Ritual Multivitamin Review

2 Comments

packaging

About a month ago I shared about my struggle with supplements and the products that I have found work best for me. You can find that post Here. I also mentioned that I was waiting for the arrival of a new multivitamin that I was very excited to try.

I have been searching for a new multivitamin for 6 months. I tried 5 different brands over that time, none of which agreed with me. It was an expensive search.

I’m very serious about my supplements because I have Lyme Disease and my body is sensitive. I’m also very frustrated with the amount of research and knowledge that has to go into finding the right multivitamin. The average person doesn’t dig into things like I do, so there are countless amounts of people suffering through crappy vitamins and wasting their money.

Even high end supplements are packed with a huge list of things we really don’t need, that aren’t great for our health. The average person also doesn’t understand that the more they pack into a vitamin the less there is of the actual ingredients we need. It’s just fluff to make them seem more beneficial and exciting. I hate fluff. I want simple and easy to understand, which is how ALL supplements should be presented so it doesn’t feel like we have to take a master’s course to figure out how to weed through all the B.S.

17022362_498587150528903_7921271151402123340_n

When I had just about given up, I ran across Ritual. I am not being paid by them to review the vitamin, I found it completely on my own, and paid for it. After thoroughly researching their website and learning more about them, I was THRILLED! Could it be true?

They believe in simplicity. Their research and ingredients are backed by science. They are low dose. They have a simple ingredients list. They are completely transparent about their product. They are specifically geared toward women and they are affordable! Just $30.00 for a month’s supply.

It’s like someone swooped down and answered all of my vitamin prayers.

17021903_498587147195570_8798065507605525170_n

Here’s what you’ll find in their multi:

K2, D3, B12, Boron, Iron, Vitamin E, Magnesium, Folate, and Omega-3. At low doses based on what the “average” woman needs. When you visit their website you can click on each ingredient and they give you the complete rundown. Form, dosage, source, manufacturer (and when you click on the manufacturer you get even more in depth information), why they use that form, and how it works together with your diet and other vitamins. Amazing, right?

As with all new supplements I took the lowest dose for the first few days which in this case, was one capsule. Then after about 4 days I increased it to the normal dose of two capsules.

I am pleased to report that after taking them for about two weeks now, I am noticing a significant difference in my energy levels. What I really love is that it has been a gentle incline of healthy feeling overall energy, not a nervous buzz that we get with some vitamin supplements. I also love that I know EXACTLY what is in them and what they do for me. I don’t feel like I’m overdosing myself like I have with other multi’s with 42 unrealistic, not scientifically backed, ingredients that promise everything from clear skin to the healing of all diseases known to man.

Also, when taken with my breakfast there is no tummy upset and zero fish burps! I take my other large fish oil capsule along with it, so it surprises me that I haven’t had any fishy issues. Amen! I also notice a lessening of joint stiffness (common with Lyme Disease), my skin is brighter, my  fingernails are growing faster, my skin is less dry, and I’m sleeping really well (when Abigail isn’t howling with the coyotes).

The capsules are a really reasonable size. I swallow a handful of supplements every morning, but for those of you who have a difficult time swallowing pills, I don’t think they’re going to be an issue.

16998091_499137077140577_4316100286521773278_n

Here’s my breakdown:

Transparency & Truth In Advertising: Two Thumbs Up

Simple, Easy To Understand, Healthy Ingredients: Two Thumbs Up

Low Dose: Two Thumbs Up

Capsule Size: Two Thumbs Up

Cost: Two Thumbs Up

Efficacy: Two Thumbs Up and if I had three I’d give it three! 

I have zero complaints.

(Cover photo courtesy of TechCrunch)

A Big Pet Peeve

4 Comments

This will just be a quickie because I like to keep this blog about all of the cool things in life like food and family and experiences.

However, I feel compelled to speak about this because I see it more and more on social media, within Lyme groups, and how people who are battling Lyme Disease refer to themselves.

I don’t know where this meme came from so I can’t credit it, I found it on Pinterest. This person (along with countless others) has labeled themselves a, LYMIE. And do you notice how cutsie and pretty the meme is?

Ridiculous.

If I was going to make a meme about me having Lyme Disease, I can guarantee you it would not look like this.

58e310be55e699bee77cbe742e7bb1cb

If I hear another person dealing with Lyme Disease refer to themselves as a “Lymie”, I’m going to blow a gasket.

You are NOT a lymie. You are a human being in a great battle with a chronic bacterial infection, but you are NOT the illness you battle. Don’t label yourself. Don’t own negative crap like that. Don’t get comfortable with it, don’t hug it and cuddle with it and make it part of your identity. Look at it logically, like how you would read directions on how to build a shelf. And with that amount of emotion. Educate yourself, find treatments that work for you, take care of yourself, but don’t get so wrapped up in the weight of it all that it becomes your identity and you begin to label yourself with pet names like “Lymie” or “Spoonie”.

Focus on all of the parts of you outside of Lyme Disease. Yes, I understand that having this infection changes our lives. I understand that many of us can’t do all of the things we used to be able to do, that we feel like crap a lot and that it’s a major challenge and sometimes can be very scary and is frustrating ALL the time. I get that.

But you are still YOU. Set aside what others think about this illness. Make sure people in your life are treating you like YOU. Focus on the parts of you that need loving tenderness and fun and excitement and fulfillment. At whatever level you can do. Take small, even tiny, steps toward doing things the non-sick you would do. Every little moment and every little step toward focusing on the blessings in your life no matter how large or infinitesimal, makes a huge impact on your health.

You are not your illness, you are battling an illness, there is a big difference.

xo ~ Gluten Free Zen

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAOvAAAAJGM4NmFiNjA4LTY5YWEtNDFhMC05ZDk0LWIwYTQ4NWEzN2RiMw

Super Easy Kabobs & 10 Life Lessons Lyme Has Taught Me That You Can Learn Too

4 Comments

_DSC2054

I was finally diagnosed with Lyme Disease in 2013 while we were living in New Hampshire. I say “finally” because I had actually gotten sick in 2006 and then extremely sick in 2008, when I was so sick I chose to quit my job. It took 7 years for someone to figure out what was wrong with me. That may seem surprising to you, but it’s actually a very common Lyme story. Once I got a handle on what was going on I realized that taking care of my health was going to be serious business. The past two years have definitely been a struggle, but I have also used it as an opportunity to carefully examine things and work on making adjustments that help my life run more smoothly.

10 Life Lessons Lyme Has Taught Me That You Can Learn Too:

 1.  Ditch ToxicToxic people, toxic stuff, toxic behaviors, toxic emotions. Life is just simply too short to hang out with toxic people. People who display behaviors that go against the needs of a healthy relationship. Life’s too short to surround yourself in a toxic environment full of toxic “stuff”, too short to fill your body with toxic food. Too short to hang on to your own toxic behaviors whatever they may be, too short to have toxic emotions that beat you up all day every day because of feelings of inadequacy, marital issues, family issues, appearance, jealousy, past mistakes, not standing up for what you believe in, whatever it may be that you beat yourself up about on a regular basis. Make a list of non-negotiables, stick to them like glue even when it’s hard, and treat yourself and others with love and kindness. Value the life you’ve been given.

_DSC2048

2.  Don’t Take Ignorant Comments Personally. I have found that we all feel we’re a little bit of an expert on a little bit of everything. It’s human nature for people to give opinions. I am full of them! But, in certain situations when you really are an expert on dealing with something unpleasant, the negative nellie’s of the world can really get under your skin. The number one complaint of people who have a chronic illness (besides the illness itself) is other people who aren’t supportive and/or say stupid, hurtful things. “You don’t look sick. You just need to get more exercise. Drink more water! But you seemed fine yesterday. You’re up and moving around, I thought you were sick? It’s all in your head. You’re always sick. Why can’t you get better? Quit making excuses. There’s no such thing as……” Eye rolling, gossip, being laughed at, being told you’re weak…. People can be really mean and not just strangers.  Unless you are speaking to someone who is suffering from something similar, it’s highly unlikely they will ever fully understand what you’re going through and most won’t even give it a good try. In any situation you’re going through in life where people are making ignorant comments, you need to decide whether it’s worth the energy to try to explain it properly, and if it’s not, just nod and smile and move on. Stop looking for support and acceptance in all the wrong places.

3.  Form Your Circle. All of us need a safe, close, circle of people who we can trust and rely on no matter what. I’ve heard many times and agree that this circle for people with chronic illness and people diagnosed with major illness is often small. Partly because of the ignorance I discussed above, and partly because when you end up sick, or have a crisis, or need someone to have your back, the relationships that were never really close and genuine, fall away. It’s painful, but a fact of life. Save your energy for the people who stay.  You absolutely need a circle who you deeply value and who deeply value you. This may be only a few people or 10 people, but it’s imperative.

_DSC2050

4.  Join A Support Group. Meeting people who have the same interests and similar struggles can be life changing. It can make all the difference in how you view what you’re going through. I belong to private online Lyme groups filled with hundreds of amazing people of all walks of life. By private, I mean no one outside the group can see the posts or comments. These groups have been a tremendous help to me. Not only with information and ideas, but with loving support. No discussion is too bizarre, or too whiny, or too scary, or too real. You can be open and completely honest, which is sometimes difficult to do with close friends and family who are not going through the same thing you are. In the support groups we’re there to learn, understand, listen to each other, and lend support. There’s a lot to learn from other people who are going through the same things you are. Another really important part of being in a support group is the recognition that someone always has it worse than you. Much, much, worse. That’s a real eye opener when you’re feeling really blue. Listening to what others are going through forms friendship bonds and helps with feelings of isolation in illness or anything unpleasant that you’re going through. Even on your worst day, you can be a voice of love and compassion to someone else.

_DSC2051

5.  Keep Moving Forward. Stress can be debilitating. Many people don’t understand that stress is not just a bad job, a snotty teenager, a bad marriage, money issues, a neighbor’s barking dog, crappy customer service, or a hateful relative. Illness itself is also a major form of stress and places your adrenal glands under constant pressure. They pump out cortisol more than they should which sets your body into “fight or flight” mode and imbalances your hormones. Too much cortisol lowers the immune system, causes anxiety among other things, and interferes with your body’s ability to rest and repair properly. Trying to keep all the stress in your life from inside and outside sources can be very difficult. There’s not a lot I can do to cure the stress that Lyme Disease causes inside my body, but once I could visibly see how stress from outside sources dramatically aggravates my health, I had to make big changes in my life. I had to ditch the toxic like in #1 above. I have to focus on taking care of myself properly inside and out. I focus more on doing things I love that bring me peace and being around people who strive to be peaceful and are also looking to lead a healthy life inside and out. Sometimes that can be really difficult and obviously, we can never fully remove stress or stressful people from our lives.  Most of us have a lot of clutter and static that we simply do not need but hang on to because we’re used to it in a kind of dysfunctional, comforting way. It’s more harmful than good. Do whatever it takes to get rid of as much stress as possible, and every day do things that help you move forward toward more peace and more joy in your life.

6.  Learn How To Say No. I come from a long line of people pleasers. Saying “No” to people is difficult for me without feeling piles of guilt. I’m still in the learning and practicing stages but over the past three years, even though it’s uncomfortable, I’ve made progress. Feeling guilty for not wanting to do things, guilty for disappointing people, guilty because you feel like crap a lot and it affects other people, guilty because somehow it feels kind of shameful to say “no” and not to worry about what other people think about it. Some people have zero problem with “no” or feeling guilty about saying no. But most people are just like you and me and struggle with it a lot. If we want to be healthy in our lives, we have to recognize that we simply cannot be a yes woman/man all the time. We need to work toward getting rid of the guilt of not always being the person everyone wants us to be and doing the things that everyone wants us to do.

_DSC2052

7.  Every Day Is Different, Embrace It. This is one of the most misunderstood symptoms of chronic illness, especially Lyme Disease. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that literally, every single day is different for me. One day I can feel relatively fine and the next day I can wake up feeling absolutely terrible from head to toe. I can go back and forth like that for weeks, even months. This can make it difficult to make future plans. I do plan things, but typically only very short term and when I have to plan something for the future, I dread it. I guess that goes back to the guilt and anxiety of saying no, or about feeling terrible about letting people down or looking like a flake because I can’t follow through or have to cancel. I have a very small circle of people that I feel comfortable doing things with. This is only because I can relax and feel crappy when we’re together and be fine with it and so can they. I do life sick, that’s the reality, and I need a comfort zone. We all need a comfort zone. I have come to realize that I have to exert a lot more energy to do life sick with people outside of my circle. Sometimes I have that extra energy and sometimes I don’t. I’m learning how to be OK with that and to not worry that people may not understand. That works for every rough patch we deal with in life. Be OK with what is best for your health and well being.

8.  Examine Your Past, But Not Too Much! Many of the reasons behind who we are and how we handle things have to do with how we were raised. Now this is not a license to pick on your parents! A little past examination comes in handy though when doing some soul searching and dealing with life’s ups and downs. Whenever I’ve been ill with anything throughout my life, it always made me feel really anxious and uncomfortable. Fearful of what, I didn’t know, not death because that doesn’t scare me, but just plain anxious and fearful. Dread. Guilt. Doctor avoidance. So I did some thinking and it occurred to me that both of the main women in my life hid their symptoms and their illnesses throughout much of my childhood. By “hid” I mean they didn’t tell anyone until someone found them out. I remember walking into the bathroom and my mom was leaning up against the counter gasping for air. Her lung had collapsed and she didn’t want me to tell anyone! And that wasn’t the only time things like that happened. I can only guess that she learned those behaviors from my grandmother because she was the same way. She hid chest pains and all kinds of things from us. “Don’t tell anyone, don’t want to worry anyone, I can handle it myself, I’m fine…” That sends a message that there’s something wrong with being ill or being vulnerable and in need of help. On my father’s side, I remember my grandma telling a story about my great grandmother that was extremely unsettling. She collapsed on the floor and when the paramedics arrived and ripped open her shirt, she had been treating herself for breast cancer. She had an open wound on her breast that she had told absolutely no one about. What is it about us women in particular that makes us want to hide and feel guilty about being ill? Millions of people in the world face illness every day, unfortunately it’s quite common place. It does not need to be hidden and the reality of it should not be feared. This is a hard reflex to change, but I try diligently to work on it. We need to be a tower of strength for each other, not hide from each other. We need people in our circle who support us when we’re feeling vulnerable. Life whether good or bad, should not be faced alone.

2015-09-11 18.04.22

9.  Focus On The Positive. Many people have said to me, “You have such a positive outlook!” I appreciate those comments, because that is what I and certainly most people in life in any situation strive for. Am I always positive? Of course not. Having a chronic illness comes with a lot of mixed feelings about all kinds of things.  It’s confusing, and irritating, scary, and often painful and debilitating. However, I have learned that if I’m feeling blue or anxiety ridden, I only allow myself a little bit of a pity party. Swimming in despair is terrible for you, but so is cramming your worries and not working through them. I think through the main things that are upsetting me and then redirect with  prayer, or talking to a trusted friend, taking a walk, reading a good book, playing with the dogs, catching up with friends on Facebook, baking, shopping, praying for other people who are struggling, journaling, gardening, photography, focusing on blessings….whatever it takes to get myself back on track. You absolutely MUST have a list of things that bring you joy that you can turn to, even when you feel like total crap and you think your life is falling apart. Your outlook can make or break you.

10.  Trust That There’s A Plan For Your Life. I am a firm believer that my whole life is figured out and planned. Every single thing that happens, happens for a reason and is instrumental to my life for reasons I may or may not understand at this point or…ever. And though I firmly know that in my heart and soul, sometimes my brain wants to tell me otherwise and I get caught in the trap of trying to control everything myself. Trying to figure it all out and make it nice and tidy. Surmountable. Trying to map the future and the outcome. God gives us many, many, tools to deal with life, none of which give us details on how every minute of our individual lives are going to pan out. That’s where trust and faith enter the scene for me. You need a foundation of strength that is unwavering, an anchor that is outside of yourself and is not associated with another human being. When I get caught in the loop of endless hours of research and reading and unanswered questions and what if’s, and uneducated doctors, and ignorant people, and chores I don’t have the energy for, and family issues, and anxiety, and all the “stuff” life throws at every single one of us every day, I have to force myself to step back and remember, “God’s got this.” He’s never let me down. He’s always had it all figured out, it’s been proven to me over and over again that every single thing happens for a reason. Why do I forget that? The blessing of faith and trust, is that I don’t have to have it all figured out all the time. Imagine that. The pressure is off. We can deal with stuff as it comes to the best of our ability and that is all we can do. We need to learn to let go.

11951260_1214869728539057_4727466982148372689_n

Super Easy Steak & Vegetable Kabobs

Bag #1

2 Grass Fed New York Strip Steaks (or meat of your choice)

2 Organic Cloves of Garlic, peeled

1 teaspoon of Organic Fresh Thyme

1 teaspoon of Organic Fresh Rosemary

1 teaspoon of Organic Fresh Parsley

1/4 Cup of Gluten Free BBQ Sauce

1/4 Cup of Apple Cider Vinegar

Sea Salt & Ground Pepper

Cut any tendon or extra fat off of the steaks and cube. Place all ingredients in a zipper bag, mix, and marinate all day in the fridge.

Bag #2

Organic Cremini Mushrooms

Organic Bell Pepper

Organic Onion

1/2 Cup of Unsweetened Pineapple with 100% Pineapple Juice

1/8 Cup of Organic EVOO

1 teaspoon of Organic Oregano

Sea Salt & Ground Pepper

Place all ingredients in a zipper bag, mix, and marinate all day in the fridge.

Place meat and veggies on skewers. Preheat grill to 400 degrees. Grill 5 minutes or so on each side for medium rare.

Peach Hand Pies

4 Comments

_DSC2036

When life gets rough, I bake. Or clean house, or work in the garden, or go for a walk.

2015-09-07 16.28.15

I need that kind of therapy. Lying down is maybe a one or two day thing tops, after that, I need to putter even if I feel really bad. If I can’t putter, life is dismal. I cannot curl up in a ball and be miserable.

2015-09-07 16.28.05

After a couple of weeks of feeling terrible, all I could think about was pie. So a few days ago, I made these fabulous Peach Hand Pies and an Apple Galette. I say if you’re going to do it, go BIG.

2015-09-07 16.28.25

Remember my broken tooth the dentist supposedly fixed? Well, I was in pain for several days after he fixed it, so I put a call in to find out that he was on vacation for 10 days. On the last day of his vacation, his receptionist forwarded me to their “favorite endodontist”. An endodontist specializes in root canals. Evidently my dentist doesn’t do root canals anymore because they make his hands hurt. A tip for you: Anything with the word Specialist = $$$$.

2015-09-07 17.13.02

After making the appointment the endontist’s receptionist told me that it would be a minimum of $250.00… just for them to tell me what’s wrong with the tooth. If I chose to venture out from there and get a root canal, that would be a minimum of $1,500.00 possibly up to $1,750.00. And of course, “your insurance only pays 30% so we ask you to pay $1250.00 up front”. Keep in mind that this doesn’t include the crown that I will have to have made to go over that tooth after the root canal. I then need to go back to a regular dentist and pay another minimum $700.00 for the crown because according to the receptionsist, “we don’t do crowns here”. $2,200.00 minimum for one tooth. Considering the cost of dental care, it’s amazing to me that we aren’t a completely toothless nation.

2015-09-07 17.38.03

Of course after being in major pain and living on a diet of ibuprofen for two weeks, there was really no other choice but to get the dreaded root canal. Three hours later, with Novocaine that is laced with adrenaline “so it will work faster and longer”, it was finally done. I dare you to relax during a root canal when they’ve laced your numbing stuff with adrenaline. I felt like I was going to have a heart attack. When the gal came in to check on me and asked how I was doing I said, “Well, fine I guess, but my heart is pounding out of my chest and my hands are shaking.” She said, “Oh yeah, that’s the adrenaline in the shots she gave you.”

2015-09-07 17.40.09

On the positive side, she was very good about making sure I felt nothing. She tested my tooth throughout the beginning of the process with a cold procedure to make sure I was sufficiently numb.

2015-09-07 17.40.17

After my appointment I had my son drive me up to a specialty store so I could buy soup that I wasn’t allergic to from their deli. Then I went home, ate, and went to bed relieved that I would no longer be in pain. The next morning…I woke up with a jaw infection. I had a lump on my jaw and my face was swollen and in pain all the way up to my ear. What luck, huh?

2015-09-07 17.47.29

They put me on a strong antibiotic for 7 days which took all of the seven days to take care of the infection and pain. On the heels of that, our son ended up with a terrible cold and flu and needed mom to take care of him. He came over and planted himself on my couch ready and waiting for me to cure him. If he does that, I know he’s very sick.  And let’s be honest, he’s 23 and hasn’t let me mother him in a long time, so while I felt bad for him, I gave myself a high 5 for still being the one he comes to when he’s miserable.

_DSC2039

 On the heels of that… we helped him move into his new apartment even though he was still feeling pretty sick. And in the midst of that….I of course caught his cold and flu.

_DSC2041

Two weeks ago I was bragging to my doctor that “I never get colds! I haven’t had a cold in at least 10 years!” 

Now, the cold is lingering and the tax on my immune system is causing a Lyme flare. To make matters worse, I woke up with a hideous cold sore on my lip.

_DSC2044

My husband now has the sickness. On top of that, we both have some kind of weird muscle spasm and pinched nerve thing going on in our hip and back. Which translates into, “You’re OLD now.”

But we have pie.

2015-09-07 18.07.57

At this point, I’m just trying to focus on the positives:

We have pie. We aren’t dead. We have pie. My tooth no longer hurts. We have pie.

We’re going away for the weekend to get some much needed R & R if we can fix the back pain thing.

Oh, and we have pie.

See you next week!

2015-09-07 18.07.17

Peach Hand Pies

For the crust:

(This recipe makes 4 discs, you will need 2 discs for the hand pies)

5 – 5 1/2 cups Mama’s Almond Blend All Purpose Gluten Free Flour, plus more for rolling

4 tsp. Xanthan Gum

1 Tbsp. Sea Salt

1 1/2 Tbsps. of Coconut Sugar (if I’m using this for a savory recipe, I only add 1 Tbsp. of sugar)

1 lb. of Spectrum Shortening, I weigh mine on a kitchen scale

1 Egg (beaten with fork in measuring cup and then filled to 1 cup with water)

Place 5 cups of Mama’s Almond Flour in large bowl.  I use the spoon in cup method and level with a knife.   Add salt, sugar, xanthan gum, whisk to combine.  Next scoop 1 lb of the shortening onto flour mixture.  I know it sounds like a crazy amount, don’t freak out!  Remember, this recipe makes 4 large pie crusts.  Work the shortening into dough with your hands, sifting through your fingers until the shortening is somewhat combined and the flour resembles loose small pea size (about) pieces. (For pictures to reference on what the dough should look like, see the Apple Galette recipe.)

Next, whisk 1 egg in a measuring cup and fill to 1 cup with water. Add the egg and water in a well in the center of mixture. Work together with a fork just until mixed. Scoop out onto floured parchment paper. Work it a little, not too much!! (you may need a bit more flour) to form it into a log.

Then cut it into four even sections. After it’s cut I put each section into a ziplock bag and flatten into a disc. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before rolling.

For The Filling:

*Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line one baking sheet with parchment paper

(2 discs of dough make roughly 6 large hand pies – depending on the size of your cutter)

3 Very Ripe Peaches, peeled and sliced, then cubed

Juice of Half a Lemon

About 1 Tablespoon of Coconut Sugar

About 1 Tablespoon of Flour

(For the glaze you will need powdered sugar, dairy free butter, almond extract, and a little water)

Toss ingredients and set aside. Flour your work surface and rolling pin and roll dough out. I used a fluted cutter roughly the size of my palm. Place 6 “bottoms” on the parchment lined baking sheet and flatten out and enlarge a bit more slightly with your fingertips. Place about 1 1/2 – 2 Tablespoons of peaches in the middle. Next, roll out more dough and cut the tops. Remove the extra dough from around them and enlarge them a little by flattening them out more with your fingertips. With a finger dipped in water, wet the edge of the bottom crust. Then, with a floured spatula, place each “top” over the peaches and press around. Press edges with a for and slit the tops with a sharp knife.

Bake for 35 minutes.

Once the Peach Hand Pies have cooled, put one dollop of glaze on top of each one allowing it to run down the sides (it should be medium thick). Wait 10 minutes and drizzle the tops with glaze in a back and forth motion.

Pity Party For One, Averted ~ My Corner Of The World

10 Comments

How’s your summer going?

2015-08-12 12.10.04

Overall, ours has been great. Hot and sunny, and mostly relaxing, just the way I like it.

_DSC1986

In late spring I went on another pulsing dose of antibiotics. I’d been in a flare since November and it had finally gotten to the point where I was at a peak in symptoms. Very unpleasant. Prime pulsing time. So far, pulsing antibiotics rather than long-term antibiotic use works very well at keeping my symptoms at a manageable level.

_DSC2000

_DSC1993

So after a three week course, I was feeling pretty darn good. Summer was turning out to be gorgeous, my symptoms were manageable, and I was settling in for absorbing every ounce of heat and sun I could, and focusing on feeling good.

_DSC1989

A few weeks into summer, I started having little blips on the radar. Like a never ending period. Or numerous ones that kept coming too early. OK, I’m no spring chicken, I know what’s happening. Not a huge deal. I’m old and my uterus is a wrinkled up almond. I get it. Now stop.

_DSC1803

Then I started getting hit with multiple day migraines. Serious ones that left me mostly out of commission for consecutive days in a row. Then some serious neck pain.

_DSC1749

WHAT is happeninggggggg…..I thought. I’m enjoying my summer, go away!

_DSC1805

Then it got so bad, my “I hate to take drugs” self had a conversation with my logical writhing in pain self. Turns out several ibuprofen and a muscle relaxant will help with the neck pain and the headaches. But those muscle relaxants throw me for a loop. Thankfully, I only use those for my big guns and so far I’ve only had to use them a few times.

2015-06-23 15.55.55

Then, because of the hormonal issues, the doctor suggested an ultrasound of my uterus. Externally, and internally. Fun stuff.

2015-08-02 18.59.37

 Turns out I have a cyst on my right ovary and fibroids in my uterus. This could mean all kinds of things. None of which is in the danger zone yet, as far as I know. But it does probably spell out ablation, or hysterectomy.

2015-07-31 13.33.32

OK, deep breaths. At this point I’m still thinking…but Lyme-wise, I’m feeling decent, why ALL of this other stuff NOW? I need a break from feeling like crap and worrying about feeling like crap.

_DSC1828

And then I broke a molar. Yep.

Oh Murphy’s Law, you are a relentless bastard.

2015-08-01 19.18.11

So I had it fixed and the next day, had my teeth cleaned. The dentist even managed to numb half my face and half my tongue, but NOT my tooth. That was fun. Two unpleasant visits to the dentist killed with one stone in a matter of two days. Or so I thought.

2015-07-31 12.24.08

Because now, for the last two weeks, all of my teeth have been unbelievably, painfully, sensitive. I’d also bought a new Sonicare toothbrush and started using it right at the same time. Evidently this one is a higher quality than the last one I had and my teeth are now right up there with the horror people talk about after they have their teeth whitened. Like, it hurts to breathe through my mouth.

2015-08-01 19.10.48

So I’ve been living on ibuprofen which is terrible for lyme disease because it ruins your gut, and using the strongest de- sensitizing toothpaste I could find. I’m down to one tooth still hurting…the one he worked on.  I foresee a dentist appointment in my near future.

Oh, except I called two days ago and the whole office is on vacation for 10 days.

2015-05-07 14.59.48

Yesterday I went to have my blood taken for a hormone panel. I brought my mom so she could stay in the air conditioned car with the dogs because it’s hot here and then we would walk them after my “quick” blood draw. I arrived prior to opening, hoping to beat the crowd, but so did seven other people. There was a line outside the door. I signed in and sat out in the hallway where the air conditioning wasn’t set at 20 below zero, as I was dressed in shorts and a tank. Dog walking attire. No make up. Not even showered.

11402994_10153401524529259_6164986064718340905_n

Then, the pity party began. “I can only handle so much Lord. How can you expect me to deal with Lyme, feel sick every day and deal with that, and then just keep adding stuff to my plate? I need a reprieve. I thought that’s what summer was? Clearly my hormones are a mess, do you know what it’s like to have a period 33 days in a row? Non stop. Please make this stop. And now I have to worry about what’s growing in my uterus and on my ovary and why, WHY, is my tooth still hurting? I have been in pain for two years straight with the whole infuriating Lyme thing. It’s exhausting. That dental appointment was $400! If something is really wrong and I need a crown it will be another $1,000 minimum and another visit to one of my top 5 places I hate to go. I hate to spend money on things I hate. What an incredible waste. And he can’t even figure out how to numb my ACTUAL TOOTH! How hard is it? All the xanax in the world can’t prevent fear of THAT. And now I have to see a new gynecologist this week and hope that she’s up on the latest research on bio-identical hormones and isn’t an idiot, and I can feel another Lyme flare looming in the distance. And why haven’t we heard back on the water damage in the trailer? Please, let that be good news and not thousands of dollars of damage. I need a vacation.  And why won’t the infection in Romeo’s eyes go away? I’m so worried about him. I’m overwhelmed, this is too much. Lord, help me.”

2015-05-14 18.53.01

Right at that moment, a woman about 10 years younger than me walked into the lab, signed in, walked out and straight into the bathroom next to where I was sitting. She closed the door and immediately began sobbing hysterically. I thought, I know first hand what it’s like not to like having a needle in your arm, but this doesn’t sound like that. This sounds serious. I got up and tried the handle. Locked. Must be a single stall. So I sat back down and waited. She was in there sobbing for several minutes.

She came out, walked around the corner where I couldn’t see her and sat at a table by the vending machines.

_DSC1670

My internal dialogue was going haywire. “What is happening, why is she so upset? Should I see if she’s OK? What if she’s crazy and I have to deal with that? What if she’s angry and mean? I have enough crazy in my life. I already have enough on my plate. Stop taking on more stuff! Mind your own business. But she sounds so incredibly sad. I want to hug her. She NEEDS a hug, I can feel it. I feel terrible for her. I can’t stand to see people upset and know they’re hurting. What if something terrible has happened? I want her to know that I don’t have to know her to care about her. What if she’s suicidal and I see her in the news tomorrow and I did absolutely nothing? My GOD April, you need to get your hormones under control. She’s all by herself. What an awful feeling. I’m going to jump out of my skin, I have to DO something! All of this thinking is making me sweat. Calm down. God equips us for things like this. If she’s crazy or she gets mad at you, so be it. Don’t turn away.”

_DSC1821

So God said, “GO!” And I did.

I asked her if she was going to be OK. And it turned out, she was as equally confused about what to say as I was. She was in the middle of a miscarriage and was there to have her hormone levels checked. She was devastated. I told her that I did worry she’d be mad for the intrusion, but I wanted to make sure that she was going to be OK. I shared that I too had struggled with miscarriages and that I knew exactly what she was feeling and how difficult it is. We agreed that people who haven’t had that sad experience don’t know what to say, and often say the wrong things which makes it all hurt even more. She said all the things we all say to try to get us through it.” It wasn’t planned, God knows what he’s doing, if there’s something wrong with the baby, maybe it’s a good thing, we don’t want it to suffer. Even though it wasn’t planned, we were so excited. We already have two kids (as if you can’t be upset about losing one). But I have so much stress in my life right now, maybe I caused it to happen.”

And secretly, in that inner most sanctum we all have… We’ve wondered if we’re not worthy, if we’re being punished for something. I knew that was what she was thinking, because I’ve lived it. I tried very hard not to cry. And I told her that I have a healthy, 23 year old after a lot of pregnancy issues. It can happen, have faith. And the most important thing to remember: It’s not your fault.

God does have a plan, and we don’t have to understand it for it to work.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11

_DSC1704

She thanked me. She said, “I want to thank you for taking the time out of your day to care about me. That’s not easy for people to do when they see someone upset. I’m so thankful that you came over to talk to me. Thank you so much for your kindness.”

Then, we were both feeling blessed. Because I was reminded that even with all the “stuff” in my life that’s going on right now, I do still have strength. My head is still above water. I’ve been through a lot, yes. But not too much. God is in control…even those of us who believe we have a solid faith need to be reminded of that. And when He says, “GO!” you go.

Love truly is the greatest commandment, because when you love Him, amazing things happen. He gives you the capacity to love back.  And when you think you’re stuffed full and He fills your plate with a little more, you’ll be blessed from it. There’s always room for giving love and receiving love. And by doing that, you gain strength to jump another hurdle and face another day.

Pity Party, Averted.

_DSC1812

Chestnut Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies & Other Stuff

9 Comments

Yesterday I had a very productive day. I love those days! The days where you wake up at least somewhat refreshed, have a to-do list that’s pretty ambitious, and actually cross off everything on the list by the time you fall into bed.  I used to have many more productive days than I do now, I was full of energy. Now, not so much, but I can still look on the bright side. There are lessons to be learned from life’s hiccups. Good, joyful, lessons! Not just the painful ones.

Having a chronic illness really makes you view your life differently. Very little is taken for granted. So many tasks and things that never even crossed my mind for most of my life, now can sometimes take a lot of effort and can be very exhausting. The little things that I never paid attention to, are very vivid and have a much greater significance. My time, peace, and happiness is more precious now, as is everyone’s, but we typically don’t pay too much attention to that until some or most of it is being used up by something unpleasant.  That’s all in the lesson, I suppose. Learning to deal with each day that is given to you in the way that it needs to be dealt with, and being OK with that.

Well, after “dealing with each day that was given to me” in the form of a migraine all weekend, I was quite happy to wake up Tuesday morning feeling like I could cope with life without copious amounts of essential oils, ibuprofen, epsom salt baths, and ice bags. Yay!

So off I went with the dogs for a hike. There’s a 552 acre conservation area 2 minutes from our front door. It was foggy and gray so you can’t see much, but I promise I’ll take better pictures on a clear day. You can see beautiful farm land for miles and miles! This is the entrance. My goal is always to head all the way up into the hills and hike up to a water tower that’s up to the left. I’d say it’s about 3 miles round trip depending on which trail you take. Not too difficult, but a nice hike and good exercise.

10881660_10152980625069259_9124072248753765495_n

This is about half way up, looking down toward the entrance. Takes about an hour and 20 round trip. But I am a “slow and steady wins the race” kind of hiker and had to stop twice to catch my breath on a major incline.

IMG_4451

A few weeks ago after reading through Brittany Angell’s new cook book, Every Last Crumb (we’ll talk about that more in a minute), I purchased some Chestnut Flour. It’s been sitting in my pantry ever since, of course. Last week my husband requested his favorite chocolate chip cookies, but I put him off until this week because I wanted to try to figure out a grain and sugar alternative. So after my hike with the dogs I simply Googled, “Chestnut Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies”.

_DSC0832

What I found was a recipe SO GOOD I’m pretty sure my world shifted on its axis a little. Perfect taste, perfect texture, perfect moisture. It’s as if chestnut flour was created for chocolate chip cookies. They are that good. I don’t know where James Trenda has been all my gluten-free and Paleo-ish life, but I’m so thankful Google found him for me!

IMG_4460

I used coconut sugar in place of maple sugar, and arrowroot in place of the tapioca because I’m abstaining from tapioca for a while and didn’t have maple sugar on hand. I also weighed all of my ingredients exactly like he advised. The dough will be thick, thicker than you think it should be, but simply press them out a little and all will be well. They are delicious warm or room temperature and are equally good today as they were yesterday.

You can find the recipe for James Trenda’s “Ultimate Chocolate Chip Paleo Cookies” HERE.

_DSC0833

I am still doing my grain free trial and trying to eat an extremely nutrient dense diet. That means, LOTS of organic vegetables, a good amount of organic grass-fed meats, and a wide variety of colorful organic fruits.

_DSC0820

 I fried up some organic free range chicken liver yesterday, as it’s important to also have organ meats now and then in a nutrient dense diet. I dredged it in a mixture of coconut flour, arrowroot powder, sea salt, ground pepper, garlic powder, and paprika and then fried them in avocado oil.

Luckily for me, I love liver. For those of you that think it tastes like an old shoe…the key is not to cook it to death.

_DSC0828

After munching on those fabulous cookies and snacking on fried liver, I focused my attention on baking Brittany Angell’s  Baguettes.

_DSC0837

I keep this cook book on my counter because every day I think, today is the day I’m going to spend all day baking Brittany’s goodies. Which of course is wishful thinking, but one recipe every now and then is cool too. If you don’t have her new cook book, you need it. It is the grain free baking bible and I promise, her recipes will blow your mind.

51afsh-xHaL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_

You can find it online and at select book stores for around $25 and it’s only $9.99 for your Kindle. It is worth every single penny and then some.

Eating “Paleo” has its controversies and people will argue back and forth about what a real Paleo diet looks like. My opinion is that your diet should “look like” what makes you feel healthy and heals your body. Who cares what it’s called or whether you eat legumes or quinoa, brown rice, or potatoes, or no grains at all and live on kale?  The important thing is that you figure out what’s wreaking havoc on your gut and get that out of your diet. Then, add in nutrient dense foods that will heal your gut biome and change the way you feel for the better. If you need to abstain from grains for a while or even forever, along with other inflammatory foods, it’s a Godsend to be able to have a piece of bread or baked item every now and then that won’t make you feel like hell.

That’s where Brittany Angell’s, “Every Last Crumb” comes to the rescue.

_DSC0840

My Corner Of The World

10 Comments

Spring is finally showing itself in New Hampshire.

_DSC7637

For some reason, it feels like this has been the longest winter on record. Thankfully, New Hampshire gets a fair amount of sunshine all winter long. Just when you think you can’t stand another snowflake, the sun peeks out and blue skies are visible enabling you to endure just one more crazy New England storm.

_DSC7725

Today we’re promised sunny skies and 60 degrees. I’ll be sure to take a break and soak up some of that sun.

_DSC7716

We’ve been very busy packing, getting things ready, and trying to prepare for a future that still has quite a few unanswered questions. I like to be in the know, have a plan, have all the details locked up tight. If you need something organized, I’m your gal! You know, typical Type A. This is turning out to be a very big lesson in faith, patience, and letting go.  Add the ups and downs of crazed menopause hormones to that, and well…life can sometimes feel like a three-ring circus.

To de-stress, we’ve been squeezing in some beach time with the dogs before the leash laws begin, watching movies in the evening together, reading, taking walks, and trying to keep our minds occupied on anything other than the “what, how, when” scenarios us humans are so fond of torturing ourselves with.

_DSC7707

I also love to take breaks throughout the day and see who’s visiting in the backyard.

I’ve been trying to get a photo of our female Cardinal for a year. She must be feeling brave!

_DSC7720

They’re very skittish. She usually chooses to eat at the back of the feeder and peeks around at me. And if I move even a fraction of an inch, she makes a quick escape.

_DSC7692

 We will certainly miss the quiet of the country and all of our furry and feathered friends. And the lightning bugs! I’m so happy I was finally able to see them. There are certain things we won’t miss though. The summer humidity brings a lot of bugs. And I mean a lot. Like the jungle. Mosquitoes, black flies, spiders, and all kinds of flying things I didn’t even know were in existence prior to moving to New Hampshire.

And then the ticks. Unbelievable quantities.

_DSC7683

Speaking of ticks, a few days ago I went to the doctor and had more blood drawn for an extensive Lyme Disease test. I won’t be satisfied until someone can prove to me that the two waves of antibiotics worked and we caught it fast enough. Then, there’s the unsettling worry that I’ve had it for quite some time, and this was just a flare up.  This particular test is supposed to be the absolute gold standard test amongst Lyme Disease Professionals. It needs to be taken when symptomatic, which I am. They will grow it for 8 weeks. If it’s negative at 8 weeks, they will grow it for another 8 weeks.  As we’ve talked about in my Lyme Disease series, the bacteria has the ability to cloak itself, so we have to be patient and make sure we’ve given them every chance to come out of hiding. A negative after 16 weeks should be good news.

_DSC7724

The DNA test was negative, which you would think would be a good thing, but there’s a yes and no to that answer. The Lyme bacteria do not like to stay in the blood. Not long after you’re infected it moves from the blood and settles into muscle tissue, joints, and the nervous system. So if you get a positive on the DNA test, then it’s definitive. You definitely still have the Lyme Disease bacteria in your body. If it’s negative, all that means is maybe  you don’t have the Lyme bacteria or it may mean that you didn’t catch it quickly enough and it’s moved out of the blood stream.

_DSC7707

It’s important to keep track of symptoms because many people think the infection is gone, when in fact, it’s just dormant. Unfortunately, many of my symptoms have returned along with an ugly dose of some type of arthritis after a hiatus from the antibiotics . The doctor thinks I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, but the tests are coming up negative. However, 1/3 of people who have been diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis test negative. It’ can feel like a never ending guessing game. There’s also Lyme Arthritis. And then, studies show that you can  have Lyme symptoms off and on 6 months to 1 year after treatment . So even the symptoms aren’t definitive! Lyme Disease diagnosis and treatment can be very confusing and frustrating.

So for now, we wait.

_DSC7689

We visited our favorite Sugar House last weekend. Once you’ve had pure New Hampshire Maple Syrup…there’s no going back to that Aunt Jemima or Log Cabin Syrup. So we stocked up. Ten jugs of Grade A Medium maple syrup for pancakes and waffles, and 3 bottles of Grade A Dark for baking.

You can go here to see our first visit to a local Sugar House last spring. It was so much fun!

_DSC7656

I hope the beginning of spring is treating you well! Forgive me for being so behind on all of my blog visits. Don’t give up on me, I’m counting on the fact that life will slow down, if even just a bit, over the next few weeks.

_DSC7634

There’s a Mourning Dove nestled in there. I wondered why he chose to take a nap out in the rain.

_DSC7678

So much for the “squirrel proof” feeder.

_DSC7696

The Red Tail Squirrels are very creative. The Gray Squirrels are curious and act like they’d like to come into the house for a look-see.

_DSC7661

They also like to tease the dogs. And although the dogs have never caught one, it doesn’t stop them from plotting.

_DSC7665

Well, it’s getting to be that time when the house starts to stir and things begin to get busy. Until next time, have a lovely rest of your week and a relaxing weekend!