What I do when I get a reaction

Many people say many things about non-cealiac gluten intolerance. The bottom line is that, for me, it is very real. When I accidentally eat gluten, I get a reaction. I say “accidentally” because I have given up gluten completely. Unfortunately, there is something called “cross contamination” in that even if you don’t actually put gluten into your food or order a dish that has wheat or other gluten containing ingredients in it, gluten still sneaks into it. This can be possible when service staff use the same knife to spread butter on both normal bread and gluten free bread, or when sweet potato fries are fried in the same oil as flour battered onion rings, etc.

There are many types of reaction from gluten ingestion. For me, it is pimples and sometimes inflammation. Not that pimples aren’t caused by inflammation but since I’m not a doctor, I’m not the best person to talk about that.

I get whiteheads and really bumpy skin (with clogged pores in them) on both of my cheeks. For some reason, my left cheek is always worse than my right. I also get pimples on my chin and jawline. Sometimes I get pimples on my forehead. As for inflammation, I sometimes get tendonitis in my toe. This was something I struggled with for a few months, a few years ago. Eventually it went away – though my chiropractor couldn’t figure out why I was having pain in my toe. Oh, I also get an inflamed Achilles tendon or a strange muscular pain in my arms or legs.

That’s the nice thing about being slightly healthy – being pain free.

OK, so I have a list of things I do, like my counter-attack for when gluten is irritating my system.

  1. I eat as clean as possible. No processed food, minimal sugar, no new dishes or recipes, no new restaurants, etc. I go back to my safest food options. I also try to avoid large amounts of dairy.
  2. I drink lots of fluids. I try to visualise the fluids washing out the gluten from my system. It’s quite therapeutic πŸ™‚ Basically I drink tons of water, tea (especially chamomile tea as I find it very calming), and sometimes Kefir as I hope the probiotics aids my digestion.
  3. I work from home. A face full of pimples plus dehydrated skin begging to not be covered with makeup is my body’s way of asking for a break. So sometimes, if I don’t have anyone depending on me on a particular day, I work from home so I can keep my face makeup free and let my skin heal.
  4. I use gentle masks and healing oils. There are a few options here. Origins’ Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask, Aesop’s Primrose Facial Cleansing Mask, or just plain full-fat yoghurt work very well for me. My reaction lasts for about 5 days typically but with some patience and lots of pampering, I can reduce it to 3 days. I use a good mask, and then apply lots of moisturiser and healing oils to calm my skin down. Some good facial oil options are Pai’s Rosehip Bioregenerate Oil, Aesop’s Fabulous Face Oil, and Fresh’s Seaberry Moisturising Face OilΒ are some oils that work well for me.
  5. Less is more. I am tempted to slather on as many things as possible to heal my skin instantaneously – but that never works. I end up clogging my pores even more. So I try to be a bit cautious and apply a few drops of facial oil followed with a good moisturiser and then leave my skin alone.

Ultimately, it does heal. And then I try to promise myself that I will not eat whatever dish caused that reaction.


The Cold

Movies make cold weather look so mysterious; so romantic. You know when you watch movies and the male lead character jogs across the street, clad in a very in-season, unbuttoned, wool coat – without a scarf or a beanie because he will look less fashionable then – with his hands jammed into his coat pockets? Let me tell you something: it’s anything but mysterious or romantic. It’s just freezing.

Oh my goodness – I cannot even explain how cold it has been lately. About -17 C. I have experienced -22 C about two years ago but I Β I must have forgotten how bitterly cold it was. -17 C is killing me so much so that I am walking around bundled up like a Teletubby. I wear wool mixed tights inside my jeans and a wool sweater (with another singlet underneath to keep the wool clean), wool hat, wool lined shoes, wool socks, wool lined gloves and a down puffer jacket: and I’m still cold. Usually around the face area. The only option left is for me to wear a monkey cap or a fur hat. *Shudder*

A few years ago, a friend of mine, Sher, told me something along the lines of how the worst part of winter was the slippery ice. I didn’t think you could slip on snow, but now that I am constantly slipping on ice… I think she was right. Winter looks so pretty and innocent until you encounter a huge piece of black ice on the ground that you have to literally glide across to get to your destination. Add in grocery bags and a coffee cup and it’s even trickier to walk on ice. Sometimes, some kind soul pours gravel on the ice and then it’s easier to walk around, but most of the time the gravel is covered by new ice (that was originally snow before the weather warmed up).

In the spirit of positivity, here’s a photograph of what the city looked like recently. That blue cube is not a Tardis, but a public toilet πŸ˜‰

Around Oslo

Around Oslo

I think I’m ready for Spring.

No, I Haven’t Forgotten This Blog

..I’ve just been, for lack of a better word, swamped.

It’s been so busy here. I just got back from a week in Seattle, Washington. I was there for work but managed to squeeze in a bit of shopping and some walking around. The best part about the US is the variety; the worst part is the distance. Sometimes it really sucks that the US is so far away…from Malaysia or even Norway. The travel time is tough, not to mention the time difference. I really wanted to call my niece and wish her on her 3rd birthday, but by the time I woke up, it was already her party and I’ve learned from previous experience that most kids are really distracted at their birthday parties so trying to talk to them on the phone is not the wisest idea.

See, when you’re a kid, and you can’t get what you want, you can throw a tantrum and cry. But when you’re an adult and you attempt to do that — you’re labelled as childish. So, what’s an adult to do? πŸ™‚ In my case I just walked around feeling a lot like a lousy aunt. It’s so hard to live far away sometimes, you miss out on so many things. It seems Little-Miss-3-Year-Old recently told my sister “I’m a baby you know”. Hahaha, I would have loved to see that in person.

I also missed Diwali with my family. Every year that I don’t get to go home, I try to play it cool. I think my family thinks I’m perfectly okay despite not celebrating Diwali with them. But to be honest, it really breaks my heart. The bf is always tiptoeing around me towards Diwali because he knows that I’m a bit ’emotionally fragile’ (read: moody) around that time of the year. I get upset knowing that I cannot eat my mother’s cakes and cookies and lately I get even more upset knowing that I cannot spend time with my niece. We can’t have everything, can we? For Diwali, you are encouraged to make something to signify that you are celebrating. If you don’t make anything, it means you are not celebrating Diwali. So I scrambled, two days before my business trip, and made some chocolate chip cookies (From an instant mix – I know! Me! Using an instant mix..) and then ate some while I was packing for my trip that weekend. It was so, damn, sad. In 2007, when my younger sister was all alone in UK, she called me on Diwali and was bawling her eyes out. I put on the whole tough-cookie image and kept telling her there is nothing to cry about. This year, I was pretty close to tears, especially at work when I tried not to think about how much fun my family was having and how I far away I was.

So how was the business trip? It was… eventful. I missed one of my flights (by 2 friggin’ minutes) on the way to Seattle and ended up being routed through Chicago — adding 6 more hours to my trip. It was very, very tiring. On my way back I was told at the check-in counter, “your connection is worrying, you only have 5 minutes between the landing time of your second flight and the boarding time of your third flight”. Now, I am all for honesty, but this turned out to be unnecessary information. I spent most of my flight worrying about this final connection only to make it in the end, with no hassle. So why did they tell me all this at check-in? (Took almost 24 hours to get home from the hotel in Seattle, and I was worrying for a good 20 hours.) People are strange, right? You tell them in advance, and then nothing bad happens, and they get annoyed for being warned. If you don’t tell them, and something bad happens, they get annoyed for not being warned.

Now the other reason I’ve been kind of quiet is because – my iPhone 4 got stolen. I don’t like writing about negative stuff on my blog. I try really hard to stick to the sunny side of the street and not wallow in bad incidents, but this one, I have to write about it, as it is eating at me. I was getting on a pretty full bus, one Friday evening, after a long day at work… looking forward to having dinner with the bf and trying to unwind after a crazy week. I felt my bag being tugged at but thought nothing of it until 1 minute later I realized “the phone!” so I quickly got off the bus to check my bag. Lo and behold, the pocket where I usually kept my phone was open and the phone was gone.

It was horrible. I panicked and called the bf (I have a second phone, bet the thief did not know that!) and then he arrived and we had to make a police report and block my SIM card. Theft happens everywhere, even in Norway, one of the richest countries in the world — I keep telling myself that. But it’s a bit hard to swallow sometimes because I expect more from Norway. I really do. I’ve been here almost 5 years and have never been robbed or pick pocketed before. It should just continue being that way, right? I do admit I have seen a lot of warning signs on the buses, etc, about pickpockets but I thought nothing of them. I’m also not a careless person :/ It was just one of _those_ days, you know?

My phone was insured, and I did manage to claim the insurance. But now, I’m stuck. I have a work phone which is not an iPhone and I don’t really like it. I know, this makes me sound like a fanboy of the fruit company, but that’s not really true. It’s just that I’ve had an iPhone for the past two and a half years and it just works so well that I cannot even consider using anything else. My phone is the first thing I pick up when I wake up (to check today’s calendar) and the last thing I look at before I go to sleep (to set my list of alarms for the next morning). I feel so empty without it. I am currently using the older version I kept as spare, but it’s just not the same.

I can’t get a new one just yet – because the new one is kind of expensive and comes with a contract. I don’t want another contract :/ So in other words, I’m whinging over a first world problem πŸ™‚

I guess I am a glass-half-empty person after all, always pining away for that missing part rather than appreciating the parts that are there.

Excuse me while I go drown my sorrow in chocolate and warm tea. I promise to write a better, more uplifting post next time.

A bit of a Rant

When did some people stop being nice?

I walked into a plastic bin the other day and I said “Oh, I thought this bin is normally on that side” and then some guy responded “Is this how you drive a car as well?” and he mimicked me “Oh, I thought this is normally on that side”.

So I was a bit irritated and responded “I just walked into a bin, OK?” and I just walked off.

Wow, so that’s the reaction you get when you knock yourself these days. What happened to “Are you OK?” or the more informal version “You OK?” That’s usually my first reaction when I notice somebody knocking into something.

Disney’s animated film Bambi had a very nice saying, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

Dragging My Feet

I’ve been offered an opportunity but I’m dragging my feet because I don’t have the confidence or the knowledge to do it – at least that’s what I think.
I also know I should stop second guessing myself and just go with it – opportunity only knocks once. My problem is I want to wait for my current tasks to be perfect before I accept new challenges – but life doesn’t really work that way right?
So, with a heavy heart, I’m going on a business trip in the beginning of fall. I hope I don’t embarrass myself.

Rant: Post Vacation Slump and Why Not All Gyms Are Created Equal

No I’m not depressed but I’m so lazy and grumpy. It’s partly due to the fact that the weather in Oslo has been rainy and cloudy since I got back from Bergen.

I’ve also been having gym issues – the gym that I was going to for 1.5 years now has finally pissed me off beyond belief. It’s never been a great gym but the fact that it was reasonably priced and they had this “do what you like, we won’t bother you” type of style where the gym was opened for long hours with nobody manning it meant you could go in and exercise without anybody bothering you. As a person who’s never been to a gym, and who’s very self conscious of herself – I really liked that concept in the beginning.

After 1.5 years of being a member of that gym, I realised that I could use a personal trainer or at least somebody whom I could ask:

  • “So how do I get rid of this belly before it becomes a full on pot belly?” [It’s one of my nightmares – that I will be 40 with a pot belly and look like man, really!]
  • “Am I using this machine in the correct way or will my neck pay for it tomorrow?”
  • “Is my running gait correct?

Not having somebody to ask these questions – is actually alright, but the worst part is that the equipment at the gym don’t really work. Half the time 1 out of 4 stationary bikes is dead (missing pedal or just doesn’t switch on). Sometimes, the strength training machines have b0rked sensors where it will record that you did a crunch at 45kg each rep when in truth the most you can do without crying for your Mummy is only 30kg. This type of equipment fault really skews my progress tracking because it gives me false confidence and messes up the statistics stored in the thing-a-majig.

Another problem with the equipment is the check-in machine where you entered all the self torturing tasks you’d like to do and it “wrote” it into your progress device. There are two machines but only one works. The other one is perpetually dead – causing a queue when you want to start your exercise.

To make matters worse, when Summer started – their air conditioning stopped working. It was getting really warm and uncomfortable in the gym and I was starting to get irritated and angry with their lack of service. I know I don’t pay as much as other gyms but the least they could do was provide a conducive, comfortable gym, no? Or am I expecting too much? I e-mailed them about it and did not get a response. The boyfriend got a response to his e-mail though – where they said they are going to renovate in Summer or some sugar coated sentence like that and they hope he would be patient – come on, Summer is almost over, still no sign of improvement. Now they have a notice telling that their air conditioning unit is not working. Like a month after we complained. Shouldn’t you close your gym if the ventilation is not good? Isn’t it unhealthy and totally unproductive to exercise in a gym with bad ventilation?

It’s kind of sad sometimes to have to admit “You get what you pay for”. Like when I’m on a flight and out of a miracle (the stars are probably in some rare alignment) I get upgraded to Business Class – I actually feel sad about it – because it proves that money is what sets us apart – not character, not skill, not education – but the little green papers. I subconsciously tell myself “Don’t you get used to this” and think “I probably shouldn’t have accepted the upgrade”.

But, I digress.

So I tried to quit the crappy gym, but it turns out I have to give them 30 days notice. Urgh.

Now I’m so tempted to sign up for a better gym – but it’s going to require a little bit of financial overhaul (are you listening, God? I could use a raise :)) and less expensive Tempura Noodle Soups. Hm, I should probably perfect my tempura frying skills, huh.

Hopefully I can sign up for this shiny new gym down the street of my apartment building. *Dream*