Work Smarter, Not Harder

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Today, the weather is beautiful outside with no humidity, and I’m feeling relatively normal for me, so it’s a ‘cook in bulk’ day today.

I was advised that I need to do this, since I have such a limited diet and must prepare fresh meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Every. Single. Day.

It’s taken me a while to figure out what I can eat as well as how much I should eat. I also know that once I start a task, I have to stay in close proximity in order to finish it. Otherwise, the short-term memory function in my brain shuts off, and lunches are left partially complete on the counter, laundry is left in the washing machine for days, and animals don’t get fed.

So, I pulled out the chicken, bacon, and tea kettle to made my bulk food. After putting the meat in the oven, and turning on the timer, I went back to into my happy little office to working on a few writing projects.

My attention span is short and quick, like the squirrels that zip up the oak and maple trees in my yard. Writing work is interrupted by taking my Scrabble and Dice turns, checking my Twitter, Facebook and Word press accounts, reading and perhaps following random writings of bloggers, and responding to anyone that comments on a post or follows me. I get up to meander around the house, check on my blooming perennial garden outside, open a few windows, put some odd objects left on the counter or dining table away, water my plants. It’s like I have ADD with a hefty dash of Alzheimer’s sprinkled in. Quite a combination.

I  smelled the bacon instead of hearing the timer.…triggering me to get up and go back into the kitchen. The meat was done.

I decided today to actually cut up all the meat before storing it, since I always cut it up when I eat it in one of my three main kale and meat combinations anyway. Smart, right?

My green tea is brewing in the kettle. I like to keep a glass container of it in the fridge to drink so I have some variety between tea and water. My new batch for today will be ready to drink.

I also have some fresh kale that I need to chop in my Ninja. It’s a pain to do, but it definitely helps having it all ready to toss in a salad or a pan of olive oil. And I recently discovered you can kale and brussel sprouts frozen, too. Victory in the kitchen will be mine!

 

Now if I could just remember to close the cap on my water bottle next to my laptop….

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

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Cell phone technology has rendered us blank.

For all the convenience and efficiency that our smartphones promise, they are quickly stripping away all the nuances that make us human.

Look around you when you go to the store. How many people do you hear talking on the phone? Years ago, you had to wait to get that phone call…on your answering machine. Now, people can track you down anytime. Anywhere. And many people pick up that call because they just can’t live without having that phone in their hand.

In a restaurant or at a family gathering, how many people are actually without their phones and are engaged in face to face conversations?

In the car, it’s easy to spot someone on their phone. They’re either holding it directly to their ear or they are looking at their crotch.

Children are given cell phones by their parents to keep them entertained in restaurants or in line at an activity. What has happened to actually teaching your child to wait? Sadly, people jokingly post photos all the time of their children and family members sitting in a room, each with a phone in their hands, and not uttering one word to each other.

Fill all that blank space with real human connections.

It’s the only way to make us smarter.

 

 

Phase

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My days phase in and out. I’m much stronger now than I was back in the winter, thankfully, but I still have my weaker moments. I remember looking out at my perennial garden back in the winter, sadly thinking I wouldn’t be able to work in it this spring. Happily, I am able to move around and get out there, set up the sprinkler to water, and observe the daily changes of my plants as they come back to life. Some of my purple irises that I transplanted last year have started to open. They are tall and regal, their dark petals dainty and full. It’s a beautiful sight to see, and yet they remind me of those not so far away thoughts from a few months ago.

The worst time of day for me is at night, when the cravings for something crunchy and sweet hit me. Advertisers know their consumers, and I am their best target! Their ads spring up on my television screen, teasing me with foods that I crave but simply should not eat.  My stomach gurgles longingly at the sight of Dairy Queen ice cream or Lays potato chips. I pine away for the day when I can actually eat something so good, but yet, so bad for me, again.

Instead of working for my students, I am working for Lyme. I read books and food labels, go to doctor and holistic practice appointments, try to eat healthier than I’ve ever done before, take multiple supplements over the course of the day, and write about my experiences. I make batches of kale, romaine, and spinach for my salads that I eat at lunch and dinner. I eat eggs and other meats for all of my meals. And I drink water. Lots of water–like 100 ounces a day of water. I’m surprised I haven’t floated away yet.

My latest phase in my ‘get healthy’ regime is to slowly change out many of the toxin-filled products in our home that I use to “greener” ones: toothpaste, hand and body soap, shampoo, facial cleansers and house cleansers, make up, and laundry detergent. It’s another way to try to get healthy and lessen the toxic load on my system, but who really knows if it will help. And yet, nothing beats a failure but a try, right?

Every night, I go to sleep and each morning I wake up, thinking that this may be my way of life for me forever. Even with my latest trip to a new holistic practitioner, my body may be beyond repair, and I will have to live with the joint and muscle pain when I eat anything with carbohydrates.

I can only take each day one at a time, and anticipate that this too shall pass. Much like the irises in my garden, I hope my future will yield a different phase, one which will include my new healthy habits, as well as some of my old yummy ones, too.

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

 

 

 

 

Buddy

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Dedicated to Kate Nolan, Milford, CT

I started teaching Kindergarten in 1999. I was a late hire; the district needed to open two more full-day classrooms, and I was one of the two fortunate teachers that was hired that September.

Just like any kid starting in a new school, I felt a little out of place, especially since I was hired after all the teachers had started and probably knew each other from previous years. I was in Room 6 at the end of my hallway, and Kate’s room was across the hall from mine.

Over the school year, we became teaching buddies. Not by necessity, but more by luck. And what great luck it was! She was a tall, curly haired blonde and very organized. I am a short curly haired brunette and not as organized. I like to say that she is Type A and I am Type X…but between the two of us, we work buddy magic like nobody could ever imagine!

Kate is a special education teacher. By law, identified children need a certain number of hours with non-disabled peers as outlined in their individual education plan. Kate and I were well above the curve on this! We would get our children together for stories and songs after lunch, we had recess and center times together, and we would plan whole team teaching units.   We would do Buddy projects on Fridays, where we would pair up the kids to create a theme based art project. We would marvel at how well the children would work together, nodding in agreement and saying to each other, “THIS is what they should be doing!” instead of the mandated reading , writing, and math work and assessing that gradually was taking over the curriculum for both regular education and special education students.

As each school year progressed, her kids became mine and mine became hers. We’d take pictures of our kids early on and keep them in our classrooms all year. Sometimes, my students would include hers to attend birthday parties, or hers would include mine. That’s when we knew we’d done our job at creating buddies! We’d share gifts around the holidays for and from each of our classrooms, and we created great memories. Our units on the Food Pyramid with Chef Mario and Chef Luigi were always great fun to teach. The Weather Girl video, when we were allowed to show videos, always put us in hysterics, but the kids really liked it! One year, we hosted our own Olympics complete with speed skating and medals, and another year, we worked with our extra active kids to race around the playground multiple times before actually going to play on the playground.

At the end of each year, I’d host a ‘show’. The kids from our classes would select their favorite songs to sing, I’d put them on a CD, and we’d make patriotic t-shirts and sing the songs for the parents. It was always a highlight of my year, and the integration of our kids always brought tears to our eyes when we’d sing songs like “It’s A Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong or Celine Dion’s “God Bless America” using sign language.

We have been through many poignant life events together, too: 9/11 and the death of a dear friend of hers, my marriage and birth of my daughter, her daughter going off to college and getting her first teaching position, the death of her dad, the Newtown shootings, her nomination for Teacher of the Year in our district, and the death of my niece. All the while, we would comfort and support each other and carry on with our jobs as teachers.

When the school district was reconfigured to a K-2/3-5 model a few years ago, we were moved to a new school, and we were informed that weren’t going to be teaching together in order to integrate new staff and build a new school community. We understood, but we were devastated. We cried like little kids in front of our new principal when we heard the news. Even though we were going to be right down the hall from each other, it wasn’t going to be the same. We were buddies! How could we be separated? It was heartbreaking to us. Still, we soldiered on in our own classrooms, waiting for the year when we could work our team teaching magic again.

This year, we were finally given the “ok” from our principal to teach together again! The buddies were back! We were overjoyed!

But our new-found joy was short lived when I became ill with Lyme. I had to take a leave of absence from work that started in January 2016 and will continue to the end of this school year.

I have never had to take a leave like this. Even after the birth of my daughter, I was back to work within a few months. Kate has been a buddy to me through all of this. She’s sent me cards and emails. We’ve spoken on the phone, and I know she has been behind the scenes helping my subs (I had two because of the uncertainty of my coming back this year) with my kids.

It’s not often that you find a buddy at your job. But when you do, it’s a magic that can’t ever be replicated.  Love ya, Buddy!

 

 

Sugar

imgres-1This is not an article about being overweight or even trying to eat healthier. This is a true story, about a true love affair, one that is dissolving away slowly, due to a nasty little disease that is attacking my body any time I eat anything that resembles sugar.

I wasn’t a fruit eater growing up. Instead, I developed a sweet tooth for all things sugar-related that you don’t find in nature. I preferred the white, powdery kind sprinkled on donuts or the more granular kind poured lovingly into the chocolate chip cookie batter. Cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on my toast in the morning was perfection. Or better yet, strawberry jam slathered all over the warm, buttered bread! Waffles and pancakes with Aunt Jemina’s syrup were just heavenly to me. My favorite part was dipping my bacon or sausage into the left over syrup on my plate.

I’d drink soda when we’d get hotdogs from Rawley’s, a local greasy spoon joint, or the occasional trip to McDonald’s or Luigi’s Pizza. When we’d go visiting at my Grandmother’s house, us kids would get to pass out the hors d’oeuvres- cheese and crackers, or potato chips in a brown basket, or Goldfish in a pewter bowl with fluted edges. My parents would have drinks with my Grandmother, and we kids would have soda with our carb-laden snack. I remember drinking Fresca at her house.

And foods that broke down into sugar, like bread, pasta, potatoes, corn…. I loved these, too! Milk, oh I loved milk! I could drink a gallon of milk in just a few days! One of my favorite treats was milk and cookies. Even as an adult, I’d love to buy different types of cookies, or bake, so I’d have my treat at night.

And don’t get me wrong: my parents weren’t the kind to keep tons of junk food in the house. Generally speaking, we ate pretty healthily for the time when I was growing up in the 70’s. The worst food we ate was probably Chef Boyardee’s spaghetti and meatballs or ravioli from the can. And that wasn’t a weekly or even daily thing! My mother was a good cook, and she always made home cooked meals every night, complete with meat, potatoes, bread or rolls, salad, and green vegetables. I just really liked sweet things to eat!

My body never seemed to have a problem with all this sugar growing up. I was active as a kid, always riding my bike, zooming around outside on roller skates, playing on the swings or running after one, if not all, of my four other siblings. It seemed that it didn’t matter what I ate, I’d never gain any weight. People would make comments about how skinny I was throughout my life. Even after I had married, I’d still get envious looks and comments from family and friends about my petite size. But inside my body, things were happening.

When I married and became pregnant with my daughter, I developed gestational diabetes. imgres-2My initial glucose tolerance test was so high that I was sent to an endocrinologist and started on insulin right away. My body was struggling so much that I needed to check my sugar before and after each meal. I also need two types of insulin—one for the day, and a slow acting one for at night. It was terrible learning how to eat with this new body of mine. I had to be sure I was getting enough carbs for the baby, but not so much as to spike my blood sugar. And when I was pregnant, all wanted to do was eat. I can remember feeling so hungry and only being able to eat ¾ of a cup of pasta for dinner. It seemed horrible to me then, but hindsight is 20-20.

Once my daughter was born, I was considered borderline diabetic, and was monitored for several years, taking various drugs to help with my sugar levels. At one point, my primary doctor told me I didn’t need to take any meds anymore. Hallelujah! I ate and drank all the taboo foods to my heart’s content! (I wasn’t a big soda drinker, but I still enjoyed a glass or can now and then…)

Well…it was a false hallelujah. My new primary doctor informed me this past winter that I am pre-diabetic. I began testing my sugar faithfully again, and also taking another popular pharmaceutical drug used to treat my condition.

Fast forward to January 2016. I am being treated for Lyme, and I am taking antibiotics and other supplements as well as my pharmaceutical drug for my blood sugar. I speak with my cousin, who is a pharmacist. She tells me, get off that drug and take either Grape seed pills or Mangostene. Each of these is a natural supplement that breaks down sugar! So, I stopped the pharmaceutical drug, one which could possibly cause more damage to my already tick infected bloodstream and organs, and began taking the Grape seed pills with each meal. And what do you know? It worked! My levels have been so good that a recent trip to an endocrinologist ended in, “You don’t need to come back for another appointment. Your A1C is normal.” Oh, Happy Day!

Sadly though, I haven’t enjoyed happy sugar days here in the dawn of my great blood sugar levels. I have such food issues with the Lyme in my system that I can’t eat anything that has sugar or breaks down into sugar-no carbohydrates, no fruit, no dairy, no nightshade vegetables (potato, tomato, peppers, eggplant), no nuts. If I do, I feel stinging and burning in my muscles and joints. And the sensations seem to be directly linked to sugar or carb content of the food: the higher the number, the more intense and lingering of the pain.

I’ve never had any allergies to food my whole life. And outside of my gestational diabetes/ pre-diabetic state, I’ve been very healthy. I can only surmise that my pre-diabetic state has added this sugary layer to my Lyme issues. And if I get an urge to eat a cookie, or a tomato, or cheese, my body quickly reminds me that sugar is really bad for me. Nothing like aversion therapy to add a little spice to life! It gets tricky when you are in the store and just happen to walk down the cracker aisle. Or the commercials on TV all highlight chocolate covered strawberries as a wonderful, delicious gift for Mother’s Day. Or a family member takes  a bite out of crunchy, warm garlic bread, and you are eating your kale and romaine salad with olive oil dressing.

All in all, it could be worse, I tell myself. Just don’t eat that cookie in front of me, please.

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Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abandoned

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If it’s one thing that people don’t like to feel, it’s the feeling of being abandoned.

When you are diagnosed with any severe or chronic illness, that feeling of abandonment can compound your suffering so much that you lose sight of the fight that you’re in. The final bell seems to be looming over your head, and yet you don’t have the energy to get up and give that final knock out punch that is so desperately needed to end your anguish and misery.

I’ve been so fortunate to have many people in my corner. My husband has been my number one cheerleader: encouraging me to keep looking for new avenues to heal,taking over many of my responsibilities early on when I was literally bedridden, and even picking up the pieces on better days when I still need to get back to bed. He’s gone to doctor’s appointments with me when he himself hasn’t felt well either, all the while carrying the burden of his own job and other responsibilities of our family and extended family.

Family members have been very empathetic as well. Phone calls, emails, cards, and hugs have all helped to boost my spirits. When visiting my parents, they ask what I’d like to eat and supply me with huge hamburgers and glasses of water, knowing how sensitive my system is towards any “normal” diet that includes carbs, fruits and dairy. When my mother in law was ill in the hospital before she died, she asked how I was feeling.  That was such a moment for me, and one that I won’t forget.

My co-workers surprised me with a beautiful basket filled with cards from my students, some snack items, a beautiful handmade prayer shawl and wooden cross from Bethlehem, and several gift cards with very generous amounts on them to use while I am home. I’ve received numerous cards from people as well. My boss has also been very understanding of my need to be home instead of coming back to work prematurely.  All of these people have really help me stay connected and not go down that dark pathway of abandonment.

I’ve found solace in other victims of Lyme as well. Misery loves company, but when you are dealing with an illness that is like the invisible man in your system, you need all the company you can get. I stay positive by writing about my illness, adding bits of my own sarcasm and humor to my prose. I don’t want to make anyone more miserable than they already are in dealing with their own issues. I want to share my own misfortunes that I’ve brought on myself to help others avoid some of the pitfalls I’ve fallen into. For example, I recently made nut bread with almond flour because I wanted some kind of “fun food” to eat, and I thought this would be a healthy alternative. And it would have been….if I didn’t react to nuts! But that’s what Lyme does to you…it makes you do things without thinking clearly about it. I also want to share my successes and insights through my writing to those who may or may not understand the complexities of Lyme.

My medical doctors have tried to help me, but their expertise hasn’t been enough to rid me of this nasty bug that is still ravaging my body and trying to steal my spirit. I’ve found that while they haven’t abandoned me per se, it seems like they don’t really understand all my issues in full color, resulting in lingering symptoms and a lack of supportive guidance to get me treated properly.

I’ve found more help from my naturopath and dietician for reasons unknown to me. All I can really point to is that they seemed to have listened to everything I’ve said, and I’ve done a lot of homework prior to meeting with them as well as afterwards to help get me to the head of the class in this university of Lyme.imgres-1

Medical abandonment is a striking place to be in, but it is also a catalyst to push forward and find new pathways to healing. I’d often heard of naturopathic care, but I never really knew anything about it. I was always a little leery of it, thinking that it could amount to a little bit of fairy dust and luck and not real science. But that is the kind of care I’ve been used to: go to a medical doctor, explain your symptoms, and you’ll get some medicine to get better. At one point in my illness, I became so ill with what seemed to be the flu. When I went to my primary doctor, he did prescribe an antibiotic, which helped my flu-like symptoms, but it also caused a new symptom to erupt, which had to be addressed with yet another medication. Should I have abandoned my medical doctor initially and gone to my naturopath? I don’t know.

I’m not ready to give up on the medical community as a result of my experiences just yet. But I am willing to discard my own ill-informed views. I think that being open to many viewpoints and finding the right combination of therapies is a better approach than simply relying on one type of treatment plan that is commonly accepted. That is truly the only way that I can get better and abandon this horrible illness called Lyme once and for all.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Data! Data! Data!

DataScientistJobDescriptions

We teachers use data to track all kinds of information related to our students’ academic, social or behavioral needs. We also have to keep track of our own growth data based on the goal(s) that we develop each year. The digital age has created numerous platforms to post and track this information over time, which are both a help and a hindrance because of the simple fact that before you can even put data on the computer, you first have to collect it! And that typically requires a few major things: the student, time, a pencil or pen (several actually, because pencils break and pens run out of ink at the most crucial data collection point), a timer, paper, any testing materials needed, space to do your data collection, peace and quiet, and lots of healthy brain cells. Once you collect your data, you need like a bazillion hours to put it into the computer….which always freezes or crashes, or you forget to save each time you enter new information, causing you to lose precious hours. Data collection is not easy, and it’s not fun.

Two big mantras now in education are “Data Drives Instruction” and “Research-based Instruction”…in a few years, it will change to other slogans, but the premises will still be the same. We also have all kinds of acronyms in our profession and each year, it seems like there are more acronyms added that we need to keep track of and remember. Here are just a few: IEP, GRE, SLO, PPT, ABA, IDEA, ADD, PTA, ELL, SST, GED, SAT, CAPT, WISC…..you get the picture.  All of these acronyms simply point to more data collection.

When I began this Lyme adventure, I started to keep track of my symptoms on my computer. I knew it would be a long haul, and with my memory slowly becoming more foggy, I needed to be able to share information with doctors in the future as best as I could. As with any data tracking system, you need to be able to first think how to best organize it all in a format that is easy for you to both input as well as read and understand. And then need to actually put the data into whatever system you create. And that’s where it can be tricky.

I like to say that I am type Z…there are type A people, and then there’s me. I start off like a type A person whenever I see someone who is truly organized. (I work with some really wonderful people who are truly exemplary in their type A-ness!) But then my type Z side slowly trickles in, and while I desire their A-ness from afar, I secretly relish in my Z-ness. ‘It’ll get done’ is my mantra. So what if my books aren’t alphabetized and sorted by size, color, and genre? What difference does it make if my reading bins aren’t all the same color? Who cares if my writing tools on my desk aren’t separated by type and in matching containers? And does it really matter if my assessment information for my whole class is in one manila folder, instead of categorized, in a binder, by student, and test, and marking period? As long as I have access to my stuff, I’m good. I am proud that I have figured out a great way to do my report card comments, though. I create one large grid for each student for the three marking periods and save it in a folder on my computer. Once my marking period 1 comments are complete, I just review it each term prior to doing my report cards. I typically do my comments first (type A-ness? I don’t know…) and then work on the report card data. It’s been truly a time saver for me, and I feel like a type A-ness spark shined on me when I figured this system out for myself.

With Lyme disease at the pinnacle of my data collection routine right now, I have several systems. One is my Lyme Bible; it has yet to be decorated with a big, green lime photo with smaller tick on the lime (my type A and Z at work here!)–but, it will get done. In it, I have separate pocket files for each doctor that I have seen- my primary doctor, my rheumatologist, my neurologist, my endocrinologist, my naturopath, and my dietician. Each section has my notes from visits, business cards, treatment plans, and a sticky note on the front of each section with each doctor’s phone number and address.   I also have a section for copies of my blood work and personal data that I have and continue to collect. Now, while I have each of these sections, they are not really type A neat! I know some of my type A friends would probably have color photos of each of the doctors as the start of each section- possibly selfies with their doctors, and each section would be further color coordinated and tabbed off with cute pictures or icons announcing each part : bills, blood work, notes, upcoming appointments, etc.   But that’s too much work for me.

So you see, type A and type Z are always at work with me.

I also have a medical/food data grid that I started on my computer and I complete daily. (I admit, sometimes I forget what I had for lunch, or I forget to take my blood sugar at night..but generally speaking, the information is pretty accurate.)  I share this information with any doctor  as needed. Each grid is specific for each day and it lists a pain scale, symptoms, my blood sugar results for both morning and night, supplement names and amounts for that date, food I ate (measured and weighed), how much water I drank (in ounces), and exercise information. If there are any other symptoms or things that seem pertinent, I include that on my chart as well. The digital age has definitely helped as far as tracking goes; my type Z side knows  I’d never do all this if I had to hand write all of this stuff out every day!

While I lament about having to keep all this data, it does help me see what triggers I have and what helps. Today, I took an Epsom salt bath because I read in my Top 10 Lyme Treatments book by Bryan Rosner that can be helpful. My skin got quite red in the tub, and I still feel like a stingray after the bath, but that’s more data for my chart!

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

(image from google images)