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Posts tagged ‘diabetes’

Bliss Balls.

Do you know what bliss balls are?  I had never heard of them before.  There’s a coffee shop near the beach out here that sells these bliss ball things.  They look like desserty meatballs and are kept in a glass jar near the cash register.  If you’re sleep deprived, they look like pets held captive by the bakery ladies.

Chris bought one on a whim, assuming it would taste like garbage and we’d laugh about eating balls, but instead we thought it was delicious and felt ashamed at our immaturity.  To reclaim adulthood, we decided to attempt making our own bliss balls at home.

The sign at the coffee shop claims the ingredients are oats, peanut butter, honey, pepitas, coconut, and cinnamon.  The girls who worked at the coffee shop had no idea how much of each ingredient to use (Of course I asked; I’m baby-wearing and existing without sleep … no shame in going full-Mom and asking the college kids how to make bliss balls, right?), so I had to wing it based on the ingredient list alone.

I’m not a good cook, but I am good at baking, so I decided to give these bliss ball things a try.  The only missing element was that I didn’t have a recipe to follow.  Instead, I combed the web for different recipes and mushed them together, eventually following this one mostly, only tweaking it to fit the ingredients on the coffee shop sign.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup honey
1 3/4 cup peanut butter (the oiler, the better)
3/4 cup shredded coconut
3/4 cup pepitas
cinnamon (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  • Put all of these items, except the pepitas (have you Googled that word to find out what the hell pepitas are yet?  I’ll wait …), into a bowl.  Stir everything together.  The mixture will resemble cookie dough.  Or meatloaf.  Cookie meatloaf.  (Mistyped that as “meatdough” initially.  Gross.  Going with it.)
  • Take the meatdough mixture and taste it.  Does it taste kind of like a snickerdoodle cookie with the texture of an almost-granola bar?  (My descriptions are not good when it comes to bliss balls.  On the whole, I think they look like meatballs or truck nuts, but they taste so nice and they are so mellow on my blood sugars that an embarrassing appearance becomes a non-issue.)
  • If the mixture tastes right to you, add the pepitas.
  • Shape the meatdough into round balls about the size of a golf ball and place them on a cookie sheet.  We put ours into the freezer for 20 minutes, then moved them to a tupperware dish and layered them in there, separated by sheets of parchment paper.
  • After about two hours, the meatdough will have “set” and the bliss balls will be all blissful.  Eat them with your face and forgive them for what they look like.

(Note:  I do not have an artsy-bloggy photo of the bliss balls, as they do not photograph well.  Use your imagination.  Or look at this Pinterest board for hints on how other people have done this sort of thing will more success.)  

Mystery Date.

There was a board game marketed to girls back in the 60’s that resurfaced again in the 90’s, and that’s when I met Mystery Date.  It was a silly game where you tried to assemble an outfit for a date and then you opened the little plastic door to see if your outfit matched that of the Mystery Date guy.  (For example: if you had assembled the “beach” outfit and opened the door to reveal the guy dressed for a “formal dance,” you lost … the game, and also 20 minutes of your life to this stupid, sexist game.)

But Mystery Date popped into my head for a reason.  Since having my son, I’ve been working to wean myself off the Boston-based care team in pursuit of more hyper-local providers (and because I loathe the arrival/departure board at Joslin).  The promise of pregnancy now the past, I don’t feel the same push to make the long ass drive to Boston in order to meet my medical needs.  So in the last few weeks, I’ve been working to assemble a new, short-drive team of healthcare providers.  I currently have new appointments with an OB/Gyn, a primary care doctor, and am gently shopping for a new endocrinologist.  (I plan to keep seeing the team at Boston to track my existing eye complications, as I don’t want that crap going off the rails.)

Finding new providers is kind of like Mystery Date.  I spend a lot of time combing my insurance company’s website to see who is covered by my plan, then calling those HCPs to see if they are taking new patients, and then getting all of my records shipped from previous providers to the new team.  Then I open the little plastic … I mean, the regular-sized medical office door to see if what I’ve assembled matches what’s being provided.

Finding a new healthcare provider is similar to starting a relationship.  There’s this slightly awkward breaking in period where you are both getting to know one another, and then either the confirmation that, yes, personalities and needs are lining up or NO WAY expectations are way maligned.  For me, I crave a personal relationship with my healthcare team, one that the healthcare system barely makes room for.  Being treated as a whole person provides the best health outcomes for me; it’s important for my team to see my health concerns in the context of real life.

Otherwise, it’s like showing up dressed for the BIG SKI TRIP only to see that your healthcare professional is more into a romantic picnic.  Or worse …  the experience goes full DUD.

 

This is Thirty.

This is thirty years with type 1 diabetes.

I used to think it would stop me from enjoying life.  Now I realize that I’ve lived with this disease for thirty years and have brought it down the aisle, on stage, and around the world with me.  It hasn’t stopped me from doing a damn thing … other than making insulin.  But that’ll work itself out in, what … five to ten years?

Enormous hugs to everyone living with diabetes.  You kick ass every day, even when you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing.

On the Other Side.

The first time I was pregnant, the physical journey was the hardest part for me.  Building a baby, watching blood sugars, dealing with body changes … the list was long but included mostly body changes, and also a boatload of excitement about crossing the threshold into “parenting.”  Back in 2009/2010, it was inconceivable to me that something “bad” would happen during a pregnancy.  Once you are pregnant, you just stay pregnant and everything is cool, and then the baby is born.  Back then, my biggest fear was the actual birthing of my daughter.  Having never had surgery before, I was petrified of the c-section and everything promised to come along with it.  Looking back, I was grateful that I had no idea what it was like to “try” for a baby, and to spend the pregnancy wondering if everything would be okay.

And even though my first pregnancy was a little chaotic, with lots of doctor’s appointments and a four week hospital stay due to preeclampsia, my worries were somewhat limited.  I just didn’t know any better.  From start to finish, my body did what it was supposed to do, and my child was fine.  My headspace during the pregnancy was also reasonably solid, hormones not withstanding.

But this time was very different.  The birth of my son came after a lot of discussion.  Birdy was about three when we decided we wanted to have another baby, and based on our previous experience, we figured we’d become pregnant right away.  Our experience with “unexplained secondary infertility” was startling.  What do you mean, it’s hard to become pregnant?  We got pregnant right away the first time.  Why are we charting things and purchasing ovulation kits and now our cars are wearing a path between our home and the fertility clinic?

After 19 months of trying, I became pregnant as the result of fertility treatments.  I miscarried around the eight week mark, during a conference in the summer.  There was something highly surreal and emotionally numbing about examining discharge in a hotel room at Disney World at 2 in the morning to confirm that I had miscarried to completion.  It was the first time I’d ever experienced contractions.  It was the first time I’d felt hopeless.  It was the first time I’d ever felt limitlessly sad.

When I became pregnant again, 25 months after hoping to expand our family, the fear was instant, consistent, and did not abate until I heard my son cry in the delivery room three weeks ago.  Physically, this pregnancy was healthy and “normal,” with blood sugars that performed almost predictably, no pregnancy-related health concerns over the 38 week gestation period, and my body actually seemed to like being pregnant this time around.

Emotionally, though, I was unwell for the majority of the experience.  I never felt calm.  Every appointment was something I panicked before and got all emotional with relief afterwards, because that certainty of safety was erased the summer prior.  I didn’t want to tell anyone I was pregnant.  I felt oddly detached for the first few months of pregnancy, afraid to emotionally invest in the child I was growing.  I didn’t want to have a baby shower.  I was scared that if I acknowledged this pregnancy, it would leave me.  When the Braxton Hicks contractions started in the third trimester, I freaked out because contractions, in my mind, were tied to miscarriage.  Pregnancy after loss tripped me out entirely.  And even though there are so many people who have felt these same things and dealt with similar issues, I had trouble finding the support I needed for these feelings.  It was hard to admit that I felt entirely unsettled.  It was even harder to try and mask those feelings with the joy that everyone seemed to expect me to feel.

“Did you want to consider a tubal ligation after the c-section is performed?”

My high-risk OB/Gyn asked me this question around the twenty week mark of my pregnancy, after they did the big anatomy scan to check on the baby’s development and organs.  I was still all jumbled up, emotionally, but knew for sure that I was not equipped to go through another pregnancy in efforts to have a third child.  I longed for Birdy.  And my son.  And I knew instinctively that they were the limit of what both my body and mind, and our family, were able to manage.

So while we scheduled my c-section date (originally set for August 31st, but that timeframe ended up truncated), I signed the papers for the tubal ligation.  It felt strange to elect permanent sterilization after battling for years to have this baby; the finality of that decision weighed heavily.  But it also felt right, considering my age, health history, and our desires as a family.  After my son was born and we confirmed his health as excellent, the operation was completed and that chapter of my life was closed in full.

When I look at this little man I’ve made (and he sleeps soundly in my arms while I type this), I know in my heart that every decision we’ve made is the right one for our family.  That fourth chair is filled with the result of the hardest work I’ve ever done, and I couldn’t be happier.

Giant feet, giant appetite, little man. #🍅

A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

There was always this promise, this question, this gentle hum of you, my son.  We’ve always wanted you.  It just took a long time to get you here.

We’ll take good care of you, I promise.

 

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).

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