A narcissistic narrative of our family health journey

Today I made lentil and feta salad for lunch.  I soaked the puy lentils with a little apple cider vinegar overnight, then I boiled them til they were soft this morning.  Then I sauteed onions, ginger, turmeric, cumin, crushed coriander seeds and kale in olive oil and butter and then added the lentils and mixed it all up.  Then I added lots of chopped fresh coriander, salt and pepper and diced feta cheese.  It was good, and nutritious and filling.  Next time I need to make a bigger batch as that was enough to feed FH and I for lunch.  It also made a pile of dishes.

Then I blinked five times, went to work, school pickup, ballet and the optometrist and it was time for another meal.  We have heaps of eggs at the moment and no money until pay day tomorrow, so it had to be an egg meal and the children were pleading to never have quiche again, or at least not tonight.  So I parboiled 4 spuds which I had chopped into rough cubes.  Then I sauteed onions, garlic, thyme, rosemary, sage and anchovies in butter and olive oil.  I added the spuds and then added chopped borage, kale, silverbeet and celery.  When all that was cooked together nicely, I whisked together six eggs, some salt and some pepper and mixed that in until it set.  Three people out of four liked it and no one said it tasted like quiche.  If anyone has some more recipe ideas for using up eggs in savoury dishes, I would love to know them.

I cannot resist bragging about the source of much of the dinner though.  Our own eggs, plus from the garden came the rosemary, thyme, sage, celery, borage, silverbeet and kale.

This morning, as I made lentil salad, with no one at home but me and the National Programme, I tried to organise my food/nutrition phases into a list.  The bit before I had Brighid is a bit fuzzy, but here goes

1. 1999-2000  my first organic foods phase.  It often involved buying organic food which then wasted away
in the fridge as I worked so late that the new on-the-scene-FH and I went out for dinner or takeaways a lot.  Experimented with cranial osteopathy, for my sore neck with good results.  I already know that I have haemochromatosis before now, but I ignore it.

2. 2001-2002 In London.  We lived by the District Line for four years and in the first month, particularly when I had my period, I swear I could feel the electrical field when laying in bed.  Which didn't quite create the open fields and hippy organic healthy body vibe but that's not all there is to enjoy in life, and London was an utterly awesome place.  Still buying some organic food, plus I was reading about candida and trying to make changes to get rid of that.  Experimented with local osteopaths, with mixed results.  Took some trial and error to find someone competent.

3. 2003-2005 New motherhood, still in London.  The first time I gave Fionn egg, his legs came out in a rash.  Eczema strategies dominated much of my reading andlaundry choices, food choices,etc.  Experimented with homeopathy which was interesting but not very successful, and reflexology, which was both interesting and very successful.  One time I was so exhausted that she put me in another room to just sleep after the session.  It was at that time that I admitted crazy multi-tasking defeat and fixed a date to resign from my paid job.  I started a food co-op buying bulk organic foods from Infinity and between that and the market, we were eating well, mostly organic, and for a reasonable price.

4. 2006.  Back in New Zealand.  Fionn's eczema goes crazy.  We go gluten free (FH and I for dinner and Fionn for everything) and Fionn doesn't have eggs.  Slowly, he makes progress and his immune system strengthens.  We try a naturopath but it isn't really our thing.  FH and Fionn refuse to take the medicine she makes for them because it tastes too utterly vile.  I find a reflexologist.  She is marvellous, though she lives a long way away.  In late pregnancy I organise several pregnant friends to have appointments and Donna travels to my house for the treatments.

5. 2007.  I give birth to Brighid late January.  I have serious feeding problems again, then mastitis, then a second lot of antibiotics because the firts lot didn't work.  Then three weeks after she is born, when I think I am in reasonable health again, my body stops working,  It gets worse each day until I cannot turn my head at all, it takes a very long time to get out of bed, I cannot carry my daughter or look after my four year old son, and one day I try to get up from the table (i.e. out of my chair) and I cannot.  FH does everything he can at night, our lovely childminder looks after Fionn during the day when it is not kindy time and Dad comes over and looks after me.  Most fortuitously, Brighid is a very happy baby who chills out beside me in the bed.  The doctors keep taking tests and my inflammation count keeps going up.  The prognosis is travelling rheumatoid arthritis.  They have no idea why I have it or what to do about it.  Donna the reflexologist comes to visit again several times and does a lot of lymphatic drainage and I start to get better.  The GP, when I tell her this on the next visit, appears to dismiss my case entirely as it doesn't fit her frame of reference.  Although this is a bit annoying, the main and most wonderful thing is that I am getting better and that finally I am going to be able to look after my children, both of them, myself.

My quest to work out what happened and how to avoid a repeat experience, goes on for a long long time.  I had bells palsy in my mid 20s and so this is my second major and unexplained body malfunction.  I'm aware that if I get a third, I might not be so lucky with regard to a full recovery.  I find that CAA triple pack multivitamins make quite a positive difference to my energy levels.  I read for ages and ages, online and off, and come to the conclusion that I was probably seriously deficient in magnesium throughout my pregnancy, and after a childhood chock full of antibiotics, and some other things in between which I forget now, antibiotics are a bit more than my system can handle.

6. 2008.  Fionn gets asthma.  More reading, more learning.

7. 2009- 2012.  I discover Laksmi, our therapist who has skills in about a zillion areas.  Massage, reflexology, nutritional therapy and something called visceral manipulation feature significantly.  FH tries to give up smoking endless times.  Sometimes in winter during the lung infections, I fear that I will be bringing up our children on my own.  The spectre of a billboard in London of the child of a smoker standing beside his father's grave scares me deeply.  In 2010 I start reading everything I can find on nutrition and smokers.  Clearly, smoking is really bad shit, nobody suggests otherwise.  But I find that magnesium and omega 3s are particularly depleted by smoking.  I also find that in a study looking at magnesium and depression (as low magnesium levels and depression have a significant correlation), they accidentally found that magnesium supplementation helped the paricipants reduce how much they smoked.  The vitamins shelf fills up and it does help reduce the severity of FH's chest problems.  Then he cracks it.  Now he has been smokefree for 11.5 months.  (I'm not supposed to talk about him on my blog so shhhh please, local friends).  Laksmi helps with strengthening the children's immune systems and teaching me things to do to support all of our health.  Brighid has endless tummy problems that I don't name online as I think she has the right not to be mortified by the detail as she grows up.  We make slow but definitely forward progress.  I don't bother taking the idea of medical insurance seriously as everything we need help for wouldn't be covered by standard insurance anyway, as they are things which conventional medicine can't currently do much, if anything, about.

I get a chest infection and a significant bout of rheumatoid arthritis in the middle of this and with Laksmi's guidance, make changes to my eating habits which improve my health a LOT.  This is when I start including salads in my breakfast, trying to increase seaweed and fish in my meals and reducing my wheat consumption.  From this time though, it does appear that my body doesn't like alcohol so much, which is why I'm always swearing off it and then then starting again and so on.  Despite the ups and downs of that mis-match between desire and bodily response, I do manage to consistently make sure that I have several alcohol free days each week.  I discover that epsom salts is a wonderful, cheap-as-chips relaxant in the bath for the children and anyone else and as epsoms salts is the common name for magnesium sulphate, it is interesting how it improves Fionn's disposition when he gets tired.

Well that was a long piece all about ME.  It seems a kind of narcissim writing it all down, but it is also useful for me to see it in a narrative of chronological phases.

I'm still trying to apply my algorithmic thinking to making a bag out of thick felted once-was-a-cardi wool.


Sharonnz said…
Interesting reading, Sandra. Thanks for sharing all of that. A quiet congrats to FH on the smoke-free too. Huge.

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