Monday, July 18, 2016

Post Plastic Surgery, though not yet fully healed

 OK, it has been four weeks since my last surgery. I am tired. Cal shakes his head and says, “In the past year you’ve had work from your knees to your eyes. Don’t you think it’s normal to be tired?”
It has been a lot. Has it been worth it? Yes, a thousand times yes.
I still have pain, just a little from the procedures and, of course, the chronic pain since arthritis and the cervical neuropathy are not going away, though the injections I got this past year have been helpful in managing the pain. all the procedures have either improved the quality of my life or just made me feel better. Maybe, if I had no pain, I could weather the changes that come with age better? We’ll never know.
Still, plastic surgery is a big step and very expensive; though I see my retirement money disappearing more from a bad world economy and a managed fund, I am questioning, than I do from my spending.
Some procedures I had this past year were not elective nor plastic and were covered by my insurance. Not all the work, and I'll not detail each and every medical procedure, was for vanity. Even my eye procedure, done by my plastic surgeon, as the Kaiser doctor did not think it necessary; in reality, was needed. My vision has improved so much with everything looking brighter, the world looks lighter, and I’m not bumping into things like I did.
In general, I love my Kaiser providers. My outside care folks are my dermatologists at Laser and Skin Surgery Medical Group and my plastic surgeon, Dr. Hugh Vu in Stockton. I could not be in better hands. The beauticians I’ve seen have worked wonders too with Lani at California Concept keeping my hair great, Kim of Stunning Skin by Kim doing my eyeliner tattoos, and Melissa at The Lash Addict attaching the eyelash extensions.
I also appreciate the folk at Curves where I modify the exercise a bit to work within my pain limitations. My belly dancing is more like stumbles than dancing, and Fatima of Fatima's Bazaar is wonderfully patient. Of course, I cannot make all the moves and sometimes need to sit and rest. It’s not about perfection or being a great dancer, though. I’ve often said my Pilates instructor, Robyn Naymick-White, at Time To Be Fit, is the reason I am not in a wheelchair. She has been working with me for six years, incrementally adding fitness to my life with kindness and patience. She watches my neck like a hawk. I know she’s a major force behind getting me to try Kaiser Weight Management for my weight loss and for getting me to check into having my knee repair. She has encouraged me through so many of the choices I’ve made.
I will post a photo of me in something like a bathing suit when I am fully healed. I visit the RealSelf site, but I cannot bring myself to post nude photos or reviews there. My doctor took enough clinical pictures that I can go back and reference if I need to do so. I did become mildly obsessed with RealSelf before and just after my surgery. I’m glad some folks are narcissistic, anxiety-driven, or just trying to be helpful and reveal what they looked like before, during and after their procedures. I found the site fascinating and helpful, though occasionally scary.The incredible obsession with each and every detail that many of these people had is unbelievable. They worry about every 25cc of their implants and the most minute details of the surgical procedure. I cannot imagine that level of obsession. Still, the site gives a lot of good detail on the mysteries of plastic surgery. So glad to have found folk I trusted who I felt would give me the best functioning knee, the best pain relief and the most natural body improvements they could and let them do it. Heavens! Even my hairdresser knows the most I will say is the hair length I’m aiming for and maybe whether or not I want to avoid extensions for a few months. Otherwise, it’s “fix it.”
I am thankful for modern medicine. My surgeon and I discussed how amazing it was that there was so little pain after his last round of four major procedures at once. (Tummy tuck, breast lift, and implant revision). He said that 20 years ago I’d have been hospitalized for two weeks following all that. I did not remember much about 43 years ago when I had my breast surgery, but I do recall a lot of pain.
Even with a course that was relatively easy, I’m impatient. I want to finish healing and have my energy back.

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Weight Loss Journey

I've been on this weight loss journey for a few years and have been doing well. Of course, the lifestyle changes I've made have a huge impact on my health both physical and mental. One thing I've discovered is that it can be stressful to weigh significantly less than one has, just like being obese is stressful. I had not imagined that would be the case. It's difficult to accept the changes that come with aging. Adding the droopy skin that comes with weight loss can take a toll on self-image. However, I do not advocate putting on weight or staying heavy to avoid wrinkles. The drop in blood pressure and the increase in mobility that accompanied my weight loss are nice benefits and those benefits are of immeasurable value.
I had mentioned in my last post that I was contemplating a tummy tuck. Now I have made the commitment to do it. I spend time over at the Real Self website. I am not sure if that site makes me more nervous or less nervous about the procedure. I do see that a high percentage of folk who have plastic surgery done are happy. Folk with adverse outcomes, actually folk who did not get the exact result they wanted even when surgery objectively was very successful, are extremely vocal. I hope that my expectations of surgery are more realistic than those. Not every operation I've had done has been exactly to my liking, but I think all has gone well, and my friends say the results are excellent; and, as I honestly evaluate the procedures, I'm delighted. Dr. Hugh Vu in Stockton is a very accomplished surgeon. I also like the skin care treatment I've received from Laser & Skin Surgery Center in Sacramento.
I mentioned the weight loss journey earlier, and it is a "journey." I seem to follow the profile of the typical person involved in a diet plan. I hesitate to use the word diet as the emphasis is on lifestyle change, not a temporary "diet." Spark People is a resource I've used, along with my Kaiser Permanente weight loss program, to help me towards my goals. The coaching track at Spark People is superb. As I was saying, there does seem to be a pattern people follow. At first restricting calories, feeling confident, gradually increasing exercise, getting overall more active and making exercise a part of every day, and then a focus on making not just low-calorie choices but healthy ones. I'm at that point now. I love the good food that I am cooking that I've ordered from Sun Basket. Lots of vegetables and so many new tastes, too. I started researching in my Joy of Cooking cookbook to find the location of pages with recipes for all the tasty seasonings; maybe I'll even learn actually to cook. I like to think that following the explicit directions on the Sun Basket meals is real cooking, but it is rather scientific, like baking. I love all the flavors that the chef at Sun Basket assembles. Urfa Biber? You know the dinner table was a spot full of laughter as Cal and Joe's sense of humor awoke over the name of this delightful pepper flavor! I am discovering all sorts of new recipes and flavors I had not tried before. Perhaps, out of this savory adventure, some cooking skills will emerge; and, I'll have a few "go-to" recipes.
As I looked this blog post over, I realized it told part of my story. Telling one's story was an assignment at Spark Coach today. I've come a long way. My physical and mental health were shattering around me six years ago, and I've been picking up the pieces. This path is difficult and even painful at times. Nonetheless, this journey to health is a great adventure. I suppose I will post before and after photos, though I want to go through my files and erase all the "Fat Karen" pics. Still, they are a good reminder of where I do not want to be. I also realize that a lot of current pictures are not full body shots. I'll need to get some. I do have this photo taken when I'm playing on the floor with my grandson that gives a pretty good idea of where I am now.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Inspiration and Encouragement.

 Salin Designs Recorded
Fonts: Brannboll F, Traveling Typewriter

Challenge from Scrapalicious Group at modified with template: GIS templates Emily Pitts, Make it Mean; Kit: Destinations, Blagovesta Gosheva; Paper Clip: More than all the Stars, Two More Days; Frame: Piggy Bank, Studio Dawn Inskip Fonts: Traveling Typewriter, Bebas

I have mentioned Spark People as a site I use to help me manage my weight. It works very well to document my daily food intake, exercise and progress. I like the support from the Spark Coach program at the site. Spark People is free and Spark Coach costs $50 for a year, then $9 per month.
It's been very helpful.
One thing I discovered recently is a scrapbook group , "Scrapalicious", on the site. Monthly challenges that have pretty liberal guidelines. I like that. Fun to make a page without having to struggle!
It's helping to increase my creative efforts.
I've posted a couple of the layouts I've made for the challenges so far.
So, help losing weight and a group to push me to more productivity in scrapbooking.
A winning idea!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Self-Improvement Struggle

My weight has reached a plateau. I mean, that's pretty good. I'm within 10 lb of my goal, and proud of myself for achieving this milestone. I'm down 5 lb since I returned from my travels. I had used travel as an excuse to go off track and put on some weight. I am pretty close to walking 10, 000 steps every day. It is my goal to accomplish at least that many steps. I attend exercise class 3-4 times a week, and lately, it's been possible to make my five day a week goal. I cannot workout like I should because of my pain and arthritis, but my mobility has improved a lot. My physician performed a neck injection, but it has not helped a lot although I have some improvement in symptoms.
I'm so happy with the results of my recent plastic surgery and dermatology procedures. It was a bit scary before I moved forward. However, my emotional health is so much better. Aging is an issue for me. I want to look the age I feel, which is younger than my chronological age. I also desire a more positive outlook about the results of my weight loss. I had vowed I'd never have a tummy tuck, and now I'm thinking about it. Initially, Cal was not supportive; now he is.
I think he recognizes that there are benefits to surgery. At first, he did not even want a joint replacement himself. Then he swore he'd never go through another operation after his knee and hip replacement. Now he is planning to schedule his other hip replacement in the fall. It makes me glad because it will get him out onto the golf course again. I do want him to be more active.
I'm doing my bit to help with our nutrition. I'm not a cook and am a bit overwhelmed by the process of meal planning, shopping, and preparing. It's challenging for me physically, too. However, I'm subscribing to Sun Basket and love the service. It's rare to have to use a heavy pot for the Sun Basket meals (I can get assistance with that), and I can prepare 2-3 portions from every meal they send me. It's about $69 a week for the service - Sun Basket delivers three dinners or 2 dinners with two breakfasts. Cal likes the seasoning, and the ingredients are top quality. It was a bit upsetting when he did not like the first meal I made, but his response is a positive one now. I love that they provide just enough for each recipe. No fridge full of jars of unique ingredients with only one spoonful missing. Check out The Digiscrap Geek Podcast next month where I chat about Sun Basket along with Digi scrap topics with Christy Strickler and Peppermint Granberg Jones. 
The school is over. It was a challenging semester though I learned quite a bit. Too much writing. I acknowledge, here I am with a blog. It must seem odd to find me complaining about writing. I loved the gallery reports; I believe it was just too confining to write up the lab experiments in Artists Materials and Processes and answer the specific exam questions in International Contemporary Art. I'm looking forward to my fall semester, though. Printmaking, bookmarking, history of photography and a ceramic mural class. Maybe too much, but they all look fun!
Improving the body and improving the mind, a never-ending quest with a lot of delightful and sometimes challenging adventures!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Scrapbooking for the Fun of It!

KimJensen_LiveOutLoud_brad, TDF88_vid_adventuretime kit; Fonts: Quicksand Bold, Remington Noiseless Reg; Fiddle-Dee-Dee Mystified template; Styles: Mommyish and Scrapaneers Championsstyles 

Lately, I've been back at making scrapbook pages for fun.
It seems that many of the pages I made over the past 6 months were ones for scrap assignments. It's good to be back creating just because.
Certainly, lots of fun things going on have inspired pages to scrap and pushed me to devote myself to my hobby. I'm using up old kits and products in paper and playing with templates and kits and even exploring techniques in digi.
I'm in a happier place than I've been in a long time and it is reflected in my work.
Oh, I'm still behind in things at home but spring cleaning is going on and steadily I'm getting on top of things. This month is starting slow but am loving the longer days. I believe I get sad in the winter.
This very happy page was made to celebrate my visit to Boston to meet with friends that are a part of the Get It Scrapped community. It was so fun to meet in person though we've been virtual friends for a while.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Learning - Scrapaneers Live! event starts tomorrow

Scrapaneers Live! April 16-17, 2016

Looking ahead to Scrapaneers Live. Something about learning tech graphics is appealing to me. I mean, truly; I co-host The Digiscrap Geek Podcast. You can listen to our latest podcast for an interview with Tiffany Tillman-Emanuel where she discusses "Live!." Of course, it's no surprise to you that I am into this stuff. I enjoy learning in general, though.,, Get It Scrapped and Scrapaneers are some of my favorite educational sites. I do like Noell Hyman's Paperclipping videos, also. I am frustrated and disappointed that some places where I purchased courses are no longer available. While they offered the power to download the classes, it was not the right time in my life to collect the materials. Nowadays, there is time. I'd love having access to those Big Picture Classes and Creative Passion Classes. I'm not going to get overly depressed about it; not when great lessons at Scrapaneers and Get It Scrapped exist. I've looked at the program at the new BPC but have not subscribed for membership. I would enjoy hearing from folk taking classes there to discover what they think of the experience.
Now, if you are a current digital scrapbooker, please consider signing up for the Live event. It will be available virtually later if you are not free this weekend. If fresh to digital scrapbooking, check out for a free introductory course in the hobby.

Thursday, April 7, 2016


It has been a privilege to take this recent trip to the East Coast. There have been many highlights. The people I know, those who I have met, and that lovely group of people, familiar because of web interaction, and whom I now know in person, are right there at the top of my list of highlights.
The top of the list is a crowded space. Receiving my FAMWA degree (Fellow of AMWA) from the American Medical Women's Association is truly a great honor.

The experiences I have had visiting art shows at some our nation's great institutions have not only been educational; but they have also been emotionally moving experiences, as well. Seeing friends honored at the meeting and getting to know friends better has been great. Mini Murthy MD, you do so much good through the UN and so deserve the Elizabeth Blackwell Award. Mary Guinan MD, it was a delight being part of the FAMWA Award class of 2016 with you. Every success on your terrific new book, Adventures of a Female Medical Detective.

Kathryn Ko MD, I loved visiting your studio in Manhattan and our cozy chats. Diana and Emilio, thanks for the experience of Miami Cuban culture. Susan, friend for almost 50 years, wonderful to share time, friends, good food and great art with you. Gretchen, thanks for the Manhattan experience. Meeting you, along with Debbie, Helen, Betsy, Paula and Jennifer in Boston was fantastic! The city experiences amazing, and the Get It Scrapped team-building was perfect!

This post is one of many blog posts that sit in my pending file. Too many things are going on, like Cal, my husband, always says of me - "organized chaos." I do not like the feeling of being "behind." I view this blog as a sort of diary of life and as a place where folk I know or who are interested in my life can visit. If I do not write with regularity, so much gets left out. As a scrapbooker and memory keeper, I know that one cannot include everything. Some left out parts are simple editing, some moments are too painful, but some is just because I have not made sufficient time to document the moments.
Life is busy for all of us. I also have this addiction to learning things. Laura Gardner, exploring the Periscope app with you was a delight. Our young women medical students are so bright and talented and helpful. My interactions with them have me confident in medicine's future. Fatima Fahs and Shilpa Darivemula are two more students with whom it has been a great honor to work.

This trip gave me a lot of material for future scrapbook pages. Travels, friends, those darling young family members, and my silly and fun husband and sons, there is much to document. It's hardest to record the desperate things - dealing with aging, loss, anger and sadness. Some folks think it is better to gloss over those parts or ignore them. I am uncertain, as it is all part of a legacy. As I am getting older, I wonder what the future would want to know about me. Future historians will want to know about the lives of common folk. Mine is a privileged life but not one of great fame and fortune, so I feel quite ordinary. Every time I read and study about discoveries of how families functioned, particularly the lives of women in the past, I am grateful that these things remain. If only we had a record of their thoughts and emotions through the ages, it would be marvelous.