Thank you!

Dedicated to Chris Teodosio, my loving husband, and Allison, Dave, Emily and Maddie Beggs

lymeheadWell, it’s been about a year and a half since I came down with Lyme and embarked on my adventures. And what a year and a half it has been!

I went from being an energetic, functioning Mom, wife, and Kindergarten teacher, to a bed-ridden one, who was out of work for six months.

I became my own best advocate, needing and finding treatments outside of the regular medical field. I slowly found my stamina and drive come back over many months, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t recognize that I wouldn’t be in this healthy place if it weren’t for my husband. Through a series of connections, he led me to my ‘woo woo’ guy in New York, who has really helped me get my life back.

It was not easy to think “outside the Western Medical box” and go the naturopathic route. It took a huge leap of faith for me to do so, but I had gotten to the point in my illness that I really didn’t have much more to lose, other than more of my health and livelihood.

And that just wasn’t an option for me. 
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My biggest struggle with this illness has been the impact of a no sugar, no wheat, no carbs–basically,  a “no fun food” diet. I have been very faithful to what I call my “kale, meat and green tea” diet. Healthy, but not always embraced in our carb-laden society. Nor what my taste buds really wanted to enjoy, either!

But I think my diligence with the diet and the supplements is starting to pay off a bit.

I just recently started eating my favorite summer lunch: mini mozzarella balls, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, and almonds—topped with dressing made with Apple Cider Vinegar, olive oil, and seasonings.

I’m also drinking more flavored teas (I live on the edge–I brew 3 green tea bags and 1 ginger together for a full pitcher of tea.)  This past weekend, I tried a seltzer with orange flavor after having worked in the yard pretty much all day.  It was both refreshing to be outside that long AND drink the seltzer without pain!  YIPPEE!

But this kismet hasn’t been without the constant support of my family and friends.

My sister posted an adorable picture of her daughters doing the Lyme disease challenge in my honor today. Her caption was, “A little late and a continent away, but we did it for you!”

It made my heart swell and made me a little teary.

Because it’s never too late to show your love and support for anyone.

I realize how fortunate I am that I have experienced so much support from the start of my diagnosis so long ago.  Family members would reach out, some of them daily, and my co-workers and students were so generous with their own time and gifts as well.  I still look at the cards and mementos that I received from time to time; it seems so surreal that I was out of the classroom for so long, and for something that I didn’t even realize I had, until my symptoms became impossible to ignore.

When I went back to work this past fall, my colleagues would often ask how I was feeling. It doesn’t seem like much, but those little interactions often got me through some rough days. Days that had nothing to do with my Lyme, but rough nonetheless.  It showed that people really did care and were thoughtful enough to ask.

And even though I am much better, people still ask about my health and share all kinds of information with me about Lyme, just in case I missed something new that has popped up in the news on Lyme research.

My sister’s photo of my nieces biting into slices of lime is yet another reminder to me  of how even the smallest action, like a card or email or photo, can really boost someone’s spirit.

So, thank you for thinking of me.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you.

And think about how you can support those closest to you.

Love is free…so give it freely!

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

Kale Supreme

Here is my own recipe I created for the Kale Supreme dish I am bringing to a family gathering tomorrow.

You can adjust the ingredients to whatever veggies and meats you like, just be sure you have enough meat to balance the veggies.  Since I am limited in what foods I can eat, I use at least 2 meats when I make this dish. For this event, I chose to add bacon as well…who doesn’t love bacon?  It gives the dish enough salt and complements the sweetness of the roasted brussel sprouts.

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Ingredients:

Olive oil (in a pourable hand-held container…you will be using a lot of olive oil!)

Garlic- 2-3 cloves, cut up

Kale -1 bunch,  stems removed and leaves chopped up (you can put it in a processor or cut the leaves with scissors)

Brussel sprouts 1-2 containers, depending on your own taste (I used 2 here) cut in half pieces

1 lb bacon cut up into bite size pieces

1 lb chicken cut up into bite size pieces

1 lb sausage either removed from casings or cut up into bite size pieces

Any other veggies you like: red peppers, broccoli, or asparagus cut up would be good in this

Steps:

Pre-heat oven to 375 or 400, whichever you prefer.

Mix chicken, sausage and bacon in separate bowls w/ olive oil.  Place each meat separately in baking pans and cook until done. I line my pans with foil just to make clean up easier. Put some olive oil in the pans as well to discourage sticking.

Put kale into a bowl while meat is cooking.  Mix with more olive oil to coat the leaves.  Add salt if you like.

Cook garlic in olive oil large pan (like what you use to make a large pot of homemade sauce in) and add kale once the garlic is almost browned.  Add a little more olive oil if the pan is dry.  You can put all of the kale into the pan, (it will fill to the top of the pan!) putting the stove on a medium flame or temp. It will cook down to cover the bottom of the pan in about 7 minutes or so. Stir the kale from time to time and continue to add olive oil as it cooks so that it doesn’t stick to bottom of the pan.

Once the kale is done, add the meats to the pan just to mix it all together.

After you halve the brussel sprouts, put them in a bowl and again, toss them with olive oil. Put some more olive oil in the bottom of a baking dish and put the flat sides of the sprouts on the bottom of the pans.  You will need to let the brussel sprouts roast  for about an hour at 375.  If you want them darker, just roast them longer!

Once the sprouts are golden brown, put the kale and meat mixture into a pretty serving dish.  In the picture above, I used a lasagna dish.  But any rectangular or other heat-resistant dish will do.  Add the brussel sprouts on top.  Try not to steal a few to munch on!

Cover with foil or a top and keep in the fridge until you are ready to heat it up and eat!

I suggest taking the dish of the fridge and letting it get room temperature before heating just to hasten the heating time if you are serving the whole dish.

A few notes:

This makes about 3 or 4 individual meals for myself. It keeps very well in the fridge for a few days.  And when I want to heat it up, I just put the portion I want in a sauce pan with some olive oil to keep it from sticking to the bottom.

Another variation would be to make the kale and cook some shrimp with lemon and olive oil  and bacon as the meat addition.  I would cook the shrimp on the stove and bake the bacon in the oven as directed above, since shrimp cooks very quickly and you don’t want to to over cook it.  I can’t handle the shellfish, but I am sure that would be yummy! Salmon or cod might work well, too.  You  just want to be sure you have enough of the fish to enjoy with the kale. And the fish may not last as long in the fridge, so you want to be sure to eat it before the fish gets too fishy!

What other variations can you come up with?

Enjoy!

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

 

 

 

 

 

Full As A Tick

I never heard this expression before, and it wasn’t until I researched phrases with the word ‘tick’ in it that I came across this clever idiom.

Sadly, it takes different foods for me to be full as a tick now. I really miss baking and eating my favorite dessert of cookies and milk.imgres-3 Diving into a bowl of my husband’s homemade sauce on pasta with buttery garlic bread on the side can’t happen at my place setting anymore. Potato chips with my special sour cream and onion dip is a snack that I have to pass by. Summer corn on the cob and shrimp cocktail with another homemade sauce recipe are now distant culinary memories. And no more summer desserts like s’mores or ice cream. Pancakes or waffles with syrup–out. Toast with jelly and butter–gone.

Eggplant.

Tomatoes.

Potatoes.

Cheese.

All gone from my diet and my taste buds.

And forget about wine or mixed drinks. Those delicious refreshments would clearly turn me into a stinging human, capable of electrifying any number of appliances in my home. And that something I do not wish to do with my time right now.

imagesNow, it is kale, protein, green tea and water that make me full as a tick. Today, I realized that eggs need to be taken off my menu, too.

Sigh.

Well, that makes more room for more of those good-for-you greens in my diet, right?

What makes you full as a tick?

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

Kale Fail

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I have a sweet tooth. A big, bad one. No cavities, but a sweet tooth nonetheless.

And I enjoy baking because of it. Although I will readily admit that I am more like a “Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade” baker instead of “Martha Stewart It’s All Good From Scratch” baker.

On my quest for eating better, I am really missing my desserts. I’ve been eating a lot of kale lately (See my post Adventures in Kale), so I decided to research kale brownies.

I came across a few recipes, one that had too many ingredients, including butternut squash and other foods. The one I settled on didn’t have 25 ingredients, and although it listed brown rice flour and arrowroot for the ‘flour’ and no eggs, I figured I could substitute coconut flour and just increase the liquid.20160526_104221_resized

And so began a new kale adventure.

I gathered all my ingredients after making a special trip to the store to purchase the zucchini and coconut milk, more coconut flour, and coconut sugar. Going over the recipe and my ingredients back at home, I discovered I did not have baking powder, only baking soda. Ok, no biggie. I’ll just use the baking soda. It can’t possibly make THAT much of a difference, right?

The recipe also called for kale finely chopped. I had already chopped mine in my Ninja food processor, so I was all set there. I grated the zucchini as directed, and mixed the dry ingredients, which included cocoa, to give it the chocolatey goodness I was after.

When I went to add the coconut milk, I used the metal can opener that pokes holes in the can, only to discover nothing came out when I tipped the can upside down! So, I opened it with the rotary one, and realized I hadn’t shaken it as instructed on the side of the can. I solved that problem with a frustrated “REALLY??!!”, and mixed it in the can with a wooden spoon.20160526_105209_resized

Next came the coconut flour and other dry ingredients to the milk. As is its nature, it sucked up all the coconut milk, so the mixture ended up more like a thick, brown, play dough instead of a creamy brownie mixture. I added half the can of the coconut milk, but now I realize I should have probably added the whole can.

After putting in the kale, the mixture looked more like a pile of dirt and grass from my backyard. I hadn’t ‘finely’ chopped the kale, so pieces of it stuck out from the blobs of brownie mixture. It didn’t “pour into the pan” as the recipe explained the next step. I had to literally plop the mix into the pan and spread it with a spatula. It was pretty bad.

At this point, I just figured, I’m the only one whose going to eat this stuff (you can supply your own expletive here), so I might as well bake it and see what happens.

Well, baking it for a half hour, it smelled pretty good. But it didn’t change in its appearance. It still looked like dirt and grass from my backyard when it was done.

I took it out of the oven, only to be met with a pile of coconut flour, zucchini and kale that didn’t bind together. I couldn’t even lift one whole brownie out of the pan. It just disintegrated.20160526_120401_resized_1

Sadly and happily, that batch went into the pail.

I’m going to try it again next week, but this time add eggs to the mixture and a whole can of the coconut milk to see if that will help bind everything together.

And I’m definitely going to ‘finely’ chop the kale.

No one likes to get a kale leaf stuck in his or her teeth when eating a brownie.

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

Adventures in Kale

Dedicated to my brother-in-law, Kale Bogdanovs

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I never thought I’d ever have a relationship with kale. Turns out, never say never.

My brother-in-law is named Kale. I can tell you that he is very funny, smart, and always up for a good laugh and a good time. He’s a native Australian, and while he was living and working in New York, he met, wooed, and married my youngest sister. It was a rather quick wedding, held at the New York City Hall, and we met his parents for the first time a short time before the actual “big day”. His parents are truly lovely people, and why not? Kale is a lovely person.

But I digress.   This is not about Kale, the man, but rather, it’s about kale, the leafy green vegetable, the “oh, so healthy super food” that I was encouraged to eat my both my naturopath and dietician, but of which I had clear reservations.

The first time I saw it, I had left my dietician’s office with “Be picky about your liver!” ringing in my ears. (See my post Be Picky About Your Liver to learn more about that meal!)

There it was, a red leaf variety, in a cute wicker basket, just waiting to be plucked by me. I am not an adventurous cook, so at first, kale didn’t have much fun in my kitchen. I’d merely just chop it up and toss it in my salad, measuring it out so I’d be sure I’d be getting a healthy amount of the magic green stuff. It took a few salads to get used to the taste, but I found that if I chopped it up finely in my Ninja processor, it really didn’t bother my taste buds too much.

On Monday, a friend of mine read another post about my new “research life” in dealing with Lyme and the Wahls Protocol diet. This particular diet advocates for 9 cups a day of specific fruits and vegetables. I admitted that eating 9 cups of anything didn’t strike me as feasible, but she suggested cooking the kale with garlic and olive oil. “It cooks down to nothing and it will be easier to get the nine cups in.” Ok, I’ll bite.

The next day for lunch, I removed a fresh mound of kale—if you’ve ever purchased kale, you know what I mean—from my fridge. As I removed the leaves from the stems, some of it I put into my Ninja to chop up for salads, and some I put in my beautiful All-Clad 12 inch frying pan, covering the bottom. I roughly chopped up two cloves of garlic and drizzled the kale and garlic with olive oil, turned on the gas, and waited for it to cook down.

While that was cooking, I fished around my fridge to see what else I could add to the meal. I found 3 lone slices of uncooked bacon, one left over baked chicken tender, and some broccoli. Perfect.

Once the kale and garlic were almost done, I threw the bacon in the pan to cook, cut up the broccoli and chicken and tossed them in to heat up as well. I added a little bit more olive oil as well.

Fairly soon it was all ready, and wow! I was impressed with myself! It actually looked rather appealing in my pretty terra-cotta edged dish!20160524_120119_resized

But tasting it was even better. The kale absorbed the olive oil so it didn’t have as bitter a taste, and anything with garlic and bacon is a sure-fire winner.

Today, I made kale with sweet Longhini sausage and garlic for lunch. Again, it was another delicious meal.   I baked the sausage first in the oven, (work smarter not harder here!) then sliced two links and threw them in the pan to brown once the kale and garlic were done. Since my kale had already been chopped previously, it cooked down rather quickly this time. I had cut the garlic into thin slices today, anticipating a quicker cooking time. Next time I do this, I’m going to remove the sausage from its casings and just brown it with the garlic, then add the kale. But I have to remember to keep more bacon on hand. That would have been dynamite! And add more kale!  I only cooked three cups of kale, but it definately could have used more in this dish.

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I’m really dying for some kind of dessert. I did find some recipes for kale brownies. I’ll have to try that next week.

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

 

Research

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Dedicated to Michelle Armstrong, Shelton, CT

When I was in college, I became enthralled with a computer game called Tetris, thanks to my roommate Michelle. The object of the game is to create rows of lines using geometric square and rectangular shapes. A four-line group is called a Tetris, and the computer would start slowly dropping pieces from the top of the screen and increase speed until the pieces were flying down, the player frantically trying to place them correctly to make lines. I recently found another version online, and I am once again obsessed with the game. Only in this version, you are playing against another person, and each time you complete a line, it sends another line to your opponent. You still need to clear lines and try to beat the other player in a 2-minute time frame, but it moves more quickly since your opponent can easily send over more lines than you are ready to handle if they are really good at placing their pieces before you.

This game requires you to be able use what you have as well as think ahead, much like addressing a pressing problem. Right now, my problem is Lyme disease, and it’s a tougher puzzle to figure out than a Tetris game.

In my research about Lyme, I’ve come across different books. My go-to book right now is The Top 10 Lyme Disease Treatments by Bryan Rosner. The 11-chapter book is clearly written and has sections about antibiotics, detoxification, and detailed information about supportive supplements. What I really love about this book is that it gives a holistic approach to treating this disease. Rosner has a detailed portion as well about how there are two very different views in the medical community about how to treat Lyme. He advocates for being knowledgeable about Lyme and to use all available resources, both traditional and non-traditional. Relying on one particular therapy will not help treat or cure your condition, since Lyme is a multi-faceted disease that mutates and has co-infections attached as well. He does state that it is crucial to find the right combination of therapies and also realize that time plays an important role in healing.

I’m also reading Terry Wahls book, The Wahls Protocol. She reversed her debilitating MS symptoms through diet, after researching cellular growth and health. And what a diet she has! It’s all healthy fruits and vegetables, and you need to eat 9 cups a day each of sulfur rich vegetables, leafy greens, and colorful fruits. Not an easy task! The most of the leafy greens I can do a day is 4 cups. My body can’t handle any fruits right now, as much as I’d love some grapes or pineapple, or even an apple, which is not my favorite fruit!  She does advise building up to the 9 cups, however slowly you need to do it, but she urges to just start eating the right foods now to rebuild your sickly cells.

One of my favorite mantras that I gleaned from my graduate work is, “Work smarter, not harder”. And I’ve tried to put this into practice whenever I can, especially with my Lyme issues. A few months back on a more healthy day, I had visited the bookstore and was astounded at all of the gluten-free, vegan, and paleo cookbooks out there! But I refused to buy even one cookbook as my food sensitivities made it hard to actually use any of the books I’d seen. I’d made that mistake early on, buying a smoothie cookbook, only to find out after a big swing of a healthy yogurt and strawberry smoothie, my body couldn’t tolerate the fruit or the dairy. Live and learn.

So, I hit my library instead. After first searching the internet for book titles, I’d then go and peruse the stacks, leaving with about 10 or so cookbooks, thinking that maybe one of the books would be helpful in finding some recipes that my body could tolerate. Many cookbooks later, I was able to photocopy 10 or so recipes. There are just so many foods that my system is sensitive to right now. Sugar free recipes include sweeteners like honey or maple syrup. Gluten free ones include flours made out of almonds or rice, which I can’t tolerate. But I haven’t given up yet. I’ve got two more books on hold at two different libraries–one called Recipes for Repair and another Breaking the Vicious Cycle–that I am hoping will be returned soon. It seems like I’m not the only one with food struggles!20160413_103853

My Lyme adventure is just like a Tetris game: some of the pieces fit, and some don’t. There are gaps in my healing that need to be filled. I keep hitting a wall, but someday, I’m hopeful be able to clear out the lines with the right combination of building blocks.

I’ve already had some success when I started with my naturopath and my dietician back in March, and I just recently went to another holistic practice. The owner who runs it has given me some extra supplements to try. He has helped other people with Lyme, as well as a particular client with very similar issues to mine, so that gives me confidence that I am on the right track.

I am anticipating even more positive results with the start of this new regime of mine. And with the inclusion of more books, of course! I just have to keep finding the right ones to help with my personal Tetris puzzle!

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

 

 

 

What’s For Dinner?

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When I was growing up, I remember my mother speaking of a friend who would make different meals for each her three kids, because each kid liked or disliked certain foods. My mother frowned on that practice and when I had my daughter, I vowed I wouldn’t become that mother who pranced around the kitchen, singing the Burger King jingle, “Have it your waaaayyyy….” as I prepared breakfast, lunch, and dinner. My kid was going to eat whatever was put in front of her. The line was drawn across the counter, and I wasn’t going to cross it for any reason. What. So. Ever.

I’m not a creative cook. I know how to make a few meals, but I’m not the kind of cook that relishes in new recipes and trying out new dishes. I like to make what I know will be a good meal, one that my kid and husband will eat, and preferably involves meat, sauce, cheese, or breadcrumbs. And a green vegetable, for my own healthy peace of mind. Both of my sisters are great cooks as well as my aunt and mother. Whenever I hear of a meal they are making, I secretly wish I could be more like them, but I just don’t get a thrill out of making a dish that could possibly be a dinner failure. I live with two picky eaters, so that extinguishes any burning fire to crack open a cookbook, gas up the stove, and work some culinary magic.

The joy of cooking was further ripped from my spatula soon after my Lyme diagnosis. I turned into the one who needed separate foods to eat from my family! Oh, the irony of it all! Over the first few months, I was so sick and new to the whole illness and food thing that I was eating pretty much eating what I normally would eat, with painful results. Four months into it, I am still finding out what foods will set off a burning or itchy reaction in my muscles. Cheese, yogurt, fruit, tomatoes, lemons, balsamic vinegar, green peppers, onions, sugar, wheat, nuts…these are just some of the demons that wreck havoc on my frail system. And being married into an Italian family, it’s not easy to stomach this new reality.

Going out to eat or to family events for meals is very tricky, as you can imagine. I am so limited to what I can eat: protein, leafy greens, and water. And I need to also be sure that I eat enough of these to keep my hunger at bay and my stamina up. I’m living like a like a cow or horse, totally deprived of chips and dip, pasta, or even a plain old peanut butter and jelly sandwich!

It really stinks that I can’t get my nourishment from food. I take several different supplements that help me maintain some energy, and I am starting to incorporate more leafy greens into my diet as a result of learning about The Wahls Protocol, written by Dr. Terry Wahls. She pretty much reversed her MS symptoms through a very Paleo diet. It’s a very interesting book and diet, but much of what she recommends to eat, in particular fruits and sulfur-rich vegetables, I can’t eat right now. On top of it, to follow the diet correctly, you need to eat 9 cups of leafy greens, 9 cups of colorful fruits and vegetables, and 9 cups of sulfur-rich vegetables every day. That is A LOT of food over the course of a day. Her guiding principle is to reinvigorate your body at the cellular level and give it the nutrients it needs through plants and not processed foods. It’s an eye-opening concept and one that I am forced to embrace because my body just doesn’t like any processed anything. In another post, I’ll let you know how the 27 cups a day of fruits and vegetables goes….

So now, in addition to continuing to research ways to help combat my Lyme disease, I have also turned into a recipe researcher, someone whom I in my BL (before Lyme) days I’d never, ever met or even wanted to know.  I’ve gotten numerous cookbooks from the library, all with their glossy covers that spotlight a happy chef, promising great recipes and securing wonderful health. But they end up being returned after  few flips, since the recipes will call for ingredients that I can’t possible eat without feeling like an electric eel. I’m now starting to check into Pintrest more. I can type in wheat free + sugar free + dairy free + nut free and get some kind of food result that should work for me. This morning, I was researching salad dressings, since I need something to add some taste to all those nutrient leafy greens I can eat. Let’s hope for the best! And I don’t mean Hellman’s!

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

 

 

Be Picky About Your Liver!

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Dedicated to Maureen Wasik, The Dietician, Hamden CT

I’ve developed some severe food sensitivities since being diagnosed with Lyme. So severe, that I basically can’t eat anything on the food pyramid except protein, leafy greens, and water.   It leads to a boring plate, let me tell you.

I recently went back to my dietician for a follow up appointment. At my last appointment, she had asked me to weigh and measure all of my food and drink and keep track of symptoms, so I presented her with my food chart. Right away, she picked up on my less than healthy Gatorade Zero entry.

“What’s this?!!” she crowed, “Gatorade Zero with artificial sweeteners??”

I quickly cut her off, “No, no…I learned very quickly…” and I held up my plain, boring 16 oz. Tervis tumbler of clear, filtered water, taking a swig. “I’m back to plain water.”

I explained how I tried that zero drink because I wanted something with a taste. “How about a little lemon?” she countered.

“Nope, that bothers me, too.” I was drinking lemon water for weeks before I realized that lemon is a fruit and probably was accounting for the light stinging I was feeling all day.

“You poor thing!” she murmured as she perused my chart some more.

We continued on with our meeting, and she asked me the question I was dreading: did you try the liver? She had also asked that I try eating liver since it has so many nutrients in it.

Luckily, I had been away the previous week, so I could use that as an excuse. I really just didn’t want to try it. I had childhood memories of my mother making liver and onions for dinner….and they weren’t good memories.

So, now, I was stuck. I had to try the liver. But not just any liver. “Be picky about your liver!” she said, highlighting that organic liver would be the best for me to eat with all the issues I was encountering. And I immediately told her what a great title that is for an article. We chuckled a bit over that one.

I went to the local health food market afterwards, intending to just pick up some kale, another food she wanted me to try, and lo and behold! There in a refrigerated case was all organic meat. A pound of beef was about $18.00! Wow! I kept looking and of course, there, off to the right, were two lone containers of organic chicken livers! If didn’t know any better, I would have thought that there was a huge demand for chicken livers that day and I was just a lucky shopper to get one of the last containers. I picked up one container of the deep, red, jiggly livers (there was no way I was going to buy both of them!), determined to try them for lunch. They looked pretty gross to me, but I was actually starting to get really hungry, and I thought what better time to eat a new food but when you’re really hungry? I was hoping that the hunger pangs would override any bad taste reactions I was anticipating once I actually start eating these oh, so healthy but really icky looking organs.

I found the kale–I picked a red kale variety since it looked prettier and more open to eating than the lonely, limp green one in its nearby basket–and then went down another aisle, only to find organic bone broth, another food product we spoke about. It seemed that I was destined to be at that store that day.

When I got home, I quickly researched cooking liver. Some recipes said to dredge it in flour, which I couldn’t do without a reaction. So I decided these livers are just going to be cooked naked.

I rinsed off the livers first. Next, I chopped up and cooked a whole yellow onion in olive oil…it smelled so good! I had put a few trays of bacon in the oven as well while the onions were cooking…might as well add bacon to the mix. Bacon makes anything taste good!

(This is the best way to quickly make a pound of bacon: line 13×9 metal baking pans with foil, leaving enough foil to fold over the short ends of the pans, lay 4-5 strips in each pan, cook until desired crispiness at 425 or 450. When it is done, clean up is so much easier and all of your bacon is ready to eat!)

Once the onion was done, I dumped about 7 oz of the livers into the pan…it sizzled and browned right away. I let it cook for a while, cutting into it a few times to see if it was done enough for me.

When it was all ready, I scooped up the livers and put them in to a pretty white pasta dish that has raised vegetables on it and terra cotta edging. I was trying to make this meal as pleasing to me as possible. I reasoned, if it looks good, it will taste good. Then I covered it with the onions and bacon, again, trying to avoid the inevitable, which was only moments away.

Now, my pretty plate was full of onions, bacon….and liver. I sat down to eat, and I ate about half of it. The gamey taste of it wasn’t too pleasing to me…but the onions were wonderful as was the bacon. I think next time, I’ll be picky about my liver and cut it into smaller pieces. As it was, I had only cut it into chunks as I ate it, and being it was my first time, I really went full force at it like I was a liver lover or something.

My dietician said I get an A for effort…how about a different meal besides liver?

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have Lyme, Will Travel….Maybe

 

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My Lyme adventure creates new experiences for me every day. As a teacher, I have learned that your own reactions, coupled with lesson planning, directly impact how your students will respond. With my Lyme, the same edit holds true, only that it applies to food. The food I eat impacts how I feel, and what I consume or do each day can cause pain, fatigue, or a semblance of normalcy. I say a semblance only because when you have Lyme, normal for you isn’t the same normal as everyone else.

I am slowly starting to get the whole process of eating to be of a comfort to me and not a painful encounter. The problem is that I am still unclear as to knowing what foods will help or hurt me. But is it very evident that there are no more quick trips to McDonald’s for me anymore. And if I want to eat at a restaurant, it requires first checking the menu before sitting at the table.

Recently one night, we were out, and we hadn’t had dinner yet, so we decided to stop at Bertucci’s for dinner. Now, I have learned that tomatoes and cheese are two of the most toxic foods for me right now, but I can have salads, so I scanned the menu. Chicken Caesar salad seemed to be the best choice: chicken has the protein I needed, and the dressing has cheese, which I knew will bother me, but I thought the chicken could off set some of that pain. I also thought that the amount of chicken in the salad would be enough to satisfy me, but I quickly found out that I was wrong.

My body chemistry is such now that I need a lot of protein—like up to 8 oz. or more a meal–to keep my hunger at bay and my stamina flowing. That salad wasn’t even an appetizer for me! So I had to make another whole meal for myself when I got home because I was starving. This little night out was eye-opening and stomach sealing because now it confirmed for me what it is like to be at the mercy of a food allergy or Lyme or any illness that compromises eating. And I wasn’t happy about it.

We just recently got back from a weeklong trip. Again, I checked the menus before we left just to be sure that I’d have something to eat. It seemed  I’d be eating lots of chicken. I reasoned that in and of itself would be ok, but after the Bertucci’s experience, I wasn’t anticipating being full, and that’s for sure! I measured out and packed Ziplock bags of peanuts to keep with me during the day; even though they bother me, I was willing to risk the muscle pain to keep my stamina up a little bit during all the walking that we would be doing on our trip.

Breakfast was tough; I could only eat scrambled eggs and bacon each morning since everything else available was carb and sugar laden: different pastries and muffins, potatoes, croissants, cereal, fruit, pancakes and waffles.  There was sausage available, but after day 1, I knew I’d be bypassing that…it was gross.

For most of our lunches and dinners, I was able to eat steak, which was a welcome surprise. The portions were decent, so I wasn’t too hungry afterwards, and I was able to keep up the pace of the trip for the most part.

At one restaurant, however, the only meal that I could eat on the menu was a hamburger w/ Pepper Jack cheese. (I had endured a bad reaction to green bell peppers prior to the trip, so I kept Benadryl in my bag in anticipation of situations like this!) Of course, I felt the stinging in my arm muscles after eating that, but my choices were between being hungry and lethargic or have stinging pain…I chose the pain.

On our last day, we stopped at an Italian themed restaurant. The atmosphere was lovely and reminded me greatly of a trip to Italy we had taken three years ago, but I knew I was doomed when it came to eating. The menu, of course, was dripping with tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. I picked a meatball dish, again trying to reason that the protein in it would help with the stinging that I knew I was going to feel within a half an hour of eating.

But the meatballs weren’t the big ones you saw in the Lady and the Tramp dinner at Tony’s; they were five little ones that are the size of the frozen bagged variety from the grocery store. Not good.

At that point, I just threw in my fork and ate everything. What was the difference? If I was going to be in pain, might as well at least eat some foods that I hadn’t eaten in months. So I ate a caprese salad (the tomatoes weren’t  really ripe, but he mozzarella cheese was pretty good), a bite of a bread stick, and lemon cheesecake for dessert. I was like a stingray after all that, but it was the last day, and I had done pretty well with eating considering that I was at the mercy of a restaurant for every meal for six days.

For anyone suffering from food allergies, I feel your pain, both literally and figuratively. Each day is a guessing game at the dining table with Lyme as your companion. If I am home, I have more control over what I eat and how I feel. But if I have to go out to eat, it’s a crapshoot. And I’m not good at hitting the target. Maybe with a little more practice….

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

 

 

 

 

 

Magic Little Pill

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Science, to me, is an amazing entity. There are all these wonderful people on the planet who think about and develop and test ways to improve our lives. Scientists, to me, have so much more power than even the President of the United States. From medical cures to animal preservation and environmental conservation, to space exploration and weather predictions and technology, we are always benefitting from the advances of Science.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I can remember women talking about their labor stories. Who did it naturally and was proud of it, who had planned C-sections, and who took the Epidural. Every woman’s labor story was different because of her needs and experiences. Sometimes Mother Nature helped along to make those decisions, and sometimes, it was Science. For me, I knew from the minute I became pregnant that I wanted the drugs. I wasn’t one to use medications on a daily basis for even the minutest of pains, but I knew that labor was a whole different beast, and if Science had a way of easing that pain, I was going to reap the benefits of it!

The epidural was like a miracle to me…one minute I was in excruciating pain, the next, no pain at all! I humbly thank the Scientist(s) who developed that drug to help me. And I respect all women who go through their labors in whatever manner they choose-with or without Science.

Now with the Lyme adventure front and center in my life, Science again has both left me adrift and come to my rescue in different ways. Several different doctors have tried to help me, but through no fault of their own, I have had to find a different route to find that “magic little pill” that I have come to know as a cure for any illness.  Sadly, Lyme isn’t just any illness, and much like a cancer, there isn’t one foolproof way to ‘cure’ it. It morphs and changes in your body. Lyme is like a terrorist in your body; it hides from antibiotics and attacks full force when you least expect it. For me, I can always feel it hanging out, like questionable characters on a street corner, staring you down as you pass by.  A slight stinging in my arm and leg muscles and joints is always with me from the moment I wake up. Whenever I put any kind of  Lyme-loving compound in my system, it attacks full force.  And the reactions that I happen to have are quite intense and painful.

Even though I have Lyme in my blood stream as well as some other germs, all the medical doctors I have seen: my primary doctor, infectious disease doctors, and even a neurologist, all say that I am just suffering from a virus, and it has to run its course. Now, I respect these doctors and their expertise, but up until this point in my life, I have never had any sensitivities or allergies to anything I eat. Now,  I can’t eat any carbohydrates, including fruits, nightshade vegetables, peanuts, or dairy, without having an allergic reaction that sometimes requires taking a Benadryl, a drug created by Scientists.  Doctors, please tell me….what virus is it, so that I can treat myself properly?

I have come to terms thinking that my medical team is working on the knowledge that they have from their own Science backgrounds, and because Science evolves every day, it may or may not be helpful to me.  My body chemistry is highly sensitive now to foods that I have never, ever had a problem with over my entire 46 years of life. I can only conclude that just because I have been treated for Lyme with antibiotics, it doesn’t mean that I have even begun to be ‘cured’ from it.

There is no magic little pill that is going to help me with this awful tick blood I have. It’s going to take my own kind of Science that I discover, and the Science of any one else that I can learn from, to reap any benefits to help me feel better. So far, my naturopath and dietician have started to steer me in the right direction.  I can only hope that I will continue to find new ways to help manage the pain and uncertainly that Lyme brings.  It will require me to continue to reach out to people, read books and essays on all kinds of therapies and topics, and try strategies and ideas unknown to me to regain some sense of normalcy. That’s what we do to fight terrorists, right?

I wonder if Scientists are working on ways to eradicate the tick population completely? That would be a positive step in getting rid of this disease. And I would glad celebrate in that discovery!

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL