Thursday, November 29, 2012

The End is Near

The end of the semester, at any rate.

I have a mid-thesis presentation on December 3 - where I and my cohorts will present our legal-according-to-the-UN-but-maybe-the-USA-won't-like-it thesis projects. Mine is a quasi-legal casino/resort on a floating platform in the Pacific.

Now, I know you're all thinking, "But this is academic work! It should be serious! You should be coming up with ways to save whales or kittens or petroleum or something!"

At first, I had the same mindset. And then I realized that I would probably never have the opportunity to design a quasi-legal casino/resort straight out of a bad Kevin Costner flick again. (Disclaimer: I actually enjoyed the terribleness that was Waterworld, and it's part of the reason I wanted to do a crazy floating project)

After that, I just have a take-home exam, and then I'm finished for the semester. I will have a nice long break before I have to officially put my nose to the grindstone, once more.

What will I do during my winter break?

I will enjoy eating "normal" food. Not normal as in "it contains gluten and milk products," but normal as in "it's not on a very strict diet I'm starting after January 1st because my immune system is in constant overdrive."

Yup, more food problems.

As of this writing, my body doesn't deal well with
1. Gluten
2. Dairy
3. Eggs
4. Nightshades (aka tomatoes, tomatillos, and other tom---os)

According to one theory, it's because my gut bacteria aren't in their proper ratios, so I can't digest the food properly, so my immune system says, "HEY-O!" and I feel like ick.

I haven't read any other sane-sounding theories to explain it, and my doctors are at a loss as to what is going on. I went to a fracking rheumatologist who essentially said, "I have no idea. Figure it out on your own."

I should have asked for a refund. I did get a nice ceramic mug, though...

So I've been reading all sorts of interesting blogs - namely this one and this one. And it was on the first blog that I first encountered discussions of the GAPS Diet.

GAPS stands for "Gut and Psychology," which is an awful name, but it is what it is.

From what I understand, there's a lot of broth involved, and pickled vegetables, and probiotics, and eventually, your body will get back to near normal.

I think we all know I'll never really be normal normal.

I'm currently stock-piling chicken carcasses in my freezer in preparation for the coming tsunami of broth I'll be making.

And, seriously, how normal can a chicken-carcass-hoarder be?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Beauty From Pain

I'm kind of out of luck insofar as my health, goes.

Possibly an understatement, but we'll leave it at that.

When I had cancer as a teenager, I focused on my appearance - or the parts of it I could control - and worked on improving it, mainly through obsessive skincare regimens to prevent my fast-shedding skin cells from clogging my pores.

That and powdering my bald head to keep it from being shiny.

Yes, I'm serious. Looking like the cueball isn't much fun.

I recently realized I've fallen into the same pattern as before, but fortunately without losing my hair.

My sanity, however, is a whole other ballgame.

As a consequence, I've amassed an impressive collection of various dermatological lotions and potions and serums and (something that rhymes with serums. Rhymezone recommends theorems, but I can't figure out a way to work that in).

Also, I'm now best friends with "my" cosmetics lady at Neiman Marcus. I've decided that, from now on, if I feel bad, I just need to go see her, because she always makes me feel better by gushing about how wonderful my [hair, skin, eyelashes] is/are. I don't know her name, but I fully intend to find out, next time I go in. She can't become my new best friend if I don't know her name, right?

So far, I haven't had to spend much money on the lotions and potions, but those free samples - courtesy of the NM Cosmetics Lady - won't last forever, and then...

I've always enjoyed applying creams and lotions to my face. There's something so grown up and ladylike about it. I was always fascinated growing up by watching my mom put on her make-up, and that might be part of it. But there's also, I know, an element of advertising involved. All those commercials (back when I used to watch TV) that depicted beautifully complexioned models gently massaging strangely invisible age-defying creams into their skin got under mine, somehow.

So now, in addition to the doctor-ordered soak in warm water with epsom salts (for the good old piriformis and lower back), I spend about 15 minutes carefully inspecting my pores - which I think are atrocious, but no one else has mentioned them yet, so hey - and refining my eyebrows (which I will do again in the morning, because where did that hair come from???), and buffing my face and throat with a power-tool for my face, and then carefully massaging in 1) the black tea age-defying serum and 2) the black tea age-defying cream OR 1) the face cream hand-mixed by monks in Umbria. I jokingly refer to the last product as "holy s**t face cream", and I will never buy it because it costs $140 for 40G, aka 1 oz.

Hopefully, my obsessiveness will pay off, in the end, and I won't end up looking like - well - this guy:

("This Guy" is, inexplicably, the first image to appear in Google images when you search "complexion")

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Medical Mystery: SOLVED!

The solution to last post's Medical Mystery?

My immune system is really sensitive.


That's it.

That's all we could come up with. She did establish - due to a lack of joint problems and blisters on my skin - that I don't have celiac disease, so that's good.

I talked to the rheumatologist, and she asked what I was doing to try to offset the side-effects of things like eating dairy, etc.

"I'm not eating dairy," I said. "I haven't had any in weeks."

"Okay. And the gluten?"

"I don't eat gluten. And if I accidentally eat something contaminated with gluten, I take Benadryl and enzyme capsules to help break up the gluten proteins so they get flushed out of my system faster."

"Okay..." She tapped her pen against her chin. "What does it say here about nightshades?"


"Nightshades - like tomatoes and bell peppers - I'm cutting them out because some people with autoimmune disorders find they can be irritating or troublesome."

"Oh. Huh. I didn't know that. Is it helping?"

"Yes, I think so. I've only been nightshade-free for about a week."

More stumped tapping of the pen against her chin. "Anything not listed here?"

"Peanuts. I'm allergic to them. I break out in a rash if I eat them."

"How are you dealing with that?"

Pause. Confused look on my face. "Well, I don't eat them."

At this point, I'm wondering how many people out there have significant, noticeable allergies to foods and continue to eat them.

"Anything else?"

"I'm trying to cut eggs out of my diet, but it's kind of difficult. I'll manage, though. I feel better when I don't eat them."

"Oh. Why eggs, too?"

"They're on a list of autoimmune disorder No-Nos I found on the interwebz."

"On the what?"

"Sorry, the internet." She's obviously not a LOLCat fan.

"Huh." More chin tapping. "Okay, so the only things that aren't obviously food related are the Reynaud's Syndrome and the swollen glands?"


"I could always prescribe Viagra for the Reynaud's syndrome if it really starts to bother you."

I pull a grossed-out face. "I'll pass, thanks. Massaging my fingertips under warm water is okay, for now. I'd prefer not to add another pill to my regimen."

"Okay. And the swollen glands... I think that's probably just the reaction to the foods you're eating that are giving you trouble, or seasonal allergies, maybe. See if cutting them out for a longer period of time helps."



So, pretty much, I went to the doctor to have my competence in managing my diet reinforced, and to reinforce the notion that I know more about my autoimmune difficulties than a well-respected rheumatologist.

Score one for Big Paleo.