Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Reflections of you...in me

A few months ago I came across a quote that changed my life.  Sadly, the original quote as disappeared, but it said something like "a soul mate serves a mirror to reflect both your good and bad attributes back to you" I think it said something about then using that information to improve. I got the bit that made the most impact though--that your soul mate reflects your good and bad back.

It made me suddenly realize that all those (usually petty) things that I get mad at my husband for, annoyed with him for doing, frustrated at are because I haven't done them in my life.

Here are some examples:

I get mad about his diet, probably more than anything else.  I see him buying loads of candy and 'treats' for me that contain foods that I shouldn't eat, and I see him spending way too much money doing it.  What I don't see is the thought that he put into the purchases.  That he bought this baklava at Trader Joe's because I once bought it for him years ago, and he really enjoyed it and remembered those feelings associated with it.  That he knows that I love goldfish and talked about how yummy I thought the canoli's at an Italian restaurant we went to were.  I see him trying to bust my diet, and never bother to realize how much thought and effort he put into these purchases and I am so sorry.  I'm not immune from bad eating.  I go out to eat, or to other people's houses and eat far too many chips, and drink soda that I'd never allow in my house.  If it's here, I'll eat it especially if it's convenient.  I suffer from the same bad habits so how can I judge his?

I have gotten mad about how he does laundry. In the past, while he was in charge of washing the laundry, it would smell weird and I'd have to rewash it using vinegar and borax. Once we moved to the new house it seemed to go away, until he was put in charge of laundry again. It was then that I discovered that he didn't know how much water/soap to put in and had been guessing. Why? Because no one ever taught him how to do laundry correctly.  I judged him before realizing that it was a teaching moment. I judged him on MY experiences, not his. Instead of getting annoyed, I should have been relieved to figure out the problem.

I get frustrated over him wasting his time playing video games and lamenting how he needs to be working on his projects more.  I complain about not knowing what he does with his time, but then realize that I have very little to show for mine. As long as I'm sleeping in until 10:30, and not getting any work done on MY projects, I've got no room to complain.

This post has been a long time coming as my understanding of it has evolved.  I think this topic has been the most difficult one that I have faced in my marriage and I still struggle to understand how to express my duel frustration of my own failings while attempting to not judge but help someone else improve. I need to stop getting caught up in myself, and instead understand what empathy really means.  The saying "don't judge a man until you've walked three moons in his moccasin's" rings true in my ears.  My husband has issues and struggles, but so do I. So do ALL of us.  If I want change--I have to BE that change. I have to show him healthy eating through buying, preparing, serving and teaching him how to eat and enjoy healthy food.  He ultimately is in charge of the food that he eats though, and I have to be at peace knowing that I have done everything in my power to provide him with healthy options and the knowledge to seek them out.

I need to be my own motivation in the knowledge that I am helping to shape and form our lives into something better.  Instead of wasting my time watching crappy television, I've gotten better about getting off of Facebook and reading books and listening to audio books.  I love working and cleaning while listening to audio books but television puts me into a stupor that is hard to break out of.  I need to start taking nightly walks on my own, not waiting for him to mention it.  I need to set up my Etsy shop and seek out opportunities and stop waiting for them to fall into my lap.

My husband is my biggest cheerleader. He will support me in any way that he can and wants nothing in his life but to make me happy.  This is the most amazing blessing that I could ask for but instead I've taken that for granted and have become lazy.  I ask him to get me things that I can get myself, to prepare food that I could prepare myself, taking for granted that he rarely tells me no.  This has to stop.  He deserves an equal partnership and sometimes I think that I feel such a strong desire to have things MY way that I get lose sight of this.

My husband has goals and lots of projects. So many projects in fact that he feels like he is drowning and may never be able to catch up.  Maybe if one of us will stop treading water and make some forward momentum, then the other can follow.  If that happens, maybe we won't feel bogged down by never realized dreams and hopes. The last thing I want is for either of us to look back in 30 years and regret anything about our lives.  If anything had been different, we wouldn't have met and I can't imagine my life without the best man I've ever met.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


Ha...organization? That's...so...not...me. I can't concentrate long enough to organize.  This is why moving so much has been a pain in the butt for me. I'm okay putting stuff in boxes, but finding new places for our stuff makes my head spin.  Organizing, finishing projects, etc has never been a strong suit for me. Getting distracted with shiny stuff? Totally me...0h wait, I have ADD that explains that life long issue...

So today with the help of some ADD meds, I managed to re-organize (like it was organized to start with) the mess of a spice cabinet, and made it look pretty presentable.  Then I got distracted and tried to find something in the pantry, realized that was disorganized and went to find something in a drawer, in the process seeing that seeds had fallen out of their fail-safe-no-spill-method of folding the top of the packet over, and realized that I would need to clean the drawer out before I could get to the pantry.  I am embarrassed at how many times I said "omg I didn't know I had this" and "crap, I bought another one b/c I couldn't find this one!" and umm...let's just leave it at that.
One of the 'found' items...

Getting rid of decade old spices. Husband bought them....before we met.

Reorganized! Before both shelves were completely full. Now? One is empty and the other looks like I can see what I have!

All this time my husband has taken my computer apart and removed the small cat that has been dwelling in it, clogging the fan in it's obesity and making my computer fan run incredibly loudly.  When he told me, as I was walking into the next room, that I needed to see if it sounded better, I commented that since I couldn't hear it whining from the next room it was already a vast improvement.  Removing eight months of my cat shedding on it has reduced the fan noise from jet engine to silent.  Oh the joys of having a geek for a husband, and a cat that likes to sit on my chest as I attempt to type. They go so nicely hand and hand together.

Oh so back to the reorganization...my pantry looks pretty awesome now. My 'method' (and I use that term loosely) was to take everything out, put it on the kitchen table and then stare at it for awhile until I decided what to do with it.  Thank God for Costco letting us abscond with their boxes. Hell, for the amount of money I've spent at that place in the last they should deliver my groceries. Anyways, I find that their boxes are the perfect shelf lining size.  If the sides are too high, I can cut out the front easy display. Since my shelves are wire, having something underneath most items is key.
Lots of empty space and organized boxes!

One thing that I learned is that I need to return all the spaghetti that I recently bought to Costco, or donate it. As much as I like (okay, love) spaghetti, and have always thought of it as a staple, I'm beginning to believe that whenever I have too much gluten that my hands and feet start to ache really badly. Not to mention I feel like utter crap the next day. We went to a friend's house to play poker last night and didn't realize there wouldn't be food there and ended up ordering Domino's.  I ended up with a medium thin crust pizza with some veggies on top and about a can of coke. I could barely get up this morning. The night before I hadn't gotten much sleep, and I'm still fighting this cold but the fact that I even get as sick as I do is indicative of something serious.  Food making me sick? Time to reorganize!

So I really need to reorganize my life, my priorities and get my act straight. I have all the tools I need to succeed and stop wasting so much time, but I need to get over my lazy habits. I still haven't hit most of my January goals and the month is almost over.  I wanted to go to yoga last week and was sick, this week it snowed and the gym closed.  I'm starting some water aerobics class on Monday and even found a college classmate that was taking classes as the same pool. I can't wait to get to see her.  Now I need to also get back to the gym where I actually am paying a monthly fee to go (or not to go) to?  I haven't been using a personal trainer in months because it's so expensive but that also means that I'm not going.  Time to reorganize!

I have used my library card to download a couple of books, so I hit that goal! I had some technical issues (like Microsoft breaking links that aren't opened in explorer...seriously guys?) and not being able to transfer stuff to my phone but I'll figure it out. I watched a lot less TV this week and even did an internet black out day to protest SOPA.  I've been using my google calendar to track all of the meetup activities I have going on, and now I think I need to incorporate even more stuff in there to remind me to work out, take a walk etc.  I worked on my blog quite a bit the last week, checking out the new gadgets and different backgrounds.  What do you think? Like it? Hate it?

Are you organized? Is it something you think you are, or you learned to be?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

What's Cooking? Waffles!

I love waffles, but I'm not a big fan of buying things that I can easily make at home.  One of my favorite people and college buddy extraordinaire gifted us with a waffle iron for Christmas, and I couldn't wait to make a big batch so I could have some for dinner and freeze the rest for the future.  My dad used to do this when I was in school, and it was great to be able to have 'toaster waffles' with ingredients I can pronounce, for less cost and fat.

I wasn't a big fan of the recipe that came with the waffle iron, so I am using one from the Joy of Cooking (aka my cooking Bible).  I would suggest warming the milk in the future because my butter all re-froze again, but other than that--no issues and it's delicious!



1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
1 large egg , lightly beaten
1 cup (240 ml) milk
2 tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted butter, melted

Waffles: In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.  In a separate bowl whisk together the egg and milk.  Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture, all at once, and stir just until combined. Stir in the melted butter.Depending on your machine's instructions, you may need to lightly spray the grids with a non stick vegetable spray. Spoon about a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of batter (or amount that is recommended in your waffle iron's instruction book)(*mine called for 3/4 cup, so I used my 1c and didn't fill it) onto one side of the hot iron. Take a knife or small metal spatula and smooth out the batter. Close the lid of the iron and bake until brown and crisp. It is best to serve the waffles immediately along with butter and maple syrup. These are also wonderful when served with fresh berries and whipped cream as a dessert.
Makes about 6 - four inch (10 cm) square waffles. Preparation time 15 minutes.

Other options include adding fruit, cornmeal, vanilla....the variations are endless. In fact, my friend just sent me a recipe for gingerbread waffles, which I can't wait to try next!
What is your favorite breakfast food?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Does everyone hate the dentist?

Hating going to the dentist seems like one of those universal things like hating taxes, and knowing that every other driver on the road can't drive.  I don't 'hate' the dentist, but I'm not a big fan. My dislike is probably due to the fear that I'll either be in chronic pain, have them do more damage, or lose the pretty teeth that I still have. No one else in my family has decent teeth, so I cling to the hope that I can stay as far away from the dentist as possible (and still maintain my award winning smile).  Insert here: funny joke about my husband's name and how I 'won' him...

This week, that didn't happen since I was in that tilted throne 3 times.  I chipped a back molar around a filling and was told that I had get a crown. With apprehension I returned, prepared for the duel pain of having a tooth drilled and having to shell out a thousand bucks for the privilege of dental care.  No, we don't have dental insurance, and our research has shown that we would pay just as much, if not more, if we did.

The drilling, not so bad. The getting numb wasn't pleasant but not unbearable.  Next comes the most digesting thing you've ever tasted--having the impression of your tooth done. That...was awful, but not as awful as my dentist's assistant first jamming down my gum around it--bruising my gum, and making me tell her that she needed to 'be done, like now.' I'm pretty tolerant but when I can taste blood, my tolerance quickly wanes.   The goo in the mold is awful...and since she used way too much of it the first time around, the dentist told her she had to do it...again! Oh joy, 20 minutes of nasty.  Then we get the temp put in place.  I was worried because they were having trouble getting the bite correct, and when I left and started to de-numb I realized that, despite all of the shaving it was still too high.

I had all of this done the morning I left for MAGfest, so I was out of town for the next 4 days as the stupid tooth continued to hurt. Actually, for the first two days, my tongue, where I apparently bit it, was horribly painful (thank God for ibuprofen) but the jaw wasn't happy either. I went back 5 days after the initial appointment to have her file it down a little. She did, but the pain still didn't go away. What do you do when you have weird pain? Why, I ask my friends and the Internet.

All of my facebook friends more or less told me to go back, and that pain for a week isn't normal, so I called her and they got me an appointment within 2 hours.  At this point the staff knows my name, and finally I managed to slink into at least one appointment on time.  The previous two appointments I'd managed to sleep through because of alarm snafu's--yeah, that was embarrassing.   After explaining that the pain felt like a nerve was exposed and peeling me off the ceiling when she blew cold air on it, she realizes that the cement wasn't sealing well and decides to take the temporary crown off, and use a different type of cement.  I heard her describe that she was going to 'pop' off the temp...but it wouldn't move.  Her assistant (this one I really like) came back with pliers and I braced myself. 'Pop' "oh, that wasn't too bad but umm, you want me to bite down on cotton? Crap that hurts!!!" At this point my complains are muffled by Dr. Phil on the TV, and the cotton in my mouth.

Ugh...did I mention there was no numb going on at this point? Aside from the pain when the temp was removed, it wasn't really needed but I'm generally leery about dental ANYTHING without a big shot of something numbing first. After removing the temp they used a new kind of cement, a kind that I had had put as a temporary filling before. This stuff is glorious--tastes like cloves and burned the side of my tongue like super strong toothpaste.  The pain almost immediately subsided and hasn't come back.  Oh glorious clove laced, nerve soothing, cement.

The moral of this story? If it hurts, tell the nice lady with drugs. She can fix it!
Not my teeth...mine aren't that white

Monday, January 9, 2012

Brownies, personal edges all around

I have a weakness for chocolate. Not chocolate bars, but specifically brownies. You would think after making  4 dozen of them in the past week, but either brownies are my siren call, or I really need to go shopping (both are true actually).

Someone else has to have come up with this idea before me, but since my friends on Facebook seemed wowed by my brownies I thought I would share my secret.

Recently, I came upon the holy grail of brownies--a big ass box from Costco (but I'll link to Amazon).  Normally, I never use mixes, but I'm partial to the fudgey awesomeness that is Ghirardelli brownies, and if I have the mix I don't have to keep all the raw material on hand.  I figured that I'd use the mega 6 pack box to make some deliciousness for my New Years Eve party, and then a couple of dozen to sell at MAGfest. Brownies, as delicious as they are tend to present a bit of a eating conundrum though. They are either super dry and crumbly and super moist, sticky and crumby...what are us brownie addicts to do?

After scrubbing crusted brownie bits off of my hardwood floor post party, I knew that my decision to make half of my brownies the traditional way was a mistake. No seriously, dried brownies on a hardwood floor proved almost impossible to clean without industrial cleaning solutions. I was considering leaving them there to see if they would just become one with my hardwood floor. My anal retentive self wouldn't allow it.  After that bit o disaster, I had the lightbulb moment to make the rest of my brownies in a muffin tin with cupcake liner. I figured it would make it harder to crush them when I was transporting them to MAGfest. Apparently, I'm smart.  Here is what I do:

Mix the brownies as the directions say but instead of pouring it in a pan, put cupcake liners in a muffin pan and evenly divide your batter.  I, then cook them at 350 (probably closer to 325, if the thermometer that my mother got me is correct) for about 29 minutes.  You can adjust the time for doneness and ovens, but know that this is about 15 minutes LESS than you would cook them in a pan, so be careful!  You get 12 fudgey brownie muffins with their own little bowl and everyone gets edges!
straight out of the oven. I was a bit messy distributing the batter today

This method is much cleaner to eat, as evidenced by watching roughly two dozen guys this past weekend tell me how awesome the brownies were.  Not much of my stuff sold, but those brownies were gone! I think I should just make a gross of them next year. Guys could sign up in advance for brownie delivery.

And--because we all know that you like drooling over my pictures, enjoy :)

Brownies and milk!  I poured the milk and then remembered that I  don't drink milk anymore...

New Years Goals, NOT resolutions

I had a mind blowing moment last night when I realized that it was actually 2012.  No seriously, I really thought that it was 2011...

It being a New Year means, for many, a time of making and breaking New Years resolutions.  I never really jumped on that  bandwagon because ... frankly I would just jump off as soon as the going got tough. We have enough failures and disappointments in our lives, I personally don't need to feel like MORE of a failure. Instead of resolutions, I want to set goals for myself.  For many years, I never set goals for myself and I wonder why I felt like I was just sort of meandering through life in survival mode with no real tangible goals. But this year has been a big one, in a new place with a lot happening.  I started this blog almost a year ago and it's been pretty amazing to see, written down somewhere, all of the things that I have done.

When discussing waste recently I brought up to my husband that we talk about wasting money, we talk about wasting light, water, food but how often do we discuss wasting time? I feel the weight of my mortality on my shoulders growing heavier. Yes, I'm in my twenties but recently I experienced some losses that brought this inevitability too close for comfort.

I found out recently that two people that were very dear to me passed away.  The mother of my childhood best friend passed away a couple of weeks ago.  She was a huge part of my childhood and adolesence and her house proved a haven for me when I had no where else to go.  She loved me like she was my mother, accepted me for who I was and treated me with respect and dignity. I won't ever forget her kindness and friendship.  The second person was my mom's best friend when I was little. It turns out that she passed away two years ago, but we just found out. My mom had been trying hard to get in touch with her, writing letters that weren't answered or returned, calling, searching on facebook to no avail. finally she managed to get in touch with her sister and found out the news. Ironically, it turns out that she passed away right after we had visited. That visit had been the first time in close to a decade. Amy was a huge part of my life before we moved to to the midwest, but her past years of drug abuse were just too much on her heart.  Abusing your body catches up to you as you get older.  I will remember all the wonderful times that we had when I was younger.  We had such a lovely visit the last time we saw her, and I will hold those memories closely.

So these experiences have lead me realize even more that I need to stop wasting time. It's the one thing that we absoultely need but we can never get back.  How much of this last year have I wasted being ill, exhausted, lazy, unmotivated? How much time do I spend wishing that I was doing something productive?

I'm not going to call these things New Year's resolutions but I would like to set goals for myself. I haven't in the past and then wondered why I just floundered around wondering why I was passing time without feeling like I was making forward progression.  So here goes!

This blog:
I would like to update at least 2 times a week, if not more. I handed out a loooot of business cards this past weekend at MAGfest and if I need to get up photographs of all my jewelry and crocheted items, and work on setting up an etsy shop.  I think that will be the easist way to drive traffic to see all of the items that I am making, while not devoting my entire blog to attempting to get people to buy my pretties (but please, still buy my pretties!!!).  Also on the agenda is hopefully a blog remodel.  Being married to a computer geek has it's perks.

January goal: Write in blog 2 times a week.  Start writing a design document to lay out how I want my blog to look after it's redesigned. Discuss the design document with the hubs.


One day last summer I got an email about Zumba classes and decided, what the hell, I'll try it! So I did and enjoyed it. At the time, I was taking yoga too. But then, I joined a gym that included zumba AND yoga classes in the monthly membership and I have gone to exactly ... 2 classes since. Aren't I a depressing stereotype? This has to change.  My goal for this year is to work on my health.  I figured out my allergy (read here) and am off every medicine but ONE (and that one I want to take). I want to go to the gym at least 2x a week and pick up a new class to do once a week. I would like to get back into yoga, even if I only do it at home or for half a class.

My old Zumba instructor does a 3 month health challenge and I really want to win it. I'm not optimistic about my chances, since it seems all of these people are already health fitness gurus, but it would be nice to lose some weight, get healthier and win a bundle o money in the process.

I also have been struggling with anxiety and taking out my anxiety on my husband. I stress about little things and forget the big picture.  I'm not sure if it is getting worse, or better over time but since I spent so much of the last decade taking anti-depressants, I'm not sure I ever learned how to really cope. Now for the sake of my sanity and my marriage, I need to.

January goal: Go to Yoga class on Sunday morning.  Try a zumba class.  Doesn't matter when or if I only do it for 20 minutes--just get over my fear of the new and unknown.  Also, get on elliptical in my room at least 1x a week.  First thing in the morning? It would be awesome. Sweat is our friend. Work on anxiety issues. Find a cognitive therapist.  Make an appointment.

Meal plan dammit! When I meal plan and buy for meals, I eat a lot better AND we eat out a lot less.  I know I'm eating a lot less lately, but I need to make sure to plan to eat small snacks every 3 hours so my blood sugar doesn't plummit. When that happens, I turn into The Incredible Hulk and that isn't pretty!

January goal: meal plan meeting 1x week with husband.  Personally plan small meals/snacks for myself. Make sure to have these foods on hand so that I can eat every 3 hours.

I love to read, but somehow television, my computer and the free trashy novels I get for my kindle take precidence over real literature. I would like to read some of the sci fi fantasy books that my husband loves.  I'm still a little weirded out by having electronic books. I almost don't want to spend money on them because  I feel like the book will one day disappear from my kindle.  Anyone else feel like this?  Maybe this is the same paranoia that makes me want to stock up on water and food in case the Mayan calendar really is predicting the end of the world.  I blame Dark Angel for making me paranoid.

January goal: Read the first Hunger Games book. Yes, I've been told that I'll be immediately HOOKED but it's all about the starting.


I am getting more involved with meetup groups and am strongly considering moving my facebook group back to Meetup.  I think it is important for me to build a group wtih a strong infrastructure and member investment. I can't go to every event, or control all of them and I don't want to. I want to create an environment where like minded people can meet, socialize and find friends.  To an extent, I have created that, and personally am getting out and socializing more, but I want to incorporate more people and more volunteer work. What makes volunteering even more fun? Doing it with your friends! I have blessed to have everything I need in my life, and it is time to stop hoarding and wasting my time, and instead give some of it to people that need it.

January goal: Make decision on future of group, and volunteer. Significantly cut down on TV and internet time by downloading audio books to listen to, with my new handy dandy library card (that I have yet to use:( ).

I hope to accomplish a lot of this through making a schedule for myself, and working with my husband on a schedule for him as well.  No, this list isn't exhaustive but it's a nice tangible start. In a month's time (I'm giving myself the first week of February to get this stuff done!) I would like to come back through this list, and see what I managed to accomplish.

What are your goals for the year?  Do you periodically stop and reassess your goals? How do you get back on task when the craziness of life throws you off balance and schedule?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Medical Mayhem...No More!

Warning: It's a long post! In short, I figured out the cause of my chronic hives--read and give your input on being your own medical advocate!

This year has been a roller coaster of medical issues.  Ironically most of them started after this fateful trip to my OB-Gyn to ask about a pre-conception consultation.  We had been trying for about 4 months to get pregnant and no go.  For some reason, I always thought that I would have trouble getting pregnant, but this was one time I didn't want to be proven correct. There are so many feelings tied to your fertility. I mean, in essence, evolutionarily it is what your body is created to do.  To have this ability taken out of your hands is heart breaking. By the end of the consultation, the nurse practitioner (note: for the most part, I really like this woman. She listens, she's kind and she's given me amazing referrals) told me that she thought that I had PCOS (Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome), needed to lose weight (thanks, I hadn't noticed), and needed to figure out any issues I had with depression and potential ADD.  Oh where to start! I went to the doctor because I wanted to get pregnant and left with a script for birth control (it helps w/ the PCOS and mood swings), I cried.

Let's knock off the depression story first. I was diagnosed with depression when I was pretty young.  I was in middle school, and depression, puberty and a tumultuous home life didn't go well together.  At that age, I was given the magic pill of Prozac.  I don't remember much about that time, but my mother claims it saved my life. I don't doubt it, but that Prozac started a decade long journey of self doubt, shame, and endless pills.  I suck at remembering to take medicine. I put it off until the last minute (like everything else) and then I 'forget' to take the pills.  Ironically, when I had to take a pill that had an immediately effect (if I took the pill, I didn't get hives and could breathe. If I forgot, I had a horrible itchy day ahead of me), I only forgot to take it once in 4 months.  I felt self doubt because I couldn't make my mind do what I wanted and shame because depression in the 90's was still pretty taboo.  People didn't openly discuss having depression and I always felt like I was 'different' and there was something wrong with me.

In attempts to figure out why I was having weird mood swings, I hit up my local insurance covered psychiatrist.  I had found this lady for my husband because I quickly realized the man needed some help with his ADD that had stymied him from reaching his goals for years.  I saw it in him, because I saw it in me.  I have a brother and mother with ADHD. I know the face of it. What I didn't realize, was that the hormones and brain chemistry that cause one, are really closely tied to depression. Have ADD and depression? It isn't uncommon, but is frequently misdiagnosed.

I left this appointment in tears as well. This lady thought that my mood swings were bipolar disorder. WHAT?! I'm not bipolar! I get hyper, but I'm never reckless, and the more that I talked to people, the more that I thought she was full of it. After two of the worst weeks of my life attempting to take Abilify, I knew it was time to find a new doctor.  The 'mood stabilizier' she put me on made me homicidal and suicidal. I hated myself, I hated my husband, I hated my mother, I hated my situation, I hated EVERYTHING and couldn't get away from it.  I wasn't sad, I was MAD.  I stopped take the medicine and miraculously felt better.  New doctor time! This time I went with my ob-gyn's recommendation and the sky opened up, and the angels sang.  I walked into this man's office and he had a picture on his wall that looked like it was painted in my favorite place, Maine.  He confirmed it was.  He was wearing a Van Gogh (my favorite artist) tie, and he....he listened to me.  He gave me amazing advice, told me that nothing indicated that I was bipolar but instead it indicated that I need to stop take anti depressants all together to see how I was drug free, and that I probably had ADD.  Angels singing people--angel are freaking singing here.  I am not taking anti-depressants, and haven't since then and for the most part am great. I have some swings but by being off medication, I have learned what causes them and what I can do to prevent them (ironically eating is a huge issue).  It hasn't been easy, and I still get over anxious about stupid stuff, but I'm okay. I'm better than okay, and I have a psychiatrist that I trust, and enjoy seeing. We have some great conversations actually. My next step is to seek out regular cognitive therapy to teach me coping skills for my anxiety.  I'm a work in progress.

Okay, the real reason I was writing this post was because of my adventure with the PCOS diagnoses.  First, I had to get blood tests, and an ultrasound to confirm the diagnoses.  Then, I was told to find an endocrinologist to prescribe me metformin.  Metformin, whens working correctly, works by allowing your body to better process sugar. It is a diabetes medicine that is used for people who have PCOS.  It can help suffers lose weight, reduce the instance of cysts, reduce swelling and help them get pregnant. In me...not so much.

I first went to my primary care physician to get the script, since I had to wait more than a month to get in with the specialist.  I started taking the lowest dose in July, and then when I saw the endocrine a month later, she told me to start increasing my dose.  Then we had an earthquake, and a hurricane and my in-laws came to visit, and I had a sinus infection...all...in...the...same...week. I hit up the redi-med for the sinus infection, and was given some antibiotics and a steroid pack.  As soon as I finished the steroid...I broke out in hives.  EVERYWHERE.

Some of the highlights of the first few weeks of the hive adventure included:
  • Not being able to walk because my hands and feet swelled up, and my feet hurt so badly that I couldn't put weight on them. I dehydrated myself on purpose because I couldn't walk to the bathroom. This lasted a couple of days.
  • A visit to my primary care doctor that didn't seem concerned at all.  At this point I could barely walk and my 'polite' was turned off. I almost beat him when he told me not to swear.  He prescribed me heavy duty steroids...that didn't work at all.  He also wasn't concerned that my resting heart rate was over 100, and my chest constantly hurt. For the record--the heart rate issues were another dangerous side effect. note: *He is no longer my doctor.*
  • All of this happening while my in-laws are visiting from across the country, and my parents came to meet them (not stressful at all)...
  • Being told that my hives were caused by stress (umm..the hives were CAUSING the stress!)
  • Taking more benedryl than I thought humanly possible. I drank an entire bottle of children's benedryl in a day.
  • Serious breathing difficulties. I thought that I just had a sinus infection until the horrible wheezing was pointed out to me. This lead to....
  • A visit to the ER because of the breathing difficulties
  • A visit to the dermatologist 3 days later because the hives came back after the steroid the ER gave me wore off. He told me that steroids would make it worse, and gave me antihistamines that I could build up to a high dose of, and then back off a few weeks later.  They worked, but made me horribly stoned.
  • My classes start and I was too stoned to remember most of the first few weeks
  • Finally get an appointment with an allergist. He isn't much better at figuring this out, but puts me on a antihistamine that I can take daily, which...treats the symptom but not the cause.  He also put me on antibiotics for a month to see if we could fix the swelling in my sinuses. Stopping drinking milk reduced my headaches more than any medicine did. 

So...this goes on for months.  I have food tests, I stop eating dairy and realize that most of my sinus headaches go away.  No more wheat and milk together! All of this time I am choking down that one big ass metformin pill and occasionally attempting to up my dose.  I cancel my endocrine appointment a couple of months ago because I haven't ever been able to get up to two pills, and I'm sick of spending money at the doctors.  I decide to take the medicine increase seriously. Then, around my birthday my hands and feet start really hurting/swelling, and through the antihistamine, I get hives. We are on vacation in Williamsburg and I...am...flipping...out.  I feel like crap, and although we had some great moments on that trip, I want to go back for a re-do.

A few days go by and the swelling seems to go down again.  Then I decide to increase my dose of metformin again and the swelling/achiness comes back so I decide to look online to see if that's a side effect of the metformin.  It is. Right under...hives, breathing issues, mood swings, increased heart rate/heart palpitations (which I'd been having). My heart rate jumped as I realized that I might have figured it out, and I start typing into the mighty Google God "Metformin allergies" and quickly (first page I look at) come across the account of a woman who had a sulfa allergy(wait...I have that) and broke out into hives on metformin. She doesn't know what to do. My husband sends me a link with the chemical name for Metformin, which includes the word 'sulfa.'  They are both sulfur containing drugs, but not in the same class.  However, it seems that EITHER (the study I read didn't know conclusively) that people with sulfa allergies are either allergic to ones that have similar chemical composition (like Metformin) OR are just at a higher risk for developing allergies to other drugs. Personally, I broke out in hives with sulfa drugs when I was 6 and haven't touched it since.  I've broken out in virus hives, after being sick a couple of times since then but have never, conclusively been found allergic to anything other than sulfa.  On top of that--- More research unveils people saying that they have sulfa allergies and metformin doesn't even work for them. Wait...what? I haven't lost any weight on metformin, and it caused me to swell. I thought it was because of the antihistamines that I'd had to take for the last four months.  Because of the swelling, I'd stopped taking the metformin, cold turkey, the night before. I haven't touched it again.  The more I read, the more people I talk to, the more I look down at my hive...free...skin, I realize that I  was being poisoned for months by something I was religiously swallowing every night.

The stomachaches that increasing my dose of metformin caused had kept me from ever taking the whole dose that I was prescribed. My dislike of swallowing pills, and being able to look something up in Google saved my life. Not a single of the 3 doctors, including an allergist made the connection.  The ER barely asked me about drug allergies, and what medicines I was taking and simply gave me some MORE steroids and sent me on my way.  This has to be stopped! If there is some discernible connection between metformin allergies and sulfa allergies, people should know.  I found a few places that mentioned that there might be some cross reactivity, but only after I realized that I was allergic to the medicine.

My joints, weeks later, still ache constantly.  My feet and hands still feel puffy and swollen but nothing like they were.  I stopped the nightly antihistamines that were making me so tired that every day was a trial, 5 days ago and I haven't had a damn hive since.  I was taking claritin in the mornings but didn't today and I'm fine. I'm more than fine. I am free.  After all this, and almost a year. I am no longer on antidepressants, antihistamines, or metformin.  I'm almost completely drug free. It makes me wonder if I should have gone to the doctor to start with, and what my next step is.  As far as having a baby, we have options and this time has made me realize that every day that we don't have kids, is a day where I can learn to be a better parent.

Going forward, I will never take a medicine without through research. I never going to simply take medicine to mask symptoms without first exhaustively attempting to find the cause.  The doctors sort of just shrugged and told me that my hives were auto-immune. I knew they weren't and that I was getting worse, not better.  I wasn't going to settle for just waiting for them to 'burn out,' and I needed to figure out what was going on.  We need to research! While there are many more drugs on the market than ever before, we also have more access to researching them than ever before.  Don't just blindly accept what you are told, go and find out everything that you can about it.  A well informed patient is one that is less likely to be killed by someone else's mistake.

Have you had something similar happen to you? How are you your own advocate?