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Category — health

THAT Person

It’s been months since I’ve posted, and not due to a lack of things going on in my life. Really, it’s been more because of multiple conversations I’ve had over the past four years with people, to this tune…

“When you get married/get pregnant/have kids, just don’t become that person who only talks/tweets/status updates/blogs about any-of-the-aforementioned-things!”
“Oh, no, absolutely! No way.”

Except… that’s exactly who I am. I am totally that person. That person who, when you ask them what’s up in their life, mentions the most important and dear things to them? Yep. That’s me. Sure, I also have rich intellectual and cultural experiences and challenging professional moments… I read a lot of good books, watch a lot of amazing movies, work on wonderful translation and interpreting projects and conferences (and sometimes, some mind-numbingly boring ones), experience amazing things (like final shuttle launches and tropical vacations, dinners with friends and breath taking sunsets)… but the most important things in my life are definitely my husband, this soon-to-be-born-baby, and our family in general.

I never thought that would be me or that I would be happy about something like that. Go figure.

I don’t have volumes to share about my experience being pregnant (lucky you). I love this baby already, but I haven’t been the biggest fan of being pregnant. I am a huge fan of the miracle of pregnancy, of the statistical improbability and unlikelihood (and yet pure science) of each human being being formed exactly and perfectly imperfect as they are. But I could do without the vomiting, the sweltering heat at all times (even when it’s cold for others), the swollen extremities, the lack of sleep, the random bouts of exhaustion, the little hernia next to my belly button, and the Braxton Hicks contractions (that make me think there is no way I will ever push this baby out, please don’t make me, please? because if those aren’t even the real thing, Lord, just SHOOT ME NOW).

Despite all that, my mood has been generally happy. Happier, in fact, than just normal. I don’t know if it’s due to reading how much the mother’s mood affects the baby, but I just feel like I’ve never felt before. I do get really easily annoyed by things and people on Facebook (but really, who doesn’t?) and by certain people in general, but that’s relatively easy to deal with.

George hasn’t had it bad: I’ve had pretty much no real cravings, at least not a single one involving making him drive somewhere late at night to get me a random item of food that I’ll no longer want once he makes it back home. The worst thing he’s had to deal with is the one that still makes him laugh (but only after I’ve snapped out of it — he’s no dummy): THE UGLY CRY.

Yes, the ugly cry is still alive and well. Except now it’s even more random. Like a couple of days ago. We were lounging around, replying to our Draw Something opponents, when I started poking him and tickling him because of something he said. By the time he stopped laughing and looked back at his phone, he moaned, “MAN! I wasted three bombs while you were bothering me!”

Bothering me.

Bothering me.

I cannot even explain what happened in my brain in less than a fraction of a second to take me from hyena-like cackles to snotting, hiccuping tears. IT WAS NOT RATIONAL.

“I *hic* am so sorry *hic hic* I bother youuuuuuuu. I won’t *hic* bother you anymore!”

All the while, my rational brain is watching this display, trying hard not to laugh in the middle of the hiccups, and wondering who that crazy lady is. George just tried really hard not to laugh, hugged me until I came back to the real world, and his laughter finally exploded when I said, “Get this baby outtttt offfff meeeee!”

That is what you are doing to my hormones, Baby. Making me even more crazy than I already knew I was. So. No pressure… but I kind of need you to be hilarious and full of surprises and to sleep through the night all the time and get straight As and never rebel as a teenager. Deal? Awesome.

April 27, 2012   6 Comments

Wheels, wheels, keep on turnin’

There are certain images that just spark something in me… and today, it was one that Beca posted on Facebook.

I know that some people may say, “A car can fit four or five people, that’s an exaggeration.” However! The fact that cars CAN transport 4 or 5 people doesn’t mean that they DO. Next time you’re commuting to the office in the morning, look to the left and then to the right of you. Cars usually have one passenger in them at any given time. More people are in them when you’re on a road trip or when the whole family is going somewhere, but since when do you go to your office with your whole family?!

George provided a useful link to the U.S. Department of Energy’s website which states, “The average number of persons occupying a car is 1.59 and has not changed much since 1995. The largest increases from 1995 to 2009 have been in the occupancy rates for vans – from 2.07 to 2.35 – and sport-utility vehicles – from 1.70 to 1.92 persons per vehicle.” (For additional data, click here.)

Additionally, the cost for the infrastructure necessary for these different types of transportation is proportional to the “space” needed. Maintaining bike lanes is never going to cost as much as adding lanes to highways and building overpasses. (Not to mention that you’ll end up paying $15-50 to fix a bike, but potentially thousands to fix a car… and crash with another bike at full speed, you might have a broken arm, crash with another car at full speed, and good luck to you.) And let’s not confuse the REAL issue here: more than a matter of “space”, it’s a matter of energy efficiency and how using these different types of transportation affects our overall well-being and the future of our planet.

Whether you believe in global warming or not is not even an issue. Fact is, fossil fuels are huge contaminants and in the long run, are not an ENDLESS source of energy. So it doesn’t matter if we disagree on climate change or not, I think we can all agree that the contamination caused by emissions and leaks in the air and in the ground adversely affect our health… not to mention the fact that driving makes stress levels rise and reduces human interaction. Public transportation and bikes are not only good for your health, fitness, clean air, but you end up at least saying hello to people you cross paths with more often. And riding bikes more often would lead to developers having to take it into account as a form of transportation when planning cities… Can you imagine the advantages of having to travel shorter distances to take your children to school, to get groceries, and the additional time you would have for leisure if you cut your commute that much shorter? We’re talking huge improvements on so many levels, and drastically better quality of life…

I’ll keep dreaming and posting. :)

October 17, 2011   1 Comment

Day 98 of being GFCF

I’ve stopped calling it “gluten-free and dairy-free”, mostly because I’m a little tired of people telling me to just have Lactaid products. For me, it’s not lactose, it’s specifically casein, so it doesn’t really help, but good luck trying to explain that to… pretty much anyone without a food allergy. And so, GFCF (gluten-free, casein-free) it is!

I’ve also given up on not exaggerating it at restaurants and saying I just have to “avoid” those things: waiters do not care. And really, if you’d been on your feet for seven hours already and were about to get home to cook for three kids, make sure they did their homework, and bathe them before attempting to put them to bed, all for less than minimum wage, would you care?! Now I just say I’m “really, really allergic and cannot have” wheat/dairy and they’re usually pretty careful. I guess they don’t want to be responsible for someone going into anaphylactic shock in front of them? Who’da thunk?

But… I’ve slipped. I won’t intentionally have dairy, but if there’s a little butter on my steamed veggies or a tiny bit of cheese on my hardshell taco, I’m not really going to flip out, either; in fact, I’m going to enjoy the crap out of it.


In general, my health is ridiculously better. I’m pretty much never sick (I should probably knock on wood right about now), I have more energy (it’s a work in process, I still need more than eight hours of sleep a night, for some reason), and I’m much happier. The downside is that while before, when my blood sugar got low, I turned into a cranky mess, I now turn into Snow White’s evil stepmother… and I WILL turn you into a freaking frog if you don’t feed me… and then I’ll roast your legs and eat them.

Another really uncomfortable downside is the whole “body reboot”. I have to have pretty small portions at meals or I feel kind of disgusting. I have to eat about every two hours, or my stomach feels like it’s going to eat the rest of my organs. The more I read about people detoxing from gluten, the more common it turns out this is… which is pretty reassuring: it indicates I’m on the homestretch! Complete detox is just around the corner!

Now if I could just keep from getting occasionally and randomly glutened, I would be more willing to eat at other people’s houses. *sigh*

April 12, 2011   5 Comments

Getting glutened…

Part of the reason I haven’t been too bummed about giving up gluten is because I honestly don’t have much of a sweet tooth. I never crave cupcakes and cookies, I really only like ONE kind of chocolate (Vosges Red Fire — all other chocolates kind of gross me out), etc. If I ever “crave” anything, it’s usually salty and acidic: think Claussen pickles or lemon wedges with salt on them… or pretty much any fruit or vegetable you can think of with lime juice.

However, there is ONE craving I had not been able to shake for over a month: I really wanted some freakin’ ribs. There’s something that’s just so satisfying about eating meat with your hands, ripping it off the bone with your teeth, savoring the slightly spicy sauce as you lick your fingers.

So this weekend, when we ended up having to go to Orlando to help our friend Fere fix something on her car, I was de-ligh-ted when George suggested we have dinner with Farah and Fere at Smokey Bones. FINALLY! My delicious, delicious ribs were going to have a party in my tummy! And imagine my delight when I asked for their gluten-free menu, and not only were the ribs safe, but all the sauces were, too!

Except, not. I have no idea what qualifies as “gluten-free” on restaurant menus, but restaurant gluten-free is decidedly NOT gluten-free. They do, however, cover their butts by stating in writing that they are not liable for any cross-contamination or any possible “changes” in their recipes. FABULOUS.

I have spent the past two days doubled over with stomach pain, battling a cold thanks to a compromised immune system, getting a rash on my face that is similar to the beginning of a lupus flare-y one, wearing sunglasses indoors because the of the massive migraines I’m dealing with, cranky, wanting to do nothing but sleep, having a hard time focusing, and bursting into tears whenever iTunes randomly shuffles to any Regina Spektor song.

Smokey Bones, you are on my shit list.

February 14, 2011   8 Comments

All’s well that ends well

Funny how quickly we communicate with others when something is wrong, but how, in our relief, we forget to let people know when things are going well. I’ve gotten a couple of emails that have reminded me that I’ve been remiss in updating as to Mister’s condition. Thank you for your messages, comments, mails, and concern…

On February 4th, exactly one week after he was admitted to Williamson Medical Center and subsequently Saint Thomas Hospital, a smiling George Sr. was released.

Given the type of heart attack he suffered, we all know it is a blessing and a miracle that he is alive. His doctors took amazing care of him, his wife continues to take amazing care of him, and we’re all grateful for all of your prayers. The well-wishes have been overwhelming… knowing that there is that much love out there gives me an even more positive world-view.

I think something this scary has pushed all of us to be more serious about our health, what we put into our bodies and what we do with our bodies. If Mister hadn’t made the healthy choices and changes he had over the past three years, who knows what his outcome might’ve been or what his recovery possibilities may have looked like… Definitely a wake up call for all of us.

And again? Thanks, guys.

February 9, 2011   5 Comments

Matters of the heart

George’s dad had a massive heart attack this past Friday. He and Diane were working out, he started feeling pain, got “sick”, and she drove him to Williamson Medical Center in Franklin. He walked into the hospital on his own two feet, and he didn’t have the heart attack until he was actually there surrounded by medical professionals. It’s really a miracle (beyond the amazing medical attention he’s been receiving) that he’s alive, because the type of heart attack he had is called “The Widow Maker“. From the moment you have the heart attack, there’s a very small window for you to receive attention before you’re gone. The fact that he was at the Medical Center WHEN IT HAPPENED is just beyond words. He was then transferred to St. Thomas Hospital in Nashville, with an excellent CCU as well as a reputation for treating difficult cases in the Heart and Heart Surgery field.

We’ve been camping out at St. Thomas since, grateful for the deluge of family and friends that have come by with prayers, hugs, stories, jokes, flowers, and snacks. I think it’s been wonderful for all three siblings to be able to be together. Even when there’s no talking, it helps to just know you’re all there.

Yesterday, they removed the intra-aortic balloon pump George Sr. had in place. This morning, they took him off the respirator, and he’s now breathing on his own. He did develop pneumonia from having the breathing tube in so long (which is very common), but St. Thomas has a five-star rating from HealthGrades for the treatment of pneumonia, so he’s in the best possible place for that. They’re taking things slowly, one step at a time, and it helps to have Liz, George’s sister who is a surgeon, laying everything out and explaining things to make them a little less scary.

Additionally, it feels as though George Sr. will have half the battle won once he pulls through. He already enjoys working out, and he and Diane eat better/healthier than anyone I have ever met. He also will have an amazing support system in place, family and friends who love him and will cheer him on, and his “Missy” that loves him in a way I have rarely seen…

I am always very cautious not to push my beliefs on others, and sometimes I feel a little awkward when Big Things™ happen and I ask others to pray for something, but this is one of those times that I would definitely like to ask anyone who is prayerfully inclined to please pray (or continue doing so, for those who already have been) for George Sr. and family. If you don’t believe in prayer, please send good karma, loving wishes, good vibes, or whatever you feel comfortable doing.

February 1, 2011   5 Comments

Day 16 of Being Gluten and Dairy Free, a.k.a. DRUGS HELP

OK, so maybe not REAL drugs. But natural drugs? Yes.

I had added UltraInflamX and gut flora (sexy, right?) into the mix when I embarked on this “life-style change” and, a few days ago, as per my natural-remedy-loving-doctorfriend’s suggestion (which let me just add, is totally my philosophy, I don’t even take antibiotics when they’re prescribed by doctors unless it’s an actual infection), I added Fish Oil and Melatonin.

After a lifetime of sleeping four hours a night or sleeping next to windows that shine BRIGHT SUNLIGHT IN YOUR FACE as soon as it’s five a.m., I had never really gotten used to sleeping “through the night”, or what is known in some crazy circles as a solid eight-hour sleep. I would hear about people sleeping eight to ten hours a night and think, “What is this urban legend you speak of? Eight hours?! Not possible!”

My new best friends are Herbal Sleepytime Extra tea + one melatonin pill (unfortunately, strawberry flavored… it’s not as good as it sounds). I do not understand what crazy person decided that melatonin is a dietary supplement and should be sold over the counter because OH MY, I have never been as drunk as when I take ONE at night (this coming from, unfortunately, an ex-lush, so honestly, it’s SRS BSNSS). It knocks me out in about five minutes flat (or perhaps I am just that susceptible to the powers of suggestion/placebos?). I sleep through the night like a dead thing, wake up refreshed, well rested, and ready to focus on whatever task lies ahead of me.


I mean, things are still far from perfect. They’re much better than a week ago. I only feel like everyone hates me and life is not worth living and why even bother showering during five minute intervals maybe four times a day. My desire to exercise is back, I am enjoying spending time outdoors more, and instead of procrastinating endlessly with work, I tackle translations immediately! With, er, occasional breaks to blog? Heh.

My mom was here for a visit when I had just started with this whole thing, and yesterday I felt I had to apologize for my cranky and out of control behavior while she was here. My mom laughed at me and said, “Hon, you weren’t cranky AT ALL.” Apparently, my paranoia about being cranky and mean is much harsher than how I’m actually behaving (although I still think George deserves a medal). She did say it was the most pleasant I’ve been in a long while, and that she can actually tangibly see how gluten/dairy were poisons to my system. Well, I’ll be!

Additionally, I’ve had a couple of people mention to me, with no knowledge of this elimination, how I seem “brighter” or “lighter” or “radiant”. If it’s that obvious to people that don’t even know me that well, then how can anyone argue that there are foods that while they might not cause anaphylactic shock, clearly harm you from the inside out? It will never cease to surprise me how so many disorders/ailments (Lupus, Psoriasis, Autism, Epilepsy) can be relieved, lessened, and sometimes “cured” by diet alone. Yet our society chooses to pump people full of artificial drugs which are just toxins that will cause all kinds of side-effects that we have NO IDEA about in order to achieve temporary relief but not really getting rid of the ailment itself. What is WRONG with us?!

This is my little soapbox statement, guys: eat locally grown, seasonal fruits and veggies. Load up on good-for-you fats (fish oil, nuts, avocado). Consume lots of lean protein — if it comes from animal, make sure it’s free range, antibiotic and hormone free. Avoid empty “white” carbs. And if you still don’t feel 100% OK, go to a doctor that will help you find your food allergies. If your insurance doesn’t cover it or you can’t afford it, try an elimination diet. Not everything we want to eat is what we SHOULD BE eating. Diet and exercise are the answer to physical well-being. Spiritual well-being? Well… that’s a whole ‘nother entry, i’n’t it? 😉

January 20, 2011   6 Comments

Day 10 of Being Gluten & Dairy Free, a.k.a. “This too shall pass”

Attar of Nishapur, the Sufi poet, immortalized this saying with a little story. He told of a powerful king who assembled the wise men of his kingdom and asked them to create a ring that would make him happy when he was sad, and sad when he was happy. The sages pondered his request, and finally decided what to do: they handed him a simple ring with the words “This too will pass” etched on it. Genius.

Bahá’u’lláh says, in the Arabic Hidden Words, 52: “O SON OF MAN! Should prosperity befall thee, rejoice not, and should abasement come upon thee, grieve not, for both shall pass away and be no more.”

I guess there are echos of this in all religious, mystic, et al texts throughout recorded history. And right now, I’m clinging to these quotes for dear life.

Being dairy and gluten free is HARD. If I eat out, everything has gluten or dairy in it, or worse yet, being unaccustomed to eating this way, I will distractedly order something that contains them. Like Starbucks yesterday. I ordered a simple latte, waited for it to cool enough to sip, and then my spirits fell a little when I realized I had to pass it over to George and order myself something with soy in it. In the grand scheme of things, I suppose it’s not a big deal, but it starts adding up and gets a little overwhelming.

It’s difficult to gauge how it’s affecting me. There are external factors to be considered, but physically, this is basically it: I have more energy. I dance around a lot. My body feels stronger. I am losing weight despite eating like a pig (proof positive that fat is not the enemy — prosciutto, anyone? almonds?). I am sleeping through the night. My acid reflux is gone. It’s been 10 days straight without me getting a cold (unheard of before this, more so during winter months). It’s patently clear that there’s been an improvement, a huge one…

However! (There’s always a however!) Like I said, perhaps it’s the external factors, but I have never felt this out of control emotionally in my life. Today I spent six hours straight crying. Everything seems devastating, overwhelming, and like I am not capable of dealing with any of it. While I have the physical energy, I do not have the emotional energy to function. I have never, not even in my most awful teen/college days had thoughts this dark and overpowering. My only way of explaining it is to say, as someone else so adequately described it, you don’t want to know.

This is supposedly normal, some form of withdrawal as strong as quitting drugs. I didn’t anticipate it (I just thought I’d be sleepy, perhaps a little cranky). If you ever choose to quit dairy/gluten… be forewarned. Not everyone goes through this as harshly, but some people do. You will need an excellent support system, plenty of distractions, patience, and an insanely strong will.

And a reminder that this too shall pass.

January 14, 2011   5 Comments

Gluten & Dairy Free?

Years ago, I was diagnosed with Lupus. Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease. I was basically always sick in every possible way you can imagine. It was kind of hellish.

Fast-forward to about three years ago when a doctor friend suggested I try out an elimination diet. She was amazing — she sent me Metagenics products, recipes, and prayers. A rather whole-istic approach, pardon the pun, but it was a method of helping heal not only the physical, but the spiritual, as well. But I digress!

I immediately started feeling better — I wasn’t perpetually getting colds, I had the energy to work out more, &c. I started doing CrossFit regularly and decided to try out the Zone diet. The Zone is much like everything this friend had recommended: I eliminated white carbs (rice, flour, pasta) and ate carbs with a low glycemic index, lean protein, good fats (avocados and almonds, for example). I had never felt better in my life. After eliminating gluten from my diet, the few times I did choose to have something with a little gluten in it, I would get horribly sick. I would get cranky, sleepy, break out in a cold sweat, be doubled over from stomach pain, and within a day or so, I would inevitably get a cold. I quickly learned to stay away from gluten.

Once I was on this track, I remember reading an excerpt from a health book quoting a study on patients who were often misdiagnosed with Lupus when all they had was a simple gluten sensitivity — I’m not even talking full on celiac disease here, just a simple sensitivity to gluten with constant exposure to it could completely compromise your immune system enough to mimic Lupus symptoms. Isn’t that insane?

The more doctors I spoke to and saw, the more information I obtained confirming what I already knew: I definitely should NOT be eating gluten… nor should I be eating dairy. The gluten bit I could deal with, but the dairy? That just broke my heart. No cheese? No Kefir? No yogurt? I decided to gloss over this bit of medical advice and just stick to the no-gluten portion of it…

However! I have been falling off the wagon the past I-am-not-going-to-admit-how-long. It all started with a non-gluten muffin. It was followed by baking cookies for someone else, which made having flour in the house OK. After that came Pioneer Woman’s delicious Caramelized Onion and Prosciutto Pizza and Cupcakes with the recipe for The Best Chocolate Sheet Cake EVER. It was all downhill from there. I started getting sick ALL THE TIME again, feeling like crap, being cranky, you name it.

Fast-forward, again, to another article — one that George’s mom shared with us when we went to Tennessee (if you’re not pronouncing it tĕn’ĭ-sē’, accentuating the TEN! then you’re not saying it right, folks). The article was written by a woman who had celiac disease and talked about how irritable gluten made her and basically, how it was ruining her life (OK, maybe not those exact words, but I KNOW WHAT SHE MEANT). Everything she wrote about how she was feeling, emotionally and physically, made me want to cry. It’s like there was finally proof that this wasn’t all in my head and other people totally got me. I think that was, as we say in Spanish, “la gota que colmó el vaso” or the drop that made the glass overflow.

And so, this is what we’ve come to:

Goodbye dairy, goodbye gluten, you’ve been terrible friends, you’ve hurt me for years, but it was just so hard to let you go because of all those wonderful times we shared together. Remember that Mexican flan? Remember that beautiful challah I baked? Here I spent an entire life making you look good and taste amazing, and all you did for me was destroy my insides and break my heart. We’re so over. I’ll always remember you fondly, I can’t say I won’t miss you or long to be with you and hold you, look deep into your doughy insides, sprinkle you, grated and lovely all over my omelettes… but you can’t hurt me anymore. I’m stronger than you and I’ve finally learned to cut the things that only harm me out of my life.

*Sigh* And thus concludes day two of being without you. Goodbye, my loves.

January 6, 2011   10 Comments

tl;dr about how I love Brevard Eye Center

A couple of years ago, I went to the eye doctor in Cancun for a much overdo update to my prescription. The optometrist didn’t perform a whole lot of tests, and declared that it was obvious that my left eye was overcompensating for my right eye’s blindness. Right eye -0.50, left eye +0.25. I spent way too much money on normal glasses and sunglasses, but hey, eyes are worth it, right?


Over the past two years, I’ve had a hard time forcing myself to use them. They made me see clearly, but t-i-n-y, very bizarre. They also gave me horrible headaches, which I attributed to the time spent without them, not with them, on. But something was kind of off. Wearing them made me get migraines, nausea, etc. I noticed little things, the way my eyes focused, the way they could focus on what I chose and bokeh the rest of what I was looking at, and a few other things. Turns out, there was something definitely wrong.

My doctor in Cancun could not have been more off. The doctor here (and his staff) performed exhaustive tests, things to test my focus that no other doctor had ever bothered doing, and we discovered something I should have known: my right eye is lazy!

“Haven’t you ever noticed your eyes doing weird things?”

“Well, I mean, I can cross one eye and then make the other once dance around…”

“Um… show me…”

Yeah, apparently, that’s not normal.

Long story short, I’m wearing right eye +0.50, left +1.00, a.k.a. totally blind as a bat which is normal for my old age (sniffle). I tried super thin contacts, they were still too thick for my eyes and I would actually blink them out. I’m the optometrist’s version of the Princess and the Pea. Fortunately for me, they just came out with ultra-thin contacts which my optometrist/ophthalmologist got shipped today, which he gave me at my appointment. I can’t feel them, I can focus, I can see clearly (♪ now, the raiiiin is goooone ♪), no headaches, no desire to rip my eyes out or sever my head. First time in AGES! I’m happy.

And the moral of the story is, if you have headaches and your glasses bug you, get it taken care of PRONTO… don’t be afraid of getting grandma glasses. Your LIFE will thank you.

February 22, 2010   3 Comments