Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Deciding to Go Gluten-Free

A few months ago, in November 2013, I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism. This diagnosis came as no surprise to me, considering both my grandmother and mother both have the same thing. Basically, my thyroid is underactive, which causes the hormones in my body to be released at a much higher rate than normal. (If you are not familiar with the thyroid, its underactivity causes too much hormone release and it's overactivity causes too little hormone release - it's the exact opposite of what you might think considering the normal use of underactive/overactive). Anyway, I was placed on thyroid supplements and started feeling slightly better. Some of my symptoms are still around, which is why I am going to go to a specialist to monitor my thyroid even further.

In January, I started getting pretty severe stomach aches. I've always had a "sensitive stomach" (as I'd call it) and felt that I got sick easily, for no apparent reason. After my thyroid diagnosis and 2-3 weeks of feeling miserable, every morning, all of the time, I decided to do a little research. Thankfully I stumbled upon an online forum for thyroid disorder patients, and read a lot. I mean, a lot. It's amazing what you learn from people who have been in the same situation as you, and know what they are talking about.

Many people had said that they started feeling better after they began a gluten-free diet. So, I did my own research and found that, indeed, gluten intolerance and thyroid disorders can be linked due to the fact that they are both autoimmune disorders. So I started my research on what it actually meant to go gluten-free, what it entailed, how it would work in my life, etc. Basically (there is more than this, trust me), no wheat, rye, barley, or oats. No traditional breads (the horror!), cakes, cookies, chips, anything and everything that included wheat, rye, barley (like beer), or oats. Ok, I told myself, I can try this. I can see if this makes me feel a little bit better.

I was anxious. I downloaded an app on my phone which allows me to scan almost every product in a grocery store to see if it has gluten, and if it does, the app tells me to avoid that item. On Saturday morning, after a particularly severe stomach attack (the pain is indescribable), I decided to just take the plunge. I took my app and started scanning everything in my pantry. 70% of it was ok, but I had to throw away many items like pastas or noodles (or label them "Javi only"). We went to the grocery store and bought some gluten-free products. Luckily, I am able to eat all meats, fruits, veggies, cheeses (I'm glad I'm not lactose intolerant), I just have to be careful with my consumption of grains. I seriously probably spent an hour and a half in the store, and bought maybe 20 items. It was exhausting at the moment. So now my pantry has gluten-free items, and I find myself being really conscious about what I eat.

I'm quite aware that I'm probably not intolerant to a little bit of gluten, but when consumed in high amounts, it gives me terrible pains. For example, we went to a restaurant and I really wanted a hamburger. Silly me, because after I ate (and I only ate a quarter of the bun because I knew it would make me feel bad), I felt those pains coming on. I knew that had to be the last time I ate a grain like that, because it was just too painful otherwise.

It has been a few days, and every single day since I've gone gluten-free, I have had NO stomach ache! Maybe this was the key. Only time will tell.

I'm not going gluten-free to lose weight. I'm not going gluten-free because it's 'healthier.' I'm going gluten-free because otherwise, I'd be in bed every morning feeling like my whole body was going to die. We still have products in our house with gluten because Javi eats them. I have to choose: do I want to feel good, or do I want to eat gluten? (Because, seriously, bread with gluten is SO much better...)

I know that if this is the reason and I remain gluten-free, eating out will be harder. I will have to bring my own food. I will have to tell people of my dietary restriction. I'm making changes in  my diet to eliminate being sick all of the time. It's not really by choice, it's by necessity.

Now, if I can only make a gluten-free bread that takes like bread with gluten, and I'll be happy.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Winter, Winter + Reflections

We're in the midst of what feels like the longest winter, ever and I have spent the majority of this very cold Saturday browsing blogs, refreshing Facebook, watching my husband play Call of Duty, finishing my homework, thinking about what I want as a snack, and moving my cats away from my legs since they think the couch is their domain.

I was supposed to travel to my parents' house for my little sister's birthday weekend, but travel conditions are awful and we recently took a 5.5 hour drive to Indianapolis a few weeks ago, when the normal drive is 2 hours. And I am not doing that ever again.

I'm in a reflective state of mind, one that involves a lot of prayer. I've spent countless hours talking to the Big Man Above, just chatting with Him about what seems like a continuous thought process that runs through my head with no end and certainly no beginning. I wonder what 2014 has in store for me. I hope for things to happen how I wish for them to happen. I'm pretty content with my life, but let's be honest. We all want something more. We all want to continue to 'improve' our lives in a way that we see fit. And this reflection that I've been happening has really been focused on that.

What is 2014 going to bring me?
Will it be balanced?
Can I celebrate some very big highs after some of last years very low lows?
Will I continue to be happy?

Life is sort of a conundrum. I like where I am in my life, but I'm striving for more. I'm studying for another M.A. because I want to move up in my career. I'm focusing on my health because I need to lose weight and I want a baby, so very badly. (No secret.) I want to travel, save money, buy a house. I want to experience things with my husband that are new and exciting.

This year has already brought big changes. My husband started college to complete his degree. I have lost 13 pounds. Minus this horrible, horrendous, bitterly cold winter we are having, we're pretty secure. We have a plan of action in place, at least.

2014, be nice to me!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Painful Side of 2013

2013 was a rather good year for me, but there were many moments of intense pain and silent hardship that I had to endure without letting it escape from my own heart and brain.

It's not a subject that many people are willing to talk about, but it's something that is rampant in many people's lives, as I've learned over the past eight months. It's not even something that I like to discuss openly with my family, as most people probably would feel uncomfortable talking about it and might shy away from it. The subject is even hard for me to type here on my blog, and I probably won't post this on any social media websites like I usually do because I'm not sure how some people might feel about it and their reaction.

So, here goes. I'm going to throw all my fear that surrounds talking about the subject and let it go here, on this blog, into the Internet, outside of my bedside journal and outside of my innermost feelings.

My husband and I want a baby. We have wanted a baby since we got married. We've tried to have a baby since we got married. But, we still haven't been able to get pregnant. I read statistics that 80% of couples get pregnant after six months of trying. Well, we are outside of that 80% because we are now trying for the ninth month in a row. People who know me in real life might wonder why I would even want to get pregnant because I'm overweight, but that doesn't determine if you can get pregnant. Sure, being overweight can cause health problems which can, in turn, cause infertility. But I don't have any health problems like that. I've talked to my doctor and she has given me the go-ahead to have a baby, at the same time encouraging me to lose weight (which is obvious to me, and the reason why I'm now on Weight Watchers). But, BUT, I don't need to be skinny to have a baby. It's not a requirement.

The only issue that I'm dealing with is having hypothyroidism. I'm on medication to stabilize my hormone levels, which is necessary for my overall health.

People who have not tried to have a baby don't realize how hard the whole process can be. In the beginning, it's so exciting and new and fun! You are going to have a baby! Then if you don't get pregnant in the first months, you start to feel a little stressed. You start to wonder if something is wrong, and you end up going to the doctor for vials and vials of bloodwork. Been there, done that. The only problem was my thyroid.

Now, I'm just not arbitrarily hoping that I get pregnant. I am not innocent in my belief that having a baby is easy. It's incredibly hard to get pregnant, especially when you REALLY want to get pregnant. It seems to get even harder. Every morning, I wake up and take my temperature and put it in an application on my phone to monitor when I ovulate. I take a prenatal. I take my other medication. I've tracked my cycles for nine months. I pee on ovulation predictor sticks a week every cycle to see when the right time is. I stock up on pregnancy tests when they are on sale, and even have bought cheap pregnancy tests online so I can test as much as possible.

Getting pregnant is really emotionally exhausting when you want it as much as I do, and as much as other women that I know want it. It really starts to get to you after awhile, and your hopes get dashed every month, especially when you really think that month is YOUR month.

What is hardest is that people don't necessarily know what to say when they find out you've been trying for a long time. They say a myriad of phrases that they think are helpful, and they don't anything else to say, but they often don't help. My husband doesn't even help when he says such things. It's hard not to feel like a failure month after month, taking a pregnancy test hoping that you are pregnant and it ends up a big, fat negative.

My focus of 2014 is getting pregnant. My husband is going to get a few tests done, and if everything is ok with him, I'll go have more tests done too. I'm sad. I thought I'd be pregnant by now, and I'm still hoping that I'm pregnant by my birthday. We want more than one child, and I'm afraid that every child will take this long.

So, if you read this, just keep me in your prayers - as well as all of the other women in this world who desperately want a baby and for some reason, cannot get pregnant - that every women can have a baby that she really wants.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Through the Eyes of an Innocent

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to celebrate the quintessential American holiday, 4th of July, with my husband. It was important because 1.) this was my first 4th of July in two years, and 2.) this was my husband's first 4th of July ever.

Sometimes I take for granted all of the things that Americans have or participate in, and I push it to the wayside because it's quite normal for me (even after being outside of the country). But there are so many times that my husband is literally experiencing something for the first time in his mere 25 years. Things such as fireworks, playing corn hole, going to food festivals, watching parades, and the like are all events that my husband has rarely or never experienced. And being able to stand next to him and experience all of these things through his eyes is a test in almost pure innocence. There are so many times where he is like a child, having the ability to see something in its purest and rarest form.

There are moments where I try to make him understand that something is normal for me, or for Americans. But he always gently reminds me that he has never had that experience, or has never been able to see something until that specific moment.

I try to remember this when I'm doing something like trying to plan our vacation. I promised my husband about a year and a half ago that I would take him to Washington, D.C. I've been there before when I was 14 years old, but being from a different country, my husband simply hasn't had the ability or pleasure to travel much. We traveled a lot when we were overseas, which makes me feel almost obligated to take advantage of the times when we can travel - be it when we have money and before we have children. There are so many places I want to take him, but are not financially possible right now.

We decided on D.C. after much discussion. We threw around - literally - 10 different places and finally settled on D.C. for multiple reasons. D.C. is a good place to vacation because it's close to where we live so we can drive there easily, it has a ton of things to do and most of them are free, and we can get a good deal if I use Priceline to find a nice hotel at a reasonable price.

I'm already preparing myself to live through this upcoming vacation through his eyes. I can't wait to see all of the monuments and museums in a new and different light. I'm happy that I'm able to see things in a different way - it's almost like having an innocent 25-year-old child who works and helps me pay the bills.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

When I Look At You, I See Myself.

Sometimes I look at my husband and I wonder how much life would be different if he was not who he is and I am not who I am.

It often amazes me that we actually ever met at all - and all of the things that had to happen before we met in order for us to come together in the correct moment. I guess it's all Fate. Now, if you know me at all, you know that I believe in soul mates. I often look at my husband and I can see that he is exactly me, mirrored in a male, Latino body and mind. Before our wedding ceremony, we met with the officiant and he asked us one simple question: "Why him? Why her?" At first, I joked with a silly answer but then I told him how I really felt - that my husband and I are the same, exact person. Sometimes it is scary how similar we are, and how I can know exactly what he is thinking or feeling without even saying words.

Now, my husband might deny this next fact, but I will tell you that it is 100% truth. We are both extremely, maybe overly, emotional people. I'd say that my husband tries to hide his emotions or pretend that he doesn't care about something, but I know deep down he is excited, or sad, or angry, or whatever feeling that comes with the situation.

Every single day I feel extremely lucky that I have my husband. If anything, he complements and completes me. He's supportive and helpful, encouraging and loving, wonderfully committed and equally as impatient as me. We spend countless hours playing games, laughing, competing against each other while watching Jeopardy, just being together in each others presence - all of which has solidified and cemented our already tight relationship.

Three years ago, I couldn't have imagined that my life would end up like it is now. Life seemed to have panned out exactly how it was supposed to - and after spending almost two years in a country that equally lovely and violent - my husband became my true love and my protector. To this day, he still says that he will protect me - even when we walk the safe streets of our apartment complex. There is nothing dangerous about it, but he falls easily into that role. It is traits like that which I know will make him a great father.

Last night, I had a moment where I shot up from my sleep not being able to breathe - I was gasping for breath, very scared and confused on what was happening. Now that I think about it, I think it was some kind of reflux from stupidly drinking water while laying down that settled in my esophagus rather than my stomach, but in that moment it was truly terrifying. It probably only lasted less than five seconds, but I've never seen my husband move so fast - he was literally out of the bed, running to the closet and grabbing the bucket in case I threw up in that short time. It was scary, but also equally endearing that my husband's first reaction was one to grab a bucket so we didn't ruin our carpet in case I vomited everywhere.

Sometimes I wish that words were enough to tell my husband how much I appreciate, care about, and love him. He is truly my knight in shining armor, my one true love, the man that I will have babies with, and grow old with together. I'm proud of him for doing all of the things he has accomplished in the past few years, especially being willing to move with me to a new, different country where things haven't always been the easiest. And when we argue, as all married couples do, we can only stay mad at each other for 10 - 20 minutes, tops. But it's always funny to me when he swears to "really get mad at me," when I know that it's literally impossible.

Because all I have to do is give him a hug and all is right with the world.

Love you, Javito.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


You know, life seems to move way too fast sometimes.

In the past 5 months, I've moved to a different city, started a new job, gotten married, thought about going back to school, applied for my teaching license, watched my husband get his first job in the USA, and a thousand of other little things that just seem like a blur as time as passed by so incredibly quick - quicker than I thought possible.

Every single year, I tell myself to blog, to write, to take the time to measure the moments more heavily by reflecting upon them more deeply. But, as you know, life moves at a quick pace and sunsets turn into sunrises so fast that Monday is suddenly Friday and January is suddenly May.

But this weekend, as I was taking the time to soak in the weather and the sights and quality time with my family at an art fair, we walked past a booth for a Writer's Guild and my mom point-blankly told me that I'm a good writer, and did I still write? When my answer - because you already know my excuse, "life is too fast," - was a negative one, she told me that I should continue to write because I'm a good writer. It made me really think, and all of the memories came flooding back - the ones of me sitting in the dark in front of a computer screen during my angst-y teenager years as well as all of the times I spent in college classes doodling down verses to poetry that I would never look at again. I have piles of "journals" where I wrote stories - so many stories - that never went anywhere except the lines of those pages. I have stacks of poems written for people, about people, about situations and feelings and so many things that I cannot even remember who or when or how those poems came to being.

A lot of times I tell myself that my life is particularly boring or mundane or normal, and no one - I mean, no one, will want to read about my day-to-day stories about work or students or my personal life. And I find that I'm often very long-winded when I write, which I guess is not something that attracts readers, in general. It's like I have so much bottled up inside that after months of not writing, all of it comes spilling out in a regurgitation-type style of writing.

My point of all of this is that I want to promise that I will continue to blog, but it has to be an ever-present thing on my "to-do" list - because, let's be honest, I might forget tomorrow or next week that this blog exists - and I desperately want to remember because years from now, I want to look back and reminisce about those moments that I took the time to really reflect upon. Because those will be the memories that will mean the most - when memories fade, words stay. And I can always look back at words, when my memory doesn't suffice anymore.


Saturday, December 29, 2012

New Year!

Christmas has come and go.
New Year's is just upon us - like, 2 days away.

It seems that time passes really quickly and with one blink of my eye, I'm thrown a few weeks ahead in time with nothing but a small kick of dust behind me to remind me that yesterday, I was there.

It seems almost unreal to me that 2013 is days away. 2013 is the year that I get to have a wedding with my family and friends. 2013 is the year that I, crossing my fingers, get a job that helps me shape my career into one that I really love. 2013 is the year that a lot of things start, a lot of things end, and a lot of surprise things will more than likely crop up out of nowhere. I know that many people see New Year's as that day that everything becomes 'new.' They make resolutions and promise to be better people, in some sort of way.

I think it's important to really reflect on all of the goals that I've accomplished this year, but remember that there are definitely some shortcomings that I need to make up for in this upcoming year. I think my most important realization in life, up to this point, is that my happiness sincerely comes from within. Do I really like what I'm doing? If I do, then it is great. Do I really enjoy my life as it is? Is there something that I think I should change (not what others may view as weird or wrong or bad)? If I think I should change something, what should I do to fix it? (Not relying on others to change things in my life for me.)

As people, we grow as the years pass by and every day shapes us into the person that we are continually becoming. Maybe I physically stopped growing when I was 16 but that doesn't mean that I have mentally, emotionally and spiritually stopped growing. I think I've grown more in leaps and bounds since I stopped at 5 ft, 6 inches.

I really want to make my resolutions this year something that creates something inside of me that I haven't been able to touch yet. What can I do to make myself a better person, for myself and for everyone else? What steps can I make that will help me grow? Help me change? Maybe I won't accomplish the things in a year, or even two years. But what can I do right now, today, in this exact moment, that will help me to accomplish small goals that lead to bigger goals?

That's what I'm thinking about when I sit down to write my resolutions.