Sunday, September 30, 2012


You are very committed to all of your activities. You just want to do things right and give yourself 200%. That's not always easy, since you have many activities going on beside school. Exhaustion is taking over. We hardly saw you this last week, for you had so many things to do. Chiro Kaprijke is celebrating its 50th anniversary and you have put so much energy in organizing fun activities for the members and their families. You were happy to know that your family, grandparents, aunts and uncles have decided they wanted to join in for this morning's brunch. Last night, you came home around 2:30, exhausted, looking pale and with baggy eyes. But I also saw the light in those tired eyes, the light of happiness and fulfillment. We will all be glad the weekend has nearly passed, so you can relax and take some time off from those activities. I know school work is waiting and 12 novels need to be read. You are facing hectic times in the upcoming months. We are here to support you sweetie. Don't be afraid to call for help if you need any. You don't have to do all of this by yourself. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012


A friend of mine once blogged about the number 21. I'm not going to discuss the same subject, sorry! Couldn't even go there I think!

This week, you turned 21! You had no idea whether you were supposed to be happy about turning 21 or sad. You are an adult now. How about that? Your 21st birthday is extra special. It's supposed to be a day to remember. That's why you are throwing a party tonight and guess what? I'm glad you invited me. Looking forward to this evening :-)

I want to give you an idea on how to spend the perfect birthday:
  1. Sleep late. You will need the extra sleep in the morning to make it through the night.
  2. Have breakfast in bed. Doesn't matter if you have to make it yourself, it's just the idea that matters.
  3. Realize that you are an adult now!
  4. Reflect on the past 21 years of your life. 
  5. Write a list of 21 things you are grateful for and 21 things you would like to accomplish in the next 21 years.
  6. Go crazy! Get another tattoo or another piercing or buy that expensive lingerie that would make you look so hot.
  7. Do something adventurous: how about bungee jumping or skydiving?
  8. Let your friends buy you lunch.
  9. Pick out the best outfit ever for your party. After all: you are 21 now.
  10. Wear a button that says: I'm 21 or get real silly and wear a silver sparkling tiara. 
  11. Get yourself a chauffeur for the night. 
  12. Have your favorite meal in your favorite restaurant with your favorite friends. (you need food in your tummy before you start to drink)
  13. Tell 21 jokes to your friends.
  14. Go out. Go into a bar and let others treat you.
  15. Let the dj play your favorite song and dance on the table.
  16. Don't end the night without at least 21 kisses from different people.
  17. Collect 21 phone numbers from interesting guys.
  18. Make plenty of pictures (especially before you get drunk).
  19. Scream out as loud as you can: I am 21!!!!
  20. Open your presents with joy.
  21. Don't go to bed until all of the others have left your party. Wipe off your mascara, roll into bed and dream about your fabulous party.
Happy Birthday sweetie!

Friday, September 28, 2012

A teeny weeny pee problem

For the last couple of months, it's been like having a newborn baby in the house. Our cute blonde Rebba girl is having a pee problem. It's like her bladder has shrunk somehow. She needs to pee all the time. During the day and at night. The daytime pees are not that much of a hazard. It's the nighttime pee sessions that drive us crazy. We don't go to bed that early. But Rebba cannot spend more than 4 - 5 hours without setting her bladder free. We have tried so many things but so far, nothing seems to help. Meaning we have to get up around 3:00 AM or 4:00 AM to let her go outside and do her thing. The interrupted nights are taking their toll. We are exhausted.. Rebba has no idea and she's always real happy to see us. No time to cuddle though, because she has to stretch her legs real fast and run for the back door, so she can do what she has to do. After that midnight call, the dogs have no intention to go back into their bench to sleep. So they spend the rest of the night snoring on the couch. If you happen to be a dog whisperer or if you have other ideas to help us solve this issue, feel free to let us know. We are at the end of our rope..

Thursday, September 27, 2012

You fit in

It's been two weeks, since our Italian exchange student came to live with us. Although she despises the weather (don't we all?), I can tell she feels at home. We love her humor, her spontaneous chitchats, her friendship and company. She is a good sister to our daughters and a great companion for our pets. She claimed to be terrified of dogs, but nowadays, they all cuddle up together on the sofa. The dogs have accepted her without hesitance and it's nice to see how she hugs them when they come see her..

Next month, her parents will come over to visit. We are so looking forward to meeting them! They speak no other language than their own, but we have Ilaria to translate for us. I'm sure she misses her family, because she's really family oriented. She likes to have conversations at the kitchen table and we teach each other about the differences in our culture. It would be nice, if one day, we could visit Ilaria and her family in Bari, Italy. I know both our daughters wouldn't hesitate to go see Ilaria next summer. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Welcome to the land of confusion

Being a parent is not always easy. Being a mom and a dad and stick together, makes it a little easier.. Having teenagers in the house, isn't easy. Having teenagers and collude as parents, makes it a little easier..
If only they would realize, we want nothing but the best for them.

Let's take the dogs and go out for a walk, to bring some clarity into our fogged brains.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


I love technology! Well, that is, if someone else installs it for me or reads the manuals or guidelines. I don't like the technical part of technology. It's great when things work, but I get really frustrated if I cannot open my mail account for some reason. It takes time to figure things out and solve the problem and guess what? I'm not that patient! Most of the times, I caused the problem.. I want to try out new apps and tools and then things happen that I didn't foresee. It took me some time yesterday and this morning to re-install my mail accounts, but I think I managed. So maybe I'm not as stupid as I thought..

Monday, September 24, 2012

Slow motion

Last night, I was on the phone with a friend. She used to have a fulltime job. I say "used to", because she quit the job to have more quality time with her family and do things that are more important to her. She wants to be independent instead of working for a boss. She asked if I remembered our conversation on working moms and stay-at-home moms. I did.. During that conversation I told her that my life is so hectic and full of activities although I only "work" 10 hours a week. She always thought I had plenty of Me Time to spend. NOT! Now she's a stay-at-home mom too, she understands. She thinks it's because we are not rushed to do anything, because there's no deadline. I don't agree.. My life is not passing by in slow motion, on the contrary. I make to do lists, just like if I would be at work. Things need to be done. There's cleaning to do, laundry to be washed, groceries to be done and meals to be cooked. The kids need a driver (we have 3 kids now), they need help with homework (I forward their questions to their dad... I admit). At the end of the day, I'm glad I can take a seat and relax a bit. Who says stay-at-home moms don't work? We don't have someone who picks up the clutter while we are at work. There's nobody to cook our meals by the time we come home. The gardener leaves the work up to my husband and we don't pay a dogsitter to walk the dogs. But you know what? I like it this way. I'm a stay-at-home mom and I'm proud of it.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

There's a time and a place for anything

Being a teenager is real hard. You don't have a true identity yet and there are so many desires and wishes you want to fulfill. Being 15 is not like being 18. Growing up comes with responsibilities and getting privileges is not a one way direction. We need to find a good balance that all parties can be happy with. I know you compare with what your friends can do. We did the same thing when we were young. Some friends could go out later than we could. But we also knew that there were other friends who couldn't go out at all...

I was 18, the first time I could really go out. The plan was, to go to a New Year's Eve party in the pub just around the corner. I was totally excited about this night out. My friends had invited me over and I felt so grown up about going out. I even got a special outfit and new shoes.
Getting ready for the party, my mom told me I had to be home at midnight, 00:00 sharp to be exact. I was gobsmacked.. What did she mean, midnight??? It was New Year's Eve after all?? Everybody would make fun of me, for having to go home at such a ridiculous time..

I tried to talk my father into staying out later. He gave me that look, that didn't mean any good. He told me I had to be in by 00:00. There was no other option. I told him that the party wouldn't start till 00:00. I would miss out on all the fun. He answered me that I didn't have to go if I didn't want to. He had made his point: either I came home at midnight or I didn't go out at all. I was really upset but I knew his words where to be followed. I decided I was going to make the best of it. All of my friends were waiting for me to have dinner in the pub. We had a great time, laughing and being in each other's company. It was getting close to midnight. I kept looking on my watch - I had to be home in a couple of minutes. I didn't know what to do. Some friends dared me to stay later - others understood my dilemma and told me to go home in time. The countdown for the new year started and I kissed my friends good night. I opened the door of the pub, took a last glance at the people partying and ran home. By the time my key opened the door, I could hear the grandfather clock hit twelve o'clock. My mom looked at the clock, she looked at me and she went to bed. My heart was beating too fast, because I had run so hard to be home in time. I took a shower and got into my pajamas, reflecting over my first night out. I really wanted the night to not have ended that soon. But hey, I did have a great time. I had seen my friends, my outfit was great and we had enjoyed each other's company. It had been a night to remember. I can tell you, because 23 years later, I still remember how my cheeks were glowing with joy for that wonderful night out..

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Be your own advocate

It's been a long time. Every now and then, you have crossed my mind. We bonded pretty well together and being the strong person you are, you always startled me and you kept surprising me with your courage and perseverance. We ended our friendship because both of us were too pigheaded to keep it alive. But I never stopped caring about you. Whenever you crossed my mind, I tried to google you and see if I could come up with some news about you. Today, my heart jumped up.. I finally found your new blog. I knew you wouldn't quit blogging. It's just something you have to do. You are the one who taught me how to blog and I loved reading yours.

How have you been? How is your little girl (I can't believe she's 3 already!)? I read your blogs and I must say I'm proud of you for not giving up. As expected, you are still fighting for your own little miracle. She's your life. She's your everything and more. A bond that will never be broken.
I read you're seeing someone. Well done! You deserve all the love you can get and you have a lot of love to give. Make the best of it. I'm glad I can read you again..

Friday, September 21, 2012

Signals from the body

A friend of mine once told me: "Whenever your body feels sore, try to figure out what's wrong in your heart. Your body gives you signals when you are not doing so well mentally. Back pain doesn't always mean something is wrong with your spine. It might mean something totally different. Look from within and try to heal your inner self, for the external pain signals will fade."

I'm more of a down to earth person, when it comes to these type of words. Let's say I didn't believe what she told me. Read again: didn't..

The "back pain" started around the age of 17. I was still living at home. It entered my life a step at a time and I could care less. I was young and full of life and the pain couldn't stop me from doing what I liked to do.

The back pain has always been there ever since. When I think of it, it has been really bad at times and then it faded a bit for a while, although it was always hiding somewhere just beneath the surface. I'm not the type of person who will take pain medication on a daily basis. I only take my tablets when nothing else helps. My back has never been this sore. This time the pain doesn't go away. It's been bad for several months and the pain is not only in my lower back any more. It has spread to my shoulder blades and my neck as well. My left knee and left hip hurt and I'm so tired. Just so tired.. I haven't listened to my body. Is that why the problem got worse? Because my body wants to let me know it's red alert?

My friend's words have crossed my mind more than once lately. It's time to heal the inner me. It's time to take away the inner pain and empty my head. It's not easy..

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Kind of like being hit by a bus

You have had this pimple on your cheek for over a week now. It's been bothering me and I wanted the vet to have a closer look at it. So I rang her to make an appointment and she could see you fairly quickly.

You trembled like a leaf, standing in the vet's office. You were falling apart and gave me that sad look like you wanted to say: "why are you putting me through this?". It was necessary though, to exclude certain cases. The vet got a sterile needle out of her cabinet and you lost it. She could hear your heart beat without using her stethoscope. Oh Rebba... there's no need to be that afraid. I was there to hold you and comfort you and take you back home after the exam..

The vet told me I could expect her phone call somewhere in the afternoon. That worried me a little. It worried me even more, when she called me and used the C-word. I didn't hear much else but that awful word and I even missed the word "benign" when she talked about the tumor on your cheek. She called it a histiocytoma. I needed a piece of paper to write it down because it was such a hard word to remember. It's okay. It is not a malignancy. You won't die. There's even a big chance it will disappear just by itself over time. The vet found it strange though, that you got that tumor. It's rarely found in older dogs (you are 6). It occurs more often in young dogs under the age of 2. But at the same time, greyhounds are more susceptible to this type of tumor than other breeds.

It's benign. It's benign. It's benign. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tears on my pillow

How long has it been since you last cried yourself to sleep? Are you a cry baby or do you prefer to keep your grief within?

Since I became a diabetic, I find that my emotions are much harder to control. A movie based on a true story (especially if children or pets are involved), make my eyes tear up. Tears well up in my eyes when I hear a song that has a special meaning to me or when the lyrics relate to the situation I am in at the time. Some subjects are too hard to be discussed, because I feel I will break into tears and I have a hard time crying in the presence of others. I do feel the need to cry though. There are too many emotions involved and I feel I can no longer hold them in. Too much has been going on lately and I need to find a way to express my feelings. I need a safe haven to confide about what's going on. I was happy to see my friend last night, over dinner. It feels so good to talk to him. He's such a good listener and he doesn't interrupt. He lets me talk about my feelings and he reassures me things will be allright. Too bad we had no more than 4 hours...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


It is addictive. My friend should never have pointed it out. I had found some great ideas on organizing items around the house, when she told me to look for more ideas on Pinterest. I knew it! I had to forbid myself to google it. But it's too late: I'm hooked.. What a great site! How could I have overlooked it? Whenever I see something I like, I want to get to it right away. Maybe I should copy the links I like and save them in a special folder? I could make a DIY folder, a recipes folder, a... aaarrrgghhh... why did I give in??? Don't check it out. Just don't. I'm warning you! Don't say I didn't tell you...

Monday, September 17, 2012

I'm fine, thank you!

We're getting used to having a third daughter in the house. She's such a sweet girl, just like our own two daughters. They get along just fine and that is nice to know. Ilaria has a sister too and I bet she misses her and her family at times. We are trying to make her feel at home as much as we can. There's always Skype if she wants to talk to her family and friends and that makes it easier on her.

Photo Lana Joos
It is funny to teach her Dutch words as: douchen, alles goed, goeiemorgen, smakelijk, koe, konijn, school, .. It's not a one way direction: we speak English most of the time now and Ilaria teaches us some Italian words. Maybe we should set up a little dictionary English - Dutch - Italian? That could serve all of us.

Yesterday we were discussing places we could go see while our exchange student is living with us. She would love to see Amsterdam, we thought of going to Brussels, Ghent, Antwerp, Bruges, the Ardennes, Middelburg, .. It is fun to show her the surroundings and she's impressed by the houses and the architecture of our country. It would be nice to go visit her in Bari one day. Sounds like a plan!

Times are pretty hectic around here. Since Hubby and I are both working on weekends every so often, there aren't many days off to plan trips. Her "mama" was sobbing when we met her on Skype. She misses her daughter terribly but at the same time, she's happy for her. We will love her as she were our own daughter and I already know it will be hard to let her go back to Italy at the end of the road...

Sunday, September 16, 2012

If I'm gonna do this, I'm gonna do it well

That's what I keep telling myself.. So many people have asked me to give cooking workshops, but up until now, I wasn't too sure about it. After all, I haven't had any professional schooling. I know how to teach and how to speak in front of a crowd, but this is different though. I have prepared myself and I'm ready for this day. It will be my baptism of fire and it could also be the start of a new professional life. I am getting a little nervous now, because I have no clue how many people will attend the workshop. Will there be many children or will it be adults only? What if they don't like the ingredients? I won't worry too much about it. It's not in my nature to worry about things I can't control. I just hope the organizers will bring all of the ingredients... That is my only concern. Let's get moving! There's not going to be a lot of cooking going on, because there's no stove or oven available. I had to come up with no cooking/low carb recipes, since the theme of the day is diabetes and healthy cooking.. This is what we are going to prepare this afternoon:

  • Deviled eggs
  • Smoked salmon and cream cheese wraps
  • Tabouleh with cucumber and pomegranate seeds
  • Melon, mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and cucumber skewers
  • Fennel almond gazpacho
  • Vietnamese springrolls
  • Tomato and feta bruschetta
  • Broccoli pesto and crudités

Wish me luck!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Brave people

Some people are so brave they make me humble. I'm so proud of my sister-in-law. This is her story..

"You have a pseudo malignant tumor in your pancreas" 

That sentence will be printed in my brain forever.

When you hear this diagnosis, you get hot and cold at the same time. Thousands of questions swarm through your mind. I promised myself one thing though: I will keep on thinking positively and no matter what scary things will cross my path, I will survive this disease! These lines became my daily mantra.

The agreement at first, was to remove a small part of my pancreas. Three days after the operation, they wheeled me back into the OR. That's when they removed my complete pancreas. The good news was: there were no metastases. The first thing I asked the professor was: Is it possible to remain alive without a pancreas? "It is", he replied. The magical word!

I had a rough time in hospital. It were 14 days full of pain, sorrow, anxiety and loneliness. It may sound cliche, but that hard time made me reflect as well. I now know there's more beyond our physical body. That insight gave me the comfort that I'm no longer afraid of death. I have lost my fears...

The doctors told me this disease is rare and unique at the age I got diagnosed. It was very exceptional that I had felt the pain. Under other conditions, it would have been lethal. This must have been my destiny. My soul had other plans for me on this planet. Now that I have lost my pancreas, I'm depending on insulin and I must make sure my blood glucose is kept within range. An insulin pump helps me provide that insulin throughout the entire day. But hey! I'm still alive! I was given a second chance. I've been lucky.

Things have changed rapidly from then on. I got out of a relationship that didn't make me happy. My employer fired me after 13 years of good service. I started a training in health, healthy food and lifestyle. I met my boyfriend who has been wonderful to me. He is working in healthcare and he has accepted my condition completely. When I saw an advertisement in the region my boyfriend lived in, I applied for the job instantly. The company I started working for, produces vegetarian and  organic food. That's entirely consistent with my vision on life. I have been working in this company for 6 months now and it feels great. All pieces of the jigsaw have come together. I live and work in an environment that feels like a second glove ; my boyfriend has become my soulmate.

Would I have had the same future if I hadn't become sick? I don't think so. I don't believe in coincidences. Once you no longer have the burden of the anxieties, things will cross your path. Let your heart lead you. What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger..

Friday, September 14, 2012

I will make better mistakes tomorrow

Life isn't always a piece of cake. Along the way, we struggle with issues and hard times alternate with magical moments. We make choices every day. Those choices are not always the best and sometimes we wonder where the choices came from. Were they well considered choices or were they more impulsive because you were carried away by the moment? Sometimes we never get answers to those questions and it may be confusing to look into our hearts and question ourselves. People get hurt and lives get disturbed. It's part of the deal, I guess. We can't keep our beloved ones from feeling pain and sorrow. We're not responsible for their happiness. If you can make a contribution to someone else's happiness, that is a godsend. But it's not a must. We are the ones who have to make ourselves happy. It's so hard to love someone else if you don't love who you are. It's not the best feeling if you are not your own best friend. Get up in the morning and tell yourself you are okay. Give yourself a reason to live and embrace you. Because nobody else will before you stand up for yourself.
It's okay to make mistakes. It's not that okay to hurt people deliberately. But what if you hurt someone without intention? Life is precious. Love is precious. I will make better mistakes tomorrow.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

She's here!

She has finally arrived! Our Italian exchange student, I mean. We have been looking forward to her arrival. Not knowing what she would be like, we decided to give her the benefit of the doubt and welcome her into our home. I must say: she's a doll. Very sweet, polite, funny, interesting and eager to learn. It will be an adventure for all of us. Not being used to the colder temperature of Belgium, Ilaria left our house early this morning, to take the bus to school. Lana will guide her to her classroom on this first schoolday. Hidden in a warm winter jacket, Ilaria is ready to meet her fellow students and take part of her new life in Belgium.

I'm sure we will all have a wonderful time. Although there's not much excitement going on in our small village, we will find other fun things to do. We will show her around, take her on outings, introduce her to our family and friends. Along the way, she will teach us Italian and we will teach her some Dutch and English. It will be an enrichment for all of us. It was good to hear our youngest daughter speak English to her this morning. They will get along too!

Have fun in school, Ilaria! See you tonight! We'll walk the dogs after school, so you can see what our village looks like and get used to our whippets. You have never seen this breed before and you're no big fan of dogs or cats. But the dogs won't bother you. They didn't even open their eyes when you came downstairs this morning. I'm convinced they will melt your heart real soon and they will be cuddled.

Maybe I should make ravioli today. Or orechiette.., canneloni.., lasagna or ..

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


What's the description of PERFECT?
  • Being without blemish or defect
  • Thoroughly skilled or talented in a certain field
  • Excellent and delightful in all respects
Who says we have to be perfect? Isn't it an extremely difficult job to even want to be perfect?
Our society portraits perfect people or at least, what others think to be perfect. Especially young people suffer from these perfect pictures and they believe they cannot be who they are, because if so, they would not be perfect and not fit in. Being young means being vulnerable. Being vulnerable means being emotional. Youngsters have a pretty rough time nowadays. They are exposed to so many images of ideal people. It makes them doubt about who they are. It leaves them with pain and tristesse about themselves. They feel they are not good enough. They keep looking for ways to make themselves more perfect. And they forget they are perfect just the way they are. They don't have to be someone else to be loved. Being you is plenty. We love you for who you are.. xx

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Dive in!

Photo Eva Joos
You and your daddy are going to spend some special time together. As a teen, your father used to swim a lot. It gave him his broad and strong shoulders and a straight back. And of course the V-shape all men want to have.

For a couple of years, you were in a swimteam too. And you were pretty good at it! I loved to watch you swim. The way your head disappeared in the water and how you gasped for air, your head turned to the left. You were a fast swimmer and your teacher was proud of you. He was that fond of you, that he wanted you in his team of competitors. When he asked you to join that team, you were in doubt. On one hand, you were proud that he asked you. On the other hand, you're not a competitive girl. Your teacher didn't give you much options: you join the team or you quit swimming.. What a bummer.. Joining the team meant you would have to practice 5 days a week, sometimes even before school started. You decided not to join the team. Practice would be too tough. You always regretted getting out of the team, but there was no other choice at the time.

When your daddy read about Start to Swim, he knew you would love to join him. Your eyes sparkled and you said yes right away. It's too bad you have no friends who love to swim like you do. But your daddy will be your friend and the two of you will do real well together. Enjoy!

Monday, September 10, 2012

It's gonna be one of those days

Working long hours in a restaurant, my employer had this bright idea: why didn't I go to school, one day a week? Wouldn't I like that? hmhm... I wasn't quite sure. I was no longer a teenager, you know. He wanted to send me to a highschool where kids who are not at all interested in school, go to, to finally get their diploma. But hey, what the heck. It could be an adventure huh?

The first class was wine knowledge. I still remember the teacher: big (not large, just big), bold and absolutely very brave. Why brave? Well, he talked for three hours in a row, while his students were absolutely not interested. I was very busy studying my classmates. I saw one boy with an open umbrella over his head, chewing too many pieces of gum, his legs stretched under his desk. He had no idea what the teacher was talking about, because his ears were listening to heavy metal - we could hear the base in the background. Apparently he had opened his umbrella for he claimed the teacher spit saliva when speaking. OMG.. I was appalled by that remark..

The next time we had that same teacher, I was ready to take notes, when I recognized some episodes from the last class. I frowned and pointed my ears, to make sure I heard it allright. But he did it again! This class was the exact same as the previous one! I decided to ask the teacher about his teaching method..

He was surprised to hear my comments. He said: Finally! Someone has noticed my way of teaching.. He told me about his students. How they were not interested in his classes. That he had to give the same class three times in a row, to make sure the students had soaked up some of the information he had to share. I felt sorry for him.. How can you be motivated as a teacher if the school kids have no interest in whatever you have to say? I thought he was very brave.. I don't remember anything about his classes, but I will never forget his perseverance and his devotion to keep on teaching.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

If we ever meet again..

I'm not a catholic. I don't go to church, I don't believe in any God. I believe in goodness. I believe that our soul stays alive in the hearts of the people who love us, once our body has turned into dust. As long as people talk about you and continue to love you, you will not be dead..

When the nursing home called me, that you were at the end of your rope, I didn't hesitate to drive 100 km to come see you. It had not been that long since I last visited both of you, but I was not prepared for what I saw when I entered your room. The way you were sunken in your chair, strapped in, with pants too wide for your skinny body, made me run off to the hallway and close the door behind me. I burst into tears and felt so lost. Your GP and nurse were in the hallway at the time. They informed me on your condition. Things were looking grim.. There wasn't much time left. They told me to say my goodbyes and prepare myself for your passing. I couldn't believe it, although I had seen your emaciated body. I straightened my back, wiped my tears, took a deep breath and opened the door to your room. Your wife was sitting at the table, sad and lonely. You were asleep and every now and then, I heard you gasp for air. My heart broke to see you like that. I came to sit beside you, so I could stroke your cheek. I accidentally woke you up. The nurse had warned me that you wouldn't recognize me, but you did. I even saw a faint smile on your face. Your eyes looked hollow and your nose was no more than a bird's beak. I wanted to hold that skinny body and called for the nurse. She was indignant over my question to put my grandpa in bed, so I could lay beside him and hug him. He was supposed to sit in his chair, to keep his body from getting bed sores. I was outraged by her answer, since these were his last moments.. He was not comfortable in that chair. I heard him moan and by the look on his face, he was in pain. There was no fat on his bones and he could not change his own position in that chair.

As soon as the nurse left the room, I opened the straps that kept you from falling out of that chair. Picking you up, my stomach twirled realizing how much weight you had lost. I laid you down on the bed and curled up beside you. With you in my arms, I hoped to make you feel safe and loved. You started to talk to me. Of course you knew who I was. You even started to make jokes. You had a hard time talking, since you couldn't catch your breath. When you whispered in my ear: "They keep telling me I'm going to get better, but I'm not a fool. I know my time has come.. Don't cry over it. I'm going in peace and I'll be happy to be reunited with my daughter.. We have been separated for too long." Tears rolled down my cheeks but it felt okay. I told him he didn't have to stay here any longer. He had the right to give up and get ready for his passing away. I couldn't do much more than hold him and give him all the love I had inside me. He fell asleep in my arms. I knew it was time to go, but I couldn't. I knew these were our last moments together. The last time I would be able to hug him and talk to him. When I whispered: "I love you.. it's okay, you may go now.. ", tears rolled down his cheeks too..

My heart got ripped out of my body when I left that room. He passed away the following day. I will never forget him. He was very dear to me..

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Nobody said it would be easy

I often get the question: how can you work as a personal assistant? Is it not too strenuous? Don't you get involved emotionally? What if your patient dies?

I don't ask myself those questions. Life and death are part of the circle. In the end we will all die somehow. Of course we all want to live happily ever after. We want to lead a healthy and fulfilling life. Unfortunately, not all of us are that lucky. Some lives are way too short. Sometimes it involves a child, that is not meant to grow old. A child that will never become an adult. A child that will not go to school, have playmates or sleepovers. A child, loved so deeply and surrounded by the most affectionate people ever, that her life is very fulfilling and warm. Her passing away will cause so much grief among as many people, but those are situations we shouldn't wonder about right now. This is the time to celebrate her life, to care for her in the best way possible. It's all about making her life as comfortable as possible and giving her all the love she can handle. Life is about the little things. It's not about making a fortune. It's not about having the biggest and fastest car around or about buying a second or a third house. Life is so much more. One can be much happier if surrounded by people who really care and love you for who you are..

She's not doing too well. She has been having more fevers than normal and the epileptic episodes seem to occur more often. Her body is infected and she has a hard time fighting the infection. But she'll be okay. She's well taken care of. I'm sure that makes her relax and realize that she's not alone. She has many hands on her shoulders to guide her through this. She'll be just fine. I just know she will...

Friday, September 7, 2012

It's my life

This month, I have 3 workshops on diabetes coming up. On 2 occasions, I will be telling about my life with D, informing the audience on what life with D is like. Most of the people in the audience are not diabetic and I often wonder what drives them to come listen to these seminars. Is it because a loved one is affected by the disease or is it because diabetes has become epidemic? Whatever it is, there's always quite a crowd who's interested in hearing more on the subject. To me, it has become my second nature to talk about this subject and I like to inform people and let them know life with diabetes is worthwhile.

For the first time, I'm going to give a totally different kind of workshop. Since I love to spend time in my kitchen, I have been asked to give a cooking workshop for people with diabetes. I don't eliminate sugar in my recipes, for I am convinced that diabetics can eat whatever they want, as long as they eat with moderation and stick to portion control. As long as they are not heavily obese and their numbers are within range, there are plenty of possibilities. So this workshop is not going to be any different. I won't use sweeteners but my recipes will be low carb. The audience will have diabetics as well as non diabetics. I'm thinking of the Type 2 diabetics who are not treated with insulin. They have a harder time straightening out their condition. They have no insulin available to cover for the extra carbs. So I tried to come up with recipes that are low carb so their sugars won't skyrocket. The group will be very diverse: children, adults, men, women, diabetics and non-diabetics. I have no idea how large the group will be, but it doesn't stress me out. I'm prepared and there will be plenty of volunteers to help out. It took me some time to figure out recipes that don't require cooking or baking (I have no oven or stove available), but I managed. I'm looking forward to this event. The location is absolutely magnificent and guess what? I'm proud I have been asked to give this workshop!

Thursday, September 6, 2012


I'm not a clumsy person, on the contrary. On some days though, I can't seem to get anything done right. Things slip out of my hands (yes, I broke a piece off my new steamgenerator), I loose stuff, I trip over my own feet or bump into open cupboard doors. It's okay for those things to happen at home. What I don't like, is when these things happen at work.. You're in somebody else's territory and somehow that makes me nervous. That's when I get real clumsy and spill milk on the linen couch or knock over a vase of flowers on that beautiful oak table. I let the potatoes boil too rapidly so the cooking water gushes over the pot and stains the cooker. It's not okay to forget to open the tube of the gavage before you shoot in the medication your little patient needs. Because if there's no open tube, the pressure makes the meds come right back out onto the pretty clothes your patient is wearing, leaving it messed up in black stains that will never come off.

I remember babysitting at the age of 15 or so. I had a new family. They had 2 children and I would take care of them on Tuesday nights. There was a very small TV in black and white with no more than 5 channels, so not much interesting to do. The father of the family would always offer me a bottle of beer to relax on the couch while the kids were in bed. I never told him I didn't drink beer.. He always opened the bottle in advance. One night, I was reading a book while the kids were in bed. I wanted to lay my legs on the table and accidentally knocked over that bottle of beer. The lady of the house had knitted a very complicated tablecloth.. get the picture? Beer all over that tablecloth. I panicked and rushed to the kitchen to get a towel, so I could soak up the beer. The stain was huge and I tried to rub it away with water and soap. The cloth got wetter and wetter. That's when I decided I needed a blow dryer to dry up the stain. Unfortunately I held it too close to the tablecloth. The blow dryer died and the stain was still wet. I never went back babysitting in that family. It was too embarrassing. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What's in a name..

My first boyfriend had this amazing car (yes, the sports car on the right). It was a flashy green Triumph Spitfire. It was great fun to ride it as a passenger. I remember we drove it to my sister's wedding. The weather was beautiful and we didn't bring the hard top. I thought we were pretty amazing in that convertible!

Imagine my excitement when I finally got my driver's licence. I wanted a Triumph too! And when my father told me, his body shop had a Triumph for sale, I wanted it. He told me it was in good shape and it had a golden color. I handed him my savings (75.000 bfr. at the time - and yes, that was a lot of money for me) and he went to pick up my car. I couldn't wait for him to come home so I could see the car and go for a ride. I heard him pull up in front of the house and I rushed outside. O.M.G.... that was no Triumph!!! I was so upset! Who said I wanted that shitty car??? It was not golden: it was the color of runny diarrhea! It was not a convertible! It was not even a sports car! Oh yes, it was a Triumph alright.. Really. It was quite similar to the Honda Accord. Absolutely not the car I had in mind. But I had paid for it and I couldn't take it back. What a bummer.. That car has cost me so much money. It needed a bottle of oil a week. A week! I was a student at the time, working hard on the weekend in a restaurant, to earn some money. It took a lot of gas too. A full tank would last for 200 kms before the red light appeared, warning me to get gas. Absolutely not the best buy ever.

A little while ago, that first boyfriend got married. When I saw him in that wonderful Spitfire, it warmed my heart. It was not flashy green this time. It was deep blue and it was definitely not a Triumph Acclaim..

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

That was then... Now...

At the age of 18, doctors told me that the three lower vertebra of my spine are affected by arthritis. I was pretty young back then and there was no particular reason for that back injury. I did work long hours in a restaurant and trotted around on high heels working, but so many people do the same thing and don't suffer from back pain.

Over the years, my back hasn't healed at all. On the contrary: the problem is no longer just my lower back. It has gone up as well: right between my shoulder blades and the vertebra in my neck hurt like crazy. It's an every day issue. There's always the nagging feeling around my spine. It's difficult to bend over or to stand for a long period of time. Ironing is painful. So is sweeping floors or cleaning windows. It's not that I don't want to do my chores. I have to make sure I don't do all of these things on the same day, or I get in real trouble. Sometimes it takes me several days to finish one single chore, because I need to sit down and relax, so I don't need to take pain killers all the time. I hardly ever take pain relief. I rather take it easy, because on pain medication, you keep going and that doesn't do any good to your back either. Sometimes, my body really feels old and sore. It does not always correspond with the person I am or the things I want to do. I feel that I need to give up on certain things to keep going.

I could use a good massage. Actually, when I think of it, some heat would be nice too. Thinking of the pressure of two thumbs on the sore spots, makes me long for a good chiropractor... 

Monday, September 3, 2012

When I was young

I loved to go to school. Really! I didn't think it was a waste of time or a nuisance. It's not that the classes were that interesting, but it was the complete picture: friends, a good time, eager to learn, adventure,.. In class, I liked to fool around, but at the same time I did pay attention to what the teachers were saying. That was my study method, I guess. Paying attention in class = studying less at home. Because studying was not that exciting as going to school. I was not that good of a student. Learning things by heart was not something I did well. I passed every school year though and I never hated going to school.

That's why the first week of September, my heart jumps up and down for all them kids going back to school. I wish I could join them. I feel the excitement of crisp paper and new pens. The search for the right class rooms and figuring out what the teachers will be like. Picking out a new outfit and packing that lunch box... I'm totally excited! The girls say they are not, but I think they enjoy school just as much as I did. I just know they are curious about the upcoming school year. A week from now, they won't know any better and life will be back to normal.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Let go

Being in control is natural to me. It's what I do and who I am. I like to pull the strings and do things my way. It's not that I don't trust others or don't value their opinion. I guess it's just some thing that has grown over the years. It probably goes back to my youth, where I had fewer strings to hold but an overwhelming desire to do whatever I wanted to do.

Letting go of that control once you have accomplished things, is very difficult. It doesn't mean you have failed or you are not doing well. Maybe it's just time to delegate and let others help out. I'm sure it won't be a bad thing - on the contrary. It will benefit us all. It's scary and exciting at the same time. I have no idea how my body will respond to these changes, but I'm anxious to find out. There's a way back though. I need to give it a chance, but if things are not working out, there's always the chance to take back the control. So I don't have to be nervous. I can calm down the cramping in my intestines. Let's get it over with and get going. That way I will realize it's not the end of the world..

Saturday, September 1, 2012


It's getting worse by the day. My short-term memory is absolutely horrible. I remember plenty of things from the past, but I can't seem to remember that silly talkee-talkee from this morning. I poke my fingers in the morning and only 2 minutes later I forget what number it was. I put a ton load of ingredients on my countertop, to scratch my head and wonder what I was going to prepare. 
I have to write down most everything. There's always a grocery list in my BlackBerry. If I wouldn't make one, I would forget most of the stuff I need and come home with a bunch of things I don't need. 
It's no fun. At times, it's even embarrassing. The day before yesterday, I stepped on my scale three times in a row, because I couldn't remember my weight. Is it a sign of getting older or is it diabetes-related? I hear more diabetic friends suffer from the same problem. Would there be a way to improve this symptom or is it just something you have to deal with? There are ways to make sure you don't forget everything. You can keep track of dates in your agenda (I really suck at remembering appointments but I don't forget birthdays) and write grocery lists. You can ask someone else to remind you if you're afraid to forget. Most cell phones have an alarm function and smartphones have Task lists you can use. But still, it's not the same. Maybe I should do some brain training?