Tag Archives: health

Mental Health Month- I am One in Five

May is  Mental Health Awareness Month.  It was created in 1949 to raise awareness of mental health conditions and mental wellness for all.  This year’s theme for Mental Health Month is – Tools 2 Thrive-providing practical tools that everyone can use to improve their mental health and increase their resiliency regardless of their personal situation. and will call on individuals to share what life with a mental illness feels like for them in words, pictures and video by tagging their social media posts with #mentalillnessfeelslike (or submitting to MHA anonymously). Posts will be collected and displayed at mentalhealthamerica.net/feelslike.

I am 1 in 5. I find it easier to tell you that I am a recovering alcoholic and addict than it is to tell you I have a mental health condition.  I would almost rather admit to being a cat burglar.  Even in our more enlightened time, mental illness still carries a huge stigma.   A friend who works for our local mental health department says, “I wish we could put a huge band aid on the fore head of people with mental illness. Maybe then people would really understand it is an illness.”

I have heard people say there is no real test for mental illness.  It is all just something a psychiatrist or therapist labels you.  I want to take a moment to explain those “labels” to you.  Mental health practitioners make a diagnosis based on the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).  The manual is published by the American Psychiatric Association and covers all mental health disorders for both children and adults.  There is another manual called ICD (International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems.)  Both manuals contain very strict, complicated, and definitive guidelines for diagnosing.

I was 36 years old when I received my first diagnoses (plural for diagnosis). It should have happened years before.  There were several reasons for the delay. Mental illness wasn’t as treatable as it is now.  Most people were afraid of being sent to a mental hospital.  Doctor’s weren’t as knowledgeable as they are now.   I also grew up in a household where mental illness was a taboo subject.  My grandmother sent my great grandmother to the state mental hospital.  They told her she was going for a ride in the country and then lied to everyone about where she was.   That is what I understood happened to people who didn’t behave properly.  She also felt that mental problems were from the devil.  They were perhaps even punishment for a lack of faith and bad behavior.

When I was in my early twenties, I told my doctor some of the things going on in my life.  He smiled.  He said it was just my nerves. He said “all us women” didn’t cope well with stress and pressure.  He gave me a prescription for Valium.  Then he gave me another prescription. And then another. This went on for a couple of years.  Valium was actually one of the worst things he could have given me.  It was my first “drug” addiction.

As I told you, I have several diagnoses.  My first was “Alcohol Use Disorder”   That code is 303.90 (DSM V) in case you were wondering.  There was also 304.10 (Substance Use Disorder). They didn’t come first in my life but were my first diagnoses. You can’t get to the problem when you are covering it with alcohol and drugs.  I also have GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) and Panic Disorder.  I have SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder),  BiPolar II with Clinical Depression, and PTSD.

Wow, that looks like I must be a total mess.  Truth is that I WAS a total mess. I don’t have time share all of that here, but let me assure you, my life was a mess.  I tried suicide at one point.  However, medication and therapy have changed my life. Prayer and faith play an important part as well.   I can’t make these things go away.  I live with them.  I make adjustments.  Most of my friends learn the hard way not to come up behind me without warning.  I don’t know who jumps higher, me or them.  It really isn’t any different from someone with diabetes.  They watch their sugar, they exercise, they check their sugar levels, and do whatever treatment it is that allows them to lead a normal life.

The old question comes up about nature and nurture.  Did my genetics cause all of this?  I am sure it contributed to it.  Was it the way I was raised?  Not exactly, but childhood trauma and abuse does contribute to some of this.   Scientists and doctors are learning more all the time about our brains and the way they work or don’t work.

Why am I telling you all of this?  We need everyone’s help.  Here are ways you can help.

  1. Fight The Stigma.  Learn the truth about Mental Health.  Often the media portrays people with mental illness in an untruthful, unflattering, and hurtful way.  You can help set the record straight.   Sites like NAMI http://www.nami.org/ or Mental Health America  http://www.nmha.org/  will give you realistic information.
  2. Please don’t tell me (or others) these things:  “Cheer Up, it will be OK”.  “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”  “You are so strong-you don’t really need that medication do you?”   “Oh come on, we all get down sometimes.”  “You have so much going for you. How can you be depressed?”   “There is nothing to be scared of or worried about.”   “Just eat healthy food and exercise!”  ‘It’s not really that bad, is it?”  “Everyone has problems.”    If you want to understand, ask me and be willing to hear what I have to say.
  3. Continue to push for Mental Health legislation.  The Mental Health Parity Act was a great step but some insurance companies are finding creative ways to try to get around it.

So there you have it.  I have an illness that affects my brain.  My serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine are all out of whack.  My reuptake receptors don’t function right.  My prefrontal cortex didn’t develop normally and I have poorly integrated cerebral hemispheres. (Those two are attributed to abuse.)    But I am still me.  I am the person you hang out with, call or text, chat with online, work with, play with, and pray with.  I am a mother, grandmother, and friend. I worked most of my life.   I have been blessed with two wonderful therapists in my lifetime and have found the proper medications that work to keep me in balance.  I have an amazing family and group of friends that support me.   I am a child of God.  God made me and loves me.

As Anne Lamott says:  “You were loved because God loves, period. God loved you, and everyone, not because you believed in certain things, but because you were a mess, and lonely, and His or Her child. God loved you no matter how crazy you felt on the inside, no matter what a fake you were; always, even in your current condition, even before coffee.”

How can you argue with that?

If you need help or know someone who does, there is help available…

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline No matter what problems you are dealing with, we want to help you find a reason to keep living. By calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.   (Chat available as well)

Mental Health America  https://mhanational.org/ Much of MHA’s work is guided by its Before Stage 4 (B4Stage4) philosophy – that mental health conditions should be treated long before they reach the most critical points in the disease process. When we think about diseases like cancer or heart disease, we don’t wait years to treat them. We start before Stage 4—we begin with prevention, identify symptoms, and develop a plan of action to stop and hopefully reverse the progression of the disease. Like other diseases, it is critical to address symptoms early and plan an appropriate course of action on a path towards overall health.

Trevor Project:  The Trevor Project also offers a 24-hour toll-free confidential crisis and suicide prevention helpline for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth. Call 1-866-4-uTREVOR (1-866-488-7386).

National Domestic Violence Hotline   1.800.799.SAFE (799-7233)

NAMI National Alliance on Mental Illness https://www.nami.org/Get-Involved/Awareness-Events/Mental-Health-Awareness-Month NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.


What You Don’t Know Won’t Hurt You…

This summer I am taking Women’s Global Health and Human Rights at College of Charleston.   One of our big assignments was to create a YouTube video PSA.   Only after completing the video and posting it on the class site did I learn (finally read the rubric) that I had to get over 400 hits to get full points.

This is my first attempt at making a movie or a PSA so it is a bit rough around the edges.  Please be sure to click on the link and help me get 400 views!

Would love some feedback or ideas about how to make the next one better.  I already know that the audio on the videos wasn’t the best so that is something to work on!!

Thanks everyone!


Another Chapter


Although I may be inconsistent in posting on my blog at times, I traditionally post on New Years, March 7th, my birthday (both belly button and recovery), Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Remembering the past year, I am reminded to “be careful what I ask for”, because 2013 brought many lessons about trust.  As I began this post, I read the post for New Year’s 2013. This is what I wrote:

A blog challenge for 2013 is to find one word to focus on through the coming year and incorporate that into your writing.  I have several words that seem appropriate, but the one word that keeps coming through is trust. It isn’t something that comes naturally for me.  I learned a tremendous amount about trust in 2012; some of it bad, yet much of it good.  I am going to embrace the challenge and put trust into my daily life- trust in God, my friends, my family and in myself.   I survived the end of the world in 2012, so welcome 2013. Let’s see what you have in store!

I began the year trying to recover from the flu, and in spite of getting the flu shot, it was my Christmas day gift.  For the next few months, I would battle one round of bronchitis after the other.  Breathing treatments, antibiotics, injected and oral steroids became constant companions.  I would battle each round coming ever so close to victory, only to find myself pushed back into a corner once again.  In May, only two days before I was to take my grandson to the live auditions for X-Factor  complete with  Simon Cowell and Demi Lovato, I was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia.

All of these battles with bronchitis occurred as I prepared to begin my lifelong dream of going to college.  I stepped onto the College of Charleston campus in early January not sure if I would be able to survive as a college student.  I can now tell you that I not only have survived, but I have done well.  I have enough credits to apply as a degree student instead of a “non-traditional” student and I am only a few credits away from being a sophomore.  Did I mention that I have a 3.82 GPA?

Being sick for so long took a financial toll since I wasn’t able to work during that time.  The cost of COBRA for me to keep my insurance was over $500 a month, and I still had deductibles and copays. In October, the biggest financial hit came when my car blew the transmission.   Being without a car for close to two months was devastating, but I managed to finish school for the semester and keep my part time job.

As summer approached,  I was healthy again and was able to start a new fitness program.  It was another step in learning some great ways to exercise without a gym, and it was a thought-provoking experience in learning balance.  I was reminded that fitness goals and healthy living are a work in progress, not something to achieve overnight.

I managed a couple of very short trips this year.  Jan, Anna, and I took a day trip to Savannah.  We laughed, talked, shopped, discovered “Your Pie Pizza”, and walked all around Savannah even though it was still a bit cool that day, and had a great day.   I had to take a trip, have an adventure, and see a play for my three of my classes, so a short weekend trip with Ginger, Sassy, and Jerome made getting an A on all three papers easy.  Jan and I continued to have Friday adventures including doing some genealogical research, climbing an old haunted staircase in a house that was built in early 1800, and visiting a couple of library archives.  We did manage to find some great food along the way, as well.

So, what does all this have to do with trust? If you look at most of last year, you may begin to see that I wasn’t able to do things for other people the way I usually do.  Money, health, and time took away my ability to take care of others and do things for the people in my life.  All that was left for me to give was myself.  I have always been sure that “I” was not enough.  Last year, I had to trust my friends and my family with my vulnerability.  Every time they stayed by my side, supported me, bought me lunch, visited me, called me to  make sure I was OK, took me where I needed to go, went beyond everything I expected, I thanked God for showing me what trust and love are really about.

I didn’t learn to trust anyone as a child.  I didn’t understand love until I had children of my own.  I did not trust God, and I was not convinced that God would or could love me.  I do not believe God sends catastrophes, broken cars, financial problems, etc. into my life, but  I do believe God has used all of these things to help me learn about love and trust.  God continues to be  patient and understanding with me.

I do not think I am going to choose a theme for 2014, but I will be writing to tell you about my year. I will give you one sneak peak at the upcoming year.  The “three stooges” (we must think of a better name) are going to see JILLIAN!

I hope you all have a blessed and wonderful New Year!

Tapeworm Diet

I found this old post from my Blogger days. It was one of the first from the Losing It Series.  Thought I would share this since it is no longer on my active site.  I may pull some more posts from that series in the coming weeks.


I found the miracle cure for weight loss.  I found it on the internet, of course.  It is called the Tapeworm Diet.  I am not kidding.  There is a Tapeworm Diet; and yes, it involves a real Tapeworm.  Here is the information I found about this “diet”:

“So what does a tapeworm in your gut actually do? It secretes proteins in our intestinal tract that make our digestion of food much less efficient. A less efficient digestive systems means that you can consume more calories through your food since your “body guest” is also noshing on them for his own growth purposes. Some scientists estimate that those infected with a single tapeworm can lose up to one or two pounds each week.”

Extreme?  Maybe, but is it anymore extreme than allowing a surgeon to place a big rubber band around your stomach or cut out part of your intestine?   What about giving up sugar and carbs totally?  We could say it is easier than running triathlons, jogging for miles everyday, or spending your life and fortune in a gym.

Let’s look at those people on the Biggest Loser reality TV show.  They leave their life, families, and jobs to go and live in a big house with strangers.  They show off their layers of fat being pushed up by tight spandex to the entire TV viewing world. Don’t forget that they are beaten to death by two obsessed trainers.

I wonder if any of you reading this understand how desperate many of us are to lose weight and change our lives.  We have bad knees, bad backs, high blood pressure, diabetes, and many other health issues caused by weight.  We look at the clothing in our favorite store and then have to go to the “other” stores that sell fat clothes.  Oh, wait, sorry, I meant Plus Size.  I dream of the day I can fit into a size 16, while normal weight friends are mortified it they hit a size 14.

Many of us have tried the most popular solutions that have passed our way-Atkins, Sugar Busters, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, diet pills, Jazzercise, Aerobics, and more.   I have even been looking online for “fat camps or fat rehabs.”  They do exist, but not in my price range.  One week at a well known “weight loss spa resort” in Hilton Head costs $3400 for a 10 day stay.  They recommend 21 days at a special rate of $6900.  The truth is that I would gladly pay that and more if it would work.

If you are scratching your head and thinking, what about good old fashion calorie counting and exercise, you are not alone.   Sure it works.  Absolutely.  The problem is maintaining that for a lifetime.  I will write more about the “cravings’, the obsession”, the inability to stop once you start in another blog post.   I can’t eat ONE doughnut.  I can’t even imagine why someone would eat just one.    I often wonder why they make little bags for one or two doughnuts at Dunkin Donuts or Krispy Kreme? One dozen is more realistic.

OK-enough for today.  Thanks for reading and following along with me on this journey.



I hate shoes. If shoes must be worn I prefer flip flops or sandals. That is why I love summer so much. I typically don’t wear “real” shoes of any kind from May until October.  I wear sandals all year-long when the weather isn’t too terribly cold.  Living in the South makes that possible.  The only exception to that rule is athletic shoes.  They are necessary when you go to gym or to an exercise class of some sort or if you are a runner, of course.

I grew up in a small neighborhood on the water.  I have written about it before here.  When we first moved into the neighborhood there was just one circular dirt road and a lot of trees and wooded areas.  We only wore shoes to school, church, and when we had to go into public.   It didn’t hurt to walk on all the things nature outdoors for us.  Of course, we would get splinters or scrapes from time to time.  The biggest danger we faced was oyster shells.  We learned quickly to watch out step and test the mud on the river bank.  I still have scars on my toes from those treacherous shells.  We also spent time at the lake or beach and shoes were left in the car just in case we had to stop somewhere along the way.

Back to the athletic shoes… I have always had a problem finding shoes that don’t hurt my feet or my toes.  I have a medium arch on one foot and a flat foot on the other.  I have an issue with my little toes that cause them to roll to the outside.  I have had several bone spurs that had to be shaved.  Eventually, I had surgery to take out the small bone but I still have problems with shoes.   I have tried insoles and arch supports, etc. but, I have simply learned to find the shoes that cause the least discomfort.

Last year I discovered an exercise program that does not allow shoes-Karate. Everything is done barefoot.  I practiced for a year and after a few weeks had no pain or discomfort with my feet.  I haven’t been able to do Karate or any other fitness program for several months because of illness.  I started back at a gym with a fitness program in order to rebuild my stamina and strength.  I have had pain and cramps in my feet every workout session.  Today, I decided to take off my shoes half way through my class.  I was amazed.  I had no cramping and no pain.  I am going to talk to my trainers about doing as much of each class as possible without shoes.

I have been thinking a lot about getting older and what my later years might look like.  Mind you when I say later years, I mean somewhere in my 90’s when I finally slow down a bit.  I have decided that whether I live in my own home, with my children/grandchildren, or in a residential retirement home, I am going to be comfortable.  I will go barefoot as much as possible. Oh, and I will go bra-less as well.  I am sure by that time I will be ready to let go of the “what are people going to think” issues.   Those “Red Hat” ladies better watch out, because I believe others may follow my barefoot and bra-less idea!



A Lesson In Less


My friend sent a link to  a blog post today.  She said it reminded her of some conversations we have had recently. The author is someone I haven’t read before.  I took a minute to check out her site and quickly decided to follow her.   Her name is Allison Vesterfelt and her blog is “Learning To Live With Less. ”  You can find it on her website here.

The post my friend shared was called. “You’ll Never Have Enough Money for Your Dream.”  I have been concerned about money and my financial future for about  year now.  It started when I quit my full time job with amazing benefits because…well, I was miserable.   I won’t go into everything that happened that made me so unhappy at a job I had loved for more than 12 years.  I prayed, I talked to friends and family as well as my therapist and I knew I had to leave.  I decided the timing was right to pursue a lifelong dream of returning to college.

According to my well thought out plans,  if I worked part time I would enough money to live comfortably until I was able to collect social security retirement the following year.  Little did I know that my world was about to implode.  My already shaky marriage ended.  I moved in with family and cut expenses.  Two major car repairs, several months of being ill, and a part time job that fell through at the last minute changed all the well laid  plans I had in place.  There is a saying, ” Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.”  (Yes, John Lennon did record a song with those lyrics but they came originally from Allen Sanders and were published in Readers’ Digest in 1957.)

I am still almost 4 months away from being able to collect my retirement and I basically out of money.  I have started a part time job and I am grateful to be employed and back in the field that I enjoy.  As of the end of last month, I am no longer able to afford the COBRA and keep my health insurance.  I am living pay check to pay check and that is a place I swore I would never be again.  Never say never.

The blog post made me stop and think about what is really important.  It also reminded me that nothing is ever guaranteed to us.  I have put off my dream of school for 40 years.  If I wait until I have time and money, it will not happen.  For the past few weeks, I have allowed fear to creep in.  I have compared myself to others and felt that I fell short.  It’s a place I visit far too often and I don’t want to stay there.

I hope you will take a moment and check out Allison’s website and blog.  I am going to order her book, “Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life with Less Baggage.”  Well, I will as soon as I have enough money.  For now, I will read her blog and see what I can learn.

So, what you don’t have “enough” money for your dream? Neither do I.

Let’s do it anyway.

– See more at: http://www.allisonvesterfelt.com/#sthash.fpcb8uk8.dpuf

So, what you don’t have “enough” money for your dream? Neither do I.

Let’s do it anyway.

– See more at: http://www.allisonvesterfelt.com/blog/enough-money-for-your-dream#sthash.gPMdJPal.dpuf

So, what you don’t have “enough” money for your dream? Neither do I.

Let’s do it anyway.

– See more at: http://www.allisonvesterfelt.com/blog/enough-money-for-your-dream#sthash.gPMdJPal.dpuf


Five Things I Want To Accomplish – Just Not Sure How

hard-list The challenge for Yeah Write today was to write a “list” post. I haven’t done one in a while and typically someone provides the list for the post. I debated for a while and decided to create a list of some things that have been on my mind recently. So here are five things I really want to accomplish, but I’m not sure how or if I can. #1. College Degree I recently started attending college. I have completed 12 credit hours. I have a long way to go. I can only attend part time since I still need to work part time. I left my full time job to make an attempt at this lifelong dream.  Academically I am doing very well, however life has been throwing curve balls my way making it difficult to know what to do next.  People often ask me why I am going back to school at my age and what I plan to do with a college education.  I try to answer honestly and tell them I have no idea what I will do my degree but I am pursuing it because it is what I truly want to be doing.  I love school-more than I have loved any job or other activity I have chosen to pursue.   Money is the one thing standing in my way. Of course, without a full time job, I have not benefits such as health insurance.   Some people suggest student loans and financial aid.  There are many reasons I don’t qualify for either of those right now.  I may be able to apply for those later.  For now, I will continue to follow this path and see where it will lead.  Oh, and I pray…a lot. #2.  Actress No, I don’t expect to be in New York on Broadway, however, it might be fun.  My dream for acting only takes me as far as a local theater in my community or at college.  I have had to play many roles in my life to survive and I have played them well.  Yet, the idea of playing a character on stage is thrilling.  I envision myself as Miss Hannigan in Annie or as one of the sisters in Arsenic and Old Lace. I took an acting class last semester and fell even more in love with the idea.  It will take going to many auditions and a lot of time if I get a part.  School and a part time job along with rehearsals and performances may be too much.  So, I will continue to pursue this dream. Oh, and I pray…a lot. #3.  Size 14 I have struggled with weight most of life.  I was overweight as a child and a young teenager.  I gain a tremendous amount of weight with the birth of each of my children.  I have lost weight in the past but never reached my target goals.  Injuries, illnesses, or life got in the way each time until I reached almost 300 pounds about 3 years ago.  I have been working hard to get the weight off but again injuries, illness and life keep interfering.  However, I won’t give up. I keep working towards the goal.  Oh, and I pray…a lot. # 4.  Financial Independence I have had some brief times of independence with money but it has not been a shining example of success in my life.  I have made huge mistakes in my life, some due to being undiagnosed bipolar disorder.  For the past ten years, I have done well and managed to save money.  Then I made the mistake of getting married.  Yet in spite of that major error in judgment, I managed to preserve my finances to some degree.  I am at a place in life at this time where money is a huge issue and concern.  I have faith that I am doing what I need to do and will keep working toward this goal.  Oh, and I pray… a lot. #5.  Faith

I, as many people I imagine, have had struggles with faith.  I was raised by people who presented faith and God in way that was confusing and well, downright wrong.  I have followed many different paths to God.  I have never lost faith but I have never really had the kind of relationship I truly want with God.  Some may sneer and say, “Whose fault is that?” and then some rather tired and worn out clichés.   I am back in church, I follow a twelve step program and continually work the 11th step, “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.”  Oh and I pray…a lot.


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Broken Hearts

The fact is: Heart disease kills one in three women each year – that’s approximately one woman every minute. But it doesn’t affect all women alike, and the warning signs for women aren’t the same in men. What’s more: These facts only begin to scratch the surface. To learn more, click here

In 2003, the American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute took action against a disease that was claiming the lives of nearly 500,000 American women each year – a disease that women weren’t paying attention to. A disease they truly believed, and many still believe to this day, affects more men than women.

Stemming from that action, National Wear Red Day was born. It’s held on the first Friday in February every year to raise awareness about heart disease being the No. 1 killer of women.

From time to time I write about an issue that is important to me.  Many of my friends support issues that have touched their lives in some way.  One friend who gave birth to a premie supports the March of Dimes.  Many of my friends support suicide education and prevention programs.  Other friends support causes such as MS, MD, Cancer Awareness programs, and AIDS awareness programs.  I have two issues that stand out for me.  One is mental health (including alcohol and drug awareness) awareness programs.  The other is the American Heart Association.  National Wear Red Day is a reminder for women to check health checkups, take preventive care when it comes to heart disease, and know the signs of a heart attack or stroke.

Before March 7,2008 I never really thought much about heart disease.  It has always seemed like an issue for old men. None of the women in my family have ever had issues with their heart.   My father died from complications of heart disease, but he was a man after all.  Truth is, I didn’t really know many people who had died from heart attacks.

On the morning of March 8th, 2008, a phone call changed my life.  My friend’s voice cracked as she told me that my best friend had died the night before.  I didn’t understand.  She was only 57 years old, just a year older than me.  She died from a massive blockage in the arteries of her heart.  An ambulance was called but she died before they could reach her.

I have always heard that you can’t die from a broken heart.  I thought I might for a long time after that.  She did die from a “broken” heart. No one really knows why or how her heart was in such bad shape.   She dealt with many health problems over her lifetime and had undergone gastric bypass surgery a year earlier.  She had lost a lot of weight and was leading a more active lifestyle that she had in many years.  It just didn’t make sense.

I share this story with you today because there is something we can do to help ourselves and other women. We can support each other when we are dealing with the stress of living life. We can encourage our friends to eat better, exercise, quit smoking, and get yearly check-ups.  We can share information about health checkups and about the signs and symptoms of heart disease and stroke.

I still miss my friend more than I can tell you.  I don’t know if some test might have found her problems or if she ignored signs of a pending problem.  I only hope that sharing this information will help keep the women in my life heart healthy.  imagesheart

One Last Christmas Gift

bad-christmas-presents-300x199Christmas music began the day after Thanksgiving. Friends and family did not seem to share my childlike exuberance for the carols and other Christmas music being played round the clock.   It was hard to contain my delight at seeing Christmas lights go up on street corners and houses in my neighborhood.  I stared at store displays and ads ready to begin shopping.  I was excited and ready for this holiday season to arrive.  I knew it was going to be a great Christmas this year.

Time seemed to fly as the days went by with Christmas programs, visiting the lights at the park, church services, and spending time with friends and family.  We laughed as we whispered the news of finding special gifts for others.  We were excited over finding treasures with marked down sticker prices.   We drove to stores or church with everyone in the car singing along to the music.

Christmas Eve was spent being part of two church services and then to the home of my friends.  We drank the most amazing hot chocolate made in a crock pot while we ate fresh baked sugar cookies with sprinkles.    We exchanged gifts, took pictures, and enjoyed being together.   Christmas morning with my family included our yearly trip to IHOP for breakfast followed by opening gifts at home.

I received some very special gifts this year.  My daughter surprised me with a new camera.  It is waterproof and has a dual screen rather like a smart phone; one screen is on the back and one is on the front to take self portraits.  A new Mickey Mouse dressed in a Redskins shirt complete with a new blanket was very cute.  I added a Tinkerbell fluffy stuffed pillow to my collection.  A new Dvd/Blue Ray player from my son means I can now play my blue ray discs.  My friend Anna gave me a wonderful mug that said, “Believe in Yourself.”   I was very surprised to find a beautiful hand crocheted scarf that I had actually watched Jan working on, never guessing it was for me.  These two, along with some other goodies came in a new bag for carrying books when I return to college in a couple of weeks.  But I had one more gift to come.   It was one I did not want and I could not return it.

My son and family were coming over around 4:00pm.  About 3:00pm I started to feel tired.  It had been a very busy week and I didn’t home until almost 1:00 am the night before so I wasn’t too concerned.  I started to feel a little tightness in my chest and a tickle in my throat.  My son and family arrived and we enjoyed time together but I wasn’t my excited holiday self.  By the time they left at 7:00pm I started to sense something was going on.  My daughter thought I had  fever so I went to my room, found the thermometer and it confirmed her suspicion.  By bedtime, I hurt all over, had a temperature of 100, and had a horrible headache.

By morning, I had developed a nasty cough and my temperature was now well over 101.  I was soon sitting in the doctor’s office.   She did a flu test but said it was too early for a positive result because I hadn’t had the fever for over 24 hours. However, she was going to send me home with Tamiflu because Tamiflu works best within the first 24 to 48 hours.  Oh, and yes, I did get a flu shot this year.

I am now on day three of Tamiflu and my fever has been gone for 48 hours.  I am not feeling nearly as fatigued and the headache is gone.  The cough is the last lingering effect.  The last time I had the flu was about 12  years ago and I was sick for two weeks.  Since then I get the flu shot every year.  I am told that getting the flu shot will not always keep you from getting the flu but will make it a milder case if you come down with it.    I am grateful for the flu shot and Tamiflu this year.   So far none of my family or friends have symptoms of the flu.

I was right about one thing.  This was one of the best Christmas holiday seasons I’ve had in a long time.  I will cherish the memories of each event and time spent with those special people in my life.  Even this nasty flu can’t take away my joy from this Christmas.

Below is a chart to help you decide if you have a cold or the flu.   Hope you don’t get either one!  I am wishing everyone a healthy start for the coming new year!


Defying the Odds -Diary of My Body Post

Here is the link to my post on Diary of My Body:


I love to read other blogs, especially blogs that inspire me.  I can across Diary of My Body site a short time ago.  It is a writing collective that provides a platform for women to connect, share, and exchange stories about life, love, and the struggles and challenges of living in our body.  The site says the goal is to create a book of prose by women, for women, about the many battles, blessings, lessons, triumphs, and failures of loving our body in a society with such ridged standards of beauty.

I read more about the mission and then continued to read some of the stories women shared on the site.   The stories were funny, courageous, sometimes sad, but always real.  When I read a post “What is Diary of My Body-A Mission Statement”, I knew I wanted to be a part of this.

I wrote my story and submitted it to the site and yesterday they posted my story.  I wanted to share this site and my story with you here today. I would encourage everyone to take a moment and check out the site. If you are a woman writer, you might consider submitting your own story.  Just click on the “Our Mission” link at the top for instructions.

read to be read at yeahwrite.me

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