Archive for September, 2012

September 27, 2012

i would like to rescind my previous comments

There is no way that Criminal Minds can give me a headache like the one I have from watching SVU just now. I do not know why somebody in production thought it would be cool to shoot SVU like a soap opera (complete with crappy acoustics), but someone somewhere is responsible for this headache.

Plus, a 2 hour premiere? That was a little much. (Sorry, Mariska. I really do like you.)

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September 26, 2012

Ramblings on a New TV Season

As you can imagine, 3+ months in bed yields quite a bit of hobby time. When you can’t move very much, your hobbies are somewhat limited, so I’ve been mostly reading, watching tv and movies, playing Catan on my cell phone (there’s an app for that! hallelujah!), needlepointing, and messing around on Pinterest.

I have a DVR in my room, so I can keep TV watching on my schedule, and not on the acronyms’ schedule. (This is especially important when I crash and burn, and need to nap despite the airing of the season premiere of Castle.

Tuesday nights are going to be light this season for the DVR – only has to record one 30-minute episode. But Wednesday nights… holy moley. I have to make choices. I never thought I’d say this, but there is too much good stuff to choose from airing at the same time.

Tonight is the whopper: Modern Family, Criminal Minds, and Law and Order: SVU all premiere tonight at 8. My poor DVR only records 2 shows at a time. The only way I can see around this problem is to watch the SVU premiere (2 whole hours of busting bad guys and putting them away) in another room (if I can bear sitting on a couch) while the DVR records Modern Family and Criminal Minds.

But this is no long-term solution. SVU will air at 8. Modern Family will air at 8. Criminal Minds will air at 8. What’s a girl to do?

I think the time has come for me to admit that Criminal Minds is a show I like to watch random reruns of. Maybe someday I’ll borrow some DVDs and watch a season straight through. The truth is, though, that Mandy Pantikin (who was Inigo Montoya! I had no idea until yesterday!!!) isn’t on the show anymore, and that’s probably why Criminal Minds has been relegated to the “Better Than Eh” list. A great actor playing a great character – love to see that. But Matthew Gray Gubler can’t make up for Pantikin’s absence, and I guess I’ll be skipping Criminal Minds this season.

See what profound thoughts I have in between saying the wrong words and having weird dreams?

September 22, 2012

Convalescent Reading List

Here’s what’ve I’ve read in the last 3ish months. It turns out I’m a grumpier reader when I’m sick, which means I give up on books more quickly. For example, this quarter (did not mean for it to get this long, sorry), I gave up on Eliza Haywood’s Love in Excess. It was slow and the guy was a complete jerk and she kept trying to get me to like him and I finally said, “You know what? I don’t have to read this!”

As for the rest, this time I’ve added some notes, but I should start by saying that Lisa Gardner and Michael Connelly write some fabulous mysteries. I prefer Gardner’s current D.D. Warren series, but I’m doubling back to catch her FBI Profiler series now as well.

Oh, and I’ve bolded my favorites.

  1.  The Italian by Ann Radcliffe – deliciously all things Gothic, complete with swooning and convents
  2. Nothing to Hide by Mark Bertrand – absolutely love this guy and everything he puts out
  3. Echo Park by Michael Connelly
  4. The Overlook by Michael Connelly
  5. Three Tales of My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Gannett Stiles
  6. Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian by John Piper – This book isn’t revolutionary except for the fact that it’s TRUE. Racism is evil. Let’s kill it dead. 
  7. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith – so sad!
  8. The Pretty One by Cheryl Klam
  9. Where We Belong by Emily Giffin – she just keeps getting better, although my favorite is still Baby Proof
  10. The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman – very interesting 
  11. The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Finally finished the whole thing!) 
  12. Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close
  13. The Perfect Husband by Lisa Gardner
  14. The Other Daughter by Lisa Gardner
  15. The Nine Tailors by Dorothy Sayers
  16. The Calico Captive by Elizabeth George Speare – so racist! I never realized as a kid.
  17. The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen – really cute
  18. The Technologists by Matthew Pearl – fascinating. get wrapped up in medium-old Boston for a little while. 
  19. The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity by Mike Carey and Peter Gross
  20. The Unwritten: Inside Man by Mike Carey and Peter Gross
  21. The Great Divide by T. Davis Bunn – a legal novel about  attacking human trafficking
  22. The Third Victim by Lisa Gardner
  23. Black Orchid by Neil Gaiman and David McKean
  24. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – absolutely enchanting; very clever 
  25. World War Z by Max Brooks – zombie war is over; oral history is compiled. very cool.
  26. The Last Oracle by James Rollins
  27. Obama’s America: Unmaking the American Dream by Dinesh D’Souza – investigation of the president’s ideological base
  28. The Knight at Dawn (Magic Tree House #2) by Mary Pope Osborne- if i can extrapolate from this book, i’d say that the Magic Tree House books are a fine way to familiarize kids with other times and cultures, but a TERRIBLE way to teach them to take notes. HORRIBLE. REALLY.
  29. Words Unspoken by Elizabeth Musser – a story of healing after tremendous loss
  30. Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall by Bill Williamson and a host of illustrators

If you know much about about popular literature, you’ll probably see this list and pick out a bunch of what my 3rd grade teacher called “candy bar books” – basically junk food books. I am immensely grateful for them. Right now, they are easy for me to understand where lots of other books take more energy. Plus, they are fun. And I read fast.

September 19, 2012

Well this feels weird…

Like I said in my last post, the anti-Candida war has a lot to do with diet. So mine has been in massive upheaval since last Friday. I’m keeping a food journal to try to track what I’m eating when, since I have to spread foods out, especially vegetables. Apparently a person with my condition is very likely to develop new allergies if foods are eaten too frequently. (Of course, that means my trend of eating the same thing for breakfast every day has to go out the window. Also, said breakfast has been a handful of nuts for the past few years, and that has to end too, because nuts you get in the store most often are growing mold already.)

ANYWAY, right now I am drinking a new thing – an enormous smoothie that tastes strongly of parsley and pineapple with a hint of pear and banana. If you like that sort of thing (I happen to LOVE parsley), borrow away.

Pear, Parsley, and Pineapple Smoothie (modified from original here)

  • 4 ripe pears, chopped into 1″ pieces
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 1/2 banana
  • 3/4 cup pineapple.
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup ice

Dump it all into a big ole food processor and process away.

So, without hardly any carbs (besides the carbs in, like, oranges and stuff), no caffeine, no Dr Pepper, no sugar, no products with wheat in them (including soy sauce – did you know that has wheat in it?), no vinegar, nothing “aged” like wine or cheese, no dairy but butter (which for some reason is ok), etc., I’ve been a little grouchy. That’s been frustrating for me, and I’m sure for my caretakers/parental units. Thank goodness for carrots.

Thankfully, my parents are the most supportive, helpful human beings on the planet. The latest example: my mother has bent over backward to make food I can eat, even trying some of it with me – like the quinoa chicken soup she made a couple of days ago. It was really good, with a bit of soup. She modified it from a recipe with orzo, but since I can’t have pasta… let’s just say she’s getting good at this.

We’re planning a garden so we can grow some of the vegetables that are particularly in high demand in my diet (like brussel sprouts) or that are particularly prone to being moldy at the grocery store (like lettuce). We’ve already bought a bunch of herb plants, since I can’t eat the herbs you pick up in the grocery store cooking section. (Guess why: mold!)

So if you happen to have any great recipes that have easily modifiable or very simple ingredients, to recommend, leave ’em in the comments!

September 14, 2012

A Tale of, Oh Nine or So Doctors (Pt. 4, The One with the Diagnosis)

Today it was time for a follow up appointment with Dr. Six. He’d run a ton of bloodwork, so we went over the results.

All of my normal blood test results were normal (kinda convenient, eh?); what came back weird was the test that he ordered for Candida Albicans anti-bodies. Basically, he explained it this way – the more of something bad you have in you posing a threat (like Candida-gone-rogue), the more antibodies your body makes to fight them. Makes sense, right? But unfortunately, with this fungus (maybe all fungi, who knows, I’m not a doctor), those antibodies manage only to tear down the fungal cell walls, releasing all the toxins out into, say, my bloodstream.

There are 7 classes of infection. Basically, the least is Class 0, and there would be a <1 result for that. I think Class 2 is 3-5, and I know Class 5 is 50-100. I tested in Class 6, >100. Which means basically my body is fighting tooth and nail against this stuff, and it’s everywhere, and there isn’t currently a category for a worse infection than mine. The toxins are causing all my inflammation.

Now apparently this is a very controversial diagnosis, and has been since the 70s, but a lot of people have been helped by the treatments. And the book sounds an awful lot like me. And, come on, those test results are freaky. And Dr. Six is, as we know, awesome.

Dr. Six has put me on a four-pronged treatment plan. He drew this cool diagram and explained it all and I am not going to do that for you, so here’s my weak explanation of all the stuff he said.

  1. Prescription anti-fungal medications. I’ll actually be taking 2 – one that arrests growth and the other that does heavy damage. Apparently, it might cause a lot of pain (compared to now, even!) to attack hard, so we are going to be a bit gentler on my system.
  2. Diet change. Oh my stars, people, my diet is going to have to change SO MUCH. Because basically, this stuff feeds on mold and sugar. And guess what has sugar in it: EVERYTHING. And guess what has mold in it: ALMOST EVERYTHING ELSE. Just to give you a sampling, here are some things I cannot eat, probably ever again: wine, beer, almost all cheese, anything made from wheat flour, melons, pickles (yes, including pickled okra), white rice, most dried herbs from the grocery store, soy sauce, and peanut butter. This diet change is supposed to facilitate the starvation of the fungus.
  3. Probiotics. As we kill all this bad stuff, we don’t want a vacuum to form – or we’ll likely just get more Candida growth. So instead, we are trying to fill in that “space” so to speak with good stuff. Probiotics = good bacteria introduced. I think this makes sense.
  4. Exercise. For me right now, this can mean walking around the pool a couple of times on some days and walking downstairs and then back up on others. I am very limited by my pain. But every little bit will help the good guys win and the bad guys lose, so I guess I’ll be trying to do more laps around the pool.

There is a secret 5th prong: DRINK A WHOLE LOT OF WATER. But that I’ve gathered from the books and websites I’ve been reading.

So when will I be better? That’s definitely still an unknown. Dr. Six has treated patients with the the whole 9 yards for anywhere from 6 months – 2 years for this condition. He does think I should feel a definite change within the next four weeks, which is good, because while I was waiting in the lobby, I had to run to the bathroom to throw up because of the pain. So a definite change will be welcome.

Y’all, ever since this started I have had scads of folks tell me what they thought was wrong with me, and suggest I go see their favorite doctor because s/he figured it out. Sometimes, the connections were incredibly tenuous, or people were like, “I knew someone once whose cousin had this thing on her toe and a sore on her mouth, and it turned out she had brain cancer. Maybe you should get checked for that.” Amidst all the hubbub and the help (cause people were really trying to help, and some of them succeeded), my dear friend Missy correctly guessed what was wrong, and pushed me to push doctors to look into that.

Since I’d rather reward Missy’s sheer brilliance than do the typical blogger “giveaway to random integer generator commenter luckier than you person,” I’ll be giving her a little something soon (I’ll keep you posted). I’d do something similar for the friend who recommended Dr. Six, but she’d be mortified, so instead I think I will get her a book and keep it on the down-low.

(Obviously you’ll want to know how this diet is going to go. And whether killing the fungus will kill my brain, which perhaps has been itself a giant mushroom for years. And if I adopt a parrot that can only say “Occupy Wall Street!” So stay tuned.)

(Unless you’re totally grossed out. In which case, by the time I’m actually back in heels and doing theology, you will miss it.)

September 12, 2012

A Tale of, Oh, Eleven or So Doctors (Pt. 3)

We’re gonna have to change the name of this series, because I axed a couple. So currently, this is how the list looks:

Current players:

  • Dr. One – reproductive endocrinologist who I’ve worked with occasionally over the last 3.5 years
  • Dr. Two – obgyn buddy of Dr. One who did my first laparoscopy and found endometriosis
  • Dr. Three – new obgyn who actually had new ideas and gave me some options besides, you know, a hysterectomy or “we can’t do anything, so I’m sorry you are in so much pain, you wimp, but you’re gonna have to deal with it.” – PS, I am not a wimp.
  • Dr. Four – spinal pain doctor
  • Dr. Five – new internist
  • Dr. Six – gastroenterologist/allergy specialist
  • Dr. Seven – an MD with extensive homeopathic/alternative medicine practice
  • Dr. Eight – urologist with female focus recommended by Dr. Four
  • Dr. Nine – ear-nose-throat specialist, referred by Dr. Five
  • Dr. Ten –  sleep doctor recommended by Dr. Five
  • Dr. Eleven – the pain doctor that Dr. One originally wanted me to see, but he put up a stink about it. 

So really it’s now 9 doctors, if that. And then of course there is the fact that my last post featured all kinds of comments about Dr. Two, who is really Dr. Three. I kinda fired Dr. Two. Sorry about that, Dr. Three. You are so awesome.

~~~~~

Ok, so I met with Dr. Seven on Monday. My mom and I both left feeling very confused. He is very well-respected, and comes highly recommended by a variety of folks who’ve dealt with various kinds of problems. He’s known for being very thorough – he takes an extensive personal history for an hour and a half.

Boy did he. He asked questions about how I felt and what stressed me out in high school. He asked questions about exactly what different kinds of pain felt like, sometimes pain from more than 10 years ago – neck pain, abdominal pain, back pain, etc. I couldn’t figure out what he was getting at, and when I started answering the question not in the way he meant, or my explanation started to include information he didn’t care about, he kinda yelled things like, “I don’t care what you think! Tell me how it feels!”

The weirdest part was at the end. He made fun of my other doctors. He wouldn’t tell us (me and mom – I don’t go anywhere without her, cause my brain’s not working so great) what he thinks might be wrong with me. He wouldn’t tell us what the pills were that he gave me (I’m not supposed to take them till we discuss it on the phone sometime after my appointment with Dr. Six tomorrow). He seemed frustrated that I’d gone to other doctors (although I called to try to get in to see him more than 2 months ago), and it seemed like he was constantly trying to test my intelligence. Maybe he doesn’t like Wake Forest. It was weird.

We left very confused. He might be right, so I may wind up taking his teeny tiny pills after all. But only if he’ll tell me what he thinks it is, and what the pills are.

But, man, that was weird. I know weird happens with humans, but I was still surprised.

September 4, 2012

‘I won’t allow it! Why, I would almost rather be a law student than to have a woman in our group!’

‘So mysteriously God leads us, doesn’t He, Mr. Richards? Worry not, I am not one of the feminist reformers. I believe men are here to stay, and we women might as well work with them, not against them.’

Matthew Pearl, The Technologists, 188

September 2, 2012

A Tale of, Oh, Eleven Doctors or So (Part 2)

So I saw Dr. Two again on Wednesday. I must admit, it would have been nearly impossible for him to top Dr. Six.

I knew that the theory Dr. Six was controversial, but that fact became plainly evident when Dr. Two scoffed, literally scoffed, at that diagnosis ever anywhere for anyone. But he did tack on, quite seriously I think, a “But if that turns out to be true, and the treatment Dr. Six prescribes works for you and makes you better, I really am happy for you. I have no interest in being ‘the man.'”

The main reason I went back to see Dr. Two (who I first saw almost 6 weeks ago) because 1) the medication he gave me isn’t helping, 2) I wanted to update him on what all has happened since I saw him last, 3) I wanted a back-up plan for if the theory du jour is wrong, and 4) I need paperwork filled out for long-term disability insurance for work.

1) and 3) kinda go together. The back-up plan is a laparoscopy, so we can actually find out if we are dealing with endometriosis or not. It’s scheduled for November (but fortunately, not on my birthday).

2) see above for scoffing.

4) still a little bit of trouble with this, although Dr. Two was eager to help (you know, get it in the mail by Thursday). Oh well.