Jennifer’s Way, MC and Me

Recently, I read Jennifer’s Way by Jennifer Esposito.  If you don’t know, she’s an actor who suffered for years with undiagnosed celiac disease.

This is a must read even if you do not have a celiac problem.  If you have been on a journey to discover what’s not right with you, this is informative.  It took her years and tons of money.  What hope do the rest of us have? It also reinforced what I have learned on this journey.  It’s up to you.  You are the one who needs to do the research.  You have to keep on asking the questions, over and over. And then, question it again.  It’s up to you to coordinate it all.  This is brutal because to begin with the reason you are on this journey is something is not right.

Three years ago, I started playing and playing is the right word with diet for overcoming my condition.  That’s what we like to call it “MC” for my condition.  A doctor told us that’s what we call it when we don’t know what it is.  And no, not MC.  My belief is, if you name something like that, you give it power.  So, I may be in denial but  that’s how I deal.  Anyhow, just for fun, I cut gluten for one week.  Then I went out to dinner and there were popovers.  Can I tell you, I got a headache immediately.  Yes, there is definitely a relationship between my walking and gluten.  I had an iron stomach as a child.  I could and did eat anything.  And it fascinated my father, who was afraid of vomiting, that I could throw up, most times, and return to the table.  I was sure when this started that I  had no food sensitivities.  I was told that when I was little I was allergic to peaches.  My mother would not have that and fed me little bits until I could eat peaches.

After the gluten, I stopped dairy.  I drank tons of milk as a child.  I only stopped when my brother became chubby and we switched to skim milk.  I also had yogurt for lunch most days.  This started when Dannon was the only yogurt and there were only 8 flavors.  This was hard for me.  Guess what?  The stubborn weight dropped off!  And something else, it was always a family joke.  Right after I was born, the people from my father’s office came to visit.  I passed gas so loudly that this woman nearly dropped me.  Ahem, once I stopped dairy that stopped, too.

One of the things discussed in the book was the hereditary nature of things.  Hmmm.  Another thing that immediately struck me was that for years, Jennifer lived on Pepto Bismol, ginger ale and crackers.  So did Daddy!  I knew once that he really loved me when he gave me his bottle of Pepto when he was leaving me at uni.

I drifted back slowly to the gluten.  Not a lot.  I’ve never really been a bread or pasta fan so no problems there.  I do stay away except for pastry and the occasional piece of cake.  No yogurt but yes to ice cream. I’ve noticed in the last few weeks, yeast triggers stomach pains and weakness.  Oh and secret vice, frozen condensed milk.  I get violent stomach cramps.  Hmmn

It’s just about a month to my birthday so here we go again.  I am going to strive for no gluten or dairy and see what happens.

Read her book.  See what journies it leads you on

May 2016 Check In

How did I feel this past Month?

On the blue side, with ups and downs.  The job thing is destroying me.  I get interest and interviews and then I crash.  April marked 6 months out of work.  It is now going to get even harder.  Yes, I am a mature woman with a gimp, a very stylish walking stick and not cheap.  On the upside, I connected with Meg’s blog http://www.bbhwithms.com/

Her blog is a must read and has given me so much hope.  It’s great to know there’s someone else out there.

I am reflecting on how I got onto the wrong track or the track I didn’t want to end up on in my life.  I walked away and now I can’t walk.  Something to ponder.  So, how much of my job situation is attributable to me.  Some, I think.  I became just a tad complacent.  I am looking back in order to move forward.  I feel time catching up with me.  It’s finite.

What did you do for yourself this month?

Still playing arts and crafts.  I did take a finger knitting class.  The only other attendee was a great grandmother who bent over and accidentally mooned the whole store.  I am reading more which gives me joy and peace.

I also have started playing with more smoothies and a reset detox.

What did I eat this month  and how did it make me feel

Well, a definite emphasis on smoothies.  I expanded my repertoire.  I also did a Simple Green Smoothies Thrive  reset hoping to get me back on track.  I definitely deflated.  I couldn’t eat all the food as I was too full.  I paid no attention to the different autoimmune diets but it covered the bases – no sugar, no gluten, no caffeine, no dairy, no meat.  I could definitely eat this way.

Did I exercise?  What did I do?  How did it feel

No Zumba but more gym time.  And I have the new Fitbit Alta which is helping me with my steps.

For whom or what are you grateful?  What matters most in life?

I am so grateful for my friends who keep my head above water.  Every night I list gratitude for at least these five things:  friends, mobility, possibilities, wherewithal, creativity

Do I have a higher purpose or driving force in my life?   Make a mission statement

Getting closer to that mission statement,  My grandma told me (it was Shakespeare but who knew?) To thine ownself be true.  Tis like the night, cannot be changed.  That works for me

Conventional medicine  Still just Ampyra and Baclufen.  And my doctor says there is a drug that will be available in the fall that will work for me.

Symptoms – Hands are still  getting weaker.  My hands and feet are multi-colored.  I have an appointment next week.  My neurologist looked at my hands and said Raynaud’s.

What symptoms are most troublesome  – Independence and mobility.  Hands not working

Do I blame myself for things – Yes, I am still believing it’s food, stress and exercise.

How is stress level?  It’s amping up with no work in sight.  Summer is coming.  Ouch.

What can I do tomorrow to make it better than today?

Never give up! Never!  Defy convention.  My mother always said I conformed to non-conformity, so be it.

February 2016 Check In

How did I feel this past Month?

Like I always do.  I fell apart after the main event.  Can I say Babka?  But I have been working out and mostly take care of me.

What did you do for yourself this month?

Gym, Zumba.  Gratitude journal.  Applied for jobs like crazy.  Writing a bit more.

What did I eat this month  and how did it make me feel

Struggling to get back on track.  Still trying to mitigate as the holiday stuff leaves the house.  I started again having a green smoothie practically every day.

Did I exercise?  What did I do?  How did it feel

Definitely more gym this month and started Zumba.  Zumba gives me joy and frustrates me at the same time.  I can do so much less than I used to.

For whom or what are you grateful?  What matters most in life?

Well things are moving along.  I had companies want to talk to me about jobs.  I was able to pay my bills.  I have amazing friends

Do I have a higher purpose or driving force in my life?   Make a mission statement

I guess at the end of the day I want my life to have mattered and changed someone else’s positively

Conventional medicine  Just the Ampyra and Baclufan.  Really beginning to get that the right food and rest will do a lot.

Symptoms – Balance is definitely off and my hands are getting weaker but I am fighting.

What symptoms are most troublesome  – The balance and being confined when there’s snow.  Three years ago I could dig myself out in the driveway.  Now I can’t walk outside.

Do I blame myself for things – Sure.  Still not aggressive and focused enough.  I let this into my life.

How is stress level?

Through the roof.  No job.  Confined to the house.

What can I do tomorrow to make it better than today?

Change the food more and keep on plugging away.

Still Fighting – Zumba

Last night I went to Zumba.  I have been going regularly for over five years with the same instructor and almost the same group.  I love this group.  It’s a microcosm of life the way I always envisioned it.  There are women of all sizes, shapes, weights, colors, races.  There are even deaf-mutes.  They feel the vibration of the music.  We all have fun.

The first time I went was with a friend who wanted to go to a session at the library.  It was downstairs and I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it but when along for the ride.  She couldn’t do it and I could.  Going upstairs was just the tiniest bit difficult.

The first season I was able to dance in the front.  The music and the dancing connect me with my childhood and my mother.  As I have said before in my house, we danced!  And the music is Caribbean.  I feel it in my heart and bones.  I was finally old enough and secure enough to  just be and do it!  At the end of the first year one of the women asked me if I was recovering from a stroke.

I had to change over the years to being by a wall for stability and balance.  Then in 2012 I had to start wearing the spectral leg.

Two years ago the venue changed.  I had to cross four lanes of traffic without a light.  I missed most of the first winter till it became light.  Now, I need help.  Last year with all the snow and ice, I missed again.

The sessions only run from September to June.  I did most of the classes in the fall.  December there were only two classes.  It started again last week.  It’s now in a gym and I forgot the sliders for my shoes.  The next session I had hurt my back and couldn’t make it.  Last night she started off by playing one of my favorite old songs.  This used to be a no brainer.  I could barely do it!  And then more of the music that sings to me.  What’s horrible about this is my mind  doesn’t realize I can’t do it.  I feel it and then my body is so not doing it.  Yesterday, I used our treadmill for 10 minutes and then went to the gym.  A newer person told me I was doing    great last night.  To me I was not.

So, what’s next?

Well, I am back on track pretty much food-wise.  Also, amped up the steps so it was a little better.

I am angry.  I refuse to continue down a deteriorating  path.  I am going to fight harder – better food, better exercise, better rest.

My goal?  Do a full class by spring.

Keep on dancing!

Vanity, the Spectral Leg and Vows

cropped-shoe-with-brace.jpgI have always been consumed with the way I looked.  I joke “Clothing is my life”.  I can look at a picture and know by the clothes I was wearing what was going on.  It’s how I express myself.  For example, at a certain period in my life, if I was wearing pants to work, it meant I was unhappy and didn’t want to be at that job.

I grew up in a household where “ladies didn’t wear trousers”.

And I was/am a dress and heels kind of woman.  People would say Oh we are getting older now we don’t need to wear heels.  Or isn’t it wonderful that flats are in fashion.  NOT.

I used to walk a 15 – 17 minute mile.

When I went to get fitted for the spectral leg as I call my brace or as the doctor calls it my appliance, the ortho guy told me I would never wear a skirt or heels again and I would have one on both legs and probably my hands.  Can I tell you I will never go to that man again or recommend him?

I still have only one spectral leg which I am actively looking to ditch.  I do still wear skirts and therein is the problem.  I used to take the spectral leg off at work and wear reasonable kitten heels or flats.  Somewhere along the line, I began to fear and kept the spectral on all day.  I had some relatively cute black lace oxfords for summer.  I bought a sensible pair of black oxfords in the fall.  Doesn’t that sound awful – sensible black oxfords?  And I bought some wonderful clothes – beautiful sheath dresses, a skirt with panels.  They look great when I am seated or when I am behind something but the full length?  It’s horrid. It makes me feel really old and ugly.

This is bad for my health, seriously.  My image is intrinsically part of who I am and if I am feeling old and ugly, it’s not good.  I don’t want to hear the nonsense about blah, blah well you are lucky you can still walk.  Uh, I get that but there’s more to me.  And I said when this whole thing started I wasn’t going to let it define me and those freaking shoes do.

So, I keep on looking for something that will be less obtrusive.  Mail order hasn’t been working.  Today we went to Lord and Taylor, one of my favorite stores.  Major shoe sale.  My husband says let’s try it, It’s the first time I have tried to try on shoes in public.  The spectral leg just hung out.  I tried to try on three pairs of shoes.  It did not go well.  And then my husband put the appliance back in the sneaker (it’s the weekend) tied my shoe and covered my leg with my pants.  The salesgirl (she was young) just stood there and said “Wow, till death do us part and all”.  I said “Things happen and life keeps on changing.”  It’s one of my mottos.

But this is not the life we thought about.

We have been through a lot together, sometimes me, sometimes him.  Who knew those vows really meant something?  I am amazed and grateful that we are doing the “in sickness and in health”.  They are not just words.  They are our reality.

One of my doctors said she had noticed a spiritual evolution in me.  I don’t see it.  But there are moments like today with my husband on his knees in a department store helping me that I know grace.

Drinking the Kool Aid

My old manager always said when someone bought into something that they had drunk the Kool-Aid.  It wasn’t necessarily a good thing.  It was definitely an illusion to Jonestown and he didn’t mean it positively.

Oh, and he never said that about me.

I am not a Kool Aid drinker.  When I was little and everyone had birthday parties with Kool Aid, I didn’t drink it.  I am told it made me sick.  My mother, who was very advanced for her time, didn’t believe in it.  No sugary drinks for us.  I didn’t drink soda till junior high.  I digress.  This is about Kool Aid.  Well, not really. It’s about buying into something whole heartedly.  I don’t think I ever do.

I have written about my mother and her force and determination.  Well, my Dad was a non-Kool Aid drinker.  He was always skeptical about everything.  He always took a step back.  It was something we argued about.

However,  I never ran with the pack or the clique.  My mother used to say that I conformed to non-conformity. I probably still do.  I pick and I choose.

That’s what I am doing with this food thing.  Picking and choosing.  After all, I am the editor’s daughter.  In addition to writing, he was an editor. I know I edit.

And I don’t commit.  It’s my failing.  I have had more than one manager at work who has said if I ever committed I would be frightening.  And as to relationships…….  My sister friends I commit to with a fierce loyalty.  For them I would drink the Kool Aid and I do drink the Kool Aid of friendship.  Men were another story.

So, where does this leave me?  Do I drink the Kool Aid of this way of eating?  Can I drink it?  Maybe Kool Aid isn’t right for me?

I read all these people that are drinking it and getting personally filtered water and questioning everything they eat.  Have you ever been out to eat with one of those people who question the wait staff?  And then basically want it cooked without anything?    Like why bother to go out to eat?  I think that makes it uncomfortable for everyone. But the people who succeed appear to be fanatic.  I was raised in a household where fanaticism was antithetical to our being.  Also, funny enough, I am a Libra.  Whilst I may not buy into the whole astrology thing (there goes the Kool Aid again) I need balance.  To be that extreme, puts me out of balance.

What I do need to do is finally, ultimately commit to me.  If I make that leap then I can eat the way that will help me. I can rise.

.

What would Reima Do?

REIMA 1940'S - 50'S

Reima was my mother. I am literally her pale shadow. One of the things I am deeply grateful for is that my mother passed away before she could see me like this. Two of my mother’s best friends at different times had MS and they both died. In fact, one of my earliest memories is walking with my mother and her friend and a stroller. I don’t think it was for me and there were two little brothers. I am not sure which one it might have been for. I was very, very little. Her friend had an attack and Reima had her walk with the stroller. Looking back on it, it must have been terrifying for all of them. They were young, alone with anywhere from 2 -4 little kids. She got worse and died before I was 10. We moved and there was a friend on our block. She became wheelchair bound quickly. She, too, died from this. So, when they told me that this wouldn’t kill me, I wasn’t buying any part of it.

More about Reima – she had a very high tolerance for pain. She thought childbirth was vastly overrated. She used to get her teeth drilled without anything. She maintained the same weight for just about her whole life – 7 pounds more than before she became pregnant with me. She made sure that she weighed the same every year when she went to the doctor. When she decided to quit smoking, she just stopped and yes, she didn’t gain an ounce! When she made up her mind to do something, she just did it. She came to this country essentially by herself because she wanted to.

So if my mother Reima was confronted with this and knew that it could be addressed with not having certain foods, it would have been done immediately, no question, no hesitation. And then there’s me. I want to, I need to and I am not. Well, I gave up gluten. I no longer have yogurt. Practically no eggs. Almost no red meat, never really been my thing. But no beans, no soy, no apples, no bananas (depending on who you read) no eggplant, tomato, maybe corn, no shellfish.   I like fish and chicken. I like grilled things. Reima didn’t believe in deep frying. She was way in advance of her time in terms of food.

So, I need to think what would Reima do and do it.