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When I'm not here, you may find me wandering the pages below. (If I'm a regular visitor to your site and I've left your link off or mislinked to you, please let me know! And likewise, if you've blogrolled me, please check that my link is updated: thisroamanticlife.blogspot.com. The extra (a) makes all the difference!)

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Body: in sickness and in health

I won't lie; this body and I have had our issues with each other for many years. Body image -- sure. Physical and mental overextension -- comes with being a Type A kind of girl. I still struggle with these things, so they show up from time to time in my writing.

More recently, illness, pure but not simple, has added itself to the mix in a multi-system sort of way. And the challenges in figuring out exactly what's gone wrong are many. As problems have revealed themselves in the last few years, beginning with reactive hypoglycemia in late 2008, I've documented them here, partly to gain a little clarity on managing complex conditions but mostly to give voice to vulnerabilities I feel but don't normally share with anyone face to face. Better out than in, they say, right? (Oh yes, humor is one way I deal.)

The links below cover the different angles I've examined (and from which I've been examined) within that experience.

Travel: neither here nor there

When the person you're married to lives two time zones away, you log a fair number of frequent flier miles. And if you blog about commuter relationships, you log quite a few posts en route too.

Since we're no longer in separate places, I blog less often from airports. But we do travel -- together now! -- which is much more fun to write about. So in addition to thoughts on our years of commuting, the links below cover the places we've been as a pair and, in some cases, the adventures that have happened on the way.

Writing: the long and short of it

Why do I do it? Good question. Maybe it's not so much that I like to write but that I have to write, even when the words refuse to stick to the page. Believe me, I've tried doing other things like majoring in biochemistry (freshman fall, many semesters ago). Within a year, I'd switched to English with a concentration in creative writing and wasn't looking back.

After graduating, I taught English for a few years and then worked as an editor, which I still do freelance. In 2007, I applied and got into an MFA program at a place I like to call Little U. on the Prairie. I finished my degree in 2011 and have been balancing tutoring and writing on my own ever since.

The following links cover the writing I've done about writing: process, content, obstacles, you name it. It's not always pretty. But some part of me loves it, even when it's hard. And this is the result.

Heart: family and friends

I'd have a hard time explaining who I am without being able to talk about the family I grew up in as well as the people I've met beyond its bounds. But even with such context, it's not easy! In the simplest terms, I'm a first-generation Asian-American who has spent most of this life caught between cultures. That, of course, doesn't even begin to describe what I mean to, but there's my first stab at the heart of it all.

That's what this group of posts is reserved for -- heart. The essential parts of my life whose influences I carry with me, for better or worse. The links below cover what I've written as I've learned how these forces work within me, for me, against me, in spite of me. They anchor me even as they change me, and they keep life interesting.

Recommended reading

What do I do when there's too much on my mind and my words won't stick to the page? I escape into someone else's thoughts. Below is a collection of books and articles that have been sources of information, inspiration, and occasional insight for my own work.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Guess what time it is?

Well, actually, now I don't have to.

Lately, I've been especially busy working on a research paper for one class, writing my essay for the other, and grading. Most often, I do all of that on my laptop, and it's easy to forget to look at the clock -- well, less so for that last item, but I do occasionally get mired down trying to understand what some of my students are trying to say in their papers. So I'll miss the specific time after eating a meal when I'm supposed to check my blood sugar to make sure it hasn't done something bad.

Enter the desktop alarm clock gadget (above) from the Windows Live Gallery. D found it for me yesterday, and I'm completely smitten. You can choose what music it plays when the alarm goes off, and you can put it anywhere on your screen. So now I have the perfect little reminder, and I don't have to worry about forgetting to test -- or be preoccupied with remembering while I'm supposed to be concentrating on work.

Also on the subject of time and distractions: I will be packing to go to Seattle again in exactly one week, and it feels like the earth's rotation has suddenly hit a very slow crawl. I got home today after teaching and felt enormously blah thinking about the wait. Maybe it's because of the weather (freezing with no end in sight); maybe it's because I experimented with another soup recipe that I ended up liking only marginally (but I don't want to waste food, so I've been eating it for dinner over the last three days). Either way, I'm cranky and want a change. Tonight, I did make some improvements on the soup -- it's another cauliflower-based one that was supposed to be seasoned with curry powder, but since I realized at the last minute that I didn't have any, I went with celery seed as well as ginger and garlic powders instead. The ginger didn't quite work out (I thought it might be all right since there were carrots puréed into the mix). Anyway, it turns out that a generous grating of parmesan cheese cuts the ginger flavor down to size. And tomorrow, I can move on at last to something different.

Sigh -- I want to take the night off but I can't even think of anything I'd rather be doing (besides the impossible, curling up on the couch with D after dinner to talk or just sit in happy silence). Arrgh.

9 comments:

French Fancy said...

There is nothing worse than making oneself eat food that isn't particularly wonderful - well, there are probably lots of worse things - like being away from D for so long. Isn't it strange how time does indeed slow down when one is waiting for something marvellous to happen.

Not long now.

You must have lots of will power to keep away from the 'bad food' that might upset your system. What is the worst reaction you might have if you went mad one night and had something you shouldn't ?

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Hmmm, the worst reaction -- which tipped me off back in December that I needed to get definitive answers -- was being exhausted to the point of taking multiple naps per day even though I was getting plenty of sleep at night. While that's not too bad of a problem, relatively speaking (I wasn't in any pain), it was happening because my sugar was too high. I'm not exactly sure how high sugar leads to my conking out, but the long-term effects of having high sugar are what's truly bad. It can damage your organs over time, so that's what I'm really trying to avoid more than the short-term tiredness. That's what can make it tricky. You don't necessarily feel enough discomfort to deter you from going mad one night.

But the fact that I'm able to control my sugar levels through diet and exercise alone are also keeping me motivated -- if I ever become diabetic (which will happen if I don't manage the prediabetes) and need medication, that will introduce new complications, risks, side effects, etc., so the restrictions I have to live with right now are definitely a more attractive alternative!

Good Enough Woman said...

My husband's brother's wife (got that?), who was a friend of mine even before our mutual marriages to brothers, started having problems during her recent pregnancy. She was find during the first pregnancy, I think. But during this one, she got a high sugar result, and she had to start watching her diet. She's very fit, so we all thought it would just go away, but it hasn't even though now she's had the baby and is even more fit. In fact, she's positively svelt, which drives me crazy because I am not. But the high sugar is still there, so she's watching her intake (which is part of the reason she is currently so svelt).

It's great that you are taking care of yourself. And I also like working on soups. We had tortilla soup tonight.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Cutting the carbs definitely led to a drop in my weight, even though it was normal before. I do wonder what I'll have to do when D and I want to have children. I imagine sugar substitutes, which have helped in keeping me from feeling too deprived when it comes to sweets, will have to go temporarily!

Mmm, tortilla soup. Sounds delicious.

Prof S said...

I'm a new reader and found your blog from Good (enough) Woman's blog. I've enjoyed reading your posts. I was diagnosed with diabetes two months ago -- brought on by long-term prednisone for ehlers-danlos. Anyways, I'd gained a lot of weight from the prednisone and already in two months, I've lost 10 pounds. I am on medication but also watching carbs very carefully. Some people can do the 40-60 carbs per meal but am I that lucky? Noooooo indeed. I'm very sensitive to carbs. I've discovered a lot of ways around that and it's working pretty well (except when I'm in a lot of pain or if I have an infection like from tooth abscess or something like that).

By the way, blueberries are very low in carb and I eat tons of them every day and no sugar spike. Pears are okay for me too (but not apples - go figure) and I have a salad every night with romaine and pears. I'll throw in some coconut occasionally and raisins sometimes for some variety.

I also make veggie soup in the crockpot once a month and freeze it in four tubs, enough for soup everyday for a week. And I like it cold too so I can do that in the summer too.

I also wanted to mention that I don't do finger sticks because my skin is so fragile (that's from the ehlers danlos) and my fingers would scar and bruise if I did finger sticks. I do the palms of my hands (doc said it was okay) and (1) it doesn't hurt at all and (2) while it does scar, it's not nearly as bad as on my fingers and no bruising at all. You might want to try that if your doc says it's okay.

And the fondue? I have several recipes for cooking in broth with some wine and spices thrown in -- found the Melting Pot recipes online. We do steak, chicken, pork, shrimp, scallops etc. And for the cheese fondue, try dipping celery and carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers (I like the yellow and red better than green), and even cucumbers and whatever other fresh veggies you like. I also like apples and pears dipped in the cheese :-)

Sorry I wrote so much but I've just finished reading a lot of your posts and decided to comment all in one :-) I love your photos!!!

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Welcome, Prof S! Sounds like you're doing well with the new diet. I'm also not a 40-60 carb person, from what I can tell so far, especially if much of that is from sugar. Other carbs in things like nuts work out well. Oranges, my absolute favorite fruit, are out of the question. Have not tried apples or pears recently, but a few raspberries or blackberries here and there are a nice treat.

Veggies (fresh or cooked) are my new best friend. I always ate them before, but now they've replaced a lot of the fruit servings I used to build into my day. Cucumbers are especially nice after a workout.

I will have to ask the new endocrinologist about palm sticks! I had tried them initially but couldn't get enough blood to sample. Then I figured out that I was doing it wrong (there are separate directions for my lancing device on non-fingertip use). Would be nice not to have to poke the fingers quite so much.

As for fondue, cauliflower is great, as you've suggested. We have a fondue cookbook with all kinds of regional recipes from Switzerland. D and I want to try some more variations in the future, though I can handle the meal only once every few visits because it's so heavy :).

So glad you stopped by!

Lora said...

Would it help if I said the carb-counting and figuring out food and exercise gets easier? It does. A lot easier.

It sounds like you're a lot like me when I was first diagnosed with diabetes--very, very, very careful and very, very, very cautious. I'm still a lot more careful and cautious than some people, but there did come a point when I finally started to breathe again. You'll get to that time when everything you eat is no longer an experiment, and you'll know exactly what and how much to eat of what when you need it.

I don't claim to be an expert by any means, but if you ever have any questions, please let me know and I'll try my best.

By the way--red grapes only register on my sugar levels for a blip, then disappear as if I've never eaten them. Bananas stay with me, as do apples. It's different for everyone, so keep trying what you like to see how it works for you!

Lora said...

P.S. I like your alarm! Much cooler than mine, which is just a built-in program on my MAC's Entourage application...

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Lora! And welcome to my place. I've been doing little experiments as you've suggested -- the learning curve is steep, so I'm quickly lengthening the list of foods I know are all right for me to eat when my sugars are at different levels. I will have to try grapes. Perhaps I'll bring some to the next grad student potluck and if they don't work, others will be able to enjoy them.

The new alarm is terrific indeed. I get more stressed out when I forget to test than if the numbers are weird, which is a little silly. I guess I just want as much data as I can provide my endocrinologist. Sigh ...

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Guess what time it is?

Well, actually, now I don't have to.

Lately, I've been especially busy working on a research paper for one class, writing my essay for the other, and grading. Most often, I do all of that on my laptop, and it's easy to forget to look at the clock -- well, less so for that last item, but I do occasionally get mired down trying to understand what some of my students are trying to say in their papers. So I'll miss the specific time after eating a meal when I'm supposed to check my blood sugar to make sure it hasn't done something bad.

Enter the desktop alarm clock gadget (above) from the Windows Live Gallery. D found it for me yesterday, and I'm completely smitten. You can choose what music it plays when the alarm goes off, and you can put it anywhere on your screen. So now I have the perfect little reminder, and I don't have to worry about forgetting to test -- or be preoccupied with remembering while I'm supposed to be concentrating on work.

Also on the subject of time and distractions: I will be packing to go to Seattle again in exactly one week, and it feels like the earth's rotation has suddenly hit a very slow crawl. I got home today after teaching and felt enormously blah thinking about the wait. Maybe it's because of the weather (freezing with no end in sight); maybe it's because I experimented with another soup recipe that I ended up liking only marginally (but I don't want to waste food, so I've been eating it for dinner over the last three days). Either way, I'm cranky and want a change. Tonight, I did make some improvements on the soup -- it's another cauliflower-based one that was supposed to be seasoned with curry powder, but since I realized at the last minute that I didn't have any, I went with celery seed as well as ginger and garlic powders instead. The ginger didn't quite work out (I thought it might be all right since there were carrots puréed into the mix). Anyway, it turns out that a generous grating of parmesan cheese cuts the ginger flavor down to size. And tomorrow, I can move on at last to something different.

Sigh -- I want to take the night off but I can't even think of anything I'd rather be doing (besides the impossible, curling up on the couch with D after dinner to talk or just sit in happy silence). Arrgh.

9 comments:

French Fancy said...

There is nothing worse than making oneself eat food that isn't particularly wonderful - well, there are probably lots of worse things - like being away from D for so long. Isn't it strange how time does indeed slow down when one is waiting for something marvellous to happen.

Not long now.

You must have lots of will power to keep away from the 'bad food' that might upset your system. What is the worst reaction you might have if you went mad one night and had something you shouldn't ?

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Hmmm, the worst reaction -- which tipped me off back in December that I needed to get definitive answers -- was being exhausted to the point of taking multiple naps per day even though I was getting plenty of sleep at night. While that's not too bad of a problem, relatively speaking (I wasn't in any pain), it was happening because my sugar was too high. I'm not exactly sure how high sugar leads to my conking out, but the long-term effects of having high sugar are what's truly bad. It can damage your organs over time, so that's what I'm really trying to avoid more than the short-term tiredness. That's what can make it tricky. You don't necessarily feel enough discomfort to deter you from going mad one night.

But the fact that I'm able to control my sugar levels through diet and exercise alone are also keeping me motivated -- if I ever become diabetic (which will happen if I don't manage the prediabetes) and need medication, that will introduce new complications, risks, side effects, etc., so the restrictions I have to live with right now are definitely a more attractive alternative!

Good Enough Woman said...

My husband's brother's wife (got that?), who was a friend of mine even before our mutual marriages to brothers, started having problems during her recent pregnancy. She was find during the first pregnancy, I think. But during this one, she got a high sugar result, and she had to start watching her diet. She's very fit, so we all thought it would just go away, but it hasn't even though now she's had the baby and is even more fit. In fact, she's positively svelt, which drives me crazy because I am not. But the high sugar is still there, so she's watching her intake (which is part of the reason she is currently so svelt).

It's great that you are taking care of yourself. And I also like working on soups. We had tortilla soup tonight.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Cutting the carbs definitely led to a drop in my weight, even though it was normal before. I do wonder what I'll have to do when D and I want to have children. I imagine sugar substitutes, which have helped in keeping me from feeling too deprived when it comes to sweets, will have to go temporarily!

Mmm, tortilla soup. Sounds delicious.

Prof S said...

I'm a new reader and found your blog from Good (enough) Woman's blog. I've enjoyed reading your posts. I was diagnosed with diabetes two months ago -- brought on by long-term prednisone for ehlers-danlos. Anyways, I'd gained a lot of weight from the prednisone and already in two months, I've lost 10 pounds. I am on medication but also watching carbs very carefully. Some people can do the 40-60 carbs per meal but am I that lucky? Noooooo indeed. I'm very sensitive to carbs. I've discovered a lot of ways around that and it's working pretty well (except when I'm in a lot of pain or if I have an infection like from tooth abscess or something like that).

By the way, blueberries are very low in carb and I eat tons of them every day and no sugar spike. Pears are okay for me too (but not apples - go figure) and I have a salad every night with romaine and pears. I'll throw in some coconut occasionally and raisins sometimes for some variety.

I also make veggie soup in the crockpot once a month and freeze it in four tubs, enough for soup everyday for a week. And I like it cold too so I can do that in the summer too.

I also wanted to mention that I don't do finger sticks because my skin is so fragile (that's from the ehlers danlos) and my fingers would scar and bruise if I did finger sticks. I do the palms of my hands (doc said it was okay) and (1) it doesn't hurt at all and (2) while it does scar, it's not nearly as bad as on my fingers and no bruising at all. You might want to try that if your doc says it's okay.

And the fondue? I have several recipes for cooking in broth with some wine and spices thrown in -- found the Melting Pot recipes online. We do steak, chicken, pork, shrimp, scallops etc. And for the cheese fondue, try dipping celery and carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers (I like the yellow and red better than green), and even cucumbers and whatever other fresh veggies you like. I also like apples and pears dipped in the cheese :-)

Sorry I wrote so much but I've just finished reading a lot of your posts and decided to comment all in one :-) I love your photos!!!

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Welcome, Prof S! Sounds like you're doing well with the new diet. I'm also not a 40-60 carb person, from what I can tell so far, especially if much of that is from sugar. Other carbs in things like nuts work out well. Oranges, my absolute favorite fruit, are out of the question. Have not tried apples or pears recently, but a few raspberries or blackberries here and there are a nice treat.

Veggies (fresh or cooked) are my new best friend. I always ate them before, but now they've replaced a lot of the fruit servings I used to build into my day. Cucumbers are especially nice after a workout.

I will have to ask the new endocrinologist about palm sticks! I had tried them initially but couldn't get enough blood to sample. Then I figured out that I was doing it wrong (there are separate directions for my lancing device on non-fingertip use). Would be nice not to have to poke the fingers quite so much.

As for fondue, cauliflower is great, as you've suggested. We have a fondue cookbook with all kinds of regional recipes from Switzerland. D and I want to try some more variations in the future, though I can handle the meal only once every few visits because it's so heavy :).

So glad you stopped by!

Lora said...

Would it help if I said the carb-counting and figuring out food and exercise gets easier? It does. A lot easier.

It sounds like you're a lot like me when I was first diagnosed with diabetes--very, very, very careful and very, very, very cautious. I'm still a lot more careful and cautious than some people, but there did come a point when I finally started to breathe again. You'll get to that time when everything you eat is no longer an experiment, and you'll know exactly what and how much to eat of what when you need it.

I don't claim to be an expert by any means, but if you ever have any questions, please let me know and I'll try my best.

By the way--red grapes only register on my sugar levels for a blip, then disappear as if I've never eaten them. Bananas stay with me, as do apples. It's different for everyone, so keep trying what you like to see how it works for you!

Lora said...

P.S. I like your alarm! Much cooler than mine, which is just a built-in program on my MAC's Entourage application...

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Lora! And welcome to my place. I've been doing little experiments as you've suggested -- the learning curve is steep, so I'm quickly lengthening the list of foods I know are all right for me to eat when my sugars are at different levels. I will have to try grapes. Perhaps I'll bring some to the next grad student potluck and if they don't work, others will be able to enjoy them.

The new alarm is terrific indeed. I get more stressed out when I forget to test than if the numbers are weird, which is a little silly. I guess I just want as much data as I can provide my endocrinologist. Sigh ...