Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Studying Works!

I had my six month check up yesterday. I can hardly believe it has been six months since I was diagnosed with celiac. Sometimes it feels like just a month or two and sometimes it feels like a decade. But yes, six month check up! The main purpose of which was to re-run my blood work and see how things are going. The short answer: very good.

The slightly longer answer has three parts to it. Part one: I am no longer anemic! I'm hitting "normal" by the barest of margins but the fact that my RBC increased at all means that I'm starting to absorb better which means my intestines are healing. And what makes it even more awesome is that I'm not even taking iron supplements. (There was no real use in taking any supplements if I was too damaged to actually absorb them and now that I can absorb them, it looks like I won't be needing them. Yay!)

Part two and part three of the blood test news are my tt IgA and tt IgG numbers. Both are used to diagnose celiac disease so these are pretty important numbers to watch. As the doctor explained it to me, IgA is a more acute measurement that basically tells us how I am doing on my gluten-free-ness. Anything under a four is a negative and, in my initial blood tests, I was at >100. I'm now at three. Yay!

IgG is more of a chronic measurement of celiac disease. Anything greater than ten is a positive and my initial blood test had me at 320. Current I'm at 12. And, okay, it's still positive, which you would think would be bad, but it's not. Because not only have I had a huge drop (showing things are improving), it means that celiac is the most likely cause of the problems I'm still experiencing. Basically, if my IgG was negative but I was still dealing with all this pain and swelling, etc, we'd have to start looking for other problems. But since it is positive, chances are good it is all still celiac-related. And if I had a 300+ point drop in six months (with at least one accidental glutening in that time), dropping another few points and getting rid of my remaining issues seems just around the corner!

And yeah, I am still having problems. Joint pain in my hands and feet (though it has shifted to more swelling and feeling sprained/sore and less arthritis gritty and stabby, so yay?) and some issues with some (non-gluten-containing) foods (apparently I can eat potatoes find but potato chips try to kill me - what's up with that?) and having that going on can totally sap my energy (and mood!) sometimes. But even with all the ups and downs, the general trajectory is up. Hopefully by the time I hit my one year check up, all this will be a distant memory. The doctor did make a point that I would never be normal again but I should be able to get to feeling normal. And really? That's all I want.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

10!

Bitty is ten years old today!

Bitty in a Basket

Happy birthday, Bitty!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Maybe I Should Stop Buying Yarn...

Yarns

On second thought, no. I just need to knit faster.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

18!

Yes, I've knit more socks! This time, Dan is the (hopefully) happy recipient.

Dan Socks!

That makes a total of 18 pairs of feet-things that I've knit this year! (Sixteen pairs specifically of socks. Two pairs of slippers.) I honestly can't believe I've managed to make so many! When I signed up for my 12 socks in 2014 Ravelry group, I had hoped I'd finish the challenge with a month or two left of leeway. Now I'm wondering: can I double it to make 24? I'm thinking yes!

And, while the picture doesn't show it, these socks are yet another pair with anatomical toes. Yes, anatomical Dan toe socks! Made to exactly match his darling little piggies. Honestly, his toes were easier to shape than mine were so if he decides he likes them, I won't have a problem doing others like this for him.

Next up, I really need to work on my qiviut cowl for a bit. And yeah, then I'll probably make some more socks. Gotta make it to 24!

Monday, September 8, 2014

For Reference

English Muffin #3

English muffin #3 was good but Dan and I both agreed that it was a bit egg-y and that English muffin #2 was the best. I'm a bit curious as to if I can improve #2 - give it a little less dry/crumbly texture - so I might play with that recipe some.

Just in case anyone ever wants to make a grain-free, single-serve English muffin.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

I Made Bread!

After a bit of a hiccup, I am back on the upswing health-wise. I'm still not dietarily adventurous by any stretch of the imagination, but it works for me and I'm happy so it's all good.

The past few days, though I have been missing bready things. The last bread-ish thing I had was... in July? Since then, nada. So I decided to change that.

English Muffin

I made an English muffin! Ironically, in my gluten-days, I was not overly fond of English muffins. However I've found several recipes for completely grain-free, single serving English muffins, so I thought I'd give it a go. (I'm gathering my nerve to make a loaf of grain-free bread, in case you are wondering).

Today was actually English muffin experiment number two, using the second of three recipes I've found that look interesting and are different enough to give different results. (Yesterday's was this one made of coconut flour. It was good but had the distinct tangy aftertaste of something predominately coconut flour. Today's recipe was this one, which was mostly almond flour and tasted very good, not only for something paleo, but for something gluten-free and maybe even compared to "normal" bread! Next up, I want to try this one which has psyllium husks, an ingredient that (in my limited gluten-free baking experience) really helps give a springy texture to gluten-free bread.) If the third recipe doesn't turn out, I think I'd be quite happy with today's formulation. Dan had a sample and said it tasted like a sweet multi-grain English muffin. I find that totally acceptable!

Once I get brave(r), I plan on busting out the bread machine again and see what I can come up with that is edible. The past two days have given me some level of confidence that this is an attainable goal!

(And yes, I know, my egg is ugly. I had the pan too hot when I put the egg in so it ended up a bit unhappy on the edges. Tasted good though.)

Sunday, August 31, 2014

It's No Gidgie Moth, But...

More weird nature at our house today! This time it was a Pandora Sphinx Moth.

Pandora Sphinx Moth

We figure this is a female as they are supposed to be the larger of the two sexes for this moth and this one is quite large. All spread out it would probably have a 4-5" wingspan. Yeah. BIG.

It apparently decided that the back wall of our porch was a good place to sleep today away. Once dusk comes, I doubt it will hang around any longer, but I'm quite glad that it decided to stop by. It strikes me as the type of wild looking moth we'd only come across in a zoo (though apparently these moths are quite common, just not so much in this area.) And if it had been in actual nature, Dan questions if we ever would have seen it. If it had been sleeping in a tree, I think it would have been very hard to spot.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Book 11: Really Weird

Apparently I like weird books. Books that are random and creative and maybe a touch satirical. Slaughterhouse-Five, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town, anything by Jasper Fforde. And now Popular Hits of the Showa Era by Ryu Murakami. I may not always understand what the heck is going on in the book (Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, I'm looking at you) but I can get pretty into them.
“The thing is,” said Ishihara, “we’re in a battle to the death with a group of aunties.”
I don't really like them too ridiculous (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was too ridiculous; Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters meandered a bit on the line) - just off enough to be interesting. And Popular Hits of the Showa Era totally qualifies. Basically, a group of mostly-20-something loser guys and a group of 30-something unattractive divorcees end up in a gang war with each other. It starts with a random murder and escalates into the destruction of a Tokyo suburb.
Nobue furrowed his brow again. This time he looked like a hippopotamus who’d accidentally sat in a puddle of hot mustard.
Yeah, it's fantastically random and yet, within the book, it makes total sense. Crazy. I really enjoyed the pacing of this, the randomness, the overall tone. It makes me want to read more by Ryu Murakami. And since I'm still not feeling the need to read more celiac- or diet-related books, I just might do that!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Chloe Hides Well

Hiding Chloe

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

More Socks!

For the past few weeks I've been working on a lace project with some qiviut yarn I got when we were in Alaska last year. It's not a complex lace pattern by any means but it does require a bit more attention than I can give at times. I've had some not-so-great-thinking days that even simple lace has been beyond me (and some decently thinking days where lace was beyond me if I was watching something other than a documentary), so I needed a secondary project to work on that wouldn't require much thought.

Yes. That means I made more socks.

van Gogh Socks

I actually also got this yarn when we were in Alaska last year but this isn't fancy like the qiviut. It is Opal sock yarn from their Vincent van Gogh series and I simply loved knitting with it. The colorway was called Der rote Weingarten in Arles, or The Red Vineyard, (based on this painting) but the colors reminded me of my second favorite of his paintings, Cafe Terrace at Night. (My favorite is Irises and is actually the reason irises are my favorite flower, not the other way around as most assume.) So each time I would grab this project and knit, I'd start mentally imagining van Gogh paintings in my head. It was like a little mental museum visit while knitting!

As for the sock-ular details, I did anatomical toes on these, using different increases than my Watermelon socks (but the same increase schedule) and I didn't do the increase in line but instead spaced them a bit randomly. I quite like the end result since it doesn't have the straight lines down the sides of the toe. Not a big deal, but something neat, I think.

I also did an afterthought heel, the first one I've ever done. I like how it ended up and how it fits, but I had big holes on the side of the heel when knitting it. I understand why it happened and tried to fix it on the second sock but still had an issue. Boo. All holes are now fixed but I'd really prefer it not happen, you know? That will likely keep me from using this heel again in the future.

Holes, aside, I quite like these socks and am very happy with the end results. I'm not even half way through my lace project so I'm sure I'll be able to get at least one more pair of socks done before that one is finished. I think Dan is up next with some blue and green striped ones.

These socks are number seventeen(or fifteen, depending on how we are counting) for those of you keeping track at home.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Mind Boggles

Yum?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Spot the Bitty

Spot the Bitty
...
...
...
...
Hiding Bitty

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Monday, August 11, 2014

Books Six through Ten: Read, Reading, Read

It's no surprise that celiac has greatly influenced my recent reading materials. It is kind of surprising (to me, at least) where I have ended up on my latest health-related reading jag.

It started with Gluten Freedom by Alessio Fasano. First off, completely awesome book. Seriously, read it. Forget about reading Green's celiac book. If you are going to read one celiac book, this should be it. New bible. Yes. It's easier to read but has more in-depth information. Great book. I wish Dr. Fasano was my doctor (but not enough to go to Boston.) Two thumbs up.

Anyway, in the book, Fasano mentions patients that don't respond well to a gluten-free diet. (Oh look, just like me!) He mentioned a special diet he puts those patients on that helps most of them, so I ended up reading a study he did about that diet. That's what my current restricted diet is based on (though it has migrated a bit as I react or don't react to things.)

Then I started reading about connective tissue disorders and lyme disease (because there was some thought that I had other non-celiac issues going on and a resurgence of my lyme disease was mentioned (though the tests have been negative - yay!)). Well, a treatment/management tool for lyme disease (and a whole bunch of other things) is a low inflammation diet. A... what? I had no idea what that was (other than apparently eliminating gluten - oh look, done!) so I ended up reading The Inflammation Syndrome by Jack Challem.

That one had borderline too much information but it turns out the anti-inflammation diet is quite similar to Fasano's diet so okay, I'm interested. Maybe Fasano's diet works because it eliminates all traces of cross-contamination or maybe it works because it focuses on anti-inflammatory foods. Either way, it sounds good and hey, if it works, I'm all for it.

It turns out both diets (regardless of the reasons particular foods are included in the "a-ok" list) are pretty darn similar to the fad, the Paleo diet. Given how much I object to fad diets on general principal, you know I just I loved that. But I'm also desperate (and pretty much following that diet already) so, I ended up reading The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain.

Seriously. Paleo diet. I feel a bit dirty but knowledge is power, right?

At this point in the reading chain, I wasn't expecting too much new information and I don't think I really encountered any. I mean, I've been running across Paleo things online for a while and felt I had a decent understanding of it and turns out I did so there was nothing earth shattering there. It wasn't quite in depth science-y, which I had been hoping for, but more fad-diet-y. So that wasn't awesome. Still, it had its interesting moments if the overall information wasn't shocking or shiny new to me.

One big complaint about the book though (aside from the whole fad diet thing): the author came across as massively arrogant. Everything was "I discovered this" and "my colleague So-and-so" like nothing of importance could possibly be attributed to anyone else - even other doctors and scientist in the field were only important because they were "my colleague". Yeah, that was off-putting even if the information being shared was interesting. And it was quite the contrast to Fasano's more humble style (and he's done a lot for celiac - he could crow a bit but doesn't. Sometimes it seemed that all Cordain did was crow. Ugh.)

Well, my mild dissatisfaction with that book led me to another Paleo book, The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson. It had footnotes! Much more what I was looking for. First off, the author didn't come across as arrogant. He did kind of push his website a bit, but not overly in a used-car-sales way.

The information was presented in a more logical and detailed fashion that the first Paleo (or Primal, whatever) diet book I had read so that was good. This one also walked the line more of "diet book" and "food book". Still not quite enough "food book" for me but I definitely preferred this book and would recommend it over the other. (Just in case anyone wants to read a fad diet book.)

And then rounding things out (but being more directly related to celiac), I also read Jennifer's Way by Jennifer Esposito, a gift from my delightful in-laws.

Reading her journey was pretty awful. I think I kind of cheated when it came to my celiac diagnosis. Hindsight, I was having gluten-related issues for about seven or eight months before being diagnosed, but so many people go seven to eight years. The only reason I wasn't diagnosed sooner is because I didn't go to the doctor sooner.

Of course, I was the one that asked them to include a celiac test. If I hadn't I could be on that same medical hide-and-seek others go through. But I knew I had the gene, I knew to ask. And it was positive. I totally lucked out (relatively speaking because, you know, autoimmune disease). I can only imagine what would have happened if I had not known to ask about that test as I was to the point in my reaction that I could barely walk. But my celiac horror story is remarkably short-lived. Unlike people like Jennifer Esposito. So yeah, really glad I missed the extended version!

As much as my road to diagnosis did not look like hers, I totally understood her post-diagnosis story. Food becomes the enemy? Fear at every meal? Yeah, totally get those. (I have no idea how long it will be before I decide to eat at a restaurant. I'm thinking never is a possibility.) And the detox and inflammation issues she death with? That is an experience I didn't get to skip! (And am still dealing with it.)

Honestly, at this point I think I'm kind of full up on celiac reading. I might next need to read something that doesn't make me contemplate my health. At least by this point I've pretty much figured out what my new diet is going to look like. No wheat or gluten (obviously), but no corn, no rice (I'm still having reactions to those two - corn (even in full vegetable form) now makes me feel like I've been drugged while rice makes me feet and hands hurt and swell. So far the reactions last about three to four days.), no dairy (sadly of any sort - even sheep and goat. Sadface.) There are still questions about things like potatoes - I think those are okay in small doses but do know that lots of potato chips are bad. Anyway, the food adventure will continue, even if the reading takes a slight more "for fun" bent for a little bit!