Tuesday, December 16, 2014

J's Tuna-Cabbage Noodles

Hello again, Readers,

Been rather low key lately do to some more health issues, (nothing hospital-worthy but pretty whoa-nelly none-the-less), BUT--since today brought with it some respite, I seized it and made a pretty tasty and kidney-friendly luncheon, so I thought I's share the recipe.


1/2 a cooked tuna steak, (leftover, steam-cooked.  Tofu would also rock or seafood, or other fish or...  Whatever the diet calls for.)
1/4 of a large while cabbage, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
3 spring onions, chopped
a serving of linguini, (I used kamut since my electrolytes are all in check, but those on renal diets, please do use white pasta only.)


-splash of peanut oil
-splash of olive oil
-tablespoon of teriyaki marinade, (way less sodium in marinades than actual sauces, like soya for eg.)
-few shakes of wakame flakes
-juice of 1/4 of a lemon
-two tablespoons of ACV
-tsp of powdered ginger
-tablespoon of tomato juice (and perhaps skip this for the Renal dieters)

*All ingredients organic when possible.

Saute the cabbage, the white parts of the chopped spring onions and the garlic while you boil the pasta.

When the pasta is cooked, mix all ingredients and toss over low heat for a few minutes, adding last, all the green bits of the chopped spring onions.

(I added a smiiiiiiidgeon of parmesan at the table and found it to be a delightful addition--even though the dish is rather Asian-ish.)   

Ehhh, voila, bon ap and good healthy vibes,

: J

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

I'm OUT!

Heheh, no, not thaaat type of "out", (and yay to all who make that step), but I mean out of this latest prednisone weaning hole!  (From 4 to 3 mg's this time.)

It accounts for my lack of posting this past while and as much as I know it and try to reason my way out of it each time I go down, this process of tapering, measly milligram by milligram is not only hard on the body, it's just plain soul-sucking. 

But for the last few blessed days, I have been smiling again, even laughing and squeaking out crazy voices again, (as is the tradition, most often in the mornings only), and the usual spring in my spiritual step has been restored, so I haaaad to blog about it.

Just in time too as next week, I'm back at the hospital for the last infusion of Rituximab, (of the 18 month trial I'm in), so I'll be in good shape for that IV-process, which is always a major plus.



<--Me, (with my new Chihuahua friend, Roxy), taken just before this last taper.

And I must note well that this last wean went MUCH better than the preceding one and I'm seemingly over the worst of it in less time than the last and that's really sayin' suMm.  

Looking VERY forward to the next couple of months, as I plan to NOT wean again until the new year.

To go at that prickly process consecutively, (as previously and most foolhardily planned), is just plan nonsense and I will have no part of it, thankmeverymucho. 

So with good vibes and restored mojo, I bid you all a smooth day,

Smilin' J once more

Friday, November 7, 2014

It Actually Works!

G'Day, Readers,

Today, I share with vous a wee experiment adventure I recently had.  One that might be of use to many of you as well.

It is about a lowly mole of the seborrheic kind, which rudely decided to invade the space of my neck about three years ago. 

It slowly made its way up in the mole-world from a tiny dot, to in the end, a good two to three mm in diameter and rather tall-ish presence, that after too many close encounters of the necklace kind, lead to my to finally taking matters into my own hands.

That and I just hated the thing.

I saw a skin specialist about it last year and she confirmed that it was indeed harmless.

I did not see her this year to have it removed a la freezing/laser etc., as I was not terribly keen to cause any possible infection situations with an intrusive procedure considering my compromised immune system.

So, remembering fondly the magic of how simple ole duct tape got rid of a wee wart on a wee toe most effectively, (and passively), last year, off I went to google the many online rumors I've read about so often, touting that apple cider vinegar, (ACV), will kill these types of moles.

After just two measly weeks of treatment, check OUT the magnificent results, (click to enlarge).

The "before" pic is more than half a year old when it was smaller but it's the best one I could find as I didn't get a photo of it the day before treatment started.

(I was clearly a bit of a keener to commence with the potential miracle, heheh.)

The process:  Basically, I spent much of week one with it under ACV wraps 24 hrs a day, using some pretty impressive medical tape to ensure the seal was tight.

After just four days, the first layer of Mr. Mole came off easily when brushed gently with a tissue.

By then though, the skin around the mole was starting to get rather irritated by the constant vinegar, (in hindsight, I should've used smaller bits of cotton so the ACV remained solely on the mole).

From that point on, I only left the air-tight poultice on it at night while sleeping, giving the surrounding skin a break during the day and helping it recover with some intense medical-grade moisturizer.

I still can't believe how very WELL it worked.

And likely, I'll have zero scarring from the whole gentle affair, too.

So there it is--a do-it-yourself, natural and passive remedy that for me at least, worked like a charm.

Note: It stung a little, but that's a small price to pay for freedom, I say.  ;)

+++vibes to you All,

: J

EDIT: It is now the beginning of November '15 and the thing came back--just like the research said it probably would.  But this time, I noticed it in an infancy stage and have been back at the vinegar-ing for a few days already.

Sneaky lil bugger...

Monday, October 20, 2014

A New Scientific Salad!

G'day, Readers, 

Today, I'm sharing with vous a (not-so -scientific actually/nor renal-friendly, but I love it), salad I have been sooooo enjoying again, (as tomatoes, on most renal regimes are rather frowned upon due to the potassium (k) count).

It is based on the side salad my dad used to make back in the 70's on his celebrated spaghetti nights.  His, if memory serves, was more a mix of tomato, onion and cucumber dressed with oregano (a major player in this salad), white vinegar and oil.

My version is a tad tweaked and it goes like this:
(Sorta) Dad's Cuc 'n Tomato Salad

-half a small English cucumber, peeled and chopped.
-1 clove of garlic, finely minced, (and letting it rest for half an hour or so, for the allicin to form)
-2 golf ball sized, nice 'n ripe tomatoes, cut up small
-couple sprigs of fresh parsley, (curly), finely chopped
-few shakes of dried oregano
-few shakes of dried onion
-1 shake of dried wakame, (aka seaweed, which is a nice and k-balanced source of natural sodium and many other important minerals).
-1/2 tsp of hazelnut oil
-1/2 tsp linseed oil
-1/2 tsp EVOO, (extra virgin olive oil)
-1/2 tsp of ACV (apple cider vinegar)
-fresh black pepper to taste
(All ingredients organic when possible.)

Serves 1. 

(I enjoyed a small handful of almonds on the side.)

Next time I'm gonna throw in some chick peas or beans of some sort.

And on the subject of legumes/pulses, I still sometimes just stand back in delight at how many natural, healthful, delicious and, "off limits for renal patients", foods I have managed to re-incorporate into my diet since the renal failure.  Liiiiiiiil by lil, over maaaaany moons, testing this and that, using my trusty monthly blood tests that show exactly how said foods are affecting ye ole electrolytes.

Some of these sorely missed foody delights include: brown rice, whole grain pastas/breads, all legumes, bananas, (wooohooooo!), all nuts 'n seeds, as mentioned, tomatoes--and even the odd normally-cooked potato.  :)  Always in moderation, of course.

Thankfully, (and I believe, due to my rather vegetarian/clean-eating ways for so long now), I have zero problems with high serum phosphorus levels.  Something many kidney patients have to keep an eye on.

So hopefully, this gives some hope to those of you out there newly diagnosed with CKD and feeling the cosmic-bummer that is the docs nonchalantly uttering phrases like, "White rice/pasta/bread ONLY now" or, "No more nuts, or bananas, or dates or potatoes or...".
bon ap & bon vibes,

: J

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Thanks, Rosie Perez!

G'day, All,

And yes, it's her voice I've been hearing lately each time I whip out the cleaver to chop up some quince to bake.  

"What's a quince?", is the line from her character in a Jeopardy scene from the film "White Men Can't Jump".  I just love her voice and accent.

So yes, I had never tried this magical fruit until a couple of weeks ago when I saw some in the market.  At first I thought they were some kind of giant pear but upon picking one up, I realized not so, as they are hard as wood and sometimes pretty large too.

My friend  who works at the market told me that it's delicious, (only when cooked), so I bought some and got busy.

To say it is good is an understatement.  I liked the wee golden, chewy chunks SO much, that I ate most of them right outta the baking dish--standing up.  ;)

The taste is sort of like a pear/apple/almost cardamom-esque experience, with a nice firm texture too.  Very special.

Here is a pic of a surprise dessert I had waiting for P upon his return from work last week, (drizzled with a lil forest honey for him).

And it's so easy to prepare, just peel and chop some up, toss in olive oil and bake with a bit of water in the pan at 200C for about half an hour.

I added a bit of stevia to mine and mmmmmhmmmm, GOOOOOOD!

What's nice is, it's a tres renal-friendly dessert option with less than 200 mgs of potassium per 100 grams. 

(That's in raw form, as I couldn't find a nutritional content profile on cooked quince.) 

A decent source of vitamin C too.

Defo gonna make this again when I see them. 

So boom, that's all, Folks. 

Time to get back out into this exceptionally warm and sunny Fall day here.

Bon weekend & bon ap,

: J

Friday, October 17, 2014

Good Times with Tony and other "Labs"

Allo, All,

So I'm walking back from retrieving my monthly lab results morning, (with my trusty Retriever, of course), and on the way back, I stop to let Tony sniff a small Kleenex Box I recognized, (wee dog of undetermined fluffy breed).   Soon I see the human on the other end of the extendo-leash, a sweet old woman whom I have stopped and talked with before, (again, enroute home from the lab).

It didn't take long for me to realize that she had totally forgotten our prior encounter, (her asking the same curious and caring questions as the first time, (about Tony's Gentle Leader, which I explained I use when I'm feeling less than strong while walking him; he's a very gifted "dipper", able to scoop up anything seemingly edible on the street in a millisecond--which can easily almost dislocate a shoulder socket if one is not ready/fragile not using the Leader), and so again, she inquires as to why I might not be strong at times, (as from the look of me, that's the last thing a person might assume).  So I again told her about some of my medical journey and she in turn, shared much of hers--which I already knew in great detail but I just let her talk as clearly, it was doing her soul much good, a win-win in my books.

After I started getting chilly from the lack of movement in the nippy morning air, I bid her and her little Sadie adieu and went home to hungrily delve fully into my latest lab results and to sum it all up:


GFR, (kidney filtration rate), is holding strong at 38, (stage 3b Kidney Disease, for those wondering), but even so, all electrolytes are in balance, fasting glucose normal, hemoglobin at a respectable 12.6 g/dL and the thyroid numbers, (tested due to the wild new ride that is menopause), are all normal!

But here is the best part: For the first time in--well, since hospitalization, (save for a one-time, post gallbladder attack faux-normal reading), my triglycerides are NORMAL!  And WELL below the max, too!

LDL is within normal ranges, (it too has been high for way too long), and I'm rather proud of my 70 HDL reading, I must say.

Hoping this trend will continue and improve even more as the presnisone levels decrease and my adrenals come more fully back online.

So yes, already a very nice morning, which also included two loads o' laundry AND a trip to the grocery store.

With an honorable mention of how awesome my dear ole Tony is, as while waiting in the lab for my results, he clearly made the days of a few elderly lovlies.   I just adore watching the transformation on the faces of creature-lovers when they see Tony, perfectly calm and cute and ready to be petted by anyone who is keen to do so.

Rather like myself, I reckon, subbing "petties" for smiles.  ;)

And on that note, time to hit the kitchen for some kinda scientific salad experience, with a nice free range egg, I reckon.

Bon weekend vibes to All,

: J

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

More on Antiperspirants etc., and Kidneys

Hello again, Readers,

The other day, after a friend made a comment re: my "Armpit & Hammer" post, (as I've come to think of it), I realized that I must post the article she linked to regarding some deoderants, most antiperspirants and even sunblocks too, in relation to folks with impaired kidney function.

Below is a C&P of the article from the American Association of Kidney Patients.

Are Roll-on Deodorants Safe for People with Kidney Disease?

A. Over 90 percent of the U.S. population use antiperspirants and deodorants. What is harmless for the healthy population can be of danger for people with impaired kidney function. Most of the antiperspirants and some deodorants contain aluminium (Al), which is absorbed by the skin (Flarend et al – Food Chem Toxicol, 2001). In healthy people, it gets eliminated by the kidney, but for people with reduced function, Al will accumulate in the body. Albeit unusual, this could lead to dementia (Carpenter et al. - Int J Occup Med Environ Health, 2001), anemia and bone disease (Jeffery et al. - J Toxicol Environ Health 1996).

In regard of this knowledge, recommendations to avoid Al intake should not be neglected. Since Al is virtually contained in all air (especially dusty), water and food (particularly when canned or tinned), this is quite difficult. As mentioned Al can be contained in antiperspirants, deodorants and also in sunblockers regardless of brand, odor or price. Since manufacturers are obliged to state the content of their products, getting informed about the aluminium content of the mentioned product is a good measure of avoidance.

Answer provided by Nathan Levin, MD. Dr. Levin is the Technical Director at the Renal Research Institute and he is a member of the AAKP Medical Advisory Board.

Living and learning, (so MUCH each day), and as the kidneys handle 95% of the elimination process of aluminum, I say, one more cheer for baking soda, WOOOHOOOOOOO!

And another thank you to Madame Sandra for the heads-up on the subject.


: J

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Smelling like a...

Hello again, Readers,

Today, I offer this:

Armpit odor, it's not hilarious.  At least for the great percentage of us out there who have wet earwax.

Antiperspirant--not hilarious either.  A far cry in fact, when considering its links to Alzheimer's, breast Cancer...

And then there is the carbon-footprint we are all leaving on this planet daily and my ever-growing concern about what I can do as an Earthling to lessen it.

On that subject, some time last year I read an article/blog (can't remember the source now), about how armpit odor can be halted, yes, stopped in its tracks, using ZERO deoderants, antiperspirants, perfumes or anything of the sort--and for a solid 48 hours, no less.


At the time, I was still getting chemo, which had somehow rendered my armpits non-odorous, so I had just shelved this new info for future explorations.

Now that the wee 'pits are once again in normal working order, this past week I decided to test this lil tidbit out, doing just what the article suggested, eagerly anticipating my new naturally scentless armpit experience.

Well, to my utter delight, IT WORKED!  And for two days annnnnd change!  Two days which included working out pretty vigorously too, as well as a demi-nude full back x-ray, one for the lungs as well, a mammogram annnnnd a boob ultrasound, (processes I often get a lil clammy for; still being relatively "new" to this professional patient biz).

I was sure to NOT wash my armpits during those 48 hours too.  When bathing, I just kept my arms down,  wanting to be as strict as possible with the layman's experiment.

This means: no more plastic deo-product trail coming from THIS human, no more clogging of precious pitty pores, no more, "what the hell IS that" moments when reading the ingredient lists of so-called "natural" deoderant labels.  And no more trying new ones that just can't be trusted.

And, it's easy-peezy.

I just did it again this morning and look tres forward to this more eco-friendly armpit lifestyle.

So what's this amazing, mysterious, fantastical thing, you ask?

You quite likely have some sitting around right in your home and if not, it's niiiiice and cheap and easy to find.  The ingredient?  Sodium Bicarbonate.

Yup, good ole baking soda, made into a paste with a tablespoon(ish) of water, smeared on the ole pits and left there for a few minutes, rinsed and--voilaaaahhhhhhh!  Confidently odor-free pits for yes, 48 hours. (And perhaps longer, which I'll likely explore soon.)

So there's my totally off-topic blog post for the day.

Hope it's of use/news to many.  Well, just the stinkies, teeheeee...


: J

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Those Euro's and Their Hazelnuts...

And BLESS 'em for their particular passion for the wee rounded things as today, while shopping at our favo organic store in a nearby ville, (I've been rather laid up for some days and SO HAPPY to be out 'n about again!), P and I picked up our first ever jar of hazelnut butter.

(Just roasted, pureed, organic hazelnuts, with no salt or sugar etc. added.)


Simply the aroma of it upon opening was enough to set my mouth a-watering.

Good thing we broke the seal after lunch or the thing would have likely been in grave danger.

Can't wait to get my snack on, (in moderation, of course), with this viscous, liquid, fatty goodness.

For the health nuts and curious, you can check out its nutrition profile here. (One of my favo nutrition sites.)

That is all today, with of course the recommendation to give this stuff a go should you come across it out there.

Nothing like having healthy choices like these around the house when those 4pm cookie monsters start to stir. 

 bon ap et bon vibes,

: J

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Something's Fishy

Hello again, Readers,

This'll be a short one and one that I'm hoping will be helpful to many, not only those of us with kidney damage.

It's just the sharing of the one of the fruits of my recent googlings as, if my triglycerides don't come down significantly after the prednisone is out of my system, then likely, more drugs will have to be taken.

And as usual, said drugs are not particularly advised for those with severe kidney damage soooooo, I just wrote my Nephrologist an email inquiring if fish oil is a prescribable supplement.

With my question I also sent a few lines from this pubmed study that I wanted to share:

"The effects of fish oils supplemented with 0.3 IU/g and 1.5 IU/g of vitamin E were compared in a double-blind, cross-over study. Twelve healthy volunteers were given 30 mL/day of either oil for 3 wk. Intake of the vitamin E-rich fish oil resulted in a marked decrease in serum triglycerides (48%) and in fibrinogen (11%). After administration of the low vitamin E-containing oil there was a considerably smaller reduction of serum triglycerides and no significant reduction of fibrinogen. Both oils caused an increase in high density lipoprotein cholesterol and a decrease in the atherogenic index, but neither oil altered the total cholesterol level. Serum vitamin E was decreased by 9% and plasma malondialdehyde was increased by 122% after intake of the low vitamin E-containing oil, but both remained normal after intake of the other oil. The effect of vitamin E may be due to inhibition of fatty acid peroxidation with less formation of malondialdehyde and a larger amount of active (n-3) fatty acids in their sites of action in the liver, resulting in a greater decrease in the synthesis of triglycerides and fibrinogen."

Nice, eh?  'Course to many, this is far from news, (though I wasn't privy to the benefits of vitamin E with fish oil), and even though it's easy to find endless sources of information on the subject of fish oil out there in cyberspace, I prefer to have my info in scholarly writing.

Oh, and in other meds-news, I can now officially take ONE LESS MEDICATION PER DAY!


I briefly saw my Neph on Friday and asked if there were any meds I could discontinue and wow, I'm sure glad I asked.


So that's all folks.

Autumnal vibes,


Friday, September 5, 2014

Roch of Ages

Hello again, Readers,

Writing today with a breaking heart for a dear and beloved cousin and friend who, after 25 brave and beautiful years of giving the royal finger to Cancer, (a rare thyroid type, inoperable), is now in the hospital again, no longer being treated, after some weeks of the docs pulling out all the stops to try to save him.

His name is Roch, the most aptly named person I have ever known.

He is now being kept comfortable and though I'm told he's not able to speak he is still sharing moments of precious consciousness, with that ole twinkle in his eyes sparkling now and then.

Here he is back in '09:
I guess what I really want to do here is celebrate his well-lived life, his borderless heart and all the gifts he has given to so many, (he is a counselor and life coach and has helped a great number of folks find their ways back to peacefulness).

He is now surrounded by beautiful, loving family and no doubt getting lots of visits from so many friends and though I wish I too could be there to hold his hand and probably cry all over the poor guy, I know that he can feel this.

He has been a shining light to me, especially during my years of chronic illness/treatment/illness from treatment, etc., as if anyone is an expert in that field, it is he and I thank him.

I thank him for being able to walk in to a room and fill it with softness.

I thank him for being an exemplary example of the fighting spirit.

I thank him for reaching out to so many, even at times when I know that he just wanted to fall down.

I thank him for his supporting me from afar, (he has posted here before under the name "Rocky").

I thank him for making the time to see me last summer when I visited Canada. 

I thank Vancouver Island for being his supernatural and much gentler-weathered home during one of the coldest winters his hometown, (Edmonton, Canada), had seen in years.  I know living on that island for those months did his soul a world of good.

I just thank him.

And I will miss him.

And I have a feeling I will see him again--not in Paris, like we had talked about last year, but somewhere/when.

(((((((((((THANK YOU, ROCH)))))))))).


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Doin' Time

Yup, that's the only way to look at the past 20 days/daze.

Hello, Readers, 

And as of yesterday, I seem to be in the beginnings of a parole--pain parole.

Of course with this I am referring to the tapering down from 5 to 4 mgs of prednisone that re-commenced on August first.

This one has been a real doozy too, with some moments, that while just plain horrible, (nausea, migraines, global sand-in-the-joints kinda pain, drop dead fatigue), it also brought with it a welcome restoration of my faith in humanity.  This happened in the form of yes, another collapse--not a faint this time, but no doubt a glucocorticoid crash that happened last week at the big park I frequent with ole Tone-Bone.

(In hindsight, I'd say I left way too late in the morning, compared to usual.)

A very good Samaritan saw me slumped over (part of) a bench and stopped to see if I was ok.  Of course I wasn't; breath very shallow, a profound weakness that is almost un-describable to anyone who hasn't actually felt it, tears of frustration and yes, embarrassment too, as I tried to milk every drop of chi I had left to just try to stand, but no dice--and for a while.

This good Samaritan's name was Jane.  She stopped, cared and after my explaining a little of what was happening, she took my hand and prayed for my body right then and there. Talk about touching.  If I hadn't been teary already, that surely woulda done it.

After some time with Sister Jane, as I think of her, I was able to very slowly and cautiously make my way to the park's main gate.  (Poetic, how Tony already looks like an assistance dog.)  I almost made it but could just do no more and down I went again.

This time, THANKFULLY, my dear friend Janet just happened to be there too and saw me struggling.  After running over and getting a load of the shituation, she ran home, got her car and drove me 'n T to ours.  Bless her big heart and impeccable timing.

I spent most of the rest of that day/night horizontal.

And frustrated.

And sad.

And thanks to P, less so after a while.

I knew I shouldn't have ventured out that morning as I left feeling, less than stellar.

That whole affair was another GREAT lesson in listening to ye ole bod--especially when tapering off prednisone.

I somehow, sometimes,  manage to forget that I'm under some heavy treatment, for a heavy thing and thus, I do too much, too soon.

And now as is the tradition, these treatments, including the life-saving, storm of a drug that is Predisone, is causing a lot of trouble.  (Some folks even end up Diabetic after being on the stuff long-term like I'm doing.  And that's to name ONE out of many adverse reactions.)

The tapering off of it is simply a MOFO for me, (and again, tapering is necessary to avoid possible disease flaring and/or adrenal crisis), and I can only hope that the next mg down will be less of a pain/drop-dead fatigue fest.  Hoping hard too that my adrenals are slowly returning to their old selves in this challenging process.

My original plan was to decrease by 1 mg per month, but seeing how getting over the crest of this last wean-wave took three whole weeks, I sure as HELL am not gonna get back in that frigid water again on September first as planned.

I'm gonna stay at this 4 mg dose for the same amount of time that it takes for my body to adjust to the decreaseThat just feels right.

So what if this means that my grand plan to be totally off this stuff by the new year will not be happening.  It will, just in more of a Chinese New Year time-frame--or even later and that's ok, because with all this physical hell with each wean, there is also an undeniable blanket of melancholy wrapped around it and I've had quite enough of being stuck under those covers.

In fact, the greyness almost ate my whole blog.  It's true and for the readers who noticed, please do excuse those days offline.  For a spell there, I was down enough to close its doors and thank the stars, I ignored that pred-powered inner coach of grimness, who almost got the finger on the "delete entire blog" button.

I'm very glad this blog is still here, if only to allow me to purge now and then to random readers the world over.  ;)

And with that, hopefully, to give others in similar situations some kind of help/hope/relatability.  And maybe too, to highlight again how all of us, even if we may look "fine", or "healthy" even, are often not, due not only to autoimmune disorders, but all types of illnesses that tend to, blend into the crowd.

In terms of mojo-assistance, I must remember more often how well I'm actually doing considering:

-I'm now in menopause, (early, due to chemo) and that in and of itself is often a cause of depression.
-Prednisone weaning is notorious for causing depression.
-Living with chronic illness, (and two at that), is also a known cause of depression.


Juan day at a time...

And onward and upward.



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Out 'n About!

And it had been one lonnnnnng time since.

G'Day, Readers,  

If the practice of blogging has taught me anything, it's simply to record the good things.  Immortalize them and celebrate them even.  That may sound corny to some, but after long periods of dealing with daily pain that rather lays one out, the everyday things I did yesterday were most certainly not taken for granted.

So today, I'm going to share with you all the first blog-note-to-self made yesterday, which was: enjoying theeee hell out of lunch OUT together with P at an Italian joint we once frequented and for my birthday, too!

They were extremely accommodating there and I had my whole meal prepared without salt. 

And I loved it.

Man, have ye ollllle taste buds changed.

Here's a pic P snapped of the mmm-ing of my succulent swordfish in a creamy sauce with fettuccine.

Granted, I added about a tablespoon of fresh parmesan but still, it was to me, an immense and strangely bittersweet pleasure, the whole affair. 

We shared a half bottle of very ripe and velvety and fabulous Calabrian vino with the meal as well.

And the decaf espresso after was truly superb.   ;)

Even had a bite of P's Tiramisu.

I still can't believe it had been more than TWO YEARS since we'd been to that place.

Two. Years. 

A lot has indeed happened in that time frame.

I am so glad to be out there in the world, enjoying it again, lil by lil.

That said, the prednisone weaning from the present 5 to a greatly anticipated 0 mgs is about to recommence on August 1st, so I'd BETTER be writing down the good things to review well later when that oh-too familiar pain sets in for weeks following each taper.)  BUT that's OK, 'cause I have Tramadol now and more mojo than ever so I am ready.   ;)

I'll only be tapering by one mg per month, (to avoid possible adrenal crisis or another MPA flare).  If all goes well, I'll be off that stuff, fiiiiiiiiinally, by the start of 2015. 

Or a bit later--if tapering requires dropping only .5mgs/mo, which is commonly done for those last few gnarly mgs.  All digits crossed for a smooth landing back into fully functioning adrenal gland land. 

Now, back to my lovely birthday with P, 'cause there's more:

We even took the subway to get to the resto.  That was my first time in the train system again in--yup, more than two years.

And after cabbing it home, we shared some wonderful watermelon--which is very kidney-friendly, by the way.

Helluva day of firsts, I'd say and yes, it was a Tramadol-day.

(The more feedback I get from those who have used it long term, the less concerned I am about potential problems at my very low dose, coupled with taking days off regularly.)

So, that's all, folks.  Plenty, I'd say, and with many a smiley shout-out to all the friends and fam who sent in sweet birthday messages, mmmwwahhhhhh!


: J

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Squirming and Worming

Hi, All,

Writing today to share some good news from J's pain management dept.  (Said pain being still, some nasty thoracic daily aching from about 1pm on.)

Due to an allergy, codeine-based pain killers are not tolerated well by moi, (I turn into an itching machine), and of course, due to the renal disease, NSAID's are off limits.  Even aspirin, I've been directed to avoid by my Nephrologist.

This leaves few other non-narcotic options.

(For those of you wondering, medical marijuana is not yet approved in France for Vasculitis.  Though recently, it has been approved for the treatment of MS pain, which is a good start.)

Upon being released from the hospital back in Jan '13, I was prescribed Tramadol, (a synthetic opioid), and that too caused some major itch-fests at doses of both 100 and 50 mgs but recently, I tried a lower dosage, mixed with paracetamol and lo' and behold--IT WORKED!  Only 37.5mgs of Tramadol per pill and that one wee dose, combined with paracetamol works for a good 5 hours--and I itch only a little!

It so thankfully takes that burning pain down enough notches to keep me from needing to get horizontal and/or turning me into a chair-squirmer and I cannot express how blown away I was this past weekend in Brussels with glorious relief.

On the train ride back to Paris on Sunday evening, I teared up with joy, realizing deeply, that for the first time in a very long time, I had just experienced two near-NORMAL days pain-wise.  TWO!

<--Had to take a pic of what I was looking at when the happy drops fell.   :)

I had no naps while there either, driving home just how fatiguing enduring seemingly endless pain is.  Pain you always hope will be better the next day, but it never is and with that hellish loop comes frustration and, (as I sadly learned this past year), often after just too much of that, depression.

Living with MPA, Kidney Disease and the many treatments and side-effects therein, makes it extra-crucial to keep one's mojo in full working order and being less of a slave to pain makes that a whole lot easier.

Knowing I have these precious pills at my disposal is just gold and to ensure they continue to work well each time I am electing to not take them daily.

I have read that they are very addictive and that dependance comes easily too, so for both of these reasons, I will be sure to leave days between days of use.  Another plus is that of the addiction accounts I've read about, none were at low doses like 37.5mgs/day.

Also in my googlings on Tramadol, ('cause I always research the hell out of anything new going into the ole tank), I came across this interesting study comparing my mix of tramadol+paracetamol with higher doses of Tramadol only.  All here for the curious.

Ehhhhh voila, that's it for moi, for now.


: J

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Healthy & Simple Crepe Recipe

Hello again, All,

And even moreso, to the healthy eaters/fellow CKD patient crowd today, as I just finished shmangin' down a very satisfying lunch and wanted to share.  I've been rather into crepes lately but just as into finding ways to make them as healthy and CKD-friendly as possible.

Today's kitchenings yielded this, (click to enlarge):

The crepe/flatbread (as it's a tad thicker than an actual crepe), itself scores high due to various pluses like:

-minimal prep time
-no cholesterol, (for those of us keeping a lid on that)
-low-sodium (good for the heart-healthy crowd as well)
-low potassium

So for many of us, kidney patients in particular, these are all very good things.

Here's the recipe:

1 cup of flour, (I used multi-grain this time, which I added some quick oats to as well, but I have had success using buckwheat, of course white and semi-complet, (60% whole wheat in English, I think), also.

1 cup of water, (plus a few table spoons to add once blended to make it as runny and thusly crepey-thin as you like).

1 egg white, I was tres curious to see how it would turn out sans-yoke and it's nice to know I'll never need yokes in crepes again.

Whisk away and pour onto a hot, lightly oiled, big and flat pan, being sure to tip it in all directions to get the batter to spread out as much as possible.  (I used a few drops of organic light sesame oil this time.)

Serves 2.

I filled mine today with said garlicy free range scrambled eggs, (one whole, one white), some slightly steamed arugula, (to both shrink it and take a bit of the personality out), a modest spreading of light "Philly" type cheese, (called "St Moret", here in France).  Plus a few drops of lemon juice with fresh ground pepper and I admit it, probably 20 small grains of sea salt.  Like 1/4 of a normal pinch, I'd say.

As you can see, the crepe browned and puffed up almost Nan-like and it was so good I just went at it like a big ole taco.

Gonna add the garlic to the batter next time and experiment with herbs and spices too.

Will work of course as a meal or fruited-up good in a dessert.  Or with chocolate sauce.  Or...  ;)

Bon ap et +++vibes,

: J

Monday, June 16, 2014

Super-Quick Pea 'n Quinoa Salad

^^Made out of theeee mother, necessity.

Allo again, Readers,  

Sharing today's last minute lunch idea as it turned out pretty great, was a fridge-empty-er and was tres fast too.

P even dug it.

***NOTE: This one is NOT that renal-friendly so please don't eat it if you're restricting K.***


J's "Peanoa" Salad:  ;)

~400 grams of frozen peas, thawed but not cooked
~ 2 cups of cooked quinoa
~ 1 cup of wild rice/brown mix, (or whatever rice you prefer)
4 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
A splash of organic apple cider vinegar, (ACV)
A splash of organic extra virgin olive oil, (EVOO)
About a tablespoon of oyster sauce
-fresh ground pepper
Serves 4

Oh, and I added some roasted pumpkin seeds at the end as I love them and I've been low in phosphorus lately.

Pumpkin seeds are a good vegan source of pH, I've read.

bon ap,

: J

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Brand new JG voice-over demo reel!

And it's been a lonnnnng time coming, too.

Hola, All,  :)

So as the post title states, I'm sharing a new character-voice demo reel, hot off the JG presses with you all here as, this blog can't be allllll about the hard stuff, right?

I hadn't made a new demo reel in some years, so I thought it was high time.

This coincided beautifully with my being finally up to the task again in body and soul, after a year and a half of struggling.

The writing, performing, recording and editing, plus the graphic and video production work added up to 10+hours of work, methinks (feels!), and though I'm royally bagged, it feels equally regal.   ;)

Aaaaaanywho, heeeeere it is and I hope it serves to lighten the load should anyone need it.

Have a sweet day,

: J

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

J's Kidney Happy Salad

Re-Greetings, Readers,  :)

Today I'm re-posting of one of the classic Scientific Salad recipes from last year that unfortunately got turfed recently due to-----an unsuccessful human-computer interface.  Other posts met their untimely demises too I'm sad to say.

So here's what goes into it:

-1 cup of chopped red cabbage
-1/2 cup chopped (raw), Brussels sprouts
-1 apple of choice, peeled & chopped
-2 big cloves of chopped garlic
-1 shallot
-1/2 cup of chopped cauliflower
-1 chopped red pepper
-3 chopped carrots
-fresh grated pepper

The sauce for this one is simple, just shake up some apple cider vinegar, EV olive oil, a SMIDGEN of sea salt (or oyster sauce or even soy) and that's it.  Lemon for even more zing.

This makes enough for a few meal-sized servings or many sides.  

Pair it up with a lean source of protein and Bob's your uncle. 

Think I'll be makin' this one again soon. 
bon ap,

: J

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

J's Sweet 'n Savory Spinach Salad

Greetings once again, dear Readers,

Just sharing today's most enjoyable luncheon delight with you all.

This recipe is not exactly renal diet-friendly, but, as my Nephrologist says almost every time I see him these days, "You can relaaaaax on the potassium restriction some."  Soooo, this is me relaxing with of one of my all time favo salad treats and I hope you all dig it as much as I do.  P too.  ;)

This pic is of his plate, which had considerably more feta content than mine did.  More cranberries too.  I kept mine as low sodium/potassium as possible.

J's Sweet 'n Savory Spinach Salad
-230 grams of nice and crisp raw spinach
-2 cloves of finely minced garlic
-1 onion, cut into thin rings, sauteed in a lil olive oil and set to cool.
-2 tbsp's of extra virgin olive oil, (aka EVOO)
-1.5 tbsp's of crumbled feta
-Juice from 1/2 a lemon.
-A small handful of chopped, dried cranberries, (these kind are sweetened a bit, which goes wonderfully with the feta.)
-A small handful of crushed walnuts.
-Fresh ground pepper to taste.

Serves 2.

For people not on sodium or potassium-restricted diets, I highly suggest topping the plate with another crumble of feta and some whole cranberries, which not only add to the flavorful experience, but looks real purdy too.

(I added more lemon to mine at the table.  The pic above was of P's plate.) 

Lemon is my new salt.  ;)

I used to make these often as starter salads, back in the days when I was able to entertain and cook all day for it and it was GREAT to taste a bit of those old times again.

Bon ap and as usual bon viiiibes,

: J

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

You Say Potato, I say POTASSIUM

Hello, All and in particular, fellow compromised kidney-beaners,

Since being so down with the flu, I have been CRAVING potatoes like mad and today I came across this gem from science that is one hell of a time-saver in the kitchen for those of us needing to restrict the K-count.

The effects of boiling and leaching on the content of potassium and other minerals in potatoes.

The white potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) is a valuable source of potassium in the human diet. While most consumers benefit from high levels of potassium in potato tubers, individuals with compromised kidney function must minimize their potassium intake.    

This study was undertaken to determine the effects of leaching and boiling on levels of potassium and other minerals in potato tubers. 

Leaching alone did not significantly reduce levels of potassium or other minerals in tubers. 

Boiling tuber cubes and shredded tubers decreased potassium levels by 50% and 75%, respectively. Reductions in mineral amounts following boiling were observed for phosphorus, magnesium, sulfur, zinc, manganese, and iron. There was no difference between the leaching and boiling treatment and the boiling treatment. In addition, mineral levels in tubers of 6 North American potato cultivars are reported. 

Significant differences in mineral levels were detected among cultivars, but they were too small to be nutritionally important.  Those who must reduce potassium uptake should boil small pieces before consuming them.

Taken from one of my FAVO research sites: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18576999

It's gonna be a GOOD luncheon today, methinks: taters, garlic jumbo shrimp and likely a nice green salad on the side.  And today--for the first time in two weeks, a wee glass of wine again for me!

bon ap and ++++vibes,

: J

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

That which does not...

...kill us, makes us sure feel half way there.  : (

Hello again, Readers,

Writing today from my bed on this, day eight of riding one incredibly hellish wave of influenza.

Yyyyyup, I managed to come down with the mofo flu and it has been one very challenging and horrible week+ of manic coughing, nausea, vomiting, fevers, near-faintings, full on whimpers and some unbelievable weakness the likes of which I have never endured.

We're talking granny shuffling of only a meter or two and then comes the major aching in the ole thighs, the gasping for breath and the having to sit/lie down to do the next couple meters.

I won't even touch on the stairs situation and how bad that got at one point. 


I've lost a staggering 4 kilos in these mean eight days and man alive, I am ready for this thing to HIT THE ROAD ALREADY.

Only yesterday did the intense eyeball pain cease but this cough, NELLY and her whole FAMILY--it's still going mega-strong.   At least it has been kind enough to let me sleep through the nights.

And yes, I've been in contact with my doc and even had to have a house call from another one and am on penicillin just to ensure this thing doesn't get more outta control than it already is.

And poor P had the flu too.  Thankfully, his came before mine and is wrapping up now, allowing him to fully man the kitchen.  He has been nourishing me closer to health for some days already, bless his sweet heart.
Next year, I will most definitely be getting me a flu shot as I don't even wanna know what this has all done to my already struggling kidneys and immune system.  Gonna find out soon enough though, when the monthly blood and urine work up happens soon-ish.

So boom, there it is.  And plop, here I am, in all my noodley, shrivelled lack of glory.

All that said though, I'm rather impressed that this hasn't landed my butt back in the hospital.  I couldn't imagine having to go through all this alone and in that dreaded place and yay body, for carrying me through this without completely shutting down.

Now, as I hear P down in the kitchen again preparing some luncheon delights, I shall gather my gumption to bum my way down the stairs again, (which are ohhhh so stylish without any hand rails), to enjoy it with him proper and upright and at the table. 

It's wonderful to be enjoying food again!

Be well out there, ya'll and for cryin' out loud, if you're older, fragile or suffering from any chronic illness like me, please DO get your flu shots as I wouldn't wish this hell on anybody.

+++vibes and continued periodic waaahhh's, 

; J

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

By George, I Think I Ate It!

Yesssss, a beautiful, inviting and seemingly harmless bowl of home made roasted cabbage/garlic soup I whipped up last week, might have been the cause of some extreeeeeme stomach pain a day or two later.

For those wanting to try it, just roast up slices of olive-oiled cabbage, add some raw garlic, pepper, (+ your spices of choice), and blender it all up with a little water.

It really was good--that first innocent little bowl, before I added what I thought was paprika.

"Cayenne", I bet some of you are thinking and that would have been so much easier but naaaaay, this stuff is much higher on the ole Scoville chart than that.

It was the mighty and respected the world over, "Piri Piri" pepper powder, at an impressive 175,000 Scoville Heat Units.
To compare, cayenne is at around 60,000.

<<-You can see here by the generously sized holes, how fast the Piri powder flowed from the container and I must have shaken damned near a tablespoon into that two-bowl sized pot of unsuspecting soup.

I was indeed wet with perspiration after eating that and I really don't know how the hell I managed it.

Granted, it was early evening when my faculties are less than stellar, (as illustrated by the grabbing of the wrong orange powder on the ole spice rack), and I was as usual, hungry like the wolf.  And the lights were low.  And...  ; )

I have already moved the Piri Piri to the lower, way less visible part of the spice rack.  ;)

So that's it; my little theory of how I ended up with some kinda gallbladder/stomach nightmare for 5 days straight.

I'll of course know more on the 10th after the stomach ultrasound is done but had to post this possible cause now.

Eat safe, everyone!

; J

UPDATE:  After a week of torturous upper belly pains, I saw my doc and had an ultrasound done to rule out any gallbladder issues/stones, only to find the organ normal and that most likely, most certainly, the cause of all that extra pain, ('cause I don't get enough), was indeed------ME.


Living and learning the hard way.

; J

Monday, February 17, 2014

Chickpea/Pepper/Rice Soup

G'Day, Readers,

I just finished a tres healthy lunch soup which I created last night due to my food processor biting the dust recently.

Talk about a blessing in disguise as if it hadn't kicked it, I wouldn't have plugged in ye ole blender again and this lil darling would not have emerged.

So here's the kidney-friendly recipe for anyone wanting to try it out:

Into the blender went:

1 ripe red pepper
half a cup of cooked chickpeas, (not from a can) *
1 cup of cooked brown rice *
3 cloves of juicy garlic, (chopped ahead of time for the allicin to develope)
a few spoons of 0% fromage blanc, (but 0% yogurt would be great too), some cuminblack pepper
a lil Mrs. Dash  ;)
a micro pinch of sea salt
a splash of apple cider vinegar and water so it all blends

Pour that into a pot and gently coax it up to warmness, not too hot to cook it as the idea is to retain as many vitamins in that lovely pepper as possible.

Serve with a drizzling of EVOO, ("extra virgin olive oil"), which I added instead in the blender on the above pic).

* Use white rice for less potassium.
* Skip the chick peas entirely for even less potassium.

Serves 1. 

And there it is, a kidney happy hot lunch on a cold winter's day--great for those who don't need to eat a renal diet either.

+++vibes  and bon ap,

: J

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Earth Mother

Hello again, dear Readers,

My my, it HAS been a spell since I last wrote.  This is partly due to being just as/even more fatigued than I have been in these past few months and thusly, I have been sleeping a LOT.  Must need it, as it feels so good.

I've been kinda down in the ole mojo again lately, partly because I really thought that once I recouped from this last prednisone wean, I would be enjoying less fatigue and more of ME again but alas, things don't always work out the way we'd like them to, do they?

The other part is due to this incredible out-of-synch-ness I have with my friends and fam across the pond.  I'm really only good to talk in the mornings here, when they are all snoozing deeply and by the time they rise, I am knackered and either on the heating pad trying to calm the spine pain or out cold.

Sometimes it all just gets to me, this time-zoned-out-ness and of course and the daily grind that is chronic illness--illness that no one really sees besides my dear P.  And the odd person on the street when I'm struggling.  And Tony.  Heheh...

On the up side, I have noted a marked decrease in those intense, stabbing random anywhere pains I have been dealing with for so long at each day's end.  This is MOST note worthy as wow, not only are they about a 9-10 on the screamin' pain scale, they frankly scare me, I cannot lie.  So those becoming fewer and farther between is simply wonderful.

To celebrate, today, I used my "spoons" on something else instead of power-walking El Bonero.
For the first blessed time in over a year, I returned to the organic/graphic drawing board and produced this, (just click on it to enlarge):
It's called Earth Mother and it's inspired by a) how strangely often the theme of elephants has been coming up in my life lately in photo and video form and b) a few weeks ago the tiny elephants returned to my dream world.  I was so happy to see them walking again, tales hooked on trunks, after not for I think, a couple of years. 

This all got me to researching them and I have since learned much.  A lot of it very saddening of course; like how horridly they have been treated for so long by us--as living bulldozers, circus and zoo prisoners or for sources of ivory--a situation that is STILL going on.  Then there is the tragedy of how their habitats are shrinking in size and quality--again: yay Earthlings.

So here is our Mother, with her largest, most sensitive and intelligent land dwellers, as they roam with limit now.
Also in the cauldron for this piece, is our beautiful Earth herself and how much kicking in the sides we've done in such little time, history of the world-wise.  It's just mind and soul-blowing to me and the older I get, the more it hurts.

Aaaaanywho, just wanted to share a small slice of my old artistic self.  This and my recent return to singing randomly, loudly and often are both beautiful signs of healing.

And I must always remind myself to be patient with this whole process.  After all, this disease was gnawing away at my vessels for some years before finally being arrested and it only makes sense that the recovery must take its share of time too.

Then there's the heavy drugs needed to keep the MPA beast in its cage and the toll they take on the host.  It's only natural that I'm gonna have some tough times with it all.

I'll likely be writing again soon as on Monday, it's monthly lab tests time again.  All digits crossed for some improved numbers as the last tests showed a quadruple level of red blood cells being passed in the ole urine.  Hoping hard to not be heading into kidney stone land again.  *takes the hint and a break to chug some water*.  ;)

Wishing you all well, comme d'hab, as the French say and a sweet weekend too.


: J