About Me

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I love finding new worlds through writing and reading. I am excited by creating new flavours and tastes in the kitchen. I am fascinated by nutrition and healthy lifestyle choices. I adore my my dog, family and friends.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Glimpse into slipping up

I have gained such a good hold on my strict diet these days that I don't often get issues resulting from food now. This makes it all worth it! It is a very strict diet, but for the most part I enjoy it now, and don't want for other foods very often (apart from the occasional dreams of mangos and iced buns!).
The last few days I have been thinking about the fact that my stomach has been good lately. I haven't had pains in a few weeks, my stomach has been nice and flat, and I have even been enjoying a few potentially iffy foods.

Human nature is a funny thing though, isn't it? I had lulled myself into a false sense of security, and because of this, I found myself eating a touch too much of the iffy foods yesterday. As a result, I woke with stomach pains in the early hours of the morning, and am today feeling the effects of an aching stomach and loss of appetite. I didn't completely over do it, because I didn't intentionally overindulge, and luckily, the effects seem like they will ease up soon.

Instead of beating yourself up when this happens, learn from it; it is just a reminder to keep on the path that makes you healthy. Some of us live with such strict diets, that an occasional slip up is inevitable. I go pretty darn well most of the time! And short of calculating every gram of fructose I put in my mouth every minute of the day, there is going to be some risk that from time to time, I will tip the scales! Keep in mind all the benefits you get from the strict diet: no awful symptoms and reactions, a healthy weight and glowing skin. All the hard work and restrictions are worth it! Just keep stored in the back of your mind thoughts of the things that happen when you don't keep on the straight and narrow, just as a gentle reminder to yourself!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Glimpse into the frog blog!

I have completed my first challenge for Project Twenty Nine! Number 11 is done!! I created an animal cushion....a frog!
Click on the tab at the top of this page called "Glimpsing Project Twenty Nine" to check out more photographs, and the steps to make your own frog!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Glimpse into Thursday March 28th 2013

When I initially started this blog back on the 2nd of January 2011, I intended to take a photo of something relevant to my day, and make a short entry to accompany; hence Glimpsing Gembles. The blog had a pause, and then merged into something different when I was diagnosed with various conditions. I have decided, that on days that I do not post about Hashimoto's disease, food intolerances, recipes or Project Twenty Nine, I will now endeavour to restart the glimpses into my life. I hope you enjoy this addition :-)

How could the day ahead not be a good one when it begins with a lie in, listening to intelligent, analytical local radio, a bowl of quinoa, chia and raspberry breaky, and white tea in an inspirational mug made by the bestie?!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Glimpse into Project Twenty Nine

~ March 19 2013- March 19 2014. ~

A lot has changed in my life recently, with things happening that are not so easy to deal with.
This week I had my 29th birthday, and as this is the last year of my twenties, I don't intend to be derailed!

I am always looking for new things to experience, learn, see, taste, make and do. Due to health restrictions, I currently look for gentle activities that keep the mind busy but the body resting.

To keep me motivated and entertained, I have decided to begin a project for the year. I intend to undertake 29 new challenges for my year of being 29, and document them here. I am looking forward to carrying out these projects and letting myself do something for me.

These are the challenges I am setting myself for the next year:

1. Set regular DSLR photo challenges and create an album
2. Watch three classic movies
3. Make a pebble welcome mat
4. Get back into playing the piano
5. Frame pictures of family and friends
6. Learn yoga
7. Learn the ins and outs of buying my first home
8. Write five poems
9. Read and review 10 books
10. Fabric paint a jumper
11. Create kids' animal cushions
12. Learn more sign language
13. Create framed quotations
14. Keep a book of my favourite recipes

The thought of 29 challenges does seem daunting, as some days it is an effort to get out of bed!! I will be happy if I get through the first 14 slightly less physical challenges and pass the half way mark; I will be really pleased with my health if I can go into the second half and do the more physical challenges!.....

15. Learn a new skill outside of my normal zone
16. Bake and decorate a themed cake
17. Sew a dress
18. Re-cover the cushions of the rocking chair
19. Paint plant pots
20. Give a hand made gift
21. Make Turkish delight
22. Make a potted herb garden
23. Travel somewhere new
24. Create a travel journal
25. Create printed t shirts
26. Make bags for Dad's outdoor equipment
27. Be able to complete a tai chi set
28. Do a creative writing course
29. Be healthy enough to resume being a regular gym junkie!

I will work through this list, not in any set order and post my progress as I go!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Glimpse into orange and almond cake

*I posted this back on the 14th of January, but accidently just pressed publish on it and so it has zoomed up to March 23! Sorry, my bad!!

I have just had the energy to make a cake! Sure, it was after I lay in bed til gone 11am, but I will take small achievements!!! So as I sit here and drink my green smoothie lunch, the smells of an orange and blueberry almond cake waft from the oven!!

This cake is gluten free. It is also fodmap friendly (just be mindful of your tolerance level to almond meal), egg free and dairy free. I have made this cake multiple times now and it is delicious! Everyone loves it and there are never complaints about the ingredients, or lack of!

I have only made it as an orange and almond cake previously. Today, I was inspired by the fresh punnet of blueberries in the fridge. So when I had made the batter, I poured 3/4s of the mix into the prepared pan, then sprinkled the blueberries evenly on the batter, and then covered them with the remaining cake mix.

2 large navel oranges
Egg replacement for 5 eggs
1 1/4 cups glucose or caster sugar
2.5 cups almond meal
1 teaspoon gluten free baking powder

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C. Line a cake pan with baking paper.

In a large saucepan, boil enough water to cover two large navel oranges. Place the unblemished oranges into the water, and simmer, covered, for an hour. Make sure the oranges stay under the water.

Drain and slightly cool the oranges. Chop them into small chunks, remove seeds and put them in a blender. Blend until you have a smooth purée. If you don't get all the rind into a purée, don't worry because I find that small pieces of the rind makes for an interesting and tasty texture!

Make up enough egg replacement for 5 eggs (or use 5 eggs if you can!). Beat with 1 1/4 cups of glucose (aka dextrose) until thick (you can use caster sugar if you can tolerate it). Add the orange purée, 2.5 cups of ground almond (sometimes I go half half with ground hazelnuts too for a change in flavour and texture) and 1 tsp gluten free baking powder. Mix well.

Pour into the pan and bake for an hour. Watch that the top doesn't burn!
Leave for about 20 minutes to cool and firm up. It can be made up to 48 hours in advance as it really improves with time!

Sometimes I melt dairy free, fructose friendly chocolate with dairy free butter and spread on the top. Or grate dairy free chocolate over the top. Or sprinkle orange zest and almonds or toasted coconut over the top. Serve with goat's yogurt or lactose free yogurt, or coconut icecream!

Enjoy! It is nap time now :-)....and cake sampling time ;-)

Glimpse into breakfast delights

*I published this on Sunday 24th March, but just accidently pressed publish, so it has zoomed up to March 26th! Sorry, my bad!!

I woke up this morning inspired, and hungry for pancakes!! What transpired where more like hot porridge cakes, and were delicious! To top it off, they are nutritional and guilt free! What could be better?!

To make these gluten free, dairy free, egg free, fructose friendly breakfast hot cakes, this is what I did!

Mash one banana into a puree. Add a few dashes of cinnamon, a teaspoon of rice syrup, four tablespoons of cooked quiona and mix it til well combined. Fold in some fresh blueberries.

The mixture at this stage is quite wet. Slowly add in almond meal until you have a batter-like consistency.

Put a splash of coconut oil in a fry pan. When it is hot, add a spoonful of the mixture into the pan, and fry until brown on both sides. (They are difficult to flip, so take care!)

Eat warm, topped with rice syrup and raspberry puree*. Delicious!!

Enjoy. I recommend you choose a slightly cooler day than I did to make them!

*Raspberry puree: Combine 1.5-2 cups of frozen raspberries, 1-2 tablespoons of rice syrup, grated rind of one orange, the juice of one orange, and a teaspoon of grated fresh ginger in a pan. Cook until it is a puree.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Glimpse into remedies for autoimmune symptoms PART ONE

I am always on the look out for new ideas, inspirations, plans, techniques and tricks to make a difference to my many and varied symptoms. I get lost reading articles about exciting and interesting topics; I love blogs, books and magazines about well being, food and health. I also am quite open to experimenting and playing trial and error with myself to find out what works best for me.

Today, I will concentrate on what I find helpful when I have symptoms stemming from having an autoimmune disease. Another day, I will write about what I do when I react to foods.

I am currently having regular acupuncture, moxibustion and massage. I guess you do wonder how much it is actually doing but one session a few weeks ago confirmed to me that yes, it is helping! I walked in feeling pretty gross. I was fairly sure I was developing hyperthyroidism again because I was feeling shaky, achy and stiff, light headed and woozy. As I lay on the table with the acupuncture needles, I could actually feel it all easing up. After a gentle massage too I felt so relaxed, and I walked out with only remnants of the feelings I had come in with. It was exciting, and definitely makes the weekly fork out of $150+ seem worthy and justifiable. I have read that other people with thyroid issues get a lot of relief from this type of treatment too, so give a go; it could work for you! Massage is great as it not only eases the stiffness and aches, but it can help with your mind set too. And it doesn't always have to be a paid session with a trained therapist! It is even more soothing when it is a loved one that is massaging you; it provides a feeling of being loved, supported and understood too!

When I am aching and stiff, I do find that heat can help. Sometimes I avoid it, because it can then also make me feel light headed and weak, but when I can manage it, it does ease things up and it takes my mind off the pain. Run a warm bath, use a hot pack or use a warming rub (I was given Zheng Gu Shui sports liniment from my natural therapist).

One of my most hindering symptoms currently is chronic fatigue. Having suffered from fatigue, it is amazing how you come to understand the difference between being tired and being fatigued. My acupuncturist asked me the other day if I had had a bad sleep the night before and I said yes I had, and that I felt quite tired. He then asked if my energy levels were improving any. I said that today I did feel more energised. He clarified with me, "'So you feel sleepy because you did not sleep well, but you feel quite energised today?" It sounded funny and contradicting, but it was a revelation moment, when someone else understood that they are two separate components. Even having been very active all day and feeling exhausted, is a different feeling to that of fatigue.
Chronic fatigue is a nasty, vicious circle. I wake feeling exhausted, so I lay in bed until hunger takes over. I get up and do a few things, and inevitably end up resting on the couch. If I try to live life and do something fun, or do some chores, I am knocked out for the next few days. I crawl into bed exhausted at the granny bedtime of 8 or 9pm. Sometimes, I have the added joy that is insomnia, and lie there, wide awake for up to six frustrating hours.
My fitness is beyond non existent. Which, for someone who used to go to the gym up to 5 times a week, is disheartening to say the least. I know that if I were able to improve my fitness, it would help my overall feeling of health, as I wouldn't be fighting with being out of shape on top of fatigue. The catch 22 problem there is, of course, trying to drag yourself off the couch, when everything feels heavy, and going for a walk (and then, not fainting when on said walk!). When I do manage to go for a walk, or do a yoga or tai chi session, I do feel the benefits. Even if I end up feeling exhausted, it does help me feel a little more invigorated usually, and at the least, it blows a few of the cobwebs away that have gathered from the couch! I am trying to motivate myself to do some gentle form of activity as regularly as possible (or let others motivate me and drag me kicking and screaming off the couch!). I do encourage and recommend that you try to find something that your body will let you do, because every bit counts.

For more tips on relieving symptoms, read on in Part Two of this blog :-)

Glimpse into remedies for autoimmune symptoms PART TWO

Another impeding element for me is regular light headiness and dizziness. Obviously this can be quite dangerous. Along with fatigue, it is one of the main things stopping me currently from working as a nurse. It also means that I do not drive. My feeling of independence is equal to that of a fourteen year old! Not only do I rely on people to shop, cook and clean for me, but I can't even leave the house when I want to! I am so appreciative of the abilities I do have, because there are so many people out there that have so much less than I do. Of course, at 29 years of age however, having experienced independence and self reliance, to find yourself unable to work, drive or do most of the usual things that one does when looking after themselves, it is by no means an easy task to come to a place of acceptance of this situation! In theory, it sounds great to not have to work, or do house work or groceries, or cook dinner. It all adds up though, and those simple things that you take for granted and even begrudge, are groundings to what makes our lives interesting and filled with opportunity.
I am quite good at coping with my light headiness in that a lot of the time, people around me don't even know that I am blacking out. I have dealt with it for as along as I can remember, so I can often keep walking or carrying out what I am doing, while my vision goes black. I know when I am having an episode that requires me to sit, and so far I have not hit the ground that I can remember! (I have certainly come close, and looked like a drunk staggering along, but I have managed to safely get myself down). I do try the usual recommendations: I drink water regularly, I include salt in my diet, I try to not get too hot and I eat regularly. These techniques don't seem to make a huge difference, but then again, without doing it, it all could be a lot worse. Sometimes I have a feeling of ''not being here." It is a peculiar sensation in which my body keeps moving but my mind feels like it has turned off, so for a brief while I feel like I am flying on auto and the pilot has leaped out with the parachute. I find that the only thing I can do when this happens is press my nails into my palms and try to force myself to concentrate on my surroundings, and I eventually come out of it. I have been aware of this feeling since I was a child.
Other solutions to dizziness can include making sure the people with you regularly are aware. It is so helpful when you don't need to make a big deal of what is happening, and you can just nudge someone and they know that you just need some help; they can hold you up and help you to a seat, without a lengthy explanation of what is happening. I also keep an emergency pack of nibbles with me always, and try to have water on standby too.

Another problem when dealing with a long term illness, is cabin fever. Boredom can send you insane!! Sometimes I am struck by the fact I have no idea what I could do with the upcoming hours stretching before me. I am trying to find things that interest me that are within my current physical ability level. I have been attempting to learn more about my digital SLR camera. Upkeep of this blog gives me something to think about. I read as much as I can. My close friends are great; they understand that I can't plan a certain activity on a certain day now, and are always flexible and accepting of a last minute change. They are also willing to sit with me in my couch world if that is all that I am up to.

It is easy to slip into a feeling of missing out and being left out, but I take strength from knowing that I at least have the ability to do some things, and I have supportive family and friends, and I have the financial ability to look after my health as best as possible. Sometimes it feels like I am at a complete dead end, and nothing is happening for me. Lately though, I have started to look at it like this: My life is a blank canvas. I have the ability to start afresh with the knowledge of who and what is important to me and I can paint it with whichever colours I choose.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Glimpse into being prepared

I have just made packs up for the freezer so that I am ready for a green smoothie anytime the craving hits for about a fortnight! It is so easy to do when you have a spare half hour, and saves you the time and energy each day.
I put all the fresh ingredients I wanted into bags, plus chia seeds, labeled with the date, and now I will just throw it all in the blender when I am ready, add water and coconut oil and blast!
The freezer is getting quite a collection of frozen meals now to prevent running out of intolerance friendly foods when I am hungry!

Glimpse into the new plan and standing up for yourself

Doctors can really mess with your head, can't they?!

After the 4 weeks without medication as planned by the endocrinologist, I was awaiting a definite answer and a structured plan with meds and return to work set out when he rang me on Saturday. Instead, he happily told me that my thyroid hormones are normal at the moment, so he didn't want me on any thyroid meds at the moment, and to regularly monitor my levels from now on. Then, after my prompting, he said I could start the medication to increase my blood pressure as dizziness is still a major issue for me. He wanted to leave it at that! In disbelief, I said that I have been fatigued for two years; something has to be done! He said that as my levels were normal, it wasn't my thyroid causing it. So, as all doctors before him, he hung up having given me no answers and leaving the door open on that frequently mentioned but never answered phrase "something else is going".

I was absolutely devastated because it felt like I was back to square one.

Thankfully, I was able to see my GP on Monday. After feeling so frustrated by him last time I saw him, he turned everything around this time and I left feeling much more hopeful than on Saturday!
He said that autoimmune disease can cause symptoms even though your hormone levels are in the normal range. This makes sense as the antibodies remain no matter what amount of hormone your thyroid is releasing. I may have to live with these symptoms, or we may be able to look at more drastic treatments down the track if the upcoming new medications don't help enough. At the moment, I will monitor my blood levels every two months, and medicate when and if necessary to normalise the levels. I have started this week a medication that will hopefully help with my concentration, brain fog, and possibly my energy levels. Then in a few weeks, I will start the medication to increase my blood pressure. These meds can take a few months to take full effect, so the waiting game continues, but hopefully the gradual improvements will start soon. I already take quite a few supplements too that hopefully help given my restricted diet. Then there may be more tests to look for the "something else" to explain the chronic fatigue syndrome. At this point, it doesn't look possible for my return to work for a few more months.

As a patient, you really do have to keep pushing and pushing. As much as doctors want to help, they have time limits and busy work loads, they're tired, and they don't see you in your day to day life. It really is up to you to keep going, and to stand up for yourself and fight to be seen. My advice is to keep all records of results and plans, and keep up to date with all that is going on, and read as much as possible about your conditions and medications. You are the best person to advocate for you! (and supportive family members are good too!)

So the waiting game continues, but now I have some hope that these medications will help to some degree, which after weeks of incorrect medication or none at all, that is something to hold on to. Come on body, let's do this thing!

"It's ok not to be ok, as long as you're not giving up."

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Glimpse into March 2nd

The news from the specialist has turned out to be not as useful as I hoped. Feeling beyond deflated. Trying to find my motivation.
More blog entries to follow when I find it...