Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Something that ends in Disease can't be good . . .

That was my thought last week when I was at my third doctor in as many weeks to try and figure out what was wrong with my right ear. It had felt "plugged" for almost a month.

I went to a dr. at Prompt Care, and he said it was a middle ear infection and gave me prescription for Amoxicillan and a nasal steroid and to take Claritin during the day and Benedryl during the night. I did that for 10 days. No change.

I went to my regular dr. and he said that it was probably related to my allergies. He said to continue the allergy meds and the nasal steroid, but he prescribed a stronger antibiotic, and Prednisone. No change.

I told a friend about what I had been experiencing, and she said to go to her ENT, that he was great. So I called, and got an appointment for the next day due to a cancellation. The dr. looked at my ears, tested the fluid level in both my ears, and gave me a hearing test.

And then he said "You have Ménière's disease."

(If you are like me, then you have probably never heard of it. Here is a condensed version from Wikipedia.)

Ménière's disease (pronounced /meɪnˈjɛərz/) is a disorder of the inner ear that can affect hearing and balance to a varying degree. It is characterized by episodes of vertigo and tinnitus and progressive hearing loss, usually in one ear.

The symptoms of Ménière's are variable; not all sufferers experience the same symptoms. However, so-called "classic Ménière's" is considered to comprise the following four symptoms:

*Periodic episodes of rotary vertigo or dizziness.
*Fluctuating, progressive, unilateral (in one ear) or bilateral (in both ears) hearing loss, usually in lower frequencies.
*Unilateral or bilateral tinnitus.
*A sensation of fullness or pressure in one or both ears.

Ménière's often begins with one symptom, and gradually progresses. Attacks of vertigo can be severe, incapacitating, and unpredictable and can last anywhere from minutes to hours, but no longer than 24 hours.This combines with an increase in volume of tinnitus and temporary, albeit significant, hearing loss. Hearing may improve after an attack, but often becomes progressively worse. Nausea, vomiting, and sweating sometimes accompany vertigo, but are symptoms of vertigo, and not of Ménière's.

Some sufferers experience what are informally known as "drop attacks"—a sudden, severe attack of dizziness or vertigo that causes the sufferer, if not seated, to fall without warning. Drop attacks are likely to occur later in the disease, but can occur at any time. Patients may also experience the feeling of being pushed or pulled. Some patients may find it impossible to get up for some time, until the attack passes or medication takes effect.

Ménière's typically begins between the ages of 30 and 60, and affects men slightly more than women. Hearing loss can affect both ears either simultaneously or with a variable interval between the first and the second ear.

Because Ménière's cannot be cured, treatments focus more on treating and preventing symptoms. Some doctors recommend lipoflavonoids. Most patients are advised to adopt a low-sodium diet, typically one to two grams per day. Patients are advised to avoid caffeine, alcohol and tobacco, all of which can aggravate symptoms of Ménière's. Patients are often prescribed a mild diuretic (sometimes vitamin B6). Many patients will have allergy testing done to see if they are candidates for allergy desensitization, as allergies have been shown to aggravate Ménière's symptoms.

Treatments aimed at lowering the pressure within the inner ear include antihistamines, anticholinergics, steroids, and diuretics. Sufferers may be advised to take a specific drug, based on their needs, during an attack to prevent symptoms.

Typical remedies:

*Antihistamines considered antiemetics such as meclizine and dimenhydrinate
*Antiemetic drugs such as trimethobenzamide.
*Antivertigo/antianxiety drugs such as betahistine and diazepam.
*Herbal remedies such as ginger root.

Some Ménière's disease sufferers, in severe cases, may end up losing their jobs, and will be on disability until the disease burns out. However, a majority (60-80%) of sufferers will not need permanent disability and will recover with or without medical help.

Hearing loss usually fluctuates in the beginning stages and becomes more permanent in later stages, although hearing aids and cochlear implants can help remedy damage. Tinnitus can be unpredictable, but patients usually get used to it over time. Ménière's disease, being unpredictable, has a variable prognosis. Attacks could come more frequently and more severely, less frequently and less severely, and anywhere in between.


I experienced mild vertigo over the summer, and then a drop attack about 6 weeks ago. But it happened a couple weeks before the ear "fullness" problem, so I thought that they were unrelated, and I haven't (thankfully) had another one.

He advised me to continue exercising if I could tolerate it, but that I should try and exercise at the gym so that if I had a drop attack, it wouldn't be outside 3 miles from my house, etc. I should also continue eating fruits and vegetable, up my protein, and eat as little processed/canned food, etc. as possible to keep my sodium levels down (again, something I don't normally do, but I'll have to be even more diligent now.)

I'm currently on a diuretic, antihistimines, and I just finished up a round of prednisdone. I go back in a month to the ENT to talk about how things are going. Right now, I'm hoping that either it will resolve itself or I'll end up with a mild case.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Garden Update - Mid September

Roma Tomatoes and my sole eggplant


Super holding the eggplant (I swear he has other clothes. It is just a big coincidence that he is wearing the same shirt in all recent pictures. Really.)

Well, I had big plans to plant a fall garden. It didn't happen, and I think it is a little late now. Which is mostly fine, except that I spent about 5 hours over at the garden weeding to get it ready for fall planting. Oh well, it was good exercise, I guess.

The first few weeks of August, it was just too hot and dry to plant. (After the wettest June in YEARS, it has been mostly rain-free since then.) Then I was either out of money, out of time, or out of town until this weekend.

The eggplant, I planted three eggplant plants forever ago, like the end of May. One of them just sat there, and didn't look dead or anything, but never really grew any bigger. I eventually pulled it. Then there was one that grew a little, but never had any flowers on it. It is still in the garden, but I'll probably pull it next time I am out there. The last one grew pretty well, but I didn't see flowers until probably August. I had given up on all of them by that time, but I hadn't pulled any of the plants yet, so when I saw flowers, I decided to let it go. We haven't eaten the eggplant yet, so I'll have to let you know if it was worth it.

Tomatoes have been pretty steady since the end of July. I've been picking them and then running them through the food saucer and then putting the pulp in the freezer. Some day in October, I'll defrost the pulp and boil it down and can them. My sister and I did it that way last year, and it worked out well, so I think I'll do it that way again. I'm not sure how many more tomatoes I'll get. Maybe another couple bagfulls. I won't have as much as last year because it got so cool so fast, but I'm not splitting the harvest with my sister either (since she went and moved away on me!) so I'll probably end up with about the same amount of tomato sauce anyway.

My garden plot (and about 10 other peoples' plots) are in an area behind our church. A bunch of years ago, somebody also planted some apple trees out there. They aren't maintained at all, as far as I can tell, so they aren't sprayed or pruned or anything, and they are there for anybody who would like some. So I took the preschool kids out to the garden the other day, and we picked some apples. I'll boil them and run them through the saucer and make some applesauce with most of them, although I plan on drying some apple slices too and probably making some Apple Dumplings. These apple dumplings are probably the best thing that I've ever had. SERIOUSLY YUMMY!

In a couple of weeks, I'll probably go over to the garden plot and pull plants and throw some straw down. I am going to create at least two raised beds in the back yard for spring planting, and trying to figure out a place to put some raspberries, and a dwarf apple tree and a dwarf pear tree (these will also be planted in the spring, but I want to get the areas selected and prepped.) The raised beds will be mostly for salad stuff (spinach, carrots, radishes, etc.) so that I can just step out the back door and get my salad everyday. During the summer, I'll have some other crops in there, but then when it gets cool, I'll plant salad stuff again.

Monday, September 13, 2010

In the spirit of Back to School,

I'm doing a post about Lifelong learning. It is something that I think is really important, and I think it is really important that if you have children, that they see that even adults can still study and learn things.

(On the other hand, I more than borderline on being a professional student LOL and so my children have had the opportunity to experience me being a college student and their mother. ) But I'm talking about ways to build learning into your everyday life.

But again, in the spirit of School, I don't want to plagiarize, and I have to admit that this is not "my" list. I got the list of items from Simple Mom and the post called "8 Ways to Pursue a Lifetime of Learning." (although they actually have 9 on the list. )


1. Read.

When I was a kid/teenager, I was a voracious reader. Then I went to college. And only read textbooks. After college, I read nothing, well, unless the back of cereal boxes counts. And then I read some baby books when I was expecting #1. And I read some work related magazines over the years. And then I went back to school, more textbooks. And some Montessori books. But basically, from 18-40, I didn't read anything I didn't "have" to read.

And then I started reading some non-fiction books about things that I liked. And then last year, I started reading fiction again. And now? I've always got 3-4 books that I'm reading. Some short, some long, some non-fiction, some fiction. I sometimes read in bed, but I also often read at the kitchen table or on the downstairs couch. Where the kids can see me read. I love it when they get a book and snuggle next to me on the couch.

2. Read quality.

I put this on the list with some hesitation. Because my "standards" for reading something were so high (I was an English undergrad major and so I loved the classics, particularly things from the American Romantic period. Which was well over 100 years ago.), I didn't want to read any modern fiction because I was afraid it would be "bad" or "not worth my time" or whatever. Very snobby. I also know some people who felt forced to read the "classics" over the years, and now hated to read. So I guess I would say to not read JUST romance novels or women's magazines or authors that pump out a book a year or whatever. Read something wish substance sometimes, or something outside your usual interest level.

3. When you do watch TV, watch quality.

I like to say that I don't watch much TV, but it isn't entirely true. There are times when I'm bored and watch an evening of "House Hunters" or "What Not to Wear." But afterwards, I always feel a bit bad because I know that I could have done SOMETHING more productive with my time. But I what I do try and do is that if I'm going to watch something regularly, that I pick something that makes me think, or is a good example of good acting/writing/directing, etc.

I would like to make a goal for what the original post said under #3. Pick out a few shows - maybe 3 a week - to watch and turn the TV on for those, but then turn it off and do something else.

4. Surround yourself with other learners.

This point is really important to me. I love learning, but what really makes me excited is to listen to how other people interpret things or how other people perform a particular skill or whatever. And the more I do with putting together my book, the more I'm learning that it is really, really, really, helpful to have a mentor. Somebody who has been doing that thing for awhile and can answer those questions that all beginners have. Somebody who won't mock you when you are just starting out. Somebody to do learn from. Somebody who is just as excited about it as you. And somebody to just do it, whatever "it" is, with you.

5. Be around people different from you.

As important as it was in #4 to be around people that are interested in the same thing(s) you are, I think it is just as important to be around people that are different than you. I remember when I was in college (the first time LOL) and there was a 40ish year old woman in my freshman literature class, and we were partnered up together. I was much better at her with the mechanics of English and knowing facts about the authors, and that kind of thing, but she had had so much more life experience than I had and was able to bring those experience, and just a whole other tone to her writing. (I can appreciate that 40 year old woman SO much more now LOL)

I do, however, have to make an effort to do this sort of thing. I'm not someone who just "out of the blue" goes somewhere different. With being a mom, homeschooling my kids, and watching other children, I am honestly just at my home quite a bit. And often, when I'm out of the house, I am at church or church related activities. I'm friends with several women from church, and I love them, but most of them have very similar lives to mine.

So I'm trying to branch out more and do things outside my house and outside my usual circle. I may not agree or like what I hear other people do/say, but it always helps me learn more about myself and what I do like and believe in.

6. Keep up with the news.

I will admit it. I'm not very good about this one. We do not have a newspaper subscription. I don't read news magazines. I don't watch the news on TV. Often times, the only news I will see is when I log onto the computer and go to my Yahoo home page (which does, actually, also have my local news headlines listed.)

I want to do better with this. I mean, I don't want it to be something that I spend a lot of time reading, or getting bogged down in the negative, but to be able to learn and make connections, I think it is important to know what is going on, both locally and globally.

7. Make a list.

No problems with this here. I constantly got a list going of books I want to read, or check out from the library. But if you don't, get a little notebook and keep it where it will be easiest to jot things down that you want to read about/take a class about, etc.

8. Say "I don't know" to your kids.

As my kids get older, I say this more and more to them. They've gotten over the shock, mostly, LOL, that I don't know everything. And it has turned into loads of fun together trying to find the answer. And my kids get off on tangents, just like their mom does, and we've discovered some really great things together this way.

9. Just do something.

The original post recommends to just try something new every day. And at first, I thought, a new thing EVERY DAY? But it doesn't have to be something major. It can be something that takes 5 minutes to research. Or something small as part of a longer journey - like learning how to thread a needle on the way to learning how to sew a dress.


I think if you do even one or two of these things on the list, you'll be well on your way to showing your family that you value learning. And at the end of the day, week, year, life, I think that you'll be a better person for it too.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Cookbooks . . .

I've known how to cook since I was a little kid. My mom always included us in the kitchen. It was something that I feel like I've always done. And then when I went to Junior High, I took Foods 1 and Foods 2 (as part of the Home Economics courses that were required at my school. Sigh. I wish that they still taught Home Economics in school.) And then when I was 15, I began to have an eating disorder (anorexia for the first few years, and anorexia/bulimia for several years after that.) And so during high school, even though I wasn't actually eating, I would collect all kinds of recipes and hand write them in my recipe binder (see, even way back then, I was using binders! LOL)

And then I went to college and I didn't do a whole lot of actual cooking. I used the toaster, the popcorn popper, the toaster oven, and the microwave for almost everything. But my friends started getting married, and most of them got at least one cookbook for a bridal shower gift, and I may have even given one or two as gifts over the years.

By the time I was in my mid twenties and living on my own, I should have been starting to cook more, but I wasn't. It seemed like such an effort to cook for one. And the fact that I love cold cereal certainly made it tempting to just sit down to a bowl of cereal whether it be breakfast, lunch or dinner. And when I was working in downtown Chicago, I either worked through lunch or went to a nearby restaurant and got a sandwich or something.

When I got engaged, my mom made a special point of telling Mr. Simple that I was a good cook. And I certainly had been, at some point, but by the time I got married, it had been many years since I cooked on a regular basis. Thankfully, someone had given me the traditional Better Homes and Garden Cookbook for a bridal shower gift, so I did have at least one cookbook (sadly, my recipe binders had gotten lost over the years.)

Mr. Simple began to doubt my mother though because I still didn't really cook. At least not for many years. At first, it was the "it is too much work for two and we are working totally different schedules" problem. And then when the first two babies came along, it was the "I'm a busy work out of the house mom and I don't have time to cook" problem. I had picked up several more cookbooks over the years, but I almost never looked at them except to cook up an occasional cake or batch of cookies.

When I was laid off in 2003, I finally started looking at the cookbooks. And slowly, I started weeding through them and getting rid of almost all of them. I started cooking from scratch some, but for awhile, I still relied quite a bit on pre-packaged meals.

And then, in 2007, I read the Little House cookbook, and the rest, as they say, is history. I still had my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook and now the Little House cookbook. And a couple recipe books from our church congregation, a Goose Berry Patch cookbook that had some great "old fashioned" recipes. And a recipe book that came with my crock pot and a recipe book that came with my bread maker. I started using them. At first, I used recipes a lot. We had a different dinner almost every meal all month. And then, I decided that it was a lot of work to do that (and often more money) so I pared it down to about 10-15 dinners. And I got to the point that I had them memorized. I went back to hardly using cookbooks at all.

Better Crocker Vegetarian Cooking cookbook, Goose Berry Patch Hometown Favorites cookbook, church recipe books, plastic bag full of my "loose" recipes, bean cookbook, crock pot recipe book, bread maker recipe book.

And then last year, when I really started to try and eat locally AND seasonally, I found myself needing to look at cookbooks again. I started picking them up at the thrift store. I collected them from magazines and other people's blogs.

And then, this summer, I started checking them out from the library. Oh my. I both love and hate checking out cookbooks from the library. I love finding all sorts of cookbooks without having to spend the $$$$$$ to buy them, but on the other hand, I hate being able to only have them for a few weeks, and I hate that it would cost me $$$$$ to buy them after I have decided that I love all of them. LOL
My current stack of cookbooks from the library - Nourishing Traditions cookbook, Cooking Healthy Across America cookbook, Local Flavors cookbook, Your Organic Kitchen cookbook, Simply Organic cookbook, Edible: A Celebration of Local Foods cookbook.

So I am back to trying to compile my seasonal notebooks that, among other things, will contain some of the recipes that I've got in my recipes and from the recipes from the cookbooks that I've checked out this summer. I promise to do better on posting my seasonal notebooks this year, although I don't think I'll probably have them done and posted until the end of each season, so they probably won't do any of you much good for this coming year. (Sorry. But I'm also trying to actually do what I say I'm going to do but also be more realistic in when I will complete the task.) I'm also going to try and finish up the Food Storage series in the next couple of months. All the Food Storage recipes and Seasonal recipes will be over at my Recipe blog, although I'll try and post over here at Simply Living and Simply Loving when I've updated the Recipe blog.

So what about you? Do you have any cookbook favorites? Do you cook from scratch? Do you use recipes or just throw things together?

Friday, September 10, 2010

I'm a contradiction, that's for sure . . .

I've been busy (don't I always say that when I haven't blogged for awhile?) with the end of summer and school starting up again. I'm not happy at all that Fall just seemed to arrive all of a sudden. I was hoping for an Indian Summer, or at least a more gradual move to cool temperatures. But temperatures have been highs of 70s and lows in the 40s for over a week now and it isn't looking good for a return to 80s and 90s. Thankfully, I do love Fall quite a bit . . . .

Anyway, over here in Simple Land, I've been busy with gardening and budgeting and canning and reading. LOTS of reading. I'm set to get starting with the actual start of writing my book next month, but I'm trying to get as much research done before the writing begins. Not that I won't do research along the way too, but not as much. And I've been busy with homeschooling and child care and getting used to Flower being back in public school.

Next week, we will have some surplus in the budget, and I've spent the last few weeks thinking about what I would like to use with some of the surplus. And I think I've decided.

I'll be purchasing:

1) Canning jars. Mostly in pint sizes but some more quart jars too. The jars are starting to go on sale, so even better, although I want to make sure and buy them before they are gone for the season.
2) Apples and Peaches. I'm hoping to can at least a couple dozen jars of sliced peaches and cinnamon applesauce.
3) An iPhone. :)

Contradictions, I tell you.