Thursday, December 31, 2015

Resolution: Changes in Attitude

LUCY BURDETTE: First of all, Happy New Year to our wonderful Red family! I'm grateful for each one of you. And now, with a new year beginning tomorrow, I thought I'd share my resolution...

John by our post

In Key West we have been assigned a horrible parking space. (I know, first world problem, but hear me out.) The driver must back in, with only about 6 inches of clearance between the car mirrors and two enormous concrete pillars on either side. I confess that I have avoided driving just because of this parking problem. But a couple of 
weeks ago, I watched John as he swung gracefully out toward the opposite cars, and then glided backwards into our slot. 

“You consider this a challenge, don't you?" I asked in an accusatory voice.

He grinned and agreed that he did. And right then I decided since I have no other options, I might as well try to take that approach too. 

Set that story aside for a minute.

In September, I was diagnosed with a disease called Meniere's. The experts seem to think it involves too much fluid in the inner ear, resulting in vertigo, nausea, and tinnitus along with some deafness, among other symptoms. Though it could be a virus or any number of other possibilities. It's not life-threatening, but it is life changing.
For example, it's important to reduce stress. (As one of my "spin" buddies said, "I actually didn't feel like I was that stressed until I got Meniere's and uncontrollable vertigo!!!!!") 

There's no cure at this point, since no one has a good grip on what actually causes it. But the main treatment is a low sodium diet, a diuretic, and staying away from caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, and salt. (Maybe you heard the screams as this was explained to me last fall.) And using a list of drugs to help manage the dizzy episodes when they recur. (Which they do.) 

Lucy in 2013
This has been a hard adjustment, as I’m used to feeling healthy. And I love food. I write about food, I talk about food, I get enormous pleasure from cooking and eating good food. I identify as a foodie. I boast that my maiden name “Isleib” means “is stomach” in German. So while I’m trying to do what I was told would help, I’ve done it with a lot of grumbling.


I'm no Pollyanna. I do have days when I feel lousy and tell my hub that maybe it's time to push me out into the harbor in an old leaky boat.

"But wait," I say, "I'd better take the old cat with me--he'd be too much for you. You guys don't really connect."

"And Tonka will want to go with you, no matter what the circumstances," says John. "And you aren't leaving me behind!"

And then we laugh like crazy imagining the Coast Guard or the Navy Seal divers coming to scoop the four of us out of the harbor. And I start poring over the No-Salt cookbooks again.

This is where the story of the parking space comes in. Somehow this year I am going to try to adjust my attitude about having this bizarre chronic disease, and about eating. No salt? No problem.
And that is my resolution, a change in how I view this condition, from yawping and yammering to acceptance.

How about you Red writers and readers? Are you facing any big challenges this year? Or do you have tips to share about surviving one in your past?

Lucy Burdette writes the Key West food critic mysteries. KILLER TAKEOUT, coming in April, is available for pre-order now.


  1. The parking space thing would make me absolutely crazy . . . . I'm the person that parks at the far end of the lot so I don't have to squeeze between cars or back out of a space. I'd be panicked at having to back into your space!

    I think the biggest problem in dealing with chronic illnesses is that there are so many unanswered questions and treatments that work for some don't necessarily work for others. I'm so sorry to hear about all that you're dealing with . . . I can't imagine dealing with the dizziness and vertigo [for me it's fibromyalgia and migraines].
    After some trial and error in figuring out how to live with a chronic condition, I've learned to simply accept the things I can't change [like not sleeping well]. I'm not good at "giving in" but I've learned to identify the signals that tell me I have to back off a bit and take it easier.
    Identifying what is the most helpful for you individually is important [I sleep when I can and keep migraine medicine handy] . . . sometimes I think one of the best ways to deal with this sort of thing is to have a positive attitude and to be determined not to let it get the best of you.

  2. Exactly Joan! And I'm sorry to hear about your conditions. But you are a role model--having figured out what triggers your episodes and what you need to do to take care of yourself. And gradually, the positive attitude follows...thank you!

  3. Oh, best of luck with Meniere's. I'm so sorry that you are dealing with this. My husband is on a low sodium diet, and we find there is so much salt hidden in so many places that you really have to check the labels, and it is astounding. As I am telling myself this year--attitude is EVERYTHING. And it sounds like you have that licked!

    Happy New Year, Reds. May everyone's fondest dreams come true in 2016!

  4. Roberta, I wish you the best with that condition. My spasticity medication causes vertigo. Very frightening the first time I experienced it. I felt like I was in the middle of a tornado. I fell when I stood up on my wheelchair ramp. I was injured and my injuries made my spasticity and limb weakness worse. People look at my wheelchair as if it is my disability. It is a tool.

    Disability. You have one. And you have tools. You might have a few unexpected things to negotiate, or you may move smoothly through treatment and adjust well with few insults to your body or indignities to your mind. You'll manage, because you must and not because you are brave or an inspiration (although I expect you will be), but because you are alive and productive. Besides, what else is there to do?

  5. That parking space sounds annoying. Remember, you can fold IN your side mirrors. It reminds me of when we were visiting the Keys and staying in one of those planned communities of condos, parking a rental car in our unit's spot in their lot. EVERY morning we'd come out and that car would have a new ding in the rear. Obviously someone behind us was parking by "feel" -- fortunately it's one of the few time I'd opted for that extra expensive insurance coverage.

    On Meniere's... SO unfair for someone who loves to eat and travel. You always have a positive attitude, Lucy, and you're usually the one helping your friends soldier through.

    For me it's all the aches and pains that go along with aging, physical and word-finding, most of which I intend to pretend to ignore as long as I possibly can. And I've had to give up red wine because it sends my heart into overdrive. Small potatoes in the scheme of things.

  6. I'm sorry to read of your diagnosis, Roberta, and your bouts of feeling low sound normal to me. But the parking issue adds insult to injury!

    I have a chronic, albeit minor, medical condition that can flare up if I am not careful. Earlier this year, I began taking Wellness courses offered at my big local medical center. The most beneficial has been Writing as Healing, a journaling course for people with issues or those who caretake people with same. Most of the people in the writing class are cancer survivors or patients. (I am not.) It has changed my outlook on, well, everything. I have embraced the Wellness concept and lifestyle and encourage everyone to look into what your medical community may offer. You don't have to be sick to participate.

  7. Exactly Kait--the sodium is everywhere!! we had a couple over to dinner last night, and they seemed to enjoy my low-sodium cooking:). (Roast chicken Hallie, with garlic/lemon/parsley spread under the skin...

    Reine, we truly admire how you handle some very very difficult issues. And thanks for being part of our family.

    Hallie, I've got the parking thing licked:). I'll show you when you visit...

    Ramona, that's a great suggestion. It's a process, isn't it?

    Now off to eat my morning granola, which is delicious even without a grain of salt:)

  8. To Joan and Lucy and Reine--it is not 'giving in' to take care of yourself--to recognize what you need to do, to find what works best for you. And to Ramona--yes, help might be anywhere you least expect it--be open to possibilities.

    This subject, Lucy, strikes home powerfully for me--I just read last night Jenny Lawson's book 'Furiously Happy-A Funny Book about Horrible Things.' I don't have a Rory or Rory Too (see aforementioned book) to help me, but I my resolution for this year is to be furiously happy on the good days. Wishing a furiously happy New Year to all the Reds!

  9. I've had a couple of major back surgeries (the second was needed because the hardware from the first one shifted, or as my surgeon said "you have a couple of screws loose.") I apparently inherited some spine problems (half my dad's family has back and/or neck problems, and most of them have had surgery). Even with the surgeries, I still have some problems, which now include neck problems. I'm proud of the fact that I continue to work full-time, as my doctors tell me most people have to stop working after the kind of surgery I had. But - and this is what really bothers me - I seem to be getting a little more stooped over each year, and I HATE this!

  10. What a tough diagnosis, Roberta. I think attitude adjustment goes a long way in so many parts of our lives. I'm pretty much with Holly in the joints and aches and pains apartment. I go for a hike with my son and watch as he acts like a mountain goat on the trail and I remember when I was a mountain goat on the trail. Not anymore. But at least I can still get out there and walk. I wish you, and all the Reds, a very healthy and Happy New

  11. Hallie, not Holly. Grr hate using my phone as computer. but I am on a solo writing retreat and blessing of blessings my laptop can't connect to Wi-Fi. I am being very productive.

  12. Oh Deb, I would hate that, too. And it's not something that you can fix with hair dye or exercise or losing a few pounds. Work really is a balm.

  13. Reine, you are an inspiration.

    Roberta, I am so sorry this is happening for you, and you are right that attitude is everything in a situation like this. When I saw you at Crime Bake we were lamenting that we both were on restricted food regimens -- you with the no-salt (chocolate, alcohol) one and me on a strict no-fat diet pending removal of my gall bladder. It takes more than self-discipline to stay on course. You also have to figure out how to stop feeling sorry for yourself because you can't eat the pizza or the decadent desserts or (in the case of our friends with mobility and other issues) do whatever it is you want to do.

    Your situation is ongoing, and for that you have my sympathy. I had the GB out in mid-November and am now pretty much eating normally. I wish you all the best in the new year learning to manage this condition. You licked the parking space thing, you can handle this, too!

    Happy new year to you, all of the Reds and the back blog friends!

  14. Roberta, sp sorry to hear of your diagnosis — but your attitude is both admirable and inspiring. I'm inspired by so many on Jungle Reds — Joan Emerson, Kait, Reine, Ramona, FCHurch, Edith and, of course, all the Reds! I try to be grateful in this crazy life. Often, Noel and I will each list five things we're grateful for in the day before going to sleep. Really does make a difference. And I'm not talking the big things, just little details. But thinking about those moments (I call them grace notes) and mentioning them really does go a long way to making the world seem more positive.

  15. Edith, I probably miss hiking and backpacking the most. But every now and then I remember the treks up Mt. Whitney carrying an 80lb pack and wonder why... ;-)

  16. Lucy/Roberta, I feel for you. I was diagnosed with MS in 2008 (then the mother of kids 8 and 6). I have an an altered sensation in my feet since 2011. The nerve damage in my right knee is, I think, getting worse as the distance I can walk and amount of time I can stand has declined to the point where I'm going to have to talk to my doctor about getting a handicap parking tag. I have sporadic pain in my left upper arm that is really only helped by the direct application of heat (the drugs I was given make me feel stoned and that's worse than the pain). I can't sleep in my bed any longer, not really. My arm starts to hurt and the only place I can get rest is on the reclining love seat in my den.

    I've continued to work and write, earned a Black Belt -- but yes, there are days when I'm right there with you in the "it's time to ship me off in a boat" feeling.

    Big hugs to you and Reine. And yes, here's to an awesome 2016!

  17. FChurch--furiously happy, I love that! we should all check in on how that's going.

    Deb R--you are a determined inspiration too! IMHO, it's okay to hate some of things we're saddled with too--as long as we don't wallow too long LOL.

    Edith, Happy New Year--we are all in awe of your productivity!

    Brenda, thank you. So glad the surgery went well. I did moan a bit when my family ordered jalapeno poppers wrapped in crispy bacon earlier this week:)

    Susan, the 5 things to be grateful for is a wonderful suggestion. thanks!

  18. Hallie, not Holly. Grr hate using my phone as computer. but I am on a solo writing retreat and blessing of blessings my laptop can't connect to Wi-Fi. I am being very productive.

  19. Best wishes to all of you with whatever life has chosen to hand you.
    You are quite a group of resourceful people and it is encouraging to see how you all cope and flourish.

    Here's to a new year of being "furiously happy"!

  20. Roberta, you do have challenges! I guess as we each get the tiniest bit older (not that any of us look it) things start shifting around. My husband was just told to limit salt, too, and I might as well do it, as well, since my blood pressure has also started inching up.

    Luckily, you are a great cook, and another fortunate thing is that you live where there is fresh and delicious food, including citrus. Lemon juice, I've found, adds a salty flavor but without the actual salt. On the parking issue, you could always get a smaller car. :-) But really, it's a good thing to know, how to park in a tight spot. I predict you'll be whipping in and out of it precisely in no time.

    As for resolutions, I'm saying this publicly, gulp: this is the year I'm writing a damn book. I finally have a "hook", just need to do some more research, and I've plunked down major coin for the workshop that Rhys is teaching AND committed to writing a blog about it. Also, I've registered for both Bouchercon and Malice, and made arrangements for accommodations. It's put up or shut up time.

  21. When I was in New Orleans for a month in June, I learned to flip in the car mirrors on the street side, and relearned how to parallel park an Accord, which seemed to have Moby Dick dimensions on the narrow, car-lined streets. I routinely flip in my car mirrors when navigating my narrow garage door opening.

    We eat a healthier diet now, with more vegetables and whole grains. I listen to my body.

    Happy New Year to all, with good health and peace for 2016.

  22. SOmetimes I just go out and loo at the sky. In fact, i always do. It's so big, and we are so small, and things that seem incredibly important will be nothing in a matter of days or weeks..

    When I think--I'll laugh about this one day, then I think, well, why not laugh sooner? So Laugh Sooner might be a good motto.

    Health is holding on, knock on wood, except for minor-ish annoyances, and the dreaded looking in the mirror, of course.

    Susan, the five things--so interesting. Jonathan and I do "recap." Let's do recap, I'll say, meaning "let's remind ourselves how we spent the day." It's so lovely, and really meaningful.

    All this makes me love you all even more.

  23. thanks Libby and Margaret--folding the mirrors is such a clever idea:).

    Yay for that resolution Karen--we'll all be right there, cheering you on!

    Laugh sooner--love it Hank! xox

  24. Hank, I laughed sooner, when I read your first line above. My New Year's resolution is to turn off auto spell!

    Yay, Karen... do it!

    Thanks, everyone. You are good friends.

    I'd like to thank the Spirit of 2015 for doing brilliant things for Steve's health. Last night he joined the Wisconsin Alumni of Tucson at the Fox and Hound to watch the big game... I think he'll be staying home tonight, but it was great to see him go out with the guys and have a good time! This means more to me than anything.

  25. such great news about Steve--may the trend continue!

  26. Reine, you are always an inspiration. I know you don't always feel like it, but you really are.

    Deb, FChurch, Mary--all of you! I love "Furiously happy," and "Laugh sooner" and "do recap." And, Susan, thanks for reminding me of the five gratitudes before bed. I did that for years but have fallen off lately. It's so interesting how that changes your perspective, isn't it? You look for things that make you happy all during the day.

    Karen, I am SO excited for you! Congratulations on your determination to go for it. I have no doubt you can write that book!

    Hank, on the looking in the mirror thing--One thing they don't tell you about cataract surgery is that you will look like you've been in a prize fight for six to eight weeks afterwards. Huge, dark, sunken bruises beneath both eyes. Haggard didn't begin to describe it. I am just now getting back to my normal state of dark circles and aging face and am so grateful for it!

    And Roberta, you know how much I sympathize. I've lived with Meniere's for twenty-five or thirty years now. There are things that can help--you just have to find the solution that is right for you. And in the meantime, just think of all the junk food you are NOT eating, and what an advantage you have because you are such a good cook.

    I'm adopting all the resolutions above. And also, to cut way down on the "shoulds". I do so many things because I feel like I should. It keeps me from staying focused on my writing, and it makes me exhausted. So I have got to do better at setting boundaries. And take more writing retreats, like Edith!

  27. Thank you, everyone. One more thing to love about the Reds, the unconditional support.

    Reine, such good news about Steve! Give him a big hug from me, okay? And ask for one back, while you're at it.

    Happy New Year to all, with wishes for a warm, happy, healthy and prosperous 2016 for us all. Also, special Reds cocktails at book conferences together.

  28. I liked this blog post so much I never went to bed. First I had to wait till Steve came home. I had to know he was okay. Then I kept reading more that I loved and more... now I have to go to bed. Really. Right now. Good night.


  29. OH, I am laughing now, too. WHAT IS THE DEAL with auto speller? WHERE do I turn it off??

    Look at the sky, it was supposed to say >> Look <<.

    AND I proofread, I really do. I think it changes AFTERWARD. Grr. xoxo

  30. YAy, Karen!

    Yay, Steve!

    It is going to be a great 2016.

    And we will all go to the Oscars with Susan and Daisy Ridley.

  31. So many brave, strong and awesome women here. I love being part of this family. Lucy, I'm so sorry about this diagnosis. John occasionally has bouts of dizziness and I've noticed it is always at times of stress, so maybe he has it too! Otherwise we seem to be chugging along just fine. we still plan to travel as much but have decided to make it smoother and simpler. Upgrade on flights, take taxis. No driving in Italy this summer. Too stressful.
    One resolution for me. Learn to say no.
    Debs... Huge downside of cataract surgery was looking in the mirror and seeing those wrinkles! Still undecided on what steps to take. I'm a chicken about surgery.
    One resolution, like Hank's is to laugh every day.
    Love and good wishes to my Red sisters this New Year

  32. Happy New Year to all you wonderful Reds and friends on the blog.

    It's sad to hear of all the medical issues but I'm finding we're discovering more as we age. But then I look at my 95 year old mother and realize I'm not THAT old yet but I still have issues. In fact, cataract surgery was mentioned to me at my appointment last week. "Not yet", she said, "but keep it in mind."

    I hate autocorrect - most of the time. Sometimes it's just funny; other times, annoying as heck.

    I'm looking forward to 2016. This is the year I clear out my email inbox. Yes it is! For sure! Maybe.

    Here's to a positive new year for all.

  33. Oh yes, count me in on the Oscars! Rhys, hope he doesn't have this--lots of people are dizzy for other reasons. I like your idea of traveling less stressfully. And saying no when needed.

    Marianne, haha, you already gave us a laugh for the day with your inbox--we all know that feeling!

  34. I don't like to make resolutions because I don't keep them longer than a few months, however this year, I'm going to say no more. As a mom of 3, sister of 5, and friend of many, I find that I feel obligated to say yes to things that drain my energy, stress me out, and take me away from the things/people I love.

    As for the health issues, I'm inspired by all of you. This fall, I ran 2 marathons too close together. 1st one, I was pulled off the course at 20 miles for too much vomiting...2nd one, I ran 3 weeks later cuz I was determined to finish and I spent all those hours training, but the problem was that I had to buy new shoes for 2nd race. I thought I broke them in, but the 9 blisters I ended up with on the bottom of my feet indicate otherwise. I couldn't walk for over a week and now suffer with what appears to be some nerve damage on one heel. It has made me appreciate the good health I do have. And that leads me to the 2nd "resolution", appreciate the good things. I might have to swipe Susan's idea of listing 5 things each night.

  35. Roberta,

    Your sense of humor will probably get you through this challenge!

    Happy New Year to all!

  36. RD, sorry about your health problems. Appreciating the good things and saying no more are great thoughts for the new year!

    and thanks Deb R:) xo

  37. What a joy to find this blog! Recently on a trip to New Mexico, started sharing favorite mystery authors with others and found it delightful that we shared many in common! Having just discovered your site.....was able to pass the info along for their enjoyment as well.
    I was diagnosed with Central Vestibular Disorder in 2013 and it has been "quality of life changing" in many ways. Light headed when standing, unable to stand still in one place or in lines,dizziness,erratic blood pressure,exhaustion,low tolerance for noise, crowds,or too much input of any kind. A big help has been the use of a cane for "touch" to know that I am grounded in space. Blessings come with this as well.......a profound appreciation for my husband who does all in his power to make sure we continue to relish the many good parts of our daily life, he has been so willing to "adjust" to so many changes in the way we manage travel, shopping, entertaining,lack of me driving etc. The blessings of supportive friends and family who certainly never signed up for this with me fills me with gratitude. Helen

  38. Happy New Year Reds! We seem to all have issues and problems, so here's hoping we all can deal with them in a positive manner. I know I'm working on mine. I'm raising my cup of kindness to all.

  39. What a tough diagnosis, Roberta. I think attitude adjustment goes a long way in so many parts of our lives. I'm pretty much with Holly in the joints and aches and pains apartment. I go for a hike with my son and watch as he acts like a mountain goat on the trail and I remember when I was a mountain goat on the trail. Not anymore. But at least I can still get out there and walk. I wish you, and all the Reds, a very healthy and Happy New

  40. All y'all are inspirations, even though all of you believe all you're doing is going about your everyday day-by-day.

    In a conversational whiplash swerve, I second the garlic and lemon juice as a salt substitute, especially for vegetables or pasta primavera. I've learned to watch salt intake, too, but it used to be much more drastic, as you'll see in the next paragraph. Anyway, what I learned to do was roast chicken with garlic and lemon juice and then save the pan drippings as a seasoning. Using the slow cooker with liner bags makes saving the juices easier because I just gather up the bag as you would a pastry bag over a container in the sink and cut a small hole in the bottom of the bag to let the juices run down into the storage container. The small hole keeps the bones and gunk back in the bag. If you want to make your own broth from the bones, well, there they are. You have them, too.

    Twelve years ago, right before I started connecting with Sisters in Crime New England, I was undergoing high-dose prednisone and a toxic soup to treat vasculitis. If you watched TV's "House," the team mentioned vasculitis almost every week. The treatment is a lot like what was given then to lupus patients - massive doses of steroids and an oral chemo drug, along with other drugs to control the side effects. I was miserable for about five years, but the toxic stuff did the job.

    One of my specialists likened my condition to a house fire. The fire's out, but some damage remains. Yet, moderating my diet and treating my sleep apnea has helped me regain some ground. Not only am I literally back in the saddle, but I do my own saddling and - I'm inordinately proud of this one - hoof-picking. I never thought I'd have the strength to hold and get up from a squat four times around the horse. I don't even have to grab the horse to get up. I call that a "WIN."

    Happy New Year, Reds and other Red Fans.

  41. Mary Sutton, I'm sorry I missed your post earlier--you are a champion! Really, an inspiration for all of us. this reminds me of a quote I read this week:

    "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." Philo

  42. Helen, thank you for sharing. So sorry about your diagnosis, but we will celebrate your husband and your fighting spirit! thank you for sharing our blog!

  43. That is a win, Rhonda! you've been through hell, and you're always so cheerful! And thanks for sharing the chicken tip:)

  44. Lucy/Roberta -- Have been thinking of you today -- I hate the idea that you have any discomfort at all, let alone this. Take care.

    I love your outlook, although what can we each do when we are faced with something like this?

    As a friend said about her husband's ALS, "Well, he has his diagnosis. I just don't know mine."

  45. Lucy Burdette am agree with you . and Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.
    SEO Expert

  46. thank you for the sweet comment Denise. ALS? I can't even imagine...your friend is very brave!

  47. Ooops. This hindsight flash occurred to me late last night. I don't squat to clean hooves. I bend. Squatting isn't balanced enough, just not safe. Bending is still hard enough. Bending makes me dizzy and short of breath, probably thanks to the "spare tire"/"prednisone dome"/"menopot."

    However, I do squat to scoop the litter boxes and spelunk on the bottom shelf of the fridge. Both squatting and bending are getting easier the more I do them. I hate when The Notorious They Say is right.

    Anyway, returning to old activities that once felt like impossibilities is like finding out an outfit you couldn't bear to donate, even though it was too tight, fits again and remains in style. A gift you didn't know you wanted.

  48. I'm late to the party, but first, thank you for following me on Twitter! Second, I also have Meniere's and feel your pain. Thank God the vertigo hasn't struck in a few years, but I am deaf in one ear and have a constant hissing noise in it. Thank you so much for sharing.