Gluten-Free: One Year Anniversary

When I found out from my doctor that I had Celiac disease I shocked him by being really happy!  I had been sick for well over a year, too nauseated to function on most days. After test after test, including a visit to an oncologist and a surgeon, to find out that what I had finally had actually made me gleeful! My shocked doctor was surprised that I knew what Celiac disease was. I had suspected Celiac for a while but I only had one symptom so I figured it couldn’t’t be me. My doctor said that some people have no symptoms. Some people do have symptoms and it could take years to diagnosis.

My doctor asked, “Do you understand that you will have to live a GF lifestyle for the rest of your life?” and I was still thrilled! To know I could get better just by eliminating wheat, barley and rye from my diet and not be so sick was a pretty good deal to me.

So, on my birthday last year I had my last gluten-free meal: pizza at my favorite restaurant and garlic bread, and started the diet the next day. I read a few books, including cook books and got a lot of help and support from the internet.

I’m not going to pretend that it’s been all sunshine and roses though. There are things I do miss like going to a Chinese restaurant  and the ease of grabbing something quick like in a fast food place. I miss cakes at birthday parties and mostly the fun of grabbing a sweet with my coffee at a coffee shop.

But I have found some pretty decent substitutes. I found a pasta that tastes pretty good and I finally found a place that makes decent GF pizza! Basically there is a gluten-free substitute out there for everything.

Restaurants are really catering towards people with Celiac or those with a gluten allergy too. A lot of places label certain entrees “Gluten-free” and there are a lot of good options. I even had GF pasta at an Italian restaurant! Delish!

Supermarkets are making more shelf space for GF items too, including snacks and I even found frozen pizza!

One disappointment in all this is that I thought I would be losing tons of weight due to laying off sugary wheat  products or things like bagels. But many ice creams are GF so I just have that or I will have too much of a GF meal. It’s a myth that all celiacs are thin.

I want to thank my boyfriend for jumping on the gluten-free lifestyle with me and for cooking special meals for me. But there’s actually a lot of dishes that are just naturally GF too.

So, finding out you have to live gluten-free is not the end of the world. It’s just a new lifestyle that after a few months becomes a part of your life and leaves you feeling much better!

Photo Credit: PCOS DIVA

 

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It Only Takes One

October 10th was World Mental Health Day and no surprise, I was too depressed to write anything inspiring about it.

But the next day I received an email from someone who reminded me that one conversation, one honest way of speaking about mental illness and one connection can make a big difference.

“Hi Emily –

I’m sure you probably don’t remember me, but we met in the Freehold Apple Store about 6 years ago. Your computer was broken and I helped you get it repaired. In fact, you wrote me into one of your blogs:
http://www.mamasick.com/2011/05/my-2nd-blogiversary-the-mission-continues/
 
It’s been quite a long time since that day and I think about it from time to time. I keep your page and the blog post bookmarked for easy retrieval. It makes me smile every time I read it and recall that day as I’ve yet to encounter a situation like it.
I’ve thought about emailing you for a long time to say hello and let you know that I do still remember you and that day at the Genius Bar. Although our interaction was short, you most definitely left an impression. It’s not everyday that we run into people such as ourselves, who are as open to sharing about our respective illnesses.
My struggles with mental illness have peaked and valleyed since we first met and I’m happy to say as of this moment things have been going very well for me. I’ve recently started a new job a couple of months ago, moved into a new place and I’ve even met a girl I’ve taken a liking to. Although I know the depression can and will come back at anytime, I have learned to prepare myself for those times.
Anyway, I hope everything is well with you and your family. I don’t read your blog as much as I would care to admit, but I’ve went and liked your Facebook page and made myself a promise to check it more often. Please feel free to contact me as I’d love to hear how you’re doing.
All the best.
Your friend from the Genius Bar,
Aaron”
I wrote back to Aaron. I told him I remembered him because he made me feel like I had done a good thing, even if it was only speaking to one person. I filled him in on the years since we had met; my suicide attempt and my four in-patient hospitalizations, but that all things considered I was doing much better.
He wrote again to get into a little more details of his ups and downs. But that’s just the way Bipolar Disorder is and it is something we will both have to fight for the rest of our lives.
I think the lesson that we are meant to take from this is to not be afraid to talk to one another about mental illness. And I do think more people ARE speaking out about it and it IS becoming less stigmatized.
Hearing from Aaron really made my day, that just one small conversation could have such an impact on just one person.

 

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To My Son on His 11th Birthday

Dear Tyler,

This birthday post comes a couple of days late because you have been sick all week. We took you to the doctor yesterday and you were diagnosed with Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease. You’ve been out of school all week and we are trying to make up all your schoolwork. You felt particularly miserable on your birthday, as the rash on your feet is causing you burning and itching. You’ve been soaking your feet all day in water with baking soda and we are hoping to have you back in school tomorrow.

For your birthday we took in your favorites, Skyline Chili and Dairy Queen for dessert. We had 36 cupcakes but gave them to your class. Your birthday party is next weekend and you are having three special friends at the park and we will serve pizza and cake and you will have the playground. It’s more simple than we’ve had in the past but I think that’s how birthdays go once you get older.

You got back into your Spider-Man phase, the Spectacular Spider-Man animated series, and all your presents were Spidey and his villains, plus two DVDs that we had lost. Thank God Spider-Man kept you busy during this week home!

You still love watching youtube and you love Minecraft there and on your playstation. You also love watching gaming.

You completed your black belt this year and we were so proud. Now you have decided you want to do acting and want to be an actor. You like being the voices in your books. I couldn’t be more pleased. I starting acting classes when I was about your age!

This year we’ve all had to contend with my bad back that no one has been able to diagnose. I’ve been limited with what I could do with you this summer, but you have taken it well. Sometimes a look of disappointment flashes on your face and it kills me. I feel I am  missing special times with you but we try to make up for it by reading together, playing games and watching videos.

I’m so proud of everything you’ve accomplished this year and I am proud to have a son as amazing, funny, kind and compassionate as you are!

Happy birthday, Tyler!

Love,

Mom

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What is Dysthymia?

Dysthymia is also known as Persistent Depressive Disorder. A person is diagnosed with dysthymia after having a continuous depression of more than two to three years. People with dysthymia may not remember a time when they felt joy in their lives. It is a milder yet longer form of depression and affects women two to three times more often than men. It can also affect children, with a diagnosis being made after one year of continuous depression and their mood may be irritable rather than depressed.

For some, dysthymia becomes part of a person’s personality. People often delay treatment because they feel that the condition is normal for them. For those diagnosed with dysthymia about 10% will go on to develop Major Depressive Disorder.

Dysthymia may also be related to substance abuse. Those with the condition may abuse drugs or alcohol in an effort to find some relief to their depression. Similar to the symptoms of depression those with dysthymia may either overeat or have a lack of appetite, sleep too much or have sleeping difficulties, feel a lack of energy, have difficulty concentrating and feeling hopeless.

This topic is important to me because my therapist believes I have dysthymia. I can’t remember a time when I felt happy but I know it’s been a few years. I sleep too much and I eat too much. I feel overwhelmed writing out bills or I can only accomplish one or two things a day. I can’t clean my house the way I want to. I just have no motivation. Sometimes I won’t shower for a few days or even leave my bed except to go to the bathroom.

I’m not suicidal, I don’t harm myself, and I know it could be way worse, but still, I sometimes wonder “Is this the best it’s ever going to get?”

I do have a few bright spots though. I love doing anything with my son, even if it’s just reading together or playing a game. I like being on the internet, being up on the news, watching Netflix and I love reading.

But I do wonder if there’s any drug or therapy that will help me come out of this so I can be more fully engaged in my life.

(*Source: All About Depression)

(Photo Credit: Mike Baxter)

 

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TBT: My Biggest Champion

Inspired by Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop.

Prompt # 1. Throwback Thursday: Share an old photo and let it inspire your blog post.

This picture and post of Tyler and I come from July of 2011, when Tyler was four and a half.

The post was about how ever since Tyler was able to understand my chronic illnesses, how much understanding and empathy he has shown me.

That summer, Tyler had sports camp. I had to park two blocks away which was very painful on my feet. I said something about it, mostly to myself, and Tyler shouted, “Can someone help my mommy, can someone drive my mommy to the school? She is sick!”

Another time the doctor was putting me on a prescription of steroids. I explained to Tyler that the drugs will make me gain weight and cause my face to look round. “But you will still be pretty, Mommy”, he said.

And when we’d go grocery shopping, my little boy would push the grocery cart around because it was too painful for me.

The post was entitled “The Biggest Champion, the Smallest Child”, and although he is now ten and a half he is still my biggest champion.

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A Spoonie Gone Too Soon

Monday night we in the Spoonie community lost a young woman who personified joy and compassion.

Twenty-eight year old Gwendolyn Weidman choked to death while eating dinner. Gwen suffered from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and  Dysautonomia

One of the symptoms of her illnesses was difficulty swallowing.

Many Spoonies knew Gwen better than I. I got to know her on the former But You Don’t Look Sick message boards and later through Facebook. She loved her cats, was part of an animal pet and rescue center and advocated for her diseases. She was always there for her Spoonie friends no matter what she was going through.

As a final act of compassion, Gwen donated her organs and tissues.

Those who would like to honor Gwen may do so by donating to Dysautonomia International and the Ehlers-Danlos Society

In addition, a PayPal account has been set up to assist Gwen’s family.

Photo Credit: Danielle Raver

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Book Reviews!

Inspired by Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop.

Some clever thieves steal some priceless manuscripts from F. Scott Fitzgerald. The scripts are flipped over from many interested parties but there is reason to believe bookstore owner Bruce Cable of Camino Island, FL is currently in possession of them. Approached by an organization specializing in recovery is Mercer Mann, a young novelist who has just been let go of her teaching job. The company gives Mercer a generous offer and she agrees to go under cover to get close to Cable. I hadn’t read John Grisham in years, I got tired of the lawyer thing, but this was really different. A great beach read, taking place in a beach setting and a plot that kept me interested. Recommended!

Jessica Malloy’s absolute favorite star is Grace Kelly and because her father is her publicist, she gets to meet her at various times throughout their lives. This is historical fiction so it follows Grace’s rising star to her fall from, well, grace when she has a baby out of wedlock. It also delves into the McCarthy Era. I really enjoyed this book, it helps that I am a Gracy Kelly fan myself! It is a wonderful coming of age story where a young woman realizes that her idol is only a person.

These reviews are from my goodreads account. I’d love to see you follow me!

 

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My Last Concert

Inspired by Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop.

Prompt #2: Tell us about the last concert that you attended.

I hadn’t attended a concert in years but when I heard Lady Gaga was in Cleveland in 2014 I knew I had to be there!

I never thought much of Gaga until she was on the Howard Stern show. I thought she was just a Madonna knock-off until I heard her sing. I was an instant fan!

I went all out on the make-up and with what I wore. I had the whole smokey eye thing going on! We (Jacques and I) had the nosebleed seats but the arena is small enough that there are really no bad seats. I did wish I was closer but I just didn’t have the money.

It didn’t matter. Gaga was awesome; her singing, dancing, the set and her costume changes!

I felt hungry after the concert so we ate at Steak n’ Shake. The next day I felt like I had a massive hangover! Guess I can’t party like I used to!

She’s coming to Cleveland again in August and I wistfully took a look at her concert dates but she is only there for one night and it’s a night I have Tyler. Oh well, I really couldn’t fit it into the budget anyway!

But at least I have an awesome memory!

 

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What if I Stayed in Here Forever?

My son and boyfriend are at the pool and I have yet to get there this season. Instead, I am in my bathrobe, showered (you gotta give me credit for that) and have woken up from my second nap. My back was hurting so I cancelled my therapy appointment.

Which was a really bad idea because I really need to be there because I can’t get out of the house. I need therapy to get me out of the house but I can’t get there.

My therapist is terming me a “borderline agoraphobic”. Last week we made out a calendar of all the things that I would do this week, with maybe getting to stay home one day but no more than that in a row.

I’ve been at home for four days, mostly unshowered with the AC on and the blinds closed. Sunshine is good for people like me if I could only get outside.

Sometimes I enjoy staying inside. Like many agoraphobics it would be pretty easy for me to stay inside forever especially with having a partner to take my son places and the internet at my fingertips. I mostly read which is my favorite hobby. I usually go through a book in two to three days.

But most times I feel alone, depressed and a failure. Despite my best intentions, despite the plans I make, I start to get shaky, nauseated and feel frozen. Getting a shower gives me anxiety and so does picking out clothes. I don’t take any joy in doing my makeup or my hair.

I’ve gone longer than four days without going out. I think my record is nearly two weeks. I am missing out on seeing my son having fun in the pool and missing out on my favorite season.

Tomorrow my son has a haircut, tae kwon do practice and I’d like to get my white trash toe nails polished.

Those are my plans, I guess we will see what tomorrow brings. If you’ve never felt this way, please don’t tell me to get my ass in the shower and just do it for my son. It doesn’t work that way.

And if you’ve ever experienced this before you know exactly how I am feeling.

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Book Review!

With special thanks to Mama Kat’s Writing Workshop

Eleanor Oliphant may be a little odd and “a little bit mental” but she thinks she has it altogether. Little by little the book gives you clues about Eleanor and you learn that she is anything but fine! I was so freaked out at the end! In case you can’t tell, I loved this book! It is definitely the best book I have read this year. I read the book (300 + pages) in a day. I stayed up late because I had https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/42602933-emily-cullento find out what happens to Eleanor. Read this book!

This review is from my goodreads site. I’d love it if you would follow me!

 

 

 

 

 

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