Getting High and Making Dumplings

You know, some days I feel better than others. I’ve been reading some different treatments for Cluster Headaches. The other day, I found that caffeine may be an effective treatment, if taken just as the headache starts. So… I bought some caffeine pills. They have had some positive effects for the headaches, which is lovely… They’ve also given me TONS of energy, and for a little while, I feel great (comparatively speaking, of course)!  Now, the downside is that I’ve totally overdone it. This little project that I started a week ago… well, let’s just say that I have a bowl of dumpling filling going sour in the fridge. I ran out of strength mid-project… I haven’t recovered yet (Yay, the joys of fibromyalgia!) It can take some time to recover from overdoing it.

Anyway, here are some pictures and descriptions of my recent venturing back into the world of cooking. Hopefully the website won’t freak out with as many as I’m posting….

Cutting up some boiled chicken breast
Cutting up some boiled chicken breast
Shredding said chicken breast
Shredding said chicken breast
Cutting up some cabbage
Cutting up some cabbage
Equal parts shredded cabbage and chicken breast
Equal parts shredded cabbage and chicken breast

I like my dumplings with very finely shredded filling, some people like to taste the ingredients separately… not me.

Equal parts ginger and garlic
Equal parts ginger and garlic
Mixing all of the ingredients together into one homogeneous... thing
Mixing all of the ingredients together into one homogeneous… thing

 That’s chicken broth in the bowl behind the salt.

Nicely mixed
Nicely mixed
I used pre-made wraps... 'cause I'm lazy
I used pre-made wraps… ’cause I’m lazy
Filling the dumplings
Filling the dumplings
Starting the process off!
Starting the process off!
These freeze nicely, so I do a bunch at once.
These freeze nicely, so I do a bunch at once.
Put a bunch on a cookie sheet with wax paper, but make sure they don't touch!
Put a bunch on a cookie sheet with wax paper, but make sure they don’t touch!

Once the cookie sheet is full, I freeze them. Once they’re frozen, I can take them and put them in a freezer bag.

Nice, hot, wok
These freeze nicely, so I do a bunch at once
Gently wok fry. I like them crispy.
Finished and ready for eating!
Finished and ready for eating!

Okay, so there are some dumplings I made. They taste good, so long as the cabbage hasn’t had time to get strong. Then they taste cabbage-y. Some people like them with strong cabbage… I’m not one of those people.  I made a bunch, and then got sooooooo worn out I couldn’t finish. I refrigerated the filling to “finish them tomorrow.”That was about a week ago. The fridge smells like cabbage. The filling needs to go… I still hurt so bad I can barely move, so I haven’t even been able to cook and enjoy these things! Fortunately the finished dumplings are frozen and will be good for a while now.

Hope you like this post, it’s part of a new section called “broken dad cooks” – if you like it, share it with your friends. post it on facebook! Tweet it on twitter! link it in your blog!

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Happiness, Weepiness and Cluster Headaches

I don’t drink. But sometimes I wish I could drown myself in a tankard of something (that’s the ‘hip’ terminology, right?). Problem is, I’d become an alcoholic pretty quickly. I’ve got enough addictions, thank you very much. To add onto that, I’d be a mean drunk. No… like, alienate everyone who ever loved me mean…

Cluster headaches are a frustrating thing. For some people, they are so severe that they cause the victim to do whatever it takes to end the pain. I’ll leave that to your imagination. Requisite to point out: I’m not there. The last several days, I’ve enjoyed a significant bout of the cluster headaches. I’ve spend my evenings trapped in a dark room, and my nights and days wishing for anything to solve the problems. I’ve wondered about self medication. I’ve considered (though not too seriously) the drink. Truth is, the only over-the-counter solution that I’ve found is caffeine. So I drink a lot of Diet Dr Pepper, and pop caffeine pills. Problem is: Caffeine can also cause cluster headaches. I’ve got another term that starts with cluster for that circular dilemma…

These things are funny, too, because they really add to my fibro-fog. This morning, I cooked some eggs and toast, plated them and put them on the table. I walked away to get a glass of water, or something, and 15 minutes later, having started and forgotten a dozen other tasks, I realized that I had eggs (now cool) and toast (now dry) sitting at the table for me! I was halfway through eating when Nathaniel called me into the other room to get him something or another… I forgot them again!

The men of my family are notoriously emotional. We comfortably share and express emotion… But with these darn headaches, I just look like a crazy person. For example, I’m feeling pretty happy today, overall. Nathaniel’s being cute, and Ezra’s enjoying school. Other than everything, things are going pretty well for me. The problem is, every time I smile or laugh, the headaches are so intense that I cry. It’s not as if I laugh until I cry… If I even crack a smile, my eyes weep and I sob a little.,, immediately. The end result is a laughing weeping person. and not like somebody who’s sad that has something to laugh at, nor like a sad person who’s laughing to the point of tears… no, more like smile/sob-stop. More like I’m some crazy person that should be avoided. Maybe nobody notices. Certainly, Julie is pretty understanding, and the boys are unconditional in their love… but thinking about how crazy I must look makes me smile a bit… and then weep.

Feeling a Bit Melancholy This Morning – 9/11 Reminiscing

Ezra started to tell me about something some bad people did “a long time ago…” It took me a bit to know what he was talking about… It didn’t seem that long ago, but I guess it’s been 14 years.

I remember being in the airport. Ben was leaving for his mission to Rome, and it was a joyous occasion. We’ve got some great pictures of the family waiting for Ben’s load time. We were ignorant of what was going on behind us.


In the background, the first tower was burning on the TV. We were oblivious to it, though there were a few in the airport paying close attention. There was a change in the air, it was palpable, and everyone started watching the TV. Some, like me, where almost unconcerned, others were in tears watching the tower burn. We thought for sure that there must have been a terrible accident. There was no sound on those TVs, so we were just reading the news as it was scrolling across CNN. Then the second plane hit the second tower, and there was an audible, unanimous gasp across the airport… and the TVs all went black. In the following few minutes, the airport was evacuated and shut down.

When we got into the parking lot, a random FedEx van was parked askew in the middle of the parking lot. I remember thinking “this is how we are going to die. It’s going to be Oklahoma City all over again.” Of course, nothing happened. The drive back to Idaho, we tried to make sense of what was happening by listening to the news. I remember asking Dad “why would somebody do that?” Even as a late teen, I was totally ignorant of the world.  In retrospect, I don’t think I was alone.

On September 12, the country changed. We were unified in purpose. We loved each other, despite our differences. We turned to God. We were one people in a way that we had not been in 2 generations.

In the coming days, my friends and I worried about war, and worried about a new draft. We still didn’t know exactly who we would be fighting, but we new that our country couldn’t let the attacks stand. Some of my friends were the first to enlist. and many enlisted as soon as school finished. I was among those who tried, and failed.

In the following years, I was caught up in the jingoism that swept our country. I truly believed that if we were just patriotic enough, and if we were just nice enough to each other, things could really change.

I guess today I’m feeling a bit melancholy. I’m not sure that I believe those things anymore. Me heart doesn’t swell with pride with the playing of the National Anthem. I stopped flying my flag a few years ago (not really a conscious choice, we just moved, and it never got put back up). I stopped really enjoying the lyrics “we’ll put a boot up your ass, it’s the American way!” I’m not sure when the change happened, but it has happened none the less.

When it comes down to it, I have to ask myself, what is the solution to the problems in our country? Does patriotism solve our problems? has the generation of war that has changed my peers, and changed me, been worth the cost?

I don’t have the answers. I am convinced, however, that the freedom that swells my heart with pride is being stripped away: not by terrorists in planes, but from within. It’s not just evil men contriving to collect more power, but we, as a people are giving the freedoms and liberties away piece meal.  The solutions can’t come from the centralized government, and they won’t come at the end of a gun. I think we need to stop believing that things will always work out because ‘Merica, and start realizing that America has been great because the people have been good. We cannot continue that greatness without individually accepting the responsibility of turning to God, and following his teachings.

Today, we remember. But it’s not enough to remember how we felt on 9/11, let’s remember how we felt on 9/12. Let’s turn to God, let’s find the areas that are broken in our lives, pursue repentance, seek restitution and find peace individually.  The world is in more turmoil now then it was 14 years ago. The only peace we will find is individually. If we turn to God, we can finally begin to turn to each other with true love and understanding. Then we can feel what 9/12 felt like again.

I miss the bliss of my youthful ignorance, but it’s gone. The evils that attacked us are killing hundreds of thousands even now. The Christian population in Syria has dropped from 2 million to less than 500,000 in just a matter of years. The genocide of Christians and Yazidis in the Middle East is in full sway, but we’ve turned our eyes. We promised that we’d never forget, but I fear that our remembering is a greater stain on our souls because we ignore the needy. We need to turn our hearts back to God. We need to stop promising that we need to forbid the atrocities of the past as “never again,” and realize that Never Again is NOW.

Guilt, Frustration and Who I Am

An interesting thing occurs when one is reliant upon others for silly little things: one realized their own insignificance.

The other day I started the day feeling really pretty well. I took Ezra to school and came home to feed Nathaniel some toast. I even got the dishwasher loaded (though not started) – a huge accomplishment for me, espessially first thing in the morning (it usually takes all day to do that without killing myself). At 10:00 I had physical therapy. Nathaniel and packed his backpack with a couple of diapers and some toy cars (so he’d have something to do), and headed out. I did pretty well going into the doctors office. I only had to stifle one panic attack being in the busy lobby. We went back and Nathaniel contentedly played with his car and fire truck while the physical therapist checked me out.

It was my first appointment here, and he needed to see what was going on with me. Apparently my pelvis cants so bad to the right that my right leg is almost 2 inches longer than the left. At any rate, he had me do 3 or 4 “exercises” (read: pitiful stretches that any normal human would not even consider stretches). After we were done with the therapy session, we gathered up Nathanael’s things, and made to leave. As we left the room, exhausted from the effort of the session, my body gave out and I collapsed. Little Nathaniel, in a reactive and protective action, reached up and grabbed my hand to try to keep me from hitting the ground (like mommy does). The therapist asked if my falls were usually that graceful (I almost got to lower myself down with my cane). The answer is sadly “no,” as I usually hit the ground with much more force.

The thing that stood out was the 2 year old trying to act as a physical support to the 30 year old (rather than the opposite). If I’d have fallen on him, it would have really hurt him, and yet he rushed forward to help.

I spend a lot of time dwelling on the things I cannot do. It’s not that I’m brooding, per se: more that I realize the things that I can’t find solutions to. For example: the boys love their LEGO and have them spread around the house. I’d love to not step on them, but I can’t pick them up (because I can’t bend or squat). This means that, we’re it not for others, this task could not be completed.

Oh, LEGO are the boy’s responsibility anyway, but the laundry, garbage, sweeping, mopping, toe nail clipping, toilet cleaning, etc. are my responsibility. I can’t really do any of them. I joke (less out of humor and more out of desperation) that anything that falls below knee level is as good as lost.

The result of my incapacity is that Julie has much more housework than she can handle (espessially with very long hours she’s been subjected to lately). The boys are left  with much less playtime than little boys should have.

The end result is a significant amount of guilt for me. Being the broken dad makes me feel bad for my wife and kids. It leads me to feel that they would be better off with a whole dad or husband. Then I get frustrated with myself, because these are things out of my control: this is who I am. I have to accept me. And my kids don’t need a perfect dad, they need THEIR dad. My wife doesn’t want another husband who is more whole, she wants me (though she would love for me to be whole).

At the risk of being preachy, I take some relief knowing that these trials are temporary. Oh, I’ve no doubt that I will deal with most, all, or more than I currently deal with, for the rest of my life; but it won’t always be like this. I have a Savior that has cleared the path for my resurrection to a perfect body. He’s made it possible for me to be with my family forever: and we’ll be whole and complete; free of these mortal trials. That will be nice.

Late Night Productivity – Insomnia and Caffeine – Current update

I’m going to ramble a bit. Well, maybe not ramble, maybe it’s more of a rant. Maybe it’s just a silly post. I guess we’ll see the outcome at the end.

It seems like I really only get things done in the middle of the night.

By “get things done” I really mean, “not getting things done with more efficiency than normal.” The thing is, I don’t sleep, but in the middle of the night, when everyone else is sleeping, I get the ‘deepest’ thinking done. Sometimes I get my grocery shopping done (much to the chagrin of my landlords, I’m sure), and a lot of my writing happens at night.

Tonight is no exception. I was sleepy at around 10, but I also was experiencing an excruciating headache. I have to make a choice: try to sleep with my head trying to pop, or take headache medicine (which is loaded with caffeine), and not sleep. Tonight (or last night, I guess, as it’s now early morning) I chose to have my head stop hurting, a bit.

A bit after I took the medicine, I had a lovely panic attack. So I sat, holding Bruce, hyperventilating and weeping to myself, waiting for the panic to stop. There was no cause. Well, maybe there was, I was hurting pretty bad. The headache was ebbing, but my arms and legs felt like they were about to burst (that’s the fibromyalgia). Maybe that caused it, but the anxiety is pretty new to me, so it’s difficult to identify the triggers. Anyway, after that passed, the caffeine kicked in. So here I am, wide awake. I’ve gone to the store (we needed cotton balls and light bulbs). I’ve planned out some learning tools for Ezra. I’ve figured out a fix for a problem with my trike. I’ve killed a spider (shudders). I’ve learned to cook stroganoff (our next dinner). I’ve listened to some podcasts. I’ve explored the deep places of the mind that are usually only tapped by the stoned. I’ve gotten a lot done… The problem is, that I have a lot to do tomorrow, but I will have no sleep. Ezra will be up in the next hour or so to get ready for school.

I started with a new pain specialist last week. With high co-pays, I’ve put a lot down. I started with the initial evaluation last week. I was excited to get a hopeful update. There are apparently some treatments that can help remove some of the pain in my back. Then I’d just be dealing with the headaches, the fibromyalgia, the stomach pains. The back pains would be significantly reduced, if the treatments are effective. I just about cried. Seriously, to have a little hope in terms of my pain is a big deal. It’s been a while.

I started this week with a physiological evaluation (necessary before any pain medicines can be prescribed). That was a couple of hours on Monday. Tuesday, I had a a couple of hours training class with a few other new patients to learn about the uses, effects, and dangers of certain drugs. I get tomorrow, er, today… today off, and tomorrow. I have physical therapy on Friday. Next week, I’ll go in for some tests on my back to see if the treatments will work, followed by a follow-up at the end of the week.

These guys aren’t kidding around! All of these appointments are with a team of doctors that work together in their independent specialties and communicate about their patients to create pain management plans that are more significant than “take this and call me in a week.”

They did start me on Lyrica. I’m a bit worried about that, because one of the side effects is ‘significant weight gain,’ which would be… bad… as I’m already 65 pounds overweight. Oh, wait! 55 pounds! I’ve lost 10 pounds in the last month! I’ve had to go hungry, a bit (which is hard for me. I like food… a lot…)

So I guess that’s the basic update. No great topic, no great story. Just a bit of a rundown.  If you’re still reading, thanks! I hope it was somewhat enjoyable.