Why I’m A Germ Nazi, or Please Don’t Make Me Cry Again

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Dunno who created this meme. But I owe that person a beer. (If you know who made it, lemme know so I can give 'em credit!)

I love celebrations.  I love my friends.  I love when the two combine (what, you never sit down in your TV room and snarf cookies because it’s Twinkie Tuesday?)

So now that my 50th is right around the corner (read: November), I’m amazed, blessed and happy as hell that a friend volunteered to throw me a birthday shindig.  Up in my ‘hood.  AND PEOPLE ARE COMING.  I’m beyond gobsmacked.  My friends really are the best.

One thing: no kids allowed.  Why?  Because November is in cold & flu season + I’m immunosuppressed/immunocompromised. I don’t want to 1) end up in the ICU, 2) lose my kidney transplant, or 3) all of the above.  But though I assume that everyone invited — folks I’ve known for years — understand my plight, almost immediately after the event was posted someone commented “hey, why didn’t you invited [insert kids here]? They’re awesome!”

Um.  Okay.  Perhaps I’ve never been very clear.  So here goes.

  • I’m sorry that I’ve never been very forceful about my illness, and the problems/accommodations surrounding it.  I’m still embarrassed by it, mostly because I have an ex-husband that for 14 years told me that I wasn’t good enough/would never find or keep friends/would never find or keep another man (true so far!)/would never get anyone to understand me because I’m broken thanks to my illness.  That embarrassment and lack of ability to get real without crying is something I’m still working on.  29 years and counting.
  • I cry about this.  A lot.  Every time I have to change plans, cancel plans, figure out who I can hang out with during what time of the year (hooray flu season!  Not.), and/or find out that I can’t make something I’ve been dying to get to because I’m either sick or exhausted?  I cry.  Every.  Single.  Time.  So when someone brings up something — oh, say “why aren’t you inviting kids?” when the invitation says please leave ’em at home and you know that I’m chronically ill — I cry.  Again.  And I can’t get that comment out of my head.  EVER.  Again, I’m working on that.
  • If I do spend time with someone who’s sick, there’s a 90% chance I’ll be sick.  That includes “I’ve just been sick, but I’m on cold medicine!”, “I’ve been sick for two weeks, I’m sure I’m not contagious now!” and “I’ll just talk to you from three feet away, that’ll work!” So please, please, PLEASE bear with me, and don’t think I’m a dick for asking if you’re sick before we hang out.  I’m simply trying to stay alive.  Yes, that sounds dire, but it’s the truth.  After spending time in the ICU for pneumonia and having doctors tell me “next time you get this sick, you may not recover”?  I’m testy.  I apologize.
  • I try my best to lay out my whole “chronically ill, immunosuppressed, I get sick easily” thing, but I probably don’t do it well enough to let it sink in.  Probably because while I have no problem telling everyone all about the stupid minutiae of my day, I have a very hard time discussing anything as deep as my illnesses
  • Having a kidney transplant for almost three decades gives you more than a respite from dialysis.  It’s given me high blood pressure, high cholesterol, hypokalimia, skin cancer, thyroid cancer, issues with short-term memory, and a few other things.  So while yes, you may know someone who is a star athlete, or who has 4 wonderful kids and a kickass job as an attorney/brain surgeon/restaurateur, and has been rockin’ the transplant?  Every one of us is different.  That was me 15 years ago, at least with the kickass job. That’s not me now.  And I’m still heartbroken that I can’t do what I love anymore.
  • Forgive me for being testy, or getting quiet after the discussion goes on and on about how I really could do so much more/make money/find a job if I simply thought about it.  I love you very much for those ideas, but I’ve thought ’em to death years ago.  I was also a handicap placement coordinator back in the day.  And I had to retire on disability when I realized that even I couldn’t find anything I could do after my illness decided to take over completely.
  • I love you.  I really do.  Please love me back.  And understand that this illness sucks…but hopefully you don’t think I do.

So yeah, I deleted that comment, took a deep breath, and sat down to write this.  This rambles, but rather than sitting on this post for months and then deleting it, I’d rather just put it out there.

Chronic illness sucks.  Chronically ill people try their best not to.  And we hurt like hell when we’re called out on our problems.  Questions, comments, concerns?  Ask your local chronically ill chick or dude.  We’d be happy to help you sort things out.  Oh, and read up on Spoon Theory.  That shit’s brilliant.

UPDATE: btw, I freaking love kids. They get me. Because I have the brain (and attention span) of a sugared up 5-year-old. Come summer, you can’t keep me away from kidlings. Let’s go watch My Little Pony!

Laissez les snow temps rouler?

Happy Fat Tuesday! It’s snowy and bitter cold here, so thoughts of New Orleans and warmth are definitely on my mind. But shovelling snow doesn’t quite hit the spot.

I cheated last month and bought packets of dirty rice and gumbo mix, figuring I’d tweak them on the day. But the gumbo requires 2 pounds of meat, and apparently I can’t read directions beforehand. So that’ll another day. I’m thinking chicken and scallops. What could go wrong? Don’t answer that.

Instead, I tweaked the dirty rice by adding turkey ham & assorted veg (corn, green beans, baby carrots and asparagus). Cajuns everywhere are weeping.

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Looks like "Cooking With Bae", but actually tastes pretty good. Surprise!

Then, full of myself from my success with add water and stir “cooking”, I decided to tweak a chocolate cherry cake mix. I’m going full Sandra Lee y’all!   Bundt pan, whipped cream vodka added, and the usual booze glaze (confectioners sugar, said vodka, vanilla extract). Tada!

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Unfortunately, I ran out of mini-chips. Dangit.

Next time I hit the oven, I’ll from-scratch that puppy. But after today’s snow escapades, I’m just glad I’m not aching. Seems that taking it easy is helping to lessen the pain of that re-herniated disc. Fingers crossed that in 3 months I’ll find it’s better!

Pictures of February

Because I’m too lazy to do much of anything else.  Seems I’ve re-herniated my L4/L5, so I’m on “light duty” for 3 months.  Thought I was better yesterday, but today’s haircut & shopping left me achy.  And scared; I hate the idea of another surgery.  Positive, happy opening paragraph!

Anyway, here’s what I’ve been up to, beside drinking. Wine, spine; it’s gotta help because they rhyme.  I’m a genius!

#FedUpChallenge: Day 3

7 more days to go! Woot? Er, woot!

7:45 am: That’s it. No Pinterest til this is over. Way too much recipe temptation!

10 am: Officially sick of trying to find stuff that DOESN’T have added sugar. It’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Aaaaaah! Consoling myself with chicken drumsticks and raisins.

11:14 am: Oven baking the drumsticks with paprika, white pepper & Old Bay.  Still grumbly about the sugar, but what’s more worrisome is the whole spine-bomb my doc dropped on me yesterday.  I’m achy, my doc won’t tell my what’s wrong ’til Friday, and I can’t soothe myself with sugar.  Right now I’m feeling like with all my health worries — heart, kidney transplant, thyroid, yada yada — this is just one more thing I’m not allowed to have.  Not cool right now.  Perhaps this isn’t the time to do this Challenge.  Will think on it.

12:00 pm: Feeling blue and overwhelmed.  Handful of frosted mini-wheats.

2:10 pm: Back on track; roasted drumsticks, clementines. As I’m eating, doc’s office calls: no pushing, pulling, reaching, stooping… But he’ll tell me why Friday. What the hell??? TODAY IS A SKIP DAY NOW. When I get to DuClaw.

5 pm: Beer. Blackberry BBQ wings. Blue cheese. Right now, I am eating my feelings. And I don’t care.

9:15 pm: The crap food death toll….

DuClaw
– 6 blackberry BBQ wings
– approx 1 tbsp blue cheese dressing (with several celery sticks)

Home
– one serving of homemade fat free Cheesecake Dip (with strawberries)
– 1 single serve pack of Snackwell vanilla cremes
– 1 handful of tropical trail mix

Urp.

I also bought some chocolate pudding mix & organic milk, and garlic bread sticks. But I got home and decided they didn’t seem as appetizing.

I’ll get back on the wagon. Tomorrow.

#FedUpChallenge: Day 2

sugar names eek Okay, one down, 9 to go. Let’s do this!

8:20 am:

* what is “malted barley extracts”? Tweet @fedupmovie and ask. Because I’m too lazy to Google, apparently. (UPDATE: it’s just sugar in a fancy tutu.)

* Sriracha has added sugar? NOOOOO! #hipsternightmare

* skipping the jello sugar free. Opting for unsweetened applesauce packs. Later? I’ll try brownies baked with the ‘sauce.

8:35 am: picking a checkout lane at the supermarket with no candy. Seems best. Off to the gym!

10:15 am: smoothie time, but how to do it without my beloved peanut butter & vanilla soy milk?  Decided to try adding apple in — thank you to one of my guy besties for that suggestion!  Here’s my recipe:

IMG_20140513_094615#FedUpChallenge Smoothie
Serves 1

1 frozen banana, chopped & peeled
1/2 c plain nonfat yoghurt
1/4 c peanuts (I used unsalted, raw redskin peanuts that I had on hand)
1 individual serving of applesauce (approx 1/3 cup)
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 c water

* put peanuts, then yoghurt, in blender.  Pulse til smooth-ish.
* add in everything else.  Pulse.  Add more water if you like it less thick.
* Enjoy!

11:17 am: happily smoothie stuffed.  Off for a doggie-walk with my neighbor.  Sugar?  Whodat?

2:56 pm: Lunch was sweet potato chips and strawberries.  I was still kinda full from the smoothie.  Or, rather, half the smoothie — I saved the other half for later.  Which could be now?  It’s crazy hot in here, and I’m thinking about turning on the a/c.  But when it’s hot, I’m not as hungry!  And, I’m happy with fruit.  Because refreshing.  Still, I’m reminded; being lazy, preoccupied, or “too busy” to make anything healthy leaves me to fall back on sugary, processed…stuff.  I need to start keeping instant/quickie healthy stuff around here too.  Hello, crockpot….

3:30 pm:  Bored Now.  Sure, there’s a ton of stuff I could do.  But it’s hot, and I’m in the post-lunch nap zone.  Usually, I’d just grab a few cookies or a hunk of candy and soldier on.  But today, I think I may exercise.  The horror!

3:55 pm: Post-lumbar discectomy MRI yesterday. Neurosurgeon’s office calls; can I come in Friday? He wants to talk to me. Um, of course. BEER AND LOTS OF IT.

5 pm: But where have the sweet potato chips gone?

6:30 pm: Easy dinner; corn on the cob, strawberries and carrot sticks. Decided to pass on making brownies, as the recipe calls for a cup and a half of sugar. That’s probably too much applesauce for any baked good.

9 pm: Really jonesing for something sweet. But for some reason, I can tell it’s just for comfort after the doc’s call. So I dodge it. #eatingmyfeelings

Wrapup: Easier and harder – wherefore art thou, peanut butter? – made rough with bad news. Let’s hope the rest of the week is better. At least I stuck with it!

#FedUpChallenge: Day 1

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Okay, this’ll be a free-flowing diary of what I’m going through without sugar.  SUUUUUGAAAAAAAR.  Let the withdrawal begin!

7am:

* Kidney beans with no added salt also have no added sugar!  Yeah baby!
* Hi honey.  And Biscoff Spread.  And Nutella.
* Perhaps leaving the cupboard cabinet closed for the next ten days is the way to go.  Time to hit Aldi for a boatload of yummy fruits and veg.

7:20am:

* Breakfast: banana.  Easy-peasy.  Kinda seems Paleo, no?

9:30 am:

* Woot – my favorite sweet potato chips have no added sugar! Just tatos & salt. Niiiiice.
* I have a sneaking suspicion that the worst part of this will be eating healthy and avoiding my treats. Which is kinda pathetic of me, thinking about it.

11 am: today’s no added sugar haul. I have a feeling that I’ll be dying for relish in my tuna salad. But otherwise? Yum!

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11:15 am: It’s amazing how much sugar filled crud I shove into my pie-hole simply because it’s easy to grab. Must think on this. But now? Time to make lunch! Going for the easy – Big (tuna) Salad.

11:30 am:

* Big Salad with tuna, pepitas, shredded cheese (with no added sugar!), clementine wedges and basalmic vinegar. I really miss my dried cranberries, but as with a ton of dried fruit, they add sugar. Lunch is complete with more clementines, sweet potato chips and a Jello sugar free cup.

* repurposed the coffee maker for a pot of plain green tea. I love the stuff, but for some reason I’ve been coffee – with skim & Splenda – the last several years. Made it too strong, so now it’s green tea concentrate. #lemons

* I miss my peanut butter. I may have to get that weird DIY just-peanuts stuff from Whole Foods. Wonder if it’d be more palatable with cinnamon added in?

2:53 pm:

* Crashed about an hour and a half ago, which is probably more to do with my erratic sleep schedule than the lack of sugar. I think.

* And why is it that even though I’m absolutely stuffed from my lunch, that I’m craving something to eat? I’m literally Mr. Creosote, couldn’t fit in another morsel. Still…. (I’m disgusted with myself. But so far denying my taste buds.)

9:18 pm: DuClaw dinner equaled two beers and steamed edamame. Diet Coke and popcorn at the movie. I was tempted to candy it up, but I was so close to wrapping up the day I went with salt and canola oil over sugar. Go me!

11:09 pm: Back home, and this is usually when I’m really craving something treat-like. But I managed to shrug it off. Phew!

Wrap-up: rough this morning, and at DuClaw (hello blackberry BBQ wings!) But with no sickly sweetness to start with, it seemed easier to pass on it later. I’m betting tomorrow – after my bod realizes this no-added-sugar thing isn’t a one-off – will be crave-y-er.

It’s a word.

#FedUpChallenge, or how I’ll be cheating on Katie Couric

Image: IMDb
Image: IMDb

Hodor knows I do love me some sugar.  Hodor!

I wasn’t always like this.

Okay, so when I was a kid I tended to try to shove as many Ho-Hos into my gaping maw as my parents would allow.  But as I blew through high school and college, I realized something; I no longer “needed” dessert.  I was fine and dandy without it.  As I watched my husband make meals of ice cream or cereal, I shrugged and dug into my Big Salad.  He was always twenty thousand times more fit than I was, anyway.

Then I divorced, and moved back to the ol’ neighborhood.  And for some reason, I began to peck.  First it was a cookie here and there, then a scoop of ice cream.  Before I knew it, I was planning my dessert before I’d even finished cooking dinner.  That got even worse when I stopped cooking and started going packet/takeaway crazy.

How’d I get like this?  I’d love to blame someone, but honestly?  I know how to cook.  I’d cooked on the regular for years.  But laziness got the better of me, and pre-made, processed stuff became my Sun and Stars.  Big mistake.  Big.  Huge.

Add to that my newfound love of craft beer, and I have no question at all where the extra ten pounds I’ve been complaining about for the last 7 years has come from.  So when I saw last Thursday’s The Daily Show, where Jon Stewart talked to Katie Couric about the documentary Fed Up, the first thing I thought was:

Damn.  I really need to do this 10-Day-Sugar-Free-Challenge thing.

The second:

There’s no way on God’s green I’ll be able to stick with it.  I know me.

So.  The day before the Challenge hits, I’ve decided on a few personal ground rules.  Sorry, Katie.  Here goes:

* Sugar-free is okay.  Or, at least if there’s no added sugar in the sugar-free stuff.  Seriously y’all; I just looked at a particular item that’s touted as Sugar Free…and it’s got lactose as an ingredient!  I wonder how diabetics feel about that.  Meh; they’re probably smarter than I am at this stuff.  Anyway, I don’t think I’ll be able to get through this without a little help from Jell-o Sugar Free black cherry.  It’s my touchstone.

* BEER IS OKAY.  I know this is probably going to be a killer, but let’s face it.  The next ten days will have me screening Godzilla, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and Blended.  (Okay, that last one will probably truly require a bit of Open Mindedness Through Alcohol.)  There’s also the release of a few new DuClaw beers on the same day as the Godzilla screening.  To misquote Benjamin Franklin: Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.  Especially when the timing is so freakin’ on point.  So yes, beer = okay.  But I will limit to one a day.  Two, in the case of the double-release on Godzilla Day.

* To balance out the beer — snerk — I’ll try to cut back on the diet soda I’ve been slurping.  Because I’m sure that’s not all that great for me either.

* I’ll allow myself one cheat per day.  Want that piece of toast (and for cryin’ out Pete, why does Every Friggin Bread Item have sugar added in?)  Well, enjoy the heck out of it.  And no honey, peanut butter or cinnamon sugar, darlin’.  What I’m hoping for is that if I know I can have one cheat?  I’ll be less likely to actually cheat.  That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.  Plus, I have a feeling that my beloved peanut butter is gonna be my Achilles heel.  So I’ll need the comfort of knowing I can dip a spoon into the ol’ Jif for a quick taste if I’m really getting the shakes.

* At the end of every day, or more likely first thing the next, I’ll post my on-line diary of the day.  So, Day 1 = the morning of Day 2 at the latest.

 

Wish me luck!  I’ll need it.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go finish off the whole-wheat chocolate chip pancakes with homemade sweetened fat-free cream cheese spread I made to celebrate Mother’s Day.  Because cats totally count.  And they couldn’t make them for me, because thumbs.