer.

This specialist determined that I did indeed need my gallbladder out and it would be the answer to all of my problems.  In the back of my mind, I just didn't feel it was my gallbladder, but I'm no doctor and out it came.

Sadly, I didn't feel any better after the surgery. I won't bore you with a play by play of what transpired, but let me share with you what happened after my surgery. My gallbladder surgeon told me there was nothing further he could do and suggested I go to a pain clinic because I may have nerve damage from the surgery. I chose not to do that and instead decided to see my GP first.

My GP prescribed some pills to see if they would alleviate the pain, however they only made me hallucinate and  did not ease my pain in the least.



I was referred to a new  GI doctor and after reviewing my records and scans, he determined I never needed my gallbladder out.  He also ordered an MRI of my lower abdominal area. This MRI indicated a syrinx on my spine and the doctor was concerned that I would soon be paralyzed if I did not have surgery. He sent me to a neuro surgeon who questioned why on earth I was sent to him as the syrinx was so minuscule and was most likely something I was born with and would never cause me harm. He also said there was nothing he could do for my pain and did not have any ideas of what direction I should go to seek help.

I returned to my GP and by this time I had developed a tremor in my right hand. He sent me to another neuro surgeon who ordered an MRI of my brain - where I was told once again I needed to have my personal affairs in order because it didn't look good. Gratefully, the brain MRI results showed nothing - actually this was the funniest thing of this whole process, they found nothing in my brain, lol! When asked what to do next, the doctor did not know and he sent me on my way with more questions than answers. All of these cancer and gloom & doom scares were starting to take their toll on me.



I returned to my GP who ordered a colonoscopy because he didn't know what else to do. Gratefully again, the colonoscopy came back negative.The GI who performed the procedure asked me in the recovery  room if I was depressed about my situation and I said, " of course I am, who wouldn't be? I am sick and no one has found out why."  Since he felt there was nothing wrong with me, he prescribed some heavy duty antidepressant medication.  Say what?????  But I was desperate for an answer and obediently took them even though I knew I was not truly depressed.

I again met with my GP to see what my next course of action was. He suggested I might be depressed as well, but decided to  put in an order for a pain management specialist because I just may be a victim of chronic pain

The pain management specialist questioned why I was sent there because none of my symptoms were something she could help me with, but she left me with an important piece of advice: don't stop searching for what's wrong.  She said I knew myself better than anyone and if I felt something was wrong I need to keep looking for someone that would help me. However, she had no idea who that someone might be.

At this point I had taken a leave of absence from my job that I love and was so sick that I would have to lay down after taking a shower or rest after walking downstairs in the morning.  I knew there was something terribly wrong with me, but no one was willing to help me.  At least that's how I felt.

Close to giving up, I decided to find a new GP who put me through a battery of tests and ultimately sent me to a rheumatologist as my last hope. I remember thinking I wasn't going to bother keeping the appointment because I didn't believe a rheumotologist was the answer for me either.  Just another dead end, another $50 specialist co-pay and driving an hour to get to her office seemed daunting with the condition I was in.  But, Mr. Bluebird pushed me and said I had to keep trying. And so I did.

The day I walked in to the rheumatologist's office was life changing.  Although she quickly determined there was nothing she could do to help me, she felt there was another doctor on staff who could - would it be okay if she walked across the hall and told him  about me? Why not? I'd been poked and prodded so many times before, what's one more docotor?  A few minutes later, I was introduced to the rheumatologist's husband,  who happened to be a chiropractor.  He normally didn't work on Tuesdays, but I had just stopped in for a few minutes.  Within 15 minutes of treatment, I walked out of his office almost completely pain free!  After a year and a half f excrutiating pain, minimal sleep and lost work, an answer had been found. For the first time in over a year, I slept six hours straight! It was truly serendipity that I was referred to this particular rheumatologist and this particular chiropractor was in the office and available on a day he normally is not.
Sleeping Lady Retro Images

It turns out my diaphragm had gotten out of alignment and had shifted up into my rib cage causing my intense pain.  It is still a mystery that through all of the abdominal CT scans and MRI's I endured,  none of my doctors were able to determine this.  It is heartbreaking to look back on all that I went through emotionally, physically and financially because of inept doctors who would not or could not help me.  After five appointments with my chiropractor, I have been pain free now for over seven months and have never felt better! It cost me $125 in insurance co-pays to solve my problem as opposed to the $8,000 plus I had spent meeting my deductible and co-pays, needless surgery, dozens of specialist/doctor appointments and tests.


I don't know where I would be today if it weren't for this amazing doctor.  I was at the point of resigning from my job and I had pretty much determined that my life was now going to be spent in terrible pain or worse.  I feel many of the tests and the surgery I went through were done out of greed.  I cannot prove it, but in my heart I really feel many of these people let me down for their financial gain. 

I write none of this for pity or praise - I got through it with the help of family and friends and faith in the Lord. It was a scary and frustrating time. Many people have had to endure much more.  But I am hoping my story will empower some of you to stand up to your doctors and advocate for your health.  If you feel you are not being heard or if you question the need for a test or a surgery, please get a second opinion.  If you question the second opinion, get a third!  My long time general physician is the one who let me down the most and had I not sought out a new doctor, I would still be in pain, unable to work or live my life to its fullest.

Lastly, the doctor who helped me is a chiropractor.  Interestingly, it was suggested by my sister in law early in my illness to consult with one.  I shrugged it off because I thought chiropractors were all hocus pocus, smoke and mirrors.  I regret not taking that advice - I lost a year of my life for that way of thinking.  I am a firm believer in chiropractors now!


PLEASE ADVOCATE FOR YOUR HEALTHCARE AND DON'T STOP LOOKING FOR ANSWERS!

I am sorry this is such an incredibly long post, but it was an incredibly long journey! I wish I could get my lost year back, but in a positive twist, I feel better than I have in years and my life has changed for the better in so many ways.  My next two  installments of this series are much shorter, so if you are interested please hang with me and join me next Monday.  I will be sharing some major changes I have made in my life since my health scare that have led to amazing things for me.

Thanks for stopping by,
Jane

Linking with:
Metamorphosis Monday
Amaze Me Monday
Inspire Me Tuesday
The Scoop
Wow Us Wednesday
Grace at Home



Photo credits: Graphics Fairy

Sunday, May 3, 2015

My Many Faves of May

Hi Everyone!

As I turned the calendar to May (what happened to April???), I thought it would be fun to share some of the things that help get my summer vibe started up. Can I have a "vibe" at my age, you ask?  Why, yes I can, lol!

My first fave is Philosophy Lemon Custard shower gel, body mousse and fragrance spray. This is totally my go to summer fragrance - light and fresh. I just bought a 64 ounce mega bottle of the gel, lol! Love, love, LOVE this fragrance line. A little pricey, but totally worth the splurge as far as I'm concerned.




The next summer must have is a product I use year round, but it really makes a name for itself during the hot and sultry days of summer.
ELF makeup setting mist will only set you back $3.00 - yep, three bucks.  This product gives your makeup staying power beyond belief. It is truly the postal service of setting mists..."through rain and snow and gloom of night," this product keeps your makeup looking good through it all.




When I first saw these "midi" rings, I'll admit I thought they were kind of goofy - as in a ring that doesn't go over your knuckle goofy. But I 've had a change of heart and I've been wearing this Lauren  Conrad ring every day. I am somewhat obsessed with looking at it and admiring how it looks on my finger. It has sass - and summer is the perfect time for sass!



May marks the time of year in my part of the country where patios put on their summer finery and the outdoor entertaining season begins. I love our patio, especially at night when the lights are twinkling and the soft summer breezes swirl.


Extreme Exteriors

Who doesn't love a fresh and crisp salad on a hot summer's day? The fresh veggies and fruit available from the farmer's markets make for endless combos of deliciousness!



I am a self professed lover of all things sangria - red sangria, white sangria...who cares? This fruity wine concoction is summertime delicious no matter what the color, lol!


Although not cool and refreshing, I totally have to put a plug in for my new found Keurig coffee that I found at ....Menards! Yes, Menards, the home improvement store. A box of 36 is only $8.98 - you read that right! Twice as many K-Cups for half the price. I 'll admit I first bought a box of it because of the price, but whoa! The Chocolate Caramel Brownie is my all time favorite, best ever coffee. Ever.Ever. Ever. There are lots of flavors to choose from, and at zero calories it is a guilt free indulgence.


Cameron's Coffee

There are so many things I love about this time of year, but thanks for joining me in this snapshot of some of my top favorites. What are your May faves?

Thanks for stopping by,
Jane

Linking with:

Sunday, April 26, 2015

I've Been Scheming

Hi everyone!

One of my upcoming summer projects is to repaint most of our first floor.  I really wanted to do it last summer, but I had some health issues that prevented me from doing so.  I am actually quite happy that I did not get around to painting, as my choices in colors have changed dramatically.

As any of you know who have visited my blog, I love dark, rich colors.  I always have and I am pretty sure I always will.  I have strayed from them from time to time and was never pleased with the outcome. With that being said, although I do not want to change my dark color scheme, I am ready to lighten my wall colors.  My current upholstered pieces have a "crisper" color palette making the wall colors look very drab and frankly, depressing. I look forward to freshening things up with a new color scheme!

I have had a paint deck for awhile now and it has been a fun thing to play around with. It was under $10 and well worth the money.  Shown against the backdrop of two of our upholstered chairs, these are the colors I have chosen:


The warm white (with a very slight hint of yellow) is called Heavy Cream and will be the main wall color in the living and entry areas.  The green color, Pickling Spice, is my choice for the kitchen and eating area, and Indian Paintbrush, the red, is for a small sliver of wall in our entry as well as our fireplace wall.

Below is a picture of our other furniture fabrics within this space.  The paint colors in the first picture are a much more accurate idea of the colors I've selected.  The Purina feedsack is a recent Ebay find that I will be incorporating into my kitchen.


I am so ready to tackle this project. It is going to be an undertaking, but it will be so worth it. Our kitchen is currently painted a very deep burgandy and the living room is gold, with a butterscotch antique accent wall. Add in the wood floor and dark tile, things are much too dreary! This lighter color scheme is going to make such a difference - at least I think so! As I said, I am still loving my rich colors, but it's time to lighten up the background.


I am just "scheming" about this paint project right now, but come June it will be full speed ahead.

Thanks for stopping by,
Jane

Linking with:

Amaze Me Monday
Boogieboard Cottage Masterpiece Monday
Metamorphosis Monday
Make it Pretty Monday
Inspire Me Tuesday
Wow Us Wednesday