Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

From the head to the toes, it’s a barrel of laughs


I turned sixty on Christmas Eve and while some who are older look at me with envy and remark, “Oh, you’re nothing but a spring chicken!”...I haven’t been feeling it. I gotta be honest, all kinds of issues come forth at this age. In reading I have done, DIET seems to be the culprit of so many bodily ailments. As they compound, it is tough to decide what to deal with first! Which card do I draw? Different issues often require eliminating certain foods to manage the situation. I adhere to the statement, Food is Medicine, yet it seems to be a lifelong battle trying to figure it out.

My entire family traveled north from Missouri for Christmas and stayed at the Vermilion Park Inn in Soudan, where Bill and I still assist with managing. Following the rum balls, roast beef and cheer, the holiday five (a reduced version of the freshman fifteen) brought my doctor to raise her eyebrows and prescribe me a heartier dose of high blood pressure meds. I looked at this growing handful of pills thinking, this is way too excessive. There’s the pink thyroid pill, my wonderful “crab tabs”, and the blood pressure mix which now includes a water pill. I’d lost weight during my gallbladder issue back in 2017 but “puffed” after finally being able to EAT again. Damn shame.

About three weeks ago, after talking to a friend who has had great success, I decided to jump onboard the bandwagon of folks doing the popular KETO diet. For those who don’t know, KETO (or ketogenic) is a very low-carb diet where you eat protein and fat (plus non-starch vegs, berries) and your body switches to using body fat for its fuel supply. That’s about the simplest explanation out there. With KETO there is plenty of cheese, meat, bacon, cream other words, FAT on the menu. Since I ditched my gallbladder I’ve been taking digestive enzyme tablets with every meal to assist and I expect I will take them for the rest of my life but I’m not used to eating so much fat. I am already down twelve pounds but as I move through the third week I see it is not the best plan for me. I really do NOT feel good. There are too many acidic foods involved like meat, eggs and dairy and that causes other discomforts. I need to follow a plan that better addresses “gut issues” and focus on moderate eating of vegetables, healing broths and organic meats and fish… in other words, to quote my co-worker, “real food.” There is much information about our bodies and what happens after a lifetime of eating processed food, taking too many antibiotics, eating modified grain products, and the list goes on. It is complicated.  

My need for immediate change is obviously for health reasons with ominous consequences on the horizon if I ignore the warning signs. I don’t want diabetes, a stroke, or heart attack. I also admit there is SOME vanity motivating me too. Well sure there is. I, want to wear smaller sizes again and all of that, so it’s time to stage a full-fledged attack with diet and exercise.

Bill and I dug out my Wii entertainment system from the 1990’s and I have been playing with that. But what I’m really excited about is my sis-in-law sending me a link for YouTube’s Jane Fonda Walk routines (designed for “autumn hens” vs. “spring chickens”). I checked it out right away and am delighted to be able to do a routine that mimics walking a mile and not have to leave my living room! Plus it is set up in two versions, for beginners and more advanced. Jane, being Jane, does talk throughout, encourage and offer health tidbits. At the end she praises my good effort and invites me back. I like that. So between Jane and the Wii I’ve got some good things happening in the exercise department. Aside from diet and exercise there are even more health-related things to deal with. 

In a recent trip to the dentist for my annual teeth cleaning and check-up, I learned I now have a very large cavity that may require the tooth to be pulled. In my life I’ve spent lots of time in the chair maintaining my teeth so it is sad to lose one even if it’s not located right in the front of my string of once pearly whites. If they must pull it I’ll be doing my pirate routine until I cut into my traveling fund and have a bridge put in. The alternative being...teeth wandering around like men in a hardware store. A bright spot in the dental experience was the hygienist, nicknamed “Angel Hands,” who gave me the most gentle tooth cleaning I have ever experienced in my life. I praised her. Then she pulled out her sharp periodontal probe and measured my gum pocket depths and kindly told me those are getting deeper too. Welcome to the heavy maintenance decades. I’m now going to require two dental cleanings a year to keep the choppers intact it appears. It doesn’t end here.

My eyes are now on the barely-good-enough-to-donate-to-science list I think! Our entire family suffers from extreme nearsightedness and I have astigmatism. A couple years ago I saw flashes of light and a gray curtain in the side of my right eye. I immediately saw my opthalmologist who informed me I had a tear in my retina and had to dash to the cities to have it fixed or risk complete detachment and possible blindness. That was patched up, but now I have a group of “floaters” hanging out in there. I told a friend about it and she laughed and said, “Ya when I used to lay in the grass and look at the sky it was clear and blue, but now with floaters it looks like a swarm of sandflies above me!” The amazing brain does adjust and I don’t notice my floaters so much. At Thanksgiving, I sent two pairs of older prescription glasses off to a place I found online to have new lenses put into the old frames. The frames were fine and I liked them and figured I’d save a few bucks. Because of the holidays they didn’t get back to me until the new year. From the moment I put them on they weren’t right. I never usually struggle with a new pair of glasses but couldn’t get used to these. I took them in to a shop along with my new prescription and tipped the technician just to see what was wrong with the lenses. It turned out the pupillary measurement was not correct. I called and spoke to the tech who said he would redo them and have now sent them back with still another accurate pair for reference. Let’s hope he doesn’t screw them up again. Meanwhile, I have been wearing odd sorts of glasses I find in my dresser and desk drawers and I’ve been making do. There are glasses all over the house. This current pair I’m wearing has the lined bifocal and it is brutal dealing with “the line”. Years ago it was all that they had but I sure am looking forward to a progressive set of lenses again.

I realize I do have SO much to be grateful for despite all of the above-mentioned.  Bill often will say, “Honey there are people out there that have things a lot worse than we do.” So true, so very true. 

Scarlet Stone welcomes your comments and can be reached at her new email:


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