Gluten-Free In A Gluten-Full Kitchen

Dawn's Kitchen 2Some of you are aware that I spent a week and a half in L.A. at Dawn’s for the birth of her baby, whom I’ll refer to as Mara Jade. Yes, another Star Wars nickname. It was only proper that she get one because Little Obi-Wan has one. If you’ve followed me for a while, you might remember the last visit Dawn bought new stainless steel pots and pans to limit cross-contact in the kitchen for me.

This time, the special was a tub of butter with “GF” in marker on the lid and my name written on the side. So we could cook with butter and not worry about cross-contact with butter everyone else uses.

Dawn's KitchenThe biggest thing I did for myself in the kitchen was take charge of the kitchen, especially once Dawn and her Old Man went to the hospital. I chased everyone out more than once. I made a habit of cleaning the counters before preparing any food, even if it was a PB&J for Little Obi-Wan. I would clean the counters again after I was done. I did have to call Chaz in the first night Little Obi-Wan wanted “pasta” (his word for spaghetti) because I forgot was regular pasta felt like while stirring it when it was done. The second time I did better. While cooking for him, there was a lot of hand washing.

There was also a lot of scrubbing food residue off before loading the dishwasher. Not something people normally think about where cross-contact can happen. Gluten not washing completely off dishes or being washed off and re-adhering before draining and drying to another dish, glass, or utensil.

Dawn's Kitchen 3I did goof once. Thankfully, it wasn’t with gluten. Little Obi-Wan wanted ice cream while we were at the grocery store picking up some things including Hot Wheels for him. Chaz and I were talking about ice cream sundaes and Little Obi-Wan insisted on the Hershey’s chocolate syrup in the can then asked us why we kept calling it “ice cream sundae”. After that, it was Ice Cream Monday. Because it was Monday. I wanted a topping for my ice cream, but everything had soy and/or high fructose corn syrup. So i just had plain vanilla ice cream. That night while making Little Obi-Wan’s ice cream, I wiped my finger around the rim of the syrup can then licked my finger. Oh, hi there corn! It was just a little bit but I did not make that mistake the rest of the time we were there. I immediately washed my hand after. This is what happens when you spend 99% of your time in your own allergy-free kitchen.

All that said, would I do this in everyone’s kitchen? No. I’ve blogged before that when I stay with friends I offer to cook or do the majority of the cooking to make sure meals are safe for me and help minimize any anxiety for my host. Being at your best friend’s is a completely different story, especially when she is at the hospital for four days.

 

Autoimmune Hell

SnowI am struggling. Getting answers to help you move forward doesn’t always propel you forward at a breakneck pace to recovery. I am knee-deep in snow without snowshoes. It is a battle to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Fatigue keeps me from being as productive as I want to be. I don’t know whether it is the adrenal fatigue, hormone imbalance, the food allergies, or the Sjögren’s which finally decided to join the party. I woke up Monday morning and did not want to get out of bed. It was like back in my full-blown hypothyroid days when I had to drag myself out of bed. Somehow I managed it. And somehow I managed to do 20 minutes of yoga then three full hours of cleaning and projects without a break. Normally I stop and sit between tasks to give me a little recovery. It came at a high price. Food Board

My altered diet is slowly driving me into a new kind of insanity that I don’t think the world has seen yet. No gluten, dairy, eggs, yeast, crab, soy, sunflower seeds, sesame, peanuts, pineapple, cranberries, and bananas. Sounds easy, right? Think again. There are also foods I need to avoid to help my body recover from adrenal fatigue. Foods like high potassium fruits, caffeine, oranges, grapefruit, and sugar just to name a few. Now, go to your bathroom and pick up your lotion, shampoo, conditioner, and/or makeup and check for sesame, sunflower, or soybean oil. I use Bare Minerals makeup and knew everything I already had was gluten-free. Turns out most of the lipsticks, lip liners, and lip glosses have at least one of those oils. I nearly cried when I tossed them all in the trash can. The lotion, shampoo, and conditioner my doctor wanted me to try because there was no gluten or soy in it had sunflower oil. Now, go check your favorite potato chips you have hiding in the back of the pantry. Sunflower oil. Just when you think it couldn’t get harder, clean out your fridge of all condiments, pickled veggies, and any meats/fish that were smoked or cured. Clean out the wine rack and vinegars in your pantry. That is just a fraction of what it takes to go yeast-free. I nearly dropped out of my chair when I was looking up online what I needed to do for a yeast-free diet. Everything pointed to the anti-candida diet (ACD). There is some overlap between the allergies, adrenal fatigue, and ACD. I had to resort to the boards to keep everything straight and to help Chaz remember. I’m still not getting it all right, but I’m doing my best. If I have more than I’m supposed to of limited foods I don’t beat myself up, I remind myself to plan better.

RaindropsMy life seems to be a contradiction of illnesses. On the one hand I have a leaky gut. On the other, I am allergic to yeast and can’t have the fermented foods that would aid in healing my gut faster. Sjögren’s is typically treated with different medications which would worsen my leaky gut and the adrenal fatigue. I need sleep to recover from adrenal fatigue but the dry eyes and dry mouth keep me from a full night of sleep. Oh, there is more, but my head is about to explode. I’ve already decided that oral medications for the Sjögren’s will be out of the question. Thankfully, I was able to text with Dr. Cuz about Sjögren’s on Sunday while we drove down to Louisville for a birthday party. She’s the one who called what I’m going through right now “autoimmune hell.” She assured me that a friend of hers (whom I’ve met) has been med free for two years with acupuncture. Now if only the rheumatologists office will call me back! I went in for AAT yesterday and got a list of the rheumatologists use for referrals. The woman who gave it to me recommended the first on the list. When I Googled her after I got home I found she went to UCLA School of Medicine for acupuncture. I like her already. CALL ME BACK, DAMMIT!Happiness

Through it all, I just want to lie down and cry. But I can’t. Sjögren’s won’t let me form the tears to cry. Do you know what it is like to grieve the loss of someone and not be able to cry? Detached. Crying is such an essential part of dealing with sadness and all the emotions that stem from it. I can’t cry and i want to cry about it. But I can’t cry and I still want to cry. Yes, it’s an endless cycle of wanting and being unable.

The bright side is my thyroid, Vitamin D, and iron levels are all within normal limits. Soy has proven to be the bane of my hormones. Last cycle was the first time in a long time that my cramps didn’t have me curled up in the fetal position on the bathroom floor after tossing the contents of my stomach. No hot flashes either. I’m more thankful to be work-free as I work through all this.  And even as another type of brain fog has seemed to settle, I am still managing to write creatively.

It is a struggle. A big one. I have to remind myself to take everything one day at a time. I have to remember I didn’t get sick overnight. I have to count spoons again in the morning and throughout the day to make sure I can make it to the end. I have to shut myself off from thinking about the future and focus on the present because that tick-ticking of the clock keeps getting louder and louder. If nothing else, I can finally relate to Captain Hook.

The Accidental Glutening Overdose

Count 'em. 12 vials!

I have been using my slow cooker a lot lately.  It’s helped with managing my time and not feeling that rush of needing to make sure dinner is ready.  Or rather, getting it all in early so I can relax later on the days I have to work later.

A few weeks ago, everything I had planned for the week came from Stephanie O’Dea’s Make It Fast, Cook It Slow.  With gluten-free and dairy-free adaptations.  For  my Meatless Monday dinner, I made her Bean and Cheese Burrito Casserole.  I was going to make it without gluten-free tortillas and without dairy-free cheese.  Then I realized I’d really just be eating beans and tomatoes.  I’m not fond of Daiya at all plus everything is processed so I don’t even buy dairy-free cheese.  I decided to try Rice Shreds by Galaxy Nutritional Foods since I hadn’t tried it before.  I also bought Food for Life’s Brown Rice Tortillas.  I don’t buy these often because every time we’ve tried them for wraps or whatever, they fall to pieces.  Since this was a casserole recipe, falling to pieces would happen while cooking and that was okay.

I used about half the package of the tortillas for the recipe and the rest I ate throughout the week with breakfast or snack.  I also ate most of the leftover casserole.

That week, I wasn’t feeling so hot.  I was fatigued and tired all the time.  Plus, the inflammation of my plantar fasciitis flared up and really won’t settle down no matter how much icing, stretches, etc. I do.  Rest assured, I know what to do for plantar fasciitis and I have been doing it as well as making sure I’m wearing my orthotics even when I’m not at work.  The inflammation just doesn’t want to go down. It felt like a glutening, but I couldn’t think of anything I could’ve had that had gluten without me knowing about it.  I didn’t think anything more about it and went on just feeling fatigued.

Then, the day after I found out about my friend passing away, Shirley (gluten-free easily) posted this gluten-free alert.

Bingo.

Yet another reason to avoid gluten-free processed foods.  You just never know.

Had I gone to the Hematologist after I discovered the repeated glutening from one product, I would have asked him to run some tests.  Oh, well.

Several weeks later, I’m still fatigued.  When I wake up, I’m already so tired I just want to stay in bed all day.  My feet still get extremely swollen even after a short time on them.  I will be glad when this gluten gets out of my system.

On the brighter side, my visit to the Hematologist on Monday for a finger stick comparison from the venipuncture tests confirmed my platelet count was not as low, confirming his and Dr. Cuz’s suspicion that it was lab error.  However, I am on the borderline for Alpha Thalassemia, a genetic disorder that causes a reduction in hemoglobin production.  If I do have it, he believes it to be the true cause of my anemia.  Weakness and fatigue are also a symptom.   One of my relatives informed me later that day after sharing it on Facebook and Twitter that she has the traits for it.  Sticking that one in my pocket for my follow-up when he retests me to make sure.

Exciting times, yeah?