Category Archives: Diary-Style

Preparing for the unknown

My heart is elsewhere this week.  Not that I don’t want to write, but I just don’t have the mental capacity to put together anything substantial.  I’m just so incredibly tired.  I can’t believe this time last year I was preparing for my own surgery and here I am less than a year later find myself preparing for another.  Not mine this time, however.  Craig’s.   He awoke one Sunday morning with a strange pain in his side.  Five weeks and a multitude of tests later, here we are – preparing for exploratory surgery.  Craig has sat around long enough reading, researching and scouring the Internet to feel pretty confident in knowing exactly what it is that he has:  a spigelian hernia.  Never heard of those?  That’s probably because it only affects 1-2% of all hernias found.  Still, he’s convinced  this is what he has.  The surgeon doesn’t think so, but has tried to remain optimistic saying that he’ll do his best to look everywhere he possibly can to find the problem and fix it.  I can’t put into words how much I am hoping that Craig is part of that 1-2%. 

As for me, I’ve been doing whatever I can to make him comfortable for yet another week until his surgery.  I won’t admit this to him but I will here – I am concerned; petrified.  This is a guy whose been for the most part, pretty healthy and I have a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that he will be cut open with no plan beforehand.  Who knows what they’ll find – if anything?  These thoughts I keep to myself. I push them out of my head, but the only way to do this is to keep myself busy.

Craig can’t ride in a car without getting physically ill; nor can he eat solid foods without becoming ill, so I have been making him protein shakes and soup, while I forget to eat altogether.

I take that back.  I don’t forget to eat; I just force myself not to think about it.  My urge to binge eat has increased over the past couple of weeks but I know this is a result of my anxiety and the fact that I can’t control my immediate surroundings.   Fear of the unknown.  I’ve spent much time thinking about ways to distract myself.  Of course I feel incredibly guilty about this.  Here Craig can’t eat and all I want to do is overeat.  So far though I’ve managed to redirect myself with laundry, tending to the dogs, the yard, planning Craig’s meals, planning ahead for his recovery, and working on my art as the rest of my time allows.  So far though, I am doing well.  I’ve actually managed to lose a couple of pounds, but this is attributed to my increase in activity over the past couple of weeks. I am moving from the moment I get up to the time I go to bed at night.

I have a meeting tomorrow afternoon with our veterinarian to discuss the possibility of supplying her new building with some of my artwork.  She’s giving me a tremendous opportunity and I hope it works out.

Speaking of art, I’ve been doing something completely different lately.  Needing something that is relaxing and easy to do anywhere and these work really well.   I call them my Doodle-birds.  I’ve done a robin (below), bluebird, peacock and hummingbirds.  I’m not having prints made of these nor am I selling them on Etsy right now.  Just paint/draw and frame. 

What doesn’t sell before this weekend will be taken down to the gallery in Indianapolis.  I have to admit, they do make me happy~

I will be in touch either before or right after his surgery and will write as time allows.  Until then, I’ll most likely be taking photos for Instagram (EllenBrennemanStudio) and spending time on my Facebook art page (Facebook.com/EllenBrennemanStudio) which follows my painting progress.  I love seeing readers and friends visit me over on my Facebook business page.  Such an inspirational lot, you all are Smile

~E

Buffets and my introduction to 7 Spice

With Comfort Food on the brain, I’ve been dreaming of deep-fried falafel stuffed into pita and drenched with tahini sauce.  While we’re here we might as well throw in some baba ganoush and hummus on the side, right?  I mean, if you’re going to dream, you’d might as well dream big!

Just for fun, I started scouring the Net trying to find healthy ways to prepare falafel.  It started with an email from Bed Bath and Beyond who tried to lure me to their store with a gift card if I bought their healthy frier called Actifry.  Apparently it has been hand-stamped as one of Oprah’s favorite things.  So, with absolutely nothing better to do (um, yeah – right) I started reading reviews. Supposedly, this thing can crisp up to two pounds of food without using more than a spoonful of oil.  Most of the reviews mention that it decently cooks chicken nuggets and fries to a light, crispy coating.  But can it do the same thing with falafel and other soft foods?  No.  It cannot.  Honestly, from what I can gather this appliance has a paddle inside that constantly rotates so the food is tossed around continuously, thus getting all sides evenly heated and crisp.  The trick though, is using firm or semi-firm foods.  Something like falafel would end up looking like whipped potatoes by the time it came out  of the machine.  Sorry, T-Fal.  Not interested.  When I’ve got my mind set on falafel, nothing else will do.  Does anyone own this Actifry machine and if so, do you like it? 

Back on topic….when Craig was having a good day a couple of weeks ago we decided to drive to the best Lebanese restaurant we have in our area.  It’s a little bit of a drive but SO worth it.  When we arrived they were just setting up for a buffet.  Now, I never do buffets – ever.  Not only does the food look like it has been sitting for God only knows how long but I always, always overeat so it’s better if I just stay away.  Besides, buffets are getting crazy.  A Golden Corral recently opened here and would you believe that they have their own cotton candy machine? 

…sorry; I don’t know why I can’t stay on topic this evening.  Anyway, I could see beyond the very modest buffet and watched the older woman in the back for a moment.  This woman knew her way around a kitchen!  She was busy chopping fresh vegetables and adding spices that smelled like pure heaven. 

One of the waitresses came over and I asked about several dishes that I didn’t recognize.  She replied, ‘The owner’s mother is visiting from Lebanon and is doing all of the cooking in the back.  This is about as authentic as it gets!’  Um, well – okay; the least I could do is eat this woman’s food; I mean, she did come all the way from Lebanon, right?  It would be rude otherwise……right? 

The food was outstanding.  But it was the spices that had me singing.  Let me tell you, the flavors were so good together I had to ask what was being used and where could I get it.  I was told it was a mixture of spices called 7 Spice.  I’d never heard of it.  Grabbing a pen and paper, I listened while she told me how I could make my own which I could then use on meat, fish, chicken and – falafel! 

Ingredients for Lebanese 7 Spice: 

Use equal parts: black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, allspice, fenugreek and nutmeg.  Mix together well and store in an airtight container. 

 

Saturday I went to my newly opened Whole Foods and walked straight to the bulk spice aisle:

 

Everything I was looking for was right there and in just the amounts I needed.  I also picked up some chickpea flour which has a great baked falafel recipe on the side of the bag.  I’m making falafel this week, and I hope it turns out.  If it does, I’ll post the recipe here.  If it doesn’t, you’ll likely not read about my cooking on this blog for a while Winking smile

 

Wednesday I take my husband back to see a surgeon.  The next post I type will contain an answer to his problem as I’ve decided that we’re not leaving the doctor’s office until we get one.  It’s been over a month now and it’s time to make some decisions. 

Gratitude Photo Friday

You may remember reading about my recent altercation with a certain male duck who was trying to mate with a female while she was tending to her young. After that evening Mama and ducklings just disappeared – like, for days and days. I found myself worrying a bit;  then yesterday here they came, swimming downstream. I grabbed my camera and snapped a quick photo; my Gratitude Photo of the Week.

…the past three weeks have been a blur since Craig first came home from work with a tremendous pain in his side.  Since then we have seen countless doctors and he’s had numerous tests, only to show – nothing.  We’re both convinced that he has a hernia.  Convincing the surgeon our assumption without actually seeing it via ultrasound or feeling it is quite the hurdle.

Those who ask if Craig is feeling better might be starting to think I’m a bit off my rocker when I tell them that we’re keeping our fingers crossed for another major abdominal attack.  The truth is, while he was home he didn’t eat anything solid and he rested.  Symptoms eased up considerably.  As a result, what doctor is going to do something drastic like exploratory surgery when the patient is feeling a bit better?  so, as of Tuesday, Craig was told to head back to work and resume normal activity, which he did; and the last three days have been miserable.  Symptoms are returning. 

So, we continue to wait.  At least until his follow-up with the surgeon next week. 

…with Craig home I barely had time to paint.  I wanted to complete the second painting in a series of Seasons I’m doing that features the same tree.  Since Craig went back to work I was finally able to call it finished.  I’m sneaking this photo is as another gratitude photo – as in, ‘I’m so grateful that it’s done!’  lol

Title:  “Summer” Mixed Media.  Size:  16×20

Mixed Media, size 16x20 

 

This one was time consuming. Each leaf is made from paper.  I bent and glued each one by hand.  The butterflies are also papers that’s been delicately folded and glued to the canvas.  I’m grateful to feel like I’ve accomplished something this week. Next up in the series will be Autumn, and I will wait to work on that until mid-September, probably. 

My eating has been a bit challenging with Craig home.  Again, stress has taken a passenger seat right next to me and has been trying to control my every move.  I’ve been at this long enough to understand what’s happening:  I’m seeking food to quiet the stress/anxiety that’s been building up inside me, and food is ready to take on that responsibility.  Why can’t I crave carrots or celery when I’m under stress?  No, I have visions of lemon bars and homemade cookies always in my head.  I’ve been trying to curb those yearnings with my favorite dessert teas from David’s Tea but even David can’t contain this kind of anxiety.  So, I go outside and do yard work, walk the dogs and figure out my next painting.  Does it distract me?  Yes. Enough to quiet the cravings/reduce the stress? No.  But I’m trying and that’s all I can do.  Until we find out what’s up with Craig I’m just going to have to muddle through like I always do and remind myself that there will always be a crisis to overcome; if I relied on food to comfort me every time that happened I’d be right back where I started at 230+ pounds. 

Something I’d like to end with, just because it made me so incredibly happy to read – my friend Laurie who is also a Fleet Feet trainer (remember the interview I did with her?) recently finished a half marathon in Louisville, Kentucky.  When she last wrote to me she told me that she ran a mile for me.  For ME. I kind of choked up when I read that.  No one has ever done that for me before.  Thank you for that, Laurie. 

Have a good weekend, everyone. 

~Ellen

The impatient patient

Over the past couple of weeks now, Craig and I have been either at a doctor’s office, at the Emergency Room or at the office of a specialist.  We’ve done more waiting than the doctor’s have done searching.  During my practice of Patient Patience, I’ve entertained myself with a comedy bit by Jerry Seinfeld from long ago.  It goes like this:

“…..and you sit there, you know, and you’ve got your little magazine. You pretend you’re reading it, but you’re really looking at the other people. You know, you’re thinking about them; things like “I wonder what he’s got. As soon as she goes, I’m getting her magazine.” And then, they finally call you and it’s a very exciting moment. They finally call you, and you stand up and you kinda look around at the other people in the room. “Well, I guess I’ve been chosen. I’ll see you all later.”

You know, so you think you’re going to see the doctor, but you’re not, are you? No. You’re going into the next waiting room. The littler waiting room.”

[Source: seinfeldscripts.com]

I wish I could say that all of this waiting has given us some answers about what/is was causing Craig’s pain but sadly, it’s left us exhausted and frustrated.  Everything pointed to a hernia early on (he’s had one repair so he knew what to look for); but then symptoms started presenting as a possible gallbladder issue.  Either way, Craig was afraid to eat anything lest he bring on another attack so he went on a liquid-only diet for 7 days. He did feel better but he was starving for solid food. Whenever I ate it was in my art studio where I enjoyed my chewing as quietly as possible. 

After another series of tests, nothing was found.  Craig decided that if it was his gallbladder he was ready to stop babying it.  Before I knew it, he’d made a plan to get up at 6AM Thursday morning and eat bbq chicken wings for breakfast so that he’d provoke an attack around the time we saw the doctor.  Except it never happened.

Inconclusive is the current diagnosis. We see a hernia surgeon next week.  In the meantime he’s off work until either an answer is found or he’s deemed fit to return to work. 

As for me, I haven’t painted anything substantial in what feels like forever.  I did deliver a finished painting to its new owner this past Wednesday, which was one of the highlights of my whole week.   This may sound crazy, but if my paintings were alive I swear a few of them would be extremely vocal as to who they’d like to be sold to.  This was one of those occasions and I left that house knowing that my painting had gone home. Smile

Have a good weekend, everyone – and thank you for your well wishes, thoughts and concerns these last couple of weeks.  I leave you with my Gratitude Photo of the Week which was taken yesterday when I was feeling a bit frustrated and just overall down in the dumps:

 

Let me tell you, if you ever need a good cheering up – go to a greeenhouse.  That kind of color just makes it all better for a while, you know?

See you next week,

xo,

Ellen

Continuing to wait

I am continually amazed by how my husband and I handle a crisis.  Like clockwork and without fail, whenever I’m ill he is well enough to care for me.  When he has fallen ill, it’s generally around the time I begin feeling better from whatever has been ailing me.  The only time I can think of when this didn’t happen was when I had surgery to remove a lump on my breast and the very next day Craig stepped into one of the holes he’d been digging for a fence.  I had to drive him to the emergency room where we waited to see if he’d broken his foot.  Thank goodness he didn’t, but let me tell you – becoming a caretaker less than 24 hours after surgery is the WORST.  Overall though, we seem to resemble a pendulum.  One moment it swings in my favor and the next moment it swings in his.  Truthfully though, we’re starting to think we’re a bit of a joke around here.  You know how people are always saying that because people are living longer and are overall healthier that Forty is the new Thirty?  Fifty is the new Forty?  Well, since when did Forty-three turn into the new Seventy-five?  Aren’t we just a little young to be dealing with constant health issues?  I mean, come ON!! 

It’s Monday and Craig is on his second week off from work.  He hasn’t had anything solid to eat in 6 days straight.  If he did, you could set his watch to the moment when he’d start becoming violently ill.  Six hours in, and it’s not pretty.  Tomorrow he has a series of tests that will hopefully determine if it’s a hernia, his gallbladder or something else.  We just hope for some kind of answer, so fingers crossed.

In the meantime I’ve been getting creative on how to handle the diet of a man who resembles that of an eighties supermodel:  a tic-tac for lunch, clear chicken broth for dinner and an eyelash for dessert. 

Seriously, I’ve been shoving up my arm sleeves and digging into some concoctions that will provide protein, vitamins and sustenance until these attacks subside.  We started out with smoothies which contained everything but the kitchen sink: fat free ice cream, agave, fat free yogurt, organic frozen berries, spinach leaves, and a banana.  Not enough protein however, so now he’s getting scoops of the powdery stuff added to his ‘meals’ which does help keep him fuller for longer periods of time. 

So, how am I dealing with all of this?  Not as well as I’d like.  We are used to eating together, and now that he’s home my entire schedule is out of whack.  He needs to have something every couple of hours which makes me want to eat every couple of hours with him. I don’t need to eat that often.  But I’ve been doing it.  Mistake number one. Mistake number two comes from the stress of the unknown which has always been my nemesis and creates the perfect storm for binge eating.  I haven’t done that in many, many months but the longer we go without answers and a plan of action, I seem to be feeling more like a loose cannon.  I just don’t deal well when people I love are in pain.  Me – I can handle.  I’ve spent half of my life in pain, but the moment a crisis like this happens my mind immediately goes to the proverbial medicine cabinet where I look for band-aids in the form of comfort foods.  The worst part of all this?  Craig is the one who has every right to be thinking about food, not I.  I feel guilty and a bit ashamed of myself for this.  Keeping our eyes on the prize, though.  This week we’ll have the knowledge we need to move forward.  I’m going to see to it that we do. 

On to some lighter news: I took photos of the house finch nest that’s camouflaged in our wreath just to the left of our front door.  See if you can spot it: 

 

 

..and I finally captured the proud papa sitting on our weeping cherry tree:

 

IMG_1510

He sits there and sings his heart out.  I just wish he would have let me take this photo this morning because our cherry tree is in FULL bloom now.  It would have made a spectacular photo, him surrounded by white blossoms. 

Hope you’re all having a good Monday. 

~Ellen

The Good, the Bad–and the Night of a Thousand Waterfalls

I’ve got the Good, the Bad and the Ugly all over the place this week – take your pick:

The Good~ my back is getting better.  It is finally happening.  I am a happy camper about this news, and I don’t mind saying that it’s about darned time. 

The Good and the Bad – Craig had a lot of tests last week, both at the ER and after.  Today, he received the results of his lab work and everything has come back normal. The pain still persists, but there is nothing to explain it. 

The Ugly – next up on the list of ‘by process of elimination’ tests to be performed? Colonoscopy, or what we like to call: Night of a Thousand Waterfalls. Winking smile

The Good ~ It’s been 10 months since I began painting full time and I am now beginning to sell my paintings on a fairly regular basis.  The owner of the shop/gallery that houses my art sends me a text every time an original piece sells.  This month has been my best thus far with eleven pieces sold.  It’s funny, because when I sell at the gallery, my online shop (Etsy) is terribly slow.  When nothing sells at the gallery, things pick up on Etsy. 

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a recent painting here, so I thought I’d share my latest with you:

I generally tend to paint according to how I feel.  Before Craig went into the ER I had a plan for this painting: a sky streaked with dawn’s beautiful colors.  Three dimensional butterflies would be glued to the canvas and arranged as if they were flying into the breeze.

I tend to be an emotional painter.  When I’m in a good mood, I paint with bright colors and when I’m upset I gravitate to darker colors. I don’t realize this as I’m painting, however.  As I began to worry more about Craig I continued to work on the painting when I needed to relieve my mind from the chaos inside.  Without really realizing it I’d painted the sky nearly pitch black and my original idea of the butterflies no longer worked or made sense. 

I tried everything I could think of to add another subject to this painting but nothing would come.  Finally, I decided to sleep on it.  By 4 AM I awoke to my answer of why Old Man Tree was smiling:  he was happy to see daylight because that meant the child in the house would soon be coming out to play.

I think I agonized over this painting more than any other I’ve ever done.  At the same time, it’s received the most positive attention from any other painting I’ve done. There’s a lesson in there, somewhere….

…one more ‘Good’ thing before I go – at least it will be to those of you who, like me, love David Sedaris: a new book of essays comes out this week.  The title: Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls makes zero sense to me, which is why I must get this book immediately! 

 

Craig and I thank you all for your kind thoughts regarding his mysterious condition.  We’ll figure this out – and when we do, we look forward to both of us being healthy… at the same time!  Wouldn’t that be something?!

~Ellen

Reclaim what is mine.

Did you all have a great holiday yesterday? Anyone get any snow for Christmas?  We did not, however since this is Indiana, I’m sure that we will soon have more than we can handle. 

I found the jar that I’m going to use for our HL Challenge exercise in January.  Now all I need to do is cut out some slips of paper and gather a couple of pens so I’m not spending all of my time looking for things to write with/on. 

I’ve been mentally preparing for this exercise by practicing gratitude in my mind but am finding its not the same.  I need to go through the act of physically writing it down and putting it somewhere that I can see it.  Physical reminders are so important and can give instant positive feedback.  Plus, just thinking about what I’m grateful for ends up leading to thoughts of needing to fill up my bird feeders, brush the dogs, clean house, etc.  Not the best use of this exercise.  So, yes – I’m looking forward to starting my Gratitude Jar. 

Yesterday was Christmas.  Even though my morning started out well, things quickly changed as the day progressed. I ended up in a very bad place emotionally by mid afternoon and found myself quickly wishing for the holiday to be over.  Forgive me for not going into detail, here.  Some things are just better left unwritten.  I will say that while I thought I’d set boundaries in place I realized by the end of the night that I will need to take things a step further.  If a family member causes havoc every holiday it’s more than reasonable to want to remove oneself from distress, but the real trick I’m finding is being strong enough to follow through.  I grew lax this year, hoping things would get better, when clearly they only worsened. 

I never again want to be put in the position of spending another holiday feeling anxious and sad.   My husband and I have agreed that if certain conditions aren’t met next year, we’re packing up and taking a vacation over the holidays.  Either way, I’m taking back my holidays.

The thing about going to bed sad is that you almost always wake up in a funk as well, so this gal is signing off and heading straight for the treadmill.  I’m on week 4 of C25K and I think if I run fast enough, I’ll be able to leave this sorrow far behind. 

Gratitude – I’m grateful for the opportunity to outrun a heavy heart.  Or at the very least, make myself too tired to care. 

 

**I will have an official overview of January’s Challenge THIS FRIDAY.  If you’re participating, you wont want to miss it.  See you then. 

~Ellen

Heave Ho: My Syrup of Ipecac Story

“You mean you’ve been blogging for over two years and you’ve never shared the Chicken Story?” asks my husband, in disbelief.  Someone please tell me, when is it appropriate to write a good vomit story?  “Anytime is a good time!” laughs Craig.  My view is this: there are stories that deserve to be shared in their own due time.  Since Monday’s post happened to be about nausea, I guess now is as good a time as any.  Frankly, I think Craig wanted to read a good gross-out story that he happened to be involved in.  Well, dear – you’re getting your wish.

A word of warning: you may not want to read this post, if:

a) …you are currently eating.

b) …you have a sensitive stomach.

 

It was sometime during the winter of 2002:

Craig called me from work saying that he had a craving for the one dish I cooked very well:  Chicken Tarragon.  I already had all the ingredients I needed so I agreed to make it for dinner that night.  Before leaving to run a few errands I pulled a package of frozen chicken out of the freezer and set it on the counter to thaw. When Craig arrived home from work that night, neither one of us felt like cooking so we decided to go out for dinner instead.  We both completely forgot about the chicken on the counter.

The next evening I arrived home early from work and decided to make the chicken dish.  I gathered the chicken broth and tarragon from the cupboard, a small carton of whipping cream and a package of raw chicken from the refrigerator. While the chicken was frying, I started on the cream sauce.

As Craig arrived home that night, I was placing the last of the food onto the table – a bowl of green beans.  We sat down and shared a nice meal together.  As I sopped up the last of the sauce with my garlic bread I casually asked, ‘What did you end up doing with the raw chicken from yesterday?’  Craig wiped his mouth with his napkin, sat back and said, ‘I put it back in the refrigerator.’

Um…what’s that, now?

I stared at him, trying to process what I’d just heard.  He casually got up and started clearing our plates. In a panic I grabbed his arm to stop him.  With my voice a couple of octaves higher, I said, ‘Craig – that’s the chicken we just ate!’  He slowly turned to meet my gaze.

Right about then things quickly started to unravel.  I remember feelings of hysteria; disbelief; confusion.  I believe I said something like, ‘WHY on earth….’ and, ‘Are you crazy??!’ which were quickly followed with words like ER, stomach pump and salmonella poisoning.

This quickly turned into the blame game – both of us pointing fault at each other as we started, literally, freaking out. I yelled, ‘Why, WHY WOULD YOU PUT RAW POULTRY BACK IN THE REFRIGERATOR WHEN YOU KNEW IT HAD BEEN OUT ALL NIGHT?  WHY DIDN’T YOU THROW IT AWAY?’  to which he yelled back (in Man Logic): ‘I put it in the refrigerator because I didn’t want it to stink up the kitchen!’ 

I want you to imagine the look on my face at that exact moment.  I could not duplicate it if I tried, but it must have looked something like this:

Thank you, Kristin Wiig

 

‘Anyway.’ he continued, ‘That’s irrelevant right now – we have to go throw up!’ and he started running toward the bathroom.  I chased after him, and said, ‘But, I can’t stick my finger down my throat!  I just can’t do it!’

Okay, okay. I’ll go to Walgreens down the street and pick up some syrup of ipecac,’ he said. ‘We’ll drink that, throw up, and then it will be over.  All right?”

‘Okay,’  I said, as he grabbed his coat.

I paced the floor for ten minutes until Craig burst through the door, handing me a small plastic bag.

‘I raced around the store looking for the syrup of ipecac,’ he gasped.  ‘When I found it, I rushed up to the counter to pay, and when the cashier gave me my receipt he told me to have a ‘nice evening’.  I just looked at him and then down at the package, thinking – you obviously don’t pay any attention to what your customers are buying!’

I took the bottle out of the bag and read the directions.  There were exactly two doses – one for each of us.   Craig took his first.  I followed.  Then we sat on the couch in silence.

Within 10 minutes, Craig’s mouth began to water.  The next thing I knew, he was running for the bathroom.  The things I heard coming from that room I will never forget.  I sat frozen on the couch, knowing that whatever evil was being expelled from his body was soon coming for me.

A few minutes passed and Craig came out of the bathroom and I looked to him for guidance.  ‘I think….I think I’m done.  It really wasn’t as bad as it sounded.  You’ll be…’

That was the last word I heard because I bolted to the bathroom.  I shut the door, locked it and got down on my knees, head over the toilet bowl.  I think I purged everything but my spleen in those few moments.  Just as I was easing back onto the floor, I heard banging on the bathroom door.

‘Let me IN!  WHY is the door locked?  Open the DOOR!  I scrambled to turn the lock as Craig flung open the door and shoved his head into the toilet, heaving like a madman.

We took turns at the toilet bowl for nearly three hours before Craig, looking green in the face and clearly beaten, decided to take a shower.  ‘Maybe it will make me feel better,’ he said.  I remained close to the porcelain god all crumpled into a ball, thinking about how good it felt to have the cold tile against my sweaty forehead.  Twenty minutes must have passed before I heard sounds of splashing coming from the shower.  I crawled over to check on Craig; when I peered behind the curtain, I saw him silently heaving while trying to force green beans down the shower drain with his foot.  This, of course, caused me to rush right back to the toilet.

Finally, I decided to call Ask-a-Nurse.  I told her about the chicken on the counter before she interrupted, ‘Well, I would strongly advise that you don’t eat it!’  I clarified that we’d already eaten it and could not stop vomiting.  The nurse explained that when you use syrup of ipecac, you’ll continue to vomit until the stomach is completely void of contents.  Had I known this, Craig and I wouldn’t have been nursing our stomachs with sips of water and tea between episodes.  I hung up the phone and joined him on the bed, neither of us drinking, talking, moving.  Finally, things started quieting down.  We were able to fall asleep around midnight – more than 4 hours after he left for Walgreens.

We awoke looking pretty wrecked the next day and barely made it to work.  Craig called me mid-morning to ask how I was feeling.  As it turned out I was faring better than he, as he spent the majority of his day with major stomach cramps, running from toilet to toilet all over the city.  By the time we both arrived home from work that night, the worst had passed – figuratively and literally.

What you’ve just read is a perfect example of what NOT to do if you ever question anything you’ve eaten.  Did you know that syrup of ipecac is no longer recommended for any kind of poisoning?  It has been discontinued and taken off the market. Not that we’d ever, EVER use that stuff again.  Seriously, if accidental poisoning occurs, you should immediately call your local poison control center or go to the ER.

Craig and I find this story pretty funny now.  Like many things in life, there are plenty of questions that we’ll never have the answers to – like, why I felt the need to lock the bathroom door before throwing up; why Craig didn’t just take the chicken out to the trash.

But the biggest question of all is this:  had we not done anything, would we have become ill?  To this day I think yes, absolutely.  The chicken had been sitting out for nearly 24 hours.  Craig on the other hand, is not so sure.  He thinks that because it was unthawing part of that time, it probably wasn’t out long enough to spoil.  What do you think?

Purging a Secret

Part of a text conversation between me and Craig on Friday: 

Me:  I made a big mistake.

Craig: What happened?

Me:  I ate the expired yogurt.  Think I’m going to vomit.

Craig:  Oh, no.  How long ago did you eat it?

Me:  3 hrs

Craig:  Right on schedule.  Better to vomit.

Me:  No!

As I finished that last word, I was at the park with the dogs, bent over on one of the trails, mouth watering.  ‘It was only two days past the expiration date. You are not going to vomit.  You are not going to vomit.   Think about something else  This is not going to happen.’ 

The dogs were happy to stand around in the sunshine but I was quickly trying to get myself together before the elderly couple I had recently passed caught up with me, wondering why I was suddenly three shades of green and foaming at the mouth.  I took several deep breaths, stood, and started making my way back to the car.

 

See that date that I circled?  Turns out it’s not there to look pretty – it actually means something!

 

Your first question I am assuming would be, ‘Why on earth would you eat yogurt that was 4 days past the expiration date in the first place?’  That is a good question.  What can I say?  I grew up in a household where we frequently ate expired goods – especially canned goods.  My dad would assure me that, ‘if it ain’t bloated at the top, it’s perfectly fine.’  It’s a miracle I never ended up in the hospital with botulism.

Before I continue, let me just say (in order to regain some sense of dignity here) that don’t normally go around deeming a piece of stale bread Grade A Quality after picking off the fuzzy mold.  I am not crazy weird.  And, I might add – Greek yogurt is tart anyway.  Plus, it was only 6 days past the use-by date. 

….okay, it was nine – are you happy?  It had been expired for NINE days, but I swear I did not know that when I ate it.  I mean yes, I new that I was eating expired food but did not realize it was that far past until I got back home and dug through the trash to find the foil lid.  Please don’t be grossed out by me.

When Craig came home from work, the first thing he asked was, ‘Well?  Did you?”  No, I did not.  I could have – in fact, I came close several times but willed it back down. I am one of those people who will do anything to keep from vomiting. I’ve always been that way. I think it’s because I become afraid when I don’t have control over my body, and anyone who’s ever thrown up will tell you that it’s quite a sight; it kind of feels like I’m fighting an exorcism. 

Instead, I spent the entire day listening to my stomach churn, rumble and make all kinds of strange noises while I moaned from nausea.  It lasted until Saturday afternoon until, finally, I was able to eat some oatmeal. 

I’m feeling much better now, but am a little unsure as to whether I should be proud of myself or seek mental help.  I mean, on the one hand I think it’s pretty awesome realizing that I can will my body to push through even the most unpleasant of circumstances (I’ll have zero excuse of being too tired to hike that last mile).  On the other hand,  it is still disturbing me as to why I thought eating expired food was a better choice than simply throwing it away.  Maybe my long-gone father was speaking to me from beyond…

I’m so proud of you, Ellen. You didn’t need your stomach pumped and you saved a whole dollar!  Woo-Hoo!

This isn’t the first time I’ve had a bad experience with food poisoning.  There was the special date night Craig and I had many years ago that required several phone calls to Ask-a-Nurse before ending in a shared bottle of syrup of ipecac.  That story is for another time, however.  Come back later in the week as I dedicate Friday ‘National Purge and Hurl Day’ and share it with you.  Right now, my stomach just can’t take it. 

Question:  How strict are you with expiration dates?  Anyone else grow up in a frugal household (with a depression-era father as a double-whammy) and base your call of spoiled food on the ‘bloat-factor’? 

No? 

Wow.  My teachers were right.  I am special. 

 

Have a good week, everyone.  Watch those dates.

XO,

Ellen

Over 4 Decades of Bucket Lists

My Life-Long bucket list: 

From the seventies (ages 1-9): 

1.  Marry Mac Davis. 

2.  Rescue abused animals from circuses and take care of them on my big farm.

3.  Never, ever have to clean my room again.

**Progress Note**  I didn’t get any of these things crossed off my bucket list.  I know you were hoping for the marriage thing to work out between Mac and I, but I just couldn’t play the long distance relationship game so I had to let him go. It’s just too much and I don’t want to talk about it anymore.  Moving on…..

From the 80’s (ages 10-19): 

Get a new pair of killer acid washed jeans by Guess. 

Meet Charles Schulz and ask him to draw Snoopy for me.

Look totally outrageous in a side ponytail. 

Have a good friend that I would still know and love even when I get old.  Really old – like, over forty. 

Like, totally go to a rad art school and then land a cool job in Chicago. 

**Progress Note**  I never did master the side ponytail.  Yep, not a photo to be found.  Dodged that bullet.  The friend thing worked out, though (homage to Beth)  

From the 90’s (ages 20-29): 

Graduate from college and immediately get offered a six-figure salary doing work that I loved. 

Get married and live happily ever after.

Live like it’s 1999.

Lose those pesky 20 pounds. Get rid of those extra 60 pounds. Lose over 100 pounds.

**Progress Note**  Skipping the nineties.  Nothing to read here.  The nineties sucked. 

 

From 2000 to date:

Fall in love again.

Seriously.  Lose the weight – and keep it off. 

Work for the best employer on Earth.   

Become a well-renowned artist.

Be content in my skin and in my life. 

Learn to say, “No.”

Appreciate myself for who I am and what I’ve yet to accomplish.

**Progress Note**  I can’t say that I’ve mastered 100% of these list items but I’m pretty darned close.  Becoming a well renowned artist I’ve found, takes more than a few months.   Go figure.

 

Everyone has a bucket list, or the equivalent of one.  Things they want to accomplish. As I sit back and look at the things in my life that I so badly wanted to accomplish but didn’t, I laugh at some (how many of you actually remember Mac Davis and why on earth did I have the hots for him so badly?) and I feel melancholy about others (did NOT attend a good art school; instead, followed a boy to his school of choice), but I’m reminded of where I would be had I taken different routes than the ones I did.  One thing leads to another, which leads to something else, and so on. 

One example:  If I had gone to the art school of my choice, I never would have continued my relationship with my boyfriend, who’d later become my husband.  Years later, if my husband hadn’t divorced me I never would have become close friends with the woman who would introduce me to my future husband.   Yes, hindsight is 20/20, but it has also provided me comfort in knowing that the decisions we make/made are for our greater good.  Trust yourself.  Believe in yourself.  Follow your heart. 

Cliché?  Maybe.  True?  I think so.  When things appear at their worst – or even if you’re just having a lousy day, take comfort in knowing that whatever mess you’re in, in the long run it will add flavor to your life, you’ll learn from it and it will make you a better person because of it.

I am still learning, but I haven’t added much to my bucket list lately.  I still struggle with the insecurities of being a new business owner and my body continues to remind me that physically, I’m not as strong as I was before surgery.  But in all honesty, most days I’m excited enough to see where things might go from here.  It’s good to have goals but I’m living a less rigid life now that I’ve hit my forties.  There is the possibility of tomorrow and what surprises it may bring because we truly never know what’s right around the corner.   

Not quite sure why I’m so nostalgic today, but there’s my post to show for it. 

 

On another note, I returned to yoga class yesterday.  Sue, my instructor, was there with her loving presence and I felt like I’d never left.  Well, emotionally it felt that way.  Physically?  I have got a LOT of catching up to do.  Last year around this time I was doing 3 minute planks.  Now?  I couldn’t hold for more than 5 seconds.  But, at least I have a goal to work towards.  Another goal for my bucket list:  I’ve got it!  Holding plank pose for 43 minutes by my 43rd birthday in February!  Wait – hold the phone; how did that 4 get in there?  I mean 3 minutes – not 43; that’s just crazy talk.

How has your bucket list changed over the years?  Do you remember what dreams you had when you were a kid?  This is a great time to purge your soul, people!  (and I’m not just saying that because I don’t want to be the only one exposed here with my Mac Davis confession).