8.18.2014

Down in the POTS


Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. That has been my life for the past three and a half years.

And here is an incredibly long and boring story of it all, to get it all out in the open before we continue on over here:

It started with a cold, a weekend trip to Disneyland, and going right back to work the following Monday despite it all. Then a quick upstairs to downstairs move the next weekend, where I moved all of my belongings myself up and down a flight of stairs. Fighting an illness, plus heavy lifting, plus lots of dust; not a great idea for a body.

No rest, no time to recoup and it let the germs take over. Just pushing through until the ill feelings passed. But they never really passed. For the next few weeks, I continued to feel weak and tired, along with a looming lightheadedness every time I changed positions.

Eventually, in early November it all came crashing down.
The first sign was when I passed out during a routine back X-ray as part of my chiropractic treatment, which resulted in a miserable trip to the ER where they (without running any tests to prove it) diagnosed me with dehydration and sent me on my way. I took the next day off of work, rested and drank my weight in liquids thinking all would be well. The following day, I returned to work and felt fine all day, and decided I must have just been dehydrated after all. The next day however, I was back to feeling faint all day, and at some point that morning passed out in the bathroom at work. Thankfully, no one witnessed that, or I would have died from humiliation right then and there. I went home, rested and tried to shake off all of the things I was feeling every time I got out of my bed. Dizziness, nausea, lightheadedness, and an increase in my heart rate which made me feel exhausted and left me drenched in sweat. All of that from simply walking ten feet from my bed to the bathroom. Forget about trying to make it all the way to the kitchen. That next Saturday however, enough was enough and I convinced myself to go to another hospital's ER.

Over the next several hours, they ran numerous tests to check my heart, lungs, head and anything else they thought of that could be causing my symptoms. When I mentioned to the Doctor that I felt like my body was running a marathon every time I stood up, He hooked me up to several machines, and made me stand up. For the next half hour or so, he took great interest in watching the numbers (and calling other Doctors over to watch as well) related to my heart rate and blood pressure rise and fall every time I stood, sat or layed down. It was determined that upon sitting upright, my heart rate would go up and my blood pressure would drop. When I stood, those vitals would continue to increase and decrease until my body would start to enter a vasovagal state to shut it down. Not until I laid back down, would my heart rate and blood pressure regulate itself.

As great as it was that they figured that out, he still had no idea what it meant or the cause behind it. None of the doctors in the ER had ever seen such a thing before. As luck would have it though, there was one intern that had heard of such a thing before. Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. A disorder that fit all my symptoms, and correlated well with my age and gender. (POTS is mostly found in females in their early twenties) I was admitted into the hospital for the night, and assigned to a lovely room with a loud epileptic drug addict, and a bed that would ring an alarm if I tried to get up without assistance. It was a very special night.

They continued to run medical tests and watch my vitals for the next 24 hours to secure their diagnosis, before they released me with a new medication and instructions to follow up with a cardiologist.The new medication did not help my symptoms, and additionally made me feel like my skin had been replaced with a giant icy-hot patch. Thankfully I was able to get in with a cardiologist within a couple of days, and he both confirmed the diagnosis and prescribed me a new medication to try, recommended that I wear compression stocking, and increase my salt intake.

The way I like to describe POTS to people, is that my blood is like a bottle of water.  If you flip a bottle over, all the water will fall to the bottom, and it cannot get back up without you turning it over again. If you lay it on its side however, the water equally lays across the bottle. This is like my veins. When I stand up, all my blood drops down and empties from my head making me lightheaded, and forces my heart to work overtime to make up for it. The blood then can't make it back up my body to circulate.  A normal nervous system circulates your blood up and down without issue. There are only a few medications proven to help with the effects of POTS, and in reality they are just there to equalize the symptoms, not cure it. The medications that they use have the job of restricting blood vessels, making the blood move slower. For example, the water in the bottle would move slower down if the bottle was being squeezed in the middle. Salt and compression stockings also have this effect.

The new medication he put me on worked well for a couple of weeks, before I started to have an increase of symptoms again. The dose was once again raised, and I stayed on that dose for a couple of weeks until it once again stopped helping. This went on for several weeks until I finally reached the highest medication dose permitted by the FDA, which thankfully worked for me, as my Doctor clearly stated he had no ideas for treatment after that point.

I lived on that dose for the next year and a half without issue. Yes, I often was fatigued, and I felt lightheaded if I stood up to fast, or stood in one position for too long, but I was able to get back into normal life activities such as grocery shopping, or taking the dog for a walk. I wasn't feeling back to how I was before,  but I was getting used to my new normal. After a year with no fainting spells, my doctor decided to try lowering my medication dose. While I did feel like I had to try a little but harder with less medication, I was feeling hopeful that I would be able to get off medication and be rid of this disorder.

Then, a couple months later- I came down with a cold. Which turned to pneumonia. Which started the whole cycle all over again.
My medication dose was raised again, with no improvement and new experimental treatments were tried to no avail. My vitals were actually worse then they had been the first time around, and I was having just as hard of a time sitting as standing.
Once again, my doctor was out of treatment options for this rare disorder and he referred me to a POTS specialist at Stanford Hospital.

So, for the last six or so months, the struggle has been real. I was trying to rest, work full time, and participate in as many normal activities as possible while I waited for my appointment at Stanford, and hoped for an instant cure. I don't go grocery shopping, I can't walk more then twenty feet or so at a time, and I cannot sit down without fidgeting or crossing my legs.

A few weeks ago, I finally was able to meet with the neurologist at Stanford, where he went over my complete medical history (literally from birth) and ran a series of tests on my nervous system.
And let me tell you, those "simple" tests were brutal on my body. They were simple functions, such as blowing into a tube or holding my breath, as well as a tilt table test where I had to be held in a standing position until I was about to literally lose consciousness. All tests that have proven to trigger the nervous systems, and thus make me feel incredibly ill.

The results were clear, I definitely have POTS. However, as the doctor explained, my POTS is a result of a nervous system failure that I already have. Not the POTS causing my nervous system to fail. Which really makes no difference in my treatment, or how I feel on a day to day basis, but it may mean that the POTS will go away if I can fix my nervous system.

A new medication had been added to my regimen, and has not made a dramatic difference so far. BUT, I have recently transitioned to a part-time working situation, and am getting serious about the things I can control; such as my food intake and physical activity. Already, I am feeling slightly less stressed and a little more relaxed knowing that I don't have to wake up every morning and fight through the day.

So what does all this mean for you, the faithful reader who may or may not have just read this whole boring tale?! It means, that I have time to blog again! WooHoo! I have a new little home office set up, and the time and energy to create!
My recipes may change a bit, as I am trying to limit my sugar and carb intake (they increase POTS symptoms) but, they will surely still be delicious!

Thanks for hanging in there guys while I have been going through all of this, and I promise to have some exciting things coming up to make up for it!

XOXO Carina


4.26.2014



It been so long since I've posted something, that it probably will have probably taken me longer to figure out how to do things on here again then to actually write this post. Such is life.

So... 2014 so far.

I had high hopes for this new year, I was going to start it off with a clean bill of health, a good job, and a the majority of Gaps winter line in my closet.

January brought me a new niece, new bedroom decor (can we just take a minute to talk about how long it took my to find velvet euro pillows. I mean, is it really too much to ask for?) and big dreams. I was planning a trip to Italy (finally!) contemplating various career path possibilities (mostly rather impractical) and feeling hopeful about starting a new chapter.

February rolled around, and brought me a cold. Then a stomach bug. Then pneumonia. Then a re-trigger of a disease I thought I was done with (as much as I could be anyway).
February was rough.
March was just as bad.

April has been much harder then I would've liked it to be. I struggle through the days, and crawl right into bed when I get home. I am completely exhausted from these last couple of months.

I've mentioned before about my diagnoses of P.O.T.S., and some day I'll explain it all to you in greater depth but for now dear readers, just know that I am not giving up on this blog. I have really loved this little space of mine, and I will continue on sharing with the world. I am working on a few new recipes, and stories to share; I am just very limited in my time and energy at this particular moment. :(

In the mean time: feel free to follow along on all the various social media outlets! Links over there >>>

Love you all!! Kiss-Kiss!

1.21.2014

Lets Catch Up


Please forgive me for the lack of posting lately. So much has been happening! Last we spoke, I was just catching up on Turkey day in time for Christmas. Well, now its time to catch up on Christmas, New Years, and everything else.

Please also forgive these sad, unedited photos.




 >>>Christmas eve dinner, and party snacks.

 >>>Brown paper packages tied up with strings! Inside: Chocolate macarons, homemade marshmallows, and fresh caramels.

 >>>Hunger games gingerbread men, to continue the tradition of years past movie characters in the form of cookies.

 >>> My little tree finally went back in the box this week, just in time for the crazy 90degree weather. Where is my winter!

 >>>First Sunset of the year!

 >>> Date with my boys to see Frozen. Boy number 1 was there too, if you were wondering.


 >> And last but not least, My new niece! Little Emma was born just a few days into the new year, and is cute as can be.


Remember to follow along on Instagram for current news and happenings!

Kiss-Kiss.



12.18.2013

Does anyone even still care about Thanksgiving?



Well too bad if you don't. 'Cause here it is anyway.








 Now that that is settled, we can get on with the Christmas holiday.

1 week!!



11.27.2013

Gluten Free Apple Crumble




Thanksgiving is tomorrow!! Yippe-i-o!
I am so ready to eat some yummy food, watch the parade, and eat more food.
You with me on that one? 


After stuffing your pie hole with savory, heavy foods, it eventually becomes to stuff that hole with actual pie.
And by pie, I mean a crustless crumble, because who needs more carbs after all that?
Not that I wouldn't love more carbs in my system, but mostly likely my gut won't appreciate it very much.


Like the rest of this weeks post, there is not much of an actual recipe involved with this apple crumble.
Slice and peel up some apples, add a little sugar (maple or brown!) and top off with a flour/butter mixture.
Ta da! Apple crumble.

For four ramekins of apple crumble, here is what I measured out:

3 red apple, peeled and sliced
2 tblsp maple sugar
toss together lightly, and lay in ramekin.
For crumble:
3/4 cup GF flour
4 tblsp DF butter, melted
1 1/2 tblsp maple sugar
Fork in melted butter to flour until lumps formed.



Enjoy!

and a Happy Thanksgiving!!!


11.26.2013

Chicken Noodle Soup



This is a post about homemade chicken noodle soup. 
I file this post under Thanksgiving leftovers, because you can make this same soup with a leftover turkey carcass, as you would with a chicken carcass.
Also, the word carcass is gross and creepy.


This is another one of those meals that we always had after turkey day. It went Thanksgiving thursday, casserole Friday, and soup Saturday. Always and forever.


To make this soup, you need just a few things-and you can add or subtract whatever you want, no problemo. 
To make a stock, you simply put the carcass in a large stock pot with water up and bring to a boil. I just know at which point in my pan to fill to, but its probably about 6-8 cups of water to my one chicken. You probably would need a bit more for a turkey.

I like to let the water stew for a few hours, to fully flavor the stock-but thats up to you and your time constraints. 


Once you water is hot and boiled, pull the carcass out, and pull apart as much meat off of it as you can. This part is gross. I could become a vegan like *that.*

Once the meat is off, throw it in the stock. 
Next comes the veggies.
Cut a half an onion and about 4 stalks of celery into small pieces. Saute in a small amount of oil, until slightly translucent. Then toss it in the pot.

Chop up about 4 whole carrot sticks, a cup of green beans, and 2 diced zucchini's and toss them into the pot.


 Let the veggies cook a bit, then add about 2 cups of gluten free noodles.
Serve warm with a sprinkle of sea salt!



 Enjoy!


11.25.2013

Thanksgiving Leftover Croquettes



Sooooo, I'm Dutch. I have a whole bunch of leftovers from Thanksgiving left.
What am I to do?!
Make a croquette of course!


What might making a leftover croquette involve, you may ask.
Not much.
A croquette is simply a fried ball of mashed potatoes and meat. Since we have have mashed potatoes, turkey, and stuffing left over, why not use them all right?

So heres what you do:
Mix a tablespoon GF flour with 2 cups cold mashed potatoes, then take a little bit and flatten it like a pancake. Add a dollop of stuffing in the middle, and a few shreds of turkey. Fold the potatoes back over the filling, and roll into an oval.
See >>
You can make them however large or small you want, I made them exceptionally large for no other reason then that I was too lazy to make a bunch of little ones. But, I would prefer little bite size, appetizer sized ones.


After you've put the balls together, roll them in bread crumbs, then in a raw scrambled egg, then in bread crumbs again. (p.s. I used crumbled Rudi's stuffing mix for the bread crumbs.)
Next, drop them on hot oil for about 3-5 minutes, or until outsides are golden.
Try not to let your oil get too hot, to where you scorch your first item into the frying pan, thus turning the oil black for all future use.
Frying things is not one of my special talents.

The outsides of these little snacks should get nice and crisp, while the insides stay warm and velvety.
Yum.


Enjoy!
Stay tuned for more Thanksgiving recipes!



11.24.2013

Thanksgiving Leftover Casserole



I know, I know, Thanksgiving hasn't even come yet-but it's time to dive into the leftovers.
For me on this special Thursday, I tend to spend all day cooking up a storm, only to barely eat anything once meal time comes around. Seriously, I'm not ever actually hungry on Thanksgiving. 
What that tends to mean, is that we have a mountain of food left over. 


Growing up, my mother always made a leftover casserole the day after Thanksgiving. Its almost as tradition, as the traditional meal itself. All thats needed for this casserole, is your main leftover ingredients. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and gravy. 
When I was little, as I have stated before; I was not a stuffing fan. So with this meal, there was a lot of groaning and whining served up as well. I usually was left eating around the stuffing, to get the mashed potatoes and meat that were untouched by the stuffing. I'm not sure how I ever made it through childhood...but obviously I've changed my tune on stuffing ;)


 To make this casserole, Layer accordingly:
Top with gravy, and bake in 350degree oven for 30-40 minutes.
Thats it! All the hard work has already been done the day before!



 Enjoy! 
And keep tuning in for more leftover recipes!