Living Gluten-Free

Update: not eating gluten is good right now. It’s harder to find food, but it’s nice to not battle junk food. It’s not like cutting out sugar, which is horr-ible because who has the self-control to “cut back” on chocolate? Please. This is better because the decision is made– I have to get it out of my system, and therefore I can’t cheat without wrecking the whole experiment. Again, thankfully my husband is a rice and potatoes man and we just keep it simple.

I do feel better and unless I am imagining it I think I have more energy. This girl needs her 8 hours. I used to always  feel sluggish, no matter how much sleep I got. Now I get out of bed way more easily, and my butt to the gym much more easily. Still waiting on the mental alertness to kick in as yesterday I found myself in Concord having left my purse at school and with a gas tank on E… you can’t always win!…

I guess I like this because instead of fighting a battle against junk food, my mind is on what good things I can get in a day. My tastes have already starting changing too, and I crave the good stuff more. Maybe I am just not made for middle ground.


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We are moving in less than a month and I can’t wait to tell this teeny tiny classroom goodbye!

This is with several kids missing. Not as bad as some of the classrooms I saw in Peru, but definitely claustrophobic. Also, a bit dangerous as more than one teacher has literally tripped and  fallen (to take this picture I had to cram myself into the corner and still cut out a child in the other corner).

Look at all my boys!…




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These were a few of my favorite things

I am fairly confident that I gotten this blog down to a readership of females only. So it’s time to get down to it.

My gallbladder started acting up recently.

What a terrible name for an organ!– right up there with the word bile— and one I had never given any thought to, until last week when I got a bad pain in my stomach and right shoulder. Pocho did not work his usual crazy weekend hours and we had plenty of time to drink and eat with friends. I don’t drink much, but we had a friend from Mexico in our kitchen mixing tequila and orange juice I think and so naturally I took advantage. Then we had a huge barbecue at church, and to make a long story short, I pigged out. (Heh, heh. Yes I know.)

Any-how, come to find out alcohol and fatty foods are huge triggers for that little and so-unfortunately-named-organ, and boy did it let me know the following Monday. (My body usually waits to punish me and get sick until I’m in the middle of teaching, just as a special touch.) I also have been getting yucky headaches and migraines, which I never get.

My Mom, who happens to be a brilliant nurse,  is the best. She and I sat down and researched and came up with a pretty solid theory: I have a gluten sensitivity or intolerance, which was exacerbated by going on the Pill for a while and maybe stress, all of which are rough on the gallbladder. Also, I probably have an excess of estrogen (yet another great word!).

Why am I telling you this? Two lengthy reasons:

1) Ladies, be wary of the Pill! I know, I know. Allllll the research says the Pill is perfectly safe and every doctor I’ve ever talked to expresses complete confidence in it. But my mother did not raise me on whole wheat and no microwaves to let me trust something that comes in with synthetic progesterone and estrogen and changes hormones which happened to be functioning just fine.

I do not have the stats here to back myself up, because that would take so long and I don’t have any credentials to be talking about this anyway. You can google it if you want (xenohormones and xenoestrogen brings up interesting stuff).

I just don’t get why we don’t stop and think through body-altering drugs after a century of experimentation with processed food, chemical products, etc. with so many disastrous results. An unfathomable amount of money is being made on the pill, too, and it liberated women everywhere, so I am not sure that we will get any good information in the near future. My gynecologist basically laughed me off the phone when I mentioned a possible estrogen connection and offered to switch to a different pill.

The Pill is convenient, yes, which is why I justified a short time of usage and thought it wouldn’t do any harm. Now I suspect the excess estrogen it produces stressed out my poor gallbladder to its breaking point.

2) This may be a good thing. If our theory is correct, then the changes I’m going to have to make were actually things I should have been doing my whole life.

The  horrifying list looks like this:

– Go off gluten for about 6 months and see what happens (hey, good thing I married a man from Peru, where it’s rice and plantains and potatoes, not a guy from Italy…)
– Avoid sugar and juices as much as possible
– No alcohol
– Eat lots of broths to get calories and good fats in
– Clean my liver out with an herbal concoction

I tried unsuccessfully to attempt this last week, and caved mid-way when a box of Life cereal took me hostage. From there it was downhill. Then today I went to the doctor, to see what she had to say. After I spent an hour untangling my insurance and waiting, she and I talked for five minutes, after which she wrote up a referral to go get an ultrasound at a radiologist’s office, where I will most likely be recommended surgery. Ack!  My insurance is not that good, and that is enough to get me serious.

Lastly– if we are correct, going off gluten may resolve my other chronic symptoms (fatigue, anxiety, cold feet and hands, asthma, weak immune system, bad memory, foggy thinking, and possibly mean-ness toward husbands). So if you suffer from those things too, you might want to do some research as well, or, even better, have a smart mom who can just tell you what to do.

If you are still reading, I will let you know how this goes. It is on my blog and now official. Good-bye, so many delicious parts of my life!


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Somehow I missed out on the genius medically-included gene on my mother’s side of the family. I had a migraine today and took one of the recommended two pills, which means that my head still hurts and that I have enough caffeine coursing through my veins to be awake at this hour.

I had many a great plan for my life right now– married, professional, pre-children. The three main things right now were yoga, French and the piano. Alas, I overestimated my capacity for productivity. I pretty much just teach at school, then tutor or teach Spanish, and then collapse into a stupor of 30 Rock-filled night. What to watch now that I am caught up on Mad Men and The Office and soon 30 Rock? Any suggestions? I used to be a harsh critic of TV, before my epic downfall as a person began (i.e., when I became a teacher), but now I am so thankful to have something so lovely and mindless at night!

I am sorry that I write about teaching so much. Why do teachers talk about teaching all the time? Maybe it is because teaching has this uncanny tendency to drain all those things out of you that you actually needed to continue functioning normally the rest of the week– things like energy, speech, logic, reasoning skills, etc. Thankfully it’s a profession that I love, but I do feel bad that I don’t function as well at things outside school like friendships. It’s like high school again: “Did I really just say that? Did I say anything at all tonight that I meant to say and really wanted to say?”

Perhaps it’s just getting used to the real world of a any job, where you do in fact spend most of the day saying things you do not want to say and might not mean (“Sure Mrs. W., I would LOVE to stay 30 minutes after school to discuss why Johnny got a red mark for tattling on someone who-yes, I know this is shocking– looked at him.”)

I will say it’s great to have a low-key husband who does not waste time dissecting me or my conversations. I think I underestimated the qualities of patience and good-naturedness in a man before I married him. That goes a long, long, way.


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Check out this video the news did on our school. You can see tiny clips of my classroom. We had no idea they were coming and were all in the middle of eating when they rolled in with the cameras. You can’t see me because I am flattened against the board furiously making faces and signaling to contain the sword-fighting with straws, blowing up juice containers like balloons, etc. that normally punctuates our lunches. I have 14 very imaginative boys in my tiny room.


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Those Little Things

When we were dating back in Peru, it was like a movie to me: hop on the back of his motorcycle and go anywhere. Who cares when you’re on the back of a motorcycle in a moderate climate in the jungle and madly in love in Spanish? Occasionally it was inconvenient and we’d get caught in a storm or we’d have something big to cart around, but again: see previous sentence. Sometimes we’d take a taxi when traveling to another city, alone and snuggled up together in the back seat or saving money and getting squashed by the illegal number of passengers allowed into the taxi.

We had never actually been in a car alone together until he got here, the land of enforced seat-belt laws and mostly empty cars. I picked him up from the airport, a blissful enough ride. Soon enough, though, we had a 30-minute ride together and it was then I realized that my man was not exactly a talker. What? What, exactly, is better than talking?

Shouting to eachother in the wind or smashed 5 to a seat was never good ground for chatter, but I assumed that in a quiet car he would jump at  the chance to engage in deep conversations and probe my mind. Hah, hah. After about 20 minutes of silence– and we were not listening to great music either, as only one speaker worked and was useless in the highway roar– the panic began to set in. Here we were, getting married in two weeks and already out of things to say.

Needless to say I did not call off the wedding, and soon enough we unconsciously settled into our own patterns of silence and talking (mostly mine). Then, Pocho got his license. It was a terrifying enough task, teaching my husband to drive while living inside of a city, and on top of that I realized any nice car chats would have to wait for about six months.

He would be driving in some awful situation and I would start, “Hey hon, what about?…”

With both hands gripped on the wheel, he would grit his teethbut patiently say, “I can’t talk. I have to concentrate.”

“Oh. Right.”

I am sure it has been good for me. For several months, now, though, we have entered new territory. He’ll sit back, doing that thing that guys do, driving with one hand. Sometimes we talk; sometimes not– I am much more skilled at that now.

Sometimes he even starts the conversation now. Sometimes, with his one hand confidently on the wheel, he’ll take the other hand and affectionately rest his hand on my knee. That, to me, is gold.

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after the last student had been picked up, we sat limp in chairs and wondered how it could possibly only be tuesday. one teacher came in with an extra- harried expression.

“i was talking that whole time___ .”

“oh. well, you know she’s not always well.”

“yeah, she’s the one who got evicted from the projects.”

“she did not. really?”

“yep, fourth of july. throwing chairs at the police. can you believe it?”

“my goodness. i knew there was something going on.”

my sheltered, sheltered life.

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