the end of an era

Happy New Year!

Image by smoMashup_ via Flickr

The last post of 2010.

I hope everyone has the happiest of New Years! To celebrate, the Professor and I are heading over to his parents’ house for dinner and then heading downtown for the First Night celebration, with fireworks and everything.

So, everyone be safe and have a great night, whatever you’re doing.

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why i don’t eat animals

Cover of "Eating Animals"

Cover of Eating Animals

For my long trip this past week, I knew I would need something to keep me entertained in the car. I love to read, but doing it in a vehicle usually ends in tears (or at least nausea) for me. I decided to give audio books a try, and so I downloaded “Eating Animals” by Jonathan Safran Foer (of “Everything Is Illuminated” fame) to my iPod.

“Eating Animals” is the story of Foer’s decision to delve into what exactly is it we’re eating when we pick up a pork chop or chicken nugget and pop it into our mouths, something that became important to him with the birth of his son. Though Foer is vegetarian, it’s not a book that tries to convince you that’s the only way to eat; instead, Foer discusses the horrors (and really, it’s awfully horrific) of factory farmed animals’ lives and deaths.

Before reading (or rather, listening to) this book, I was already a vegetarian. My reasons were mainly those of health: having psoriasis puts me at a higher risk of metabolic syndrome and, quite frankly, eating meat just made me feel bad and often triggered flares or mini-flares. It just wasn’t worth it to eat animals anymore.

After listening to this book, my decision to go veg is now also influenced for reasons of animal welfare, if not necessarily animal rights. The atrocities Foer mentions are unnecessary but an unsurprising by-product of a system (factory farming) that sees animals as dollar signs and workers as expendable.

I just don’t see the need to pay into that system, to give my farming proxy, as Foer put it, to some big corporation shoving antibiotics and God knows what else into these animals, keeping them as sick as possible because that maximizes profits.

So, now, my goal is to make sure none of my dollars go to factory farms: not for eggs or for dairy. In fact, I’m going to minimize my use of those two groups by either doing without or using substitutes. (If anyone knows of any good ones, please send them my way! I haven’t had much luck with dairy substitutes.)

Now, I’ve just got to convince the Professor to stop eating factory farmed meat and go with locally raised animals, and we’ll be all set. And if I could get people to stop accidentally feeding me animal products (I’m looking at you, quinoa cooked in beef bouillon) or telling me lobster/fish/poultry isn’t meat (duh, of course it is; those are all animals), then I’ll really be good to go.

So, if you’re interested in food, animal welfare or rights, public health, increases in autoimmune disorders, vegetarianism or you just eat meat, this is a must-read.

good will to all men

 

via We Heart It

 

Merry Christmas, everyone! (Or happy holidays, if Christmas isn’t your thing.)

The Professor and I are up in Canada. I’m still doing fairly well. All and all, I don’t think I could have asked for much more for Christmas.

I hope everyone is doing as we as I am, and that time spent with family adds instead of takes away spoons.

drive away

I spent most of today—about 10 hours—in a van with my mum, husband, brother and his awesome girlfriend. I’m feeling a bit sore, but nothing too bad. It will be followed by another eight to ten hours in the van tomorrow, something that, despite how well I’ve been feeling lately, makes me really nervous. We’re driving to Ontario to see my dad’s side of the family, then after Christmas we’re going to head to Quebec to see my mum’s family before finally heading back home.

I am so thrilled to be able to go see my extended family; I haven’t seen most of them since either my wedding two years ago or Christmas two years ago—some of them even longer. And I am so thrilled that I am feeling better, that my family won’t see me the way I was three weeks ago: barely able to function. I’m so grateful for this chance to see them and to be able to fully experience and participate in everything that’s happening. I think that’s the best Christmas present I could have received.

i’m here standing

 

via Toothpaste for Dinner

It’s kind of funny that my last post was all about heels and my enduring love for them, because today I spent the entire day in a pair of pointed-toe pumps.

 

But let me start at the beginning (and explain what makes this unbelievable occurrence even more extraordinary).

Saturday and Sunday, I worked my final two shifts at the large retail establishment at which I had worked for about three years; I worked eight hours on Saturday and nine hours on Sunday. It was kind of insane and illustrated just how far I’ve come since that first (again) shot of Enbrel a few weeks ago; the four or five hour shifts I worked around Black Friday left me exhausted and unable to move for the rest of the weekend.

Not this time.

After my shifts this weekend, I felt a bit sore, but nothing outrageous: My feet hurt a bit and my legs, but nothing more.

Today, I had an interview for a promotion within my company; to me, professional attire (and especially interview attire) will always mean heels. So, this morning, instead of looking sadly at my pumps before putting on a pair of flats, I put on my long pants, a silk top and a blazer (the tan one, not the black one; my psoriasis is acting up) and broke out a favored pair of more conservative pumps. Though I know they really had nothing to do with it, I’d like to think my heels—and the increased confidence they gave me—helped me nail the interview and get the promotion.

More likely, it was my hard work throughout the year and, if I’m honest, how much better I’ve been feeling lately. I would not have been able to drive for two hours, sit through a 30-minute interview, drive for another two hours and hang out at my office for six hours before driving 30 minutes home. No. Just a few short weeks ago, just getting up and going to work would have taken away so many spoons, I wouldn’t have many left over for much of anything.

Regardless, it was nice for my efforts to be lauded, nice to be able to wear heels again and so very nice to feel well enough to be up to both of those things.

you have to walk a mile in her shoes

One of my favourite pairs of shoes.

On my way home from work yesterday, I decided to stop at DSW for a little shoe shopping, ostensibly to pick up a pair of work-appropriate flats to continue babying my aching joints and muscles.

I wandered through the aisles, finding a few I liked. But by the time I hit the end of the women’s shoe section, most of the boxes I held in my arms contained pumps.

Oh, how I enjoyed trying them all on! I sashayed around the store in my favourites, feeling sexy and feminine and powerful in a way I haven’t in in a long time, since, well, since I was last able to wear heels comfortably.

Though there was one pair of shoes I especially loved and another I really struggled with leaving behind (I’ll take them in an 8.5, thanks!), I didn’t end up buying any. Even so, that experience was a boost I needed; though I may not be 100 percent ready yet, I’m closer to being able to wear heels full-time than I’ve been in a long time. And knowing that is worth more to me than any (extremely hot) Ann Marino pumps.

recipe: (awesome) vegetarian chili

I love chili. Seriously. But since I made the switch to the veggie side, I have been unable to find a really good vegetarian chili recipe. So, I made one up. I used avocado instead of sour cream, but that could easily be changed out. You could also add carrots, celery, peppers, potatoes and all kinds of other things to this chili. I just used what I had. I also served it with some sourdough bread, but if you need to be gluten-free, there are some delicious gluten-free breads out there that are worth a try; or, just skip the bread altogether. With highs near freezing here for the foreseeable future, I have a feeling I’ll be making another batch of this.

Nessie’s (awesome) vegetarian chili

2 cans chili beans, drained (I found a can of a mix of organic kidney, pinto and black beans all mixed together; if you’re a vegetarian, be sure to read the can! So many beans have meat products in them.)

2 cans stewed tomatoes

2 cobs fresh corn, cut off the cob

1 packet McCormick’s chili seasoning (I used the one with less sodium)

1 avocado, pitted and sliced

Cheese or soy cheese crumbles, optional (I used Cheshire cheese, since it’s nice and sharp)

Turn stove to medium heat. Dump in cans of stewed tomatoes and beans. Add chili seasoning. Add corn. Stir. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. Serve with avocado slices and cheese

more than a feeling

 

Photo by Chris Townsend via Dreamstime.com

The 30-day experiment: part the third! has come to an end, and I think rather a successful one. I did indeed write every day for 30 days and, as I suspected, I have a wealth of ideas for future posts.

 

Including this one. As I said before, I had my highly anticipated visit with my NP. I’ve been on the new treatment—Enbrel, Plaquenil and MTX, plus Omeprazole (Prilosec) and a stronger muscle relaxant to help me sleep—for a few days now, and what a difference it’s made already. I feel more like myself than I have in a long time. The brain fog has receded, my pain levels have dropped—albeit only from a seven to a five or so, but it’s certainly a start—and I’m sleeping better. I can concentrate on writing (necessary, as a journalist) and I just feel human again.

It’s a nice feeling.

nerd i am

I am

Image via Wikipedia

When we first learned the Professor would be teaching at his alma mater for at least an academic year, we were ecstatic. When we learned he would have a writing intensive section, I offered to go over his students’ papers for grammar and style. For their last papers, I got that chance.

Today, I got through all but three of the papers during my down time at work. Reading the work of these university students—most of them upperclassmen—reminded me of two things: how much I love copy editing and how little most of these kids know about the English language. (For the love of God, possessives and plurals are two different things!) Even though most of them were absolutely terrible, I still do love words.

But, with writing articles, editing pages and reading papers, I’m all worded out.

D(r) day

US Navy 050627-N-6495K-036 Physician's Assista...

Image via Wikipedia

Today was my long-awaited trip to see my rheumatologist to find out if we could come up with some kind of plan to get me back on track. The Professor was with me, and he was very good at making sure I didn’t leave anything out—and if I did, he piped up. I definitely felt as though she heard me and understood how unlike myself I’ve been feeling.

The NP seemed shocked by how poorly I was doing when we ran down the list of symptoms: lots of pain, joint pain in new places (like my jaw, which pops all the dang time now), sleeping poorly, muscle pain, fatigue, brain fog, the weird (and likely) pleuritic chest pain…. It felt like the list went on and on. Both she and the student physician’s assistant with her gave me a full exam.

She decided to pull me off the sulfasalazine, but keep me on the methotrexate, the hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) and the NSAID. (She was flatly against the idea of Celebrex, which I suspected she would be. We’ll see how Dad takes it, though.) I’m back on the Enbrel, and she gave me a few samples to take home until I can get things straightened out with my insurance and the co-pay assistance program. Since Darvocet was taken off the market (and I wasn’t a huge fan, anyway), I’m going to give Percocet a try. If that doesn’t work, I’ll be on the Tylenol with Codeine, since I’m super sensitive to pain killers. She also suggested a steroid injection before I go up to Canada for the holidays, since it should help me get through the stress of driving up and driving back.

I’m hopeful this will work. I was certainly doing better while on Enbrel, and maybe in conjunction with the Yellow Dart and the Plaquenil, I’ll start feeling like myself again. Maybe I’ll even be able to pull my heels out of the closet again. That seems so far from where I am right now. But after that appointment, one phrase is back in my vocabulary: I hope.