???

So I choose the moment that I’m coming down with a bug, fortunately for the first time in a long time, to write a post, which means I find myself facing an empty text field and not sure what to do, when only moments ago it seemed crucial that I log in. A cold brain fog rolls in.

Perhaps the run-down feeling that I’m getting from the cold reminds me of the adrenal fatigue, which for the longest time was the only thing I posted about here. I’m so grateful that I feel so much better than I did. Today definitely took more effort than usual to stay happy, and I think I didn’t quite succeed.

+I did sit on the porch at lunch staring up into the sun behind the trees’ leaves, which was marred only by my ticking brain reminding me how short my lunch break is.

+As I got out of the car coming home from work, I paused to note how the mess of bamboo, wisteria, and other plants tangling along my fence are all the same shade of green–as are the grass and the neighbors’ more tidy landscaping. All that green and the same shade of chlorophyll. No large observation, but it reminded me how all the life on this planet is related, much as mammals have the same limited palette: white, black, brown, red, yellow, gray, and their various combinations (or at least that’s what I’ve observed, but I could be wrong).

+I spent several minutes petting Zoey on the back porch after work. I petted her while Bogie ran off and played. I petted her until he returned and demanded his own pets. I also laid down with her on the couch. She looked so sweet, and I tucked myself around her. No one cuddles as good as Zoey. She’s a ninja at cuddling.

I’ve taken some extra sups–Vit C, magnesium, various minerals, L-glutamine, L-lysine, and Airborne. And now I’m going to bed if I can. It’s the best medicine, but sometimes I find it hard to peel away from the ten thousand things.

On the drive back from my mother’s birthday, I thought, as I often do on long drives, of writing. I took notes for a new writing plan (I always have a new writing plan, don’t I?):

  • Live like an artist
  • Listen to music, real music, whole albums, not just background Pandora
  • Set aside devotional time. Like what some scholar I read about today called sacred time.
  • Cultivate silence
  • Write in nature after car rides (ha! The long slow monotony of the car ride liberates the brain; nature restores. There is order to my madness.)
  • Make my own podcast of favorite poems just for myself, which basically means record myself reading my favorite poems to listen to in the car.
  • Journal before bed

Which reminds me:

+ I downloaded and started reading translations of traditional Irish poems by Lady Gregory in The Kiltartan Poetry Book: Prose Translations from the Irish. “The Grief of a Girl’s Heart,” or “Donall og” as it’s often called, is as fresh as ever. I’ve loved it ever since I first heard it on the film based on Joyce’s “The Dead.” I found it in that year or two when I first found poetry altogether in high school. It is one of those foundational poems that stunned me with what words can do. So what if I found it in a movie?

I rewatched that scene many times in early high school, probably warping the VHS trying to transcribe it. It wasn’t until I found it in the school library that I realized the lamb was bleating, not bleeding. My friend Nicole and I made an interpretive dance that went with the poem, if I remember correctly. She’s maybe the only person I ever danced with and didn’t feel like a rhythmless baboon. Or maybe it was a dance that was also a prayer and a spell. I miss Nicole. I wish she still walked the earth. I saw the movie again in college and sat next to Alan Jefferson as we watched it in Bill Cobb’s class. I miss Alan. I wish he still walked the earth.

Here’s Gregory’s original prose translation (from http://www.digital.library.upenn.edu/women/gregory/poetry/poetry-01.html):

The Grief of a Girl’s Heart

O DONALL og, if you go across the sea, bring myself with you and do not forget it; and you will have a sweetheart for fair days and market days, and the daughter of the King of Greece beside you at night. It is late last night the dog was speaking of you; the snipe was speaking of you in her deep marsh. It is you are the lonely bird through the woods; and that you may be without a mate until you find me.

You promised me, and you said a lie to me, that you would be before me where the sheep are flocked; I gave a whistle and three hundred cries to you, and I found nothing there but a bleating lamb.

You promised me a thing that was hard for you, a ship of gold under a silver mast; twelve towns with a market in all of them, and a fine white court by the side of the sea.

You promised me a thing that is not possible, that you would give me gloves of the skin of a fish; that you would give me shoes of the skin of a bird, and a suit of the dearest silk in Ireland.

O Donall og, it is I would be better to you than a high, proud, spendthrift lady: I would milk the cow; I would bring help to you; and if you were hard pressed, I would strike a blow for you.

O, ochone, and it’s not with hunger or with wanting food, or drink, or sleep, that I am growing thin, and my life is shortened; but it is the love of a young man has withered me away.

It is early in the morning that I saw him coming, going along the road on the back of a horse; he did not come to me; he made nothing of me; and it is on my way home that I cried my fill.

When I go by myself to the Well of Loneliness, I sit down and I go through my trouble; when I see the world and do not see my boy, he that has an amber shade in his hair.

It was on that Sunday I gave my love to you; the Sunday that is last before Easter Sunday. And myself on my knees reading the Passion; and my two eyes giving love to you for ever.

O, aya! my mother, give myself to him; and give him all that you have in the world; get out yourself to ask for alms, and do not come back and forward looking for me.

My mother said to me not to be talking with you to-day, or to-morrow, or on the Sunday; it was a bad time she took for telling me that; it was shutting the door after the house was robbed.

My heart is as black as the blackness of the sloe, or as the black coal that is on the smith’s forge; or as the sole of a shoe left in white halls; it was you put that darkness over my life.

You have taken the east from me; you have taken the west from me; you have taken what is before me and what is behind me; you have taken the moon, you have taken the sun from me; and my fear is great that you have taken God from me!

My New Favorite Okra Recipe

When I joined the E.A.T. South veggie-co-op this summer to get quality veggies, one of my goals was to expand my repertoire of delicious vegetable recipes. I hit the jackpot with this recipe for Indian stir-fried okra.

Like many people, my relationship with okra has been tenuous. As I child, I hated it in any form, but especially in gumbo, where I my imagination led me to believe that the okra seeds were shrimp eyes. Blegh. As I grew older, I learned to love perfectly fried okra like my Mawmaw Irene used to make. Lots of people fry okra, but few match hers. It was very lightly breaded, fried golden brown, and was neither slimy nor hard. It had a perfect dry and slightly chewy texture. The fried okra at Dirk’s Filet and Vine comes close. But who am I kidding—I don’t have time to fry okra, and there’s next to no chance it would come out like Mawmaw’s.

Because I was already too hungry, I didn’t even bother to look at my cookbooks, but instead went straight to Satan’s Cookbook, the internet. I found several recipes and nearly went with a Chinese version before the thought of Indian spices wooed me. I didn’t have all the ingredients called for in the delightful recipe at Peri’s Spice Ladle, so I adapted the recipe to the ingredients I have. Lacking potatoes (and the patience to learn how to parboil them) and tomato paste, I switched things up with various red peppers and the southerner’s old standby, Rotel tomatoes. Check out Peri’s recipe. She offers a lot of insight into the nature of okra, and she taught me a new term, “roasting the aromatics,” for the process of flavoring the oil that is the basis of many Indian recipes. I bet her version with potatoes is even better. Without further ado, my version–using all EAT South veggies, except ginger, Rotel, and lemon:

Ingredients

  • One share of okra (400 grams–I don’t know why I weighed in grams.)
  • A couple of tablespoons of oil of choice (canola or coconut work well).
  • ½ teaspoon of whole cumin seeds
  • 2-5 cloves of garlic (to your taste)
  • ½ inch of ginger root
  • Chilies – all of the 1 in 10 hot peppers from share or 2-3 jalepenos or serranos.
  • One white onion from share, thinly sliced
  • Assorted red peppers
  • ½ teaspoon red chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin powder
  • ¼ teaspoon amchur/mango powder (optional, but much desired!)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 can of Mild Rotel, well-drained
  • Juice of ½ a lemon

Prep

  • Chop garlic, chilies, and ginger in a food processor. I go whole hog with 1.5 inches of ginger and an equivalent amount of garlic, say 5 really fat cloves, plus all of the 1 in 10 hot peppers from the share, but you could also use jalapenos or serranos.
  • Wash and fully dry one share of okra. It’s the water that makes it slimy, so be fastidious. Cut on a bias into ⅓ inch slices.
  • Thinly slice one onion.
  • Wash, dry, and slice red peppers into thin rings. I used one large red pepper and several small round red peppers from a previous share.
  • Measure dry spices and salt into a small prep bowl: ½ teaspoon red chili powder (I used ancho), ½ teaspoon cumin powder, ¼ teaspoon amchur/mango powder, & ½ teaspoon Kosher salt.
  • Pour one can of Mild Rotel in a strainer and let it drain until needed.
  • Prep ½ lemon for juicing.

Cook

  • Fry whole cumin and one thinly-sliced onion from the share in oil of choice for one minute.
  • Add garlic, ginger, chili mix. Fry for one minute.
  • Add okra, dry spices, and salt. I was scared the moisture from the peppers would make the okra slimy, so I removed the okra once it was cooked did the peppers and then put them back together, but it would probably be fine to cook them together.
  • Add one can of well-drained Mild Rotel.
  • Cook 5 minutes or longer if you like veggies more done. They won’t get soft or slimy, just less raw. I went longer. I’m still the little kid icked out by most vegetables that have any hint of rawness about them. I may have gone as long as 15 minutes, and the okra were still firm, but fully cooked.
  • Add lemon juice.

The end result is amazing, like something from a good Indian buffet (if you go to Cincinnati, check out Amma’s Kitchen—all vegetarian Southern Indian). The okra is tasty and has a texture I didn’t know it could have—not at all slimy as in gumbo or (delightfully) chewy as in fried okra. It was firm and non-slimy.

Indian Spices just outside the Eastdale Mall has, as its name would suggest, a decent selection of Indian spices. However, mango powder is the only ingredient called for not available at a regular grocery. Mango powder has a nice tangy bite to it that adds another dimension to the flavor of the spices and is worth trying out.

Incidentally, this is a great recipe for those of us with adrenal fatigue as it has lots of vitamin-rich vegetables and good-for-you coconut oil. It should be combined with a protein to round out the meal. Hmmm. I wonder how this would go with fried tofu . . .

Hi, there!

The thing about adrenal fatigue is that it’s really fucking boring. You just feel tired, blah, and fuzzy. So that’s going to be my official excuse for not keeping up. Though, in reality, I’m back to where I was pre-adrenal fatigue, which is probably with cortisol function on the low side of normal. I don’t have hypoglycemic episodes if I go more than two hours without eating. I can get up and out and do stuff without caffeine (though I sure do miss it). I was able to finish my article, and I’m reviving my old manuscript of poems. All good.

Will I update more frequently? I’m making no promises since I’ve turned on the robots file to keep google from indexing this page. As I work in my library office (okay, officially “faculty research room”), I’ll try to post little notes about any neat historical finds I make (finds to me, history has been there for everyone all this time). And I might try to do that three positives things.

My positives for today:

+Reading all the poems in the latest issue of Poetry, and a few of the essays on the back deck with the dogs.
+Two days in a row (or is it three?) that I haven’t had mosquito bites. Nary a one. Lavender+Cedarwood+Peppermint is a winning combo.
+Making plans to visit a friend I’ve known for over half my life.
+Buying little gifts for my family in anticipation of a visit.

Ta. Da.

Three good days in a row?

I can’t believe my luck! Or maybe something is actually starting to work. Or maybe a whole lot of things together are starting to work.

Let’s recap:

  • Taking 20 supplements and vitamins a day, some twice a day. (Doubled dose of DHEA and let pregnenolone fully dissolve under my tongue–I think that change may have helped too.)
  • Going to bed earlier. Usually. But for sure getting enough sleep.
  • Eating small, healthier meals throughout the day that balance protein, fat, and complex carbs to keep my blood sugar even.
  • Walking for an hour every day, plus squats and push-ups and a few Pilates yoga things.
  • Eliminated caffeine.
  • Relaxing and meditating.
  • Ugh, no alcohol in more than a week. Boo. But it probably helps.

Fingers crossed! Also remembering that setbacks will come and to not beat myself up for them.

A good day

Rule #1: Never talk about good days.

Wait, no, I mean: Rule #1: Remember this is an up and down process, hopefully trending upwards over time. Don’t let a good day make you think you’re cured so that when you inevitably have a bad day (probably in the next couple of days) that you beat yourself up and feel like things are going nowhere. Think about that long term trend. The bad days aren’t quite as bad as they used to be. The good days are better than the old good days. The good days are more frequent than they used to be. This is what we call an overall upward trend.

Things that may have helped:

  1. I went to sleep at a relatively decent hour last night.
  2. I did wake up in the middle of the night hungry in a way that I knew would lead to low blood sugar so I forced my tired ass to get up, eat a few almonds and a few spoons of whole milk yogurt, and drink half a cup of unsweetened almond milk. Right now I’m eating my pre-bed snack of complex carbs: Kashi 7 grain pilaf tossed with my favorite Chinese crunchy pepper paste. Yes, there’s whole grain rye and wheat in there. Maybe my first gluten of the day?
  3. I went for a walk pretty early–but not before drinking a hemp, banana, mango, whole milk yogurt smoothie. It was awesome! No blood sugar crash. Snack of a few apple slices and peanut butter when I got back.
  4. I did two sets of twenty squats. I’m going to work on building my muscles again, even if I can’t actually lose weight. Plus a few yoga poses for stretching.
  5. I ate pretty regularly throughout the day. Very small meals or snacks. Sometimes whether I was hungry or not because I knew it was time. Sometimes within just a few minutes of realizing I was hungry. No sugar crashes. No cravings. No ravenous consumption of everything.
  6. Lots of water all the time.
  7. I took breaks while I worked at the computer. I got up every hour, even if it was to go eat a couple of almonds and come back.

I’m going to try not to worry about tomorrow. I don’t think I stressed out or used up all my reserves today. I’m about to go to bed and get a good night’s sleep. I’ve got my water bottle and tea mug ready to get ready for tomorrow. For my 131s, it’s a blessed day of in-class writing. I’m promising myself a real hike this weekend.

I’m promising myself a real hike this weekend. 

Dispirited

I’ve always had a flair for the melodramatic, but since I’ve developed anxiety, possibly connected to or heightened by the adrenal fatigue, it’s been very easy for me to have cascading fears or to simply feel sorry for myself.

Friday, I went to bed at six. When I woke up at seven on Saturday, I didn’t feel rested at all. I ate breakfast, watched a show, and went back to sleep. Of course, when I woke up a second time, I didn’t feel any better. I broke down and had half a cup of caffeinated tea. Poof. Mostly awake and somewhat energetic. I cleaned the house because I’m tired of it smelling like dog.

Sunday, I woke up feeling pretty good. Ate a Cliff Bar and maybe that was my mistake. I think it had enough calories, but I would have been better off with an egg and some Ezekiel bread. Went for a walk. Felt great. Was a little hungry and fantasized about an omelette when I got back. Was planning on doing five miles instead of my usual three.

But a mile in, I realized I wasn’t just a little hungry; I had really low blood sugar. When this had happened before, I’ve been at home or in the checkout line at the grocery store and able to deal with it, however poorly. This time I was a mile from home with two dogs who were expecting a longer walk. I was sweaty and clammy, desperately anxious. Irritable didn’t come close to what I felt. It’s like I could feel my brain was on a countdown to not working.

I took a shortcut back home, but it still felt like thirty forevers. At one point I contemplated asking a young couple with a baby if they had any snacks they could spare but was too embarrassed and desperate. When I got home I tried to be healthy and not wolf down too much. I’d decided on the way back that peanut butter was a good option. Sugary, yes, but also fill of protein and fat, so I wouldn’t be going for a pure sugar rush. With a little jelly and some Ezekiel bread it seemed a good idea. Try as I might I ate too much, and think I could feel the extra blood sugar burning me. That’s the best I can do to describe it. I was whooped. I went back to bed and searched for more info.

I already knew there was a link between adrenal fatigue and hypoglycemia and that cortisol plays some role in regulating blood sugar. What I learned is that when presented with stress the body releases extra insulin to help blood sugar get into the cells, which causes your blood sugar to drop. Normally the body also releases cortisol which somehow assists with converting stored energy — hello, fat! — into blood sugar. Except, without enough cortisol that process can become nearly impossible.

Low blood sugar itself is a stress on the system and causes cellular damage and requires a recovery period.

As much as the idea of all of this eventually leading to diabetes terrifies me, what is heartbreaking is how it also makes it hard to lose weight. It’s easier to put on, but harder, maybe impossible to take off if you can’t convert fat to energy.

And here’s where I become a melodrama mama and want to cry it’s not fair. It’s not fair that it takes all my energy to work, that often I can barely manage getting groceries, much less working on my article or losing weight. I am trying so hard. I’m not perfect, but I am trying so hard. I’m changing my diet, taking a fuckton of expensive supplements, quitting caffeine, trying to manage stress and to walk or do other exercise. I’m tired of being tired. I’m tired of just trading water. I want things to change.

 

Day Five without Caffeine: I taught and no one died.

I am so lazy, I’m just going to paste my fb status update:

Day five without caffeine: I taught and nothing tragic happened. I also woke up a few minutes before my 7:30 alarm in a good mood, took the dogs for a mile walk before school, prepped for class, ate a real breakfast, and got to work a whole ten minutes early (instead of five minutes late). I didn’t know what to do with myself, so I figured I’d just walk into the Humanities department and see what was going on, and I had time to talk and chat with a student from last semester for a full five minutes before going to class. Hum. So this is what the morning is like for most people. The rest of the day I was alert and mostly coherent and pretty mellow and good moodish. Way less anxious. This might work for me. F@ck yeah, health!

It’s 7:45 and I’ve been getting sleepy since about 7:20. Some web page about licorice root says that we AFs (adrenal fatiguers!) often feel a slump about this time, and if we don’t do something about it, the cortisol stress response will kick in and then we’ll be wired when it’s time to go to sleep. Sounds about right. So I took some more licorice root and Siberian ginseng–both recommended–as I’m going out to see Django Unchained. I kind of want to see it to form my own opinion regarding the brouhaha that’s been made about it. Even when Tarantino is disgusting, he’s usually funny and entertaining. And the music is always super cool.

That said, I’m sleepy, but pleased with how today went.