Sunday, August 03, 2014

Me Update: Work, Health, Going Paleo...

I haven't really written much lately, but loads of things have been going on.  We'll start with work...I'll keep it brief...

Our contract is up on1/31/2015.  So far the good new is our work duties for the next contract will stay the same.  We know nothing about funding yet, and we don't know if the contract will have to go out for rebid or not.  Those last two things are the semi-bad news (semi because it isn't really bad yet).  There is nothing I can do about any of it, so I'm not worrying about it.

On to health, the main thing I've been obsessing working with lately.

I was diagnosed with celiac back in April, and I've been eating a gluten-free diet since May.  I was expecting my overall health, which I think is actually pretty good, to improve.  I was hoping that by taking gluten out of my diet, I would improve my depression, fatigue, sleep problems, and anxiety.

It didn't happen.  Maybe I was expecting too much, but I didn't notice a change at all, except I started obsessing working to find really good non-gluten options for cookies, cupcakes, and especially bread.  I bought expensive products and expensive ingredients.  Some of them wound up in the trash.  It became frustrating and made me even more stressed and anxious than I already was.

Between the money, stress, and lack of any obvious symptoms whether I ate gluten or not, I really just got more stressed and anxious.  I was also hoping to lose weight, which didn't happen.  I actually gained a few pounds after going gluten free (I blame my trial-and-error gluten-free goodie quest for this).

Back in May, I attended the Gluten-Free Group of Gettysburg, which is sponsored by the Gettysburg Hospital.  An incredible group!  They had three tables of free gluten-free goodies and three local gluten-free bakeries selling their wares.  It was a great, friendly group of people, too.

The speaker was one of the hospital's registered dieticians, who talked about the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) Paleo Diet, which is a more restricitve version of the Paleo diet specifically designed to get your autoimmune disease under control and heal your body from the damage that is (in part) feeding it.

It seemed hellish restrictive to me, and while I was facinated by it (people in wheelchairs from MS and Rheumatoid Arthritis have had their symptoms completely disappear!) I decided it wasn't for me.  Don't really have symptoms, do I?  Don't need it.

But I was curious, and I kept the paperwork.  I'd always thought Paleo was a fad diet with a catchy name.  Oooo, let's eat like a caveman!  Ha.  Seriously?  But in the couple months since the talk, I couldn't get it out of my head.  The man's father, who has parkinson's, went on this diet and his symptoms went away.  The moment he went off the diet (because he had to go in a nursing home) all the symtoms came back.  There was just something about the science behind this that one couldn't dismiss.

About a month ago, for some reason I decided to look up the general Paleo diet.  I found myself on a website called, which has extensive information on the science, why's, and how's of Paleo.

I was hooked.  I'm such a science geek, and I just devoured the nutrition info.  I couldn't believe how vegetable oils affect our bodies.  The BS I've been fed about what triglycerides are.  How bad beans and grains, ALL grains, are for the human body!

And this was part of what I needed!  That obsession with finding a wheat-alternative and acceptable, tasty baked goods was doing as much damage physically as it was mentally and emotionally, and I didn't realize it.  When I realized how stressed out I was trying to find pasta and bread I could choke down, added to the Paleo info, it was a no brainer.

So, I'm off ALL grains (including corn).  ALL legumes (including soy and peanuts).  ALL vegetable oils.  Paleo also doesn't allow dairy, but I'm doing limited dairy.  For now, I'm not following the AIP, but I might try it out in the future.

I'm going to stick with this for about 6 months and see what happens.  So far, the changes I'm seeing are minimal, but it's only been about 3 weeks.  I'm down 4lb.  I felt out of control when I was struggling to find a wheat-alternative; now I feel more in control by saying I don't eat grains, so it is now a non-issue.  That one step has greatly improved my outlook and taken a huge stressor off my back.

I'm going to update things here on a weekly basis (fingers-crossed)  I'll also add some really good Paleo blogs on the right bar when I get time.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

What Summer Means to Me

To me, summer is dirty feet.  

I absolutely cannot keep my feet clean in the summer.  I am one of those people who loves to walk barefoot. I always have.  And, thus, I have always had dirty, filthy feet all summer.

When I was a kid, I would be all over the neighborhood sans shoes.  My mother made me wash them before dinner - though I don't know why, we didn't eat with our feet in my house - and inevitably I would get in trouble again for leaving nearly black washcloths in the bathroom.  Still not sure what she was on about there, I was doing what she asked.

Today I tend to get the ring-around-the-heel, and no amount of washcloth application will get it out because that dirt is delicately ground into my skin now.  I need to soak and scrub my feet clean a couple times a week.  I only go barefoot around the house, not outside anymore (rocks, chicken poo, pine needles, etc.), but that is plenty good enough to get my feet dirty.

I have a particular pair of pink flip flops I wear when I walk the dog.  They have soft, spongy, foamy soles that keep wet once they've gotten wet, and often that helps keep my feet fairly clean.  It's usually not enough, though, and I still have to go at them with the pedicure cheese grater thingie.

I was looking at my feet at work the other day, cleverly disguised in nice sandals, and I saw that light ring - I can get away with one more day without scrubbing, but not two - and that's when I realized that this is what defines summer to me.  Not home grown tomatoes, not swimming pools, not fireworks. 

Just dirty feet.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Garden, or Not

We didn't do a garden last year.  I was fed up from previous years of no help weeding, planting, weeding, picking things out to order, weeding, seeding, weeding, harvesting, and weeding. 

Did I mention weeding?

I did plant garlic in the one herb bed we have, and it was a sorry crop.  Small.  Tasty, but small.  I didn't even plant garlic this fall, since technically I'm not allowed to really eat it anymore (but I do).

The garden was in rough shape.  We had a lot of work to do to bring it up to speed.  There was an overgrown butterfly bush in there, the tomato cages are still in place from 2 years ago, and removed an awful excuse for deer/rabbit fencing which was made more difficult due to the wild morning glory vines that were growing through it.

So.  We also are working on doing some layered cardboard-and-hay beds for this year a la Ecologia.  I'm hoping that will work out.  We've gone to a couple of their tours, they are AWESOME and we hope to do more with the techniques they have taught us.

I am planning on using up seed I have from previous years, and I think the only thing I need to order this year is onion seedlings.  Maybe some fruit plants/trees/bushes. 

Two of the four raised beds are cleaned out now.  Onions, spinach, and peas are planted in one with a couple artichokes thrown in for kicks and giggles to see what they do.  The other bed also has peas and a mess of beets.  So far, the peas and spinach are sprouting, but I think I only saw one beet.

We started tomato plants inside.  The are tiny right now, but will be big strapping seedlings before too long.

I'm looking forward to having fresh veggies again.  My health issues forced me to take a good, hard look at my diet and I can tell you, it hasn't been great.  It used to be, but then I cut out a bunch of stuff because of the gastroparesis...things like raw bell peppers for lunch and strawberries and asparagus and salad.  I'm inserting them back into my diet.  I like them.  I need them.  They are back.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The (Inevitable) False Start

I officially pushed the Gluten-Free button on Monday, April 14.  I went in to work and made a cup of my coffee alternative, Dandy Blend, only to realize sometime later that day that it has roasted barley and rye in it. 
I threw the Dandy Blend out that night.  Switching to tea and the occasional decaf coffee when I can’t stand it anymore.
On Tuesday night, I realized the melatonin supplement I take before bed has wheat in it.  That also got thrown away; I still haven’t replaced it but I have something earmarked on Amazon.
Tuesday and Wednesday were totally gluten-free.
Thursday I had a doctor’s appointment.  She sent me for bloodwork that needed to be taken while I’m eating a gluten diet, so I’ve been glutening the hell out of myself for the past few days, eating things I’m guessing I won’t be able to again.  Ever.  I will have a Kit Kat before it is all said and done. 
I’m going to re-push the Gluten-Free button after we go out for our anniversary dinner this weekend, so either Sunday or Monday.  Then, that will be it….unless the bloodwork comes back with questions.  I’m also getting tested for milk, corn, and soy allergies since the villi atrophy can be caused by those, too.  We’ll see.
After reading some of the things some people have to deal with, and some things that have been said to Celiac people, I am thanking my lucky stars that I know food as well as I do, that I can cook raw veggies, that I can cook from scratch at all.  Some people think white and wheat bread are….made from different things!  Like there is a grain called “white” and one called “wheat.”  Seriously!  WTF, people. 
I already got rid of some cereal that only I eat, the two bags of whole wheat flour, and the graham flour went out to the chickens.  I kept the all-purpose flour and the regular pasta for the Hooband because he asked me to.  I guess he plans on using them sometime when I’m not eating or not around.  I still need to delve deeply into the cabinets, see what has been lurking there for a long time, and purge it as well.   You know, those things you forget are back there for years?  Those things.
I’m collecting recipes (Oh, that reminds me: Must. Weed. Recipes), and planning meals for the week so there is no last minute what-do-we-want-to-eat-tonight baloney. This is also going to make this year's garden that much more important....but that's a post for a later date!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Gut Feelings, Part....Whatever

So.  Switched docs, scheduled another EGD, and had that a couple weeks ago.  This was my third EGD, but my first with biopsies.  If you remember, the doc had told me you can't diagnose Barrett's Esophagus without a biopsy, so he wanted to do one of those.  I was all for it and was just sure it was going to come back positive.

I've been doing gut research a lot and as you may know you can't get away from the gluten issue when you do gut and food research.  The more I read, the more I wondered if that may be part of my problem.  So, as I was laying on the bed with a tube in my arm, chatting with the doc, I asked him if he could do a Celiac test, too.  They biopsy your duodenum.  He hedged at first, saying I didn't have a history, but then said he could do it because I have Gastroparesis. I was sure this test would come back negative.

I'm glad I didn't bet money on it.

The Barrett's test came back negative, which is great news!
The Celiac test came back positive.  I need to go on a gluten-free diet.

So.  They said I have mild Celiac, which just means my damage in my intestine is minor...for now.  Who knows how long I've been symptomatic?  Also, I don't know what my overt symptoms are.  I don't have gut pain, cramping, or diarrhea.  I'm curious what my symptoms will turn out to be, and I'll really only know as they disappear.  I'm hoping it will turn out to be the cause of my sleep problems, irritability, depression, and fatigue.  I'd love to lose all those.

I pushed the Gluten Free Diet button yesterday.  I did some grocery shopping to pick up thing on Sunday.  My god, gluten free bread is expensive!!  $5-7 for a small loaf.  I bought a mix for $4 instead and made my own.  As I get better at this, I'll lose the mix and just do it from scratch, but right now I'm happy to rely on the ready-made stuff as much as I can while I learn.  

The boards say you can see results in as little as a week.  I'll check back in on this next week!

Friday, February 28, 2014

39 Things to do Before I Turn 40

My birthday was Wednesday, I turned 39.  As I said in a prior post, aging doesn't really bother me too much.  Maybe that will change, but right now I just get amused by people (mostly women) who freak out at a grey hair or a wrinkle.  I love the silver in my hair; I think it looks like glitter.  How awesome is that?

I decided to try something this year, and maybe (hopefully) it will be come a yearly thing.  I wanted to come up with a list of things I wanted to do before my next birthday, in this case before I turned 40.  I had a mental list of things I wanted to do this year anyway, so why not put it on paper and make a game of it.

39 things is harder than it sounds.

So far I have 12 on the list.  I will keep adding things; I have a year, right?  Some are pretty innocuous, others more challenging.  Here's what I have so far (I'll add to it when I come up with more):

  1. Take the Cold Forging 1 class (this is silver and copper work)  Signed up for the March class
  2. Take the Beginning Lapidary class (stonecutting)
  3. Get a massage a month   January and February are down
  4. Go back to Brevard, NC with the Hooband
  5. Drop 15lb
  6. Got to that climbing wall in Manheim, PA
  7. Try snowboarding
  8. Got to a drive-in movie with the Hooband
  9. Make one garment a month for myself   January is done
  10. Learn to knit   I'm in the process of teaching myself and I hate it
  11. Go rollerskating again
  12. Get a cover for my old, fading tattoo
I'm trying to avoid things like "Go for more walks with Tillman" because that is pretty vague.  What is more?  How many?  Being specific is best.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

My First (Finished) Crocheted Garment!!

I do a lot of artsy-craftsy things.  I used to make Temari balls.  I make jewelry and sell it on Etsy (visit my Etsy store, see below on right for widget).  

I also learned to crochet in college and over the past couple years learned that there is more than the one stitch I was taught then and have been experimenting with a variety of different patterns.

I just finished my first sweater!  It is a free pattern from Lion Brand (with a free membership), and I just fell in love with it at first sight:

Image of <font color=red>Ladylike</font> PulloverI also happened to have a J Crew sweater I'd gotten from Goodwill two years ago that developed a half dollar-sized hole in the upper left shoulder.  I couldn't repair it, so I decided to unravel the entire thing and reuse the gorgeous denim-blue wool yarn.

I got a LOT of yarn out of it, four huge balls in fact.  I used nearly 3 in this sweater - it was the perfect yarn for it. So, I still have a ball left to do something else with.

It was only AFTER I started the pattern that I actually read some of the details.  Isn't that always how it is?  This was considered a project for an "experienced" crocheter.  I felt I was intermediate at best.  There were some things with the pattern that confused me, but it turned out I was just making it harder than it really was!

And here is the finished item:

I'm very happy with it.  The body was worked in the round, once piece.  The sleeves worked separately and attached just below where the lacy part starts.  I didn't make the turtleneck part quite as long as it called for (6" instead of 8").  I can always add on if I want.