Winter Can Suck It

The older I get, and the more arthritis I get, the more I think that I was meant to live somewhere more tropical.  People think that the Mid-Atlantic area is better in regards to snow, ice and cold than New England, and in some ways, it is, but in others, it’s just as bad.  Last year, we got snow every time someone farted – so much snow that it was comical.  Inches and inches.  And while New England is getting pounded with that this year, we are getting our standard “cold as heck, snow, sleet and freezing rain” nonsense.  What we affectionately (I use that term loosely) call “slush.”  It is gross.  My joints, already inflamed because of my thyroid, are screaming.

Everyone told me that clean eating would help my arthritis.  So far, I have not felt any change whatsoever.  I can tell when I fall off the wagon and eat something I shouldn’t, but that is more in regards to gastric distress that comes from having had RNY and massive amount of radiation.  My joints, however, have felt no difference.  Still the same amount of ache and swelling that I had prior to cutting out crap.

I full well realize that my thyroid meds still probably need to be upped.  But I’m sure I’d be happier in a more tropical climate.

I’ve been doing really well with my clean eating lately.  I’ve fallen in love with chia seeds.  Love them in my greek yogurt, and fresh fruit smoothies.  I love them added to oatmeal, or my clean eating muffins.  LOVE.

I don’t have any exciting recipes to share, but I thought I’d share a typical day of eating with you:

Thyroid meds are the first thing in the am.  I can’t have any solid food for an hour, nor anything other than water or black coffee.  That, of course, is first on my agenda.  Coffee.  I’ve really gotten used to drinking my coffee black.  After my first hour, if I want a treat, I add some coconut milk creamer to it.  But generally, I drink it black.  This week, Starbucks started carrying coconut milk, and I got a latte yesterday with coconut milk.  It was yummy, and a nice treat that is within my wheelhouse.  I avoid dairy milk and creamers in its purest form as it has a lot of lactose in it, and cow’s milk tends to keep my thyroid meds from adhering in my body.  I can’t do nut milks (like almond or cashew) because they work against thyroid meds as well.  I love the taste of coconut milk.

Typical breakfast – I tend to do fresh fruit (whatever the farmer’s market has – this week it has been fresh Florida strawberries and bananas) and 6oz of plain greek yogurt (I can do yogurt – it is processed differently than milk and high in protein).  I add a tablespoon of chia seeds and some honey.  Delicious.

Lunch has been homemade soup lately – either the veggie beef soup I have listed here, or this week, I made homemade chicken soup.  Recipe will be at the end of the post.  I have this with a few carrot sticks and a piece of fruit.

Dinner is some protein and lots of veggies.  Last night was a piece of crustless quiche made with spinach, swiss, mushrooms, bacon and onions.  I did use heavy cream in my quiche – I cup for the whole recipe, which was then divided into 8 servings.  Also, since I ate it at dinner, it was less likely to interfere with the thyroid meds.  Quiche recipe is also at the end of the post.

And that’s it.  I drink water and coffee pretty much all day long.  Occasionally I will have a glass of coconut milk.  Once in a great while, I will treat myself to a diet cola, but it is all chemicals so it is only a very once in a while treat.  I don’t snack unless it is on fresh fruit or veggies.

Chicken Soup:

1 frying chicken – mine was whole – skin, bones and all

4 cups of organic chicken stock and then water to cover the chicken.  Both go into a big soup pot.

Add 1 stalk of celery, 1 carrot, 1 diced onion, a chopped leek, fresh parsley and fresh chopped fennel fronds.  Bring to a boil.  (for the record, I do not peel my carrots – more vitamins and nutrients in the skins).

Once boiling, reduce heat to medium low and add one chopped turnip, one sliced parsnip, one more sliced carrot and a couple more stalks of celery.

In 20 minutes, remove the chicken, but let soup simmer.  Here is where I add salt or pepper to taste.  When the chicken as cooled enough, remove skin and clean chicken from bones.  Avoid begging dog.  Oh wait, we don’t all have one of those?

Add chicken back to pot and throw in a small bag of frozen mixed veggies ( or whatever other veggies you want).  Season more to taste.  I let simmer for about 20 more minutes.

This makes a ginormous pot of soup, but my hubs and I generally eat it that night for dinner, and then we take it to work all week.  He adds hot pepper seeds to his – me, I prefer mine more chicken soupy tasting.

Yes, that is a technical term.

Quiche

4 eggs, beaten

1 c of heavy cream (or light cream, or half and half – just not milk, you need the fat content)

8oz of baby spinach, chopped

8oz button mushrooms, sliced

1 c shredded cheddar cheese

6 slices of bacon, fried, and chopped

1 onion, diced or 1/4 c. of green onions chopped (or both, if you like onions – whatevs)

coconut oil

Grease a 9″ pie pan with the coconut oil.  This is an important step as your quiche is crustless.

Preheat oven to 375.

In a large skillet, cook your bacon.  Remove from pan and drain on paper towels, and then chop.  While bacon is cooling, add onions to bacon grease and brown until translucent.  Remove from skillet.

In pie plate, add bacon and onions.  Then layer spinach, mushrooms and cheese.

In a large bowl, beat eggs and cream.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Pour egg mixture over veggies in the pie plate.

Bake in the oven 30 to 45 minutes or until eggs set.  Check at 30 minutes – knife inserted into center will come out clean.

Scarf down.

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16 Years

Seems like a lifetime, and seems like yesterday all in the same breath.

16 years ago, I lost my big sister to Ovarian Cancer.

16 years ago, I spent this day, in a chair, in her bedroom, watching her sleep.  I woke up that day, knowing that it was the day.  I called out from work and told them I just knew.  And I did.  I drove down with my mother, and I sat with her all day.  She didn’t wake the entire day – just laid there.  It was probably the most restful day she’d had in over a week – her sleep was peaceful, breathing wasn’t labored.  She just was.  And I was just there.  I said little, just watching my big sister sleep.  Wishing a thousand wishes that this wasn’t going to be the end, that she wake, and smile at me, and the nightmare of the past six month would be over.

My sister knew I was there.  She held on all day.  She refused to let go while I was there.

Mom and I told my brother-in-law around 4:30 or 5 that we were going home to get dinner.  We stopped and got some chinese take-out on the way home, and just as we sat down to eat, the phone rang.

She had passed while we were driving home.

My sister was beautiful.  Simply beautiful.  She had a laugh that to this very day I remember – high-pitched and glorious – full of joy and merriment.  She was a brilliant woman, and a great mom.  She was that typical sister – you know, the perfect one.  Beautiful and smart, and couldn’t do wrong.  She had a temper that could sting, and a look that could wither, but to her friends, she was a saint.  To her children, she was their world.

To me, she was my Sissy.

We didn’t know about Lynch Syndrome then – although we should have.  My dad had passed from colon cancer.  My other sister had also had colon cancer a few years before.  And then, Betsy was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.  We never put two and two together.

Then, in 1998 when she got her diagnosis, it was a death sentence.  People now, who are diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer have a better shot at remission, but then, no.  Betsy got her diagnosis in November 1998.  She had stem cell replacement, and was in remission by December (treated in the same hospital where I received my treatment).  In February, the cancer was back – and moved swiftly.  By February 14th, a blood clot presented in her leg.  By the 19th, it moved to her brain and caused a stroke.  By the 20th, she begun hemorrhaging as the cancer ate through her colon.  And by the 23rd, she was gone.

My sister left a legacy.  Three beautiful children who are now adults.  She never saw them graduate from highschool or college.  She never saw the way they blossomed into adulthood.  She missed her girls’ weddings, and the birth of her grandchild (I won’t say she never met him – she knows Keegan, and I hope, through us, he will know her).

I miss my sister.  Not a day goes by where I don’t think about her in some small way.  She’s in my dreams.  She’s on the tip of my tongue, at the back of my brain.  She is in her kids, and her grandchild.  She’s in my heart.

16 years.

I miss you.

24

Twenty Four is an interesting number.

There are 24 hours in a day.

It is divisible by both 6 and 8.

It is an even two dozen.

It is also the number of months I have been in remission as of today.

With my cancer, they do not consider you in remission until the anniversary of your last treatment.  In my case, my final chemo cycle occurred on February 18th, 2013.

In some ways, the 2 years have flown by and in others, it has totally dragged.  I’m now two years closer to being considered not just “in remission” but “cancer free.”  While, in fact, I have no cancer in me [knock wood], I’m only in remission, with what is called NED – no evidence of disease.  I don’t get to officially be cancer free until February 18th, 2018.  Five years out.

That seems like forever from now – and just around the corner all at the same time.

Every day is a day closer to being “cured.”

My cancer is never far from my mind.  It’s always there.  Ever vigilant screening.  Always monitoring potential symptoms.  Always. Right. Here.  It always will be.  I will always be a cancer patient.  Hopefully one who lives without cancer.

To celebrate my remission, I enrolled in class to begin this summer to finally get my certificate in Project Management.  I haven’t completed a class since my diagnosis.  I always dropped it.  Some excuse always came up.  In reality, it was fear of the unknown, that stemmed directly to my diagnosis.  So, today, no more excuses.  I’m registered for this summer, and will finish (hopefully) by the time I hit my five-year mark.

It’s time to move on.

Swamp Gas

So, until my husband met me, he didn’t think women actually farted.  Don’t ask me how he got to be in his 40s without hearing a chick fart, but he did.

And, if there are dudes out there who still don’t think women get gas, I am sorry to ruin your ideal image.

I can crack them with the best of them.

And, now that I have had both gastric bypass but also radiation on my guts, well, they are rancid.

Swamp gas rancid.

Gag enducing.

The past couple of days, my stomach has acted up.  Probably from the carbs I ate.  I made bread this weekend and had ONE PIECE.  Just one.  One thin lively piece of yeasty goodness.

And now I remember why that was a bad idea.

For two days, my insides have been paying me back with a room clearing attack of gas that could be mistaken for biological warfare.

I even broke out the GASEX tonight.  And peppermint tea.

Pray for my husband tonight.

I may blow him across the street accidentally.

*bbbbbrrrrrrtttttttt*

Sorry.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

So, the past couple of months, I have harped on my husband about his eating habits.  Now, let me preface this by saying my hubs is one of those infuriating men.  You know the ones.  One of the healthy “fat” people.  He is carrying extra weight – there is no doubt about that.  But every time he goes to the doctor, everything (aside from his weight) is perfect – perfect blood pressure, perfect blood sugars, perfect cholesterol…ugh.  But, I keep telling him, it may not always be perfect.

The husband does have a heart murmur, which tends to be more pronounced when he has caffeine.  He’s been drinking about 20 oz of decaf a day in the am – and I keep explaining to him that even decaf has caffeine in it.  When we first discovered the heart murmur (he thought he was having a heart attack after drinking a whole pot of decaf and having a whole tin of chocolate covered cherries for breakfast), I took him off the decaf coffee and switched him to herbal tea.  He likes to have something hot in the am.  I also told him he could have decaf tea, but the limit on that is 8oz – no more.  He likes Earl Grey – because that is what Captain Picard drinks.  Sigh.

#myhusbandisanerd

Sadly, he’s gotten back to drinking decaf since he went back to work last year, and the murmur is back.  So, he’s once again banned from coffee.

Now, I’m a coffee drinker.  Full on high-test-curl-your-toes-espresso-please-many-cups-a-day-coffee.  It doesn’t bother me in the least.  Prior to my thyroid diagnosis, I was drinking it with Splenda or Stevia and cream.  Now I drink it black, and have found that I prefer it that way, although once a week or so, I treat myself to a skinny latte at Starbucks.

#lovemycoffee

I have been preaching to the husband for a few months about his weight.  “Um, hello, pot?  This is kettle.”  While I’m not obese anymore, I am overweight still, and the thyroid treatment has held up the weightloss.  But the hubs is 5’4″, and he is 230 pounds.  Not good.  He has a physical today – and I told him to have the doctor check his cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, his knee (which he hurt in November), his prostate (he has a family history of prostate cancer and I want them to do the blood test so we can compare it to the last one), and his thyroid.  I know the doctor will tell him to lose weight.  Because, yeah – even if his numbers come back fine, as a latino, he is more predisposed to diabetes and heart disease, and his biological father had both.

I have been trying to get him to eat like I do – although I’ve backslid on my clean eating in the past couple of weeks, and am working to get myself back on it.

So, this week, I’m being less bossy and more leading by example.  I’ve taken to all meal prep this week.  I’m packing his lunches (so I know what he’s getting).  More fruit, less granola bars (the ones he thinks are healthy because they have granola in them, but are also covered in chocolate and sugar).  Homemade clean eating soups and stews.  More protein, veggies, and good fats.  And no coffee for him.  And, to lead by example, I’ve cut myself back to one cup a day.  Black.  In the morning.  The rest of the day, I am drinking herbal tea, and tons of water.

I am having a hard time getting him to drink water.  I have to bribe him with Crystal Light – which is the devil.  Nothing but chemicals.  I don’t touch the stuff anymore.

But our bodies need water.  Real, honest to goodness water.

We are on day two of eating nothing but good for you stuff.  He had an egg this morning, with one small potato fried in coconut oil, and a slice of Canadian bacon (baby steps with him y’all).  His lunch is the same as mine – my clean eating veggie beef soup, an orange (I have a tangerine), some gluten-free multi-grain crackers (no crackers for me, I have plain greek yogurt instead), and a paleo brownie.  Dinner will be a pork chop, and some steamed veggies.

Wish me luck – this isn’t going to be an easy row to hoe.  But I know my hubs needs to lose weight.  If anything, he needs to lose weight so his mother doesn’t yell at me in May.  Because she always does.  Not to mention, I’d like to take off these last 30 freaking pounds.  Hello, thyroid meds?  I’m talking to you.

So, let me lead by example.

Full on clean eating.  For a long and healthy life with the man I love.

FYI, here is my breakfast today…double protein bread, natural peanut butter, sliced banana, drizzle of honey, chia seeds, and a side of melon.
image

Things That Go Bump In The Night

Ok, they are supposed to, but they haven’t.

My hubs and I, well, we haven’t gone “bump in the night” in two years.

It is what brachytherapy does.  It mangles you as a woman.

Not to mention the whole lack of sexual desire that accompanies a hysterectomy.

And the trauma of cancer.

Living with your mother will screw with your intamacy levels too.

I feel bad.  I shouldn’t.  I can’t help it.  I have been traunatized both physically and mentally thanks to cancer.

But there is always the sadness that you aren’t providing your partner with a basic need that comes with a happy, healthy marriage.

I am trying to work through this.

But it sucks.