Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Green Smoothie Disaster

Lately I have been having more reactions from my high histamine levels that come with my chronic blood neoplasm. Between that and my Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) I begin each day with my proverbial "histamine bucket" already full to the brim. After having read up and done research on low histamine diets, I've decided to attempt to decrease reactions by eating healthier. I have been focusing on foods that are low histamine, antihistamine, anti-inflammatory or high in antioxidants. Yesterday I made my breakfast smoothie with goat milk, mangos, almonds. pea sprouts, cucumber and flax seed. Since it was Saint Patrick's Day and not green looking I decided I would try my newly purchased chlorella powder. The label on the bag of chlorella said to put in one teaspoon but since I was not sure how I would like the taste or handle it I only put in one half teaspoon. That half teaspoon made it a lovely shamrock green fit for any Irish festivity but had a pungent aroma of grass clippings a couple days in the compost. While I may be somewhat repulsed by the aroma, I am sure Bessie the cow would have been tantalized by it.

I convinced myself I can drink anything for health if I put my mind to it and get my mind off of bovine meal comparisons. I drank about one third of the sixteen ounce glass over about ten minutes and was suddenly hit by nausea, stomach pains and a migraine. I left the rest of the glass on the counter to add a festive Saint Pat's green to my kitchen. As the day progressed so did my reactions. The nausea, stomach pains and migraine were later joined with a prego belly from bloating, brain fog and fatigue, swollen and painful joints and facial angioedema. I was still awake at 2:20 am from my discomfort. My symptoms came much too quickly to be detoxification and identical to many of my food reactions. I should have listened to my nose and not drank any of it. You can believe I won't again...EVER!!!

Today I am improved to the point I only look three months pregnant rather than seven, digestive symptoms continue, headache and joint pains still very much there though improved and my face looks like a cartoon hound dog from the angioedema.

I did not get any photos of this reaction but these first two are from a reaction to the yeast in gluten free homemade pizza crust I had on March 8th  give a clear idea of how I am visibly impacted.


This is me just twelve hours after the first two photos

How my face looks between reactions

Angioedema where I get hound dog lines and what my hubby calls a balloon valance below my lips

My take away from this is to once again realize how individually unique each person's tolerances and reactivity. While I research for answers, I need to pay attention to what things my body does or does not like and rather than to just follow any given list somebody else developed. Going forward, I will continue to pray for wisdom, glean wisdom from forums, FaceBook groups and blogs of others traveling a similar path to find ideas, resources and support. In the very near future, I plan to have genetic testing done to see if it points to any other underlying causes to my issues.

Dexter hopes your Saint Patrick's Day was a blessed one!

So here's to more days without prego bellies and hound dog faces!



Monday, December 22, 2014

Kathryn Chastain Treat Tribute and Reblog

Today I blog with a heavy heart, yet one that rejoices. There are people who you have never met in person yet dramatically impact your life and speak into your soul. Kathryn Treat was one of those special ones. I had contact with Kathryn on online forums, blogs and through reading her book "Allergic to Life".  Kathryn has impacted many with her blogs and book. Her example of courage, fortitude and faith have inspired me and many others in the MCS community. From her writings I discovered therapies that are helping me deal with my own health issues and have been empowered with greater knowledge to manage the labyrinth of life with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities. I am sure there are many who were also blessed with similar experiences.

I am joining many others in praying for Kathryn Treat's family and friends left behind as they grieve and miss our dear friend. We are grateful for her courage, support and efforts while on earth and grateful she is now free of all restrictions where she can feast, mingle with others freely and even dance before the Lord. Heaven is richer having her there.

 Read more about Kathryn Treat in Stehanie of MCS Gal's blog

And from Jennie Sherwin who knew Kathryn well and spent time with her while both in treatment for severe MCS.

You can find Kathryn's book here:

Monday, October 20, 2014

Treasured Moments

While reading Kara Tippett's blog Mundane Faithfulness she asked what are the little things in life, the moments we treasure the most. It reminded me once again of how I need to be intentional in seeing and savoring those moments to most fully engage in this life God has given me; to look for joy, peace and grace that is always available regardless of how hard the circumstances are, even in the midst of our tears.

My hubby and I joke how so far all of 2014 was not in our plans. While not our plans, we are so thankful for one who is sovereign over all and has His perfect plan and purpose for our lives.

Isaiah 55:8-9 reminds me God's way and my ways are so different and often at odds. His ways are so much higher and motivated by God's glory rather than my selfish ambition or desires of comfort.  He is more concerned about my holiness and eternal good and His glory than the ease of today or this year. 

Our year began with my Multiple Chemical Sensitivity causing me such horrendous reactions to the dust mitigation chemicals used in Arizona. They became so severe that by the first Monday in February my doctor advised us to relocate. Moving was not in our plans. We had less than two years before down-sized into a home we thought we could live in now and in our retirement fifteen years down the road. We were very involved in our Arizona church with many we dearly loved. My husband was serving as an ordained pastor/elder alongside the teaching pastor as well as working his full time IT job. It was a huge gift that my hubby's immediate response was asking the doctor questions about where would be good locations for me then saying we will move as soon as God leads in securing a job and selling our home in Arizona. But that night, when we arrived on our pastor and wife's home to share this burden, we all sat there stunned, saying how much it sucked, shedding tears and pouring our hearts out to God in prayer.

Summit of Lookout Pass at Idaho/Montana border February 28, 2014 on our way to say good-bye to Mom P.

The next two months were a whirl wind of prepping our home to sell, a week visit from our daughter and her family, travels to say good-bye to my sweet godly 93 year old mother-in-love in Idaho and 80th birthday party for my Dad in Washington,

My Dad and I at his 80th birthday with some of his art behind us

My parents, siblings and I at Dad's 80th birthday party

packing, cleaning, house hunting trip to Colorado and the many lasts times and good-byes. Those months, while crazy, were filled with many sweet moments. Moments of sitting at my mom-in-love's bedside and being able to thank her for her example and tell her what a wonderful, godly, self-sacrificing and loving man her son is and how I know her influence and prayers had much to do with it. The moment of seeing her tears of joy hearing those words. In Washington, moments of joy, laughter and story- telling with my extended family: parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, our grown children, their spouses and grandchildren. We celebrated my Dad's 80th birthday, where we all for the first time saw all his paintings on display. We watched our Minnesota and Washington grands meet for the first time and the joy they had together. One favorite moment was watching the three of them squealing with joy and chasing bubbles together!

We had precious moments as friends served us in love to prep our home for sale, cleaning and packing for our move. We ended up having more times with friends who lovingly helped and served us since I was physically unable to do nearly as much. Spontaneous laughter, sharing life, praises and prayers with my three dear sisters in Christ who came over and helped me so much the last weeks up to our move were so precious. I treasure those moments and still six months after moving away, treasure them for continuing to point me to God and His goodness when they call or text me with scripture verses, prayers and encouraging words. The many good-byes were hard and bittersweet but joy in knowing we will be together again, if not here then in eternity.

My precious sisters, JoAnn, Angie, Anna and I

 Out to dinner at our favorite organic restaurant in Arizona for the last time with our good friends Doug and JoAnn

Just before pulling out of Arizona to begin our move to Colorado
Laughing at the wind at a rest stop on our move in southern Colorado
The first weekend in May, just days after arriving in our new state of Colorado, we flew up for the funeral of my husband's dear Mom. She passed on Good Friday, which was so fitting as Easter was her favorite holiday. This year she got to spend it with her Savior. Again, precious time with family as while we grieved we shared stories about Mom and moments of laughter in the remembering. 

Joel with all but one of his siblings the weekend of Mom's funeral. Joel's the handsome guy on the right.

This summer we were blessed with two more granddaughters. The one in Washington we were able to spend time there snuggling her and her two year old big sister. Wet kisses, reading stories, swinging at the park filled that week with joy. Our second new granddaughter was born in August and we have yet to see her as we got news of Joel being laid off from his job a couple days before we were to travel there for a week visit. We felt it wise for Joel to get immediately involved in the process of job hunting and cashing in 70 hours of vacation to help tide us over in how ever long this season of unemployment lasts.

As Joel's job ended October 10th, God has continued to meet us with a sense of peace and an ability to rest in Him and enjoy the many treasured moments He graces our lives with each day. We have been enthralled with the beauty of the Colorado autumn colors and have spent time taking drives and hikes in the Colorado Front Range and walks into neighborhood open spaces. We have laughter over goofy things and the joy of a look from across a crowded room that fans our love and desire. We watch the antics of numerous prairie dogs or observe the dragonflies in our garden. We enjoy observing the ever-changing mountain views from our bedroom window or as we drive in the area.

These extra tame prairie dogs were fighting over trail mix we share with them from our trail head
 picnic table overlooking a lake.

Elm tree in its autumn finery in our front yard Sunday morning October 19, 2014
So as our plans disappear and in our human logic the year has spun out of control, we look for Him in those small precious moments. We never dreamed this year would hold major health obstacles, a move to a new state, loss of a parent, and loss of a job Joel had enjoyed for over fifteen and a half years. But we see His hand in so many details great and minute. We are learning to have greater dependency on Christ and are growing in ways we had not expected. We are confidant of His faithfulness in what the rest of this year and the years to come will hold.

So today as I write this, Joel is at yet another job interview. Please join us as we are praying that God will close all doors but the one He has for him, the one that will be for our best and His glory.



Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Autumn Sightings in Our Neighborhood

I love living in Colorado and being able to once again enjoy the outdoors without chemicals keeping me a prisoner of my home like they did the last several months in Arizona. Clean air, fresh mountain breezes and plenty of open spaces make it ideal. I so love being able to be a canary free from her cage!

Yesterday was the most gorgeous warm October afternoon. Much too lovely to stay indoors so we decided to take advantage of Joel's current unemployment to take a walk and explore some of the nearby open spaces in our neighborhood. 

The communities from Denver north to Boulder have bought huge tracts of open spaces that they have left natural except for some trails within them. There are numerous streams, ponds and reservoirs and paved trails connecting many of them so one can walk or bike for miles upon miles without being in neighborhoods.

We tend to leave the paved trails to explore the less traveled paths.

Prairie dogs stand up on alert and whistle alarms as we near their areas. Prairie dogs are busy, curious, social animals. We noticed they are much plumper than they were at the beginning of summer as they are storing up fat for winter. You can read more about prairie dogs here.

Rabbits are very plentiful everywhere we have been in Colorado. I learned the hard way how much they enjoy nibbling on pansies! We kept losing the battle of them setting up home under our front porch until I sprinkled cayenne pepper along the perimeter of the porch. 

They believe if they don't move we don't see them. I guess these photos must have been "accidents" since I couldn't "see' them.

You would think the coyotes in the area would keep the population of bunnies under control...

The beautiful azure blue Colorado sky and fall trees are reflected in the still surface of a neighborhood pond.

The Front Range of the Colorado Rockies in the background with fall trees reflected in the pond. Isn't God the master artist!

On the other side of the open space we went to yesterday is a golf course community where I took the last few photos.

Our walk ended up being much longer than we intended as we decided to head home a different way through the golf course neighborhood only to get turned around on the winding lanes. By the time we figured out we were heading a twisted path north when we needed to go south we had traveled three quarters of a mile the wrong way! We were a couple weary wanderers when we made it back home. We may have been weary, but also blessed and very content.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Starting at Zero

My friend Tracy was sharing how when her sister-in-law moved to Texas some years back the hardest part was always starting at zero with people in her new community. They had zero history with her, zero knowledge of her life prior to moving, zero knowledge of her grown children and grandchildren, zero knowledge of who she really was, her gifts, talents, challenges or heartaches. When she shared this with me, I so resonated with this on multiple levels.

Moving from Arizona to Colorado a few months ago, we are constantly starting at zero both with folks not knowing us and us not knowing them. After a few months there are a few who know much of our story and we have learned much of theirs. Still rarely a day goes by where I don't have the starting from zero experience where we try to fill each other in on our life up to this point in a nutshell. This happens at our church, in the neighborhood, with new doctors and practitioners. Rebuilding in a new community takes starting from nothing and laying new foundations that will hopefully lead to many great relationships.

I find there is an aspect of starting at zero with family and friends who have known me for ages when it comes to all the impact MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity) has had in my life. For instance my extended family and I used to eat large batches of popcorn nightly and in the last four years that has morphed into now having to explain that I have an anaphylactic allergy to corn in any form. In fact being in same room as popcorn or corn chips causes me to have asthma and other symptoms. Fragrances and cleaning products that I thought nothing of using for many years now are very problematic and can cause me symptoms days after the exposure. The starting at zero to explain myself and how so many things negatively impact me to those who have known me years earlier is hard and wearing. It is difficult feeling like my health issues are impacting others around me, yet I either have to start at zero and explain or suffer reactions. Depending on what I am exposed to the reactions are immediate or delayed with varied symptoms that may last a few hours to several days.

Many friends and family members have been empathetic and inquire how they can serve me. They are curious and ask questions about what impacts me and how to prevent reactions. Those are the ones that make it easy to rebuild from zero. I have people in my life who have gone to natural cleaners, installed used carpeting, painted with no VOC paints and installed no VOC flooring to accommodate me in their homes. My grown kids and their spouses have made their homes safe for me and gladly cater to my dietary needs. My church care group meets in a home that uses natural products and I am able to attend because they remind everybody before each meeting to not wear fragrances. This Friday we are going to a dinner where the hostess has catered the entire meal around my dietary restrictions which is no easy feat. Instead of giving up or taking me up on the offer to bring my own meal she rose to the challenge. People who respond like that greatly bless me and encourage me to make more effort to start from zero when it comes to my MCS.

Haboob in Phoenix, AZ

My MCS and the dust suppressant chemical used in Arizona are the reason we moved to Colorado
last spring. While beginning at zero in so many relationships, we have been so blessed by a church body who is warm, embracing and understanding as well as a community that is much more in tune with natural non-chemical way of life. While starting over is difficult the benefits to my health have been wonderful!

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

There is anther way I start from zero and that is with my own self. I "forget" I am not fully as healthy and energetic as I was in the past. I still think I am the gal that my husband called the "Energizer Bunny" who kept going and going. I have always been driven and thrived on activity and socializing. I still want to thrive that way. I can get busy in the living of life, remodeling or yard projects, guests staying, hiking and photographing my lovely new area and suddenly I hit a wall. I am too fatigued to function. Or I forget that I can no longer go certain places without it impacting me. Monday afternoon I went to pick up my meat order and was exposed to the strong tar odors of freshly laid asphalt in their parking lot. Since I was already out made another stop on the way home. By dinner time, I was operating in a major brain fog with extreme fatigue, allergy symptoms, migraine and facial swelling. Also realized that some of my improvement that came from my IV therapy a month ago was wearing off so I was reacting more easily and not rebounding as quickly. Still I am having some symptoms as I write this Wednesday afternoon. This morning I went and had another IV session with Meyers Cocktail and glutathione. By tomorrow morning my energy should really kick in and if like last couple times will better tolerate and more quickly rebound from exposures. Right now I am so relaxed from all the magnesium in the Meyer's Cocktail a nap is calling my name. So I need to remember to remind myself of who I am now so I don't land at zero from my own living like I did in the past.

One place I never have to start from zero is with my personal Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He knows me intimately.(Psalm 139)  He knew all my days before even a one of them was (Psalm 139:16) and has the very hairs on my head numbered! (Matthew 10:30) He cares about all the details of my life; of your lives. Such peace, assurance and grace for living flow from Christ.

So how have you had to begin from zero with others or yourself? I would love to hear your stories in the comments.