Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Continuous Grief of Chronic Disease

Lovely! Inside and out!
I am again surprised by LPLD.  Every one in a while, it just seems to sneak up and hit me hard!  I continue to find more ways that it impacts me emotionally.  Even just as the mom of lovely girls with LPLD, not as someone with LPLD myself!

She's 2!!
I was talking with a young man over a year ago who was wanting to be tested for a genetic disease.  His wife came from a heritage that was known to be more likely to carry this particular genetic disease, and he was sure that if there was any chance whatsoever of their offspring having that disease, then he would just never have children.  Having two girls with a genetic disease, especially having knowingly pursued pregnancy even after my eldest was diagnosed, his statement hit me hard.  Harder than I would have expected.  This young man didn't know anything about my family, and so wasn't trying to be hurtful, but man did it hurt.  I was shocked at the strength of my emotion and had to get away from him to shed a few tears and recover my equilibrium.  It wasn't my job to convince him that life is worth living, even with a genetic disease.  That there are far worse things out there.  That having my children has made me a better person, far more than anything else ever has, crazy low fat diet and insane worries about stomach pains notwithstanding.  That it's worth it to have a baby even if you know your baby won't be perfect.  Because, after all, NO baby, no person, is perfect anyway.  And to think we are in control of our lives, our children's' lives, or really anything at all, is just silly.  I could get involved in a terrible car accident this afternoon and never move my arms or legs ever again.  Or I could lose my capacity to think clearly and do my job.  In the face of psychiatric illness, not even my thoughts and perceptions of reality are really under my control.  My thoughts got pretty existential pretty fast, all from a newlywed sharing his thoughts on having children.
Note the 'I love you' sign.  Sigh :)

More recently, I happened to visit with a beautiful young girl, just my daughter's age.  Now, Monica is perfect in every way to me, but talking with this other 7 year old, I reflected on how LPLD may have made her a little shorter, a little more scrawny, than she might be otherwise.  And again, unexpectedly, my heart just broke.  This is what my lovely girl should look like, and it's not fair that she doesn't.  It's not fair that she can eat an entire (cheeseless) pizza and still be hungry.  It's not fair that we walk into an unexpected celebration and she sees the beautiful spread of sugar cookies, and she pulls me aside and asks that no one in our family eat a cookie, since she can't.  It's not fair that she has to eat more snacks and bigger meals, since a whole healthy food group is shut out to her, and some days it's so hard to think of something interesting to eat that won't make her sick!
7 years old!

Finally, Monica's 7th birthday was just over a week ago.  We were visiting my parents that week, and we called literally every bakery in their city.  No one was willing or able to make a fat free cake for us, and Monica had requested a cake that looked like the cakes other kids had for their birthdays - frosting that is smooth and perfect, edged in a way that I just can't seem to pull off, with a screen print on top that I certainly don't have the supplies to do.  She wanted a store bought cake rather than home made.  Preferably with a print of Frozen on top, iced in blue.  We called and called.  We visited store after store.  Who knows what the employees were thinking, I'm sure some were rolling their eyes at the idea of someone who wants to eat cake and not gain weight, 'have their cake and eat it too, ' as it were.  I'm sure they weren't stretching their imaginations to figure out a way to help a little girl have a birthday cake like everyone else.  The happy ending is that we finally found a small bakery who pulled it off.  The result was both fabulous and heart breaking for me: perfect sugary smooth frosting (without any of that rich buttery satisfaction of flavor)!  Two layers of chocolate cake that was light and fluffy (and honestly rather bland and dry)!  A chocolate creamy layer between (of fat free pudding, pretty blah if you compare it with a mousse)!  And of course an image of Elsa and Anna printed on top (perfection!!)!!  It was a wild success, and even the other kids ate pieces, but I had to stand in the kitchen crying for a little bit.  

It. Was. Perfect.

This is not what I want for my little girls.  I want to make them buttery and rich cakes at home, or roll my eyes and buy them the stupid store bought ice cream cake covered with crisco-y icing.  There is a certain fakey sugariness about so much of the treats Monica has to enjoy, missing the richness that I wish could be there instead.  It's hard that I can't give her everything.  But it's also a reminder that the empty fakey sugariness is the truth of our worldly desires - I'm not a perfect mom, I can't love her in a perfect way, I can't be everything she needs.  Monica needs to encounter the emptiness of life and seek Someone who really can fill her every desire.  This life is imperfect and empty for everyone, no matter what images are on their Facebook page, how joyful and healthy they seem in a chance encounter, or how Pinterest perfect their birthday party.  LPLD isn't the real problem here, this is life.  What I really want for my little girls is Heaven.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Travelling with LPLD + PARIS

A city famous for it's amazing food, but it's all loaded with butter!  What do you do with LPLD, stay healthy, and still feel like you are on vacation?


Carousels next the the Eiffel Tower are always awesome
It's hard, but it's good to remember that travel and vacation are about more than food.  Walking along the Seine, lingering in the Louvre, admiring the Eiffel Tower - that is what Paris is all about, and none require putting your pancreas at risk!  Snacking on LPLD friendly snacks while being a tourist is essential, so you don't find yourself starving and desperate, with no safe foods in sight.  Apples, baggies of fresh popcorn, and some varieties of high-fiber granola bars (carefully picked out at the grocery store after reviewing nutrition facts in detail for those grams of fat!) were our key snacks while in Paris.  We always had them on hand and were quick to pull them out.


Proof we were there!
But at some point you find a restaurant you want to eat at, you're not starving, but something warm to eat and a place to sit for a while would really hit the spot!  Take, for example, Le Quasimodo Notre-Dame, a restaurant that my family ate at while going to the famous cathedral.  Yelp has some good photos of their food and menu.

So, what did we do for Monica and Teresa?  What could anyone with LPLD eat here, even if they couldn't speak French well in order to adequately describe what LPLD is??

First of all, we lucked out that the menu had English translations.  When you have LPLD, you really can't just pick a random food on the menu and hope for the best, as me and my husband sometimes do in other countries!

On this menu, many of the salads would be all right, asking for them to hold the dressing and the fromage (cheese) and choosing to dip in just a balsamic vinegar.  The ham or mushrooms omelettes could work, keeping in mind that ham is generally pretty lean, and each eggs has about 5 g of fat.  You could have the hamburger, sirloin steak, ham, or roast chicken and ask for French beans instead of French fries; avoid the bun on the burger to be extra careful depending on your recent fat intake.  Bolognese sauce usually has meat but not generally added fats, so the spaghetti might be a good choice.  Crepes with sugar and lemon are one of our favorite treats, and sugar and lemon is THE classic French way to enjoy them!  A pancake with jam or sugar would be great, too.  They even have black current and lemon sorbets for dessert, perfect!

In summary, Paris is a hard town with LPLD.  It's easy to get bogged down in all the delicious options that are available to everyone but you.  There's some interesting research these days showing that people are the 'best' at self control are really just good at avoiding situations where they know they will be tempted!  For Monica, we do our best to give her at least 3 options that she CAN have at restaurants, and not even discuss what else she couldn't have.  We hope she can practice this as an adult, too, scanning through a menu and not even letting anything register in her brain that is just not an option.  At bakeries, it was a lot of (fresh fluffy delicious) buns.  An adult might pair an authentic French cup of coffee!  In restaurants it was lemon sugar crepes, a bunless hamburger and white rice...  She even had a tiny bite of our (buttery) escargot, just to try it!

A question for you readers, though, since Monica is only 6: do you drink alcohol with LPLD?  How do you avoid over-indulging?  Have you given yourself pancreatitis just from drinking too much?  Do you find that you can only drink very minimally?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Changes in Identity

When did you stop being 'you' and when did you start being 'you with LPLD?'  Or are you still just 'you,' your identity intact by itself, without your chronic disease really being part of you?

I've been married to my husband for 10 years now.  10 glorious years of rejoicing and suffering together.  But I remember thinking for the longest time how weird it was that my co-workers only knew me with my 'new' last name.  I felt that no one 'really' knew me unless that knew me by my maiden name.  My married last name still felt a little foreign and itchy, like a new wool sweater.  There were parts of my husband's family and last name that I didn't really want to be 'me.'  I liked my own family, and besides, my maiden name was a lot cooler than this boring one.

The other day I realized, though, that my married last name finally feels like 'me.'  My husband's family are my children's grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins, and they finally feel just as essential to our little family as my own parents and brother and sister.  They all have their flaws, but I can't imagine life without them.  The people who know me best in the world finally could know me by my current last name!  This is embarrassing to admit, but I wonder if it's similar to adapting to a chronic disease.

At first, it feels like LPLD is an outside invader, that's not really who you are, it doesn't adequately match up to who you are deep down.  Deep down, you are a person who would love to eat ice cream and full fat cheese, and LPLD is just a facade that you have to wear to stay healthy.

Maybe it takes a decade, but is there a point where LPLD becomes important to your identity?  It's part of who you are.

It reminds me of how Catholics believe that Jesus Christ still has the holes in his hands and feet and side from being crucified, even in Heaven where there is no longer suffering or death.  He doesn't feel pain from them, but those wounds were recived in His greatest act, an act that redeemed suffering and death for all time.  LPLD is certainly not an easy thing to live with, but in some way, maybe you'll still have it in heaven.  Not in a way that hurts you or affects the way you 'live,' but as a badge of honor of how you suffered on Earth, and grew in courage, love for others, and love for your own body.  Even when it was hard.  I wonder if it becomes more than a burden, and eventually transforms you into more of the person you were meant to be.
Newlywed and certainly NOT used to my maiden name!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

What's for Supper? (link-up) - Volume 3

What's for Supper? (link-up) - Volume 3



Monday




This recipe surprised my family by everyone liking it!  Surprisingly low fat and different than our normal food.  I think I'll hunt some clams or mussels down the next time we make it and add those, too...


***

Tuesday
Potluck at work

Thanksgiving dinner at work, I made apple crisp, double recipe.  It was from America's Test Kitchen and it didn't have any oats...  This seems right.  I made a fat free version for my daughters, in which I added non fat greek yogurt instead of the butter and it was good!



***

Wednesday


Burgers and green beans


Tonight had to be a fast dinner so that we could make it to see the Harlem Globetrotters perform on base.  Really neat!


***

Thursday
Curry chicken salad


Served on rolls on the road.  A version with greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise works well, especially since you're tasting the spices more than the creaminess anyway.  I would want to add raisins next time, since I love raisins in chicken salad.  Funny story, we were supposed to be driving to Paris, but my military flight got stuck in Sicily so I had to drive out separately the next day... sorry, that wasn't funny, but in summary, military life is weird.


***

Friday
Restaurant in Paris


Monica and Teresa had a bunless hamburger and white rice, but had little bites of our butter-drenched escargot and also some of my duck gizzard that was on my salad.  Organs meats are full of fat, but also of fat-soluble vitamins, so I love to give my LPLD girls little bits sometimes.



***

Saturday
Pasta with jarred sauce



Rather boring, sorry.
***

Sunday
Pork loin, sautéed green beans, roasted bell peppers sliced on top


Really good pork loin, pre-seasoned from the commissary, that we left in the oven too long and it was a solid 20 degrees hotter than we intended it to be when we pulled it out.  But it was still amazingly tender!  Well, while it was warm it was tender, my husband accurately pointed out that as soon as it cooled it got tough.  Luckily we were able to scarf down most of it right away.  Yum.  It was beautifully plated.  So beautifully that we didn't get a picture.  At all.  All week apparently.  Sigh.


But, another reminder of an awesome fat free treat:
Cotton candy bigger than your head


Monday, November 7, 2016

What's for Supper? (link-up) - Volume 2

What's for Supper? (link-up) - Volume 2

Fine other amazing meal ideas here.  Though most of our meals this week are straight from her blog posts!

Monday
Beef and cabbage stir fry

Halloween!  Better be healthy and fast and appealing for the girls to load up before celebrations.  It was Simcha's inspiration, from here







Cabbage is so tasty and cheap and surprisingly good for you!.
***

Tuesday
Spaghetti carbonara served with garlic roasted brussel sprouts
LPLD version
Carbonara version

All Saints Day!  Definitely a celebratory meal, again all from Simcha, and all great!  I don't think there's any good way to adapt spaghetti carbonara to be LPLD friendly, actually.  The girls had pasta with jar sauce, which is one of their favorites, with some Northwoods non fat cheese on top to guarantee consumption.
***

Wednesday
Frozen pierogies, sauerkraut, and caramelized butternut squash

All Souls Day!  We are Polish on both sides of the family, so pierogies it is!  I'm always surprised that those frozen pasta pockets with mashed potato deliciousness are as low fat as they are.
***

Thursday
Grilled Steak Banh Mi sandwiches

Served on top of fresh buns from the local bakery, wow.  Really good.
***

Friday
Vegetable pizza

We make our pizza on homemade sourdough crusts when we haven't just moved across the world.  But we are still settling in, so we used some frozen grocery store crusts.  The girls always have pineapple and ham, we had roasted bell pepper and onions and artichoke hearts.
***

Saturday
Huevos Rancheros for breakfast

Lunch and dinner out with friends at a German restaurant and at an arts and crafts festival.  At the restaurant, Monica had boiled ham served with a lot of pickled vegetables and some 'farm fresh bread' which was first served with butter all over it, and she cried when we had to send it back.  Sigh.  One of those days.  The bread was still good without butter, she LOVES pickled vegetables, and it turns out that boiled ham... isn't her favorite.  At the festival, she had apple cider and a quarter of a waffle with powdered sugar, and some leftovers when we all got home.
***

Is it cruel to dress her up as something she will never (well rarely) get to eat?  But she's so cute!

Sunday
Chicken negimaki with snow peas


Meh. Not as amazing as I had hoped. Pretty though!  Well, when it's in focus...
***

Northwoods Fat Free Cheese

Just as I was beginning to despair that I would never find a good source of fat free cheese in Europe, I finally found the web site for our favorite brand of it:



Northwoods Cheese Company



I don't know why it took me to long to find it.  Many Amazon searches and combing through German grocery store dairy aisles later, I have now ordered two 5 lb blocks of fat free cheese that we have cut into smaller servings and frozen, AS WELL AS two new flavors of cheese to try (swiss and garden vegetable), AS WELL AS fat free string cheese.



Cheddar!  String cheese!  SO GREAT!

As a child, I was a big string cheese eater.  It warms my heart to have another easy and healthy snack to give my LPLD girls.



Customer service has been second to none with figuring out how to get this perishable foodstuff over to our far away location.  Admittedly, the cheese and ice packs are no longer cold by the time the package reaches us, but it looks and tastes perfect!



I may continue ordering from them even when we move back to the states, just because we go through SO MUCH of this cheese and it's cheaper in bulk.

Monday, October 31, 2016

What's for Supper? (link-up) - Volume 1

A favorite blogger of mine, Simcha Fisher, hosts a link-up every week where she posts what she had for dinner every night that week, for inspiration for other families.  Maybe this could help LPLD moms out there, too!  I have decided to link with hers, mostly to help encourage me to actually get my post up once in a while.



So, what did we eat last week?

Monday
frozen tuna filets with a side of roast butternut squash with fennel

Every time we move, it's an effort to find fish that we like.  We haven't yet found a source of fresh fish yet in Germany, but these were decent frozen ones!  The butternut squash is one of our favorite vegetables of all time.  It's basically this but without the apple... or the honey...  Hmm.  Well.  I think my mother-in-law made it up and it's the only thing I know to do with fennel.
***

Tuesday
St Daria's feast day - sushi in Trier!

My confirmation saint is a little-known saint, St Daria, and we love to celebrate our feast days in our family.  So!  Sushi it was!  It is amazing how much sushi our girls can put away.  The waitress doubted our choice of two full california rolls for them, but we showed her!  California rolls are just white rice, sea weed wrapping, cucumber, avocado, and (fake) crab.  So if you have the space in your fat intake for a little avocado, it's delicious!
***



Wednesday
Tamales (from a work fundraiser) and ratatouille

Monica had half of a tamale and mostly some leftover noodles with pasta sauce, one of her favorite foods.  And ratatouille because I definitely consider tomatoes a vegetable, so load them on that plate!  I don't think tamales can ever be LPLD friendly.  Sigh.  But ratatoulli is a family favorite - basically sauteed tomatoes, eggplant, and basil. It's what made me realize I liked eggplant and I highly recommend trying it!  Add some chicken or (fat free) mozzarella the first time you make it to be sure you like it :)
***



Thursday
Beef and mushroom stir fry from here

Well... loosely adapted.  Served over rice for the girls instead of noodles and without capsicum and just broccoli instead of broccolini.  And no kecap manis.  Just soy sauce.  It was good!
***



Friday
Pasta Primavera

My husband made the recipe up. He sauteed red peppers, onion, cherry tomatoes, probably some tomato paste and spices, and we served it over rotini.
***

Saturday
Chicken and sausage gumbo from Better Homes and Gardens

It can be tough finding smoked sausage that's low enough fat for LPLD. We use this:
Smoked turkey sausage

5 g of fat for 2 oz, or 1/7 of the package

I add twice the amount of okra that it calls for, since we all like okra, and it's both delicious and low fat.

We'll be having a lot of pictures of whatever was leftover from dinner until I can remember to take pictures on the day of the meal.... For now, behold my lunch this week!
***

Sunday:
Pork shoulder, roasted and topped with roasted bell pepper and gouda/Northwoods  Garden Vegetable cheese

We should have had another vegetable. But we forgot.


See you next week!  I hope!