Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Spring, This Year and Last

A few weekends ago, I was working in the back  garden (as opposed to the side garden) digging and weeding and  making plans for what I was going to do.  And I realized, bluntly and clearly, that it had been a long time since I had been doing spring activities like that.

Last year, our family didn't get a Spring.  We had a really cold February and March (generally when Spring starts in Charlotte) and then there the weeks of pneumonia and Bridget's first hospitalization. Spring hit during her hospitalization.  I  missed all the azaleas and all the dogwoods because apparently we went from 0 to 50 in 8 days last year.  We recovered from the first hospitalization and then she had the second one two months later.

I'd like to go on record as saying the we didn't get a "March through June" last year.  We just didn't get to experience those months like everyone else.  I'd kind of like a refund.

Alas, it does make me appreciate THIS Spring so much more.  I'm still not up to 100% Urban Farming, but I have lots of plants out and at least modest plans for the rest of the vegetable garden and the flower beds.

And like every traumatic event, Dave and I have been acutely aware of the anniversaries.  When Bridget got her cold a few weeks ago, on the anniversary of her first hospitalization, we were not amused.  But she bounced back quickly and everything seemed great.

Then she woke up Monday barking, a sign that she's getting the Bad Cold of Laryngitis, the pulminologist hates so much.  It gives adults laryngitis, but it's a particularly bad virus for squirrel who favors atelectasis to get.  It appears to be getting progressively worse.  It's not BAD BAD BAD BAD BAD! But it's not good, either.

We're going back to the doctor tomorrow to decide on steroids or not.  Even if she starts to poop out and her O2 tanks overnight, I think we can still make it until tomorrow's doc visit.

Honestly, when I was out there in the garden thinking about how wonderful this Spring is and how suck-ash the last one was, I fully expected this blog entry to be all unicorns and rainbows.  It still is, I guess, just not in the  way I was expecting.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Gluten Free, Fasting, Lent, and Beyond

So, some folks have asked how the whole "Gluten Free" for Lent is going.  Before I share that, I have some confessions to make.

First, I thought Gluten Free would help me lose weight.  And Lent is a good time (for me) to choose to sacrifice something that is supposed to make me healthier.  Last year, it was Facebook and I ended up believing there is nothing wrong with Facebook, so using it is healthy for me.  This year, I started by thinking this I could lose a few ellbees, see if it has any effect on me, and, really, to see what life is like for many of my gluten free friends.  In all honesty, except for those with celiac disease, I was not convinced that gluten free was all that healthy.  It seemed like a fad to me.  Wheat has been around for 6000 years, longer even than the beer and yogurt Dave and I are now making from scratch.

So the results, as we fast approach Easter.  No weight loss from gluten free.  But Holy Frijole, the other changes!!  Now remember, I'm going into this as a skeptic!  And while I do feel less tired, I'm not really sure I can attribute that to gluten free.  But my digestive system.  WOW!  N=1 design which provides a strong causal claim:  have a baseline, remove something, add it back, remove it again.  If you see consistent changes, you can make a decent causal claim that what you removed made the difference.

I've had over 40 some years of eating gluten, even though, in all honesty, I've really never eaten a lot of bread for health and caloric reasons (bread is not the bearer of great nutrients).  But once I stopped eating all the hidden sources of gluten, WOW.  I've been thinking of how to say this politely, so let's go with this:  without gluten, there are fewer rumblies in my tumbly. Which is akin to saying "the sun decided to sleep in this morning."  There is more, but let's just leave it at that and say that while I don't have celiac, I am now convinced I have gluten sensitivities.  In fact, one day when things went back to normal, I tried to figure out what I ate to cause this. That's when I realized that deli meats have lots of gluten and I'd eaten quite a bit of them the day before.  No more gluten, no more problems of that nature.

So am I going back to gluten after Lent?  I don't know.  I don't think I'm going to purposefully eat gluten willy nilly.  And Dave is BUMMED that he just started brewing delicious, yummy home brew and now I'm not going to drink it.  (Actually, more for him!)  But he'd like to try gluten free and see how it works for him.
But if I go to someone's house for dinner and they serve pasta, I will eat it.  I'd rather not, but I do not have an allergy, just a sensitivity (at most).  It's just amazing that I can see such a huge difference for something I didn't expect to have an effect.

So here's the other thing that has shocked the crap out of me.  (Except, not)  I've started this new fad diet called the 5:2.  I hate fad diets.  They are stupid and they don't last.  The cabbage soup diet, the bananas/hot dogs/some other food diet?  Bullshit.  So, this thing I'm doing now is also a fad diet.  Except 1)  I think this could very well be a lifestyle for me  and 2) I am FINALLY losing weight.  FINALLY!  After counting calories and getting nowhere since Christmas, I've been doing the 5:2 fast for the last 3 weeks, and I've lost 5 pounds.

The crazier part?  I'm *NOT* dieting and I'm *NOT* counting calories.  Every morning when I wake up and find out I've lost another ellbee, I spend 2 hours talking to Dave trying to figure out how I did it.  I still don't know how I'm doing it.  It doesn't make any sense to me based on 20 years of watching my calories.

So what is this magic elixir of weight loss?  It's called the 5:2 Fast Diet.  But "Fast" doesn't mean quickly.  Fast means you don't eat.  So 5 days a week, I eat everything I want.  And I mean everything:  potato chips, french fries, wine, whatever.  And on 2 nonconsecutive days a week, I eat 500 calories (200 for breakfast and 300 for dinner).  And I lose weight.

What. The. Truck.  Yes, I get hungry on the fasting days.  But I end up drinking a ton of herbal teas.  I also look at the food I really, really want and I say "I am going to eat the hell out of you tomorrow."  And after the first fasting day, I probably did eat quite a bit more.  But now, I just eat on my non-fasting days.  I'm supposed to eat 2100 calories on my non-fasting days which is so much food, I don't even keep track of what I eat.

Both the gluten free and the fasting have made me very aware of how frequently I snack on unhealthy tidbits off the children's plate or from the cupboard while I'm preparing dinner.  There's nothing quite like cooking while you're really hungry and NOT eating to teach you that you can do it.  Also, dinner on fasting days is some of the best food I've ever eaten.

So maybe I'm not eating as much as I used to on my non-fasting days?  I don't think so.  I'm eating everything I want although I do have in the back of  my mind that I don't want to blow all the hard work from my fasting day.  But I still eat.  Everything I want. So I don't know if that's it.  Maybe the fasting days quick change my metabolism?  I do know that there's some evidence for the health of fasting, but I don't know if intermittent fasting as this is called does the same thing. And when I've lost the weight I want, I apparently only fast one day a week for maintenance. (I can already tell that's going to be on Mondays after a weekend of indulgence)

All I know is that this is the craziest thing I've ever done and lost weight.  I honestly and truly do not know how this is happening, because I am NOT dieting.  And I know from my calorie counts that fasting on 500 calories a day two times a week and eating 2100 calories the rest should not be enough for me to lose 1 lb a week much less 2, but that is what is happening.  That is CRAZINESS!!

I'd love to hear if anyone else is doing this 5:2 thing and how they are responding to it.  I'd love to hear if other folks start it how it works for them.  (I'm fasting Monday and Thursday)  I bought the book and just started.

Truly, two shocking food changes for me this Lent.  It's throwing everything I thought I knew about eating up in the air.  And fortunately, not landing back on my butt.

Friday, April 04, 2014

It's fine. Really, it's fine.

I forgot to mention that BOTH kids were sick last year during this week.  More on that in a sec.

We called up Bridget's amazing pulmonologist yesterday to let him know that we put Bridget on steroids.  We wanted some approval from an authority that this seemed like a reasonable thing to do.  We told his nurse we didn't need to see him, we just wanted to keep him informed.  His nurse called us back in a few and said he wanted to see B.  I figured this was one of those BS calls where they don't want the liability of giving advice out without seeing anyone. Blahty blah.

However, the second he walked in to our waiting room, our doc said "I really wanted to see Bridget at the beginning of an illness. I only see her at the end and I want to see how she is at the beginning."  Wow.  We weren't there for liability.  We were there because he wanted to know more about our little squirrel and get better up to speed on her.  WOWZA.  Full on less than 3 for our doc.

Even better when he exclaimed "Oh, she sounds GREAT!" when he listened to her. Even better-est was the diagnosis of the persistent rash on her face as irritation from her treatment mask and a change in equipment as a solution.

So here's the scoop:  The pollen is so bad that people who do not have allergies (perhaps you?!) are walking around with water eyes, blowing their noses, and feeling pooped.  It's like working in a room full of sawdust.  The next day, you are sneezing and coughing out crap as your sinuses and lungs do their thing.  People who are already a but compromised have a bit more of a problem, like Squirrel.  But she's fine. Steroids for one more day (today) and then we're done.

Of course, last year, it started with Christopher and then Bridget stole the show.  At 5 am this morning, Christopher decided it was his turn and he had the worst asthma attack he's ever had.  I honestly thought we were going to have to get him to the hospital because puff after puff of albuterol could not calm his attack down.

If it rains, it pours, right?  Actually, our city could use some rain right now.  A big downpour to clean out all this pollen.  Blergh.  But really!?  Good news absolutely and overall.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Fudge Monkeys

I have had a potty mouth.  Certainly, in Conor's early years that didn't change.  He did not mimic my bad words.  The twins, however, are more open to saying everything.  So I've had to develop different ways of saying things.  And poopyhead, while quite naughty for children, has become part of what I say.  Truly better than the alternatives.

But "Fudge Monkeys" came at me from out of the blue and it's my favorite phrase when really bad things happen. What I love about it this faux curse is that it just pops out when I'm upset.  I have to think about "Cheese and rice" or "Shut the front door!"  This one is natural for me.  I have turned Fudge Monkeys into a very naughty phrase. And yes, the idea of Fudge Monkeys flying at me from out of the blue is wonderful.  Very Wicked Witch of the South.

And it's an appropriate one considering yesterday's "Oh, Poop."

So, um, yeah!  Bridget's got the same thing she had last year.  It's a horrible cough with oxygen numbers trending down.  We had some 89 to 91 readings last night, but got up and did a saline treatment and got them back up to 93.  We gave her a double dose of steroids this morning (and sent her to daycare!! GOOD LUCK WITH THE MONSTER FORMERLY KNOWN AS BRIDGET).  She needs to be active to get her lungs active and I need to work and the TV does not provide as much activity as playing in the classroom.  The teachers are all on board and know everything and have their own pulse ox.  I fully expect her to come home after lunch.

Our goal is to stay ahead of this downward spiral and keep her out of the hospital.  I don't think it's going to work. This is a shit ass cough.  (You're adults, right?  I still say that cuss word phrase.  And it's one of my milder ones)  This cough is worse than the one that sent her to the hospital over New Year's.  I think whatever molds have released their spores in this warm weather have exploded their reactions in her lungs.

That said, if I'm just playing the role of Debbie Doom and the steroids DO keep her out of the hospital....WOOHOOOHOOHOOO!!!  We have found the golden ticket.  Wouldn't that be exciting!?

I'm waiting for a down moment so I can blog about being gluten free and how much I am noticing about it.  AMAZE-BALLS.  Apparently, I have a gluten sensitivity.  Wow.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Oh, Poop.

Literally, exactly, and in any other way you can think of, PRECISELY, one year ago today, everything started to go downhill for Bridget.

AND WOULDN'T YOU KNOW, guess who has a pretty bad cough today?  There are some differences though.

1)  Anyone who says she has pneumonia will get a thunk on the head and an out loud feedback of IDIOT.
2)  We know what she has and we have her on a preventative regimen of meds that work.
3)  I have my own meds to help when I hear her cough.
4)  We have a pulse oximeter that tells us that while her cough sounds crappy, she's moving all that stuff out of her lungs and we don't need to worry.

It's hard not to look back to a year ago and think, "wow!  I was really at the weight I wanted to be.  all those cute clothes I bought don't fit and I can't wear yoga pants everywhere" and "ugh, what a year of coughing and hospitalization and why is so easy to gain weight and so hard to lose it?!"

It's nice to tick off the one year anniversary of the beginning of shitdom.  I think the first year is the hardest and we know so much more now.  Also, knowing now of her mold allergies, I'm wondering if there is some sort of annual mold something or another that happens the first week of April in Charlotte.