Friday, July 22, 2011

Problem Solving

...Health problems, that is!
You see, about two weeks ago now I was hit with an 'episode' of sorts. All of a sudden I got this pain around my ribs that kept increasing, it became hard to breathe, the pain settled between my shoulder blades and I almost passed out. I was on the verge of asking Matt to take me to the hospital when... It stopped. Just as suddenly as it came. I had no other symptoms until 6 days later when again I got another attack, this time accompanied by nausea and vomitting, and again, after 15 minutes or so, it just stopped. When something like that happens once you think, "that was weird." Twice and you think, "what's up with this?". Third time and you're thinking, "okay, something's wrong...". Well, my third time came just a few hours after my second attack, but this time it lasted over 6 hours.
So, I went to the walk-in on Monday morning and after hearing my accounts and asking where the pain was, the doctor asked how old my baby was. I assumed that he was being nice and friendly, but he was actually looking into my condition still. He then drew me a little diagram that I recognized: Stomach, intestines, liver... Gallbladder. Yep, gallbladder. Evidently, elevated hormone levels related to pregnancy can cause gallstones (what? The ribs moving in and out during the pregnancy wasn't bad enough???). Anyway, there was another alternative diagnosis that was pregnancy related too. I had awful heartburn when I was pregnant that went away as soon as I delivered Nathaniel and the doctor suggested that the heartburn could have burned my esophagus raw and it's now in spasm. Apparently these two conditions have identical symptoms and you can't tell the difference without testing. SO, I am scheduled for an ultrasound this week, I'm taking a prescription that will help if it is the esophagus, and in three weeks I have a doctors appointment where I'll find out if I need to get my gallbladder removed or not. In the meantime, all I can do is try to avoid another flair up.
In case you don't know what a gallbladder does, it aides in the digestion of fats through secretion of bile. Gallstones block the release of bile and cause me to feel like dying. Therefore, the best thing I can do to try and avoid more of my little episodes is to prevent the bile from needing to be released by not eating fats.
I have currently placed myself on a super low-fat diet until this all gets sorted out. No red meat, no cream sauces, no butter, no rich cheeses, no avocado, no salmon, no artichokes and absolutely nothing that's ever been fried. And even though we do eat fairly healthy in our house, this is going to be quite the shock to me. For the rest of the summer I won't be allowed to have another hamburger, or steak, or any ice cream, or any of my special cranberry-cinnamon goat cheese. Breakfast is one of my favorite meals to go all out on from time to time: sausage, bacon, eggs, pancakes... Well, sausage and bacon are definite no's and eggs may or may not bother me but I'm horrified to try them just in case the answer is 'yes'. Frapaccinos are out, so are tortilla chips and any baking made with lard or lots of butter or oil. Incidentally, hot foods can cause a flair up too, so salsas, curries, hot peppers and the like are out. oh, and no coffee.
So what can I eat?
Well, I can eat rice. And I can eat chicken (white meat mostly). I can eat some less fatty fish (salmon's out but sole is good). I can eat most veggies and fruits, although it is recommended that I avoid the cabbage family and citrus fruits. I can do yogurt and low-fat dairy products, and I can drink water. :)
It's really not that bad for a season though. It could be a lot worse in a lot of ways. Even just having this happen in winter instead of summer would make it a lot harder, but as it stands fresh produce is readily available and eating a salad for dinner every night just seems seasonal instead of restricting. And while I have from the start of this season in my life prayed for God's help in managing and avoiding pain, it wasn't until today that I even thought to thank Him for this great opportunity to get back into shape. At least 2 months of an extremely low-fat diet? It'd be hard not to lose weight! Not to mention the potential long-term benefits this season of healthfulness could have on our family. It may encourage us to leave healthier lives overall, and that would be well worth this temporary inconvenience.
However, just because my diet is restricted doesn't mean it has to be flavorless. It simply means I have to turn off autopilot as far meal planning and look up some new recipes. I found a recipe for butter chicken made with yogurt instead of cream or butter so that'd be a fun one to try. My Glorious Mango Pudding recipe will still work for me if I get low-fat ricotta. I love sole baked in a roasted red pepper dressing and I finally invested in some basmati and jasmine rices in our home instead of plain white all the time. And I will make sure Matt is well plied with steak and hamburger in the meantime. It's my issue, not his after all, and while he would eat whatever I made for myself every night with very good grace, I won't ask it of him.
Anyway, if you have any low-fat recipes yourself that you can send me, fire them my way! I could use the help!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

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