All posts by moose

It’s In Your Face But You Can’t Grab It

Things I Can’t Do

Smile fully
Raise my right eyebrow
Open my mouth completely
Chew well on the right side of my face
Make rude noises with my tongue

Who would have thought I would miss being able to just blow a raspberry? It wasn’t until my best friend suggested I try doing it that I realized that I was missing this extremely important ability. It’s become one of my tests for observing progress. Today I made a little noise from my mouth, though not as I intended. I have yet to replicate it again.

I completely understand the situation in which I find myself. However, I let my issues come to a head today and my emotions cascaded over into other trivial matters. There exists a maddening frustration in the complete refusal of my facial muscles to respond to my attempts to move them. Everything is right where it is supposed to be but it just won’t move. It feels like I’m making the correct motions but it just won’t budge. It feels like I left the whole left side of my face in bed. But, I can’t change my condition. I can only treat it.

Things I Can Do

Just about everything else

I find myself fortunate that I’ve been able to manage drinking and eating as well as I have as long as I focus on the task at hand. I pocket food on the right side of my face if I don’t watch where I’m chewing. Thankfully I only did that once today.

I’m relying on my eyedrops a lot less now. I think that I might be blinking that eye more, though that may not be a change in my actual condition and merely my understanding how to move my eyelids a little better. There is still irritation on my eye, but that’s more from my misuse of tape than my paralysis.

Things I Will Do

Go to the doctor
Find a cool eye patch

Who doesn’t want to look like a pirate? Even Amazon has a range of HSA-eligible eyepatches that could make a Halloween accessory with a tiny bit of decoration. Of course the eye patch I selected wasn’t eligible despite looking the most medically functional. I’ll need to get that reimbursed. At least I have a headstart on a costume this year.

Everything else I’ve just been putting off. Every time I try to make a change in my lifestyle I find excuses to stop. Or I just ignore my previous attempts and regress into my former habits. Or I just willingly avoid the things I know will prevent me from having further health risks.

Things I Won’t Do

That anymore.


Faith No More – Epic

If I Can Smile A Crooked Smile

I thought the water tasted funny.

That’s how it started. With an assumption, and a wrong one at that. If I drank something and it tasted off, there must be something wrong with it. It’s sobering to me to think that I could ignore something affecting me so seriously and yet it was the easiest thing I could do. I blamed the situation on a water cooler that had been acting up for weeks. I tossed the water and refilled my Yeti tumbler from another source. That water didn’t really taste much better, but I just blamed what I believed to be the previously “tainted” sample for the bad taste in my mouth.

I thought the left side of my face was swollen.

Something felt off on the left side of my face. It felt puffier and I felt more sensation in it when I moved. I could get my teeth around the inside of my lips on the right side of my face, but repeating that task on the left side of my face was nearly impossible. It took much greater effort to achieve the same result, so, clearly my lips must be swelling on that side of my face. I didn’t SEE any difference in my mouth, nothing major at least. But I convinced myself that my lips looked fuller on the left side of my face as a result of swelling.

I must have had an allergic reaction to something. That was obviously the answer. Perhaps it was something I came into contact with or something I ate. I seriously considered the ingredients of the vegetarian “chili” my best friend made as a potential culprit as I ate from the leftovers for a second time. In short order I had convinced myself it had to be some outside influence, potentially even a tasty one.

I thought the issue was spreading to the rest of my face.

I found that when I smiled that I had more pronounced sensation in my cheek.  Earlier that day I was told I was pulling my mouth out to the left side more than the right.  I could tell that it was becoming easier and easier to blink my left eye as if there was some irritant in it or on my eyelids. My right eye was tearing up during this. Here came another concern, other parts of my body responding to my suspected allergy.

This was starting to go beyond a condition I could wait out. I needed to see how much this issue was really affecting my face to determine if I needed to WebMD up a course of recovery to deal with whatever I had encountered; clearly the antihistamine I had taken earlier wasn’t doing  the trick. I inspected myself in the mirror and immediately noticed the clues I had missed.

I was mistaken.

There wasn’t a damn thing wrong with the left side of my face. The supposedly heightened sensation I felt in my lips and my cheek and my eye were just actual sensation. As I inspected my face I finally noticed that the right side of my face suffered from facial paralysis. The issues I was having tasting were potentially a loss of sensation in my tongue. My issues with my mouth were likely a combination of the paralysis setting in my face and the limiting range of motion of my mouth. My eye was generating tears to prevent drying out because I hadn’t been blinking it. I could cock the left side of my mouth into a half of a smile; my right cheek just budged a fraction of an inch and my lip almost imperceptibly moved on that side.

I thought I was having a stroke.

A lot of thoughts went through my mind in the ER. Seven years ago my father suffered a major stroke from which he never really recovered. There was a lot of solid progress early on in the treatment and management of his condition, but lingering injuries complicated the process. Eventually his condition deteriorated. I thought of his own struggle with his condition as the hospital staff poked and prodded at me. It was hard not to think about him and not just for the parallels in our situation. We were in the very room where the emergency personnel couldn’t revive him just ten months ago.

At the very least, I took comfort in the fact that my face was the only thing that was paralyzed at the time. But I began to wonder if I would face another ischemic attack that would take away more function from my body. My greatest fear is to be trapped in my own body, unresponsive to my commands. But everything around me was moving so quickly I didn’t even have time to be afraid. I was more in shock than anything else.

I did my best to keep up my spirits and joke with the hospital staff. It’s what my father would have done, so it falls on me to keep up the tradition. Anything to distract me from my thoughts. Anything to not consider that I’d have complications like my father. Anything to make me forget the cross-section of a stroke-damaged brain I had seen at the BODY WORLDS exhibit. Anything to divert my attention from the CT scanner that I was heading toward that would seal my fate. But it was too late, I was looking at the x-ray tube spinning around me and there was no escaping what was happening. Considering the mechanical function of the machine was my comfort. Like asking to face upward to watch the guillotine drop.

I was mistaken, again.

“There is no sign of stroke.” I’ve never felt relief wash over my body so quickly as it did when the ER doctor uttered those words. No matter what condition I found myself in, my nightmare had not come true. This was truly the best news I could have received. The doctor informed me of my consolation prize, however. It was my lucky day. It was no matter, though. The worst of my situation was over and I was ready to do whatever was necessary to take care of my condition.

I have Bell’s Palsy

Oddly, I was the third case of Bell’s Palsy at my local hospital in the past 24 hours. Apparently misery loves company. The cause for the condition in each person can be largely unknown, but several factors can be treated to help in recovery. I left the hospital with a prescription for antivirals and a steroid with instructions to follow up with a primary care physician for further treatment. At the very least I had been putting off going to the doctor to check on my blood pressure, so now I finally have a reason I can’t ignore to make an appointment. I don’t know where this journey is going to take me. Most people recover from Bell’s Palsy within months, at least to some degree. But I’m really not concerned.

I’m fine.

I feel fine. I’m actually sleeping better now than I have in a long time despite having to tape my eye shut so it doesn’t dry out at night (a situation that could lead to damage or loss of the sight in my eye). I have no pain outside of the irritation I caused to touching my right eye constantly as I dealt with my excess tears (and also for using too much tape directly on my eyelid to try to keep it shut).

I posses no other effects in my body as a result of the condition. The right side of my face does not respond to my attempts to move it. That’s it. I’m physically and mentally stable. And I’m not letting my condition get me down. If anything, my resolve to do anything in life is stronger because of the situation I find myself in. Funny how things work out sometimes.


David Bowie – Afraid

Halfway Through February

Two weeks ago I ended a journey that truly transformed my life. I started a path toward being a healthier human being and now, two weeks later, the results are still showing. I haven’t lost any more weight, but I haven’t gained it all back as I thought I might. I’ve changed myself, how I act about a lot of things and how I live my life. I’m not Whole 30 every day, but I am most of the week. I’ve found I actually prefer having meals the way I had become accustomed to making them in Janaury. And while every now and then I have a craving for something sweet and I just let myself have it, I’m done once I’ve sated my desire.

I should have done this years ago.

The next journey begins now. Becoming more active. I spent a good amount of time walking around today, just walking. It has been a while since I’ve just been out and walked about. I still don’t know how I’m going to work it in to my daily routine but something is going to have to give so I can focus a little time during my day toward increasing my activity level.

Here’s to my new program. Here’s to a Fit 30 life.

Things I’ve Learned on Whole 30.

Things I’ve learned on Whole 30

  1. There are never enough tomatoes in the house.
  2. Cinnamon is used in normal cooking far too little.
  3. In spite of number two, or perhaps in acknowledgement of this fact, I had 3 nearly full bottles of ground cinnamon in my pantry.
  4. Just because a variety of a particular sauce does not include sugar that does not mean that the original version of that sauce is also free of sugar.
  5. Eating out is extremely difficult. It’s almost off-putting to even attempt to keep Whole 30 when going out without just having a salad.
  6. The most casual acquaintances can be extremely supportive when they see someone else working toward their fitness goals. Faith in humanity restored.
  7. Any dish that uses potatoes is made several times better with the substitution of sweet potatoes.
  8. I feel like I’ve eaten more eggs in the last month than I did last year.
  9. Leeks are fabulous.
  10. How to ignore flashy words on packaging like “All Natural,” “Cage Free,” and “100%” and just read the ingredient list.
  11. How to poach an egg properly.
  12. Actually poaching said egg properly.
  13. That food had a ton of control over me, and nothing good could come from anything having control over me.
  14. That I can change my life.

Whole 30, Grand Finale

To anyone who is thinking of doing Whole 30, who is on the fence on the program, who doubt if they’ll be able to complete it… let me say this: it isn’t difficult.

One of the comments I receive when discussing Whole 30 is “I would never be able to live without ____.” There’s a lot of truth about that to a lot of people, but when the time is right for someone who really wants and needs to make a change to their lifestyle I highly recommend attempting Whole 30.

Sure, it’s inconvenient to be on the diet. Any diet is. It will force you to make choices you wouldn’t normally put before yourself. Your shopping will take longer at first because you will be scrutinizing ingredients until you learn what you can and cannot buy. You will fill your refrigerator with vegetables on Monday only to see it empty by the weekend. You will crave bread and cheese and sweets at some point during the month.

You will be greatly rewarded if you tough through the month.

I want to thank everyone who supported me through the last month. I know that having someone who won’t eat or can’t eat a particular thing when everyone is out together can be a little odd, especially when it wouldn’t have been an issue before. Thanks for putting up with me, for suggesting things for me and for supporting me the whole way through this process.

I’m extremely proud of my mother who went through this journey with me and in whom I’ve seen a noticeable transformation. Even her doctor recognized that her health in general has been better after the following month. Ultimately, we are in control over a lot of that part of our lives, someone just had to show us how to take back as much control as we could get.

Today is Day 31. I may break my diet later tonight because I am going out. I may not. I know for sure that I’m going to eat some off-plan items tomorrow, so I’m trying to be as good as I can. Later, I will come up with a meal plan and diet for myself for the coming month to ensure I keep up with eating healthy, while finding a way to balance certain things back into my life.

I wonder what these things will taste like now. It will be interesting to find out.

The Final Countdown

Meals for the last three days

Day 28

Chicken and Mushrooms with Sauteed Onions and Peppers
Chicken and Mushrooms with Sauteed Onions and Peppers
Pork Stir Fry with Snow Peas
Pork Stir Fry with Snow Peas

Day 29

Sweet Potato Hash with Prosciutto and Poached Egg
Sweet Potato Hash with Prosciutto and Poached Egg
Beef Roast with Carrots and Red Potatoes
Beef Roast with Carrots and Red Potatoes

Day 30

Egg Muffins with Homemade Turkey Sausage and Spinach
Egg Muffins with Homemade Turkey Sausage and Spinach
Tomato-Lime Turkey with Zucchini
Tomato-Lime Turkey with Zucchini
Seed-Crusted Salmon with Carrot-Tomato Salad and Green Beans
Seed-Crusted Salmon with Carrot-Tomato Salad and Green Beans

Thanks again for coming along for the ride with me. On to the next adventure!

Whole 30, Day 27

Posting this one a little late so my thoughts may be scattered, but I’m happy to have another day done. Another hill climbed. It feels so weird to be close to the end because it doesn’t really feel like the end. There’s a whole world I had forgotten and it took me denying my staples for me to realize just what I’ve been missing. It’s interesting to me to see just how muted my palate had become relying on grains and cheese as main components of meals and just how much of a flavor profile I had become numb to over who knows what period of time.

Looking back at the entire month if I had one regret it would be to have not fully planned out more meals, especially breakfast options. I do feel myself really wishing I could incorporate sausage and bacon into a meal here and there (and with enough preparation I could have by making my own (which I did once with the turkey sausage, completely on a whim)). But old standby favorites work where planning fails. It’s just about making sure you have the clean food in stock to make good choices when nothing else presents itself.

Mushroom Omelette with Salsa
Mushroom Omelette with Salsa

Tuesdays are very long days for me (generally 20+ hours from rise to crash) and I try my best to space out my meals so I don’t find myself craving at the end of the night. Today I ended up snacking on fruit between lunch and dinner but still did well making filling meals, like this satisfying lunch.

Apple Pecan Chicken Salad in Avocado Cups
Apple Pecan Chicken Salad in Avocado Cups

Sometimes, though, you’re just a meat and potatoes kind of guy. We’d kept white potatoes out of the house since we started, only eating the ones on hand sparingly, but I decided I would buy some red potatoes for a stew for later in the week. A few of them ended up alongside a pork tenderloin that just melted in my mouth.

Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Roasted Red Potatoes
Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Roasted Red Potatoes

This month is redefining what I consider comfort food.

Whole 30, Day 26

Well, I certainly didn’t plan to skip two weeks worth of updates. January just got extraordinarily busy, some of the details of which I’ll post in another update. Suffice it to say that I’ve had little time to write, but that I’ve been good and stayed on plan, even on days when I’ve had to be out of the house. It hasn’t been easy and my choices to just not eat at certain meals probably made the whole ordeal a lot more difficult for me in the short term, overall making the right decisions is what is most important.

A few highlights from the last two weeks:

I tried to make a giant pot of turkey chili, hoping to freeze some of it, so that I could use it to help reduce future meal prep during the month. I had the meat browned and the other vegetables in the pot with Contadina crushed tomatoes. I had cans of Italian Herb Tomato Sauce from them but that wasn’t quite the flavor profile I was going for, so when I needed the chili to have a little more sauce I grabbed their original flavor tomato sauce. Surely the only thing different would be the lack of Italian herbs, right?

WRONG. Third ingredient in: sugar. WHY? Why must everything be ruined by sugar? It wouldn’t have been a big deal but I had opened the can and dumped it into my chili before I read the ingredients. Several pounds of chili were now ruined for Whole 30 because of one 8 oz can of tomato sauce.

I still managed to whip up a dinner in fifteen minutes after that fiasco, but there was a definite dark aura looming over me for several hours. It was my fault, though. I need to be more diligent in checking labels when I buy food. I can’t assume that similar products from the same company will have or omit the same ingredients.

Later in the month I made a 30-minute turkey chili because, dang it, I wanted turkey chili.

30-Minute Turkey Chili
30-Minute Turkey Chili

I had never eaten spaghetti squash before but I finally got the chance to make faux pasta with one and I loved it. I served mushrooms and shrimp in a homemade marinara (all with approved tomato products, this time) over a bed of the squash with just a bit of ghee tossed with it and it was amazing. Anyone who knows me can attest that I am a huge pasta fiend but this substitute could make me forget that I could be using noodles instead.

Spaghetti Squash with Mushroom and Shrimp Marinara
Spaghetti Squash with Mushroom and Shrimp Marinara

I also made an awesome pork tenderloin that only slightly got overcooked, but was still extremely moist and tender (just missing that gorgeous pink center). It is in a tie with the aforementioned spaghetti squash pasta for my favorite dish this month. And I made the leek puree again to rest the pork on top of and the combination was spectacular. Leeks are quickly becoming a staple in the household.

Roasted Pork Tenderloin on Leek Puree
Roasted Pork Tenderloin on Leek Puree

I also managed to eat out on several occasions. Twice at Jason’s Deli which were successful attempts at proving to myself that I can inhale more boiled eggs than should be humanly possible. Once at a Denny’s following a convention where I opted to just wait for dinner to even try to eat anything on plan. Our server was kind with my requests and put my salsa on the side so I could determine whether I thought I could eat it or not (he couldn’t tell me if it had sugar in it) and the cook staff graciously altered my veggie skillet (more eggs, less scrambling) so I could be sure of what I was eating in case something stuck out as being a potential problem.

Denny's Fit Fare Vegetable Skillet with Whole Fried Eggs
Denny’s Fit Fare Vegetable Skillet with Whole Fried Eggs

I also tried to eat at Chipotle because apparently the carnitas are Whole 30 compliant. This would have marked my first visit to Chipotle and I was looking forward to this magical experience that everyone always makes Chipotle out to be.

Except apparently Chipotle has a nationwide pork shortage right now. So no carnitas for me. I opted for a veggie salad (hold the veggies, they’re cooked in forbidden oils) with guacamole and salsa with some tabasco sauce to round out the “salad.” Perhaps some day I’ll eat at Chipotle. Some day.

Chipotle Veggie Salad sans Veggies
Chipotle Veggie Salad sans Veggies

Five more days until the Superbowl where I’ll officially be off my Whole 30 (31, really). When I looked at the plan at first, I never would have dreamed that I’d really reach the end, but I’m almost there and it’s really made a huge difference on how I look at food. What an amazing journey.

Whole 30, Day 12

A co-worker asked me today why I had stopped updating my blog after Day 8. No, I haven’t stopped doing the Whole 30. In fact, I’ve been working harder than ever to ensure that I don’t break the plan. I’ve been good and I’ve even eaten out and had a completely Whole 30-approved meal, something that I thought would be impossible to do. But nothing is impossible, only difficult, and anything worth doing isn’t easy.

I almost gave up completely on eating out on the weekend. I went up to see my friend and decided we might try to order something in, but after going through several menus and trying to determine what parts of what meals I could eat I just gave it up. I was frustrated initially but it reminded me that this process requires a lot of planning, especially when going out.

I will be going out next weekend. I am going to figure out a plan of action now.

The past several days I’ve run into cravings a little more often than I had in the first week. I think my brain is getting to the point where it wants a reward for being good. My brain, not my body. I don’t need chocolate or soda or Cheez-Its. I just want them. It’s about this point that my past attempts at changing my eating habits usually fade and I regress back into poor choices. Having a support system is crucial to completing the Whole 30. Luckily I have wonderful friends who are supportive of (and patient with!) my dietary restrictions including my mother who is doing the Whole 30 with me. I could have tried to do this alone, but why risk the chance at failure?

People are bugging me for food and menus and recipes and stuff. Yeah yeah yeah, here is more food. Recipes for everything should go up this week and the photos and links below will point to the appropriate posts.

Day 9

Potato Hash and Poached Eggs
Potato Hash and Poached Eggs
Mushroom Chicken Sausage with Leek Puree and Cauliflower Rice
Mushroom Chicken Sausage with Leek Puree and Cauliflower Rice
Shredded Crockpot Pepper Lime Chicken
Shredded Crockpot Pepper Lime Chicken

Day 10

Spinach and Mushroom Omelette with Homemade Salsa
Spinach and Mushroom Omelette with Homemade Salsa
Spicy Salmon
Spicy Salmon
Italian Chicken Sausage on Hoimemade Salsa and Leek Puree
Italian Chicken Sausage on Hoimemade Salsa and Leek Puree

Day 11

Scrambled Veggies and Eggs with Sweet Basil Chicken Sausage
Scrambled Veggies and Eggs with Sweet Basil Chicken Sausage
Lemon Garlic Salmon
Lemon Garlic Salmon
Chicken Salad Wraps with Homemade Mayonaise
Chicken Salad Wraps with Homemade Mayonaise

Day 12

Sweet Potato and Beef Sausage Hash with Poached Eggs
Sweet Potato and Beef Sausage Hash with Poached Eggs
Pepper Lime Chicken with Zucchini and Mushrooms
Pepper Lime Chicken with Zucchini and Mushrooms
Panera Power Steak Lettuce Wraps (no Basil Pesto)
Panera Power Steak Lettuce Wraps (no Basil Pesto)

Whole 30, Day 8

Week 2 is here officially. The first seven days of the challenge have come and gone and I have a confession to make.

Today, I actually feel kind of rough.

I woke up a little cloudy and it took me longer to get up and going than usual. My stomach felt a little upset and in general I just felt off. This is the first time since starting Whole 30 that I haven’t felt great (apart from being sick at the start of the year, a residual effect of 2014), but I’m not sure what’s to blame. I slept for 6 hours, which is actually above average for me, I just felt really tired. Maybe I just need more sleep in general.

After enough time the feelings passed and I returned to feeling pretty darn good. Maybe I just got up on the wrong side of the bed.

One of the lingering habits I picked up over the last 30 years is the rate of consumption of my food. I practically devour it as soon as it is in front of me. I’ve had people comment that it takes me much longer to make a sandwich than it does for me to inhale it. I attribute this to trying to find what I thought were better uses of my time at lunch during middle school and high school, either homework or socializing. As much as I enjoyed food, sitting and enjoying a meal didn’t make sense when I could be using the time to do so many other things. So I swallowed my food as quickly as I could. And I still do today. Even during the Whole 30 (which directs against it) I find myself lifting spoonfuls of food to my mouth before I’m done with the last one, striving for a peak in efficiency with which I clear my plate.

Today I ate breakfast slowly and calmly in an attempt to get myself used to eating appropriately. It felt odd, but I managed not to just pull my plate up to my mouth and shovel the contents into my gaping maw. Somehow.

Today’s Menu


Boiled Eggs with Mushrooms on Salsa
Boiled Eggs with Mushrooms on Salsa


Sweet Basil Chicken Sausage with Bell Peppers and Tomatoes
Sweet Basil Chicken Sausage with Bell Peppers and Tomatoes


Pangasius with Vegetable Saute
Pangasius with Vegetable Saute

Carrot Salad

I love this simple salad because I eat it with everything. Fish. Sausage. Chicken. Pork. It is quick to assemble and you can make a ton of it at once and it will keep in the fridge for a while. If you do not have a food processor you can use matchstick carrots purchased from the store for the following recipe.

Beef Knockwurst, Caulfilower Rice and Carrot Salad

4 Carrots
3-4 Shallots, sliced thin
1-2 tbsp of olive oil
Juice of one lemon
Cayenne (optional)

Shred the carrots in a food processor using a shredding disk. Remove from the food processor and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the shallots, oil and lemon juice and toss to combined. Add salt and pepper to taste (I like a little kick in mine so I use cayenne pepper as well)