Trying the Gluten-Free Diet

So we are trying the gluten-free diet at home. My daughter has been having several health issues over the last several months, so we’ve found a doctor now that is coaching us through a detox process. It involves many supplements, as well as going gluten-free.

I’ve learned that gluten is a protein in grains – mostly wheat, rye, and barley. And now I’m checking ingredient labels for this and it does appear in almost everything! I find it mostly in the form of wheat flour and that includes breads, pastas, cereals, crackers, cookies, etc…

We are trying gluten-free for awhile to see if it helps my daughter with feeling better. Some of the concern with gluten is that she might have an intolerance to it, and, there is a chemical called Glyphosate used in American wheat farming that can be a contaminant to her system. So we’re eliminating it for awhile to observe if there are any noticeable improvements.

The good news however, is that we’ve been able to find substitutes for almost all the above. We’ve been able to find gluten-free bread and pasta made out of rice flour instead, and we’ve been able to find cakes and cookies made out of almond flour. The taste is similar, but we do notice a difference in texture which is a bit distracting sometimes.

Other good news is that potatoes and rice are naturally gluten-free and we love carbs so we’re happy to not have to eliminate any of those.

The bad news so far is that we’ve had to give-up practically all fast food because most of it is either fried (the breading on fried foods uses wheat flour unfortunately) or served on a bun (made with wheat flour). That’s been the most difficult change for us up to this point, but honestly – we recognize it’s not a bad thing to quit fast food. It’s much healthier to quit it. It’s just been the most difficult change so far.

Anyhow, I will keep you all posted on how this goes. We’ve been gluten-free about 2-3 weeks now. Cross your fingers that we keep it up!

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Chronic Headache Treatments

Hello everyone! I hope you are doing well! We’ve had a crazy couple of weeks at home. The summer temperatures have been 90+ F degrees daily, with a heat index of 100+ F. THEN we had a crazy storm pop up out of nowhere and knocked out all our electricity for several days. It was miserable. We finally have power now, and I’m back online, so I’m playing catch-up!

So back to the point of my post, my daughter is 12 years old and she had a non-stop constant 24/7 headache for 9 months. Oh gosh, approximately 270 days of pain. The pain was in the front of her head area, symmetrical, and it was a just a constant pain that never went away no matter what she did. It didn’t pulse or ebb/flow it was just always THERE. (She has another chronic symptom of constant vertigo as well, but we’ll skip that issue for now).

It’s terrible to see your child in pain for such a long period of time. Of course we tried everything to relieve it. When her headache first appeared, it mostly hovered around a 8-9 pain number on a scale of 1-10, where 10 is the worst possible. And it was debilitating to her at that level, preventing her from even getting out of bed most days. She missed so much school and activities because of it.

Below is a list of the chronic headache treatments we’ve tried and what worked/didn’t work for her.

  1. Over the Counter Medications – These include NSAIDS (Aspirins, Ibuprofens, Aleve) and Acetaminophens (Tylenols, etc) and none of these helped relieve her pain at all. We tried these all very heavily at first, and then I learned about Rebound Headaches/Medication Overuse Headaches, and we backed-off since those exact medications can actually CAUSE headaches if you use them too much. Be careful!
  2. At-Home Treatments – We tried many at-home treatments as well. These include resting in silence/the dark, cooling the headache, heating the headache, aromatherapy, sleep, caffeine, etc. We also tried drinking a ton of water to ensure she wasn’t dehydrated. None of these had any effect on my daughter.
    We did purchase a cooling/heating cap for her to try. While the cap didn’t work for my daughter at all, we didn’t want to waste it so we gave to a friend that experiences frequent, but not constant, headaches. And that friend loves it and claims it quickly relieves her headaches everytime she uses it. We’re so happy it helped someone. Here’s a photo of it in case you are curious about it:
  3. Prescribed Medications from a Doctor – We also consulted with several doctors about my daughter’s headaches. The prescribed medications we tried included: All the Triptans which are supposed to block pain pathways in the brain, but they had zero effect on my daughter. We tried Anti-Migraine medications, Anti-Seizure medications, Blood Pressure medications, and Anti-Depressant medications and all had no effect on reducing my daughter’s pain. Some of the medications actually introduced MORE symptoms that made my daughter feel worse – such as light-sensitivity, nausea, lethargy, and sometimes even increased the headache pain. We were about to start different prescription treatments using CGRP antagonists and Nerve Blocks, but we had a development I’ll describe later that took us off that path.
  4. Emergency Room “Migraine Cocktails” – We did go to the Emergency Room for my daughter’s headache pain when it got unbearable for her. The Emergency Room gave her their “Migraine Cocktail” intravenous treatment for the pain and they were shocked when it had no effect on her. They even prolonged the treatment for her under supervision expecting it to work and seriously seemed surprised that it didn’t even help a little bit.
  5. Diagnostic Testing – My daughter was ordered an MRI/MRA of her head and neck to look for any obstructions or compressions, and these tests came back fine. She later had an X-Ray of her neck that did show a structural issue. See item #7 below for the details about that.
  6. Diet – There is an anti-migraine diet that is supposed to help prevent trigger headaches and alleviate the symptoms. Fasting can also trigger headaches so it is recommended NOT to skip meals and make sure to eat at regular intervals throughout the day. Some of the dietary triggers include: alcohol, cheese, processed meats, milk, high fat foods, nuts, etc. The list is pretty exhaustive and sometimes it feels difficult to find items to eat that are safe. But it’s worth a shot if you are suffering with headaches. It didn’t help my daughter.
  7. Chiropractor – We were advised by a doctor to see an “Atlas Orthogonal” chiropractor only. That doctor was very clear that chiropractors can actually make headache issues worse, so only visit that specific type. We found the closest AO chiropractor to us was in a different state and 1 hour drive away (so, a 2 hour round trip), but we made the appointment. Here was where my daughter was given an X-Ray of her neck, and the results were that her atlas bone (the top vertebrea) was rotated and tilted.
    At this point, my daughter’s headache was around an 8 on her pain scale, and had been hovering around 7-9 for several months. The chiropractor did his first alignment session on her and before she even got up from the table, she claimed her pain dropped to a 2. She hadn’t been lower than a 7 in months and I started crying right there I was so happy that something finally helped her.
    The chiropractor was never able to reduce the pain any further, and her headaches remained, but were lower in severity going-forward. They ended-up hovering around 2-5 after that, which was enough of an improvement that she was able to do more things and go to school and start living her life with less pain. He continued to treat her, but it was mostly for maintenance, and not really expecting any more improvements. Follow-up X-Rays showed that her atlas bone is aligned correctly now and seems to be holding in place.
  8. Acupuncture – Now that my daughter’s headache was lower severity (hovering around 2-5 at this point), we started seeking different types of treatments. A few months later, we found an acupuncturist that was highly recommended. I was skeptical about acupuncture because I don’t understand it. (I still don’t). But during my daughter’s acupuncture appointment, the doctor said he wasn’t going to stop until her headache was gone. On this day, my daughter’s headache was around a 5. So, he worked on her by sticking needles in her body. I’m over-simplifying the procedure because it doesn’t make sense to me, but he was very methodological in what he was doing. And he would constantly check-in on her and ask if her headache was gone. She’d say it was still there. So he’d continue sticking needles in her.

    This went on for about an hour. And then he checked-in on her and asked if her headache was gone. This time she said her headache WAS gone. So he stopped. I kinda thought she was lying and said it just to make him stop. So as soon as we left, I asked her if she was lying just to make him stop. And she said, no. It really was gone. And it’s actually been gone ever since. I’ve been worried that it would come back and stay, but it hasn’t yet. My daughter is now 4 months headache-free. It took 9 months to get here. We still go to this acupuncturist for maintenance/preventative and we’re very happy.
  9. Neuroplasticity – This was our next step to try if the acupuncturist didn’t work. Since her headache is gone now, we might still try it anyway for her vertigo issue that still remains. I’ll be oversimplifying again, since I don’t understand, but neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to physically adapt and to structurally create new neural pathways, sometimes called “re-wiring”. Most of us are familiar with negative neuroplasticity – when the brain maladapts to addictions and stress and disorders. But there are clinics focused on positive neuroplasticity, and it can be applied towards pain and vertigo issues.

I hope you all found the information above helpful. I hope none of you are suffering with chronic headaches because it is terrible, but if so, I hope some of the treatments above can help you find relief.

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Impact of Nonstop Negativity

Have you all noticed that every time you watch the news or go online it’s just constant negativity and nonstop doom-and-gloom?

And if you haven’t noticed… pls share your secret with me because I want to escape this.

I can’t watch my local news anymore because as soon as I turn it on, I get bombarded with multiple crime events and fear-provoking stories such as the latest study on what could possibly cause us to die. And I don’t believe that the local news is a good reflection of my area at all, as my town is FILLED with good people doing good things. But that never makes the cut.

I can’t watch national news anymore because as soon as I turn it on, it’s nothing but arguing and disagreeing and trading punches about whatever the hot topic of the moment is. No matter what side of the political spectrum you fall on, I don’t want to be subjected to the fighting with no end or resolution in sight. It makes me feel like a little kid again… hiding around the corner but still listening to my parents yelling and fighting with each other and scared to death that they would get a divorced. Very traumatic as a kid. Now the national news is doing the same to me as an adult.

I can’t visit Twitter anymore because every single time I check it out, I see something too terribly graphic that I just want to cry. Just today I saw a 20 second clip of dolphins beaching themselves and banging their heads against rocks until they died, and also people lighting a bulls head on fire so it would panic and stampede. By the time I figured out what I was watching, it was over. But I can’t forget what I saw. I HATE Twitter.

I can’t visit Facebook anymore for several reasons: the people I personally know on FB are judgey and hateful so I can’t say anything. And the people I do NOT personally know on FB, when I do say something to them for interaction, often end up ghosting me. And the FB Groups I’ve joined are even worse and are the exact opposite of what I wanted. For example, I love cats and and I have my own cat and I joined a few FB Groups dedicated to cats… and I had to leave them all because way too many of the posts were about cats who just died or cats that are sick and suffering and photos of injured dying cats and I just can’t deal with that everyday.

And when I consume content like that mentioned above, it seriously disturbs me and I fear that it will have a more permanent impact on me regarding my mood, state of mind, train of thoughts, etc.

And if that impact is happening to me, I believe it’s happening to everyone right? And having an entire population desensitized to tragedy and despair cannot be good. I feel like it will make people less caring and less sympathetic in response. It’s de-humanizing us. It’s terrible.

But how do we avoid this and stop this from happening to others? I feel like we have to be very mindful of what we consume as a first step, and then be responsible enough to not share graphic material that can provoke negative reactions in others. There is a way to report and educate others with dignity, and we need to foster that skillset again.

Grocery Freezer Challenge

So I’m starting a new challenge for the month of May – the Grocery Freezer Challenge! This is where I attempt to avoid the grocery store all month long in order to save money and clear out my food supply from my freezer and pantry instead.

I want to do this for several reasons:

1. I hate going to the grocery store. Makes me so angry every time because they are out of something I wanted, what I want is spoiled or not in a condition I would buy, and it’s crowded and people there are annoying. Did I miss anything?

2. I want to save money this month. I’ve been keeping track since the beginning of the year and my average spend is around $700/month at the grocery store. I’m not sure if that is low or high compared to others but it’s for a household of 3 people and we do eat out at restaurants maybe 30% of the time.

3. I want to be less wasteful. I’ve lost track of what’s in there over time and so I usually just go and buy whatever I think I need from the grocery, without realizing that I already have it at home. I do believe I waste so much time and money doing that. And when I do eventually find it at home, I’ve forgotten about it for so long that it’s probably too late to use and I end up throwing it away.

4. I want to clear out my freezer and pantry so that I can start over stocking it. I want to be more purposeful with what I buy. With some strategy and planning ahead, I feel like I can be more efficient with my grocery shopping.

So, I started this challenge for the month of May and I will let you know how it works out! I hope I don’t stink at it! I’ll probably have to go to the grocery store for a few items here and there but it should be a significant drop decrease overall. We shall see…

Below are pics of my garage freezer so you have a visual of my challenge for the month…. I literally have no clue what’s sitting in the bottom few layers.

I am back online…

Hola everyone! I have missed you all and I have a lot of catching up to do! I want to know everything I’ve missed! I’ll be working my way backwards through most of your blogs to get an idea, and you can also comment below here what’s been going on with you all the last several months. I’m kinda excited to get back online.

I had a bit of a blogging midlife/identity crisis as I didn’t know what I wanted to blog about anymore.

I did know that didn’t want my posts to be negative and bring everyone down all the time, and I was in a dark place mentally so that’s what my content would’ve been, so that’s the primary reason why I stayed away.

I also knew that I wanted to inform people about stuff. But about what? What am I an expert in?

So I’ve decided that I am an expert on my working-mom lifestyle and I can share my info on how I survive it. Not that I’m surviving it any better than anyone else, but I’m surviving it.

I have very strong opinions on the following topics and they’ll most likely be my new material going forward, so I hope it keeps your interest:

1. The Corporate America world and how employees need to advocate for themselves to prevent being taken advantage of. For example, having to work on vacation days or being triple-booked for meetings because people don’t respect time blocked-off on schedules anymore.

2. The health care system in the U.S. and how to find medical help outside the status quo. We’ve found that insurance companies will not cover the ONLY treatments that help my daughter but they will gladly cover all the pharmaceutical treatments that do NOT help her, that KEEP her feeling sick, and/or make her feel worse! It seems like a scam. (My daughter isn’t 100% yet, but she’s made a ton of progress once we switched to doctors that don’t take health insurance and stopped prescribing her medications.)

3. Ideas on how to live frugally while your spouse is a spender. I have always been obsessed with decluttering and not being wasteful, but I’ve recently also become obsessed with growing my own garden at home because the produce at the grocery store is usually not great quality anymore – not fresh and always out or almost spoiled AND ridiculously expensive.

4. Self-care and how to make time and spend money on YOURSELF! And on the things you enjoy. I enjoy traveling so I plan to start doing more of that going forward.

Anyhow, I think that’s a good summary of what my blog topics will probably be like as I come back from my blogging retirement. I hope you all have been doing well. I’ve missed you and I’ve missed being here!

$1000 Declutter Challenge for 2023

Declutter Challenge

So I posted about this declutter challenge last year too if this sounds familiar: $1000 Declutter Challenge for 2022. Basically, the goal of this challenge is to acquire at least $1000 by the end of the year, with only items you’ve decluttered from your home.

And I did pretty well with this challenge last year (at first), but then some life issues happened and completely distracted me from it. All in all, I collected $275 last year from decluttering, and I did all that by April. So I think I was on-track towards meeting the $1000 goal before I quit. Not too bad, right?

BUT, I love the idea of this declutter challenge and I totally want to try it again this year. It accomplishes two things that I love: 1) extra motivation to declutter, and 2) extra money! I’m planning to use the additional money I make on this challenge towards paying for my SiteGround/Wordpress subscription when it’s time to renew. Because that is NOT a fun bill to pay.

So what do you think? You all want to try the declutter challenge with me? We can race to see who gets to the $1000 goal first. If you’re like me, a good competition gives me extra edge.

I also have an update on that ridiculous treadmill that I’m still trying to get rid of. I first posted about this treadmill – and listed all my legitimate reasons why it needs to go away – in my original Declutter Challenge post from last year. But my family won’t cooperate, DESPITE not even using it. And for the record, it doesn’t even WORK anymore so they couldn’t use it if they tried.

I want to get rid of it so badly, that I won’t even try to sell it. I’d put it on the side of the street or even pay someone to come get it. That’s how much I want it gone.

Here it is from 1 year ago…

Declutter Challenge
Declutter Challenge

And here it is today…

Declutter Challenge
Declutter Challenge

Unfortunately, not much has changed except for the addition of even MORE CLUTTER. The existence of this treadmill in my home is making me crazy.

And to make matters even worse! My family brought home a friend for this treadmill a few months ago too. They also do not use this friend. I believe that its sole purpose in the home is to annoy me. It has succeeded…

Declutter Challenge
Declutter Challenge

Apparently, a neighbor was decluttering THEIR home last year and wanted to give away this exercise bike, pictured above. My husband accepted it, and brought it into our home. We don’t really have a decent place for it in the home, so yes, it is sitting in front of a doorway. And now the husband is attached to it, claiming that he MIGHT want to use it someday. But I know that he won’t. The likelihood of him using this exercise bike is about the same as the likelihood of him using the treadmill that doesn’t work.

Stuff like this is why I’m a looney-bird.

Anyhow, wish me luck everyone! I need all the help I can get to finally rid my home of this treadmill and it’s friend. And as you all can see in my photos above… there is alot of decluttering opportunity in my home. I can definitely use any extra $$$ I get from working on this declutter challenge.

Good luck to all of you trying this with me!

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Happy New Year!

Hi everyone, I wish you all a happy New Year!

I don’t really do resolutions, since I always stink at keeping them. But I do want to maintain some of the focus areas that I’ve already started. And they all revolve around keeping my mood and my headspace positive so I don’t wallow in despair like I tend to do if I don’t actively avoid it. It’s a process that requires my attention and participation.

Some of my focus areas that I want to maintain:

  1. Keep my social media positive. I definitely started to notice last year, that my social media was progressively getting darker and darker, and those rabbit-holes were affecting my mood too. So I purposefully started unfollowing content that was negative – mostly political accounts. I want my social media to be an escape for me. A place that makes me feel better. So I have to make it that way, and maintain it.
  2. Stay organized. My mood is also heavily-dependent on how organized I am. When I am scrambling with no clear direction, my mood takes a nose-dive. This isn’t just my material “stuff” like clothes and kitchen gadgets and junk drawers… but also mental to-do lists like “What needs to be done TODAY.” And lists have become my best-friend!
  3. De-clutter. This is my biggest struggle. Mostly because the rest of my immediate family are hoarders (nowhere near as bad as those on tv, but still…) and will NOT willingly get rid of anything, nor put away anything properly. But a cluttered space really causes me anxiety and a feeling of lack of control, and it is not good for my headspace. I really don’t know how to resolve this one without the cooperation of the family – which I do not have. 🙁
  4. Be Engaged! I definitely withdraw and isolate myself when I am in a funk or feeling stressed and overwhelmed. But I’m also aware enough to know that withdrawing makes me feel even worse. So I do want to make sure I keep myself engaged with others, ESPECIALLY when I am feeling stressed out. I’m better off doing so.

Anyhow, those are definitely the areas that help me to stay positive and prevent me from spiralling into a funk. Wish me luck with these in 2023!

What are you all going to be focused on for 2023?