“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.” ~ Jonathan Swift

Monday, August 31, 2009

Hear ye, hear ye!

Let today, August 31st, be forever remembered as the first all-around fantastic eye appointment of 2009.

Good news #1:  I made significant gains on the eye chart. I was just rattling off all these letters and the technician just kept giving me more and smaller lines to read...crazy.  Granted, I didn't read them all in order; it counts nonetheless.  For example, a line of the eye chart might read: C A O V.  My flashes of light and shadows often crawl over my field of vision, so I generally see O V, wait for the flashes and shadows to drift, then the C and A emerge.  Indeed, when I cover up my good eye and try to read, my brain is able to understand words even when I read 'backwards'.  I don't get it either, but I'll take it.

Good news #2: After three doctors shined bright lights into my dilated eyes and an OCT scan (sort of like an ultrasound but for your retina), I was deemed "activity free."  This means that I have no neovascular activity and thus, no fluid (blood) in the back of my eye!  Always a good thing to hear especially when all those lights literally left me seeing hot pink for minutes afterward.

Good news #3: Activity free means no injection!  In fact, this was the first appointment in 2009 that did not end with a needle penetrating my eyeball.  I know you love that visual...This news was doubly good to hear because my insurance is apparently not thrilled about the heavy cost of my last Lucentis injection.  They "nicely" covered my last one but today I was informed that future injections might not be covered.  Crummy, huh?  I kind of liked Avastin better anyways...but I'm not thrilled about the prospect of having insurance bail out on me.  

2.5 hours later, I walked out of the hospital feeling fancy-free.  I celebrated my successful appointment by buying some much-needed clothes for work and a book.  When I got home, I ate a tomato and fresh mozzarella salad with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar.   Now I'm gonna sit back and let all those anti-inflammatory goodies do their magic...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sugar, Oh Honey Honey

For most of my life, I have never considered myself as having a "sweet tooth."  I like salty foods--potato chips, french fries, pickles, the salt rim of margaritas.  I hardly order dessert and when I do, I usually share.  Whenever I bake, I give away most of the goodies.  Even sugar cravings were never really an issue.  A little nibble of chocolate or one cookie could take care of it pretty easily.

But that was before I made my drastic diet overhaul.

Avoid or eliminate sugar.  That is one of my anti-inflammatory guidelines and up until recently, I thought that would be one of the easiest rules to follow.  I thought French Fries and buffalo wings would be my biggest sacrifices: WRONG.   Ok not true, my heart still hurts for them...let's not dwell on these delicious foods.  Anyways, turns out that sugar is becoming very hard to give up.  It's not that I'm not trying.  Take a look at some food labels: sugar is everywhere.  Even in the saltiest foods--SUGAR.  

As a result, I have been trying to cut out sugar as much as possible.  The result: intense sugar cravings.  In my previous life, I never had sugar cravings, but I suppose my sugar fix was being satisfied little by little in all my salty foods.  Now, I think about sweets all the time.  Occasionally, when I indulge in a sweet, I devour it and want more!  More ice cream!  More candy bar!  

You might say: just do it.  Sometimes I say that too and they next thing you know, I am eating all this junk.  Sugar has been connected with inflammatory responses, and we all know that's something I do not need whatsoever.  Anti-inflammatory gurus tell me to discover the natural sweetness of fruits and rely on strong spices to bring out flavors.  I discovered that a long time ago.  In the process, I discovered that sugar does a pretty good job too.

So, what to do?  First, I thought I could rely on honey and cane-sugar, believing these to be more "natural" sources.  Some recent internet searches reveal that these are just as bad as sugar!  I am also not into this whole artificial sweetener baloney, which I'm convinced will lead to other terrible health conditions in time.  I might look into Agave, which many use in place of honey.  We shall see.  Stevia also seems worth looking into.  But the price tags are enormous.

Following this diet is tough.  When I am disciplined and stick to the diet, I feel like I'm a diabetic vegetarian with a gluten-allergy.  Needless to say, I cut corners a lot.  For example, today I made zucchini muffins using 1 cup of honey, and the other day I made coconut ice cream using 1.5 cups of sweetened coconut flakes.   Not surprisingly, both recipes came out slightly less sweet than their sugar cousins but also still a little sweet.

If you have insights on natural sweeteners, please help!