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New Food Adventures

>I need a break from thinking about anything too serious today, so how about a post full of food reviews? My friend, Cyndi, over at RunRollRepeat inspired me when she posted pictures and descriptions of what she keeps stocked in her kitchen, and when she posted about some new things she tried this week. I realized that I had also tried several new food items (and one non-food item) and figured I would do a similar post.

First up is Healthy Choice Garlic Herb Shrimp

I like shrimp. I like garlic. I like pasta. This sounded perfect to me. It looks GREAT on the package. I heated it up at work one day last week and was incredibly disappointed. The pasta was gritty, the shrimp were teeny tiny, and the garlic sauce? Almost non-existent. The only saving grace was the asparagus, but really, how can you screw that up? I have another one of these in my freezer (I bought two because they looked so yummy) and I think I’ll heat it up just to take a picture of how pathetic it actually is.
Next is Pomegranate Izze – fortified sparkling juice
WOW. This stuff kind of rocks. I bought a 4-pack of the Pomegranate one at Target and it was gone in a couple of days. I would have finished it all on day one but I was trying to control myself. It’s only 90 calories per 8 ounce can and it’s pretty much just juice and sparkling water. Yes, there’s quite a bit of sugar in it, but I think that’s OK compared to all the Diet Coke I drink. I will definitely be buying this again!
I needed a granola bar-type snack to keep in my desk at work. I chose Kashi Dark Chocolate and Coconut bars:
These are not quite as good as they sound and look on the package. The chocolate tastes a little… off. I’m not sure what it is exactly. They’re not BAD, but they’re not nearly as yummy as I expected them to be. The coconut isn’t sweet enough, so I can’t really taste it. They do the trick of keeping me full in the afternoon, but I don’t know that I’ll be buying them again.

Cyndi recommended Tazo Awake tea. She is probably the coolest truck driver I know, and since she drives at all hours of the day and night, I trust her when she says something does the job of keeping her awake and alert. I figured I’d give it a try in the mornings to give me a little extra oomph to get going. It works! It’s also super yummy. The first day, I had it plain, but then I tried it with a bit of lemon and honey and it was fab. Also please note my wonderful Teavana Perfect Tea Maker. I know this is supposed to be used with loose leaf tea, but I just rip open the packets and dump the tea right in there. I can’t tell you what a difference it makes. Seriously. If you like tea, you must get one. I didn’t think it would do anything, but it really makes the tea taste so much smoother than normal. I use it for everything: plain old tea, herbal, green, whatever. It ALL tastes better coming out of this thing.

And, finally, I needed something new to try and calm down my acne. I have horrible skin. I’ve tried everything you can think of short of Accutane, which is what my doctor says is my last chance. I refuse to put it in my body since I’m already predisposed to depression and I don’t really need anything enhancing those emotions. SO. I saw Burt’s Bees Natural Acne Solutions 3-Step Regimen Kit and I had to buy it.

It comes with a cleanser, lotion, and spot treatment. It seems like the main ingredient is salicylic acid, but there’s also tea tree oil and other fun natural stuff. I’ve been using it for about a week now, although I’m a slacker and don’t use it twice a day every day, and my skin is definitely softer if nothing else. It also tames the redness, which is half of my problem. I’m happy with it overall and will definitely keep using it until my skin gets used to it and I need to switch to something else.

The Day Everything Changed

>On November 11, 2010, I was at work having a reasonably normal day until around noon. I was sitting at my desk and I saw my dad was calling. I grabbed my phone and walked out into the hallway to take the call, thinking he was reminding me to come pick up my laundry after work. When I answered, he sounded pretty calm. He said that the neighbor had called him — my mom had been “throwing up blood” and the neighbor called 911. He said he was on his way but asked if I could go to the house since I could get there faster than him.

I went back inside, told my boss I had to go because my mom was being rushed to the hospital, and left. I wasn’t overly worried at this point, especially since she had been taken to the hospital by ambulance back in September. I expected to walk in the house and find her sitting on the muffet in the living room, upset but ok.

When I pulled up to the house, there were two ambulances outside. I walked into the house and was not at all prepared for what I saw. I opened the door and my mom was lying on the floor right there by the front door. She was in the fetal position and appeared to be unconscious. Her glasses had been taken off. The pot that she carried around with her (in case she needed to throw up) was sitting near her head, full of blood. I could make out at least three dark red clots in it. There was a pool of blood on the carpet next to her face, and there was blood on her pajamas. There was a paramedic kneeling on the floor next to her with a box of equipment. He wasn’t moving all that quickly, and in that split second, I took that to be a good sign. After all, if this was an emergency, he’d be moving much faster and doing more, right?

The other paramedic was sitting at the dining room table filling out paperwork. The neighbor was standing in between the living room and dining room just watching what was happening.

I put my purse down on the couch and walked over to the dining room. I didn’t freak out, although I was getting very shaky and nervous. I don’t know why, but I didn’t ask anyone what had happened, what was going on, how she was, or anything. I didn’t go to her and tell her I was there. I didn’t ask her if she could hear me. Nothing. Instead, I tried to help the paperwork paramedic find her insurance card. Then I decided I needed to call my husband. I knew deep down this was serious and that he should be there. I went into the computer room and tried texting him and calling him. No answer. I went back to the living room and they were takin her out to the ambulance. The neighbor pulled me into a hug and we just stood there for a minute.

I decided I wanted to go in the ambulance so I grabbed my purse and the neighbor said she would clean up and take care of the cats. The paramedic put me in the front seat and started asking me questions about living wills and DNRs. I couldn’t think straight and had no idea what he was talking about. Just then, my dad pulled up and parked in the neighbor’s driveway and walked over. I got out and met him and the paramedic filled him in. He went in the back of the ambulance to see my mom, but they were working on her. I told him to go with them and I would drive my car. I couldn’t find my keys — did I lock them in the car? I found them on the couch and went and sat in my car, waiting.

The neighbor came running out and handed me my mom’s glasses. She said she took them off because she didn’t want her to hurt herself. I don’t really know what that comment meant and I haven’t asked her.

I sat there and decided to call my husband’s school and have him paged. I told him what was going on and to meet us at the hospital. It seemed like it took forever for things to get moving. After a few minutes, a nice female paramedic came over and said they would be leaving in about 5 minutes and that I should go ahead and meet them at the ER.

I didn’t know it at the time, but what was taking so long was that they had to intubate and stabilize her. From what I know now, she was almost dead at this point and it was a miracle she made it to the hospital.

Posted in mom

The Beginning of the End

>November 10, 2011 was the last day I saw my mother alive and well at home. That was 11 weeks ago. I had stopped by after work, as I frequently did, with some laundry to do before I left for Ireland on Saturday. I let myself in — I had started doing this as she got sicker, since it took her quite a bit of effort to get up and walk to the front door — and I went to poke my head in the computer room to say hi. She grasped at her chest and said I had scared her — I made a mental note to call out as soon as I came in the following day.

I put in a load of laundry and settled down on the couch to chat with her. She went that morning to have several scans and blood work done to determine if the chemo and radiation had made any progress shrinking her tumor. She was very upset because the scan they wanted her to do required her to drink a bunch of liquid, wait two hours, and then get tested. They didn’t tell her this in advance. She was having trouble keeping food and liquids down, and the amount they wanted her to drink was ridiculous. Plus, my dad had only taken a couple hours off from work to do this, and now it looked like he wouldn’t get to work until the early afternoon.

She had a lot of difficulty with the drink and ended up throwing up and not finishing it. They did the scan anyway. She planned on complaining to someone about the scheduling mix up and the lack of information they gave her in advance.

I changed the subject to distract her and calm her down. I had been researching the hotels I was going to stay in in Ireland, and one of them had a link to a sheep farm. For about 75 Euros, you can adopt and name a sheep. My mom loved this idea and I think she was planning on doing it since you can sign up online.

We also talked a bit about Irish food, including blood pudding, and she told me not to eat any bacon over there. Apparently when she went in the 70s, she ate bacon and got violently ill. I kind of ignored this because I figured that a lot had changed in 30 years and the food was probably safe to eat.

My dad came home at some point. I asked them what souvenirs they would like. My mom requested an Irish coin collection. She had an old on that she bought, but she wanted a new Euro version. I wasn’t sure if they made one but I told her I would look for one.

I continued to do laundry. My dad and I sat in the living room and watched the Country Music Awards. It was getting late, so I decided to leave my towels in the dryer and I would pick them up the next day after work.

Had I know that was the last normal day I’d have with her, I would have stayed longer. I would have talked with her more. I would have asked her questions and asked to hear more about her Ireland trips. I would have told her how much I love her and how proud I am of her and how thankful I am for everything she’s given and done for me. I would have given her a hug and a kiss instead of just a quick peck on the cheek, a hurried “I love you, I’ll see you tomorrow” as I rushed out the door to get home.

Posted in mom