Monthly Archives: December 2013

The Magic of Food

I got the results from the doctor on my stomach issues – Clostridium Difficile.  I find the wikipedia article fascinating (yes, really):

Because of my esophageal varices, I was put on a stomach acid reducer which gives me an increased potential for this bacterial flora to flourish.  Subsequently (or coincidentally), that potential became reality.  The doctors have now prescribed an antibiotic, Metronidazole, which according to a medical trial (Randomised clinical trial: vancomycin or metronidazole in patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis – a pilot study) may be an effective treatment for early stages of PSC!  Oh, what a tangled web the medicine world weaves.

And, like Logan and I are proving almost every time I have an issue with gut flora – diet seems to make a difference.  For example, the worst day/night was Friday, but the doctors didn’t call until Monday morning with the rest results and a prescription to start the antibiotics.  Between those days, I was on a self-induced reduced diet and was feeling much better.  I believe it was the reduction in sugar (which inhibits bacterial growth), and the low residue, low fiber food. When I spoke to the nurse on Monday, I sensed a little surprise on the other end of the phone that I was feeling better without antibiotics. Voilà!  The magic of food!  And that’s why we’re passionate about cooking, looking at ingredients, and really understanding what we eat. But don’t be fooled – I still enjoy my sugary treats and Logan likes her Midwestern roots: corn dogs and fried food; of course, everything in moderation.

Note: I will still be taking the antibiotics prescribed. Seems foolish not to.

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Uneasy Stomach

I mentioned in an earlier post that Logan and I are on high alert with my health. This past week, my stomach/intestines stopped cooperating. It wasn’t a fun week, and a really tough day or two. We both thought it was an Ulcerative Colitis flare brought on by all the sugary Christmas treats that I like to indulge in, plus the little clementines. Acidic and sugary foods are not always my friends. The symptoms weren’t exactly the same as flares of the past. Today, two days after calling the doctor and feeling OK (crossing fingers, knocking on wood, etc.) it may have been a stomach bug or virus.  Whatever it is/was, it’s not fun.

Logan said she had similar, less severe symptoms so we may have been doing a little unintended experiment.  If it was something that affected us both, there’s evidence that Logan has democratic bacteria – everyone has their say, but eventually the majority of good bacteria rule and the gut settles back into harmony. For me, it’s more of an anarchy – one little thing just sets everyone off. Good bacteria and bad bacteria start looting, ransacking, and wreaking havoc. It keeps things interesting, for sure.

With my body being a little squeamish about food, I’ve gone for a very plain and relatively safe diet:

  • Rice Cakes with peanut butter – knowing I’m not allergic or sensitive to peanuts, it’s a decent source of protein.
  • Bananas – Quick and easy, need to replenish the Potassium
  • Nuun – I just found out about this electrolyte powder – it has little to no sugar. Need to replenish those electrolytes that disappeared.
  • Soup – Usually Chicken Broth, some rice or pasta, and chicken breast.

As I start feeling more confident that the food intake is occurring, we add more ingredients to the diet a little at a time:  Pureed spinach to the soup, Table Crackers (very few ingredients), Turkey Meatballs (rice & turkey), basil, carrots, celery, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes…

It’s a very good thing Logan likes to and is very good at making soup!

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Surgeon Allegedly Burned Initials on Patient’s Liver (originally found via

A surgeon has been suspended over an accusation that he branded his initials on a patient’s liver. The letters were allegedly found by a colleague during subsequent routine surgery on the unnamed patient. It is alleged the surgeon used a beam of argon gas – for sealing vessels – to write them. Experts say it would leave superficial burns but is not usually harmful. University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust confirmed it was looking in to the matter. “Following an allegation of misconduct, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust has suspended a surgeon while an internal investigation is completed,” a spokesman said. Joyce Robins, of campaign group Patient Concern, said: “This is a patient we are talking about, not an autograph book.”

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What We’re Eating: Minestrone Siciliano

Derek hasn’t been feeling that great the past few days. While it may have something to do with the condition of his liver, it is more likely that his ulcerative colitis is acting up a little. He hasn’t had a significant flare in almost 5 years, though he has had some minor setbacks since the last major episode. Our general plan when this happens is to go back to the basics when it comes to food. Little or no sugar (Derek has a sweet tooth, so this is a challenge), very little wheat, add in more leafy greens, plain cooked proteins and lots of water. We’ve also added in probiotics which may or may not help, but certainly won’t hurt. I also tend to make soup when he’s having this issue since the vegetables get cooked in broth making them easier to digest, but they still retain their nutrients. Acidic food is not so great for Derek when his belly is hurting, but our good friend Emily taught us that carrots help neutralize acids, so we add them to just about everything.

I’ve been making this particular soup for years, and we just made it this week so I thought I would share the recipe. Batali’s original recipe calls for ham or prosciutto, and I have made it with that in the past, but I don’t really think it adds all that much so I’ve omitted it. Sometimes I add chickpeas for extra protein.

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RISE: Chris Klug

a film by Liberty Mutual.

We have so much in common: PSC, Organ Transplant Waiting List, Liberty Mutual Insurance, Medal Awarded (mine was in the Boston Dragon Boat Races, which is very similar to Olympic Bronze.)