Adventures in Celiac Disease or Life After Bread

Celiac Disease brochure created for class.

People I know in my day-to-day life are totally going to skip this one. “Oh laaawd!” they will think while they roll their eyes after seeing the topic. “She’s talking about celiac disease again.” That’s right! I am! This will not be icky, I promise.

For those who may not know, celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder where the lining of the small intestine is damaged due to a reaction after eating gluten (gluten is what holds together wheat, barley, rye, etc). Because of this damage, nutrients aren’t absorbed properly. There are over 300 hundred symptoms, but-get this- a lot of people are asymptomatic. Not to sound all Dr. Oz on you, but you could have it and not even know.

Before I go any further, I want to reinforce that I am not a doctor. I’m not even that smart. This is just my story and if you suspect you have celiac disease you should talk to your doctor or do your own research or do something that doesn’t blame me in any way

I’m going to skip the gory details (yay!) and say that I had some pain (okay, a years worth) that was getting worse and for about a month I was only getting about 2-3 hours sleep a night. Three days after going cold turkey off gluten, I slept through the night. Seven days later, the pain was completely gone. This was a week before Halloween 2011 and I haven’t knowingly had any gluten since.

Inside of the brochure

Written out that way, it sound so easy. Like giving up all things wheat is not super difficult on a daily basis. Wheat is in EVERYTHING. I know it’s trendy right now to cut out gluten, but dear God, why would you do this if you didn’t have to??? GLUTEN IS INCREDIBLY TASTY!! And the sample ladies at Costco take it as a personal affront if you can’t have the sliver of bagel dog they are pushing- I know this from experience.

Want to confront your food issues? Cut out a major food group! Even six months later, there are still things that come up. My husband wanted to go some  brewpub. I’m more of an Old Fashioned, Manhattan, and/or Mojito kind of a girl anyway, so staying away from beer (beer has barley) is not an issue. I looked at their menu and EVERYTHING had beer in it! Even the freaking rice had beer in it. Seriously, how do you make beer rice??

It’s not all bad. About 3 weeks after cutting gluten, I noticed my pants felt loose. I weighed myself and discovered had dropped 15 pounds. I started weighing myself constantly. My husband was like, “I don’t think you are supposed to do that every day.” I said, “But every day it goes down!”  The weight loss slowed down after a month (and went up around Christmas when I discovered potato chips are gluten free), but it continues to drop. As of this morning, I’m down 32 pounds. Apparently, doctors used to think- and some still do- all celiac patients were very underweight, but a recent study found that 39% of celiac sufferers are overweight or obese at the time of diagnosis. So, if your doctor tells you that you can’t have celiac because you are normal or overweight, hit them with this link.

In case you want to learn more about celiac disease and gluten intolerance, here are some links for you:

Celiac Disease Info at the National Institute of Health 

The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center

Celiac.Com – this is the best one! Tons of info, a gluten free recipes, food shop, very active support forum and just a great place!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go hide in my doomsday shelter until the NATO summit leaves the area. By “doomsday shelter” I mean my condo living room and “hiding out” meaning, eating chips and bunless burgers while playing Marvel Pinball on Xbox. So I guess that means there is no change from my normal weekend activities after all. Have a great week!

House on the Rock or Congratulations! Your Nightmares are Real!

Before I whisk you away to one of the most terrifying places in the Midwest, I’d like to thank everyone for their great comments last week on the War of Art post from a few weeks ago. I am still blown away. You are all super smart and gave me some awesome new book recommendations. I’m incredibly grateful.

And now, on with the show!

House on the Rock in Spring Green, Wisconsin isn’t  widely known even in the Midwest (it’s a very Midwestern trait to keep our crazy under wraps).  The whole place is sort of like Tim Burton, a dodgy carnival, every episode of Hoarders, a questionable flea market, your grandma’s house and a Chinese restaurant came together came together to scare the crap out of you.

I think this is a story best told in pictures, but let me give you a quick history so you know what we are dealing with. House on the Rock is located about 3 hours northwest of Chicago in southern Wisconsin’s Wyoming Valley, close to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin. Like Taliesen, the house is in the prairie style with a heavy Asian influence. But that is where the similarities begin and end. Apparently, architect, Alex Jordan liked to collect everything under the sun. He had so much stuff that he kept building buildings to hold everything. I’m going to fast forward through the early part of the tour, so we can get to the good stuff.

Things you should know before you start planning your road trip. 1- wear comfy shoes. It’s A LOT of walking. This place is ginormous. 2- It’s dark. Like when you walk into daylight, your corneas will ignite kind of dark. For photographers, bring a f/2.8 or faster lens, tripods and monopods are not allowed. 3- Wear layers. The temperature varies wildly from exhibit to exhibit, from cool in the main house to slightly cooler then the sun in the carousel room. 4- If you see a bathroom, go in! The bathrooms are just as wild as the rest of the house.

Alcove in the main house. Did I mention it’s dark?

To start your journey into terror on the right foot, we arrive at The Infinity Room. It is a cantilevered….. But wait, there’s more!

Is It That Time Already?

Little Red School House, Willow Springs IL

Believe it or not, in a few days the school year will be over. Those first few weeks I had to force myself to go. But six design classes later (six already? really??), it feels like I’m on a bullet train. I’m looking forward to getting some rest…and then on to summer semester. So, today’s post is short (yay!).

My favorite class this semester taught us the ins and outs of Photoshop. I learned how elements could work together to enhance  an image or take it to a completely different place then you saw through the viewfinder. After the book jacket, where I combined several photos and textures for a new set of images, I started going through some older photos and creating sort of surrealistic images and giving others some punch. Here are three of the resulting photos. Click on any of them to view larger.

Before I go, I want to thank you all for reading. I’m grateful for every person who takes the time out of their day to read my humble little rantings. Also, thank you a billion times to my family, friends and teachers who never stop believing in me and push me to go beyond what I perceive as my limits. Because of you I always try to be better.

Circus Diorama- House on the Rock, Spring Green WI – I think this one still needs some more work.

Jellies at the Shedd Aquarium, Chicago, IL

Trantina Farm, Homer Glen, IL -this one got a little vector illustration, too.