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The Vegetable Recipes That Didn’t Suck.

The battle remains uphill (couldn’t remember how to turn the stove on the other day, which is a testament to how scrambled my pregnant brain is becoming – add that to last week’s inability to use the gas pump on a car I’ve owned for over six years), but I’m still working diligently to cut more meat out of our diets and integrate more vegetable-based dishes.  Call it an experiment in vegebetes, if you will.

And I will.

There have been a few spectacular failures (undocumented) and a handful of poorly-photographed successes (documented and to follow), but we’re slowly making progress, and I’ve yet to burn the house down.  Pluses on all fronts.

Here are a few of the vegetable dishes that tasted nice, were Birdzone approved (for the most part), and didn’t kill anyone:

This eggplant from Jamie Oliver.  As mentioned, no one died.  And we’ve made it ten different times so far, with leftovers extending for a day or so, making it useful on several fronts.

I make it exactly as the recipe dictates, except I use gluten-free bread crumbs and I also add more garlic than should be humanly consumed.  We’ve eaten it on its own, served over quinoa, or over pasta.  Even Birdzone said it was “okay,” and the neighbor’s kid actually said it was “awesome!”  Everyone seemed surprised by this realization.

Eggplant. (Man, all my food pictures look mildly horrifying. Food blogger I am decidedly NOT.)

A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

I also took a crack at making falafel last night, which was surprisingly awesome (and the patties stayed together much more effectively than the quinoa and sweet potato ones that haunt my dreams).  Birdy really liked these, and they actually tasted like something instead of me wishing they tasted like something.  The recipe came from a Better Homes and Gardens 365 Vegetarian Meals cookbook, which was more than worth the purchase because most of the recipes seem really easy … even for a novice like me.

Falafel attempt (before they were tossed into the pan).

A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

Ingredients

For the falafel patties:
1 15 oz can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup shredded carrot
2 tablespoons gluten-free flour
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, halved
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Once these ingredients are measured out, put them all in a food processor and mess them up together. That’s kind of it; it took more time to measure things out then to obliterate them in the food processor.

Problem was I used a food processor that was a teeny bit too small for the project.  I had to blend things by the half portion, and then smash them together in a bigger bowl, which was kind of fun in a chickpea snowball sort of way, but really messy to clean up.

Once everything is mixed up, you split the contents into four sections and shape the mixture like giant cookie dough balls.  Then, in a large skillet, you heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat, then put the patties in there.  The recipe called for the patties to cook for 6 minutes, but mine required more like 10.  Once they are brown on one side, flip them over and brown up the other side.  Then they are done.

(Note:  We liked the taste, but next time I make these, I’m splitting the mixture into smaller portions and making 8 patties, not 4.  That way, they’ll end up a little crispier and not be so gigantic.)

For the sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Once the patties are ready to go, put them on a bed of spinach, top with the mayonnaise mix and some cucumber slices, and eat them with your face.

More experiments coming soon, but thank you guys for the recommendations and advice as I take a crack at this new way of cooking. I appreciate all the input, and should mail you all some cookies (like these cookies, because they are so damn good).

That Clip, Though.

I’ve been using the t:slim pump for the better part of a year now, and over the last few months (here’s a handy disclosure that you should read for context on my relationship with Tandem), I’ve appreciated the new set of options that the t:slim has brought into my diabetes life.

… man, that sounds a little formal.  I’m too pregnant for formality at the moment.  (My feet have officially given up on being feet and refuse any covering other than socks or flip flops, and my son is moving visibly as I type, making sitting close to my desk a challenge. Eff formality.)  The reasons for the t:slim being a badass addition to my diabetes management RIGHT THIS SECOND are that I can take a bolus in a matter of seconds without scrolling through fifty different screens, I can edit my basal or insulin:carb needs with a few beeps, and the 300 unit reservoir is going to come in handy these last few weeks of pregnancy.

One challenge I’ve historically had with the t:slim pump, however, is the clip that is shipped out with it.  For me, the clip was a little bulkier than I preferred and also not as secure as I needed.  I wanted streamlined and secure, and as my pregnant body expands and clothing options like “pockets” and “waistbands” have been shoved into the distance.  I need my pump clip to be able to hang on by a thread.

This one works great, though:

I love this clip. #tslim #diabetes #insulinpump

A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

A friend suggested this clip to me and gave me one of theirs, but since trying it out, I’ve keep a spare or two on hand because it seriously solves all of my pump clip troubles.  The tape is very secure and I’ve had the same pump clip stay successfully stuck for the last six months.  I have no relationship with the company who makes the clip, and this is not an affiliate link or anything like that, but if you want to try out a pump clip for your t:slim (or any other pump) that is subtle, streamlined, and strong, this Nite Ize Hip Clip is worth a shot.

Hey! An informative post! Who saw that coming? Not me. Bring on the cat gifs.

cat filing his nails

Spring-Loaded Navel Gazing.

(Edit: I had originally written “naval gazing” instead of “navel gazing.” Thus illustrating the point of this post, which is that my mind is quickly becoming mush. Thanks, Bobby, for the edit. 🙂 )

It’s week 35 of this fetus party.  All I have left to give are bullet points.

  • My stomach moves.  Often.  To be more precise, it’s my baby who is moving, and making my stomach look possessed in the process.  It’s jarring to look down and watch the swirling storm of baby boy moving around happily in there.
  • It was also slightly jarring to be onstage for a panel last week in NYC and to have the baby going berserk while I was trying to talk.  I hope attendees thought I was trying to emphatically state my case instead of trying to dislodge the baby from my ribcage.
  • (I may have been doing both.)
  • At this point with my daughter, I was already in the hospital on pre-eclampcia instigated bed rest, so it’s weird to be home.
  • Don’t get me wrong:  I AM HAPPY TO BE HOME.  Bed rest sucked and I have no desire to repeat that experience.  But the last time I was 35 weeks pregnant, I was trapped in hospital; this time, I’m home and trying to be a productive member of our household.  I have no concept of what I should/shouldn’t feel up to doing.
  • Problem is, I have a bit of a nesting problem.
  • If you click on that link, notice the picture of the lady who is showered and wearing make up and has combed her hair and is happily – serenely! – dusting the front of her cabinet. That’s not the kind of nesting I am feeling.  No serenity here.  I want to rip all the weeds out of the front garden with my bare hands, name them all, and then jam them into the compost bin.  I want to paint the upstairs hallway.  I want to crochet a tea cozy big enough to put over my car to protect it from bird shit.  The urge to reorganize the books in my office by color and then by author’s favorite ice cream flavor is taking over my brain.
  • And yet I can’t sit still long enough to answer more than five emails at a time.  There’s a disconnect between “productive use of my time” and “full-out hormonal spazzery.”
  • Being home instead of the hospital is great, but is bringing about a new set of worries that I didn’t experience with my first pregnancy.
  • Like “what happens when your water breaks?”  My water never broke the first time. My daughter arrived via scheduled c-section after a few weeks of close monitoring, so I never even had a contraction.  The first contraction I ever experienced was when I miscarried last summer, making me feel even more uneasy about contractions.  Mentally, I’m unprepared for labor.
  • Physically, I’m as prepared as I can be.  I am delivering at a hospital that is about two hours from my home, so the journey there can’t be delayed.  I have a suitcase packed.  So does my daughter (so she can spend a night or two with my mother while we help her brother escape).  But the idea of that drive on top of potential labor stuff makes me twitchy.
  • (Of course we have a more local, true emergency, plan, but I want to deliver where my established care team is, so that’s our goal.)
  • I am also in bi-weekly appointment mode with my high risk maternal fetal medicine team, which means I am in Boston twice a week to check on the baby and for any potential issues.  I have been told to bring a suitcase to those appointments, too, as they may decide it’s go-time based on a single appointment, and I won’t have another four hours to go back and forth again.
  • Which means I’ve been living out of a suitcase for the past week, and will continue to pack-and-repack the same suitcase until the baby is born.
  • Thankfully, I only have about three outfits that fit somewhat properly, so it’s an easy cycle of packing and unpacking.
  • And I still have diabetes.  Yep, still there.  Still chronic.  Still want to shove it into a tin can and send it down a garbage chute.
  • My total daily dose of insulin is up significantly from pre-pregnancy numbers, but not quite in the triple-zone that I hit before giving birth to my daughter.  With Birdy, I was taking just about 100 units of insulin per day to achieve solid numbers.  This round, I’m taking about 65 units per day so far, though numbers still might climb as these last few weeks progress.
  • My insulin:carb ratios are getting crazy, though.  I was at 1:12 before pregnancy, and am already down to 1:6 so far.  That ratio change is increasing my TDD the most, as my basal rates aren’t too ramped up.
  • A1C remains exactly where I want it.  As does my blood pressure.  My weight is … weighty, but my son is in a very good percentile, so that’s my main concern.  I’ll gain a few extra here and there so long as he is fine.
  • And I remain afraid to put my infusion set into the taut, bulbous chaos that my stomach has become, so my insulin pump has been rotating around my hips and arms for the last few months.  Thankfully, as I get bigger, real estate options expand as well, but it gets harder to install new sites when I can’t exactly bend at the waist.
  • HA!!  Waist.  I don’t have one of those anymore.  It was left behind back in May sometime.  See ya.
  • Siah thinks the baby’s room is HER new room, which is bullshit.  Even when we have the door shut, she picks the lock and eases herself in there, sleeping on the toy box in the corner and burping occasionally.
  • These cats have no idea what they’re in for.  Again.
  • Truly in the home stretch now.  “Stretch” being the operative word, as I have real concerns about the stability of my belly button.  I fear that if I cough or roll the wrong way, it will launch from my body and hit the wall, like a champagne bottle cork.
  • Bring it on, kiddo.  I’m ready to meet you soon.  And to be reunited with a view of my feet.

 

Sweet Little Lancet.

Sweet little lancet
You are so damn tough.
I keep you until
All your edges are rough,
Until your sharp peak
Becomes dull and harpoons.
Oh sweet little lancet,
I will change you soon.

Sweet little lancet,
You deploy with a thud.
It can take several tries
To get you to draw blood.
And at that point, you’d think,
I’d wise up and swap out.
But sweet little lancet,
You should have your doubts.

Sometimes I forget
I have a vast collection.
No need to reuse!
I’m inviting infection.
I should change you out
Before you get strange,
But it takes a reminder
(Like when the clocks change.)

Sweet little lancet,
I respect what you do.
My supply closet’s stashed
With an army of you.
But in the event
There’s a cure that’s clever,
I’ll repurpose your ass;
I’ll have thumbtacks forever.

Just a Job.

“I’m just a medical assistant, so my job isn’t as important,” she said as she took my blood pressure and entered the data into my digital file.

“Seriously?  How can you say that?  You probably have more face-to-face moments with patients than the doctors do.  You set the tone for the appointment.  What you do matters.”  I paused.  “Take my blood pressure again,” I laughed.  “It probably just went up.”

She smiled.  “I guess it is important.  But not as important as the doctor.”

It’s strange how people think their interactions don’t matter, don’t have an influence on the patient experience.

When the receptionist checks me in for my appointment, she contributes to the tone of my appointment.  Even if she is asking me for my insurance information for the tenth time, or informing me of an outstanding balance on my account, or telling me that the doctor is running late today, the way she delivers that information colors the experience.

When the phlebotomist is steady-handed and double-checks the information on the blood vial label against my file, their attention to detail and dedication to comfort colors the experience.

When the medical assistant makes eye contact, engages the patient, and acknowledges that the data they are collecting is from a human being, not a lab rat, they color the experience.

When the clinician is on time and the appointment is not an exercise in redundancy and checked boxes on an electronic medical record but instead a discussion between a patient and a provider that influences positive health outcomes, that interaction colors the experience.

And when I’m on time, and I have the necessary and requested data from my diabetes devices, when I have my list of questions and concerns, when I pay my bill or file my claim, and when I’m respectful of everyone’s time and expertise, I color the experience.

There is no “just a …” when it comes to the healthcare experience.  Even when it’s not medically coded as a “shared medical appointment,” the appointment is still shared between the patient and everyone their interact with.  Everyone involved makes or breaks those moments for the patient and the healthcare team alike, with each person playing a crucial role in keeping the process effective, efficient, and evolving.

Everyone.

(EVERYONE !!!)

 

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