This blog contains affiliate links and compensated ads on the left and right sidebars. Affiliate links and compensated ads means I receive compensation for link and ad clicks. Every sponsored post on this blog will have its own disclosure at the beginning of the post. I appreciate the support and hope this information is clear. Thank you.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Diagnosis


Thank you all for your kind comments and words the past couple weeks. It has meant so much to me during a time of true fear, nervousness, and uncertainty. I am so grateful to have people in my life, some who I have never ever met 'in real life,' who care enough about me to check on how I am doing.

Thank you.

So I'm writing this entry to help me remember what my reproductive endocrinologist ("RE") has explained to me, and I will likely ramble on about how it makes me feel, etc. On Wednesday I had my appointment with the RE. And he is 95% sure I have PCOS. (The remaining 5% would be definite if a gene test for PCOS existed). We now have an answer, and we have some goals & plans. My Testosterone levels were not just elevated, my "RE" was able to conclude that my "T levels" are 3x that of an average woman. So, not good when thinking about fertility. Other test results revealed my insulin resistance, among other things.

The most immediate plans are for me to start one medication (diuretic/anti-androgen Spironolactone) and continue my birth control, visit a dietitian to confirm my current diet being fine (I obviously don't have the obese profile of PCOS, but my weight has plateaued for months even though my glycemic index and everything looks exceptional for my profile), seeing my RE for 30 minute appointments to weigh and measure me all over my body every 3 months, and just wrapping my head around it all. He may add or tweak medicines as time goes on.

When we are ready to have children, I will need to meet with my RE to take me off of one med, and put me on a different one (he is one of the RE's who has done numerous, successful studies using Metformin throughout pregnancy, but Spironolactone can cause deformities in children while pregnant). So, we will need to meet up about 3-4 months before trying to conceive, and then see him regularly until the 2nd trimester or so to be sure I am carrying the child fine.

Essentially, if I don't follow his plan and take the recommended drugs regularly (which put me at the hormone/insulin levels of an average woman) then I have a 1 in 2 chance of miscarrying a child late term, let alone making it through the first trimester with any child (due to luteinizing hormones and insulin levels). That straightened M and I out quickly. This disorder is not something to take lightly. Maybe some have less-severe cases than ours, I don't know, but that's when I got scared. My mother miscarried several times, and my RE plans on preventing that for me!

I have had a lot of people making light of this scenario for me. Saying to not let it occupy me, to not let it weigh me down, or how 5% of women having it is so normal. Stop. First of all, if 5% is so normal, then it would be a higher number, and it isn't. Of course it is going to occupy my mind and weigh me down... it is sad to know that for two decades I was anxious and depressed and medicated for something that could have been diagnosed if my family and I had known about this disorder. Let alone the psychological and emotional trauma from the physical characteristics of this disorder. I have been shaving my legs since FOURTH grade. My Gaga used to ask me if instead of private vocal lessons, did I want to have electrolysis for my arms? I always said no, convinced the awkward hairiness was just a phase, and maybe it'd even end up blonde like so many of my cousins. Nope. Still horribly embarrassing and very much a visible dark brown. Think about how that makes a girl feel when her friends are "normal." I was bullied and teased my entire childhood.

When I am ready (and my husband and I together are prepared) to carry a child, there are all kinds of risks I never knew about. Yes, yay I can get pregnant now that I'd been diagnosed. But it's been less than a week since my diagnosis so I am still informing myself, reading peer-reviewed articles. Possible complications for me are extensive. Miscarriage, gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, preterm birth, and likelihood of C-section. When I see people like Victoria Beckham or Jamie Oliver's wife, who have PCOS with multiple healthy children, I do perk up knowing with the right resources a healthy pregnancy can happen.

My biggest concern currently is how to prepare for any of these scenarios. Firstly: the nest egg for my maternity leave needs to be MUCH bigger than I planned as I will have so many more specialist appointments, possibly insurance-not-fully-covered tests, and the like. So that's a big thing. Secondly: maternity leave. Natural birth is 6 weeks of short term disability, 60% of my pay covered through work. Then I can use my annual leave and sick leave at full pay after that. C-section is 8 weeks of short term disability, 60% of my pay. Then I can again, use AL and SL at full pay. If we wait until after Jan 2017 to get pregnant, then some of that short term disability is at 80% and 100% of my pay as I will have been within the Commonwealth of Virginia system for 5 years. And I would also earn leave faster, too.

A classmate of mine from undergrad works for Northwestern Mutual and I got a great disability insurance plan outside of work to supplement my disability through work. Incredibly inexpensive and great to reassure me that bills will be paid and the savings won't be depleted. Since last year, I have been taking less leave when possible, and so I have a carryover of 1 week of leave this year. I hope to continue to do this the next two-three years so I can really enjoy maternity leave without any stress. My goal is to be able to stay home with our baby until he/she is at 12 weeks. (I earn 5 weeks of vacation a year and 14 holidays currently). Being a grownup is so complicated!

Post-baby, I have an increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and endometrial cancer. I am not all anti-drugs, but knowing I have to take medication for the rest of my life is such a bummer. I hate the idea of needing drugs to be chemically 'normal.' I think that really is what pisses me off the most. I have been going between angry at having drawn this card and being reflective knowing how complicated this disorder is for women globally. It'd be nice if for a few years I just had some normal, medication-less, uncomplicated and easy-peasy days/weeks/months. Normal wouldn't be boring after the life I've had so far! I'd love to have some boring in my life.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Health




It has been a while since I posted here, and not all of you have Twitter or Instagram. I have not felt inspired to write - or post any of my drafted posts - lately, as I have been dealing with health issues that seemed to come out of nowhere (or escalate from what I thought was nothing).



Since September - the morning we left for our beach trip actually - I have been to three different doctors about six times. A routine physical turned into a skin cancer scare and a fertility problem.



The skin cancer scare has changed my life. In the past and present I have known (as a fair-skinned person) to wear a hat, wear sunscreen, the usual. My primary care doctor referred me to a dermatologist regarding a very new, oddly-shaped and colored mole. I met with the derm about a month after our vacation - so around our first wedding anniversary. My sketchy mole was so "cancer-like" that my dermatologist felt the need to cut it out immediately. And boy did he take it out. The saddest, most painful part, is that the mole was on my right breast. So I now have a pencil eraser-sized chunk out of my right breast on the left side (so right where a bra underwire would come up, or where a deep v-neck tee would slope down). The derm did an incredibly careful job, but he did tell me several times that this kind of mole can grow back and if not it will likely stay as a scar. So, if anyone has any oil or lotion recommendations now that it has healed enough that I can touch it, I'd love feedback. The other big change from this appointment is that he told me I honestly should avoid sunlight from 11am until 2pm. I am an athletic, outdoorsy person. This news is just a big shock to me but I know he would not tell me this information if it wasn't for my own good.



The other big scare came from just a general 'we're married now' family planning discussion with my primary care physician. A talk about menstrual and family history led her to wanting to do a blood test. The preliminary blood tests led her to do another two tests based off of my first results. Interestingly, my Testosterone levels were highly elevated.



She waited until I returned from vacation to discuss what this elevated level could mean. So a few days after my derm appointment I returned to her office. She asked me more questions and decided to refer me to a reproductive endocrinologist. Then the waiting game began.



Finally, after several phone calls, my primary care doctor calling a favor. and likely someone canceling their appointment, I was able to go to the Clinic. Can I just add that while yes, children are part of our married plans, I was thinking 5 years down the road. The urgency of their wanting me to resolve this issue made me realize how much having children means to me, and has made this time emotionally and mentally draining. Sometimes I sleep 12 hours a day, and feel myself slipping into crappy places. M has tolerated so much from me lately, and I have truly struggled with being optimistic. I am grateful these doctors are working towards my having a plan in place - meds, concrete diagnosis - before Christmas.



So I went to the Clinic about a week ago and this doctor is wonderful. Open and kind - basically what you need when you feel just terrible and nervous/scared/everything. He is fairly certain, due to my family history and physical profile, that I have PCOS. However, he is currently processing another 8 tests to confirm whether or not that is the case. So we can only wait and see. Our appointment with him, to analyze it all, is December 11. I hope that we will then have answers, and I can work towards goals with my doctors to have all the children we want (2-3).



Thanks for reading this post. Pretty heavy compared to my usual posts, but realized I haven't written about life in a very long time.

Xo.



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Savory Saturday: tomato-basil base for pizzas

Today's savory Saturday post is a delicious Tomato-basil base for pizzas, whether grilled or oven-baked! This recipe comes from Pizza on the Grill by Elizabeth Karmel and Bob Blumer. The cookbook was one of our awesome wedding gifts from the Williams-Sonoma wedding registry. We made this sauce while at the beach this summer and found it to be such a flavorful base!


Tomato-basil base
Makes 4 cups
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes, quartered, or 2 pounds vine-ripened or heirloom tomatoes, diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 large fresh basil leaves, chopped just before using
Mix together all the ingredients, except the basil, in a medium nonreactive metal or glass bowl. If serving within 1 or 2 hours, let stand at room temperature so the tomatoes release their juices, or refrigerate, covered, up to 24 hours.

Mix and drain the excess juice from the tomatoes. If refrigerated, bring to room temperature. Just before using, stir in the basil.
The sauce on a pizza we made while at the beach (undercooked, but it was our first try and much improved the second time around).

One way to make the sauce more flavorful is to fire roast the tomatoes on the grill beforehand, if you have the time. If you are short on time, you can always use canned tomatoes! Any leftover sauce can be placed in the fridge or freezer, or used as a meatball sub topping or weeknight pasta sauce.

Are you a big fan of tomato sauce?

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Thirsty Thursday: the Queen Bee


Happy thirsty Thursday, all! This recipe is one I have taken from a restaurant and have attempted to recreate at home. It is delicious and I think many of you would enjoy sipping this beverage (maybe even tonight as you wait for 'trick or treaters.' While staying in Baltimore this summer, I went to one of my favorite restaurants, the B&O American Brasserie. If you are ever in Baltimore, you will enjoy this space a great deal as it has incredible food, a neat atmosphere, and (obviously) delicious cocktails. It is located at the Hotel Monaco, Baltimore:


Interestingly, while doing some extra backup research for this post I noticed that the restaurant has served this drink in different glasses at different times. I feel like my glass, rather than a martini glass, gives the beverage a fun Prohibition-era vibe! The B&O restaurant recently posted on their Facebook page that this beverage was highlighted by Redbook magazine as one of the "39 trending cocktails [they] love."

The Queen Bee is $14 and on their cocktails menu. This cocktail list, "consists of handcrafted libations that truly define the art of the cocktail." This cocktail originates from the restaurant and was a winner at the 2008 Cocktail World Cup Regional Finals. I may have even had this drink all the way back then when I was still basically living in Baltimore half the time! Their menu only states the following about the beverage:

  • Absolut
  • Yuzu
  • St. Germain
  • Honey syrup
The drink had an orange twist as garnish (though mine looks like a lemon in the photo above... maybe my second one had orange?)!

Here is how I broke the cocktail down at home:

[sidebar: my double jigger is 1 1/2 ounce and 3/4 ounce, but I might have to get this OXO one with the measurements on the inside of both ends!]

  • 1 1/2 oz Absolut vodka
  • 3/4 oz yuzu* juice
  • 1 1/2 oz St. Germain
  • 3/4 oz honey syrup
Add all ingredients to cocktail shaker with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add an orange twist for garnish, but be sure to actually twist it over the drink to let the oils out!

The honey syrup was really easy. It is just like simple syrup just with honey instead of sugar. Really watch it so it doesn't burn and you will have a new item for your bar rotation that will keep in the fridge!


*Yuzu is a Japanese citrus fruit. It looks like a shrunken orange or grapefruit. It is used for many things, and I just bought a bottle of it at a gourmet food shop here in the area. You can get a pure Yuzu Juice on places like Amazon.com.

Will you try making the Queen Bee at home?

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Savory Saturday: delicious cabbage salad




This salad is adapted from Karmel and Blumer's Pizza on the Grill, called the "Hong Kong Confetti Salad" (p. 124):
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice (about 1/2 lime)
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons peeled and finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (it had a lot of heat so I cut it down to 1/8)
  • 2 medium carrots, shredded
  • 1/2 small head red cabbage, cored, then cut crosswise into the narrowest ribbons possible and separated
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut length-wise into the thinnest strips possible
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut length-wise into the thinnest stripes possible
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, thinly sliced and separated into rings
  • 1/2 cup chopped lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves

Toast the sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Set aside to cool.
In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil, lime juice, honey, ginger, and cayenne. Set aside.



In a large bowl, combine the carrots, cabbage, bell peppers, onion, and cilantro and toss thoroughly. Toss with the dressing to coat well, then garnish with the sesame seeds. Serve immediately.



Note: If preparing more than an hour in advance, keep the cabbage separate and dress the salad just before serving (otherwise the whole salad will be purple).



Monday, October 14, 2013

Must-have Mondays: October 14, 2013

Todays must-have Mondays item is a gorgeous dress from Tibi, sold at an awesome discount on The Outnet. The Outnet is one of my favorite websites as it is affiliated with Net-A-Porter, but is a discounted womenswear website. Have any of you used it? Awesome discounts and current looks from collections. I often update my Pinterest based on finds from The Outnet... But I digress.



Dress details:
  • Twill
  • Gold foil-effect lace-appliqué, subtle peplum, fully lined
  • Concealed hook and zip fastenings along back
  • Tibi lace-appliquéd twill dress in gold
  • The original price: $495, on The Outnet: $222.75 (55% off)

Back of the dress:


Lace-appliquéd gold detail:



How do you plan to wear the lace trend this Fall 2013?

Photos property of © 2009-2013 theOutnet.com

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Wedding Wednesday: the dress

You may remember the two close-up sneak peek photos I posted on Instagram just prior to my wedding - many of you asked questions I just could not give away so close to the wedding!:



Dress info:
The gown has a coordinating detachable chantilly lace and freshwater pearl shrug. It is made of satin lining, net overlay, hand-beaded chantilly lace appliqué embellished with freshwater pearls, beads, and sequins. The gown's neckline is a deep sweetheart and the silhouette is fit and flare. The aforementioned detachable shrug is sheer, with matching beaded lace appliqué, and scallop trim. The gown has a chapel length train with a scalloped edge. You may notice some silver to the dress. The dress has pure silver threading used on some of the pearls and beads to give it a sheen. Incredibly beautiful in candlelight. And my Mom loved that scalloped edge!

Getting zipped and buttoned up:

One of my favorite photos of the wedding day - taken on the front steps of my church - showing off the incredible hand-sewn details of my gown:

After the pre-wedding photoshoot was done (Autumn natural light and all) - heading back to the church to wait - what a nerve-wracking wait it was:

What is your favorite feature on wedding dresses or formal gowns? Lace? Beading? A specific neckline?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Temptation Tuesdays: KEP Designs

During football season, I try to wear my alma mater's colors without looking ridiculous at the tailgate and game. One way to show off my school's colors (Randolph-Macon College) is through wearing chic jewelry. Thankfully, our school colors are black, lemon, gold - nothing that clashes badly! I have always liked that KEP Designs offers different price tiers of jewelry for shoppers [see also Facebook page]. One can wear precious, semi-precious, or 'classic' jewelry. The price range of this brand is around $40 - $3,000.

Here are some of my favorites from the brand's different categories, below, priced from lowest to highest:


KEP Designs -> Flower Collection -> 16 inch Enamel Flower Necklace Black, $100


KEP Designs -> Earrings -> Black onyx stud with large hollow drop, $185


KEP Designs -> Hoops -> 2 inch 14k gold filled wrapped hoop with black onyx, $225


KEP Designs -> Classic Collection -> 300-Oval:the lizzie-touseld lemon yellow, $250


KEP Designs -> Precious -> 300-Toggle-faceted citrine briolettes, $800


KEP Designs -> Precious Earrings -> Hand carved black onyx flower jackets with 18k gold gold stamen with a diamond, $850


All photos owned by KEP Designs. Upcoming KEP Designs events here.

When was the last time you were on KEP Designs website? Which piece is your favorite? Go Yellow Jackets!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Why Not? Wednesday: Poo-Pourri

Yup. You read that title right. There is a product called Poo-Pourri. My Mom and I were in an organic gift shop themed around babies and saw bottles of this product on display. I think this was pre-wedding, so last year.



I honestly could not stop laughing. Yes, bodily functions still make me giggle a bit. But my amusement hit a whole other level when I saw this Poo-Pourri ad on YouTube this evening (while I was working, I was listening to the Sound of Music (1965) soundtrack). This ad certainly grabbed my attention as she is so blunt in her script!



Steps for using Poo-Pourri:
1. Spritz product
2. Take a #2
3. Flush
4. Leave restroom

Scent names: Original, Call Of The Wild, Deja' Poo, Sh*ttin' Pretty, Party Pooper, Crap Shooter, Daisy Doo, No. 2, Loo~Pourri, HeavenScent, Nature's Call, Dr. Potts, Doody Free, Poo-Tonium, Heavy Doody, Super Dooper Pooper, Lil' Stinker, Secret Santa, Santa Poo...

Note how I said we saw it in an organic shop? Well, Poo-Pourri does not contain:
-Harsh Chemicals
-Parabens
-Phthalates
-Aerosol
-Formaldehydes
-Petroleum Distillates
-Ethanols
-Benzene

This post is currently up on their website:
BIG POO NEWS
Our new YouTube video has constipated our shipping system.
In one week traffic on our website increased over 13,000% Holy crap, right!
We are working day and night, but please give us up to 2 weeks to get your PooPourri shipment out the door.
Make sure to order now to get in line!
Thanks,
The Poo Crew

This company is hysterical. Can you imagine working here? So many puns!

How would you feel about something so funny on display in your guest bathroom?
Would you appreciate such a product in your ladies lounge/restroom at work?
I wish the name wasn't so ridiculous!


**clearly, I sincerely do not anticipate anyone commenting on this post, but "Holy Crap!" would be delighted if you were ballsy enough to do so**

Monday, September 30, 2013

Must-have Mondays: September 30, 2013



This lovely light heather gray cotton French terry sweatshirt dress has 3/4 sleeves and the hem is short - a couple inches above the knee. I would style this dress with a moto jacket, knee-high boots and opaque black tights. It seems boring but sometimes a nice basic such as this garment helps with an easy fall weekend look. For some reason, I really love wearing gray year-round!

By James Perse, $135 on Net-A-Porter.



Are you a fan of the sweatshirt trend?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Must-have Mondays: September 23, 2013

Remember back in the days of Britney Spears, where showing your whale-tale was almost unavoidable due to the rising popularity of nonexistent waists (technical term, the 'rise') on jeans?

Exhibit A:


I remember those days - as I still have a vintage pair of Se7en jeans aka '7 for all mankind' sitting in a dresser. We called the jeans Se7en back in high school and the early years of college when the brand was all fresh and Hollywood and expensive (ha! Now they are such a steal!). I think that line's denim replaced Abercrombie for a lot of my classmates, while I was always more of a J.Crew, BP (Nordstrom juniors), and H&M fan back then. Looking at the jeans now, it truly seems as though there is no waistband on these pants! I don't wear them anymore, I literally wore holes in them, but now I realize how truly crazy the low-rise trend was back in 2001-2004-ish for women (read this Slate article for more perspective).

Exhibit B: Keira Knightley at the premiere of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Photo By Rex Features:


I never showed THIS much skin, but I certainly attended dozens of frat parties with jeans like hers, worn with some kind of top which could not help but end about an inch or two above the 'waist' of my jeans... yikes!

Anyway, I am so thankful that we have real jeans now (again?) where they do not fall off of me and yet they aren't Mom jeans. Here is my must-have Mondays favorite item of the week: Rag & Bone's The High Rise Skinny Jean. Here for sale on ShopBop for $242.00.



Information:
Style number: RGJEA40406
Rise: A bottom-covering nine inches.
Celebrity endorsement: Emma Stone and Mila Kunis

Are you a fan of the return of the high-rise jean, regardless of the brand and price point?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Temptation Tuesdays: GiGi New York Maureen tote

As you all know, I love beautiful items. I often do not care about the brand as long as the item is made from quality. This Temptation Tuesday I wanted to share with you all a lovely handbag from a brand many blog readers are familiar with - GiGi New York. The tote is called the Maureen, and while it comes in taupe and black, I think it is most beautiful and autumnal in burgundy.



Like many GiGi New York bags, the Maureen is embossed leather in a snakeskin pattern: more specifically, python. So you get high quality leather with a fun pattern that elevates the bag to a finer level. In case you did not know, the vast majority of items from GiGi New York originate from the Graphic Image factory on Long Island, New York. I believe their website states 'primarily' as the zippers and other finishing items may originate from elsewhere (or it may be some merchandise is not made there at all, I am not positive). Regardless, check out this chic and expensive looking handbag without breaking the bank. Another great investment piece.

Stats, as per the GiGi New York website:
Size: 15" W x 12 1/4" H x 5 3/4" D
Price: $450.00
Interior: zip pocket on one side, contrast color (khaki) lining
Exterior: magnetic closure at top of bag, exterior pockets on either end

Do you like carrying larger totes during the workweek?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Must-have Mondays: September 16, 2013

Happy Monday, all! This post of 'must-have Mondays' is the second of it's kind. To recap, on most Mondays I will include a regular post where I will feature an affordable item (under $250) that I love, why I love it, and where to buy the featured item.


Sold here on Net-A-Porter, these Michael Michael Kors York leather and python-effect boots are a wonderful wardrobe basic, $200.



The heel is five inches with a one inch platform, so they are not for everyone but quite lovely on! A friend of mine has these and likes that they sit just under her ankle bone so she doesn't get that annoying rubbing sensation when breaking them in. If someone is looking for a great basic black bootie from a mid-tier line where you know the quality will be superior to an off-brand, these might be perfect for you! These shoes are perfect with a mini dress or miniskirt with tights, or with bare legs before it gets to be too cool. Another way to style them is with some fine tailored pants.

Where to buy:
-Net-A-Porter
-Macys
-Lord + Taylor
-MichaelKors.com

Are you a fan of black ankle boots aka 'booties' ?

Friday, September 13, 2013

Friday's Fancies: Friday Night Lights

Being a Southern girl, if I attend a football game I dress up. As a high-school freshman I would support my hometown football team in jeans and a cute top, and whenever our team made a touchdown I would do push-ups with the rest of the Cross-Country team. Silly, but a fun tradition for my lone public high school year.

When I started boarding school it was a whole other world. I had heard stories from my parents, and had witnessed it through the W&L community, about dressing up for sporting events - particularly football - but attending my first Woodberry Forest football game changed everything. "The Game," WFS's game against Episcopal High School was the penultimate. The first game I went to between the two schools was "The 100th Game" in 2000. It was announced in the Virginia General Assembly and covered on ESPN, for goodness sake! +/- 15,000 attended the events that weekend, and Woodberry won. It was an awesome moment and such a big deal!

You may be wondering, why Woodberry Forest in particular? Woodberry Forest is Chatham Hall's 'brother school,' so we attend any event that they hold - similar to a fraternity-sorority relationship in college. From my first "Game" on, I have always felt like you are not really supporting the school unless you are dressed to the nines, staying warm (possibly drinking from a friend's flask, as I never was ballsy enough for a fake ID, let alone a flask!), and wearing a six-footer... all of which applied to football games when my Mom was in high school and college as well! (PS a six-footer is a scarf, most often worn in the school's colors).

Friday's Fancies: Friday Night Lights



What do you wear to football games?