Finding The Fun Of Moving

Isn’t he cute!

There aren’t many things in life that can prepare you for a move of mammoth proportions, being a military wife is the only thing I can think of that could prepare you for the move we just did; however, being retired military and moving across the country is another story all together.

We moved from Colorado Springs, Colorado, to Maine (we haven’t decided on a city yet). It was a 6 day 2K+ mile drive to get to Maine. Our longest day in the car was almost 12 hrs, and the shortest was 6 hrs. Looking back on it now, it’s a wonder that Hubby, the dog, and myself were able to stand each other by the time we pulled up to our hotel in Augusta, Maine.

There were a few unforeseen things we encountered as we were in the final press to get out of Colorado that shook our plans to their core, but thankfully the military prepared us to get through the unexpected. Two weeks before the day we planned to drive out of Colorado

Planning; Derailed

There aren’t many things in life that can prepare you for a move of mammoth proportions. Being a military wife I felt at least somewhat prepared for such a move. My husband had moved to England and back, and I had a couple of military moves under my belt, so I figured we were set and had planned for all unforeseen. Remember the saying, ”want to make God laugh, tell him your plans”? Keep that in mind.

We moved from Colorado Springs, Colorado, to Maine (we haven’t decided on a city yet). It was a 6 day 2K+ mile drive to get us to Maine. Our longest day in the car was almost 12 hrs, and our shortest was 6 hrs. Looking back on it now it’s a wonder that Hubby, the dog (Chaz), and myself were able to stand each other by the time we pulled up to our hotel in Augusta, Maine.

We had carefully planned the whole trip, from what to have by packed by when, to exactly where we could and would stop along the way for me to be able to eat. Looking back maybe we planned things to closely. The issues cropped up two weeks, almost to the day, before we were to leave.

We had reached the pinnacle of Hubby leaving his job, he’d given them 2 months notice and at last the day had finally arrived. We planned a mini vacation to get away from the boxes and chaos at home for a few days to decompress before the craziness of the new few weeks hit. We got back from that short trip and we to grab a bite to eat. Hubby got junk food (Arby’s) while I went to my favorite salad place for a dinner salad (Modern Market). The following Morning (Monday) Hubby woke early with a tummy ache. Knowing he had eaten junk food I told him to get the heating pad and to lay down. A few hours later, with a cup of tea that should have helped, if it was from dinner the night before, Hubby wan’t better. After careful consideration and a call to the nurse… we were off to the ER. Eight hours later…hubby was in surgery for a hot appendix. Yeah, I felt really bad after realizing that was the issue.

After surgery he felt much better, but he was told 6 weeks of no lifting anything that weighed more than a gallon of milk. I called our move organizer while we were waiting in the ER and thankfully they were able to schedule packers to come in and finish packing us out, because I had my hands full keeping hubby in bed, resting. One week after surgery we moved into a hotel so we were more comfortable while the house was mostly void of furniture.

Everything progressed as planned, until the day we were scheduled to drive out. Our dog got so stressed out about hubby being sick, my being stressed taking care of everything because hubby couldn’t, and still trying to work (thus I wasn’t sleeping much). The dog is very attached to me, I’m the one who’s home with him all day, I feed him, and he sleeps (quite literally) on me at night. So this, probably more than anything, really stressed him out. We got everything on our pre-move check list done, and got into bed for our final night in Colorado, and the dog was up twice in the middle of the night with diarrhea.

Leaving, Finally

Saturday, the first day of our journey, was our longest day on the road. We were up at 0600 and on the road by 0700, it was supposed to be a 7.5 hr drive to our final stop of the day. We got some coffee and some food and we were off, our first scheduled stop in 2.5 hrs so hubby could walk around and the dog could release himself. Half an hour later the dog was asking for a break, it was a good thing we stopped as the accidents from the night before were not a two time thing. Nope his tummy trouble took our 7.5 hour day and turned it into a 12 hour day. Poor little guy. Thankfully as they day wore on he improved. He got 12 hours of my either holding him, or him sleeping on his pillow next to me. We figured he just needed a little momma time.

The rest of the trip was rather uneventful, by day two Chaz was fine and our planned stops were more attainable. Off we went. With one major thing that had to be dealt with. Hubby was not allowed to lift anything, so guess who loaded and unloaded the car every night. You guessed it… me! Hubby had to hold the dog and endure the looks of disgust from those around us, very few of them offering any sort of help to me. I felt sorry for him, but that the same time there was nothing to be done about it. And as the days wore on I got rather good at it, if I do say so myself. Though by the fourth day we were happy to allow the porters to help when we had them at our disposal.

Moving is stressful, change is stressful, and all that stress can be over-powering.  The key is to breath, the goal is to endure, and the final product is to be enjoyed.  More to come.  Who knew getting a new doctor in a different region could be so much work.

It was gorgeously green, and far too sunny and hot for my liking.

Have Puppy Will Travel

When life gives you lemons…

What do you do when your allergies are getting worse, you have a dog, and it is becoming imperative that you travel more than half way across the country to more copacetic location to look around and find out where you’d like to land? Why you get an airplane approved pet carrier, calming meds for the dog, and you plan to take a week of vacation to go out to look around. Of course.

A recent visit to my allergist gave me a lot to ponder as I am having allergic reactions when I physically shouldn’t be able to react.  The simple answer, my allergies are far worse that we originally thought, and we need to rethink our options for treatment.  And when the allergist asks, “So what happened to you moving to Maine? Why hasn’t that happened yet?” You have to face the reality that life where you are is not your best life. And you need to get your butt in gear to make the move happen.

While we have been diligent in setting us up to be able to move at a moments notice, we hadn’t been out there to look around the areas we’d been pouring over on the internet.  Let’s face it, the internet can only do so much to convey exactly what you are getting yourself into.

And more lemons…

Now be prepared when planning to travel with your pet. I called United and asked about pet relief areas in the most popular connection air ports, after an hour on the phone with United asking questions, I then had to call each airport individually to see if they had pet areas. Thankfully we found one that had pet areas within the secured area of the airport at Dulles, and I was able to find flights through Dulles that would allow us time to take Chaz to these areas between flights without giving an excessively long layover.

Most airlines do not offer you a way to book your pet for travel online.  I booked our flights, picked out our seats (paying more for an upgrade to economy plus for more carry-on room) and then had to call the airline to add the dog – which canceled our seats, so I had to pay (again) for the seat upgrade, and my first charge for the upgrade will not be refunded until after we’ve returned from the trip.  It’s three hours of my life I can never get back.  So word to the wise, book the flight, but leave the seats alone just call the airline and get the pet booked, then get your seats. Save yourself this headache.

Make Limoncello…er…lemonade

Then I had to start planning on how to get the dog through the plane ride.  I talked to the Vet, and got meds.  I’m a huge fan of benadryl for calming the dog down, it turns out that might not be the best option all the time. So, the Vet suggested Tradozone, and that we do trial run while at home to make sure he handles the meds, and that we know what he should act like when he’s on them. Then I ordered the travel carrier.

I will say this about the carrier, there are a lot of them. And I have never been so thankful for a very small dog.  Sherpa has a guarantee that their bag will fit on the plane (or they’ll pay for any missed flights).  I got the large, even though Chaz is much smaller than the measurements for the carrier.  However, it gives Chaz plenty of room to move around if need be, and it offers a small storage area for treats.

We are leaving the carrier out so Chaz can get used to seeing it and smelling it.   Then we did a test run with the meds to make sure they worked correctly, and lasted for the correct length of time.  So, a drugged dog who is spending quite a bit of time in a travel carrier is what the weekend before the trip looked like.  Chaz handled the carrier fine, we even zipped him in.  It took a bit but he was able to lay down and sleep. The good new is that the dog did fine on the meds, though he wasn’t a fan of hubby handling him. The meds solidified the fact that Chaz is a Momma’s dog.

I also got some collapsable bowls for Chaz to drink from while we are traveling. And since they depict Chaz correctly, he is after all a Super Dog, I couldn’t resist these.

Now to find meds that will keep hubby calm on the flight.  I kid! kind of!

And drink it all up…

While we have often traveled with Chaz in tow, we have never flown with a dog, so this is going to be quite the experience.  Add into the situation his issues with food, and it’s going to be a fun time.

Yes, he is still battling his sensitive tummy.  We have a plan to test for food allergies when we get back. In the meantime we will be adding fish to his diet to see if that increases his appetite a bit. The good news is that I don’t think his tummy trouble is caused by a sensitive or stressed out nature.  The meds did not make him want to eat.  Check that possibility off my list.

We connected with a realtor in Maine, and are picking out some properties to look at while we are there.   Now I have to get through a week of work and planning for the trip while hubby is out of town for work, then we have one day to pack and get ready for the big trip. Chaz is a little vindictive about being on meds, once they began wearing off he started having deliberate accidents in the house. Right in front of me, he didn’t even try to hide it.  This week is sure to be fun.

To follow our travels with Chaz and just my complicated life in general look me up on:

Instagram @thecomplicatedtraveler

Twitter @complicatedtrav

Facebook @The Complicated Traveler

 

 

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A Soy-Free Existence Shattered

A Soy-Free Existence Shattered

There is nothing worse than taking a food allergy hit while traveling; especially when the side effects are on the smelly and messy side, followed by a migraine. Though thankfully the migraine came well after we were home, and I had meds to help with the other side-effects while we were in the car.  It takes the motto of “don’t leave home without it” to a whole new extreme.

Exile Brewing Company is located in Des Moines, Iowa, near their downtown area.  It’s very industrial, and the air is filled with the tang of fermenting barley and wheat as you would expect from a brewery.

I was traveling with a group, and a beer after a long hard day at the track is just what this group (minus myself, beer – bleh) desired, for me being able to eat there is the only requirement.  So, I called ahead and checked it out, turns out if I communicate with my server, they can feed me. Great! I let the group know and we head out.

Typically, it’s the third time that is the charm, in this case it was the first time.  I ordered their chicken plate, and it came with a starter salad.  They brought me their house parmesan dressing, it smelled divine – which typically denotes when I can’t have something – but I had them double check the ingredients.  Turns out I couldn’t have that dressing, but I could have their Italian dressing. Dinner progressed without incident, and the group deemed the beer worthy of their taste buds.

Two nights later, we decided to return to Exile.  This time burgers and fries were the desire, as well as beer, after a very long weekend of field and track.  It was time to enjoy the company, fill our bellies, and then get a goodnights rest for the 11 plus hour drive home the next day.

This time, I wasn’t as fortunate.  It was Saturday night, and they were busy. Though we were seated quickly, getting and keeping our servers attention was not easy.  A member of our party has a very drastic reaction to onions, and requested no onions on his burger.  Sadly, when he received it…there were onions present. Thankfully he could pull them off and carry on with his meal, but the fact that they were there was a bad omen for me.

I did my due diligence and asked the server to verify that I could have my desired menu choice, a lovely steak salad with heirloom tomatoes (heirloom tomatoes are a personal favorite).

Now when I had called they informed me that I needed to let my server know about my soy allergy so that they could inform the kitchen of it, and the kitchen could then take steps to prevent cross contamination and use pure olive oil.

I stressed my allergy and he assured me there was no soy in my entrée of choice. It came with the parmesan dressing, so I asked for the Italian instead, and proceeded to wait patiently.

My salad came, and I ate with gusto. I was starving, and realized quickly that it wasn’t enough to cover the energy I had burned at the track meet, so I also ordered a starter salad.  Honestly, I think I wanted the fresh vegetables, it’s one thing we don’t get enough of when traveling to out of state meets.  Plus, the started salad also had heirloom tomatoes, so it was a no brainer I asked for the Italian dressing, and settled back enjoyed the company.

We got back to our room, and my symptoms started. The only thing I can figure is that they didn’t take proper steps in the kitchen to ensure I only got olive oil when cooking my steak.  All I knew was that I didn’t feel well, and if I didn’t start on my meds soon I would be in trouble.

The moral of this story is, you can never be too careful. Just when I think I can eat somewhere new, which is nice for all involved since we carpool and they are typically stuck going where I can go to eat, so it’s nice when we can change things up a bit, then something like this happens and I just want to run back to my hole and only eat at places I know are safe.  It’s kind of sad, I won’t deny it, but the reality of not eating properly is dangerous. And I will take sad over dangerous any day.

After years of going wherever someone else wanted to go and basically living on salads, no meat or any protein just veggies, after a long grueling day of field events where we can be doing anything from running in fields to spot where a shot put, discus, hammer, weight, or javelin fell, to shuttling said tools back to the athletes just to name two jobs; add into that extreme weather from 100-degree heat to 42 degrees and freezing rain for outdoor venues and all of it requires energy for your body to burn, and contrary to popular some beliefs, only eating vegetables is not the best solution (for me anyway). Even if you want/need to lose weight, not eating properly, regardless of the reason, is not the answer.

Once my doctor threatened me with a hospital stay to get my blood chemistry back to “safe” levels, I realized the error of my ways and put my foot down when it came to eating with groups. Sometimes it means I don’t go with the group. That really sucks, especially for my husband because he chooses to go with me and that means he doesn’t get to socialize (something he thrives on), but there is only one me and I have to take care of me.  That is a hard lesson to learn, for some.  (Pot calling the kettle black…right here!)

Thankfully hubby doesn’t complain, much. After four days of the same restaurant he’s ready to eat anything else, but he’s a trooper. I offer to let him go with the group, and Lord bless him he chooses me every time. Thankfully, with my continued efforts to try new places – it is not easy let me tell you, once you experience a food allergy reaction you are very leery to re-live it – I have found some great places of us to eat when we travel.  And hopefully there will be more travel, for fun not track (though we love our track trips) in our near future.

An Ingredient By Any Other Name

(While compiling this information I realized just how poorly I was handling my soy allergy. My Soy-Free existence isn’t so soy-free after all. We never stop learning and we must constantly be researching our allergy to stay on top of the name game.)

An ingredient by any other name couldn’t possibly be soy…right?

When I was first told I had food intolerances, though they didn’t know to what, I had no idea where that string would lead me.

My endocrinologist was the first Doctor to suggest I had food intolerance. While I’ve never been a big eater, I am a foodie so trying new things was kind-of my thing. However, when I wanted to really crack down on my symptoms I knew I had to figure out what I was reacting to.

So I off I went, from reading books to reading labels.

I started by omitting wheat and dairy (as suggested by my doctor) for 10 weeks I avoided gluten and dairy as best I could. Nothing changed, or so I thought, so after the 10 weeks I began to slowly reintegrating wheat and dairy into my diet. As suspected…there was no change.

When checking for food allergies the longer you can go without what you think you are intolerant to the better you will be able to see how the allergen in the food affect you.

While reading labels during that 10 week period there was one thing I noticed. Every thing I picked up to eat contained soy. Some research into the NIH and Mayo Clinic websites suggested that soy was the issue as it is on the rise as far as people being allergic.

So began my long and arduous trek to a Soy-free existence.

One thing to think on, if you think you have food intolerances, is that to truly have a life free of your intolerance you have to know everything about the ingredient. And that if you aren’t careful and keep piling on the ingredient you can’t process correctly it can lead to you becoming allergic to the ingredient. So diligence to avoid your ingredient is crucial to living your best life.

A food by any other name…couldn’t possibly be soy…right?

Wrong!

As I have forged my soy-free existence there is one thing that I have come to understand…nothing is as it seems on food labels. And while you might think you are avoiding soy you are in-fact, not avoiding it at all!

My first clue that I was indeed allergic to soy was when I started dropping weight when I avoided it. And by avoiding it I mean, I basically at fresh vegetables with olive oil and vinegar if I wanted a salad, and if I wanted more than a salad (because I’ll admit salad is my favorite food) I would only eat it if I made it myself. Which is always your best bet, but in this fast paced world – when you aren’t eating enough – it simply isn’t feasible to make everything from scratch.

I started out making sure the word soy was nowhere to be found on my food labels. This basically means I stayed away from:

  • Edamame
  • Miso
  • Soy Sauce and shoyu sauce
  • Soy-based fiber, flour, grits, nuts, or sprouts
  • Soy-based milk, yogurt, ice cream, or cheese
  • Soy protein
  • Tamari
  • Tempeh
  • Textured Vegetable protein
  • Tofu

This is the basic list, as I knew it. [3]. Though now on that list is Natto – something I’ve only recently started avoiding. So long as these weren’t named, and the allergen list didn’t say “Contains: soy” I thought I was OK.

Then there’s the obvious. I can’t eat at Asian restaurants, which really sucks since I love Asian Cuisine! It’s just too difficult to ensure that I don’t get any cross contaminations. Though  believe me when it comes to soy and my reactions – a little is far easier to deal with than a lot.

While figuring this all out I accidently got some soy when eating out and figured, “what the heck, I’ve all ready gotten some soy and I want Chinese food so I’m gonna go all out”.

(It’s hard to stick to the diet, believe me especially when you really like something, so this mindset of “I’m gonna eat it anyway” can, and will, kick-in at any time. However, what I’ve come to realize is the amount does matter.)

So off hubby and I went to a local Chinese cuisine restaurant we loved and I proceeded to eat my weight in my favorite foods: fried rice, low-mein, egg rolls, egg drop soup, sweet and sour pork, and anything else that struck my fancy, and it all received a healthy dose of soy sauce. What’s the point of rebelling if you don’t go all out? Am I right?

It was a big bill, but I left with a contented smile on my face. And that smile lasted for about 18 hours.

Thankfully Hubby was traveling for work and left the next day. He was gone for two weeks and it’s a good thing he was, because once the symptoms started there was no turning back. And when the dog decides he’d rather be on a different floor than you are on…you know it’s bad.

While I lost weight initially, it didn’t stay off and I’ve had to re-evaluate my strategy to remain soy-free.

Other foods found in Asian Cuisine that might contain soy you might not have thought of are [1]:

  • Bean Sprouts
  • Kinako
  • Nimame
  • Okara
  • Yuba

From There I made sure I could pronounce the ingredients. If I couldn’t pronounce it, I didn’t eat it. This helped at first, and made me realize my best option for maintaining this was to eat organic and non-gmo foods only. But even this only got me so far.

Here is a list of soy based ingredients that might not say ‘soy’ [1]:

  • Hydrolyzed soy protein (HSP)
  • Mono- and diglycerides
  • MSG (monosodium glutamate)
  • Soy (albumin, cheese, fiber, grits, mild, nuts, sprouts, yogurt, ice cream, pasta)
  • Soy lecithin
  • Soy protein (concentrate, hydrolyzed, isolate)
  • Soybean oil
  • Teriyaki sauce
  • Textured vegetable protein (TVP)

Then there are the lists of possible Soy Ingredients [1]:

  • Bulking agent
  • Hydrolyzed plant protein (HPP) or hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP)
  • Gum arabic
  • Guar gum
  • Lecithin
  • Mixed Tocopherols
  • Natural flavoring
  • Stabilizer
  • Thickener
  • Vegetable gum, starch, shortening, or oil
  • Vitamin E

Think about those lists for a moment and all the labels you’ve read, seeing those words, and ate anyway thinking they were safe. I know I ate a lot of things that contained those ingredients because they didn’t say “soy”.

Bad on me, I know. But still, the label didn’t say soy anywhere, so it should have been safe. Right?

If you’d like a quick cheat sheet check out [3] and print it out. Though a much more extensive list can be found in [1], though just be ready to have your boat rocked in the realization that what is in your pantry could contain soy.
Compiling this has been an eye opener.  There are so many things I thought were safe, and aren’t. No wonder my reactions have been continuously turning more and more anaphylactic. It started with just gastric upset and has progressed to vomiting and migraines when I consume soy.

Finally I had to do even more research because it was clear, by my continued weight gain and other symptoms, that I was still getting soy somewhere. I realized food manufacturers are very sneaky (in my opinion), and there were other foods to avoid all together if I could because they just might contain soy (this is why an allergy card just isn’t feasible for me).   I’ve even had to drop some of my supplements because they contain hidden soy.

Here are some not so obvious foods that I’ve had to reassess because they might contain soy [1]:

  • Baked goods and baking mixes
  • Bouillon cubes
  • Candy
  • Cereal
  • Chicken (raw or cooked) that is processed with chicken broth
  • Chicken broth
  • Chocolate
  • Deli meat
  • Energy bars, nutrition bars
  • Imitation dairy foods, such as soy milks, vegan cheese, or vegan ice cream
  • Infant formula
  • Margarine
  • Mayonnaise
  • Meat products with fillers, for example, burgers or sausages
  • Nutrition supplements (vitamins)
  • Peanut butter
  • Protein powders
  • Sauces, gravies, and soups (pre-made or sauce packs)
  • Smoothies
  • Vegetable broth
  • Vegetarian meat substitutes: veggie burgers, imitation chicken patties, imitation lunchmeats, imitation bacon bits, etc.

How is that for a list, huh? I mean what is left at this point? That doesn’t include breads, hotdog buns, and hamburger buns.

But wait! It only grows more intensive.

I was sent to the Nation Institutes of Health (NIH) for testing for an environmental allergy and found out that chicken and pork may also cause reactions because they are fed soy. My response was…”Then what the heck am I allowed to eat?” The answer,“Grass-fed beef”. Thanks!

I can also eat wild caught fish, and wild caught sea food.  That’s great, but overall very expensive, so I’m trying to find other ways to eat chicken.

And what do I eat? Organic chicken (so long as there’s no chicken broth used) and pork from a local store that can scale the care given to the animals, while I don’t eat a lot of pork it helps knowing if its local and what it was fed.

All of this to say…  I still have a lot to learn about soy and what I need to avoid.  I do my best to make things from scratch, if you’d like to follow along on that journey follow me on Instagram  I recently made chicken soup with multicolored carrots. It was very interesting…the purple ones turned white while cooking.  I also had my first success at baking a sweet potato.  It was awesome!  Check me out, and follow me for more of my cooking adventures.

[1] A Soy Free Diet Means More Than Just Checking For ‘Soy’. By Jill Castle, MS, RD (2016)

[2] Diseases and Conditions: Soy Allergy. By May Clinic Staff (2014)

[3] Living With A Soy Allergy. Web MD

An Ingredient By Any Other Name…Part 3

Finally I had to do even more research because it was clear, by my continued weight gain and other symptoms, that I was still getting soy somewhere. I realized food manufacturers are very sneaky (in my opinion), and there were other foods to avoid all together if I could because they just might contain soy (this is why an allergy card just isn’t feasible for me).   I’ve even had to drop some of my supplements because they contain hidden soy.

Here are some not so obvious foods that I’ve had to reassess because they might contain soy [1]:

  • Baked goods and baking mixes
  • Bouillon cubes
  • Candy
  • Cereal
  • Chicken (raw or cooked) that is processed with chicken broth
  • Chicken broth
  • Chocolate
  • Deli meat
  • Energy bars, nutrition bars
  • Imitation dairy foods, such as soy milks, vegan cheese, or vegan ice cream
  • Infant formula
  • Margarine
  • Mayonnaise
  • Meat products with fillers, for example, burgers or sausages
  • Nutrition supplements (vitamins)
  • Peanut butter
  • Protein powders
  • Sauces, gravies, and soups (pre-made or sauce packs)
  • Smoothies
  • Vegetable broth
  • Vegetarian meat substitutes: veggie burgers, imitation chicken patties, imitation lunchmeats, imitation bacon bits, etc.

How is that for a list, huh? I mean what is left at this point? That doesn’t include breads, hotdog buns, and hamburger buns.

 

But wait! It only grows more intensive.

I was sent to the Nation Institutes of Health (NIH) for testing for an environmental allergy and found out that chicken and pork may also cause reactions because they are fed soy. My response was…”Then what the heck am I allowed to eat?” The answer,“Grass-fed beef”. Thanks!

I can also eat wild caught fish, and wild caught sea food.  That’s great, but over all very expensive, so I’m trying to find other ways to eat chicken.

And what do I eat? Organic chicken (so long as there’s no chicken broth used) and pork from a local store that can scale the care given to the animals, while I don’t eat a lot of pork it helps knowing if its local and what it was fed.

All of this to say…  I still have a lot to learn about soy and what I need to avoid.  I do my best to make things from scratch, if you’d like to follow along on that journey follow me on Instagram  I recently made chicken soup with multicolored carrots. It was very interesting…the purple ones turned white while cooking.  I also had my first success at baking a sweet potato.  It was awesome!  Check me out, and follow me for more of my cooking adventures.

 

 

 

[1] A Soy Free Diet Means More Than Just Checking For ‘Soy’. By Jill Castle, MS, RD (2016)

 

[2] Diseases and Conditions: Soy Allergy. By May Clinic Staff (2014)

 

[3] Living With A Soy Allergy. Web MD

An Ingredient By Any Other Name…Part 2

A food by any other name…couldn’t possibly be soy…right?

Wrong!

As I have forged my soy-free existence there is one thing that I have come to understand…nothing is as it seems on food labels. And while you might think you are avoiding soy you are in-fact, not avoiding it at all!

My first clue that I was indeed allergic to soy was when I started dropping weight when I avoided it. And by avoiding it I mean, I basically at fresh vegetables with olive oil and vinegar if I wanted a salad, and if I wanted more than a salad (because I’ll admit salad is my favorite food) I would only eat it if I made it myself. Which is always your best bet, but in this fast paced world – when you aren’t eating enough – it simply isn’t feasible to make everything from scratch.

 

I started out making sure the word soy was nowhere to be found on my food labels. This basically means I stayed away from:

  • Edamame
  • Miso
  • Soy Sauce and shoyu sauce
  • Soy-based fiber, flour, grits, nuts, or sprouts
  • Soy-based milk, yogurt, ice cream, or cheese
  • Soy protein
  • Tamari
  • Tempeh
  • Textured Vegetable protein
  • Tofu

This is the basic list, as I knew it. [3]. Though now on that list is Natto – something I’ve only recently started avoiding. So long as these weren’t named and the allergen list didn’t say “Contains: soy” I thought I was ok.

Then there’s the obvious. I can’t eat at Asian restaurants, which really sucks since I love Asian Cuisine! It’s just too difficult to ensure that I don’t get any cross contaminations. Though  believe me when it comes to soy and my reactions – a little is far easier to deal with than a lot.

While figuring this all out I accidently got some soy when eating out and figured, “what the heck, I’ve all ready gotten some soy and I want Chinese food so I’m gonna go all out”.

(It’s hard to stick to the diet, believe me especially when you really like something, so this mindset can, and will, kick-in at any time. However, what I’ve come to realize is the amount does matter.)

So off hubby and I went to a local Chinese cuisine restaurant we loved and I proceeded to eat my weight in my favorite foods: fried rice, low-mein, egg rolls, egg drop soup, sweet and sour pork, and anything else that struck my fancy, and it all received a healthy dose of soy sauce. What’s the point of rebelling if you don’t go all out?

It was a big bill, but I left with a contented smile on my face. The smile lasted for about 18 hours.

Thankfully Hubby was traveling for work and left the next day. He was gone for two weeks and it’s a good thing he was, because once the symptoms started there was no turning back. And when the dog decides he’d rather be on a different floor than you are on…you know it’s bad.

While I lost weight initially, it didn’t stay off and I’ve had to re-evaluate my strategy to remain soy-free.

Other foods found in Asian Cuisine that might contain soy you might not have thought of are [1]:

  • Bean Sprouts
  • Kinako
  • Nimame
  • Okara
  • Yuba

 

From There I made sure I could pronounce the ingredients. If I couldn’t pronounce it, I didn’t eat it. This helped at first, and made me realize my best option for maintaining this was to eat organic and non-gmo foods only. But even this only got me so far.

Here is a list of soy based ingredients that might not say ‘soy’ [1]:

  • Hydrolyzed soy protein (HSP)
  • Mono- and diglycerides
  • MSG (monosodium glutamate)
  • Soy (albumin, cheese, fiber, grits, mild, nuts, sprouts, yogurt, ice cream, pasta)
  • Soy lecithin
  • Soy protein (concentrate, hydrolyzed, isolate)
  • Soybean oil
  • Teriyaki sauce
  • Textured vegetable protein (TVP)

Then there are the lists of possible Soy Ingredients [1]:

  • Bulking agent
  • Hydrolyzed plant protein (HPP) or hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP)
  • Gum arabic
  • Guar gum
  • Lecithin
  • Mixed Tocopherols
  • Natural flavoring
  • Stabilizer
  • Thickener
  • Vegetable gum, starch, shortening, or oil
  • Vitamin E

Think about those lists for a moment and all the labels you’ve read, seeing those words, and ate anyway thinking they were safe. I know I ate a lot of things that contained those ingredients and ate them anyway because they didn’t say “soy”.

Bad on me, I know. But still, the label didn’t say soy anywhere, so it should have been safe. Right?

If you’d like a quick cheat sheet check out [3] and print it out. Though a much more extensive list can be found in [1], though just be ready to have your boat rocked and just what is in your pantry that could contain soy.
Compiling this has been an eye opener.  There are so many things I thought were safe, and aren’t. No wonder my reactions have been continuously turning more and more anaphylactic. It started with just gastric upset and has progressed to vomiting and migraines when I consume too much soy.   Keep checking back I have more to share.

 

[1] A Soy Free Diet Means More Than Just Checking For ‘Soy’. By Jill Castle, MS, RD (2016)

 

[2] Diseases and Conditions: Soy Allergy. By May Clinic Staff (2014)

 

[3] Living With A Soy Allergy. Web MD

 

An Ingredient By Any Other Name…Part 1

(While compiling this information I realized just how poorly I was handling my soy allergy.  We never stop learning and we must constantly be researching our allergy to stay on top of the name game.)

An ingredient by any other name couldn’t possibly be soy…right?

When I was first told I had food intolerances, though they didn’t know to what, I had no idea where that string would lead me.

My endocrinologist was the first Doctor to suggest I had food intolerance. While I’ve never been a big eater, I am a foodie so trying new things was kind-of my thing. However, when I wanted to really crack down on my symptoms I knew I had to figure out what I was reacting to.

So I off I went, from reading books to reading labels.  

I started by omitting wheat and dairy (as suggested by my doctor) for 10 weeks I avoided gluten and dairy as best I could. Nothing changed, or so I thought, so after the 10 weeks I began to slowly reintegrating wheat and dairy into my diet. As suspected…there was no change.

When checking for food allergies the longer you can go without what you think you are intolerant to, the better you will be able to see how the allergen in the food affect you.

While reading labels during that 10 week period there was one thing I noticed. Every thing I picked up to eat contained soy. Some research into the NIH and Mayo Clinic websites suggested that soy was the issue as it is on the rise as far as people being allergic.

So began my long and arduous trek to a Soy-free existence.

One thing to think on, if you think you have food intolerances, is that to truly have a life free of your intolerance you have to know everything about the ingredient. And that if you aren’t careful and keep piling on the ingredient you can’t process correctly it can lead to you becoming allergic to the ingredient. So diligence to avoid your ingredient is crucial to living your best life.

I wasn’t going to break this post up, but I’m only half-way through and it’s already almost four pages long.  So breaking it up makes it easier for you all to keep up with the posts and not want to rip your eyes out for all the reading and technical terms.  Keep an eye out, I have lists of ingredients that are called something else, but are really soy.  It’s scary!

2016: The Year In Review

A lot has happened in this twelve-month period. We put our home on the market, after a mad rush to get it all painted and pretty – inside and out.

I started selling photos this year, it’s been a very slow climb but I think I’m gaining traction. I just pray that it continues growing in 2017 (and I hope for a new lens for my landscapes, just saying).

I also started blogging, and that means trying to find ways to monetize it. I’m finding that my health issues combined with my food and environmental allergies have a foot hold in the blogosphere I just need to learn more about how to grow it into a business which means reading more about it.

I can’t help but marvel at how most of my goals are centered on reading more. I often feel like I waste a lot of time reading, when in reality it is the center to my success. It’s official! I can be paid to read! #GOAL

 

2016 the year of stress… Between getting the house ready to sell, and my health issues “stress” is he only word that could apply to 2016.

Mother nature doing her best to keep our expectations in check… we had a huge hail storm in Southern Colorado and that left me unable to get a contractor out to paint our house until the last minute because so many homes were still unlivable that my house wasn’t a priority.

I had over a month wait with most contractors to get an estimate to get the house payment. And even then they couldn’t guarantee that they could get the house painted within the time frame I needed it done if we sold the house before 1 Nov. I was told this in August. We closed early October.
Thankfully I found a contractor who was able to fit me in, the outside of the house looked great when they were done, before we closed.

Every time we had weather move through I prayed it wouldn’t cause more damage anywhere in the city. I never realized just how stressful selling a house could be. I’ve watched HGTV you don’t see them freaking out on the shows about selling houses, but man! I sure did.

 

We finally sold the house, and we had a hiccup in moving into a rental; so we spent a month in a hotel. I can’t say it was a hardship. Having the room cleaned every day was a huge luxury I completely and thoroughly enjoyed. We had moved into a suite that had a small kitchenette so I could cook – somewhat – and so we could carry on as normal as possible.

Finally, as I was settling into a routine at the hotel, we got a rental. So every crazy bit spooled up again as we prepared to move into the house.

Thankfully we were able to space the signing of the papers and the actual move in so that we had time to clean the house, and buy carpets for the living areas that were hardwood. Everything went as smoothly as it could possibly go – well, other than the people who packed up our pods did so in a way that damaged most of our wooden furniture pieces. We are still trying to work out the paperwork for the moving company to fix everything. (See…stress.)

 

Thanksgiving rolled around, we were set up in our new home and all seemed to be calming down.   We had a wonderful Thanksgiving…then we set off on a journey to see my In-Laws. Two day in a car, one way, and then the actual visit. More stress… but this time with good coffee, good food, and a wonderful day with just Hubby, Chaz and I going and visiting the missions in and around San Antonio.

I have shared about the coffee…but I haven’t been able to get to the rest.  

Finally home, we got down to Christmas. Sadly Hubby’s travel schedule, and my poor health, meant that we didn’t get our decorations up. So we carried our Christmas spirit inside our hearts and let our home remain undecorated.

During this trip I started writing reviews for Yelp and TripAdvisor. I’m gaining a following there, so it will be fun to see where that takes me next year.

 

I hadn’t felt well for most of December, but I couldn’t figure out why. I had started Botox injection in the summer for my migraines and received my shots in December and that should have boosted my energy. Sadly it didn’t. My energy continued to be lagging until the week before Christmas when I realized why I felt so badly.

Kidney stones.

The very mention of them often brings people to a halt, with faces twisted in a sympathetic grimace. I had passed a couple without medications, but finally Hubby said no more and insisted I at least call the nurse to see what needed to be done. I called. Hubby was right (I’ve had to repeat that several times so Hubby can bask in the knowledge that he was right) the nurse said a visit to the ER was in order. So, I was taken to the ER and the CAT scan revealed I had three more stones to go. UGH! I left with meds and orders to see my doctor ASAP.

The next day I called my doctor and went into see him for some different meds that work better for me.   It was then that I found out I also had ovarian cysts, something any woman who has dealt with them will sympathize with me over. Since I had both at the same time, hurting is an understatement.
Finally Christmas Eve, I passed the last of them (or so I thought) and I am starting to feel better. I have more sleep that is needed to heal; thankfully my body has no problem in letting me know I’ve done too much.
So I’ve had to basically write off the end of 2016 as healing time, instead of doing a last big push to finish the year strong. I must admit that is a nice aspect to building your own business; you are the only one to suffer if you have to take time off. It’s also a great learning moment.

I’ve heard the saying that, “When you work for yourself, your boss can be a real jerk” Nathan Lowel [1], so this means that I have to remember to take care of my employees (myself) so they are healthy to produce quality work.

Upon writing this I have discovered I have one more stone to go, my right kidney is not happy but hopefully the end is near.

2017 – are you still with me???

I’ve never been one to set outrageous goals for myself. However, since I passed a milestone in 2016 – the age of 35 was given to me as a goal to reach by my allergist, a healthy dose of paranoia got me here and now I’m ready to spread my wings and reach for the stars.

So my plan for 2017 is several things that I have no way of prioritizing.

  • Make money from my blog
  • Make money by writing
  • Make money by editing
  • Make money from selling my photos

Are you sensing a pattern here?

So here the plan… I need to move out of Colorado. When you are allergic to the sun living at high altitude is not a good idea.   In order to move we have to be able to find jobs in the new location, or have a mobile income to take with us. This is where my blogging, writing, editing, and photography come into play. All of these can be done from the road or a new location, so there you have it.

Look for new posts, areas that are allergy friendly, and maybe even recipes…haven’t decided yet.

New health goals…

  • Avoid dairy, and thus kidney stones, at all costs
  • Continue to fight my anaphylaxis
  • Continue avoiding soy at all costs (had to mark a restaurant off my OK list)

Here’s to a brighter and successful new year…2017!!!

To endless horizons in the New Year!

[1] Nathan Lowell (2014) Owner’s Share (Trader’s Tales From The Golden Age Of The Solar Clipper) (Volume 6)

 

 

Our First Week Living In A Hotel

Back Story:

As shocking as it might sound, I want to travel more.  I know, who would have thought that a person who writes about the stress of traveling as a medical freak could wish to travel more.  But I do, thus…in May me and my Husband decided to sell our home to free ourselves up for whatever God might have in store for us.

At the time we had been to Maine for Hubby to go on a job interview.  We figured since they had flown him out and payed a nice chunk of change on him, that he had a pretty good chance at getting it.   Since we haven’t heard back from the company, we are assuming he didn’t get the job.

However, all of that talk about what we would do ‘if’ got us really looking at what we would need to do in order to move.

Other Things To Consider:

I am 12 years younger than my husband. And due to illnesses, freaky medical conditions, and idiopathic anaphylaxis I have only just finished college and started looking at what I could do from home to bring in enough income that my hubby could ‘retire’, something that I would enjoy doing and that would enable us to travel more.

Thus the Blog, and my attempts to get published for stories about the trips we take anyway.  I also am a shutter bug and to help fund my fun I sell photos for stock with several different agencies.

Back To The Story:

We decided to sell our house, as it would be the one thing we would absolutely need to do in order to leave. The housing market was on fire for sellers, so it was a ‘perfect timing’ scenario.  So we contacted a realtor friend of ours, had her do a walk through and give us a punch list of what we needed to do to sell.  Thankfully she knows us well enough to know that we would be working at our own, pain managing, pace.

As of last week, all the paint fume ingesting, paint spattered clothes, and back pain and spasms paid off and we sold the house.

Once that was done we had to figure out where we were going to live, since we weren’t going to buy again.  So we put some balls in motion and hubby made a hotel reservation.

(While I’m going to try and break out the numbers on what we are actually saving by staying in the hotel, I’m slow with numbers so that might not happen.)

Moving In:

Since I have to be careful of the company I keep, we signed the paperwork a day ahead of the buyers and we moved into a hotel.

Another back story:

The closing had been moved at the last minute.  So we were living in our house with a folding table, camp chairs, and sleeping on an air mattress.  Considering we both suffer from nerve and back pain, can you say OWIE!

The hotel was a much needed reprieve.  While Chaz is having to get used to only being outside on a leash. And we are having to get used to taking him outside when he asks, life isn’t all that bad.

When we moved in Hubby spoke to the manager and negotiated a lower price, which will average out once we’ve been here for a month (good tip to know), and we won’t have to change rooms.

The Perks:

After owning a 2800 + sq foot home, with nice grassy front and back lawns, not having to clean or do yard work means a lot of extra time.  There one down side I was dreading about hotel living…the coffee.

We have stayed in many a hotel and the ones that have offered free coffee for their guests fall short on the my scale of good coffee.  When you go to the robust carafe and expect to see a deep umber colored beverage to be filling your cup, only to see a weak brown color (something you would expect to see say when ordering a hot tea) you just know that the coffee is not going to satisfy a coffee snobs tastes buds.

However, I found a way around that little issue.

Can't have bad coffee making for a bad day.
Can’t have bad coffee making for a bad day.

I brought my Keurig from home. (Cue the Cheshire cast grin.)  This way I can choose my coffee, and only drink the best.  This also meant that I could order my k-cups from Keurig and get my favorite Caribou Obsidian coffee to enjoy every morning.

Caribou Obsidian Coffee Keurig K-Cups, 72 Count

The cute little four cup coffee maker that came with the room is tucked away in a cupboard with the offered pre-filtered coffee where it can do no harm. I even brought a favorite mug from home that could handle the amount of coffee I drink in the morning.

You can’t leave anything to chance when your entire day could be derailed by having a bad cup of coffee.

The biggest perk for me is housekeeping.  Everyday the trashes are emptied, and if we wish our towels and bed linens are replaced. All without us doing anything more than holding the dog, or simply taking him with us on an errand so they can work.  They are by far my most appreciated people here.  While we still wash our own clothes, with my allergies I have to be very picky about the soaps I use, not having to worry about the basic cleanliness of the room and linens is a huge relief.

Also they have food (I can only eat the salad, but that’s ok because it means I don’t have to buy the ingredients for salad) Monday-Thursday.  And if Hubby wants breakfast before heading out to work, it’s all right there in the lobby waiting for him.

I’m not gonna lie, I could get used to this.

My Take On The EpiPen Debate

As a sufferer of Idiopathic Anaphylaxis the latest Epipen controversy has me a little concerned for a number of reasons.

My life could literally hang in the balance.

I don’t just carry an EpiPen or two.  I carry ten or more at any given time.  When I’m planning to go on a trip, I discuss with my allergist just how many EpiPens he wants me to take with me.

When we went on a cruise last year that number was 21, incase we were somewhere in the wilds of Alaska and I had to wait for emergency medical services.   That would give me almost two hours to live if we had to wait for medical services.  Since anaphylaxis isn’t something you can choose to treat or not.  It is literally a treat or die situation; I am dumbfounded at how a company can choose their bottom line over saving lives.

The answer I am seeing the most to the high cost of the EpiPen is to get an ampoule of adrenaline and a syringe.  

I have an issue here.

When you can’t breathe, you can do one of two things…

1) focus on breathing – it is kind of important after all.

OR

2) divert the energy I should be putting into breathing  to draw up the right dose of a life saving drug.

I do not see how this is an option for an adult who is often on their own.

For children who are around school nurses, or even at home with their parents I can see how the ampoule could be a viable option. (Though when seconds count making sure you have the right dose takes too much time). While still having the auto-injector for when the child is outside or at a friends house.

Fear of needles.

Let’s face it, the auto-injector is favored because you never have to see the needle.  I have a number of friends who will pass out at the sight of a needle, let a lone seeing actual blood.  So if my life is at stake I don’t want to be reliant on someone else to draw up AND stick me with a needle.  Because lets face it, if you prick me with a needle…I’m going to bleed, a bit. And if you have to use a syringe there is no way to hide the needle from view.

Then you get into the situation of needing a sharps container to dispose of the needle, and carrying multiple syringes incase you need more than one dose…. The list goes on and on.

So what are my options?

The News Media is talking up a couple of different manufacturers who plan to put out a generic auto-injector within the next year. However, my fear is that the FDA will rush them through without allowing the proper amount of time to test for viability.   One generic brand has already attempted to release an auto-injector but was shut down because it didn’t deliver the correct dose.

Another question I have is, how can they be sure the generic adrenaline will be as effective?   Not to mention…for me specifically…will they work?  Since I also have adverse reactions to Soy and Yeast, AND other drugs – namely steroids- there are no guarantees that a generic will work for me. Since one of the reactions I have to these additives is anaphylactic you can imagine my fear of using a new product.

So where does that leave me in this medical corporate greed era?

My personal take on the issue.

Since I am often out doing errands on my own – quite literally taking my own life into my hands to keep up with the demands of our household – having things pre-measured is a must.

My husband found me small containers which I filled with the exact dose for my antihistamine I’ll need at the start of an attack.  This way I’m not carrying around the giant prescription bottle filled with the magic elixir and trying to find the measuring cup, and measure out exactly 15cc’s of the medicine when I’m oxygen deprived.  Believe me when needed I’m not afraid to just put the whole bottle up to my mouth and pour, which isn’t a good thing.  So my little bottles are a must!

However, I wouldn’t be able to pre-measure the adrenaline as it cannot be exposed to sunlight for long periods, thus a pre-filled syringe would not be a viable option as it could degrade to the point of being ineffective, which leaves me having to draw up another dose when I’m even worse off than when the attack started.

Let’s get real:

Do you see the snowball effect here?  It’s act quick and decisively…or…die.  There really isn’t a middle option unless you can afford to have a certified medical person with you at all times.

Also there are times when more than two doses are required (for me), if I’m by myself, I’m screwed because at that point my oxygen levels are down to the point that I can’t count to 10, let alone focus my eyes adequately enough to read the line numbers on the syringe.

So the auto-injector is vital to my survival.

Also when it comes to other brands I have to not only be careful of what’s in the new brand, but also whether or not it will work as effectively as what I currently use.  Believe me, most of the time I fall into the .01% of people who it won’t work on.

( I don’t carry the mantlet of medical freak lightly, I have earned it!  Even the National Institutes of Health don’t know what to do with me.)

I will be having a long talk with my Allergist about what to do when I get my new prescriptions from him.  I’m very much a ‘stick with what works’ person, so if my insurance says no to the EpiPen, I’m not sure what I’m going to do. Aside from having major panic attacks about leaving the house.

The stress of switching brands.

Aside from the stress of wondering if the generic will work there is also the issue of new procedures to use the auto-injector.  Apparently the one generic that is offered currently has two caps that need to be removed before use, not one as the EpiPen has.  So for someone who often has to jab the auto-injector into her own leg, this means learning new moves to ensure a successful dosing.  Not the easiest thing when you’ve been using one style for over a decade.

I know it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but believe me it is.  Muscle memory is a real thing, and it is vital to my survival during an attack.  I have to focus on getting air past my swelling airways and into my tight lungs in order to survive. So that means if I get distracted on something crucial like…opening an auto-injector I could pass out before I can get the meds into my system, which literally lessens my chance of survival.

 

*All articles were found on either CNN or Fox, for more information I urge you to search out these articles and arm yourself with information.