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.
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.
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
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.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Go and check it out, sillies! Hope you like it.
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!)