The Wheat-less Fool's Blog

August 23, 2009

Never Rains But It Pours

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jenna @ 8:26 pm

Well… I might have found out why I’ve been feeling too tired and scattered to think straight about cooking.

One visit to urgent care, and an emergency room run late that night – it would appear that what I thought was just a few wolf spider bites and maybe a mild case of poison ivy is in fact : spider bites going septic, extreme poison ivy combining to celulitus (oh… and spreading through my bloodstream in a weird way that seemed to fascinate the doctor while it pops up in random places. Like my face. My chest. My other arm.)… and I really feel the need for a drumroll here….

Shingles. A nicely developed case too. The kind that has me now stuck on house/bed arrest. With 22 pills to work a time table around. It seems only have the mess on my skin is poison ivy/spider attack related. The rest is shingles.

Crap just really really doesn’t cover it right at the moment.

I guess I’ll have plenty of time over the next two weeks to scour the web for quick snack/meal ideas. Hopefully a few my husband can swing after working a 60 hour week.

Just the thought of two weeks where I can’t really leave the house, get near my husband (poor guy has never had chicken pox), do any of the hundred little jobs I usually do… AND horror of horrors can’t KNIT until my arm at least heals up. My right arm looks like a cross between a 2-3rd degree burn and something a lion has been gnawing on. I can barely type – let alone hold needles.

I see a LOT of reading in my immiediate future. Anyone have any favorite links? Blogs? Mindless games?

August 20, 2009

On Radio Silence…

Filed under: celiac — Jenna @ 2:48 pm

Sorry for radio silence this last week… it seems I have a ways to go to get back into the groove of writing every day. I’ll be working on that – both here, and in other aspects of my life. There ARE a few reasons behind the silence, and I suppose I should pony those reasons up in case all falls quiet again.

First off – my husband and I are entering into the wood-phase of our year. We mostly heat our home with a soapstone woodburner. The gas furnace gets set at a balmy 40-45 degrees to keep the pipes from freezing should we let the fires die out at night or spend a wee bit longer running our errands outside of the house on cold winter days. A kerosene heater upstairs helps to keep the offices, bathroom, and our bedroom toasty – but mostly, our heat comes from the large chunk of stone and iron sitting in our livingroom. This means from the beginning of August until late into October we have to move our butts at a pretty furious pace to get our wood stores adequately filled. In addition to his full time job outside of the home, and my going to school, writing, maintaining the house, and a dozen other odd jobs – we spend most of the remainder of our waking days making like the industrious ant,  getting our home ready for the cold that inevitably comes to northern Ohio. Its been a relatively slow start… I only shifted about 3,000 pounds of wood this week. Twice.

Allow me a moment to tell you all just WHY wood heat is the best heat.

It heats you:

1st when you find and drag it out

2nd when you cut it

3rd when you split it

4th when you carry it to the trailer

5th when you unload it

6th when you stack it

7th when you carry it in

8th when you burn it

and 9th when you lug out the ashes….

Try and see how far you get with gas or electric! At the best you’ll get three times with those – 1st when you use it, 2nd when you get the bill and go hot with anger, and 3rd when you get that second job to pay for it!

Oh… I forgot the 10th way wood heats you – the long hot bath you have to take to soak out the aches caused by 8 of the previous heats!

This frantic pace will one day lead me to fame and fortune when I write my bestselling diet plan “The Woodburner Diet : How to Eat Everything You Want… for Only Three Months of Backbreaking Labor!”

Which… oddly enough is leading me to a new celiac-based quandary that is consuming the last few remaining moments of consciousness I have each day. This is our third year performing the woodcutter’s ballet. Each year, as much as I may moan and groan about the aches and pains that come along with the wood… they have a special perk. I ALWAYS lose weight. Even consuming 2-3x my normal daily caloric intake,  I need a belt to keep my trousers up by the middle of the push. Tomorrow (Friday) marks 8 weeks since I was diagnosed with celiac. (Blood work done, and complete lack of any shreds of dignity colonoscopy, endoscopy, and biopsies.) And I DO feel better. Worlds. But…

Well – it’s so much dratted WORK! I know, I know. I’m learning. My biggest shock honestly, was I really DID think I cooked mainly from scratch. Apparently, not so much. And while I am learning, well, re-learning how to cook bit by bit… there are two big holes thus far in my progress.

Lunch and snacks – both issues that are proving not only harder than I expected to get a handle on…. but becoming more and more urgent to figure out. Its one thing to lose some weight while working like a stevedore. It’s another thing entirely to realize (rather sheepishly… and there may well have been a bit of yelling from a frustrated and worried sick spouse) that I’ve been attempting to do all this very physical work….

With maybe some homemade yogurt for breakfast, possibly a piece of fruit and a bowl of Rice Chex for lunch, and whatever I pick at for dinner. For the last month or so I’ve been tired ALL the time. The bleeding and other stomach issues I’ve dealt with for years have completely abated since going gluten free… so why was I so tired all the time?

Ummmm… it possibly has something to do with the fact I seem to have forgotten I’ve only been eating maybe 1,000-1,200 calories a day.

Maybe. Most of those calories coming from skim milk. Should I add that I’m 6’2 and built like Valkyrie straight out of Norse mythology? So, really not enough calories being consumed to maintain a life of leisure spent lolling around on a bed being fanned while watching my “stories”…. much LESS enough to power a gal who has a hard time grasping the concept of Sitting Still.


Is this normal? For the first month, I was just so relieved to finally KNOW. To have an answer, that while it was certainly going to be a challenge… it wasn’t the scary other options. No cancer. Not dying. Just celiac. Those first four weeks I plugged along cheerily making polenta, checking out gluten free websites, and chucking out all the gluten from my cupboards and freezer. I had an answer, a solution at last, and I was thrilled.

These last four weeks…. not so easy. I don’t know if it’s finally sinking in that “yup, this is it.”or what… but I’ve been spinning my wheels a bit trying to get a better grasp on all of this. What seemed like not such a big deal finally feels HUGE – and I also feel pretty crappy about that. It isn’t cancer. It isn’t anything all that serious. I only have to chance my diet. No pills. No surgery. Easy… and I feel like I’m whining… but. There is that but in the back of my mind that I’m having a tough time getting through.

And right now? I don’t have the luxury OF that whine. I HAVE to get the wood in. I HAVE to keep moving. Winter comes, no stalling it for an existential pity-party. So, I have to eat.

I’m just not sure what, yet.

August 8, 2009

Beginings Part Two

Filed under: celiac — Jenna @ 1:28 pm

As embarrassing as it is to admit – I owe a lot of my recent bettering health to the morning show – The View, and Elizabeth Hasselbeck in particular. I’m not normally a daytime television watcher, but for some reason the day she spoke about her own struggle with celiac and her new book I had flipped the television on for company as I cleaned the living room. Each comment regarding her “mysterious” health issues all her young adult life sounded disturbingly familiar. Confused doctors, bathroom dashes, each symptom sounding as if she had been looking into my past.

I tried to shake it off – it was just another fad diet, another dead end. I refused to believe that a relentlessly perky blond on daytime television might have an answer for a problem I’d been fighting for years.  I was managing – not healthy by any means, but managing. I’d been scoped, poked, prodded, drunk vicious viscous radiation shakes, been called crazy, and BILLED enough times. To say that my faith in modern medicine was low would be rather like saying folks on the Titanic got a wee bit damp.


The emails started. Friends wondering if I had seen the show, did it sound like anything familiar. In a talk with my mother she asked if I thought, maybe…? I started, in a very roundabout way, to poke around online and see what I could find. What I found made my heart race just a bit – after all these years of feeling like hammered horse hooey, was there an actual answer? Something on one hand so big – never again eat gluten (and for a confirmed foodie that was huge) and on the other hand so small – never again eat gluten. No pills. No surgery. No more looking over the shoulder for the specter of cancer to rear up it head… just don’t eat gluten.

It was time to do something I generally loathed. Find a doctor. Beyond my yearly check-ups at my “really don’t want kids today, thanks” doctor, I’d avoided the medical profession for almost 5 years. A few runs to the emergency room – I should mention at this point I am a klutz of epic levels. When I was a kid, people who didn’t know me well thought my parents were daily beating me black and blue… until they saw me walk face first into a door, neglect to notice that last step, or otherwise : puncture, bash, bruise, and generally maul myself. Now that I’m an adult, I’ve gotten used to pitying looks and people trying to discreetly hand me cards to the local women’s shelters. My husband has had to resign himself to getting the same dirty looks my father did – and in a few cases dealing with errant knights attempting to “save” me from the dragon who must be holding me prisoner. I’ve gotten pretty good over the years at stitching, patching, and generally putting myself back together, but I still manage about one major calamity a year that requires more knowledgeable help. Or at least someone who can put stitches in where I can’t quite reach… But beyond that, I skip the doctor. Now, I had to actively start looking for one.

Frustratingly, finding one was a bigger problem than I had realized. I think I must have called more than twenty offices in May of this year, trying to find just a GP to start. No takers. Time and time again I was told – unless I was referred by another doctor, wanted to wait five to six months for an opening, or was currently pregnant… I was outta luck. In desperation, I did what I usually do when frustrated to the end of my rope. I called my mom. My parents live about two hours from my husband and I, so I’m not sure what I was thinking mom could do… beyond listen to me rant, that is. But she surprised me. After we had spoken, she called my father’s doctor and asked if they were taking new patients. She told them a bit about me, gave them my number, told them what she knew about my insurance standing, and to my surprise… eight days later found me trundling my tuckus down to see my folks AND a doctor.

One step closer to finding an answer at last.

August 5, 2009

Wherein… I begin

Filed under: celiac — Jenna @ 1:19 pm
Tags: ,

Hello, all. Yup. Another blog, another person danged and determined to share their life with the rest of the world. Why am I writing this? Well, first of all.. I’m a writer. It’s sort of what I do. I natter on, playing with words, feeling the shape of them in my brainpan, and than I attempt to share them with the rest of the planet… whether the planet wants them or not. Secondly, well. Twelve weeks ago I first started getting the words “celiac” and “gluten” shouted at me from what felt like every street corner. Articles plastered on magazine covers, segments on television, hades… the radio started nagging. And… I started to wonder.

I’ve suffered from unexplained health “issues” since I was a kid. A few allergies got identified when I was younger (I’ll talk about those later), but for the most part – the doctors I went to were stumped. So were my parents. Diagnosed at different times with – IBS, Crohn’s, ulcerated colitis, ulcers, and the one fun month where the doctor was convinced I had stomach cancer (yay). But with each diagnosis came the shrugged shoulders and a weak “well, we think it might be” but no results, no relief.

I’ve spent more than a third of my life either looking for a bathroom, running to a bathroom, living in the bathroom, or recovering from the bathroom. To the end result – I don’t own magazine racks, I’ve got bookshelves in my loo. And a wireless router for my laptop. And its not completely outside the realm of possibility that I might possibly have chosen at different times to keep a cooler in the corner of the linen closet for the days I was in there for more than 6 hours at a shot. I’m the girl who could tell you within 5 feet where the closest bathroom was (sometimes without ever having to actually enter the building myself. I have MAD toilet-fu skills). I’m the person who has had to pull into a complete stranger’s driveway, walk up to the 85 year old woman weeding her rose bed and ask, rather bluntly albeit politely, “Ma’am? I’m terribly sorry, but I need to use a bathroom… now. Here’s my wallet, my mother’s phone number is in the front, I swear I’m not a serial killer, ask her if you like… but at this point – your bathroom or your rose bush, and there isn’t much time to decide.”

Heaven bless the woman for believing me and waving me towards her upstairs restroom.

The lemonade after was nice too.

By 25, I’d just learned to deal with it. I just was going to be a : tired, drained, cranky, nauseas, gal who ALWAYS put the premium toilet paper ahead of any other purchase. I managed too, more or less. Even with my inability to work “normal” jobs – due to never knowing if today I was going to be fine… or would I spent 8 hours in the bathroom – I managed. On the days I was okay, I worked my tuckus off, always fighting to get done not just the things that needed done now, but also to catch up and get work done ahead… so I could be prepared for the next time my stomach would decide to kneecap me. Not great, but I kept it together, for the most part. Hades, I even managed to : find a great guy, make friends, travel, live a life just a wee bit outside the lines of “normality”, and 3 years ago… get married to said great guy. The health “stuff”? For the most part I just tried to ignore it. I also have a slight heart “issue” (it gets bored and stops for a few seconds on occasion. But, to quote the great Python “I got b’tter!”) as well as a diagnosis of fibromyalgia (which in my case – translates to the first half hour of the day sucking as I try to stretch everything out to working order… than I shove it to the back of my mind and go about my day. My system is too wonky to take many pills, so a couple Aleve and I manage.) so I already had a standard line of attack when my body would crap out. Deal… and ignore.

Yes. I’m aware that’s not the most… mature way of handling the issue. But it worked. For a while, anyway.

And that gets us to now. Now, I’m staring down the barrel of 30 (fast approaching in October) and my husband and I are starting to have scary conversations involving children, the future, and all the things we want to be when we grow up. Things, that to be honest, I’ve always avoiding looking at too hard. Mainly, because its dang hard to see the future through a bathroom door. All those things I had just jammed my fingers in my ears and ignored over the years… might be time to deal with them.

So I made the mature and adult decision, right? Of course that’s why I restarted my attempts at trying to find answers. It had nothing whatsoever to do with the shouts heard round the nation when my friends and loved ones found out:

A) In the last 15 years I’ve never gone more than a week without my stomach bleeding.

B) My stomach will go into cycles of misery (and bleeding) for up to 6 months at a shot.

C) Did I mention all the bleeding? Possibly coupled with days I passed out after a round in the bathroom.

Okay… fine. The screaming, yelling, and threats from my husband to “taser your butt, and drag you caveman style into the hospital” might, maybe, have had a wee bit to do with my sudden burst of adult responsibility. But only a little.

I can be a mature adult. If I’m forced to.

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