diet – always easier said than done!

healthy 1

Sick of being sick, mixed with a sunny dose of spring air, and a look in the mirror, I’ve decided that it’s never too late to pay attention to my diet, what I eat. I won’t mention my doctor reminding me I need a high fibre diet for my diverticultitis which is “very advanced for a woman her age” – except now, I have haven’t I?

Straight away I fell in love with an open sandwich of avocado, fresh baby leaves, tomato and asparagus on sour bread. I could eat it every day and may well do for the next few days. My snack has been almonds, a small piece of cheese and some dried apricots. Trying to increase my water intake, though I have always been a water drinker – and not just in my numerous cups of tea!

My weaknesses are sweet things, and fast food at the end of a long day when I can’t face cooking. I have been using the slow cooker more often, but there’s only so many times a week my family will tolerate that! I can’t blame them – slow cookers are very hit or miss, and often taste “stewed”.

I often think that people who live alone must find it easier to eat healthy meals, because they don’t have to cater for the likes and dislikes of a family. Then again, maybe it is easier to fall into bad habits!

Either way, I need to try, and try again. I know what to do, I just have to DO IT!

Clearinghouse

Portrait by Erwin Blumenfeld Lilliput, April 1947

The day of reckoning beckons – colonoscopy upon the morrow! Today, is that delightful day when pills and potions start cleaning out nether areas and I usually end up crouched upon the porcelain throne bargaining with the Big Whatever to “please save me from my plight”, but to no avail.

This time around, I have to rise at 3am to drink a second brew and reclaim the porcelain before journeying to the hospital. Is someone getting their Big Jollies from torturing people with bowel issues? Are we are a marked tribe?

Oh, the irony of our postal delivery this morning. A book I ordered a couple of weeks ago, arrived – Gut by Giulia Enders. It is not on today’s read pile. (Oh pile, I used the word pile….toilet joke!)

On the positive side, my skin biopsy came back negative and the stitches were removed this morning. They lied to me and said that there were three stitches, when in fact there were four. I would have made much more of a fuss if I had been aware of the extra stitch. Yes, there is a sliding scale for such things; or if there wasn’t, there is now, courtesy of moi.

If I don’t post ever again, because my intestines have fallen out and into the septic system, just know that I always loved you best…

Are you a table dancer?

party 1

I’ve never been comfortable meeting people in social situations, or any situation for that matter. No doubt, it stems from being an introvert. I really don’t need “other” people to make me happy. My family is all I need.

I have always been a solitary person, though throughout school I always had a large group of friends. To this day, I still have friendships with my inner high school friends, and my BFF is from kindergarten, so I can and do make friends. It is just the social hurdy gurdy that I don’t need.

For most of my life, I found this difficult to handle – avoiding social situations. It often meant I whinged and whined and made any excuse not to attend things, but one thing that life has taught me is how to say, no thanks, to social occasions.

I am honest, I tell them, “That’s lovely, but I find it very exhausting to be nice for too long. If I attended I would need to lie down after a short time, so, no thank you.”

Without fail, the other person laughs, thinking I am joking, so I repeat, “I really do find nice difficult, so I don’t do social.” And with that they know. They never appear insulted; they know it is me, not them, and I get to go home and lie on my bed sooner.

Of course, if I did attend, I would be the life of the party, as I always am.

In which Flamingo Dancer realises that even fast learners can be slow to learn, sometimes.

sign

In bed, due to another bout of diverticulitis, I clicked onto a blog I follow and was introduced to the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kendo.

Hello, epiphany!

Yes, indeed the little grey cell lit up like a firefly. I have always considered myself a fast learner; prided myself on being a fast learner, but it has taken me a life time to realise that a slow, quiet regard for clutter cuts the strings of guilt when disposing of “stuff”.

Have you ever stood there, that white blouse that is still in great condition but no longer a favourite, textbook published in 1984, or ugly Christmas gift in hand and wavered in your decision to cast it from your life? I have, right to this very day.

Well, that was until I read Marie Kendo’s book and realised that a mix of gratitude, for and to, the clutter; feng shui and a zen state of mind releases any indecision or guilt. Thank the item for its service, for helping to bring you to this point in time, and then send it on its way. Hallelujah!

It’s only a short book, about 235 ebook pages with a long index at the back of the book, so it only took me a couple of hours to read. At the end of the reading I had to hobble from bed and find a garbage bag to stuff some clothes into; clothes that had survived two or three recent “declutterings”. Out went a couple of things I kept because a daughter gave handed them onto me, and the I might get something to go with that brown skirt that was really not a favourite anymore. Into the bag, thanks for the service and here’s to the future.

I am a born again declutterer. A guilt free declutterer. I have my resolution for 2015!

fireworks

I have decided to be happy because it is good for my health… and the expected lifespan of those about me!

calm

Over recent years I have really worked on controlling feelings of anxiety that I experience from time to time, sometimes so intensely that the feelings become physical. I think I am the umpteenth generation in an anxiety ridden family.

Some six or seven years ago, I did a short course in relaxation and meditation. From time to time I would utilise those rudimentary skills in trying to survive anxious moments, days, weeks, months! More times that not the relief I experienced was hard won and fleeting, for it is not easy to quieten the internal voices of anxiety.

Surprisingly, since moving to the country and gaining a degree of peace and serenity, I have turned to meditation on a more regular basis. Often it is just to quieten my mind at the end of a long day, and I practice it lying in my bed, quite happy to fall asleep mid-meditation.

During the recent holidays, now jut a fleeting memory alas, in the spare time I had, I endeavoured to be more disciplined in approaching my daily mediation practice. Over the years I have found that I need a spoken meditation, a voice to centre me and take me through the process. This is probably because, despite the passage of time, I am still quite a novice.

By chance I came across an app for meditation called, Headspace. Now let me clear this is not a paid or endorsed advertisement for Headspace. I have found that it is working for me, and perhaps it might be of use to one other person out there, who knows. The first 10 days were free and after that it is a paid subscription. As I write this, I am up to day 12, or phase two of the program and yes, I have paid for a subscription. My health is worth it.

I find American accents really annoying in meditation, and also female voices, so I am happy to say that so far, the narrator is a male, with a British accent. Well, I hear it as British, and so it meets my needs.There are sometimes short introductory animations that assist me in zoning in, so another plus in my case.

Once or twice my brain has been racing, or my body has been in such a tight anxiety state that the initial 10 minute meditation just didn’t cut it with me. On those occasions I have actually completed two consecutive sessions and felt all the better for it. Phase two have fifteen minute sessions and already I feel a positive impact.

The breathing techniques are great and can be used at ant time. I have used them when needing to be very still during a scan, when in pain, angry, and before medical procedures.  When I need to slow and find my happy place is when they work best.

Now I know meditation doesn’t work for everyone. I have one friend who suffers form severe depression and any form of meditation actually sends her right into high anxiety. All I know, is that in my personal experience, it assists me to find some peace in each day.

Something to meditate upon, perhaps?

 

 

define : understanding, and CAN I GET FRIES WITH THAT?

fashion 1

A member of our School Administration has been at a conference, and sent back an email to everyone with a link to a blog on tips to avoid burn out. One of the tips was “yelling at an understanding superior”.

What could one yell at a supervisor, even a so called “understanding” one, that would not get you fired, or at least hamper your future career prospects, if not long term continuing employment?

“I’ll have fries with that!”

My mother wears army boots!”

“I’ll pay for the next round!”

“Let’s hear another cheer for the Boss!”

 

Minerva now wants to yell at me. I showed her the stick. Silence reigns in the library.

Dementia 101 : What I found while looking around

Glucose Levels and Risk of Dementia

Paul K. Crane, M.D., M.P.H., Rod Walker, M.S., Rebecca A. Hubbard, Ph.D., Ge Li, M.D., Ph.D., David M. Nathan, M.D., Hui Zheng, Ph.D., Sebastien Haneuse, Ph.D., Suzanne Craft, Ph.D., Thomas J. Montine, M.D., Ph.D., Steven E. Kahn, M.B., Ch.B., Wayne McCormick, M.D., M.P.H., Susan M. McCurry, Ph.D., James D. Bowen, M.D., and Eric B. Larson, M.D., M.P.H.

N Engl J Med 2013; 369:540-548August 8, 2013DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1215740

 

CONCLUSIONS

Our results suggest that higher glucose levels may be a risk factor for dementia, even among persons without diabetes. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health.)

 

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1215740

 

 

Omega 3 fatty acid for the prevention of cognitive decline and dementia

Sydenham, Emma, Dangour, Alan D., & Lim, Wee-Shiong. (2012). Omega 3 fatty acid for the prevention of cognitive decline and dementia. Sao Paulo Medical Journal, 130(6), 419. Retrieved April 28, 2014, from http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1516-31802012000600013&lng=en&tlng=en. 10.1590/S1516-31802012000600013.

 

AUTHORS’ CONCLUSIONS: Direct evidence on the effect of omega-3 PUFA on incident dementia is lacking. The available trials showed no benefit of omega-3 PUFA supplementation on cognitive function in cognitively healthy older people. Omega-3 PUFA supplementation is generally well tolerated with the most commonly reported side-effect being mild gastrointestinal problems. Further studies of longer duration are required. Longer-term studies may identify greater change in cognitive function in study participants which may enhance the ability to detect the possible effects of omega-3 PUFA supplementation in preventing cognitive decline in older people.

 

http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?pid=S1516-31802012000600013&script=sci_arttext

 

 

Midlife overweight and obesity increase late-life dementia risk

A population-based twin study

W.L. Xu, MD, PhD, A.R. Atti, MD, PhD, M. Gatz, PhD, N.L. Pedersen, PhD, B. Johansson, PhD and L. Fratiglioni, MD, PhD

 

Conclusions: Both overweight and obesity at midlife independently increase the risk of dementia, AD, and VaD. (Alzheimer disease (AD), and vascular dementia (VaD) Genetic and early-life environmental factors may contribute to the midlife high adiposity–dementia association.

 

http://www.neurology.org/content/76/18/1568.short

 

Possible Role of Vascular Risk Factors in Alzheimer’s Disease and Vascular Dementia.

(PMID:24641219)

 

The contribution of vascular risk factors to Alzheimer-vascular spectrum dementias is increasingly being recognized. We provide an overview of recent literature on this subject. Overweight and obesity as well as underweight during midlife predict cognitive decline and dementia later in life. Hypertension during midlife is also associated with dementia later in life and the association is stronger for untreated hypertension. Calcium channel blockers, angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors, and angiotensin-1 receptor-blockers may be particularly beneficial in diminishing the risk of dementia associated with hypertension. Studies have fairly consistently shown that type 2 diabetes is a risk factor for dementia. Episodes of hypoglycemia add to this risk. Regular physical exercise during any point in the lifespan protects against cognitive decline and dementia. Most benefit is realized with physical exercise during early and midlife. Dyslipidemia also increases the risk of dementia but the findings are less consistent. Findings on the possible benefit of lipid-lowering agents (statins) are conflicting. Earlier studies identified smoking as protective of dementia but recent better designed studies have consistently shown that smoking increases the risk of dementia. The association of vascular risk factors with dementia is more robust for vascular dementia than Alzheimer’s disease. Heterogeneity of studies and lack of trials specifically designed to assess cognition as an endpoint make firm conclusions difficult. But considering the expected global burden of dementia and projected attributable risk of vascular risk factors to it, there is sufficient evidence to promote vascular risk factor reduction strategies as dementia prevention interventions.

http://europepmc.org/abstract/MED/24641219/reload=0;jsessionid=1NzoYwg9BETnOVEE6GIn.22

 

Yaffe K, Laffan AM, Harrison S, et al. Sleep-Disordered Breathing, Hypoxia, and Risk of Mild Cognitive Impairment and Dementia in Older Women. JAMA. 2011;306(6):613-619. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.1115.

 

Context Sleep-disordered breathing (characterized by recurrent arousals from sleep and intermittent hypoxemia) is common among older adults. Cross-sectional studies have linked sleep-disordered breathing to poor cognition; however, it remains unclear whether sleep-disordered breathing precedes cognitive impairment in older adults.

Objectives To determine the prospective relationship between sleep-disordered breathing and cognitive impairment and to investigate potential mechanisms of this association

Conclusion Among older women, those with sleep-disordered breathing compared with those without sleep-disordered breathing had an increased risk of developing cognitive impairment.

http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1104205

The journey to what?

brain 1

For the last few years there had been an anxiety lingering in my head that was just an occasional voice at first, but over time has turned up its volume to the point where I think I need to do something about it. Either confronts it, and turn it out, or learn more about it and welcome it inside. I am talking about dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, whatever you want to tag it, but it all means the same thing – the loss of self at some stage in the ageing process. Sometimes, cruelly even before the ageing process.

 

I was introduced to dementia through my father. It was his constant companion for about the last five years of his life. It started with a phone call to my mother who was staying with me for a few days. A normal day until Dad phoned and said that he had suffered “a funny turn” and he wanted Mum to come home. My Dad rarely acknowledged any illness and so for him to call and summon help we knew it was serious. It was serious; it was the day all our lives changed forever.

 

From that day on it was doctor’s visits and having my heart stop in my chest every time the phone rang at unexpected times. I started answering calls with the greeting “What’s wrong?” Everything was wrong.

 

Dad had a long series of TIAs and he was well aware of what was happening to him. He would tap his head and say “There’s something wrong with my head”. There were good days and bad days, until there were never any good days. In the end, he could no longer be cared for by family; we had to search for a care facility for him.

 

There was a sitcom in Australia a few years back called, “Mother and Son” where supposedly the mother suffered from dementia. Its entire premise was that mother’s odd ways and unpredictable behavior created humorous mayhem. It also mythologized the idea that dementia was nothing more than putting the teapot in the freezer, or forgetting where you parked the car. If only.

 

However, all through Dad’s journey, we comforted ourselves by the “fact” that the doctors said that his early habit of smoking, and his life long battle with alcohol brought about his heart issues which caused the TIAs and in turn the dementia, even though in his last decade he had lived a healthier life style that ever before in his entire life. The man even took up jogging, and continued jogging until he could no longer remember how to find his way home (thank heavens they lived in a very small country town!)

 

Dad had always been a quick tempered man. He was prone to outbursts of temper. Not domestic violence, but verbal anger. However, in his earlier days, when he frequented hotels for drinking companions he apparently was known for laying on a punch or two if he felt the need arise.

 

As the Dad I knew and loved disappeared another man took his place; a man who was unpredictable, often angry and more than a little aggressive. One day I went through the kitchen removing large knives, no longer confident of my mother’s safety. This was not my Dad, and yet it was as if some elements of his personality became magnified; taking control of what consciousness he still possessed.

 

Dad died at the age of 76, in a mental institution in 2000; a mental institution because no lock down facility was available for him in our region. The “old people’s homes” only want you if you still quietly in a chair all day.

 

After, Dad’s death, the fear of dementia and the possibility that it might choose me, or one of my siblings, was there, hovering in the back of my thoughts. Still, we consoled ourselves, the doctors said it was his smoking and drinking… and I did neither. Well, one glass now and again. I had seen too much of alcohol to ever fully embrace it. So no real need to fear dementia.

 

Then there was Mum. Every year on her birthday, I would ask her how it felt to be 80, 81, 82… and she would answer that she never felt any different than when she was 21. She didn’t seem any different. Well, maybe she forgot names, and got facts a little confused, but heavens she was in her eighties, a little forgetfulness was to be expected.

 

There were a couple of episodes where she called relatives with urgent messages for my sister, such as “the garage called and your car is ready for pick up” when my sister did not have her car in for a service. One time she convinced herself that she had given all her bank account details to the check out girl at the supermarket and made a relative take her to the bank to change things. They were isolated though and well, she was in her eighties.

 

Then came the day my sister found her lying on the floor and the world changed its axis again. She couldn’t understand why she was in the hospital as there was nothing wrong with her, and she had never collapsed onto the floor we were making that up.

 

Two years on Mum is in a care facility, a compliant little old lady who sits in her chair, as she has begun to forget how to walk. She can’t remember that Dad has died, and often asks where her own parents are. I think she knows me when I visit, but she can’t remember that I am now a grandmother. This year on her birthday, I asked her how it felt to be 87 and she looked at me and said “Am I?” We can no longer have a complete conversation as her thoughts wander mid sentence.

 

Mum was always an anxious, fearful person. Now she worries that people will steal her few worthless belongings that she has. Whenever someone gives her something she wants us to take it home so that it doesn’t get broken or stolen. She is always worrying about “the children”. “Where are the children?” Everything annoys her.

 

So, roll of the dice and two parents with dementia/alzeiheimers. Lucky me. Two different types of dementia too. So, I can’t pretend that it was just Dad’s life style. The voice now taunted “What might be in your genes?” What might be, indeed?

The other element that disturbs me is that in both my parents, it was the negative elements of their personalities that seemed to emerge as they, the whole they, disappeared. Was this coincidental, or was that what happened; the worst in us, the bits we could control or hide when in full possession of our faculties, emerges when we no longer have any defenses?

 

If so, what am I to become? It is painful enough having the person you love disappear, but to be left with only the worst parts of that person is like hammering a nail into your heart as well. This is not something I want my children to have to experience in my later years.

 

Is this inevitable, can it be avoided? Can a mindset be cultivated that might avoid such an ending? I know the older one becomes the more likelihood there is of dementia developing, but does the world view, personality type or life experiences have some impact upon how it is experienced?

 

I think this is the journey I need to take; a journey to see if I can somehow limit or offset the impacts of an ageing mind. Would a serene, mindful existence have staved off my Mum’s dementia, and the fears she now experiences? Lifestyle, diet, habits of the mind – anything?

 

I think the voice in my head is seeking some answers.

good, better, best

I am not saying I did, positively, but there is a strong possibility that I may have indulged to the extreme limits of  gastronomic delight.

This was my birthday lunch,

Australians call them prawns, not shrimp. Shrimp are teeny tiny, well, shrimp.

Australians call them prawns, not shrimp. Shrimp are teeny tiny, well, shrimp.

and this was my birthday dinner.

seafood chowder, cooked by the best chef - me!

seafood chowder, cooked by the best chef – me!

Followed by the last slice of birthday chocolate cake and vanilla greek yoghurt.

Tick for  the daily omega 3!

Today I am off to the city to for a sleep over (until Thursday) with Petite Fille. I have booked in-home massages for Daughter1 and self on Thursday morning too.

The first week of the rest of my life is looking better than good – the best!