Being Thankful :)

First, I just have to say thank you to everyone who has been following along, sending me sweet texts, emails and Facebook messages and giving me support.  I know I’m a big baby on my best days and the extra love has been so, so nice.  I’ve tried to handle all of this uncertainty with a sense of humor and I do better some days than others.  I suppose I’m allowed to be human 🙂

I really did hope to have more answers this week than I got, but I’m still in wait and see mode.  I likely will have some info back from my ultrasounds at the end of today, though, and I already know my stomach is functioning properly.  This is good!  I am being referred to a rheumatologist for the inflammation issue, though, and we still have Tuesday’s bloodwork to read.

One thing I did find out for sure is that despite having a low platelet count, the platelets I have are young, plump and strong.  That made me giggle.  So I may not have the platelets I should, but at least the ones I have are hearty.  It’s quality over quantity, right?  So, idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP).  Mouthful, right?  It’s a bleeding disorder in which the immune system destroys platelets, which are necessary for normal blood clotting. Persons with the disease have too few platelets in the blood.  For now there’s no treatment necessary, but I’ll have to keep going in and having my levels checked.  If they drop too low, then we’ll take action.  Also, my body is an asshole.  Stop destroying those nice platelets!

Let’s talk about Thursday’s adventures, shall we?  Started the day with an ultrasound for my gallbladder, liver, kidney and spleen.  I’ve had to have an ultrasound on my left breast several years back so I knew a bit of what to expect, but it’s a lot more poking around and digging in with a wand than a movie about pregnant people would have you believe. (BTW, the girls are fine.  They’re just apparently “lumpy” but having a mammogram and ultrasound when you’re 32 is super not fun.)

It was interesting to watch the process, though, and I had to laugh when FINALLY someone told my mom to stop taking pictures.  Thank you, radiologist!  Mom is excellent at documenting the process but thankfully also excellent at not posting 🙂  Don’t get me started on the first time I had a mole biopsy and stitches, and I bet she would have video taped my first eyebrow wax if given the chance.  I’ll add the selfie and the mom-taken ‘why am I waiting in this godawful room’ bitchface pic.  Don’t mind the beautiful bracelet accessories.  Hospital plastic is all the rage.

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After the ultrasound came the radioactive breakfast, and I will say again that it was disgusting.  I LOVE eggs and I was so concerned when I did my ALCAT several months ago that I would have a sensitivity.  Well let me just tell you that I’m pretty sure I have a sensitivity to slimy, scrambled hospital eggs with radioactive sprinkles.  Yikes.  And my first piece of toast in who knows how long?  I thought about skipping it to avoid any tummy trauma but I had to have it (along with the Welch’s extra high fructose corn syrup strawberry jelly) to choke down those eggs.

Like I said on social media – the ambiance in this restaurant is terrible.

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The cool thing is standing up against the machine (top right with the squares in the pic) and seeing where the eggs were hanging out in my stomach, though.  Wait an hour, then have another pic taken.  Wait an hour, have a third pic taken.  I lucked out that my eggs where mostly at the bottom of my stomach where they belong at the end of the third hour, so I didn’t have to wait for a fourth.  End result is that my stomach functions on the lowest end of normal, but normal is good!  We still have to figure out why I get sick so much, but at least I know it’s not my stomach being hateful.

Well, no more hateful than usual.  I felt awful all day thanks to that stupid breakfast.  I was able to keep it down and had an insanely delicious lunch at Zoe’s, but still felt gross all day.  Oh well, suppose spending five hours at a hospital is enough to make anyone feel gross.

Thankfully, mom hooked me up with some delicious eggs this morning for breakfast.  (Along with avocado, chicken sausage and freshly peeled grapefruit and OMG yes I am totally stuffed.)

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I’ve got her one more day while we wait to get blood and ultrasound results back today.  I will hang onto her as long as I can!  Love my momma.

Cheers!

Answers…Maybe I’ll Get Some!

Okay friends – big week ahead.  Hopefully I will FINALLY get some answers!  If you need me, you can find me at UT Southwestern donating all of my blood.

To recap:  a few weeks back, I had extensive blood tests done and came back with a trifecta of doom.  Highest inflammation levels ever (despite my extensive lifestyle changes), lowest platelet count ever and a positive test for ANA.  The last one, at least, means that my body is attacking itself.  That can lead to all kinds of sucky autoimmune diseases like lupus or polymyositis.

I’ve been trying not to worry until I had something concrete to worry about, but while my head has remained relatively cool, my body has been unimpressed.  My anxiety has been sky high, making my stomach a train wreck (not helping my unrelated vomiting problem, sorry for the TMI) and I’ve had a bit of bitchery too.  Sorry, friends and family.  While it’s better that I couldn’t drink myself silly on Collin’s sangria at Joey’s 40th birthday, I certainly would have been more fun with a couple of glasses 🙂  (Great catching up with everyone, though!!  Love you guys!)

Plus, I got to jump into a pool on Saturday!  YES!  At an awesome new friend’s house to boot.  Maybe that extra boost of vitamin D can help kick all the nasties away.

As usual, I digress.  Back to blood – that’s my Tuesday trip to UTSW.  I’ll meet my hematologist and probably get sent for more tests.  I’m truthfully hoping for some answers, though, because I want to find out why everything in my blood is so jacked up.  We thought food allergies/intolerances were causing the inflammatory reactions, and they may well be, but it could be other stuff too.  I have no illusions that gluten will be a regular player in my life ever again, but I’m still irritated that cutting it out of my diet didn’t fix everything.  And it’s a catch 22, because both my regular doctor and gastroenterologist want to retest me for Celiac, which means I need to put guten back into my system, which means I’m going to want to die.  That’s going to feel wretched after so long without.

Part two comes on Thursday as a follow up to my gastroenterologist appointment.  First up, an ultrasound for my buddha belly!  Then I get to eat some radioactive scrambled eggs and have my stomach activity studied.  The working theory is that it isn’t processing food properly and somehow that’s triggering me to throw up all the time.  I’ve said a million times that I’m only overweight because my body hangs on to dinner and processes calories twice.  Maybe I’m on to something!

Or maybe I should just come to terms with my fashion degree, even though it’s a Bachelor of Science, and admit I know nothing medical.  I only enjoyed science class when it was earth science and geology because I could daydream those rocks would turn into gemstones which would turn into jewelry.

So that’s where we are.  Mom drove down from Missouri today so she can go with me.  I’m in excellent hands, because ain’t nobody better than my momma.  Work knows I’ll be out for two days this week and I’m full of well wishes.  Part of me thinks I’m over-reacting, but the rest of me is beating myself up for not doing something about all of this earlier.  I’ve known about my elevated inflammation levels for two years now but whine whine whine it’s too haaaaaaard.  Bah.  The low platelet count is relatively new, though, and the ANA as well, so I’ll try not to be too hard on myself.

All I want is to feel good and to be healthy.  Seems like it isn’t too much to ask 🙂

I’m sure I’ll blog all week about my experiences.  It definitely makes me feel better to share.  Trouble shared is trouble halved, right?

Doctors, Vegans and a Pretty Good Wednesday 

I had a pretty adventurous Wednesday, all things considered! Doctors, vegan food and a surprise visit with a friend! Work, too. Always gets in the way of a good day of doctor hopping. Ha!  First up – met with my gastroenterologist at the “Center for Digestive and Liver Disease.” So dramatic. 

No, mom…I’m not there for liver issues. My liver handles business just fine 🙂 

I walked Dr. Mithani through my life of constant nausea, and between the blog and the stream of doctors I’m just bored with my story.  And this isn’t even my major problem! Ack! Describing the symptoms really is a struggle, because feeling crappy is just my normal.  I sent a text to my mom wishing she was there, because she has a laundry list – “Don’t forget about XYZ!” And thank goodness, because I would have left something out.

I started life as a projectile vomiter (sorry mom) but have learned to manage pain through diet and just go on about my day. But imagine this, it’s totally not normal to bounce up during dinner to go throw up! Nor is it normal to do it while brushing your teeth. Sheesh. Or when drinking cold water.  Or while taking a shower.  Some weeks are better than others, but it still kind of sucks, especially when my face gets torn up. Those pics are not blog-worthy. Ouch. 

I get to hold off on a scope for now, but I did get to schedule an ultrasound on my gallbladder as well as a gastric emptying study. Doesn’t that sound sexy? I essentially get to eat a radioactive breakfast at 7 am while people study what it does. No shock here if my stomach is defective. 

The best part of my day was realizing my friend Rachel works one floor below my gastro! So I sure did get to say hello, have big hugs and some chit chat. And a hot date for tomorrow night to boot 🙂 Can’t wait for the Arts District Wine Stroll!  Yay! 

So where does the vegan part come in? I was in the neighborhood so thought I would do a drive by on a house or two I’ve seen for sale in Oak Cliff and remembered a rave review on some nachos at a vegan place.  Yelp to the rescue – Spiral Diner & Bakery. 

See, I may or may not have split some real nachos with girlfriends on Saturday night, and I might have also regretted that choice. Nachos are my favorite, though, so I thought I would give it a shot.



The quinoa is definitely not the same as some shredded chicken or ground beef, but the cheese was good! Guac was outstanding. Honestly, it hit the spot. My throat was a tiny bit unhappy after being poked and prodded this morning, but meh. Nachos. Belly won. 

The cheese base is made from cashews, which is great. I’ve sworn off the daiya cheese because it’s all oil and weirdness and just gives me a belly ache. I have one right now, thanks to the portobello quesadillas I ordered to go for dinner tonight: 





The kitchen realized right after I took this pic that they gave me the wrong quesadillas, since mine were from the soy free menu, but you get the idea. These tortillas were wheat based with soy in them, and the ones I eventually got were corn, so good catch on their part. No need to gluten myself. 

Lovely restaurant with a great staff, and they even sold me a pint of the nacho cheese to go. What I’m going to do with it is beyond me, but I anticipate tacos.  Mmm, tacos. 



Speaking of soy free menus – check it out! A really nice touch since soy is pretty popular on a vegan diet. Not that I am, but nachos. I’m just here for the faux cheese. 





Cheers! 

Houses, Health Care and the Word of the Week…Mystifying.

I think I have four good reasons why I’ve been a little quiet on my blog this week:

  1. I’ve gained five pounds, and I’m annoyed at myself.  Hard to talk about my big life changes when I seem to have lost all enthusiasm.  I’m pretty sure it’s just all salt bloat, but I still feel gross.  I’m not excited to cook anything.
  2. The Dallas housing market is a beat down.  Seriously.  All I do is look at houses, make offers on houses, get rejected.  Rinse.  Repeat.
  3. No new health news, but my rounds of specialists gets kicked off this week.  First up?  Gastroenterologist.  I’ve been a projectile vomiter since I was an infant…let’s find out why!
  4. Quilting.  I haven’t done enough quilting.  Loved going to the Dallas Quilt Show Sunday, though.  So fun!  I pity the fool that didn’t get to see Mr. T in person:

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You know what’s not fun?  Getting shut down on a super kickass house that you’re in love with, despite offering $16k over asking, agreeing to a 60 day lease-back, not asking for a damn thing and having financing approval.  Not just pre-approval, but actual approval.  I don’t know if I’ll ever manage to buy a house in this stupid market, but gift cards and letters of thanks will certainly be due to the two lenders I’m working with, not to mention my super amazing realtor.  Love you, Betsy!!  (Hanne too, I’m sure, once I meet her 🙂 )

So I woke up kind of ugly today, these things happen to the best of us.  I get some work done, I check my email every ten seconds like a crazy person to see if we’ve heard back on the offer, I eat healthy things full of too much salt, I check my email again.  How is the ugliness supposed to improve under these circumstances?

No house, and even my realtor is “mystified.”  Gosh that’s a great word.  I’m going to use it to describe everything going on with me right now, like dating in Dallas, buying houses in Dallas, dealing with my unknown health BS and why my scale isn’t nicer to me.  MYSTIFYING.

Know what else is mystifying?  How health insurance works.  Remember when I had nine vials of blood drawn last month?  My first bill said I owed nothing – AWESOME!  Red herring, though, because I got a new bill today for $600.  That’s right, there are two zeros.  TWO.  $600 is a big chunk out of my couch fund.  Fortunately my current living room furniture still looks good, because even though I’m sick of it and ready to move on, my finances might require me to drag it out a bit.  Sea foam for a whole decade, y’all!

Anyhoot, I’m a little scared of these specialists for a whole new reason now.  $600 out of pocket for the lab tests my regular doctor had me do…what fresh hell will be unleashed with a specialist?  I already know I have to get a scope done, so I guess that’ll just push me up to my deductible.  Good grief.  And I get an extra scoop of guilt because now that I’m aligned with the health care industry, I’m also part of the problem.  Our government is a shit show, so I see why socialized medicine is unpopular, but good grief.

See where my head is spinning right now?  I’m spinning, I’m stressed out, therefore I’m not being as careful with food so I feel like crap AND I gain weight.  At least I’m not drowning my sorrows in vodka, so I’ll take that as a win.  The human body is a mystifying thing, my friends.

Hopefully I’ll have some good news from the gastroenterologist on Wednesday.  And maybe a new house will pop up.  Have I mentioned none of the good ones last longer than 24 hours on the market?  Sheesh.

Cheers!

Just a Casual Monday Night Dinner

I think I’ve mentioned I’m the weirdo who works out while staring at the Food Network.  It’s a double whammy, right? Not only can I probably not eat 90% of the recipes shown, but I’m the only overweight person at my pretty person gym. Whatevs. I’ve got my playlist bumping and the Pioneer Woman is cooking up some beef and a cake.  There’s only so much news and Sportscenter a girl can watch. 

This past week, I ended up watching Guy’s Big Bites, and he whipped up this delicious scallop and andouille sausage dinner. I’ve been craving scallops ever since. So yummy! 

I didn’t end up making that recipe, but I did wander into Whole Foods on Saturday, high noon, a wee bit hungover and starving after 18 hours without food. First of all, oops. Secondly, I’m normally prepared with at least some raw almonds, but I got caught off guard. What do you get when you wander into Whole Foods in these conditions? 

Two bags of random food and a much lighter wallet :



Let me be honest here. I’m a big Whole Foods fan, and I’ve shopped there very economically. This is done by checking out their sales flyer and building my meal plans accordingly. Steak on sale? Great. Do it. Buy the fruits and veggies featured, since they’re normally in season and at a great price. I got amazing organic apples for $1.30 a pound this week and omg they are insanely good. 

I also bought pre-made Cajun crab cakes and a third pound of giant scallops, along with some vegan chocolate treats, the Enjoy Life Chocolare Chunks for when I finally make those damn chocolate chip cookies, and a bunch of other stuff. Can I just blame the bagger for packing so efficiently? He was a gem. 

The weekend ended up being too busy for cooking, so I have had the best Monday night dinner ever. 

I left work a bit early to avoid a repeat of Friday’s near two hour commute home, but mostly so I could hit the gym. I parked my pink clad behind in front of HGTV and The Pioneer Woman (treat. yo. self.) and planned out my dinner.  And can I also mention how much I love the scenic hikes available on treadmills these days? I select my speed and average incline and they do the rest. I’m obsessed and wish my time on the elliptical was so fun. 

Back at home, I wasn’t sure how long to cook the crab cakes, but it turns out a sear on each side in my cast iron skillet then oven finishing at 350 did the trick! 



For the scallops, I followed Guy’s guidance, so even though I couldn’t cook them in adouille sausage fat, I patted them dry as can be, seasoned and plunked them into my buttery spread-filled pan. 



Look at that sear! So crisp and delicious. Two minutes each side and they are perfect. 

I also tossed up a super sprout salad (thanks Whole Foods) and I have a very happy belly. Lunch for tomorrow, too, because there’s no way to physically eat two crab cakes. They’re six ounces each and woo. I’m stuffed. 



The white sauce is a jalapeño and horseradish tartar. The crab cake was so tasty I barely touched it, but it was definitely delicious.  I’m pretty sure it’s the gluten, and next time I should probably make my own gluten free version. My cheeks are already flush. 

Now where is that magical elf to wash my dishes?  Please?  Sigh. 



Cotton + Steel’s Good Fortune Quilt Progress

Okay everyone, I feel like I’m on a good flow with quilting.  Finally, my head is back in the game!  Maybe I’m getting inspired by creating craft rooms in every house I tour, or maybe it’s just playing with fabric.  I can easily see myself becoming a fabric hoarder just like my momma.

Taking the Disappearing Four Patch class last week with Miss Ashley really helped me get a feel for working with fabric that isn’t backed with paper, but I have to admit I really just love paper piecing.  It’s math in a quilt form, and makes my little calculator brain so happy.  I’m sure once I keep working with traditional quilting methods, I’ll be just as pleased, though.  I keep scouring for classes to take across the metroplex, because I really enjoy sewing with other people and hearing about other projects too.  It’s a solid community for sure, and I’ve already met some lovely people.

I wish I had been able to take advantage of these Dallas snow days to whip out all sorts of blocks, but the joy of technology is that you carry you laptop with you and still get to work 🙂  I did squeeze in some things during lunch breaks and evenings, though.

I started working on a paper piecing kit I picked up at Urban Spools a few months ago, and I love it so far!  They actually still have a few still available, so just click right here to check it out.  The pieces are large enough that the copies are made on 11×17 paper and the fabrics are beautiful.  I hit a good flow cutting everything out and it’s coming together nicely.

Cotton + Steel has quickly become one of my favorite fabric companies, and I love their modern and fresh take.  They have a group of designers that also collaborate together, and it’s some pretty cool product.  This particular group is designed by Rashida Coleman-Hale, and you know I love the bright colors and hits of metallics.  PIIIIIIINK!

The cutting process was actually pretty easy, and the fabric is VERY generous.  I didn’t even mind ironing.  Generous cuts and plenty of scraps is one of the fun things paper piecing, and this would be a good first project for anyone.  I have oodles of scraps right now to stash for future projects, or maybe a coordinate throw pillow or two.

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Look how big these blocks are!  Just four pieces of fabric on each large piece, and then joining the two halves together.  Easy as pie.  You can see my big stack of coordinate fabrics piled up too.  I’m definitely keeping a copy of this pattern for other projects I’m thinking about – looks complicated, but allows you to show off great fabric and isn’t as challenging as it looks to pull together 🙂

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Did I say easy as pie?  It should have been, but I was super distracted the night I started this project and couldn’t line up pieces to save my life.  Ooops.  Thank goodness for seam rippers, but I will tell you, ripping out seams set at a 1.5 is a giant pain in the tush.  The beautiful thing about paper piecing is that your sharp angles line up perfectly, so if you aren’t getting that right, you’re missing the whole point.  Hey Christina, YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG!

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I was able to course correct this week, though, and now I have two gorgeous blocks finished.  Only fourteen more to go!  I think it’s fourteen, anyway.  We’ll see.  I’d like this to be at least a queen size, so if I end up picking up a bit more fabric to enlarge it, life will go on!

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I noticed my pinks aren’t quite as sharp as the grey/aqua blocks, but short of ripped out the seams and rearranging, I think that’s just life.  I’ll tinker around with it this weekend and see how I feel.

I can’t find many pics of the completed project online, but here’s an idea on how it’ll look when I’m done!  Happy and cheerful, just like me 🙂  Thanks, Craftsy!

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More Adventures in Cooking

Okay everyone, I’ve been slacking in the cooking department.  Bad, bad, Christina.  One of the terrible and awesome things about Trader Joe’s is all of the semi-homemade cooking it allows me to do, because who doesn’t like an extra serving of salt bloat?.  I’m still journaling every meal with MyNetDiary, and every day I get a little chiding for going over the recommended sodium levels.  Oops.  Hypertension is one of the 12 million health issues I DON’T have, but no one likes to feel like a water retaining sea cow, am I right?

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I’m determined to do better, though, and I’m excited to actually maybe bake a little this weekend.  I’ve been jonesing for the amazing chocolate chip cookies Mom created over Christmas, so while it’s not going to help me reduce the size of my ass, it’s probably the only thing to get me excited about being in the kitchen.

I did manage a couple things this week aside from my standard lazy meal of shredded chicken and black beans.  If you haven’t had the joy of shredded chicken, you absolutely should make it.  Dump chicken (frozen or fresh) into a crockpot, add a can of rotel for every pound of chicken and top it off with taco seasoning.  This time around I also dumped in some verde sauce, because tomatillos are delicious and I was short on rotel.  Set it to go on low overnight if you started with frozen chicken, and it will have practically shredded itself by the time you wake up.  A fork will finish it out, give it a stir, and you’ve got something easy and yummy 🙂

It’s good stuffed into a tortilla with cheese, lettuce and normal taco fixings, but it’s also good by itself.  I’ve been all over Trader Joe’s Organic Refried Black Beans with Jalapenos lately, so that’s how I’ve eaten it every day this week for lunch.  I miss tortillas and cheese sometimes, but avocado almost makes up for it.  Next time I make it, I’ll document with pics.  Promise.

So that’s the first thing I made.  Second up is a version of the Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai that Gluten Free Jess posted on her site.  Trader Joe’s didn’t have spaghetti squash, so I subbed in rice noodles, essentially just making Gluten Free Pad Thai.  All the delicious fattiness, none of the extra health benefits.  Look at her blog and pretend those are my pics instead of these half-ass, last minute snaps.  I couldn’t find fish sauce, either, so I subbed in a bit of Coconut Secret Soy Free Seasoning sauce, which is essentially just soy sauce for those of us that can’t actually eat anything.  

I busted out a knife and actually chopped green onions, cilantro and chicken!  I had to show proof of knife skills, limited though they are.  Once I got everything blended with the sauce, and added a ton of lime juice and cilantro, I had a big bowl of comfort food.  Rice noodles get insanely sticky, at least mine did, so I’m looking forward to trying it with either zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash.  Yum.

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Yesterday was yet another snow day for Dallas, and I was thankful to have everything I needed to make chicken noodle soup.  Browned mirepoix with hot pepper olive oil, added broth, diced chicken, spices and rotel (live and die by it, seriously) and added the Trader Joe’s Brown Rice and Quinoa pasta.  It holds up so well and is the perfect gluten free noodle to use in sauces and soups.

Check, check, check!  This weekend I’ll knock out some zucchini noodle recipes and bake my cookies, and this time I’ll actually take some pics 🙂  How will I ever get a show on the Food Network like the Pioneer woman if I don’t document?  Surely the cookies have a better nutritional value than these Skittles I’ve been chomping on all week, too.  Damn you, Easter candy.

Cheers!