Welcome to my blog

If you enjoy finding a lot of different outlets for your creativity, then we may just be kindred spirits.
This blog is an outlet for my interest in miniatures, crochet, plastic canvas, and many other various arts and crafts.

I also love walking, taking digital photos, and most recently, have rediscovered an old love...bike riding! I purchased an amazing new bike, a comfy Townie by Electra this summer, and have been having a grand time exploring the area as though for the first time. It's like being a kid again!

If you enjoy any of these things too, pour a cup of coffee and tea, sit down, and join me.

Take care!

Monday, February 20, 2017

RNY Gastric Bypass Surgery, Pureed Food Stage

I started the puree stage of my diet a few days ago and my  little blender wasn't doing the trick, so I bought this mini chopper at the Walmart.  It was only $24.00 Canadian dollars and I LOVE it!  It has been indispensable for chopping/pureeing meats, eggs, and just about anything else I've tried.

New Chopper

Salton Mug Warmer
I also purchased the Salton Mug Warmer for only $12.99 at Canadian Tire.  I have to sip everything, and it takes ages to eat or drink anything.  The microwave is fine for drinks, but my foods were drying out, and this will work perfectly to keep my meals warm for the hour or more it takes me to eat now.
Various sauces, etc.
 Pureed foods have to be very moist, so I bought a lot of sauces, dressings, etc., to add to my food.  All are no or low sugar, and low calorie.  The no sugar added jams by Live Smart are great.  I add one tbsp to my unsweetened greek yogurt and they make it yummy; a perfect breakfast.

I also bought several tiny containers, that hold about 4 ounces.  That's about the size of my meals,so they're perfect.

Food Chopper
The chopper is a great little tool and takes up hardly any counter space.  The no stick pad on the bottom doubles as a lid, so food can be stored right in the container but I'm allowed such small portions that I usually just spoon it out into my tiny containers, keep one out to eat, label and freeze the rest.
Pureed egg salad
 One of my favorite breakfast or lunch meals is pureed egg salad. Just boil 2 eggs (for two servings), peel, toss in the chopper, add 1 tbsp low fat or fat free miracle whip, 1 tbsp Greek yogurt, a very small dash of salt, pepper, and smoked paprika, and chop on high until it turns into a creamy (and yummy) puree.  When done, I divide it into 2 portions;1 to eat immediately,  lol, and one to save for the next day.  My new pouch (which is what my tiny stomach is called) loves this and it goes down easily.

Pureed egg salad and espresso cup of V8 juice

Items with my hand to show scale
 When you see my hand in the photo, you can see what tiny portions I am eating.  It takes me about an hour to eat the egg salad, and about half an hour or more to drink the juice.  I am full after.

Chili, ready to be pureed
My Dad made chili a few days ago, and was kind enough to make me a small batch without any hot sauce.  The amount you see in the pot above made 6 servings! I ate 2 and froze the rest.  It was very good; I added Greek yogurt and salsa to my serving cups.

On Sunday my Mom made Ribs, and they smelled wonderful.  She left two baby ribs free of sauce for me, and I cut off all of the fat and chopped the meat.  I made my own BBQ sauce using 2 tbsp low sugar ketchup, 2 tbsp Splenda Brown Sugar, 2 tbsp salsa, and 1 tsp of mustard, for kick .  There was enough for two servings and it was my absolute favorite meal so far.

BBQ Ribs

BBQ Ribs

BBQ ribs
They were soooo moist and tasty! 

Today was the first day that I was able to get almost all of my protein in (I need a minimum of 60 grams and was able to get in 55 grams), without resorting to a protein shake

For breakfast I had greek yogurt with 1 tbsp of no sugar added strawberry jam. 
For lunch I had a container of BBQ ribs (to die for).
For supper I had pureed cheeseburger with all the fixings.  One small home made patti, made from lean ground beef, was enough for two servings. I added low sugar ketchup, mustard, relish, low fat miracle whip, and salsa, and pureed it  Then I heated it in the microwave so I could melt a low fat cheese slice over it. Yum.  Sorry, no photo; I was too hungry to look for my camera.

So that is what I am eating on the puree stage.  I've also tried refried beans with yogurt, and cottage cheese.  Both good. I will be on the puree stage until March 2nd, and then can progress to the soft food stage.

Week 2 Post Op

I am posting this a bit late, but I was down 6 Ibs in my second week Post Op RNY Surgery.  Week 1 I lost 9.8 Ibs, so I lost 15.8 Ibs since surgery, plus 23 Ibs in the 3 weeks prior to surgery, for a total of 38.8 Ibs!!

My tops are all baggy, and the other day I pulled up my track pants, let go and they fell to the floor again, lol.  I had to undo the knot on the drawstring so I could make them tight enough to not fall off. That was cool.

I have had a LOT of pain since surgery though, so it has not been easy sailing for me. The pain was awful for the first week and then slowly got better the second week.  It went away, and it was wonderful to be pain free for 3 days. Then I dropped a pill and stupidly bent over at the waist to pick it up and OMG, the pain was bad. I think I may have pulled a muscle in my abdomen, or else maybe just pulled on the stitches on the main incision too much.

Then, (and don't keep reading if you have a weak stomach), I discovered I was seriously constipated because the pharmacist gave me the wrong Senokot.  My surgeon wrote that i needed the one with stool softener, and for 2 weeks I was taking one without a stool softener because the pharmacist screwed up and I didn't notice, and it hurt soooo badly. I saw my family doctor last Thursday, and he prescribed Restorolax.  Today, Monday,  is the first day that I'm not in major pain a few hours after eating, so it's finally working.  Thank God.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Goodbye Benji, Mummy Loves You and Will Never Forget You

My sweet little toy poodle, Benji passed away peacefully in his sleep while I was in Toronto last week, on Feb. 4th, 2017. He would have been 17 years old this spring, on May 31st.

I haven't wanted to write about it because I was too sad, but Benji deserves to be remembered so I am forcing myself to do this.

I adopted Benji when he was 8 years old.  His original owner died from a heart attack, and Ben had major separation anxiety when I first got him. I literally had to carry him everywhere.  I used to joke that I was wearing him, because he liked to drape himself over my shoulder and nuzzle into my neck.  He was such a sweet, fluffy little guy.

If I couldn't hold him he was more than happy to snuggle with one of my dolls. I used to make reborn dolls (dolls that look like real babies) and sell them on ebay, and they all got a Benji seal of approval, as you can see in the photo above.  That's Benji, shortly after I adopted him, with one of my very early dolls.
Benji age 8
His second owner only had Benji for 2 weeks before she gave him to me.  She said she developed allergies to him, but I suspect it was because he was stealth peeing in the house, which I found out much later.

It was easily fixed by making him a weenie wrap, lol, then covering that with a baby onesie so he couldn't take it off.  He was trained within a week...and adorable to boot.
Benji in his weenie wrap and onesie, playing with his toy
Benji playing

Benji wasn't sure if he liked having a Mom who made him clothes the first time I tried sewing the dogs a rain coat.  To be fair, none of the dogs liked the raincoats because I didn't add a liner and the vinyl made too much noise to be comfy for dogs.   I made sure the second raincoats had nice warm liners, to cut down on the noise, and they were much happier.
Dogs not liking their raincoats, lol
In the photo above, Mac (black), Ben (white) and Annie (Apricot) look miserable, but don't worry, they were happy again in minutes.   Wet poodles do not smell nice, so raincoats are a must, lol.  These are the lined ones (you can see a bit of the liner in Annie's hood).  I followed the pattern for Mac and Annie but just drew my own for Benji and his fit the best.
Ben's crocheted sweater and hat set
 Benji hated the snow so I always made sure he was dressed for the weather.  Didn't he look absolutely adorable in his sweater set?

Benji and Mac
Mac and Ben did NOT get along at first but were soon best friends/brothers.  They loved each other and are together again, at the rainbow bridge. 

Poor Mac had wobblers and 5 years ago I had to take him to Guelph for an MRI and he had major surgery on a ruptured disc in his neck.  He needed 8 weeks of crate rest afterward, and Benji was so upset that Mac was in the crate alone that I had to put a box next to the crate for Benji to lie in, right next to his brother.
Mac and Ben
It was a sad time but Mac got well again and had 4, almost 5 good years after his surgery, before the problem with his discs returned last spring.   At first, he just had problems walking more than a block, so I bought this nice stroller, big enough for both dogs last spring, and my boys had many walks together.  Ben turned 16 in the spring, and walking was just too hard for him, too, so it worked out nicely.

Mac and Benji in stroller
Benji's 16th Birthday
 The photos above and below were taken last May 31st, 2016, on Benji's 16th birthday.  You can see how frail he had gotten.  He was almost blind, his fur was thinning, he had lots of brown age spots on his back, and he wouldn't let me groom him properly any more (and the groomers refused to try), but he still loved opening his gifts, and still had a zest for life (and treats).
Benji's 16th birthday
Benji eating a bit of cream pie

 Mac, Benji, and I had a nice spring and summer, but by late summer, Mac could no longer walk.  He was in pain, and the pain meds weren't working any more.
 Sadly, there was nothing that could be done for him, so I had to have him put to sleep, just before or after his 12th birthday on August 30th (it's a blur).

 I think Benji really missed his brother, and they must be happy to be reunited now.

I didn't think Benji would even know it was Christmas this past December, but he surprised me by waking me up all through the night on Christmas Eve, eager to open gifts.
Benji in middle of night, Christmas Eve

Benji opening one of his gifts Christmas Morning
 He always loved opening his gifts, and Christmas was no different, despite his age and frailties. He dove right in, and even got the smaller gift bag stuck on his head.  He loved his gifts...especially the food ones, lol.
Benji and Dad, Christmas morning 2017
 He loved my parents and I'm glad he was with them at the end. He wasn't alone.
Benji and Mom, Christmas 2017
You can almost see the little stairs he used to get into his favorite chair on the right hand side of the above photo.  He passed peacefully in his chair.

Benji had almost 9 good years with me.  It would have been 9 years in the spring. He went from being a terrified little guy who shook and trembled to being a self confident, content old guy.

Toward the end, Benji was very sad looking because he wouldn't allow me to groom him. The vet kept him for 8 hours and could only clean up his face and butt. He told me not to try to do it myself because it was too stressful for Benji.  He also did blood work and said Ben was doing great for an old guy.  That was about 2 months ago.  

Benji  needed 3 eye drops a day for glaucoma, and pain meds for arthritis.  He had to have his food pureed so he could eat it.  He loved pureed chicken and rice, pureed beef stew ,home made chicken soup, liverwurst, cheese slices, and pureed hot dogs. (I had weight loss surgery on Feb. 1st and have to start pureed foods myself on Feb. 16th.  I'll think of Benji every time I use the blender to puree.) 

 He still liked his dog food but it had to be heated up and mashed with a fork, and sometimes I had to add soup broth to it so he could lick it up. He loved the tiny Cesar treats and even had some on his last day, shortly before he passed.

Benji  still loved his walks, and I took him out often last summer and fall.  I'm so glad I did.  He walked when he could, and when he couldn't, I pushed him in the stroller, so he could rest.  

He loved chasing the ducks and geese at Belleview Park.  He could hear them quacking and honking and it made him so lively and alert.  

I wish he would have made it to spring so we could have gone back.  I wish he would have waited until I came home so I could have said goodbye.  It was his time though, and he went peacefully of old age, in his sleep.  It's a good way to go.

Benji at the park

Benji at the beach

Benji at Mark's Bay


Benji at the beach

Benji going for a walk last fall
Rest in peace, my beautiful baby boy.  You're with your first Dad, and your brother Mac and sister Annie now.  I'll see you again one day, and I'll never forget you.
Love, Mom.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

RNY Gastric Bypass Surgery was a Success (I'm alive, lol)!

Hi guys,
Sorry for being away for so long.
On Feb. 1st, 2017 I had RNY Gastric Bypass Surgery at St. Joseph's Health Center in Toronto, Ontario.  The surgery was done by Dr. David Lindsay, and it went well.

First, I had to go for prep a few hours before surgery and there was some confusion as we were on our way for our 7:30 AM prep appointment, and early at that, when we got a frantic call from my surgeon informing me that my surgery was scheduled for 7:30 and I was late.  I told him my form told me to register at 7:30 AM, and that surgery was scheduled for 9:30 but he didn't believe me.  I had to show him the forms when I got there, and he apologized and said someone must have changed the schedule and failed to notify me about the change.

So I was anxious about the surgery and anxious about the time mix up. There was a bad flu at the hospital so my friends just walked me to the registration area and left; I didn't want them to stick around and get sick.  I was immediately asked to disrobe and was given some weird stretchy underwear to wear, 2 hospital gowns (one to wear as a nightgown and one as a housecoat) as well as some blue plastic things to put over my shoes.  So I changed and was asked to wait.  I waited for about an hour before a nurse came to get me.  She brought me to the front near the nursing station and had me sit in a recliner.  Then she did my bloodwork, checked my stats, and someone put a port in my arm for an IV.  They gave me some fluids, with nothing in them, and I actually fell asleep.

The next thing I knew, I heard laughter and woke to find my very handsome surgeon standing over me, chuckling.  He told me I'd be saving the hospital money on anesthesia since I was putting myself under, lol.

He let me run to the ladies room, and then a nurse helped me push my IV pole to the operating room.  It felt very surreal to have to walk there, and then climb up on the operating table myself.

Everyone in the operating room said hello and I was freaking out because I didn't want to be naked and exposed in front of that many people.  Someone asked if I was feeling nervous about the surgery and I said "No, I'm nervous about being naked. I'm a very private person."

They put an oxygen mask over my face, asked me to breathe, and I took a few breaths and the next thing I knew someone was telling me to wake up.  I asked for 5 more minutes of sleep and they laughed and said I could sleep later.  They told me I had my surgery, that it went well, and I needed to wake up.

I don't know if I woke up for more than a few seconds or what, as the next thing I knew I was waking up again, in my hospital room.  I have no memory of the  recovery room at all.

I was very disoriented and groggy and in a lot of pain when I woke up.  I remember being glad that I was alive, glad the surgery had gone well, but the pain was so bad I was sure I'd made a terrible mistake and should have just stayed fat or tried one more time to lose the weight on my own.

I was cold so the nurse helped me put on some fresh gowns and fresh socks. I had some no slip fuzzy slipper socks so I put those on.  I had a few sips of water and fell back to sleep.

Then the surgeon came in and he was laughing again.  I woke up and he was pointing at my socks and saying, "More fuzzy socks; red this time!  Yesterday you had blue fuzzy socks on.  They told me you were worried about being naked,so we left your fuzzy socks on, so you wouldn't be naked.  How many pairs of fuzzy socks do you have?" he asked.  I told him I had lots of them, lol.  I live in Northern Ontario, Canada, and it gets really cold and the fuzzy socks help insulate my shoes when I go out (I hate wearing boots).

He told me the surgery went well, that it only took 90 minutes, and that I had done a great job on my Optifast diet (I lost 23 Ibs in 3 weeks before surgery). I told him most of my incisions were fine but one really hurt badly.  He asked me to show him which one, and when I pointed to it, he nodded and said that it was the spot where he did the most work, and he had to do a double row of very tight stitches to sew the muscles together again. He also had to use a big knot to close it up, and he said I would feel it until the stitches dissolve.  I think he said it would take about 2 weeks or more but can't be sure. It's more important that the area stay closed and tight and dry,with no leaks, so I can deal with the pain.

I was very surprised that I had to take the pain meds by mouth as I have several friends who had the surgery and they were all given pain pumps.  They did give me morphine in my IV drip, but they also gave me other painkillers, plus  regular tylenol, by mouth. It was gross as it had to be squished into powder before I could take it.  The surgeon said I could probably swallow the small pills without crushing them once I get home, so that's what I've been doing and it's been fine.

I was only supposed to spend one night in the hospital, but I spent 2 because the pain killers were too strong for me and they made me lightheaded and weak when I stood up and walked, so they kept me a second night. 

I also found out I'm allergic to Gravol.  They gave me a gravol to help nausea and my lips and tongue immediately swelled up and I had pins and needles on them.  My friend ran to get the nurse, who started me on Benadryl in my IV, and that helped, except it started hurting so I looked down only to find the Benadryl had pooled under my skin, like a big balloon.  The nurse said it would be OK, that it would get absorbed, but it was one more painful thing.  The gravol and Benadryl made me sleepy so the nurse asked my friend to leave and come back the next day, when I would be discharged.  So Leslie left, and the nurse helped me back into the bed and I went to sleep.

The next thing I knew, a young doctor was waking me up and insisting I needed to get dressed and leave as I had been discharged. I told him I was being kept for another night because I was lightheaded and dizzy, and that I had an allergic reaction to the gravol, and he told me I hadn't had an allergic reaction.  I insisted that I had (I should know, and he wasn't even there) and he kept insisting that I hadn't, that I would have stopped breathing if it was an allergic reaction, and that I needed to leave.  I told him the nurse had already sent my ride home and told her to come back in the morning and he said he didn't care.  I told him my home is 700 km away and he can't just kick me out.  I asked for his name for my records and he wouldn't tell me his last name.
I asked him 3 times and he refused, which I think is illegal. I have a right to know which doctor is treating me badly.  I finally got mad and told him he was obviously misinformed and he should double check my chart.  He did, and when he came back he muttered something about a "misunderstanding" and told me I was being discharged in the morning, which I had already told him.

I never did find out that resident's last name, but the next day I told the nurse about him and she shook her head and sighed and said he's like that, to just ignore him.  She said I most certainly did have an allergic reaction, and a bad one at that.

Leslie and her Mom came to get me in the morning and we drove to the house where I had rented a room for the two of us to stay.  I didn't want to stay at Leslie's because she has 3 kids and a dog, and while I love them dearly I didn't want to impose on them all while I was in pain and recovering. I'd been told I would have to toot a lot to get rid of the gas they pumped into me during surgery, so I didn't want to be around a lot of people.

The room was OK; clean enough, and the bed was comfy.  It was big enough for the two of us, and there was a desk and wardrobe, but only one small chair.  I ended up going on Kijiji and bought a heavy duty camp chair that could hold up to 400 Ibs.  I got it for only $25 bucks and it worked perfectly for our needs, and I told Leslie she could keep it.

We stayed in the room for 5 days.  Leslie used the kitchen to make her meals, and to store my protein drinks, and she made ice for my water, which was nice. There was no microwave which was a pain because my soup broth kept getting cold because I could only sip a bit at a time.  Leslie ran out to the dollar store and picked me up a double walled travel mug to hold the soup, and that helped a lot. She also brought a tiny espresso cup from home, which was perfect to pour my soup broth into from the travel mug.

We played scrabble and watched all of Season 1 of Supernatural, and part of Season 2, on Netflix.  We chatted.  It was nice, except for the excruciating pain every time I stood, walked, sat, bent, or reached for anything. The pain was so bad I had to hold Leslie's travel pillow against the incisions every time I moved.  

I got a little better every day.  At first, I couldn't sit up from a lying position without Leslie there to pull me up, but by the second day, I could sit up on my own.  By the third day, walking was a bit easier, and standing up from a sitting position wasn't as bad.  Now, only sitting from a standing position, or leaning forward or side to side hurts badly. 

I flew home to the Sault 2 days ago and am very happy to be home. Every day is a bit better, and
at 1 week Post Op, I was down 9.8 Ibs from surgery, and 32.8 Ibs since the start of my Optifast pre-op diet 4 weeks ago.

My tops are all sagging on me, and the V necks now reach half way down my belly, lol, but I have smaller tops in my closet that should fit.  I won't bother to wear them now though, as I can't wear a bra yet, so the big tops are perfect and I'm using them as pajama tops now.

I don't regret having surgery now, but the day after surgery, I told the nurse to wheel me over to the psych wing because I was obviously crazy to have done this to myself, lol.

I feel really blessed to have been given this new start at life, and know that once the pain is gone, my new life will be great.