Saturday, January 31, 2009
Yup. That's me.
So, here's a picture:
Two words: Yum.My. Go get you some.
I wrote a review for Gluten Free in Baltimore, but it's not up yet. Should be there next week! Oo! and there's a new contributor there, too. She's all sorts of smart, has been studying Celiac Disease and is even a published author on the gluten-y subjects, so go get you some of her knowledge, too.
I feel ignored.
LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME!
I need some non-digital friends.
...or more interesting blog posts. Hmmm.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Just beginning the series? Here’s what you’ve missed.
Thanks for the kudos last week. I hope you’re enjoying my story. This episode picks up where Part I left off: Was I being a hypochondriac or was something actually wrong with me?
I couldn’t stop thinking about how, 2 years earlier, I had done some research and realized that I was showing symptoms of Bi-Polar Disorder. I had taken my fears to a psychiatrist, and he agreed with me. He started me on Lithium, which I hated, hated, hated. But it seemed to help. It was bad enough learning to cope with that. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to find out something else was wrong with me.
I lived in denial for as long as I could, making excuses for myself. Eventually, I could stand it no longer. That night I bit the bullet: I pulled up to my laptop and typed in WebMD.com. I started searching by symptoms:
- Fatigue - slept about 9-10 hours a night and still needed an afternoon nap. Check.
- Achy joints - even on warm days now, and can't write for very long anymore either. Check.
- Strange, triangular flush/rash on my cheeks - and it's spreading now, too. Check.
- Tenderness in my skin. Check.
- Easily bruised. Check.
- Blood sugar irregularities. Check.
WebMD came back with a variety of results: Rheumatoid arthritis, Cronic Fatigue Syndrome, Lupus. Wait. Lupus?! I pulled up the symptom checksheet for lupus. It wasn't a perfect fit, but it was really really close. I was terrified, but I just couldn’t bring myself to face another diagnosis like that. I kept talking myself out of going to see a doctor.
Then I got the Headache.
It wouldn't go away. It didn't matter what I took, it got worse and worse and worse. My co-workers and students questioned my health, I shrugged it off. One night I got a glass of wine to try to relax, not knowing that the tannins in red wine can actually cause headaches.
The pain in my head exploded exponentially, and I ended up in the urgent care, thrashing in the worst agony I had ever felt. I missed 2 days of work before it faded back to a steady ache. I had that headache for 2 weeks before I dragged myself to a doctor.
I needed a new doctor, so I searched for an office that had an endocrinologist on staff, just in case I did have Lupus (God forbid). I made the appointment, left a little early from work, and went to see Dr. Shultz.
Dr. Shultz looked like he should be a jolly old grandpa, sitting on a front porch somewhere, drinking lemonade and telling stories. His eyes were twinkly, and he had a very friendly smile, and I knew, just looking at him that he was really, really, really smart.
He took one look at me, cocked his head to the side, and said, "I think this is a visit that I need to sit down for." He sat, crossed his legs, and waited. “What’s wrong with you?” was all he asked, and then he let me talk.
I poured it out to him: everything EXCEPT my trip to WebMD. Would he say lupus? I didn't know. All I knew was that I didn’t want to say that word. I had always wondered in the back of my head what the psychiatrist would have said if I hadn’t gone in biased towards a diagnosis. I didn’t want to influence this doctor, too.
When I stopped, Dr. Shultz just made a grunting noise, as if in agreement with what I had said, then he did a quick examination. He touched the hot patches on my cheeks, looked at my cold, cold hands, felt my neck, checked my reflexes and the joints in my wrists and fingers. And then came the questions:
- Did my hands, feet, or face fall asleep? .....yes
- Hmm. Did the cold make my hands hurt? .....yes
- Hmm. How long had I had that acne? (And here I began to wonder where he was headed) ...since my pregnancy - my son was born 9 years ago
- MmHmm. Did I get gassy a lot? Belching? Passing gas? .....I guess so.
- More than I used to? ......yeah, but I'm starting to get older. (Here he gave me a fairly dirty look over the top of his glasses. I grinned sheepishly.)
- MmHmm. Diarrhea? (Now I was really confused) .....I guess so, sometimes.
- What's your favorite food? (I stared at him blankly.)
He sat down again, licked his lips, and smiled. He didn’t seem to care that I hadn’t answered that last one. He just looked at me over the top of his glasses again, and said:
"You look allergic."
Those three words changed my life forever. He took me off of all wheat, corn, and dairy products, as well as all artificial flavors and preservatives. It would clean out my system, he said. You’ll lose some weight this week, he said, and that’s ok. Just be sure to keep eating balanced meals.
In addition, he told me that I have Renaud's phenomenon - that was the cold hands and feet.
Finally, (just in case) he was having me tested for rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, and he ordered a broad blood test which would look for other, similar issues. Then he sent me home and told me to come back in two weeks.
Those were the longest two weeks of my life. All I could hear, over and over was the word "lupus". He had said it. He had really said it.
On the bright side, I won the weight-loss contest for the first time in forever: that first week I dropped 10 pounds.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Well, my white-random-day-in-January is finally here!
I was starting to think that it would NEVER arrive. There's this odd little shield around my county: snow comes straight for us, and then --POOF-- goes around to the north AND south and then joins together again on the east side of the county. I blame Quantico. I really think sometimes that they're testing some bizarre weather shield....
Anyway, it started snowing about 6:30, and it hasn't stopped. This is the back yard around 7:30 or so... (once it was light enough to photograph):The kids went out to play and the dogs, too. As you can see, there wasn't much to speak of, but it was enough for them. They've been waiting 2 years for this, after all! The snow continued to fall, and filled in their tracks quickly. They cleared that table three times, and it's buried once again. Later, we'll probably go sledding, but for now, it's nice to sit, toasty and warm, and watch the flakes flutter by. This is the front yard around 11 o'clock or so. The flakes are still steadily falling, sometimes big and fluffy, sometimes, little bitty ones, but steady, none-the-less.
Tonight, it's supposed to ice, so I'll probably get the day off tomorrow, too. (The kids already have it off.) The flakes are fat and fluffy and beautiful! I just can't get enough of them!
Change: down 1.4#
Think slim, huh? Ok... I need to increase my activity. As fun as it is to sit around stimulating only my mind, I am more than just a brain in a box. Time to round off the corners and pay attention to my "container" as well as my noggin.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
I don't live in Baltimore, but I found the site when I was looking to visit there with my family in December. There are restaurant reviews, product reviews, and so forth. Feel free to come on over and check it out.
The introductory post: A Warm Welcome to our Newest Associate Contributor
My self-introductory post: From the Desk of Mikki Black
Friday, January 23, 2009
Now, don't feel bad if you're one of the many people who send me forwards and/or list-making requests. I don't hate YOU, just please, please don't be sad if I don't make the list or send that chain forward to 10 people who are _____ and also back to you to show you that I care and/or support the troops and/or am religious.
Because I do care, I do support the troops, and I am religious!
Also, sometimes, when I sigh and open the forward, I am pleasantly surprised by stories like this little gem from my college advisor/friend, Leigh:
You'll have to imagine the note sent home with the little darling that drew this, but the parent's reply follows the picture.
Dear Mrs Jones:
I wish to clarify that I am not now, nor have I ever been, an exotic dancer. I work at Home Depot and I told Sarah how hectic it was last week before the blizzard hit. I told her we sold out every single shovel we had. Then, I found one more in the back room, and several people were fighting over who would get it. Sarah's picture does NOT show me dancing around a pole. It's supposed to depict me selling the last snow shovel we had at Home Depot. From now on, I will remember to check her homework more thoroughly before she turns it in.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
The first several weeks will be a look back to the first months of 2008. Eventually I will catch up to the present. Perhaps then I will return to a weekly journal of my current life with Celiac Disease. Until then, I hope you enjoy reading my story.
(I know I say in the catchline that "predictability's for chumps", but I guess I can make ONE exception, right?)
I teach high school, not the most active of trades, and in January 2008, the beginning of second semester, my friends and I formed a weight loss group. $5 to get in, $1 a week from each losing competitor. Whoever saw the most improvement in their BMI would win the kitty. We decided pounds off was not just unhealthy, but unfair, as we were all coming from different starting points.
We locked the door to the bookroom, took our "before" pictures, and broke out the measuring tape. We brought in a communal scale for our weekly weigh-ins. We set BMI and weight loss goals. We swapped exercise stories and favorite workout class info and changed to healthier eating habits.
I found a great website called TOPS: Taking off Pounds Sensibly, joined up, and started following it as closely as possible. I was working out and eating right and drinking lots of water. And I got GREAT results, at first. I started to feel better and trim down, but then...
Something strange started happening to me.
I started feeling really sluggish, for starters. It got harder and harder to make it to the gym because I was so sleepy, just bone tired. I've always been able to sleep at the drop of a hat, but I lost the need for the hat. I would often come home from work and crash on the couch for a nap. Eventually, I'd have to drag myself to the kitchen to make dinner, and then I'd go back to the couch. I usually was able to stay up past the kids' bedtime of 8:30, but often I'd fall asleep while watching TV with Jim. I'd sleep for 8-9 hours before getting up the next day and starting all over again. This pattern became more and more normal for me.
I was SO tired. The tired-ness started affecting my work habits, my dress, my attention span, everything.
Imagine you're a teen-ager for a minute. You go to English class, and your teacher is pushing papers around, shuffling through different stacks. Then she picks up an attendance sheet and proceeds to take attendance for the last 3 days. This is then followed by the question, "Alright, what did we do in here yesterday?" and once in a while this one, "I didn't give you homework, did I? No? Good."
We made it work, somehow. My students still had about a 98% pass rate on their state tests that year, and most of them passed the class, too. I had no trouble teaching or grading, but my memory of what was happening day to day was shot.
I lost everything: keys, glasses, papers, homework, my purse, my phone... you name it. Most of those things were found later. Most.
After a while, I started noticing changes in my digestive system, too. I started getting really gassy, especially if I ate fast food, but for the most part I was eating well, so I didn't know what was up with that.
To make matters worse, even though I was still going to the gym once or twice a week, and only eating about 1,000-1,300 calories a day, I wasn't losing weight. I was gaining.
I blamed it on stress. I blamed it on my busy schedule: I had the school newspaper to revive, a college level class to teach, a regular level class - I was the anime club sponsor and the lead teacher for the 11th grade English as well. I blamed it on getting old, I was 30 after all. I blamed the weather. I blamed my lack of a work-out buddy. I blamed my lack of sleep.
It didn't matter what I blamed it on. The longer we dieted together, the less I could keep up. My friends were all losing weight, slimming down. They were looking better and getting bouncier. I was getting slower. My initial weight losses reversed. My measurements were going up. All my health problems were getting worse instead of better. And then, I started developing new problems.
I was scared.
My friends were confused. I was eating so well! Lots of whole grains, nice balanced meals, fruits and vegetables, too. I was working out. It was so strange. “Was I cheating at home?” they wondered. No. No, I was not.
I told myself it was nothing. It was just me being a hypochondriac again. But a little voice inside me pointed to the last time I thought I was being a hypochondriac.
I ended up with a bipolar disorder diagnosis.
See you next week for Part II: “You look allergic”
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
I have heard of spoon bread, but I had no idea what it was. I especially had no idea that it was a type of chicken casserole. Say it with me, people: YUM! The nice thing is that this is a GF recipe, but my family LOVED it. Even Jim, who has a picky palette, said, "Put it on the list!" YAY!
So here it is... I forgot to take a picture, but here's a picture of a jalapeno spoon bread from Lisa's Kitchen that looks almost exactly like mine did before we attacked.... :)
Nifty fact: her recipe is also GF.
Nifty Fact 2: This is a really good leftover recipe because you just need chopped up chunks of chicken.
Chicken Spoon Bread (recipe from Bette Hagman's The Gluten-Free Gourmet Cooks Comfort Foods)
375 degrees, 40 minutes (or until done)
2T GF flour mix *
4C GF chicken broth
1/4C butter or margerine
4 eggs, separated
3C chopped cooked chicken
- In a large saucepan, combine cornmeal, flour mix, and salt. Stir in the broth. Cook over medium-high heat until thickened.
- Add butter and beaten egg yolks.
- Stir in the chicken.
- Beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold into the mixture.
- Spoon into a greased 2.5 quart casserole and bake.
*If you don't have a flour mix, you can use 4t rice flour, 1/2t tapioca flour, and 3/4t potato starch.
*Also, if gluten is not a problem for you, you can always substitute 2T wheat flour.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Still down 1#... now at 177#.
Monday, January 19, 2009
- Watch the all day 10 year anniversary Power Puff Girls marathon. Oooo. I love me some PPG's. (I love MoJoJoJo! MoJoJoJo is the character that I love! And the name of the best character on the show is none other than the one, the only, the fearless, the intelligent, the fabulous, the genious-est, the amazing MoJoJoJo!)
- Wander Facebook and the Blogosphere to my heart's content.
- Ugh. Look at that stack of papers to organize, grade, file, and record. Ugh.
- I could always play the 360....
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Him: Yeah. Too bad you've already got the day off.
Me: Yeah, but it's better than never!
Him: But you've already got the day off.
Me: Yeah.... But we're supposed to get like a whole inch! I love snow.
Him: It's an inch of "slush".
Me: "slushy SNOW"
Him: Slush doesn't seem worth getting excited over.
WORK WITH ME, PEOPLE!!!!!!
We have not had a good snow in my town for TWO WHOLE FREAKING YEARS! I don't care if the snow comes down orange with purple spots! If it resembles snow, I WILL, repeat, WILL be excited about it!!!!
AND YOU CAN'T STOP ME!
Friday, January 16, 2009
When Annie, now 11, was 4, she was accepted into the Headstart program. It was so fun dressing her up for school and seeing her off on her tiny little pre-school bus!
But I don't remember her lessons or her crafts from that year. You see my daughter is a klutz, just like her mommy. She was always running into stuff or falling down, getting paper cuts, dropping dishes. You name it, she did it. We would hear a thud or a crash or a fwump and then... "Sorry!" or "Can I have a towel?" or some such.
One day my cute little Annie came home with an orange wristband and a letter.
"What a pretty bracelet," I said, lifting her hand to look at it. In big black letters were typed the words "HEAD INJURY". --gasp!--
She handed me the letter, which was just a form with the date and the time and the details. She'd tripped and bumped her head. No big deal. I was relieved to say the least.
By the time she'd come home with a couple, we realized that they were just being extra careful with the little ones... I guess we underestimated the strength of her clumsiness! One day, she came home with a band, a letter, and a headache . I gave her some Tylenol and opened the letter, expecting the usual. What would it be this time? A chair? The wall? The swingset? Another kid?
Two words: "Please call."
What the ....?! Annie was no help. She couldn't figure out why I was supposed to call. I figured it was because of the headache. She said it was a sore bump. Maybe someone had been ON the swingset this time...
So I called. (fast-forward through the niceties)
Teacher: Thanks for calling! I just, I wanted to tell you this one in person. I was worried that you might be upset because Annie seems to get hurt so much here at school.
Me: Well, I guess it does seem like a lot (inwardly I was thinking of all the stuff she ran into at home...she WAS in an awkward stage after all)
Teacher: (she was starting to sound nervous) Well, you see, she had a bit of an accident today...
Me: uh, huh....
Teacher: um, I wasn't sure you'd believe me if I wrote it down.
Me: uh, huh.... (???)
Teacher: well, you see, she has 2 bumps.
Teacher: Um, yes. Two. Um, she was crossing the room, you see, and she wasn't really watching where she was going?
Me: uh, huh...
Teacher: And, a friend called to her, so she ran towards her friend, but...
Me: she was running?
Teacher: (glad to have something positive to say) oh, yes, but we talked about how that was a real bad idea, you see, because of what happened.
Me: and what happened, exactly?
Teacher: oh, um. She ran into the door.
Me: What? That's it?
Teacher: No, well, yes, but, um, the door was open at the time.
Me: Open? But? How did she...?
Teacher: She ran into the narrow side of the door. You know, the skinny edge?
Me: (sounding super intelligent, I'm sure) The skinny edge.
Teacher: Yes. (I think at this point she was just glad to be almost done with the story because she finally sped up.) She was running to her friend, but she hadn't looked up first, so she ran straight into the skinny edge of the door, but because she was running, she hit the door pretty hard, and she hadn't seen it coming, you know, like I said, and so she fell down, too. Backwards. So that's the two bumps. The one on the front from the door, and then there's one on the back from the floor.
(dead silence on both ends. I was processing all the confession. I think she was probably worried I was going to throw a fit.)
Me: um. The skinny edge? The skinny edge. And the floor.
Me: Oh. Ok. Well, I guess that explains the headache. Thanks for telling me. (What a lame answer, right?)
Teacher: You're welcome. Thanks for calling.
I hung up the phone, and tried to picture it in my head --the skinny side?-- and suddenly, I realized I was a bad parent. A bad, bad, baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad parent.
Because I giggled. It was like a bad slapstick routine, and despite my best efforts, I giggled! No way could she have run into the edge of the door. How could she do that? It must have just looked that way. No one runs into the skinny edge of a door... not for real.
So I went to hug my little Annie, and check on her. She was fine, playing and laughing. I looked at her forehead to see if she would have a bruise, and then I turned into an even worse parent.
I laughed. So help me I laughed right out loud. I shook and rocked back and forth. Because, there, smack in the middle of her noggin, were two parallel bruises about an inch and a half apart.
Go ahead, I dare you. Go measure the skinny edge of your door.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Do you ever have one of those
(What? No I won't tell you. Make it up for your own self! Maybe if you guess right, I'll tell you.)
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Today is Sunday. Today is the day I get to go to church and be with all my little lovely kids. It's been a little quiet there the last few weeks through the holidays. We have a fairly young church group, so many, many people go away to visit moms and dads and families. They go home.
Some of them also go on trips or vacations, of course, like WE did last year (Disney Christmas 2007!).
One of the families at our church came back from a cruise this week, and their darling daughter bounced up to the Kids Church table to pick up her name tag and announced, "I went on a cruise!"
"And how was it? Was it fun?" I asked her.
"It was great!" she was bouncing up and down. "I almost died! There was this wave, and it tackled me!"
Mom smiled (a smile I can TOTALLY empathize with, by the way) and said, "Yes, we had our own personal life guard at the beach...." I smiled back.
I heard that story twice more that day as the little girl told others at church about it. She's so cute!
I'm not exaggerating! It's happened so many times, in so many places, under the supervision of so many different people, that it's become a family joke: "It's not vacation if Jimmy doesn't drown."
Because, you see, Jimmy didn't come home when he was littler and say, "I almost died," like the little girl from church did. He would come home and say, "Guess what? I drowned on vacation! Twice! The lifeguard had to jump in once, but once he wasn't there, and then insert family member's name here told me that maybe I'd better just sit in the baby pool, but that wasn't any fun. Next time, I'm going to go in the DEEP end!"
The last time he drowned, he had gone to a friend's house. That friend took him to another friend's to go swimming. He pulled his regular I-can-swim-so-it's-ok-then-I-drown routine. Enter friend's mom's panic attack at nearly killing the pastor's kid. His response? "Don't worry, Mrs. ___, I drown all the time. Mom's used to it."
I remember when he was afraid of the water. Those were good days.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Go and check it out, sillies! Hope you like it.
Friday, January 9, 2009
Today it hurts more, it pops more, and the left side of my head has definitely gained weight.
I "officially" have a case of spiders.
What do you mean, I'm paranoid? You're not paranoid enough, is what YOU mean. Haven't you heard of Albany, Oregon's, Jesse Courtney?
From the Chicago Sun: "What began as a faint popping in a 9-year-old boy's ear -- 'like Rice Krispies' -- ended up as an earache, and the doctor's diagnosis was that a pair of spiders made a home in the ear.
'They were walking on my eardrums,' Jesse Courtney said."Still don't believe me? Meet Jesse:
Who's paranoid now?! Good luck thinking of anything else next time YOUR ear starts popping.
UPDATE: All right, you nervous nellies! I guess I overdid it on the paranoia level. I don't REALLY have spiders in my ear. I just couldn't get that kid's story out of my head with my eardrum popping from the congestion in my noggin. (Thank you for your concern. You can stop emailing me now. I love you, too.)
UPDATE 2: FYI, you who are squeamish, the video is a TV news interview of Jessie. He's playing video games and answering the reporter's questions. He does have the spiders in a little specimen jar, but they're dead.
Monday, January 5, 2009
You know those Headaches: they're the ones that color the rest of the events of your day. It's never a pleasant color either, nothing sweet like "Prince Purple" or "Periwinkle" or "Puce". No, it's more like "Parsnip" or "Puke". Yup.
Where was I?
Oh, yes, my dog puked on the floor today. Twice. Because she's dumb. Not sick, just stupid. Apparently she chewed on a bone until it splintered, then ate the splinters, then ate a pine tree branch, then ate a few rocks (maybe she thought she was a chicken?). How do I know this? Because my canine mulch making machine left me a pile of it. Twice.
I love my stupid, stick eating dog Bill. She's the best.
So where was I?
Oh, yes. So when your dogs are dumb and irritating, AND you've a Headache, AND the garbage men refuse to change their schedules to match your Headache's whims, life is blech-y. Tomorrow is garbage day, and the tree must go. I have a Headache. Jim (ever-loving husband, for you new readers - welcome!) has a Headache and a half. The tree must go.
So.... we pile the ornaments in a sheet to contain the glitter, bundle it up, and put them in a chair. We detatch the tree stand and take the tree outside to remove the lights. We unwind maybe a third of one strand, look at each other, and I say, "You know, we could always buy new lights next year...." (I couldn't believe I said it. Me! The queen of don't throw that away! I can use it for ... uh ... something!)
"No! We just bought these."
"Ok. Well, here, unwind some more."
We try. The cord gets stuck. He pulls. I pull. We figure out it's wrapped on a branch somewhere, but we're both wearing gloves because the tree is so darn dry and pokey, and we can't figure it out. Our eyes meet over the tree again. "You know..." he starts.
"Yeah," I said.
We took the tree to the curb. I sheepishly tried to tuck some of the lights back in so maybe the garbage guys won't notice tomorrow that the lights are still there.
--sigh-- I need another Alieve.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
There are new blogs in my world that you should know about.
#1. Mom. She and a friend have started a new blog that should be helpful to all you weight loss resolutioners out there: One Weigh at a Time. Go check it out!
#2. Uncle Chuck. I wrote about him just a few days ago, and then he decided to jump into all the bloggy goodness with his new blog: My World Goes Round.
Friday, January 2, 2009
I gained much knowledge. I dealt with my losses. I made new blog contacts. All in all, a good season.
Some things that I gained:
- The knowledge that brown rice flour makes cookies gritty
- Excitement that cream cheese cookies and holly cookies are still good without gluten
- A chance to spread knowledge
- Health and energy
- New traditions and foods
- A box of microwave popcorn that my mom forgot to take home with her. (Thanks, mom!)
- A chance to recreate an old favorite with new flours (I'll let you know how the honey oatmeal bread turns out, Aunt Syl!)
Some things that I lost:
- A favorite recipe or two
- Pre-suppositions on what has to be
- The fun of beater-licking and taste-testing
- My fear of standing out because of food
- Momentarily and at different times: My temper, my sense of humor, and my composure (Yes, I am emotionally attached to my cookies)
- A sock
New blog contacts:
- Ginger Lemon Girl
- Mama Kat's new blog: Allergies Shmallergies
- Gluten Free in Baltimore
- ...sez Mark (not a GF blogger, but a good writer and a nice guy who leaves funny comments on my posts. And no, I'm not in the least bit INCREDIBLY jealous that he nearly won Rachelle's haiku contest, got mentioned twice, and I didn't even get mentioned AT ALL. Ok, I am, but I'm still proud of him. Go Mark!)