Author: Rachel's Reviews

I am a rottentomatoes approved film critic and podcaster. I love animation, romcoms and holiday films and I am the proud creator of the popular Hallmarkies Podcast as well as Rachel's Reviews. I love interviewing creative minds and grow each time I interact with a new human. I love what I do

My Heart in a Pandemic

emergency room

Just wanted to give you all a quick update on my health. If you are following me on social media you have no doubt seen me discuss some problems I have been having with my breathing since I finished up Sundance in the beginning of February.

It felt like I was always gasping for breath and of course as this is a major symptom of COVID19 I became very concerned. I saw a doctor at the beginning of March and he said it was just asthma inflamed by allergies and gave me a prednisone and inhalor prescription. These helped a little bit but the problem persisted. I was then tested for COVID19 and it came back negative. What could this be? I did not know!

Then last week I went into the doctors because I was afraid I was going to stop breathing all together. After examining me they found my blood pressure to be very high and my heartbeat and breathing to be elevated. They strongly encouraged me to go to the emergency room which, despite the expense, I decided to do.

At the emergency room I went through over 8 hours of testing (even though I was in the respiratory unit the place was completely empty which surprised me with COVID19 going on) and the doctor noticed something strange in an ultrasound of my heart, which he told me to have a cardiologist take a look at.

The next day I made an appointment for an echocardiogram, which was administered on Friday. I then talked to the doctor over the phone because of social distancing concerns. He was very encouraging and helpful, which was a great relief. He told me I have systolic heart failure which has to do with the left ventricle of your heart and that I have a problem with my ejection fraction (a measurement of how much blood your left ventricle is pumping out). Mine is at 30% when it should be more like 65%.

It might sound weird, but I was thrilled to have a diagnosis and treatment plan. For months I had been dealing with this mysterious breathing problem and having an unidentified medical condition is the worst. While not a good thing, this condition is treatable and I am working with the doctor to overcome. That’s the best I could hope for in such a situation!

The doctor has me on 4 different medications and I am taking my blood pressure/weight each day. I am also trying to eat as little salt as possible. In under a week of treatment I’ve definitely felt a difference, and I am highly motivated to continue to improve my health. I’ve been too lazy about it for too long!

If you have any favorite low sodium recipes I’d love to try them. The only major downside is I have to be extra vigilant with social distancing until the blood pressure gets under control. If I were to get COVID in this state it would be disastrous. I was already doing well with my isolation but not even going to the grocery store is going to make me crazy!

I guess at least I have plenty of motivation to get those numbers down and under control!

Most importantly I am grateful for my family and friends who I have missed terribly during this difficult time. Nevertheless, I have been thankful for all the emails/phone calls and social media posts that have come in (and prayers). Thank you for all the support. I am also grateful for the excellent medical care I have received from doctors, nurses and more.

I know this is just the beginning of a long journey to a healthy heart, but I feel at peace about it. I’ve been doing these Sunday Devotionals each week since being in quarantine. This has helped me be in a spiritually strong place for this health crisis. I have felt God’s guiding hand and His spirit comfort me each step along the way.

I hope He is helping you through this tough time. God bless!

Isolation, Family and Spirituality

As we all know the world has been put on lockdown and we are all waiting for COVID19 to take its toll and finish its course across this country (to a reasonable degree at least). Just when I think it couldn’t get any worse it does until I want to hide away in a little ball in my room. In many ways I feel like Elsa in Frozen but without a sister knocking on my door trying to play with me. It’s been such a surreal time!

While this time of quarantine has been very difficult there have been some surprises. First, I have been cooking way more. For a single person I think I was pretty well prepared and have a robust pantry (and fortunately had just gotten my toilet paper order from amazon the week before this all started!). While I have made 2 or 3 trips to the grocery I’ve kept it to a minimum and have rarely left my house. This has left me to cook almost all of my meals. I honestly didn’t realize how much I was eating out, so it has been very rewarding.

Secondly, my family has grown closer from all of this. My family is a combination of people who love each other but are all very different. Everything from our ages, distances apart, to our life choices make it challenging to develop a close bond. However, when all this started someone began an email chain and we’ve kept it up and all updated how we are feeling and dealing with this situation. This may sound like a small thing but it’s been big for me. I feel closer to my family than I have in a long time and for that I am truly grateful.

Finally, this time of isolation has actually proven to be a time of spiritual growth. While I have definitely had my lonely times (thanks for helping me deal facebook friends!), I’ve also had more time with the scriptures and my thoughts with God. In order to help my friends who are without church I started doing a Sunday Devotional series over on my youtube channel where I share a talk on a nondenominational topic and then discuss the subject with a friend of mine (Caroline and twice Chris from Durbania). I’m very proud of the series and even if it doesn’t help others (which I hope it does) I have been very edified by it. It reminds me of my days as a Sunday School teacher, which was a very rewarding time in my life.

So far we have talked about kindness, courage and hope. Next week is on forgiveness. I would love your thoughts on topics or anything else that might help the series. I hope you find it as comforting as it has been for me to prepare.

Fortunately, I tested negative for COVID19 so I feel a calm I had been missing for some time. It has been a tough time but I am so grateful for my job with Kobayashi and everybody involved with both of my podcasts. I am extremely blessed beyond measure. I hope that you have found ways to be edified during this difficult time. Please share your stories and what you have done to survive (maybe even thrive) during this time of isolation. God bless you all

ps. If anyone reading has the ability to support my efforts as a freelancer/podcaster I’d sure be grateful. Every little bit helps https://www.patreon.com/hallmarkies

COVID19 and Taking Away My Third Place

movies

Hey everyone! I hope you are all doing well and surviving this crazy situation in the best way you know how. COVID19  or The Coronavirus (not sure when you use which name tbh) has come upon us and not only made people sick but done a thrashing on our entire society. Nobody has been left unharmed. We now just have to wait and see how long it will last and how we will recover/regroup.

Honestly when this all began a few days ago I was a little over-confident in my coping abilities. I thought with what I joke as my hermit lifestyle this would be easy. I work from home, am well stocked with a pantry/freezer and don’t have any kids. I kind of already did an experience like this when I tore  my MCL in 2014 and had to be bedridden for 3 months. It was all going to be easy-peazy.

Well, I am here to tell you I was wrong. While I certainly don’t have it nearly as bad as most the whole experience has been surprisingly emotional. While I am more home-bound than most people it has been eye-opening to realize how much the social interactions I did have meant to me.

Obviously the biggest loss for me is the movie theater. It is not uncommon for me to see 4-5 movies a week, if not more. I frequently love to go down to the arthouse theater and make a whole day of seeing movies. Just last week I saw 3 movies in a day:  Emma with my Mom, an early screening of My Spy (our last screening for a while), and because I knew it would be the last chance A Portrait of a Lady on Fire at the Broadway.

I saw Emma again on Sunday night and as I left the theater I started to cry.  It might sound silly to some but not having the theater is a real loss for me. As I was crying I realized the movie theater is my ‘third place’.

Sociologist Ray Oldenburg came up with the idea of the ‘third place’. Every human he surmised has 3 places- home, work and a third place. Usually this place is some type of communal experience with both familiar and new acquaintances. It’s a chance to bond with others and feel a part of a team in a different way than work.

Sometimes I go to the movies alone but even then it’s still a communal experience where I can relax and participate with others in enjoying (or not enjoying) the film. In addition, I have my community of local critics and fellow movie buff friends like Jen who goes to most of the screenings with me. Now that experience has been taken away from me and it has felt like a real loss.

Like I said, obviously many are actually suffering with illness and even death so I don’t have much cause to complain but it is a loss nonetheless. In addition, I have the added stress of speculating what the fallout of all of this will be. I don’t see how it is not completely devastating to the arts and the longer it goes the worse it will be.

Fortunately I have my podcasting which I can do right from home and that is a tremendous blessing. It allows me to connect with my fellow collaborators and cohosts and keep some degree of normalcy for myself and hopefully for the listeners as well. I am beyond grateful for both of my podcasts and I hope they can be help provide some entertainment and relaxation for you during this intense time.

For Hallmarkies Podcast click here.

For Rachel’s Reviews click here.

I was also obviously very sad to lose weekly church services. To try and have some spirituality during this time I started a series on my channel where I give a little talk and chat  about a topic with a friend of mine. Here is the first one on the virtue of kindness.

Happy Valentine’s Day 2020

Hey everyone! I hope you are all doing well. We recently had Valentine’s Day and I continued my tradition of making my personalized valentine with the help from my amazing graphic designer friend Joan at bitsy creations. Her website is amazing and you should totally check it out for all your custom design products and needs.

So here is the valentine for this year:

82667612_515671902695349_2795819582785323008_n

I went with this design because one of my most anticipated movies of the year is Wonder Woman 84 and so my avatar wearing her outfit seemed to sum up the moment in time for me. I loved the first Wonder Woman so I hope so much that this sequel lives up to the hype.

Plus I love how bright and cheerful it is. I do have so many wonderful people in my life and I hope they all know how much I love them. I love the background we came up with and the red heart balloon is so cute. I just love it!

I hope you all had a great Valentine’s Day even if, like me, you didn’t have a love to share it with. Maybe sometime that will happen and maybe it won’t. However, we can be happy now for the good we do have and the blessings showered upon us by the Lord. I am most grateful.

Sure love you all!

Rachel

Rachel’s 2019 Year In Review

2019 is an interesting year to think about for me. In some ways I feel like nothing happened and yet at the same time everything happened. It was a lot of hard work, mixed in with the events of life that make things interesting.

I Need My Phone

phone

So this last weekend I had a struggle!

On Saturday I lost my phone to some great divide where no one will ever find it. We looked EVERYWHERE. Not only did I look everywhere but my Brother Sam and Mother looked a second and third time. It was gone and we could not find it.

This meant going to the Sprint store and ordering a replacement phone. Luckily I have insurance so I was able to get it the replacement without too much damage. The hard part was waiting the 4 days for me to get the new phone.

I know what you baby boomers are thinking ‘what’s the big deal?’ ‘People survived without phones for hundreds of years. I can even hear you groan about how tied to electronics millennials are and what a sad state the world is…

And you would be right BUT nevertheless I have to admit I NEED MY PHONE! The last few days have not been pleasant. Not having my phone increased my anxiety and decreased my overall happiness, so it is not something I would do again for any reason.

I know not having a phone is supposed to be a therapeutic experience to separate from technology and commune with the earth or whatever but this is not my experience. Not only is my whole life on my phone but the organizational framework for my life is built on using my phone.

I currently basically have 3 jobs with my part-time marketing work, my freelance work as a critic and my labor intensive work with my podcasts. With my phone I can easily balance all 3 of these commitments and make sure I am executing them to the best of my ability.

I can quickly check my many calendars, social media accounts, emails and more seamlessly and basically at the same time. If I’m reliant upon my laptop than I have to be sedentary and be flipping back and forth between the various webpages instead of having them all connected.

I even had to go out and buy an alarm clock because I rely on my phone to wake me up when I have morning interviews and meetings. Not having my phone not only reduced my productivity but it increased my anxiety that I was forgetting stuff and not responding to comments/questions/tweets like I need to for my career.

Like I said, I know many will lament how tied I am to my phone but there it is. Not having it was not a stress-reliever in any way and I hope I never have to go without it for a long period again!

What do you think? Are you a person who relies on your phone or are you a free spirit who isn’t tied to one? Or maybe you don’t even have one? I can’t even imagine that!

As for me I am a proud entrepreneur who needs my phone!

PS. Sorry I have been missing from this blog. I’ve been so busy the last few months but I would like to do more. If you have ideas for essays from me let me know!