Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Look what I got in the mail today!!! As a persistent allergy and anxiety/panic disorder sufferer, I've been looking for something.. *anything!*...to help. I'd heard about the GAPS diet protocol before, having friends in the natural/organic/bushcraft societies and not really known if this was for me. When I was younger, I still had the "Screw that! I can't have bread!" mentality. Thats not what this book is about at all. There is heavy emphasis on Autism, depression, ADD/ADHD...any "psychological' disorder, and their connection to the "Gut", or the digestive system.
We've all heard "You are what you eat!" ..usually from well meaning parents or grandparents. We've ALL heard it.. Does that mean I'm a giant piece of delightfully delicious chocolate cake? Sure..empty calories, full of 'dead' nutrients, rancid fats... yep.. thats me (no, I dont eat cake, but the same could be said for that dish of heavenly nachos at the local pub, or that nice big glass of soda on ice). Dont get me wrong... I cook. I actually cook ALOT. Most things I make are made from scratch..the old way. Little in my house comes from a jar, can or bottle... Even my kids, who are typical teenagers and have been known to gorge themselves on soda, chips and cookies at the least provocation, know that what Mom makes is good for them. However...is it good enough? Thats the real question.
My food makes a gallbladder sufferer pray for mercy. Rich roasts of beef, pork or chicken..mashed potatoes..handmade/homemade gravies... real butter on our vegetables, which usually come from the produce section of our grocery store. Whatever isn't eaten is frozen and saved for another evening. I dont use plastic storage anymore, having switched over to all glass with the silicone lids (making sure the food does not touch the lids) for freezing and any other food storage, after the big "OMG! There's BPA in plastic!" outcry. I always kinda figured that something like that was happening and had started converting to glass a few months before the big outcry came. I did it in a conservative way...each time we hit the supermarket, I'd buy one piece of pyrex to add to "The Collection". My husband thought I was just being eccentric... Now, he reminds me if I haven't picked up another piece in a couple of weeks.
In addition to the glass storage, I've switched out my cookware. No more non-stick stuff for me... Too many studies have pointed to the 'potentially' harmful effects of using non-stick cookware. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a 2 qt saucepan in cast iron? yyyyyeah.. I found ONE!...one.... In addition to the saucepan, I have three 'dutch oven' sized pots, and four frying pans...all cast iron :D One of the Dutch Ovens and one of the frying pans are nearly 100 years old... my great grandmother had brought them to this country (USA) in the very early 1900's, when she immigrated. I was brought to tears of gratitude and pleasure when my mother handed them down to me. She was having a hard time lifting them (though I bet she could now) and she knew that 1)I would make excellent use of them, and 2) I wouldn't allow them to leave the family. Its important to me, that we keep such things IN the family... Aww, I'm a sentimental old food, ain't I? Hell yeah! This pot and pan have nourished, now since I have my own two daughters, FIVE GENERATIONS of women. How freakin' incredible is that?!
SO... back to the point... I'm reading the first chapters of this GAPS diet (more info can be found at http://www.gapsdiet.com or http://westonaprice.org ). I've already learned more about LACTOSE INTOLERANCE then i EVER thought I knew... I knew lactase was essential for digestion of the lactose (hah! check that out... only one vowel from another, and an entire world of difference!). My elder daughter 'became' lactose intolerant in her mid-teens. It's gotten pretty bad...to drink a glass of dairy-milk, the poor kid has to take FOUR of those snazzy lactase enzyme pills... FOUR! not worth it...
I suffer from violent allergic reactions to things like dust mites, cockroaches (though, as I said in a previous post, I've never actually seen one), birch trees, maple trees, pine trees, cats, dogs... the list goes on an on.... Now see.. in 2008, I was rushed to the E.R. with systemic hives...which prompted me to go to an allergist, where I found out all these killer (literally) allergies that I have. I knew I had hayfever, growing up, and I couldn't be around cats. "Normal" allergies, in my opinion... This book, GAPS - Gut and Psychology Syndrom - isn't just about how to "fix" things like autism (ohhh, dont let a medical doctor hear that autism can be treated..they'll spit in your face, if not literally, figuratively), depression, ADD/ADHD.... it can help allergic people.. it can help lactose intolerant people. It is said, by those who participate in it fully, that it can cure just about anything... because it fixes the bacterial balance in the gut, or digestive system.
I know people who, at hearing E.Coli, go into full panic mode. Being raised by a very intelligent mother, myself, I knew that E.Coli and the streptoccocus (you know..that bacteria that causes strept throat?) are *naturally* present in one's intestines. Most people these days knows that E.Coli on the vegetables in the produce section comes from fecal matter (ewww, poopies!) in the fields that the produce is grown. This is NATURAL. Why? Dude.. if someone poops on your food, and e.coli is a naturally occuring bacteria in the intestine and bowel...guess what?! You're going to have e.coli on your food. Will I buy that? Probably not... pretty much freakin' grosses me the hell out (pardon the language and stuff). I dont know the science of all of this, of course (Bill Nye, I am not, trust me!) but... I do believe there is a tremendous difference between the bacteria E.Coli in one's intestines, and the pathogenic (or is that pathological?) bacterium E.Coli that ends up killing people. It's for greater brains then mine to discuss the differences, though.
So, I'm starting to learn about the GAPS protocol and I'm hoping that, if I rebuild my gut, it'll boost my immune system, which will, in turn, boost my body's abilities to fight the allergens in my environment :) Pretty awesome stuff, if you ask me.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

New Year.. new..Blog?

2/16/2012 -

Have I been a total blog "fail" or what?! Let's give this another shot I've been "blogging", so to speak, on FB, though it's FAR from a blog, sharing the things that make my life interesting. However, the post-lengths on FB aren't nearly long enough and no one actually reads "Notes" that people make (at least, I dont do so often). So, here I am.. kickin' it back on the Mus-Knits :D

About four years ago, maybe four? I had a big problem with getting systemic hives... Hoooboy! Covered my entire body, swelled my eyes nearly shut, and made my heart race.. Definite allergic reaction.. But..to what? I went to a really fantastic allergist and found out that I have a whole laundry list of allergies (ie: Cats (duh!), Trees (birch, maple, oak, pine - you know, all the ones in my back yard), cockroaches (I've never even seen a roach in real life, so I wasn't too concerned about that), DUST MITES (this one is freaky as hell, since you canNOT get rid of dust mites, no matter how clean one's house is.. and my house is clean as heck, thanks to my husband's diligent efforts), and mold. Yeah, I know... everyone seems to be allergic to mold...but I could end up in the hospital from any of these allergies. Yep..anaphylaxis.. happy, huh?

After a full year of the immunological shots to try and build a resistance to these allergens...my allergist (he really is one of the best in the area, from everything I could dig up about him) told me that I wasn't building resistances...that I was/am a "Severely Allergic" person and he could really do nothing more for me.... Well, hell...

So I stopped going. Why pay for the shots and go to their office every week if there wasn't anything more he/they could do for me?

Now, three years later... I'm going through all of it again. Not the shots, but the hives and incessant allergic reactions. The only thing keeping me sane is that it's not closing my airways.. I dont really know what I'd do if it were closing off my breathing...you kinda have to be able to breathe, ya know? I had, back during the first time, five different prescriptions to keep the allergies down... My GP, now, doesn't want to hear that... Nor does he want to hear that the Zyrtec, one of the best meds for hives, only works for 8-10 hours, not the 24 hours that it does for 'regular' people. The allergist had me taking a prescription allergy med twice a day by mouth, plus the eyedrops, nasal sprays, etc...so I figure taking Zyrtec twice a day probably wont kill me (picture me crossing my fingers here).

I've had extremely high hopes (really got it stuck in my head) that I could honestly be "chemical free" (medication wise, at the least) by this spring. I got off of all the other stuff.. especially the SSRI that I'd been on for NINE years...(they now say that the one I was taking, you're only supposed to be on it for six months at a time - oh YAY!) with the help of a really fantastic psychiatrist who doesn't believe that I ever needed it (I have anxiety, not depression, though the ssri did help alot with the anxiety, if only masking it so I just didnt feel it - I'll go into this another time, when I'm more fired up about it.. you know the whole "outrage" thing). I WAS down to just taking a synthroid for my hypothyroidism (man, it sounds like I'm just a mess all over the place, doesn't it? I'm really not LOL) and the occassional Advil for a headache....then the hives hit. Now I've added the Zyrtec and Zantac (did you know Zantac actually has antihistine properties to it?!) to my regimen...twice a day...every day... ugh.

Over the last month, I've really had to try to get it into my head that I'm not going to be 'chemical free' in the next few months. It's surprisingly difficult to do so... I guess when I get something in my head, it just kinda sticks...like flypaper...


In other news, I'm knitting like a MACHINE!!!!!!! LOL Not my words, either..a friend on FB has called me that, and the other ladies in my knitting group have a good chuckle at how fast I get things done... All but one of those ladies, though, have real life jobs...working the 9-5, so to speak, except one..and SHE has a baby who's about to turn a year old.. That, unto itself, is a full time job, as I well remember. I have some 12hours or more to knit each day...so yeah! I get alot of knitting done. I should be covered completely in handknits, shouldn't I?! .. yeah, not so much. Things seem to "happen" to my knitting... the Husbeast, God(s) Bless his heart, tosses laundry in, if he's down there and happens to see I have a few things for the wash... It's amazing, how quick wool turns into felt... DD2 wont wear handknits anymore ("Oh, how gauche!"), so the shrinkage isn't going to help her wardrobe..and DD1 has pretty particular tastes, too :) Neither of these things is necessarily a bad thing... its just frustrating.. So GoodWill gets alot of felted items LOL

I've been on a HUGE sock kick this month... Four pairs so far! Amazing, huh? I've been digging through Rav (Http://www.ravelry.com) for Harry Potter inspired patterns.. Look up "Monkey Toes" under the "People" tab.. awesome designs!!! I did "Fawkes" while we were on vacation last year, recently finished "Bellatrix" and hope to start "Nagini" sometime this week :) I even bought a ball of Opal in this lizard-green color to work on "Nagini" when I was able to get to the Cornwall Yarn Shop (http://www.cornwallyarnshop.com) about a week ago :D CYS makes me a happy woman... Best dang yarn shop I've been in.. probably ever! Gail, the proprietress is just the sweetest, most kind shop owner I've ever known. She's been a tremendous help to me, with my allergies, in helping me find yarns that are minimally processed... Plymouth Yarn Co., one of the larger yarn companies, is discontinuing my favourite of their yarns. It's called "Homestead".. a heavy-worsted/aran weight wool that hardly made me react at all!!! ...discontinued. I posted on the Plymouth FB page of my disappointment and got pretty much a shrug and a "Sorry, Charlie". Dont get me wrong.. I wont stop shopping Plymouth's yarns. Galway, a worsted wool, is a lovely yarn and I'll continue using it...and Encore cannot be beat, really, when it comes to wool/acrylic blends for baby/kids items. I just realllllllly liked the "Homestead" and "EcoCashmere" that they'd offered for a while, and I'm *realllllly* disappointed to see them go. Since Gail had found out about the dicontinuation, and knowing my intense favor for this yarn...ANNNND knowing she'd end up discounting it to replace it with a new offering.. she gave me the lot of what she had...for half price!!!! OH MAMA!!!!!!!!! So I got seventeen (SEVENTEEEEEEEN!!!!) skeins of Homestead for just under 60.00 :D I hadn't meant to purchase that much yarn, that day.. but jeeze.. how the heck could I resist!? The yardage is pure win, so I'll get probably two basic sweaters out of it, plus a cowl and a pair of boot socks LOL

Gail - I LOVE YOU!!!!!!

OTN (On the Needles) right now - "Chandail Cardigan" by Triona Murphy. Working it up in LionBrand's Cotton-Ease (trying to not aggravate my allergies, so I'm playing with the cotton/acrylic blend) on US 7s

The needles I'm using are "Knitter's Pride- Cubics" in the US 7/ 4.5mm size. (http://www.knitterspride.com) I'm not usually a fan of wooden needles..they slow me down... but these needles are preeeetty awesome. I'm having a tiny issue with keeping the joins screwed in as I work, but the general work around (I have a full set of KnitPicks in each of the Nickel, Harmony, and Acrylic) is to add the tiniest drop of clear nail polish to the cable end before screwing it into the needle tip. I got this tip from...somewhere...it's been so long that I dont remember who said it worked for them, but it seems to hold them together a little longer then just using the screw key, which is what I've been doing this time around.

I like these needles. They're smooth and look lovely. The tips are good and sharp, and they dont slow me down as much as regular bamboo needle does..but they aren't as fast as the nickel plated (no matter the brand). It's pretty awesome that these tips fit the KnitPicks cables... Definitely a fan of THAT. I'll continue using these needle tips for this cardigan and get full use of them... For someone who likes a good wooden needle.. these, you will like :D Makes me wonder how they'd do when working with lace or cobweb weight... ooooh, something else to try! YAY!