Thursday, December 18, 2008

It's Been A Long Time!

OK. So I haven't posted anything since December 1st. I really have no excuse except that I just haven't been "feeling it" lately. I've had a cold since the weekend after Thanksgiving and I must admit, this one is really hanging on and dragging me down!!! Hopefully, this cough and headache will end soon!
A few things have happened since my last post.
1. I backed into a mailbox with my car. The mailbox fared much better than my car and I just got it back from the repair shop. Thank goodness for insurance!
2. We had a HUGE ice storm last weekend. It was brutal! We lost several trees in our backyard, but luckily none hit the house and we never lost power!
3. I had my EMG test at the Neurologists office. Basically, they wire parts of your body up with electrodes, in my case, my right arm and hand, and zap you with electrical shocks. If your body parts jump and it's very uncomfortable, then you pass the test! I lit up light the 4th of July. They also did a muscle test, where they put tiny needles in your muscles and make you move the muscle to see how it functions. Not the most fun way to spend 20 minutes, but not as bad as I had envisioned either. You kind of get used to the shocks and your fingers jumping without you telling them to!
The results of the test were that I have some muscle "changes" in my arm, caused by my surgery. The doctor told me that this is what is probably causing the weakness. I also have an irritated nerve in my elbow. Basically, my funny bone is funny all the time! Tennis elbow, without the tennis part. So, I am to rest my elbow on a pillow whenever possible and try to keep my arm straight while sleeping!
As for the "shakes" that I experience periodically, no answer was given. I'm just going to hope that it goes away as fast as it came! I must admit, I have been feeling better the last week or so. Let's hope it's a trend that lasts!
Oh, and I haven't forgotten, I owe you all that picture of my funky, fingerless gloves!

Monday, December 1, 2008

The "It is what it is" Prayer

My husband is always saying "It is what it is". Truly, it does take the pressure off of worrying about things you cannot control. In the past several weeks, I've been experiencing a lot of nerve pain. Burning, stabbing, aching pain in my hands and arms that is not relieved by any medication I have been prescribed. The times I can spend sitting watching t.v., I spend with the electric heating pad wrapped around my hands. In desperation on Friday, I went out a bought a pair of "mittens without fingers". They are heavy knit, with a warm, fleece lining. They are also electric pink with black butterflies on them. (I will post a picture later.) I've been wearing my day-glo mittens around the house to help keep my hands warm. They really have helped soothe the pain, if only in my mind. They also take me back to the 80' Madonna-ish! Anyway, back to my husband's saying... "It is what it is" really reminds me of the Serenity Prayer. I am posting it here today, in it's original form.
Full Original Serenity Prayer
by Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)
God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Uno's Gluten-Free Pizza

Yes, you've heard it right! Uno Chicago Grill is test marketing gluten-free pizza! Click here to read an article from QRS Click here for Uno's online Gluten-Free Menu. Unfortunatly, I do not live in the test market area, but might be willing to travel a little to get to one!
I would be interested to hear from anyone in the test market areas who have tried it!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Living Well

Celiac never made me skinny. I have heard that many people with severe cases lose lots of weight. No, I'm not saying that it's a good thing to be sick. I really wouldn't want that. I'm just saying that having Celiac disease has never stopped me from eating and gaining weight.
Before my Celiac diagnosis last year, I had joined Weight Watchers and had shed about 16 pounds. I was looking and feeling much better about myself, although still having "tummy troubles". After I began eating gluten-free, I still was able to shed another 4 pounds to get to my goal weight. It took a total of nine months to lose the 20 pounds.
Well, as they say, "life happens". I kept the weight off until I had my cervical fusion in March of this year. Recovering from surgery made me think that I had an excuse to eat anything I wanted and sit around a lot. Sure, this excuse worked for about the first month after surgery, but I find that I'm still using it today.
Yes, I'm still hurting. Yes, I'm still going through more tests to see what's going on. Yes, the doctor's have told me I'm still "recovering". They have also told me that "moderate" exercise such as walking helps with recovery.
I had been doing a lot of walking until about three weeks ago when I had a set back and wound up in a lot of pain again. Now I'm having trouble getting started again. I can always find an excuse why I should stay home instead. I have laundry to do. I have to finish my book because it's over due at the library. I have to read one more email.
Then, there is my huge sweet tooth. I had it before my surgery and I still have it! Too bad they couldn't remove it along with my herniated discs! Can you believe I actually make bowls of chocolate frosting and then eat it? This is something I'm not very proud of, but there it is. I'm coming clean. I will eat anything sweet. The sweeter, the better!
I've also found that since being diagnosed with Celiac, I seem to fill my pantry with all of the gluten-free snacks I can find. I guess I don't want to feel deprived. I have cookies, brownie mix, snack bars, sweet cereal and my all time favorite food group in this world...M&M's!!!
I've been reading a book by Montel Williams called "Living Well". Montel has Multiple Sclerosis which is an autoimmune disorder that attacks the nervous system. He is managing his disease by eating healthy and exercising along with taking his meds. The main thrust of the book is that by eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, less processed foods and red meat, you will feel better. You can see a nice little video about the book on You Tube by clicking here.
Now, I didn't have to read his book to know all of this. I know that eating more fruits and vegetables and less sweets is right. I tell my daughter this every day. I make sure she has healthy meals and snacks. Luckily, she loves fruit and eats many vegetables.
So why don't I care enough about myself to practice what I preach? I'm not sure I know the answer to that. I have never loved fruit. I'll eat a half of banana in the morning with my cereal and call it good. The only meal I have that includes vegetables is dinner, unless I have soup with vegetables in it for lunch. I have to force myself to eat salads. I'm definitely not getting my 5-a-day and definitely not eating the amount that good, old Montel recommends!
Since I started reading "Living Well", I have been trying to eat at least one fruit or vegetable per meal. Today, I had hot rice cereal with dried cranberries and walnuts for breakfast. I ate chicken and wild rice soup with gf crackers, an apple and natural peanut butter for lunch. Green tea with honey and soymilk for afternoon snack. No candy, no soda, no home-made frosting in a bowl.
It's now dinner time. My belly feels so full and so, excuse me, GASSY, that I don't know what to eat for dinner! Does everyone who eats "right" have this problem? I feel terrible!
Still, I am going to try to stick with my fruit and veggie plan for a while. I want to see if my tummy will eventually get used to it. I want to be healthy. I want to feel well. I want to shed the 16 pounds I've gained back since March!!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Enjoy Life Soft and Chewy Caramel Apple Snack Bars

One of my blog readers asked for a review of the Enjoy Life Caramel Apple Snack Bars I bought on my gf shopping spree last month. Time is passing by and I've been really slacking on my blogging! Sorry, guys!
Now, I actually hadn't gotten to the box of bars in my pantry until this afternoon. I was looking for something to throw in my purse for a quick snack in between errands today. The day ended up being so hectic that I didn't actually get to try the bar until I just sat down to start this post! So, my memory is very fresh!
The Enjoy Life Caramel Apple Snack Bar wrapper states that it is gluten-free and free of the eight most common allergens: wheat, dairy, tree nuts, egg, soy, fish or shellfish. It's also made without casein, potato, sesame and sulfites. The bar is made in a dedicated nut and gluten-free bakery. It has 110 calories, 2.5 grams of fat and 2 grams of fiber. That's 2 points per bar, for those of us on Weight Watchers.
When I first unwrapped the bar, it seemed a little smaller than I thought it would be, but still pretty good size for a snack. I broke the bar in half to take the picture below and noticed it was a little crumbly, but nothing that I wouldn't expect from a soft cookie bar. I wouldn't recommend cramming it into your purse, as I did with mine though, I was lucky it was still in one piece.
I found the bar to be kind of dry, but chewy, with the texture of maybe a regular oatmeal-type breakfast bar. Definitely more like a cookie than a granola bar. The bar was slightly spicy with a hint of caramel and apple. I think it would be really great with a glass of milk or a cup of tea! Unlike some other gf bars I've tried, this one wasn't overly sweet or too gooey.

You can check out their website for all of the ingredient information and there's even a coupon you can print for $.55 on Enjoy Life products! Their pictures are also way better than mine!

All in all, I would definitely purchase these bars again. I will probably even try their other three flavors.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Pamela's Favorite Gluten-Free Sandwich Bread Mix

As a follow-up to my last post, I thought I would share a picture of my fresh loaf of bread, straight out of the bread machine. Oh, and by the way, that slice is history!!!
Now, I've made several loaves of bread in my Breadman since I got it as a Christmas present last year and I've never had any trouble. The loaves always come out perfect, just like today. However, today when the bread was done, I unplugged the machine, grabbed my pot holders and began to pull out the bread pan. It wouldn't budge. I tried again. Still not budging. I pulled the machine back in. Strange signs and half-numbers came up on the program screen. I tried again to get the pan out. No luck. I unplugged the machine again. Finally, after a couple of rounds like this, I was able to pull out the pan and remove the bread. I waited for the machine to cool and then plugged it in again. This time the numbers and words were normal on the screen. Strange! Something was definitely possessing my bread maker!

Gluten-Free Shopping Blowout

So, today was grocery shopping day. I decided that I was going to go to my local Health Foods Store, The Green Grocer, to get a good supply of GF foods. I was armed with a $5 off of $40 store coupon. Awesome! So, I ended up spending a total of $48.69 for the GF items pictured above. I bought: Perky O's Cereal $4.89 Panda Puffs Cereal $4.99 Koala Crisps Cereal $4.99 Bakery On Main GF Granola $6.99 Enjoy Life Caramel Apple Breakfast Bars $4.49 Pamela's GF Flour Mix $4.49 Pamela's GF Favorite Sandwich Bread Mix $6.19 Pamela's Chocolate Almond Biscotti $5.19 Foods By George Personal Size Cheese Pizza $7.19 (Not pictured, it's in the freezer) Enjoy Life Boom Choco Boom Dark Chocolate Bar $1.99 (Not pictured...OK, so I ate it on the way home) Silk Hazelnut Coffee Creamer $2.29 (Not pictured) I'm hoping that by stocking up on my GF foods and taking advantage of the store coupon, instead of running into the store every week to pick up a couple of things, I will save time and money in the end. Except for the chocolate bar, which is long gone...this stuff should last me several least I hope so. I have the Bread Mix in my bread machine, baking as I'm writing this. I can't wait to have some warm, homemade bread tonight with our roasted chicken dinner. By the way, one little tip I've learned from making fresh GF bread and having it get "icky" in a couple of days on the counter...I cut the loaf into slices, eat what I want while it's fresh and warm, then individually wrap each slice in cling wrap, slide the slices into a freezer bag and put them in the freezer. Then when I want a slice, I grab it out of the bag and microwave it for around 15 seconds. Taa Daa! Warm, fresh bread, anytime you want! So, after stopping at the health food store, I went to on Walmart to do the rest of my shopping. I bought a jar of Peanut Butter & Co. Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter. Man, is that stuff good! The bonus is that it states "Gluten-Free" right on the label! I had it with a sliced Macoun apple for lunch. This peanut butter boasts of all natural ingredients and at only 3 points for 2 tablespoons, if you are counting, it's a great way to get some protein and feed your chocolate craving as well. As always, I have marked the jar with a GF sticker to keep any stray knives out of it!

As a side note, I purchased the peanut butter at Walmart for $3.48. I noticed that on their website, it goes for $6. I guess I got a bargain without even realizing it, huh?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

10 Years

Friday will be our 10th Wedding Anniversary. Wow. Ten years. I can hardly believe it. Seems like just yesterday when we were planning our special day and our life together. Our wedding was so wonderful... I know, all brides say that, but it really was spectacular. A full day at The Hall of Springs in Saratoga Springs, NY. It was a beautiful 70 degree day in October. There were still some colorful leaves on the trees on the grounds surrounding the Hall. Our first dance went smoothly. We had taken ballroom dancing lessons prior to our wedding and waltzed to our first song. Everything was great, the food, the music. Then there was our honeymoon at Sandals Resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Hurricane Mitch had missed us by mere few miles. The weather was overcast, but steamy. We drank blue tropical drinks and ate nachos with cheese on the beach. I don't think I'd ever been so relaxed and don't think I have been since. That was the life. The view from our hotel room. My blue drink near the blue water. Oh, all the wonderful food. I sampled it all! (BCD...Before Celiac Disease diagnosis.) We've been through a lot in our ten years of marriage. Parenthood, two moves, three surgeries, loss of loved ones, job changes, weight changes, sickness and health, good times and bad. Through it all, we've had each other. For my husband...I know that you don't like to read my blog, because you say it's too depressing...well, this ones for you, Honey. I love you!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Spoon Theory

It's a cold, rainy day in upstate NY. I was sitting at my computer, reading my daily blogs, when I came across a link to a website called "But You Don't Look Sick". On this website is an article, written by Christine Miserandino entitled "The Spoon Theory". Christine has Lupus. Even though I do not, I could really identify with her story.
As I go through my daily struggles with nerve pain, I have wondered many times what will happen if I don't get any better. Will I have to live with the pain, numbness, weakness and lack of energy for the rest of my life? Will it get worse? How will other people treat me? Will they understand what I'm going through? Will I lose friends or family who are just too tired of dealing with me?
Awful thoughts, I confess. But I do have them. Especially on days like today.
Back to the article. It pretty much describes how I have to plan my days so that I have enough energy to do the things that are "necessary". To conserve my "spoons", so that I have enough left to help my daughter with her homework and her shower that day. To rearrange my tasks so that I can spend an hour at school to help out in her class.
I think for anyone who lives with chronic pain, this story will strike a chord. For those who love someone with chronic pain, it helps explain what it is like.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Weekend In New England

Time in new england
Took me away
To long rocky beaches--and you, by the bay...
*Barry Manilow*
Ok, so we really weren't near any "long rocky beaches", but I couldn't help think of this song this weekend while we were in Manchester, Vermont. I just LOVE New England. Maine, Massachussetts, Vermont, New Hampshire. Any time of year. It's probably what has held me in Upstate NY for all of my 46 years. It's certainly not the snow!
So, our Columbus Day Weekend trip to Vermont began with a stop at Zoey's Double Hex for some late lunch. We stop here every time we visit Manchester. My hubby and I both had the Garden Salad with a Hex Burger on top. It was excellent. My daughter, had a hot dog with homemade potato chips off the kid's menu. She even took a picture of it...not gluten-free, mind you, but she said it was pretty good. Sorry, we didn't get a picture of my salad w/burger. ***Note to time take picture of your own meal!***
So, after lunch, we did the usual "outlet crawl"at the Manchester Designer Outlets. Ralph Lauren Outlet for the best bath towels on earth, The Gap Outlet for kid's clothes and some for mom and dad too, Coach...don't get me started! Northshire Bookstore to browse around. Not to forget my daughter's favorite Claire's Outlet, where we purchased 15, yes, 15 pairs of pierced earrings. Shopping for her is second of course to scuffing through the fallen leaves. She loves the crunching, swishing sound they make. Then, after we were all hot and tired, we stopped for ice cream. I have to admit, I don't remember the name of the place we stopped at. We even paid cash, so no receipt to check. However, I had a dish of PUMPKIN ice cream. YUM! Hubby had a waffle cone, one scoop of chocolate, one coffee. Daughter had her favorite kid's cone with scoop of mint chocolate chip. The perfect ending to the perfect day. Of course, I've been paying our little adventure quite a bit this week, with back, neck, head and shoulder pain, but I consider it the price I'm willing to pay for a wonderful Fall day with my family. That Upstate NY snow will come much too quickly...then it will be days, sitting by the fire, wrapped up in an afgan for me!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

October is Celiac Awareness Month

Yes, we all know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but it is also Celiac Awareness Month!
The need to get the word out about Celiac-Sprue Disease is great. Even though there are approximately 1 in 133 people living with this disease, it is amazing the number of people who haven't been tested and diagnosed. It is also amazing to me that many people have never even heard of the disease. I can't count the puzzled looks I've gotten when I've told others that I have Celiac Disease and can't eat that pizza, bread, cake...
It is a gluten-filled world. Every party, wedding, family get-together, is just loaded with gluten-filled food. It's everywhere. It is unavoidable. The most that I hope for is a fruit platter or a green salad.
Not that I expect every host/hostess to adjust their menu for my diet. I don't. I have learned to expect the strange looks I get when I pull out my little lunch bag and start eating the gluten-free snacks I've packed. As many times as you explain it to people, they still ask why you aren't eating the pizza.
So, in an effort to help spread the word, I am printing a page from the Celiac Sprue Association's Website. Please take the time to read through it. There are some pretty heavy-duty "Grey's Anatomy" doctor-type words in here, but please bear with me! Your Celiac friends, family, co-workers and classmates will love you for it!!!
What is Celiac Disease? Celiac disease (CD) is a genetic disorder. In people with CD, eating certain types of protein, called gluten, sets off an autoimmune response that causes damage to the small intestine. This, in turn, causes the small intestine to lose its ability to absorb the nutrients found in food, leading to malnutrition and a variety of other complications.
The offending protein, gluten, is found in wheat, barley, rye, and to a lesser extent, oats (WBRO). Related proteins are found in triticale, spelt, kamut. Refer to grains and flours Glossary for a more extensive list of both safe and offending grains. Celiac Disease is: *a genetic, inheritable disease.
*linked to genetically transmitted histocompatibility cell antigens (HLA DR3-DQ2, DR5/7 DQ2, and DR4-DQ8).
*COMMON. Approximately 1 in 133 people have CD, however, only about 3% of these have been diagnosed. This means that there are over 2.1 million undiagnosed people with celiac disease in the United States.
*characterized by damage to the mucosal lining of the small intestine which is known as villous atrophy.
*responsible for the malabsorption of nutrients resulting in malnutrition.
*linked to skin blisters known as dermatitis herpetiformis (DH).
*not age-dependent. It may become active at any age. Celiac Disease is NOT: *simply a food allergy.
*an idiosyncratic reaction to food proteins (mediated by IgE).
*typified by a rapid histamine-type reaction (such as bronchospasm, urticaria [hives], etc.).
The Damaging Proteins The term "gluten" is, in a sense, a generic term for the storage proteins that are found in grains. In reality, each type of protein - gliadin in wheat, secalin in rye, hordein in barley, avenin in oats, zein in corn and oryzenin in rice - is slightly different from the others. The "gluten" in wheat, rye, barley, and in a much lower amount, oats, contains particular amino acid sequences that are harmful to persons with celiac disease. The damaging proteins are particularly rich in proline and glutamine (especially the amino acid sequences which are in the following orders: Pro-Ser-Gln-Gln and Gln-Gln-Gln-Pro). As peptides, some such as 33-MER, cannot be broken down any further.
In people with celiac disease, 33-MER stimulates T-cells to produce antibodies. The antibodies, in turn, attack the villi in the small intestine, reducing their ability to absorb nutrients. It is important to note that these sequences are NOT found in the proteins of corn and rice. The Nature of the Injury The damage to the small intestine (the jejunum) caused by this disease is very slow to develop and is insidious. It is:
-almost certainly mediated by the immune system. -associated with ANTIBODIES to gliadin, reticulin and/or endomysial (smooth muscle) proteins. -probably not directly caused by the antibodies, though they may be signals for cell-mediated immunity. -probably produced by the cellular immune system (T cells) - but only when gluten-type prolamins are present. -reversible, in most cases, to completely normal bowel function, if the injurious protein is excluded from the diet. How Does One "Catch" Celiac Disease? Celiac disease cannot be "caught," but rather the potential for CD may be in the body from birth. Its onset is not confined to a particular age range or gender, although more women are diagnosed than men. It is not known exactly what activates the disease, however three things are required for a person to develop CD:
-A genetic disposition: being born with the necessary genes. The Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) genes specifically linked to celiac disease are DR3, DQ2 and DQ8. -A trigger: some environmental, emotional or physical event in one’s life. While triggering factors are not fully understood, possibilities include, but are not limited to adding solids to a baby’s diet, going through puberty, enduring a surgery or pregnancy, experiencing a stressful situation, catching a virus, increasing WBRO products in the diet, or developing a bacterial infection to which the immune system responds inappropriately. -A diet: containing WBRO, or any of their derivatives.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Walking Through The Rain

Today was a gray and rainy Friday in the Northeast. Even though the temperature was around 60 degrees, it seemed to chill me to the bone.
However, in order to keep my promise to myself to try to walk EVERY DAY, I headed out with my rain gear on to see how far I could go before getting too soaked and cold. I didn't get as far as earlier this week, only around the block, but I did have to time think and listen to a few songs on my iPod. I got thinking about how much has changed since last Fall.
I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in November last year. A pretty big deal, having to totally change the way I've eaten for 46 years. Also, a big deal for my family, who have had to change their habits as well, such as trying new and "interesting" GF foods and finding restaurants I can eat in. They have also had to listen to me whine a lot about the foods and restaurants that I miss. The good news is that I guess I am feeling better, in the tummy area, but I need to schedule my annual follow-up appointment with my gastro doc to see what the tests show.
In December, I began my journey of the dueling herniated discs, which led to my cervical fusion surgery in March. Another big change for myself and my family. The recovery has been slower than we all expected. I guess I'm a work in progress. Lots of lingering nerve issues. More whining. More missing things that I used to take for granted, like sleeping comfortably or finding a comfortable position anywhere for that matter! The heating pad is a permanent fixture around my neck. Taking medication has not been something I've ever liked doing, not even Tylenol for me unless absolutely necessary. Now it's become a normal, daily event to take my little nerve pills, just to be able to function in a "normal" way. Some days, I even have trouble signing sales receipts when my hands are particularly shaky. Is that my signature or a 90 year-old woman's???
Walking through my neighborhood makes me feel my "most normal". Even in the cold rain. Even when my feet feel like I'm wearing lead boots. I'm still here and I'm still walking....
I have family and friends who are battling much larger challenges than mine. Walking reminds me of that with every step I take.
Speaking of family, my wonderful, (currently stinky) husband just returned home from running another 5K. Yes, at dusk in the cold rain. He has had more than his share of spinal surgeries and medical issues. He ran his first half-marathon a couple of weeks ago. Whether he realizes it or not, he is my daily inspiration and that voice in my head that says "come on - just one more step!"

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bat Update

Well, after spending a good part of the afternoon yesterday trying to no avail to find someone to come and take my squealing bat away, it seems that the little guy must have been feeling ok once the darkness fell. The bat is gone. It makes me feel a little uneasy, not knowing where he went. I don't step out the door without taking a good look around first! I had heard that Animal Control Agencies were saying that the big wind storm we had on Sunday night had blewn a lot of little creatures out of there nests in trees and such. I'm hoping that my little visitor found his way back home!
The photo above is from a site I googled. It's almost exactly what our little guy looked like. He really had some teeth!

Monday, September 15, 2008

"The Vampires Have Found Me!"

So, ok. I was trying to do a little weed-pulling in my badly neglected garden this afternoon, when all of a sudden, I heard something hissing and squealing at me. I jumped back and threw down my garden tool! Snake? No. Chipmunk? No. Bat? YES! There was a bat on my neighbor's porch, hissing at me! Right out there in broad daylight! Well, I ran as fast as I could right back into the house! I've been reading the Stephenie Meyer series,"Twilight" and now "New Moon", which is about VAMPIRES. I'm guessing that they've found me and now I'm in serious trouble! Actually, I think this little bat has been injured and can't fly away. It's definitely more scared of me than I am of it. I'm also guessing that it may be dead by morning. It has crawled under the bench on the porch and hasn't moved or hissed in quite a while. It did give me quite a fright!

Friday, September 12, 2008

National Celiac Awareness Day

Tomorrow, September 13th is National Celiac Awareness Day. This day was chosen in honor of the birthday of Dr. Samuel Gee. Gee is credited with being the first to identify the link between celiac disease and diet. To read more about it, check out the Celiac-Sprue Association's Website .
In addition, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has scheduled a public hearing on allergen advisory labeling on September 16, 2008, at the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition's Harvey W. Wiley Building in College Park, Maryland. Formal notice of the Hearing published in the Federal Register on August 8, 2008. Please click here to read the Federal Register. "The FDA is developing a long-term strategy to assist manufacturers in using allergen advisory labeling that is truthful and not misleading, conveys a clear and uniform message, and adequately informs food-allergic consumers and their caregivers."
As someone who deals with living a gluten-free life everyday, clear product labeling is necessary and should be required on all food items. Many manufacturers are already listing the possible allergens on their labels. Many, still are not. For those of us with food allergies and intolerances, a trip to the grocery store is sometimes very tiring and confusing. I find that when "regular" brand items are not clearly labeled, it forces me to buy the much more expensive "Certified Gluten-Free" labeled items in the Natural/Organic Foods section of the store. While these foods are usually very healthy, they are not so "budget friendly". Organizations, such at the Celiac-Sprue Association are working to improve labeling so that Celiacs can shop without fear of being accidentally "glutened".

Friday, August 29, 2008

Glutenfreeda Is Now Free

I just got through reading my emails this morning and came across my monthly Glutenfreeda newsletter. To my delight, access to the recipes on Glutenfreeda no longer require a password! Previously, you had to pay a fee and become a member to benefit from all of the great recipes on this site!!! I plan on trying several of these recipes...some of them look really yummy and don't require a lot of ingredients or a chef's degree to prepare.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Beautiful Late Summer Day

The sunflowers I planted a couple months ago are finally blooming! Since I have so few sunny spots in our small yard, I decided to plant them in a big pot by the driveway, where they get almost full-day sunshine. I have babied them along, watering them every day, staking them up when they got very tall and the buds got very heavy, and spraying them to try to keep the beetles from chewing the leaves. While they are not the most beautiful sunflowers I have ever neighbors have much nicer ones... they are mine and bring a smile to my face every time I drive up the driveway.
Well, I can certainly say that my mood is much better today. The weather is just beautiful this afternoon. Partly sunny, nice breeze and about 75 degrees. Definitely not like most Upstate NY August days I remember! It is a nice reminder of the hopefully cool, crisp fall days ahead.
I also think that my post from yesterday helped me release a lot of bottled-up feelings. I guess that's what writing is all about. I am feeling much more optimistic this afternoon. (Maybe it also has something to do with the bag of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups I just scarfed down?)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Fixing Things

As the summer winds down and I think about school starting in a couple of weeks, I've been trying to make sure I spend time with my daughter having fun and just "hanging out". I know that once school starts, she will be gone seven hours each day and that the time she spends at home will be full of homework, practicing piano and catching up on shows she missed during the day.
Today was a beautiful day and we decided to take a walk to the neighborhood drug store. We have done this many times over the summer and it has proven to be a nice time just to talk and be together. The highlight for my daughter is picking out a cold bottle of flavored water or juice from the refrigerated case at the drug store for the trip home. For me, it's a little bit of exercise and a lot of realizing how much she has grown over the summer. I feel like time is rushing past and I have to stop and look at her before she grows again!
However, since I know that I cannot stop time and that soon I will be alone all day, I've been making a mental list of things to try to accomplish. My list mainly consists of chores around the house that didn't get done in the spring while I was still recovering from my surgery and that I have put off all summer.
1. Fix the stain on the dining room ceiling where roof leaked over the winter when ice backed up on the roof and the snow melt had no where else to go.
2. Fix my daughter's bedroom by trying to organize the many toys she has outgrown, but still cannot bare to part with.
3. Fix the attic by cleaning out the many boxes of crafts I just had to start and never finished.
4. Fix my car. I need four new tires and I must make an appointment to get that done.
5. Fix myself.
Wait. What was that last one? Fix myself. Am I broken? Well, maybe not totally broken, but definitely in a state of disrepair. While most people would not know it just by looking at me or talking with me, I have not been feeling like myself for the past few months. Sure, I go about my day, doing the things I'm supposed to be doing, following the routine, taking care of everything and everyone like a good wife and mother is supposed to do. Inside, I've been feeling like I have lost little pieces of me.
I lost a big piece over the winter when I realized my health was being taken by two squashed discs in my neck. I have had several surgeries and health issues in my past, but none have taken the bite out of me that this one did. Before those discs began misbehaving, I had lost 20 lbs, was following my gluten-free diet, was feeling better, was full of energy and had many plans for future adventures. Now, here I am, up 10 lbs again, having stomach troubles even though I'm still following a strict celiac diet and just going to the grocery store seems like a huge adventure.
I have let fear sneak into my life. Fear that if I do something too active I'll have shooting pains in my arms for the next week. Fear that if I go out to a social event there will be nothing safe for me to eat. Fear that someone will notice that I'm afraid.
Before I hear choruses of "stop whining!" and "why don't you get a job?" or "get a life!", I want to clarify why I am writing this blog today. It's to make a written promise to myself to snap out of this funk I've been in and do something about it. I need to fix what's broken.
While fixing the stuff around the house seems fairly easy, I'm not so sure how easy fixing myself will be. I'm almost certain that it has to begin with my inner thoughts. My intestinal fortitude as they say. I keep going back again and again to Dr. Randy Pausch's speech to the graduating class. (See my earlier post)
"You have to decide, early in life whether you're going to be a Tigger or an Eeyore. "
I'll let you know what I've decided....

Thursday, August 7, 2008


No, I'm not talking about Alcoholic's Anonomous or Automotive Association America, I'm talking about AAAA...Annual August Allergy Assault! Yep. It seems that every year from the last week of July to the middle of September, I suffer from what I call A4. I'm not sure exactly what the culprit is. Grass pollen, mold? All I know is that my head is full, my ears hurt, I'm exhausted and I am so dizzy!!! With all the rain we've had here in the Northeast this summer, I'm making a guess that it's MOLD. Tried to take Claritin D yesterday and wound up on the sofa with a blanket, hot tea and the heating pad, trying to get warmed up! I have that reaction to decongestants and I'm guessing that's not a good thing, so I've decided to just suffer through it. It's definitely cramping my lifestyle! I guess I'll have to find another planet to live on!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Great Loss

On Friday, I heard of the loss of Dr. Randy Pausch. Dr. Pausch was a Carnegie-Mellon professor who delivered "The Last Lecture" speech about the importance of achieving your childhood dreams. He died on Friday after a long battle with Pancreatic Cancer at the age of 47. His story is told on the Carnegie-Mellon website and also on his own website. Links to his wonderful speech are on these sites. Donations in his honor can be sent to PANCAN: Pancreatic Action Network This is a wonderful organization to which we have made donations in honor of my father, Robert Collins, who died of pancreatic cancer in 1993 and my husband's grandfather, Robert Henderson, who died of the disease in 1999. This organization was not around when my father was diagnosed and there was little support for us as we went through it with him. As any doctor will tell you, if you are going to get cancer, this is not the one you want to get. My thoughts are with Dr. Pausch's family. He leaves behind his wife and three children.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Home Again

Well, back home after a wonderful week's vacation on the Cape. My brain is still in a vacation fog. I actually forgot what I was doing this morning while I was making breakfast and lunch for my husband! I got so used to just throwing on some clothes and heading downstairs to the "breakfast room" in the motel. Oh well, back to reality.
My daughter absolutely loved the ocean this year. In the past years, she has only walked along the edge of the waves, being careful not to get in too much. This year, she was in up to her shoulders, swimming and diving in the waves! We even bought her a boogie board, after she shared a new found friend's at the beach one day. The water was warm and the waves not too strong and she had a great time.
The weather was rain except the day we arrived. The ride was a little tough on me, although I think I fared a little better this time than on our Boston trip. I had a couple of days of arm pain, but not too bad that I couldn't function. In the car, I had my U-shaped neck pillow on most of the ride. We stopped three times on the way there and back to get out and walk. I did my neck exercises every day to try to strengthen and stretch my neck muscles. I even brought my special S-shaped bed pillow. I think all of these preventative measures really did help.
I did pretty well ordering gluten-free food at the restaurants on the Cape. I pretty much stuck to broiled seafood, without breadcrumbs, baked potatoes, salads with oil and vinegar, too many hot fudge sundaes and LOBSTER OF COURSE! We even tried out a couple of restaurants that catered to Gluten Free diets. Not Your Average Joe's in the Cape Cod Mall in Hyannis offers a small but tasty GF menu. I had an Angus burger served on lettuce and tomato with garlic mashed potatoes. BZ's Mexican and Pizza in Dennisport had a delicious GF pizza. I ate the whole thing myself! Only twice was I not exactly sure of what I was getting and that was my fault in not asking the right questions. I had a pre-made burger that I believe had some kind of filler in it and cauliflower augratin, which had breadcrumbs all over the top of it (which I didn't eat, I just picked at the food around it on the plate). Neither one seemed to bother me.
Now my only question is...when's the next vacation????

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Painful Reminder

Yesterday I had a very painful reminder that I am still healing from my cervical fusion surgery. While walking around Walmart in the afternoon, I began to experience pain up and down both arms. So, I hurried up, made my purchases and got myself home. Not long after I returned home, the awful, burning pain started from between my shoulder blades, up the back of my neck, up to the top of my head. I can honestly say that I freaked out a little. I hadn't experienced pain like this since before my surgery in March. Had I dislodged the plate or screws that hold my neck together? Had the new bone they inserted where my disc used to be moved somehow? I have read about fusions that didn't take and required a second or even a third surgery. I was getting really nervous!
A call to my surgeon's office put my pain in perspective and helped to ease my mind. I had done a lot of car riding over the weekend. In addition, we rode the trolley all over Boston on Sunday. Apparently, your neck takes quite a beating during car rides. It acts like a little shock absorber for your head. While you are bumping up and down, turning and stopping, your neck is busy keeping your head balanced. That's a lot of work for a few vertebrate and some muscle tissue! Anyway, after surgery like mine, the muscles are not as toned as they used to be and the discs above and below the fusion take more of a load than they used to when all discs were mobile. So, I ended up really stressing my neck during our little vacation and am now paying the price.
I am feeling a little better today after a Lyrica and some Aleve, but I can still tell that my neck is very tender and weak. The doctor said it could take a couple of weeks to subside. I also have to remember that things don't totally heal until 6-9 months after surgery. I've only just past 3.
I only hope that I'm better for our trip to the Cape in a few weeks! That's an even longer car ride, so I guess I'd better bring my meds!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Bean Town

Hey NORM! Yes, that's us, at the bar at Cheer's in Boston, MA this past weekend. One of the many sites we saw while in Beantown. Mark and I have been to Boston before, several times, but without a child in tow. This time was definitely a bit different. We tend to forget how tired our little one gets. By the time we had driven the 3+ hours to get there on Saturday, taken the "T" downtown to the NE Aquarium, saw the Aquarium, walked around Quincy Market, ate, shopped and walked some more, our poor little girl was so tired, she started crying big crocodile tears during the IMAX movie "Dolphins and Whales in 3D"! We ended up leaving the movie early to catch a cab back to the hotel in a hurry! Phew! On Sunday, we took it a little slower, ordered in room service breakfast, let Amanda take a swim in the indoor pool and took the trolley tour of the city, before hitting the road back to Albany. In any case, we did have a great time, even though we were all exhausted! I must mention what I thought was the coolest part of the Aquarium. Along with the penguins, harbour seals, sharks, turtles and other marine life, they have an exhibit of jelly fish. Such graceful creatures. The Aquarium had several different species, swimming around in the tanks. My very favorite tank was one that you could change the color of the lights shining on the jelly fish. It was just beautiful.

You can check out a little video clip of the jelly fish on the New England Aquarium's website Amazing Jellies.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Cape Cod Dreaming

The Beachcomer Webcam. A live cam pointed directly at the surf on Cahoon Hollow Beach in Wellfleet, MA. A few weeks away from vacation and I find myself returning to this website at least once a day. I know it's probably not normal, but it helps keep me sane! Yesterday, I even spotted three surfers, trying to catch some waves. Enjoy!

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Recital

Amanda's piano recital was on Sunday. She did just wonderful, playing the three songs she and her teacher had chosen. She's only been taking lessons since last September and I'm amazed at how much she has learned. We are so very proud of her!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Out of Touch and Out of Focus!

Wow. I knew I was addicted to my computer, but I had forgotten how hard it would be to be without it for a couple of days! Not since two years ago, when we moved to this house, have I gone a day without logging on. We had our house painted this week. Three upstairs rooms, including the office where our computer is kept. Everything, including our cable phone and high speed internet, has been unplugged since yesterday morning. I finally figured out how to hook it all back up about an hour ago. After reading and responding to my thirty-three emails, checking friends' blogs and "googling" something for my daughter's homework, I decided it was time to update my blog.
As for our newly painted rooms. They are wonderful. Nothing is a better boost to a room than clean, new paint. The painter did a great job. One man, three rooms, two days. Including ceilings, wood trim, closets! Amazing. Very costly, but amazing. Now, all there is left to do is move all of the "stuff" back into the rooms. Since my hubby is away on business, I have a feeling that it will be done very slowly.
I've also been trying to get used to my new bifocals. These things certainly do take some adjustment! The stairs are fuzzy. I have to remember to turn my head toward an object to actually see it in focus. By the end of the day, I have a bit of a headache. Or maybe it's just the smell of fresh paint? It is really nice to be able to read without looking under my glasses, though!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Lots of News

Oh my gosh. I have so much to post that I don't know where to begin. I will try not to ramble on! First of all, an update on my surgery. I had my six-week post op appointment with my surgeon this morning. More x-rays. Everything is healing well. My nerves seem to be healing and my "bad" days are fewer and farther between and not quite as "bad" as they were pre-op! My incision is healing well and I'm told it will be almost unnoticeable in a few more months. I really only have one complaint at this point. My throat still feels swollen inside, like a swollen tonsil or a "frog" in there when I swallow. It gets worse when I eat, especially hard or hot foods. My surgeon was not sure exactly why this would be happening this long after surgery. Apparently, most patients feel the swelling go away by 4-6 weeks. Perhaps I just take a little longer. In any case, I guess we'll just have to see if it improves on it's own. If not, it was suggested that I go see an ENT specialist. In the meantime, I'll just keep eating that cold ice cream! I've had to switch to "Skinny Cow Fat Free Fudge Bars" now that I'm back at Weight Watchers! My family and I finally went to dinner at KD's Fish Fry this weekend. Wow! I was so happy, I could hardly contain myself while I ate. I ordered the GF NE Clam Chowder, GF Fried Clam Strips, GF Onion Rings and for dessert, GF Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting!!! I was totally in heaven and made a huge pig of myself. Their GF Menu is posted right along side their regular menu on the wall. Bless these people for caring about people with food allergies and for coming up with such wonderful food! The very best part was that the restaurant is clean and nicely decorated in nautical theme...I almost thought I was on the Cape...and my family loved their food as well. We will definitely be visiting again soon!!! Next time, I think I'll bring some of that cake home!!! I have been having so much fun emailing restaurants on the Cape and here at home to inquire about allergen information. I received a very nice response from Cooke's Seafood. They are located in Hyannis and Mashpee, MA. I had inquired about the hamburgers and other items on their menu. Below is there response. Thank you for your interest in Cooke's Seafood. Please excuse the lateness of this reply but our server was out for the last five days. As to questions regarding your dietary restrictions, we will be more than happy to accommodate your needs. Both menu items that you mentioned are possible as are a number of other grilled items (Grilled Salmon or Grilled Chicken Sandwich). Our lobsters are steamed in a commercial steamer in which only lobsters, corn and carrots are cooked. As you suggested the sandwiches can all be served minus the bread and our various broiled items without the crumbs and accompanying toast points. Please do keep in mind that cross contamination can occur as you pointed out but we will do our best to make your meal a pleasant experience. We look forward to serving you soon, The Owners and Staff of Cooke's Restaurants, Inc. I will keep posting restaurant information as I find out more...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Gluten-Free Cape Cod, MA

Every year around February, I begin planning our summer vacation. It has been a long standing tradition in my family to visit Cape Cod, MA. I went every summer as a kid and I like to think of it as my second home. I have continued this tradition with my husband and daughter, even though my husband laments that he would like to visit other places at some point. I love the Cape for many reasons. The ocean (of course!), the quaint little villages, the shopping, the many, many family activities found there and of course, the restaurants.
For a good six months before vacation, I spend time googling places to stay, places to visit, making lists of things to pack, gazing at webcams, dreaming of that first day when I can stick my bare feet in the sand. Since being diagnosed with Celiac Disease, I have added emailing some of our favorite restaurants to find out if they are willing to give out allergen information for their menu items. Some restaurants reply by happily providing a list of items where no gluten ingredients have been added. Of course, there is always the disclaimer that cross-contamination may occur and that they can't always rely on their suppliers for complete allergen info. Other restaurants never reply at all. I'm guessing they probably don't want to be held responsible for making someone sick. I have even heard stories of restaurants who, upon finding out that someone has a food allergy, have refused to serve them. In any case, I have been able to find two Cape eateries that I will be visiting this summer.
BZ's Mexican Pizzeria - 682 Main Street, Dennisport, MA.
They advertise gluten-free pizza on their website. They even state that they have specially trained their staff about cross-contamination. You can bet I will try it!
Sundae School Ice Cream - 381 Lower County Rd., Dennisport, MA
They also have locations in Harwichport and East Orleans.
We visit here every summer and there is no place like it. Homemade ice cream, hot fudge, real whipped cream and a bing cherry on top! I received at email response to my request for allergen information this morning. As I suspected, all their ice creams are gluten-free, with the exception of those with mix-ins such as oreo cookies, brownies, etc. Also, cones are out. The ice creams and hot fudge are sweetened with corn syrup and there is only vanilla and sugar added in the whipped cream. Now, my disclaimer is that I didn't ask about whether the vanilla used in the whipped cream or the cocoa used in the fudge is gluten-free. If you are super gluten sensitive you would need to ask more questions along with asking for a clean scoop to be used. For my needs, this information is good enough. I'm lucky that I don't become seriously ill from ingesting a small amount of gluten.
As with any of us who are gluten-intolerant, we have to use our own judgement when dining out in restaurants. Lord knows, I have eaten more salads than I have in my entire lifetime since being diagnosed last year, simply because it's just easier. No croutons, no dressing, no blue cheese, has become my mantra.
I am also looking forward to visiting Trader Joe's. Since there are none of these stores in our area, it is always a special treat. This year, it will be especially fun to look for their gluten-free items. I plan on taking a small cooler just in case I find some goodies to buy on the last day of vacation to bring home. Hopefully, there will be room in the car.
Now, where's my flip-flops?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Celiac Disease and Gluten-Free Websites/Blogs

I have been doing a lot of internet surfing this weekend (when I wasn't outside enjoying the beautiful, unseasonably warm weather!) and came across some new and old websites/blogs dealing with Celiac Disease and Gluten-Free living.
A good starter website for all you ever wanted to know about Celiac Disease is The Celiac Disease Resource, Inc., Albany, NY site at
There are also a couple of restaurants in the area serving gluten-free selections. I have not tried these places yet, but plan to very soon!!! The first is KD's Fish Fry in Saratoga, NY. They apparently serve gluten-free fish fry, french fries and other items. Their website is The second is Nunzio’s Pizza and Deli @ The Pink Store at 119 Clinton Street in Saratoga Springs, NY. Gluten-free pizza made-to-order. They do not have a website that I know of, but their phone number is 518-584-3840.
For more information on these establishments and more, see , a blog set up by a local blogger, former bakery owner, Suzanne Mangini, who now follows a gluten-free diet.
Happy reading!!!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Accommodating Allergies

Since I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease last November, I have become very aware of restaurants who are willing to accommodate persons with food allergies. Just about every restaurant will give you a salad without croutons or dressing, but I find there are few with actual "Gluten-Free" options. When I do find an establishment service GF items, I squeal with delight! For example, there is a wonderful little bakery on Hoosick Street (Route 7) in Brunswick, NY, called "Sherry Lynn's Gluten Free Bakery & Cafe". It is run by a husband and wife team who, along with their kids, live gluten-free. Absolutely EVERYTHING in their restaurant is gluten-free. Pizza, pasta, cookies, breads, doughnuts...everything! They bake a gluten-free layered dessert bar (the kind with the M&M's on top) that is, in my opinion, to die for. Well, the only problem for me is that the cafe is a little far out of my way. Much to my surprise, I found that a natural foods store in Stuyvestant Plaza carries some of Sherry Lynn's baked goods, including her doughnuts, pizza and layered bars! Yes, that was an audible squeal you heard!
Which brings me to my next latest find. On our trip to Stuyvestant Plaza, I grabbed a container of Sherry's layered bars and headed over to the Starbuck's located a few storefronts down. With great joy in my heart, I ordered my decaf with skim and sat down and devoured my coffee and GF goodies! I have often wished that Starbuck's would offer some gluten-free options. I would also love them to make their allergen information available either on their website or in-store. Well, seems I am not the only one secretly wishing for this! While surfing my usual GF blogs and sites this morning, I found a new one. Celiac Chicks, which I will be listing among my favorites, contained a link to "My Starbuck's Ideas" where you can vote for all kinds of things. Among the brilliant ideas others have posted is one for GF goodies! So, if you can find it in your heart and have a couple of minutes to go through the account sign-up process (it's free), please vote for all of us who want to enjoy treats at Starbuck's!!! Thanks!!!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Hired Help

I must admit that I am never one to spend money on things that I feel I can do myself. I guess you could call me frugal or a penny pincher or cheap or any other number of names. I'd rather save my money for things I feel are important like family vacations, pool memberships, clothing for my ever-growing daughter, not to mention my mounting medical bills. It's only been recently that I've begun to realize that I can't do everything around the house like I used to.
When we moved into our house two years ago, we decided to continue the lawn service that the previous owners had hired. It's really nice not to have to spread fertilizer, weed preventer and grub killer ourselves. It spares a lot of time lugging bags of poisonous stuff from the store into the garage every spring.
Since my surgery, I have also realized that some of the house cleaning chores are almost impossible for me to accomplish. I can no longer crouch in the shower to scrub the soap scum or push the vacuum over the carpets without hurting myself. Never before this time would I even consider hiring a maid service to do what I consider to be my job as a stay-at-home mom. I'm hear all day, what else am I going to do? Sit around, watch soaps and eat bon-bons? I don't watch soaps and I don't even know what a bon-bon is. Well, today I hired a maid service to come in every other week. Perhaps only until I feel I can manage the chores again myself.
I also determined that I am unable to paint the three bedrooms that desperately need painting. So, tomorrow I have a painter coming to give an estimate. I can't even imagine how that's going to go. Last fall, for fun, I got an estimate for the job. I nearly fainted when I saw the total. At that time, I decided the price was way too high and that I would paint the rooms myself in the spring. Who knew what was to come?

Monday, April 7, 2008

Back to Life

Since we didn't get to go anywhere for Easter this year. No Easter church service, no visiting family, no Easter egg hunts. My daughter didn't get to wear her Easter dress until yesterday. I couldn't resist taking pictures of her all pink and girly. Every day when I see her, she reminds me that life is wonderful and that I am so lucky to have her in my life.
This weekend I re-entered the land of the living with a bang. We were so busy all weekend, I barely had time to remember that I am still recovering from surgery. Shopping, dining out, shuttling our daughter to birthday parties, going to church for the first time in weeks and visiting family. It was all exhausting, but lots of fun. Things felt as though everything was back to normal. Well, at least as normal as possible.
I've been trying to ignore that my pre-surgery symptoms, the ones that led me to have surgery, have returned. The weakness in my arms and legs is back with a vengeance. The electric buzzing feeling began again this morning. I keep telling myself to be patient, that it's only been four weeks since surgery. I have been told that nerves take a long time to heal. That is if the nerve damage hasn't gone too far and they are going to heal. Patience!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Retail Therapy

Today was the first day that I actually went out by myself in the three weeks since my surgery. I got in the car, drove to CVS, did some retail therapy and drove back home. Aside from the occasional stares at my neck brace, it felt like things were getting back to normal. The nice thing was that those who did stare, smiled at me when I caught their glance. They were probably wondering if I was pulling an April Fool's joke!
The weather was wonderful for April 1st. It was 65 degrees according to my thermometer. I went for my walk around the neighborhood, although I'm not going as far as I did the first day out. I've learned that shorter distances don't make me quite so tired. As one of my friends who is recovering from surgery herself keeps reminding steps! Thanks L~ for all of your words of support.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


"I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end." Margaret Thatcher, in Observer April 4, 1989 British politician (1925 - )
I've had to learn a lot about patience in the past few weeks. Being patient is not always easy. There are so many times when patience is necessary. I had already learned about patience with my eight-year-old daughter. Guiding her through her daily routine sometimes requires more patience than I feel I can muster. Waiting for Spring in the Northeast can be a frustrating experience, especially with the three inches of snow we had yesterday! In the weeks since my surgery, the healing process has left me feeling more impatient than I've ever felt before. Things are moving much slower than I had expected. As I know from family and friends who have gone through surgeries, healing can be a slow process. One day I feel pretty good, the next, more tired and sore than before. Every morning I wake up and pray for strength and patience to get through the day. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to call, send cards, emails, etc. It warms my heart, makes me smile and makes the waiting process much more tolerable!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Dancing With The Stars

If any of you watch "Dancing With The Stars", you will understand what I am about to say. I totally have a new hero. Professional Dancer, Karina Smirnoff, who is partnered with R&B Singer, Mario. She is currently recovering from cervical herniated disc surgery. You certainly would never know by her dancing!
So, today I had my two week follow-up visit with the surgeon's very knowledgeable and personable male nurse, Dan. All is healing well. Mark and I were shown the x-rays and I am just amazed at what it going on in my neck! I have two less discs, some new bone in their place, all held together by a metal plate and three screws! Now you could say that I'm really screwed up!
I was reassured that all of the symptoms I've been experiencing are part of the normal healing process and things should get better with time. I have to keep the neck brace on for three more weeks, but I can take it off at night to sleep. Yeah! I can also start to drive a little and I must walk, walk, walk, walk, walk in order to get my strength back and aid the healing process. I'm glad it's spring and the weather is getting better outside for my trips around the block! Maybe I should also take up ballroom dancing?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Torture Chamber

24/7. Need I say more?

The Tiny Light At The End Of The Tunnel

Well, it's been almost two weeks since my cervical spine surgery and I think I am finally seeing a tiny light at the end of the tunnel. Every day gets a little better, less painful, more energy filled. The symptoms that lead me to surgery are starting to fade. The numbness and tingling in my arms. My heavy "sand-filled" legs are feeling a little lighter. The electric buzzing throughout my body seems to be gone. I went for my first outdoor walk yesterday. It felt good. It was just around the block, probably less than a mile, but as I found out maybe a little more than I should have attempted on my first try. I felt very tired and weak at about the halfway point. My legs felt like rubber, but I trudged on and made it home safe and sound. I guess I didn't realize how really out of shape I am due to the lack of exercise in the three or so months before my surgery and the two weeks of recovery on the couch since. I couldn't help but be awestruck as I walked along how wonderful it is to be actually mobile after a major surgery. Truly a miracle! My husband has been wonderful during my recovery. I have been unable to do any of the household chores required of a mother on a daily basis. It's funny to think that I imagined everything would fall apart during my recovery. Sure, the beds are unmade and there are dustbunnies the size of Texas under them, but the major tasks have been completed and the family rolls along! My daughter didn't realize her dad was such a good cook. I knew it, but hadn't seen it since before we were married. It's been hard on him juggling work and home, but he's doing great. We've been through a lot in our 9+ years of marriage and I wouldn't have wanted to go through it with anyone else!

Monday, March 24, 2008

First Day of Blogging

My name is Lisa. Probably obvious from looking at my title. I've never blogged before and I'm not sure anyone will be interested in what I will write, but I thought "hey, why not?" Things to expect in this blog:
  1. Random thoughts Maybe some pictures
  2. Who knows???

Things not to expect in this blog:

  1. Deep words of wisdom
  2. Gossip
  3. Perfect grammar or spelling

It may take a while for me to get things going, so please be patient until I find my "blog rhythm".

Please bear with me!