Call Me Iron Woman

If you guys follow me over on Instagram, you might remember awhile back I mentioned having some health issues.  It all started about 6 years ago, to be honest.  Every time I thought I might have figured it out, or had a handle on things, it would all shift.  A few months ago I thought I would stop taking my allergy medicine.  Just to see what would happen.  I was getting sinus headaches a lot, so I wanted to see if maybe that would change.

The sinus headaches went away, but all of a sudden I was breaking out in hives and itching so badly I was scratching myself raw.  I went to the doctor and he told me I would have to switch everything to fragrance free and do an elimination diet to try and figure out the culprit.

Well, I did this... sort of.  I really didn't want to give up coffee though.  But soon I realized that every time I touched coffee I broke out in hives.  Well, isn't that FABULOUS.  So I stopped drinking coffee.  Yet, I still had a few issues and we are working on those still.  The interesting part was... my blood results.

The doctor thought perhaps I had an autoimmune disease.  But those tests all came back normal.  The only thing that made my doctor pause was my iron levels.  They were high.  He almost let it go, but as we were talking he decided to just order a few more tests, just in case.

Well, good thing he did.

We found out that I have a genetic blood disorder called hemochromatosis.  I know, hemo...what?  Basically I store more iron than most people.  Over most of your life no one will notice it.  It isn't until you are about my age that it moves into the high range.  I have just been storing extra iron every year and it eventually added up until it was reaching dangerous.  By dangerous I mean cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer, diabetes... and so on.  Don't worry.  My levels aren't that bad, yet.  All the iron is trying on my organs and makes things very difficult.  I am more susceptible to food poisoning and it will likely be severe.

So, I have been given a list of foods I cannot eat.  Don't feel too sorry for me, yet.  Mostly they are the organs of any animal, green leafy vegetables like spinach, and prune juice.  There is more, but you get the idea.  Poor me, huh?  What no kale?  I can never have a meal of liver with a side of kale and some prune juice??  Oh yeah, no cooking in a cast iron.  I have to avoid high levels of vitamin C and the worst... alcohol.  I can have an occasional glass of wine, I guess, but really I would rather not get cirrhosis of the liver.

I was also told that I could basically eat chicken.  Just chicken.  Avoid beef, bacon, etc.  So that got me thinking... Why?  I started looking into iron absorption and all that jazz.  All iron from animal sources are more easily absorbed by the body.  Plant based iron not so much.  I also learned that it is better to have your iron on the lower side of normal.... not low, of course, but on the lower side, because it is easier on your organs.

I was faced with a life of eating dry chicken breast and I was not happy.  I realized that I would much rather not eat meat at all, especially since it seemed that was the best way for me to go since the iron sources would be easier on my body.

It as also shortly before all this that I had noticed something very odd going on.  I have been gluten free for nearly 6 years.  I would get violently ill every time I so much as looked at a piece of bread.  But I had not had one flare up in over a year.  I mean being gluten free is not always full proof.  Things happen and it will cross your path when you least expect it.  So I started taking the wheat communion at mass.  Nothing.  And then I thought... I am going to go for it.  I am going to eat a piece of bread!

And I did.

And I didn't get sick.

Nothing.  Not even a tummy pang or a brain fog.

It was beautiful and I gained like 10 pounds.  It was worth it... well, maybe.

So here I am with this whole new avenue of food open to me.  Foods I have not been able to eat for over half a decade.  And then BOOM.  You can eat chicken.

Since all this happened I have been researching plant based foods and have transitioned to a vegan diet.  You see, I found out that the Paleo diet was the worst thing I could have been eating.  All that meat was playing havoc with my iron levels.

To top all this off we had also found out that my husband had hypertension.  It was time to make a change.

The transition has not been as hard as I thought it would be.  I actually feel like I have a lot more options open to me and more interesting food!  We are still working out the kinks, of course, but I am feeling so much better.  Everything has lightened and become so much more enjoyable.  My depression and anxiety are gone, I have more energy (and considering I can't have coffee anymore that is huge), and I actually think we might save money every month on our food bill!

Hemochromatosis is not curable.  It is something I will live with the rest of my life.  Eventually, when my levels get too high, I will have to give blood.  Yes, that is right.  Blood letting.  I am picturing myself laying in bed in a frilly 19th century nightgown with a bowl beneath my arm as a doctor stands over me with a knife.  Or perhaps I will just get some pet leeches.  But there are steps I can take right now to make my life a better one and that will be a vegan diet.

I may share more about this journey here on the blog.  It will be a crazy adventure, but that is what we are all about around here!

Our First Hike of Autumn 2017

The other day we went on our first little hike of autumn!  This is truly my most favorite time of the year.  As we walked along the path we kept our eyes open for signs of the changing season.

One of our favorite paths is a simple one in a small town near here, known for its pioneer history.  It is a nice simple one that is easy for Evie, who is almost 3 now.  I only had 4 kids with me, since the other two boys had a scouting event.  I kept feeling like I was missing someone!

It was so nice to get out though, since we haven't done much since the fires and smoke took over our lives a few weeks ago.  It is funny how easy it is to fall out of good habits!  So this was really such a wonderful hike and refreshed our spirits after so long.

I have not always been very "outdoorsy" shall we say.  I love nature and hikes, but I never really got to do those things when I was younger.  So there was a moment on our hike where I very clearly had this moment:

Evie let out a thrilled little squeak and said, "Mommy!  Look!"

Yeah.  I took this huge inhale of breath ready to scream my fool head off because of this tiny snake.  And then I let it go and said, "Wow, kids.  Look at this very cool and very neat snake."  My hands were totally not shaking while I took the pictures.

I know, I know.  The snake was more afraid of me.  And if you put in the comments that this was a very poisonous snake that could have killed me and all my children I will faint.  But see, Evie... She ain't afraid of no snake!

With that over and my heart back to a more natural beat we continued to look for signs of autumn.

It is always fun to come on this hike during the different seasons, to see this creek bed.  You can always tell the seasons by how much, if any, water there is.  We were able to find some cool rocks to bring home and paint for an upcoming project for the girl's Frontier Girl troop.

Bravewriter Blitz! Day 4

Day 4: MASH-UP!

Today was all about playing with someone else's words!

We cut up lines from poetry and rearranged them to create our own unique works.  We had quite a few good laughs!

Here are our poems:

I made sure to put all the strips in an envelope to play with again.  
This would make a GREAT poetry tea time activity.

We will likely finish the rest of our writing blitz next week, I imagine.  Since we have a very busy weekend ahead of us.  But I will try!

This has been a lot of fun, and as it is a FREE download, you can do this whenever.  I imagine I will pull this out perhaps when we are having a rough week or even just a buys week like we had this week.  We have had lots of doctors appointments and such so I knew not much school was going to happen.  So it was great to have this one activity everyday that could bring us together for about a half hour and didn't take too much prep work.  Today was the only day I would say, so far, I really had to prepare anything.  It was so worth it, however, as we will be sure to do this activity 
again and again!

Bravewriter Blitz! Day 3

Day 3 was about Writing Habits...  
All about thinking outside the box and having fun with writing.  Here are some of the creative places or positions we decided to write in!

You can write on your head...

On top of a car made of lead...

Or in a fort made with sheets from your bed!

On top a a table we will record all you said!

Sorry for the rhyme... I couldn't help myself.


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