Saturday, October 30, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
I won't bother to bore you with all of the gory details. We'll just get straight to the results - many of which my doctor was sure of BEFORE we did the official testing. She's just that good....and I'm apparently that typical. (Can I just tell you how wonderful it is to be told that I am not crazy..and that I am, in fact, quite normal?)
I am allergic to:
- all of the inhalants they tested me for, excluding the aforementioned Smuts and Elm. This includes pollens, molds, dust mites, and animals.
- Yeasts....which by extension includes sugar as well.
The yeast/sugar problem is one that I'd not heard of before Dr. Fowler and I spoke this summer, and it's a fascinating topic - albeit one that's beyond the scope of this post. Suffice it to say that a lot of things fell into place in our conversations - both before I was tested and once we had official confirmation.
So what do we do about it?
- For starters, sleeping with the windows open is now out, and I need to get new pillows. (The mattress needs to be replaced, but that's another story.)
- When we go visit my parents, I need to spend a bit less time outdoors, and we need to have them use the furnace instead of the wood stove.
- I need to become crazy about cleaning.
- Dairy is obviously out of my diet. My reaction to it was pretty strong. (Still itches.)
- Because of the yeast problem, I will soon be going on a very strict diet which will basically include only meat, veggies, beans, eggs and fruits - rotating them as much as possible so that I don't develop any more allergies. (In a perfect world, only eating a food once in every four days.)
- That means I can no longer eat or drink: sugar, yeast, grains, vinegar, fermented products, or any food that potentially carries mold - like coffee, tea, nuts, seeds, or melons.
Yep, take a good look at those last two lines and see if they make you cry a little bit. I'm afraid I threw my mother into a total panic when I read her the full list of off-limit foods. The direct quote was, after a pregnant pause, "What are you allowed to eat besides water?"
Also, I am going to start allergy shots next week, which should help to desensitize me to many of my allergens. My understanding of the situation was that my reactions to the inhalants weren't as serious as the food problems. Rather, it's a case that my body is just dealing with so many at a time that it's in a constant state of crisis. Dr. Fowler was very clear in that I needed to start the shots...and she apparently doesn't say that to all of her patients.
Some good news - My BKB's husband has the same yeast problem, and so she is going to be a wonderful resource for me. She's been there, done that, and has lots of advice about ways to do this without making the entire family crazy. Also, I discovered (Thanks Facebook!) that one of my P.E.O. sisters had similar test results (w/o the dairy thing), and once she figured out how to work her allergies she found that yeast and dust were the only things she had to manage. In fact, I get the general idea that once we deal with the big allergens - which for me is going to be dairy and yeast - than the rest won't be so problematic anymore. Most people I know find that they can eventually reintroduce a lot of the foods, so long as they are careful.
The even better news - Dr. Fowler is certain that by eating clean I'm going to dramatically improve my health in a relatively short amount of time.
You would think all of this would be triggering all of my usual emotional reactions, but I am remarkably at peace (for now). It's one thing to worry about avoiding food because you 'shouldn't' eat it for whatever reason. It's quite another to know that food could make you sick. (And for the record...it's not that I can NEVER eat any of the off-limits foods again, it's just that I will have to eat them consciously knowing that I will have to pay for it in some way.)
More importantly, I find that I'm feeling hope...for maybe the first time.
And, I'm feeling quite relieved. Amazing what a few answers will do for a girl!
As you know, I've spent the last few years on a journey to improve my health after years of just not feeling quite well. Oftentimes my problems have been of the vague sort...with me knowing that something wasn't right, but never being able to pinpoint exactly what the problem was. My symptoms have included:
- seasonal allergies
- IBS - specifically of the nausea, diarrhea, bloating, cramping variety
- constant fatigue
- insomnia - difficulty with both falling asleep and staying asleep
- depression and anxiety
- severe PMS
- brain fog
- sore joints/muscle pain w/o logical explanation
- difficulty losing weight (despite carefully following exercise and diet plans)
- bad skin
- sensitivity to scents in general
- chemical sensitivity - growing steadily worse over the last few years
- horrendous cravings for sugar and chocolate
The brief history goes something like this:
- In high school I had significant problems with anxiety in depression, and was diagnosed with IBS at 18.
- I've always had seasonal allergies, but in high school they went through the roof. Later I would figure out that they were worse in my home territory than they are here.
- Insomnia has always been a problem - getting multiple mentions back in my first journal, which I wrote at the age of 13.
- Those problems continued a bit in college, but I don't remember any of it being too horrible - although I did take antidepressants for two years.
- Post college, the headaches became a significant problem. By the time we got married, I was downing at least two advil/day...and had become so used to the problem I didn't realize what I was doing.
- In the early years of our marriage the general health ickiness started to build, but it wasn't bad enough to complain about, and at the time I blamed it on the stress of a job I detested.
- Then I had kids, and of course everyone started blaming the extreme fatigue I developed on the fact that I was a new Mom. Newer symptoms - like the horrendous PMS and the chemical sensitivities - started to develop at that time.
So about two and a half years ago I went to see my GP because I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. She blew me off, I got mad, and thus the process of finding better health began. Most significantly, since then I:
- Found my acupuncturist, who helped to cure the PMS problems and manage other issues.
- Spent some time in therapy dealing with the emotional side of all of this.
- Joined the gym, got a personal trainer and discovered a love of exercise.
- Dumped most processed food from the family diet - including refined sugar and white flour.
- With the help of my OBGYN discovered a serious vitamin D deficiency problem, which we've been working to manage for the last year.
And it's all helped.
None of it has fully solved the problem.
Which leads me to my three hour appointment on Tuesday.
Up next: What we discovered, and what I'm going to do about it.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Let me explain.
I spent three hours yesterday in the offices of Dr. Laurie Fowler, who is not only a friend from church but is also one of the most respected allergists in my area. In fact, if you mention her name in casual conversation anywhere in this town, you are almost guaranteed to find a patient of hers who will quite happily speak of her in glowing terms. Dr. Fowler has helped a lot of people - including some very, very good friends of mine - and she has a reputation for being able to find answers where other doctors have failed.
I began to suspect that a trip to see Dr. Fowler might be in order back in January - before the surgery upended my life. I had been working with my personal trainer for about seven months, and we were both becoming rather concerned about my ongoing tummy problems...which seemed to be getting worse despite the fact that my diet had improved significantly. Also, my BKB's husband had begun seeing Dr. Fowler, and because of his experiences and that of friends she began to urge me to consider an appointment for myself. Of course, we all know what happened in March...and once I wound up on the surgical table my digestive issues became the least of my worries for a while.
But then this summer I had a long conversation with Dr. Fowler herself at my daughter's Primary Camp, where Dr. Fowler was the (highly overqualified, but fabulous) camp nurse. As we commiserated over some medical situations, she put her doctor's cap on and by the time we left camp I had a quasi-diagnosis and a book recommendation. I came home, bought the book, and instantly recognized myself in it. The sugar/yeast/dairy free experiment came shortly thereafter, and while it didn't stick I can't deny that I noticed a difference in the 10 days I was able to do it. (Sorry, can't find the posts right now!)
Unfortunately, those 10 days were also marked by some pretty horrendous withdrawal problems that mostly manifested in the most horrible mood of my life. Ask my (sweet, kind, very understanding) BKB, who managed to be on the receiving end of the worst of my behavior. I'm just grateful that I recognized I was being a complete monster...and that she accepted my apology! So I decided to return to a normal diet until which time I could see Dr. Fowler for an official appointment. As I said, though, she's a very good doctor, and I had to wait over three months for the first available new patient appointment.
Which leads me to yesterday, when I finally found myself sitting down with Dr. Fowler in her official capacity to discuss my life and the many medical issues which have plagued me for years.
Because I recognize this is going to be a long discussion, I am going to break it into three parts. (Feel free to skip over all of this if you want! I promise we'll have some more fun, crafty stuff when I get through this....the Green Woman and I do have some very important things to share with you!) In the second post I'll discuss which medical issues I'm referring to and will do a brief synopsis of my journey towards health over the last few years, and in the third we'll talk about the answers we've found and what I'm going to do about it!
Monday, October 25, 2010
- We had round steak for dinner tonight.
- Nothing better!
- Absolute comfort food...especially with beef raised by my parents.
- My living room and kitchen have been spotless since last Thursday. That's a record.
- That's kind of sad....
- We seriously have to do something about the hole in the linoleum under the kitchen table. It looks really, really bad.
- We were going to tile the kitchen floor this summer, but wound up buying a new washer and dryer instead. We really didn't have much of a choice, so I can't complain.
- We've been in the house for 10 years and married for 11...things are starting to wear out, and I am getting nervous about the expense!
- I also need a bunch of new clothes, and I'm kind of looking forward to that..but I've never been a big shopper, so we'll see how it goes.
- Yep, I'm a wimp when it comes to buying new clothes.
- Apparently I'm getting better at buying shoes, though....I pick up my fourth and last pair tomorrow! The only thing I would want would be a pair of everyday boots....which I probably won't do this winter because of the aforementioned clothing issue!
- My four-year-old seems to have hit her terrible twos.
- Last week in BootCamp we boxed.
- I am not aggressive enough for boxing.
- Seriously....it was almost a joke.
- I did have a free pilates session on the reformer on Friday, thanks to the fact that a friend has recently become a pilates teacher and wanted to practice on someone. We did an hour, and I can honestly say that I had muscles hurt this weekend that I didn't even know existed!
- And for yet another reason why it's good to exercise - my left shoulder locked up last week, and has been excruciating every since. The ONLY time it feels ok is when I exercise, so I'm trying to do that as often as possible until the muscles decide to unknot.
- In other health-related news, I am going in for allergy testing tomorrow. We're hoping I get some of my digestive questions answered.
- I'm trying to think of something witty to say.
- Not coming up with much.
- I have found a piano teacher for the Princess. That's exciting - especially as it's one of my P.E.O. sisters.
- Oooo...I also finally stepped down as the VP of my chapter. when they asked me to do it - after two years as president - my gut told me no and I didn't listen. I feel much, much better now that I've let go of that responsibility.
- I really need to do some plying...but I don't wanna. I can fill at least two of my three remaining bobbins before it becomes necessary. I've got it narrowed down to three possibilities.
- Must. Speak. To. The. Green. Woman. about banishing the Bad Mood fairy that seems to be plaguing the Pixie.
- I'm feeling the need to go knit now.
Have a great week everyone!
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Monday, October 18, 2010
- And I managed to whittle the 1,400 down to just under 600.
- A sign of the type of parent I am - I am insanely happy that the girls are no longer playing princess. Now they are dragon-hunting Vikings, and I love every minute of it!
- Last night I discovered that my seven-year-old feels safe confiding her secrets to me. I'm particularly proud of that, and I hope she always feels that way.
- Meanwhile, my four-year-old has been snugly and cute lately, frequently declaring that I am the best Mom ever. Gotta love that!
- I haven't taken the bikes out of the van yet. I'm hoping for a repeat ride....
- Which leads me to exercise.
- I - the great individualist - have discovered an exercise class that I can really get into. Our BootCamp instructor had to miss today (sick kids, poor woman!). The sub she sent teaches the Bosu class, which quite naturally means we got to do a Bosu class. And I loved every minute of it! After BootCamp I think I'll have to incorporate this class into my weekly routine. (And incidentally, I'm going to hurt tomorrow....LOVE that!)
- Our exercise assignment for the coming week is to run.
- Cue laughter.
- Easiest. Assignment. Ever.
- It's raining right now. Have I told you all how much I love the fall? And the rain? And the nice weather? Perfect day.
- A good friend of mine called a bit ago, and I get to see her this Friday...and her lovely baby! That's a very good thing, especially as I'm now on a mission to spoil other people's children as much as I possibly can.
- Cupcake is responding to this plan of mine by being ultra-snugly and thus helping me to work on my relaxation techniques. Seriously. Have you ever tried to be anything but a wet noodle when holding a peaceful, sleeping baby?
- I'm also working on spoiling the family. I spent this weekend working furiously on knitting up clogs for myself and my girls. I also finished a pair for my husband. I like knowing that we'll soon all have nice, warm tootsies.
- Notice that I'm included in that pile of clogs.
- AND, I bought yarn to make myself a vest. I think perhaps I'll get started on that this week.
- See, I'm working on restoring some balance!
- I'm also spinning that pink merino. I didn't plan on making laceweight with it....it just happened. Of course, that goes right with my current working theory...which is that I can't find what I want in the stores, so I'd best make it myself.
- Found some old glasses in my desk. They are probably 15 years old, but they fit better than my falling-apart-newest pair. Thus I can put off new glasses that much longer....
- Oooo...I got new shoes! I now have the gorgeous green Keene's you saw last week, orange Birks, and two pair of high heels from Clark - one of them a nice, deep red patent leather. I can't even begin to tell you how happy I am about that!
- Now I just need clothes to go with....
- (Down side to this time of year...mild allergies, resulting mostly in low-grade constant headaches. Ick.)
- I bought my sweet dog a new orthopaedic dog bed today. She had a really good time smelling it and then trying it out!
- The poor thing is 14, and in the last few months she's started to really show her age. She's getting thin, her back legs are stiff and arthritic (started new meds for that this weekend), she's practically deaf, and we don't think she can see very much. Add to that the fact that she's on daily aspirin therapy because of the stroke she had a year ago....
- I have no illusions. She's old, and you can't cure old. BUT, I want to make sure she's as comfortable as possible.
- But I do sincerely hope that dogs don't feel their age like humans do. I hope in her mind she's still a young pup...even if one that moves a bit slower.
- One last note...I have a supremely bad haircut right now. I wanted something a bit different, and though my stylist is normally phenomenal this time it turned out crazy. It feels ridiculously short (though it's been shorter) and it takes a LOT of work (for me) to style it. Good thing it's just hair and it will grow!
Have a great week everyone!
Sunday, October 17, 2010
While the Princess - next to her proud Grandma - did a 4.25 mile ride.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
My successes include:
- Sean's Cobblestone
- Sean's black turtleneck
- Sean's Galway Guy
- My February Lady
- Several Debbie Bliss basic cardigans
- All BSJ's
- Fair Isle Ballet Sweater
- Robin Hood Cabled Jacket for Princess
- Rustic Pea Pod
Under the 'Meh' category:
- The cabled pullover for the Pixie with the too-wide neck. (To be fair, this was a pattern feature, trying to mimic the folded over top of a traditional infant onsie.)
- A couple of baby gift patterns that turned out to be cute...but were a bit fiddly, like the Matinee Cardi.
- Rosemary...fits beautifully, but is itchy and too old for me.
- Little Star Sweater, which needed to be wool.
And while I can't call them failures, there are a few that just didn't work out for one reason or another:
- My tent like maternity sweater.
- The Tatami Kimono that found a better home with my BKB
- The Botanic Medallion Cardi that's still too small.
- The post-surgery cardi that turned out to fit my 7-year-old. (Although I am still laughing about that one.)
- Forestry Cardigan...which I gave to Mom because it fit her better...and it had weird issues with the collar which I think were the pattern and not me.
There are three very important facts which should strike you as you read this list.
- All but one of my happy projects were made for someone else.
- The projects in the middle by and large were not favorites because of pattern issues and/or my yarn selections.
- The disaster sweaters are all disasters because of fit...and they were all made for me.
Clearly, I have some issues.
Truth time....the biggest problem that I have is one of fit, and I don't think I'm alone in that. While once in a while it's a case of my gauge swatches having lied to me, usually I just have chosen the wrong size to make. No, I'm not clueless as to my actual measurements...I just have some weird hangups about them and have often thought that I should make a size smaller to encourage myself to lose weight. Well we all know where I'm at right now with THAT can of worms. Enough is enough, it's time to start knitting for me in a realistic way. There's absolutely no sense in continuing to put off spending my precious craft time on me. Besides, there's only so many shawls a girl can wear!
The second issue...I do spend a lot of time knitting for other people, and - while I'm not about to stop doing so - I do need to find some balance. It's just hard sometimes when your husband and daughters love and appreciate their handknits so much!
Finally, there is a question of personal style, which is something I've been more than a bit vague about for years. Fashion has never been at the top of my list, and because of all of my weird issues I've spent a lot of time trying to just blend in to the background. I'm quite pleased to say that that particular phase is now over. I'm looking around now with an eye towards what I truly like...what types of clothes scream my name....what works with my lifestyle....and what would make me feel special to wear.
Which leads me to something we'll discuss next week....sweaters I want to make for me!
*I'm far too lazy to stop and link all of the items on the list today, so if you want to look up these sweaters, please visit my Ravelry project page.
Friday, October 15, 2010
The Green Woman is always in charge of packing the 'fun' stuff for the weekend, and as she always goes a bit overboard, I thought you might be interested to see her list for this weekend. While it is weekend specific, it is also very typical in the amount and variety of stuff she likes to take along. After all...one never knows....
- This summer we had to buy a new washing machine (Yay!) which means that we no longer have a machine capable of felting handknits. Now, I am not fond of felting, so this would not be a big deal if not for one thing....and that is the simple fact that the absolute best house slippers in the world are the Fiber Trends Felt Clogs. So, I am taking my almost-completed pair, my husband's almost completed pair and all supplies and materials to make slippers for the girls (I just found out yesterday there is a children's pattern as well.) I'm not sure when we will be back, and I really need to get them all finished and felted before we come home on Sunday.
- If that wasn't enough, the Green Woman has also packed ALL supplies and materials for the girls' Christmas sweaters and
- All supplies and materials for the new vest that I want to make for myself.
- Perhaps the stuff to start a Daybreak shawl as we finally figured out how we want to do that.
- And my knitting wouldn't be complete without lace, so the Princess edging is going with,
- As is a basic sock that I'm working on for my husband.
- She loves variety, though, so of course the spinning wheel is going with.
- Her fiber selection is the pink merino we had considered for last weekend. (Lucky me, she seems to be good with only one type of fiber.)
- I wouldn't be surprised if the drop spindle found its way in...
- She is waffling a bit about the fabric for a quilt that we cut out over a year ago. Mom's help could be good or bad.
- Two books to read and my journal.
- And a partridge in a pear tree!
We had a last-minute change of plans and are going to stay home this weekend. My parents will come up tomorrow and we will all take our bikes to ride the trail together - which sounds like a fantastic plan to me! The girls and I picked up a new movie and the fixings for nachos for a Mommy/Daughter movie night, and I am very, Very happy that I won't have to drive today.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Monday, October 11, 2010
- The knitting needles were back this morning. The Green Woman had carefully placed them next to my bed so that I could easily (step on them) find them as soon as I woke up.
- Apparently, she was getting really bored with all of the knitting.
- I must say that the Green Woman's point was well made. I have been remarkably focused on a single knitting project at a time over the last couple of months...and they haven't exactly been little projects.
- Variety is good. Must. Remember. That!
- And what happens when the Green Woman decides to teach me a lesson? I wind up with 16 oz. of absolutely perfect handspun. In fact, I think I've found a new favorite. I'm seriously in love with this yarn!
- Once upon a time I used to drink buckets of General Foods International Coffee in Viennese Chocolate Cafe. (Watching tv. Saw a commercial.)
- Back to the yarn.
- I've never made a bulky yarn before. I don't generally knit with bulky yarn, either. For some reason, though, this fiber screamed "BULKY!!!"
- And I learned something...for me the trick to a nice, soft, squishy heavier handspun is to go fast and not think about it.
- Thus....16 oz. in two days...and I can't wait to knit it up into something wonderful!
- And just to make sure that the Green Woman knew that I learned my lesson, I started the pink merino this morning in the wee hours.
- Speaking of pink handspun....
- Don't you just love it when the stars align and a plan falls into place? A few days ago I went to B&N, and while I was there I paged through a copy of Brave New Knits, which I hadn't yet seen. On page 118 a thunderbolt hit. Melissa Wehrle's Origami Shrug is absolutely perfect for the cranberry merino/tencel I spun a few years ago. The fiber was a Christmas gift from my husband, and I knew that the yarn had to be used for a very special project. I've found it...and I hope to have an exciting new shrug to wear for Christmas this year!
- Which would make the red shoes I'm considering make a bit more sense...
- I don't get my usual Mom's Night off until the last week of the month because of my meeting schedule. Three weeks without it....I might not survive.
- Although that has nothing to do with any of the children - who have all been remarkably good lately. (And yes, I'm referring to all four children!)
- We went to Shryocks Corn Maze on Saturday with our church.
- Must admit. Corn mazes are a bit creepy...and aren't really my thing. My sense of direction is iffy enough as it is.
- More fun at night? With aliens?
- However, the kids loved it and for their sakes this will probably become a family tradition. I'm not surprised that the Princess had so much fun...but it does shock me a bit that the Pixie keeps asking to go back!
- Ok, she's not my baby, but I'm still thrilled that Cupcake rolled over for the first time Friday and is now working on scootching on her tummy!
- My husband doesn't think 'scootching' is a word, and I'm too lazy to look it up right now.
- My husband also didn't think I could run a 10 minute mile this AM when I took my fitness test for my second BootCamp.
- Take that!
- By the way, just to prove that physical appearance has nothing to do with physical fitness...I did a heck of a lot better in the test this AM than several of the other BootCampers, all of whom are considerably smaller than I.
- Take that!
- We need to have a blog conversation about sweaters this week. (I've now said it, so I should do it.)
- Weird. The Pixie just came into the kitchen, and I think she was sleepwalking. At the very least she definitely wasn't really awake. Best keep an eye on that.
- I want to knit a bit before bed, so I'm off!
Have a great week!
Sunday, October 10, 2010
I had two bundles - each 8 oz - and I decided to keep it simple. First I divided each bundle in half so that I could fill four bobbins as easily as possible.
And the Princess has already requested that I knit something for her with this yarn.