Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sissyfriss Sockmonkey and Lou Lou Skiptoo Drop by for a "Donald Update" Visit

 Thanks to those of you who continue to check on Donald - he's doing remarkably well; getting stronger every day.

He had a surprise visit over the weekend from our little buddies Sissyfriss Sockmonkey and Lou Lou Skiptoo.  

As you may have guessed, "the girls" entertained Donald in grand style.  I stood by and observed while the three of them played catch-up.  With Harley poking his little nose in too - he just adores Sissy & Lou Lou.  Sissyfriss doesn't even seem to mind when Harley nibbles her toes.  I took some pictures, but they had me laughing so hard, many of the pictures are blurred.  Hard to take pictures while you're hysterical!!  But I'm posting them anyway - just 'cause.

We ALL were tickled!  What a fun afternoon we had.  Sissyfriss Sockmonkey and Lou Lou Skiptoo are the best kinda medicine.  Besides coming by to make us laugh, fill us in on neighborhood gossip, and share a bit of pasta salad, they wanted to hear all Donald's news, and this is what he had to share - 

He's going to cardio-rehab three days a week where they're monitoring him as they put him through the exercise wringer to help him build up his stamina and get in the best shape he's probably ever been in.  We're not sure how long he'll be in this program - it could be 3 months, or it could be 6.  Or more.  Or less.  We just know they'll allow him to graduate when they're sure he's ready.

While he's not at The Wellness Center going through his paces, one of the things that's been keeping him occupied, busy, engaged and engrossed is weaving.

 (This is going to be a table runner.  Gorgeous!!! )

This seems to be an excellent choice of activity; a creative outlet and therapeutic - tailor made for Donald right now.  A good bit of math is needed to plan a weaving project, so that keeps his brain engaged.  It's a bit of a puzzlement putting the proper amount of calculated yarn onto the warp board, and then moving that to the loom, along with threading the reed and the heddles, which has him utilizing his mechanical aptitude, and then the actual weaving is pleasing to his creative spirit.  And it pleases me to see him there.  He says the hours fly by while he's at work with this, and it's not too physically taxing.     (and maybe - just maybe - I'll get a pretty scarf or shawl . . . .)

You'll remember that although Donald has never had high blood pressure, and his cholesterol numbers are pretty good, the doctors have put him on a low fat, low sodium diet.  Like most folks, we're fairly knowledgeable about fat content, and checking labels (and sometimes shamefully choosing to ignore them).  We haven't used real salt in our salt shakers during our entire married life - we've always used a salt substitute except for when I bake.  And while I guess I was aware that processed foods do contain a good bit of sodium, I had no idea that a lot of them actually contain a HUGE amount.  I know there are people out there who say they live a "sodium free lifestyle."  Frankly, I'm amazed and perhaps a teeny bit doubtful when I hear this statement.  Sodium free just doesn't seem possible to me.  Donald and I are on a quest for a low sodium diet, and even that is proving to be quite the challenge.

The dietician at Mission Memorial recommended Mrs. Dash products.  That's a good place to start - we're especially fond of their sodium free marinades.  The Mrs. Dash website also includes a lot of recipes and cooking tips.  From here, I found a website called Dietician Center, which says it gives tasty alternatives to fat, sugar and sodium.  Haven't really gotten into this site too much yet, but it looks interesting and helpful.  Another hint from the dietician was to rinse all your processed veggies and this will remove about 40% of the sodium they've been processed in.

One of the first things I did was buy two cookbooks (including one for baking) by Donald A. Gazzaniga, the low sodium guru.  I haven't had time to read through either of them too much yet, so can't really give an opinion regarding the recipes.  I have, however, picked up a few things - including the fact that he will scare you to death regarding salt.  To the point that I think I now know quite a bit, get his point, and probably won't read any more of what he has to say about it - just skip on to the recipes.  This is not to say I don't believe what he's telling us, or that I don't take it seriously, or that I don't respect his work.   My feeling on this is that I'll do the very best I can, but I refuse to live my life scared to death of sodium.  There is, after all, only so much we can do and I'm not ever going to go quite as far as he's gone.  We will, of course, go as far as we can, and continue looking for ways (and products) in which to keep getting a little better, without going  off the deep end and radically attempting a major change in our lifestyle in one fail swoop.  Which would ultimately end in failure, I'm sure.   I have to believe that moderation in all things is good (granted - more moderation when it comes to sodium).  I don't know about everyone else, but after having worked a full day, there aren't a lot of nights that I'm up to doing a lot of cooking from scratch using no prepared foods.  Some nights, yes - but every night?  No way.  I'm going to need to start planning my time during the weekend to cook ahead.  I have some friends who are very good about doing this, and I need to follow their lead. 

Mr. Gazzaniga recommends the  HeartHealthyMarket.com, and I have found some things here that I'm trying.  And here's another place I found - http://www.heartwisefood.com.

Good places to shop for low-sodium cheeses - www.heluvagood.com and www.koshercheese.com

A couple other products I've found  that I'm very pleased with if you're interested.  At our Lowe's Foods I've found some frozen things we like - Bird's Eye Steamfresh brown rice is excellent and sodium free (and you take it from the freezer, directly into the microwave in the bag it comes it - Yay!).  Some of the Valley Fresh Steamers veggies are also a fairly good choice (lower in sodium, at any rate, than most canned veggies and a lot of the frozen).  

Some additional products we've either tried, or have purchased and are in the process of trying, based on recommendations of others,  are:
No Salt/No Oil Popcorn - but we'll use Kernel Season's Kettle Corn popcorn seasoning.
Frontier salt-free Taco seasoning
Bernard sugar free, low fat, no trans fat, cholesterol free, low sodium Chocolate Brownie Mix (surprisingly good!!!!!!)
Kashi TLC Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Soft Baked Cookies (yum)
Boar's Head Low Sodium Lacy Swiss Cheese

A few of the suggestions from Donald A. Gazzaniga for low sodium substitutes (check with your doctor first!  some of these may have levels of potassium that won't suit your diet!) follow:
Baking Powder - substitute Featherweight Baking Powder
Baking Soda - substitute Ener-G Baking Soda
Brown Sugar - substitute Twin Sugar Substitutes; Splenda Sugar Substitute
White Granulated Sugar - substitute Splenda Sugar Substitute
Butter -  substitute unsalted butter, olive oil, applesauce, cranberry sauce, flaxseed meal

As we keep trying new things, I'll keep you posted.  In the meantime, anything any of you might want to share regarding low-sodium, heart healthy eating will be greatly appreciated!

UPDATE - Yay! 
Donald just called.  He's back from the cardiologist and got a glowing report!  The doctor says he's free to now do anything he wants to do, just rest when he's tired.  He told Donald that what the Wellness Center therapists have put him through the past few visits will exceed anything he could possibly do on his own - like weed wacking, etc.   He's to just pay attention to his body and not push beyond reason.
Yay !
Life is grand. 


Earl Staggs said...

Thanks for the update, Kaye. It looks as tho Donald is well on his way to being as ornery and sassy as ever -- and that's a wonderful thing. He's lucky to have you and, of course, Sissyfriss and Lou Lou. Just in case, do you ever loan them out?

Mason Canyon said...

Glad to know Donald is improving. Love the photos. The weaving is awesome.

Thoughts in Progress

Mary Jane Maffini said...

What great news, Kaye. Donald looks great. He is obviously very touched by visit from, Sissyfriss Sockmonkey and Lou Lou. I love the weaving action shots too!

I know he's going to keep getting better and better. This must all be such a relief to you.

Love from green and leafy Canada!

MJ and Daisy and Lily.

Wendy said...

Sure was good to see Donald's smiling face here. Looks like you're taking excellent care of him. Great, great news!

Evan and I saw Corgis on Animal Planet on one of the dog shows and Evan says "Harley is cuter, Mom"

Take care!

Patricia said...

Thanks for the update...I have been wondering but didn't want to bother you with wordy emails. It is a journey and a damn hard one at that, very few do realize that the sodium in prepared foods is literally killing us...I have slipped back into my bad habits and the weight gain bears that out but it is even hard to cook for one than for two....so carry on, carrying on!! love the pictures

Vicki Lane said...

So very glad for the update on Donald! And all the good info for a healthy life style -- you are really doing your homework, lady!

Love the weaving -- I always thought I'd love to weave but dressing the loom completely undid me.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Earl! Sissy & Lou Lou are talking about hitchhiking to Ft. Worth for a visit, so be on the look out!

Thank you, Mason - he's doing some fun stuff on that loom, with some GORGEOUS yarn being delivered today for the next project. oh boy.

MJ - oh yes, uh huh, he was VERY touched. (can you hear him saying "WHY am I doing this???")

Wendy - that Evan is one smart guy, huh?!!!! Hugs to you both!

Patricia, thank you! I was beginning to forget who I had told what, so I'm sure I was repeating myself. Easier to do updates here, I think. Were you already familiar with Donald A. Gazzaniga's cookbooks? If I find some good recipes, I'll pass them along.

Vicki. I'm with you. I took weaving lessons in Atlanta (several times, actually), and just never did understand the calculating. And dressing the loom made me want to scream. for real.

Thanks, guys, for all the good wishes!!!!

mybillcrider said...

Thanks for the update. Donald's lookin' good!

LJ said...

I am so glad to hear Donald is doing well. The weaving is wonderful and I always enjoy your pictures.

piddleandpurr said...

Donald Scott -- you look MAHVELOUS!

So glad to get all the nutrition information - a far cry from Gracie's 'Bun Specials'!

Could Sissyfriss Sockmonkey be the twitter friend of @piddleandpurr (a.k.a. Rosie and Blossom)? Maybe not but they do resemble - cousins, maybe? -- pfft.

Keep up the excellent work.

Love from
Nitney, Rosie and Blossom

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Thanks very much, Bill and LJ!!!!

Dear piddleandpurr - y'all are a mess! God love ya. Oh my - Gracie's 'Bun Specials' ! ! ! Honeys - weren't they divine?! The perfect antidote for those "evenings on the town" the night before, huh?! HA!

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Donald just called. He's back from the cardiologist and got a glowing report! The doctor says he's free to now do anything he wants to do, just rest when he's tired. He told Donald that what the Wellness Center therapists have put him through the past few visits will exceed anything he could possibly do on his own - like weed wacking, etc. He's to just pay attention to his body and not push beyond reason.
Yay !Life is grand.

Julia Buckley said...

Great to hear, Kaye! Such good news.

Lesa said...

Loved that update, Kaye! Donald looks great, and he and Harley look like they really enjoyed the company!

Hugs to all of you!