Monday, September 25, 2006

Here! Here! Here!

Thank you, all of you who've written to check on me lately. :) I am very grateful for such kindnesses! I am fine; I had to go to my sister's unexpectedly last week, but everything's fine there, too, for the most part. She still needs a job that will be compatible with daycare, and needs to collect child support from her ex. I think her first official check will be in October, but he owes her directly as well. I believe she's having to sue him for that, which bites.

It was so good to see Mom and the kids. I took Mom to breakfast and out shopping one day, which was great for us all. We really got to talk, and she seemed to really enjoy herself. As soon as Sis gets a job and daycare, Mom is going home. She's quite ready, as she should be. She's been up there going on 2 months now.

I will post more soon, but I did want to make this entry so that I wouldn't worry anyone else unnecessarily. How lucky am I to have friends who check on me when I don't show myself after a while! :)


Friday, September 15, 2006

Needing input

I have a big job to do in October. I have to scatter the ashes of my late husband. I am a little freaked out about this, which surprises me a little. I thought I was a little tougher than I am, apparently.

Yesterday I met with my minister, who was very helpful. As a minister, and especially as a Unitarian minister, she's had many experiences involving the scattering of ashes, and is truly one of the most loving people on the planet. She spoke with me, and cried with me, all very gently, and offered good suggestions for some readings I might consider, as well as music and other things that might make this occasion more spiritual and memorable.

Though Lance was very specific in his request to scatter his ashes at the headwaters of the Mississippi River, which is in Bemidji, MN, that was his only request. He didn't care how or when I did it, he just wanted it to be done eventually. So, that puts the details squarely in my court.

Lance was an amazing man who loved poetry and music. He wrote volumes of poems, which I hope to publish in his memory one day. He loved, listened to, and created music -- he knew more about musicians, too, than anyone I've ever known. Some of his favorites were Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, Leon Russell, Chick Corea, Jaco Pastorius, and a host of others. His favorite poet was Richard Brautifan, whose works I plan to browse through to see if I can find a particular poem that might be suited for this occasion.

So, with all that said, I'd like to ask -- do any of you have any input into what I can do to mark this event memorably? I'm up for anything you might offer, and I sincerely want this information. Naturally I'll be thinking of things myself, but I think that the more folks I have contributing to this effort, the better.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Remembering Joseph P. McDonald

Now doesn't that look like someone you'd want to have as a friend, or maybe even a cousin, or brother? Based on what I've learned about Mr. McDonald in preparing this post, I think that he did more than just look the part of a buddy.

Here are the facts:

Name:Joseph P. McDonald


Residence:Livingston, NJ

Occupation: broker, Cantor Fitzgerald

Location: World Trade Center

He was also a husband, a father, a son, and a friend. He was the age then that I am now. He left behind wife Denise, and daughters Kathleen & Bridid. I can't imagine how they've missed him, but I've tried. I was widowed myself more than 7 years ago now, but I haven't forgotten how that felt. Still, it's a little different in Mrs. McDonald's case.

Below I'm pasting two articles and their URLs, if you'd like to see where they might lead you. I hope you rest in peace, Joseph P. McDonald. No matter what, you deserve to.


In high school, Joseph P. McDonald played baseball well enough to catch the attention of major league scouts. He was a standout on the basketball team, too. In college, he proved himself a bruising presence on the rugby field. And later, he learned to play golf well enough to humble any business associate who dared to join him on the links. But in recent years, the athletic endeavors that mattered most to him were the hikes he took on Sundays with his wife, Denise, and their daughters, Kathleen, 10, and Brigid, 7. And the games his daughters played for the Livingston Soccer Club and the Livingston National Little League. And the hours he spent in the swimming pool, letting the girls climb on his back and then tossing them giggling into the air. "His athleticism was God-given, and he had a good time with it, but it didn't define his life," said his father, Dr. Joseph P. McDonald of Sparta. "What defined his life was his marriage and fatherhood. He was an exemplary father. He never went anywhere without those girls." Mr. McDonald, 43, of Livingston, was a partner at Cantor Fitzgerald Securities. He was at work at the World Trade Center on the morning of the terrorist attack, and has not been heard from since. Born in Brooklyn, Mr. McDonald had lived in Livingston since 1989. He was a 1979 graduate of Carleton College in Northfield, Minn. Mr. McDonald worked for many years as a broker of financial services at two affiliated companies in New York -- Garvin, Guybutler Ltd. and Garban LLC. -- before joining Cantor Fitzgerald three years ago. "He had the kind of job on Wall Street where there was a lot of pressure to socialize," said Mr. McDonald's brother, Paul. "But it was always more important to him to be with his daughters, even if that meant giving up some opportunities." Mr. McDonald was a former member of the Lake Mohawk Golf Club. There was a time, his brother said, when he played two rounds of golf every weekend. Though he hadn't put his clubs away altogether, he had cut back to two or three rounds a summer. "He had kind of stopped golfing to spend more time with us," Mrs. McDonald said. "And when he wasn't with us, he was usually with his parents." In addition to his wife, daughters, parents and brother, Mr. McDonald is survived by three sisters, Nancy Mahoney of Clinton, Mary Jean O'Sullivan of Phillipsburg and Maura Waugh of Sparta, and two other brothers, James and George, both of Manhattan.

Brainy, Brawny, Balanced

To mere mortals, people with natural gifts seem to stroll down easy street. Certainly Joseph McDonald appeared that way. He towered over his six siblings athletically and intellectually, said his brother Paul.

A perennial captain, he had the generosity of soul to pick the dorky kids for his team. During high school he was courted by scouts for Major League Baseball, but he chose college.

As he aged, Mr. McDonald was no longer the best athlete, but he was usually the smartest. He could always figure out a way to win. And winning was everything.

Most people knew him as a modest, funny, social fellow. Those closest saw an occasional moodiness that would come upon Mr. McDonald, 43, a bonds broker at Cantor Fitzgerald. He felt, said Paul McDonald, that he was not fulfilling his potential.

But about three years ago, Mr. McDonald suddenly got it. He stopped competing with himself. He cut back the socializing with clients and embraced the family: his wife, Denise; his daughters, Kathleen and Brigid; his parents, Joseph and Mary. Weekends he hiked with the family and coached girls' soccer and softball in Livingston, N.J.

"He accepted that there were other ways to define himself," Paul said: he seemed imbued with faith and fresh joy, and he strolled with the lightness of a man who had found his way to easy street.

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 23, 2001.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Endocrinologist, the Dietician, & I

My very wonderful family doc sent me to an Endocrinologist to explore treatment options for the symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, which I've known I've had for about 17 years now. More than likely, I started experiencing these symptoms initially as a teenager, but back then, things were different. Now there is, apparently, a vast body of knowledge available to healthcare providers that wasn't known then. I'm about to tell you what I've learned about myself and the new options out there. To be fair, I'm about to discuss things like menstrual cycles, so if you're uncomfortable reading about "stuff like that", stop now. :)

First, some of the symptoms of PCOS:

# infrequent menstrual periods, no menstrual periods, and/or irregular bleeding
# infertility or inability to get pregnant because of not ovulating
# increased growth of hair on the face, chest, stomach, back, thumbs, or toes
# acne, oily skin, or dandruff
# pelvic pain
# weight gain or obesity, usually carrying extra weight around the waist
# type 2 diabetes
# high cholesterol
# high blood pressure
# male-pattern baldness or thinning hair
# patches of thickened and dark brown or black skin on the neck, arms, breasts, or thighs
# skin tags, or tiny excess flaps of skin in the armpits or neck area
# sleep apnea―excessive snoring and breathing stops at times while asleep

Now, I don't have all of these symptoms, but I do have a great many of them. I'm not diabetic, which is a great thing, but i DO seem to have insulin resistance. My cholesterol was higher than we wanted it to be at my last physical, I do have well-controlled hypertension, and I'm most certainly overweight.

I started my menstrual cycles around the age of 10, which is pretty young, I know. I do not recall a time when I had normal cycles. By the age of 16, I was placed on birth control pills, due to my irregularity. At that time, I had been bleeding, though not heavily, for about 3 months straight. Prior to the 3 straight months, I didn't have a period for about 6 months, with absolutely no chance that I could have been pregnant. I remained on the pill for most of my 20s. There was a time, though, when I was not on the pill and I did get pregnant unexpectedly. However, I miscarried at about 3 months, and didn't realize I was pregnant until that happened. I was actually glad that I miscarried, though, because I knew I didn't want to have children with my then-husband. I definitely got back and stayed back on birth control pills until just before I remarried. I would have been very OK with having children with my second husband, but it just wasn't meant to be.

My PCOS was diagnosed as the result of a Laparoscopy performed on me in 1989, when I was about 26. I'd been having a lot of abdominal pain that was not otherwise explained. I had test after test, from CT scans to an IVP (to check for possible kidney stones), but they all came up negative, so I had my first surgical procedure. The OBGYN who did the surgery stated that my ovaries were covered with cysts and that one of them bursting was more than likely the cause of my pain. I am now 43 years old (44 in less than a month!!) and only got pregnant that one time. I do not want children now. Treating PCOS for me is about overall health, not fertility.

So, the Endocrinologist spoke with me for a long time. I told him my psychiatrist had initially suggested I try to get a prescription for Byetta, an injectable drug given to those with pre-Diabetes or Tyep II Diabetes most often. She also has PCOS and felt it would help me lose weight, in addition to probably making me feel more energetic. I told my family doc, and she agreed to send me to the Endocrinologist, who also hooked me up with the Dietician in his office for metabolic testing.

The results? I have a very fast metabolism and that, get this, I DON'T EAT ENOUGH!!! Now ain't that a kick in the pants? lol All of my life has been overshadowed, it seems, by diets, and trying to eat less and lose weight, but nothing ever worked long term. Sure, I could lose weight for a month or two, but then, even if I stayed on the diet, I would just stop losing. Now I weigh enough that, again, get this -- I NEED 2100 - 2500 CALORIES A DAY TO LOSE WEIGHT!!! Why, you may ask? Because our bodies reserve calories to use for the essentials, like heart beat, brain fuction, respiratory function...and when you weigh more, you need more calories to keep things like that going. Basically, my body thinks I've been starving it and has revolted.

I tried the new Weight Watchers (TM) a few years ago and did well (for a short time, as always), but I still remember some of the basic caloric info I learned while on the program, which will be helpful. But even then, I had a hard time eating enough for my daily "allowance" of points from foods. I need to concentrate on eating at least twice a day (go figure!) and trying to get the right amount of calories WITH nutrition. Sure, I could eat cake or have a milkshake or something like that, but that would kind of defeat the purpose. Using the Byetta, I *have* to eat in order to use it -- it doesn't help to take it after meals. You must use it between 10-20 minutes before 2 meals a day. I plan to start it Sunday, and will let you know how it goes.

If any of you have any information regarding PCOS or Byetta or anything else I've listed here, please chime in. I'm so surprised by how much has changed when it comes to knowledge about the human body in such a short time. I'm also very encouraged to know that there are people out there working on new treatments for conditions that have definitely lacked good treatment options.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN & Madison, WI

Hubby and I have to be in Minneapolis - St. Paul and Madison, WI during mid-October. Does anyone out there have suggestions for fun places to go or good restaurants to try? We need tips!

I so hope the trees will be colorful and the weather nice! Fall is my all-time favorite season and I'm thinking up at those latitudes we should see color more intense than down where we are at that time of the year. Ooh! Getting excited!

Is it September 7 already???

News from the recent past:

1. I just learned of an organization called Angel Food Ministries, that provides low-cost groceries to anyone who chooses to ask for them. Their web site has the details about where they have a presence and what they do. The food is name brand and fresh -- no day-old bread or whatever. Good quality meats are provided, as well as other items, and there are opportunities to purchase "specials" when available. The cost of a box of groceries? $25!! And they accept Food Stamps (EBT), which definitely makes it attractive for those on limited budgets. I believe the "catch" is that they put religious literature in their boxes, but I personally don't have a problem with that, so I'm thinking most of the people who might avail themselves of this service wouldn't mind that either. Hey, when you have a limited income, something like this could mean a world of difference.

2. Why are families so complicated? Especially the adults????

3. Kokomo, IN was beautiful this weekend when we visited hubby's late wife's parents. Her sister picked up the parents from their nursing home and brought them to her house, which was theirs until they began to need so much care. They sold it to surviving daughter for $1, and she's now sold her old house, redecorated parents' house, and is living there with her husband. She had a nice cookout for us all, and we were really glad to get to spend some time with them all.

4. Had a surprise visit from Mom and the 2 nieces, ages 8 and 2. The 2 year old is very very independent, which makes for many challenges, but she's so damn cute she is able to carry it off. I still hear her little voice saying "Ooots!!" when she dropped something, instead of the usual "oops!!" that other people say. lol She also learned to say my actual first name, or the shortened version of it that my family uses, which is a big step for her! She also mastered another difficult word, and is clearly developing by leaps and bounds. The 8 year old is so very sweet and smart -- spending time with her is delightful. We took the girls to a local kids' museum and let Mom stay home and rest without kids for a while. She really enjoyed that, and needed it badly.

5. There's more stuff but nothing that significant that I can think of, or that's easy to share here without a billion pages of background material, so I'll leave it at this for today.

Y'all be good to each other,