I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Head cold, chin hairs, and wheat

This week, when Al took this picture of me and Mt. Baker, I was on top of the world. I felt great as we hiked in the sunshine and fresh snow. That was Tuesday, and then on Thursday we hiked again in the sunshine. The two trips in the High Country totaled more than sixteen miles and 5,500 feet up and down.

However, on Thursday morning when I woke up to get ready for the hike, I wondered if it was my imagination or did I have just the slightest bit of a sore throat? I decided to ignore it and went anyway. While we were on the trail, I didn't feel sick at all, but in the car during the ride home (more than an hour), I began to sneeze. Fortunately I carry a hankie so the other people in the car didn't get sprayed. By the time I reached home, my head was stuffed up and I couldn't stop sneezing. Not to mention that I felt miserable. I went to bed around 7:00pm and continue to sneeze. I had some homeopathic Zicam in the closet and took it, along with some Nyquil and managed to get a halfway decent night's sleep, although I had to breathe most of the night through my mouth. I hate that. I was up and reading my blogs before 5:00am.

On Friday I noticed that my nasal voice and red nose were the least of my worries, as I felt like crap. So much for getting in one last day of skydiving on Saturday before the season ends. Nobody jumps with a head cold. I did once long ago and thought my eardrums were going to rupture when I opened my parachute after a minute of freefall. This didn't improve my mood one bit. As I looked in the bathroom mirror while I brushed my teeth, the sick grumpy visage that stared back at me was sprouting chin hairs! That did it, I got out the tweezers and went to work.

Years ago, I remembered watching my mother do the same thing and I laughed at her. This was in my hippie days when I dressed "naturally" and wore Birkenstocks. I told her that if the same thing happened to ME, I'd wear my chin hairs proudly. As I looked in the mirror at myself I couldn't help but smile, plucking out the hairs with the same tweezers she used all those years ago. Sometimes I am embarrassed when confronted with my own arrogance.

I am not a good patient. I don't know how to be sick and wonder how I would fare with a chronic illness. Some of my blogging friends give me plenty of inspiration as they deal with myriad trials and tribulations with humor and courage. My life has changed plenty because of my blogging. The friends who greet me every morning when I read their blogs have given me more than a new perspective; sometimes one of you will give me a new direction to follow.

Last week Technobabe suggested that I read a book called Wheat Belly to discover what she and her husband feel has changed their lives for the better. In fact, her husband James, a musician, wrote a wonderful song about it which is in that link to her blog. I did indeed read the book, and my dear Smart Guy and I have decided to do a month-long test to see how we fare without wheat. The author, William Davis, is a cardiologist who has discovered that today's wheat has been hybridized and changed to such an extent that it causes many illnesses in his patients that can be treated without drugs -- by removing wheat from their diets.

Dr. Davis goes on to suggest that anyone who is diabetic or prediabetic should get rid of all gluten and severely restrict carbohydrates, but we aren't going that far yet, keeping rye bread without added sugar, beans, and occasional brown rice in our vegetarian diets. Well, we are not actually vegetarians since we eat fish. I remember learning that vegetarians who eat fish are called "pescatarians." That's us. Who would move to the Pacific Northwest and not take advantage of the local fantastic salmon? We are less than a week into our quest and decided also to eliminate all added sugars such as honey. I don't eat a lot of wheat in the first place, but I am a fan of locally baked spelt bread. I found that it's got a pretty heavy glycemic load so I've replaced it with pumpernickel, which is actually really good too.

I went to bed Saturday night not feeling very well, but I was able to sleep for almost twelve hours and woke feeling like a new person. Usually on Saturdays I take an early morning walk of five or six brisk miles with the Fairhaven Walkers and then swim a half mile, but I decided not to push it and forego (forewent?) those activities. Instead I went to the Farmers' Market to pick up some collards and kale, two of my favorite vegetables, as well as some absolutely delicious delicata squash. I am fortunate to have organic veggies and fresh-caught wild salmon to enjoy. It would be hard living somewhere that doesn't offer the variety we have here and attempt to eliminate wheat. It's in so many processed foods!

The one big difference I've noticed already is that I am not hungry in between meals. I'm definitely eating less, but that could be a function of having a cold. I'll know more by next Sunday and will let you know how it's going. It does make me hopeful that perhaps I won't gain back my hard-won weight loss of the past nine months by going wheat-free. The winter months when I don't get out as often are hard for me to deal with; exercising in the rain isn't my favorite activity.

Sitting here in the dark before dawn drinking my tea, pouring out these words on my laptop, I realize that I'm over the hump and will now be getting better each day. One thing about feeling so awful for a few days is that when health begins to return, everything around me begins to look brighter.


MerCyn said...

Hope you are completely well soon and good luck with your new diet. We have also tried to eliminate processed foods and stick to the real thing. We have wonderful veggies (organics delivered weekly to our door from a local CSA farm) and fresh fish, but I cannot totally eliminate an everything bagel (from our local bagel factory) once in a while. We are now locavores as much as possible.

Rubye Jack said...

I'm glad you're beginning to feel better DJan. I completely relate to not being a good patient, but sometimes I suppose our bodies need a break and a good rest.

You are indeed lucky to have wild salmon and organic veggies. I'm afraid I took them for granted when in California. In this area, they are mostly impossible to find. I'm looking forward to hearing how your no, or low, wheat diet goes.

Linda Myers said...

I'll be interested in how that diet goes. We don't eat a lot of wheat anyway, so it wouldn't be a huge sacrifice. And I agree with you that walking in the rain is only fun in the movies.

Linda Reeder said...

I think you are the healthiest "older" person that I know.
I do find as I get older that things I loved to eat no longer appeal because they don't make me feel good. Gluten free is the big craze these days. Some are truly allergic. It's hard to know which 'expert' to listen to. I still go by my motto of everything in moderation.
Sorry you missed your jumping out of planes opportunity yesterday. :-(

Teresa Evangeline said...

I swear, all the hair that was once on my legs is now on my chin. Plucking is a daily occurrence and I'm having trouble finding anything sacred about that task. :) That youthful arrogance sure hits us up side the head, doesn't it? I'm not just eating words, but entire sentences, maybe even a paragraph ore two. But, I do hope you're all better very soon and, once again, jumping out of planes. With a parachute, of course.

Anonymous said...

You made me laugh about the chin hairs. Imagine that! Your mom must be laughing in heaven. As for me, I am virtually hairless (except for the hair on my head). I don't need to shave at all -- perhaps because of reduced hormone levels.

A few years ago, I cut the carbs and ate mostly protein. Result: sky-high LDL. Animal fat was to blame.

In January, I started eating vegan food for dinner exclusively. No protein, no carbs. Result: chronic abdominal pain and cramps.

Solution: Reduce the amount of raw veggies and animal fat in my diet. Result: No pain whatsoever and lower LDL.

Each person needs to find his/her comfort zone and determine what works for him/her.

Gigi said...

Our words do come back to bite us; don't they?

I hope you get better soon - colds are never any fun.

Sandi said...

You've made me seriously consider reading the book, Wheat Belly. I've known for a long time that my diet is probably what thwarts my success in many ways. Your comment, "The one big difference I've noticed already is that I am not hungry in between meals." intrigues me, as that is my downfall. I get too hungry, eat the wrong things, then I'm not hungry for the right foods. And, I may not be able to resist the wonderful bread that Jess is sure to bring home on Thursday when she comes for the weekend from Great Harvest!

Still, I'm going to get the book and read it!

I thought about my hiking poles, left in the car, when Pam and I hiked yesterday! I had found a branch that worked pretty well for the downhill places. I need to remember to bring the poles, as my wanderlust takes me off to places I don't expect!

I hope your head cold is a thing of the past soon. I was plagued for about a week, but It's mostly gone now!

Frances Segura said...

I'm a very new blogger and just ran upon your site. I have really enjoyed hearing about your adventures; I've never climbed a high mountain or sky dived. I thank you for sharing your adventures for all of us stay at home folks.

Grandmother said...

Keep us informed about the results of the diet. You've done so well in losing weight and keeping healthy. My daughter was diagnosed with Celiac at age two so I'm familiar with that diet.

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

I got hit with a terrible cold that has behaved much like yours. I took Airborne and extra vitamin C Friday night and Saturday, felt terrible all day yesterday, and am a bit better today. You missed skydiving, I missed grocery shopping. I eat very little wheat, but think I need to cut out added sugar and sweet treats. Hard to do!

Rita said...

I'm glad you are starting to feel better. It's all relative, isn't it? When I got through that last long fibro flare I was so glad to be back to just my normal pain and exhaustion level--whoohoo! The world looks pretty darn wonderful!

My mother just doesn't pay attention to things like chin hair. I pluck--LOL! :) I have often had my words come back to haunt me, though, about many things. ROFL!!

Sorry you missed the jump...and the walk and swim. A better week awaits you. And let us know how the wheat-free diet goes. I tried it a few years ago for a couple of months and didn't notice a thing...but then it's harder for me to notice small improvements, I suppose. ;)

Here's to a brighter week!! :):)

Red said...

A nasty cold can take the joy out of life very quickly. Hope recovery is fast.
I must read the wheat belly book . I've heard about it. It makes one think about what all the changes to plants has done for us. It goes further than that . Animals have been bred for many changes. Meat doesn't taste remotely like it did when I was a kid on the farm. Now I know that doesn't bother you because you don't eat meat.
Road my bike about 12 K's this afternoon.

wendyytb said...

Glad to hear that you are feeling better! There seems to be some nasty colds going around right now!

Bragger said...

So glad you're feeling better. Nothing makes me more miserable than having to eat my own words. Ha ha

Trish said...

OK, reading this post, I'm going to try this for a week.No wheat. We're just getting over bad colds and I know what you mean about when you feel like crap - and when you don't.

#1Nana said...

You are inspiring. Giving up wheat would be a big change for me, so I'll be interested to hear how the experiment goes.

Friko said...

People I know moan a lot more about a cold than you've done here.

I've been thinking that wheat might be a good thing to give up. I already can't take dairy products, it wouldn't leave a lot of protein. I eat fish and some meat, and I enjoy both.

I dread winter and the lack of exercise, not that I do even half as much as you.

Retired English Teacher said...

You have given me a lot to think about. I have been considering going gluten free, but I don't know if I have the fortitude to make the change. I find that I am just beginning to make progress in cooking again. I'm taking baby steps in changing my ways. Going gluten free seems to be too big of step right now.

You are fortunate to live where you do. You have access to great seafood. We are landlocked and don't have the same access. Also, we don't really have access to good farmers' markets with all the great vegetables and fruits that you have. I think all of that makes a great difference when it comes to healthy food choices. I try to do the best I can, but honestly our supermarkets in Pueblo are pathetic. Our farmers' market is just barely ok and it only runs during the summer. Very frustrating!

judy Cosgrove said...

I. too, find myself having to eat so many of the words I've said over the years - like I'll never wear pants with elastic waist bands, etc. HaHa, the jokes on me.

Linda Myers said...

I take my agitated eyebrows and my chin hairs to the nail lady in our local strip mall, and she smooths me out again.

I love not having to shave my legs. If there's any hair growing on them I can't see it because I only look when I'm in the shower and I don't have my glasses on then.

We do Community Supported Agriculture - they deliver a box of fresh produce every Thursday. All the fruit sits on the counter to catch my attention when I'm on the way to the refrigerator. Usually it works.

Far Side of Fifty said...

What is even worse..those chin hairs can grow really fast..I swear I had one that grew an inch overnight..if it had company I could have braided them.
My Dad has to do a gluten free diet ..he has Celiac Disease.
My Mom make a rice flour cake that is wonderful..so he can still have some yummy dessert every once in awhile:)

Nancy said...

Sometimes I am embarrassed when confronted with my own arrogance.

Oh boy, do I feel the same way!

I also downloaded that book - Wheat Belly - I haven't started it yet, but it seems to make sense. Our food has been changed so much it doesn't even resemble food our grandparents ate.

Dee Ready said...

Dear DJ, sorry to hear that you've have one of those pesky colds. Miserable is about the only word I know to describe how all those symptoms make us feel.

But glad, too, that your cold prompted you to write this blog and to share with us your new leanings toward being gluten-free.

I do so hope you will continue to share with us how this new journey goes. I know I'm addicted to whole wheat bread. But I do like both rye and pumpernickel so perhaps that's the answer to my cravings.


Dee Ready said...

Dear DJ, just wanted you to know that I got on the library list for the wheat-free eating. I'm eager to read the book, but I'm #38 on the list, so it's going to be a while.


HOOTIN' ANNI said...

Hello...I'm here from your comment you left for Squirrel Queen at her blog. I wanted to meet a new blogger...well, 'new' for me. So I chose your link. And I'm glad I did. Loved that you are so active and doing all the good stuff I'd fear to try. Except for maybe plucking chin hairs.

Enjoyed my visit, and enjoyed meeting you for the first time.

Donna B said...

Hey DJan...sorry you were sick, but so glad to hear you are on the road to recovery.