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MagpieWrites

Member Since 28 Nov 2009
Offline Last Active Jul 29 2010 04:24 PM
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Topics I've Started

Well, That Was Miserable

15 June 2010 - 08:08 AM

I just got back from a trip, and I'm not sure what all I should do about the experience - but I DO know I need to do something, because this was just beyond the pale.

My husband received a "mandatory corporate award" from his company, which boiled down to 2000 employees all stuck on a boat for 5 days being grateful for the company telling them they are spiffy workers. Usual corporate life stuff.

Royal Caribbean was the cruise line. I filled out their little forms online detailing my food allergies and celiac (they say no problem at ALL in handling it). My wonderful husband? The moment we got onto the boat, he hoofed it down to Guest Relations to make sure everything was hunky-dory and was told "No problem, just talk to the chefs at meal time."

Meal time rolls around, the boat has pushed off from the dock, and......

Problem.

BIG problem.

Actually... problem(s) - plural.

Not a d$%med thing on the ship to eat. Not safely. Breakfasts and lunches? Buffet-style. Potatoes - rolled in wheat flour "just to crisp it up... but you can scrape off the outside, right?" and same with the sausages. Fruit... sure. Too bad it's next to the toast - and covered in crumbs. (If you ask for something cut fresh, they smiled... and walked straight back to the buffet you just bypassed and pick up the fruit from the same area.)

Day 2 - A very sweet girl happily announces at the buffet table that of course she knows what celiac is, and how I can't have gluten. NO PROBLEM. She will walk me around the buffet and show me what I can have.

(Now, to be fair - I should explain, I'm also allergic to shellfish, bananas, treenuts & eggs. But all that was on the form, filled out, and told in advance - no problem. Except, as you might be able to guess by now.... problem.)

She pulled me to station after station - talking to her coworkers. No luck at the carvery - they buy everything on the corporate cruises premarinated and seasoned. And crusted. On to the salads... where I nearly got my hand smacked when she saw the croutons in the lettuce and the pasta salad mixing into the olives. "No, no. Will make you sick." I was told. Her shoulders starting to slump, she perked up at the Asian station. "Here. Here no problem, I'm sure. Cornstarch to thicken, no problem!" she chirped. Just about to load up my plate for me... she spoke to the coworker stationed there "Celiac" pointing at me. "Can't have wheat - this is all fine, yes?"

I'm not sure who was closer to crying when he shook his head and said "No! Can't eat THIS!"

As she led me (empty plate in hand) back to my husband and I's table... she told me "They make and sell gluten free pastas and breads - if you want to buy and bring them on board - along with gluten free flours, and other ingredients... we'd be happy to cook it for you!"

Ummm... not sure about all of ya'll, but I don't have the number of an air-delivery grocery service in my cell phone. And if I did, I don't have the $$$ to PAY for that!

Next day? My husband tried for me - he was cheerfully told "Hope she likes salad!" by the chef.

The one attempt at the sit down dinner? Even though I told the maitre de about the celiac and the shellfish - to the table comes a crusted steak... covered in shrimp. When I refused the plate - he turned around, plucked the shrimp OFF the plate, and handed it back to me.

~headdesk~ You Can't DO that! Gluten will make me sick but shellfish? That allergy can KILL someone!

Five blasted days. I had a single yogurt (in a sealed tub) and a small carton of semi-frozen skim milk. Some lettuce leaves, shredded carrots, and pineapple. (All CC'd. Got a lovely rash and sick as a dog - but it was in the 90's, 10+ UV, and HUMID. I had to have something, even if it WAS going to make me sick.) That's it. Total. Private island owned by the ship - they brought the food off the boat so it was all the same deal. The one day we stopped in Key West - it was in a private section and other than bar food - not a grocery store or meal to be found.

I'm sick. I'm tired. And I know Danged well (and if I wasn't trying like... heck to remember I'm on an open and family-friendly website, the language would be a LOT... firmer.) I wasn't the only one. I saw parents trying to find food for little kids with peanut allergies - all got met with a shrug and a "If you can't tell by looking, don't eat it." Folks with shellfish issues trying to figure out what "May contain seafood" meant on a sign.

Royal Caribbean (majesty of the sea, to be exact) rents out their two oldest and crappiest ships to the corporate world. On the public excursions - apparently they rock when dealing with this. On the corporate deals? They are floating... crap. My husband's company is pissed - we kept running into VP's who cheerily asked if we were having a wonderful time, and by day three neither my husband nor I were too into worrying about playing politics - so folks got an earful. To my ever-growing relief, instead of being annoyed WE weren't smiling, they were angry on our behalf. (One health-food junkie was angrier than I was! We had spoken on the bus ride in about different health issues, had talked about how we both had been getting healthier and losing weight, and I had told both he and his wife what a huge and wonderful difference in my life knowing about celiac had made. When I had to admit that the grand caloric amount I had managed that day - after 3 hours of snorkeling in the ocean.... cut short when I blacked out from heat stroke/hunger/cc - was a piece of pineapple and that I had found a candybar in the general store... eeesh. The last time I felt like THAT was when my mom found out in college I was dieting by living on diet Mt Dew and caffeine pills! He was.... not amused.)

I really am not sure what to do. The experience was MISERABLE. I'm sick and worn out - going 5 days without eating anything really, being CC'd, all while traveling... not a great thing health wise. I also have fibro and a slight heart issue (usually, the latter isn't a problem in my day to day life. I have to make sure to keep hydrated, consume enough salt to keep my blood pressure high enough, but beyond that - no real problem. But after this last week? I've blacked out almost SEVEN times! Flying was fun, let me tell you!

If it had just been me, I would likely just chalk it up to "Yeah, that sucked" and forget it - but this is just.... criminal. To claim they understand the issue, to make a BIG thing of how they train their staff... and than this? Acknowledging is NOT the same as Accommodating. KNOWING that celiac exists - and than not doing a danged thing about it to a trapped audience? It's like being told in advance someone is in a wheelchair, telling them no worries, but when they get there saying "Well, yeah. We can SEE you're in a wheelchair. Definitely, that's a wheelchair. Still, the stairs are over there. Have fun."

I think also, the fact that they HAVE trained their staff is a huge sticking point for me. If they didn't know, if they didn't understand... that would be one thing. A miserable thing, but one thing. But knowing - and choosing to willfully ignore it after? If you decide to not bother to check the boat and miss the hole and it sinks - that's bad. But KNOWING there is a huge hole in the boat and sail anyway.... is worse.

I know I need to write to the cruiseline. (I also know it's likely not gonna do jack - my husband's company bought the tickets and will be taking money out of his paycheck to cover mine and the taxes. No refunds forthcoming.) I've spoken to my husband's company and rather doubt they will be using the line again (there were a LOT of problems on EVERY level. Not just little ol' me.) But I feel like I need to do more - the blatant disregard of serious health issues is going to HURT someone... BADLY. Drop a tiny bit of peanut into a small child's food that is allergic... you have moments to get to an epi-pen. This kind of behavior could KILL.

I never thought I would consider myself lucky to work from home and have the ability to take time and recoup and just deal with being sick. Not everyone HAS that ability. I know I'm stuck with another week or two getting my health pulled back - but what would a single parent who worked full time out of the home DO? Just suffer?

This is wrong. So very very very wrong. And I am not sure how to try and make them fix this before someone gets really hurt.

Or worse.

Sorry about the novel - it's been a looong week and I'm still a tad bit pissy! And tired. And sick. And really hoping I've managed to write at least semi-coherently, because my brain is partially melted and I'm honestly not 100% sure I'm making any sense at all.

Sweet Hummus

03 May 2010 - 01:24 PM

As the weather warms up, I am less and less enthralled with eating hot foods. (By mid August, my husband will start calling me at lunch time to ask if I remembered to eat today!) So, I'm trying to find really healthy/tasty snack options now to start making that I can keep on hand and actually EAT before I do something stupid and pass out. Again. Which is kind of a thing when you are 6'2 - the likelihood of accidentally taking out innocent villagers is quite high! :P

So anyway. I found a new Hummus-esque recipe in How It All Vegan the other day and decided to give it a whirl (even if it DID look odd.

TASTY TASTY TASTY! So much so, I had to share it on here.

Nutty Hummus Dip (great on apple slices, gluten-free-bread, carrot sticks, etc.)

1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup nut butter of your choice (I used some homemade cashew butter)
1/2 cup apple cider (or juice)
1 tsp cinnamon

Drop it all in a food processor and blitz until smooth. Keep in the fridge, but it is tasty enough I have no idea how long it would last in there. I think next time I might even try adding some cocoa powder and seeing how a chocolate version would work out.

Bad Information

26 April 2010 - 02:01 PM

I'm not sure if this is the right spot for this, if not, can some smart soul whoosh it were it should go?

I'm actually kinda shaking. Peeved. Shrieked for a few minutes at the television screen, and am now stuck in what seems like the 7th ring of Hades trying to maneuver my way through a website to send a note regarding an issue of what seems like some REALLY stupid bad information.

Rachael Ray decided to announce on her show today that Faro is a great option for those with gluten issues because it is low in gluten.

Isn't that kind of like suggestion a wee bit of arsenic to make the dinner go down?

I'm rather shocked at how upset I am. Part of my brain is hammering - it isn't a big deal, maybe some folks can handle items that are low on the gluten scale and faro might be an option. But the other side... I have to work so HARD to make people understand this isn't some fad diet. That no, actually, I can't "just cheat just this once", and also - it IS possible to have great food while eating gluten free. She even talks about brown rice and millet - two GREAT options for people looking for gluten-free whole grains... but doesn't mention them once in regard to celiac or gluten intolerance. This seems like a rather huge issue at the moment, and I'm so annoyed I could scream. I KNOW we are all in for a celiac blitz in over the next month as May is Celiac Awareness Month - every show, periodical, and diet guru will be blazing their opinions on the subject. And I'm glad about that - heck, that's how I finally figured out the celiac thing and gathered enough info to go to my doctor and say "Test me. Now. Just... test me. Time to figure this out." Having it right upfront and in my face helped me find out why I had been so sick for so long... and how easy (well. More or less.) it was to get better. But it has to be the RIGHT information.

Oh... just....

Frell. And other words far stronger that I'm not going to post because even if I AM an adult, I live with the voice of my momma in the back of my head.

Still thinking it though!

I... But... Look, Can Someone Tell Me If This Is A Lot?

07 April 2010 - 06:54 PM

Oh... crapmuffins.

I had a thing, shall we say with my mother in law last night, and after stewing all day I thought I'd ask you smart people and see if I'm being an idiot (entirely possible - I'm more than willing to cop to that) or if I'm right in being a bit peeved.

First off, I should say, my husband has been epic level amazing over my celiac diagnosis. HE is the one who purged the house, HE is the one that said simply "Okay, so what do we need to do to keep you healthy?" and HE is the one that decided that, at home at least, he eats gluten-free too. And often out of the home as well, since I pack his lunch. HE is a paragon of virtue and a joy forever... shame his mother is a twit. (Luckily, he ALSO thinks she is a twit. His reaction last night after dropping her off was to say, as he walked in the door "Honey, my mother is an idiot. We both know this. Do you want to buy some yarn? - I'm a knitter, he has been trained to think "Pissy wife, yarn fix.")

It was.... a night. First there was the fun interlude at PF Changs where she decided to announce all of my pathetic failings to the waitress, in detail, saying over and over again how she and her husband had "warned him about marrying a sick woman. It really doesn't work out. It's such a shame that I'm willing to ruin family time to together over this celiac nonsense" and so on. You know it's bad when the waitress brings you a cranberry and vodka - free - because she feels bad for you. I know where that complaint is coming from - I no longer am willing to give up 5 nights a week going out to restaurants with her anymore. I hated it BEFORE I was diagnosed, and was thrilled to find another reason to say "Sorry, nope."

Than on the ride home.... out of the back comes "I have to say, I've been speaking with all my friends and the rest of the family, and we all are very concerned about how much money you are wasting on this weird diet. Are you going to get the spending under control soon, or are you continuing on with just tossing all this money?"

I... Bu.... I...

I buy local, grassfed meats, mostly local and organic produce when I can. I cook 99% of the meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks) for both my husband and myself - from scratch - that we eat... and I'm spending on average about $55. (Cat food, litter, and cleaning supplies come out of a different budget)

I thought I was actually doing pretty good, really. And yes, she has been talking to everyone in their side of the family - just not telling them the truth. I NOW understand why the last time I ran into an aunt of my husband's at the grocery store she made such a fuss over the contents of my cart.

But IS this a lot? Am I being wasteful? Seriously here folks - I'm working myself into a tizzy. I wouldn't know where to cut in the budget really - I mean, yeah, I could buy cheaper meat... but I'd rather eat less of the good stuff. Since going gluten free... how much are YOU spending?

Advice On Cruising?

24 February 2010 - 07:48 PM

Well. On the upside? My husband working like a madman and putting in obscene hours has been recognized. We're going on a mandatory company cruise for the top workers (no. He doesn't work in finance or the car industry. No bailout money here! lol) to someplace warm and sunny. As someone looking at 30+ inches of snow... and another possible foot coming, this sounds lovely.

But panic is setting in. He won this once before a few years ago and I had a TERRIBLE time dealing with food. Before the celiac diagnosis too! I'm allergic to shellfish, bananas, and coconuts (great. There goes 75% of the food served in the Bahamas...) and even with prior notice - I got sick at every meal. Lost 8 pounds in 5 days. Stupid things too - plain white rice should be fine, right? Yeah, well not if they stick real crab claws in the center of it as decoration. And no, telling me to "scrape around it" didn't really help. I practically lived on benydryll for the week. And the number of times I had to use an epi pen started to make me look like a clumsy heroin addict!

Now with celiac added on... I'm worried I'm just plain screwed. I can't NOT go. And they say on their website that, if given 45 days notice, they can manage a gluten-free meal plan. But... but... oh heck. Has anyone done this successfully? Can you pack your own food for a cruise? When going into international waters... what's allowed? Or do I need to start preparing myself for a 5-7 day span of living on protein bars and bottled water?

Might make the bathing suit nightmare less scary to think about.... oh crap! Bathing suits! As if I wasn't panicked enough!

No one deserves this more than my husband - and I'm so proud of him I could burst. I just wish I didn't feel like this is a gift with the sword of Damocles hanging over it!

Any advice, warnings, or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I'm kinda working myself into knots over something I should be grinning like a loon over!