In the Mouth of Madness

Time for a quick medical update…

Last week I had my semi-annual check up with my radiologist.  All was great there. The nurse was happy with my 5 pound (intentional) weight loss since last visit, as well as my outstanding blood pressure (100/60). As always, the doc and I had a great conversation about food and natural healing. He totally supports my seeing a naturalist and he even had his son to Aimee years ago.  I spoke to him about my mouth pain and he suggested my husband watch me while I sleep — to see if perhaps I am clenching. (He hasn’t done that yet, but maybe one of these nights.) Anyway, doc said he was confident that I would figure it out and he wanted me to let him know once I solved the mystery.

Speaking of the mystery, today was my follow up at the ENT regarding the mouth pain. He showed me my CT scan which yielded… absolutely nothing!  So a big “yea” on that (yep, in the deep dark recesses of my brain I needed to know it wasn’t cancer), but we are no closer to resolving. I have tried the neti pot, antibiotics, steroids, dental exam, Mucinex, Claritan, and now a CT scan. Nothing worked, although Motrin did lessen the pain.

Next step? Psychiatrist, perhaps? Anyway, the ENT said I should call if it gets worse and he will send me for a brain MRI to see if the “trigeminal nerve” is causing radiated pain on the roof of my mouth. (In case you were wondering, the trigeminal nerve connects your face to your brain.  Trigeminal neuralgia can cause face pain if something is putting pressure on the nerve.)

Not rushing off to the MRI… Hoping it goes away as fast as it came!  Stay tuned…

IMDb: In the Mouth of Madness (1994)

That’s Entertainment

It’s been quite a busy week for me. I had a lot going on at work, with days of back to back meetings, added to a host of appointments for me and Ethan.  Luckily, the crazy week was also filled with a whole lot of fun and entertaining activities…

A week ago today was the 8th Annual Ladies in Pink Party ~ my third year in attendance. In 2012 I was a recipient of their generosity. In 2013 I was a guest speaker. And this year I got to relax and enjoy the day with 24 of my close friends and family. We were amongst 600 women in attendance, as we ate, drank, danced, and raised money to support local women who are fighting breast cancer. It’s a program I am honored to support as it directly benefits the recipients. Here’s this year’s photo. Clearly, a great time was had by all!

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Band on Monday night… Appointment with our financial advisor Tuesday night… and then Wednesday night was happy hour with my boss, his boss, and our management team. It was a great night of laughs, good conversation, unhealthy bar food, and team building!

Thursday night… Out again! A great night with a friend, representing our company at the local Dress for Success charity event: Wine, Witches, and Wardrobe. (Ethan said “I see what they did there…a little play on the Narnia title…”) I bought myself some earrings and perfume (from a great local place called Note Fragrances…this perfume was actually featured in this year’s Emmy’s goodie bags!). More good food, good drinks (can you say pumpkin-tini??), and more laughs.

Saturday… I got to spend the afternoon with one of my favorite people, my cousin Stephanie. She treated me to an afternoon at the theater… Mamma Mia! I’ve seen it 3 times now and it always makes me happy. Such energizing music. And, if course, quality time with Steph.

And to round out the week? Seussical the Musical at East Stroudsburg University where my niece played woodwinds in the pit band. She was awesome on flute, piccolo and tenor sax! The show was fun and all the performers were excellent! Thanks to my sister-in-law for the treat! And the 8 of us enjoyed dinner together afterwards. Olive Garden, and more good (bad) food!

There is only one downfall to all this fun (ok, maybe two)… I drank more alcohol than usual, and I didn’t make all the healthiest food selections. But it was fun and tomorrow starts another week. I need a quiet week ahead to recover.  (And hopefully I haven’t let my weight loss team down TOO much!)

*****

IMDb: That’s Entertainment (1974)

Cafeteria

I pretty much never eat in our work cafeteria. I figure I can better control what and how much I eat if I pack my own lunch every day. But for a while there, I was actually buying my breakfast at work. Every day I would get a bowl of oatmeal, with a spoonful of brown sugar, some cinnamon, and some raisins or other fruit. It was a yummy, healthy breakfast… and convenient.

But the cafeteria couldn’t figure out how much to charge me. First it was $1.65. Then they decided oatmeal warranted the healthy food discount, which made sense, so they changed the price to $1.33. Woo hoo!  And then a week later, they said they were no longer giving the healthy discount on oatmeal (really???) and went back to charging me $1.65. Since I always took exact change to use up the coins in my purse, this annoyed me and I stopped getting the oatmeal. It was principle after all! (I mean, who doesn’t consider oatmeal healthy???)

In stopping the oatmeal, I stopped eating in the cafeteria altogether.

But today was a special day. The 25th anniversary of our company’s location in Scranton. There were speeches, games, contests, a deejay, and lots of fun activities. And… we had free food. They were great about having vegetarian options, so I had some eggplant parm, a little pasta and a “scoop” of roasted vegetables. I use the word “scoop” loosely, since I ended up with exactly three pieces of vegetables on my plate.  I suspect that they were roasted with lots of oil, so probably just as well.

I made an attempt to eat the parm and pasta. The pasta was white and mushy, so not so much there.  The eggplant was palatable, but very very salty. (As a salt-aholic, this is saying something!) Ah, the joys of processed foods. Within an hour, I was completely parched from the excess salt and I felt totally bloated. It reminded me of how I used to feel… when I ate processed crap all the time.

I don’t mean to sound unappreciative. It was a great day at work, with lots of laughs and celebrating. But it most certainly reminded me of why I don’t (and shouldn’t ever) eat in the cafeteria!  Or anywhere that is all processed foods.

I do use salt on my foods (see aforementioned reference to “salt-aholic”), but a lesson I learned from Dr. McDougall is to not cook with salt. Your taste buds will be happier with a little salt on top of the food, and you will use less. I do add salt to some foods, but rarely.

*****

A few new recipes…

Forks Over Knives’ Spicoli Burgers. These were different and very good. I would definitely make them again and they reminded me of certain crab cakes, without the crab. One odd ingredient: Hemp seeds. (Really.) I found these at Wegman’s and I imagine any health food store would carry. They weren’t with the other seeds and nuts; I actually found them in the section with the protein mixes.  David and Ethan both enjoyed these and the batch made enough for leftovers for lunch. Oh, one other “odd” ingredient for newbies: tamari. I found this near the soy sauces.

Vegan Zucchini “Mozzarella” Sticks – These were really easy to make and were tasty. I think I should have baked them just a little longer for more crispness, but they were enjoyable.

Vegan Chocolate Mousse – made with avocados, cocoa powder, agave, and vanilla, the recipe I have is pretty simple. Throw the ingredients into the food processor, blend and refrigerate. I couldn’t find the exact recipe I have on-line, but here’s one from MindBodyGreen, and one from Giada.

*****

Just a follow up on the sinus stuff… I went for a sinus CT scan last week and I’ll see the doctor again on the 28th. In the meantime, I started taking “Silver Shield” which seems to be helping…

*****

IMDb: Cafeteria (2006)

 

The Birthday

Today was another tough “first”. My mother’s birthday. The first without her. It brought tears, but also a time to reflect and remember. I have shared so many great pictures of her in my blog, but I hope you will indulge me in a few more, as I remember her.

Here’s one of my in high school. I always loved pictures of my mom when she was younger. We rarely think of our mothers as young, beautiful, sexy… but she was!

 

Mom 1

 

Her second favorite role? Mother.  This is one is from my brother Joe’s First Communion. So I guess this is about 1968? Funny that, after all these years, I’m back to the hair style that my mother always insisted that I have! :)

Mom and Joe and Michele

 

I said Motherhood was “second” and that’s because Grandmother-hood took over the first spot with the birth of Katherine in 1990. There were so many grandmother pictures to choose from, but here’s two cute ones of Mom with Ethan. He totally adored her. She was my best friend, but I think it’s easy to say she was Ethan’s best friend as well.

 

 

 

 

Mom and Ethan 2003Mom and EThan 2005

Miss you, Mom. Love you lots!

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IMDb: The Birthday (2004)

 

Lady, Play Your Mandolin!

Just a quick post before I’m on the road for work.  Off to New Jersey for a conference tomorrow.

This weekend I tried out baked French fries. No oil… just cut into fries, place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, season and bake.  400 degrees.  Mine took about 30 minutes to get to the right crispness for my tastes. These were delicious and guilt-free! Ethan devoured them (always a good sign).

To get the fries cut, I dug out an old mandolin that I bought at the Englishtown NJ flea market in the late 1980s! (I don’t even think I knew it was called a mandolin until recently!) There was a vendor doing a display at the time, and it looked pretty cool. I have to say, up until my plant-based diet, I only used it for scalloped potatoes. It’s still in great working order, even though made mostly of plastic, and I’m getting more use out of it now.

I had my fries cut in short order, and did some reminiscing while I was at it. My mom, my cousin, Stephanie, my friend, Theresa, and I used to do an annual trip to Englishtown. It was typically this time of the year and we would leave bright and early on a Saturday morning. We’d shop until early afternoon and then stop for a late lunch on the way home. It was always a great girls’ day out! Unfortunately, I don’t even think they are open any more.

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With the fries Friday night I tried Wild Mushroom Croquettes with Horseradish Sauce from Crazy, Sexy Kitchen. Ethan and I thought these were tasty; David thought they were a little bland. We put them on pitas and assembled like a gyro. Croquettes, fresh spinach leaves, and the horseradish sauce. The cooking time seemed wrong to me, since they were getting heated, but not firm/crisp.  So I upped the temp from 275 to 375 and cooked them a little longer.

Again, Ethan is always a good tester, and he ate two of them, so that was good. That said, even though they are not terribly difficult to make, it was still a lot more soaking (almonds and walnuts) and chopping than I like. I’m not sure I would make them again.  I did make CSK’s “Save the Tuna Salad”, which we like very much, earlier in the week.

*****

I also made roasted a spaghetti squash this weekend. So easy!  Cut in half, scoop out seeds, place cut side down on a cookie sheet, bake 30-45 minutes. I ate the squash with a bit of diced tomatoes and salt.

I’m hoping my conference has some healthy choices tomorrow.  In case they don’t, I packed myself an apple and some brown rice crisps!

*****

I got the following message from a co-worker this week.  It truly made my day!! It’s what keeps me blogging and sharing!  “Have I told you lately how much I truly love your outlook on food and life….you are truly an inspiration and I thought you needed to know this!”

*****

IMDb: Lady, Play Your Mandolin! (1931)

Animal Farm

Growing up, I was never much of an animal person. We had “outside dogs” but pets never had pets in the house. So I never really had the opportunity to get close to a pet, and I never really desired it. Those of you who know me well, know that a German shepherd came as part of the package when David and I married. I wasn’t happy about it, and still regret the scratched floors and unending fur balls in the corners of every room.

Don’t get me wrong, I do love our dog. She’s very sweet, loyal and protective. But, as I like to say, sometimes I just wish she lived somewhere else.  :)

There are many people who follow a plant-based diet because they are huge animal lovers. That wasn’t me. I did it for health reasons, and helping animals was just a side benefit. It’s difficult, however, to read up on plant-based diets without exposure to articles on animal cruelty. And the more I read, the more horrified I am by the treatment of farm animals. Why is it that we fight to protect our precious dogs and cats, and all other animals are at the mercy of those who would gain financially from the cheapest form of death they can inflict.

I’m presently reading “Meatonomics” by attorney David Simon. I got to hear him speak back in February and he told a compelling story. It’s amazing (but not surprising) how Big Ag has influenced law to the point that they are super protected from litigation. And they are allowed to get away with more and more appalling actions under the guise of “customary farming practices”. Basically, as long as other farmer are doing it, it’s ok. So as soon as one farmer finds a cheaper method, even if it’s cruel and unusual, once the others adopt it, it’s “customary”. It’s just insane.

I actually made a donation to a farm sanctuary this morning. I was talking to a co-worker about it and she was sharing information about the FarmSanctuary.org. I just felt compelled to support it. You might want to check it out, or some other local organization.

Off soap box. (Although I’m sure there’s more to come as I read those eye-opening book.)

*****

The update on my hubby… the surgeon put it in our court as to how soon (and if) to have the hernia surgery. David is weighing his options… get it done now while it’s super easy, but potentially have unnecessary surgery. Or play the odds that it will never get as bad as it is now. I felt we had some time to make the decision (he doesn’t want it to interfere with our December Disney trip…) but the decision is weighing heavy on him. I told him that, sort of like my decision around not taking Femara, it needs to be his decision. I don’t want to influence one way or the other. We all have to make decisions that are the best for ourselves. So I’ve provided some perspective and will now wait for his decision.

*****

My mother-in-law is also home and doing well after several days in the ICU. Unidentified internal bleeding that stopped on its own. We were really worried for a few days there but are glad she’s doing better. Never a dull moment.

*****

IMDb: Animal Farm (1954)