Thursday, September 14, 2017

Lola Update!

Well, guys, guess what?

LOLA IS CANCER-FREE!!!!!


I don't even have the words to describe how RELIEVED I am about this news. Not only because I couldn't possibly afford cancer treatment for my dear furry love, but because the stress of finding a way to would have put me in a mental asylum ( if they even really have those anymore ) I would have, though. I would have done whatever I had to. 

We took Lola into Rye yesterday for a one-week post op check and I hoped they'd have the pathology report ( which they did ) It came back that the lumps were just mammary cysts that were benign...at least at this point in time. They, of course, could have become cancerous but since we removed them, they never got the chance to be. 

She has an incision on her belly about 8-9" long...with staples...which broke this mama's heart. But Dr. Whalen said that they incision looks fantastic. Very little redness, little-to-no swelling; she's lost a few staples, but she said that's normal. Instead of an Elizabethan collar they gave us this nifty doohicky called a Surgi-Snuggly, which is like a doggy onesie. It's been working great! It prevents Lola from licking or chewing her surgical site and also, it prevents staples from snagging on clothing or blankets. I definitely recommend the use of one if your vet usually gives an E-collar.

She has the staples removed next Wednesday. I cannot wait

I'm so happy that she's in the clear. And I'm thankful for everyone's good thoughts and prayers during this time. Lola is my little everything, and I couldn't imagine losing her. Everyone knows that she's my baby...literally. I would've drained my savings account and gone into debt to save her. But now I can ease my mind for a while, knowing that surgery NOW hopefully preventing major issues down the road. 

So, yeah...that's 2 dogs down...with one more to go...*sigh* We already know that Sadie is going to need a cyst removed at the base of her tail, so that's gonna be another surgery. But hopefully it'll be a simple, quick and less-stressful procedure for her!

Time to start saving up! 😂😢



Sunday, September 10, 2017

Social (me)dia & (me)ntal Health

Facebook. Instagram. Twitter. These are all platforms to show our lives and our opinions. But when does it stop getting fun and start becoming harmful?

Social media is a way to express ourselves. We get to share a little bit of our lives with friends and strangers alike. With the use of hashtags, we can connect with people all over the world that have similar interests and tastes. I've become friends with a girl out of state whom I have a lot in common with such as our love for pugs, crafting and sarcasm. Cara is a pretty cool chick and someone I would have never met outside the realm of Instagram. 

But then there are the negatives to such apps. The trolls; the obsession with posting or searching-out posts. 

I follow a gal from Tennessee ( I think? ) who has been working on a healthier lifestyle for years.  Last year, she leaned out and competed in her first fitness competition. Afterwards, she learned that it's not about having the "perfect body" but about being a better you each and every day, and living a healthy life. Yes, she's gained some of the weight back. But she's okay with that. Since she decided to share her life with people on Instagram, though, she now has to deal with comments like these:





Tesia is a strong woman who is just trying to be comfortable in her own skin. She's realized that the "fit" life isn't always the "healthy" life, and while trying to be inspiring to those who still struggle, she's harassed and judged but complete strangers.

This is just one major downfall with the "social media age".

 
Another major downfall of such sites is the fact that we compare ourselves to others. 

Why can't I be as skinny and beautiful as her?
Look at her expensive shoes and handbag!...I wish I had money like that.
She looks so put together--her life must be perfect!

We get down on ourselves when we see how "great" others have it. But what we must understand is, just like a photograph, they always show the good times and rarely the bad. You don't take pictures or write statuses about the hard times ( well, usually... ) Things like that cause pity. We want to mask the bad by over-accentuating the good. Lavish trips. Expensive objects. In social media, WE have "the power" to show the world whatever we would like to. And while some are crudely honest to a fault, others show only the good side of things...leading one to believe they have the perfect life.

The younger generation knows nothing but this technological age, and I feel bad for them. Self-esteem is at an all-time low and kids feel like they will only gain acceptance in the amount of friends and followers they have. They post pictures for 'likes' because they don't know how to like themselves. 

And just like how these apps make us feel like crap about ourselves, they are also a way to make people feel bad for US. Get on your Facebook once...I bet you have at least one friend who only posts negative shit. Whether it be statuses about "how much their life sucks" or vague quotes about life, insinuating that theirs sucks. They strive for attention, because they feel whether it's bad or good, at least it's attention. I have an old friend who has been constantly posting about her "failing life", trying to make excuses like karma isn't to blame. No excuses!...if you're a bad person to others, people will be bad to you. The first step in becoming a better person is being REAL with yourself and your downfalls. Don't play the boo-hoo-pity-party card and make everyone feel bad for you when YOU are the cause of the chaos. 

...which leads me to the last issue with social media: it prevents us from letting go of the past. 

We reopen wounds when we go searching for our ex-boyfriends or ex-friends. We go in search of things we were never meant to see, thus causing undue pain that could be easily avoidable. Why do we torture ourselves? Because it's so easy to.

Why do you care about what your ex-girlfriend is doing? You want to compare lives. You want to make sure that you're doing better than her. What check out your ex-BFFs page? Because you want to see if karma came back around. But what does that solve? It only angers you more. It brings about bad feelings. 

WHY DO WE DO THIS TO OURSELVES?!

It is not a healthy way to live. And even though social media has a lot of benefits when it comes to current events, bringing people together for a cause, education, etc...there's always bad with the good. There's always people who will abuse the system and use it for evil. 

I, myself, have learned that I really need to disconnect. I need to block people I don't have reason to care about; I need not follow people with whom I compare my looks/attitude/skills with; I need to focus on ME and not strangers 5000 miles away.

We all only get one time to live our lives...

...why be sad the whole time that we aren't living someone elses?  


 
 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Time To Talk-Therapy

About a month ago, I took the initiative to change therapists. I'm still unsure of this transition, as sometimes I do miss my old therapist and feel like she already knew so much about me. It becomes quite unbearable at times to know that I have to go over all that shit AGAIN with someone else. But I said I would give this a fair shot, and that if it didn't work out that I'd go back to where I started. So far, I think I've had 3-4 sessions...

But while in treatment with this new lady, she spoke slightly about a technique she uses call EMDR.

EMDR is short for "eye movement desensitization and reprocessing". The basic premise ( from what I grasp, so far ) is that when you're deep in thought about things, your eyes move in a certain "pattern". Through this pattern, you can retrain your brain to process things different. It was harder for her to explain in words, but I looked up more information and uncovered this:

"No one knows how any form of psychotherapy works neurobiologically or in the brain. However, we do know that when a person is very upset, their brain cannot process information as it does ordinarily. One moment becomes "frozen in time," and remembering a trauma may feel as bad as going through it the first time because the images, sounds, smells, and feelings haven’t changed. Such memories have a lasting negative effect that interferes with the way a person sees the world and the way they relate to other people.
EMDR seems to have a direct effect on the way that the brain processes information. Normal information processing is resumed, so following a successful EMDR session, a person no longer relives the images, sounds, and feelings when the event is brought to mind. You still remember what happened, but it is less upsetting. Many types of therapy have similar goals. However, EMDR appears to be similar to what occurs naturally during dreaming or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Therefore, EMDR can be thought of as a physiologically based therapy that helps a person see disturbing material in a new and less distressing way."


There is also documentation on how the process works and the steps to achieve the desensitization, which you can read here. The concept is intriguing and I told her that I'm on board to try this method out.

She told me at our last appointment that we will not discuss the traumatic experiences aloud but simply have me think about them. She feels like reopening past issues can cause retraumatization, so she refrains from doing so. I must give consent for her to physically touch me due to the fact that with EMDR you must use sensation on each side of the body to trigger both sides of the brain. My therapist tends to use the tops of a patient's knees to achieve this. 

I'm eager to see how this technique works. It's used a lot for patients that suffer from PTSD, and although I wouldn't consider having PTSD, I sort-of have something like it. There are a few events in my life that I still harbor pain from and that caused me to the be the person I am today ( good or bad?...I don't know ) 

I hope that EMDR will allow me to view hard times in a less devastating manner and, in a way, help to desensitize me as a whole. I am a very emotional person by nature; to the point that I feel everything SO strongly it's disruptive to my life. Whether it be a hurtful name I was called, someone's attitude towards me, a suffering animal on the side of the road, or that my coffee spilled on the way to work...things like this can ruin my whole day and cause me to ruminate the situation all day. It's not healthy. 

...and I really want to be better at coping with life as a whole.

So here's to hoping EMDR is as successful as I'm hoping it will be!!!


Saturday, September 2, 2017

I! LOVE! BREAD!

Actually, I don't. Unless they are breadsticks from the Olive Garden...then this is valid.

 

But reading that title probably makes you think of Oprah Winfrey in the newest Weight Watchers commercials. That was the point.

Years ago, I decided to start WW to try to lose weight. In about a year, I lost 35 lbs. This was back in 2011/12, and I kept the weight off for less than a year. This was due to going back to bad habits and making it less of a point to make it to the gym regularly. 

In either case, it did work for me. That's why I decided to try it again.

I have 2 weddings approaching that I'm to attend toward the end of the month. A few weeks ago I decided that I wanted to lose 10 lbs before these weddings. So I made it a point to facilitate my WW app and get back on the cardio bandwagon. Tomorrow I weigh myself--but the first week I lost 1.4 lbs. 

Now, there have been advancements to the Weight Watchers "algorithm", but since the Points Plus system worked for me last time, that's the one I use. With PP, it is based on your intake of fats, carbs, fiber and protein. I'm not sure the equation they use to figure out your food points using these 4 nutrition facts but that's why they have apps! 😁

What I love about WW is that you can eat what you want ( but within reason ) With this plan, you don't have to restrict yourself or get angry for eating "bad food". It teaches you moderation; you can eat that brownie for 6 points OR you can have a sugar-free Fudgecicle for 1 point. That would leave me with 5 additional points to eat MORE food with. If you eat shit, you will go over your points and not get results. It helps you make better choices so you don't have to starve yourself.

Also, you're given weekly points or "cheat points". If you want to eat a little more one day, you can do so without beating yourself up. And actually, I've noticed I lose more weight when I use these points rather than not. 

Here's an example:

I'm given 29 points a day to consume.
Let's say a bowl of oatmeal is 3 pts and a banana is 0 ( on PP, fruit/veggies are 0 pts )
So breakfast-3 pts.

Then for lunch, I eat a SmartOnes that's 7 pts.
And I want a Light Cheeseheads string cheese for 1 pt.
Lunch-8 pts.

So there's 2 meals and I've only used 11 of my 29 points, leaving me 18 points for dinner/snacks. 

But I like a snack around 10 AM, so if I eat celery and Bolthouse Ranch dressing ( 1 pt per TBSP )--that snack is only 1 pt. 

( you should get my drift at this point ) 

And when you work out, you earn points back--thus meaning you can eat more that day if you would like. Not saying you have to, but you can.

If you don't want to do Weight Watchers through WW ( meaning you have to pay their monthly dues ), there are 2 apps that I've really liked.

WWDiary by canofsleep is the app I used back when I had an Android, and when I lost the weight the first time. It's a free app and it's super easy to use. And if I recall, they have various restaurant entrees listed in their database for when you want to grab something outside the home.

Now that I have an iPhone this time around, I actually had to pay for an app. Blah! But the one I use is ProTracker Plus Weight, Calorie & Exercise Tracker. It was a one-time fee of $2.99 and you have the choice of either using the old or new calculator. 

I definitely recommend WW to anyone trying to lose some weight because it not only keeps you in check, it also prevents you from denying yourself certain foods in your diet. Moderation is key!

So far, the progress is slow ( like it always is ), but as time goes by there may be an update on progress!...maybe.

 Stay tuned!

 

Friday, September 1, 2017

August Birchbox

Well, I didn't make it--it's September now and I failed to write a blog about my latest box. This is partially due to having such a busy few weeks at work, and partially due to laziness. 

Shame. On. Me.

I feel like I got a lot of skin products in this box, which bored me. But I've tried pretty much everything...so here we go:


Coola Mineral Face SPF 30 Unscented Matte Tint
This is more-or-less a sunscreen, but it can also work as a nice primer before you apply makeup. With SPF 30 it's great for protecting your face from the harms of the sun. The tint is very mild--barely noticeable. When I used this product, it just felt like a primer. No greasiness. Not sunscreen odor. It's light and has natural ingredients to ( hopefully ) avoid reactions on sensitive skin.

Amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo
I rarely use dry shampoos, although I probably should try. I avoid washing my hair daily due to the dryness I've been seeing as I age. With the grays starting to come in, I feel my hair gets a lot more frizzy so I try to avoid it by washing my hair only every 2-3 days. But come day 3, I do feel my roots get a bit oily. This could help.

Avene Cleanance Cleansing Gel
This cleanser is unscented and great with a facial brush. I put about a dime-sized amount on my brush in the shower and scrub away. It works great for my sensitive skin and, actually, a dime-sized is usually too much ( but it comes out real easily ) You could probably get away with a pea-sized amount to make it last longer. When you rinse it off, your face doesn't feel dry but it does feel clean.

Stila Cosmetics Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in Perla
This was my Birchbox pick for the month, as the curated box choice had a DEEP red in it that I did not want to receive. So, my thoughts were that to avoid getting another dark color I probably would never wear, I'd choose this to avoid that chance. The color is very pretty and goes well with my skin tone. It is a matte color and it actually does stay a good while. And unlike my favorite matte color by Tarte, I don't seem to lose my lip color around the opening of my mouth as much. 

In real life, my upper lip is NOT that full!
  
Balance Me Congested Skin Serum
I've used this once or twice right before bed to help with red spots and break outs. The scent isn't strong like some products and, although I didn't see much progress with the product, it's probably because I didn't use it often enough. I actually kind of forgot I had this product and just continued using my Zap Zit ( which also never seems to work ) But maybe I'll just have to start using this ritually...

I already chose one product for my September box, so the other 4 will be "tailored to my profile". 

Here's to hoping for just a little more variety in this month's box...

  

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Lola's Impending Surgery...

So, last Saturday while my sister Abbey was visiting, she had Lola snuggled under her arm...on her back...when she says to me, "Jenny, Lola has a bump under her nipple".


At first I'm thinking, "It's probably just a lipoma..." but then, I felt it: this bump was harder than that. It felt like a tiny knot, or what I would compare to a swollen gland when you get sick. I, myself, used to get swollen glands in my neck and groin area when I would get sick quite frequently. But since she had a vet visit the following Tuesday to have shots updated, I just made sure to mention it at the appointment. It just didn't feel...right.

Between the day it was discovered, two more bumps appeared; one next to the original, and one above the nipple that did feel like a lipoma ( or a bug bite ) 

Tuesday comes and we go to see Dr. Kirmayer. I mention the bumps and, of course, he ends up feeling the bug-bite-type bump first. He's thinking it's just a lipoma. Then he feels the other ones. And he goes, "I don't like these bumps...I don't like them at all"; my stomach drops.

 
He tells us that he wants to remove these lumps. Kirmayer talks kinda fast and is very straight-forward, so I don't initially catch the medical jargon that he spews...but what I do understand is the words "breast cancer". He tells me that he needs to do a few x-rays and a blood panel prior to surgery to make sure that she's healthy enough for anesthesia and, I'm presuming, to make sure that he doesn't see anything that would indicate a cancer that has spread via the x-rays. Thankfully they came back clear. We got a call on Thursday with the bloodwork results. He said they were clean but during the surgery he wants to do another panel because her blood cell count is up like she's trying to fight off something. He doesn't sound too concerned, but wants to make sure. 

I'm concerned, though, and praying that my Mama-Pug is okay. She's been by my side for 10 years and I cannot imagine my baby having cancer. They are going to remove the two small bumps AND the entire mammory duct just to be safe; then it will be biopsied to determine if it is benign. He said that he doesn't THINK that it's anything yet, but it could potentially become something.

When I called for a quote on the cost of surgery ( since he forgot to let Nate know during the bloodwork call ), I also asked the receptionist to let me know exactly what he thought these bumps were since I didn't catch it at the appointment. I told her to just let me know via voicemail since I was at work. This is what they may be:

Hyperplasia, which is pretty much a benign overgrowth of cells in an area...but could potentially become cancerous.

Adenoma, which seems to pretty much be just a swollen gland.

Adenocarcinoma which is cancer in the mammory gland ( in her case ) But I'm praying to God and anyone else that this is NOT the case!!!

So these are the scenarios. I'm hoping that, if it's anything, it's benign and was caught early enough that we don't have to continue any treatment. After what happened with Haley, and this being my child, it's a little overwhelming. Thankfully, the surgery is estimated under what I was hoping the max would be...so that eases a little bit of tension. I'm just a very worried fur-mom right now...

Surgery is scheduled for September 7th. We will drop her off in the morning and Kirmayer said that the procedure itself should only take about 30 minutes. It is an outpatient procedure and she will be able to come home that day, so that's good not only for my mental health but also my bank account.

Baby Lola
I'm asking all of you to keep Lola Jane in your thoughts and prayers and send good vibes for benign lumps and a speedy recovery. If you know me, you know Lola is everything to me and she's been my rock for these 10 years. And if you've ever met Lola, you're probably in love with her, too. 

*fingers crossed*



Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Thank God for Care Credit

**This blog is not sponsered by CareCredit or Synchrony Financial and is solely my personal opinions.
 

 I need to start off by saying...thank GOD for Care Credit!

I was talking to a fellow coworker after work today about this. She said that anytime someone hands her a Care Credit card to pay for their procedure, she smiles. Why? Because her dog just had to have a tumor removed and, without this payment source, they probably would not have been able to do so. 

...and had it not been for this credit card, I would've wiped my savings account clean with the Haley fiasco thus leaving me at a loss when it comes to what will be going on with Lola ( I'll blog about that later this week when the results come back... ) 

Care Credit is a healthcare-based credit card that it helpful in numerous cases. Once you're accepted, you can use it at participating doctors, dentists, vets, and various other health care services.  

One of the best features is that for more expensive procedures, a lot of offices have "promotional offers" for free-or-low interest up to so many months.

Without this option, I would've had to pay $6500 out of pocket immediately for Haley's misdiagnosis and surgery. I would've had to pay $334 unexpectedly for a vet bill I assumed would be less than $200. And, if I chose to, I could use it for Lola's procedure...but I've decided not to abuse it if I have the funds. 

Of course, people worry about approval. I wasn't too worried about being approved because I've really focused on building my credit these last few years and have worked damn hard to do so. But if you are coming upon a medical expense that you aren't sure you can afford, you can go to the website to see if you are pre-approved prior to your appointment. Even if it's just for a small amount, something is definitely better than nothing.

And like I told Nate, I could use Care Credit for a breast reduction if I decided. It can be used at the chiropractor. It can be used for Lasik surgery! But you want to make sure that your provider accepts Care Credit before anything. And ask them if they offer any promotions! 

I also learned after the second vet bill that you CAN have multiple promotions on your card. Although you only make one payment a month towards it and they automatically apply it to the promotion that ends the earliest, you can call to have that sum allotted to each charge: meaning that if you pay $300, you can apply $60 of that to one charge and the other $240 to the other. That way you are paying down both charges at the same time and one doesn't have to suffer over the other. 

Yes, it sounds a little complicated but if you need to see the dermatologist for a mole you just can't stand anymore or you are sick and tired of glasses...or your dog suddenly gets sick or you really need a readjustment...there's always Care Credit to fall back on.

It has definitely been a saving grace for me and I'm so thankful to have it as an option!