Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Merry Christmasing!

I've been gallbladder-free for over 1 week now and, I must say, it feels good!
I did run into a minor hiccup in my eating plans when I found out that my stomach can't tolerate either beans or corn right now(not sure which still), and since those were key ingredients in a lot of my healthy eating meal plans, I've been improvising with dinner every night instead of following the meal plan I made before my surgery, but fortunately those are the only things that have given me any trouble. I found out over Christmas that even though my stomach can tolerate fatty foods now, it can't hold much. I get full very quickly if I'm eating fatty foods (which is really not a bad thing). And while I'm still trying to stay healthy, it was a nice treat to be able to have mashed potatoes, egg nog, butter tarts and shortbread over Christmas.
I'm still a label reader, which, again, is not a bad thing. But I can't help but look at that box of Turtles and think, "5 grams of fat per turtle? That used to be a whole meal-worth of fat to me!" It makes it harder to pig out on junk, which, again, is not bad.
The pain in my shoulders is now completely gone. I was stiff right up until Christmas Day from it. My bandages came off on the 21st (one stayed on until the 22nd) and my stitches have been giving me more trouble since then. The worst day for me was Christmas Eve - I was in alot of discomfort, and sometimes downright pain, and I couldn't figure out why until Matt asked, "Did you take your Tylenol today?" and I realized I hadn't!
Today, is definitely the best day so far. I'm Tylenol free and I almost feel completely normal. It will still be nearly a week until my stitches are dissolved, but I'm getting more and more comfortable.
Merry Christmas, by the way! I was so busy last week that I never got around to posting that!
My family took off to Calgary for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and then came home for Boxing Day. Christmas Eve was a bit of a treat-day for me. Matt took me to the part of town I used to live in and we hit up all my favorite places over there: a Le Chateau outlet where I got 2 pairs of jeans and a blouse for $60, Sushi Bar Ren which has the best unagi I've ever tasted and perfectly cooked shrimp tempura, and Glamorgan Bakery, which makes these awesome Rolled Florentines with hazelnut cream and this hybrid between shortbread and pastries called Dutch Girls which are sooooo yummy! That evening we helped my sister with her Christmas Eve party, which was a blast, and then slept over for Christmas Morning with the family.
I got some great presents this year. Some of my favorites include 2 mini-casserole bakers from the Sophie Conran for Portmeirion line, a voucher for dinner out with Matt at Smuggler's Inn at Sylvan Lake (we went there when I had my gallstones so I could hardly try anything), a Star Wars Cookbook (epic, hey?) and a Tassimo coffee maker! I'm getting a little bit addicted to that last one; I'm about to make my third espresso of the day and yesterday I ordered almost $70 worth of T-Discs online. My sister had this Mastro Lorenzo Crema espresso at her place that I tried before I even got my machine and it was the second best espresso blend I'd ever had. It had light, fruity notes that was great for sipping straight, and while the shot did run slightly long (your shot should stop before the crema starts running white) it was still a great shot. Incidentally, I'm an espresso snob and never expected an automatic shot to rank so high on my list of 'greats', so you can trust that product is really, very good. If you like Starbucks shots, this one won't be for you, but if you like layered flavors, subtlety and authenticity, this is a winner. And yes, ordering those did make up about 70% of that $70 order!
I always appreciate gift-cards at this time of year. It's inevitable that I'm not going to get everything on my Christmas list, but with a little help from the now-annual HomeSense gift cards I receive, I can still go pick some stuff out for myself, either that got missed from my list, or just fun things I find during Boxing Week sales.
Well, that's all for now, but once again, Merry Christmas and I hope you have a great New Year!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Gallbladder is gone!

It's done! I'm free! No more gallbladder! I can't tell you how excited I am to have this season in my life ending!
I had my surgery yesterday morning bright and early. I was at the hospital by 6:45 and put under by 7:50. I woke up exactly one hour later with four incisions and no gallbladder! (I love general anesthetic). As soon as I woke up I said to the nurse, "I'm assuming this is the recovery room? How long have I been in here?". She replied, "Yes, it is, and you've been here for about 10 minutes.". I then complimented her on the nice Christmas decor over the nurse's station. Now was about the time that she was supposed to be asking me questions like, "what's your name?" and, "do you know what day it is?" but when she saw my last name she asked if I knew someone,who happened to be Matt's aunt, and her coworker. I started explaining the relationship and said that it was a pity she wasn't in that day, but my mom who worked on Peds would pop in to see me that day. Apparently they decided that they didn't need to ask me anymore questions, so they let me go back to sleep for a bit. I woke up once more in the recovery room and asked how my surgery went. They were pretty vague but it seemed like everything had gone as planned. They then wheeled me over to the day surgery room at 9:17, just in time for my mom to pop in and check on me! I was still tired from the anesthetic so I slept a bit more that morning, but when my mom came back at 10:30 to chat I was more than ready for it. I had been pretty worried about how the anesthetic would hit me, but luckily it wore off pretty quick and I didn't have any nausea from it. I also didn't have to have much in the way of pain killers. I was given some morphine before I woke up, but I didn't even need to take the standard T3 prescription they had planned on giving me. The nurses were impressed at how well I was able to walk on my own and even though I wasn't discharged until 12:00, I would have been out sooner had there been someone available to discharge me.
Back at home I was able to get a bit more sleep and spent the rest of the day hanging out with the family and doing little things here and there around the house. It felt good to be up.
Because I didn't have any nausea I was able to try eating some things that I hadn't had in months - I had popcorn for the first time in a couple months, low-fat margarine for the first time in 4 months, and red meat for the first time in almost 6 months!
The most pain I've been having is in my shoulder - during the procedure they put a tube down my throat and pumped a bunch of CO2 into my stomach to balloon it up so that it was easier to move around inside, however, they don't usually get all the gas out so my body has been absorbing it and it tends to pool in your shoulders, which feels like gas cramps but sometimes can be quite sharp. Heat packs and tylenol help fortunately!
I'm looking forward to tomorrow when I can take off my bandages and run some warm water over my incisions.
I'm just excited it's all done! Finally I feel like I can focus on bigger things now!

Mrs. VanderLeek ;)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas is coming!!!

In addition to my upcoming gallbladder removal surgery, we are, of course, counting down to bigger and better things... Christmas!!!
This year's homemade gifts from our household have quite the range. I did a lot of canning (Thai Chili Sauce, Mango Chutney, Crabapple Jelly, Carrot Cake Conserve), a lot of baking (shortbread, sugar cookies, date squares) and a few new recipes (Raspberry Coconut balls, Sugar Cookie balls, Hot Chocolate Truffle Balls). I'm also hoping to whip up some caramels (dipped in chocolate and rolled in hazelnuts) and to hand out a couple jars of two-bite brownie mix (if I can figure out the proper amounts of mix for the 500 ml jars).
Our house has been gradually decorated over a number of weeks, starting with the outdoor lights and greenery, then the indoor 'seasonal' decor (snowy but no direct ties to Christmas), then the downstairs artificial Christmas tree, the upstairs real tree and finally the stockings which my husband hung for us last night!
All of my shopping is done, and what's more is that all of the items have been delivered! I did the majority of my shopping online this year. I hit up Etsy,, Ebay, to get everything from Secret Santa gifts to baby gifts. I'm really excited to give out the presents; I think everyone will be really happy with what they get.
This week I have a touch more Christmas baking to do, the whole house to clean, a few freezer meals to make for after my surgery and some new clothes to buy! Then this weekend we're having a birthday party for Jesus at the weekly Mommy Play Date, a pre-Christmas dinner with a friend of the family and swapping presents with him and attending church where Matt and I will be doing a reading for the 4th Sunday of Advent. Monday is my surgery, and Tuesday is our family Christmas. While I may be out of commission for the whole day, Matt will be able to take Gabe skating and sledding, we'll have a nice breakfast, open presents and have one of my pre-made freezer meals for a nice, festive dinner.
I'm so excited for everything leading up to Christmas! The day itself is going to be even better!

Mrs. VanderLeek ;)

Countdown to Cholecystectomy

Well folks, my gallbladder surgery is almost here! I am so, so, so excited!!!
It's been a long ride (6 months almost since my diagnosis) but now it's finally coming to an end. It's actually been getting tougher to resist eating things now that the end is in sight. I mean, I still do resist because if I gave in and ate something I shouldn't have the pain is excruciating, but the temptation to eat those things is getting stronger. I've started making lists of foods I'm excited to eat again, all the while remembering that I'll still have to eat very healthy for a while afterwards until my metabolism kick-starts again (after nearly 6 months of not eating any fat, my metabolism has slowed like mad and my body can't seem to digest things properly anymore, which lead to more gallbladder attacks).
The first taboo item I plan on eating after my surgery is a hard-boiled egg. 5 grams of fat was basically my cap for a whole meal, and that's what one egg yolk contains, so eggs have been a no-no for a while for me. However, they are an excellent protein source and it's incredible how much you miss them when you can't have them! I'm also looking forward to avocado dishes like guacamole, maki rolls and my yummy black bean and corn salsa! (Corn was another thing I couldn't eat). Over a few weeks I'll keep adding foods back into my diet, but it will still be a long time before I have any pork, any cream sauces or anything fried. I do, however, plan on having one of those gigantic tins filled with three different types of popcorn waiting for me at home after my surgery! And I will be trying Egg Nog on Christmas Eve!
As hard as this has been, one thing that made it alot easier was the opportunity it gave me to get back into shape. I weighed myself today and discovered that I hit my dream by-Christmas weight. I say 'dream' because very little other than my extreme diet could have got me to where I am from where I was in such a short amount of time. I'm below the weight I was when I got married, I fit into my 'normal' size pants again, my resting heart rate has dropped and I feel great. I get lots of compliments on how I look (most of them are nice, some of them are awkward, like when a lady said, "You're looking streamlined. Finally hit the point where you get tired of packing around all that extra weight, hey?" Charming woman...), my clothes look better on me, and I actually have to go buy new jeans this weekend because mine won't stay up any longer. While my reasons for gaining so much weight are a bit more than just "I let myself go" (the biggest contributing factor was the miscarriage I had a year and a half ago), I'm glad to be past that point in my life and back to normal.
What did I take away from this experience? Well, mainly I'd say that I've really learned how to watch what I eat and to realize how bad some of the things we eat are (never eating a fast-food caesar salad again). I've also got a load of healthy recipes that I will be keeping in our regular meal rotation.
And while this chapter of low-fat eating is ending for me, it's just beginning for a friend of mine, but for different reasons. This friend, a mother of three little boys, was just diagnosed with MS. Thanks to some research done by Dr. Roy Swank, doctors suggest an extremely low-fat diet for MS patients to help keep symptoms at bay. I know how hard it was for me to eat almost fat-free at first. It's a shock to your system, to your routine and to your family. I've sent a meal out to the family and have offered to help her with meal planning, etc. but while talking with my sister I realized how few resources there were out there for people who need a low-fat diet due to medical conditions. My sister suggested I write a cookbook, but since I'd never let a cookbook go to press without testing every recipe at least 3 times (which equals a minimum 2 year project) and since I have so many great recipes I pulled from other sources I have opted to do a blog instead. is my new blog. I'm planning on filling it with tips and recipes for people with gallstones, MS and anyone requiring a very low-fat diet. Feel free to refer it to anyone you may know how has those needs!

Mrs. VanderLeek ;)