COVID-19 Quarantine: Day 3

I want to start by saying that I have NOT contracted COVID-19. I work at a public library and we were told on Monday that we would not be coming to work until March 30, 2020. That is subject to change, but it’s what we know for now. I thought it might be a good idea to write about what I’m experiencing and what is happening around me. I wish I had started before now, but I’ll do my best to recap.

When I first heard about Coronavirus, my reaction was that it’s just like the flu. As I learned more about it and thought about how fast it spreads, my thought process changed. As someone with an autoimmune disease, I’m more susceptible than the average person. Furthermore, my grandparents have health issues and I could easily pass it on to them, even if I never get sick from it. As time went on and confirmed cases started popping up closer and closer to where I live, my anxiety skyrocketed.

I can handle the things that come with a pandemic. I wasn’t in panic mode. The anxiety came from the fact that I work with hundreds of members of the public every day and our only precautions were to wear gloves when we get books from the bookdrop and to use wipes to clean surfaces. This past Saturday, I had to clean up after a patron who coughed up mucus all over our computer. She was very clearly sick with something serious, though I’m sure it wasn’t Coronavirus, and she came in anyway. I decided then that if people can’t be trusted to stay home when they’re sick, I had to keep myself home even though I’m not.

We were told that the library would be closed to the public on Monday, but that staff were to report for a meeting to decide what our next steps would be. A few of my co-workers and I chatted via group message and discussed the possibilities. By this point, schools, parks, and restaurant dining areas were already closed. We all agreed that regardless of whether or not the library would remain open, we would not be coming to work. It was clear to all of us that the best way to get ahead of the virus would be for as many people as possible to stay home and practice social distancing.

I went to the store to get a couple of weeks worth of groceries and bandages. The store was completely out of toilet paper, potatoes, chicken, and most red meat. Fortunately, there were a lot of paleo friendly foods left. People seem not to want the organic stuff. I made sure to buy a mix of fresh, frozen, and shelf-stable products. I didn’t want to get into a situation where all of my food had gone bad.

On Monday, I went to the meeting. There really wasn’t any news to be had. We were told that as of that moment, there was no decision on whether or not we would be open the following day. We did talk about contingencies in the event that we would be closed. IT set me up with a VPN connection so that I could work from home. I also put several PowerPoint documents on a flash drive so that I could work on converting them to online tutorials. I went home fully expecting to have to call my supervisor in the morning to tell her I wouldn’t be coming in. However, that evening, we received an e-mail to notify us that the library would be closed through March 30, 2020. Words cannot express my relief.

On Tuesday, Day 1 of Quarantine, I evaluated some National History Day Indiana projects and then met one of my co-workers back at the library. She had to swap out laptops and I had forgotten something. We decided to go together so that we wouldn’t be alone in the building. The buddy system is always best. Once back at home, I worked on some odds and ends for work, checking voicemail, answering e-mails, etc. I had at first had grand plans for my free time. I wanted to write some more or read a book. I found when I had finished my work, I had no energy for anything and I just watched Star Trek: The Next Generation.

On Wednesday, Day 2 of Quarantine, I had intended to work on some of the PowerPoints, but I was not able to find my dongle that connects flash drives to my Mac. (I still can’t find it). I did manage to find that I had saved one of them on Google Docs, so I downloaded it and started working on that one. I knew I had a teleconference scheduled for 2:00 pm, so I set an alarm to go off fifteen minutes prior to allow time to get connected.

After a little while, one of my volunteers called to check on me. She asked how we were all doing and if I or any of my co-workers needed any food or money to help get us through. I assured her that we are being paid while the library is closed. She’s the sweetest and I miss seeing her.

At 1:45, I logged in to my e-mail to get the link for the teleconference, and I saw that it was scheduled for April 2nd. So, I went back to the PowerPoint. I turned the sound off on my phone because I had gotten to the point where I needed to record myself presenting. At this point, my sister had a friend over. This was stressing me out, in part because I could hear them and I was afraid that would come through on the recording, and in part because I hadn’t felt like I was distancing enough and I really just needed to be alone. I was in the basement alone, but for whatever reason, it didn’t feel like enough to me just then. It’s not rational, but it’s how my anxiety rolls.

I took a break from the PowerPoint at 2:50 because I was getting frustrated. I saw that I had a missed text from my supervisor asking why I hadn’t joined the teleconference. I panicked. I logged back in to my e-mail and frantically searched until I finally found a different e-mail with today’s conference information and a link. That required me to download two different pieces of software to be able to connect to the conference. By the time I finally got connected, there were four minutes left. I understood none of what was said at that point. Probably because I couldn’t focus. I was so overwhelmed by this feeling of panic.

When the conference was over, I began to cry. Nothing had gone right and I felt claustrophobic. That is particularly strange because I don’t get that feeling. I’ve never been claustrophobic. I apologized to my supervisor and my co-workers. They assured me that it was no problem and I could watch the recorded version later. It didn’t matter. I was in full panic. I knew I needed to calm down, so I set everything else aside and turned on some music. Paul Spaeth always calms me down, so I listened to Cobalt Blue. It did help, but my nerves were shot for the day. I made some guacamole and settled in to watch The Office for the 100th time.

Today, I went back to the library to e-mail myself the rest of my PowerPoints. My friend and co-worker, Meghan, met me there. She was my buddy today. When we arrived, a few of our other co-workers were there filming storytimes to put on the website for the children. After we left, I stopped by Roadrunner Kitchen to get a spinach salad. In addition to their commitment to locally grown, organic meats and produce, they cater to vegetarian and vegan customers and are willing to modify things for paleo with some notice. I want to make sure they stay in business through this crisis.

Meghan met me back at the house and we watched Contagion. That may seem insensitive or morbid, but I actually found it very helpful. It helped to put things into perspective for me. When it was over, we watched a few episodes of 100 Humans. That is an interesting show. They do a lot of social experiments to test the differences in age groups, genders, etc. Dad picked up some pizza and he got one for Meghan and I that had a “no doh” crust. Meghan is doing the diet with me. After we ate, we played board games with my dad, my sister, and my brother. I am doing much better today.

Reintroduction: Dairy

Today brings the reintroduction of dairy to a close. Dairy includes milk, cream, whipped cream, most ice cream, cheese, cottage cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, ghee, yogurt, butter, whey, whey protein, lactose, and casein. I have listed my food and reactions below for each day. Tomorrow begins the reintroduction of eggs.

Day 1

Breakfast: Banana.

Lunch: Strawberries, blueberries, almonds, white cheddar cheese.

Snack: White mocha (espresso, white chocolate, almond milk).

Dinner: Chicken, Swiss cheese, Dijon mustard, cauliflower, carrots.

Reactions: None.

Day 2

Breakfast: Banana.

Lunch: Strawberries, blueberries, sugar-coated almonds, white cheddar cheese.

Snack: Oranges, yogurt, white mocha (espresso, white chocolate, almond milk).

Dinner: Turkey, Swiss cheese, celery, carrots, broccoli, guacamole (avocados, lime, salt, garlic).

Reactions: None.

Day 3

Breakfast: White mocha (espresso, white chocolate, coconut milk).

Lunch: Spinach salad with grilled chicken, cranberries, apples, walnuts, pecans, and balsamic vinaigrette.

Snack: Oranges, yogurt.

Dinner: No doh pizza with Parmesan cheese crust, pesto sauce, mozzarella cheese, mushrooms, black olives, and bacon.

Reactions: None.

Reintroduction: Nuts

Today brings the reintroduction of nuts to a close. Nuts include walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, and pecans. I have listed my food and reactions below for each day. Tomorrow begins the reintroduction of dairy.

Day 1

Breakfast: Banana, almonds.

Lunch: Carrots, celery, broccoli, guacamole (avocado, lime, salt, garlic).

Snack: Paleo banana muffin, white mocha (espresso, white chocolate, almond milk).

Dinner: carrots, broccoli, and celery, and guacamole (avocado, lime juice, salt).

Reactions: None.

Day 2

Breakfast: None.

Lunch: Chicken, mushrooms, mashed sweet potatoes with cinnamon, brown sugar, and pecans.

Snack: White mocha (espresso, white chocolate, coconut milk).

Dinner: Tuna with avocado ranch dressing, dill pickle.

Reactions: None.

Day 3

Breakfast: White mocha (espresso, white chocolate, coconut milk).

Lunch: Salami, dill pickle.

Snack: Paleo banana muffin.

Dinner: Strawberries, blueberries, sugar-coated almonds, white mocha (espresso, white chocolate, almond milk).

Reactions: None.

Weight Tracking

At weigh in this morning, I am now officially down to 236 pounds. This is a loss of .4 pounds from last week. I expect the weight loss will slow down and plateau for the next couple of weeks during reintroduction. I may even gain some back. I’m certain that this small amount of loss this week is due to the fact that I reintroduced sugar. The reintroduction of dairy, legumes, and gluten will affect it, too.

I’m not discouraged by it. As I said, I’m expecting it. Once reintroduction is complete, I intend to go back to a mostly paleo diet, allowing myself dairy and eggs, with the occasional side of rice. That is, assuming I don’t react to any of those things.

I’m very proud of how far I’ve come in such a short time. At the beginning of this year, I was wearing size 26 jeans. As of yesterday, I’m in a size 20! By the end of this year, I’d like to be below 200 pounds and in a size 14 or smaller. I think that’s completely doable.

My ultimate goal is to get down to somewhere between 120 and 140 pounds, as that is the doctor recommended goal for a woman of my height and age. Ideally, I’d like to do this before my birthday in March 2021. However, this is only achievable if I lose about 2 pounds per week until then. If it doesn’t happen, that’s ok. Any weight loss is a success, as I’ll be that much healthier.

Reintroduction: Sugar

Today brings the reintroduction of refined sugar to a close. Refined sugar includes sugar, sugar cane, sugar beets, brown sugar, artificial sweeteners, glucose, sucrose, sucralose, saccharine, and saccharose. I have listed my food and reactions below for each day. Tomorrow begins the reintroduction of nuts.

Day 1

Breakfast: Banana.

Lunch: Salami, dill pickle, white mocha (espresso, white chocolate, coconut milk).

Snack: Dark chocolate bar.

Dinner: carrots, broccoli, and celery, and guacamole (avocado, lime juice, salt).

Reactions: None.

Day 2

Breakfast: Banana.

Lunch: Roasted cauliflower, carrots, and yellow squash, and a mango, cherry, pear smoothie.

Snack: Dark chocolate bar, willow bark tea with honey.

Dinner: Salami, dill pickle, white mocha (espresso, white chocolate, coconut milk).

Reactions: Arthritis in my wrist is acting up.

Day 3

Breakfast: Banana.

Lunch: Salami, dill pickle, white mocha (espresso, white chocolate, coconut milk).

Snack: Dark chocolate bar, white mocha (espresso, white chocolate, coconut milk).

Dinner: Grapes, apple, orange.

Reactions: None.

Reintroduction: Seeds

Today brings the reintroduction of seeds to a close. Seeds include chia seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, poppy seeds, caraway seeds, mustard seeds, black/white pepper, pine nuts, hemp, coffee, and chocolate. I have listed my food and reactions below for each day. Tomorrow begins the reintroduction of refined sugar.

Day 1

Breakfast: I woke up late, so I skipped breakfast.

Lunch: Chicken cooked in olive oil, honey, roasted cauliflower, carrots, and yellow squash.

Snack: Black coffee.

Dinner: Paleo meatloaf (ground beef, diced onion, riced cauliflower, diced dates, honey, mustard) and salad (lettuce, avocado).

Reactions: None.

Day 2

Breakfast: Banana.

Lunch: Salami, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and black coffee.

Snack: Paleo muffin (bananas, coconut milk, olive oil, honey, coconut flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt).

Dinner: Sweet potato and Brussels sprouts (roasted in olive oil with salt and pepper).

Reactions: A pimple is forming on my chin. I don’t know yet if it’s related.

Day 3

Breakfast: Banana.

Lunch: Salami, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, and black coffee.

Snack: Strawberry banana smoothie.

Dinner: Broccoli, carrots, and celery.

Reactions: I have a hard lump on the back of my neck. I suspect an ingrown hair, as I plucked a hair from that spot a few days ago. It was a hard, translucent hair that resembled a quill or a cat whisker. Apparently, this is a fairly common anomalous thing. I don’t know if it’s connected to autoimmunity. A second pimple is also developing.

Strict Paleo Week

Today is the last day of the second week of strict paleo. With strict paleo, I am allowed meat, most vegetables, most fruit, salt, honey, and agave. I’ve been eating mostly chicken for my meat. This is because it is so difficult to find red meat that doesn’t contain sugar. I’ve had primarily broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots for my vegetables, with the occasional asparagus, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, yellow squash, and sweet potato. My fruits have been mostly strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, bananas, oranges, and mango, with the occasional apples, blackberries, raspberries, pineapple, and papaya.

I have tried to take in about 4 oz. of meat, 2-3 cups of vegetables, and 1 cup of fruit per day, but some days I was a little light on the vegetables and heavy on the fruit. One day, I definitely had more meat. It turned out not to be too difficult. I just really had to be mindful of checking for sugar and things that are derived from seeds. I have to say, doing the elimination the way that I planned it out really did prepare me well for strict paleo.

At weigh in this morning, I am down to 236.4 pounds. That is a total weight loss of nearly 20 pounds! Last year, I lost about 25 pounds in the entire year, so I’m definitely doing better this year. My goal is to be below 200 pounds by the end of this year. I think that is achievable. I may even be very close to my overall goal weight by then. For my height, age, and gender, I am supposed to be between 120 and 140 pounds. My overall goal is to be within that range.

Vibrational Sound Therapy bowls.

I rewarded myself a little early this week because that was the only time my reward was available. I decided to book a Vibrational Sound Therapy session and I did that yesterday. I had never done it before and had no real idea as to what it would do, but I’ve always responded to music, so I thought this could be good for me. It was! It relaxed me and very quickly, which, as a person with anxiety, isn’t easy. I could feel the vibrations affecting my body, loosening my muscles. When I left the session, I felt lighter, well rested, and less anxious. Even my plantar fasciitis felt better.

Tomorrow begins reintroduction, and while this elimination diet has been good for me, I am excited for reintroduction. This is in part because I want to learn exactly which foods are triggering the HS, but also because I really miss almonds, cheese, eggs, and rice and would like to be able to eat them again. I had a dream about eating rice last night and, in my dream, I panicked because I knew I shouldn’t be eating it and I had ruined my diet. Rice is still a long way off, it seems. Tomorrow, I reintroduce seeds, which includes coffee and chocolate. That will be very nice, as it will allow me to have some salad dressings again.

Elimination: Week 8

Today is the last day of the last week of elimination, and the the last day of the first week of strict paleo. No seeds, nuts, or refined sugar this week. This has been very difficult, as almonds had previously been a staple of my diet. It’s also very difficult to find red meat that doesn’t have sugar in it. Bacon was extremely difficult and I had to switch to turkey bacon. Even then, it was hard to find turkey bacon without sugar.

One of my co-workers did suggest ordering sugar free bacon online. I may do that. It will be at least a couple of weeks before I can reintroduce refined sugars, and the jury’s still out on whether or not I’ll react to them. I was feeling a bit meat deprived a couple of days ago and saw some salami at the grocery that has turbinado sugar in it. I didn’t know what that was and had to look it up. It is raw sugar and is partially refined.

I had an argument with myself in the middle of the grocery store about whether or not partially refined sugar counted. I was never certain on raw sugar when I started this. In the end, I decided I had better not eat it. The whole point of this is to find out what I’m reacting to, not to find ways around a diet. If refined sugar is a trigger, I can only be sure of that by eliminating all sugar.

At weigh in this morning, I am now down to 239.6 pounds. That is a total weight loss of 16.6 pounds since the beginning of this year (8 weeks)! I can definitely feel the difference. You can see comparison photos on my Weight Loss Tracking page.

Redemption by Paul Spaeth.

To reward myself, I decided to buy a new CD. My birthday is a few days away, so I had to be sure I didn’t buy anything that I already had on my wishlist. It occurred to me that Paul Spaeth has an album out that I don’t have, so I ordered that. My mental health could use some attention and music has always been one of my relaxers. So, I’m treating myself to Redemption. It is a bit less expensive on Amazon, but I like to buy directly from artists whenever I can.

Next week is another strict paleo week and then I will be reintroducing seeds to my diet to see how I do with those. I have to say, this elimination diet has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in terms of will power and patience. If nothing else, I am proud of myself for not giving up.

Food Triggers Are Everywhere

Just over a week ago, I had some broccoli cheddar soup from a restaurant. I believed it was safe. I had a flare up shortly after having eaten it. At first I thought that perhaps dairy was a trigger and we hadn’t eliminated it yet, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. It could also be that seeds, nuts, and/or sugar is a trigger. However, I did some digging and found that not all of the ingredients for the broccoli cheddar soup were listed on the information that I had seen. This soup also had less than 2% potato flour as a thickening agent. It was enough potato to trigger me.

Homemade vegetable soup. Chicken broth, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, butternut squash, and chives.

I went to the grocery this evening to get the ingredients to make my own vegetable soup. I also looked for some bacon, as I’m participating in The 10th Kingdom watch week this week. The only bacon I could find that didn’t contain sugar was turkey bacon.

The point is, that everything has the potential to contain a food trigger. It’s a lesson I have to keep learning because I’m okay for a while and then I get lax. Know where your food comes from and know what is in it. We have to stay vigilant. Locally grown food is always best, but even that needs to be checked for additives, pesticides, etc.

Elimination: Week 7

Today is the last day of the dairy elimination week. This was difficult because it took away some convenience for me. If I didn’t have a lot of time to cook, I would buy prepackaged fruit boxes from the grocery that had cheese and almonds in them. I couldn’t do this anymore, so it meant taking the time to meal prep. Another easy meal for me had been turkey roll ups, which is just turkey slices and cheese slices. I can’t do this anymore either. I managed. I got a bit creative one day and made honey almond chicken.

I lost some more weight this week, too. At weigh in this morning, I am now down to 243.8 pounds, which means I’ve lost nearly 12 and a half pounds since January 1st! Before too long, I’m going to have to buy some more clothes. My pants, in particular, are all getting to be too loose. I’ve already tightened the drawstrings on my pajamas twice.

Star Wars Peeking Porg mug.

To reward myself this week, I’ve ordered a new mug for my tea. I have mugs, but I saw this and thought I’d treat myself.

Next week is the last elimination week. It will be strict paleo after that and then reintroduction begins. Starting tomorrow, I am eliminating seeds, nuts, and refined sugars from my diet. This includes coffee and chocolate. I can still have honey and agave, as long as the agave is pure.