Category Archives: Heart

Life is a highway. I wanna ride it all night long!

Wow… ok, so much for my New Year’s resolution about sticking to a more consistent blogging schedule!  LOL!  Maybe my new resolution should be to work on better resolutions!  I’ll add that to this year’s list.  Jot that down.

So, I am going to justify my “leave” by saying that a ton of stuff has been going on this year that has kept me insanely busy – to the point that I have not stopped to give you the time you deserve!  So, let’s take a break, grab a Pumpkin Spice Latte, and curl up on the couch to catch up.  Actually, my couch doesn’t fit that many people, and I’m not a fan of PSLs, so how about I just blog about it?  😉

In order to not overwhelm you with the many new updates of my increasingly ceaseless lifestyle (yes, I’m being totally sarcastic…kind of… it HAS been busy), today, I’m only going to focus on the biggest recent change – travel.  I say “change”, but really, it’s a return to my life pre-transplant/sick-time…just different.  On one hand, I’m absolutely LOVING being “on the road again”, however, the highway is less straight and wide open than it used to be, it’s now filled with twists and bumps!  Before I got sick, I used to travel a lot for work.  I loved it!  I was adventurous and fearless trying new foods, meeting new people, dancing till my feet would literally throb… anything that created the most fun and crazy stories and memories!  These days, my travel has a completely different feel.  I’ve become this overly cautious grandma!  What???  What happened to me?  Who am I?

shocked-grandmother

Wait…what?

Well, I’ll tell you what happened… my “new life” happened.  I once had a panic attack in the middle of one trip fearing what would happen if I got sick while in a “strange” city.  Who would know what all my “issues” are if I couldn’t speak for myself?  Where is the nearest hospital/ER?  Would they be able to treat me?  (In one case, they even admitted they couldn’t!)  No one knows me or would even know what to do to help!

I am still going through a lot of changes post-transplant that require adjustment.  And that’s how I’m regarding this… an adjustment.  It’s all about being a boy scout.  (Not literally… I have no desire to be a 7 year-old boy!)  I have to be prepared.  I have to think 10 steps ahead of everything I do, and I’m learning more with each trip I take.

When I fly now, I have to be very careful of the recycled air and germy, nasty fold-down tables in the plane b/c of my low immune system (yes, I pack clorox wipes for this reason).  I have to take into consideration where I travel – no 3rd world countries – so even some work trips are a no-go.  When I am in a new city, I have to do extensive research on where I can eat due to the Celiac disease (there’s an awesome app for that – Find Me Gluten Free).  When I’m in large crowds, I have to be aware of who’s coughing, what I’m touching, where the nearest “exit” is in case I get glutened, and so on and so on.  It’s exhausting, but I’m learning to adjust to this “new life” one step at a time (as are my very patient friends – God bless them!).

Now, back to my resolutions… with this blog, I thee vow that I am making progress on my “accepting my new self” resolution.  I am no longer the same carefree Cameron Diaz character I once liked to believe I was, but I’m able to go out and see the world again and if that means I have to be more Howie Mandel with my actions so I can do so, I’ll gladly take it!  🙂

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Things I’m thankful for today:

1.  Getting to spend an amazing weekend in Nashville with my Jersey girls – Jen and Carm!  It’s so glad to see that sometimes some things don’t change.  🙂

2. Luck!  After accidentally taking a big bite of a panko-covered fried banana (I thought it was a GF cheese bread ball), I did NOT get sick from being glutened!

3.  Virgin Airlines – they have a fun and modern take on the flying experience, AND they offer safe GF food/snack options in-flight!  Woohoo!

4.  All beef hot dogs – for when there is nothing else in an all-fried/deli-filled food court to eat that’s safe to eat.

5.  That my mom’s foot is healing better after her 3rd foot surgery within the last few months.  Mom, your new toe will be something to show off in sandals for our Hawaii trip!  🙂

6.  My new gray sweater/cardigan – definitely the most comfy, squishy, warm sweater I’ve ever bought!  It’s like the perfect blanket for all those freezing planes (and meeting rooms).

7.  Shout out to my friends Elissa and Nick – they are going to have their first baby this Christmas!  Congrats to you both!  🙂

 

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This is the New Year!

Dallas New Years skyline 2016

Happy New Year 2016!!!!

I have said this once, and I’ll continue to say it until I’m blue in the face, but I LOVE the holiday season!  No, I’m not saying “holiday” to be all PC and such…I say “holiday season” because I include New Years Day in this beautiful package.  Not only have I been able to spend some good quality time with my favorite people, watching as they thoroughly enjoy their blessings, and personally benefiting from the amazing sales this month (75% off???  Hello new wardrobe!), but I’m also able to take the past year and relish in what I’ve gained…I’m able to look back over the year and see exactly what I have to be thankful for and how I’ve grown.  New Years Day is also a huge inspiration and symbol of hope for me.  It’s a new beginning and a way to start fresh with anything and pretty much everything.

So, using the lyrics of Great Big World’s awesome anthem to New Years, (go ahead and listen to it while reading…give it a sec, it’ll put a smile on your face!) I’m going to breakdown my resolutions for this year!

“Say everything you’ve always wanted”

This year, I vow to be a bit more strong in my message.  I have always been very careful when talking about things I’d like to promote for fear that it would offend someone or put some sort of label on me.  (Then again, you can’t post ANYTHING these days without offending someone!)  I don’t usually post any of my support for JDRF, American Heart Association, Celiac Disease Foundation, and many others on social media because I fear becoming a “poster child” or “that girl” who’s always pushing her health agenda.  I have no intention of being a poster child pushing any type of agenda, but I should not fear being supportive and helping when/where I can!  From now on, I won’t hide and instead will be more openly vocal about my involvement.  After all, how else does awareness work if you don’t say a word?

On that note, here’s my first step… Jan 5th marks my 2-year kidney-versary!!!  Kirby will have been living strongly within me for two years and I plan on celebrating this every single year in honor of his/the transplant team’s success and the life of my precious donor.  This year, my mom, my sister and I all had our nails done to celebrate Kirby and my donor, and when anyone asks me what the green ribbon is for, I will gladly tell them.  🙂

Kidney ribbon nails 2016

Lucky for me, the green ribbon has many meanings, three of which pertain to me – Organ Donation Awareness, Kidney Disease Awareness, and Celiac Disease Awareness. Kirby, this time, this one’s for you!

“Be not afraid of who you really are”

Part of my resolution above fits this piece of the puzzle.  However there is another shallow part of me that also needs some work.  I had dinner with a very good friend the other night, and as we talked, I was reminded of my flawed self-perception.  I always believed that I was a pretty strong person with a good sense of self, however with every word that came out of my mouth, I realized I still have many improvements to make (don’t we all???).  He helped me see that most of my insecurities were things that are unimportant.  I speak of vanity and my self-confidence.  I have many reasons…no, I rephrase…”excuses” that would justify why I feel the way I do about myself, but I have THOUSANDS more reasons to squash those excuses into dust.  I have so much more to offer than a few wrinkles on my face, some chubby cheeks that show up at odd angles, or a few years that have crept up on me all too quickly.  I have fought some pretty big battles and won them (health and otherwise).  I have made my career my own.  I have never stopped going for what I believe in and have always (eventually) come out on both feet.  Why should I feel bad about those few shallow things I see in the mirror when everything else is so much cooler than that?  2016 will be my year to finally accept myself as the “me” I am now and not the “me” I used to be (who I kept striving to be again).  There is nothing wrong with a smarter, wiser, healthier, and albeit a few years older Nachomama!  🙂   I won’t lie, I will still be attempting to improve my fitness routine in order to look better at an upcoming beach trip, but I also plan on focusing more on the health benefits this time rather than the vanity.  Baby steps…

“‘Cause in the end we have each other…and that’s at least one thing worth living for.”

This resolution is a bit different, and it’s something that has been bothering me for awhile.  Yes, I try to volunteer for various organizations because I believe in their goals.  However, there are times when I still feel as if I can do more.  How can I make a more direct impact?  What do I have to offer?  All I have is what I know, and I believe that we are all encouraged to help others using even just that.  This year, to further my pursuit in philanthropy, I plan on using what I’ve learned via my experiences and knowledge to research how I can further help make a difference.  I will post more on this as I figure it out!

And that, my friends, is my list of resolutions for 2016.  Wait, I have a few more smaller goals (I have to publish them so that you will all hold me to them!):

  • to learn a new culture (I kind of already do this whenever I choose a new book to read, however, it’s fascinating and I plan to do more via travel as well)
  • to lower my A1C score to below 7
  •  to be on a more consistent schedule with my blog…hee!  (maybe I’ll even take off the “snow” that has been falling on this blog continuously for two years!  hahaha… after winter is over, though, of course.)

So, to summarize this exciting initial blog post for the year, I’ll again quote lyrics from this post’s song:

“Another year you made a promise
Another chance to turn it all around
And do not save this for tomorrow
Embrace the past and you can live for now”

Truer words never spoken.  🙂  Can’t wait to hear what your resolutions are!

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Things I’m thankful for today:

1.  My kitchen is starting to finally feel like a REAL kitchen!  Santa brought me some amazing foodie-gadgets that I’ve been eyeing, and one of them was a Kitchen-Aid mixer!!!  WOOHOOO!  If you have ever tried to bake anything from scratch using a mediocre hand mixer and/or spoon, you will understand the excitement.  Thank you Santa!  🙂

2.  A very dear family friend of ours has generously blessed us with the use of their vacation home in Hawaii, so my family is going on its first trip to Hawaii this year!  I’m so excited I could spit!  (I won’t… I’m not a camel…)  However, you can absolutely guarantee I’ll be on the search for Alex O’Loughlin the entire time I’m there!  😛

3.  Vacation time.  For the first time ever, I took off work for the week between Christmas and New Years.  WHY have I never done this before???  Sleeping in, cooking all my meals (ie. not having to eat out all the time), getting errands done… finally, relaxing, binge-watching all my shows on Netflix/DVR… yes, I believe I have finally learned the appreciation of true vacation time.  Now, I’ve got to retrain my sleeping schedule so that I can get up for work next week.  Ugh…

4.  Christmas decorations.  I think I post this every year, but this year was the first time in 4 years I’ve been able to pull out all of my OWN Christmas stuff to decorate my apartment.  I love evenings with the Christmas tree lights on, the fireplace all done up with our stockings, the goofy elf feet and Santa hats I have all over the place!  It’s impossible to come home and NOT feel happy!

5.  My dad has finally found a doctor who could help him with his ankle.  He’s been in tons of pain and has not had an easy time getting around due to injuries that were caused years ago.  Now, hopefully, he’ll be able to walk without pain or a limp!  Yaay!!!  Mom, you’re next!  😀  #TakingCareOfBusiness  #TakingCareOfFamily

 

 

 

What are you doing New Year’s…New Year’s Eve?

one-year anniversary

Happy New Year’s everyone!  Did this year fly by or what?  And it hasn’t seemed to slow down at all…it’s already mid-January and it feels as if several months have already passed.  Yikes…SLOW DOWN already!!!  LOL!  I don’t want to rush into my old age any more than I have to, thank you.  ;P

So, to start off, I’d like to proudly announce that this month (Jan. 5th to be exact) was my one-year kidney-versary!  YAAAY Kirby!!!  To celebrate, my family and I had a special dinner in the glamorous city of Paris!  We even partook in the London New Years Parade!  (Come to think of it, why did I NOT do a Kirby Flat Stanley??? Ugh… wish I had thought of that earlier to share with ya’ll.)  I’ll share more about my trip in future posts.  I’d like to say the Queen was absolutely enamored by our presence, but I think our giant drum (Big Bertha) stole the show and overshadowed us all.  LOL!

London NY Parade

Our gang at the press/media performance in Trafalgar Square.

 

Me and Barbara London parade

My sister and I just before the parade…It wasn’t so blurry on my phone. 😦

As I mentioned earlier, I wasn’t expecting that year to go so quickly, but am kind of glad it did in a way.  I don’t wish the initial post-transplant medication tweaks and side-effects on anyone! My family and I were reflecting about the last few years and all of the shit we went through to get to this happy moment today, and one by one everyone added something that made the list longer…  I was struck a bit silent when I thought about it.  In my head, I always convinced myself that I was “tough enough” to get through each scenario as it happened, and I can proudly say I did.  However, had I seen this list of things BEFORE they happened, I’m not so sure I would have been brave enough to push through.  I guess ignorance was bliss in my case.  So, in a brief moment of chest-beating, I’d like to summarize the last three years of hell:

  • Kidney failure (hello, the start of it all)
  • Loss of my dream job
  • Stroke-like symptoms and seizures/stroke scare
  • Dialysis
  • Too many visits to the ER
  • Pleurisy (multiple times)
  • Peritonitis
  • Staph infections
  • Blood clots in my lung
  • Death of my soul-kitty cat (RIP Zaney)
  • Cataracts and Retinopathy
  • Severe anemia that left my sister literally carrying me to our apartment
  • Heart attack
  • Two stents put in my heart
  • Cancer scare (in my liver)
  • Ridiculous skin rash that covered my entire body
  • Diagnosis of Celiac Disease
  • Organ transplant
  • Hair loss (maybe not that big of a deal to some, but I am a girl…)
  • Baseball-sized hematoma

So, it’s safe to say (at least I’m daring to put this out in the universe) that I believe the worst is behind me/us, and I can look back at those years and…grin?  I don’t want to fully laugh for fear that karma might come back and say “Oh yeah? Add THIS to your list!”   I CAN say that I have everything in the world to look forward to.  🙂   I also don’t want to scare anyone that might be reading this that might be early in their diagnosis of kidney failure/transplant process.  This is MY list.  Everyone is different.

As challenging as it was, 2014 was a great year!  On a more positive note, I’d like to also list all the small, yet amazing things I’ve been able to accomplish since my new kidney came along:

  • No more dialysis!  YAAAY!  No, seriously…YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!
  • Travel to Boston, finally!
  • Travel to Austin, finally!
  • Travel to Europe for the first time
  • Progress in getting my career kick-started again
  • Tennis lessons
  • No emergency trips to the hospital
  • Brought my A1C down 3 points (diabetes blood result)
  • Been more active in the non-profit community
  • Grew my fingernails out, finally!
  • I have fabulous eyebrows, finally!
  • Did not even catch a cold!  (I just had a case of the sniffles last week, but seeing how many flu epidemics I’ve been hiding from, this was a huge feat!)

I’ve made several other personal accomplishments as well, however these are the main items that I’m proud to list/publish. Some are baby steps to getting back to what I had before, but it’s a huge start!  I don’t think I’m going to make any New Year’s resolutions this year since I feel most items still left on my “to do” list are more goals I still need to accomplish rather than resolutions for one year. In the meantime, my door has been swung wide open for new opportunities, and I plan on attempting as many as I can!  😛

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Things I’m thankful for today:

1.  I made it a year!!!!  Hey Kirby…it’s yo’ birth-day!  We gonna partay like it’s yo’ birth-day!

2.  American food.  I have to say that it sucks being a Celiac.  Especially when you’re traveling in a country known for their BREAD!  In Paris, there were no crescents, no macarons, no flakey French bread sandwiches for me… just grapes and a handful of my backup GF pretzels when I got home.  It was SOOOOO good to get home and have options again!

3.  The discovery of galettes – a naturally gluten free crepe that is apparently found all over Paris!  Yes, I had one.  Yes, I got a bit glutened.  Yes, it was absolutely worth it.  😉

4.  DuoLingo.  Ok, so I was dying that I had the first chance to really use all the French I spent years learning…and I had forgotten it all!  I even had a friend (Elissa – shout out!) send me these amazing French lessons I could use to polish up, and I never got as far as I wanted to with them.  However, with one month to go before our trip, I was able to get a good quick refresher-dose using an app – DuoLingo – a bit every night.  It made me look a little less foolish when I scrambled to say “The red shark ate the dolphin in the library” in everyday conversation!

5.  Timing.  We were pretty close to the Paris terrorist shootings the day they started and I’m extremely thankful that we were as quick to act as we did to leave the city.  I’m thankful that we had no issues with transportation getting to and leaving the train station, and I’m thankful that we made it back to the US unharmed.   I’m also very grateful for all of our friends and family who checked in on us to make sure we were ok!  Thank you!

6.  Opportunities.  Being able to make a trip like we did with my family and friends was truly a lifetime experience.  Thank you Mom, Dad, Barbara, Aunt Ber, Aunt San, and Roy for making it possible!   The memories are going to live forever.  🙂

7.  Robert, my hairdresser, for making all my new baby hairs look like they finally belong… with the intro of baby bangs.  Can’t say I’m a huge fan of them, but it’s something new, fun, and I’m workin’ with what I’ve got.  LOL!

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