Fighting like a girl

The nurse put my iv in my right hand, right above my super rad Wonder Woman bracelet my mom made for me, so I couldn’t resist taking a photo. Because when I think about fighting like a girl, I think about this constant fight for my health against MS, and so it just seemed appropriate.

Courage, bravery, stubborn determination. That’s how I fight this. How do you fight?

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Winner, winner

Okay, so one of the things I had been struggling with is the fact that I can’t really share meals with my family the way I used to. I come from an extended family full of food lovers, and we do our bonding and make our best memories over a meal. So not sharing evening meals with my own immediate family was affecting me more than I had anticipated.

I don’t expect them to eat what I eat, and I don’t even have the desire to try to convince them to. I know it would be a futile effort. It’s certainly not something I came into overnight, so I couldn’t expect that of them. I did come up with an idea however, and that was to serve one fully vegan meal per week, one they would be most likely to enjoy. I ran the idea past them a few nights ago and while the kids were immediately against it, my husband was on board. That alone surprised me, but then he went a step further and told the kids he thought that since I do so much for them and I make compromises all the time, that they should be willing to do this for me. And then they all agreed, and I was in heaven. It was so nice to have their support in this. Not to mention, I fell in love with my husband all over again, for stepping up like that.

Anyhoo… ever since, I’ve been trying to find some easy vegan recipes that aren’t too off the wall for them, and I’m coming up rather short so far. Because they are mostly super picky eaters. I only plan to do one meal a week, so I’m not terribly worried. I’m sure between Pinterest and a good old fashioned Google search I’ll find plenty.

Tonight was the first night we tried an an all vegan meal. In order to ease them into this, and to show that I’m not just trying to introduce them to a bunch of foreign foods (think seitan and tempeh), I served waffles with strawberries and whipped cream, with fresh red grapes on the side. Waffles made with almond milk and egg replacer, and coconut whipped cream. They loved it, and we all agreed that it was delicious! I had never had the coconut whipped cream before, and I dare say it tastes better than the dairy version. Winner, winner, vegan dinner.

Oh, and also today I had a visual field test at my neuro-ophthalmologist’s office and it turns out my eyes have both improved! I can now see 51% with my left eye and a whopping 27% with my right.

It’s safe to say that today was a really good day. Tomorrow is infusion day, so I’ll get to relax in their new heated seats and sip coffee and read a book. I’m livin’ a glamorous life, folks. Envy me. I dare you.

My food obsession

This is hilarious to me. I started this blog post with the above title 8 months ago. EIGHT. And the obsession is still here. What I thought would be a temporary thing has become the norm. So I’m obsessed with food. I love eating food, I love talking about food, and I’m even learning to enjoy preparing food. That last bit surprises me, because I’ve never enjoyed cooking. That was always my sister’s thing, and my dad’s thing. Not my thing.

However, when I gave up dairy and eggs back in June (in addition to the elimination of meat last November), I had two choices: 1) Be stuck with boring beans and potatoes, or 2) Learn to cook a few things. I was content with choice #1 for awhile, but after a month or two I was starting to get a little more adventurous. And by adventurous, we’re really just talking about things like using real garlic cloves and learning how to chop vegetables. So while I’m nowhere near entering any culinary contests, I’m certainly learning how to hold my own in the kitchen. I’m learning how to throw things together without a plan (gasp!) and I’ve been rewarded more times than not. Vegan food is delicious, people. Like ridiculous good. I’m still very hesitant to broadcast myself as a vegan (more on that below), but that’s basically where I am. And it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made for myself.

Since these were serious eliminations from my regular diet, I’ve been trying to keep track of how my body has reacted. The most notable changes happened after ditching the dairy and eggs. These were the hardest for me, psychologically, to say goodbye to, but the rewards make it all worth it and I’m not even tempted to go back. Since June, I have not had one monster premenstrual headache. I used to get these every single month, and I am a big baby when it comes to headaches. Seriously. Since June I have also not had one episode of nerve pain in my feet. Actually, that’s not true. I had a hinting of it while camping in August but I also cheated that week and had some desserts containing dairy. That nerve pain was something that was happening on a fairy regular basis, yet now it’s only a memory. Constipation? No longer an issue. Fatigue? What’s that again? It’s all gone. Fatigue. I think the fatigue has been the most notable challenge throughout my MS journey. In the 8 years since my diagnosis, it’s been the one constant in my list of symptoms. But it’s gone, just like that, and I am still amazed. So when I am asked if I will ever go back to eating dairy, the answer is a confident NO.

If I ever feel like I miss it – the food, not the symptoms – I can just have a bite of someone else’s food and wait for the effects to remind me why I gave it up. Every time I have been tempted and had a small portion of what I’m fixing for my family, I’ve been rewarded with a killer headache within a few hours of eating. It’s nuts.

Now the reason I hesitate to tell people I’m vegan is because there are enough mean vegans out there giving the good and kind vegans a bad name. And for a lot of them, veganism is right up there with religion and politics. So I worry that by stating the fact that I’m a vegan, that I will scare people away, or they will think I’m going to try to pressure them into joining the club. But I’ll tell you, I don’t really think I fit in any club here. I’m part of a lot of vegan discussion groups, to get food and recipe ideas, and I’ll tell you we don’t see eye to eye on everything. So while I’m not walking around wearing the t-shirts and drinking the Kool-aid, if I’m at a restaurant I will be sure to tell them I’m vegan to insure I don’t get served anything that’s on my no-no list. Which is a whole other post, y’all, cuz seriously it’s crazy that we can’t find a way to serve delicious food in this country, in this day and age, without smothering it in cheese.

We call this an ouchie wah-wah

So thanks to my poor vision, I guess, I ran head first into my daughter’s loft bed. Again. This time super duper hard. So I think I’m gonna have a major goose egg on my forehead by morning. We need to put up a sign that says in bold, high contrast colors, “DUCK!!” Which, coincidentally, rhymes with the word I would have said had my daughter not been right there to witness my stupidity.

Can we just start over now?

Brain Dump

What’s on my mind, you ask? (If you didn’t, feel free to move along…) Food. Coffee. Food again. Running. Writing. A cool breeze on the back deck, birds chirping.

Yesterday I signed up for a 5k that happens in six weeks. With the exception of this morning, I had not run since before school let out for the summer, on account of my knee and hip pain (see dumb butt post). I know I can walk a 5k, no problem, but my goal is to run it the entire way. So I’ve got some work to do to get back to that place.

Side note: the cool breeze is upgrading to a brisk wind. I may have to go inside 😦

The summer is over. There were a couple trips there at the end I haven’t blogged about, but I may yet. Late is still better than never, isn’t it?

School started for my kids on Monday. It was a half day, and they don’t have school on Friday due to Labor Day, so it’s what I would call a “soft opening” to the school year. The kids are thankful for that, but I would have been right on board with jumping right in with a full week. I like my weekdays. I can do my own thing and not have to worry about what the kids are going to do. It’s one of the luxuries of disability that I’ve become accustomed to.

You know what I’m excited about today? You’re gonna laugh, or groan, or both, but I’m really excited to eat macaroni and cheese for lunch. I stopped eating dairy and eggs in June, and it’s been so much harder than giving up meat (that was last November). I’ve since learned to drink my coffee black, and found some really great non-dairy milks, yogurts, and ice creams, but had yet to find a suitable replacement for cheese. At least not any that you would buy pre-made. My cousin told me awhile back about cashew cheese that’s easy to make but I just hadn’t gotten around to trying it. Well, I ordered the necessary ingredients a few weeks ago on Amazon (easier than trying to find nutritional yeast and tapioca starch locally) and finally made a batch on Tuesday. I’ve been putting it on burritos, tacos, pizza even, and it’s surprisingly delicious! So I have a box of macaroni noodles just waiting to be dressed up with this stuff, and I believe today will be the day.

My daughter started taking ballet lessons last week. She’s been wanting to for years (she’s only 7) but I just kept putting it off because it’s way out of my comfort zone. But I finally worked up the courage to get it going, and I’m so glad I did. The smile on her face when we walked into the dance shop to buy her ballet slippers was priceless. I had not seen her light up like that in a really long time. Maybe ever. And she’s loving the practices, and looks forward to it every week. I’m really excited to see how this goes.

My son, the big sports guy, is taking a break from competitive sports for the fall. He’s going to take swim lessons at the YMCA, to learn to be a better swimmer. Then when wrestling season rolls around, he’ll be back at it. The kid has so much energy we need to keep him busy or he’ll drive us both nuts.

I chopped 8 inches off my hair back in July and I am loving it. I actually think I want to go a leeeetle bit shorter. Just a little. And highlights. The highlights are happening next week, for sure. We’ll see if I end up with just a trim, or if I decide to cut it shorter.

Oh! And did I mention I get my groceries delivered now? Oh yes, I’ve been anxiously waiting for that service to come to our area and I’ll tell you it’s even better than I had anticipated. It is saving us (me) SO MUCH stress. I don’t have to plan our meals or grocery trips around my husband’s schedule. I need stuff, I just order it online and it comes right to the house. Just like magic.

You can say things are going well. I’ve left out a lot, believe it or not, but that’s enough for today. Until next time…

It’s always good to be home

The kids and I went camping last week with my dad’s church family. It’s something the kids have been doing every summer for the past four or five years. This was my dad’s last year to be able to go, because he is retiring next June. So there was a lot of bittersweet floating around. However, I and the kids have been invited back for future years, since they have especially bonded with a lot of the kids there. We had a lot of fun. The kids swam, rode bikes, played gaga ball (??), went kayaking (my favorite part, may write a separate post about that), and played tug of war in the river. Lots of great memories.

My legs are in shambles. Good, old fashioned muscle pain from all the walking, I suppose. I walked constantly for the whole trip and I came back home to find I had gained 5 pounds. Seriously. I guess I forgot to mention there was a lot of eating as well!

I also woke up this morning with considerable nerve pain in my feet, which is unusual for the morning. It usually only comes around in the evening. I guess my body is just paying the toll for all the fun we had. I am more than okay with that. Just gonna keep moving forward anyway, with small breaks in between. No need to rush.

Speaking of waking up this morning… my husband woke me up to let me know that the refrigerator wasn’t working, and that he needed me to move the food to the fridge in the basement. He was on his way out the door to work but he is hoping to come back at some point to fix it. We’ll see. I’m just really grateful that we have a second fridge for these sorts of occasions. So that was my first task of the day, and I’m definitely going to take advantage of an empty fridge to get it all wiped out. There are lots of sticky spots and who knows what’s in those nooks and crannies.

The kids are happy to be home. The dog is happy we’re home. Hubby is really happy we’re home. Waking up on a Monday in our own beds is surely something to be thankful for, no matter what the day has in store for us. And coffee, of course.

 

Oklahoma in July

The kids and I flew to Oklahoma to visit Grandma Deb and Grandpa Dave (my mom and stepdad) for a whole week! EEK!! The last time any of us had been on a plane, Luke was 2 and Natalie was in utero. So it was pretty much like their first time flying. I was a nervous wreck through all of it, but the kids did great.  And once we were at Grandma’s, we settled in quite nicely. Pictured below on Natalie’s head is their green cheek conure, Riley. I learned very quickly that I have a new fear of birds flying near my head, mainly because when he flew toward me I could feel the wind from his wings before I could see where he was. Thankfully, he was pretty harmless, and by the end of the week we were getting along just fine.

We had so many activities in store! Our first full day there we went hiking near some natural springs. I took a lot of really blurry photos of that, so you’ll just have to trust me that it was really cool and the kids enjoyed themselves.

The next day Grandma took us to the salt plains to dig for selenite crystals. I was happy to stand around and take pictures while they got dirty. Luke found the first crystal, which led us to the mother load of crystals. It was pretty exciting. (Oh, and I got to drive a car! Since it was wide open space and no one was around. Don’t tell anyone though lol)

Another day we visited the children’s science museum in town. This was similar to the one we have back home, but with a different mix of things to see. The kids had a blast here too, and it was a good way to stay out of the 100 degree weather.

I’m sure I’m getting the order of events mixed up, but at some point towards the end of the week we visited what we were calling the rock museum. The museum was a house, made entirely out of rocks, that belonged to a couple that did a bunch of stuff, and kept pretty much everything they owned. So now they keep it on display and let people come and look at it. Which is funny to me, because it’s just some people’s old things, preserved for no apparent reason. I still thought it was pretty cool to see all these items from an entirely different era, and the kids were great sports about it. Grandma even bought them some geode stones to take home and smash open.

Let’s see… we also did some put-put golfing, because my poor deprived children had never been, can you believe it!? I beat everybody, both times we went, but the kids scored a couple holes in one, so they were strong opponents, for sure. We celebrated the second day by taking them out for ice cream, as you can see below.

There was also grilling, eating out, a bit of swimming in the blow up pool to cool off, jewelry making with Grandma, and of course lots of playing with Riley, the bird. I’m sure I’m leaving out details. Yes, flying was stressful for me, having to rely on the kids to see and hear things for me, but it was really nice to get where we were going so quickly. For all the fun we had and getting some quality time with Grandma and Grandpa, it was totally worth it. It was a fantastic, full week of fun and I am so glad we went. We hope to do it again next year.