Sunday, November 30, 2014

Soylent: Weeks 3-6

It has now been 6 weeks since I started drinking Soylent, I think. Time is kinda fuzzy for me but I think I did the math right. Week three I lost a whole 0.1 pound, but that was the week after Halloween and I got three bags of candy. Week four is when I first started noticing changes. My eczema has improved, especially on my problem ankle. No matter what I do I can't get it to clear up permanently. I will start a new treatment and it will clear up some but in a few weeks it will be all scaly again. During week four it was similar to what it's like when I start a new treatment. I know from when we were TTC that DHA helps my eczema so I figured that's what was happening. I also noticed a few items of clothing fitting better. That week I lost another 1.2 pounds.

Around the end of week four I was starting to tire of the taste. My knee had also improved so I didn't need it as much; I was able to go back to my normal diet for the most part. Week five I actually gained weight but I'm not sure how much. I didn't write down my before weight as MFP always tells me "you've lost x amount since your last weight in!" I guess I figured it would do that for gains too, only without the exclamation mark maybe haha.

I decided at the beginning of week six to try and change things up a bit. I mixed in 1 tablespoon of creamy peanut butter in my 18 oz of soylent/ensure. This was apparently way too much! I had to keep diluting it with more soylent and ensure because all I could taste was PB and the texture was not appetizing. I do think I will try it again, but maybe start with 1 teaspoon instead. I also messed up my knee again trying to move the TV and plug in an HDMI cable when we don't have an HDMI slot. >.<

My clothes are still fitting better and my eczema is still improved. The weather has been changing over the last three weeks, and normally during this time I break out pretty terribly on my hands. I have special gloves to wear at night that I can't take off in my sleep to keep from scratching my skin off. Other than one teeny spot below my thumb and another at the base of my ring finger my hands are completely fine! I think my ankle is smoother than it has been in recent memory. It still looks bad, but I think it's just scarred and always will.

I think it has to be more than just DHA for this big of a change. There must be something else in Soylent I was deficient in that I'm now getting enough of, and it's kept my eczema at bay. I think if nothing else this would a reason to continue drinking it. I have recommend my little sister who has worse eczema than me try it for a few weeks and see if it helps her too. I don't know if she will though.

I lost another 3.6 pounds this week (week 6), bringing it up to a total of 8.4 pounds (which is 4% of my starting weight). So even with Thanksgiving I lost all I gained last week plus some. I didn't get this to lose weight but it's certainly nice. I have to think my metabolism is happy that I am eating (or drinking) food more often throughout the day rather than forgetting to eat for hours and hours. Plus the lower carb count certainly helps! I know this can't keep going forever though, especially since I can't exercise. I am already mentally preparing to plateau.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Being a Thursday, I've got to rep my endosisters by wearing my yellow birthday outfit complete with yellow jeans. Thursdays are awareness day where you wear yellow and use the hashtags #onthursdayswewearyellow and/or #otwwy. Usually I can't participate because I stay in my PJs and don't have any yellow ones! :D

This year I am thankful for my mom, little sister, and husband who remain as supportive and helpful as possible. I really couldn't do it without them.

I'm thankful for the support I've found in a spoonie facebook group as well as the spoonie and body positive communities on instagram. It's nice to have people who "get" you.

I'm thankful for those who participate in the Daily Deal thread on the Sims 3 forums. Because of their help I now own a much, much larger portion of the store that I would with my nonexistent budget. They have taught me the tricks for minimizing costs and maximizing sim points. They are also incredibly nice and supportive for an internet forum. It feels like they really care about each other. They will even gift people store content who are having a bad day, or it's your birthday, or just randomly. In fact yesterday I was gifted a $24 world!

But most of all, I am thankful for those who have donated to my gofundme campaign. I can't express how thankful I am. Because of these donations I now have enough to get my blood work done, which I plan to do next week. I posted before about how hopeless I felt but now I have a little hope. As you can see, I am now over halfway to my goal! I can do the blood work now and the rest (if we get it) will be so I can go to a followup appointment and find out the results of said blood work. I don't have the words to say how thankful I am.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Oh my god you guys!

After posting my rant the other day it seems two of you have donated $50 each! Thank you sooo much! I would thank you personally, but you were both anonymous so I can't. It really did help lift my spirits a bit knowing that a) anyone even reads this still and b) care enough that they would donate that much. I have a little bit of faith that maybe, just maybe, I'll at least be able to raise the $477 needed for my bloodwork if not anything else. I'll still have to cancel my December 1st follow up appointment but maybe I can hope for one after the new year. I have to believe it's possible because I don't know what I will do if I don't. =/

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

I've thought a lot about whether posting this was a good idea or not, as I don't want to seem ungrateful. I am grateful, really, but I'm also sad. I finally decided this is my blog it should be a safe place for me and I just wouldn't share it on FB, Twitter, IG, etc like I normally do. I don't think anyone who follows my blog has donated so there's probably a smaller chance of someone getting offended.

I posted before that my mother made me a gofundme 23 days ago. So far four people have donated a combined total of $250. Like I said, I am incredibly grateful for this especially the person who did so anonymously! Apart from my immediate family and not being homeless these four people are the only thing I have to be thankful about this Thanksgiving. So please, I beg you, don't think I'm not grateful. I also know I don't deserve nor am I entitled to anyone else's money. But...

Earlier today my mom was checking it and saw some other campaigns and it was really disheartening. There is a 12 year old dog who raised almost $2000 for a blood transfusion in two days. There is a couple who have raised $550 for their honeymoon in five days. Those are just a couple of the many examples. It makes me feel like I am less important and worth less than an elderly dog or a honeymoon. Like people care about me so little that they won't possibly help save my life, yet there are people who will do that for a dog. Like people care about me so little they won't help drastically improve my terrible quality of life that gets worse all the time, but there are people willing to pay for a honeymoon.

I'm already clinically depressed and this just hurts. I cried a lot, took a nap, and now I'm crying again. It feels like I'm not worth saving so why am I trying so hard?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Review: Doctor Who: Silhouette by Justin Richards

You may know I am a member of the From Left to Write book club and sometimes post not really review reviews based on books. Well I've now signed up for Blogging for Books and will occasionally be posting reviews for them too! These will be more traditional reviews than the FL2W ones.

"You have made us do terrible things."

"I have made you into a weapon, my dear. Weapons do terrible things. That is rather the point of them."

Silhouette takes place in Victorian London with my favorite people: the Paternoster Gang. Give these guys a spin-off and I will watch every episode! A power spike gets the Doctor's attention and they, along with Clara, try to discover who is behind that, as well as a string of murders. 

This is the first Doctor Who book I've read. I still haven't seen any of season 8 so I can't comment on how well they portray Twelve's character. It seems like it's done fairly well as I can picture Peter Capaldi in my head. I didn't like Clara very much in Season 7 and I think it may be because I didn't want her to be Eleven's new love interest. I liked her a lot better in the book so I hope I will in the new season too.

Strax was excellent. He had me cracking up in nearly every scene he was in! I even found myself reaching for a highlighter to highlight his quotes. In one he says, "I have a comrade who tells me that once one has eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must also be eliminated." In another he says he has dehydrated water in his field kit! Dehydrated water! He was perfect. Vastra and Jenny were well done too, but I think their characters are a bit flatter than Strax even in the show.

Overall it was an easy read. It wasn't serious literature by any means, but I didn't expect it to be. Some things were predictable but there were a few surprises. Silhouette would be a wonderful book for reading by the pool, on an airplane, etc. I read most of it while waiting on doctors and that worked out well. I'm happy I chose this book and would recommend it to other Doctor Who fans.

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. It is available for sale in both paperback and kindle form at Amazon.

Crash and Burn

For a while now Dobby (the poodle mix) has needed grooming. Not for aesthetic reasons, but practical ones. He keeps bringing in wildflower seeds all over his coat that I then have to clean off. Unfortunately we don't have the money to get either dog groomed at the moment. Even if getting them groomed wasn't going to keep us from getting groceries I'd feel pretty crappy about paying for it when we're asking people for money. So a couple of months ago I got a dog grooming kit from amazon that was highly rated but not super expensive so I could attempt to do it myself. I've done it twice previously with acceptable results.

I've been putting it off for about a week now because I just don't feel good. My knee still isn't better, I'm constantly exhausted, my endo started flaring, etc. Yesterday I came to the conclusion that I couldn't keep putting it off because things weren't going to get better. His hair would be so long he'd be blind and tripping over it before I felt up to it. So I decided to suck it up and do it.

The problem is, you can't just pull out the clippers and do as much as you can, stop, and do the rest later. In order to keep the clippers from getting dull (and then buying new ones) you have to give him a bath immediately before hand and dry him with a blow dryer. If he does anything that might get "foreign particles" (aka dirt) on his fur like going outside you have to start over.

So I used up quite a few spoons doing all that. He wasn't being cooperative when it came to his feet which sucks because that's where the majority of seeds stick too. I'm sure it didn't help that he could tell I was frustrated and tired and in pain. Eventually I just... crashed. I don't know how to word it other than that. I told my husband I blue screened. I got dizzy, light headed, nauseous, the works all of a sudden. I just barely managed to call Josh on speaker phone and say "help" before things started going black. Or actually gray, because things don't usually go black when I start to pass out. I know he came and helped me to the couch but I don't really remember it.

Approximately several minutes later I was able to sit up and take Lupin's advice, eating a fun size KitKat left over from Halloween on the end table. It did help. I don't think my blood sugar was low, but it's not outside the realm of possibilities. I was definitely in a spoon deficit the rest of the day. Poor Dobby looks all mangy from being half groomed but I'm not even going to try and fix it for a while. Now I'm back in bed for who even knows how long. Whenever I wash the dogs I wear my swim suit so I don't worry about getting my clothes wet, and I'm still in it now. Eventually maybe I'll put on pajamas instead...

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Soylent: First Two Weeks

I mentioned Soylent briefly back in May or June after we ordered it, and it just got here a few weeks ago! Yes, they were back ordered a lot and still are. If you order now it's supposed to take 2-3 months to ship but re-orders are only supposed to take 1-2 weeks. I haven't tested that yet to see how accurate it is.

But anyway, I'm sure you're wondering what Soylent is and why I would want to drink people. From their website:
Soylent™ was developed from a need for a simpler food source. Creator Robert Rhinehart and team developed Soylent after recognizing the disproportionate amount of time and money they spent creating nutritionally complete meals.

Soylent is a food product (classified as a food, not a supplement, by the FDA) designed for use as a staple meal by all adults. Each serving of Soylent provides maximum nutrition with minimum effort.
The reason I am interested is because with my health it is hard to get the nutrition I need. Basically I eat like crap. Most days (almost all) I don't feel up to doing any actual cooking so stick to things that merely require heating, like canned soup or popcorn. On the occasional day I do feel up to cooking I can't use fresh ingredients instead being stuck with canned or frozen. If I were to go grocery shopping in order to get fresh things I would no longer have the spoons to cook! On good days I eat a lot of carbs and processed food, and bad days are even worse. I know when you eat better you feel better, but I'm stuck in a catch 22: I can't eat better in an attempt to feel better unless I already feel better. Plus I know a lot of my problems simply will not be solved by dietary choices anyway. In short this is much better nutritionally than I already eat and also less work, without being crazy expensive ($9-12 a day depending on type of order).

There are a lot of nutritional drinks out there, what makes this one better? Several months ago I started keeping around some store brand Ensure, and it's the nutritional drink I have the most experience with. Soylent has at least 100% DV of the micronutrients you need, with only a few going higher than that - the most 171%. If you were to drink 2000 calories of the store brand ensure, you would get a wide range of micronutrients from 64-480% DV! Soylent has a 50/30/20 carb/fat/protein ratio while the store brand ensure is more like 72/10/16 (I know that doesn't equal 100, I rounded down). Carbs are a problem for me with PCOS so if there is an easy way to eat less of them I'll take it. Soylent only has 6g of sugar per day with 27g fiber whereas ensure has 176g sugar and 0g fiber! Plus soylent is dairy free and the ensure is not. I haven't done all the math for other nutritional drinks but at a glance none of them have been as nutritionally complete as soylent. The only issue nutritionally is sodium as it doesn't have quite enough, but it's fixed by just adding some table salt when you mix it.

Okay now that the introduction (that I meant to post about separately months ago) is over let's talk about my experiences. After I got it I made the pitcher seen above out of one pouch and one oil blend as directed. If you eat nothing else this pitcher would be one day's worth of nutrition. My first impression was mixed. The taste was not bad at all but the grainy texture was quite problematic. I will warn you though I am quite a picky eater and have texture issues with other foods as well. I read online that if you let the powder blend "soak" overnight, add some salt, and don't add the oil blend until it's soaked the texture is better. There was nothing I could do about the oil blend at that point but I added the salt and didn't have any more until it had soaked.

The texture definitely improved the next day, but it was still off-putting enough that I couldn't see drinking quite a bit of it on a regular basis. I added some of the ensure I keep around to my cup of soylent and the texture improved tremendously. So I took out a blender bottle and added one carton (8oz) of ensure to 8oz of soylent and shook it up, which was definitely drinkable. For reference that is 494 calories. For that first pitcher I had one blender bottle a day for a few days, with some family and friends trying some as well. I ended up pouring out some of the pitcher as it says it's only supposed to sit for a few days and I wasn't sure I'd know if it started to go bad. From then on I only made half a pitcher at a time.

With the next (half) pitcher I upped it to 10oz soylent/8oz ensure, and either I could have done that the whole time or I had acclimated to the texture a bit as that was fine as well. For reference that is 555 calories. I had between 1-1 1/2 bottles a day for the rest of the week. It seems satiating enough and I didn't feel exceptionally hungry, but I don't get normal hunger cues anyway so YMMV. I didn't really notice any changes in, well, anything that week but I wasn't really drinking that much either. At the end of the week I weighed myself and lost 0.8 pounds, anything less than a pound I generally believe to be within the margin of error and not a real loss/gain unless it is sustained.

Around the end of the first week I injured my knee which I wrote about before. Unfortunately it still isn't better more than a week later. This was, however, a perfect test for soylent! Something like this is really needed when I'm even less mobile and have even fewer spoons than normal. I stayed at the 10/8oz ratio for a few days, then went up to 12/8oz (as much as my blender bottle will hold and 615 calories), then went back down to 10/8oz. The 12/8oz was perfectly drinkable and I didn't notice much difference so that's not why I went back down. Store brand ensure is actually cheaper than soylent at $8/day and with my recent healthcare costs that we can't afford I figured this was a good compromise between nutrition and cost. I was drinking about two bottles a day and thus getting about 2/3 of my calories from the blend, with one meal or a few snacks of solid food. I did notice a small digestive change but it's kinda TMI and not a big deal.

I weighed myself yesterday and lost another 2.7 pounds. That's not much, but with my PCOS, thyroid issues, lack of mobility, etc any loss is a big deal. It also means that my previous 0.8 pound loss probably wasn't a margin of error thing as I've actually lost 3.5 pounds in the last two weeks. I think there are a few things that could explain this:

  1. It's just water weight/bloat. Maybe I'm ingesting less salt (even though I am adding the recommended amount to my soylent now), or ingesting less gluten as I know gluten can affect endo bloat. The mix I've been drinking is mostly gluten free with some cross contamination as far as I can tell. I don't feel like I have a gluten allergy/insensitivity but it could still affect weight.
  2. I'm definitely eating less carbs, and it is well known carbs affect weight when you have PCOS. 
  3. Because I've been stuck in bed/on the couch for a week I'm not snacking as much and thus not eating as many calories. 
Chances are it's a combination of all three. Let's give it a few more weeks before celebrating to see if it goes back up, as historically it almost always has. Plus I know it's bad but I'm going to get some half-price Halloween candy today. =P Other than the weight loss and the small digestive thing I haven't noticed any changes. I don't feel any better or worse that I can tell. My clothes don't seem to fit any different. I'm not sleeping better or worse. 

It definitely passed my test as a spoonie solution as long as you have something to cut it with. I feel like I could drink 2/3 soylent to 1/3 ensure now without any texture problems as long as I had some water to drink afterwards. I think eventually I could get so used to it I could drink it straight. It has been sooo incredibly convenient to have when stuck in bed. Unlike previous times I haven't sat here starving because I didn't have the spoons to make any food and no one else was around/awake to help me. So in that case it has met my expectations. I plan to keep some around and would recommend it to others with chronic health problems that keep them from eating the way they might like.