When is Enough Enough?

Hi all,

Taking a break from the day-to-day mom stories because TODAY there is a much more pressing issue that needs to be addressed. Let me begin by stating, once again, as I’ve said in the past, I am not a political person. This is not a political post. This is an outcry from one parent to another imploring us to band together to enact change. Our children deserve no less than our very best efforts to keep them safe. But… I am at a loss. I don’t know what I can do personally to make a difference on a larger scale. And that’s where you come in, my lovely readers. Do you have ideas on how we can enact change? How we can work together collectively to ensure that our children, all of our children, can walk into school and safely return home to us in the afternoon?

In light of this horrific shooting in Parkland, we cannot sit idly by any longer. When is enough enough? How many children and educators need to perish before we actually DO something that matters on a larger scale? I will be honest and say that I am avoiding the news and I am trying my best not to read countless Facebook posts by friends and family that live in or nearby the affected school district. I am avoiding the news not to turn a blind eye – that is the farthest thing from the truth. I am avoiding the news because I know that if I engage in the horror, I will be riddled with anxiety sending my three children to school.  After Sandy Hook, I cried daily, and shook with fear sending my son into his building. And he had a security guard, a former cop, on guard. But in the public school, we are buzzed in without facial recognition and it is not until we are already inside the building that we are asked for ID. And all I could think of last night was, “What if a psycho (because that’s what they are – and I have the utmost respect for mental illness) was buzzed into this building carrying an arsenal of assault weapons? How easily could he take out the security guard and any child, teacher, or administrator that walked nearby the main entrance before making his way further into the building? And that’s when I resisted the urge to vomit, closed my computer and said if I read one more heartbreaking article, my head would explode and I would not allow my children to leave the house.

Our children deserve to go to school feeling safe. We need to address mental illness. We need to address bullying. We need to examine why these boys on the verge of becoming men feel the need to destroy the lives of their former classmates and teachers. Why are they obsessed with assault weapons and mass destruction? Why are they ALLOWED access to this arsenal of destruction?

I’ve seen people share that taking away the guns isn’t the answer. If a crazy person wants to cause damage, they will find another way without the guns. That may be true. Mental illness is pervasive in our society and it often goes undiagnosed and untreated or at the very least, not properly monitored. There is a stigma associated even with anxiety, so imagine if you were dealing with something more serious and you didn’t have access to help or you didn’t understand that you needed help and the people that were supposed to notice, just didn’t or couldn’t.  So yes, I agree that taking away the guns from a crazy person will not make the person less crazy or less likely to inflict harm. BUT… and this is a big BUT – without the guns, there WOULD be a lot less destruction as quickly. As I tell my boys often when they talk about guns or shooting things or blowing things up (because they are boys and they hear these things at school or on a TV commercial, etc.), THIS IS NOT JOKING LANGUAGE. It’s NOT cute, or funny, or even remotely worth pretending. I remind them whenever I can that GUNS kill people and once you die, you do not come back from that. It is not a joke. It’s destructive.

There is a school of thought (which has been discussed amongst my “mom of boys” friends) that if you too strictly repress the right to talk about guns and you tell your children they can’t play cops and robbers that they will in-turn become even more intrigued by guns and possibly rebellious. I don’t know if I can subscribe to that train of thought. My boys have laser “guns” that were gifted to them by a friend, but we discuss using the word blaster  or laser and that this is just a toy, but real guns have real consequences. I will not tell my kids they can’t use a water gun to squirt one another on a hot day, but the conversation exists that real guns are weapons of destruction.

I don’t know people… I am TIRED. Tired of hearing stories of parents searching for their children only to find out they are actually dead. How is that acceptable? How are we not collectively more up in arms about this horrific phenomenon of terror that exists prevalently in our country? Why is it taking us SO long to combat bullying? Children are dying. Teachers are dying. And I personally have had enough of the fear and the heartbreak watching other parents and children suffer. It’s too much to wrap my head around.

So with that said, after this long rambling post of raw emotion, so forgive me if this is not on par with my usual posts, HOW CAN WE ENACT REAL CHANGE? HOW CAN WE SEND OUR CHILDREN OFF TO SCHOOL WITHOUT FEAR? HOW CAN WE TEACH OUR CHILDREN ABOUT KINDNESS AND BULLYING? HOW CAN WE TEACH OUR CHILDREN ABOUT A SAFETY ISSUE WE DON’T FULLY UNDERSTAND WITHOUT SCARING AND SCARRING THEM AT A YOUNG AGE?

What are the next steps? I want IDEAS! I want to hear from you. I want to be a part of the change. And so should you.

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Over Here In Testosterone Land

BOYS! 

They’re wild, they’re messy, they’re handsy, they’re sticky, they’re cuddly, they’re sweet.

And I am surrounded! And every day I try valiantly to insert a little femininity into the house, but lately, the testosterone is overpowering.

What’s always a hot topic in our house? Pee, Poop, Farts!
I wax and wane between feeling like I live in a frat house and an insane asylum. Case in point… No matter what time of day I step foot in a bathroom, even if I literally just finished cleaning it top to bottom, there’s pee on the floor or the toilet’s not flushed. Actually, more like the trifecta – the toilet isn’t flushed, it’s overflowing with a roll of toilet paper, and there is pee on the floor. So basically, I walk around with paper towels and disinfecting spray all day, every day.

Now, I can hear judgmental voices saying, “Teach your kids to flush the toilet and have better aim.” Thank you for your words of wisdom. If you think I just skipped over this part of potty training, think again. Also at any given moment in the day you can hear me saying, “Who didn’t flush the toilet? You need to flush the toilet! Pee in the toilet – stand in front of the toilet – don’t aim for the wall – don’t aim for your brother – Why did you use all the toilet paper to pee? That toilet paper is there for girl’s like me that need it! Did you wash your hands? Get back in the bathroom and flush the toilet and wash your hands.” Yup…

Another case in point…The mystery of the inability to use a garbage can. Do you have boys? Do they conveniently leave their garbage everywhere? Cut up some paper and leave the shreds all over the floor? Check! Have a cheese stick in the den and toss the wrapper on the floor? Check! Have a snack and figure it is easier to throw the garbage into the sink than to toss it in the garbage directly below the sink? Check. Have a beer and snacks and forget to throw them out? Check. When I found my husband’s garbage taking over the den, I pulled rank. See below:

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Cue judgmental voices again, “So teach your children (and your husband) to clean up after themselves.” Oh thank you again! I do! Yet still, the garbage amasses. Thankfully, they are all getting very good at carrying their dishes to the sink post meals.

And what about all the FIGHTING!? If you have sons, you know what I mean. The constant down in the dirt tumbling, wrestling, fights to the death that ensue at any given moment without warning. Quietly watching a TV show when one decides it’s the perfect opportunity to sit on his brother’s head. Cue PUNCHING. It’s endless. When I see my boys in high gear beat-down mode, I am often reminded of a story my mom once told me about her ex boyfriend and his brothers. She said their mom was petite and her sons were stocky and strong. They would fight and she would stand in the middle to break it up and they would literally pick her up and move her out of the way to continue their brawls. I guess it feels good to know I am not alone in that (I am just waiting for my boys to be tall enough and strong enough to remove me from the situation). I always get a good laugh when I think about that story.

The other day I was at tennis lessons with my boys and their friends and I watched as the moms with daughters or a son (a single son) could hold a conversation with the other moms as their children played nicely, taking a break here and there to complain or whine about something, but quickly returning to the court. And then I watched my “Moms of boys” friends as they sat at the edge of the bench on high alert, just waiting to break up a fight. I felt my blood boil as one of my boys punched another in the eye just because. I was about to lose it when I saw another one of my friends fly off the bench with rage in her eyes as she grabbed both of her sons by the arms because they were literally beating each other up…in the middle of the end of session awards ceremony. Afterwards, we looked at each other and laughed, knowing we both wanted to cry at the constant stress of being mediator/referee at home and apparently in public too.

Which also reminds me of something my mom used to tell me. She would say that at home, my brother and I would fight like animals – always arguing about something. But when we went out in public, we acted like perfect angels towards each other. And now I realize that while she had it a bit easier with us when she was out in the world, she was probably hoping that just once, someone on the outside saw our crazy so she would have someone to commiserate with. Because I know for a fact, us moms of boys commiserate together. We say our kids are beasts and we lament over their antics and we rage against the constant reprimanding and screaming, but we also embrace the fact that boys love their mamas a whole lot.

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One of my “mom of boys” friends sent me this the other day and I literally laughed out loud. I immediately sent it to everyone I know and now I see it’s rapidly spreading around Facebook too. I totally could use “Aphukenbrake.” But I can’t help but wonder why they used a dad for this commercial versus a mom… Because if there’s anything us “moms of boys” knows, it’s that we could definitely use a little more estrogen in our lives and a whole bottle of “Aphukenbrake.”

TGIF! xo

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A for Effort

I did it! Elimination diet success. Two weeks ridding my diet of high histamine foods. At first, it felt like a prison sentence of plain chicken and veggies for eternity. I struggled to find food to eat. But then a few days in, I found my groove. Oatmeal for breakfast, melon or an apple for snack, simple salads with a slice of grilled chicken for lunch, and a varied dinner consisting of quinoa, veggies, GF rice pasta, rice, chicken, beef on any given day. Although I had to make daily trips to the market for protein, my shopping list dwindled and I cooked up everything I bought versus buying and then not using.

In the two weeks, I learned to eat when I am hungry and to avoid added things like nuts and cranberries to oatmeal and beans and balsamic reduction to salad and snack at the end of the day just for the sake of eating. If I was hungry after dinner, I reached for a little homemade popcorn or a warm glass of tumeric coconut milk. I kicked those extra holiday pounds and I feel much more comfortable and confident in my own skin.

But unfortunately, I noticed little to no change in my overall health. I am still dealing with chronic congestion, pain, headaches, and foggy brain. It’s really no fun. I did manage to get rid of some of the daily hives (now it’s just itchy skin and the occasional hive here or there).

Everyone keeps asking me when I will be done with this restrictive diet, but you know what, now that I trained my body to eat in a less is more kind of way, I actually like it. Unless I see a dramatic change in my health, I don’t plan to stick with the diet as strict as I’ve been these past two weeks. I will maintain the simple eating practices when I can, especially when I am dining at home. If a friend invites me to lunch, or the kids and I go out for dinner, or my husband and I are lucky enough to escape the kids for a date night, I will indulge in a drink and eat what I want (with continued mindfulness and avoiding gluten, dairy, and soy). I will do my best to maintain not having a sugary nightly snack like ice cream and homemade baked goods or the copious amounts of gluten free licorice I now have stock-piled in my garage. But if I want to indulge one night, I’m NOT going to kick myself for it (and for me, that is HUGE!). And when my birthday rolls around in about a month and a half (35 – eek!), you better be damn sure I will eat some sort of gluten free delicious chocolatey dessert and I will have extra cocktails because like the sign in my kitchen says, “LIFE’S SHORT, EAT COOKIES!”  And it’s true right? We only have this one life to live and if I’ve been given a shitty hand to deal with for the moment, then so be it. I will work hard to maintain my health and find answers, but I refuse to banish enjoyment from my life…. And let’s face it… Many of the fun and enjoyable things in life are organized around food!

With that being said, I ventured out to meet a new functional medicine doctor today. She took over the practice of the last doctor I saw. Her philosophy of care is a little different. She isn’t focused on supplements, but rather finding out why the organs are working against the body, looking more for the root cause. We talked about liver function, the lymphatic system, and organs that are in deficit for some reason (past virus that’s trapped, stress, a trauma, etc. – pretty sure I’ve experienced all of those things in the past several years). She suggests an enzyme replacement therapy through pills that would be carefully selected to aid my body in repair and proper absorption. Sounds painless right? Except…

…It comes with a steep price-tag. Functional medicine is NOT covered by insurance and many functional medicine doctors (from my research and exploration) charge an arm and a leg for care that is typically trial and error and not generally recognized by other MDs. Now that’s not to say I don’t believe in it… I DO! I saw how drinking Chinese herbal teas and receiving acupuncture and cupping drastically improved my health. I saw how diet change helped. I believe in all of it… But after spending so much money on other alternative treatments, am I ready to sink a lot more money into a trial and error type of care. It’s a decision I will not make lightly.

So, as I continue on this journey, I want to thank you again for taking time to read my blog and for showing support as I seek answers I know are out there – even if they haven’t been documented or discovered just yet.

xo

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And so it goes…

Thanks to everyone who has asked me how I am doing and whether or not the low histamine elimination diet is working. So far, no change in my overall health. But I am enjoying the added bonus of my pants fitting comfortably – haha!

Truth-be-told, being on this diet has helped me eliminate my nightly routine of snacking when the kids go to bed. I was using ice cream or licorice as a way to say, “Good job, you made it through another busy day of being a stay-at-home mom of three boys.” Some days, I was actually hungry and others I just ate the snack because I thought I should and other days I told myself, “YOLO” and to just enjoy it. I am not going to lie and say I don’t miss my snacks – because I do – but I think it’s overall healthier to indulge periodically than nightly.

Eleven days in and I am happy to report that I am actually getting used to the restrictive diet. I’ve been enjoying warm oatmeal for breakfast every day and that’s keeping me full until about 11 am when I reach for some cantaloupe. Lunch has proven to be the most difficult because I have to be home to prepare something for myself, so I’ve basically made myself slow down over the past eleven days, less running around. So another added bonus of this elimination diet is the fact that I’ve actually given myself time to blog and write and devote to my Rodan + Fields business and editing papers during the day as opposed to late in the evening.

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Dinners have been okay. I’ve done quinoa a few different ways, lots of grilled chicken, sweet potatoes, lots and lots of veggies, and some gluten free pasta. I’ve even been able to have some rice and steak one night. I go to the market every morning to get fresh chicken. My shopping bill has been less because not only am I eating less, but also I require way less ingredients and extra stock.

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What I do miss:

  • The ease of having a simple protein bar for lunch.
  • Nuts
  • Avocado
  • Almond flour
  • Chocolate/Dairy Free Ice cream
  • My granola
  • Licorice (GF of course – try Yum Earth (the old kind) or HunnyBon (a great brand out of NYC)
  • AND I MISS BAKING!!!!!!!!

So here’s to a few more days of this wacky low histamine diet. Even though I’ve seen no improvement as far as my health, I do think it’s important to finish out the full fourteen days.

Thanks again for the support!

xo

 

 

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Made It Through The Work Week and I have New Friends To Show For It

Hell yea!!! It’s TGIF and I survived five days of a low histamine diet!  Thinking, yeah so what? Well it’s a big deal for me and I’m feeling proud.

Running a household with three wild boys is never easy. Nor is running two businesses, each with deadlines and obligations. I used to be all about advanced planning and as I said previously, my goal for the New Year was to waste less and really plan out my meals.  Well this low histamine diet threw a wrench in that plan because it requires meat/poultry to be eaten as fresh as possible. Being I don’t own a farm and can’t kill my own chicken (that sounds horrible!), I’m relying on the fact that my local butcher’s product is fresh. I’ve been at the store five times in five days. If I want to eat lunch (which although I do hate lunch, I realize if I don’t eat something, I’m really hangry by dinner), I need to make sure I am home to whip up something fresh.

Ironically, I’ve always made friends with the guys that work the butcher counter as well as the produce and deli guys at my local market. I don’t know if I give off a vibe of “Oh hey, I’d love to chat,” or if my smile makes people feel comfortable, but nonetheless, I now have friends at the butcher and the market. They know my order and half the time I simply have to nod and smile and they’re already off prepping what I need. The produce guy at Fairway will tell me which vegetables are fresher than the others and we will chat about why it’s always freezing in produce. I’ve had three deli guy friends over the years. One moved away and I was bummed. One was moved to a different part of the store (I wonder how his son his doing? He’s also a dad of a young boy!). The other is always consistent and he will run to help me or nods at me to wait until he’s done because he knows as well as I do that he’s the only guy to cut the American cheese the way my kids like it. Now that’s not to mention my friend in the dairy section who is always so happy to see me when I pass through and let’s not forget my check-out girls. One in particular became my friend as we bonded over collectively having seven children. Hers are older and smart and determined and we chat about our family life while she rings me up and I bag.

Well anyway, as of now I am on a first name basis with one of the butchers. He and my other friend are so nice to me when I come in. I used to go in once or twice a week. Now every day, so yeah, we should be BFF’s by the end of next week.

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I’ll admit – I like having a posse at my markets. Makes the whole routine shopping a bit more exciting knowing I have people to chat with as I go through the store.

And as far as low histamine, while I wish I had a little more leeway with what’s allowed, I am making do with what I can eat. Prepped a yummy quinoa bowl last night and tonight I’m breaking out the good stuff – steak! I definitely wanted to kick some of the late night snacking I’d grown accustomed to (oh brownie sundae or bag of delicious GF licorice how I miss you), so being forced to do an elimination diet leaves me no excuses.  So far, no obvious changes in my health, but it took years to get here, so I know that it could take time for my body to adjust.

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As I head into the weekend, I want to thank all of you for following my journey and offering supportive words of encouragement.  Hopeful that the weekend will go smoothly. The weekends usually consist of one dinner out and less structure which typically means less meal plan stability. Well not this weekend folks!  I’ll be back at the market tomorrow hanging with my friends and wracking my brain for what inventive meal I can come up with next!

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TGIF!

xo

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Curious If You’re Histamine Intolerant?

Hello again. Stuck at home today because my son has a borderline fever and I am trying to keep him from picking up any additional germs at nursery school. Good luck with that right? These freezing cold temperatures in NY have been brutal, and even with all the bundling and hibernating, germs are invading the house!

So while I’m home today, I’ve used a portion of my morning to do MORE low-histamine research.  As I’ve said in previous posts, the safe lists are all contradictory. For example, one says bananas are okay and another says, stay away! It’s all very confusing. There are foods that are high in histamines and then there are foods that are histamine liberators, which from my basic understanding means they also can release histamines as they degrade.

I truly wish there was more extensive research readily available. For now, I am relying on various bloggers who claim to have healed themselves over time with a change in diet and certain supplements. Low histamine diets can conflict with other diets like FODMAP too. So basically, either way, you could be aggravating your system. If you have leaky gut, some of the foods and supplements that will help heal your intestinal lining are high in histamines. So it’s a double edge sword and all very trial and error.

There are many functional medicine practitioners that talk about leaky gut and histamine intolerance. I suggest if you’re suffering with random symptoms that cannot be connected by a regular MD, that you consider looking into your diet.  Years ago, I saw a homeopathic doctor and he went on and on about mold poisoning and leaky gut and my adrenals. Many regular MDs laughed at these suggestions. But it always surprised me when those outside of standard medical practice had similar ideas. My acupuncturist always talked about my body being imbalanced. I saw a reflexologist (who was also a case manager/nurse at a reputable hospital) and she went on and on about my adrenals and liver function. Seems like my immune system hates me and might possibly be attacking itself.

Here are some great websites if you’d like to learn more:

Histamine Intolerance: Could it be causing your symptoms?

 

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-11175/everything-you-need-to-know-about-histamine-intolerance.html

http://www.mastzellaktivierung.info/downloads/foodlist/21_FoodList_EN_alphabetic_withCateg.pdf

 
I was excited to read today that many are able to eat homemade popcorn with coconut oil for a snack. While I often choke when I am eating popcorn (not because of an allergy, but because I am spastic), knowing there’s a snack I can whip up if I am feeling hungry in between meals and can’t stomach another piece of fruit is exciting.

My husband says, it’s only two weeks and I need to pick one list and stick with it. So naturally, I’ve printed several lists and I am cross referencing like a maniac because I never half ass anything and if I am going to really do this, I’ll be damned if a little cinnamon derails my progress (because on some lists it is safe and on others it’s a big no-no).

With all of that said, this may not even be my issue at all, and while I DO want answers, I secretly hope this is not it.

Just whipped up some Chia Pudding with Blueberries in hopes that I can have another breakfast alternative to oatmeal. I’ve tried Chia Puddings in the past and never been a fan, but maybe now with the prospects being chia pudding or bust, I may be able to tolerate it better 🙂

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Until later when I concoct a Veggie/Sweet Potato dinner, have a great day!

xo

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Day 1 in the books – Day 2 and I am HUNGRY!

Hello folks….

So I made it through Day One of the low-histamine elimination diet. I got crafty (or plain) with my meals and made it through the day without crying. I will admit, I was definitely cranky as my body craved flavor and snack!  But I made it through and that’s what matters right?

So what did I cook?

I slow-cooked a blueberry oatmeal and saved a portion for today. The rest I froze because with a low-histamine diet, they suggest not storing left-overs for more than a day.
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I planned to eat a salad for lunch, but having felt exhausted (maybe because I was starving), I took a nap and woke up definitely NOT in the mood for salad. I made myself two eggs, careful to really cook the whites well because whites are a known to be high in histamine (and for all these years I was taught to eat the whites because the are healthy!).

I snacked on blackberries and an apple and by the time it was dinner, I was starving!

I chopped some lettuce and radishes and sprinkled with a little salt, pepper, garlic, and olive oil (all vinegars and citrus are out!). I  sautéed zucchini and yellow peppers (which some lists say are fine and others not — conflicted) with quinoa and tossed in some tumeric flavored grilled chicken (Tumeric is a known anti-inflammatory and supposedly great on a low-histamine diet). I tossed it all together and found it to be filling and satisfying and I didn’t even crave a snack later in the evening. 
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What I am realizing is that low-histamine diets are not very consistent. There are MANY different lists of what is safe and what is not and they are very contradictory. I am going to do my best to stick to as clean, plain, and simple of a diet as I can over the next two weeks in hopes that some of my symptoms dissipate. While I really hope that my diet is not so restrictive long term, if I can cure my ailments without medication and further medical testing that leads nowhere, it’s worth it.

So here I go, in search of a few blackberries to hold me over till my lettuce lunch in hopes that I make it out of the house to buy a piece of fresh chicken to cook for dinner. Because a large part of this diet requires any proteins to be cooked and eaten immediately. UGH!  And to think part of my new year goals was to focus on meal prep.  That’s out the window!

Here’s to day two! Wish me luck!

xo

 

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Indulgence

So if you read my last post, you know that I am about to embark on a histamine free diet. Wtf right? I was all gungho excited about the prospect of possibly finding an answer to my plethora of medical issues.  That is until tonight. Tonight the reality set in that I am waking up tomorrow with an extremely restrictive diet. And for someone already on a restrictive diet, it’s that much more frustrating because I finally got into my groove of what I can and can’t eat and how to create meals I can eat, little M can eat, and the entire family will enjoy.  So basically, FML!

I used the last four days to over-indulge in all the things that I will miss over the next few weeks (or indefinitely if this in fact proves to be my issue).  I sort of ate with reckless abandon, even when I wasn’t really hungry, because hell if I’ll miss an opportunity to indulge.  And knowing Monday I will no longer be eating like this and it isn’t just the pronouncement of going on a diet, as my husband says I say almost weekly. This time shit is for real. So I actually over-indulged and enjoyed myself!

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I made paella and ate reckless amounts and drank more wine than I should have.  I felt full and free.  And less body conscious. Go figure. I had a delicious dinner out with my family and I went for the serving of GF pasta and dug into the chicken and potatoes. I ate a full bag (they are not that big guys) of GF licorice my husband searched the internet for a WEEK to find for me (backstory – the formula I found and loved changed and we had to find the old bags on eBay). So now we have about 30 bags of it that I can’t eat (temporarily or forever…. needless to say, he’s not happy about it).  I ate a TON of bacon and indulged in pizza and wine and I am about to sit down to eat dessert. Because as I said, I loved to eat and hell if I will miss an opportunity to enjoy all the things I love before I go all batshit crazy restrictive.

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So to recap, I spent my weekend overeating and if it wasn’t for the glass of wine I had at dinner, I would probably be crying right now. Thankfully, I had enough time to throw some GF oats into my slow cooker with some blueberries and coconut milk so I won’t wake up crying tomorrow that I don’t know what the F to eat for breakfast.

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So happy Sunday y’all.  Cheers to a really restrictive few weeks and hopefully some answers!

I took my last sips of wine tonight and my oldest said, “If this is the last wine you can drink forever, will you cry?” I gave it some careful consideration and replied, “I’d be bummed, but if I can never eat chocolate again, I will really CRY!”

 

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xox

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A New Journey in the New Year

Four years ago, I started Milk Free Mama in a cathartic attempt to document my journey going dairy free. Giving up my favorites, cheese and ice cream, wouldn’t be easy, but in my opinion, it was worth it so that I could continue breastfeeding my three month old son. He was diagnosed with a dairy allergy after finding blood in his stool (an uncomfortable image I know). I overhauled my diet – eliminating dairy, soy, nuts, and eggs. What was a girl to eat? I noticed my son was still showing some signs of intestinal discomfort and it was then that I learned my prenatal vitamin contained soy! Are you kidding me!? Если вы игрок с рождения, тогда испытайте удачу на http://777-vulkan.com/igrovye-apparaty-vulkan/. A month of no soy sauce or edamame and I was still filling my body with crap in the form of a vitamin!? Needless to say, I was not a happy mama and I quickly switched my vitamins.

 

Ready, set, diet change

Ready, set, diet change

 

I was slowly allowed to reintroduce nuts and eggs (baked into a cake) into my diet and my little guy had no signs of distress. Hooray! I tried dairy and he had a poor reaction, so I bid farewell to the former cheese loving woman I used to be and vowed that I would NOT eat dairy until he could.

Slowly my blog morphed into an anecdotal space for me to chat about my family life and to share stories about my experience. I started to experiment with new recipes and I learned the value of good for you foods and healthy fats versus diet fads of yester-year. What did I miss the most? Ice cream? So I searched for dairy-free alternatives. Tried a few until I found one I truly loved.  

Dealing with allergies has taught me so much. It taught me to be much more mindful about what I put into my body. It taught me to be a better cook. It taught me to be an advocate. And it taught me how to truly enjoy the foods I can eat. I started sparingly eating steak again, tried shrimp, expanded my use of spices.

It’s been a journey of self and health discovery.  But now this little blog about becoming milk free is taking a dramatic turn as I make drastic attempts to reclaim my own health… So here goes.

Seven years ago, after I completed thirteen months of nursing my oldest, I came down with a very bad virus. It was a day after being matron-of-honor in my dear friend’s wedding and I attributed it to being out in the early October chill with no jacket in a sleeveless dress and countless handshakes and kisses from well-intentioned wedding guests. After all, I led a pretty sheltered existence from the time I got pregnant through the end of nursing – I spent a large part of my pregnancy on a leukemia floor of the hospital in sterile gowns (visiting my aunt) and had a baby during the swine flu outbreak basically avoiding other human contact for several months. I became a bit of a germaphobe (ok not a bit, a lot).

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Celebrating my friends as Matron of Honor – pre-illness.

So back to the virus. My throat closed. I felt very ill. The ENT put me on a whole host of inhalers and antibiotics. It was system overload as I tried to fight the virus for several weeks. By NYE that December, I was in the ER, having difficulty breathing. Great way to spend NYE with a one and a half year old at home. They gave me nebulizers and sent me home with no explanation. I was fortunate to have my family rally around me, offering support as I underwent pulmonological examinations. There was a concern I may have COPD as my oxygenation levels were low so I underwent a right heart cath – a procedure where they put a catheter into your heart. Needless to say, I was hysterical, because unlike two years earlier when I underwent invasive pelvic and abdominal surgery, now I was a mother, and the thought of dying freaked me the fuck out ten-fold.  

Well the heart cath came back normal and the pulminologist said I was fine from a lung/heart standpoint and he suggested I explore that it may be anxiety.  Of course, a male doctor telling a young female patient she was hormonal and anxious — totally a misogynistic diagnosis.  Maybe he was just incapable of delving further or maybe he was too egotistical to admit he was clueless. Regardless, I knew my body (just like I knew something was wrong when I had a tumor brewing and the doctors said I was fine).  I was not fine.

I sought out acupuncture and I finally found someone who spoke my language. She listened to my concerns, connected the different issues I was having, said my yin and yang were misaligned and was convinced whatever virus I had was trapped deep within my body. She stuck needles everywhere, helped me drink chinese herbal teas (which I had to brew in a special pot and smelled so vile and looked and tasted like dirt). She did cupping and my back turned black. (For those of you that don’t know what cupping is, it’s fabulous! Little glass bulbs attached to your back with heat, suctioning to your skin, bringing contaminants in your body to the surface – feels amazing!). I bought into the acupuncture culture and became a true believer. My case was a mystery to her as well, but she never stopped trying to get me well. She consulted with medical books and used her time working in a clinic in China to ask questions and to study similar cases. And for some time, I was well enough to walk up and down a flight of stairs again without feeling winded. I was able to carry my son without crying or feeling flushed. I was able to breathe a little easier and I started to feel healthy. I was even able to get pregnant again. And she needled me in all the safe places to help the pregnancy stick.  

Nine months later I welcomed another son, after a pregnancy where I felt fantastic. I nursed again and felt great. And then while I was coming close to the end of a year of nursing, I got pregnant again. Another healthy and successful pregnancy, followed by another fourteen months of nursing. But this time, I had to adjust my diet for my allergic baby and I slowly started experiencing signs and symptoms of personal distress.

Frequent infections, sinusitis, night sweats, low blood pressure, breathing issues. Thyroid testing showed the beginnings of hypothyroidism and I started on medication for a month. Adverse reaction and I was off the medication and my thyroid regulated. I saw a functional medicine practitioner and we talked about supplements and elimination diets. Lots of blood work later, it was determined I am allergic to gluten, tapioca, millet, coffee, casein. I was advised to stay away from dairy and soy. My immunologist conquered. He worked tirelessly to find an answer. He was willing to try anything. Even prescribed me Nystatin, a treatment used YEARS ago and no longer seemed viable, to try to eliminate a possible systemic yeast overgrowth in my body. Still nothing.

A moment of weakness

A moment of weakness – a good cry and I was able to move on with the day.

Periods of health mixed with periods of extreme discomfort. Two sinus surgeries. Which fast forward, brings us to today. Years later, I am still suffering. My symptoms are systemic and basically affect all aspects of my health. I am not crazy. I may be a bit anxious (thank you three sons and a type A personality and a husband who sometimes acts like a fourth son – love you babe). But I am not crazy. My immunologist concurs, and he’s a doctor. He agrees that all of my symptoms correlate, but we are yet to pinpoint exactly what is wrong.

Completely opacified sinus just two years after my first surgery.

Completely opacified sinus just two years after my first surgery.

 

And then I herniated two discs in my neck and exacerbated a previous knee injury and the past two years have seemed like a nightmare. But as any strong-willed mama can attest, there is no rest for the weary when you’re a mom and you have no choice but to slap on your makeup and get your ass out the door. Day in and day out.


After countless, I mean countless – way too many to even fit on hands and toes – doctor appointments, blood tests, etc, my immunologist finally got me approved for IgG infusions – Gamaglobulin replacement. We had talked about it in the past, and even once I was approved, I hesitated. Gamaglobulin can be administered intravenously or subcutaneously. I was approved for subcutaneous, which means placing two small needles in my stomach, infusing the medication under the skin. Once per week, indefinitely, as it’s cumulative. The hope is that the infusions will bolster my immune system and help with a myriad of symptoms.

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So I bit the bullet and before the end of 2017, I had a private nurse come to my home on three separate occasions to administer the medication. The first time, I panicked. The second time, I was okay. The third time I didn’t feel well.  Suddenly, I was plagued with severe body pain and terrible headaches. The headaches can be a result, but the body pain? Not so much according to the nurse.  The fourth time, I had to self-administer. It was a bad night to begin with. The hubs and I were in an argument, the holidays were approaching, I was feeling sad, the kids were acting up.

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All hooked up for my infusion. Leaves me nice and swollen in a part of the body a women never wants to feel round!

Let me walk you through it. I was sweating and shaking with fear. I washed my hands, set a sterile field, primed the medication, connected the needles and tubing, set the pump, inserted the needles, pulled back to check for blood in the line, and then turned the pump on. Two hours later, the medication was infused, the pump was put away, and I cried myself to sleep.  It takes about ninety-minutes once the pump begins. It’s a long process, but with a good TV show and a bowl of cashew ice cream, it’s not that bad.

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Which brings me to this past Tuesday night. About to set up my pump, I had an outbreak of hives right in the administration site. I spoke to the nurse and she told me to choose a new spot higher up or to the side of the hives and continue. So two benadryl and two advils later, my needles were in and I was ready to go.

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One of the many itchy spot photos I texted to my cousin (because she should see it, no?)

Wednesday morning, I had an appointment with the immunologist and we discussed my myriad of symptoms, a possible visit to the Mayo Clinic, and then we moved onto the hives. And suddenly, a lightbulb went off in the doctor’s head.  “Hives? Interesting.” As an allergist/immunologist, he’d already tested me for a whole host of allergens and the dermatologist already identified chemical allergies, which had me throwing my detergent, soaps, and hair products in the garbage and starting fresh with fragrance free everything. A period of relief and then… Hives again! So he suggested I try a low histamine diet and two weeks with an anti-histamine. As I scratched my skin in his office, he said that it’s time to continue with trial and error exploration to get to the bottom of my ailments. He mentioned Mast Cell Disorder in passing and sent me home to do some research.

Hives and bumps are awesome, right???

Hives and bumps are awesome, right???

And research I did. I spent hours reading about low-histamine diets and Mast Cell Disorder and it was like I found my community of fellow sufferers. Tons of people documented symptoms so close to mine. Many of them said they were dismissed by doctors for years as “crazy” or “anxious.” The symptoms include:

  • headaches/migraines – CHECK! (currently receiving nerve block shots)
  • difficulty falling asleep and waking. – CHECK!
  • dizziness – CHECK!
  • low blood pressure – CHECK!
  • heart palpitations – CHECK!
  • difficulty regulating body temperature – CHECK!
  • abdominal cramps – CHECK!
  • nasal congestion, difficulty breathing, sinus pain – CHECK!!!
  • abnormal menstruation – CHECK!
  • hives – CHECK!
  • fatigue – CHECK!

I also discovered that the symptoms can include body pain (check) and that it can be worse in women because of the hormone cycle. So basically, pre and during menstruation you could feel sick and symptomatic because of less hormones. But get this, during pregnancy, the influx of hormones can mask symptoms and many pregnant women report feeling better than ever when pregnant — YUP! That fits the bill with me.

Just a heart monitor I had to wear for a month.

Just a heart monitor I had to wear for a month. Notice my enthusiastic smile.

So while I still DO NOT have an official diagnosis, I feel hopeful that there is a community of people that have suffered without answers until they discovered this diagnosis. And with this diagnosis comes a specific elimination diet.  And that’s where this change in Milk Free Mama begins. I am about to embark on a minimum of two week elimination diet, cutting many healthy foods I eat daily, but are high histamine releasers.

A glam moment before officiating my cousin's wedding. Wasn't feeling great the day before or morning of, but I pushed through.

A glam moment before officiating my cousin’s wedding. Wasn’t feeling great the day before or morning of, but I pushed through.

 

I am sharing this journey with you, my wonderful readers, friends, and family for two reasons. Just as I needed to write about my journey when I went dairy free, then gluten free, I now need it more than ever as I drop foods I exist on like strawberries, nuts, avocados… And I am also blogging about this experience because I know that there are others out there dealing with similar issues. Others that are being dismissed as anxious hypochondriacs when they are suffering tremendously.  Others that need to hear my story to feel hope, just as I found hope in the stories of others.

So with that, I am OVER-indulging in all the no-no foods for the next few days because before I kiss tomatoes and wine and chocolate goodbye (temporarily, in moderation, or forever), I want to enjoy!  This will be a journey in discovering how to nourish my body, mind, and soul and I look forward to sharing it with you.

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Do I really need to part with dried cranberries, cinnamon, and nuts!?

 

Very rarely eat gluten free pasta, but since I have to give up tomatoes soon, I figure why not make a GF, DF baked ziti.

Very rarely eat gluten free pasta, but since I have to give up tomatoes soon, I figure why not make a GF, DF baked ziti.

 

xoxo

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An Apology Letter To My Husband

Dear Husband,

Let me preface this letter with the understanding that we both still agree I am almost always 100% right. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, it’s time for me to apologize for something. Don’t get excited. I won’t apologize for pouring lemon juice in lots of your food or for putting cumin in everything. Nor will I apologize for sleeping later than you in the morning or for literally throwing a child at you the minute you walk in the door. I won’t apologize for needing to have lengthy discussions before I feel better about things in life and I definitely won’t say I’m sorry for pushing you outside of your comfort zone…

 

But there is one thing I am truly sorry for. I am SO sorry for not being good with change. I can openly say I am the worst with it!

 

You bought us a new mattress because I insisted I needed one and you even sprang for the more expensive, better coiled one I had to have and instead of saying “I love it,” I spent two days crying that I missed our old mattress. That just sucked of me.  The truth is, after a little tweak (thank you memory foam topper), I LOVE our new firm mattress and I think it really is making me feel better!

And then there’s the new car… Oh was I mad when I had to return my lease – my road beast… I cried, I complained, I hugged the car before we parted.  And again, the first few days of driving the new car, I complained.  Not because you didn’t spring for the leather interior (you did), maybe a little because I don’t have my heated steering wheel, but because driving it just felt different… Now two days later, I can recognize I like the feel of the steering wheel (even though it’s not heated – ha!) and it’s easier to get in and out of parking spots.

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So… to recap… while I may be fantastic in SO many different ways, I truly apologize for sucking at change.  I hold a strong attachment to things – my memories intertwined with objects. I’ve always been this way — I never liked when things would change. I am a creature of habit and comfort…

 

But for you, I am going to try just a little bit harder to be appreciative from the get-go and to give NEW things and places a chance. Because in the two instances mentioned above, you really were trying your best to make me happy!

 

xoxo

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