Kidzdoc Strives for Insanity in 2024 (1)

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Kidzdoc Strives for Insanity in 2024 (1)

Editado: Jan 21, 11:16 am

Even though the famous insanity quote is widely attributed to Albert Einstein he never actually said it. However, this definition is quite applicable to my reading plans in 2024: I've only read a small number of the books I had intended to since the pre-pandemic years, but instead of changing it up I'll continue with many of my same categories, in the vain hope that things will be different this year.

Hi, everyone! I'm Darryl, a longtime member of both LibraryThing and Club Read, and I now live in a nearby suburb of Philadelphia. I worked as a pediatric hospitalist in Atlanta, a pediatrician who cares for hospitalized children, from August 2000 until late November 2021, as my father became critically ill that month and died a few days later. Since that time I have served as my mother's primary caregiver, as she has vascular dementia and can no longer care for herself. The year 2023 was a very difficult one for both of us, as she fell at home in early December, sustained a rupture of her right eye, and, at the moment, has little or no vision in her injured eye. I had several physical and mental health challenges in 2023, but thankfully I'm doing much better now.

I prefer to read fiction and non-fiction from the African diaspora, books about medicine, illness and public health, literature in translation, and historical fiction. I only read 26 books in 2023, which is roughly a third of my usual output until the late 2010s, and these are my favorite reads that year:

5 stars:
Your Hearts, Your Scars by Adina Talve-Goodman
No Justice, No Peace: From the Civil Rights Movement to Black Lives Matter by Devin Allen
All Else Failed: The Unlikely Volunteers at the Heart of the Migrant Aid Crisis by Dana Sachs
Beyond the Shores: A History of African Americans Abroad by Tamara J. Walker

4½ stars:
Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
Retrospective by Juan Gabriel Vásquez
Bigger Than Bravery: Black Resilience and Reclamation in a Time of Pandemic by Valerie Boyd
Black on Black: On Our Resilience and Brilliance in America by Daniel Black
Victory City by Salman Rushdie

Fortunately my suppressed reading mojo has returned within the past few weeks, and since I have a ton of books I would like to get to this year I anticipate that I'll get back on track in 2024.

I'm the administrator of the Booker Prize Group in LibraryThing, at least for the time being, and La Cucina (The Kitchen) in Club Read.

Currently reading:


Let Us Descend by Jasmyn Ward
Travelers to Unimaginable Lands: Stories of Dementia, The Caregiver, and the Human Brain by Dasha Kiper
Why Niebuhr Matters by Charles Lemert
Pessoa: A Biography by Richard Zenith

1. The House of Doors by Tan Twan Eng
2. The Upcycled Self: A Memoir on the Art of Becoming Who We Are by Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter
3. The Hundred Years' War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917-2017 by Rashid Khalidi

Editado: Dez 28, 2023, 8:45 am

The African Diaspora: Fiction and Poetry

Editado: Jan 2, 9:42 pm

The African Diaspora: Nonfiction

The Upcycled Self: A Memoir on the Art of Becoming Who We Are by Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter

Editado: Dez 28, 2023, 8:47 am

2024 International Booker Prize Longlist: TBA

2024 Booker Prize Longlist: TBA

Editado: Dez 28, 2023, 8:48 am

Dignidad Literaria: Literature and Nonfiction by Authentic Latinx Writers

Editado: Dez 28, 2023, 8:52 am

Medicine, Illness, Public Health and Science

Editado: Jan 20, 11:38 am

Philosophy & Religion (a new category!)

Politics & Current Affairs (another one!)
The Hundred Years' War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917-2017 by Rashid Khalidi

Dez 28, 2023, 8:40 am

Einstein was a genius. Nowadays we are reviewing his insights and discoveries. But Einstein will remain an important personality that changed how humanity looks at the world.

Editado: Dez 28, 2023, 10:32 am

Hey Darryl, It's great to see you up and running on CR for the new year. I hope 2024 is a productive and fulfilling trip around the sun for you, reading-wise and otherwise.

Dez 28, 2023, 12:14 pm

>9 ghazijosephhaddad: Agreed.

>10 rocketjk: Thanks, Jerry; I hope so, too.

Dez 28, 2023, 4:30 pm

Hi Darryl! Good to see you. My 2023 was crap as well, so I'm looking forward to the new year and a little more light.

Dez 28, 2023, 4:54 pm

Glad to see you back! Sorry to hear about the health issues with you and your mom. I always enjoy hearing about what you are reading and cooking. I've got The House of Doors on my lists this year. Not going to get to it in January, but soon I hope.

Dez 29, 2023, 8:53 am

>12 lisapeet: Thanks, Lisa! I share your wishes for the New Year.

>13 WelshBookworm: Thanks, Laurel! I hope to do far more reading, and cooking, in 2024. I will be starting a 1200 calorie mostly pescetarian diet on or near the 1st of the year, and I'll have weekly meetings with a nutritionist in the Metabolic & Weight Loss Center that my PCP referred me to a couple of weeks ago. I'll also cook healthier foods, some old and some new.

Dez 29, 2023, 11:16 am

>14 kidzdoc: I'll definitely be following this thread and your new, healthier diet. It's just up my alley! Here's wishing that 2024 is kind to you and your mom. Hope it's a good year.

Editado: Dez 29, 2023, 7:10 pm

>15 SqueakyChu: Thanks, Madeline! I'll follow your thread as well.

Dez 31, 2023, 10:24 pm

Welcome back to Club Read, Darryl. It just wouldn't be the same without you. I hope 2024 is a good year for us all, but you especially. You deserve it!

P.S. I finally read At Night All Blood is Black yesterday. It turned out to be my top read of the year. Brutal yet beautiful. I'm still stunned.

Jan 1, 4:56 am

I sincerely wish you health, happiness, contentment and many exciting books.

Jan 1, 8:20 am

Happy new year, Darryl. I hope 2024 is a fulfilling year for you.

Jan 1, 10:17 am

Good to see you back. I had a difficult 2023 too - here’s to a better 2024!

Jan 1, 10:44 am

Darryl, I want to say how sorry I am about your mum (and dad!). My mother also had vascular dementia, but the one positive I always appreciated was that there were no personality changes. She did eventually forget who we all were, but she was still the same friendly and happy person we all loved, She finally entered a coma and died 5 days later on her wedding anniversary, and I've always thought my dad came for her. I hope your mom remains the person you love and that you'll be able to look back on this time with her with some positivity. Let us know how it goes.

Jan 1, 2:21 pm

Hi Darryl, I am so sorry to hear about your mother's physical and mental challenges and your father's passing. Praying that this year brings you some well deserved rest and peace!

Jan 1, 6:35 pm

Welcome back Darryl. I wish you good times with your mom. Hugs.

Editado: Jan 2, 7:58 am

Happy New Year, everyone! I began 2024 with the most productive and rewarding day I've had in many months. I got up early to go to my local garden farm market to buy ingredients to make Hoppin' John and (turnip) greens, the traditional Southern meal that is meant to provide good luck and prosperity in the New Year. After I returned home I visited my mother in the rehabilitation center where she is recuperating, and continued learning how to help her stand, sit and walk safely under the guidance of one of Mom's fabulous physical therapists. After spending three hours there I spent the afternoon cooking; here is the finished product:

I was very tired, but happy, after I cooked dinner, but I was determined to finish the last 100 pages or so of The House of Doors by Tan Twan Eng, who is one of my favorite historical novelists, and his latest book did not disappoint. I carried over another book from 2023, The Upcycled Self: A Memoir of Becoming Who We Are by Tariq Trotter, better known to some by his performance name Black Thought, who is one of the co-founders of the award winning hip hop group The Roots, which is also the house band on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on NBC. This book is so far as equally superb as The House of Doors, and I'll finish it later today or tomorrow.

Next up will be Jesmyn Ward's latest novel Let Us Descend, which I'm also greatly looking forward to.

Jan 2, 8:06 am

Este utilizador foi removido como sendo spam.

Jan 2, 8:17 am

>17 labfs39: Thanks, Lisa! I'm glad to be back, and hopefully I can sustain my presence here, and reading output, far better than I did in 2023.

I'm glad that you also, um, enjoyed At Night All Blood Is Black, which was one of the most powerful novels I've read recently.

>18 Ameise1: Thanks, Barbara! Happy New Year and Good Reading to You in 2024.

>19 AlisonY: Thanks, Alison! I hope that 2024 also treats you and your family well.

>20 rachbxl: Thanks, Rachel! I anticipate that 2024 will be even more challenging than last year was, but I feel far better equipped, mentally and physically, to handle it now.

>21 auntmarge64: Thank you for your kind words, Margaret. I'm sorry that your mother also suffered from vascular dementia. You're absolutely right in terms of my mother's personality; she is the same sweet, loving and caring person that she's been for her entire life. We'll have to make some changes, especially if she does not regain meaningful vision in her right eye, but I am increasingly more confident that I can do so at home, albeit with support from a home aide after her 6-8 weeks of home therapies that her insurance company will pay for is completed.

>22 avidmom: Thanks, avidmom. I am definitely more at peace now than I was in early 2023, thanks to great improvements in my mental health under the care of a top notch psychiatrist and psychotherapist, and my strengthening Christian faith has also been a source of great comfort.

>23 dchaikin: Thanks, Dan; I appreciate your best wishes and support.

Jan 2, 9:29 am

>24 kidzdoc: A great looking New Year's meal, Darryl. We were thinking along with you here in New York. Steph had cooked up some collard greens and ham and also a mess of black eyed peas with ham hocks and collard greens. We added some andouille sausage. Sorry, no photos, though.

The folks talking about their moms having issues with reading rang true with me, as well. My mom was a great reading throughout her life. I realized things were degressing for her cognition-wise when I noticed she was sitting with the same book and reading the same chapter over and over. Eventually, she would open a book and immediately fall asleep. However, I guess she remained in denial about her situation until almost the very end, as she continued to take books from her living facility's many bookshelves and piling them up in her bedroom "to get to soon." It was sad to see.

Again, best wishes to you and your mom for the new year: Progress, Health and Comfort!

Jan 2, 4:16 pm

Happy new year, Darryl, to you and your mom. It's gratifying to hear your life's regaining balance after all the shocks and trials.

Jan 2, 11:42 pm

>24 kidzdoc: My sister makes Hoppin' John every year on New Year's Day. I took some home with me. :-) I'm sure it is NOT traditional since it is vegetarian. BTW, I just smile every time I see the title of your thread. Something about "striving for insanity" just tickles my funny bone. I'm planning on reading a couple of Tan Twan Eng's books this year. Good to know he comes recommended!

Jan 2, 11:46 pm

Happy New Year Daryl to both you and your mom. I really hope she’s able to cope with the sudden loss of sight I her right eye. Hope the rest of 2024 improves for both of you.

Jan 3, 10:56 am

>27 rocketjk: Thanks, Jerry; it sounds as though you & Steph had an equally enjoyable New Year's Day meal! I've been pleasantly surprised that more non-Southerners are making Hoppin' John and greens for good luck and prosperity in the New Year, especially here in Pennsylvania where pork and sauerkraut are far more commonly consumed.

My mother also keeps a stack of books by her side, even though she has read only one or two of them, particularly The Ditchdigger's Daughters: A Black Family's Astonishing Success Story by Yvonne S. Thornton, repeatedly over the past year or more. She no longer remembers what she reads, but she greatly enjoys the activity, which is good enough for me.

Fingers crossed that we won't have a big nor'easter this weekend! I'm preparing for a big snowfall, though.

>28 LolaWalser: Thanks, Lola! It will be far more important to maintain a balanced life, especially since I want to be able to return to work, from home and in a limited capacity, sometime this year.

>29 WelshBookworm: Well done on having Hoppin' John on New Year's Day, Laurel! Mine was also technically nontraditional in that I didn't have it with rice, although I did cook the black-eyed peas with pork and bacon, in the traditional Southern fashion. This is the recipe I use, from the former Food Network show Down Home with the Neelys, which mimics the ones that my family made:

Black-Eyed Peas with Bacon and Pork

I'm glad that you like the absurd title of my thread! Rebecca (rebeccanyc) used to tease me mercilessly at the beginning of every year, as I would create these grandiose reading goals that were doomed to failure from the start. This year will be different, though!

>30 kjuliff: Thank you, Kate. My mother is getting stronger by the day, and I'm gaining confidence and experience in learning to care for her at home, as she remains moderately debilitated from her baseline, and she is greatly affected by the loss of vision in her injured right eye. If all goes well she will be discharged home as early as next Monday, but she will receive home physical, occupational and speech therapies for probably 6-8 weeks, and I'll have to assume a greater role in dressing her and helping her use the toilet.

Jan 3, 11:03 am

>31 kidzdoc: I'm glad to hear you're planning on adding a home health aide to the mix, with plans to work from home, especially as your mother will need more care. Wishing you all the best as you reconfigure things.

I received a copy of The House of Doors for Christmas. I still have an unread copy of The Garden of Evening Mists, so at least one of those needs to be read soon.

Looking forward to seeing what you make of Let Us Descend.

Jan 3, 11:52 am

I hope you have a better 2024 Darryl. I think the patience with which you deal with your mother's dementia puts me to shame.
Incidentally, we have been in London for the last few days and ate in Strada last night, of the shattering door fame ...

Jan 3, 1:44 pm

>32 RidgewayGirl: Thanks, Kay. Before her fall I was comfortable leaving my mother at home for an hour or two while I ran errands and went to medical appointments, but she will now need to watched far more closely, due to her increased debility, compromised vision, and worsening dementia. I hope to be able to care for her at home for at least another year or two.

I've just finished writing my review of The House of Doors, which I'll post in a couple of minutes. I loved it, and The Garden of Evening Mists, so you're in for a double treat.

>33 SandDune: Thanks, Rhian. I've definitely become far more patient in the past two years, and accepting of the current situation and my mother's decline.

Ah, yes: the Strada Incident. I'll never forget the sight and harsh sound of that huge glass door shattering, especially since I saw the whole episode, as I was watching at the door practically every time it opened to look for Alan. Does the restaurant still have the same appearance? Who else joined us for that pre-theatre dinner?

Jan 3, 1:50 pm

2024 has gotten off to a great start, as I did finish the two books I started last month, and both were superb.

Book #1: The House of Doors by Tan Twan Eng

My rating:

The Malaysian lawyer and novelist Tan Twan Eng is one of my favorite contemporary authors of historical fiction, and his most recent novel is no exception. The central character is Lesley Hamlyn, a British woman who lives in colonial Penang along with her husband Robert, a highly regarded lawyer. Robert invites the famed British writer and longtime friend W. Somerset Maugham, who prefers to be called Willie, to stay with him and Lesley for a fortnight in 1921, along with Willie’s secretary and traveling companion Gerald Haxton. Maugham, ever eager to mine the public and secret lives of others as a source for his novels, short stories and plays, learns that Lesley was a supporter of Dr Sun Yat Sen, the Chinese revolutionary and first provisional president of the Republic of China, who visited Penang in 1910 to enlist financial backing from the Malayan Chinese community in his effort to overthrow the Qing Dynasty during the 1911 Revolution. Maugham talks with Lesley about Sun, as he is writing a book about him, and as their friendship deepens Lesley tells him about her own troubled marriage, as well as that of her friend Ethel Proudlock, whose killing of a British man in Kuala Lumpur became a major scandal in the British colonial society, and it later formed the basis of Maugham’s short story The Letter, which is contained in his collection The Casuarina Tree.

The novel travels mainly between 1910-11 and 1921, with evocative portrayals of Penang, the racist and close minded attitudes of the British toward their Asian neighbors, and especially the main characters and their lives and loves.

The House of Doors is another masterful novel by Tan Twan Eng, one well deserving of its place on the 2023 Booker Prize longlist, and I enjoyed it nearly as much as his previous novels, The Gift of Rain and The Garden of Evening Mists.

Jan 3, 1:57 pm

>34 kidzdoc: The restaurant is exactly the same, although a little windswept yesterday evening as we were having Storm Henk. I think it might have been Genny there? I know Alan arrived later, after all the glass had been swept up.

Jan 3, 2:06 pm

>35 kidzdoc: terrific review. Your synopsis is captivating, even as I have already read the book. I’m so glad you enjoyed this.

Editado: Jan 3, 2:41 pm

Happy New Year, Darryl! I'm wishing you and your Mom Blessings and Peace in the year to come.

I'm about forty pages in reading The House of Doors. It's lovely so far and your review assures me that it will continue the same way. Like you, I really enjoyed TTE's two previous novels and am excited to read this one.

It's very cold here: 11F this morning - but we had no snow at all in November and December. Although no snow makes my horse chores much easier, it's very concerning that the mountain snow levels have hit an all-time low.

Jan 3, 2:42 pm

>35 kidzdoc: Great review! I also loved The House of Doors - one of my 2023 favorites.

Editado: Jan 3, 3:24 pm

>35 kidzdoc: Great review. Yes I think The Garden of Evening Mists was better but only because I prefer that straight fiction genre. I’m picky when historical figures are portrayed in fiction. What I did like is the subtext of his exposing the British upper class attitude to “colonials”. Nicely done.

The Booker long list is great in introducing books we may not have read.

Editado: Jan 3, 4:20 pm

>36 SandDune: I think you're right, Rhian; I seem to remember Genny joining us for dinner and a play at the National Theatre, and Alan took a later train into London and joined us part way through our meal.

>37 dchaikin: Thanks, Dan. I've read all three of Tan Twan Eng's novels, and loved them all. Hopefully it won't be another 10-11 years before he writes his next book!

>38 streamsong: Thanks, Janet! I found The House of Doors to be captivating from the first page to the last, and I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did.

Is your area expecting significant snowfall in one of these next two winter storm systems? I live less than a mile from Interstate 95, the major highway that connects Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, NYC and Boston, and the local and national forecasters are predicting that the rain-snow line with this weekend's storm will likely be right over the I-95 corridor, which is very typical for nor'easters. A change in track of 25-50 miles can mean the difference between us getting an inch or more of rain, or a foot or more of snow. I'll spend the next couple of days preparing my SUV and our snowblower for a potential blizzard, although the American and European models suggest that this will likely be a rain event for us.

>39 japaul22: Thanks, Jennifer! Tan Twan Eng is an incredibly gifted writer; I just wish he was more prolific.

>40 kjuliff: Thanks, Kate. The House of Doors worked for me on several levels, and I think Tan Twan Eng did a masterful job of capturing the mindset of British colonialists during that era.

I miss the Man Asian Literary Prize, which exposed me to many authors such as Tan Twan Eng and Amitav Ghosh that I might otherwise have not learned about.

I need to catch up on others' threads! I'll do that after I take a postprandial nap.

Jan 3, 10:12 pm

Hi Darryl,

I'm new to Club Read but I remember exchanging thoughts on a book or two (maybe Exit West?) somewhere else. I'm not too far from you, in Western Chester county. Rumor has it you're a jazz fan, so I'll be interested to see if any of your reading goes there.

I feel for your experiences with your parents. Mine are still both with us, but have issues of various types. One of the reasons we moved here is to help out more than we could from NC.

You've got some very interesting books on your list, including some I'm hoping to read soon, including Transcendent Kingdom. I've added some others to my longer-term list too.

I hope your nap was refreshing!

Jan 3, 10:18 pm

Ill add my best wishes to you for a happy new year,

I just started house of doors excited by everyones talk about it; a little worried about jinxing the read but I have a feeling Ill like it just fine

Jan 4, 6:06 am

Happy New Year Darryl! I hope 2024 is a MUCH better year for you and your mom. Looks like you're off to a good start with one book read already!

Jan 4, 9:21 am

I'm so sorry to hear about your father and the extra health issues last year brought. I hope this year is as easy as it can be given the circumstances. My dad's memory loss wasn't very advanced when he died, but it's such a difficult thing. His personality didn't change either, but his frustration with it really made things hard on himself (his mom was just the same).

Glad to be reminded of Tan Twan Eng, I enjoyed The Garden of Evening Mists so much, and I hadn't looked up later works.

Jan 4, 9:45 pm

>35 kidzdoc: Great review, Darryl. I've been holding off on reading this one, as I loved his first two so much, I was afraid it might not hold up. Looks like I need not worry.

I hope you don't get slammed in this weekend's storm. Like you I am preparing, just in case.

Editado: Jan 5, 8:26 pm

Oh gee, I’m really gonna have to read The House of Doors, given all these glowing reviews. It sounds like something I’d like.

Jan 5, 8:27 pm

>35 kidzdoc: Great review, Darryl. I'm about 70 pages in and enjoying it, hoping to make good progress over the weekend. I haven't read any of the author's other books, so I'm glad to know you liked them even better than this one.

Jan 6, 5:32 am

Hello Darryl, and happy new year. 2023 has been a difficult year, especially on you, so I sincerely hope 2024 will be better.
I’m happy to have found your thread here and will try to follow better than last year. Great to see that, reading-wise, you are off with a good start!

Jan 6, 5:42 am

>35 kidzdoc: Reading this makes me realise how much I’ve missed your reviews. This one is already on my wishlist but more so now. I’m saving it for a time (soon, I hope) when I can let myself be completely carried away by the story (I found The Gift of Rain and The Garden of Evening Mists to be totally immersive, and I’m hoping for the same again).

Jan 6, 12:16 pm

>35 kidzdoc: Great review. I read and enjoyed this book last year. It’s a great read. I also like the way you put the photo of the writer alongside the cover. I might steal this idea from you. It’s interesting to see what authors look like. I saw a photo of Coetzee recently and I can’t imagine such a subdued-looking man writing Waiting for the Barbarians.

Jan 7, 10:29 pm

Hello old southern buddy. I finally found your thread and I hope that you find the time to get back on LT - at least periodically.

I retired in March of 2023 and found myself back in Kansas for most of the summer. I am now my mother's primary caregiver and, while not living here permanently, in the last year I have been here more often than not. As of December 15, 2023 I am the primary care giver in the house. I am a little lucky in that we already had some home health care for my mother and we (my two sisters) and I have increased the number of hours we have them scheduled. It is a long tale of how this came to be, but my scenario is much the same as yours, except that my mother does not have dementia. I can tell you that I have learned already that I don't have as much time to myself as I had hoped as Mom's care takes up most of my day - and some of the nights. Our major problem is getting her to eat. We are trying to find a total nursing care facility that is close but and that we like, but that has proved difficult. We would like to keep Mom at home as long as possible but that might not be sustainable. The doctor would like us to call Hospice in, but he warned me that caring for Mom will be along slog and will probably go on for a year or longer. The bright spot in this has turned out to be my mother's sister (my Aunt) who at 93 has been a source of encouragement, inspiration, and positivity.

I think for all practical purposes I am now living in Kansas . It is a small town and I have lots of relatives here (I had 52 first cousins when I was growing up) and they are as helpful as they can be. Plus, one of my sisters lives here across the road from my mother (we live on a farm.) I am just relaxing from a stressful weekend with Mom. She had some kind of attack (I think it was a form of anxiety attack) late on Friday night and I had to call my cousin who is an EMT, to come over. Saturday was better, but today was another bad day. However, things are better tonight and I hope that I can get some rest.

I have been doing some cooking and made a soup yesterday that my mother liked. It was a squash, rutabaga, apple, sweet potato, and onion fiber bomb. I have to laugh because my eating habits and my mother's don't mesh at all. I eat more vegetables and grains in a week and she is a heavy meat and potatoes eater. I am working on finding a balance that suits both of us.

I starred your thread and will check in with you when I can, but, like you, my LT time has become really limited in the last three weeks and likely will be even more limited in the future.

Editado: Jan 9, 8:49 am

Book #2: The Upcycled Self: A Memoir on the Art of Becoming Who We Are by Tariq Trotter

My rating:

Tariq Trotter, who is better known by his professional name “Black Thought”, is one of the most prolific and respected voices in the Black community, having co-founded the influential and multi-Grammy Award winning hip hop group The Roots, along with Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, and becoming a critically acclaimed stage and screen actor and playwright. In The Upcycled Self Trotter recounts his upbringing in Philadelphia in the 1970s and 1980s, and how it shaped and inspired his journey from a troubled childhood filled with personal loss, failure and grief to a deeply fulfilling and wildly successful life.

Trotter defines the “upcycled self” as a process of examination, in which we critically but dispassionately evaluate those who most affected us, the choices we have made, and the situations we have found ourselves in, in order to create a new self composed of the best traits we possess, surrounded by people who nourish and inspire us, and satisfied with our goals and accomplishments:

What if we chased the threads running through the quilted patterns of our lives and pulled them. What if we trusted that tugging at them wouldn’t make us less, wouldn’t ruin the tapestry. What if we totally let them come apart at the seams, undid the stitches of ourselves that no longer served us, forgave them, and wove new legacies of old scraps, like Gee’s Bend quilters creating intricate arrays steeped in our own history.

What if we trusted the upcycle?

The Upcycled Self is divided into three parts. In ‘Who Are Your People’ Trotter tells us how his mother identified his love of art and encouraged him to pursue his passion, despite her own personal failures, which was further nurtured by his family, teachers and friends, most notably Questlove, who was a fellow student at the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts. ‘Where Are You From’ describes the neighborhoods he grew up in, mainly in South Philadelphia, which provided their own lessons on how to survive, especially during the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s, but also gave him a sense of identity and belonging. ‘What Is Your Art’ recounts his path of self expression, from a graffiti artist to a musician and ultimately a hip hop legend, and how his creative mind became transformed and fulfilled along the way.

The Upcycled Self can be read not only as a memoir, but also as an inspirational guide toward personal betterment, and how we as adults can positively influence young people to resist negative impulses and influences and pursue their own path to success. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I will pay much more attention to Trotter’s art and its messages.

Jan 9, 9:00 am

Great review. 😃

Jan 9, 9:20 am

>53 kidzdoc: Yes, I agree with Ameise. Terrific review of a fascinating-sounding book. Thanks.

Jan 9, 9:23 am

>42 Jim53: Welcome to Club Read, Jim! Apologies for my very tardy reply. I'm in Middletown Township, in Lower Bucks County, so we aren't too far apart (40-50 miles?). You're right, I'm a diehard jazzhead, along with Barry (baswood) and possibly others in the group. I haven't read any books on jazz in several years, but there are several in my library that I would like to get to soon, including A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music by George E. Lewis, Collected Works: A Journal of Jazz 1954-2001
by Whitney Balliett, and Miles, Ornette, Cecil: Jazz Beyond Jazz by Howard Mandel.

I'm fortunate to be in the position to care for my mother. I anticipated that I might need to do this several years ago, so I was prepared to pull up stakes and move back home from Atlanta, although I did hope that I wouldn't have to.

Do you have a weather radio? Mine has alarmed four or five times since midnight, in anticipation of the heavy rain and high likelihood of flooding we'll experience today and tomorrow. I'm beyond grateful that this will be a rain instead of a snow event, though!

>43 cindydavid4: Happy New Year to you too, Cindy. How are you finding The House of Doors?

>44 Sakerfalcon: Thanks, Claire! My reading year has gotten off to a great start, and hopefully it will be sustainable, as I have dozens of books that I would like to get to ASAP.

My mother is still in the rehabilitation center, but she's getting stronger by the day, and hopefully I'll be able to take her home later this week.

>45 mabith: I'm glad to see you back in Club Read, Meredith. I'm sorry to hear about your father's passing; my father died a little over two years ago, and he was also very distressed by the memory loss that acutely worsened during the last year of his life.

Tan Twan Eng has only written three novels to date, and all of them are superb.

Editado: Jan 9, 9:40 am

>46 labfs39: Thanks, Lisa. He's a very gifted writer, and I'll read anything he writes soon after it comes out.

>47 lisapeet: If you like historical fiction I think you would love The House of Doors, Lisa. Hmm...I seem to be mimicking LibraryThing's 'Will you like it?' feature:

kidzdoc thinks you will like The House of Doors (prediction confidence: very high)

>48 bell7: Thanks, Mary. I look forward to your thoughts about it.

>49 raton-liseur: Happy New Year, raton-liseur! I lurked on your thread intermittently last year, but I'll follow you more closely in 2024.

>50 rachbxl: Aww, thanks, Rachel! I keep intending to write reviews promptly, but writing doesn't come naturally to me, and it takes me as much as two hours to compose ones of books that I enjoy the most. It was easy to immerse myself in The House of Doors, as my mother is still in an inpatient rehabilitation facility and thus I can read undisturbed.

Jan 9, 10:01 am

>51 kjuliff: Thanks, Kate; I'm glad that you also enjoyed The House of Doors. I have to admit that I started posting photos of authors I found attractive alongside their book covers several years ago, such as Zadie Smith, Marie NDiaye, Tahmima Anam, and Jhumpa Lahiri.

>52 benitastrnad: Hi, Benita! It's good to hear from you. It seems as though we are facing many of the same challenges in caring for an elderly parent. As you said, I have far less free time than I would have thought, which has become far more noticeable now, as it's been nearly a month since her bad fall and resultant eye rupture in early December. Although I want to have her back home ASAP I also recognize that caring for her will be considerably more challenging, due to her debility and loss of vision in her right eye, and I will definitely hire someone to assist with her care once I know when she is coming home; I won't do it just yet, as I need to make several physician appointments for her in the next week or two. Fortunately the physical therapists in the rehabilitation center have been very helpful in teaching me how to care for her, and I'm much more comfortable doing so than I was this time last week.

My mother used to love practically everything I cooked, but her preferred diet is now much more limited. I call her "la reina de jamón y queso" (the queen of ham and cheese), as she could eat ham & cheese sandwiches once or twice a day, along with oatmeal for breakfast, without fail. It's easy enough to prepare meals for her, though, so I shouldn't complain.

I have been posting recipes to La Cucina in Club Read, but several of my friends are in the 75 Books and Green Dragon groups, so I'll post them here as well. My PCP referred me to the Weight Loss Center that is part of the healthcare organization I use (and love), and I had my first visit with a nutritionist in the center yesterday. I'll start cooking far more vegetarian soups and stews, new and old, from now on, and I'll post them here.

>54 Ameise1:, >55 rocketjk: Thanks Barbara and Jerry!

Jan 9, 10:19 am

Hi Darryl!

>41 kidzdoc: We missed the first of the storms you mentioned, but now have a Polar Express expected this week. There is just a bit of snow this morning; it's supposed to continue lightly throughout the day and accumulate several inches. Temps are supposed to plunge to about -20F by the weekend. How are you doing storm-wise?

I finished House of Doors and really enjoyed it, although I thought the first half a bit slow. I was totally immersed as the book continued.

There was a question (somewhere) about which writers you would pick up their new book without knowing anything about it. TTE is that writer for me.

I am ruminating (cogitating as my MIL used to say) about the review. I think about reviews for several days and then it still takes me way too long to write them.

Jan 9, 10:27 am

>53 kidzdoc: wow great review of a very interesting sounding book. I like the two quotes you included from the book, and could relate to them. adding tob my list of tbr books. thanks for that!

Jan 9, 10:31 am

>56 kidzdoc: How are you finding The House of Doors?

well its a little slow for me right now, and I have been distracted by shorter books to read for various themes. But I do intend to finish it and hope I can add my own applause to the wave of positive reviews. Ill keep you updated!

Jan 9, 10:39 am

>56 kidzdoc: How are you finding The House of Doors?

Well, finding a bit slow and tbh, I have been taken in by some shorter reads for various january themes. But I will be reading it and hope I can join the chorus of praise! stay tuned

Jan 9, 1:01 pm

>53 kidzdoc: great review. Very interesting

Jan 9, 1:28 pm

>53 kidzdoc: Adding my kudos to your review of an interesting book. I hope you are not getting flooding near you. We are supposed to get 3-6" more snow tonight (on top of the foot from Sunday) before the rain starts. Between the flooding potential and the winds, it should be quite a day tomorrow.

Jan 9, 4:39 pm

I'm glad your reading is off to a good start this year. And that your mother will be able to come home again soon.

Over here, it was snow all night, then rain all day and now it's snowing again. You can't say we don't have weather.

Jan 9, 5:25 pm

>53 kidzdoc: I've heard his name pop up a couple of times recently -- great review. On to the WL it goes! Wishing you and your mom a better 2024 and I'm glad you've got some good reads already lined up! :)

Jan 9, 7:33 pm

>59 streamsong: Hi, Janet! It's great to see you here. It has been raining hard here for several hours, with intermittent wind gusts of 40-50+ mph, which most reminds me of the remnants of hurricanes that passed through Atlanta when I lived there. Hopefully there won't be any power outages tonight and early tomorrow, but there certainly will be flooding of streams, creeks and rivers. Fortunately I'm not adjacent to any of them, but I'll wait until late morning to go out, as there will very likely be flooded and closed roads nearby.

I'm glad that you also enjoyed The House of Doors. and that it and its author are getting more attention on LibraryThing.

There was a question (somewhere) about which writers you would pick up their new book without knowing anything about it. TTE is that writer for me.

Great comment! Tan Twan Eng definitely falls into that category, along with Jesmyn Ward, Percival Everett, Abraham Verghese, Siddhartha Mukherjee Javier Cercas, Juan Gabriel Vásquez, Atul Gawande, Aminatta Forna, Tahmima Anam, Sarah Moss and Jenny Erpenbeck.

Jerry, would this be an appropriate Avid Reader question?

I think about reviews for several days and then it still takes me way too long to write them.

I couldn't agree more. The easiest books for me to review are ones that I hate, as I have no problem firing off a vitriol laden commentary off the top of my head. Although it does take time and effort to write many of my reviews I tend to get more out of those books, as I usually skim through it a second time before I start composing my thoughts, and I remember those books well for far longer. I also get great satisfaction if others tell me that I liked my reviews, which encourages me to write more of them.

>60 cindydavid4: Thanks, Cindy! The Upcycled Self was only published in the US in mid November, so it may be some time before it is available in your local library system.

>61 cindydavid4: I look forward to your thoughts about The House of Doors.

Jan 9, 7:47 pm

>63 dchaikin: Thanks, Dan. I haven't followed Black Thought or The Roots closely, but I will from now on.

>64 labfs39: Thanks, Lisa. We will definitely experience flooding in the Delaware Valley, but hopefully there won't be a repeat of the flooding that took place in nearby Upper Makefield Township this summer, in which five people, including a mother and her two young children who were visiting from South Carolina, were washed away down the raging Delaware River last summer, after their SUV overturned on a flooded road close to the river's western bank. Years ago the street I live on experienced significant flooding that ruined two of my parents' cars, along with those of our nearby neighbors. We haven't had flooding here in several years, but the memory of those floods remains vivid, and I've been looking out the front door every hour or so, just in case. The Neshaminy Creek, about two miles away, will undoubtedly flood and affect the homes along its banks, and I'm sure that the Delaware River, which I'll have to cross tomorrow to go to a dementia support group meeting in Pennington, New Jersey, will be raging and high, so much so that two of the small bridges that cross it could possibly be closed to vehicular traffic.

>65 RidgewayGirl: Thanks, Kay. It's been a remarkable winter so far, although we seem to be in monsoon season in the Mid Atlantic states. However, I'm grateful that this isn't snow, as this would have been a historic nor'easter with probably 2-3+ feet of snow if that was the case.

>66 Berly: Thanks, Kim! I hope that 2024 treats you kindly.

Editado: Jan 9, 9:25 pm

I made Orzo with Prawns, Tomato and Marinated Feta for lunch today, which comes from the cookbook Simple by the famed Israeli chef, restaurateur and author Yotam Ottolenghi, who owns and operates several restaurants in London; I can vouch for Ottolenghi Islington. I love this seafood pasta, but for some reason I haven't made it in several years. I thought about it this morning and decided to make it:

This recipe is available online (, so I have no qualms about posting it here.

200g (7 oz) feta, broken into 1–2cm (¼ to ½ in) pieces
½ tsp chilli flakes
4 tsp fennel seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
75ml (5 T) olive oil
250g (1½ cups) orzo
3 garlic cloves, crushed
3 strips finely shaved orange skin
1 x 400g tin (14.5 oz) chopped tomatoes
500ml (2 cups) vegetable stock
400g (14 oz) raw shell-off prawns (shrimp)
30g (1½ cups) basil leaves, roughly shredded
Salt and black pepper

1. In a medium bowl, mix the feta with ¼ teaspoon of the chilli flakes, 2 teaspoons of the fennel seeds and 1 tablespoon of the oil. Set aside while you cook the orzo.

2. Place a large sauté pan, for which you have a lid, on a medium high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of oil, orzo, ⅛ teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper. Fry for 3–4 minutes, stirring frequently, until golden-brown, then remove from the pan and set aside.

3. Return the pan to the same heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, ¼ teaspoon of chilli flakes and 2 teaspoons of fennel seeds, the garlic and the orange skin. Fry for 1 minute, until the garlic starts to lightly brown, then add the tomatoes, stock, 200ml of water, ¾ teaspoon of salt and plenty of pepper. Cook for 2–3 minutes, or until boiling, then stir in the fried orzo. Cover, then lower the heat to medium low and leave to simmer for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice throughout so the orzo is cooked. Remove the lid and cook for a further 1–2 minutes, until the consistency is like a risotto. Stir in the prawns for 2–3 minutes until they are pink and cooked. Stir in the basil and serve at once, with the marinated feta sprinkled on top.

I followed the recipe exactly, except that I used whole wheat instead of white wheat orzo, and a generous sprinkle of lemon zest, as I didn't have any oranges. As I mentioned on my Facebook post the best way to describe this fabulous dish is a phrase that the British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver once uttered: it's a "party in your mouth", as each bite pops with zingy and tasty spices; those of a certain age👴🏽will remember Pop Rocks candy.

Jan 9, 8:29 pm

I made two recipes that I posted in La Cucina recently, which I'll post here as well.

Two weeks ago I saw a recipe for Mushroom Barley Soup on my Facebook timeline, a classic Jewish comfort food that I had not had since I worked in New York City over 30 years ago. I love soup, and since I was in the mood for a hearty vegetarian soup I made it last week:

Simple Mushroom Barley Soup


Extra virgin olive oil
16 oz baby bella mushrooms, cleaned well and halved or sliced
Kosher salt
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
8 oz white mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
½ cup canned crushed tomatoes
Black pepper
1 tsp coriander
½ tsp to ¾ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp cumin
6 cups low-sodium broth (vegetable broth or beef broth)
1 cup pearl barley rinsed
½ cup packed chopped parsley

1. In a large Dutch Oven, heat extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add baby bell mushrooms and cook until mushrooms soften and gain some color (about 5 minutes or so). Remove from the pot and set aside for now.

2. In the same pot, add a little more extra virgin olive oil. Add onions, garlic, celery, carrots, and chopped white mushrooms. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes over medium-high heat. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Now, add crushed tomatoes and spices (coriander, smoked paprika, cumin). Cook for 3 minutes or so, tossing regularly.

4. Add broth and pearl barley. Bring to a rolling boil for 5 minutes, then turn heat down. Cover and let simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes or until the barley is tender and cooked through.

5. Add the cooked bella mushrooms back to the pot and stir to combine. Cook for about 5 minutes or so until mushrooms are well warmed through.

6. Finish with fresh parsley. Transfer to serving bowls and enjoy!

This soup was more of a soup than a stew, as the liquid barely covered the mushrooms and barley, so I added two additional cups of broth to the Dutch oven. The author of this recipe said that this recipe will make four servings, but I'll get at least eight large bowls of a very tasty and filling soup. Highly recommended!

Editado: Jan 9, 8:30 pm

I tried a new recipe last night, Green Pea & Asparagus Soup with Feta, Mint & Pita Croutons, which turned out great:



3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, roughly chopped
2¾ cups frozen green peas, divided
1 bunch (about 1 pound) asparagus, trimmed and chopped into ½-inch pieces
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1¼ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon honey
Heaping ½ cup (3 ounces) feta, divided
1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice, from 1 lemon
⅓ cup chopped fresh mint, plus more for garnish


1 large pita, split open and cut into ½-inch squares
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove
¼ teaspoon salt


In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, 6-7 minutes.

Add 2¼ cup of the peas, the asparagus, chicken broth, salt and pepper; increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes, until vegetables are very tender.

Add the honey, ⅓ cup of the feta, lemon juice and mint. Using a hand-held immersion blender, purée the soup until smooth (it's okay to leave it a bit chunky if you like). If you don't have an immersion blender, cool the soup slightly, then purée in a blender in batches. Be sure to leave the hole in the lid open and cover with a kitchen towel to allow the steam to escape. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and more lemon if desired.

Add the remaining ½ cup of frozen peas and simmer until warmed through. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the remaining feta, mint and pita croutons. Serve hot or cold.


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic and salt. Place the pita bread on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle the seasoned olive over top and toss until evenly coated. Bake for 6-8 minutes, until golden and crisp.

Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The soup can be frozen (without the garnishes) for up to 3 months. Defrost the soup in the refrigerator for 12 hours and then reheat it on the stovetop over medium heat until hot.

I decided to use no salt vegetable broth in place of chicken broth, and a whole wheat pita; otherwise I followed the recipe exactly. My brother joined me for dinner yesterday, and we both enjoyed this soup. A serving only contains 289 calories, so this will fit well into my 1200 calorie diet.

Jan 9, 9:25 pm

>67 kidzdoc: here was a question (somewhere) about which writers you would pick up their new book without knowing anything about it.

here are the ones that come to mind immediatly but Im probably missing some

Kate Atkinson
Ann Patchett
Neil Gaiman
Natalie Haynes
Helen Humphreys
Paul Asher

Jan 9, 9:28 pm

>72 cindydavid4: That's a nice list, Cindy. The author I'm most familiar with is Kate Atkinson, and I loved her books Life After Life and A God in Ruins.

Jan 9, 9:39 pm

the only one of hers that disappointed me is the shrines of gaiety should have been right up my alley : the 1920s, london and interesting sounding plot, but didnt care for the characters or the plot soit was a DNF for me

Jan 9, 10:11 pm

>67 kidzdoc: "Which writers would you pick up a new book by without knowing anything about it" would certainly make a good Avid Readers question (assuming everybody doesn't answer it here, of course! :) )

Great recipes. I went to the nearby Senegalese halal butchers and bought some beautiful, fresh lamb ribs and shoulder, from which I made a Basque lamb stew the other night.

Jan 9, 10:31 pm

>53 kidzdoc: Tariq Trotter
Hmm, this interests me for the Philadelphia connection, also your review is intriguing.

Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson
Last year I watched old episodes of Finding Your Roots. One episode featured Questlove (previously unfamiliar to me) and included the revelation that his ancestors were on the Clotilda, which I'd learned about via The Last Slave Ship; since then I've watched the Netflix documentary which he co-produced.

Editado: Jan 10, 4:18 am

>35 kidzdoc: Not surprised this worked for you Darryl, the only down side is we may have to wait another 7+ years for the next, but I will be happy to reread all of his work, starting with The Garden of Evening Mists which is on my RL book group list this year.

Happy New Year.

I hope your mom continues to improve.

ETA: some nice food here too. Glad you are taking care of yourself Darryl.

Jan 10, 6:30 am

>70 kidzdoc: Hm! This Simple Mushroom Barley Soup looks great and easy to cook.
It's not a book bullet, would this be a recipe bullet?

Jan 10, 8:03 am

Hi Darryl, it's wonderful to see you posting. I hope you and your mom have the best year possible and she is able to come home soon.

If you're a fan of old fashioned cookbooks and interested in more vegetarian meals, I recommend Love Soup by Anna Thomas. The recipes are a little bit fussy, but they are so good.

Editado: Jan 10, 10:26 am

>74 cindydavid4: Shrines of Gaiety seems like a novel that I would be interested in, but I noticed that the ratings on LibraryThing are all over the map.

>75 rocketjk: I made a Basque lamb stew the other night


Can I beg ask you to post that recipe in La Cucina? I have a massive leg of lamb in my freezer that I need to cook in the next month or two.

ETA: There is a recipe for Lamb in Chilindrón Sauce (arkumea txilindron erara) in my cookbook Basque Country: A Culinary Journey Through a Food Lover's Paradise but I haven't tried it yet, and I definitely didn't have lamb stew when I visited Bilbao and San Sebastián several years ago.

>76 qebo: Thanks for telling me about Descendant, Katherine! It's still on Netflix, so I'll plan to watch it this weekend.

>77 Caroline_McElwee: Right, Caroline. I would love it if Tan Twan Eng was a more prolific author, but not if that means sacrificing the high quality of his work.

After roughly a year of cooking hardly anything I finally started doing so again this summer, mainly because routine labs showed that I had iron deficiency anemia, which I had never had before. While the workup from my physicians was underway I recognized that nutritional deficiency of iron was the most likely cause, so I started eating iron rich foods while I took iron tablets. Fortunately there was no medical cause to explain it, and it turns out that it was due to nutritional deficiency. My major depression played a major role in my lack of interest in cooking, as I didn't have the drive to cook (or read, or do nearly all of my pleasurable activities) until I saw my mother's psychiatrist and a psychotherapist in the group. Thanks to them my mental health is as good as it has been in years.

>78 raton-liseur: Yes, I would say that the Mushroom Barley Soup counts as a recipe bullet! There's a good chance that I'll make it again this weekend.

>79 ELiz_M: Hi, Liz! It's good to be back here amongst friends like yourself. I stopped posting for most of last year because of my lack of reading, as I didn't feel that I had anything to contribute, unlike now.

Thanks for recommending Love Soup. My county library system has it in stock, so I put in a request for it and I'll pick it up today or tomorrow. Thanks to my late father and growing up close to NYC I could eat soup or stew every month of the year; if I ever decide to change my username I would choose "soupnazi"!

In turn I would also highly recommend Soup for Syria: Recipes to Celebrate Our Shared Humanity, which is high on my list of favorite cookbooks. Hmm...that would be a good topic for La Cucina; I probably own 15-20 cookbooks.

Jan 10, 10:44 am

Basque lamb stew recipe posted! The website I found it on wouldn't let me copy and paste, so I just posted the link.

Jan 10, 10:56 am

>81 rocketjk: Thanks, Jerry!

Jan 10, 1:36 pm

Completely forgot to star your thread, Darryl, so I am late to the party. Happy New Year!
I hope your mother will be able to come back home soon.

I read my first Tan Twan Eng last year, The Garden of Evening Mists, and hope to get to The House of Doors later this year.

Jan 10, 3:30 pm

>83 FAMeulstee: Happy New Year, Anita! I've starred your thread, but I've hardly visited any of my friends' threads, in Club Read or 75 Books.

If you liked The Garden of Evening Mists you'll enjoy The Gift of Rain and The House of Doors.

Jan 10, 3:47 pm

It's been a long time since I visited, Darryl. Sorry to see the news about your mother's fall but it's encouraging to see that she is making progress in her recovery. Good to see that you are in a positive space and back to cooking again.

Jan 10, 4:01 pm

>85 Familyhistorian: Thanks, Meg. It's good to see you here, and I'll be following your thread as well.

Jan 10, 4:16 pm

>80 kidzdoc: >74 cindydavid4: Re Shrines of Gaiety opinions being all over the map: it’s possibly because Kate Atkinson has a great following and many really love her style, while this particular novel is set outside of her usual zone which may be of little interest to others. I’m in the second group, though I have enjoyed her previous works.

I’m just not into nightclub people or their stories and I don’t think Atkinson was able to draw people in. She’d gone outside her earlier successful formula and I just couldn’t get into Shrines.

Jan 10, 4:29 pm

>87 kjuliff: Ah; that makes sense, Kate. People who frequent nightclubs don't interest me, either.

Jan 10, 6:26 pm

>88 kidzdoc: :) plus from thee few chapters i did read, the characters were a bunch of crooks.

Jan 10, 6:26 pm

>87 kjuliff: think you are right. Not into night club people per se, but its the 20s in london, and with believable characters and plot it would have been much better. looking forward to what she comes up with next

Jan 10, 6:55 pm

Good to see you posting again Darryl

Jan 11, 6:31 am

>89 kjuliff: Oof. That's even more reason not to like Shrines of Gaiety.

>90 cindydavid4: Same here, Cindy. I thoroughly enjoyed Life After Life and A God in Ruins, so my ears perk up whenever I see that Kate Atkinson has written a new book; I didn't notice the publication of Shrines of Gaiety, though.

>91 baswood: Thanks, Barry. I now realize that my mental health requires me to maintain close connections with friends, to combat the loneliness that comes with caring for a loved one with dementia or another chronic illness, especially since I haven't been able to see practically all of my closest friends for over two years. Connecting with friends on Facebook and LibraryThing will allow me to stay in touch with them, so I am much more motivated than I was last year to continue to post regularly here.

Editado: Jan 11, 10:19 am

It's been a slow reading past week or so, but I'm thoroughly engrossed in The Hundred Years' War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917-2017 by Rashid Khalidi, a Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University, who is arguably the most important Palestinian scholar since the late Edward Said, who also taught at Columbia. Dr Khalidi is a descendant of one of the more prominent lineages in Palestine, which allowed him knowledge of his family's history, which is intertwined with Palestinian history, and access to historical records through his family's personal library. I'm about 1/3 of the way through, and so far it is one of the best historical and political books I've ever read, along with one of the most educational ones, as it has given me much greater understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Editado: Jan 11, 9:27 am

My first book purchase of 2024 may prove to be the most important one I read all year: Niebuhr: Major Works on Religion and Politics by the great 20th century American Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, which was published by The Library of America several years ago. I became interested in Niebuhr after I learned that he was one of Barack Obama's greatest influences, along with Jimmy Carter, Bill & Hillary Clinton, Martin Luther King, Jr, and Madeleine Albright, amongst others. This compilation consists of four of his most famous books, Leaves from the Notebook of a Tamed Cynic, Moral Man and Immoral Society, The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness, and The Irony of American History, along with an extensive collection of his Writings on Current Events, Prayers, and Sermons and Lectures on Faith and Belief. I'll plan to read Why Niebuhr Matters by Charles Lemert next month before I start reading Leaves from the Notebook of a Tamed Cynic.

Jan 11, 10:33 am

>92 kidzdoc: actually read her earliest books behind the scenes at the museum was that book that got me hooked on her. she also has a collection of shorts normal rules don't apply that Im looking forward to reading

Jan 11, 11:10 am

Mmm.. I love Mushroom Barley soup-thanks for the recipe. ( I usually buy it ready made but I should make it) I just finished The House of Doors- what a great read!

Jan 11, 12:04 pm

Regarding Shrines of Gaiety, I did really enjoy it, but it's different from her more serious works like A God in Ruins and even her Jackson Brodie novels. The tone of the novel, I think, reflects the time in which the book is set, with all the frantic shallowness that followed the First World War, as well as the criminal underworld. So one's enjoyment might depend on one's interest in that time and place.

Looking forward to your thoughts on the Niebuhr, Darryl. I also strongly agree that maintaining on-line ties are important when you can't physically be with friends. When my two were very young, we were living out in the German countryside and my husband was traveling a lot for work. This was long before LT, but there was a regular community in the comments section of a blog I followed and it was a needed source for connecting with people. Here's to a much brighter year ahead.

Jan 11, 12:27 pm

Dropping off a star on your thread over here in Club Read, Darryl. Wishing you a year of good and great reads!

Jan 11, 12:40 pm

>95 cindydavid4: I've been wanting to read Behind the Scenes at the Museum, given its high praise here, so I'll get to it at some point.

>96 torontoc: You're welcome, Cyrel! I saw the recipe on my Facebook timeline recently — Facebook has been sending me healthy and enticing recipes lately, several of which I'll make soon — and it reminded me that I hadn't had mushroom barley soup in years. It's a great recipe, and I'll probably make it again this weekend.

>97 RidgewayGirl: Great comment about Shrines of Gaiety, Kay. I suspect that I won't like it, given its setting, characters, and time.

My religion (Lutheranism) has become far more important to me in the past year, as I have a much closer relationship with God and I am relying on Him more to strengthen and guide me in this challenging situation. I'll read the works of other theologians, including Cornel West, C.S. Lewis, and Paul Tillich, along with books about the philosophy of religion. I'll probably read Why Niebuhr Matters next month, and Leaves from the Notebook of a Tamed Cynic in March.

>98 EBT1002: Hi, Ellen! It's great to see you here. I have your thread starred, and I'm starting to visit my friends in the 75 Books group today.

Jan 11, 2:37 pm

>94 kidzdoc: You mentioned him on my thread, Darryl, and I'll be really interested in what you think as you read through his works. I hadn't heard of him, but his works look intriguing, and I'll have to see what I can get from the library.

>99 kidzdoc: Definitely let me know if/when you pick up a C.S. Lewis book. I own many and have only read some, and would enjoy reading them at the same time and hearing your thoughts.

Jan 11, 4:11 pm

>94 kidzdoc: I'll look forward to your response to Reinhold Niebuhr Darryl. I remember reading and enjoying Moral man and immoral society in college, I think in a class on liberation theology. This work was published in the 1930s, and initially shunned by liberal theologians enamored of the social gospel, but as things in Germany developed, the book was more accepted and well regarded.

>92 kidzdoc: I hope there are friends in the Philadelphia area you can connect with as well Darryl. I find social networking only goes so far, and I need face-to-face interaction with people as well. Of course, a Philly meetup will give you that.

Editado: Jan 11, 6:12 pm

>100 bell7: Sounds good, Mary. Reinhold Niebuhr was one of the greatest American theologians and public intellectuals, as you've probably learned by now. I've been wanting to explore his works closely for several years, but I especially want to now as part of growing as a Christian, within the church and in my non-Biblical reading.

I have The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis nearby, and I'll probably get to it next month. I'll let you know exactly when I start reading it.

>101 markon: Thanks, Ardene. I'm curious to learn more about Niebuhr's life before I start reading his work, which is why I'll read Why Niebuhr Matters next month.

I do need to have in person get togethers with my closest friends; my cousin Tina all but tells me to go on a mini vacation whenever I'm here but I've resisted doing so, due to a combination of my responsibilities for my mother, and due to the anxiety and depression that I dealt with most of last year, which made me not want others to see me in my fragile state. I'm in a much better place now, and I'll be eager to see friends again, here in Philadelphia, or in Atlanta or Pittsburgh, where I attended medical school. I would also love to take a short visit to London this year, if Tina can spend a week or more here.

I did join a weekly dementia support group last month, and meeting others who are in my situation has been helpful so far.

Jan 11, 6:26 pm

Just found your thread, Darryl, and have dropped a star. I hope you and your mother have an easier time this year.

I'm not so far away, so let me know if you'd like to meet up some time - I can easily head your way!

Editado: Jan 11, 6:51 pm

>103 katiekrug: Hi, Katie! It's great to see you here. I'll follow your thread as well.

I'll definitely let you know when we decide to meet. I hope to be able to visit NYC and see you, Liz and other friends there or here, hopefully when the weather improves.

Jan 11, 7:38 pm

I'm glad you have found a caregiver group and that it's been helpful. I know I benefited greatly from a similar group when I needed it.

Jan 11, 8:11 pm

>94 kidzdoc: Glad I found your thread! I have you starred and look forward to seeing what you read and cook.

I hope 2024 is kinder to you and that your mum 's health remains stable.

Jan 11, 9:28 pm

Found you! Best wishes for a good year for you and your mom, and I'll be following your reads and your recipes.

Jan 11, 9:35 pm

>102 kidzdoc: I hope the dementia support group is really helpful for you. Also that you get over any remaining depression that can have the effect of voluntarily isolating yourself from others. I speak here from exprerience.

Good wishes on the family front Darryl.

Jan 11, 10:24 pm

>92 kidzdoc: One of my better books from last year was Atkinson's Emotionally Weird. I recommend it for those with an appetite for metafictive fun with a touch of absurdity. I wasn't sure about it after the first third, but after that connections began to happen, and I'm glad I finished it.

Jan 11, 10:32 pm

I am glad that this year is going better for you, that you are in a better place and that you have a support group. You have been doing a wonderful thing for your mom, but it does cost the caretaker. Please continue to take care of you.

Editado: Jan 12, 4:43 pm

>92 kidzdoc: I've grown to not like traveling much any more, but I do love seeing my friends in person. I would be up for a Philly meetup if we can swing it. i would really, really love to visit any of the restaurants owned by Michael Solomonov in Philly. A Philly cheesesteak would be good as well! :D

I know you have a lot on your plate with not working at a hospital any more as well as caring for your mom, but I find that I am simply not the same self I was before pandemic. We'll talk about that when I finally get to meet you! So glad you found the support group and that you find it helpful.

Jan 12, 6:21 pm

>80 kidzdoc: So glad the help you have taken has improved you health both physical and mental Darryl. I hope that continues.

Jan 12, 6:26 pm

>80 kidzdoc: I could eat soup or stew every month of the year

I still do not understand people who claim that soups and stews are only for the cold season... :)

I am glad to hear that you are feeling better - both mentally and physically. Hopefully that will keep being the case for a very long time.

Jan 12, 7:08 pm

>105 labfs39: Thanks, Lisa. I found out this afternoon that my mother will be coming home on Monday, which may make it more difficult to attend the Wednesday dementia group meetings, at least until I can hire an aide to stay with my mother on half days when I have medical appointments, at least until I'm comfortable leaving her home alone, which may be no longer possible.

>106 figsfromthistle: Hi, Anita! 2023 was a rollercoaster year for both me and my mother, and I hope that this year has much less excitement.

>107 ronincats: Hi, Roni! It's good to see you here.

>108 kjuliff: Thanks, Kate. Thanks to medications and psychotherapy my depression and panic attacks have resolved, I'm no longer having suicidal thoughts, and my anxiety is far more manageable. These next few months will likely be more challenging, but I feel better equipped to handle any changes or difficulties that arise.

>109 Jim53: Thanks, Jim; Emotionally Weird sounds interesting!

Jan 12, 7:18 pm

>110 Berly: Thanks, Kim. I can't remember if I posted here or in a text message to a friend that the airline safety recommendation to put on your oxygen mask first before helping others applies very well to my current situation; in order to provide the best care for my mother I have to maintain my own health and well being, mentally, physically and spiritually.

>111 SqueakyChu: Sounds good, Madeline. Given the current situation here a meetup in Philadelphia for me is far more likely than going to Maryland or DC, at least in the short term.

>112 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks, Caroline. I now have an excellent medical team who I feel completely comfortable with, along with resources to help me improve my health.

>113 AnnieMod: I still do not understand people who claim that soups and stews are only for the cold season... :)

Right?! Cold summer soups, such as almorejo and gazpacho, are wonderfully refreshing, even on the hottest days, and I'll happily eat hot soups and stews anytime of the year.

Thanks, Annie. I feel better about my mental health than I have in a very long time, and I am taking concrete steps to improve my physical health as well.

Jan 12, 7:32 pm

>114 kidzdoc: Sometimes external challenges can take your mind off internal ones. It’s amazing how the human mind works and copes with problems. I do hope you become more distracted as you work through oncoming physical and organizational challenges. This can be positive if you can, and I am sure you will, cope with ensuring your mother is safe and that you can get on with a somewhat altered normal life.

Editado: Jan 12, 9:17 pm

>114 kidzdoc: been there done that. glad you are learning coping strategies and glad its getting better. know that you are loved and that you have people who can help you.

and yes Emotionally Weird is good another one of her early ones..

Jan 12, 11:44 pm

>115 kidzdoc: "...the airline safety recommendation to put on your oxygen mask first before helping others applies very well to my current situation." YES!!!! It may sound trite but it is absolutely true. My sister's partner of 50 years has significant and steadily worsening dementia due to Alzheimer's. I haven't been able to support as much as I'd like with the distance and my job but now that I'm retired, I can go more frequently and for more days at a time. My sister was so excited that I plan to stay eight days when I visit at the end of February/early March. While she is caretaking for Betty, I want to support her. My main message: you have to take breaks, go to your support group, let friends take you out for dinner (even though Betty can't go), etc.

*steps down off soapbox*

Hang in there, Darryl.

Jan 13, 2:04 am

>115 kidzdoc: I know that it is very difficult to admit that oneself need help. I'm glad to read that you're getting support, both for your mum's care and for yourself. Take care of yourself.
We eat soups all year round. Weekly when it's cold and every fortnight when it's warm. We also have stews regularly, unless it's very hot. At the height of summer, we tend to have salads and cheese and occasionally something from the barbecue.

Jan 13, 2:32 pm

>116 kjuliff: Well said, Kate. I spent the last 25+ years providing the best care I could to the patients I took care of in the hospital, while neglecting my own health. My mental health crisis, followed by my surprising case of anemia, made it crystal clear that I needed to start taking care of myself, especially now that I'm in my early 60s. I feel confident that 2024 will be a far better year for me, even though I sadly don't feel as certain about my mother; she will be coming home on Monday, which is both joyous and anxious news, as it will be considerably more challenging to care for her, given her debility, lack of vision in her right eye, and acutely worsened dementia from being away from home for the past five weeks.

I just came back from my nearest branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia (we live just north of the city), and picked up a copy of Travelers to Unimaginable Lands: Stories of Dementia, the Caregiver and the Human Brain by Dasha Kiper, a clinical psychologist who works with dementia patients and caregivers, which was recommended to me by Shelley (jessibud2) from the 75 Books group. I'll start reading it next week, after I finish The Hundred Years' War on Palestine.

>117 cindydavid4: Thank you for your kind and supportive words, Cindy. I have a sizable number of family members, neighbors and friends who care deeply about my mother and myself; unfortunately the vast majority of these individuals live a long distance away, which contributed to my sense of isolation and loneliness that I experienced the past two years. I do intend to see some of them in person, especially in Atlanta and Pittsburgh, later this year.

Thanks for your additional thumbs up for Emotionally Weird.

>118 EBT1002: Thanks, Ellen. I'm sorry that your sister's partner is suffering from Alzheimer's disease, but I'm sure that she greatly appreciates your support, as I do whenever my cousin (who has become the sister I never had, and the daughter my parents would have liked) comes to town and spends time with us. I need to listen to Tina more, and spend time away from home, even if it's just a few hours spent with a good book in a coffee house. Even though my mother loves Tina she becomes a bit unsettled whenever I leave her alone with Tina, even if it's only for a couple of hours, which makes me feel guilty and sad about leaving her. I'll have to learn to overcome my guilt, as she is being well cared for by Tina in my absence, and spent a few hours, or even days, away from home is essential to my mental health.

>119 Ameise1: Thanks, Barbara. I'm taking cues from several very close and dear friends of mine, especially one whose husband, who I also was very fond of, shockingly and without warning committed suicide two years ago this month, weeks after my father died, which was very traumatic of us who knew and loved him, although obviously only a tiny fraction of what she and her adult daughters felt. I look forward to seeing Erin in Atlanta, or possibly here, as we are also mourning the sudden and unexpected death of a mutual friend of ours, which was a huge blow to us, and many others.

Two thumbs up for year round soups! My family has enjoyed soups and stews for many years, especially when my father, who became a superb cook, started to make them on a regular basis.

Jan 13, 3:25 pm

>120 kidzdoc: I’m a lot older than you and I’m glad you are tending to yourself, having spent your working life looking after others.

I retired too late in my life and have had multiple health issues starting just a month before retiring. Now my biggest fear is getting dementia.

My advice to anyone over 50 is that you CAN be replaced at work but you can’t replace yourself. Take this well meant advice from a hopefully size and definitely old, woman - put yourself first now.

Jan 15, 3:51 pm

Oh man, 60 is such a reckoning. It has been for me, anyway—the combination of life challenges, work challenges, and suddenly not feeling so impervious anymore. I realize that's a very ableist POV, and that many of us never had the privilege of feeling impervious, or haven't for many years. But this was my year of coming to terms with my own sense of mortality and running up against the limits of my mental health—suddenly isolation isn't as navigable as it used to be, for one thing—so I hear you and am glad that you've gotten the support you need.

I hope your mom can settle in OK after being away, and that you're able to continue to carve out pockets of peace.

Editado: Jan 15, 10:27 pm

>121 kjuliff: Thanks, Kate. I'm still in a caring profession, but I now have one patient (Mom) instead of hundreds. She came home from the rehabilitation center today, 5+ weeks since her fall that caused the rupture of her right eye and significant loss of vision. She is still moderately debilitated, and her dementia has significantly worsened, but I hope that, now that she is home, she will quickly improve in those regards.

My advice to anyone over 50 is that you CAN be replaced at work but you can’t replace yourself.

I agree completely. My patients, and the nurses, ancillary staff and my partners and consultants may love and appreciate me, but the hospital system I worked for is run by nurses and other non-physicians, so I would be kicked out the door at a moment's notice if I ran afoul of them. There are plenty of younger applicants who would have loved my job, and they would cost the system less than I did when I stopped working. I used to preach to the medical students and residents that I rounded with that they should have both a 5 year plan, and a backup plan in case they could no longer be physicians.

>122 lisapeet: I'm with you, Lisa, although turning 60, in March 2021, was nowhere near as much of a change as my need to abruptly resign my full time position in November of that year when I learned that my father would not recover from his sudden severe seizure, so that I could care for my mother full time; I'm still coming to grips with that.

I have nothing to add on the reading front. I'm still enjoying The Hundred Years' War on Palestine by Rashid Khalidi, but I hardly read any of it this holiday weekend.

Jan 15, 10:23 pm

Yesterday I prepared one of my favorite vegetarian soups, Detox Crockpot Lentil Soup, courtesy of Pinch of Yum:

For the crockpot:

2 cups butternut squash (peeled and cubed)
2 cups carrots (peeled and sliced)
2 cups potatoes (chopped)
2 cups celery (chopped)
1 cup green lentils
3/4 cup yellow split peas (or just use more lentils)
1 onion (chopped)
5 cloves garlic (minced)
8–10 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 teaspoons herbs de provence
1 teaspoon salt (more to taste)

Add at the end:
2–3 cups kale (stems removed, chopped)
1 cup parsley (chopped)
1/2 cup olive oil – rosemary olive oil or other herb infused oil is delicious
a swish of sherry, red wine vinegar, or lemon juice to add a nice tangy bite

1. Place all ingredients in the crockpot. Cover and cook on high for 5-6 hours or low for 7-8 hours.

2. Place about 4 cups of soup in a blender with the olive oil. Pulse gently until semi-smooth and creamy-looking (the oil will form a creamy emulsion with the soup). Add back to the pot and stir to combine. Stir in the kale and parsley. Turn the heat off and just let everything chill out for a bit before serving. The taste gets better with time and so does the texture, IMO!

3. Season to taste (add the sherry, vinegar, and/or lemon juice at this point) and to really go next level, serve with crusty wheat bread and a little Parmesan cheese.

This is a very tasty soup (I would call it a stew), and it fits well into a 6 quart slow cooker; if you have a smaller slow cooker or Dutch oven you should scale down accordingly. The recipe indicates that it makes 8 servings, but, IIRC, I get 9-10+ servings when I make it. Highly recommended!

Jan 16, 8:10 am

I'm glad you're mom was able to come home from rehab today. Too often, the elderly never leave once they are admitted to places like that. I credit you with ensuring that didn't happen. I hope the return to familiar surroundings makes things easier for your mom. Maybe she'll have some soup with her grilled cheese!

I'm so glad you are taking better care of yourself. The your-own-mask-first mantra is a hard one for empaths.

I can't wait to see you in the coming months. It's been forever.

Jan 16, 10:39 am

>125 labfs39: Thanks, Lisa. Actually the insurance company dictated how long the rehabilitation center kept her. She was there for 23 days, which is considerably longer than I expected her to be there. I would have been "comfortable" taking her home last Monday, meaning that I was anxious about taking her home, due to her moderate debility and worsened dementia, but I would have felt the same way, if not more so, if she was there for another month. The afternoon was pretty rough, just before we had lunch, but she did great at dinnertime.

I need to print out this image and hang it throughout the house:

It will be great to see you again! I suppose the last time was during the 2018 Decatur Book Festival?

Jan 16, 12:05 pm

>126 kidzdoc: It was a memorable dinner at The Iberian Pig.

Jan 16, 12:06 pm

Jan 16, 1:00 pm

>127 RidgewayGirl: It was indeed. It was lovely meeting you and Patty too.

Jan 16, 9:52 pm

Just stopping by to say hello, Darryl. Looks like you have some serious reading scheduled. I just got my thread up and running (still under construction) and posted my first two reviews of 2024. I'm so glad to hear that your mom is back home. Looking forward to your books and recipes!

Jan 17, 10:03 am

Hi, Deborah! It's great to see you back here. I'll check out your new thread in a bit.

Jan 17, 5:28 pm

>124 kidzdoc: I tried your soup yesterday Darryl (I saw it on Facebook) and it was a success. My version was a bit too sweet potatoey, as I substituted those for the squash, and I used spinach instead of kale, but the basic principle was the same. It gave me an opportunity to use my cup measures, which have virtually never been used. I was surprised that things like carrots and celery were measured in cups as well. U.K. recipes would usually say something like '2 large carrots' or '2 sticks of celery' although we use weights for pretty much everything else.

Jan 17, 6:27 pm

Happy that your Mom is home, Darryl.

Jan 17, 6:40 pm

>132 SandDune: I'm glad that you tried and liked the lentil soup, Rhian. That's interesting about your cup measures not being used in recipes for so long! I use my 1 and/or 2 cup measuring cups several times a week, including this morning when I made a spinach mushroom omelette for breakfast.

I've had this soup everyday for lunch the past three days, and it seems to taste better with each passing day.

>133 dukedom_enough: Thanks, Michael. She is thrilled to be back home, and the rapid improvement in her mental and physical statuses in two days has been both remarkable are encouraging.

Jan 18, 3:07 pm

I wanted to let you know that my mother died at home, while sleeping on Wednesday, January 17, 2024. I am now in the middle of trying to make funeral arrangements with my sisters. Most of the arrangements were made years ago, but there is always tweaking to be done. We are doing part of it on Zoom because my sister is coming from Montana and has been delayed for one day by snow and interstate highway closure in Wyoming.

I wish that I could have had Hospice help this last week, but since my mother had a pacemaker/defibrillator they had certain requirements that we were not able to meet. However, she got to be at home and I hope that was a comfort to her. I called my Aunt (her older sister - age 94) to come to the house when I discovered her that morning and Aunt Josephine was a great comfort to me and to other family who gathered. She told us how she remembered the day my mother was born. She was so happy to have had a baby sister. It was a comfort to me.

Jan 18, 3:40 pm

>135 benitastrnad: I’m so sorry for your loss. I lost my mother almost a year ago.

Jan 18, 5:00 pm

>135 benitastrnad: I'm very sorry to learn of your mother's passing, Benita. From our conversations over the years I know that you were a dedicated and loving daughter to her, and I commend you for all that you did for her. My prayers go out to you and your family.

Jan 18, 6:51 pm

my condolences on you loss. may memories bring you peace, comfort and strength

May her name be for a blessing

Editado: Jan 18, 8:04 pm

>135 benitastrnad: My sympathies are with you. I am glad that your Aunt was able to come and be a comfort to all of you.

Jan 19, 1:04 am

>35 kidzdoc: hi! I'm new to Club Read. The House of Doors is on my list too: I'm trying to read fiction from Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia this year. Lovely review, and now I'm looking forward to the book even more. I have some experience caring for someone with dementia, and I concur with the advice you've received (if I'm not overstepping). Don't forget to care for yourself, too.

Jan 19, 9:03 am

>140 rv1988: Hi and welcome to Club Read, Rasdhar! I'll be very interested in which books and authors from Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia you find. In looking at my library the only novelists whose books I have read and liked from those countries are Tash Aw from Malaysia, and Eka Kurniawan from Indonesia. I also own a copy of Happy Stories, Mostly by Norman Erikson Pasaribu from Indonesia, but I haven't read it yet.

I appreciate your advice and input on being a caregiver for a loved one with dementia. I joined a dementia support group last month, and I will soon either hire someone to stay with Mom for a few hours a day several days a week, or, even better, take her to an adult day center for half or full days several days a week, which I was in the process of setting up just before her fall last month.

A good friend of mine recommended the book Travelers to Unimaginable Lands: Stories of Dementia, the Caregiver, and the Human Brain by Dasha Kiper, which I picked up from my local branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia a few days ago. I'll start reading it next week.

Editado: Jan 20, 12:16 pm

I finally "finished" The Hundred Years' War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917-2017 by Rashid Khalidi last night. It took me longer than I expected to read it, not because it wasn't good, but because I had to take frequent pauses to keep my blood pressure from getting too high. It has certainly opened my eyes to the current situation in Israel/Palestine, it was a superb academic and political/historical work, and I doubt that I'll read a better written, more informative, or more influential book this year, which easily gets 5 stars, even though I haven't completed the last chapter yet. I'll do my best to post a dispassionate review of it sometime soon.

I had intended to pick up Let Us Descend, the latest novel by Jesmyn Ward, next. However, early this morning I started reading Travelers to Unimaginable Lands: Stories of Dementia, the Caregiver, and the Human Brain by Dasha Kiper, a clinical psychologist with intimate knowledge of being a caregiver and working with patients with dementia and their caregivers. I found it immediately compelling and eye opening, as its main focus is the caregivers as individuals and how their interactions with loved ones with dementia often impairs their ability to successfully do so and maintain their own well being. I'll devour read this book in the next day or two, and discuss it with my dementia support group next week.

Jan 20, 3:05 pm

Wow, Darryl. I'm glad you're not only taking care of yourself (and your mom), but also sharing your knowledge (as well as receiving knowledge) from your support group.

Editado: Jan 20, 4:18 pm

>143 SqueakyChu: Thanks, Madeline. I'll also mention my weight loss plan and goals that I just posted on my Facebook timeline, sometime soon.

My threads have always been holistic ones not limited to books, and I suspect that's why some LTers enjoy reading them — and others don't, which I completely understand.

Jan 20, 5:27 pm

>142 kidzdoc: I have wishlisted The Hundred Years' War on Palestine, Darryl. Sounds like required reading.

Editado: Jan 20, 6:14 pm

>145 labfs39: Sounds good, Lisa. I agree that it's required reading, and it helps explain how we got to this point. That's exactly why I decided to read it now, and it more than filled the bill.

>146 Caroline_McElwee: Yes, Caroline!

Jan 20, 8:50 pm

>142 kidzdoc: interesting on account of both books. I’m curious about Khalidi’s book. It’s difficult to get unbiased takes.

Editado: Jan 20, 10:21 pm

>148 dchaikin: I don't view The Hundred Years' War on Palestine as the definitive work on Israel/Palestine, but it did give me a view of the conflict from the Palestinian point of view. I fully recognize that this is a hot button topic, and from my past experiences in the 75 Books group I want to be as impartial and nonjudgmental as possible, to avoid offending others; I take responsibility for a large share of the vitriol that was directed towards me, due to my occasional acerbic comments. I have no desire to repeat that again, or upset anyone here, as I'm very comfortable in Club Read and have no desire to leave this group, so I will act in a far less reactionary matter from here on. I'll also be curious to get recommendations of books from the Zionist point of view. I vow to be a much kinder and gentler kidzdoc in 2024!

I'm also in an unusually good mood this evening, thanks largely to the unbelievably supportive and loving messages I received in reply to my two Facebook posts today, including those from LTers or others I've met through LibraryThing. A pitcher full of G&Ts couldn't come anywhere close to my current sense of peace and happiness, and my heart is as full as it's ever been.

I've put aside Travelers to Unimaginable Lands until next week. I borrowed it from the Free Library of Philadelphia last week, and soon after I picked it back up this morning I had to suppress the urge to start underlining passages in it. I didn't want to take notes (too time consuming) or get the Kindle edition of it (I want to share the book with others, particularly other members of my dementia support group), so I ordered a print copy from Amazon, which will arrive on Monday. If that isn't a glowing recommendation of this book I don't know what is!

Editado: Jan 20, 10:44 pm

>149 kidzdoc: I’m curious to see what you will write about Khalidi’s book, but I’m pretty certain I won’t make any remarks about it, precisely for the reasons you mention.

I am so happy you’re feeling in a better frame of mind. You are under so much stress these days, and I’m encouraged that you found ways to help yourself feel better.

Traveler’s to Unimaginable Lands sounds amazing. Isn’t it great when you pick up the right book at the right time to read?!

Editado: Jan 21, 8:34 am

>149 kidzdoc: I don't view The Hundred Years' War on Palestine as the definitive work on Israel/Palestine.
I feel that 1000 books wouldn't do justice to Israel/Palestine. I'll be interested in your review of this one.

>144 kidzdoc: My threads have always been holistic ones not limited to books
I prefer this sort of thread.

>142 kidzdoc: my dementia support group
This seems a welcome development along with the other supports you have put into place these past several months. Glad your mother is settling back in at home. I'd expect hospitalization would've been discombobulating for her.

Jan 21, 11:37 am

>150 SqueakyChu: Thanks, Madeline. I suspect that my review of The Hundred Years' War on Palestine will be one of the more difficult ones I've ever written. I would like to know your (and others') thoughts, so feel free to send me a private message if you would prefer.

My mental health took a dramatic turn for the better in late summer, after I started seeing a fabulous psychiatrist and an equally superb psychotherapist in late spring, and especially after a difficult relationship/affair with a very close friend of mine came to an abrupt halt in August.

Now that I'll receive a print copy of Travelers to Unimaginable Lands tomorrow, and remembering that the next dementia support group meeting is actually 10 days away and not 3, I'll actually wait to read it until next weekend, and start Why Niebuhr Matters by Charles Lemert, which is part of the Why X Matters series that is currently published by Yale University Press. I had planned to start Let Us Descend by Jesmyn Ward today, and I'm very eager to read it, but I have a burning desire to start my study of Reinhold Niebuhr, who is arguably the greatest and most influential Christian theologian of the 20th century. To me, reading Why Niebuhr Matters seems to be a natural next step after finishing The Hundred Years' War on Palestine.

If I didn't say so already, Shelley (jessibud2) gets full credit for recommending Travelers to Unimaginable Lands to me.

>151 qebo: I feel that 1000 books wouldn't do justice to Israel/Palestine.

I suspect you're right, Katherine. This won't be the last book I read on this topic, and I look forward to getting recommendations from others. I have The Story of the Jews by Simon Schama on my Kindle, and I intend to get to it soon.

I also like threads that cover a lot of topics other than reading. Books are a large part of who I am, but far from everything (which, of course, is the same for practically everyone else).

Glad your mother is settling back in at home. I'd expect hospitalization would've been discombobulating for her.

100%. She was actually more upset by visits from myself, my brother and cousin, and a dear neighbor of ours who is more like a brother to me. It seemed to be a stark reminder to her that she wasn't home, and she became so anxious and visibly upset that it was difficult to spend much time with her. I limited my visits to 1-2 hours every day or two when she was in the local rehabilitation center, although I spent much more time with her in Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Center City Philadelphia, as it was a longer drive from home, and it was much more comfortable to stay in her room, and to escape to a family lounge or café if I needed a break or a meal.

Jan 21, 12:35 pm

>149 kidzdoc: didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable. No worries. I’m here because i like seeing your thoughts on books, including books like these. Whatever your thoughts are, i’m sure i’ll find them interesting. But, of course, post what you’re comfortable posting. Cheers.

Jan 21, 12:47 pm

>149 kidzdoc: I want to be as impartial and nonjudgmental as possible, to avoid offending others; I
I don’t think that is possible with the Israeli/Palestine conflict. Both groups want the same piece of land and won’t compromise. That leaves three positions, none acceptable to all, no matter how many books are written on the subject.

In any case, on any topic, one should feel free to voice an opinion. Otherwise how can we have community discussions.

Jan 21, 12:54 pm

>153 dchaikin: You haven't ever made me feel uncomfortable, Dan. The discomfort I feel is entirely internal, and it isn't limited to LibraryThing or its members.

>154 kjuliff: I'm still hopeful that a lasting solution can be reached, although I don't disagree with you, Kate. Despite my despair over the conflict, in particular the extreme loss of life of more than 10,000 innocent Palestinian children, this book, and my current reading and viewing of the topic and the worldwide condemnation of the humanitarian crisis, actually makes me hopeful that a two state solution will come out of this tragedy, even though Benjamin Netanyahu recently dismissed this possibility out of hand.

I feel much more comfortable engaging in a spirited discussion in this group than in the previous one I belonged to, so I welcome all opinions and comments.

Jan 21, 1:56 pm

>155 kidzdoc: I am divided myself on this issue so find it hard to talk about. I know how I’d like to feel but the current situation in Gaza makes it impossible. Whoever is “at fault” - though of course it’s not a matter of a single fault, the current situation cannot be tolerated. It is dividing families outside of Israel.

I’m so conflicted at a personal level as my ties and experiences lead me to one side, but my reading to the other. Having been to some of those countries for some periods of time, I feel I am probably biased from negative experiences.

I agree with you that a two state solution is the safest answer for everyone.

Editado: Jan 21, 2:10 pm

>156 kjuliff: I'm with you, Kate. At the risk of making a trite "some of my best friends are Black" comment, I have numerous Jewish friends both in and outside of LibraryThing who are as close to me as my brother or other dear family members.

Oh, that reminds me...some of the longtime members of Club Read will remember Paul Harris (polaris-), who is no longer active on LibraryThing. We first met in London roughly 8-10 years ago, and, thanks to my frequent visits to the capital we have become very close, are in contact several times a week, and I love him like a brother. Earlier this week, as some of you know, he posted on Facebook that he had suffered a massive heart attack while visiting Jerusalem. Fortunately he was promptly diagnosed, received emergency open heart surgery, and he should now be recuperating out of the hospital. From his post I believe that he will make a complete recovery with no long term complications.

Jan 21, 2:42 pm

>157 kidzdoc: Oh, my, Darryl. I'm so sorry to hear about Paul. Although we weren't super close, I did interact with him when he was active in Club Read, even as admin, I believe. I knew he had ties to a kibbutz in Israel, but I don't do FB and had not heard of his heart attack. I'm glad he was in Jerusalem and able to get good care.

Not in any way meant as a diminution of Paul's experience and the relief of his getting care, but your comments did make me flash to a scene in a book I'm currently listening to, Apeirogon. The scene is when a Palestinian father is in an ambulance with his fatally shot daughter and the ambulance is held up for hours at the border en route to a hospital in Israel. Have you read it? It features a Palestinian and an Israeli who both seek non-violent solutions to the conflict after they each lose a child (a novel based on the lives of two real men whom McCann interviewed extensively).

Editado: Jan 21, 3:15 pm

>158 labfs39: I did read Apeirogon, Lisa, and I vividly remember the scene you described. I didn't review it after I read it in 2020, but it was a searing and painful though necessary book.

Jan 21, 3:12 pm

>158 labfs39: I remember that scene vividly Lisa. It’s a good book to read in that it shows both sides realistically. I am going to comment on similar books on my own thread as I don’t want to sound divisive outside my own. But I do recommend Apeirogon.

Jan 22, 12:21 am

>142 kidzdoc:
I am very interested in Travelers to Unimaginable Lands because I don't think that I was the best person to give care to my mother in her final month of life. It took so much out of me - mentally and physically. The physicalness of it really surprised me. I can see why having the equipment that hospice would have been able to provide would have made my life easier.

However, I didn't feel comfortable leaving her in the hands of others, and she wanted so much to be at home with the things she had gathered and surrounded herself. These things were important to her and she loved her collection of dishes and her comfortable small house. I know it is what she wanted because she said so many times, but I still wonder.

Editado: Jan 22, 9:53 am

>161 benitastrnad: I can definitely relate to your sentiment about your ability as a caregiver to your mother, Benita. I often feel as if I'm not doing enough for her, or that I should be doing things differently. I also agree that being a caregiver is far more physically and emotionally taxing than I would have ever expected, and this had everything to do with the mental health crisis I experienced last year, in which I began to have occasional panic attacks (I didn't realize what was happening until my brother, who has generalized anxiety disorder, witnessed one of my attacks on Mother's Day and told me what he thought), daily anxiety attacks, loss of interest in my favorite activities, and several suicidal thoughts. I know that my father was absolutely exhausted in the past few months of his life, and although he died of other causes, in actuality he also died of dementia — not his, but my mother's.

The fact that you were also physically and mentally taxed in caring for your mother tells me that you were giving maximal effort, and that, to me, indicates that you were doing the best job you could, and an excellent job at that. I completely agree that I don't feel comfortable with her in the care of nearly anyone else, but that to me is an indication of how much care and dedication we have for our mothers. I suppose it's like being a parent who only trusts a select few people to care for their young child, and it's an indication of how much we loved and were devoted to our mothers. Everyone, from family to close friends, neighbors, and people my mother has interacted with in the past 2+ years, praises me for the job I'm doing caring for Mom, but internally I feel as if I should be doing more. The dementia support group I joined last month is teaching me that my feelings of inadequacy are both common, and normal.

Although I don't know the specifics of your mother's situation I strongly suspect that you did the right thing in keeping her in a familiar and comfortable environment in the last months of her life. I have fiercely resisted suggestions from loved ones that I should move Mom to a memory care center or nursing home, as I have every reason to think that she wouldn't do well in those situations, and that she would likely withdraw and die of grief within months, as she still misses her beloved husband, my father, dearly, and her not being at home would only exacerbate her dementia, anxiety and worsen her will to live. That certainly would have been the easy thing to do, as I could have continued to live in Atlanta and work as a pediatric hospitalist, but in my heart it wasn't the right thing to have done, and as time goes on I'm increasingly more certain that I made the right decision.

Thanks to psychotropic medications (Lexapro and trazodone) and excellent care from my psychiatrist and psychotherapist I am in a vastly better place than I was at this time last year, and for that matter in many years, and thanks to a top notch medical team who I completely trust my physical health is also much better. I have a long way to go, but I'm definitely on the right track again.

Oops. My new Fitbit watch is telling me to get off my butt and start moving. Back later...

Jan 22, 4:50 pm

>142 kidzdoc: Darryl, I read Let Us Descend and, having liked her earlier novels, I was rather disappointed. But then, I'm not a fan of magical realism. The unreliable ancestor spirits were just plain annoying to me. The rest of the narrative was brutal in its depiction of slavery, but of course, it WAS brutal.

Jan 22, 5:26 pm

>163 Cariola: Thanks for giving me your opinion about Let Us Descend, Deborah. I'm now curious to see how I like it in comparison to her earlier novels.

Jan 22, 5:32 pm

>164 kidzdoc: I'll also be eager to see what you think about it. Her writing is wonderful, as always, but this one just wasn't for me, I'm afraid.

Jan 22, 5:33 pm

>165 Cariola: That's fair, especially since you enjoyed her other novels.

Jan 23, 1:13 pm

>157 kidzdoc: Glad to hear Paul will make a good recovery Darryl, I remember meeting him at the Golders Green get together I think.

Jan 23, 1:30 pm

>167 Caroline_McElwee: That's right, Caroline; both Pauls were in attendance that day!

Jan 24, 6:51 pm

>157 kidzdoc: Thank you for letting us know about Polaris! I have certainly noticed his absence here on LT. He was one of my favorite threads to follow. I will keep him in my prayers.

Jan 24, 9:10 pm

>157 kidzdoc: Thanks, avidmom. I'm sure he will appreciate your prayers.

Jan 24, 10:01 pm

Hi Darryl. I'm skimming through. I appreciated the reminder about Apeirogon which I read in 2020. I had forgotten it (along with much that I read or experienced that blurry year) but I recall that scene you and Lisa mentioned, and indeed the whole book now. It was a powerful read. I have the Rashid Khalidi history on hold at the library but I wonder if I should just purchase a copy so I can read it at a slower pace without worrying about the due date. It feels like the kind of book to read a chapter at a time, maybe a chapter a day or even more slowly than that.

I hope you are continuing to keep your oxygen mask on and "listening" to your Fitbit (without letting it become a dictator of your life LOL).

Editado: Jan 25, 8:54 am

>171 EBT1002: Hi, Ellen! I would recommend purchasing a copy of The Hundred Years' War on Palestine instead of borrowing it. I could only read a bit of it at a time, as reading about the subjugation of the long suffering Palestinian people was often very upsetting to me, and I was underlying passages in it frequently. It's also a book that I'll go back to, especially when I read other books about this topic, so I would like to have it on hand.

😂 My new Fitbit watch isn't being too dictatorial...yet. I have lost 10 lb in the past 10 days, now I've been much more diligent and exact about everything I eat and drink; who knew that egg nog spiced with rum wasn't a calorie free beverage?

Editado: Jan 25, 10:01 am

>172 kidzdoc: who knew that egg nog spiced with rum wasn't a calorie free beverage? I always tell myself it doesn't count at the holidays, especially if it's homemade eggnog. 10 lbs in 10 days is pretty incredible!

Editado: Jan 25, 11:38 am

>173 markon: Thanks, Ardene! My PCP referred me to the Weight Loss Center in the healthcare organization I use for most of my medical care, and I had my first appointment with one of the physicians there last month, and I saw a nutritionist there a little over two weeks ago. I have been documenting my caloric intake since the 1st of November, but I was only counting breakfast, lunch and dinners, and not late night and overnight snacks, which I now realize was the biggest culprit in my weight gain over the years, along with far too many late night dinners after long hospital shifts, especially since they generally consisted of fast food. My physician and I agreed on a 1200 calorie diet, and I decided to make it a primarily pescetarian one, which isn't hard because I can easily live without red meats. The nutritionist introduced me to the free Baritastic mobile app, which is fantastic in documenting food and fluid intake, exercise, and activity; I especially like that it has an extensive food library, so if you enter a food (e.g., spinach mushroom omelette, one of my favorite breakfasts) it automatically enters the calories, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, etc. into your daily intake with a simple click of the button, which eliminates the need to enter that information yourself, although you can also enter your own data for unique foods, which are then saved to your personal food library. I started doing that last Monday, and since I've been doing that, and trying to keep my intake under 1200 calories (although the nutritionist suggested a 1500-1700 calorie diet), I've lost weight on 10 of the 11 days, counting today, and on that one day, the only one I exceeded 1500 calories, I maintained the weight of the previous day. I lost an additional 0.8 lb today, so that makes a 10.8 lb weight loss in 11 days.

ETA: The Baritastic app is especially designed for those who are considering or have undergone bariatric surgery, but I don't fall into either of those categories.

I've never had a huge appetite, and would usually eat considerably less than my friends with normal weights whenever I would dine with them; I was just eating the wrong things at the wrong times, and snacking mindlessly without accounting for what I was ingesting, which I no longer do. Thanks to my improved mental health I'm no longer stress eating as well.

I bought a new Fitbit Inspire 3 watch this weekend, as Ellen alluded to in >171 EBT1002:, and I started using it on Sunday night. I'm now using the Fitbit and Baritastic mobile apps together, as they are talking to each other, and I'm getting even more information than with the Baritastic app alone. My nutritionist gave me a code that is specific to the Weight Loss Center, which allows her and Dr Anwar to track my progress online and during our appointments. Dr Anwar has also prescribed me Zepbound (generic name: tirzepatide), which is the newest weight loss/diabetes medications, as it was approved by the FDA this past November. It's supposed to accelerate my rate of weight loss by decreasing my appetite and desire to eat; however, my appetite and urges to snack have actually decreased significantly since last Monday, thanks also in part to my dramatically increased water intake, so I'm not sure how much of a difference this medication will make. I haven't started exercising regularly yet, so that will likely increase my appetite significantly, which is the scenario in which Zepbound may be most effective.

I've been chronicling my journey to better health via my Facebook timeline, which serves as an encouragement from friends and family, but also as an additional measure of oversight, as they are looking at my posts closely. My brother and closest cousin are also participating in medically supervised weight loss programs, so we have become "weight loss partners." I view what I'm doing as a permanent lifestyle change, and not as a temporary diet to be discarded once I've met my ideal weight.

Jan 25, 12:43 pm

>174 kidzdoc: Fitbit Inspire 3 watch
I have a Fitbit Inspire 2, an "upgrade" from the Fitbit Zip which was sadly discontinued. On the plus side it is rechargeable. The Fitbit Zip used a battery, and after 5 years the battery had to be replaced every 2 weeks instead of every 3 months so I conceded defeat. I wear it on a waist clip, which I prefer to a wristband. It keeps me honest, is its main value. I have the data on the app going back to 2015, and I wouldn't want the database to think I'm slacking off! There used to be a LibraryThing group within Fitbit (not the other way around), which Fitbit abruptly killed off in an corporate reorganization; it may have reconstituted but I lost track. Possibly if you're interested and search LibraryThing you could find the relevant people.

Jan 25, 12:55 pm

>172 kidzdoc: who knew that egg nog spiced with rum wasn't a calorie free beverage? Ha!

Congrats on your 10 pound loss Darryl.

Jan 25, 12:58 pm

>174 kidzdoc: I need to add weight. I used to have a Fitbit but had a lot of trouble with their scales synching. Now I’m too scared to weigh\ myself anyway.

Jan 25, 1:51 pm

Good stuff Darryl. You had great advice. 1200 calories sounds challenging.

Jan 25, 2:06 pm

>174 kidzdoc: The baritastic app looks great for tracking food and fluid and aerobic exercise. However, things like a yoga class or my senior strength class are more problematic - I'll have to look and see if I can create generic routines (though the instructors are always changing things up.)

Editado: Jan 25, 3:10 pm

Congratulations on all your progress, Darryl: physical, spriritual and psychological. It's a lot to take on all at once, and it speaks to your strength of purpose how well you seem to be managing it.

My big news is that, inspired (pushed) by my wife, I am finally back in the gym after about 30 years away from any such. I even signed up for a once-a-week trainer, to make sure I get the most out of it all. I'm not overweight but everything I read about maintaining quality of life long term once one gets "up there" in age necessitates more than just lots of walking; weight-bearing exercise is a must. My trainer is a good guy and I think he finds me a bit amusing. I'm forever having to do things like moving the weight setting on the machines I use from the last user's 80 pounds to my skinny arms 20 or 30. I told him that I'm not expecting to see much difference from this work when I look in the mirror, but that it's all about, as I said above, quality of life. So now that's our catch phrase. The last thing I say to him as head out the door is, "Quality of life!" And he's taken to replying, "Quality of life, baby!"


Editado: Jan 25, 4:19 pm

>175 qebo: Ugh. Replacing a battery every 2 weeks is undoable; I imagine you could pay for the watch itself in less than a year! The battery life for the Inspire 3 is 10 days, which seems accurate based on my usage so far. I purchased this model after researching them last week, as it's a good entry level smartwatch to purchase, and it wasn't expensive ($100 on Amazon). It's possible that it may meet all of my needs, as I don't intend to get into an intensive fitness routine (e.g., triathlon or mountain climbing), but this is the first time I've used a smartwatch, so I have much to learn.

That's a good idea re: looking for Fitbit users on LibraryThing. I'll certainly share whatever I find.

>176 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks, Caroline! I'll post updates on my progress every couple of weeks or so, on LibraryThing and Facebook.

>177 kjuliff: I'm manually entering my daily weights into my Baritastic app, as that's the one that my weight loss physician and nutritionist to monitor my progress. I haven't checked to see if my Fitbit app is accurately tallying it.

>178 dchaikin: Thanks, Dan. A 1200 calorie daily diet does sound challenging at first glance, but it can be easily kept to depending on the caloric density of the foods you consume. I just had a Hawaiian tuna poké bowl from a local restaurant, which is very heavy and filling, yet only has 498 calories. Whenever I have one for lunch I'm far too full to eat dinner, especially if I have it in the middle of the afternoon, and I typically only want an 8 oz glass of V8 (45 calories) for dinner, or perhaps pistachios or other nuts (25 pistachios = 100 calories). I'll easily keep to less than 1200 calories today, including the multigrain bagel (289 calories) and whipped cream cheese (70 calories) I had for breakfast. If you were to eat a typical meal from Chick-fil-A (sandwich, fries and a drink) that comes to 960 calories, and if you have that for lunch you'll almost certainly want a full dinner.

If I counted what I ate for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as I had been doing since October 1st, I had very little trouble sticking to 1200 calories most days, and 1500 calories practically every day. I did not include late night snacks and beverages, though, and that seems to be the biggest reason I didn't lose weight then at the rate that I'm doing now.

I also now consider every single thing I put into my mouth, and determine how many calories are in them before I do so. Since I'll easily meet my goal of 1200 calories today I decided to treat myself to an 8 oz glass of white wine (185 calories), as a treat. Whenever we go to Chick-fil-A I typically buy an 8 piece nugget box for my mother, give her 6 nuggets, and thoughtlessly eat the remaining two; I'm not doing that anymore.

I took my mother to see her PCP not long ago, and I mentioned to one of the staff members I know well that I had started dieting, and had lost nearly 11 lb in 11 days. The staff and a female patient looked at me, both impressed and (playfully) disgusted, as one of them said disdainfully but jokingly "it's so easy for men to lose weight!" I've heard that several times before, so I believe it.

>179 markon: That's a good point, Ardene. I haven't started exercising yet, so I haven't been using those features in Fitbit or Baritastic. I'll probably start using my exercise bicycle tomorrow.

>180 rocketjk: Thanks, Jerry. It's definitely a case of mind over matter, and when I get those late night munchies I am able to easily resist them. My "treat" is weighing myself every morning, to see how much I've lost since the previous day, and that is far better than Reese's peanut butter cups or a glass of vodka. This likely sounds like common sense to practically everyone, but I'm starting to count calories for everything I'm ingesting, so it's new to me.

Bravo on getting back into the gym! You're absolutely right that this is essential for all of us seniors, regardless of our body weights, and there is an excellent chance that I'll join a gym soon. As you alluded to, it's definitely helpful to have someone encourage you and keep your feet to the fire, and that's the main reason I've been open about what I'm doing to my friends on social media. I feel like a long distance runner who is being cheered on along a race course, and that's a very good thing.

Jan 25, 4:19 pm

>181 kidzdoc: Mr SandDune is completely addicted to his Fitbit Darryl, and his last year's tally was a daily average of more than 16,000 steps a day. I think my legs would fall off if I tried to do anything even approaching that! But he's happy. I've taken the much smaller step of going back to aquarobics twice a week.

Editado: Jan 25, 4:24 pm

>182 SandDune: Well done, Alan! Considering how much I've walked with you and Alan whenever we've met in person I would venture to guess that you take well over 10,000 steps on the days that we go for walks. I briefly tallied them when I went on walks with Fliss and especially Claire, and I would commonly walk 8-10+ miles on those days.

You've done an amazing job yourself, and you have been one of my inspirations.

Jan 26, 8:27 am

>183 kidzdoc: I still feel rather guilty about marching you around Amsterdam looking at Modernist architecture! But we did have delicious Surinamese food for lunch at least - hope that made it worthwhile!

It's great to hear about your amazing progress with your mental and physical health. You're right that "occasional" treats soon add up to an alarming number of calories. It sounds like not working shifts any more is helping to reduce the temptation for snacking, and allowing you to cook and eat healthy meals on a regular schedule.

Jan 26, 10:08 am

>181 kidzdoc: sounds good, Darryl. I admire what you’re doing.

Jan 26, 10:37 am

>184 Sakerfalcon: I enjoyed the days you, Karen & I spent in the Netherlands, Claire! My favorite day was probably the LibraryThing group meet up in Leiden, and Restaurant Dèsa, the Surinamese restaurant, was definitely my favorite, followed by the Indian vegetarian restaurant close to our hotel.

When I was working I did eat healthy breakfasts every day (e.g., Greek yogurt and a banana), and many of my lunches consisted of homemade food. The problem was I often skipped lunch, as I didn't want to take a break if I hadn't seen all of my patients at least once, and on those days I would be more likely to raid the vending machines for very unhealthy snacks. I would be ravenously hungry after I finished work, wanted something immediately instead of waiting to heat up leftovers in the microwave (???), and often picked up fast food (Chick-fil-A, Wendy's, etc.) on my way home. I was drinking very little water, which only exacerbated my hunger pangs. It wasn't uncommon that I felt weak and faint on the afternoons that I didn't have lunch (hypoglycemia?), so I would get several things from a vending machine to immediately raise my sugar level, which obviously wasn't a good idea.

It's actually easier to snack here at home, as food is readily available. However, I'm only rarely tempted by sweets, and I'm more likely to gorge on Cheez Its, potato chips, etc. The best way to avoid that is to not have them in the house, and I've substituted Triscuit whole wheat crackers, which is a far healthier snack especially if I have them with hummus.

My entire mindset has changed, in part since November 1st, but especially in the past two weeks that I've been using the Baritastic app and documenting my food intake and weight accurately. This will be a stepwise process, as I'm now reviewing other data other than my caloric intake, e.g. seeing how many carbohydrates are in a bagel or whole grain bread, but I'm also adjusting my habits to find out what I can do better. As I get more comfortable with the Baritastic and Fitbit apps and initiate a formal exercise program I'll progressively improve what I'm doing. Losing roughly a pound a day is not sustainable in the long term with diet alone, and I need to start exercising regularly to improve my conditioning, now that I'm in my early 60s, and thankfully I can easily reach my weight loss physician and nutritionist via the online patient portal, in which we can send each other messages. I was correct in assuming that they would evaluate my progress via the Baritastic app that is linked to the Weight Loss Center, as someone, probably Kirsten, the nutritionist, sent me a message last night congratulating on my 10 lb weight loss.

My cousin Tina arrived yesterday afternoon, and we spent several hours last night talking about our weight loss plans and the Fitbit watch and app. She is very computer and technology savvy, so she was showing me features on the Fitbit that I hadn't learned about yet, and I'm now showing her features on the Baritastic app, which she downloaded this morning and is now using.

I lost another 0.8 lb this morning, so that makes 11.6 lb in 12 days. Someone asked me this week if I missed not having treats on a regular basis. I replied that the best "treat" is seeing how much weight I lost when I weigh myself each morning.

I'll start posting nutritional information about the recipes I make from now on. For example, the Detox Lentil Soup I made a couple of weeks ago has 289 calories per serving, so it's a perfect food for what I'm trying to accomplish.

Editado: Jan 26, 10:58 am

>185 dchaikin: Thanks, Dan. As a pediatrician I often think about childhood developmental milestones (e.g., what things are a 6 or 12 or 18 month child supposed to do), and I would describe myself as a newborn in this weight loss process, as I know little and have a tremendous amount to learn.

Yesterday I took in 993 calories for the day, which is barely more than the 960 calorie Chick-fil-A lunch I described earlier. If I had skipped the white wine I would have only ingested 808 calories, barely more than the 800 calorie diet that was an option for me. I wasn't the least bit hungry at any point during the day, and especially when I went to bed at night and woke up this morning. I had two slices of wheat bread and coffee for breakfast, and at the moment I'm too full for the cup of Greek yogurt I had intended to have with it. The less I eat, the less hungry I am.

Editado: Jan 27, 5:55 pm

Definitely reach out to people online and in person, Darryl. My friends and coworkers became my support while dealing with the issues of living with a husband with catastrophic brain injuries. There wasn’t much I could do to hide my fragile state either as I returned to work soon after and sometimes found it hard to hold together but no one since held that against me. It’s okay to show others when you are struggling.

Looks like you are on the right track with your weight loss goal.

Jan 28, 1:56 am

Congratulations on these very impressive steps and the weight loss. I'm on a similar plan to yours: I have a family history of diabetes and am trying to get ahead of it by getting my weight in control. I also bought a fitbit! I have been enjoying seeing how much I move around daily, especially since I have a desk job and have to make an effort to get to the step goals. Good luck with the process. You are very right in saying this is a lifestyle change, and not a temporary project.

Jan 28, 7:52 am

>187 kidzdoc: Sounds like you are doing great with your plans to loose weight, Darryl.

We went a similair path 6 years ago, when Frank turned out to have diabetes. We changed our lifestyle with no sugar, less carbohydrates, and more excercise. The weight loss wasn't intended, but happened anyway ;-)

I hope your psychical health will keep up in this difficult time. I am still grateful my depressions and phobia's haven'n returned. I feel a bit low at the moment, but that is understandable with the current situation with my father. I hope it stays managable, as the present state of psychical health care over here isn't very good.

Jan 28, 11:41 am

>188 Familyhistorian: Yes indeed, Meg. I had a particularly meaningful day yesterday as my beloved sister cousin Tina visited us, which included a fantastic post-breakfast conversation about Life and Other Things, and I spent a most enjoyable two hours with older Black men in my barbershop that afternoon, in which I absorbed the knowledge, wisdom and camaraderie that comes from experience, not from books or college degrees. My heart is also grieving, as today would have been the 40th birthday of a dear friend of mine, the only person I've seen in Atlanta since I left over two years ago, as I mentioned on Kay's thread just now. She died unexpectedly just over six months ago, and many of us still haven't accepted her death, or understood why she has been taken from us.

Several months ago my psychotherapist suggested documenting my thoughts in a diary, given my love of reading and experience in writing, although I think I have no talent or ability as a writer. I took her comments to heart, but I didn't act on it until late last night, the first time I've ever put my personal thoughts onto paper. I have a lot more to write, about a variety of topics that have come up only this week, and I'll be very busy documenting them before I see Victoria, my therapist, on Friday.

I'm very sorry to read about your husband; I had no idea. My thoughts and prayers will go out to you and him.

It’s okay to show others when you are struggling.

Amen, sister. I couldn't agree more.

The weight loss continues to go well. I was mildly discouraged when I gained 0.4 lb yesterday, but today I lost 1.4 lb, which makes a 12.6 lb weight loss in 14 days, which far exceeds the typical goal of a 2 lb weight loss per week. My nutritionist congratulated me on my progress in a message she sent through the Baritastic app a few days ago, and after I speak my insurance company tomorrow I'll set up and appointment with Kirsten for next month.

>189 rv1988: Thanks, Rashdar! Congratulations on your weight loss plan and recent purchase of a Fitbit. I also have a strong maternal family history of diabetes, as my only brother and my mother's sister were both recently diagnosed with NIDDM. My glucose level is well within the normal range, but my hemoglobin A1C level is on the higher side of normal, which (I think) means that I'm considered prediabetic and at risk for developing diabetes as well. After far too many years of talking about taking corrective steps and not doing a damn thing about it, last year I started walking the walk instead of just talking the talk, and for the first time in 25-30 years I now feel that I'm on the right track.

After I received my bachelor's degree from Rutgers University I worked in a research lab at NYU Medical Center in Manhattan. I had started to gain weight in my late 20s, but during the last year or so I moved back with my parents, who live just north of Philadelphia, and starting commuting to Penn Station NYC by train, in the early 1990s. I walked to and from work, which was just over a mile in each direction, and I often had takeout lunch from one of the numerous South Indian vegetarian restaurants that surrounded the NYU campus. As I result of doing that I lost 25-30+ pounds in a matter of months, and an ex-girlfriend of mine, who worked in Brooklyn, commented just before I left to move to Pittsburgh for medical school that I was "too skinny"(!).

I don't expect to have the same degree of success, now that I'm in my 60s, as I did over 30 years ago. However, that is essentially what I'm doing now, and so far I've been far more successful that I could have hoped for. As you rightly said, this is a lifestyle change, and since I love vegetarian soups and stews and can hold my own in the kitchen, as we say, and I love fish, this diet won't be a difficult one for me to follow; who needs steak or pizza?

Thanks, Anita! Although I haven't seen you and Frank in several years, the pictures of both of you speak to the success of what you're doing. I had forgotten that he is diabetic, so I pray that this is going well.

Although I haven't said much (and for that I apologize), I have been following your thread and reading about your father's situation. I also hope that your mental health improves, and you can always feel comfortable communicating with me in whatever format you prefer. IIRC I have Frank's phone number but not yours, right? Please keep me posted, and I'll follow your thread far more closely from now on.

Editado: Jan 28, 11:53 am

I had mentioned on Kay's thread not long ago that today would have been the 40th birthday of my dear friend Hillary Bauer, who she and her good friend Pattie met when the four of us had dinner at the eve of the Decatur Book Festival just outside of Atlanta several years ago. She was a child life specialist in Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, the hospital system I worked in from 2000 until Thanksgiving Week 2021, when I had to abruptly resign to assume caregiving duties for my mother after my father's death after a short and unexpected illness. Hillary suffered for much of her adult life with chronic illness, which she bore with grace, humor, and wisdom, despite the extreme pain she often suffered from. She died roughly six months ago, a loss that I and others who loved her still cannot comprehend or accept. Her father posted this incredibly touching message on her Facebook timeline last night:

It has been so hard to accept that it has been almost six months since Hillary died. Although faced with unbelievably difficult health challenges for so many years, she never gave up. We remember her as an amazing person with the best laugh and unparalleled compassion and support for others, making a significant difference in so many lives. As many of you know, Hillary adored birthdays, especially her own. From the time she was little, she would start planning her birthday months in advance. If she had her way, she would have declared an entire birthday month!

Tomorrow, on January 28, Hillary would have turned 40, a milestone she was so looking forward to. We hope that those who loved her will join us in celebrating and remembering moments when she made you laugh or showed you how much she cared. We like to think that Hillary is with her beloved grandparents, smiling because she remembered and loved. And if you ever see a rainbow, think of Hillary. She found so much joy in rainbows, much like flowers- a constant source of happiness for her.

We also want to express our gratitude to the many relatives, friends, and others who have supported us - sending notes, flowers, and food, making donations in her honor, and in so many other ways. We hope we have reached out to each person to say thank you, but if we inadvertently missed anyone, please know how much we appreciate your caring.

Our heartfelt thanks, Deb, Tom, Becca, Darren, Owen, and Callie.


I think that God sends us angels to enrich our lives temporarily, and we grieve when they are taken from us. Hillary was absolutely one of them.

Jan 28, 2:34 pm

>192 kidzdoc: I'm so sorry to read about the loss of your dear friend Hillary, Darryl. People such as she don't only enrich our lives temporarily; they enrich them forever as we carry their memory and our love for them in our hearts. She will affect your own life now and in years to come. That is what has happened to me with loved ones I've lost in the past.

Jan 28, 3:37 pm

Darryl--I am very sorry to hear about the passing of your dear friend, Hillary. I can only say that I am glad you got the privilege and joy of knowing her for as long as you did. I hope you enjoy your many happy memories of her and keep them close by as you travel forward in life.

Switching subjects now -- Congratulations on your new regime and your weight loss!! I am struggling a little bit with health issues, so I haven't really done any workouts this past month, not even my beloved TKD, but I have still managed to lose 5 pounds with just increased walking and fasting and I hope to continue the trend. I got a newer Fitbit for Christmas (my old one died and I didn't have one for a year) and I love having my instant feedback and reminders again. Wishing you continued success and happiness! : )

Jan 28, 3:49 pm

So sorry about the loss of your friend, way too young. She looks like such a lovely person.

Congrats on your health gains, it's so great that you are prioritizing taking care of yourself. I do like my Fitbit as well.

Jan 28, 5:01 pm

Very sorry about your friend, Darryl. That beautiful smile communicates so much about her.

And congrats on the weight loss and in general getting life in balance.

I appreciate your comments on the situation in Palestine.

Jan 28, 7:14 pm

>192 kidzdoc: it must be so hard to deal with the loss of a friend, especially one so young. It hasn’t happen to me yet and I dread the day. Time heals but never fully. It’s 13 years since I lost my brother, my only sibling, and it’s like the downward path of a Gaussian curve, it gets easier and grief fades, but never disappears completely.

But you seem to have a lot of inner strength and I wish you well.

Jan 28, 7:23 pm

>172 kidzdoc: "who knew that egg nog spiced with rum wasn't a calorie free beverage?" LOL. Yes, I have a few of those.... Best of luck with continuing with being more active and monitoring your intake. I know my intake of wine and liquor is a culprit in my retention of pounds I don't want. And, of course, shave ice on top of macadamia nut ice cream is right up there with eggnog! But when on Kauai....

I will purchase a copy of The Hundred Years War on Palestine per your suggestion. And digest it in small chunks, as well.

>192 kidzdoc: "I think that God sends us angels to enrich our lives temporarily, and we grieve when they are taken from us. Hillary was absolutely one of them."
I wholly agree. I am so glad you had her in your life and so very sorry she is gone. I'm also sorry she didn't see that 40th birthday milestone as it would have meant so much to her.

Just sending you all warm thoughts, Darryl.

Jan 29, 5:49 am

I am very sorry to read about the loss of your good friend. That leaves a big hole. I hope that many good memories can put a smile back on your face.
Congratulations on your weight loss. It really is the case that when you change your diet, the pounds suddenly tumble off. I had to completely change my diet 13 months ago after a bout of gout. It wasn't easy at the beginning, because first and foremost I had to make sure that I ate very little purine. Unfortunately, there are a lot of products with a very high purine content. For example, all pulses are 100% inedible for me, so no beans, no chickpeas, no lentils etc.. I am immediately penalised if I eat pulses, I notice it immediately with pain. I can only eat tomatoes cooked, raw tomatoes are a no-go. I eat very little meat and fish, about once every 10 days, and it doesn't matter which meat or fish. Unfortunately, I can no longer eat seafood as it triggers another inflammation. In the meantime, however, I am doing very well as far as my diet is concerned and the good thing is that I have lost 14kg within a year.

Jan 29, 8:16 am

I'm sorry for your loss, Darryl. I lost a close friend from college last year and I still sometimes think, Oh, I need to tell Elliot this, then realize that I can only do so in my heart.

Editado: Jan 29, 9:42 am

>199 Ameise1: I don’t know if this will work for your gout, but it did for my husband. I was told this trick by an elderly family friend. Just eat ten cherries a day! Dried cherries are fine. After my husband suffered a particularly painful episode of gout in his knee, he started doing this daily upon my urging. This has not only prevented a further gout flare-up, but it allows him to eat off limit gout foods (those high in purine) in limited quantities by also drinking water while eating them. His doctor doesn’t believe in this, but NIH research proved it helps. (A 2019 NIH study - “Current evidence supports an association between cherry intake and a reduced risk of gout attacks.”) Try it to see.

Jan 29, 9:41 am

>201 SqueakyChu: Thanks Madeline, I know about the cherries and I eat cherries every day. Nevertheless, I have to watch out for products with a high purine content.

Editado: Jan 29, 9:44 am

>201 SqueakyChu: I guess it’s wise to do both because gout attack are so painful. Turkey, beef, red wine, and beer were my husband’s gout triggers.

Jan 29, 11:01 am

>203 SqueakyChu: Yes, beer is not good, but that has to do with the yeast, which should be avoided at all costs. I only eat sourdough-based products.

Jan 29, 11:19 am

Darryl, I am very impressed with your efforts (and successes!) in self-care, and also with your openness about sharing your journey. I'm holding you and your Mom in the light.

Jan 29, 11:27 am

>199 Ameise1: When I moved to North Carolina in the late seventies,, I developed quite a taste for eastern NC barbecue (the pork-and-vinegar kind, not the beef-and-tomatoes kind). It wasn't long before I overindulged to the point that several of my joints became painfully swollen, and I learned all about purines. I was able to back off from eating pork, but bacon remained a real difficulty. I've managed to tame my appetites and have been able to have a bit of this and that without triggering a flare-up. My buddy Al O'Purinol helps too.

This was good practice for having to adopt a low-oxalate diet after my kidneys failed due to oxalosis. When someone asks me what I can't have, I tell them, oh, nothing I like, just nuts, and chocolate, and stuff like that. Interestingly, spinach has lots of oxalates but kale has almost none. Once again, after being really hard core for a while, I seem to be able to cheat slightly occasionally with no repercussions.

Jan 29, 12:04 pm

>206 Jim53: Jim, thank you for sharing your experiences. It's true that everyone has to find out for themselves what triggers them and what doesn't. It's also true that you shouldn't be more pontifical than the Pope. 😉

Jan 29, 2:21 pm

Sorry I'm late, y'all! Thanks for keeping this space warm and cozy. Last week was a busy but good one. I didn't get much reading done, as I spent quality time with my cousin Tina, who flew from Michigan and spent most of the week with us. I have been enjoying and learning much from Why Niebuhr Matters, which is an introduction to the life and thought of the great Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr. It's slow going, as each paragraph is filled with superb passages that require reflection. Last night I put it aside for the moment, and started reading Travelers to Unimaginable Lands: Stories of Dementia, the Caregiver, and the Human Brain, as I had hoped to finish it and discuss it with the members and the group director in this Wednesday's dementia support group session. That probably won't happen, but I'll certainly have it done by next week's session.

The copy of Prophet Song I requested from the Free Library of Philadelphia is now ready, so I'll pick it up in a day or two, and I'll start reading it after I finish Let Us Descend.

The diet continues to go extremely well, as I've now lost 13.2 lb (6.0 kg) in 14 days; I would have been pleased with half that rate. I started looking at the data that was collected in my Baritastic mobile app, and I'll look to incorporate more protein, beans and berries into my diet, drink more water, and get off my butt and start exercising on a regular basis.

I did cook this weekend, as I made another batch of Detox Crockpot Lentil Stew on Friday, and I tried a new recipe, Vegan Mushroom Cauliflower Skillet, which I saw on the Facebook timeline of a friend and fellow pediatric colleague. She asked me to let her know what I thought of it:

1 medium-sized cauliflower, cut into small florets
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces (about 225g) mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup vegetable broth
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional, for added flavor)
Fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)

1. Steam or blanch the cauliflower florets for 3-4 minutes, or until they are slightly tender. Drain and set aside.
2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
3. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic to the skillet. Sauté for 2-3 minutes until the onions become translucent and fragrant.
4. Add the sliced mushrooms to the skillet and continue to cook for 5-7 minutes, or until they release their moisture and start to brown.
5. Season the mushrooms with dried thyme, dried rosemary, salt, and pepper. Stir well to distribute the herbs evenly.
6. Pour in the vegetable broth to deglaze the skillet, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom.
7. Add the steamed cauliflower florets to the skillet and toss everything together. Cook for an additional 5-7 minutes, allowing the cauliflower to absorb the flavors.
8. If desired, sprinkle nutritional yeast over the cauliflower and mushrooms for extra flavor. Stir well to combine.
9. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt and pepper if needed.
10. Garnish the Vegan Garlic Mushroom Cauliflower Skillet with fresh parsley, if desired.
11. Serve hot as a side dish or a light main course. It’s a healthy and satisfying option for a vegan meal.

After I made it I understood why Noor wanted my opinion, as it was pretty bland. I didn't have nutritional yeast on hand, so I seasoned it by adding mirin, a Japanese sweet sake, light soy sauce and toasted sesame oil, and cook the skillet for an additional 5-7 minutes until the liquid had evaporated. That made a relatively tasteless dish a vastly better one. A serving has roughly 200 calories, so it's a great entrée that I'll make on a regular basis.

Jan 29, 2:37 pm

>193 SqueakyChu: You're absolutely right, Madeline. Hillary was only my friend for a few years, but she will always stay with me. I "see" her practically every day, as she is still one of my favorite friends on my Facebook timeline. I won't ever unfriend her, as I want to keep seeing her there.

>194 Berly: Thanks, Kim. It definitely helps that many of my colleagues in Atlanta who knew her loved her as much as I did.

Well done on your weight loss, despite your health challenges. I agree, the feedback from my Fitbit is valuable, as are the reminders. Which model do you have?

>195 banjo123: Thanks, Rhonda. All the pictures of Hillary are great, as her joie de vivre shines off the page, but I particularly like this one.

Yes, I started prioritizing my mental and physical health in the latter half of 2023, and I'll continue to do so in 2024 and beyond. I picked up a home sleep apnea test kit this morning, which I'll perform tonight, and I'll find out next week if I have it, and what will need to be done about it.

What Fitbit model do you have?

>196 LolaWalser: You're absolutely right, Lola. Hillary's smile was genuine and infectious, and just looking at her made me smile in return.

I am deeply troubled about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and the longstanding oppression of the Palestinian people. I've dedicated my professional life to the care and safety and children, and I can't sit by quietly when thousands of innocent children of any background are being harmed. As a member of a historically oppressed minority group I identify with the Palestinians far more than the Israeli people, although I have a sizable number of Jewish friends, such as Hillary, who are as close to my heart as anyone in my family. I get royally pissed off if anyone accuses me of being anti-semitic because of my opposition to Israeli governmental policy, which has happened to me in the past, and my friends who know me personally find these accusations to be baseless, and pathetic.

Jan 29, 4:47 pm

>197 kjuliff: You're right, Kate. I'm sure that I wasn't the first person to say this, but I believe that the worst thing a parent can do is bury a child of theirs. I have lost friends and family members at young ages, but Hillary's was especially hard, as I had communicated on Facebook only two or three days before I saw the notice about her death. She & I had talked about getting together in a bagel shop in East Atlanta the next time I was in town, and inviting our mutual friend Erin, whose husband committed suicide in early 2022. On the day we found out about Hillary's death Erin & I said that we should still meet up, and save an empty seat for Hillary.

>198 EBT1002: I know my intake of wine and liquor is a culprit in my retention of pounds I don't want.

Absolutely, Ellen. I believe the main reason I wasn't having a steady weight loss from October to mid-January was that I wasn't taking into consideration the spirits I was consuming at night. I had stopped completely over two weeks ago, but I did have a shot of Tito's Vodka earlier this afternoon. I won't completely cut out my favorite "pain medications", rum and vodka, but I will account for them in my food diary. My psychiatrist wanted me to cut out hard liquor months ago, as doing so would improve the efficacy of the psychotropic medications she had prescribed, but I continued to consume them. She'll be pleased as punch that my alcohol intake has decreased significantly. I only had three glasses of wine last week, which is less than half of my usual weekly consumption.

I look forward to your thoughts about The Hundred Years' War on Palestine.

>199 Ameise1: Thanks, Barbara. Losing Hillary was a gut punch, as she was the only person I've visited in Atlanta since I moved back into my parents' house in late November 2021. Our friendship was growing stronger, so it was particularly tough to know that it would end.

On the other hand, Hillary's death means that her suffering has come to an end, and for that I and everyone else who loved her is grateful.

The interesting thing is that I've been on a 1200 calorie mostly pescetarian diet since early October, and although I was documenting my intake in a food diary I wasn't counting everything, particularly snacks and alcohol consumption. Now that I'm doing that I'm having a sustainable weight loss, as there have only been two days out of the past 14 that I did not lose weight.

I'm sorry to hear about your difficulty with gout. My weight loss physician wanted to put me on a high protein diet, but my serum uric acid level was above normal, so for the time being I'm a regular diet. I'm sure he'll check my level in the near future, and if it's within the normal range he'll probably want me to start a high protein diet.

Well done on losing 14 kg!

>200 labfs39: I lost a close friend from college last year and I still sometimes think, Oh, I need to tell Elliot this, then realize that I can only do so in my heart.

Sigh. That's so true. Several times I've thought about asking Hillary's opinion about something, before I realized that this was no longer possible. In the months after my father's death I would routinely look for something in the house, couldn't find it, and either thought or said, "Dad, where is the...?" before I realized I wasn't going to get an answer.

>201 SqueakyChu: I did hear about that too, Madeline! Even though I don't have gout I'll have to buy cherries. Thans for the mention of that NIH study.

Editado: Jan 29, 5:01 pm

>205 Jim53: Thanks, Jim! We appreciate all prayers and kind thoughts.

>206 Jim53: It's hard to pass up a good Carolina barbecue!

My father was good friends with Al O'Purinol but I haven't had a chance to meet him yet. 😎

Jan 30, 6:35 am

Congratulations on your positive steps for the New Year, Daryl. I'm so glad to hear that you've found supports that will help you achieve your goals. Know that we are all cheering for you!

I always admire your reading lists and have culled a few titles from you. But don't you every once in awhile read something a little more light-hearted?
I've found that I have to do that since 2016 and the pandemic, just to give me a rudder in this seemingly rudderless world.

Editado: Jan 30, 10:45 am

>212 tangledthread: HI, tangledthread! It's great to see you here. I greatly appreciate the support of my LibraryThing friends on my journey to good health, as it inspires me and keeps me on track.

😂 What? Light-hearted?! I do enjoy satirical novels by several of my favorite writers, particularly Percival Everett, and I love books about the visual arts, music and sports; does that count?

Last week I posted this cartoon on my Facebook timeline, as it fits me to a T:

What's wrong with reading Crime and Punishment on vacation?!

Jan 30, 2:50 pm

Love the cartoon!

For me the "relief reading" are good mystery/police procedurals. I especially like Peter Grainger for his character development and the understanding of office politics with a wry bit of humor.

Just finished Maggie O'Farrell's The Marriage Portrait which is very well written. I keep watching for a new Sarah Moss novel.

Keep up the good work!

Jan 30, 7:41 pm

>214 tangledthread: Thanks for mentioning Peter Grainger; I'll see if my local library systems stock any of his books.

I'll almost certainly read The Marriage Portrait later this year. In addition to her upcoming memoir I do want to read Sarah Moss' novel Signs for Lost Children, which is the sequel to Bodies of Light, my favorite book of hers.

Jan 31, 2:03 am

>213 kidzdoc: I hope that guy's on a long vacation! 😅

I'm not familiar with Percival Everett, but am really looking forward to his book James.

Jan 31, 7:10 am

>216 avidmom: Right?! 😂

Percival Everett is one of my favorite living American novelists, along with Jesmyn Ward; for some reason I find most contemporary American fiction to be bland and formulaic. I still need to read Dr. No, Everett's most recent novel, along with several older ones of his.

Jan 31, 8:40 am

>215 kidzdoc: Hmm....Sarah Moss has a memoir coming out? Thanks for the heads up.

Night Waking is the first in the trilogy including Bodies of Light & Signs for Lost Children. I think it was my favorite.

Editado: Jan 31, 8:51 am

>215 kidzdoc: Yes, Sarah Moss' upcoming memoir is titled My Good Bright Wolf:

My Good Bright Wolf is described as “a memoir about thinking and reading, eating and not eating, about privilege and scarcity, about the relationships that form us and the long tentacles of childhood".

The publisher added: “Sarah confronts all of this in a book that pushes at the boundaries of memoir writing. Opening in the second person, it narrates contested memories of girlhood at the hands of embattled, distracted parents, loving grandparents, and teachers who said she would never learn to read.

“By the time she was a teenager, Sarah had developed a dangerous and controlling relationship with food, and that illness returned in her adult life. Now the mother and teacher of young adults, in My Good Bright Wolf, she explores a childhood caught in the trap of her parents’ post-war puritanism and second-wave feminism, she interrogates what she thought and still thinks, what she read and still reads, and what she did – and still does – with her hard-working body and her furiously turning mind."

Jonathan said: “My Good Bright Wolf is a stunning work of art. The boldness and courage of this book is truly awe-inspiring, and as dark and shocking as much of it is, you cannot help but be thrilled by the experience of reading it. Sarah’s writing is beautiful, audacious, moving and so very funny. This memoir is a remarkable exercise in the way a brain turns on itself, and then offers a way out, because most of all My Good Bright Wolf is an experiment in and celebration of what a creative brain can do.

“Here is a writer at the peak of her powers, writing her way out of trouble and paying homage to the other authors who have – over the years – provided her relief and companionship and empathy. I’m certain this book will do the same for many others.”

Moss said: “In Summerwater and The Fell, I was experimenting with the choral possibilities of narrative prose. My Good Bright Wolf explores a multiplicity of voices in the same mind at the same time, playing in the borderland between fiction and contested memory. Working in the light of women’s writing about madness and incarceration, I’m interested in relationships between the body, the institution and the state, in the writing of care and in the care of writing."

Oh wow, I didn't know that Night Waking was the prequel to Bodies of Light! I'll be on the lookout for it.

Jan 31, 9:06 am

Catching up. I'm sorry to hear of the loss of your friend, Darryl. It's very difficult to comprehend, especially when someone is so young, and certainly makes you think about your own priorities.

Congratulations on your weight loss so far! I track my calories in bursts as part of my gym routine if I want to hit a particular goal, and I take my hat off to you being able to manage on 1,200 calories. The lowest I've managed is 1,500 and I found it immensely difficult. As you start to add in exercise you should be able to increase that, however, and still lose the weight. Getting as much protein in as you can will help you to feel fuller for longer (I'm sure you know all this), as well as snacking wisely, as snacks are important too for keeping hunger pangs at bay. I completely agree that proper tracking is the key to weight loss, otherwise you kid yourself about what your actual intake is. As with all these things it's getting into a routine which is the hardest part, and it sounds like you're there with that which is great.

If you like the odd sweet treat, I can wholly recommend fresh dates with a bit of peanut butter in the middle covered in dark chocolate. They're quick to make and will keep in the fridge for one week plus and above all are delicious (and good fibre). I can get them to come in at around 46 calories each. You just slice the dates (we can get them in the UK without stones so they're already open), add some peanut butter, close them back up and pop them in the freezer for 20 mins or so. I use around 30g of peanut butter for 200g of dates. Then melt a bar of good quality dark chocolate (I use 90%) and dip the dates in them and put them back in the freezer for 20 mins (or you can set them in the fridge overnight). Voila!

Jan 31, 11:11 am

>192 kidzdoc: Deepest condolences to the loss of your friend. ((hugs)). It sounds like she was a fantastic woman.

>186 kidzdoc: Congratulations! 11.6 pounds in 12 days is a lot. I hope it's a sustainable weight loss. I also lost 10 kilos ( since September) by making a few adjustments to my lifestyle.

Jan 31, 11:13 am

>220 AlisonY: Thanks, Alison. Hillary's death came as a complete shock to us who follow her on Facebook, as her chronic condition was not one that would have been expected to cause sudden death — I have no idea if her autonomia was related to her death or not — and there was no indication that her health had deteriorated, including to her family, who also lives in Atlanta. I may have mentioned that I had just communicated with her 2-3 days before her death, and she was her usual bubbly and loving self. As a physician I sorely desire to receive an explanation for an illness or death, but in this case there is none, or at least none that her family has shared publicly. I have to accept that God decided to call her home that day, and since she is now free of pain and suffering I must accept that as well.

I haven't found it hard to stick to a 1200 calorie diet so far, as most of what I'm eating are filling vegetarian soups and stews, such as the Detox Crockpot Lentil Soup I mentioned previously, which is really a stew, and my meats are >95 cindydavid4:% fish, which I cook in a small amount of EVOO and only season with sea salt and black pepper. I buy my fish fresh from a local farm market, and I slice them into roughly 4 oz fillets. I've never had a huge appetite, and whenever I dine with friends I almost always eat significantly less than they do, especially if we have buffets.

My weight loss has plateaued in the past few days, as I've fallen into the bad habit of drinking rum or vodka as a stress and anxiety reducer. I have generalized anxiety disorder, which has been well controlled until very recently, but this weekend I craved a drink for the first time in over two weeks, and on Monday I made the mistake of purchasing bottles of rum and vodka. I started with one shot at a time, and in the past two days I've been drinking much more, not enough to get me drunk or even buzzed, but sufficient to easily exceed 1200 calories. IIRC I've only lost 0.2 lb in the past 3 days, which isn't bad, but it's far below the rate at which I was losing weight over the past two weeks. I made the additional mistake of leaving the bottle of vodka next to my bed, which made it easy to take a sip whenever I felt the need, so I will move the rum and vodka bottles to the downstairs garage, which should reduce the temptation to take a drink without thinking about it.

Dates with peanut butter and chocolate sound amazing! I am terminally addicted to peanut butter and chocolate, so this is right up my alley. By the end of the spring our three fig trees will hopefully bear copious amounts of fruit, as they have done the past two years, so that will be another option in place of dates. I normally don't have much of a sweet tooth, and I'm perfectly happy with nuts (which I always keep on my nightstand) or Triscuits (whole wheat crackers). I will be on the lookout for dates, fresh or, more likely, dried, and I'll let you know how I like them.

Jan 31, 11:38 am

Your progress will slow down and stabilize in a bit - I dropped 20 pounds in the first month when I cleaned up my eating and then it got closer to what the calories were telling me I should be losing :) I suspect you know that already though. I rang in the new year's at 110 lb down (in 16.5 months or so) - although I never cut my calories as low as you are - I am happy and thriving ~2,000 calories and it seems to work for me. But then I had (and still have) more to lose than you do which gives me more to play with.

I usually don't talk about that simply because I did not want to jinx it when I started and then it was just what I was doing. I had been thinking on mentioning something on my thread - probably should. :)

Great job on taking care of yourself! While losing the weight is great, the fact that you found the mental energy to look into it and start working on it is actually what is important. :)

>192 kidzdoc: :( I am so sorry about your friend.

Jan 31, 11:58 am

>219 kidzdoc: Sarah Moss' upcoming memoir
Oh this is something to look forward to.

>192 kidzdoc: I'm sorry about your friend. A friend of mine died suddenly in her mid 40s about 20 years ago. After years of difficulties, including surviving two major car accidents that were completely not her fault, I had come to think of her as indestructible, so it was a complete shock when her husband called to inform me.

Editado: Jan 31, 1:28 pm

>222 kidzdoc: Re the dates I'm not sure it would taste good with dried dates. It needs the succulence of fresh ones.

Jan 31, 2:33 pm

>223 AnnieMod: Well done on your spectacular weight loss, Annie! I've had no problem adapting to a 1200 calorie diet, as I was already cooking and eating healthy foods (mostly vegetarian, with frequent fish and occasional poultry), so the only changes I needed to make was to document my caloric intake, and be mindful of snacking and drinking spirits. Most days I'm closer to 1000 calories than to 1500 calories, and 2000 calories is probably too much for me on most days.

I definitely expect that my rate of weight loss will decrease significantly with time. It was encouraging to see that much weight loss in the beginning, though, as it encouraged me to stick with it.

I've always been someone who wears his emotions and opinions on his sleeve, and I haven't been afraid to publicly mention my failures, successes, concerns, and fears. I've found it helpful to chronicle what I'm doing on social media, including LibraryThing, and I'll continue to do so.

I'm just returning from my weekly dementia support group meetings, and the members were very interested in learning what I've been doing to lose weight; they even applauded when I said that I had lost 13.6 lb in 16 days. They were also shocked that I was on a 1200 calorie diet, but I told them that I found it an easy one to stick to.

I give full credit to my primary care physician at Capital Health, who referred me to the Weight Loss Center. He has a holistic approach to his patients, which is exactly what I needed to make progress on my personal goals. I performed a home sleep apnea test on Monday night, and I'll find out next month if I have sleep apnea or not (I suspect that I do), and if I'll need to start wearing a CPAP device at night.

Hillary's death is probably the most traumatic one of my life except for, of course, my father's death in 2021. She is still one of my favorite Facebook friends, so I see her picture practically everyone I use Facebook, which pleases me to no end.

>224 qebo: Those are the worst deaths, the ones that seemingly come out of the blue. Two nurses that I was very close to died suddenly and unexpectedly in the last year, but I wasn't in touch with them nearly as often as I was with Hillary, and their deaths, both due to sudden heart attacks, were understandable from a medical standpoint, and thus were easier to accept.

>225 AlisonY: Thanks, Alison. I'll have to see if I can find fresh dates here; otherwise I'll plan to use fresh figs when my trees start bearing fruit.

Editado: Fev 1, 2:48 pm

>214 tangledthread:, >215 kidzdoc: I discovered Peter Grainger sometime in December, and have been listening to him on audio and enjoying it a lot. Many (most?) of the DI Smith books were available on Audible plus and I have finished this series that focuses on a character near and after retirement. Now I'm working on the series featuring the murder squad and several cross-over characters from the first series.

Darryl, I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend. I hope your memories of her are of some comfort.

I also want to say thank you for posting about your experience with Baritastic. I've started using it and am finding it easier to enter food and fluids than other apps I've tried. Maybe I'll stick with this one. I am keeping a spreadsheet of exercise, as I want to give myself a pat on the back for strength and flexibility classes, as well as aeorbics.

Jan 31, 6:08 pm

>219 kidzdoc: Pre-ordered My Good Bright Wolf today. ;)

Jan 31, 6:40 pm

>227 markon: I was surprised to see just now that neither the Free Library of Philadelphia nor the Bucks County Library District has any books by Peter Grainger in stock.

Thanks, Ardene. It's very easy to recall fond memories of Hillary, and I will cherish them for as long as I live.

I'm glad that you're enjoying the Baritastic app. I haven't tried any other ones, so I have none to compare it to, but I'm very pleased with it. It pulls in data from my Fitbit app automatically, which is also very useful.

>228 tangledthread: Well done! I assume that you'll read My Good Bright Wolf before I do, unless I travel to London this summer, so I look forward to your thoughts about it.

Editado: Jan 31, 9:00 pm

>229 kidzdoc: That's always frustrating when the library doesn't have the book you want! Does either of your local library systems have a Zip book program?

Jan 31, 9:07 pm

>217 kidzdoc: I'm intrigued by Percival Everett. Can you suggest a first book of his to try? AdThanksVance!

Jan 31, 9:11 pm

>231 Jim53: The Trees is pretty good .

Editado: Fev 1, 12:38 am

>219 kidzdoc: You introduced me to Sarah Moss, Darryl, and I believe I have read every one of her published fiction works. I'll be on the lookout for her memoir.

Fev 1, 9:19 am

>229 kidzdoc: If your library subscribes to the Hoopla service, they are all on there. I have to admit that we've listened to them as audiobooks because dh enjoys them and he's not a fiction reader.

Editado: Fev 1, 9:45 am

>230 avidmom: As far as I know neither library system has Zip, although the Bucks County library system has Hoopla. Several of Peter Grainger's books appear on a Hoopla search from that system, but none of them are available to me; I haven't ever seen this before.

>231 Jim53:, >232 kjuliff: I agree that The Trees is probably the best first book to read by Percival Everett. Another recommendation would be I Am Not Sidney Poitier, which is as humorous as the title would suggest.

>233 EBT1002: Sounds good, Ellen. I've read many of Sarah Moss's novels, including all of her recently published ones, but I haven't gotten to all of them yet, including Night Waking.

>234 tangledthread: What's weird is that the Bucks County library system does subscribe to Hoopla, and I've borrowed a book or two via that platform. I can "see" several books by Peter Grainger when I search the library catalog, but I can't select any of them. The Free Library of Philadelphia system has one of the largest collections in the US, but none of his books are listed, regardless of format. If you told me that his books were banned in Pennsylvania I would believe it.

Ah. I had forgotten that I'm still a member of the Fulton County Library System in Atlanta. Several of his books are available, but only in audiobook format, so that does me no good unless I'm in town.

ETA: I stand corrected. I actually can download his audiobooks from the Fulton County Library System: success! (I don't listen to audiobooks, though.)

Fev 1, 9:55 am

The Amazon Kindle versions of two of my favorite nonfiction books are now available for sale: The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson ($1.99 US), and The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X by Les and Tamara Payne ($2.99). I gave each book 5 stars, but that's only because I couldn't give them 10 stars.

February is Black History Month, as you know, so I'll choose several books to read for this topic. One will definitely be Black History AF: The Un-whitewashed Story of America by Michael Harriot, and I may read The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story by Nikole Hannah-Jones as well.

Fev 1, 10:29 am

>236 kidzdoc: I found The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story to be thought-provoking and a good read, especially at a slow pace. Some sections are stronger than others.

Fev 1, 10:33 am

>237 ELiz_M: Thanks, Liz. I haven't cracked open The 1619 Project yet, so I'm going into it cold.

Fev 1, 12:06 pm

Since I believe I'm the only African American member of this lovely group I was thinking about compiling a list of books I would recommend for Black History Month, if anyone is interested.

Fev 1, 12:52 pm

Absolutely Darryl. It’s the type of thing I would bookmark for future reference too, as I did with Jerry’s list on a similar topic.

Fev 1, 1:38 pm

>239 kidzdoc: I would love that, Darryl, if you are willing.

Fev 1, 1:53 pm

>239 kidzdoc: Would certainly welcome that. I'm sure there will be some good finds in any list from you Darryl.

Fev 1, 2:00 pm

>239 kidzdoc: I would love to peruse that list.

Fev 1, 2:23 pm

>239 kidzdoc: Yes, I'm definitely interested. Though probably next up for me is a movie: Origin based on Caste by Isabel Wilkerson.

Fev 1, 2:42 pm

>239 kidzdoc: yes please

Fev 1, 2:42 pm

>239 kidzdoc: that would be great!

Fev 1, 5:13 pm

Catching up here. Darryl, I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend. I know you have many happy memories amidst the sadness.

You are doing amazing on your new plan! The hardest thing for me is to get in the activity, since I have limitations due to arthritis. Are you doing anything extra in that area? I did way too much cheating over the holidays. Well, not just holidays but minor depression as I was stuck at home alone with no family. Added to that was that a woman ran a stop sign and crashed into me a few days before Christmas. I wasn't hurt, but my car is still in the body shop, and although her insurance is paying for repairs, they have been hassling me about the rental car. Anyway, all that made it easy for me to say that I "deserved" some holiday treats and drinks. The scale went up about 12 pounds, so I got back on track and am on the way back down. My doc took me off Januvia in October, and if I keep my A1C in a good range and keep losing weight, I won't have to go back on it. That's a big incentive as it costs almost $1500 for a 90-day supply. I am doing well following the Klinio diet.

One more suggestion for a healthy treat: apple slices with a little peanut butter. Especially good with the tart Granny Smiths!

Fev 2, 11:57 am

>239 kidzdoc: would love that!

>219 kidzdoc: oh boy, serious fomo. I may have to get that Moss memoir-ish thing

Fev 2, 1:24 pm

> 239 Yes please! That would be great!

Fev 2, 5:15 pm

>239 kidzdoc: Add me to the "Yes, please!" chorus.

Fev 2, 6:41 pm

Hi Darryl! My Fitbit is an Inspire 3, it keeps me stepping.

I would agree with >237 ELiz_M: that some bits of The 1619 Project are stronger than others. Hannah-Jones's essay is amazing.

Speaking of African American writers, I am just starting Clint Smith's Above Ground. Have you read much of his work?

Fev 3, 9:03 am

Looking forward to seeing your list Darryl!

Fev 4, 4:02 pm

Unfortunately I had a setback over the weekend, so I'll be offline for the next few days until I've healed sufficiently. I'm safe, and hopefully I can recuperate at home, although I may need to be hospitalized briefly. I thank you for your prayers and kind thoughts, and I ask for your privacy at this time.

Fev 4, 4:52 pm

Fev 4, 4:53 pm

>253 kidzdoc: Just really reading this. I know you won't see this immediately, but I'm thinking about you, Darryl. I hope you recover quickly and without hospitalization (although if that happens, so be it).

Fev 4, 4:53 pm

>253 kidzdoc: Hope you're OK Darryl. Sending my best wishes.

Fev 4, 4:53 pm

Sending healing prayers your way 🕊️

Fev 4, 5:17 pm

Take the time you need. We will be here and will be thinking of you. Take care

Fev 4, 5:27 pm

>253 kidzdoc: take care Darryl. Thinking about you

Fev 4, 5:45 pm

Sending healing thoughts.

Fev 4, 6:21 pm

>253 kidzdoc: Sending good thoughts your way. I hope you feel better soon and please don’t push it - give yourself time to heal.

Fev 4, 6:24 pm

Darryl, I'm keeping you in my thoughts and wishing you all the best. We are all pulling for you and we all care about you so much.

Fev 4, 6:33 pm

Thinking of you and hoping and praying for speedy and complete healing.

Fev 4, 6:35 pm

Take care, Darryl.

Fev 4, 9:54 pm

Oh no! I am sorry you are experiencing difficulties. And how wonderfully thoughtful to take a moment to say so. I wish you the best recovery and an enduring recovery of heath and peace

Fev 5, 12:50 am

Take care, Darryl and take all the time you need. Thinking of you and sending lots of healing vibes. 😘💖

Fev 5, 7:17 am

Take care, Darryl, thinking of you.

Fev 5, 7:28 am

>253 kidzdoc: sorry to hear that, Darryl. Praying for you 🙏

Fev 5, 7:29 am

Thanking of you. Take care of yourself and wishing you a speedy recovery.

Fev 5, 9:58 pm

Thanks, everyone. Some of you know that I was diagnosed with major depression, suicidal ideation and generalized anxiety disorder this spring, all of which were due to the stress of caring for my elderly mother, who has dementia. Things were going well until this past weekend, when I had my first psychotic break, with racing thoughts, auditory and visual hallucinations, and other typical features. Because this was an acute crisis my cousin flew here emergently on Saturday afternoon, to care for me and my mother, as I am not yet in a position to care for myself, and my psychiatrist started me on Seroquel, a strong anti-psychotic medication, and Depakote, which treats mania. I am slowly getting better, and I'm sure it will be at least another week before I'm stable enough for my cousin to entrust me with the care of my mother and myself.

I thank all of you for your prayers and kind thoughts.

Fev 5, 10:12 pm

I'm so relieved to hear you're getting help and that your cousin is there. You're in my thoughts, Darryl.

Fev 5, 10:31 pm

>270 kidzdoc: I am devastated to hear of your breakdown. Trust in your doctors to give you the best care. I am praying for you to get through this as best you can. Blessings on your cousin for intervening when her help was necessary. Blessings on your mom who is struggling as well. Take some time for yourself in privacy. Everyone who knows you on LT has been worried about you as it is unlike you to just disappear. Now that we are aware of what's going on, we are here to support you. Let us know how best we can do that. Take care, Darryl.

Fev 5, 10:52 pm

>270 kidzdoc: (((((Darryl)))))

Editado: Fev 5, 11:20 pm

>270 kidzdoc: Sorry to hear this, Darryl. you have been under a LOT of stress, so it's not surprising. Take care of yourself. I'm so glad your cousin flew in to help out. Hope the meds work for you, but I know it takes a while. We'll all be thinking about you and your mom, wishing you the best, and we'll be here when you're ready to rejoin the conversation.

Fev 6, 12:03 am

I’m glad someone is with you to help you. Take care, Darryl. We’re all worried about you and wish you well.

Fev 6, 1:18 am

I'm sorry you're going through this. I am praying for you and your family.

Fev 6, 6:32 am

Thinking of you, Darryl. Glad you have family there and excellent medical care. Take care.

Editado: Fev 6, 9:14 am

*cue "Feelin' Stronger Every Day" by Chicago*

Good morning, everyone, and thank you for your kind and supportive words; they mean a lot to me. The healing process is going well, and I'm taking it step by step, and allowing others to help me. I realize that my ears weren't working, as I was following my father's footsteps and taking on too much of the burden of caring for my mother on my own shoulders, which ultimately led to his early death. People have been telling me the same thing for years ("You're just like your father"), which is both a great compliment and a sobering warning. I would like to be able to say that I've heard the message loud and clear after this psychotic break, but, as they say, the proof is in the pudding.

The other theme of today is Three Strong Women, a recent book by Marie NDiaye that I would highly recommend. In my time of greatest need I called out for help to three women I love fiercely, and each of them came through and held me in their loving and protective arms until I was safe and in no danger of harming myself or my mother. One of them, my cousin Tina, will be staying here until she and my psychiatrist determine that I can be safely entrusted to care for myself and my mother. The other two, a long time family friend and Lutheran pastor who lives nearby and I consider my spiritual adviser, and an equally dear friend from Atlanta, are reaching out to me or Tina several times a day and making sure that I'm still safe.

I'll see my fabulous psychiatrist tomorrow morning, and my equally important psychotherapist on Friday afternoon.

Fev 6, 10:31 am

>270 kidzdoc: Oh my. This sounds frightening. Did you contact someone? Do you have people checking in on you regularly?
A mere once per week I visit my mother who has dementia and is in a skilled care facility, and even this is a strain because she often speaks in word salad and gets caught up in repetitive anxieties. Extrapolating to 24/7... I couldn't do it. You feel such a strong emotional and moral commitment to caretaking, and have the professional expertise to take on more than most of us, I can imagine you not fully recognizing the stress until you break. You've enlisted support over the past several months, but maybe not enough? Good that your cousin can be there to help. Take care.

Fev 6, 2:11 pm

>270 kidzdoc: I'm so sorry to hear this Darryl. I'm glad you were able to ask for help, and to receive it. Please take as much time as necessary for the medication and therapy to kick in. If you need to take a break from LT, do it and know we'll be here when you're ready to come back. Sending hugs and prayers your way.

Fev 6, 2:46 pm

I am sorry about what happened to you. I am glad that you have supportive people around you. My advice- get more daily help with your mother. ( based on experience with my own relatives)

Editado: Fev 7, 1:34 pm

>270 kidzdoc: >278 kidzdoc: Sorry to hear about your health, but glad to hear some improvement is happening Darryl. Keeping you in my thoughts.

Fev 6, 3:16 pm

Lean hard on your support system, Darryl. I know that's hard for a strong person who has spent his life helping others, but they are there for you and want to support you.

Fev 6, 9:30 pm

I'm just now seeing this, Darryl, and holding you and yours in the light.

Fev 7, 9:56 am

Sorry about what happened, Darryl. I am glad that your cousin is there to help. ((hugs))

Fev 7, 12:33 pm

I am so sorry to hear this. I know the strain that you are under. I grossly underestimated the physical and emotional cost of caring for my mother - and I only did it for one month. Even so, it was costly in terms of my own mental health and that of my mother. I felt that I was working harder physically than I could manage. Getting my mother off the floor was very difficult, even though she weighed so little. I found that I got angrier with her than I wanted to and would have to step back and breathe and remind myself that she didn't mean the things she said, or couldn't help the difficulties she was having because she wasn't strong enough anymore. I suspect that I am still going through the guilt stage of the grieving process as a result.

I did have some outside help with my mother. The Area Agency on Aging provided some in-home health care assistance that was greatly appreciated. Do they have anything like that available where you live? I know that it was a great relief for me to have 4 hours off once a week.

I also know that it might have been better for my mother to have left her in the total care facility she was at. They had a nice facility and even though we had spent about $40,000 dollars in the last 5 years remodeling the bathroom and bedroom to make it more accessible, it still wasn't as efficient as the care facility. The people who worked there knew what they were doing and were able to assist my mother with lifts and techniques that I didn't know about. They also provided entertainment as well as assistance to my mother that I couldn't. It may be time for you to consider some kind of semi-permanent care facility for your mother. Do they have any kind of day-care for dementia patients where you live? Several of my work colleagues found that a day-care situation for their loved ones, even for 2 days a week, provided much needed time away for them.

Please, please take care of your mental self. It is so trying to be at this 24 hours a day. I often wanted to just be able to sleep solidly through the night without waking up to my mother calling for me. I don't regret spending the time with her, but the cost to my mental well-being was great. I only did it for one month, so I can only imagine how much mental facilities it would take to do it for a year. The toll for doing it that long must be great and it may be time for you to think about some alternatives.

Editado: Fev 7, 5:02 pm

>270 kidzdoc: Hoping things get better, Darryl.

Fev 7, 5:26 pm

Oh Darryl! I am so sorry to hear what you have been going through. Do take care of yourself -- YOU are important! ((((hugs))))

Fev 8, 1:18 am

>278 kidzdoc: Excellent news and I'm so glad you have three strong women to support you and ensure you are safe. I believe an outstanding psychotherapist is one of life's greatest gifts. I'm glad you have one, along with an excellent psychiatrist.

Keep taking care of yourself, Darryl.

Editado: Fev 8, 6:38 am

Hi, everyone; please forgive me for not replying to each of your posts individually, but know that I've read and very much appreciate each of them.

It's no exaggeration to say that yesterday was one of the scariest and sobering ones of my life. I started out by preparing breakfast for my mother before my 10 am appointment with my psychiatrist. It went well until I started paying attention to the time; even though I did allot sufficient time to make breakfast for the two of us and call for an Uber ride to take me to the clinic building — I do not feel safe driving at this time, due to the sedative effects of the medications and my compromised mental status — I began to panic, with racing thoughts, extreme anxiety, and physical manifestations, including a rapid heart rate — my resting HR is typically in the upper 50s to low 60s, but mine for many hours ranged from the mid 90s to as high as 112 bpm, which I saw on my Fitbit watch. My cousin, seeing how agitated I was, decided to drive me to the clinic building with my mother in tow, which should have been a complete relief but only partially so; the best way to describe my appearance would be an agitated chihuahua on crack.

My appointment with Dr W, my amazing psychiatrist, was very productive and comforting. However, she told me that that morning's episode was another manic attack, then told me her diagnosis, which I should have considered: bipolar disorder, specifically severe manic bipolar I disorder with psychotic features. That revelation made me realize that I no longer had a very common illness with an excellent prognosis for cure, but a far more serious one with a markedly worse prognosis. I stayed in the clinic building as I had a meeting with my dementia support group at noon. The psychologist who leads the group called me privately from the waiting room into her office 10 minutes beforehand, as Dr W, who is the head of the same department, wisely gave Dr M a heads up about my recent diagnosis. She asked if I felt safe disclosing what happened to the members and after I assured her that I did she agreed that I could participate normally. I decided to let nearly everyone else speak and take their turn before I made my disclosure, as I thought it would consume all of the oxygen in the room — which it did. Even though I've only known them for 2 months the group members and Dr M were incredibly supportive and caring, which was exactly what I needed after that fateful diagnosis.

Deep, what comes next? Am I going to be able to care for my mother? (Obviously I'll need to get much more in home help for her ASAP.) Can I continue to function as an independent adult, or do I need to think about moving to an assisted living facility, or possibly moving in with my cousin Tina?

Am I going to get better?

Fev 8, 7:00 am

Wow, such a lot to be dealing with in one go Darryl. Despite that you are still functioning relatively rationally in regard to thinking ahead about your capacity and potential needs.

I'm glad you have great doctors and a caring support group.

You WILL get better. I look forward to seeing you in London again one day, it may be a while, but it will happen I'm sure Darryl.

Editado: Fev 8, 9:15 am

>290 kidzdoc: I am so sorry, Darryl, that you are going through this awful experiences.
Thinking good thoughts for you (((hugs)))

Editado: Fev 8, 10:33 am

I know bipolar disorders are tricky to handle, but I'm confident that over time you will learn how to live with this Darryl. A blogger I follow online says, "I get to recover every day." Remember, it's a marathon, not a sprint. I know it's scary, and you have some good help. Let yourself be scared, and figure out the next step. {{{Hugs}}}

Fev 8, 10:56 am

I'm sorry to read about your new diagnosis, Darryl. I can't begin to imagine what that revelation has meant to you. I have faith and confidence that you will find the best path forward. You are already taking the first steps by accepting the help of your friends, family and professional caregivers. All the best.

Fev 8, 12:22 pm

>290 kidzdoc: I am truly sorry to read this. I hope that you can get some answers and find this diagnosis a manageable condition for you.

Fev 8, 1:31 pm

Darryl, I could treat all the warm and caring thoughts here. So much going on for you — and I’m aware that your medical training gives you more insight than average into all that is happening, both helpful and probably scarier, too.
Just know I’m thinking about you. xo

Editado: Fev 8, 1:56 pm

>290 kidzdoc: Answer to your question: Darryl, you will learn to deal with this.

You have many people, in person and online, who are willing to support you in your struggle.

Fev 8, 1:56 pm

>290 kidzdoc: My grandmother was bipolar for most of her adult life and managed to live an independent life until her 80s when she succumbed to unrelated issues. Some of what you were sharing was making me wonder if you were heading that way - because it sounded too familiar. Especially because my father probably also was - albeit never diagnosed because of the stigma at the time and place he lived in. But as I am not a doctor, I was reluctant to bring it up.

Better is relative - it will be a new "normal" but people live with the diagnosis and raise families with it - so you WILL get better. Hugs and good thoughts from here and try not to overthink it (I know, it is not easy).

Fev 8, 3:10 pm

Such a lot to deal with, Darryl. Look after yourself!

Fev 8, 3:35 pm

>290 kidzdoc: Yes you will get better. This illness can be controlled medically. Try thinking, “this too will pass”. Take a day at a time. All the old sayings but nevertheless valid. Many people need you. Just look at all the messages, and for every message there are many who just don’t know what to say.

Fev 8, 6:17 pm

I'm glad you have a diagnosis and can start constructing a system that will allow you to have a new version of your life back. You are still you, and I'm so glad to know you.

Fev 8, 6:44 pm

Ditto what RidgewayGirl said! Even if I only "know" you online, you mean so much to me here! :)

Fev 8, 9:20 pm

Just echoing everyone above, you will learn to manage this. It’s scariest now when you just found out and aren’t prepared to know what to do. But you will learn approaches and process them till you are comfortable. You must be under immense stress, and that surely makes your symptoms worse than normal. You’re being really responsible about all this. I admire you how you have responded. I wish you well always.

Fev 9, 2:35 am

My medical doctor who is in his 70s is bipolar and is a caring, intelligent man who follows a medical regime. You will be a more caring individual and a more empathetic doctor. My neighbor up the street who is also a retired librarian like me is also bipolar. She has been taking lithium for years with no problem.

Fev 9, 3:05 am

Darryl--Again, so sorry you have so much to deal with, but I always think it is better to have a diagnosis which can lead to treatment and a better life. Hang in there and I am so glad you have a strong medical team and family to help you through this. Best wishes always.

Fev 9, 8:51 am

Darryl this was a scary diagnosis to receive, and it will take time to process it. But it sounds like you have a caring and competent doctor, and there are medicines to control this illness, though some tweaking may be required. I am hopeful that you will soon be on the road to recovery, and it sounds like you have a strong support group to rely on. And please know that all your friends on LT ar thinking of you and rooting for your.

Fev 9, 10:48 am

Darryl, that's got to be awfully scary on top of everything else that's going on. As some others have mentioned, I know folks who have been diagnosed with bipolar and managed it successfully. I'm confident with your support system and knowledge that you will find a way to do it too. Continuing to pray for you, my friend.

Fev 9, 11:03 am

Thanks for your kind and supportive comments, everyone. I'm coming down from a morning panic attack brought on by serving my mother breakfast, which has happened the past thee days. I took ~50 mg of Seroquel, per my psychiatrist's instruction, which I'm supposed to do twice a day as needed for anxiety or agitation. I'll see my psychotherapist in two hours, and since Dr Weston's office is next door to Victoria's it will be easier to give her immediate feedback.

I've decided that my new username, should I decide to create one, will be agitated_chihuahua, as that is a perfect description of my current mental state. 😕

I'll start replying to individual posts this afternoon after I return from my medical appointments — I have a telehealth appointment with my Sleep Medicine physician at noon to discuss the result of last week's home apnea test and find out if I need to start using a CPAP machine at night for obstructive sleep apnea syndrome — and I'll start a very overdue new thread sometime this weekend.

Fev 9, 7:10 pm

>290 kidzdoc: Catching up here, and I will add my thoughts and prayers to all the others. Yes, you absolutely will get better. I am so impressed at all the help and support you have going for you. Let them take some of the burden for awhile. You will have to make changes for yourself and your mother. This is a lot to deal with right now all at once. Deep breaths and one small step at a time.

Fev 10, 2:55 am

>290 kidzdoc:

I'm terribly sorry, it's awful that on top of everything you are dealing with such a shocking diagnosis. I hardly know what to say. One paper I found states that late-onset BP answers for about 10% of the cases, of which 5% get diagnosed after 60, and concludes

Diagnosing late-onset bipolar disorder requires a meticulous assessment for all the potential secondary causes. This might be challenging, especially with numerous confounding, organic causes, such as concomitant use of therapeutic agents, infections, metabolic disturbances, neoplasm, toxins, and vascular infarcts. Thorough work up to rule out each of the above mentioned secondary causes remains the center piece of correctly diagnosing late-onset bipolar disorder. The index of suspicion must remain high for any life-threatening concurrent events when confronted with such a case.

Late-Onset Bipolar Disorder (Psychiatry (Edgmont). 2010 Jan; 7(1): 34–37.)

Please forgive me for bringing up stuff you know much more about, if this is meddling it comes from the wish to find some "loophole" that might release you at least from this burden.

But even if the diagnosis is confirmed, you have already triumphed over so much, I have no doubt whatsoever that with the care you receive you will, of course, not just get better, but steer your life back to where you wanted it before this overlong series of trials began.

Fev 10, 8:18 am

>310 LolaWalser: Thank you, Lola! Without minimizing the sage advice and supportive comments I've received so far this article is exactly what I need most at the moment. Now that the initial shock and disbelief of this diagnosis has begun to wear off I need to step back, explore bipolar disorder dispassionately from a clinical standpoint, confirm that another diagnosis or set of diagnoses doesn't provide a better fit to my symptoms, and research the subtypes, including late onset bipolar disorder, treatment options, and expected cure and relapse rates. I did find a recent review article in The New England Journal of Medicine late last night that I intend to read today, and I'll certainly read the article you found as well.

My psychotherapist had encouraged me to create a journal to describe my journey; I thought it was a good idea before my psychotic break, but I now think it's a great idea, and one that will be very therapeutic. I'll look into creating an online blog, although I have absolutely no experience doing so, and unless I come up with a better idea I'll call it "Chronicles of an Agitated Chihuahua." I'll let y'all know when it's up and running.

I'm going to try to start reading today, which has been a complete impossibility since my psychotic break last weekend. From what little I was able to digest this week Leaves from the Notebook of a Tamed Cynic by Reinhold Niebuhr seems to be something that I can handle and enjoy.

Fev 10, 2:26 pm

That's a terrific attitude. Journaling sounds like a great idea. You no doubt have access not just to the best sources of relevant information but multiple experts' living insight. I do hope this may yet turn out to have been a sporadic episode such as may befall anyone, although there's no discounting the effect of constant stress you're dealing with. But just remember how many people you've helped and healed, and how well-equipped you are to understand and beat this problem.
I'll stop babbling now and wish you strength and luck.

Fev 10, 6:32 pm

A little bird told me you received a journal in the mail recently...

Fev 11, 10:55 am

Dear Darryl, I wish you all the best from my side too. The diagnosis was certainly a shock, but it looks like you're in good hands. I wish you lots of strength and courage and am convinced that you will manage to live well with it. There will certainly be low points, but I know that you will get up again.
We are here for you whenever you need us. I think the diary idea is a good one. You often feel better when you write down your thoughts. But you have to think carefully about whether you want to share them publicly.
Be embraced, I am thinking of you very much.

Fev 11, 2:12 pm

Darryl - I am so sorry you are going through this. Take care of yourself and get the help you need. My thoughts are with you.

Fev 11, 2:20 pm

Adding my hugs and support to the pile. Also, and you probably already know this but knowledge is power. You now know and have had some time to digest this new knowledge. Just try to treat yourself with same kindness and love and patience that you would treat your patients or any other friends or family. You deserve no less.

Fev 11, 2:37 pm

I read your message on Paul’s thread Darryl. You have had a tough time, and now a shocking diagnosis.
Hugs and support. And please, please, don’t let a label like that throw you!

Fev 11, 3:21 pm

Very late to your thread and so sorry to hear this setback, Darryl. I hope having a diagnosis now gives you something to work forward from, with the right medical support structure in place and additional family support for both you and your mum. You cannot pour from an empty cup, and clearly you need some proper time to allow yourself to get well again and help to put in place some caring solutions for your mum without having to figure all that out alone.

Something our gym coach gets us to include in our journalling is 1-3 things we are grateful for each day, which I thoroughly recommend. On difficult days it can feel an impossible task, but those are the days when it's especially important to look for the light. When you are feeling well enough and have the means of ensuring someone is there to watch your mum, I would also highly recommend getting out in nature every day for a walk, come rain or shine.

I send you every best wish for your healing journey.

Fev 11, 8:35 pm

Sending hugs and positive healing thoughts. As a mental health professional, let me echo everyone who has said that you are not your diagnosis; you are the same Darryl you have always been.

>286 benitastrnad:. And just to tag team with Benita, if you are not able to continue caring for your mother at home, that's not a failure. She would not want you to sacrifice your health. And there's lots of ways you can be a caregiver and support her if she is in a facility.

Editado: Fev 12, 5:26 am

This thread is getting long in the tooth, but that's because of the great outpouring of love and support from my LibraryThing friends, which helped get me through one of the most difficult periods of my life. I won't respond to each message individually, but I will do so in reply to questions that need answering, and once I'm finished I'll create a new thread, and list of of my favorite nonfiction books for Black History Month. February is nearly half over; weren't we just in January a couple of days ago?!

>247 Cariola: Deborah, my diet is going swimmingly, with the exception of not walking or exercising regularly yet. I have no excuses, as we have a recumbent bicycle on the first floor, which is a few feet from the couch my mother sleeps on, and it's in good working order. I do find plenty of other necessary things to accomplish daily, which is a pathetic defense, and there is absolutely no reason I couldn't spend 15-30 minutes at least 3 times a week on it, starting today. There is a high likelihood that I’ll join a gym in the next month or two, after the home situation and my mental health stabilize; more on that later.

If I didn't say so already I am using the (free) Baritastic app that was recommended by the Capital Health Weight Loss Center. By entering the code specific to the center the staff, particularly my nutritionist and weight loss physician, can track my weight loss, daily caloric intake, what foods and liquids I’m taking and my exercise routine. So, the app, which also pulls in data from my Fitbit app, keeps me honest, unless I choose to lie and say that I exercised when I didn’t, so that I can discuss concrete data and what steps are needed to modify my regimen.

One of my most important tasks is to find out how many nutrition visits that my health insurance plan allows me each year (I have Independence Blue Cross Keystone Health Plan East: the only reason I mention it is that we both live in eastern Pennsylvania and it’s entirely possible that we may have the same coverage), and once I find out schedule an appointment with Kirsten, my nutritionist, in the very near future, preferably this week. She’ll notice right away that there are huge gaps in my entries over the past two weeks, after doing so diligently before then, but I’ll let her know, of course, that I was in a post-psychotic fog for most of last week, which she’ll easily be able to confirm by looking at my Capital Health patient care record (i am thrilled beyond measure with Capital Health, which serves Mercer County, NJ (e.g., Princeton and Trenton) and Bucks County, PA (e.g., New Hope and Yardley), where I live.)

I was very displeased with myself on Sunday morning, as the scale showed that I had gained two pounds in one day, which I blame on choosing easy things to eat, e.g. sizable portions of a steak stromboli from a local pizzeria, skipping dinners, and eating way too many late night snacks, something which I had controlled well up until this past week. The new medications, Seroquel and especially Depakote, are still making me very loopy and unsteady on my feet. It was easier for my cousin to bring me meals, especially from Saturday through Monday when I was mostly limited to bed and struggle to achieve routine activities of daily living. I joked that the “psychosis diet” was the most effective one I had ever been on, as I lost just over 6 lb in 3 days, mainly because I was sleeping 18-20+ hours a day and was too out of it to think of eating anything other than food Tina brought to my bed. Since Tuesday's low weight of the week I gained back two of those pounds yesterday…but I just realized that I still lost at least 3 lb since Monday, so the week wasn't a failure at all, as I had thought yesterday, and since I ate typically healthily as I had been doing before my psychotic break (kale mushroom omelette for breakfast, bowl of lentil vegetable stew for lunch, red snapper fillet and a glass of V8 for dinner, and a 60 calorie Ghirardelli white chocolate cookie cracker for an after dinner stack since I had consumed less than 1000 calories before the cracker) I expected that I’ll have a significant weight loss later this morning, especially since I was more physically active in the house than usual.

Four weeks ago Dr Anwar wrote me a prescription for Zepbound (tirzepatide), the newest of the class of injectable diabetes and weight loss medications that are all the rage in the United States. There is a huge backlog because its manufacturer, Eli Lilly has not produced enough supply to meet its massive demand — I’ve read that some people have been waiting for it or one of the similar medications for months without success — but I only reluctantly agreed to do so, as my elevated serum uric acid level made it unwise for me to start on a designed high protein diet. My weight loss has been far in excess of expected — as you know, a 2 lb weight loss per week is acceptable, and I’ll probably exceed 20 lb of lost weight, depending on what the scale says later this morning — so I’m even more leery of taking the medication, especially as I read more about it. For example, I saw an article in Friday’s or Saturday’s issue of the NYT which mentioned a recent study that showed that older patients taking one of the new weight loss medications were far more likely to lose muscle mass than fat, and physicians were using high protein diets, exercise, and — you guessed it — additional medications to combat those side effects.

This post has to be nearly the length of a novella, but the key elements of my successful weight loss have so far been a burning desire to lose weight, rather than a casual “yeah, I should do that” attitude, and a guided plan laid out by weight loss professionals to guide and coach me, the carrot and stick approach as it were. Seeing the pounds drop off practically every day is the only reward that I truly crave, and it’s nice to get positive feedback from local friends and neighbors who are astonished by my physical appearance.

That’s funny that you mentioned apples with peanut butter: my cosuin Tina, who is also participating in a medically supervised weight loss program, bought apples and peanut butter several days ago. I’m on it!

Fev 12, 7:15 am

>251 banjo123: Hi, Rhonda! I'm glad that you also like your Fitbit Inspire 3 watch It seemed to be an ideal first smartwatch, and so far I'm very pleased with it.

I still haven't cracked the cover of The 1619 Project yet; for that matter I haven't reading anything in 10 days, when I had my second manic episode. I still hope to read it, and Black AF History, this month, though.

It always seems to me that anthologies are a mixture of contributions of various strengths. That was definitely the case for The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race by Jasmyn Ward; a small number of the contributions were unforgettable, most were interesting, and quite a few were difficult to read.

I did borrow Clint Smith's poetry collection Above Ground
from the Free Library of Philadelphia several months ago, but I returned it without reading it, unfortunately. Thanks for the reminder; I'll borrow it again soon.

>279 qebo: Oh my. This sounds frightening. Did you contact someone? Do you have people checking in on you regularly?

You’ve gotten to the core of the problem, Katherine. My younger brother David is the only other child my parents have, and although he lives just over 30 miles away it’s a pretty grueling drive into and out of Philadelphia and its immediate suburbs in South Jersey that can take from 45 minutes to well over an hour in each direction. He has a very demanding job, which often requires last minute troubleshooting by phone or in person. He also has a very strained relationship with my mother, unfortunately, and because of that he has a difficult time staying with her without someone else present for long periods of time. My mother's surviving sister lives in suburban Houston, the closest maternal nephews she have also live in Texas, and the only other remotely nearby relatives live in North Jersey, and never visit although they talk a good game. My parents have great neighbors, but they quickly stopped coming over after my father died, and, save for one neighbor who treats my mother as if she was his own, the support for her from them is zero, although they will check in on me, especially if I’m outside of our house.

On Saturday nearly two weeks ago I was in a panic, as my psychiatrist had called in two new prescriptions for me, and she instructed me to take one of them, Seroquel, ASAP. Our closest neighbors were in their retirement home in Florida; one neighbor who offered to help didn't answer his phone or return my call; my best friend from high school was immobile due to recent back surgery; the lovely young Jewish people who used to live next door are no longer there (sob); the two young Black women who live across the street are in the process of moving out now that their grandmother, who they were caring for there, suffered a massive stroke recently and is now in a nursing home; and I knew that the other neighbors would almost certainly not help out, even though they could drive to CVS and back in less than 20 minutes. It ultimately took me nearly four hours to get the medication, and almost six hours before I actually took it, less than a minute after Dr Weston called back to check on me. By that time my cousin Tina had arrived from Michigan on the first direct flight she could get from Detroit, and my dear long time friend Marie, a Lutheran pastor in a church in Pipersville in Upper Bucks County were here, and Marie picked up my prescriptions even though it took her nearly an hour to make it to my local CVS Pharmacy.

If I had been thinking clearly I would have realized that a friend of a friend I’ve known for 45+ years and still lives close by, would have definitely helped me out, including my brother. So, unless the McCarneys are in town there is no one who I am confident would have helped. (Typing this conversation was very helpful in that it made me realize that the emergency contact list my father created when he was alive is no longer valid, and I need to make a new one that I can rely on if I’m in a manic, psychotic or suicidal state that I and others can refer to if I’m mentally unstable; those words are a frightening prospect that wasn't true 2+ weeks ago.)

I’ll also have to shun my previous “go it alone, everything's fine here” mode and allow people I trust, especially with my mother, to stop by and visit on a regular basis. I know that two of our former “friends” who could practically hit our house with a stone are no longer visiting, despite my recurrent efforts to invite them over for snacks or a home cooked meal, so I will no longer concern myself with them. The other neighbor who promised to help and didn't was the biggest disappointment to me; I still like Chad, his partner, and especially his two lovely kids, who always say hello to me, and I’ll reach out to the neighbor whose son Leo shoveled our driveway several weeks ago without asking or expecting payment; I’m sure they would have helped with a simple request such as picking up a prescription.

There is also a lot to unpack in terms of my brother, and how he responded to the one time in the past 2+ years that he could have truly helped me, but didn’t. He will be removed from my list of emergency contacts as well.

A mere once per week I visit my mother who has dementia and is in a skilled care facility, and even this is a strain because she often speaks in word salad and gets caught up in repetitive anxieties. Extrapolating to 24/7... I couldn't do it. You feel such a strong emotional and moral commitment to caretaking, and have the professional expertise to take on more than most of us, I can imagine you not fully recognizing the stress until you break. You've enlisted support over the past several months, but maybe not enough?

That’s the second nail you’ve struck firmly on the head, Katherine. Ever since I found out on Black Friday 2021 for the first time that my father’s condition was terminal I knew, as my parents’ power of attorney — no, actually my mother's surviving sister was her power of attorney, which neither my aunt nor my brother or I knew at the time — I quickly realized that I had only two realistic choices: having my mother transferred to a local nursing home ASAP, where she would be suddenly all alone, as her husband had just died, I would have returned to Atlanta to work and only been able to visit once or twice a month, and my brother would have spent even less time with her, given his proximity; or submitting an immediate letter of resignation, and assuming the role of primary caregiver for my mother beginning that day. This was both a difficult and a very easy decision to make, as I had promised Dad that I would take care of Mom on his deathbed, so that he could let go and take his last breath, and IMO that did not mean sticking her into a corner of a 🤬 nursing home, so that she could die of grief and neglect a few weeks later; I couldn't have lived with myself if I let that happen. I knew that my brother was not in a financial position to be able to assume that role, and neither was anyone else, and since I could easily live off of my retirement savings for the immediate future the only realistic choice was to take care of Mom.

But…how long was I supposed to do that? I gave it great thought, with intense conversations with family and close friends, and I decided that I would only stopped doing so if any of the following took place: she died at home; my physical (or, now, mental) health made it impossible or unsafe to do so; or if I could no longer do so by myself or with the assistance of part time or full time aide. Well, without get into details (💩💩💩) that happened this past Saturday morning, for the very first time. I can be slow to make up my mind and come to a decision about a major topic, but once I do there is no changing it, especially if the person, in this case Tina, was a witness to the near crisis and agrees with me completely. I was the last person to say that it's time for Mom to go into an assisted living facility, and even though I’m saddened to have to do so I can no longer deny that she is no longer safe staying here, and I am at great risk of future psychotic breakdowns, recent or lengthy psychiatric hospitalizations or premature death if I don't make changes ASAP. I let my mother's surviving sister know of my decision on Saturday afternoon, as she breathed a long and audible sigh of relief.

Good that your cousin can be there to help. Take care.

Right. Even though Tina will be here until at least Wednesday of next week I'm very nervous at the prospect of being at home with Mom, even though I had no significant problems doing so before my mental breakdown. One major goal this week is to make sure I hire aides to start working by next week to help out, and it will be a huge help knowing that a health care nurse and home occupational, speech and nurse's aides will visit her regularly over the next two weeks, at least, but I have had significant panic attacks on four of the past five mornings just making her or getting her ready for breakfast, so I know that I'm still very sick.

Fev 12, 3:49 pm

>321 kidzdoc: I’m with your aunt. It’s a difficult decision but the right one. Take care!

Fev 12, 4:28 pm

> 321 None of this is, obviously, easy. ❤️ I'm with Dan and your aunt. The Assisted Facility is the most loving thing you can do for you, your mother and all involved.

Fev 12, 4:58 pm

>321 kidzdoc: I am pretty sure that if your Dad could see what is happening, he will be the first to tell you that plans rarely survive reality. As hard as it may be for your heart to understand it, sometimes it is better to let someone else to take care of our loved ones - while you spend your time with them without the added stress of being their caregiver. That will also probably give you quality time with her...

If just making breakfast causes a panic attack, what happens if something serious is to happen? At least part of the anxiety is because of the previous attacks and because you are trying to justify to yourself your decisions. So... listen to your aunt...

Easy to talk from this side so... hugs and please take care of yourself.

Editado: Fev 12, 6:45 pm

>321 kidzdoc: Good call Darryl. I wish you the best with finding assistance to get through the next few weeks, and locating a facility that will take good care of your mother while you're working on taking care of yourself.

Fev 12, 8:53 pm

>321 kidzdoc: Tough decision, Darryl, but the right one I think - for everyone involved. Wishing only the best for you and your mom.

Fev 12, 10:39 pm

Just catching up on your thread after a little while away and I wanted to send you all my best and tell you how I admire the way in which you have handled an incredibly taxing situation with grace, thoughtfulness and care. I don't think I could have summoned half the responsibility, and diligence and courage you've shown in these circumstances. Keeping you in my thoughts.

Fev 13, 8:40 am

I agree with your aunt. Your mother will get good care and you will be able to start healing your self.

Fev 13, 12:26 pm

>286 benitastrnad: Thanks, Benita. I can’t underemphasize how difficult the past 26 months have been, even in comparison to my worst days as a medical student, pediatric resident, and attending physician in an often crazy busy large children's hospital. On even the worst of days I was always able to get at least one of my partners or a medical student, resident or fellow to help me, and no matter how bad a call night was, the sun rose the following morning, which indicated that my stay in Hell was about to end. Caring for someone with dementia is usually never as intense as a particular period being on call in the hospital, unless two kids are coding or in critical condition simultaneously, but you don’t have the opportunity to completely unwind unless you are removed from the situation, which often isn’t possible even when your mother is in Philadelphia and you’re 800 miles away in Atlanta, which occurred whenever I left town to return to my former home for 24 years. One of the books that I’ve been meaning to get to is The 36 Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People Who Have Alzheimer Disease and Other Dementias by Nancy L. Mace and Peter V. Rabins. Ironically the main reason I haven’t read it yet is because my time for reading has dropped off dramatically in the past two years, and when I did have time to read I wanted something that didn’t remind me of my current painful and stress filled situation.

In typing the above paragraph I reminded myself, for the first time in how many months, how close to taking my own life on two occasions last year. I was having frequent suicidal thoughts last year, sometime multiple times per day on the worst days, but those were always brief and fleeting thoughts that never led to any concrete ideas. However, one time last year, probably in the late spring, I wanted to put a bullet in my head, and the fact that we have no firearms in the house, other than an old air gun that probably wouldn’t hurt a squirrel, was the only reason I didn’t do so; by the time I contemplated other rapid methods of taking my life those thoughts were quelled, if only because I couldn’t bear the idea of not being there to care for my mother. One other time, in early summer, I came very close to driving my SUV down the wrong way of a superhighway (Interstate 95 or US Route 1, which are both a few minutes away), driving in the opposite direction of traffic, and running head on into an 18 wheeler. I actually put my coat on and my keys in my pocket, but I stopped because I didn’t want anyone else to be injured as a result of my suicide attempt, and I thought running into an overpass would be more likely to not lead to the instant death that I sought. Naturally I hadn’t mentioned this to anyone else before, because I’m supposed to be tough and manage everything, since I’m my father’s son and, naturally, we are reluctant to ask for help when we need it the most. (You’ll note that I didn’t say that either of us was smart, despite both having advanced college degrees.)

I’ve come to realize that my comments on my thread are serving the dual purpose of being the basis of my first entries in my mood journal, although that wasn’t my intent when I started documenting my thoughts.

Getting my mother off the floor was very difficult, even though she weighed so little. I found that I got angrier with her than I wanted to and would have to step back and breathe and remind myself that she didn't mean the things she said, or couldn't help the difficulties she was having because she wasn't strong enough anymore. I suspect that I am still going through the guilt stage of the grieving process as a result.

That sounds right, Benita. My mother is roughly 150 lb, and she’s 4 ft 10 inches in height, so she isn’t a huge woman by any means. However, if she’s on the floor and not making any effort to get up it is impossible for me to do so.

I’m not sure actively where I lie on the Kübler Ross scale of grief, probably because I can fluctuate on the graph multiple times per day. This morning I was in denial, thinking that I was too rash in deciding to move her to an assisted living facility ASAP. I had an early text message
conversation with a dear and well known member of LibraryThing who hasn’t been active for a couple of years; she sent me two poems, and I started crying after I read the second one. Shortly afterward, as I was composing myself from reading those poems I heard my mother giving my cousin Tina a hard time; she can be stubborn and refuse to follow simple commands, and we know that she is playing with our minds. I quickly headed downstairs to help out Tina, and she started pulling the same crap with me as I was trying to help her, which pissed me off. So, those are at least three stages of grief in just over an hour; oof.

I did have some outside help with my mother. The Area Agency on Aging provided some in-home health care assistance that was greatly appreciated. Do they have anything like that available where you live? I know that it was a great relief for me to have 4 hours off once a week.

Yes, the Philadelphia does have Area Agencies on Aging. I need to fetch notes and forms that I’ve been given recently, to remind myself of what is available for her. Since she was just discharged from the local rehabilitation facility last month she is currently receiving visits from nurses, physical and occupational therapists, and an aide to bathe and dress her (as her son and being old fashioned I am completely uncomfortable giving my mother a care, except for the more dire situations, particularly a severe Code Brown). Those services will be paid for by Medicare for the time being, but once the members of the team all sign off they will end abruptly. I spoke to a long time family friend who is a professor of nursing in a local college and specializes on the care of elderly patients, and Donna gave me invaluable information and questions to ask before our appointment with our eldercare lawyer this afternoon, given the changed situation from our last conversation in early December, before her fall. I’ll talk with a dear friend from medical school tomorrow about Mom; she now specializes in geriatric primary care and has a lot of practical knowledge of the medical and legal aspects of being a caregiver, so her expertise will also be invaluable.

I also know that it might have been better for my mother to have left her in the total care facility she was at. They had a nice facility and even though we had spent about $40,000 dollars in the last 5 years remodeling the bathroom and bedroom to make it more accessible, it still wasn't as efficient as the care facility. The people who worked there knew what they were doing and were able to assist my mother with lifts and techniques that I didn't know about. They also provided entertainment as well as assistance to my mother that I couldn't. It may be time for you to consider some kind of semi-permanent care facility for your mother. Do they have any kind of day-care for dementia patients where you live? Several of my work colleagues found that a day-care situation for their loved ones, even for 2 days a week, provided much needed time away for them.

Absolutely, Benita! I was deep in the process of setting this up with a local adult day care center just before Mom’s fall — she would have started it the week of her fall, but she didn’t feel like going there that day. It was affordable, as I would pay $75/half day, with an additional $18/day if I wanted her to be bathed, and $100/hr for a full eight hour day. That was still going to be the plan until Saturday, when I sadly realized that it was not safe for her to be at home any longer. I’ll still pursue that option, e.g. get her PCP to fill out another physical examination form, since he did so less than a month ago and that is what the center requires, and until the time that she actually is transferred to an assisted living facility I’ll send her there to keep her as safe as possible.

Please, please take care of your mental self. It is so trying to be at this 24 hours a day.

I hope that I’m wrong, but unfortunately I believe that this psychotic episode and last year’s experiences mean that I have crossed into the territory of being seriously mentally ill, and that this will be the case for the rest of my life. If I’m able to function normally, or at least nearly so, I’ll be pleased with that result.

>312 LolaWalser: Right, Lola. I like to write, and I had thought about writing a journal about my experiences as a pediatric hospitalist, especially since toddlers, IMO, are the worst greatest comedians. I didn’t feel that I had enough to write a journal, but that is the least of my problems now.

I also hope that this is an isolated episode of mania, but since this is the second one I’ve had this month, I’m even more concerned that this will be a permanent condition, even though I’m not aware of any remote relatives who have any serious mental health disorders. I printed the article you gave me, along with a 2010 review article, Bipolar Disorder from The New England Journal of Medicine.

>313 labfs39: You’re right, Lisa. A carrier pigeon delivered a journal to me in the mail last week, and even though I already have at least two others there is no question that it will be put to use very soon.

I’ve also received three deliveries of chocolates in the past few days. I have an appointment with my nutritionist tomorrow, and my big question is whether Valentine’s Day candy has any calories in them. Tina and Gabbi, my mother’s occupational therapist, are adamantly insisted; I say that they do. We’ll see what Kirsten, my nutritionist, thinks.

>318 AlisonY: Thanks, Alison.

You cannot pour from an empty cup, and clearly you need some proper time to allow yourself to get well again and help to put in place some caring solutions for your mum without having to figure all that out alone.

That’s completely correct. I’ve been nearly constantly on the phone since yesterday morning, setting up appointments with professionals and setting into place a plan to have Mom transferred to an assisted living facility ASAP.

Something our gym coach gets us to include in our journalling is 1-3 things we are grateful for each day, which I thoroughly recommend. On difficult days it can feel an impossible task, but those are the days when it's especially important to look for the light. When you are feeling well enough and have the means of ensuring someone is there to watch your mum, I would also highly recommend getting out in nature every day for a walk, come rain or shine.

That’s wise advice, Alison. It does seem especially important to describe both the good days and times, and the bad days and times. I used to love going to Piedmont Park in Midtown Atlanta, which was a short walk from the building I lived in; it’s barely covered by trees in this photo. We certainly have parks in and outside of the City of Philadelphia, but none were as nice as that one.

>324 AnnieMod: If just making breakfast causes a panic attack, what happens if something serious is to happen? At least part of the anxiety is because of the previous attacks and because you are trying to justify to yourself your decisions. So... listen to your aunt…

Exactly, Annie. In addition, I view every panic attack as an insult to my brain, and that the more of them I have the less likely it will be to make a meaningful recovery from bipolar disorder.


Okay! I’m finally caught up here, and I’ll now create a new thread. It may take me a day or two to come up with a list of recommended books for Black History Month, as my short term memory is absolute crap right now. I will do it this week, though.

Fev 13, 1:48 pm

>329 kidzdoc: I view every panic attack as an insult to my brain
I do not think panic attacks alter the brain, at least I have never noticed, and I have had my share through the years.
I do think they are ultimate warnings, after ignoring many more subtile signs.

Fev 13, 2:52 pm

>330 FAMeulstee: I didn't quite say exactly what I meant to, Anita. My opinion is a decidedly non-medical one, and is based out of fear, because I'm quite scared about what happened and is happening to me. A better way to say it would have been "I'm terrified that each panic attack may injure my brain more." At this point I would say that I know next to nothing about bipolar disorder, from the standpoint of a physician and a patient, and I'll hopefully feel much better once I learn more about it in the next day or two.

Fev 13, 8:37 pm

I'm sorry life has brought you this, and I'll be holding you in the light, as the Quakers say. New 'normals' are a hard adjustment, but it sounds like you have a good support network and that counts for a lot. I wish you luck in taking things one day at a time.

If you're looking for a poetic read on Alzheimers that's good for dipping in and out of, I found Stammered Songbook by Erwin Mortier to be a good read.
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