February 24, 2013

Okay, so I'm probably a little obsessed. . .

but this stock has become such a critical part of my life it's hard for me to NOT be slightly obsessed with it!  LOL

The not-so-appetizing what's-strained-out
(look closely and find a couple toe tips with nails and a lovely swath of ripped skin,
and this isn't even half of what gets strained out -
there were three more feet (or feet remains, at least- ha ha) and a partial carcass!)

And the oh-so-appetizing finished product - just like liquid gold, I tell you!

Perhaps it's clear why I now just drink the broth rather than try to salvage as many of the solids to eat as I can.  It's quite time-consuming to sort through all of the solids and too easy to miss some of the things I'd really prefer not end up in my bowl, much less in my mouth!  The only things I pick out are the large chunks of chicken, and those I save for the big 4-legger.

A good week ending on a good note

A few people have asked me this past week how I'm doing, so I thought it would be good for me to write up a quick update for the record.  This past week, in particular, has been wonderful in that for most of it, I've actually felt close to normal.  It's amazing how easy it is to take feeling normal for granted!  But for me, for now, feeling close to normal and feeling relatively healthy again is simply spectacular and something I am cognitively extremely grateful for. 

My days still revolve around that funky chicken stock (a new batch is simmering as I type), super-incubated homemade yogurt (made using local, cream-top milk from grass-fed cows), as-raw-as-possible honey (I even found some that is an actual slice of the honeycomb itself - beautiful!), hot green tea, and mega doses of probiotics.  I continue to focus on using as many organic, local, and/or fresh foods as possible.  Every day, I add a different food or two to the mix, and so far, it's gone very well.  I haven't had a negative reaction to anything I've added back in, not even that giant dark chocolate peanut butter cup I couldn't resist getting on Friday!  It's been over two weeks, probably close to three, since I've had any of that severe abdominal pain, tissue loss, or bloody mucus.  And while I can still feel the inflammation flare up from time to time and while that can be quite uncomfortable, I've found ways to alleviate it.  Pretty regularly now, I'm eating cottage cheese, vegetable quiche, bananas, and applesauce.  I've also had some cherry tomatoes, cooked snow peas and asparagus, pizza (yay!), raw milk cheese with crackers, naan, and a turkey sandwich (on a soft kaiser roll).  I've snuck in a few cheez-its, chocolate squares, and pita chips.  And last night, I had a whole vegetable samosa!  I'd really like to try a tuna or carrot slaw sandwich on 12-grain toast, nuts, or an apple, but I'm still a little nervous that too much fiber will be hard on my system right now.  And I haven't even started considering yet chia seeds, ground flaxseed, or beans.  Hopefully I'll get there though.

When I write it down, it sounds like my diet has been pretty limited, and I suppose it has been.  But it hasn't really felt that way at all, especially compared to not being able to eat anything!  Even if I were to stay like I am (knock on wood, I really hope I don't get worse again), I think I'd be able to accept and be fine with it - in large part because I feel absolutely nourished again.  I swear that broth has been nothing short of a miracle.  I feel as if it literally feeds life and energy into me.  Made with the chicken feet, it contains a ridiculous amount of collagen and gelatin.  When it cools, it becomes almost solid and you could cut it with a knife if you wanted to.  I don't keep any chicken or veggies in it anymore; I strain them out and drink the hot broth from a mug.  My nails have become so thick and strong that I had trouble getting the big nail clipper through them the other day!

When this first started happening, I was terribly dismayed and couldn't even comprehend it.  I could have been a poster child for what to do to have a healthy colon.  How could mine be diseased?!  The thought of my having to see a digestive disease specialist seemed pretty ridiculous.  After a while, though, I realized that if seemingly wacky foods and diet can help you get through it, I'm your girl.  I already had enough experience in the kitchen to tackle anything that needed to be tackled in that regard.  Sometimes I feel happy and guilty about that at the same time.  Happy that I I'm in a position to do as much help for myself as I can but guilty realizing that not everyone, for whatever reason, can do the same.  I fully understand how some people could be too overwhelmed to even try (make my own yogurt - what? who does that?! what's wrong with the yogurt in the store?!; chicken feet - seriously?  where in the world does one go out and get chicken feet?! and then I have to boil them and cut their toes off?!; prepare this soup/broth every week - do you know how incredibly long that takes?  that would take an entire day!; hot green tea - I don't want hot green tea, I want my coffee!).  I truly believe they would find the effort SO beneficial though.

I have not yet rescheduled my tests, and I'm not sure when I'm going to do so.  I have to admit I'm in no hurry as I am still very, very worried they'll end up throwing my system back out of whack, and I'm terrified of going back to being as sick as I was.  Not sure what to do about this one.

So I don't know who all reads this blog of mine besides my small circle of safeties (as I like to call them!) , but my hope is that someday, someone experiencing similar GI issues as I have will stumble upon it and perhaps benefit from some of the same things I have benefited from.  These are the two books I'm using as my primary guides.  Restoring Your Digestive Health is the one that has the broth recipe.  Oh yeah, and yesterday I made a batch of peanut butter cookies using a recipe from the Breaking the Vicious Cycle book - peanut butter, butter, honey, almond flour, baking soda, and vanilla.  They are so good!

Heading upstairs now to take a long, hot bath with epsom salts and lavendar, start reading a new novel, and enjoy a nice hot cup of green tea with honey.  :)

February 22, 2013

Did you know. . .

that if you've posted a comment, I've responded to it?  I just mention it to make sure you know - because I have no idea if you realize that I'm responding to you or if I just end up talking (even more) to myself.  :)

The kind of friend I try to be


This evening after work, I had the unexpected and distinct pleasure to sit and catch up a bit with a lovely lady I happen to think the world of.  We sat together at her house, and because it was unexpected, there was no way for her to even think about preparing for a visitor.  She warmly invited me in anyway, saying her house was a mess (we all tend to be too hard on ourselves, don't we?) but that was okay because I was one of the few people she wasn't worried about seeing it that way.

I was happy because that is precisely the kind of friend I try to be.

Years ago, a friend and her young child were at my house.  Something insignificant-to-adults but not-necessarily-so-insignificant-to-young-children occurred, and the child starting really throwing a fit.  The friend was surprised by the behavior (as the child was past the typical tantrum stage), knelt down to talk to him, and said "if this happened in front of anyone but T, I would be mortified".

I was happy because that is precisely the kind of friend I try to be.

When my husband and I were in the early stage of our relationship, he would get really annoyed with how I talked about my friends.  He couldn't understand why I always acted like they were so amazing and could do no wrong.  I couldn't understand why he couldn't understand - since it was ridiculously obvious and all.  They WERE so amazing, and even if they DID do wrong (whatever that might mean), they did so beautifully and quite perfectly.  Still are and still do.

Didn't he know that that is precisely the kind of friend I try to be - one who believes her friends are simply amazing and perfectly imperfect?!

A while back now, I was chatting on the telephone with a friend.  I was thanking her for something and mentioned that sometimes I feel badly because I feel like she does so much more for me than I do for her.  She laughed and said she feels the same way about me - that sometimes she feels badly because she feels like I do so much more for her than she does for me.  I was struck by the the exchange and the realization that perhaps that may well be an ideal description of a true friendship. 

I love my girlfriends with all of my heart and I hope they know that.  There are very few things in life as precious as true friendships.  I've been blessed to have some absolutely glorious women enter my life, and each and every day, I am grateful for their simply "being".  I try to be a good friend, to live up to the kind of friend that they deserve, and I will keep on trying.  Each and every day.  

I love you dearly, friends of mine.

February 16, 2013

It's all relative, right?

Just a funny little update about the soup.  Parts of getting to the finished product are actually quite disgusting.  Instructions say at the end of the simmering time to take out the chicken, remove the meat, and throw away the bones.  They also say to remove the feet and discard them.  What they DON'T say is that after it has simmered for so long, the parts of the chicken have pretty much fallen apart.  There's really no stripping the meat off of the bones because it's mostly already fallen off.  Most of the chicken feet are no longer recognizable as feet.  They've transformed into strange little blobs that you guess must be what's left of them.  Last time (I didn't have any organs this time), the neck completely disintegrated and I ended up eating it because it was impossible to separate it from everything else.  And of course, as I've already mentioned, bits of the organs were also left behind.

Chickens have a lot of little bones, little joints, and little chunks of cartilage.  When you're dealing with a big pot of soup where everything has fallen apart and there are also a lot of chopped veggies, it's nearly impossible to get all of those interesting tidbits out.  You learn this by repeatedly realizing, when you're enjoying a bowl of soup, that "oops, I have something really weird in my mouth again; better get that out".  

When I was recently talking to a colleague at work about some of this, she was making faces and saying "I don't know; I don't know if I could do that".  I proclaimed emphatically that if you are sick enough, you will do things you would NOT ordinarily do.

Without a doubt, even though I'm not all better, I'm quite a bit better.  How do I REALLY know this?  Because when I finished up my soup this evening, I couldn't bear the thought of having any more of those weird things in my mouth, even though so far it's been nothing short of a miracle.  Since it cooked for so long, I have no doubt nearly all of the nutrition was pulled out of the chicken and vegetables, so I ended up straining it to just leave me with stock.  Sure, I won't have the bulk, but I'm eating enough other things now that I'm not worried about that.  My stock looks like liquid gold, and I very much look forward to enjoying it tomorrow with a piece of bread.  And nothing else - no surprises!

And that colleague?  Well, she has dealt with IBS issues in the past, borrowed the book I've been using as a guide, and is going to buy it for herself.  We'll see what she ends up doing with that soup.

My soup, it is simmering

Hee hee.  Last weekend, Chris came through for me and brought a big ziploc baggie full of chicken feet to GreenMarket for me.  I was expecting only a few, but she gave me at least 15!  She was so excited that I would be using them, as they don't rank very high in popularity.  Apparently, there is only one other person who requests them from her - a Chinese woman who I am sure must also be using them for soup.  

Anyway, I'm making a new batch of my funky soup and that there is a picture of it as it sits on the stove starting it's looong simmering process.  I ended up using four feet and pulled two of them up to the surface so we can see them in action.  How to prepare this quirky ingredient, that was the big question I had.  (My book conveniently doesn't discuss that!)  Every source I've seen says to boil them for 5 minutes, so that's what I did.  Nearly every source I've seen says to then cut off the talons at the first knuckle, so that's what I did.  The sources were divided as to whether or not the skin should also be removed.  After boiling for 5 minutes, it looked kind-of nasty, so I opted to remove it.  Frankly, though, I think the feet looked even worse without the skin.  I removed the toes quickly and without incident.  The skin?  Well that took a little longer, required more concentration, and sometimes smelled quite badly.  A few times, I got a big whiff and had to momentarily step. away. from. the. counter.  We'll see how this goes, but next time I might try leaving the skin on.  

I've been reading GLORIOUS reports about chicken soup/broth made with the feet, so I'm hoping mine lives up to the high expectations I now have.  I'll let you know, and if it truly is that amazing, perhaps you can give it a try too!

February 14, 2013

"P.S. Don't forget to bring your guitar!"

Ha!  That's the last line of J's acceptance letter from Hampshire! 
Very fitting, very perfect wording with which to woo him.  How clever are they?!

(one of his babies - a black Rickenbacker; wherever he goes, it will most definitely go with him! )
His acceptance letter from Hampshire College came in today's mail, with another decent sized merit scholarship.  I'm telling you again, though, that even "the largest, most prestigious" merit award a college offers doesn't necessarily look all that large when compared to the cost!!  

Next Monday, we're off to visit Bennington College.  That should be a fun day.  I haven't been to Bennington (the town) in a long time, but I really love it there.  Besides getting to know the campus in person, my goal is to find the Crazy Russian Girls Bakery.  Maybe we'll even sneak in a visit to Bennington Potters.

And Hampshire has special overnight stays for accepted students, so he'll probably sign up for one of them.  He'll stay in a dorm, eat in the cafeteria, attend classes, etc. - probably one of the best ways to get to know a college before actually attending.

To be young, to have so much of your life ahead of you, to have so many opportunities from which to choose - what an exciting time!  But how many of us appreciate it at that time?  I'm going to guess not many. :)

The hole is dark, the hole is deep

This is how I feel - like I'm trying to climb out of a dark, deep, dank hole.  I'm working my way up and am now getting plenty of the sun's warmth and light, but I'm holding on precariously to hand and foot holds with the realization it wouldn't take much to knock me way back down again.  Not a terribly great imagine, but one with hope and one that is certainly much better than what I've been living with the last couple of months.

Eek.  This is where some people might get upset.  I cancelled (or rather postponed but not yet with a new date??) my colonoscopy and biopsy that was scheduled for today.  I just couldn't do it.  My instinct is that since my body has seemingly been on a path of healing that I need to try to let it continue on this path for a while longer before I "fuss" with it.  This poor physical entity that houses my spirit has been under tremendous stress nearly every single day since before Thanksgiving.  Sometimes I still have a hard time believing what has happened; it's just been such a strange series of events.  

But now this body of mine is resting, calming down, and recovering its strength.  I'm treating it with super duper baby gloves, and I'm terrified of whacking it back into disarray by way of these medical procedures and the drugs that go along with them.  At this point, especially because I'm feeling so much better than I have been and because I do not currently feel like I literally might die, I just can't take the chance of being thrown off of those hand and foot holds I'm clinging to.  Does that make sense?  Any sense at all?  I hope so. 

I do realize that I may be looking at a chronic condition.  I also realize that at some point - probably sooner than later - I ought to have the tests done, but today wasn't the day.

February 9, 2013

Chicken soup and superheroes

I'm hungry, so what will it be - a bowl of the funky chicken soup, a jar of super-incubated homemade yogurt with raw honey, or a few spoonfuls of cottage cheese?  Ha ha ha. 

A few days ago, someone at work said to me "you're going to get really tired of that soup".  I said "no way!  I'm just so happy to be able to eat something with substance."  Okay, perhaps he was right.  It's not that I don't like the soup.  I really, really do.  But eating the same soup for six days straight for nearly all of your meals does lead one to long for something else - something more solid, something crunchy.  

I've figured out that the inclusion of the chicken feet is for the large amount of collagen in them that breaks down into gelatin - good for rebuilding damaged tissue, has anti-inflammatory properties, and is generally readily accepted by your body.  Even without the feet, chicken carcasses apparently have quite a bit of collagen, and this is part of the reason chicken soup is called Jewish penicillin.  <shrug>  Who knew that fun fact??!   I'm learning so many tidbits of information!

a neat read I found about chicken broth/stock/soup in general - and how funny that the book highlighted is the one a friend just happened to give me a week or so ago to read!

With the feet, though, there's supposed to be, oh, so much more collagen to help with healing and general well-being.  I'm planning to go to GreenMarket tomorrow, and I hope Chris remembers to bring some for me.  I was supposed to send her an e-mail reminder this past Wednesday or Thursday, but silly me forgot.  I wonder if mine will look like this picture.  I wonder if I'm supposed to prep the feet at all before I put them in the pot.  Hmmm, I wonder. . .

The awesome body sensing yoga / meditation class I went to last Sunday has been cancelled for tomorrow.  Shoot!  Yesterday, they cancelled all of the weekend classes, presumably because of the impending storm.  We didn't get hit as hard as they predicted, and things (you know, like the roads) are completely fine, so it probably didn't need to be cancelled.  Hindsight is always 20/20. . .  I found a meditation class being offered at a different place, though, so I might try to drop in at that one.  I will miss the body sensing, but it will definitely be much better than nothing.

I'm going to get settled in now with my littlest fella to watch The Avengers.  Yes, we did watch it last weekend as well, but can you ever get too much of superheroes?  I think not.  That's why we also watched Thor and Captain America last weekend.  And Dark Knight Rises last night.  :)

I wonder if superheroes eat chicken soup.  I bet they do.

Oh airlines, oh airlines. . .

 Baggage fees were last year worth more than $3.3 billion to the U.S. aviation industry alone.

Sometimes I wonder how stupid some business executives think we are.  Extra charges for checked baggage, extra charges for carry-ons, extra charges for being able to pick a seat, extra charges for early check-in, extra charges for purchasing with a credit or debit card (how many people buy an airline ticket with cash or check?!.  They'd like us to believe they're simply "unbundling" their services, so customers only pay for the ones they choose to use.  I think I'd respect them more if they came out and said "we're doing this because we're desperate for more money".  Who gets screwed the most?  Families.  Especially families with young children. That's what irks me the most.

"In baseball stadiums, for example, you pay different prices for obstructed and unobstructed views.  This is now the same with airlines."  Um, okay.  Isn't that thinking why there was already a choice between first class, business class, and coach?  I cannot possibly be the only layperson who thinks they're going totally overboard with their logic.

February 8, 2013

A new way to enjoy a cup of tea?

While perusing Reader's Digest and enjoying a nice warm sitz bath with epsom salts??!  Hee hee, how odd certain parts of my life have become!  Another repeat tip from the support forums, frequent sitz baths with epsom salts are supposed to bring relief and aid in the healing process of ulcers very low in the GI tract.  So, once again, what the hell?  Why not give it a shot?  There aren't any side effects, and if it doesn't end up working, at least I will have enjoyed some nice hot tea in quiet.  :)

Another day of the funky chicken soup, lots of green tea with "really raw" honey, and super-incubated homemade yogurt with the same "really raw" honey.  I'm now starting to eat cottage cheese (fermented - that's supposed to be good) as well.  Um, and I suppose I have to admit that I snuck in a chocolate peanut butter cup.  I know it was a dangerous move, but I just couldn't resist!  NO abdominal pain.  

(By the way, that honey is DELICIOUS!  Regardless of whether or not you're ill, I definitely recommend you try it.  I was surprised that it's even noticeably better than ordinary raw, unfiltered honey.  A real treat!)  

I'm reluctant to be too optimistic because I've repeatedly been there before only to have things go downhill again fast, but I can't help but be hopeful that something good may actually be happening.  Time seems to be super warped.  It's so easy for me to think I may truly be getting better, whatever that may mean - just finding foods that will work with this condition, going into remission, or my body resetting itself back to normal (at least for now, I have to continue believing that last one is a possibility).  I feel like celebrating, and then a certain very practical and very special friend will say "T, it's been two days".  Oh yeah, that's not very long, is it?  But somehow it feels like weeks instead of days!  And this time it's been three whole days in a row that I've felt decently normal and had energy!!  (Except for that new rectal issue, but whatever, at least that doesn't make me fear I may actually die.)

The snow storm finally arrived, so we'll see how much snow we get tonight and tomorrow morning.  I hope enough to give us a good excuse to have a super lazy day tomorrow!

February 6, 2013


Julian got a very nice folder and acceptance letter from Goucher College today.  They've also awarded him a $20,000/year merit scholarship.  It sounds like a lot, but when you look at the total cost, it's surprisingly not.  I'm not sure if that award will be in place of need-based aid or in addition to it.  For most colleges, the answer is the former, but there are some that award merit and need independently.  Everything I've read about Goucher is positive, so I hope it ends up being a serious contender.  Accepted Students Day isn't until April, but it would be super nice if we could make it down to visit before then.  I'll feel such a sense of relief when we have all of the acceptance and financial aid offers in hand, and we have all of the information we need to help Julian make a final decision.  

I'm so excited for him but at the same time, I'm going to miss him so much.  And I have no doubt the other children are going to miss him even more.  I've always said that Julian is the ideal oldest child.  He's just such a good person all the way around.  He still spends quality time with his younger siblings, and they look up to him very much.  It'll be sad for us all to not have him around on a daily basis.

All that training has come in handy

Several people have told me that they can't believe, on outward appearances anyway, how well I've been handling all of this.  I don't think I'm particularly strong, brave, or stoic.  I do think I've received some pretty good training and preparation.  Four natural childbirths helps you learn how to deal with pain.  And I don't have just the four natural childbirthing experiences to draw from; I have four labor preparation classes to draw from as well.  Yep, four.  We attended labor preparation classes for each one of the children.  I don't think my husband ever realized that most people don't do that, that most people sign up for one series and maybe an abbreviated refresher course.  Not us.  I wanted to spend as much special time preparing for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th children as we did for the 1st.  I also figured I would learn something new in each class, and I did.  So I just kept signing us up, and DH just kept attending with me.

At the time, I don't think I ever considered that all of that training would come in handy for anything other than childbearing.  But I really think it has.  When I'm in pain, I do a mighty fine job at closing my eyes, focusing, breathing slowly, and releasing tension in the area that is tight as a knot. 

Anyway, yesterday and today, I ate my special soup and homemade yogurt with NO abdominal pain whatsoever.  Eating without pain has been wonderful!  Something we all tend to take for granted, but something I no longer do.  And I haven't had tissue loss for several days.  Yay!

Of course, to continue with the freakiness of all of this, I'm dealing with a new development.  I am quite certain that now I have either proctitis (rectal ulcers and inflammation), which is colitis' cousin, or slightly less likely an anal yeast infection (which could have resulted from being on antibiotics for FIVE weeks).  It's pretty miserable.  My poor body has stopped spewing pretty white chunks of tissue (from the colitis) and has started spewing ugly lagoons of bloody mucous.  One time, I was lying down resting and it just started streaming out of me.  Before, something like that surely would have caused great alarm.  Now, I'm so resigned that I simply sigh and say "ooo-kaaay".  Sometimes it is so intensely sore and swollen that I wonder if it's possible for a rectum to burst.  I'm trying to think positively - that perhaps whatever has been happening in my body is in the process of moving OUT, but I'll wait for time to tell, I guess.

No, I'm not calling the doctor at this point.  Unless they end up telling me I have colon or rectal cancer, I'm going to try doing as much as I can on my own.  I've done lots of reading, and I'm going to proceed treating myself as if it's proctitis and yeast, and at least getting relief from either of these conditions seems to be generally more promising than it does from IBD.

TMI?  Occassionally, it feels like too much information for me too!  I have a much more intimate relationship with my colon and rectum than I ever thought possible.  It's not a relationship I was looking to forge.  

And now. . .I'm off to make my tea - my special Brassica green tea with supposed special antioxidant SGS extracted from broccoli, topped off with some "really raw" honey that went straight from the hive to the jar.  I'd be so sad without my tea!

What do you know?

The Rain Song

There are some pretty good songs out there about Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Colitis and Crohn's).  

I just had another bowl of my special soup.  It really is quite tasty.  In today's bowl, I discovered a big chunk of what I believed to be liver.  I know that, forever, folks have eaten organs, but *I* have never been one of those folks.  Initially, I was planning to take it out but then decided to close my eyes and shovel it in with a chunk of regular chicken.  I didn't chew that bite very well, but it did go down alright.

I also just had a cup of yummy Flora Max probiotics et al.  (This isn't a pill. That would be far too easy.  This is a pouch of "powder" that you mix in with water and drink.)  I had been taking the minimum amount simply because it's ridiculously expensive - over $50 for one month's supply at the minimum amount.  My thinking was "This is crazy!  How much can I spend a month on probiotics?!", but this whole situation is crazy, so now I'm biting the bullet and upping my daily intake in hopes that it will end up paying off.

I've also realized that I'm not the only weirdo blogging about this.  Here's a blog that I found to be particularly moving.  This unfortunate girl became afflicted at 17 years old, suffered terribly for years, and shares a very raw account of what she went through.  http://painandpoop.blogspot.com/2009_06_01_archive.html  It's a real cliffhanger, though, because she stopped blogging the day before she was scheduled for surgery to have her colon removed.  Ugh.  How did it go?  How is she doing?  I will probably never know, but I'm choosing to believe that she is making up for lost time, is out having many exciting adventures, and simply has no time to sit in front of the computer.  I really hope that's the case anyway!

February 5, 2013

"Does sleeping seem to help?"

That's what my husband just asked me.  I worked all day, came home, and was asleep by 6:30 PM.  I'm up now for a few minutes to basically get ready to go back to bed.  "Does sleeping seem to help?"  It does in that I'm not awake to deal with this.  Is that help?  I'm not sure.

Rotten day.  I did eat some soup for breakfast and lunch and some homemade yogurt with "really raw" honey for dinner.  Terrible day nonetheless.  I continue to be dismayed that my immune system / large intestine / whatever is acting in such a way that is totally against my well-being, and doing so in such a severe manner.

Frustrated that most people don't seem to process how sick I am  They still talk to me like I have a lingering cold.  I suppose because it's a bit of an anomaly for a seemingly healthy person to suddenly have a serious medical issue.  Frustrating nonetheless.  Someone recently said to me "Have you ever had a hemorrhoid?  Are you sure you just don't have a hemorrhoid?"  Yeah, I'm pretty sure.   

February 4, 2013

Maybe it wasn't the best idea. . .

Traveling down to NYC and back today, that is.  Six hours riding in the car was a bit much.  Sitting that long is really difficult in that it puts too much pressure on my colon and really bothers it.  On the way back, I needed to lie down in the back seat on my side to relieve the pressure and get my body into a straight-line position.  I have the same problem at work, sitting at my desk for so long.  At least at work, though, I can get up and walk around (and sometimes even take a break lying down on the floor).  When I was lying in the back seat, I focused on deep breathing and ended up falling asleep.  That was my reprieve.  My favorite part of my reprieves is the few moments when I'm waking.  My mind always seems to awaken before my body, so even when I'm in bad shape, I generally have a few minutes of clear-thinking and feeling good before my body wakes up and remembers it's supposed to be misbehaving.

Anyway. . . the visit was interesting.  It ended up being an eight-hour day for a 20-minute interview.  I felt like I did my part as a good mum.  Julian had never had an interview in his life, and this was to be the first.  On the way down, I went over with him what I suspected he might be asked, we reviewed possible responses, talked about what types of things to focus on, etc.  After his interview, he said he hadn't been asked anything that we hadn't discussed, so he was well-prepared for all of it.  Yay!  It probably wasn't the greatest trip to get anyone excited about this school, as it was particularly hustle bustle, and we ended up not having a chance to do ANYTHING besides finding our way to the school, finding parking, and then finding our way back out of the city and back home before bedtime.  I wish we had had a chance to spend the night and tour the school and such, but not this time I guess.  

And it was kind-of funny in that we were certainly the minority today.  Julian says that one of the things he likes the most about Macaulay is its diversity.  I think from their perspective, though, a lily white redhead from upstate would be an underrepresented minority.  Julian would be adding to the diversity for them!  :)  What a difference from the other colleges we're looking at. . .

February 3, 2013

My soup's appeal

just fell a couple of notches.  Next time, I had better make an "organ sachet".  I can't bring myself to eat them, and I'm feeling nauseous from fishing them out.  Oh my.  SG (7) is not feeling nauseous though.  He is inspecting each and every one of them like it's nobody's business.  Before I had the heart out, he picked up one of the pieces from the counter and said "is this the heart?".  I said "no, I think that might be part of the liver".  He proceeded to take a bite of it.  He didn't even flinch.  I felt a little like vomiting, but I kept it to myself - no reason to squash his inquisitive and adventurous spirit.  

We did find the heart, and he is totally fascinated.  The great big aorta.  Hollow for the blood to flow through.  He pulled it out.  <shaking my head>  He cut the heart apart to carefully examine the chambers.  He sliced it to look at the muscle fibers.  We found the kidneys.  We found what we believe to  be the lungs (all of our favorite, by the way).  He was eager to find the brains.  I was glad they weren't included.  I think the entire neck came apart and is now just part of the soup.  I wish it weren't.  

DH said he thought the boiled skin would be nutritious for me to eat.  I am so not eating it.

In fact, I cannot eat any of the soup tonight.  Hopefully, by tomorrow, this activity will be far enough behind me so that I can.  This is what might save me? 

What did I see? What did I see?

I saw one of most amazing people ever - Lisa - looking at me!

I LOVED my session at the yoga studio this morning!  It was a wonderful hour and a half!  We started with body sensing yoga, which lucky for me is a very low key form of yoga.  I didn't feel out of place or behind at all.  After that, we laid on the floor cocooned in between two warm, heavy wool blankets with a nice pillow under our knees and yoga eye bags on our faces for a deep, long guided meditation.  I was so relaxed that for the entire 40 minutes, I didn't need to shift or move my body one single millimeter.  I could have stayed like that all day!!

My sanctuary:
Immediately my mind went to camping on the shore of Lake Champlain.  It was a beautiful, sunny day.  My toes were sinking in the nice warm sand, and I was watching my children play in the water.

My serious:
When Benny was a newborn and the doctor incorrectly read his blood test results, telling us that he definitely had Cystic Fibrosis.  Fortunately, he doesn't (he's a carrier), but until we realized she was mistaken, things around here were awfully serious.  Thank goodness it was only a couple of days. 

My funny:
Laughing hysterically with Lisa.  Thinking about the night we climbed onto the roof of Clarkson's gymnasium.  We were having such a good time right up until we heard the police calling to us through their megaphone to "come off the roof now".  We ran and ran across the roof and jumped off the other side, but we got caught anyway.  We didn't get into trouble because we were students there, but her brother and his friend got brought to the police station.  We went down to get them, but they were already gone.  We looked all over town and ended up finding them in a bar!  Ugh.  At the time, it most certainly was NOT funny.  But oh, how funny does it seem now.

I dumped in the organs. And the blood.

No chicken feet today, but Chris said she can bring some for me next week. 


I did get a freshly butchered free-range, organic chicken in a big ziploc bag though. The broth/soup/stock is simmering as I type. I have never used organs in my life, but I thought "what the heck? they're full of nutrients" and dumped them in too. And then I saw all of the blood left over in the bag, shrugged, and poured that into the pot too. 

Five huge cloves of diced garlic, 6 tablespoons of coconut oil, 4 inches of grated ginger, a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, and a whole bunch of carrots, celery, zucchini, and onions. Most of it's pretty typical stuff. I hope the chicken feet aren't supposed to make all of the difference! Ha ha ha! The directions say to let it simmer for 12 -24 hours, but there's no way I'm going to leave the stove on all night when we sleep, so that direction definitely will not be followed. Looking forward to trying it though and hoping my body is happy with it.  The book says if the body can't handle the whole veggies and chicken pieces to puree it, so I guess that's what I'll do if need be.

You realize this is coming from someone who is an "almost vegetarian", right?

February 2, 2013

Inner peace and relaxation, here I come!



For years. I've said that someday - you know, when the kids are older and when I have  more free time - I'm going to sign up for yoga classes.  Well, the kids aren't really all that much older and I don't really have any more free time, but I'm going to go for it anyway.  So tomorrow morning, I will be in the studio wearing my favorite pair of glorious Lucy yoga pants and my almost equally glorious Lucy yoga top.  (Yep, Lucy yoga clothes are the very best!)

I'll be partaking in the Body Sensing with Yoga Nidra class.  I don't actually know what that means, but it sounds pretty good.  Here's the description:

Today's yoga is often associated with physical fitness yet the practice and philosophy are centuries old.  Body Sensing with Yoga Nidra is based on a mind/body practice and is designed to create balance and well-being.  The blend of Qi Gong movements and postures or Asanas are designed to either stimulate or calm the body and mind, thus preparing oneself for deep self inquiry through Yoga Nidra.

Yoga Nidra is a deep relaxation and guided meditation that one can practice comfortably, either lying down as in savasana, or sitting up supported by a chair or wall.  Yoga Nidra means conscious and aware sleep, similar to when you are just about to fall asleep.

The practice was developed thousands years ago as a means to achieve the deepest states of inner peace and relaxation.  It is a way to positively recondition your mind's subconscious layers.  Yoga Nidra can help with problem solving as well as enhance both intuition and creativity.  The practice rejuvenates the body and mind.  Studies show that 30 minutes of Yoga Nidra can have the equivalent effect of 3 hours of deep sleep.

". . . a means to achieve the deepest states of inner peace and relaxation."  Yes, that sounds especially good.

After an hour and a half of that, I'll be heading over to GreenMarket to stock up on delicious food for the kids for the week.  Hopefully, I'll be able to find some raw-milk hard cheese for me too.  (Sometimes the cheese man is there, and sometimes he isn't.)  My new book wants me to make some special broth soup, which is likely going to be a big part of my (hopeful) diet for the next week or two, so I'll also need to pick up a free-range chicken.  And, ahem, some chicken feet.  That's right - chicken feet.  What is in chicken feet that is so important, I have no idea.  But what the hell?  I just hope the market has them.  Last week, they had pig tails and pig hooves, so anything is possible.

After conferring with Nancy. . .

who I like to refer to as my security blanket, I think I've made a decision about my current medical issue.  Unless something crazy happens today and/or tomorrow, I am planning to cancel my CAT scan appointment that is scheduled for Monday morning.  Besides being freaked out about what's been happening with my poor intestines, I've been becoming increasingly freaked out about the medications that I've been on, the medications I might end up on, and the invasiveness that comes with the tests.  I feel like my system has been ridiculously stressed for the past couple of months, and given that I'm not literally dying right now, I'm questioning the benefit of giving it even more to deal with at the moment.  

Part of this decision has stemmed from my telephone call to the specialist's office this past Thursday.  I called upset and looking for guidance.  I was struggling with the difficulty I was having with not being able to eat.  I told them that I wasn't on vitamins, that I never worried about it since I had a well-rounded, healthy diet.  Without being able to eat properly, I was starting to worry I wasn't getting the nutrition I needed.  How concerned should I be?  Did they have any suggestions?  Should I start taking a vitamin?  Were there any specific foods they thought I should try to eat?  After the nurse talked to the doctor, she called back to simply tell me that if things got too bad, I should go to the emergency room.  Nothing else.  Nada.  I've been puzzling ever since.  I don't want to go to the hospital.  I'm actively trying as hard as I can to avoid a trip to the emergency room.  That's precisely a big part of the reason I called, to help prevent that from happening.  <sigh>

If you know me at all, you know I am quite leery of typical modern-day medical practices and very suspicious of the slew of medications being prescribed for seemingly everything.  That exchange with the doctor's office really got me to rethinking things.  I've been desperate for someone to do something for me, but the truth is that most of these "someones" have more interest in treating symptoms than preventing them and fixing things once they become "too bad".  I have absolutely no idea what caused this to happen.  My GP suspects, since the C Diff test came back negative, that the introduction of the amoxicillin into my body must have sent my immune system into such a frenzy that it triggered colitis, and he might well be right.  I don't know, and I'm not sure how much it matters at this point.  I am where I am.  I'm not feeling confident that I can depend on traditional medical doctors to help me try to address this in as gentle of a way for my body as I can, which is always the path I prefer.  I hate the side effects of the antispasmodic / anti-ulcer medicine, and I can't even say they're worth it because they're allowing me to eat.  Because they're not.  I have severe dry mouth, congestion, a thick mucous lining in my throat, and blurred vision, and I still haven't been able to eat properly.  

My friend Jinrong has been encouraging me for a while to read the support group forum posts by people who have had similar experiences.  For a while, I didn't because I was clinging to hope that the problem would magically disappear.  I finally starting looking at them, though, and not surprisingly I have found them to be very helpful.  A couple of books in particular have received a lot of praise - Restoring Your Digestive Health and Breaking the Vicious Cycle.  I've purchased both of them, and I'm starting with the former.  I've also read a lot of other reviews of the book and I've been struck by how many people claimed that it, in many cases after years and years of suffering, changed their lives much more than any of the doctors and standard treatments were ever able to do.

So. . . I started thinking that I'd feel more comfortable if I gave myself an earnest shot at a more natural approach to healing my body before continuing down this traditional Western medicine route of pumping me full of drugs, feeding dye through my veins, etc.  I'm up to the challenge to at least try.  I've finished the second round of antibiotics, and I'm going to try weaning myself off of the anti-spasmodic medicine to see what happens.  For now, I'm going to keep my February 14 appointment for the colonscopy and biopsy.  If I haven't seen clear improvement by then, I'll still go.  If I have seen clear improvement, I might cancel.

And Nancy thinks that's all okay.  ;-)   LOL

Exciting day!

So much excitement today!  Julian got an e-mail from Goucher College saying he has been admitted, he got a mailing from Bennington College saying he has been admitted and awarded a nice merit scholarship, and he's been invited to go down to NYC for an interview as part of the next stage of the admissions process to Macaulay Honors College.  We're going down on Monday.  I really hope we don't make the trip only to have him end up not being admitted, but we'll see.  A day in NYC will be a nice day regardless.  I love visiting the city!

This college "stuff" is stressful!  He has several acceptances into colleges we're sure would be wonderful for him, but whether or not we can afford them is another issue.  I've quickly realized that waiting for the financial aid offers is just as stressful as the application process, maybe even more so!  I'm just hoping that at least one of the colleges is going to take a real interest in him and offer him a great deal.  We have four kids.  We need to be able to keep feeding the other three, and we can't get so drained by sending the first one(s) to college that the younger ones have no choice but to stay at home and commute to the local community college.

Bennington College

So far, he's been admitted to University of Vermont Honors College (will probably be too expensive to even seriously consider), Bard, New College of Florida (with a nice merit scholarship), New Paltz (our financial safety), Goucher, and Bennington.  Next up for notification is Hampshire College in mid-February and then Macaulay in mid-March.  Then we have the regular admits to hear back from in late March.  Boy, I hope the next couple of months don't go by too slowly.  New Paltz is a state school, and I truly wanted us to love it.  His stats are quite a bit higher than their averages, and with his background and interests, I think he'd be exactly the kind of kid they would be trying hard to recruit, but they have shown us no love at all. 

February 1, 2013

Miracle In the Andes

by Nando Parrado is the book I'm reading right now.  Oh my goodness - it is amazing.  It's the story of the Uruguayan rugby team whose plane crashed in the Andes mountains in 1972.  You've likely seen (or at least heard of) the movie "Alive"??  I am at the point where Nando and Roberto have ventured out on the final quest that will lead to their rescue, and it's nearly impossible to put the book down.


I love reading books for "armchair adventurers" about real adventurers, and though not one iota of their experience was by choice, they did indeed become adventurers.  What they were forced to experience and endure is heart-wrenching, but how they handled the situation is beyond inspirational.  The human spirit truly is spectacular.  

My husband teases me about reading all of these books, but I really do believe they makes me a better person.  The stories help me to not take life - or comfort - for granted, and thinking about the strength and endurance all of these various folks were able to find within themselves when they were facing unimaginable circumstances helps me to draw out more of my own strength and endurance.  And that HAS to be a good thing.