A Good Reason to Vote

When I woke up on Election Day– I had already decided.  I wasn’t going to vote.  I thought, “What difference does my one vote make anyway?”  Plus–I just did not want to deal with long lines or parking problems or people.  I was in a sour mood.

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My mother, on the other hand, was getting ready early.  She was determined to get to the polling place and vote.  She was beyond excited.  “This is historic.  It’s important,” she said.

 

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My older sister had already agreed to take our mother to vote later in the afternoon.   But around 10:00 am, my twin sister suggested we make a dry run to see about handicap parking before our older sister arrived.

 

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Surprisingly, the polling place was practically empty.  There was ample parking–even handicap parking right at the front door.  Clearly, there was no turning back.

 

 

So I voted.  We voted– and I’m glad we did.  I realize now that my mother needed to feel a sense of normalcy again. She got a chance to let go of her own worries to focus on something different, something a little bigger for the moment.  That was important, and a good reason for me.

 

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Confessions of a Wheat Belly

It has been 2 months, 1 day, 4 hours, 10 minutes and 15 seconds since my last cupcake. I am now officially grain free.  I honestly never knew I had a problem until I changed my diet.

 

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My dog, Kookaburra, has been grain free since she was a puppy. Looking back– I can now understand (and relate to) the crazy behavioral issues she had during her transition from kibble to grain free.

 

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Initially, I found myself secretly, quietly perusing images of cupcakes and (yes) sandwiches on the internet.  Then my wheat addiction symptoms got more serious.  I bought food magazines and cut out pictures of bread and other grain filled gems and pasted them on my bathroom wall!  I was also light headed and a tiny bit cranky.

 

 

But, to support our mother’s path to wellness and her newly prescribed grain free diet, my sisters and I have decided to remain grain free too. As Dr. William Davis, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author states, “Once wheat-free, always wheat-free is the best policy.”

 

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Question:  

  • Is there a difference between Gluten-Free and Grain Free? 

Answer:  Yes

  • A gluten-free diet is a diet that excludes the protein gluten. Gluten is found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye, and a cross between wheat and rye called triticale.  
  • Rice, corn, barley and oats are allowed.

 

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  • A Grain-Free diet is a diet that excludes all grains including wheat, rice, corn, barley and oats.  
  • According to Dr. William Davis, a Grain-Free Diet is the healthiest.

 

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In a recent interview from https://www.wellnessmama.com, Dr. William Davis  states:

  • Wheat, harboring its hidden gliadin protein, increases appetite.
  • Wheat is a weak opiate. Eat wheat, you want more wheat, you want more carbohydrates. 
  • When we eat more grains, we gain weight and acquire all the health consequences such as hypertension, high cholesterol, arthritis, acid reflux, and diabetes. 

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To celebrate our new grain free life–I have decided to reincarnate my favorite popcorn snack into a non-popcorn (grain-free) snack.  It really is just as delicious.  Enjoy!

 

 

Non-Popcorn Snack

1 cup marcona almonds, salted
1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries, sweetened
3-4 ozs. dark chocolate bar, chopped
1/2 cup manchego cheese, cubed
3 cups popcorn (eliminate)

Mix all ingredients in a bowl.

 

 

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

I used to trust reviews on the internet–100%.  I was easily swayed by comments and  perfectly photoshopped photos of pretty people in white coats with stethoscopes.

 

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After reading reviews for this one neurologist, I convinced my sister to schedule an appointment for our mother, Alberta.

 

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“This doctor must be really good,” I said. “Five stars and she’s interested in natural medicine,” I said.   I was wrong.  Those reviews were wrong.  It was a bad experience. But at least we got forms filled out to get a temporary handicap placard for the car. And at least I learned a lesson.

 

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My twin sister later told our mom’s acupuncturist all about  the horrible experience at the neurologist’s office. He then said, “My dad’s a doctor.  You should call him.  He’s not traditional at all.  You’ll like him.”

 

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Dr. Robert Bookman, a.k.a. Dr. Bob (https://www.a2hi.com)  is not your typical doctor.  We did not even have to leave the house for the appointment with him.  He called us on the phone. He then ordered extensive lab tests to figure out how to best proceed with our mother.

  • “I want to understand everything that is out of balance with my patients in order to return them to optimum health. I provide the support and guidance for you to achieve and maintain a healthy existence.”

Robert H. Brookman, D.O.
FCCP, FACOI, ABAARM

 

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When the testing was completed– Dr. Brookman  analyzed the results and called us again–this time  with a plan of action.

 

 

Dr. Bob’s 10 steps to achieve optimum health are:

  • Nutrition, Nutrition, Nutrition
  • Exercise is Medicine
  • Stress Reduction
  • Gastrointestinal Health
  • Detoxification
  • Balance Vitamins, Minerals, Fatty Acids and Amino Acids
  • Hormone Balance
  • Immune Modulation
  • Enhance Mitochondrial Health
  • Longevity Enhancement

Working Again (Repurposed)

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According to http://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/enhance-your-wellbeing/purpose/life-purpose/why-life-purpose-important:

  • One of the common features among people who live with a purpose is that they are able to find meaning in the things that happen to them. Andrew Zolli, author of Resilience, describes these people as being able to “cog­ni­tively reap­praise sit­u­a­tions and reg­u­late emo­tions, turn­ing life’s prover­bial lemons into lemon­ade.”

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Back when my mother, Alberta, was in rehab, I arranged for her to have a phone consultation with Dr. Steven D. Farmer (http://www.earthmagic.net).  Dr. Farmer is a spiritual healer, psychotherapist (retired) and shaman.  My mother has no interest in anything esoteric, woo-woo or  otherworldly.  But as a former psychotherapist, I knew Dr. Farmer would know how to speak to my mother in a way that would be both  encouraging and therapeutic. I also knew that his shamanic abilities could reach those esoteric parts of my mother that needed healing and support.

Dr. Farmer talked to my mother about  her purpose– her role with her patients and her family.  It was a very helpful and much needed conversation.

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  Dr. Victor J. Stretcher, author of the book “On Purpose” states

  • When you see the data about the elderly who have little or no purpose in life, and how quickly they get sick and die, you realize how important it is for an elderly person to repurpose their life toward something bigger than themselves.

Although, I had referred most of my mom’s patients to other child psychiatrists or pediatricians–a handful of parents kept calling, sending cards –asking when they could  make an appointment.

I don’t think my mother anticipated how  going back to work would affect her.  Her patients have given her a huge gift.  Because of them–she has not only repurposed herself but she has also reclaimed her self esteem.

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Getting to Know You

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My dad was mischievous.  Even when he was seriously ill and in treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma–he was mischievous.  My twin sister and I used to take him to chemo and radiation therapy–daily.  It was a difficult time, but in hindsight it was also a great time because we got a chance to get to know each other–differently.

 

 

I remember once driving my dad home from the grocery store– I had the radio on and was listening to Bon Jovi.  My dad turned to me and said, “I didn’t know you liked this kind of music.  There’s so much I don’t know about you.”

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Later, when we got back the house, my dad started to make an elaborate  lunch.  My dad loved to cook.  He then set the table for 4 instead of 3.  “Someone  else joining us?” I asked. “Oh.  Just a friend I met… who speaks Italian.”  At that time, I was obsessed with everything Italian. I had even learned to speak Italian  in college.  So, of course, I was excited.  I started thinking about the fabulous possibilities of this mystery guest.  “I’m gonna be the next Mrs. Ferragamo or  Mrs. Gucci,” I thought to myself as I planned an elegant, yet simple wedding.

 

 

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Then the doorbell rang.  It was my dad’s new friend–an elderly,  Ethiopian man.  My dad introduced him as Mr. Wollo.  “This is odd,” I mumbled.  My twin sister, Akwelle, giggled. We all sat down for lunch.  My dad then told this old, odd man, Mr. Wollo, all about me and my interests.  “She looooves speaking Italian.  She loves to cook.  She loves to paint. She loves photography. Why don’t you say something in Italian, Koko?” my dad said to me  as he opened his eyes up super  wide.  I growled something incomprehensible, even to me.  Then I stormed from the table and ran up to my room and devoured a party size bag of plain M&M’s.

 

 

By the time I went back downstairs, lunch was over.  Mr. Wollo was long gone. Then I yelled at my father, “What was your plan here with this crazy lunch!? Have you lost your mind?  Mr. Wollo is even older than you … and… he’s… hideous!”

 

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My dad was laughing loudly by this point.  Coughing even. “You take things too seriously. Your temper tantrum was priceless, though. It was all a joke. No big deal. But if you change your mind, I am sure Mr. Wollo is free tomorrow,” my dad said as he continued laughing his biggest laugh.  I was too upset to appreciate the humor.

 

 

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Late last night, when I was helping my mother get to the bathroom (for the 4th time), she suddenly started laughing.  She was walking very, very slowly and said, “I’m a comin’.  I’m a comin’.  I might be a little slow and the coffee might be cold when I get there, but I’m a comin’.”  Then she really started laughing, coughing even–with tears in her eyes.   By this point, she was pretending to hold up a cup of coffee as she moseyed along in her fuzzy, pink, skid-proof socks.  We were both laughing!

 

 

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I mention all of this really as a reminder to myself that even in difficult times–there’s still always something to laugh about.  I am able to appreciate that now.  Ultimately, this whole experience– with my mom’s stroke and recovery– is a chance for us to get to know each other–differently, and to keep laughing.

 

 

First Night Jitters

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Once we got home, my sisters and I had to figure out how to get our mom out of the car, down a few steps, onto the walkway  and into the house– in a wheelchair.  At this point our mom was unable to maneuver steps well.  The therapists at the rehab facility told us to remember, “right foot up, left foot down.”

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But the rain made walking more complicated.  We had to figure out another way. For some reason we thought carrying our mom in the wheelchair was the easiest option to get from A to B.  It was a clumsy mess.  But– finally we got her to the front door and eventually into the house.

 

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Once inside, our mother was in a state of total disbelief.  It was like she was returning from war or prison.  We were  prepared for the little things like getting rid of the floor rugs and making sure we had plenty of pull-up diapers and wipes and even a bath lift and shower chair. But we were miserably ill prepared for the emotional aspect of our mother’s return. We were each experiencing a sort of PTSD.

 

 

I kept waiting for my own emotional meltdown.  I busied myself by spending time with Kookaburra.

 

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The therapists warned us against installing a stair lift to get our mom from the first floor to the second floor.  They said stair lifts promote laziness. Instead they suggested bumping up the stairs.  That first night–it took us two hours to bump our mom up those fourteen steps. We were all exhausted.

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My sisters and I divided our time with our mother– giving each other breaks to avoid burnout.  I chose the night shift.  I crazily thought this would be easy.  That first night was easy.  Our mom slept like a baby.

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A Change of Plans (Leaving Rehab)

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My mother was hospitalized for the second time in rehab due to extreme stomach pains. She had stopped eating and lost a lot of weight.

 

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By this point, she was no longer taking Lisinopril (high blood pressure medication). Her blood pressure had actually  normalized thanks to an Ayurvedic home remedy–a cup of hot water with a teaspoon of honey and 5-10 drops of apple cider vinegar each morning before breakfast.  But she was still taking Aggrenox (a blood thinner) and Lipitor (for cholesterol-even though she did not have a cholesterol problem).

 

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Initially, the Emergency Room doctors thought our mom’s stomach pain was due to gallstones. The scans, however, showed no gallstones. Nevertheless, they still wanted to do  exploratory surgery to make sure. The surgeon in charge said she did not feel comfortable operating on someone who was already compromised by stroke.  She said her gut instinct was that our mom was having a poor reaction to the Lipitor.  The surgeon was very concerned about our mom’s elevated liver enzymes.  She immediately discontinued the Lipitor believing this medication was causing  the problem.  The surgeon explained that  Aggrenox is often paired with Lipitor because (for some stroke patients) these drugs work synergistically– even if there are no cholesterol issues. However, she said, “Not all drugs are effective for all people. Some can do more harm than good.”

 

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One day after the Lipitor was discontinued, our mother started eating again.  She was then able to go back to the rehab/nursing home.

 

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Although our mom was eating– by this point she had completely given  up on her physical therapy.  She even resorted to falling asleep in the PT gym.   She was becoming increasingly more despondent and depressed– repeating over and over that she would never get better. The therapists kindly explained to her that recovery takes time.  My mom’s Occupational Therapist even gave her a pep talk for encouragement. She responded by telling him that we (her daughters) had abandoned her.

 

 

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After 3 months in the nursing home, our mother was an emotional wreck.  She could be laughing  one moment, then suddenly  crying the next. She was confused and disoriented. She even said she wanted to die.  She also spent hours perseverating on nonsensical themes.

 

 

 

I was afraid our mother would not survive another week  in inpatient care.  Her initial plan was to stay in rehab “until I can walk,” she said.  But we needed to change plans.

 

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It was time to bring her home. The social worker at the facility then started the 3 day discharge process.  The social worker  arranged for continued outpatient speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy at a different facility.

 

 

 

On a rainy day in late April, my sisters and I  nervously brought our mother home.

 

 

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