Friday, January 30, 2009

When is exercise not a good thing? When you have ARVD.

About 8 years ago, my grandmother died. She had smoked and drank her whole life (always had a Bud in her coozee), so nobody was surprised when they said she had a heart attack. And my grandpa said it was a blessing in disguise because they'd found cancer in several places as well.

Last August, my cousin Donna died. Suddenly. At age 40, leaving behind a husband and children that she'd home schooled. When we heard about this - we were all shocked. After all, Donna was only 9 years older than me, a young person still.

When her sister Robyne started to look into her sister's cause of death, listed as ARVD or arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia (with mitral valve prolapse listed as a contributing factor), she learned that it is a genetic disease, inherited from a parent. Of course, this meant a lot more investigation and testing to see if Robyne was affected, too.

When she started to do research, our Aunt Terry pulled out grandma's autopsy report and told Robyne what was listed as the COD. Arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia. If we had known and been tested 8 years ago, Donna would still be here.

ARVD is a rare heart disease that causes fatty or fibrous tissue to develop where normal heart muscle should be. The abnormal tissue interrupts the electrical impulses being sent to your heart, telling your heart to beat. It is a progressive disease (gets worse with time) and about 75% of the people who have the disease will develop symptoms (which is a really high number). Everyone who carries the disease, which doesn't discriminate between the sexes, has a 50% chance of passing it on to their children. Again, this is a very high number and not very comforting.

Because having an arrhythmia greatly affects the chance that your heart might misfire, there are particular things you are told not to do. Exercise, or other strenuous activity is the first thing they eliminate. If you've ever heard stories of a healthy 20 or 30 something who suddenly dropped dead, this is probably the disease the killed them. Caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and even cold medications are limited.

To diagnose the disease, a person would undergo about 6 noninvasive tests. There is no one definite test that can be performed to tell if you have ARVD. Rather, it is a set of symptoms and indicators taken as a whole that diagnose it.

The most common treatment for a person with ARVD is to be put on a beta blocker and have an internal cardiac defibrillator (ICD) installed in their chest.

My cousin Robyne had it confirmed - she has the disease. She was put on beta blockers and just had an ICD installed.

My sister and I will be going through all of these same tests to see if we, too, have this disease. As it stands now, I was diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse and PVCs a couple of years ago. I can only think of Donna's autopsy and how mitral valve prolapse was a "contributing factor." And how PVCs are a symptom of ARVD.

It changes your whole perspective on life. You feel like you might drop dead at any second. It's difficult to go to sleep, especially when your heart is beating erratically from the stress. You feel every heartbeat thudding and wonder if it's going to stop suddenly. And if it does, will you have time to dial 911?

I have cancelled my gym membership, until I get this all straitened out. I find myself I buy a house or do I run away to Europe to enjoy life before it's gone?

I think of the words I recently read in a book - I can't die now. I haven't even lived yet.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Anatomy of a Romance Novel

I've been reading some romance novels lately. I find their structure and patterns reassuring with their predictability.

I decided that I should write down a few of the things that I've started to recognize in romance novels for my future reference. I wonder what it is like to write a book. I like writing in general, but find the idea of writing a full length novel or any sort daunting.

Nonetheless, here are my observations to date.

1. There is a strong female heroine. (I believe that this may be because more women than men read romance books and it is more appealing to women to have their character written as smart, attractive and brave - usually to a fault.)

2. The men are hot. (Why else would we read them, right?)

3. The men are usually macho, strong (physically and mentally), but also have something that needs to be healed. And of course, the heroine in the story is the only one who can heal him.

4. There is usually some big obstacle that one of the main character's must accept about their lover, and their lover is terrified that their partner either a. won't believe it or b. won't accept it and will therefore leave them. (They never do.)

5. The sex is always the best, most mind blowing sex they've ever had. (But I've realized it doesn't sound too different activity-wise than the sex I've ever had in my life.)

6. There has to be a situation where they face losing each other because of forces outside of their control.

I can't think of any more right now...I'll update this list later if I can recall anything else.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Obtaining a Salvage Title in Colorado

I am living through a very interesting experience. I brought a car from California to Colorado

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Green Chili

There are certain recipes that I've always wondered about. Wondered if I'd ever really make them or know what makes them so dang tasty (especially when there are lots of variations).

Green chile is one of those meals that have been an enigma to me. Maybe it's just because I've never been around someone who would cook this type of food, maybe not.

I have a coworker who is quite the dynamic man. He is a tall, slightly older, masculine guy with a sarcastic and, at times, pun-filled sense of humor. He looks like he might ride Harley's (and does) and doesn't like to take too much crap from people. On the other hand, he loves his wife and loves to cook, especially spicy foods.

Last week, he brought in a little bit of green chile and shared with me. It was the second time he's done this, probably because he knows what a food nut I am. So, at lunch, I asked him how to make it. And I loved his answer.

He told me how to make it, exactly, well, sort of. There were no measurements, just the process and ingredients. But my brain really likes this sort of recipe. I understand it, so it sticks with me longer and easier. So, forgive me if I don't give exact measurements. Perhaps in the end you will understand green chile just like me, which is even better than a perfect recipe.

1 pound meat:
I like pork, but basically, the rule is that you want to find about 1 pound of meat that will be fairly tender after being pan sauted and then stewed for about 30 minutes. Because I couldn't find a small pork butt/shoulder roast, I settled for a pork ribeye roast. It cost me about $7 at Walmart for a 2.25 lb roast. I cut off just under half of the roast to use for my chile and threw the rest in the fridge for another dinner.

Cook meat and then cook onions (1 small chopped), garlic (2-3 cloves minced):
I trimmed the big fat and cubed the meat. I cooked the meat over medium heat in my dutch oven, in a little bit of vegetable oil to prevent sticking. Once it was browned, I took the meat out and set it aside, added a bit (2 tablespoons) more veggie oil and threw in one diced small onion and a few cloves of minced garlic. Cook until the onion is softened a bit, but don't burn the garlic.

Add jalapeno, spices; then add flour for a roux:
Add in one chopped jalapeno, some oregano, a tiny bit of cumin, salt and pepper. Next, add in a couple of tablespoons of flour and cook until the raw taste of the flour is gone, but don't darken the roux.

Add stock, crushed tomatoes, chiles:
Next, add in about 1-2 cups of chicken stock (depending on how thin you like yours, I only did one cup and figured I could add more if I wanted it later), a can of crushed/diced tomatoes and your chiles. I used a package of roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped chiles from Walmart...they were in the freezer section and they cost $3.50 for 30 ounces. I used half the bag in my stew. Stir the bottom of your pot with your wooden spoon to get the nice fond up off the bottom (the brown coloring and bits stuck to the bottom of your pot from cooking the meat and stuff).

Add the meat back in and simmer for about 30 minutes or so, until the meat is tender and tastes a little more like the stew.

It is a very nice basic recipe that you could alter very easily, depending on your tastes.

Eat, Pray, Love

I think they could replace the title of the book I'm reading from Eat, Pray, Love to Fast, Slow, Slower.

This book is broken into 3 parts and perhaps it's my own enjoyment of the topic in the first section that made it more enjoyable. The author decides to take a year's journey, going first to Italy, then to India and finally to Indonesia. The reason? She is unhappy in her life after a difficult divorce and the realization that she doesn't want the things she thought she was supposed to want (kids, etc.). She has started to explore a spiritual side of herself and finally decides to make the trip.

The first leg of her trip, in Italy, is to spend 4 months experience pleasure. If you take into account that she's sworn off sex at the time, I think you could revise her goal to be something like, make friends, learn Italian and eat lots of great food.

Then, she is going to India in order to find and explore her spirituality. She goes to meet her guru at her ashram. This is where it's starting to slow down a bit and frankly, lose my interest. I guess it doesn't help this author any that I've just read about 10 books that have action, drama, love, sex and vampires. (See what Twilight started?)

And lastly, she goes to Indonesia to live with a medicine man that she met there the year before, to learn how to join the two ideals: pleasure and spirituality.

I think that many people have loved this book. But, on the other hand, I think that many people have been like me and my friends. The book starts well and then slowly -SLOWLY- goes downhill to a point where all of the momentum is gone.

I will finish reading the book however, to give it a fair chance and a real review. Who knows, maybe I'll get lucky and have to amend what I've written. I certainly hope so (or it's going to be a boring week).

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Where are all the cute guys in Colorado?

I'm beginning to miss the vacuum that I once lived in called Southern California. With the film industry, beaches and glorious year-round weather, the area attracted many very beautiful people.

At times it could be annoying. There were days that I knew if I never saw another blond with fake tits I'd die happier. But there were good sides, too. Like when you go to a restaurant and the waiter, host and cooks were all gorgeous. It would be dinner with a view.

Ever since I moved to Colorado, I find myself wondering if this is what the rest of America looks like. I can't help the fact that I'm not attracted the the guys that I've met here...but boy they want to take it out on my and tell me how shallow I am, etc. I would be more affected by these comments if they weren't talking to me based on the fact that they like my looks. Pot calling the kettle...well, you know.

I'm going to start spending some time in Boulder, because that seems to be a place that has more attractive folks. We'll see how that goes. Better than going to church and meeting someone and then admitting I'm a hypocrite.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Daydreaming for Mental Health

I was thinking, trying to figure out what to write about today. Then I realized, what I'm really doing is daydreaming.

The next question in my head was, well, that's not so bad, right? I went to my main resource for research (the internet) and googled daydreaming. Within the first 10 webpages, there were multiple that were articles discussing the benefits of daydreaming. I glanced at a few and here is what they generally say:

Daydreaming helps you deal with problems and stress. It can help you find solutions to problems. It can help you maintain better relationships. It is the mind's natural state of being. Letting oneself have a little time to daydream results in higher productivity.

And one of the articles also mentions the fact that the guy who worked for 3M who created the Post-It note, daydreamed it up while sitting in church one Sunday.

I think I'll keep daydreaming and trust that the positive side effects will benefit us all.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Gargoyle

I've lived 1/3 of my life (if I'm lucky). I try not to think about how long I might live or how tenuous our grasp on existing sometimes proves to be, but one of the books I'm reading made me start pondering this again.

Last night, as I lay in bed, trying to tuck in a few more pages before I put the light out, I got to a section in my book that shook me. The character in my story, whom I don't really love or hate at this point, was in car crash (because of his hallucinations due to drugs and alcohol) and was burned very badly. He is found and taken to the hospital and there he is in the burn ward, with too much time on his hands and all-too painful procedures to endure.

So, he decides that all he is doing is playing along with the doctors, pretending that he cares about healing. While in reality what he's really doing is acting until he's well enough to be released, at which point he plans on killing himself. It's very early in the book, so I have to imagine that he doesn't end up doing that...besides there is an interesting plot development that I see coming.

But something that the character thinks about his currently planned impending doom got me thinking. I don't know if there is an afterlife, but one day, I'll get to find out. And that, more than anything else, terrifies me. Not enough to make me pretend that I believe in some imaginary afterlife to make myself feel better, but more than anything else I can think of.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

First Attempt at Running

I guess this is the second thing I've done this year that "scared" me. (The first was going on another internet date.)

My friend and I tried to run on the treadmills at the gym. I know, it sounds silly to be scared of running, but I was. I get worried that people will see somehow that I'm not a runner (and perhaps tell me what I'm doing wrong). I also worry that I'll be SO out of shape that my helpless panting will scare people into calling emergency medical personnel.

When it came down to it, I walked for 10 minutes, ran for 4 and a half minutes, walked for 5 more minutes, ran for 5 minutes and then walked for another 13 minutes. Total time was 37 minutes and I felt good when I stopped. I was sweaty and felt that good kind of tired. I am going to do this some more!!

This makes me feel better about adding the slight twist to my #1 New Year's resolution. Instead of simply not letting fear stop me from doing things, I want to do things that scare me. So I can train my brain and my body that it will be okay. Once my brain and body are retrained, I think I'll be able to face so many more scary challenges.

On one hand it sounds frightening, but I'm also so looking forward to some new found freedom.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Time for a new calendar

Many times, especially now that I'm working, I don't care about having a regular wall calendar. But this year, I feel that I have enough going on that I'll need to be able to visually plan it all out.

I feel like I'm looking forward to certain things so much that I'm missing on living in the moment. Because what else do we really have in life but right now?

But even though I do believe that, I think that it's also important to have things to look forward to. I have asked some of my friends if they made New Year's resolutions, but once decided to ask someone, "What are you looking forward to this year?"

The answer surprised me. They didn't really know what they were looking forward to. Hmm. Huh. I don't get get it...? Seems like if you're not looking forward to anything it might mean that you don't have hopes or dreams. How could that be?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Random Thoughts

Thank you, Stephenie Meyer, for giving me a happy ending. Now I can always imagine that I'm Bella and I have my Edward.

Fifty degrees tomorrow - ahhh, something to look forward to.

I want to have good dreams tonight. Dreams of hot weather on sandy beaches, a king sized bed and a big, strong man...knowing what occupation would be fulfilling.

Off to bed.

View from my window

Here is the view from my window this morning.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

First Date of 2009

Tonight I went out on my first date of the new year. I met T online, by responding to his personal ad on Craigslist.

We went out for a cup of coffee. It was very interesting. He is about 1 inch shorter than me, and probably weighs less than me. He was friendly, but nervous and self conscious. I felt a little bad for him there, because for whatever reason, I felt very comfortable most of the time.

He is about my age but has lived a completely different life than me. He is a recovering alcoholic and has been sober for about 3 years. He also quit smoking recently.

He was a little quirky, kind of a thinker, and definitely different than I was expecting. I learned on my first date from the computer (last year), that the best thing to do is not decide or tell each other if you want to see each other again. I think that you should wait until you go home, think about it, feel it out and see what your gut says.

I don't know if I would be romantically interested in T or not, but at least I know that I would be comfortable hanging out again. We'll see what he thinks. You never can tell.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

Boy, there is a part of me that hates making resolutions. Maybe it's the simple fact that I've written some resolutions in the past and haven't necessarily followed through with them.

It's embarrassing to say the least, but I guess that I shouldn't let that stop me from trying again. Which brings me to my first resolution.

1. I will not let fear control my choices. (This one is an all encompassing subject. I could actually just leave the list at this one and feel like my bases are mostly covered.)

2. I will not avoid doing things out of laziness.

3. I will be open to change.

My list was actually a lot longer when I started writing them down this morning, but then as I typed, I realized that these 3 are all I need. I often wonder what it was in my younger life that made me who I am today.

I find that I sometimes think and rethink things and hesitate to take action because of fear. I become afraid of losing what I have, of looking stupid, of stepping outside my comfort zone. And I hate it.

One way or another, I am going to find a way to change my life. Now.