Saturday, November 22, 2014

Living Gluten Free

Gluten Free Sandwich with GoodBye Gluten Bread
I'm lucky because I'm not diagnosed with Celiac Disease so it's a choice to try to eat gluten free and live gluten free as much as possible.

At first I thought it was going to be one of the worst things ever. I had heard so many horror stories (never from any who actually DID gluten free as a lifestyle though... although I didn't realize that when I was hearing their horror stories). I was certain that anything gluten free was going to be tasteless.

I was SO wrong!

Gluten Free Eating is Easier Than You Think!

One of the things I realized is that, just like eating 'healthy' or 'clean", eating gluten free meant having to be proactive in my own choices. This meant that while I'm a HUGE bread fan (I love every type of bread and am a firm believer that bread MAKES the sandwich) I would have to try different brands before I found the one or ones that were acceptable.

Bread was my FIRST mission. I will admit that was NOT easy. I was quite lucky to have a very good manager in the whole foods department of my local Wegman's store (Wendy) that guided me. While she obviously had some vested rights in trying to get me to purchase items out of her department she was beyond honest with me and often even steered me into other departments that had gluten free items that she thought were "the best." This alone was a huge help to me.

She guided me to a brand called Good-Bye Gluten Bread. At $5.99 a loaf it was the typical price for GF breads (which is one reason why it's so important to have some help). At that point this was the best bread I had tried. However, suddenly a friend told me that Aldi's had come out with a gluten free line that I should check out. I figured why not? Aldi's tends to be fairly inexpensive and most of the time quality items. If I could get an inexpensive gluten free product it would be a great plus because most everything is about twice the normal price or more! It's not cheap.

I found my FAVORITE gluten free bread was Aldi's LiveGFree white bread. It wasn't frozen (like the Good-Bye Gluten brand) and that's always a plus. At $3.99 a loaf we were already getting a similar product for about $2 less than the typical gluten free brands. 

What I loved MOST about Aldi's LiveGFree white bread was that the bread was a whole lot less dense & dry. The crust was a little tougher than regular bread but in reality the bread itself was so much more fluffy & "real" like. It's the closest to normal bread. I haven't tried the LiveGFree Wheat bread and honestly don't know if I'll bother because I just don't buy into the whole wheat is better for you deal. The white bread is good, it's gluten free and it tastes more like a typical, normal white bread.

I also tried Udis white and wheat breads; however, they are frozen (understandably for shelf life reasons) and I think that this dries them out even more. There is another brand out there called Schars that has a lot of bread products. However, I haven't been able to get past paying $6 for 2 buns (sub style rolls). Because I'm not technically gluten intolerant or Celiac I am not forced to do so. However, I'd love to hear from those who have tried various breads and what they thought.

Making my own bread just isn't an option for me. As wonderful as it sounds and even though I do have a bread machine; my physical limitations make me pick and choose the items I make myself. Sometimes I'm lucky to get dinner made. I may one day try to bake my own bread or use a bread mix to create a homemade gluten free bread but at this point it's just not feasible.

Gluten Free Breads - Conclusions

  • If you can get them fresh, unfrozen it's best.
  • I have yet to find a bread that's NOT a lot more dense than typical bread.
  • GF breads tend to be best when you toast them (even if you put them in the toaster) 
  • My favorite store bought bread to date is definitely ALDI'S LiveGFree White Bread!
  • The average price is $6 a loaf - however, Aldi's is only $3.99 BONUS!!!!!
  • GoodBye Gluten Bread would come in as 2nd best in my trials so far
Next up we'll discuss pasta and what I've found with gluten free pasta! You'll be surprised since it seems breads and pasta are the hardest things to find that are comparable to normal versions. I have found an absolute favorite and once again it's one of the least expensive brands too!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Yet another Thanksgiving is now under our belt (literally) and I've seen so many changes in this year's celebration. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of all because of the lack of pretense and expectation. Because it's a holiday set aside to truly count your blessings, however few or many they may be... it seems that no matter who you are you should be able to find a handful of things to be thankful for in your life no matter what. I truly am quite thankful. I have 3 wonderful children, a man who loves me beyond words and truly is my soul mate for life, 3 crazy but wonderful fur babies, a quaint and warm house, food on our table, bills that get paid, and so much more. I have life, which I will never take for granted after fighting cancer so many times. I may have poor health, but I have it easier and luckier than so many others and I'm thankful for that. I also am quite thankful for being able to live in a country that is "The Land of The Free" and has so much.

Ryan Loves to Take His Own Picture
As my children have all grown (my twins are now 21 & oldest 23) they've become adults who have their own lives to live and places to be. My oldest has almost always been away for the holiday as she's been in Emergency Veterinary medicine many years. The difference was, for many years she was till here locally with me and we would celebrate around her schedule or I'd make a whole dinner for the crew she was working with. (They all still comment about 'Mom & how much they loved Thanksgiving with me making it special there). However, this year she's moved into a large city about an hour or so away and is now working in one of the largest specialty vet hospitals in North America. She loves it there but because she continues in the ER, Triage, or ICU unit she is still working holidays most of the time. So we didn't have her here this year. My son has a girlfriend and my grandson (20 months) whom I don't see near enough and they were going between the girlfriends and here, plus he had to work. I didn't want to force that "double dinner" thing on them so I just enjoyed being with them and as I was preparing dinner for my guy, his sister, great-nephew, and I my son enjoyed nibbling on some turkey. He proclaimed that "This is the best turkey you've made yet mom!" as he went crazy taking the seasoned, brown skin off and pulled a few pieces of turkey. My grandson LOVED sneaking some of gram's "Purple Potatoes" and turkey too and then they went to my son's girlfriend's parents. I'm okay with sharing, especially as they grow and have to do the two family thing, but appreciate when they make an effort to at least see me. My son's twin sister has seemed to take a turn that none of us understand. She has decided to more or less ignore that she has family and do everything with her boyfriend's family. She's been with this guy for over 4 years and I've met him twice. Yeah, real personable guy. I've come to the conclusion that one of two things will happen here; she will realize that family should be important and come back to us or she'll be that 'one kid' who graces the family gatherings once in a blue moon or never. Sometimes you have to go with the flow, even if it's hard.

So Thanksgiving dinner was quite nice, plenty of leftovers for the weekend.

The above caption and joke says it all for me. I absolutely despise Black Friday and feel that it would be a great time to consider it "In Season" for cleaning out the gene pool. I'm just saying.

Black Friday is when I let the anti-social person in me come out; or perhaps the "sane" person. If I dealt with that ignorant crowd someone would end up in jail and it would probably be me for punching people in the face. LOL  Yes, I can be dangerous and I hate shopping. Mix shopping with ignorant people and you have a day that this girl stays away from. There is nothing out there worth dealing with that much ignorance in one day!

Instead we did the SHOP LOCAL SATURDAY a day early! I loved it. We went to this great place filled with local vendors called Crossroads in Westfield, NY. What I loved was there was such a variety and it went from homemade crafts and items to small "stores" that carried specialty things like jams and jellies, cheeses, and so much more. It's a wonderful experience. I also appreciated that they had a wheelchair in each building (there are 3 large buildings to go through) for those that come and have difficulty walking. I took my quad cane to help me along and didn't use the wheelchair; however, there was plenty of places throughout to take a seat and let my back relax a bit and my joints take a moment to rest. (I have back issues from cancer, MS, & recently dx'd with Fibro & Rheumatoid Arthritis so there's nary a body part that doesn't hurt immensely with any movement). I liked being able to get some walking in but then not being overwhelmed and in so much pain I couldn't move. I tend to enjoy the small things in life that allow me to think I'm somewhat "normal" in lifestyle and can do something that most people take for granted, like walking through a large shopping area to enjoy just browsing.

Of course I HAD to buy some PUMPKIN PIE FUDGE from the local fudge gal. It was buy a pound and get 1/2 pound free. It is truly the most amazing fudge ever not to mention unreal flavors. My guy loved the peanut butter swirl (a luscious vanilla fudge with a layer of peanut butter, then more fudge, and chocolate swirled on top), while I stuck with Pumpkin Pie and a maple fudge. By the way, rumor has it that the fudge has no calories if nobody sees you eating it (I swear! It says so on the box! It has to be true right?) *Note to self: Remind my thighs of that rule. LOL

I picked up some smoked cheeses too. As odd as it sounds I have not been able to find a good, authentically smoked cheddar cheese in Erie ANYWHERE and low & behold I found some at the Cheese House vendor there called Blanche's Fruits and Vegetables which has a whole lot more than fruits and veggies. The smoked cheddar was about $8 a pound and literally melts in your mouth. I also got a few slices of smoked swiss and came home to make smoked swiss and turkey panninis for us. Can you say YUM?!

There's a nice little winery, Merritt's, that offers free samples of anything you want to try. I tried a wine called XTC (a pomegranate wine, sweet and very good), along with a Raspberry Chocolate (not quite as sweet but a sweeter wine with a hint of chocolate that hits the palate just after you swallow it), and then my favorite type of wine - an Ice Wine (I can't even recall what type but it was divine). We ended up with a bottle of that. Ice Wines are a little more expensive because the wineries literally have to wait for a frost to hit the grapes and then get them all collected as they are partially frozen to frozen as the sugar content is the highest; making it a very sweet wine).

I also took a short stop for one of my favorite items, maple. I caroused the maple items, drooled a lot and for the sake of my large butt decided to buy ONE piece of maple sugar candy from Maple Country USA and not allow myself to buy a tub of "Maple Cream" to spread on (well just about anything) pancakes, waffles, etc. or even a larger box of all sorts of maple sugar candies. I love maple about as much as I love pumpkin by the way. I'm sure the vendor was disappointed that I used my will power just ONCE and spent a whopping $2 to get my maple fix. :-D

While I went for some stocking stuffers I really didn't end up with any. I went to do some Christmas shopping and, well I think I got 3 items (1 of the same thing for each kid for their stockings LOL) but I did come home with a lot of neat things that I liked. Including a special potato sack for microwaving. Very interesting concept that keeps you from nuking plastic (releasing cancer causing chemicals).and two very inexpensive ready to put in your bread machine bread mixes (all natural, giving the smell of fresh bread baking and for less than you can purchase a fresh baked loaf at any bakery). 

So I felt great about our Black Friday! I kept it local and bought from nothing but local vendors and shops. I got to get some walking in, which is a feat for me because I have to stop so often; but with the set-up they had it was possible to walk and rest. I spent a fair amount of money that I probably shouldn't have but, because I NEVER get to truly shop anymore, it felt good! Not to mention I got to spend a nice day with the love of my life and my "sis" just enjoying a laid back morning.

So don't forget to keep you Black Saturday a LOCAL BLACK SATURDAY shopping adventure. Let's keep those "Made in America" and especially those "Made Locally" places in business! Leave a note where you shopped "LOCAL" this weekend or any day and perhaps others will be able to order from their website or someday visit!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Buy American - It's Time To Take A Stand

I have to confess. I used to agree that it was very difficult to "Buy American" and I will admit that sometimes it takes a little effort to do so but I've decided that I AM going to make every effort to do so. AND... if I can't BUY AMERICAN MADE then I'll buy LOCAL.

First off, let me tell you about my weekend. We did a lot of shopping. It was one of those days when we just needed to get some stuff and in particular some household items, etc. I won't lie, I did buy a number of items at a large chain store (however, in my defense it was because my daughter works there and once a year they get 30% off EVERYTHING including already on sale, clearanced items, and regular priced). But while I was shopping at this nationally owned store I noticed something; much of what they offered was proudly displayed as "Made in America." This intrigued me and made me realize it was time to look at the items we purchased to see if they were made in the USA and those that were not I went back and looked for brands that perhaps were made in the USA. In some cases they were the same price, in other cases they were slightly more and in some they were even less costly than the foreign made items.

Case in point; even if you do end up having to shop at a large chain store you can attempt to buy as much "Made in America" as possible. You also have to remember that while you're supporting a large corporation you are also helping those from your community who work there; so this corporation, while perhaps not locally owned, does support the community with jobs.

When you can, try to find the smaller locally owned stores that provide similar items. Think of it in these terms. We purchased an electric heater last year that was absolutely amazing and worked beyond our expectations. We bought it from Valu-Home Center (locally owned and corporate out of Buffalo, NY). The manager came over and spent a good 20-30 minutes talking to us about what we wanted, what HE actually had and used at his own home, how much it's saved him, and so forth. In the end he literally assured us that the one we picked was one he owned and loved and if we didn't like it we could bring it back. He also claimed he's had his for a few years now and they really stand up. Let me say, this was something less than $100 that ended up saving us well over $100 nearly every month in the winter. The blower died on it this year. Now technically it's well out of warranty and for the money we saved it's not a big deal to go buy another one. So i finally talk my guy into just calling Valu Home Center and speaking to the manager there to see if they carry the same one, etc.  Instead we end up with the manager apologizing, telling us 'he will make it right' and literally replacing the item. Now that is called customer service. What did he earn out of that? He earned a guarantee that I will NEVER shop at Lowes where I've consistently been ignored, told 'that's policy I can't do anything about it' and even had our plumber who has a professional account be treated like dirt when trying to purchase a product there to install for us (ending result me buying it direct from the manufacturer and him purchasing all of the other items he needed to install it from a small locally owned plumbing supplier). Valu Home Center not only cared about ONE customer but that ONE customer tweeted to 1,000 others about the wonderful service from them and the horrible service from Lowes. Two others retweeted that tweet and so on.

Customer service is something that most locally owned companies not only give but care about. They want word of mouth. They know they can't beat prices from most of these huge companies but what they can beat is the service. I'll pay a dollar, three dollars or even ten dollars more for something from a locally owned company and be treated like a valued customer as opposed to being treated like dirt.

So I wanted to take this moment to make a list of AMERICAN MADE items I purchased (very easily) this weekend:

Henn Pottery and Baskets -Made in Ohio for the past 25 years - quality products and customer service. They have everything from baking dishes to serving dishes to collectibles. Baskets made of the finest quality and even better yet they have outlet stores that sell these amazing items at a fraction of their value! Findley Lake, NY is where I recently found a black version of this 8x8 baking dish for $8 and an Americana Collectors Plate for a friend for $2! Their baskets are the types that people used to buy at "parties" for hundreds of dollars, many with nice lids, leather handles, and accents. Basically they sell high end pottery, baskets, candles, and more.

Tervis - Made in the USA, BPA Free tumblers, mugs, hot/cold thermal glasses, etc. Available at Bed Bath & Beyond among other places. 65 Years of being made in the USA - began in Detroit and manufactured in North Venice, Florida USA

Dimplex - Makers of fireplaces, heaters, etc. Made in Canada (Not USA but I'll support our good neighbors any day). We've tried other brands and they couldn't even match up. Not to mention they sell these at Valu Home Center (see below) and Valu stands behind their products even when they don't have to. Dimplex also goes by ElectoLog (the brand we purchased) and this tiny fireplace/heater not only adds ambiance but saves us hundreds of dollars on our gas bills in the winter!

Valu Home Centers - Yes they are now a "chain" of stores but locally owned and operated; they are based out of Buffalo, NY and have been around since their small beginnings in 1968. They're big enough to give you good deals and small enough to give you customer service that stands out FAR above these big, worthless, stores like Lowes (where I've literally had not only myself but my plumber treated like dirt & worthless - although when I tweeted about it I will say their headquarters contacted me almost instantly and asked to let them make it right... we'll see).  I just have a lot of good things to say about the service and the way they treat you like family at Valu Home Center.

Duluth Made In The USA - everything from tools to clothing and more, from Duluth, Minnesota. I swear by their No-Crack Hand Cream. Men who work hard with their hands love this stuff because it keeps your hands from cracking and bleeding. You "real men" know what I'm talking about... a hard day's work in the elements. They are also the makers of the, yes quite infamous, "Ballroom Jeans" - let's just say Duluth is basically a company for REAL men.

Made In The USA Forever Website - this is a website that prides itself is listing ONLY truly USA made products. Think you can't find that item made in the USA and only China or Pakistan or some other country can make it? Check here. Chances are you will find what you're looking for.

Wendell August Forge - this company is a short drive from me and recently experienced a fire that destroyed their entire building. Amazingly much of their castings and items survived because, well they're made to "forge" in high heats. They worked out of a small place donated to them quickly in their hometown as they rebuilt. If you want beautiful iron work pieces this is the place to go. They've been around since 1923.

Poof! - AKA Slinky - Poof Slinky has been a kid favorite for years. They make other POOF products/toys too. While they are not 100% American Made the Poof Slinky and Poof products all carry the Made In The USA Flag Label.

Our Own Candle Company - made in Findley Lake, NY and I guarantee you that these candles are even BETTER than Yankee candles for a fraction of the price! I used to be a die hard Yankee Candle fan. I would pay high prices for a good quality candle. Now I don't have to. I can drive to this tiny town and get scents that will rock your world in candles that a fraction of the price. All poured and made in the USA. This is truly my ONLY resource for candles and all natural carpet freshener that is amazing. Don't let the great prices fool you, these are QUALITY candles. You don't have to pay $30 or more for a candle that no longer seems to have the quality it used to. I'm sorry Yankee Candle, you have gone bad. You don't burn well (do not tell me I need your candle ring for on top... tried that... still doesn't burn right & I've burned your candles for years... I KNOW how to burn them). You don't smell nice and strong through the entire burn time anymore. BUT I don't really care because I pay a LOT less for a MUCH BETTER candle!

Wegmans - This grocery store grew from a "mom & pop" type of grocery store in Rochester, NY to a phenomenal grocery store chain. While growing they never lost sight of true customer service. It takes nothing but an email to their corporate office to get a quick reaction. Locally we can't say enough about the friendly staff and customer service. Family owned, family oriented this is the place to not just shop but relax with friends in their cafe; where they serve up the best subs EVER!  Get the combo meal and you not only get the best sub ever but you get a drink and an amazing cookie. We won't discuss the calories!

So there you have it.... literally a quick list of items we fell in love with while we shopped all weekend, saved money buying, and kept AMERICANS working while they made these wonderful products.

It's time we started standing UNITED.... buy local, buy US made, and stand proud to be an American! Show that pride by helping to keep American's working because you buy American made!

Do you have a product that is truly made in the USA? Perhaps it's someplace in your hometown? Add it to the comments with a link to their website. Let's make the move to promote shopping local, shopping American Made, and most of all standing united!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Free Tea Anyone?

Fall is coming quickly in this area and I can't wait. It truly is one of my favorite times of year. My guy and I are going to celebrate with a commitment of love ceremony with fire dancers at one of the most beautiful places in the world to be at - Heron Night Lights in Sherman, NY. The picture on the left is from last year's ending ceremony they had at Heron Night Lights and this year the owner has graciously incorporated our commitment ceremony into the event. We're pretty excited to share our love with God and all of our loved ones. It's so us and I'm hoping for a good healthy night that will allow me to perhaps walk down one of the short trails while my sweetheart holds me tight. Pray for a good health day for this special occasion for me please!!!!!

While we're celebrating our love I'm thinking of ways to start snuggling in for fall and winter. I've been collecting recipes for the crockpot to try and trying to get back to healthy eating. The one thing I love about the cooler months (besides my MS loves it much more than the hot humid summer months) is that I enjoy a cup of tea in the mornings and evenings. But what's better is that you can get 3 free samples from Twinings here! Yes, that's right... FREE.. and THREE!

I'm trying to get back into the swing of working out often in any way I can - of course my most common and least painful way is in the water. My back, which has literally been deteriorating due to cancer treatments, was feeling pretty good for a while with the meds I've been on but of recent I'm getting spasms and a lot of pain again. *sigh* I truly just want "normal".... things like being able to walk those beautiful lit paths at Heron Night Lights and not have to be driven in a golf cart down them. Things like going to hear some of our favorite bands and because the seating isn't comfortable for me being "down" for a good 3 days to even a week with pain so bad I'm puking. Normal things like walking a few blocks when the leaves start to change with my sweetie, when I'm lucky if I can walk from the couch to the kitchen lately without extreme pain and spasms. I get so pissed off at it. I'm not asking for running marathons, just normalcy.

But I won't complain any more.... first off because it does no good and secondly because, well I'm blessed in many other ways.

So I'm trying to get back to my healthy lifestyle I've kind of let slip. I'm enjoying watching my guy get back into basketball season (he plays rec ball at the Y once a week and loves it). And at least having access to the Y to get in the water and alleviate the pain for an hour or so when I can get there. I'm changing my healthy lifestyle approach a little to see if being slightly less "tight" with my eating and allowing the things I like into my life but in limited amounts will help me stay healthy. This means making a "naughty" dish like crockpot cheeseburger soup once a week or maybe once every two weeks and eating my healthier, OMG Melt In Your Mouth Jerky Turkey Burgers and Buffalo Chicken Naan Pizzas the rest of the days.

I will conquer this and get at least some bit of normalcy in my life!!!! I'm determined! (well as normal as you can expect from me ;-)  )

Until next time.... sip some free tea and think of me. Keep healthy and remember if I can do it you can do it because I'm pretty sure I'm a trial for how messed up a body can be and still survive! LOL

Stay Healthy and Happy!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Honey Crockpot Chicken

I've been trying to crockpot a lot more now that the hotter days are here. As with many who have MS the heat about kills me. Thank GOD we got central air in the house and I am in heaven. In my mission to find great recipes I found this amazing honey chicken recipe on another bloggers site (see the url in the recipe) and she's got some other absolutely amazing recipes too. While I wouldn't consider this a super healthy recipe I don't find it to be horribly unhealthy either. My suggestion is to add it with some decent, healthy sides (like the Wegmans' Quinoa & Brown Rice Sides I am in love with and a good salad or spinach salad) and you have a pretty decent dinner.

As with most things in life I feel you can eat just about anything if you consider the portion size and stick to that.

I've finally begun to lose weight again. I started a chiropractic regiment 3x a week and it has helped dramatically with the pain at least being manageable. I'll never live pain free but I am able to move a little better and with that hopefully burn up some calories. I'm always thankful for anything that can reduce my pain for even a tiny bit or a tiny amount of time. I'm hoping this new chiro thing works out well enough to bring my pain levels from an average 7-8 norm daily (on pain meds) to even a 5-7 as a norm and I'd be ecstatic. We shall see.

So, anyways, with all that said I have been able to move enough to get a few more "real" type meals on the table with taking breaks and doing a lot of work sitting or bending and resting, etc. This particular one was amazing! has this recipe and a bunch more wonderful recipes to try... check out her blog! I love it!

Honey Sauced Chicken

Recipe can easily be doubled

Recipe from Chelsea Here. My adaptations are noted.

3/4 pound chicken (of your choice) * I use boneless skinless breasts

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/2 cup honey ( I use organic)

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/8 cup chopped onion (or 1/16 cup onion flakes)

1/8 cup ketchup

1 Tbs. vegetable oil (I used sesame oil)

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper, put into crock pot.
In a small bowl, combine honey, soy sauce, onion, ketchup, oil, garlic
and pepper flakes. Pour over chicken. Cook on low for 3 hours or on
high 1 1/2 hours. Chicken into bite size pieces, then return to pot and
toss with sauce.

*Note.. I used frozen chicken breasts and cooked on LOW all day. I also doubled the recipe.

Serve over rice or noodles.

To bake chicken as a 30 minute meal:

Dice chicken and season both sides with salt and pepper, place in 8x8
pan. Pour sauce over chicken and bake at 350F for 20 minutes, stirring
after 10 minutes.

 Serves 2

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Celebrating Our Country and Those Who Died For It

We've been blessed with a fairly beautiful long weekend to celebrate Memorial Day weekend here in Erie. It's Sunday, with one day left of the "long" weekend and we've celebrated with a very laid back approach. We spent some time with friends enjoying a fire and some hot dogs & burgers off the grill, relaxing in a beautiful wooded area that our friend happens to live at. We're hoping tomorrow brings us a little more "celebration" with my son and grandson stopping by and maybe a "playdate" with our great nephew & my grandson (can you imagine 2 toddlers 1-1/2 yrs or so together and not smile? LOL). We spent some time at the waterfront just enjoying the view and the beauty that we are blessed with here in this country and truly took a moment to even discuss how lucky we are to live here in these beautiful United States of America. As a "holiday" goes we enjoyed it with a low key embrace of friends and family and a definite remembrance to all of those who have lost their lives in the name of freedom; in one way or another.

I've begun a new approach at my "healthcare" in that I'm trying to go towards mainly holistic and homeopathic healing. I've been a guinea pig for the medical industry and have tried and remain on many of a slew of drugs to cover every symptom that comes with the affects of cancer treatments, loss of a spine due to radiation, and now a list of auto-immune diseases that makes me look like a telethon for every disease out there. My issues of MS were recently exacerbated to the point of truly scaring me and when the answer to that (after 16 years of basically no real long lasting affects of the disease) was to cover the symptom with a medication I decided enough.

Whether this journey serves me better and heals me, even so I'm in slightly less pain every day of my life, is yet to be seen but I feel that I have to take matters into my own hands. Starting with a chiropractor I have to say the results (yes it was only technically my 1st visit with this chiro & 2nd with a chiro in the past 2 weeks) are somewhat hopeful. While I had some negative responses I also had some positive ones, so I remain hopeful that continuing this slowly will prove to give me even some relief.

My sweetie and I have spent the weekend truly enjoying each other. We've almost reached the point of "recluse" at times, just enjoying being with each other. I love times like this when we can truly just enjoy being together and enjoying each other.

The weather has been fairly warm, okay hot, but with the new central air I am feeling so lucky! I also pulled out the container of summer clothes (in Erie you don't do this completely until about July because we could have snow tomorrow. LOL) and it was kind of like a shopping spree at home as I pulled out clothes I haven't seen in several months! I even donned a sundress today (felt kinda naked in comparison to the layers of clothes we usually wear all winter and even spring usually here!)! I also realized it's time to go shopping. Unlike most women I hate shopping so for me this is like a big UGH! I really need some "real" shorts and not cut off sweats that I just romp around the house in. LOL So perhaps tomorrow... or maybe next week... or the week after.. LOL... I will be hitting the stores to get some summer clothes.

My newest food delight I found, and so very cheap, was the Wegman's Quinoa & Brown Rice sides (microwave in 90 seconds) and so full of flavor! They had been giving out $1.00 off coupons and priced at $1.79 were obviously 79 cents each. It's truly our new fave item! Healthy and I FINALLY ate quinoa (I still have a package I've been avoiding cooking out of fear of the unknown) but I realize now that it's a must to try cooking some! Even my son enjoyed it (he didn't know it was healthy but he didn't complain and ate a double portion) so it's a keeper!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Facing The Truth

Lately I've been absent from life, not just blogging. I'm not myself and I know it. My chronic pain is something I've learned to deal with and have good and bad days; however, my other issues have not only added a ton of my weight back but brought me down to the point where just surviving the day seems like a chore. I'm angry, I'm upset, I'm disappointed, and I'm finally deciding to face some facts.

I was recently diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and Fibromyalgia (Fibro) on top of the issues I face from the cancer and my Multiple Sclerosis. I've always "attacked" my issues with a bit of an ignorant approach until I am forced to face them. It's a joke in the family, "If you ignore it, it goes away!" was always my motto. I'm sure you realize that this is NOT the way you beat things or get better but it's how I seem to handle things without breaking down. It also does NOT cure things. Your family, your strength, and your desire to keep going is what does that; along with God's help and the help of those you trust with working on your body.

Which leads me to the present. At once again going over my "big number" weight-wise I swore I'd never get near again (we won't discuss that... it goes away that way LOL) and feeling nothing but pain, but now in different ways my emotions are rampant. I'm sure being 48 doesn't help. I have a feeling that I'm pre-menopausal but I haven't (luckily) gone to the craziness part that so many speak of with mood swings and hot flashes. I'm always hot (and unfortunately not in the way I want to be LOL) with my MS so sometimes I may be having flashes and not realize it, who knows. The menopause doesn't bother me; it's part of life and aging and I don't mind aging. Contrary to those who swear I must because I don't "look my age" according to them I don't really care about a number. I care about how I feel and right now I feel about 98. That's what ticks me off most.

So part of what makes me so strong is that, well I'm pig headed. I refuse to take answers like "you won't make it" or "you probably won't be able to walk" or "you shouldn't even be walking"; all of which I've heard. Instead I'm pig headed and do it no matter what. That can be a good thing and at times it can be bad. You don't know how long it took me to finally use a cane I bought (get this, over 14 years ago) when I was first diagnosed with MS. I might use it once in a while but I simply did NOT want to allow the MS to take me into the category of showing I had it. Then these new auto immune diseases that have created more aches and pains and some days just a total inability to live life. I can't tell you how pissed off I am about them. They have NO right taking my body, especially since I've been through so much. So I try to pretend they're not there. I don't need "handicapped" anything thank you.

Well that's given me nothing but more pain, more hurt, less life. I finally came to the decision that it's okay to be "handicapped" and show your handicap. Before I had MS and suffered silently because the world didn't know. It didn't make ME feel any better but it gave me an outer appearance of being healthy, which is what I wanted. But what it also did was not allow others to understand why I did some of the things I did or how I was feeling that day. My sweetie finally made me realize that it's time to utilize the things in life created to make life easier for people like me. I finally listened and I'm finally getting back to being somewhat human and hope to take off this weight again (I Hope).

I hadn't been to the "Y" in weeks. I was always too sore, too worried about my horrible vertigo that has started up again, too much in pain or even afraid of falling as I had done once in the shower. Falling in the shower was enough for me. I wasn't going to be found lying naked in the women's shower because was too pig-headed to admit I needed "help" of some type to assure my sturdiness! So I just stopped going. Great idea right? Then I can add on the weight I've worked so hard to lose and feel sorry for myself but keep a smile on my face and miss out on life. Wow, that sounds like me....NOT! So, I decided to listen to my guy and use the special "Handicapped" locker room. I never felt so safe, so in charge, and so totally abled, not DISabled. See what actually giving in and accepting your faults can do for you? I realized I was more pitiful getting FAT again (not that I was skinny) then I am walking out, fully dressed and in control of myself from a room that happens to have a handicapped sign on it after working out in the water. I didn't come out on a stretcher after 20 people stared at my fat naked body that fell to the ground because of my illnesses and there's very little possibility that I'll ever do that if I continue to utilize this special locker room which holds only me, safely.

So what I learned was this.....
  • Fight - just learn what to fight
  • Accept - just don't give in
  • Forgive - forgive those who may be ignorant enough to make you feel uncomfortable because you've allowed yourself to be 'labeled' as handicapped (if that's what you think about using handicap items or places to make your life easier - which I think WAS my biggest issue of using obvious handicapped labeled areas)
  • Forgive Again - forgive yourself for being like those people stated above because you wouldn't fight being labeled if you weren't somewhat a person that looked differently at those who are handicapped (Don't get me wrong, I have great respect for those who deal with handicaps each day of their life but I never wanted to "BE" one of them and I will admit to being somewhat pitying of those labeled as handicapped)

    (In my case I didn't view them as bad or ugly or horrible... I think perhaps I pitied them and I never wanted to be pitied and now I realize they probably don't want pity and hate their disease as much as we hate things about us - even those who are in great shape - that aren't perfect)
It's time to take control again and go back to being the woman I am. I can't allow self-pity or worries about what others think take over my life. I can't hide from life. I can't quit life. I have so much that I have to live for and a man that I was blessed with that I want to share so much in life with that I can't allow any of that to be taken away because of pig-headedness. I have a long time to go to see my grandson grow into a young man like his father. By the way that cutie on the left is my little pride and joy (my grandson). He's 14 months old and my little sweetie. I'm pretty blessed with 3 wonderful "men" in my life (my grandson, my son, and my sweetheart). I have 2 beautiful daughters that I want to continue to watch growing into amazing, strong women. I have wonderful friends whom I've had for many years; some since the age of 4. I finally have a loving family through my sweetheart; sisters & nieces & grand-nephews that truly love me and I love so much back. I never had these with my own family and now that God has blessed me with these people I have NO right to sit back and accept my illnesses without both a fight and a level head.

So whether you're battling a disease, a handicap, or just obesity don't allow others or your own self-pride to take over. YOU can win the battle and be the best person possible.