Monday, September 13, 2010

Invisible Chronic Illness Week—My Take

This is Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week. Bloggers are encouraged to participate to increase awareness of invisible illnesses. Hubby has done his part here: Bing Jeffry Bing. Last year I skipped it—I just couldn’t bring myself to write about the subject. I’m still not sure about it this year.

What do I say about invisible illness in our family? How do I explain in one post how quickly life can be transformed just when you’re least expecting it, how abruptly expectations must shift for everyone in the family?

In the  month chicago, st louis, summer, etc. 001or two before the rheumatoid arthritis hit, I refinished our kitchen cabinets, organized a luau for my daughter’s 14th birthday party, and finished up a successful work project. Life was really good. (I was even thin!)
But that was the old me. Soon after, on vacation, I noticed that everything hurt and my joints wereHolroyd's, mama n papas, Hbday 132 stiff. My hair fell out in clumps. I had a weird rash under my arms.  My knees and one elbow were so hot and red that I could feel them through my clothes. I could not bend one knee and ran fever. I slept all day and barely knew what my kids were doing. My doctor took my family history, looked me over and sent me to a rheumatologist. Oddly, even though I’d grown up knowing that my paternal grandfather had RA, it never occurred to me that I had RA. I thought I had some kind of virus. The diagnosis, unusually swift (some patients wait years), came as almost a complete shock.

It’s been a few years now. A series of medications. Some that worked fairly well; some that didn’t. I’ve been through some really bad flares, some times when I had to use a cane. We took a wheelchair on vacation with us once. We moved because the stairs on our house were really steep and really hard on me. My kids adjusted and grew. My husband adjusted and grew. I’m still adjusting. I quit my job. My circle of friends got smaller but tighter. I learned some things about myself. My son was diagnosed with celiac, and then my daughter was diagnosed with an autoimmune arthritis. It broke my heart but then life went on.

And the thing that has stood by me most is that even before all of this, the needles and pills and more doctors visits than I can count (or pay for) and lost dreams and pain and fatigue, that thing that is true, is that I am blessed. Not just because I have a great husband and beautiful children and sweet friends and a wonderful doctor. All those things are true. But even if they weren’t, and I sometimes lose sight of it all, is that I already knew the Great Physician and He already has the cure. And He already knows how I feel and cares. Everyday. No blog needed.

Thanks for reading, if you’re here. Hope it all came out ok.

Back soon with the rest of vacation.

Hope you’re well and loved today—blessings,

The Lady in Pred

Invisible Chronic Illness Week

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Our (Utterly Delicious) Summer Vacation

As promised, I'm back to blog about our gf vacation! It’s been a busy time for our family, getting kids back in school and moving my oldest into her college dorm--sad and happy time for me, but wonderful for her. She is exactly where she is supposed to be at this time in her life. Sigh.

Our vacation was long and wonderful. I really didn't want to return to the Oklahoma heat.

ry=400 train

One of the reasons I really want to tell about the food on our trip is to let others see that we really do eat well and eat gluten free. It’s not impossible. It’s not boring. It’s not even very difficult once we adjusted to it. Eating this way is not what we would have chosen—but it’s definitely doable—and very worth it.

When we vacation, we take most of our food with us. Lots of fruit, snacks, drinks, and special treats. We stay in places with kitchens when we can so that I can cook. Fun! But we used to do that before, too. We’ve always loved to picnic. This time, we took three coolers. When we stop, the kids run around and stretch their legs, and we make some great memories—much better than a mcstop. We’re a family on a budget. We always have been, and this is the way we have always traveled.

I made carrot/zucchini bread for our breakfasts the first few days.  I also made gf snack mix for the road. My kids love this, and I threw some in the oven the night before we left. (Recipes will follow.) Another time, for a trip this long, I would have brought more homemade goodies, but I was really sick for a while before we left, and that was all I could manage.

We had one big food goof (I’ll fill you in on that one later), but the rest of the trip was a breeze. A delicious, gluten free, vacationer’s breeze. YUM!

We limited our eating out, so I’ll divide this into a couple of posts by area. This first part of the trip was to the Grand Canyon (loved it!) and Northern Arizona. We were busy with outdoorsy stuff, made a few quick stops at Arby's, but otherwise ate our own food. We then moved on to southwestern Colorado.

When we checked with the local health food store about gluten free eating options in Durango, the store folks weren’t much help. We found out more by asking at restaurants, always our best resource.



We found this cupcake at The Yellow Carrot in Durango, Colorado. This  little bakery and catering shop had some of the most delicious gluten free baked goods we’d ever eaten. No kidding! We had two different gf cupcakes, two regular cupcakes, a piece of gf focaccia bread (wow), and took a gf shepherd’s pie back to our condo for dinner. The cupcakes were huge and cream-filled. Two people could have easily shared one. And the shepherd’s pie made a great dinner for road-weary traveler’s who’d been eating picnic food for most of a week.

In Durango, fresh off the road, we also wandered into this cool barbecue joint--Serious Texas Barbecue.

Durango bbq (3)

Right on the menu on the wall it stated that all meat and sauce were gluten free. We felt like we’d won the lottery. We ate outdoors in the cool air, there were baskets of flowers everywhere, and the food was delicious. My son is very sensitive to gluten, but he didn’t have a problem. One of the side sauces had berries in it, which we didn’t realize, so berry-girl ended up with swollen lips. A little Benadryl and she was fine a few hours later. 

This is getting a little long, so I’m going to put this up and continue in a separate post—but believe me there’s more wonderful food—and a train ride-- to come!



The Lady in (ever-increasing amounts of) Pred

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


That post on our gf vacation is in progress, but this needed to be today’s.

This past weekend we were with my in-laws for their fiftieth wedding anniversary party, a lovely do-up for a lovely couple. Friends from near and far, past and present came to celebrate and wish them well. They must be the youngest looking golden anniversary couple ever!

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DSC_32881 (2)

They first took notice of each other in first grade. He first proposed with a paper ring when they were teenagers, in the back of a car while his dad drove them on a date. They married while they were still in college and raised three kids on a teachers’ salary.

Through the years, they’ve blessed many lives, including mine. Happy anniversary to the best in-laws ever!