Healthy Obsessions The Adventures of a Mild Obsessive Compulsive

On Having Covid and After

It’s been a while since I posted on my health blog, but with everything going on lately. Well. I needed it.

My experience with Covid itself wasn’t bad. Or at least, I thought it wasn’t bad. My teammates at work at the time would disagree. But it’s all relative. In comparison to my pre-celiac diagnosis days, when I got bronchitis yearly, and pneumonia every couple years… it wasn’t bad. (And compared to the nightmare stories on the news, it definitely wasn’t bad.)

Finn keeping me company

I could actually lie down to sleep. Didn’t have to sleep sitting up. Didn’t need a nebulizer. Tessalon perls worked to suppress my cough. It certainly never got to the point where I had to even contemplate hospitalization. It was manageable. Manageable enough that I justified staying home and not going for testing.

I first got sick just before testing became widely available where I’m living. I was sick for a few months, and I could have gone by the end of it. But I didn’t. I didn’t want to leave the house. I didn’t want to deal with strangers. I especially didn’t want to try dealing with medical staff here when I don’t speak the language.

So. I just stayed home. I took meds. I dug through my old supplies and found an old steroid inhaler. Which I used. I took lots of baths, where the steam helped. I used my cpap machine even while awake, because the humidifier was a godsend.

I managed.

And then I seemed to recover. No more coughing. No more congestion (well, no more than usual; I’m always congested). No more sore throat.

I thought I was getting better. And I was. Better than the acute phase anyway.

I figured it would be like any other time I needed to get back in shape. Push through the pain and build up strength. Except that’s not how it worked this time.

I took Finn to a dog park. Took an Uber to get there, even though it felt ridiculous. Due to construction, he dropped us off on the other side of the park. So we had to make our way across. And it was excruciating.

I needed to stop to catch my breath constantly. My lower back and legs were in agony. I thought it was just being out of shape. Back pain wasn’t new. Neither was leg pain. Admittedly, this was pretty extreme. But I was proud I made it. My Fitbit said I hit 5000 steps that day. Pre-Covid, that was my daily minimum. After Covid, that was awesome.

And then I ended up in bed for two weeks.

And it happened again. And again.

Walking to the pharmacy two blocks away became an odyssey. I had to stop at least four times in those two blocks. Two blocks. When before I got sick, Finn and I were walking seven miles at least once a week.

I didn’t think it was long Covid. We were only beginning to hear whispers long Covid was even a thing. I thought I’d just gotten really out of shape being bedridden for three months. And I’d gained weight during that time, so of course I was more out of breath.

I don’t remember who suggested it. Probably Simran. She became certain I’d had Covid, even though I never got tested. My manager at work had thought so all along. My parents thought so, too. And… my dad is a doctor. Retired now. But also unlikely to believe I had an illness without concrete proof. I had to get both blood tests and an intestinal biopsy before he accepted I had Celiac disease. So. I slowly came to accept it. Not that denying it would do mr any good.

And now I’m trying to get my life in some semblance of order while managing the symptoms. My apartment is a disaster. I don’t cook becaude i just dont have the spoons for the cleanup. Heh. I’ve actually literally run out of spoons; I can find about two at any given time.

Gluten Free Party Foods 2015

The last time I posted a list like this was 2010. More than time to update. There are many more options now, and anything labeled gluten free should be a safe bet. If it’s not labeled, don’t risk it. Here are some gluten free party foods. Make sure to check ingredient lists for anywhere I don’t name a specific brand.

(I personally avoid corn and peppers, so most things on this list don’t include them.)



  • Potato chips
  • Rice crackers
  • Van’s gluten free crackers
  • Veggies
  • Fruit
  • Cheeses
  • Cold cuts
  • Rice cakes
  • Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Tortillas

Ready Made:

  • Wholefoods in-house gluten free baked goods
  • Sprinkles gluten free red velvet cupcake
  • Haagen Dazs ice cream (aside from the ones with cookies and such in them)
  • Mariposa Bakery — Wholefoods and other health food stores
  • Silly Yak’s bakery
  • Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Crispy Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Gingersnaps
  • Glutino Lemon Wafer Cookies — these are great. Avoid the chocolate ones like the plague. Many stores carry these.
  • K-Toos — best oreo equivalent (most taste like cardboard, this tastes like cookie). Best dipped in milk.

Box Mixes:



  • Saki
  • Wine
  • Omission Beer (best gf beer)
  • Distilled alcohols
  • Milk
  • Juice

Accidental Gluten Free Beignets

beignet crop2

I was trying to make cannoli. Turns out this particular pastry dough puffs up more than I expected when it’s fried. So I had these poofy cannoli shells, which were way too rich for the cannoli filling. Turns out, coating them with powdered sugar makes them taste like beignets. So I’ve been playing with this recipe for a week now. It’s based off the croissant recipe I got from Gluten Free Gobsmacked.

2 sticks of butter
1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon GF cottage cheese
1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon GF cream cheese
1 cup GF Flour*
2 Tablespoons of sweet rice flour
1 ½ teaspoons xanthan gum
½ teaspoon salt (if you use unsalted butter)
¾ teaspoon cream of tartar
¾ teaspoon baking soda
3 Tablespoons sugar

Mix up the dough, roll it out or shape it by hand. If you’re rolling it out, make sure to flour your surface and the rolling pin. Then cut it into rectangles (or whatever shape you want).

I used a sauce pan for the frying, since it has high sides and contains the oil spatter better. You want the frying oil at least an inch deep. I’ve used toasted pistachio oil (which was awesome) and grapeseed oil.  Heat the oil on medium until it’s hot enough to fry the dough (I use a small test piece of dough to be certain). Then start frying up the pieces of dough.

You’ll want to flip the dough over once the bottom portion has turned golden brown. Remove it once both sides are golden brown and place it on a cooling rack covered with paper towels; the paper towels absorb any excess oil.

Use a baking dish (bowl or plate or whatever) filled with powdered sugar to coat the beignets. This seems to work best while they’re quite warm, but not too hot to touch. Coat one side and then flip them over. Or sift more powdered sugar on top.

If you roll the dough thinner and add cinnamon to the powdered sugar, they’re not far off from churros.


*I used Glutino/Gluten Free Pantry’s all purpose flour mix.

Best Gluten Free Products I’ve Found


This list is for a friend who just went gluten free to see if it would help his health. I was telling him about all my favorites and realizing I hadn’t made an updated list. So. (And yes, many of the links below are affiliate links.)

Box Mixes:

I have never found a gluten free cake mix that was okay without doctoring it. All of them require something. The Betty Crockers, at least, are simple. I really dislike the Bob’s Red Mill mixes. Most of them are garbanzo bean based, which is a strong and unpleasant flavor for sweets. Most mixes have corn starch.

Trader Joe’s mixes are mostly from Bob’s Red Mill. So, I avoid them.


  • Jovial Organic Brown Rice Capellini — the only gluten free capellini I’ve liked. All their pastas are good. Wholefoods carries this brand.
  • Schar Gluten Free Anellini — pasta for soup. I use these in place of pastina or acini di pepe. All their pastas are good, but they do have corn (if you’re not avoiding corn, no worries). I’ve seen Schar products at Safeway,Wholefoods, and Nob Hill. But very inconsistent selections.
  • Conte Cheese Ravioli (frozen) — you can order these online, but don’t. Link is only for reference. Wholefoods and some Safeways carry this. Under cook by at least one minute, if you don’t want it falling apart. They have other great frozen pastas.


  • Schar Chocolate Hazelnut Bars — BEST gluten free chocolate wafer cookie out there–by a long shot. I’ve only seen this at Nob Hill or online.
  • K-Toos — best oreo equivalent (most taste like cardboard, this tastes like cookie). Best dipped in milk.
  • Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Crispy Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies — similar to Nantuckets. I like these better, though.
  • Glutino Lemon Wafer Cookies — these are great. Avoid the chocolate ones like the plague. Many stores carry these.


  • Udi’s gluten free sandwich bread — take your pick of flavor, but remember to toast the bread. All gluten free bread is better toasted. Lots of grocery stores carry this.
  • gluten-free-ciabattas-plain-largeRudi’s Gluten Free Ciabatta Rolls — I’ve only seen these at one Safeway in Mountain View, but they are far and away the best dinner roll I’ve found. Again, toast them. They are actually the best gluten free bread I’ve found of any kind.

And… there are more, but that’s it for now. I’ll try to do another post continuing the list.

15 Percent Chance of Cancer

Which isn’t actually all that high. Although that number is probably not accurate for me.

So. Here’s the latest. The nodule on the left lobe of my thyroid was benign. The nodule on the right side was… we don’t know. The cells they found are present in both benign and malignant nodules. There’s apparently no way to know until they’ve cut that puppy out of me and dissected it in pathology.

My doctor recommends getting it out. Removing the right lobe of my thyroid. She would also be in support of removing the whole thyroid, so that they won’t have to go back in later to remove the left if the right proves cancerous.

If I keep the left, that means I have some thyroid function left. It might even be enough that I wouldn’t need supplementation, or could go with a lower dose. I… rather like the idea of keeping as many of my body parts as I can. I don’t like the idea of needing to completely depend on thyroid supplementation. Not because I mind taking medicine; that’s never been a problem. But because when I imagine surviving the apocalypse and being without recourse to medicine or advanced technology… it seems having some thyroid function left would be a good idea. This is why I’m also very interested in laser eye surgery. Contacts may not be easily come by after Armageddon. And no, I’m not saying I actually *believe* there’s an apocalypse coming. I do, however, think civilization is far more fragile than we might like to believe.

But back to that 15% statistic. That number applies to the population at large. It does not apply to celiac patients in specific. In the general population, we get averaged out by other people. However, celiac patients are apparently 10 times more likely to get thyroid nodules than non-celiac patients. We’re more susceptible to certain cancers (thyroid being one, non-Hodgkins lymphoma being another). I don’t actually know my odds on that one. I’ve done some study and not found much. I’ll probably find more if I dig deeper. But. Current data.

My father was asking me if keeping the lobe was an option. Not because he’s recommending it, because he doesn’t know and was wondering what my options were. So far, the literature I’ve read is saying to get the lobe removed. If I have thyroid cancer, I will not know it from thyroid function. The thyroid can keep chugging along and producing normal amounts of hormone even while home to cancer.

My doctor says it’s not a rush. I do have some time to think about it and do more research. I’m leaning towards removal of the right lobe. If I did get the whole thing taken out and then learned it wasn’t cancerous, I’d be really upset. Reminds me of my grandma cutting mold off a slice of bread, “Why throw that away? It’s a perfectly good slice of bread!”

The doctor’s concern is the risk of anesthesia, plus the risk of nicking either the parathyroid or the vocal chords. I don’t judge any of these risks sufficient reason to remove the whole thyroid. If I need to go in for surgery twice, I’ll do it.

Yesterday I got Needles Stuck in My Throat

pic_fna_noduleAnd it kinda sucked. But only kinda.

Thyroid biopsy.

When I went in for my physical exam, my primary care doc had me drink a glass of water while she pressed her fingers against my throat. Looking for exactly what she found. Thyroid nodules. Except we didn’t know that’s what she found. Just that it felt off to her. So she sent me to get a sonogram of my throat, and that’s when we found the nodules. Two large ones (one on each side) and something like a dozen small ones (only on one side).

One nodule, the largest one, showed some peripheral vascularity; it had blood flowing to it. From what I’ve read internal vascularity, within the nodule, is much more of a concern.

I went to an endocrinologist to get the nodules biopsied. She showed me the sonograms, which I greatly appreciated, applied topical anesthetic to my neck, and then waited until the anesthetic took effect. Then they wiped down my neck with betadyne and proceeded to insert needles into my thyroid.

They wanted three samples per large nodule. The actual moment when the needle breaks skin isn’t bad. You feel it, but not much. It’s once the needle is in the thyroid and they have to wiggle it around a bit to cut out a sample. That part hurt. It wasn’t horrible. It was unpleasant.

They took seven samples from me; the endocrinologist wasn’t happy with one of the samples so did an extra one. I am all for that. I’d rather have too many samples than too few.

Afterwards, they stuck two little round bandaids on my neck, which immediately made me think “vampire bite”. My boyfriend had the same reaction when he saw them.  They also gave me an ice pack.

It’s after that it hurts. Yesterday evening and today, it’s unpleasant. Reminds me of when I had the tonsillitis of doom. Which is not something I ever like to be reminded of. So that’s been unpleasant. I think the main issue is just that your neck is constantly moving as you talk, look around, eat… do anything, really. So you feel it constantly. The same procedure elsewhere wouldn’t be as unpleasant.

But, it’s done now. I should be getting the pathology results this week.

No Really, I Can’t Eat Gluten

I am going to rant.

I just saw this. It’s a waitress’s rant about people claiming to have gluten allergies when they don’t. And I totally get it. I am sympathetic to her frustration. But she’s wrong.

This bit, this is where she’s wrong:

People with true gluten allergies or Celiac disease don’t go to an Italian restaurant and order the fettuccine alfredo* with gluten free pasta, because those with real allergies can’t take such a risk of cross-contamination.

I wish that were true. But it isn’t. You know why? There is nowhere else.

There are a miniscule few restaurants that are completely gluten free. People with celiac disease do end up eating at places with gluten, because there’s no other option. Where else are we going to go?

Your team at work is going out to lunch. What do you do? Fuss? Demand to go elsewhere? Where? Go and don’t eat? I’ve done that more than a few times. But you end up making everyone around you uncomfortable. Do you refuse to go? Great idea, that’ll do well for team building and career advancement.

People with celiac disease know going out to eat is a crapshoot. We know we’re going to get glutened. Maybe not this time, but next time. We know waiters will roll their eyes at us and refuse to believe it when we say we can’t have gluten. And that is  because of trendoid idiots who pull shit like what she describes in her rant. Saying they’re gluten free, but then asking for rolls. They’ve trained waiters not to take us seriously.

And you know what else sucks? When we get sick, it’s often hours later. So that waiter never knows they poisoned us. Because celiac disease is not an allergy, there is no immediate allergic response. No hives, no rush to the ER.

I’m allergic to peppers. Within minutes, I know if I’ve had them. My throat starts to swell and my neck breaks out in a rash. I get glutened? Nothing happens until my food gets to my intestine. And what happens there may not register enough to let me know my body is suffering. My villi are getting damaged, eaten away because of my autoimmune response to gluten. But you often don’t get symptoms until it’s too late. Until your villi are already worn away enough for you to notice. And you know how long it takes to grow them back? Months.

She’s absolutely right about how easily food gets contaminated. And about the risks of eating out. That’s why I was just in a study looking for a way to mitigate the damage of gluten contamination. Not to allow me (and others like me) to eat gluten again. Not like lactaid, that allows many people to consume foods with lactose. No. A medication to protect us from the constant exposure to gluten we deal with every damned day. It’s a big enough problem that a pharmaceutical company is funding research. Not for an OTC pill. For a prescription medication. One that will require you to get biopsies before it’s prescribed. I hope they succeed. I hate the fear, the dread of going out.

So I get it. I get why she’s so frustrated. Believe me, those trendy idiots frustrate me even more. But please, please, please… don’t just roll your eyes. Don’t assume the person at your table is lying. Give them the benefit of the doubt. They may be a trendoid idiot, or they may be me. Or someone like me.



*Addendum–well, we don’t order the fettucine alfredo because the alfredo sauce has gluten in it…

Honey Sweetened Chocolate Pots de Creme

I love my blender.

Last night I was craving something sweet, but didn’t want to put too much effort in.  And then I discovered I could make pots de creme with my blender. It was really fast. About 10 minutes to make the recipe, and 45 to chill in the fridge.


  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tsp espresso powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 oz baking chocolate (unsweetened)
  • 3/4 cup cream (sub coconut milk for dairy free or paleo)


  • Set the cream to heat on the stove (try to take it off the burner just before boiling)
  • Chop chocolate
  • Mix eggs, honey, vanilla, and espresso powder in the blender
  • Add chocolate
  • Pour hot cream over the chocolate
  • Blend (I used ice cream mode on mine)
  • Pour into ramekins (2 of these guys, or 4 of these)
  • Refrigerate

Using ice cream mode on my BlendTec (have I mentioned I love that thing?), even the un-chilled pots de creme were edible. The blender thickened them up into a very rick chocolate pudding.

This makes for a rich dark chocolate, slightly on the bitter side. You can easily add whipped cream to the finished product if you want it sweeter (or have a significant other who would want it sweeter).

Accidental Brownies — Gluten Free!

I accidentally made brownies the other day… My ex had just brought all my stuff over, so I was feeling like  being a bit self indulgent and decided to make frosting… and failed. Which is ridiculous, because making frosting is easy. But between using a new cocoa powder and overwhipping the butter… the frosting looked more like brownie mix than frosting. And I figured, well, why not?

So I added a few things… and the brownies were awesome. They had a chewy top and corners, but a very soft and rich center. Reminded me of the Ghirardelli mix I used to make in the days of gluten.


Accidental Brownies

2 ¼ sticks butter
6 — 8 tbsp cocoa powder
less than a box of powdered sugar*
two eggs
1 cup gf flour
chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla extract

  • Mix butter, cocoa powder, powdered sugar, and vanilla together in food processor or stand mixer.
  • Taste for sweetness (this makes a more bittersweet brownie, if you want it sweeter, add more powdered sugar)
  • Mix in eggs
  • Mix in flour
  • Pour into greased & sugared 9 x 9 pan (I use granulated sugar instead of flour to get a crunchier crust)
  • Bake at 350 for 30 — 40 minutes


*”Less than a box of powdered sugar” is my favorite instruction ever from my mom. It usually translates to 3/4 of a box.

How Celiac Became the Disease Du Jour

This is my theory. I make no claims of scientific thoroughness, just some logical extrapolations.

Baby boomers.

Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964, so we’re talking about an age range of 48 to 66. The baby boomers are getting older and beginning to hit senior citizenship. Understandably, they’re getting most of the focus of the medical industry at the moment. Things don’t work quite as well as they used to, but they still work well enough that care is optimistic instead of palliative, and people in that age range, on average, are already established. They have health insurance.  They probably have more money than, say, a 22 year old would. So that explains the focus on their generation.

Part 2 of the puzzle has to do with what happened when the baby boomers were kids.

At that time, celiac disease was considered a childhood illness that one could grow out of. Sprue was a more common name then (and that’s what my Grandma still calls it). A fair number of baby boomers were diagnosed with celiac disease; makes sense, the disease hadn’t really been diagnosed before the 1940s. Those children were put on gluten free diets.

After you’ve been on a gluten free diet long enough, your body recovers. It regrows the villi in your intestine. You regain the ability to process other foods (like dairy, which is the first to go when your villi start taking damage).

When the baby boomers were kids, that recovery was considered permanent. So, after a long enough time, the kids were told they no longer had celiac disease and could go back to eating gluten. Because the damage from celiac disease tends to accrue over time, the kids didn’t show immediate severe symptoms.

Not all the symptoms of celiac disease are obvious, hence the appropriately titled Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic. Basically any condition that can be caused by either vitamin deficiency or inflammation can be a result of celiac disease. Doesn’t guarantee that it’s a result of celiac disease, just means that there’s a huge number of potential symptoms. This makes it harder to diagnose.

So we have these kids who have been told they’ve outgrown celiac disease who go back to eating gluten. They develop symptoms that are unpleasant, but not life threatening. What’s more, the symptoms aren’t always the obvious intestinal ones. And because the American medical institution believed for a very long time that celiac disease was ONLY a childhood disease, that means these now-adults weren’t diagnosed with it. It likely didn’t even occur to them or their doctors.

Nifty diagram of Secondary Celiac Symptoms from

Instead, the doctors diagnosed them with the secondary conditions that were just symptoms, not the source of the problem. Heart burn? We have medication for that. Hormonal irregularities? We can treat that. Frequent respiratory infections? Happens. And we can treat that, too. Infertility? Well, it’s hard to know what causes that.

But the baby boomers are getting older, and this is when the damage from celiac disease takes a huge toll. Arthritis, osteoperosis, anemia, vitamin deficiencies, depression, neuropathy, fatigue… The body doesn’t have the benefits of youth to offset those symptoms. So the baby boomers go in to their doctors and they demand something be done. So it is.

So, yes. Celiac disease is the latest fad. That doesn’t mean, however, that it isn’t real.