Thursday, 23 September 2010

Off on my hols

It's been nearly a week since I posted, yet I've been at home doing not very much!

I guess I haven't felt inclined to blog, as both my meals and exercise (or lack of) haven't been that interesting. I went out for a short run on Sunday and again on Tuesday, but haven't done anything since (except for some walks). I haven't been to the pool or out that much actually, as my tummy has been quite upset. I did, however, go to the hairdressers yesterday, which I really needed. There's nothing like upset guts to make you feel undesirable...but a wee tidy up made me feel a bit better, and then I went underwear shopping and got some nice Lush stuff (shampoo, conditioner, shower gel). My sister sent me my favourite Lush product in the post- Ceridwen's Cauldron. I can't wait to use it:)

The food I'm eating has been boring and gut wrenching. I have been eating cereal with soya milk or PB and jam on toast for breakfast, more or less the same for lunch, except more likely hummus on toast, and then some veggies and a small serving of pasta or rice, and snacking on apples in between. My tummy is distended, sore to touch, the bloating is at its worst at night, and it's stopping me sleeping. The pancreatic pain is mostly gone, however, just after my evening meal.

I'm not sure I'll be posting again for a week or so, I don't think I'll have internet access where I'm staying down in Dingle. I'm leaving tomorrow morning, stopping off midway to visit my sister in Maynooth. We will be marshaling at the triathlon I was supposed to be doing on Saturday, then we're staying way out in the middle of nowhere until next Saturday. The Dingle Peninsula has an absolutely stunning coastline, lots of coves and cliffs, but also the longest beach in Ireland (Fermoyle Strand, 10 miles), and is quite mountainous too.

That's the coastline where we're staying.

We're intending to spend the week walking and hiking in the mornings until lunch, then mucking around in the water in the afternoons. The sea in Ireland is at its warmest in late September/early October. Our evenings will be quiet reading, as it gets dark now about 7:30pm. No pubs for us (given I can't drink alcohol, at least not for the foreseeable future)!

Anyway, I better start getting organised- lots of last minute picking up to do.
Until next week :)

Friday, 17 September 2010

Impatient bread muncher

Happy weekend!
I am down visiting my parents in the country. I went down this morning as the weekend traffic leaving Belfast starts at lunchtime. I got my gluten eating over by lunchtime- 2 slices of toast for breakfast and again for lunch. Borrrring! I had PB and banana on toast both times as I had no avocados, salad or hummus to hand at lunchtime. I am aiming to eat the gluten quota early in the day so that my sleep is not too disrupted by bloating and cramps. I find this settles by evening so I eat gluten free at night.

Typical lunch this week- hummus and toast (unpictured peach to unstodgify)

Gluten free dinner- lemony brown rice noodles with peas and basil

Same noodles- this time with sauteed mushrooms, lemon, basil, thyme and soya cream.

My fave- parboiled and roasted turnip (swede to the English, rutabaga to Americans) with some chilli seasoning, brown rice and peas.

Weirdly, I've started to view bread almost as junk food (even though it's not much more processed than my brown rice noodles). In my mind I made it a forbidden food, not even that long ago, and yet it has stuck already! I am finding myself restrict my eating so I can fit the bread into my meals. This is also compounded by the fact I haven't worked out in nearly two weeks and while I'm feeling ready to get back to some easy going jogging and swimming, I won't be burning as much cals as I was, and I don't want to get too badly out of shape. The bread thing makes it slightly more complicated. I guess I'm going to get a bit physically out of shape over the next few weeks, not just my butt, but my guts too. However, I am content that it'll be worth it in the long run and it won't be too drastic (I did lose 3lb in hospital so I have that to play with). I reckon if I'm back on a gluten free diet by the end of October and my pancreatitis doesn't flare up, I should be back to my August fitness by mid-December.

The difference has been startling- bloat, cramps, brain fog, smelly wind, copious sticky poo, all the symptoms that I was doing nicely without, returned in a day. Gluten is waging war on my guts, and I'll be giving it up, celiac or not.

After my little brother got home from school this afternoon, we went out to the nearby nature reserve Oxford Island (not actually an island) for a walk before dinner. We saw loads of rabbits, a few woodland birds and some interesting ducks, a hobby (a small falcon) and the woods were bursting with sloes and haws.

Lough Neagh (the largest lake in the British Isles)- on a chilly, cloudy autumnal evening


There is also a kiddie's play area, so we tried everything out (climbing frames, slides, swings). No incriminating pictures of that though!

I'm going to my bed now (10:45pm). I am not needing as much sleep as I was earlier in the week, pretty much back to normal. Still, I will probably lie until until 8:30 and get a nice gentle jog in before breakfast, then go food shopping with Dad. The rest of the day looks like it'll be spent with my nose in a book!

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

The Gluten Challenge

For a while now, I have suspected I have some issue with digesting gluten. Having eliminated dairy, I can see pretty clearly that my only trigger for major IBS upsets are foods like bread, pasta (oh you're the worst!) and biscuits. When I don't eat them, I have no IBS at all. Little did I know, when I decided to drop these bellystabbing pseudo-friends that I would have to welcome them back again in order to find out if I have coeliac disease.

I went to see my doctor on 3rd september to see about getting the test done, deciding to leave it until early October as I knew I would be off work for a week before and I would be finished my triathlon training. As it turns out, I had been suffering from pancreatitis from early August which got bad enough to land me in hospital last week. Still not in great shape, I'm going to be off work for 2 weeks, and then on holiday for a week after that. Even though I'm recovering from illness, I reckon I ought to do this gluten challenge now, as I have three weeks to curl up in misery if that's what it does to me (I would put a fair amount of money on it). The doctors all thought my pancreatits had nothing to do with any food intolerances/allergies/coeliac disease, so really there's no medical advice telling me not to do this. I suppose I should be glad I haven't been avoiding gluten for longer (really only from mid August) and for a while in June, although I lapsed in July (and got unwell again). If I do get very sick, my dad is a friend of the consultant who treated me in hospital, so I can get help pretty quickly.

Wish me luck, as I attempt to consume lots of tasty but evil bread and hope that three weeks is sufficient for the blood tests, whatever the result is. I may as well eat all my favourite gluteny things...

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

First full day at home

Yesterday (monday) was my first full day back at home. I got up around 8:30 and managed to make myself some breakfast. I had soothing oats on the brain. I always go to oats when I need TLC.
I cooked some old fashioned oats in half water, half soya milk. Normally I would just use water but I was trying to sneak plenty of energy into my bowl. I added a chopped apple, raisins, vanilla and cinnamon. Despite all those lovely things, the bubbling pan didn't smell nice to me.

I knew I had to eat so I mixed a little soya yogurt and a bit more vanilla in and a little demerara (turbinado) sugar on top.

It was quite nice! But of course eating stimulated my pancreas and I got sore again. It settled a little but I had gotten really tired, so I went back to bed, and ending up falling asleep for 2 hours! I woke up after 1pm, feeling hungry, so I started making soup I had got ingredients for. It took quite a while, so I had some oatcakes and hummus to keep me going. Three little oatcakes deep I felt full, but I had a bowl of soup when it was ready.

Rice, lentil, pea and tomato soup. It was flavoured with onion, garlic, rosemary, thyme, basil and a little paprika and lots of black pepper.

After lunch I read for a while, then about 4pm I had a little Alpro caramel pudding, then walked over the road to my GP to leave in the letter the hospital gave me. I was exhausted when I came back, so I went back to bed for yet another 2 hour sleep.

Dinner was quick, 2 big bowls of the soup for my boyfriend, then packet mix falafel by Hale & Hearty (all natural ingredients) and grated carrot dressed with rice vinegar and lemon juice.

Awful photo, sorry!

Image source

Later on in the evening, there was an unpictured bowl of nectarine, frozen raspberries and plain soya yogurt.
I watched an hour and a half documentary of all the best bits of Blue Planet, perfect calming pre-bedtime TV.

I slept pretty well, woke up about 6 with some pain, took some tablets and got up at 8:30. Breakfast today was my favourite out-of-the-box gluten free cereal- plain, puffed brown rice from Rude Health. I had it with a nectarine, plain soy yogurt, and a squirt of chocolate syrup to stimulate my jaded tastebuds.

The puffed rice is so different from those awful Kellogg's Rice Krispies and their copycats- for a start the rice isn't hollow, it's much chewier and more substantial, but it's nowhere near dense. Perfect!

Image source

Happily, my pancreas didn't get too agitated after that. I've swapped my cup of coffee for peppermint tea until I'm feeling better. Caffeine stimulates the pancreas although in itself doesn't cause or worsen pancreatitis (it may even help prevent it), but when you have an active case, it's best avoided.

Today is much nicer weatherwise than yesterday- it bucketed and blew a gale pretty much all day. It's much brighter today although still windy. If I am not too tired I might go for a little walk around the park later.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Making a stab at recovery

I got home today after spending the last few days in hospital. The on and off abdominal pain I've been having, which I thought was indigestion or something turned out to be pancreatitis. I went to A&E early on thursday morning because the pain was unbearable. The doc gave me a proton pump inhibitor and left me to stew until the blood results came back. My amylase level was through the roof so finally they gave me some morphine and fluids, and got me admitted. I went to a different hospital to the one I had gone to A&E.
The first few days were mostly spent dozing through lack of sleep and strong pain meds. Co-codamol made me sick so once that stopped and I was switched to something less punchy I picked up. I spent most of the rest of the time reading. Hospital food is thin pickings for me but I had pretty minimal appetite, even when the nausea stopped. I mostly had tiny helpings of boiled vegetables, banana, apple, grapefruit segments, a little white rice, baked beans once, and some smuggled in oat and dried fruit bars. On saturday afternoon, I went down to the canteen to sit with my boyfriend while he got dinner. They had Dove's Farm gluten free double choc cookies, which were pretty chalky.

My appetite is still poor, and although the pain is much, much reduced. Still, I am pretty pooped, every little thing is making me tired. So don't expect any inventive cooking, and certainly not any training, any time soon. I'll still try and keep the blog updated with my recovery process, as long as it's blogworthy.

This was my first meal at home:

Brown rice, chickpeas, tomatoes, olives, nooch and a little hummus.

That's all for now! Off to rest up on the sofa:)

Saturday, 11 September 2010

(Hopefully) temporary cease of transmission

I haven't been blogging because I've been in hospital since thursday morning. The on and off 'acidy' stomach i was complaining of has turned out to be pancreatitis. So far it doesnt appear to be gallstones and i don't drink much alcohol so the suspiscion is it's some virus. I'll update whenever I eventually get out of here. Needless to say my triathlon won't be happening, but more on that when I'm back home.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Three Weeks to Tri

Today in three weeks I'll be getting prepared for the triathlon, probably eating breakfast. I hope it's as tasty and easy on the stomach as today's breakfast- I have finally found a GF vegan pancake I'm happy with! Usually I make crepes but today I wanted something fluffier. I also wanted something that didn't need lots of different flours. I did a bit of googling and found this recipe. I veganised it and it turned out just right! I subbed the egg for a flax egg (and obviously didn't do the egg white thing), soya milk for the dairy, and melted Pure spread for the butter.

Yesterday I went to see my doc about my tummy issues. I've been booked in for celiac testing, as well as haemoglobin levels, B12, folate and thyroid activity. I decided to leave getting the tests done until a week after the triathlon as I will have to eat gluten because the immune response the test is looking for works bests if you've eaten gluten recently. So after the tri, when I'm on holiday for a week in Kerry, I'll be glutening myself. Not very fun, but I won't be at work and I can just take it easy with very little training to have to do. I doubt I have celiac disease, but just one week of bread munching will provide useful information one way or the other. It does take a few week's for the results.

Although I did plenty of training at the end of last week I was still not on top form after feeling ill last week, so was quite tired and took two days off this week. I had a good swim on thursday (1500m without stopping) and yesterday (1000m) followed by a 5 mile run. I had planned to go to the pool again this morning but I'm going out on the bike this afternoon so decided to skip the pool.

Although I'll be taking a bit of a break the week after the triathlon (in case my tummy gets upset with the intentional gluten eating) I'll be stepping it up once the tests are done, as I've signed up for an 8 mile mixed terrain on 16th October! It's on beach, boardwalk and road.

After my swim on thursday, I had my zuke pancake, which turned out much more custardy this time, and soup with lots of allotment veg (summer squash, carrots, roasted tomatoes and roasted peppers with lentils to thicken).

The pictures are pretty terrible because it was quite late and there was no natural light.
Hope you all have a great weekend!