Well. Didn’t see that coming.

the scream

 

I have always been an active person.  I still ride my horse, I get out and about, and I can still throw a 50 pound bag of chicken feed over my shoulder.  I do have a job where I tend to sit, but I do get up and move around. Could I run a 5k? Probably not. ( I hate running and I wouldn’t do that even if I could.)  But overall, I consider myself to be in darn good shape for my age.

So I go to my annual medical visit.  Weight, height, pee in the cup, blah blah blah. And blood pressure.

This is where it gets ugly.  140 over 90.

Say what?

Now, I have ALWAYS ALWAYS had low blood pressure.  If I was ever 120 over 80, that was high for me.  I bragged about my low blood pressure.  I wore it like a badge of honor.  Gloated, even.

So I am in disbelief when my doctor tells me this. He asked me “did your parents have hypertension?”

” Yes, both did.”

“Well”, he says “There you go.”  For crying out loud.  My parents ate poorly, drank like it was an episode from Mad Men, and didn’t exercise at all.  No effing way.

My doctor says that I can control this with diet.  And he wants me to follow a specific regimen for 6 weeks.

Full on vegan.

Ok, kill me now.  The no-meat thing I can manage, but NO CHEESE?  Seriously? If I could marry cheese and live with it forever, I would. That is how much I love cheese.  I think my blood pressure will go up because I am so pissed at not being able to have some goat cheese.

So, having gone through:

Denial-“Your blood pressure gadget isn’t working. Take it again.  No, it’s still not working”

Anger-“I do everything right! I don’t over-salt! This sucks!”

Bargaining-“Can I have butter? No? Can I have skim mozzarella?”  Jeez.

Depression-“I won’t be able to go out. I will have to bring my food with me. I will be pathetic.  People will think I’m a real vegan and not a medically induced one…”

And finally:

Acceptance–“Fine. It’s only 6 weeks.  I like vegetables.  I don’t like medications.”

Thus begins my foray into the world of veganism. The first night I had some dark red kidney beans, some diced tomatoes and chilies, add some Penzey’s Taco spice and put it in a tortilla.  And you know what?  It was really good.  And filling!

And my husband is on the vegan bandwagon as well, bless his heart.  He is joining me in the effort, and is looking for recipes we can make.  We both love to cook together, so we will explore this as a team.  My son’s fiancée has been eating vegan and she is going to send me recipes and we are going to do this together.  She is my VB. Vegan Buddy.

I am only 5 days into this, but it really is not as bad as I thought.  I don’t feel as deprived as I thought I would.  And I did blow the vegan diet off for brunch today, because it was my son’s birthday.  I had gazpacho-that met the vegan standard- then had Moule Frites.  I love this French dish of mussels with skinny French fries.  And they were perfect.  I think I actually enjoyed them more, because they were a treat, not the norm.  Ok, I can deal with that.

One up side.My doctor told me one glass of wine a day does help lower blood pressure.  Thank God. One small victory.

While this really felt like a curve ball, I am thankful that I am so healthy.  This is a part of life. My life. And I am really very, very fortunate.

So I will keep you all posted on my progress.  What I would really, really love if you would share some vegan recipes if you have any.  Your support would be a real boost.

I’m in it to win it.  And I will.  I’m coming for ya, blood pressure.  Your days are numbered! You’re going down….

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The First Without

 

first without

My Mom died peacefully this past November 1, All Saints Day. She was 94, and suffered from dementia, so it was a combination of grief over losing her, and relief that her suffering had ended.

With her passing, I am officially an orphan.  My Dad passed away in 2003 and my only sister in 2004.  I am flying solo now.

This past year many of my friends have lost parents or siblings.  It is bound to happen, as we are of “that age”.  Family members pass, and with them go many of the family traditions that bound you all together.

The first Christmas without.

The first birthday, yours or theirs, without.

The first wedding anniversary without.

These times were times of family sharing, or they could be times of great stress. My Mom put so much importance on being together for Christmas that it was not enjoyable.  The meal was tense, the pressure to be the perfect family was enormous. It was like she was trying to recreate that Norman Rockwell painting of the family at Thanksgiving.  And yet, I do miss it. For all of her stress and perfectionism, the bottom line was she treasured our small family. She just had a weird way of showing it. To learn more about my Mom, check out my post “Betty and the Banana Cake”.

My Dad and I were very close.  I used to show horses competitively, and he was my biggest supporter and champion. We would get up at the crack of dawn, hitch up the horse trailer and head out. I couldn’t eat anything until I was done competing, just my own nervous food ritual. When I was old enough, Dad and I began our post-show ritual.  We would both sit down and crack open a Genesee Cream Ale. (Beer fans, do not judge me…). Whether I won or lost, this was how we ended a day of competing. It was one of my favorite times with him. To learn more about my Dad, check out my post “Old Ritual= New Ritual”.

My sister loved good meals.  And she adored anything French.  But she could not keep a stocked pantry or refrigerator to save her life.  My son, who was about 9 at the time, and I went to visit my sister in Florida.  I needed to make my son some lunch and opened her refrigerator. No bread. No fruit. No mayonnaise.  But there was a half used jar of capers and a head of frisee. Check the cupboards. No peanut butter. No tuna. No cereal. No kid food, period.  But there were canned snails and dried porcini mushrooms…

We had to go out to the local deli and buy my son a sandwich.

I can’t fault her. She shopped like a European.  And I love snails…

When my Dad passed, I could share the grief with my sister and my Mom.  When my sister passed, I had to support my Mom. No one wants to outlive their children.  When my Mom passed, I had the support of my husband, son, his fiancée and my friends.

I’m not alone, and yet I am.

This year for me is the First Without-without ALL Of Them. And it feels sad.

I have the ashes of all three of them.  And I have been trying to decide what to do.  We aren’t funeral people, there was not a service for any of them. But what I am thinking of doing is having a dinner party for my friends and family who knew them.  And I will cook my Mom’s pot roast (it was always fabulous), make escargot in honor of my sister, and drink a Genny in honor of my Dad.  I’m going to take all of those elements of our meal traditions and share it in remembrance of them.

I’m taking my First Without and having it WITH those who knew and loved them. And I won’t feel alone.

family