​It's been a very difficult week.  First my husband's uncle passed away. Alf was 80 and has Parkinson's, so it wasn't totally unexpected. But it is still painful for the family.  Then our beloved Rosie got sick and we had to say goodbye to her on Wednesday.  She had a uterine infection with such a high fever that surgery was not a good alternative and even antibiotics were a long shot.  We decided to let her go after nearly 9 years as a member of our family. I was not prepared for the reaction I would have.  As a child growing up, we really never had pets. As an adult I have had cats, but it hasn't been quite the same with cats. At least those we have had.  With a dog, they love you unconditionally, whereas a cat lets you into their life - sometimes. Rosie was always a big part of the family.  And when I had to let her go it was so hard.  First, the procedure was excruciating.  The vet had to shave all four legs in an attempt to find a way in.  Finally he was able to get in and give her the injection.  I had nightmares that night that I had participated in torturing her, despite the fact that she didn't seem to be reacting at all to what was happening. The house seems so empty without her. No Rosie running into the kitchen as soon as she hears the fridge open. No Rosie meeting us at the door. About the only "positive" I can see is that we don't have to vacuum on a daily basis. But I'd willingly vacuum twice a day to have her back. Rosie we love you and hope you are at peace!

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​What a lovely week in Ireland it was.  And it was fabulous foodwise for both me (#GastricBypass #postGB) and my sister #glutenfree #celiac.  My sister does not have celiac but giving up gluten has helped her RA.  Fewer flares and those she has seem to be less painful without gluten in her diet.  Ireland was fantastic.  Everywhere we went had alternatives and recommendations for people who eat gluten free.  Highly recommend Ireland as a vacation spot if one does not eat gluten!  The Dingle Peninsula was Beautiful.  We were quite in agreement that it is probably the most beautiful place on Earth. I can't remember where left off the other day, but I probably already mentioned Dingle.  Tuesday night we spent in Limerick and then Wednesday headed for the Cliffs of Moher followed by Galway.  We decided to take a Cliffs of Moher Cruise with Doolin2Aran Ferries.  What a great cruise and a fabulous crew. My mom fell while boarding and somehow a crew member actually caught her.  He and the other crew members were so conscientious and helped her off the boat.  Highly recommend them. #Doolin2AranFerries  Stayed at Flannery Hotel in Galway for two nights.  Great staff and a wonderful waitress named Alison.  Thursday we drove up into Connemara and visited the Irish Sheep and Wool Center.  Definitely worth a visit.  Kind of sad that this part of history is rapidly disappearing.  Yet, it is very labor intensive.  No one can afford that anymore, when wool is being processed by machines and sweaters are machine knitted.  I think I already talked about this and about the whiskey tasting the other day. Oh, well.  Friday we landed in Dublin at Talbot Stillorgan Park hotel.  We decided that we would keep the car until Sunday, since we were unsure how my mom would do walking in Dublin.  I hope she wasn't too disappointed.  Dublin is lovely, but both Peggy and I prefer small-town/village Ireland.  Friday night we went to a large shopping mall and got gifts from Greg and George.  Rugby and hurling shirts, of course.  We had bagels (3 gluten free choices, also available) for dinner.  And I bought a skirt and sweater at Primark.  Saturday we had planned to go to Irish Stud and Horse center.  But it was expensive and parts of it unsuitable for wheelchairs, strollers and handicapped.  So we drove through the Wicklow Mountains to Glendalough and Avoca.  Stopped at Avoca weavers and had a fika.  Drove back into Dublin to freshen up and then our last dinner together.  We had a lovely dinner at The Old Punch Bowl.  One of the few meals my mom and I did not share our dinner.,  Probably a mistake, since neither of us could eat everything, but we wanted different dinners.  I had a fantastic Beef and Guinness pie.  Only ate about 1/3, but it was good.  I could have gotten a half-portion, but then I would not have gotten crust. :(   Sunday was time to go home.  Very sad, but good to get home too. #FlannerysHotel   #TheOldPunchBowl

http://www.doolin2aranferries.com/

http://www.flanneryshotelgalway.com/

http://theoldpunchbowl.ie/restaurant/

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​Today my baby girl turns 17. I can barely remember life before her and can't imagine life without her at all. She has grown into a Beautiful young woman.  Beautiful on the inside as well as the outside. Natalie has faced many challenges in her short life, but she has met them headon.  I am so very proud of this young woman that I have been blessed to call my daughter. She is smart, funny, sassy, insightful and wise.  Quite wise for someone so young. Yet she is not an old soul.  Keep on believing Natalie.  You can do ANYTHING you set your mind to!  Love you to the moon and back!  Love mamma

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Time to blog again! I've had two weeks of wonderful vacation. The first week, week 38 (14-20/9), I met my mom and my sister Peggy in Dublin for a whirlwind trip around Ireland. We had a fabulous time! Thanks especially to Peggy's skillful driving on the wild Irish roads. First we drove to Blarney and spent a nice night at the Blarney Hotel and Golf Resort- Tuesday Peggy and I kissed the Blarney Stone. Still waiting to see if the gift of eloquence will be mine!;) Tuesday was spent driving the wild, narrow roads of the Dingle Peninsula. Holy cow are the roads narrow. Luckily, Peggy is a great driver and we had lots of laughs! Restaurants were quite willing to deal with my half portion requests. Although, I only ordered one half-portion. My mom and I shared lots of meals. She doesn't eat much any more and I don't either, so we often shared a dinner. I was able to eat Fish and Chips (about 1/3 of a portion) and even some fika cakes. No food problems for this first longer post-op trip. Wednesday was a Cliffs of Moher cruise followed by lunch at Gus O'Connor's pub. Wednesday and Thursday we stayed at Flannery's Hotel in Galway. Lovely hotel restaurant with a fantastic waitress named Alison. Thursday we drove to Lennane in the Connemara National Park and visited the Irish Sheep and Wool Center and museum. Patricia gave a very interesting demonstration of spinning and a great description of the history of sheep and wool in Ireland. This is definitely worth a stop.

​The picture of my sister Peggy with a man is from the sheep center. His name is Tom Memmer and my mother had asked him to take a picture of the three of us. What a small world it can be! When he asked where we were from my sister said she lives in Indiana. He said, he did as well.  When he named the town, my sister said that Princeton can't be a large town and wondered if he knew her friend Rachel.  Turns out that Tom, his wife Jody and Rachel's parents live a mile apart and are good friends. Amazing to run into someone like that 7000 miles from home! 

Friday we started the drive to Dublin, but made a stop off in Tullamore.  Visited the distillery and had a whiskey tasting. Nice diversion and I bought a special bottle of whiskey for Patrik.  That¨'s all for now.  Will blog more about our trip tomorrow!

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Haven't blogged in a couple of days. Very busy at work and at home. Yesterday would have been my dad's 87th birthday. My dad (or Poppy as my kids called him) has been gone 12½ years now. It seems like yesterday and it seems like forever. This weekend a new year starts that I can't share with him -- the start of the 13th year without him. I miss him so, as do his grandson and granddaughter.  Jacob keeps it more to himself, but likes to look at the pictures of him with Poppy.  Natalie is more vocal about it.  She is hoping to get a tattoo representing her memory of him.  She was only 4½ when he passed, but she does long for him. While I absolutely wish he were here, I am so grateful they got to have him as a physical part of their life.  And perhaps a little jealous, too. My paternal grandfather passed away more than 15 years before I was born and my maternal grandfather passed away 1½ years before I was born. I always wanted a grandfather. I would give almost anything to have another day with him.  To tell him so many things. Most importantly, I would like to ask his forgiveness for something I let happen over the Christmas break in 2002. We were in the States and the kid's and their dad had spent a couple of weeks with his parents.  We spent only a few days with my family.  At that point we had found out (on 12/21) that he was sick with cancer. I wanted the kids to stay with me at my parent's until we left for Sweden.  My ex-husband (not an ex then) flat out refused. He loaded them in the car and left despite my pleas.  I was devastated and I know my father was hurt.  I don't know what I could have done to force the issue, but I have felt so horrible and so guilty for nearly 13 years now.  And I wish I could ask his forgiveness.  I know he has most certainly forgiven me. I know my father. But I wish I could ask him for it. I also would like to thank him. There are so many things I have to thank him for.  But there is one specific thing I would like to give him a hug and kiss and thank him for. If anything positive came out of losing my father in March 2003, it is the fact that it woke me him for a sort of coma I had been in for years. My ex-husband (again, not my ex then) came to the States for the funeral, but he didn't stay with me. He stayed with his parents about 150 miles away. The morning of the funeral is was well over an hour late. That was the wake-up call for me.  I realized how unimportant I must have been to him. My mother advised me to stay calm, return home to Sweden, see a counselor and then make a decision.  She advised me to get my ducks in a row and not explode during the first part of the grieving period.  That is what I did. And thanks to my father, who I think of as my Guardian angel, I became myself again. I have a wonderful life here in Sweden and I met the man that I Think I was meant to be with from the beginning.  Thank you dad, for being there for me and taking care of me even from the other side.  I wish you could meet Patrik. You would love him.  I wish you could see what a fine young man Jacob is becoming at nearly 20 and what a lovely young woman Natalie is at almost 17. And I wish that you could be with mom and Peggy and me on our trip to Ireland. I am sad that you never got to see Ireland and Galway.  But you will be with us in spirit.  Miss you and love you!!!

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​Yesterday I had my second visit with the physical therapist.  It was fantastic. He told me to come 15-20 minutes earlier to warm up.  I did about 10-12 minutes on a Crossramp (cross-trainer) and it felt good.  Pre-op I could not last more than 3-4 minutes on those machines. Yesterday I could have gone longer, but he wanted to go through the short program he had designed to work on my legs/knees. Three simple floor exercises and two machines.  I did well, pushing to use the correct weights.  But I am feeling the pain today.  I haven't done strength training in years and had only gotten the green light to start after surgery.  Since I had concerns about my right knee I decided to wait for the PT. I will go again on Wednesday and go through the program one more time with him.  Then I will work on it myself and perhaps book a time for after week 39.  Need to see if any of the hotels in Ireland have gyms.  So excited for Monday the 14th!  I fly to Ireland to meet my mom and my sister.  We have a week in Ireland - just a girl's trip!  Then my mom is coming back with me to Sweden and week 39 we are taking the night train up above the Arctic Circle.  Wish my sister could come, too. :(

Anyway, am doing well with the diet and exercise.  Now a week eating out will be my next challenge.

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There are huge discussions in Sweden and around Europe about begging and whether it should be made illegal. It's an interesting question. Since countries like Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary have entered the EU, the number of beggars visible in countries such as Sweden, Germany, etc. have increased astronomically. With open borders within the EU (and Schengan) and freedom of movement, people may come and go as the please. For the most part. The overwhelming majority of beggars come from Romania (with some from Hungary and Bulgaria) and are ethnic Romani (gypsies). Why do these people leave behind their families and their children to come to countries like Sweden? Because they have virutally no other options. The prejudice against Romani in these countries is extreme and they can find no other way to support their families. I refuse to believe that traveling from their homes to a strange country to sit outside shops or wander around train stations and busstops with coffee mugs begging for money, is their first choice. But it has become a Point of contention in countries like Sweden. Many want the government to pass legislation to make begging illegal. The prime minister of Romania, while in Stockholm on a visit, even stated that we need to address OUR problem with beggars by making it illegal. Hmm. Is it really our problem? Making begging illegal in Sweden seems to me like taking an aspirin for a headache, when on really has a brain tumor. Making begging illegal is trying to treat the problem by treating one symptom. What needs to be done is Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria need to deal with extreme prejudice and extremism in their countries and to fix the problems that lead people to Think that begging is their only way out. It is frustrating to see so many desperate people every day. When I get off the train every morning at Gothenburg Central Station, I am accosted by any number of Romani. And it is repeated on the way to the train in the afternoon. It is irritating, I believe, because it is hard to not feel guilty. Guilty for having a good life - a job, a home, nice clothes. But it is impossible to give Money to all of them. I would spend my monthly salary within a week if I gave everyone even 5 kronor. And this is not a big city problem. In the small town where I live, Stora Höga, we have a woman who sits outside our small grocery store every day, rain or shine. Stora Höga is about 25 miles north of Gothenburg with a population of about 3000 people and we have our own beggar. This woman really tugs at my heartstrings as she sits outside Tempo with a smile and a small framed picture of her daughter. Her I help. Sometimes with 5 or 10 kronor, sometimes with a sandwich or bottle of water. What is the solution? I don't know. While I do believe we have a responsibility as human beings to help others, we can't help everyone all the time. I think as a society we need to put more pressure on countries to come to terms with problems they have and to help these people be able to stay at home with their families, their children and be able to survive.

#beggars #begging #tiggare #tiggande #Romani #romer #gypsies #Romania #Rumanien

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Halfway through the work week.  Actually, more than halfway, now that it is way past lunch time! This morning I went to the physical therapist at Sportrehab for the first time.  Have had some issues with my right knee in the last few weeks.  Apparently, exercising without any rest days is NOT optimal. I will calm down! Sebastian gave me an exercise to do 8-10 times every day until I see him again on Monday morning.  On Monday, he will have a program for me to begin strength training of my legs.  I got the green light on Friday from the GB clinic to begin strength training.  But I wanted to wait until I saw the PT to start on my legs.  Apparently, I have probably over done it and need to take time with my training, but no major injury at this time.Then it was on to work, where I have been cold all day. Some of my colleagues are teasing me that, of course I would be cold now that I don't have the same insulation.  There is truth in that, though, too.  I wonder what my ideal temperature weight would be.  When I was obese, I was often hot.  Now, that I have lost 55 Pounds I am cold.  Somewhere in the middle must be my perfect weight to be just right! ;) Looking forward to our first dinner party since my surgery. I cook a lot at home, but haven't had guests yet.  I Think it till be easier to be the hostess than a guest.  I have had meals at with four different friends or relatives since my surgery and it is hard for many of them to forget the hospitality of offering more food and wondering why someone isn't eating so much.  Just remember, if you invite me for a meal -- I eat less and don't eat high fat, high sugar foods, but it has nothing to do with your talents in the kitchen!

#bariatricsurgery #gastricbypass #gastricbypasspost-op

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​Recently I read a post by a friend in which she wrote that she had been invited to a "friend's" home for what she assumed was a friendly get together, but turned out to be something of an intervention regarding her weight. I have not been able to stop thinking about this and about what friendship means. Since then I have thought about so many of my friends (Beth, Ragnhild, Marie, Darcy, Michael, Kara, Carole, Dawn, Jackie, Lynn, and so many more......, as well as my siblings).  I have thought about what comes to mind when I think of them.  Without exception it is their beauty (inner and outer), their smiles, laughter, compassion, kindness, energy, talents and so much more.  For not one of them did I think about weight or anything else that means nothing when evaluating them as people. They are all wonderful and fantastic.  I am grateful to have them in my life and my world. I love them all!  True friendship, I believe, knows when to take up issues a

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WooHoo! Today was my 3 month follow-up at Östra Sjukhus. I have lost approximately 55 Pounds and 8-9 inches around the middle. I am amazed at how good I feel. They are pleased with the results as am I. I will have a follow-up again in December (6 months) and again in June (12 months) and then will be released to my regular doctor's office for checks and to get my prescriptions for B12 and Calcium. I have learned so much about myself these last 4 months.  Mostly good, but some of perhaps not as positive as I would like.  But I am working on those things.  I feel a real commitment to staying healthy.  I cannot lie - the change in appearance and being able to wear "normal" clothing is FANTASTIC!  But my commitment has more to do with my health, my body and the longevity of my life.  Autoimmune diseases are an issue in my family.  I have Sjögrens Syndrome (body attacks its own mucus membranes), my mother has polymyositis, my sister, dad and aunt have RA, and my brother may have Scleroderma.  Polymyositis affects muscle strength and can be inherited.  I really want to keep my mobility and, if possible, improve it.  I have started the process by doing 60-80 minutes per day on our Wii Fit (Muscle Workout, Aerobics and then Yoga).  I also walk from the central train station here in Gothenburg to my office which is 2 kilometers.  Round trip M-F it is 20 kilometers per week (12,5 miles).  I have a Fitbit with a goal of 10000 steps per day.  I Think I will increase that as I have no trouble meeting it.  Starting this weekend I will be adding strength training at the gym 3-4 days a week.  I have been careful this week though, as my right knee is bothering me.  Rather ironically, prior to surgery, when I was about 85 pounds overweight, I had NO problems with my back or knees.  Now that I have lost 60% of my excess weight, I am having problems with my right knee.  I think that the problem stems from some of my stretches.  I have noticed that my right foot Points a bit to the right.  I have tried to do the stretches by pointing it straight ahead.  I think that was a mistake.  In any case, I have made an appointment with a physical therapist next week to get some tips and advice on how to avoid making it worse.  Otherwise I feel fantastic!  #bariatricsurgery #gastricbypass #GBpost-op

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