Colitis · Entyvio · Exercise · Family · Health · Motivation · Sparkle · Xeljanz

#11

Today is not so much about Entivyo infusion #11 going in but about the small successes in my health.

My blood dr showed me the various different iron reports that I’ve had since July 2016. I started with a 72 & it has steadily increased since my 2 Injectifer iron infusions last July. My current iron level is 88 which, according to doc, is absolutely perfect!

2 things that number means. 

1. My gut has healed dramatically since Entivyo infusion #1 on my birthday in October 2015. When a colitis patient is flairing, they lose blood, sometimes in small traces & sometimes in large amounts. In my case, it was a combination of trace & large amounts over an extended period of time. 
When I do something, I do it big!!!!! 
Over time the blood cells shrank & my iron production dropped. Once the iron infusions kicked in, the circumference of my blood cells grew increasing my iron levels to the perfect level it is today!

2. Iron makes all the difference in my world. 

* I have energy to play with my boys that I didn’t have at this time last year. 

* I have reached (& exceeded) the amount of weight I needed to put back on after my year long flair. 

* I don’t feel like I need a morning & afternoon nap everyday, just on the weekends & only because I like snoozing with the baby man & not because I’m falling down exhausted. 

*We just finished basketball season & im ready for track without feeling like I need a break. 

*I feel like exercising again & I try to do something active daily. 
I could go on & on about how I have drastically improved but I’ll let pictures do some talking.

January 2016

January 2017

 

My face is fuller! My skin has color to it, without being out in the sun! I see more energy in my eyes or maybe a twinkle of orneriness! I just look (& feel) so much more human!

I didn’t get sick over night. Well, actually, the HPylori that brought out the colitis was fast acting but the disease itself has been ongoing since 2012. To think realistically, it has taken more time to heal than it did to hit the bottom. I remember Chad asking me one day when I was weak & bone skinny if I was dying & he was very serious. Slowly over time, I have healed & this phrase rings true. 

It may not happen as fast as we want but God’s timing is always fabulous! I like to think I can sparkle even in the dark times but God is the one who makes the sparkle shine in the dark.

Colitis · Entyvio · Health · Recipes · Xeljanz

Bacon Mashed Potatoes

I love mashed potatoes! It is a southern staple at the dinner table, especially when your main course is fried! I don’t fry often but when I do, I throw some kind of potatoes with it.

 

So on this particular day, I actually found a recipe in The Quiet Gut cookbook that would get approval from all under my roof. Well, all who actually eat mashed potatoes. The little men have never been mashed potatoe lovers, even when mashed food was all they ate. I know, strange children!

 

I love it when I look through a recipe and can mentally check off every ingredient already in my cabinets. It feels like a small success in this crazy busy world of ours.

 

Ingredients:

  • Milk- I have never liked milk or its smell until I discovered Fairlife. It is milk without lactose and its easy on my gut (small successes once again).
  • Potatoes- I used Idaho because they were in the cabinet but the recipe calls for new or baby potatoes.
  • Butter- I prefer the lactose free sticks.
  • Salt- Sea salt is preferable to plain table salt.
  • Pepper- Freshly ground tastes much better than the ole’ McCormick pepper.
  • Bacon- Any kind of bacon but stay away from breakfast flavors like maple or you might mix up a batch of breakfast mashed potatoes (yuck).

 

 

Now its time to get this show on the road! Start by peeling your potatoes. Cooking can be a family affair so teach your littles to peel as well and you can bond! Sometimes with mashed potatoes I like to live dangerously and leave the skins on, just not for a new recipe.

 

I’m not OCD often but when I am, its to stack my peeled mashed potatoes!

 

Next step, boil your taters. I boil until I remember to take them off but the typical boil, if your pieces are smaller, will take about 15ish minutes.

 

I love this spoon/potatoe masher extraordinaire from Pampered Chef. All in one utensils are the bomb!

 

By the way, I know you wondered what my bacon mashed potatoes will be paired with. Well, chicken of course but only lightly fried, non breaded chicken (because I wasn’t up for the floury mess). It was fabulous and got the thumbs up from the hubs and children.

 

You also need a real veggie so we had boiled squash.

 

 

I haven’t yet mastered the art of baked bacon yet so I cooked my bacon in the microwave for approximately 3 1/2 mins. I personally think Scentsy should come up with breakfast flavors and the best seller would be bacon! Just a thought Scentsy flavor developers!

 

 

After you let your potatoes drain, add the goods…butter, milk, salt and pepper. I love my new Pioneer Woman measuring spoons.

 

 

Lastly, add your mouthwatering bacon. Voila, your ready to serve.

 

 

You may notice that I did not add the scallions list in the recipe. My husband does care for onion flavors so I don’t usually keep these in the house. I think it would definitely add a flavor punch so try them. The potatoes tasted delish even without the scallions so its not a necessity.

 

A change that I would make, now that the seal of approval has been stamped, is to boil garlic cloves with the potatoes. I love my garlic mashed potatoes and it would add a great dimension of flavor to the bacon mashed potatoes.

 

Enjoy your gut friendly taters and share links to your favorite gut friendly taters in the comments.

keep-calm-and-eat-mashed-potatoes

 

Coconut Oil · Colitis · Entyvio · Health · Herbalife · Stress Relief · Xeljanz

Keep Calm & Embrace Change

Gotta Do Something…

Everyone has pesky little problems that pop up now & again. You’d be lying if you said you didn’t. I’m assuming my current problem is coming from my system getting back into balance after five years of just being in overdrive survival mode!

So my current problem is not something I typically encounter because I have Sjögren’s syndrome which is a bi-product of my auto-immune diseases. I know, I hit the jackpot! Not 2 but 3 autoimmune disorders!

Sjögren’s syndrome is a lovely way of saying super duper desert dry! My eyes, my nose, my skin! I’ve just learned over time to deal with it. Restasis for the eyes, body butter for the skin & vaseline for the dry nose.

I asked my dr last month if he has had any patients complaining of dry, dry nose but he pulled up the Entivyo medical page and that is not a known side effect. Leave it to me to be an anomaly! He thinks it’s a combination of Entivyo, Xeljanz and Sjögren’s but I bet a little moisture in this Texas winter air would help a bit.

My hair right now is soooo confused! It’s usually dry so I give it a few sprays of coconut oil a day before I shower & it stays away from being brittle. I used to lather the whole head up with coconut oil until last summer when I got the plumber bill & the cause….coconut oil clog! Watch out ladies, the balanced hair struggle is real!

So, my solution to the oily hair issue has been drawn out. I have changed hair care, no help. I quit coconut oil, no help. I was kinda at a loss for what to do but then the light bulb went off & I decided to try the Herbalife hair care line. It smells amazing!!!! It’s less than I would spend on my favorite Organix shampoo & conditioner & I am already a distributor so why not give it a shot.

I dove in head first & bought the shampoo & conditioner, body wash, bar soap & the lotion, which I already use regularly.


So what have I experienced!

Shampoo & conditioner: Did I mention that my hair smells so fresh & clean…all day long! You know that squeaky noise your hair makes when it’s clean? Well, I can still hear the squeak before bed! My hair is not oily anymore, unless I play with it too much. I think I’ll be able to wash it every other day again! Yay!!!

Body wash & bar soap: My skin doesn’t feel dry after I use the bar soap. My trusty old friend has always been Zest but I get out of the shower & have to immediately slather the lotion on thick to last the day without my skin feeling tight & irritated. I think I’ll be switching to the Herbalife bar soap when I run out of the Zest. The body wash is moisturizing & silky & my skin seems to hold the moisture until I shower the next day. For someone with dry skin, this is the best thing since pumpkin spice creamer!

Hand & body cream: I’ve loved this cream since I laid eyes on it. Have I mentioned how wonderful it smells. It’s not a sticky or oily moisture that you get from the lotion like my usual body butter or coconut oil. It’s just the right amount of moisture for me!

So, I hadn’t planned to sell you anything here but I apparently advertised for the Herbalife Herbal Aloe line anyway. Run to your favorite Herbalifer & get some.

Anyway, the moral of this story is, don’t be afraid to change. Life is a never ending story & you have to adapt with the twists & turns.

The end.

Christmas · Colitis · Entyvio · Family · Xeljanz

Infusion #10 Going In

I took Enbrel for 5ish years & Humira for 3ish years. (Don’t you just love my accuracy there ?). Well, never in those 8ish years did I ever get over the fact that I had to give myself a shot every week, in my thighs, that were very knotted from years of medicine. I still don’t like needles but I’m all in favor of my 8 week needle! It contains the necter of the Entivyo gods & man-o-man is it some amazing stuff!

Today is infusion #10! I fee like I’ve hit some kind of milestone. I’ve been on E for 419 days, but who’s counting. Last year at this time I was having my last loading dose & wondering if this drug could be my miracle or if it was just another step towards eliminating all my options before I had to have the ultimate option of colon removal. 


I’m beyond happy to report, typically every 8 weeks when I infuse, that I feel amazing! Someone who’s just met me might even think I was normal! Don’t be fooled though, it’s always in the back of my mind & I pray that it stays in the back where it belongs!

This time of year, thankfulness & blessings are on the forefront of our minds. I am beyond thankful for my infusion center, Texas Oncology, they are amazing everytime I come in. Everything always runs smoothly & they know me by name now. 

Today, the other patients & I were serenaded by carollers in the infusion room. Christmas is still about Christ no matter what the liberals try to push on America & they sang all my favorites. Away In a Manger, Joy to the World, We Wish You a Merry Christmas & of course Silent Night. Christmas is my favorite time of year!!!

If you’re still reading because my Christmas beliefs haven’t driven you away, have a very magical Christmas season & a happy New Year! I will be saying extra thank you prayers for another holiday season with my trusty old colon!

?? MERRY CHRISTMAS! ??

Colitis · Entyvio · Family · Health · Teacher Corner

The Countdown

I am officially ready for 2 weeks out of school!!! Let me catch you up on this semester at school which would not have run so smooth if my gut wasn’t happy.

It has been a little while since I taught Texas history so when there were some personnel changes at school, I was moved back to 7th grade classes. Ahhhhhhh! I love Texas history but I really, really, really enjoy teaching early US History because I can relate it to my semi-annual trip to Washington D.C. with 20ish hormonal, crazy, sweet & salty teenagers. I don’t mind the move because I have taught it before & just dove in head first. I just feel like my brain has not caught back up after the transition so a 2 week break is more than welcome. 


My 2 volleyball teams both won district championships!!! That is 3 in a row for this proud coach! ?

We are in a tough basketball district & one of my teams is 5 & 0, pulling out a nice final game before Christmas break last night!

I love what I do! I don’t even consider it work but I’m looking forward to family, my babies & my husband without anywhere to be in the evenings or any homework to do.


Speaking of homework, this was my peaceful view after a wacky weekend. I stared at the Christmas tree while I was trying to write my 2nd final paper of the day on Sunday & it must have given me inspiration because I finished it & my lesson plans faster than I usually finish just my lesson plans. Now I am just waiting on my grades. This semester was a tough workload but I survived. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger! I am 33% of the way towards my masters degree!


Overall, my gut would generally react poorly to so much going on & so much extra stress but enter Entivyo stage left! This medicine, coupled with Xeljanz, has been a life changer for me! Before these all stars came along, even small stress stressed me beyond anything my gut could handle, but I am happy to report, I have not experienced any symptoms of colitis at all!!!!!!

So, with all that being said, the countdown to December 22nd begins! I am sooooo ready for crackling fires, baking goodies, Christmas movies with the boys, no homework for me or Jaxson, no games to play, time with my family & my hubbys’, no where to be & no stinkin alarm set! Merry Christmas to me!!!!! & happy Christmas season to you all!! May your stress be low & may you experience awesome blessings this holiday season.

Colitis · Entyvio · Family · Health · Recipes

Maple-Spiced Walnuts

A nutty recipe just in time for Christmas gatherings! The holidays might make me a little nutty but these 2 can usually save my day! Read past the cuteness for the newest recipe from The Quiet Gut.


Pecans, walnuts, macadamia, almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, cashews, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, flax seeds. What’s your favorite?

I typically lean towards pecans because my parents have 2 huge pecan trees in their backyard that produces more pecans than I can eat in my lifetime & boy are they delish! For this recipe however, I stuck with the walnuts & I’ve got to tell you, walnuts aren’t just for baking! They’ve now made my top 3 list!

I made these Maple-Spiced Walnuts for Thanksgiving at my in-laws house. They just sounded like a holiday snack.

Here’s my OCD ingredient gathering at its best ?

I also apparently enjoy staring at separated spices. Now you see them….

Now you don’t!

Since you’ve gathered all your ingredients & mixed your yummo spices,  your safe to start the liquids warming in your large skillet. Don’t scrimp on skillet size or you won’t be able to coat the walnuts properly & the seasoning is so good you’ll want them covered!

Combine the maple syrup, olive oil (I prefer to use EVOO) & water, heating for 5 minutes.

Add the walnuts & make sure to coat in the liquid before you start dropping your magic seasoning on top. Once you’ve thoroughly coated your walnuts, allow them to hang out & brown in the pan for approximately 3ish mins. I say ish because my started to scorch by 2:30 mins.

Promptly lay your  deliciousness out on a pan lined with parchment paper (or foil, because that’s all I had & it didn’t stick) so the nuts can cool & you can admire your handy work!

So, what did the family have to say about the Maple-Spiced Walnuts? One family member said that it was spicy but good. On the spice front, my family & Chad’s family have a different taste for spice. My dad likes ghost pepper salsa so cayenne would probably have been better for Christmas at my parents.

My opinion of the walnuts, remove the coriander & use more sugar, salt & cumin. I also would add additional liquid so the chances of scorching are lower.

Overall, I would rate this recipe a 5 but the small changes I mentioned could bump it up to “Christmas at my parents house” status.

Colitis · Health · Recipes · Smoothie

Berry & Chia Seed Smoothie

I LOVE berries!!! All kinds of berries! Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, & of course raspberries so when I found this recipe, I just had to try it. I love it mainly because I can mix it in my Nutribullet RX and its portable. I love it double because berries contain antioxidents which are fantastic for your skin! Win-win!

This is the most awkward looking addition to a smoothie! I’ve never eaten chia seeds & I almost didn’t because they just look awkward! When I finally found them at Natural Grocers, I was hesitant to even put them in the smoothie because they look like small black beans and who wants beans in their breakfast? But, they add a protein boost so I took a shot at it. They’re really pretty good!

I’ve also never tried rice milk & the taste is a lot like almond milk but the consistency is much thinner, almost transparent in color and definately not sweet so your berries will make up for that.

I LOVE berries!!! All kinds of berries! Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, & of course raspberries & you can use whatever berries you love in this recipe. I stuck to the recipe of blueberries & strawberries, but like I said, use what berries your belly loves!

Taken from The Quit Gut Cookbook.

I’m an ingredient gatherer so I have to have everything on the counter & measured to the extent that I can before I start mixing. It’s ok to be an ingredient gatherer, it reduces my stress during cooking. I have way too many times started cooking and didn’t have all the ingredients. My brain tells me there’s substitute ingredients all around my kitchen but my belly says “make the recipe right!”

Start off with 2 tbsp of chia seeds soaking in 1/2 cup unsweetened rice milk for approximately 10 mins or the same amount of time that it took me to unload the dishwasher & wake Luke up from his nap before the mixing noise began. The chia seeds will thicken & be somewhat sticky so you can rinse them from the bowl as you add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of rice milk.

This picture reminded me that I could really use some way cuter measuring cups & spoons!

So next, add a cup, a cup, a 1 1/2 cup (my tribute to Steal Magnolias).

  • 1 cup of strawberries
  • 1 cup of blueberries
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened rice milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Oh, & by the way, a blender is not my favorite mixing tool even though the recipe calls for a blender. This bad boy is! The Nutribullet RX is fantabulous (I make no money for this endorsement)!!! It’s so much more fancy than my original Nutibullet that I’ve had for 3 or so years. It mixes itself when you put it on the base & then shuts off.


So it’s time to blend, whichever way you choose. Mix until all ingredients are blended together well, or your Nutribullet RX shuts off.

My tough critics gave it a taste. 2 year old taste buds loved it & kept asking for more. Chad was not big on it & said it needs sugar. Jaxson ran off when I asked him to try it. He’s not real big into trying new things. I agree with Chad, it needs more sugar so….my tip…..

Exchange sweetened rice milk for the unsweetened & add 1 to 2 tbsp of sugar if you want more sweet.

Overall, I would give this gut quenching smoothie a 7!