Eli's Corner


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another kick in the gut

I haven’t written any updates in a while, as I’ve been taking my first self-imposed break from babymaking since November 2011.  I was going to write a post about how awesome it is to not take a thousand supplements and vitamins everyday.  To not have a single fertility-related appointment for an entire month.  To drink wine and not have guilt and to not have sex when you’re ovulating because frankly, you’re not in the mood.  And then to have fabulous sex a few days later just because of sex.  How you start to feel like a person again, rather than a mere vessel, and you find yourself making time for other pursuits, pursuits that make you feel a little more like you again.  This was going to be a whole post about that.  But then yesterday happened.

I was very much enjoying my time off, so much so that I was contemplating extending it.  I had in my mind that I would let my ovaries rest up for the holidays and would just enjoy personhood during that time.  If I felt like having sex while ovulating, I would.  If not, I wouldn’t.  There was a vague thought of doing IVF in January.  But I didn’t need to think about that now.  In the midst of this heady freedom, however, I remembered that my RE gets booked up months in advance, and I thought I had better call and set something up now for January.  Come to find out, she was already booked through January, but she had a cancelation yesterday.  So I broke my “no babymaking appointments” rule and headed over with my husband to talk about next steps.

My acupuncturist/doctor of chinese medicine advised me to get my AMH tested a while ago, based on the fact that my mom had her last period in her mid-30s.  I talked to my RE about this, and she said that it was unlikely to be an issue in my case, since I respond pretty well to fertility drugs.  I pushed the issue, and she obliged me and ordered the test.  I had the requisition sitting on my desk for months, expecting one of the IUI treatments to work and for the whole ovarian reserve thing to become a non-issue.  After my fourth IUI failed, however, I got the bloodwork  done.  This was over a month ago, so one of my first questions was if those results were in.  She hadn’t even checked.  I asked if she could please look and pull them up.  She reiterated that she didn’t think it was an issue, but when she did pull them up, she was visibly shocked.

My AMH level is 0.47 – which, if you’re not familiar with AMH levels, isn’t even inside the low range for a woman of my age.  She started to brush past it and talk about IVF, saying that since I respond to drugs well, this doesn’t really matter.  I stopped her and asked what this meant in terms of early menopause.  She just said flat-out, you will have an early menopause.  You probably have a year or two before you lose fertility.

I’ve had a handful of moments in my life where I’ve received news that kicked the world into slow motion.  This was one of them.  Clearly, this wasn’t a total shock to me, as I was worried enough about it to press the issue and get the test, but having that nagging base-level fear confirmed was like a punch in the gut.  Then we continued talking as if someone had not just taken a decade of childbearing years away from me with one sentence.

Suddenly turning 35 next month (which I was half-dreading, half-grieving) was a non-issue, since in reproductive years I’m already about 46. This of course also means I’m on my very last eggs right now, which from everything I’ve come to understand, is not a good thing in terms of the chances of bringing a healthy baby to term.

The plan now is to kick off the IVF process in January.  I’m realizing I don’t have time for this not to work, don’t have time for another miscarriage.  The window is closing, the stakes are getting higher, and the hits just keep coming.  The list of ways in which my body betrays me continues to grow.  The sense that I’m broken, defective is hard to shake.

The odds of my having a child (let alone children, as I had once hoped) are moving solidly into the “miracle” category…a place where I am uncomfortable leaving them, not because I don’t believe that God can do it…I just don’t know if he will do it.  I have no assurances to that effect.  I told my therapist recently that I know I will be able to move on with my life if this doesn’t happen, but at this point I just have no idea how.  I’m terrified at the thought of picking myself back up after losing all hope of this dream – having that door solidly shut, possibly very soon.  At the same time, it would probably take full-blown menopause to give me the closure I would need to ever be able to walk away from this, so in some sense, there is some comfort in knowing this process won’t last forever.  It’s a small comfort, though.

I’m trying to trust, but I’m finding it almost impossible.  I know that by entertaining worst-case scenarios, I’m only adding to my own torment, but I just don’t have that solid faith that I used to.  If I get my miracle, I’ll be like the guy who was dragged to Jesus on a mat by his friends.  I’m hoping it’s enough.

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Pumpkin Smackdown 2013 – Mutant Uterus

Here is my entry for the Pumpkin Smackdown 2013 Challenge.

I give you the Mutant Uterus.  You will note that the lining grows on the outside as well as the inside.  You will also note that it is dangerous, dark and inhospitable.  The ramifications of these facts are staggering:  it will take some kind of Chuck Norris/Luke Skywalker-grade spawn to make a home in this mother.  Ergo, when it does produce children, they will be extremely badass.  Bring it.

photo (11)


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apart from this, i am

I spend a lot of time on here talking about who I am in the context of infertility, loss, endometriosis, chronic pain, a floundering career and various other issues. I appreciate this space, because I feel like it’s the one place where I can be as honest as I want to be about all of that.

But today, I’m doing something else. I’m taking some time to think about who I am independently of all of those things – as well as past pain and personal hangups –independently of any thing I would call an “issue.”

It’s so easy to identify with the hard things, and sometimes so hard to remember what’s left. So I just sat down and started writing a list, with general, timid terms at first, but they became a bit more confident and specific as the list progressed. Just for kicks, here it is:

So who is Eli, apart from all of this?

She loves to laugh.

She finds people interesting.

She’s compassionate.

She can be thoughtful.

She can be fun.

She’s good with words.

She doesn’t like conflict, but she enjoys a good debate (as long as nobody’s getting hurt or being super obnoxious).

She feels like culture is mostly crazy, and she wants to talk some sense into it.

She longs for truth.

She loves stories.

She loves to sing, mostly in private – although for a couple of years she sang lead in a heavy metal band because some boys at the high school where she worked as an administrator were looking for a lead singer for their band and asked her (possibly as a joke). She shocked them by saying yes. She always wore heels and a grey pantsuit when performing. The band achieved legend status.

She is the friend who will pay full price (even though she’s currently out of a job) to join you, your daughter, your unstable, recently-bereaved mother, and your alcoholic grandmother on a 2-week cruise when you have been ditched at the altar two weeks before the wedding and can’t get a refund on your honeymoon. She will go on that trip and sit in the middle of all that crazy with you.  She will sneak away with you to pound tequila shots.  If you eat 3 desserts, so will she.  She will even sing cruise lounge karaoke when you ask her to.

Frivolous beauty brings her joy. And makes her cry.

Mistreatment of the weak makes her angry. Like mama grizzly angry.

Sometimes she writes letters to celebrities she thinks are screwing up their lives and offers to let them come stay with her for a couple weeks. She thinks she could help. They never write back.

She likes nice things. And she likes to give nice things away.

She likes being around small children. She likes the purity of their interactions with the world, having not yet learned to stifle and mask everything they think and feel. She feels that children and very old people are lucky in that sense. They get to say exactly what they think.

Sometimes, she can be wise.

Sometimes, she can be funny.

Sometimes, she knows exactly what to say or do in a tough situation.

She believes people matter. She feels that especially young girls don’t know that they matter nearly enough.

She will stand in the path of a violent, heavily drugged man on the street (even though she’s very much expecting to be hit) because she doesn’t want to live in a city where people can be brutally attacked by a stranger in broad daylight and have their attacker walk away unencumbered while fifty spectators step aside to let him pass. She, in her heels, slacks and fluffy sweater, will be the one person to calmly stand in his way and tell him that he does not get to run away but must stay here and deal with what he has done. And for some strange reason, he will listen to her.

She’ll buy a homeless woman lunch because she really wants to buy her flowers but thinks it’s a jerk move to give a hungry person flowers and not also lunch.

She has little respect for people she thinks are phony, no matter what position they hold.

She just generally has a pretty low tolerance for BS.

She’s attracted to honesty, even if it’s honesty about unattractive things.

She’s attracted to humility.

She’s always been a sucker for a boy with a guitar, and she eventually married one.

She loves, loves, loves that she gets to see her quiet husband be crazy, goofy, brilliant, irreverent, and just straight up weird in a way that no one else on the planet ever does.

She is reborn every time she feels the warmth of the sun on her skin.

She likes the laugh lines she’s getting, but is not too fond of the sun spots.

Beautiful, clean spaces are balm to her soul.

She roofed houses to pay for college.

Every once in a while, she will embark on a crazy adventure that takes a great deal of courage. She hasn’t done this in a little while, but it’s in her.

She left a good chunk of her heart with a poor family in Argentina who loves her better than most people can probably love anybody.

She can pretty much quote entire Disney cartoons as well as chapters of the Bible.

She does a bang-on southern belle accent.

She thinks she looks good naked, if she’s very honest.

She’s willing to change when she learns she’s been wrong, even if it’s hard.

I kind of like her.

Who are you apart from this? I’d love to know.


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slow cooker vegan chili recipe review

As promised, I’m testing the recipes on my Endometriosis Diet Pinterest board to make sure I’m not recommending yuck food.  I had the perfect opportunity to try the vegan chili this week, as I was having a crew of people with a broad range of dietary restrictions over to my house for an informal dinner.  I always feel like it’s sad when the lone vegetarian has to show up with her own tofu sandwich or eat some crappy lesser meal that was thrown together with her in mind, so I wanted us all eating the same thing.  I decided to start with a gluten-free, dairy-free, meatless base and then provide options for people to add to it as they liked.  I made a big pot of the chili and had shredded cheese, cilantro, sliced avocado and lime, as well as chopped-up and sauteed bison sausage all lined up buffet-style as possible fixings.  And of course, there were a couple loaves of hearty bread.

As it turned out, we had 12 people (I was expecting 8), and despite the chicken noodle soup I put on (my mother in law’s – really good soup) – at the end of the night, somebody was literally scraping the last little beans out of the chili crock pot, while we still had ample soup left.  I think this is a solid recipe and will keep it in the rotation – especially for this type of situation.  (Incidentally, the vegetarian pulled me aside afterwards and expressly thanked me for providing something she could eat along with everybody else.  *warm fuzzies*)

I made enough changes to this recipe (based on a compilation of reviewer comments) that it would be easier to just re-write it than have you checking back and forth for all my edits (the spices are entirely different, there are more fresh veggies, and there are a couple other tweaks).

Tragically, I didn’t get a picture of it before it was devoured, because I am a lame-ass blogger.  I did, however, take a picture of the beans after I threw them into the pot.  Does it help you understand how to make this recipe?  No.  Are the colors kind of pretty?  Sure.  Does it in any way resemble the finished product?  No.  But that was also pretty. Unfortunately, you’ll have to take my word for it.

photo (7)

INGREDIENTS:

1 (19 ounce) can black beans (drained)

1 (19 ounce) can kidney beans (rinsed and drained)

1 (19 ounce) can garbanzo beans (rinsed and drained)

1 (14 ounce) can vegetarian baked beans (drained)

1 (12 ounce) can whole kernel corn (drained)

1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes

2 tomatoes (diced)

1 onion (chopped)

1 orange bell pepper (chopped)

2 stalks celery (chopped)

3 cloves garlic (minced)

2 tbsp chili powder

1.5 tbsp cumin

2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp cayenne pepper

A few grinds of black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.

BOTTOM LINE: easy, tasty, adaptable, freezable, feeds a crowd.  One downside is that it’s difficult to make more of this recipe without doubling it – which you can’t really do unless you’ve got 2 slow cookers.  I’d say this is best for a crowd of up to 8 people.


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endo diet

I was chatting with a friend of mine on Sunday who is about to start a 40-day sugar fast.  He was terrified about it.  I was trying to assure him that it really wouldn’t be that bad, that after the first few days his body would adjust.  He said, yeah, I was right, it probably wouldn’t be that bad…he was just worried because he drinks pop (soda, for you people in my motherland) like water and eats a danish in the afternoon.  And suddenly I realized, he’s gonna die.

I realized I was listening to him as I am now – somebody who can quench a sugar craving by popping a prune in her mouth.  I eat so little sugar that a sugar fast is almost a non-event.  When he said the thing about the soda, I realized I should be listening to him as my old self – the one who had 3 Diet Pepsis a day and thought that Red Vines were a legit food group.  And then I was like, holy shit I’ve come a long way.

My history with food is a piteous tale.  My mom could cook, but she hated to, so every once in a while she’d make about 30 gallons of soup (you think I’m joking) and freeze it all in our industrial-sized freezer in the garage.  We would thaw and eat soup for months on end.  It wasn’t bad soup, but the very thought of Hearty Brunswick Stew induced a gag reflex by the time we were getting to the back of the freezer.  Then she discovered Costco stuffed shells, lasagna and stir fry.  These were great, because we kids could make them ourselves.  This was pretty much all we ate for the next few years.  These, mind you, were the good old days.

When I was in high school we entered a period of houselessness wherein we had no kitchen and almost no food budget.  That was the era of the 99-cent whopper (it once occurred to me interject and order one of the $2.99 items on the menu in front of the cashier – hoping my mom might let it slide out of shame – but one look of icy cold death had me quickly recanting and saying I would really love to eat a whopper).  This was also when my Dad discovered that the day-old lunches at the prison where he worked could be bought for $1 each, so that was our other standby.  By the time they got to us, the pickle juice had bled all over the mystery-meat-and-american-cheese sandwich as well as the weird little maple bar thing that was always in there.  At first go, they were probably palatable, but after a day sitting in my dad’s hot car, they made you contemplate what you might do to actually go to prison and at least get them fresh.

This only lasted for about 6 months, but it was the beginning of the end, for it was during that kitchenless era of woe that my mom made the unfortunate discovery that one doesn’t actually have to cook to sustain life.  It was pretty much fast food from then on out.  My idea of “healthy” was diet soda and the fiesta menu at Taco Bell.  (It’s always been a bit of a mystery to me how my siblings and I continued to be rail thin through all of this…I suspect by this time we had acquired a revulsion toward food in general.)  I continued to eat mostly crap throughout college.  When I graduated, I lived in a communal house and ate food bank food. (This was before hipsters, fyi – I just couldn’t afford anything else).  I mostly remember eating a lot of high-end truffles and day-olds from Starbucks. (I could do without another maple scone until I die and be just fine.)

Um, this is all very long and perhaps less interesting for you to hear than it is for me to tell.  What I’m driving at here is I was about as far from being a health nut as a gal can be.  When I started dating my husband, who is far more normal than I in almost every respect, he was severely appalled by all the fast food I ate.  Even after years of trying to wean me off it, he’d find tell-tale McDonalds cups in my car and double-decker taco wrappers of shame shoved behind my passenger seat.

I always planned on marrying a cook to solve my problems, but since I married a consultant – and one who was unwilling to subsist on the 99-cent menu – it became clear that there would have to be at least a marginal amount of cooking in this relationship.  I wanted it to be 50-50, in keeping with my egalitarian gender sensibilities, but I quickly realized cooking got me way more mileage than almost any other nice thing I did for him.  Don’t know what it is – some kind of primal need to be cared for that is met specifically through cooking.  So I began to learn to cook.  And since I was learning for the first time, I figured I may as well learn to cook healthy stuff.  So I kind of bypassed cooking with processed, fatty foods and went straight to veggies and lean proteins – with fairly regular binges on Nachos Bellgrandes and cheetos.  All or nothing, baby.

Then endo entered my life, and I began to bit-by-bit eliminate more things from my diet, learning substitutes, amassing recipes and developing new habits.  Because these changes have been so gradual, I don’t think I’ve realized how significant they’ve really been.  It was only in talking to my friend about his sugar fast (haha!  And you thought I wasn’t going to ever bring this back around) that I realized I have actually learned quite a lot and might actually be able to help people find some shortcuts on this whole path to getting healthier, particularly as it pertains to endo.

I have neither the patience nor the photography skills to reproduce all the recipes I use on this blog, so I’m in the process of transferring my go-to recipes to a Pinterest board and adding other ones there that meet the guidelines I’m trying to follow.  As I try new stuff, I’ll let you know how it goes and let you know what substitutes I used.  The goal is to have a decent-sized index of tested, no-brainer food that is tasty and endo diet conscious.  I focus largely around eating foods that will reduce inflammation in my system.  I avoid dairy, wheat, refined carbohydrates and sugars, soy, coffee and red meat, and I eat lots and lots of veggies.

I also want to talk about juicing, general shortcuts and household staples for cooking on a restricted diet.  This will probably be old hat for a lot of you, but hopefully there will be some useful resources, and I’m guessing there are some newbies out there who could use a leg up on this whole thing.

Without further ado, here is my Endo Diet Pinterest Board.

Also, I’ve written a general disclaimer to cover pretty much everything I write and suggest.  Please review it before taking anything I say too seriously.