Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

Answers to My Personal Medical Mystery

I’ve not updated in a very long time, but I am today because I was going through this site and realized that you guys never did find out what was *actually* wrong with me.  On December 2, 2012, I landed in the ER with jaundice, severe nausea, excruciating pain and more of the same.  The ultrasound technician found several large nodules on my liver of an unknown cause.  After exhaustive testing, it was determined that I was suffering from a Sphincter of Oddi dysfunction that was causing digestive enzymes to back up into my pancreas and liver.  The pressure was causing the pain and eating low residue foods (like many of the things included in the GF diet) had kept it from spilling over more quickly.  After many corrective surgeries, I went back for an MRI on my liver in October 2013.  The nodules were completely gone, as well as the impregnation of the tissues that had originally been identified as fatty liver disease.

Although I am still slowly working toward permanently correcting the severe malnutrition I’ve suffered from being such an unthrifty digester for so many years, I am improving.  The nerve pain and lack of motor control is improving every day (I was also suffering from a severe calcium, potassium and magnesium deficiency and wildly uncontrolled diabetes from digesting my own pancreas) and my blood sugars are normalizing.  I haven’t had chronic diarrhea for months.  There may still be some digestive issues under it all, but the heart of the thing… the root of it, was that Sphincter of Oddi.

I am absolutely the farthest thing from a doctor, but I also know how frustrating and horrible it can be to be sick forever with no hope or end in sight.  If your Celiac disease is only suspected and not confirmed by a positive blood test and biopsy, I urge you to have someone who understands the hepatic system to look at your bile duct.  I got *so* lucky, but I know many of you haven’t hit the medical lottery yet.  My best to you all.  ~Kristi

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Gluten Free Diet Confusion

Ok, people.  What’s the deal?  While I’ve been researching and designing new recipes to make our gluten free lives a little easier, apparently others are perpetuating bad information on gluten free diets.

So, here we go, a response to the biggest bits of bad info I’ve seen so far.

1)  Gluten is found in all sorts of foods, including rice.  WRONG!!!!  Gluten in the sense of the gluten-free diet is found in wheat, rye and barley (and their hybrid relatives) and sometimes oats, believed to be due to cross-contamination.

2)  Gluten-free diet is so much healthier than eating gluten because it’s evil.  NO!  Gluten isn’t evil unless you can’t eat it for medical reasons.  In America, wheat is a fortified grain… our food producers add extra vitamins, minerals and trace elements.  It’s good for you.  It really is.  I know few better grains than whole wheat.

3)  There’s hidden gluten everywhere, even in rice!  NO!  Plain rice made of rice has no gluten in the sense that we’re talking about.  Fruits, veggies, greens, etc., are naturally gluten free.  Other products frequently disclose gluten sources on their products, through their 1-800 numbers and/or on their websites.  If you bother to look, you can find lots and lots of great products that are gluten free (even Wal-Mart’s store brand has tons of gluten free options).

4)  I can detox my body by eliminating gluten for a short time period.  WRONG!!!  Tell Oprah to stick it.  Gluten-free is a LIFELONG MEDICAL DIET.  Unless you’re undiagnosed and gluten intolerant, eliminating gluten is not going to fix whatever eating habits got you to the place where you thought you’d need to detox.

5)  I should go gluten-free without being tested first.  !! Please don’t!!!  There are lots of good reasons to be tested, including keeping you on the straight and narrow and being able to demonstrate to family members why they should also be tested (you might save your mother’s life).  Also, your doctor should be able to help diagnose other problems that are likely to come hand in hand with the gluten intolerance; it rarely travels alone.

6)  A little gluten won’t hurt me… YES IT WILL!!  Even a little bit of gluten can cause intestinal damage in people with Celiac disease.  Don’t eat it, gluten kills us.

7)  I have to stop eating pizzas, pies, pastries, cookies, etc…. No, never!!  There are many of us out there who are interested in baking (and probably had lots of wheat baking miles under our belts) who are developing and refining recipes to fit our ideas of what real food should taste like, gluten free or not.  My friends and family (and new friends who once were strangers) frequently are unable to tell the difference in my homemade baked goods (and sometimes even prefer the gf versions to the wheat originals).  The only thing I have yet to be able to replicate (or know others who have) is phyllo dough… and I’m sure someone will figure that one out in the next few years. 🙂

So, I hope that clears up some of the confusion.  Gluten-free is not a fad diet, it’s not a New Year’s Resolution, it’s not a game.  People who are on Gluten-free diets are on them for strict medical reasons… primarily Celiac Disease.  Celiacs cannot stray and must ALWAYS be careful about ingesting gluten because it sets off an autoimmune chain reaction that always ends in a sad and dangerous way.

Oh yeah, and just because you have a blog doesn’t give you permission to perpetuate bad information.  If you are irresponsible enough to carry bad information that’s neither properly researched nor entirely true, you could literally be hurting people when it comes to the whole gluten free bit.  Don’t be irresponsible… if you have some sort of know-it-all complex, then you can stick it, too.  People need good information, this isn’t an easy diet in the beginning (it does get easier, I promise).

Personal: The Devil’s Fruit and Christmas Baking

Well, it turns out that I now have one more reason to really, really despise bananas.  Not only are they difficult to spell and pronounce, they contain a horrible sickly-sweet mushy pulp that has a texture so disgusting that it is completely indescribable.  Based on statistics I made up, banana-related deaths claim over 1 million lives each year.

It turns out that I am violently allergic to them.  Yesterday, I made a trip to the Asian store (which I love) and was rooting around in the dried spice section when I found dried banana flowers.  Thinking that the flowers were likely flavored differently from the fruit and that they would make a cool addition to my tropical fruitcake cookies I was preparing to bake, I bought a small bag.  When I got them home, I stuck one in my mouth so I could figure out what they tasted like.

It was a horrible, bitter thing… so bad that I spit it out (which is the greatest insult you can give to food).  A few hours later, I noticed that the back of my tongue was sore, but wrote it off thinking that maybe I had bitten it on accident (I’m accident-prone, what can I say?).  By 10pm CST, my tongue had swollen so much it was affecting my speech.  Jim suggested I down several doses of liquid Benadryl and within about a half hour the swelling started to go down.

Oh, but it gets better.

Around 5 am CST, I was woken to a very upset stomach.  Blaming the bag of chips I had for dinner, I went into the bathroom and did my duty for America.  As I was washing my hands, I was gripped by a sudden urge to throw up my guts (fortunately it’s a small bathroom!).  I quickly turned around and started spewing Exorcist-style.  It was both frightening and strangely curious.  I had never experienced such velocity when clearing the contents of my stomach… so I took a half dose of liquid Benadryl to help with the nausea (a trick I got from a nurse that is suprisingly effective).

Now, it’s 11 am CST and I’m still feeling weird.  Stomach is a mess and so is the rest of me.  However, after googling the ingredients in the banana blossoms (banana blossoms and sulphite), I have decided that it’s most likely that I have a banana allergy.  I had no idea you could have an allergy to bananas.  I always just thought my distaste for them stemmed from their inherent evilness and their ties to the Christian Devil.  The fact that they grow in some of the most unpleasant regions of the world (weather wise)  just lends more creedence to the idea that they are Lucifer’s Own.

So, in short and long, that’s how I learned that I had developed a banana allergy.  I always wondered how people figured those things out and now I know.  Hooray, I’m so lucky!

Personal: A Gluten Free Thanksgiving

Well, friends and neighbors, this is officially my one year anniversary.  Just a week or so before Thanksgiving last year, I was dxed with Celiac.  That was one rough Thanksgiving, I can tell you.  This year was much better. 🙂  My family went to great lengths to save packages for me so I could check the food for gluten and even wanted me to make the gravy “my way,” which was really nice… I didn’t have to worry about it at all. 🙂  It was funny, the rolls and other bread items were actually quarantined to a far part of the kitchen to keep them from the rest of the food.

At home, we didn’t do too shabby either, I must say.  Our Thanksgiving spread includes a nice fluffy turkey breast that was brined for 6 hours, mashed sweet potatoes with chipotle peppers, succotash, homemade GF stuffing with cranberries, cookies of many varieties, cranberry dipping sauce for the turkey, steamed cabbage… we have enough to eat for a week!  MOO!

This is essentially a progress report.  How am I after a year of being gluten free?  I’m great!  Well, I’m not perfect, and I still have to explain it to more distant family members, but I’m so much better and I’ve adapted rather well (if I do say so myself).  Crushing fatigue isn’t as frequent of a vistor and I’m still loosing weight… which is super cool (I recently was forced to buy new pants, since I couldn’t keep the old ones up).

I still have the things that go along with the Fibro, but they are far less irritating by themselves. 🙂  I’ve learned that when I’m stiff and/or sore, I just have to let it be and not try to force myself to do things that will end up making me hurt more.  I have a huge list of To Dos in my head that aren’t getting done… or are getting done at a pace that disappoints me… but I’m slowly learning to accept those as well.  It might have slowed me down, but I certainly am not going to let it win.

So, this is my one year anniversary…. happy anniversary… I need a turkey induced nap.

Personal: Ooohh… Celiac Disease Awareness Month Contest

Clicky

Check it out!  A recipe flingin’ contest!  Thanks go out to GFR blog for the heads up!  Let us know if you enter so we can wait with bated breath to see the winners!  I may enter my pizza if my recipe doesn’t become property of the contest.  (Pizza tutorial to follow)

Also, so you know, it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month… so be sure to feel your boobies!!! 😉

Personal: Kitchen Tile Chaos, Day 3

Hideeho.  I’m beat and dirty and tired of tiling the kitchen.  I’ve finally got into sort of a swing, but the rain has slowed down my drying time, so I’ve got at least one more day if not two on the project.  However, it looks super awesome and far better than I could have imagined that commercial grade tile could look in a residential cottage kitchen.  It’s so cute I wanna cry.  Here are the photos (it’s not been cleaned yet, so there’s glue residue here and there, it’s not discoloration).

Personal: A Miracle!!! I Can See My Kitchen Counter Again!

OMG! It's a clean counter! I took a photo in case I forgot what it looked like.

OMG! It's a clean counter! I took a photo in case I forgot what it looked like again.

So, here’s the thing.  School started about a month ago.  And I started on some new meds about 2 1/2 weeks ago.  So, between those two things, I’ve had NO TIME to clean or do much of anything.  The tomato sauce making really destroyed the cleanliness of the kitchen.  But, all is not lost!  Tonight I found five minutes to myself… and I cleaned.  Tomorrow I have to make bread cuz mine went south.