Monday, May 25, 2009


While surfing the net last night I stumbled across a new blog (Mennonite Girls Can Cook). I've got several blogs that I check consistently, and this will be added to the list. This blog is a group of several women who all contribute recipes and stories, and many of them keep of blogs of their own. What brought me to the site was a reference on another blog to a Verenika recipe that was posted. One of the contributors also has Celiac...and I'm eager to try her variations of traditional Mennonite recipes. When is the next time the Buller's are getting together for Verenika?!? I'm prepared now! :) Thanks Julie!

One of the things I've missed the most is eating bread at family gatherings. Grandma Buller was known far and wide for her baking (being a cook at the school helped with this, I'm sure!), and her speciality was zwiebach. We were always eager to fill up on her zwiebach whenever we gathered as a family. In the past years she hasn't been able to bake, and so I tried to fill her role... Because of my love of baking, at each family dinner I volunteer to bring the bread as my contribution. Even with my celiac diagnosis, I enjoy baking bread, and I continue to bring it whenever we get together.

Last night, after finding the new website, I eagerly shot off an email to Julie, the contributor that also has celiac. I hoped that she had tried to make zwiebach, and if so that she would be willing to share her recipe. This morning I awoke to her reply. She hasn't made zwiebach, but will soon post a recipe for rollkuchen.

As I had the day off today to celebrate Memorial Day, and since I had zwiebach on the brain, I decided to try my hand at making them gluten free. I used Grandma Buller's recipe, only cutting it in 1/2 and substituting Pamela's Products Bread Mix. While the texture isn't quite the same (not as light and fluffy as white bread flour would make them), they do taste good, especially with the homemade rhubarb jam I had in the pantry.

Gluten Free Zwiebach
1 1/4 cup milk, scalded
3 TB sugar
1 TB yeast (I just used the yeast packet in the bread mix)
6 T. melted shortening
1 egg
1 tsp. salt
4 cups Pamela's Bread Mix (one bag)

**Next time I will add some xantham gum to the mix to see if that helps with the elasticity.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Black and White

or a whole 'lotta gray...

It's been a month since I last wrote... There are the normal excuses of work and responsibilities, and the fact that my life just isn't all that interesting...but the truth would be that it is mostly because I've been unsure of what to write.

This past year has been full of drama, or at least it has felt like that to me. The culmination of which was my surgery in November. I thought that with the removal of the mass that had grown intertwined with my vocal chords and with the news that the growth was non-cancerous; my life would get back to normal. Then came the news that some, if not all, of my health problems of the past years could be tied to that evil thing—gluten. It was with relief and a good amount of happiness (at least on most days) that I traded the gluten for being migraine free. I thought that with time and the proper amounts of medication my thyroid hormones would become more normal, and I would start to feel better.

Time has certainly passed, and with it my patience and understanding with the medical profession. I was still having nagging symptoms, things that “should” have been cleared up with my surgery and with the correct amounts of thyroid medication. Since I was getting no where and just getting more and more frustrated, I took it upon myself to seek a second opinion. I was finally able to get in to see the Endocrinologist 3 weeks ago.

With all the doctors I went to through the years for my migraines, I’ve become disillusioned with the medical profession. I know there are many doctors out there who care about their patients, and truly listen. I do know that because of insurance companies and legal requirements, many doctors are frustrated with their own profession and feel that their hands are tied and that they are unable to provide the care that their patients need. With all that being said, I’m afraid that I haven’t had the chance to meet many of those doctors, the ones that actually care about their patients. Instead my experiences have been more likely to include a few minutes of face time with a physician who doesn’t make eye contact, and a quickly written new prescription to try that will have horrible side effects. No attempt at listening or discovering what the root problem might be. One more patient in and out of the office… And I end up feeling like a lab rat, as my body struggles to adjust to everything I’m being asked to put into it.

It was with hope and more than a little fear that I made that appointment. To start the process over with a new doctor, reviewing my entire medical history and current complaints… How would the appointment go? Would I be brushed off…sent home with yet another prescription…or worse yet told that I was exaggerating my symptoms and that I should just learn to live with how I’m feeling…

I am so thankful to say that I’ve found one of those doctors that I’ve always known is out there, but have not had the opportunity to work with on many occasions. Dr. Herbel took the time to LISTEN to me… She took copious notes… She asked good questions, and asked me to describe what was actually happening and how I FELT… She cried when I cried… She EXPLAINED and answered all of my questions… She was not intimidated by the fact that I read about and try to understand what is happening in my body… She is AMAZING. At the end of it, the only things she had done was change me to Synthroid instead of generic (and she took the time to explain why no one should take generic thyroid medications), and ordered a full round of lab tests.

6 vials of blood and 3 weeks later, I’ve had my second appointment with her. Being the person I am, I took the time to read about the tests she ordered, and what the lab work could indicate. Sometimes it is better to be oblivious, and this may have been the case with this as well. I’ve spent the last 3 weeks thinking about the things I’ve read, and what might be happening in my body. Some of the things, frankly, have scared me. But I keep telling myself that I shouldn’t worry until I’ve talked with Dr. Herbel about it all and found out what the tests actually say.

I’m still operating in the gray area. I have to say that I am happy that I had read about the tests, as uneasy as it made me in the last weeks. If I hadn’t learned about them, I wouldn’t have been prepared with questions, and I think I would have been more upset with the news today. From what my lab work says (elevated DHEA-Sulfate level) Dr. Herbel thinks that I have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. She has ordered another round of lab work (I’ll do that tomorrow), as well as a sonogram (which will be Monday). With the symptoms I’ve got though, it is a good chance that this is my answer.

All of those thoughts that caused worry these past weeks have been going through my mind again as I drove home from Newton, and now as I sit and type. There are many things that I hope and dream for my future, and other things that I’ve put on hold until it is the right time in my life. With this diagnosis comes the reality that those things may not happen for me. Again, I was thankful that I had read about all this, and had come prepared with possible questions. Dr. Herbel calmly answered my queries, and I left with optimism that there is possible treatment to help with the symptoms, as well as hope for those dreams I’ve got.

It is another 3 weeks until I can go back to Dr. Herbel, and I’m anticipating that my gray space will become more black and white at that time. Until then, it will be a mad-dash to the end of school year. My life will be busy, and I’ll go about it as I usually do—trying to cram as much in as possible.

Much love to all of you!