Monday, January 20, 2014

This is a story about control.

Pem wrote yesterday about letting go of control, and about the challenge of learning to let go of control. I thought I would follow her good example, and try to put some of my own thoughts about this down, too.

Go read her post, because I want to write in response to it.

She writes, and I'm quoting selectively here, 
The letting go of control I imagine is letting go (though not completely) of my role as researcher and advocate. … I realized I need to some extent to let Hospice be the ones who know what John needs.  But then I have to face my own powerlessness instead of hiding it behind a front.
This resonates with me, although my situation is extremely different. Instead of being a care-giver, I frequently need a care-giver. Instead of struggling with a partner's illness, I am struggling with my own. And while I do not believe that I am dealing with an illness as extreme as John's, it has proven to be something beyond my control.

I have long been invested in my ability to exert control over my situation, whether that situation is financial, academic, professional, athletic, or even (at least sometimes) emotional. I had gotten quite expert at not losing control--at being able instead to see what a situation requires and then take those steps. I keep a careful calendar. I turn off the lights. I watch my weight. I watch other drivers vigilantly. I listen for noises at night and when I hear something unusual, I devise a careful plan for dealing with it. I can swim 20 50s of freestyle on a fairly tight interval and keep my pace even, with a second's time.

I think I believed that by taking control of things I could control them.

This illness has taught me otherwise.

I can monitor my sleep, my diet, what I drink, my activity, my meds, my workload, etc., etc., etc., and still not control how I will feel. I have studied and studied and studied. I have tried many things (and indeed), and I have not figured out "the answer."

Because of my desire for control, this inability to control makes me crazy. I think I am not trying hard enough. I think that I have been a lax patient. I think I need to try harder, read more books, study more websites, see what I am missing.

This has been an unproductive path.

Now I exist in a strange double-consciousness, where I continue to "seek the solution," as a former swim coach of mine says, as though this is a clear path with a definitive answer at the end. But I also practice letting go of control, accepting that there may not be an answer.

I say practice, of course, because I need a lot more practice. Another former swim coach used to say (probably still does) that practice does not make perfect--perfect practice makes perfect.

I have decided that that, too, is a false hope. When I practice acceptance, I draw on some of the techniques I have learned in swimming. I know, for instance, that a new skill feels rotten at first, like you are swimming wrong. And I know that "at first" really means "for a good long while," particularly when the skill you are trying to learn replaces years and years of doing things some other way. And I know how good--how deceptively good--it feels when you slip, and do it the old way, the wrong way.

And I also know that there comes a time when you "get it," and the new skill finally clicks. There is still room for back-sliding, of course, but this is a big moment.

Anyway, practicing giving over control, and accepting how things are can be something like learning a new swimming skill, and like swimming, an effective practice is an attentive practice.

But at the same time, there is this double-consciousness, and that need to seek the solution is there, too, which makes the acceptance complicated. And there is the chorus of voices recommending various cures that they have read about or heard about or that someone they know had success from. This chorus does not want to accept things for what they are. They seem to want me to remain in control (or at least this is the intention I tend to project on them). I get mad at them, this chorus, but really I think I am mad about my own dreams of a cure, and the ways that they hinder my letting go of control, my accepting things for what they are.

In this world where we schedule, plan, set goals, and assess progress, it is always challenging to let things unfold as they will, to surrender control. I am not a person who believes in "God's plan," but I do know that the universe is a bigger and more complicated place than I can understand, and that by trying to control it, I can only misunderstand, and so misdirect.

Or, as T. S. Eliot has said,
I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.
Whisper of running streams, and winter lightning.
The wild thyme unseen and the wild strawberry,
The laughter in the garden, echoed ecstasy
Not lost, but requiring, pointing to the agony
Of death and birth.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Whoa! Caffeine!




Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Candida Cleanse, Day 15: Not about Candida.

So this year I have been serving on an important committee in my department, and back before I had to pull out of my classes, I agreed to chair it. I have continued to participate in and run committee meetings by Skype, but I decided that my chairing this committee is really not good for me or for the department, so I asked in December for other members to consider stepping forward.

At the end of today’s meeting, after we had selected a new chair, one of the members made the joke, “The chair is dead. Long live the chair!”

So fucking hilarious.

And so typical, I think, of people who have no idea what is going on but can’t pass up the opportunity to crack a joke.

Would it be that hard for someone who is quite intelligent to see that saying this while the dead chair is in the room, the dead chair who is out on sick leave, might not be quite as hilarious as they think?

I suppose he doesn't know, since I've not really mentioned it, that the likelihood of my returning to work is pretty small. Or that, in all likelihood, or for all practical purposes, my academic career, or at least my career in teaching, is dead.

But even so. Even without that detail, how hard is it really to realize that this is not the thing to say to the person who has just explicitly said that she is stepping down because of sick leave?

So, just as I forgive all those people whose response to chronic illness is to say "Hope you get well soon!" as having good intentions, even though their little toss-off comments offers me and my definitively-not-getting-better self yet another--because I get these comments over and over and over again--reminder of how not getting better I am, soon or not. 

Just as I forgive them, I need to forgive this little hilarious asshole, because he doesn't know better.

Well honestly: when can we start expecting people to know better?

How hard is it, after all, to get beyond your own limited world-view and consider where someone else is coming from for a change?

And this from people who pride--yes pride--themselves on being enlightened about difference coming from race, class, gender, and sexuality, but wear their ableism like an arrogant badge of Don't Bother Me With Your Problems.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Candida Cleanse, Lucky Day 13.

It is the second to last day of this cleanse.


One thing I am really looking forward to is being able to take Metamucil (which has maltodextrin in it--a no-no). The magnesium supplement I used to take seemed to counterbalance the constipating effects of the verapamil, but the new one, recommended by my enviro-doc, does not. I planned to start the Metamucil back at the first of the year, but the ingredients said no.

I am also really ready for a beer, or a glass of wine, or perhaps a scotch.

And I have been pondering a small slice of cake. Or one of the Christmas cookies in my freezer.

And truffle parmesan fries.

And pizza.


I suppose I am at that part of the process where I can start to look forward to the "after," without just feeling bad to be in the "during." It reminds me of the late stages of a knitting project, when I am so so ready to be working on something else, but also committed to finish the thing I'm so close with.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Candida Cleanse, Day 12: It's All in the Stock.

Last night I made some ass-kicking soup, and I will tell you about it here. But as my title suggests, soup all depends on the stock, and this was righteous stock.

I made this stock the day after Thanksgiving, with a carcass from a smallish heritage breed turkey, along with a lot of leftover vegetable parts and herbs from my Thanksgiving stuffing project, including onion skins, which gave it great color. And some added carrots. And a couple of bay leaves from my bay tree to surpass all bay trees. All in all, I got a pretty decent amount of quite delicious stock.

Then over Christmas, our basement flooded, knocking out the motor on our chest freezer. Of all the things in there, I was saddest about losing two different batches of wonderful stock.

So you can imagine my joy when we were unloading the dead freezer and taking photos of the perished food and I found that my containers of stock, since they were all pretty large, all had big chunks of ice in them, and could be refrozen.

No, maybe you cannot imagine. My joy was immense.

So I have been relishing this stock even more than usual. With half of the older batch of chicken and pork stock, and some beef bits from Greenbrier Farms (also a near loss of the freezer catastrophe) I made a Mexican-inflected beef stew. With the other half I made a chicken, veggie and lentil soup, but I went a little overboard on the carrots and parsnips and so the soup is a little too sweet for my taste. But still: it's hearty and wonderful and it has the magic stock.

Last night I used the larger portion of the Thanksgiving turkey stock, along with chorizo, kale, and beruga lentils to make a very yum soup. Proportion-wise, there is a lot of kale in there, but it works, since the kale takes on the flavor of the stock in its little curly tendrils. And the Broncos won.

Yay, soup!

Swimming this morning taxed me. I was feeling pretty depleted of energy going in, since I've still not figured out how to feel nourished on this diet, and since there seems to have been a raucous cat party from about 3 a.m. onward this morning. So I suppose it should be no surprise that I got hit with a whopper of a headache. I am now, some seven hours later, no longer in bed and feeling more human.

But I have soup for tonight, good nourishing, tasty, hearty soup.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Candida Cleanse, Day 11: Sigh.

I hate to say this, but I fear I may be reaching the point where I see that this approach to my migraine disease is not working any more than any of the many other approaches I have taken.

These include, and I'm sure I'm forgetting something:
Calcium-channel blockers
Topamax (actually, this might have worked, but I couldn't tolerate it)
Magnesium supplements
Melatonin supplements
Muti-vitamin supplements
DHE injections
Steroid pack
Lidocaine injection up my nose

Eliminate alcohol for a designated period
Eliminate caffeine for a designated period
Eliminate gluten, eggs, and dairy for a designated period
Stop exercising
Start exercising again
Exercise every day
Maintain very regular sleep patterns
Drink gallons of water
Go off hormonal birth control
Acupuncture (with and without TENS)
Cranio-sacral massage

Granted, there are variations: Currently, I am not having much trouble with vertigo, and to be fair, I don't know whether this is one of these no-vertigo phases (since it comes and goes), or whether the cleanse has done away with it.

And I have generally been sleeping better--less likely to wake up in the middle of the night. I don't recall this happening during any of the other eliminations I did, which makes me think that the mid-session sleep disruption may have to do with simple carbs in my diet. When I gave up gluten before, I found non-wheat carbs to eat in its place, so this is the first time I've really purged carbs from my diet.

Speaking of which, it really surprises me that I can have a lunch, say, consisting of a good bit of white-meat chicken (with skin) and roasted brussels sprouts, and almost immediately feel like I am hungry again. Perhaps since I am not usually a huge meat eater my body has not yet found a way to satiate itself on protein.

But what it feels like is that my body is eating itself, all the time. And I guess it is, given that I am down 6 pounds in 11 days.

And I can say with certainty that of those 11 days, I have had migraine symptoms at a level that they slow me down on 6 of the days. Granted: I am not working, so I may be quicker to decide to lie down when I don't feel well than I would if I were working, but still. I'm not pleased with those numbers.

Since I am getting to the point where the end of this two-week period is in sight, I'm beginning to wonder how to proceed at the end. I do know that I do not want to continue with this diet completely. But in one book that I read, the author advocated maintaining the diet 80% of the time, as a way to keep Candida from coming back. (Side note: since there was never a test, I do not really know whether I had it or not.) And I do think that a diet very low in highly processed carbohydrates is a good thing, generally.

But I am not interested in continuing to lack the possibility of a glass of wine with dinner, or a cup of caffeinated tea when my head hurts (it does help), or eating in a restaurant once in a while (very very difficult given all the classes of food that are currently excluded), or excluding an entire class of nutrients.

And while I am glad for the weight loss, and know I could stand to lose quite a bit more, the feeling of my body eating itself is not something I want to continue.

P.S. Dreams: Last night I had a long dream about relishing a big frosting-laden cinnamon roll. In the dream, it was endless, as was my ability to keep eating it. Later in the night, I had dreams about friends sending me frosted doughnuts, and how happy I was. Still later, I dreamt that I was driving home from somewhere, a long drive at night, and I was drinking a Coke, but then realized I was having sugar and caffeine.

Earlier in this cleanse, I had dreams about cinnamon rolls, but they were kind of awful, like Oh no! I ate some of that cinnamon roll! Now my cleanse is shot! This time, in the cinnamon roll dream anyway, there was none of that.

I do not typically have food dreams, but I used to when I was training seriously for triathlon, and so riding my bike 4-5 times a week, swimming 3 times a week, and running twice a week. Back then, the dreams involved walking through bakeries or buffets with endless platters and baskets of beautiful pastries, and wondering which one/s I would choose.

So I do not know whether the dreams now are like sex dreams, manifestations of cravings I try to suppress during the day, or an indication that, like before, my body is short on sustenance and pleading for help.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Candida Cleanse, Day 8: BANANAS.

According to the rules of my Candida Cleanse, I can have 1-2 fresh fruits a day, starting today.


Yesterday a friend suggested that if they allow one piece of fruit, why not make it a watermelon? I see his point, and yet. . . .

This morning I cut up half a banana and put it under my usual oatmeal concoction. Delicious!

Also, I feel hopeful that since I successfully followed the rules for 7 days, I can do it for another 7 days.

Left-over pork green chili (made by the PP on Sunday--delicious) with corn chips
Fizzy water with lime

2 cups rooibos tea
Oatmeal with butter, sliced almonds, and BANANAS

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Candida Cleanse, Day 7.

Today is officially the last day of the first week of this cleanse. That gives me hope that it also has an ending.

We got a lovely dinner invitation from some wonderful neighbors for this weekend. Do I go, but eat first? Go, but first ask what they're making? Not go? Somehow the prospect of being invited over by someone had not crossed my mind at all, so not entered the planning at all.

I awoke feeling very weary today. Not really sleepy: I slept fine last night.

But with this illness I have learned that there are days where it is just harder to deal with the symptoms, even though the symptoms themselves may not be any worse. These are the days I find the hardest--where I most feel that I should buck up and do better.

But I am trying to practice self-care and self-forgiveness, so instead of forcing myself through work, I am taking an easy day: catching up on the season opener of Downton Abbey, knitting on the lace scarf I'm making for my local yarn shop, watching a DVD I got from the library.

These are the days when I find it hardest to imagine encountering other people, because I don't feel that bad physically, but it is still hard to explain that that does not make it a good day.

These are the days that help me understand how people with illnesses and disabilities withdraw from the world. It is not that I feel depressed, but I just don't feel like living on the world's terms today.

This is the kind of day that makes me grateful to be on sick leave, even though I am also extremely aware that everyone else is going back to classes. And if I'm being honest, also sorry for myself that I am in this situation.

But mostly it's not that: I really like being able to live my own rhythm, a rhythm determined not by an academic schedule--though that is there, too, as a kind of rhythm against which mine pushes. I notice the changes in the sunlight more, and what it feels like that today is so much warmer than yesterday.

I am conscious of living in my own head quite a bit, but not sorry about that. Granted, the realization can be jarring: I find myself almost offended by other people's opinions, once I hear them, as though they are an intrusion.

I am content with windows, not really wanting to put out the effort to dress in outside clothes, or move myself beyond the house. I am glad that I walked to the library yesterday, to remember what 11 F feels like, but the fact that it is warmer today does not create an imperative to get out in it again.

I decided not to swim this morning, because I did not feel up dealing with people, or putting out the big effort of a workout, or putting on goggles for that matter.

None of this is to say that I want this for every day, but for today, I am OK with it.

Taco Night!
Blend of ground beef and pork with a spice blend adapted from here (though I added 1 Tbsp green chili to her concoction, because I had it, and I used fresh onion and garlic instead of the powder: for about 2 lbs of meat, I used the entire spice recipe)
Taco shells
Rotel tomatoes with green chilis
Black olives
Fizzy water with lime

Oatmeal with butter, almonds, nutmeg
2 cups rooibos tea

Taco salad, with leftover taco meat from last night, lettuce, rotel tomatoes with chilis, and olive oil and lime juice for dressing

Sweet potato chips

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Candida Cleanse, Day 6: The Polar Vortex.

In between work today, I have spent entirely too much time on Facebook cracking jokes about the Polar Vortex. Is it a good name for a bar? A super-villain? A super-power? A starship? The Borg? A Cylon? (Does it have a plan?) Something akin to the Force? The name of a girl gang? And so on and so on and so on and then it hit me:

I have not really been thinking about my Candida Cleanse today.

That is a good feeling, because last night I got pretty weepy and sorry for myself about having to limit what I eat and drink (Water again? Yes, thank you), not really being able to go out to eat or order in because I have to be so careful, what a drag it is to have to cook every single meal, and all while I'm already trying to fight off feeling sorry for myself because I AM ON SICK LEAVE FOR PETE'S SAKE and am already struggling with an unpredictable and generally crappy disease.

So to not be thinking about food is awesome.

Less awesome is that I have kind of gotten tired of the few snacks I can have, and so have the cats. The PP likes to share food with the cats, so they are always checking out what we are eating, with their little hopeful eyes. And they keep turning away in disgust from my carrots and celery, hummus and almond butter. In fact, one of them even snorted her disgust.

I feel your pain, little spoiled cats.

But for today, I am enjoying the hell out of the Polar Vortex. And I understand tonight is Taco Night!

Oatmeal with butter and almonds
2 cups rooibos tea

Celery with almond butter

ANOTHER SNACK (scheduling SNAFU meant no real lunch):
Carrots with hummus

Monday, January 06, 2014

Candida Cleanse, Day 5: UPDATE

Within one hour of finishing my wonderful second breakfast of champions, I was DYING for sugar.

I turned to my trusty almond butter, which scratches the sweet itch, but this suggests that I have not adapted to the new diet as fully as my previous message may have, in its post-workout endorphin-powered bliss, suggested (read: wanted to believe).

Candida Cleanse, Day 5: Second Breakfast of Champions.

Today was my first real swim practice since the holidays: yes, I had been to the pool on my own twice, but not for a coached workout.

Wouldn't you know that I would pick Give-Up Fly day?

NOTE: Not Got to Give It Up Fly, Marvin.


So here is how Give-Up Fly works:
You start out swimming 50s, with fins on. For the first 50, you do one stroke of fly, and then the rest free. For the second 50, you do two strokes of fly, and then the rest free. For the third 50, you do three strokes of fly, and then the rest free. You get the idea.

At a certain point--when you get to where you're swimming an entire 50 of fly--you upgrade from 50s to 100s. In theory, I suppose, you would then upgrade to 150s, but I didn't make it that far.

So I did my upgrade at 16 strokes: that made for 2 full lengths of fly, and then the added 50 was all free.

I have done this set before. That time, I completed the 16th one, but then died on number 17, because I was trying not to breathe on the first stroke off the wall.

Believe me, you need to breathe on the first stroke off the wall. Maybe not on the first 25, since there is a rest interval, but on the others. And this time, coach had me trying to breathe every stroke for the second and third lengths: doing that requires more power, but at least you have oxygen in your blood.

Anyway, this time I made it to number 24, so completing three full lengths of fly. I could really feel my stroke technique deteriorating on the last few, and I was doing backstroke rather than free for the remaining strokes, but I'm proud I made it to the full 75.

That made for 1650 yards for the set, and roughly half of it fly.

The rest of the practice was a 1000-yard warm-up and a 350-yard cool-down, for 3000 yards in 70 minutes.

This is a HUGE improvement over Saturday. Part of this, I know, is that the set requires focus, and that kept my mind off how bad I felt. (Well, sort of.) But I do think my body is adapting to the cleanse diet, and I am very pleased that I was able to complete that practice.

When I came back, I sliced up and heated two of those pre-cooked turkey sausages that the PP had kindly found me at Whole Foods, reheated some left-over kale, and had the most awesome second breakfast ever.

Oatmeal with butter, slivered almonds, and nutmeg (nice!)
2 cups rooibos tea

2 pre-cooked turkey sausages
some left-over kale, which, by the way, I had way over-salted
another cup of rooibos tea

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Candida Cleanse, Day 3 UPDATE: A Confession about Butter.

So yesterday late afternoon, i.e., Day 3, PP grilled some very nice turkey bratwurst for our dinner. You may remember that I was having some fat cravings after my swim. I also roasted some diced brussels sprouts in olive oil, with sliced garlic, sea salt (N.B.: iodized salt has sugar in it), and pepper, and then some lemon juice on the top after the cooking. It was pretty tasty, though I admit that the turkey bratwurst was a little dry--not the big juicy sausage experience I was hoping for.

Anyway, since we ate early, I found myself wanting a snack later--kind of "dessert"--so I made us popcorn with butter. The first time that I had done this, I had used way too little butter, so it didn't really scratch the "fat" itch, which was as close to dessert as I come.

Friends, this time I may have overdone it.

Indeed, there may have been a little pool of butter at the bottom of the bowl.

And it was delicious.

But I am embarrassed.

Next time, PP says, he'll butter his own popcorn. But I noticed that the didn't leave any behind.

Candida Cleanse, Day 4: How I Was Saved from Giving Blood.

So, like a big doofus, I thought I would give blood today.

It was kind of like an impulse buy, as we were walking into of all places Best Buy, so that the PP could return the fritzy stereo he had purchased for my birthday. (But props to the PP: he also dragged his ass around the basement and wired the house so that my study stereo, also hooked to the computer, can play throughout the house.) Anyway, I figured he would be in line for a while, so why not give blood?

Because I am taking diflucan for a possible fungal infection, that's why.

But please imagine the situation. The person in scrubs filling out my form on the computer asks me whether I am on any antibiotics. No. Do I have any infections? Well, now that is a harder one. I was never tested for an overgrowth of Candida, so technically I don't know. (This kind of detailed thinking always gets me in trouble.) So I say, "Well, I am taking an anti-fungal for Candida."

"Candida?" says the person in scrubs, "What is that?"

So I have to explain that it is this thing where, you know, your good gut bacteria get overwhelmed by a yeast, that is common and not harmful except when it overgrows, and this is an idea prevalent in the world of alternative medicine but doubted by the mainstream….

She started flipping through the laminated pages of her Big Binder of Conditions That Preclude You From Giving Blood.

I say, "I'm taking diflucan."

She says "That's what they give for yeast infections. Are you sure it's just in your intestines?"

I tell her that I have no idea. I do not tell her that I do not really know if it is there at all. She flips some more and finally says, "No."

And I tell you, I felt rejected, but a little relieved, because by then I had remembered that after you give blood, when you're feeling all woozy and prone to passing out, they give you juice and cookies. I would have had to say, "Have you got any water maybe with lime juice squeezed in it and a whole-wheat yeast-free cracker instead?" Which probably would not work the magic of the sugar, which is all pretty much the point.

I asked her whether verapamil, a calcium-channel blocker that I take for migraine, is on her list of prohibited meds, and it is not, though I should not give blood if I have a heart condition. I do not.

She also said that I should not give blood if I have had a headache in the last few hours, because the loss of blood would bring one on for sure.

And so I started wondering: Would "have you had a headache in the last couple of hours?" have been on her list of 50 questions, any one of which might have ruled me out? Because the problem there is that although I had actually had a pretty great morning, no pain, minimal sensory disruption, my sense is that my migraine symptoms--if that is even what this is at all--do not ever fully go away.

And then I would have been in the position of trying to decide whether I was strong enough to give blood and save a life, even though it might give me a whopper headache.

And frankly, I am glad I did not have to make that decision, because there is enough about this disease that makes me feel like a big selfish whiny baby, without that too.

(But maybe the time I spent in the UK during the mad cow years would have gotten me a break.)

Anyway, before all this, we did have a nice time at the Whole Foods finding yummy things I can eat, like Sweet Potato Chips and Brad's Raw Chips (Indian flavor! Tastes like real Indians!) and more rooibos and herbal tea and mustard greens and mild Italian pork sausage and pork bratwurst (the only 2 pork sausages we could find without sugar) and cauliflower and hummus and some more great stuff that I can't remember right now.

I did look mournfully at the cheese.

Oatmeal with butter and almonds
Rooibos tea

3 triscuits with almond butter

Leftover spicy beef stew (yumsville)
More rooibos tea
A handful of the sweet potato chips, because I simply could not resist.

Assorted salty nuts (not peanuts)

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Candida Cleanse Day 3: Exercise.

Thanks to persistent migraine symptoms, today was the first day that I did real exercise since I started my austerity measures. (I did walk to and from the library yesterday, but not at any great pace.)


Granted, I was off last week because of Christmas, and most of the week before that because of bad migraine attacks, but I did go for walks with my father most days while we were visiting, and I did have a pleasant swim (2300y) on Monday. Besides, it is not as though I was doing anything that strenuous today, and my distance was 2000y over a little over 40 mins. (A typical coached swim practice clocks in at 3000-4000, and 85-90 mins.).

And to be clear, I am not talking about the uptick in migraine symptoms that I often feel during practice, since exercise is a sure-fire migraine trigger: weakness in my right arm and leg, distorted sensation (cold patches, numbness, tingling) in those limbs, some head and face pain in various places.

I think my muscles were feeling the lack of carbohydrates.

To be clear, it is not as though I have had no carbs, but I have had quite a bit less, and they are all in the form of whole grains and vegetables.

My legs felt very heavy very fast--as though I had had a big kick workout yesterday. And now that it's over, I feel like I really pushed myself--as though I swam really long or really hard or both.

And I am craving fatty meat like crazy. The trick, of course, is that most readily available examples of same (bacon, pork sausage, pepperoni, salami) have some form of sugar in them, and so are off limits. I did have a post-swim snack of carrots and almond butter, and now I can look at the cats without thinking of them as meat.

The good news is that turkey bratwurst are on the menu for tonight, but damn, couldn't they be pork? Or how about pork belly?

I am curious to see whether I will adapt to this, or whether the lack of carbs will be a hindrance to my workouts.

By the way, I did a weigh-in when I began, and I weighed myself again this morning under the same conditions: I had lost 4.4 pounds. I figure at least some of that has to be the result of the usual day-to-day fluctuations, but still: I find so quick a drop a little scary. Perhaps that amount of weight loss is also contributing to my difficulty working out--and to the fatty meat cravings.

Turkey sausage with sun-dried tomatoes, grits (the real kind) cooked in chicken broth, salt & pepper
2 cups of rooibos tea

5 Triscuits with almond butter

Carrots with almond butter

Friday, January 03, 2014

Candida Cleanse, Day 2: The Viscous Properties of Almond Butter

Did you know that although that tub of almond butter looks like it could spill if you tip it too quickly, that when you try to dig a spoon or a carrot into it, it will resist mightily? And that within just a few minutes of your violent removal of some part of it, there will be virtually no trace of your crime?

But do not carve out too much of it onto your spoon, expecting to eat it like a peanut butter lollipop, unless you're happy with the idea of almond butter down your front.

Cats think they want it, but one taste assures them that they do not.

The taste is remarkably sweet, like marzipan, especially if you have not had refined sugar in a couple of days.

This is something I am loving about this cleanse: realizing how sweet various "unsweetened" things are, and how the ubiquity of sugar in our day-to-day American diet dulls our ability to notice this on our own.

Or anyway, my own.

Carrots with almond butter
Rooibos tea

Popcorn with butter and salt (I'm hoping this is OK: I think it is a whole grain)

Kale sauteed in olive oil, with salt and pepper
[Yes, I really should have had a real lunch. I'll be more careful about that tomorrow.]

Big honking spoonful of almond butter

Chicken soup I made this afternoon, with stock that I rescued from my flood-destroyed freezer: I've added more chicken (also a flooded-out freezer refugee), carrots, parsnips, celery, le puy lentils, fresh parsley and sage, dried thyme, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, and more salt and pepper.

All in all, this has not been bad. I did miss being able to have a crisp white wine with the perfectly-spiced grilled halibut and asparagus we had for dinner last night. (Confession: I took a deep sniff of the PP's Dale's Pale Ale. I hope yeast doesn't get into your gut through your nose.)

And while I miss sweets, I miss my milky morning tea more. The last several mornings, I've awakened with a headache, and I realize that usually my morning cup of tea nips it. Now there is nothing to nip it. This is useful information to pass along to my headache doctor.

But for now, because migraine symptoms are no fun to think about or write about, I'll return to ruminating on the wondrous properties of almond butter.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Candida Cleanse, Day 1: My kingdom for a Christmas cookie!

My buddy Sarah suggested that I blog my experience with my Candida Cleanse, so welcome back. The fun begins today.

Basically, the plan is this: take anti-fungal meds and maintain a special diet for two weeks, in hopes of killing off yeast that may have taken root in my system. For those of you who like Latin, we are talking about Candida albicans, a kind of fungus that can overgrow in the body thanks to taking a lot of antibiotics, or other causes.

(For those of you wondering whether I have taken a lot of antibiotics and some point, look here and here, or really just start reading in April 2007 and come forwards for a while.)

The alternative medicine world is big into Candida as a health problem. The lame stream medical world is dubious. I figure, will two weeks of a limited diet kill me? Probably not.


But I hope not.

Briefly, I can eat any meat and veggies, beans and legumes (except peanuts), any nuts and seeds (except peanuts), any oils, whole grains (whole only, without yeast or sugar), and herbal tea.

After the first week, I can eat 1-2 pieces of fruit a day.

Attentive readers--or is anyone reading this?--will notice the exclusion of these items: sugar of any kind, yeast, vinegar, caffeine, alcohol, dairy products (butter is OK), dried fruit, melons, malted products (like soy sauce), and other fungi (like mushrooms or truffles).

So starting today meant that I did some shopping yesterday.

If you would like a good primer in processed food, try this fun exercise: go to the store and look for packaged food containing no kind of sweetener. Find anything? I didn't think so.

Or, if you did, is it yeast-free? Vinegar-free?

Prepare to cook for yourself.

So last night I made a big pot of Mexican-inflected beef stew, which we ate with quinoa. And of course there are left-overs.

One setback this morning: I opened up a package of fancy organic chicken sausages to cook some up for a snack, only to find that something was very very wrong, and that opening the package had released an odor of raw sewage into the kitchen.

Mmmmmm breakfast.

So far today:
cup of herbal tea (which did exactly nothing to help me wake up)
bowl of oatmeal with butter and slivered almonds

Downside thus far: Caffeine is my wonder-worker for migraine attacks, and thanks to the weather, I got a doozie this morning, worsened without my usual morning cup of tea. Excedrin migraine is out. And triptans were overused to get through the holiday, so I'm bearing through on heat pads, cold packs, and naps. And nice kitties. And an accommodating PP.

a few nuts

Then I was already to cook up a nice sausage, because I had been napping and dreaming of hamburgers, but then the sewage smell and here we are. Luckily for me, PP offered to go out for some other kind of meat and some other things.

So stay tuned. "Two weeks" seemed very manageable when it was off in the distant future. This morning it feels like an eternity.

UPDATED TO ADD: Here is the rest of my food from the day.
a pre-cooked and so just warmed up chicken and sun-dried tomato sausage that the PP kindly found me at Whole Foods
more of that tasty beef stew from last night

popcorn with butter and salt

grilled spiced halibut with asparagus
fizzy water with lime juice