Friday, November 13, 2015


Okay, so today I had some symptoms of Gluten Intolerance/Celiac Disease.  I couldn't for the life of me think of what could have done this.  Which makes me question if I actually have a problem or if it's all in my mind.

Then I remembered that a couple of nights ago I had some cottage cheese - a very small amount.  I found out on a website the Dairyland cottage cheese can be contaminated with barley gluten.  Previous to this I thought that my symptoms were coming minutes or hours after exposure.  This time it was 2 days.

And it really does seem like I am dealing with a reaction to microscopic amounts of gluten.  It's really rather ridiculous - and if I wasn't living it, I really don't think I'd believe it.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Celiac Disease??

Okay - right off the bat I'm going to tell you that I will be talking about annoying and potentially gross bodily functions.  If you can't handle it, close this page now.  Really.

Last chance ....

So for the past several months I've had diarrhea - urgent and almost instant.  Almost constantly - well, every time I needed to go - so once or twice a day.  Before 4 weeks ago I'd had about 3 somewhat normal bowel movements in nearly 1/2 a year.  And it was sticky - it stuck to the bowl.  This is not the first time I've had troubles.  I've had Irritable Bowel my whole life, and for the past 10 years or more I've had moments when my digestive system acted up - bloating, pain, terribly smelly gas, etc. (which I've also been experiencing lately, and which is really, really, terribly, embarrassing - the smell anyhow).  I've also been gaining weight.

I came across something on the Internet that suggested to me that I might have a problem with gluten.  So I cut gluten out of my diet.  And instead of diarrhea being the norm, it became rare - once or twice a week - and only when I had accidentally ingested gluten.  There was (now here's a gross part) quite a bit of mucus in my stool, but the rest was fairly normal.  After about two weeks, I went on vacation for a week.  We went to a friend's house - someone whose father had Celiac disease, so they were very careful, and I ate only foods that were obviously gluten free (eggs, meat, veg, fruit) or packaged food labelled gluten free.  And then we went to Disneyland.  And Disney is amazing where diet is concerned.  They have an allergy menu and they keep the allergy food separate from the other foods.  So aside from one time when I had two bites from a Rice Krispy square (Rice Krispies have barley malt in them), I had a very successful trip.

I've been home for a few days and have found that being here is harder than Disney - I've had a couple of bad days.  I bought some Ghirardelli chocolates when we were away and it turns out that although the ingredient list has no gluten-containing items, they are made in a facility that uses some gluten, so they can be cross-contaminated.  As well, one must clean the cutting boards and knives, etc. very well to avoid cross-contamination.  And just because gluten-free deli meat is sold at Safeway, it does not mean that it's not cross-contaminated if you get it at the deli counter.  So packaged processed meats only for me.

Now, let me be VERY clear.  I HAVE NOT been diagnosed with Celiac disease - although I'm thinking it's a very good possibility.  But whatever is going on, I'm having a serious reaction to gluten.

Of course, I couldn't get an appointment with my doctor until the end of November, and after that it will likely be a while until I can have tests done, but I thought I'd write about this because it is very, very stressful.  And depressing (gluten can cause depression in those sensitive to it).  And I figure if I've been dealing with this for so long without any help - there must be others.  So I'll take you on this journey with me, and we'll see what happens.

Updates will be forthcoming.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Nightmare Disorder

I am not sure if I have mentioned this before, but for as long as I can remember, I have had bad dreams.  Almost every night.  I have dreams of being chased, being pursued, being in areas of natural disasters, etc.  It is almost always a true relief to wake up.  Sometimes they are so bad I don't want to go back to sleep after they've woken me up.  But this has been my normal forever.  I just live with it.

Last night I had a particularly bad one where I had murdered and dismembered a small girl and was then trying to hide it from everyone so I wouldn't go to prison.  Oddly, I didn't feel so bad about murdering someone, but just wanted to make sure I didn't get caught - and apparently it was the second time I had done it.  Not exactly my personality.

Anyhow, I was extremely stressed trying to dispose of the remains and hide it from the authorities.  By the end of the dream I was convinced I would go to jail and was considering killing myself with a bullet in the head.

Okay - so it was dark.  And I've given you the short version of a dream that seemed to last for hours and was extremely graphic.  Nice, eh?  I do occasionally have good dreams, but they are very rare.  I like the ones where I can fly.  (After last night I'm wondering if there is an unsolved murder somewhere that I'm tapping into ... or if I'm just crazy).

This week, I was reading a book that mentioned something called "Nightmare Disorder" - which I instantly looked up.  It's in the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).  Unbelievably, there are others that have this problem - or: unbelievably, my normal is not normal.  They say that if it affects the rest of your day, or prevents you from living a normal life, there are things you can do about it.  Drugs, meditation, yoga.  I've known for a long time that I should meditate - even bought a pillow a few weeks ago to sit on.  Time to use it, I think.

I also think I might talk to my doctor about it.  Dreams like the one I had last night stay with me for days - sometimes weeks.  And needless to say, they are very disturbing.

So if anyone else out there has the same problems, there may be a solution - or at least a way to ease symptoms.

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Weight - week two of this round

Okay.  Well.  I have done a few good things this week.

I tried to eat when I was hungry - not when it was time to eat, but when my body told me it needed food.  And smaller portions.

I stopped with the sweets.  Even with, eating chocolate and grilled cheese sandwiches is not a way to lose weight.  So I cut out the chocolate, ice cream ... anything that we would consider dessert or candy.  See, before, I figured that I could eat a little bit of this stuff and still lose weight as long as I kept my numbers in balance (calories in, calories out), but the truth is that once I had some, I would have  a little more.  My cravings would then cause me to eat a lot more of it.   And, surprise!  I suddenly was eating almost as many calories in sweets as other things.

So for me ... cold turkey.  The only way I can manage.  I haven't cut sugar out altogether.  I'll still eat instant oatmeal - and yogurt - and sauces with sugar.  But no sugary drinks, no chocolate, no pop, no ice cream (etc.).

Oddly enough (even though I preach this a lot to people I still don't realize it until I do again) my mood has been much more balanced without the sugar.  Funny that.  The wild swings I was having have gone away.

And last night, for the first time in a really long time, I slept without any drugs.  I slept from 11 until 7 with only one wake up and I didn't have to read or watch TV or anything to get back to sleep.  I was awake for maybe 10 minutes (not 2 hours).  Huzzah!  I'm not presuming that this will continue, but it was really, really nice.

Now, last week I said I was 149 pounds.  Really, I've seen the scale up as high as 151 in the past couple of weeks.  This morning I was under 145.  I'm not saying I lost 4 pounds this week - I'm sure I didn't, but there is a natural up and down of about 4 pounds and I'm at the lower end of it (with some weight lost, I'm sure).  So I'm very happy about this.

Normally, I would give myself permission to eat more sweets.  Not happening this time.  I might allow myself a little more food at a meal, but no desserts!!

So, yay!  Like most weight loss endeavours, mine has started off well.  Let's hope I can continue.  I did have one hell of a craving for sweets yesterday, but I managed to not give in.

For me, having one rule (no sweets) is a lot easier than trying to balance a bunch of different things.  Just the way my brain works - less to remember.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Back to the Issue of Weight

Three years ago I weighed 147 pounds.  And I wasn't happy about it because I was heavier than I'd been in 5 years.  That was September 7, 2012.

And here I sit today, August 26, 2015, weighing 149 pounds.  Argh.

So I go public again because I want to lose 10 pounds.  And I don't seem to be able to do it without being accountable to someone.

Hello someone ...  anyone who reads this.  You are to whom I am making myself accountable.  Don't worry, you don't have to do anything.  I just have to imagine that you are there.

Weight has been an issue for me non-stop for 3 years.  It's gone up, it's gone down, I've felt bad about myself pretty much the whole time because I never hit a goal.  My process is obviously not working for me, but here I go again, doing the same thing, in the same way and hoping it will work this time.  Insanity according to Einstein.  He might be right.

I am using  The great thing about this site is that it keeps track of calories in and calories out.  The bad thing is that it gives me permission.  If I haven't reached my calorie goals for the day, I allow myself to eat more.  So I'm going to try not to do that this time.

And I am trying to avoid processed sugar as well.  Especially chocolate.

I have to eat better and at the same time eat fewer calories.  You see, over the summer we moved, and I have been working a lot since November (a lot for me, anyhow).  So things have been pretty stressful and I've been eating a lot - including a lot of sugar and chocolate and caffein.  I've not been working on, and I feel bad about that.  I haven't seen enough of my son or my husband, and the cats haven't had enough of my attention.  I also haven't been exercising enough.  Haven't been doing yoga enough, haven't started meditating, which I promised myself I would.

Aside from gaining weight, my mood has been bad.  Having just cut out sugar for a few days, I'm already feeling better.  On top of that (and if you're at all squeamish, you might not want to read this part ... seriously, skip to the next paragraph) I've been having a real problem with diarrhea.  All my life I've had an irritable bowel but for a while now it's been really bad.  The doctor is going to send me to a specialist, but this morning I think I figured it out - the sleeping pills I've been taking (for the insomnia problems I've been having due to the added anxiety and stress this summer) might be the culprit.

So I stop the sleeping pills (hope I can sleep), cut out sugar, cut out all caffein and start exercising regularly again - while telling all of you about it so that I may actually stick to it.

It's a lot to tackle at once - especially since the stress of working is still there.  But I can do it.  Or at least part of it.  Or one of the things.

Wish me luck.  Send me good vibes.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Depression meds - why they are scary and why they are necessary

I know someone who is going through a particularly rough time with anxiety and depression right now.  She has, with the help of a friend, taken the huge step of seeking medical help.  That is a really, really big step for anyone.  No one wants to admit they are having these problems or that they need help, so when they go to a doctor, that's HUGE!!

But she doesn't want to take any medication.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again.  NO ONE wants to take depression medication.  It feels like failure - like you just don't have the strength to deal with it yourself.  And it's scary - because this is a medication that affects your mood and potentially your personality.

Well, let me make this clear - with the new medications out there, they don't change your personality. Except for the good (make you less depressed, less mean, less anxious, less clingy).  But they don't change who you are.  There can be side effects, but they tend to be minor - each one is different and affects each person differently - so if you do go on medication you need to be monitored and make sure that it is working for you.  You might have to try a couple to find the one that works best for you.

The side effects from the medications are generally well worth the benefits.  Odds are if you are going through a life event that is triggering the depression, that you won't be on the medication for long - maybe 6 months or a year (which, from the perspective of someone who has been off and on medication for 20 years seems like a short time).  It just helps you get over the hump - to get to a point where you can deal with it on your own.  If you have a chemical imbalance, then you may have to be on them long term like I am.  But from personal experience, I can tell you that taking the right medication is life-altering in a very good way.

Depression is a life-threatening disease - like heart disease or diabetes.  Although you can add exercise and a good diet to your routine to help mitigate the problems, if the disease is too far advanced you need meds - and no one would question someone taking medication after a heart attack or taking insulin if they have severe diabetes.  Same with depression.  If not treated, it can be a fatal disease.  

So, please, if you need medication, take it - even for a short time.  Until you do, you won't realize how bad it has been for you and everyone around you dealing with this illness.

And if you need to reach out to family and friends, do that, too.  It can also save your life.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Home Made Wagon Wheels turned S'Mores - back to reducing plastic

So I've been working a lot more than usual lately.  I didn't start my own tomatoes this year (which I've done for the past 7), and because we then decided to move to a larger house, I didn't plant a garden (a few potatoes are all we have - and a whole lot of weeds).  We've been buying snacks wrapped in plastic for school and home use.  I've also bought single-serving yogurts and pudding.  I haven't been thinking about the amount of plastic we are throwing out.

And seriously - I noticed the extra in our garbage and recycling.  There's lots more waste.

And then I saw this:

Now, this little 2-minute clip didn't send me back into nature-loving plastic-hating mode.  A lot of things had been building up and the recycling basket was bothering me.  I had noticed that we were getting lax, but this short film was the proverbial straw.

The box of 40 Wagon Wheels that we bought at Costco was the second-to-last straw.  So when I was at the grocery store yesterday I bought the ingredients to try making my own Wagon Wheels as school snacks.  Although loaded with sugar, if you look at the ingredients, the home-made variety shouldn't be as bad as the pre-packaged ones.  And my husband and son like their sweets - as do I.  I've tried to steer us away from them, but it doesn't really work.

Anyhow, I bought Graham crackers, marshmallows and a big bag of chocolate chips.  To the latter, my husband thought "Oh ... Honey ... NO!" - I hadn't told him my plans yet (I have a rather pushy chocolate addiction).

I started off the adventure melting some of the chocolate chips.  Melting chocolate can be tricky.  Melt in a double boiler (I use a bowl inside a pot).  If any moisture gets into it, it can turn clumpy and dry.  If that happens, add a little coconut oil or butter - something with an oil content - and add small amounts until it becomes liquid again.

Then I broke the Graham crackers into 4 rectangles (the Honey Maid ones are scored that way), put 3/4 of a marshmallow on top (I put a half a marshmallow - cut in half length-wise - and then a half of a half to mostly cover the cracker 1/4), placed the marshmallows on the crackers under a 400 degree broiler and watched closely until the marshmallows had a lovely golden hue - be careful if you try it, it really doesn't take long - maybe 30 or 60 seconds.

After that, I tried coating in chocolate to get the whole Wagon Wheel effect.  Well, that was tasty, but it added too much chocolate and made a huge mess.  So I decided to go for the S'More effect instead. After all - same ingredients, really.

And that worked very well:

Making these I have a tiny bit more control over what my family eats - and although it's not a plastic free snack (the graham crackers have plastic sleeves, the marshmallows come in a bag and so do the chocolate chips), it is less plastic and less packaging in general (I hope - although I have some doubts) - and the plastic bags this stuff comes in will go to recycling where the individual wrappers on the Wagon Wheels end up in the garbage.  I've wrapped them in parchment paper.  Some are in the freezer and some in the fridge.  I don't know how long they will last before they are gone, but I'm going to try to save them as school snacks.

Now, if I get organized, I could probably find all of these ingredients at a bulk store and could take my own containers.  Which I might start to do again.  It won't be more convenient, but are my convenience and my child's consumption of sugar more important then our planet?  I think that's a rhetorical question (or at least I hope it is).

We've been told for years that convenience is the way to go.  What it does is allows us to make more money so we can buy more stuff that makes life convenient so we can make more money and buy more stuff.  Believe me ... I'm part of that cycle.  I enjoy my work, I like buying stuff, and I appreciate things that are easy.  And doing the easy, convenient things is really easy and convenient.  But not for our planet - not for the ecosystem we rely on for our existence.  So ... back to doing the more labour-intensive stuff that maybe takes a bit of a load off the planet.  I hope.