Connecting The Dots...

Reading a post on Facebook the other day on 10 Common Symptoms and Signs of Gluten Allergy struck a cord. As I continued to read, it began to dawn on me that I have been gluten sensitive for a very, very long time, even since childhood. I know I had written on this earlier Gluten Doesn't Like Me, but after reading the above mentioned I felt like I had to expand.
They call it the Staff of Life
If your Gluten Sensitive
You have to stay away
from it.

1. Can cause problems with Infertility.  It's a wonder Dave and I had the girls. Although there didn't seem to be any problems with either of us we had a difficult time getting pregnant. After reading this, it made sense. You wouldn't think that gluten could be a culprit but in my case it seems it was.

2. Causes dizziness or Vertigo type symptoms.  Went through all kinds of testing for vertigo and was inconclusive, but would have major attacks to the point of having to sleep to re-center my brain. After going gluten free I have noticed that I have only had one very, very minor episode of dizziness. Also I have been able to go off of my vertigo medication.

3. Inflammation and swelling of joints.  As a kid every summer my knees for no apparent reason would swell up like balloons and put me in jeopardy of not being able to go to summer camp. The Doctor had no explanation for it, but they would go down in time for me to be given the all clear to be able to attend. Also corn is known as an inflammatory food and I cannot eat it as it causes the joints in my hands to swell.

4  Keratosis Pilaris. I had this on the back of my arms.  It is known as "chicken skin" a type of condition (bumps) which is also associated with celiac disease. The Skin Doctor diagnosed it as eczema, said was due to dry skin. Wrong! Once I took gluten out of the diet the skin cleared right up and is silky smooth!  
Dry bumps

5. Fatigue and brain fog after you eat.  After I would eat a meal containing gluten I would want to sleep.  Don't feel that way now.  Or I would loose concentration.

6. Digestive issues.  After doing a Paleo diet for almost a year I tried to eat a hamburger with a regular bun. Within 30 minutes I was sick and running for a bathroom. Several weeks later I had dinner with a friend, had a lovely salad with a dinner roll. Almost didn't make it home (restaurant 4 miles away) had to stop and use a restroom and use it again when I got home a mile and a half later and was sick for 6 hours after wards.  Could not believe that it was the bread that was making me sick

Out of the 10 symptoms I had 6 probably 7.

I started to connect the dots and realize that gluten had been making me sick since I was a small child. Mom and dad love a little restaurant in downtown Tulsa that made Chop Suey, of course they would always give me some and every time it would make me sick. Mom always said I would get sick because I could not tolerate the celery.  No mom it was the Udon noodles made from wheat that I could not tolerate and the flour in the Chop Suey recipe. If we had only known that I could have eaten something else that didn't have wheat in it and you wouldn't have been up all night holding my head over the toilet and changing the bedsheets 6 times and being frustrated with me. 

My system grew to tolerate it somewhat, but I lived with diarrhea most of my life never knowing what set my system off. Now I know. Now I stay away from the foods that will cause me problems.

My biggest concern is eating out. I try to be very careful and ask questions but sometimes I don't always get straight answers.  I always know when I have ingested wheat as I will be sick before leaving the establishment. Not fun! That is how fast it will hit me. I wish restaurants would mark on their menus the items that are gluten free.  It would be so helpful. Not all the servers are going to know or care.  Recently I got a gluten free pizza crust and thought I had asked all the right questions and had chosen a gluten free sauce. Servers, If I am asking about gluten free items don't let me order a pizza sauce that has flour in it. Got sicker than a dog and missed out on a family event.

I have even sent food back because it was smothered with gravy. Then they turned around and send it back out to me with everything else smothered with gravy. Sometimes you can't win even when you say no gravy. I still got sick even though I didn't eat the items that had the gravy on it. Discovered they just washed off my meat and sent it back out to me and there must have been some still on it and just that small amount made me sick.

Last winter I developed Microscopic Colitis, a chronic condition. Which I am happy to say I am now in remission.  One of the precursors to Microscopic Colitis is a gluten sensitivity. The doctor says I will have this for the rest of my life. I am working on healing my gut by making and eating bone broth and staying far, far away from gluten.  Has not eating gluten made a difference? Yes. I am 25 pounds lighter. It has helped to bring my A1C down to normal limits. I am feeling great and don't feel like I have brain fog any longer.

If you have questions about going gluten free please feel free to ask me or questions about recipes I have a bunch. I am willing to share.


What Did I Find...A Super Cool Place...

Going to the Doctor last Friday in Oklahoma City I spied a business I guess I really had not paid attention to until I noticed the tent out front, the antique barn doors and the cool furniture. Make mental note...stop on the way out of town to check out said business.

The Doctor visit went well and he checked out my hand as well and said that I had not in fact dislocated my knuckle, but had rolled all the tendons and ligaments in my knuckle and it would be quite sore for some time to come. Oh bother! They put some type of splint on the first two fingers to stabilize the index finger, even bigger bother!

After finishing up with the Doctor I headed to the business I spied earlier. It has 3 separate buildings, two which are showrooms and workshops combined. You can see the furniture being built as you watch.  This find of mine, the Urban Farmhouse Designs. Maybe you already know of it and have spied out its many wondrous treasures.
Just one of the many showrooms

I found out the owner started building tabletops and put them on Craigslist and within hours of doing so they were sold.  All of the tables in the store are handmade by the artisans there at the Farmhouse. They are beautiful and one of a kind. The place reminds me of the Magnolia Market in Waco, TX even though it was started before Magnolia Market.

Handmade tabletop

It is located in an old warehouse with wooden floors. You can make your way to the second floor in and old freight elevator with the help of the much fun! So many nooks and crannies to look in to spy treasures. So many neat things and unusual items to purchase. I love the way they have things displayed and laid out. I could spend hours in there exploring.  I saw several items that would make wonderful Christmas gifts so I see a trip back up in store for me.

Child's skeleton apron,
so stinkin cute!

I also found out they just purchased the wood out of a building that was being demolished in downtown Oklahoma City that dates back to 1913.  They are very excited to get the wood out of that old building as the lady said it was in beautiful condition and would make beautiful furniture and tabletops.

If you have not been there you can find it at 400 S. Western in Oklahoma City, OK just North off of I-40.


A Phoenix Rising From The Ashes...

Bear the Barker
Every project takes on a life of its own.  Several months ago on a Tuesday, Grant McD showed up on my doorstep, tool box in hand ready to tackle the project ahead of him. Thank goodness the morning was cool, the threat of drizzle was eminent. Bear greeted him with incessant barking to which I had to relegate him to the back yard for the time being.  

Grant took down the old trusty vent-a-hood that had withstood the test of time and several motors over the years which had seen better days, it was time to go.
Old vent-a-hood and cabinets
He tackled the oven, pulled it out onto my island, ready for Hahn appliance installers to work their magic on Friday.  

First he trimmed out the hole for the oven and made the space smaller, beautiful job Grant! It was seamless.
New trimmed out space for new oven
Next he took out the shelf and raised it two inches and put in the support brackets then trimmed the front panel to fit. 
New space for Microwave Oven

On Friday when the appliance guys came to install the appliances the brackets that Grant had placed in the shelf were too big so they couldn't install the microwave.  I had to call Grant back out for him to tear out the brackets which not only had he screwed in but glued as well. UGH!  Poor guy, he was so stress as his wife was getting ready to deliver a new baby the following Friday and he had other jobs he was trying to finish up as well. He re-sized the brackets and everything looked great.

Once again I called the appliance guys back out to hang the microwave, lo and behold this time the door wouldn't open. It need one half inches to open as there was no space therefore I was going to have to hollow out the wall, well....I won't say the word. So off I went to Home Depot to get a Wood Chisel set, a Dremel and spend the next two days carving out a space for the door to open.  
Carved out area on wall for door to open on Microwave
The appliance guys came back on Monday to hang the microwave and the space is not big enough!?!?! One of the guys picks up my hammer, chisel and Dremel goes to work and in five 
minutes has the space carved out big enough for the door to open.  It is rough looking but with wood putty I can make it look great and with paint even better. 
Installing new Italian Oven
They hung the microwave then discovered they didn't have the piece to connect it to the pipe to vent it to the outside, that meant they are going to have to send a custom crew at $80.00 an hour to connect the vent pipe connector and cut a slightly bigger hole to fit the piece. Well dang Bojangles. 
New Microwave Oven

Once they get it all done hopefully it everything will run smoothly (fingers crossed) and it will be worry free, however I did take out an extended warranty. Hopefully the 4th time will be a charm. 

Congratulations Grant and Rachel on a beautiful baby boy!
Grant and his new son

I am ready, bring on the food!  Let's get cooking!


Laying Low For Now...

Spring is drifting into summer and not too many more days until the heat will begin to turn into a blast furnace here in Oklahoma. And the whirl of thousands of energy meters will begin to spin like a whirligig in a tornado. 

For now I have decided to lay low and heal my back, as I have 4 bulging discs that seem to want to control my life for the moment.  I am seeing a chiropractor who is working miracles.  For the first time in over 50 years (an auto accident when I was 17) I am able to have full rotation of my head to the left. Ever so slowly he is helping me to gain mobility in my lower back. Hopefully I can avoid surgery.  The auto accident last July didn't help matters much either. 

Friday morning for the first time in over 2 years I literally was able to swing my legs off of the bed in one fell swoop, stand up and walk. Normally I have to struggle to be able to sit up and get my legs over the side of the bed then I have to struggle to stand up holding onto a walker to steady myself before trying to take a step or two.  Not this morning! I literally amazed myself. However I do know my limitations.

A week or two back my young man Ben and a friend of his, came and removed the fencing separating out the yards. Now I have one big back yard which the
Room For the Grand-kids to Roam and the Dogs to Frolic
boys will have a blast playing in and chasing each other in. The dogs will have a ball being able to stretch their legs, however we will have to see how that all plays out. The fence may have to go back up if the dog can't behave themselves. I hope not as Bear loves having room to roam. 

Saturday Ben brought all of the food in the
Dinning Room Table Loaded
Kitchen Island and Counters Loaded

More Food on the Floor and Counters.
motorhome into the house, as it is starting to get very hot in there and the heat is not good for the food. I didn't realize there was so much food
in the motorhome. So....where to put it?  Trying to find a place is a bit daunting as I am trying to rearrange my kitchen into zones at this time. However knowing me, I will find a place.

I have moved the center island up against the wall creating more space for people other than myself to work in the kitchen.  I think Dave would have liked
More Room to Move About in Kitchen Now

Future Baking Center
this arrangement, I know I do. Where my microwave is now will become my baking center. My kitchen-aid mixer will go there with all my mixing bowls, measuring cups, spoons, baking flours and other accouterments in the cupboards above and below. Yes I will take pictures and post in a future blog. 
Cupboards unloaded ready for remodel

I am getting a new microwave/convection oven that is going in over my stove as I'm getting a new built in wall oven as well. The old built in wall oven died a painful death several years ago. Since then I have been using a counter top convection oven that doesn't cook a turkey very well, actually not at all. So I will be freeing up space on my counter-tops, only to be covered up with something my daughters say. 
Some of the New Colors in My Kitchen Makeover

The cabinets are also getting a new coat of paint. The theme is Fiesta, many cheerful colors! The base color of the kitchen cabinets will be white, but each drawer will have its own color.  It will be very colorful and bright. I cannot change the counter tops which are bright sunshine yellow but I can change the color of the paint and make it look fresh, bright, and happy once again. Anything to help my mood. Anything to make my family come home.  Anything to make people fill this house with laughter once again. 

Heather is coming home soon to help me go through and start sorting all the paraphernalia out and getting rid of a lot of the "STUFF" in the house. J and the kids and Christie will be coming in, in July for more "FAMILY" time and more sorting and getting rid of "STUFF." I am getting a big waste management dumpster as we will be going not only through the house, but the shed, garage and attic as well. 

I am having a new garage door installed along with a garage door opener, as I am no longer able to lift the old original wooden garage door due to my back. At the conclusion of all this hard work we will have a big YARD SALE!  

Little by little I will repaint each room with a fresh coat of paint.  The room where I have my craft and sewing room has not been redone since Christie was born 33 years ago, I think it's due. My bedroom needs a drastic makeover as well as I never redid it after I closed my daycare down 20 years ago, again...I think it's due. New paint, new curtains, new bed maybe a new me. Who knows...Andy may get his wish after all. 

Yes, it may be a hot summer here in Oklahoma but it's going to be a cool one here at the Smeal house!



The results are in...

I met with the Doctor and he said that I have Microscopic Colitis of the colon. This answers a lot of questions. I have to be on a restricted diet for a while and some very expensive medication. Also I don't have Celiac Disease but I do have a gluten sensitivity which means it is best that I stay far away from all products made from wheat, barley, oats and rye. It's amazing what all wheat is in and it's not reported as the FDA doesn't require it to be labeled if it is a filler. 

Trying to find out what I can eat has been rather daunting.  I found out what I can't eat and that is pretty much everything. I can eat applesauce, bananas, which I don't eat, and rice. Great diet, eh!
No Dairy, which I don't eat anyways, no fried foods, no raw vegetables or fruits, no caffeine, no nuts or seeds, no eggs, fats, no processed foods or foods that contain sugar or fiber. So I ask you what is there to eat? 

Also, I have to reduce my stress levels which have been elevated since Dave passed away as all of this is a whole new scene for me and I'm having to make many adjustments.  

So there you have it...Time for good old bone broth, anyone out there have a good recipe for it?


No Fun Being Sick...

It's been a while since I have put up a post, but lots has been going on (like being robbed and my motorhome trashed) and I....well you can read it below.

I traveled south once my motorhome was repaired, just in time for Christmas to be with family. Pretty much all of November, December and January I had been sick with what, I didn't know, but sick I was. I was dropping weight and...I finally gave in and my daughter drove me to the emergency room where I was given intravenous fluids, CAT Scan and other tests. The ER Doctor said I had an acute case of Diverticulitis and need to see a Gastroenterologist as soon as possible. I was already thinking ahead and had set up an appointment with a doctor the day before for the following Tuesday. I left the ER with a prescription for Cipro and off to Sam's we went to fill it, all the while she is reading what I can eat and what I can't.  Looks like lots of broth and fruit smoothies in my immediate future.

My appointment was with Dr. Bill Hughes a very well respected Gastroenterologist here in Longview, whom I really like very much.  He said he was going to do a 50,000 mile check-up on me and I believe it.

First was a blood test to see if I have Celiac Disease. I get a call the next day saying I have to go give more blood as one of the lab techs spun the blood down and they weren't suppose to. The Lab location is different from the previous day, thank goodness I have GPS as I don't know my way around Longview. In I go and give more of the red stuff. I found out someone was having a birthday so I sang her happy birthday.  It put a big smile on her face.  The next day I had to be at the hospital for tests at 7:30 a.m. a gallbladder hydro scan, another IV in the arm and an abdominal sonogram, the gooey stuff on my tummy,  Did I mention by now I felt like I was a pin-cushion?

Now the real fun starts...the dreaded cleaning of the colon, That is a 3 day process for those of you who have never had it done. NO SOLID FOOD, NO FOOD WITH RED DYE. NO DAIRY,  UGH! I was already on a highly restricted diet for diverticulitis, no dairy, no spices, no gelatin, no foods with seeds. Yaddy, Yaddy, Yadda! 

Day 1 at 6 pm I have to drink a bottle of     .   This starts the process.  I can continue on my clear broth and liquid diet. No Dairy.  I did get a chicken and made some of the best bone broth ever. Better than the stuff you get out of a can, that's for sure and no salt, none needed.

Day 2 at 6 pm you have to drink this preparation called MoviPrep.  TRIPLE UGH! Not only is it expensive, even with insurance, but unless you have no taste buds it is nasty going down.  You have to drink 8 oz. every 15 minutes and drink a quart of this stuff in one hour.  They do tell you to put some lemon Crystal Light in it to make it more palatable but I would be very careful about it, put too much in and you can over-power the solution and it all but becomes undrinkable and you have to drink it anyways. One tip here though. Mix it up ahead of time and refrigerate it.  It is a bit better cold.  Then after you choke this solution down you have to drink 16 oz. of Gatorade. Just make sure there is no RED DYE in it.  Then at 9 pm you get to repeat this process...All of it.  FUN! NOT!  All the while running to the bathroom every 5 minutes. After you get all of the MoviPrep down you can resume your liquid diet, as if you would even want to. 

You would think with all of the scientific technology out there, someone would come up with a pill or pills that you could take with the required amount of water that would take care of what needs to be done. I believe more people would get this test done if there was such a pill. 

Day 3 at 5:30 I am up and doing the last prep for the colonoscopy, the dreaded enema, it's not fun and it's something I have always detested even when I was little. I have to be at the Ambulatory Surgery Center at 7:30 am.  The drive in is a killer as I am driving into the sun and it is just at that time of morning when you can't see a darn thing.  I make it and got processed in, rather fast I might add.  All of it was very efficient and streamlined. One of the things they insist on have someone there to drive you home as they put you under for these tests.  Thank goodness. 

After being prepped, another IV, the anesthesiologist came in and talked to me and told me he would be giving me Propofol, and I would wake up as he would be monitoring me.

The last time I had this done, nine years ago the doctor, I won't give names, only gave me laughing gas. It was one of the most painful procedures I had ever gone through, he told me to suck it up and that it did not hurt. Believe me I wanted to tell him where to go. He wanted me to have another procedure done and I refused to go back to him. he finally left Norman and went back to his beloved New York where they understood him and respected him. What a jerk. He may have been at the top of his field but he was at the very bottom of my book. 

The next thing I knew I was in recovery being gently rousted awake and one little Miss Maggie being placed on my lap. What a sweetie and a great smile to wake up to. One of my nurses was from Edmond Oklahoma so I sang a rousing round of Oklahoma for her and the rest of the recovery room, she was thrilled! I'm amazed that I could remember the words after having been put under.  

Dr. Hughes came in and said that my colon looked good, that he took a couple of biopsy's and we would wait to see what they would uncover. He said he would see me the next morning. 

Yes, I was to be at the same building the next morning at 5:30 am for an endoscopy. Went through the same routine, a pin cushion again but very comfortable. I knew that I had a small haital hernia, but I needed answers. Once I was prepped and in the surgery room a mouth piece was placed in my mouth and my arm started to hurt, they told me to breathe as it was the medicine being administered after that I don't remember anything. 30 minutes later I was in recovery,  Dr. Hughes again came in to see me, stating that he took biopsies of my stomach and small intestine.  He is checking for Celiac disease. He has me on one acid reducer first thing in the morning before coffee then I get to have my breakfast then take my morning meds. Then I take a different acid reducer before dinner and I have to eat a small something just before bed before I take my night-time meds.  Hopefully this will help my Diverticulosis from becoming acute Diverticulitis. 

I find out on the 18th the results of all these tests. I am starting to feel much better, better than I have felt in quite some time actually.  I am down to 180 lbs. now which means for now I only have another 40 lbs. to go before next summer and our 50th High School reunion. Good Lord has it really been that long?  

Stay tuned for the test results next week!