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Snack interlude.

  1. Toasted piece of whole grain bread (preferably not a national supermarket brand where they add sugar, extra gluten, modified this and that…)
  2. Herbed goat cheese (chevre) spread on toast.
  3. Fresh basil leaves laid over the goat cheese.
  4. Sliced cherry tomatoes and kalamata olives (if you like them)
  5. optional grind or two of fresh black pepper.

Enjoy your simple and delicious snack.

(as you can see, I couldn’t wait to enjoy mine before snapping a pic)

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Posted by on July 10, 2012 in Food, Lifestyle

 

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Accidental Dessert For Breakfast

Quick post before my full fledged 5 week update.

As you may or may not know, I make my green smoothies with frozen bananas.  One of my many endearing idiosyncrasies consists of only eating fresh bananas within a two to three day window of proper ripeness before they gross me out and I will not eat them.  At this point, they are best suited for baking or smoothies, so I freeze them since I don’t bake.  Although I have recently been browsing online info about vegan baking, for the record.  That aside, I used all my kale and collards for my salad greens, so I was looking around for a suitable breakfast in my relatively bare cupboards and came up with the most awesome accidental dessert for breakfast!  I suppose some might call it a smoothie, but I put it in a bowl and ate it with a spoon, so I suppose it’s sorbet.  I realize I did not invent this, but I am still impressed with myself.

I put the following in a blender:
1.5 frozen bananas
1-2 c. of frozen raspberries (any mixture of berries would be great)
1/2 c. of water - enough to allow it to blend but not get too liquidy
optional - 1 Tb. of that heavily processed So Delicious brand french vanilla coconut milk creamer that I reserve for special occasions 
optional - vanilla extract ( do not use too much or it's gross)
optional - 1 tsp chia seeds

 

Top with a few raw almonds or fresh berries, yum!

 

blend and WHAAA???  The most amazing, thick, vegan ice “cream” ever!

Along with that I had a small Ezekiel sprouted tortilla (I know it has soy in it, but I realized this after I bought it and my fridge is pretty bare right now, and I was hungry) with some ground peanuts and honey from the farmer’s market (I don’t call it peanut butter because it is not pre-made; does not have added oils, salt, or sugar and is ground to order into the container from straight peanuts – wish they had raw!)

What a heavenly dessert.

I am going to post about salads as well.  Mine have been intensely flavorful lately without drenching them in dressings.  But for now, I have to get ready for work.

Vegan Ice “Cream”

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2012 in Food, Lifestyle

 

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Pathology, Gross Description, Etc.

I had a follow up today with my surgeon and am happy to report that healing is on track.  He said my scar is still a bit puffy (I already knew that, thank you) and that complete healing from surgical scars takes 6 months to a year.  Aside from minor maiming by my Phlebotomist today, all is well.  Stabbed veins are painful!  I received the Operative and Pathology Reports, and though both were in language unfamiliar to me, they were fascinating!  Being that it’s all done and over with, it’s quite interesting to know exactly what took place while I was under.  I’ll summarize:

Operative Report:

Basically, they put me under, prepped me, gave me some drugs and put an inflatable cuff around each of my lower legs to prevent blood clots.  Then, they slit my throat 9 cm across and 2.5 cm above my clavicle, first superficially, then through muscle.  They folded my temporary neck flaps up and clamped them open.  Then they cut through more muscle, ligated several veins in my hypervascular thyroid, snipped here, snipped there.  They identified and spared my superior laryngeal nerve, identified and biopsied nodes determined to be benign.  The left upper parathyroid was identified and spared, the lower left parathyroid was not encountered and the left thyroid lobe was inspected and no accidentally removed parathyroid was seen.  The recurrent laryngeal nerve identified, spared in situ, and viable; lobe is passed off and returned finding hyperplastic (extra cells) tissue consistent with Graves’ Disease with no carcinoma seen.  Likewise for lymph nodes.

Onto more dissecting, snipping, and sewing; right lobe removed, the right upper parathyroid vasculature was compromised by my anatomy and was therefore “minced finely with … scissors” and grafted into my neck muscle.  The right lower and a third rogue parathyroid “labeled the right middle” were viable and left in situ.  My guess is that the “right middle” parathyroid was the lower left that they couldn’t find, which must have taken a wrong turn at Albuquerque.  Then, they basically burned the rest of the gland off of my trachea and stabbed two holes in my neck in order to place drain tubes.  Then it says ” Hemostasis was adequate with a valsalva maneuver,” though I’m not entirely sure what that looks like…

Pathology Report & Gross Description:

Specimen A – Pretracheal lymph node measures 1.4×0.6×0.3 cm.  It is frozen and sectioned for diagnosis by touch preparation.

Specimen B – Left thyroid lobe weighing 24.5 grams (finally, I know!)  –  Normal weight of a thyroid is 10-30 grams, so you can see that my left half was as big as a full thyroid.  It measured 6×4.8×1.8 cm while the isthmus (the middle part that I found so bothersome) measured 1.5 x 0.7 x 0.6 cm.  The lobe was reddish-tan and “diffusely heterogenous” – I think this means it was multinodular across a large region.  Consistently inconsistent, if you will.  No distinct nodules identified.

Specimin C – Right thyroid lobe weighing 15.7 grams (for a total of 40.2 grams) and measured 5.5 x 2.5 x 1.5 cm.  This lobe was “beefy red” and homogeneous.  No discrete lesion identified.  I could’ve told you the left one was the problem.

It’s weird how 99% of my physical ailments happen on the left side of my body, my thyroid being no different…

  • One reactive node tested negative for metastatic carcinoma.  That’s always a good day…  I think this was referring to my lymph node.  Both lymph node and thyroid nodule tested negative for carcinoma.  Yay.
  • At surgery the patient was found to have an enlarged, hypervascular thyroid consistent with the diagnosis.

Hemovac drains are then placed, I’m stitched up, and sterile dressing is applied.  The next thing I remember is the nurse telling me to take deeper breaths to bring my blood pressure up and they brought in my mom and then my boyfriend.  The transfer to the room is a bit hazy.  I remember coming out of the elevator on the cart and accidentally bumping into my mom, who didn’t recognize me at first.  Getting off the cart and into the bed was the hardest part.

I had to stay in the hospital overnight, but the morphine they gave me kept putting me to sleep, so for the first few hours, my mom, my boyfriend, and I napped on and off since none of us really got much sleep the night before.  That evening I told them both to go home and get some rest – only one person is allowed to stay in the hospital room overnight and I wanted both of them to get some sleep after the whole ordeal.  I knew that Anto had to work the next day at 5 and he’d gotten only 45 minutes of sleep the night before due to having to close at work and then be at my place by 6:30 a.m.  I felt fine and sleepy and wanted him to get a good night’s sleep before having to bear the brunt of working a Saturday night with little to no sleep two nights in a row.  He left reluctantly and then texted me about every 8 minutes upon returning home, making sure I was alright, asking if I wanted him to come back, etc.  All I did was watch episodes of House Hunters International between drug laden snoozes, I felt fine and told him to stay home.

As it got to be around ten o’clock, the nurses kept returning to poke me with needles, take my vitals, bring me ice chips, etc.  All I wanted to do was go to sleep and every time I started to drift, in came the nurse or the tech to make me do something.  Just when I was starting to realize that this wasn’t going to be the restful night I thought it would be, the door opened and Anto walked in!  He had come back, a blanket under his arm, to stay the night with me.  I was and still am thankful that he returned because that night would’ve been a very different experience had I been on my own.  The poor guy got woken up just like I did every hour, on the hour, the entire night.

I was supposed to be released around 11:00 the next morning, but there was a mix up with my labs – they had to monitor my calcium and the last batch of blood-work was entered under the wrong date in their computers, and it took until about 5pm to sort out.  Poor Anto stayed with me all the way until 3, and only left because he had to be to work at 5.  My mom came to take me home and faithfully crushed my pain pills up into apple juice for me for the next few days.

You already know the story after that.  How much energy I had, how I tricked myself into mild dehydration and exhaustion.  I made myself take it easy the last few days and am due to return to work tomorrow.  I feel great, optimistic, and generally lighter – even though I’ve gained seven pounds.  Blech.  I’m not letting panic get the best of me.  After all, I’ve been doing nothing but eating and laying around for the last couple of weeks with a couple of slow paced walks thrown in the mix.  I asked the surgeon today if I could start running again next week and he gave me the green light.  I think a return to routine, work, and more rigorous exercise will be effective.  I’m also looking forward to having income again.  I *think* I’m at peace with the fact that there is bound to be a little bit of weight fluctuation and that it will even out in time once I find the right fit with my Synthroid dose. I have been experiencing pretty significant abdominal distress with the slightest stray from non-processed food, so even though I already make mostly healthy food choices, this might ensure stricter adherence to them.  Not sure what’s going on, but I’m keeping an eye on things.

Still, overall, I’m feeling positive and thankful.  *Exhale…….

 

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2012 in Total Thyroidectomy

 

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Two week update

Today marks two weeks since the removal of my thyroid.

Perhaps I should’ve updated more often, because now the first week is kind of a hazy memory.  I started weening off the pain meds at about one week.  Then, on Monday, I drove for the first time.  I still have to turn my whole torso to look behind me, I can’t tilt my head back much at all, and it still feels like my neck is sewn on too tight.  My incision is pretty dark and is about 3 inches across – longer than I thought it would be.  I’m used to it now and am taking pictures as it heals.

Almost from the day I got home, I had a good bit of energy.  When they handled my thyroid to cut it out, it likely stimulated it to release a bunch of extra hormone into my bloodstream before it was removed.  I experienced palpitations during surgery (I was told by the anesthesiologist) and for a few days afterward, but they felt very minor compared to those I experienced in my hyper days.  Because it is often difficult for me to take it easy when I’d rather be productive, I don’t think I allowed myself as much rest as I really needed.  I forgot that just because I felt fine didn’t mean that there wasn’t a big slice across my neck that needed healing, and that the body heals when at rest.  So two nights ago I crashed.  My digestive system started acting crazy, I had terrible cramping all night and into the next morning.  The minute my morning green smoothie hit my lips, it felt like my entire intestinal tract went into spasm and I couldn’t even stand up straight.  I was informed that I was probably dehydrated on top of not getting enough rest.

In an effort to aid in my further healing, I rested all day yesterday with my kitty Lilly, who did not leave my side and is currently napping next to me as I write this.  I got a full night’s sleep, took an easy walk and then napped three or four times throughout the day and still went to bed and slept like a log.  I must have needed it.  I’m taking it easy again today, drinking plenty of water and resting.  I ran the essential errands – kitty litter, kitty food, and groceries.  I have all these other things that I’d like to do today:  make soap, clean out the refrigerator, put my laundry away, clean the kitchen floor.  Then I remind myself that there is plenty of time to do those things and the priority now is rest and healing.  I go back to work on Tuesday and I’m not going to take the chance of exhausting myself during the time that I need to be recovering.  It’s easy to forget that my body is using a lot of energy to regenerate tissue and heal the space where my thyroid used to be, I just need to step aside and give it the opportunity to do so.

I don’t really know yet how the synthroid dose is suiting me, since I’m only two weeks out and I still have my own hormone running through my bloodstream.  My educated guess is that I’ll start to have an idea starting at about six weeks out from surgery.  I’m hoping for a relatively seamless transition since I feel I’ve already paid my dues over the last six year roller-coaster ride of hormone fluctuations.  I’ve already wasted too much energy on anxiety and feel there’s no more to spare on something so useless.  From here on out, I can only look forward.  I promised this to myself before the surgery and so far that promise is holding solid.

I have a follow up appointment with my surgeon on Monday and another with my Endocrinologist on Wednesday.  I am fairly confident that they will both tell me that everything is looking good and that I’m recovering nicely.  It’s really strange.  I have to keep reminding myself that I’ve already done it.  That the surgery is behind me.  I feel like along with my thyroid, the surgery removed a lot of the weight of the world from my shoulders.  Granted, I still have my struggles, like anyone does, but I feel lighter.  I’ve always laughed easily, but the last couple of weeks have been full of laughter and ease that were hidden in shadow, previously.  I have a tremendous sense of freedom and relief.

I feel joyful that I can walk around with my hair back and my head held high.  I almost feel as if I had plastic surgery.  I’ve rid that sense of shame and embarrassment formerly choking me.  I may have a big red slice across my neck, but I feel good and proud and slightly bad ass about it.  It’s proof to me and everyone who sees me that I’ve faced one of my biggest fears and came through with flying colors.  It’s my own permanent merit badge.  I love my scar and life!  I am a walking medical miracle now.  Without the little pill I take every morning, I would slip into a myxedema coma and die within a matter of weeks.  We are all lucky to be here, to be alive.  “There, but for the grace of God”, I genuinely get it now, to my core, and I hope to hold it with me further on this path.  All we have is now, and right now is good.  In that spirit, I’d like to leave you with another lesson in the words of Pema Chodron:

The Path Is the Goal

What does it take to use the life we already have in order to make us wiser rather than more stuck?  What is the source of wisdom at a personal, individual level?

The answer to these questions seems to have to do with bringing everything that we encounter to the path.  Everything naturally has a ground, path, and fruition.  This is like saying that everything has a beginning, middle, and end.  But it is also said that the path itself is both the ground and the fruition.  The path is the goal.

This path has one very distinct characteristic: it is not prefabricated.  It doesn’t already exist.  The path that we’re talking about is the moment-by-moment evolution of the world of phenomena, the moment -by-moment evolution of our thoughts and emotions.  The path is uncharted.  It comes into existence moment by moment and at the same time drops away behind us.

When we realize that the path is the goal, there’s a sense of workability.  Everything that occurs in our confused mind we can regard as the path.  Everything is workable.

I would like to say, again, a big, big thank you for all the support I have been receiving throughout this experience.  Well wishes, flowers, smiles, hugs, thoughtful texts and inquiries, prayers, vibes, and all the rest.  It’s truly had a positive influence on how well things have gone so far and has helped lift my spirits overall.  Thank you, thank you.  What an incredible healing force you have all been.

 

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2012 in Total Thyroidectomy

 

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Do Over.

I had an epiphany yesterday.  As positively as I may seem when writing about this experience so far, ending my posts on the positive note, I hadn’t felt that way offline.  The entire past few weeks, I’ve been emotionally and physically tied up in knots.  My shoulders have been up to my ears and I couldn’t loosen up despite stretching and massage.  I was flailing about desperately.  It put a strain on my emotional well-being, my physical well-being, and the well-being of a most important relationship.  I have to say, I was really surprised when taking the perspective of the outside observer.  I normally lean into the dark, messy, scary parts of life.  I am not afraid of my emotions, I understand that they pass through like a storm or a cold, and know not to identify with them or let them envelope me.  I normally would consider myself pretty strong and feel like I always pull through when things come down to the wire.  I was surprised to see how difficult I was making this on myself, how much resistance I had, and quite frankly, with how little grace I was approaching this ordeal.

My Mom and I did a Native American ceremony, like we’ve done for most of the big events in my life, to help me to say goodbye to my thyroid the night before the surgery.  I did some heavy emotional and spiritual work for over two hours.  I realized that I have so many personal issues tied to this decision.  In many ways, I’d felt like a failure by not being able to heal myself and that cutting it out is equivalent to giving up/quitting/failing.  I questioned whether I’d been on the verge of healing and was I giving up right before some great success, like healing wasn’t possible sans gland.  I’ve chosen to give up the illusion of control and the most fundamental form of self sufficiency.  These are difficult things for me to give up.  Letting go of my thyroid goes against some of my very strong convictions.  Many times it’s the belief systems that are harder to let go of than anything else.  This is the work I did Monday night.

I made some progress, enough that I was able to go through with it all before the surgeon called it off.  I woke the next day feeling pretty depressed.  I wrote about it.  I did indeed go for a walk, which made me feel better, but those feelings crept back in later that evening.  I couldn’t sleep, I was feeling desperate, looking to cling to something, some kind of guarantee.  Looking back, I know that it was all in an effort to avoid, to resist, to shield myself from change, from fear, from the ache of loss.  The irony is that all of these attempts just exacerbate those feelings that I was so desperately trying to avoid.  We can not both fully live and avoid these messy bits.  They are part of life.  I was reminded of this the next morning.

I awoke Thursday knowing that I could not continue to approach the situation the way I had been, and I picked up Comfortable With Uncertainty, 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion, by well known American Buddhist nun and author Pema Chodron.  Among others, I read the following passage, which spoke to me and opened me to epiphany:

The Three Poisons

“In the Buddhist teachings, the messy emotional stuff is called klesha, which means poison.  There are three main poisons:  passion, aggression, and ignorance.  We could talk about these in different ways — for example, we could also call them craving, aversion, and couldn’t care less.  Addictions of all kinds come under the category of craving, which is wanting, wanting, wanting — feeling that we have to have some kind of resolution.  Aversion encompasses violence, rage, hatred, and negativity of all kinds, as well as garden-variety irritation.  And ignorance?  Nowadays, it’s usually called denial.

The three poisons are always trapping you in one way or another, imprisoning you and making your world really small.  When you feel craving, you could be sitting on the edge of the Grand Canyon, but all you can see is this piece of chocolate cake that you’re craving.  With aversion, you’re sitting on the edge of the Grand Canyon, and all you can hear is the angry words you said to someone ten years ago.  With ignorance, you’re sitting on the edge of the Grand Canyon with a paper bag over your head.  Each of the three poisons has the power to capture you so completely that you don’t even perceive what’s in front of you.

The pith instruction is, whatever you do, don’t try to make the poisons go away.  When you’re trying to make them go away, you’re losing your wealth along with your neurosis.  The irony is that what we most want to avoid in our lives is crucial to awakening bodhichitta.  These juicy emotional spots are where a warrior gains wisdom and compassion.  Of course, we’ll want to get out of those spots far more often than we’ll want to stay.  That’s why self-compassion and courage are vital.  Without loving-kindness, staying with pain is just warfare.”

That was the one that blew it wide open for me.  I’ll spare you a line by line analysis as to how this resonated with me, but the short story is; the reason I’ve been having such difficulty is because I’ve been using every trick in my book, every old pattern from childhood to try to avoid these poisons as if they’d kill me.  Hilariously enough, as most of the lessons in my life tend to be, it is all due to a decision I made.  Oh, life, you’re such a prankster!  After reading several more passages on the heels of this one, I realized that I can simply decide to let go, let that stuff in, breathe, and enjoy the life I have rather than be consumed by avoiding.  I did, and instantly my body loosened up, my mind freed up, I felt like I got my life back, like I could be me again.  This surgery being delayed gave me a chance to do it over again with some dignity and grace.  I found something bigger to lean on, something that won’t crumble under the weight of me and something that creates space and light within me.  I just need to remind myself if the vices start to tighten again.

 

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Really? NOW?!? wtf

So I just got my labs back.  My TSH is normal for the first time in years.  My T3 and T4 are on the very low end of “normal” which is why I have been feeling tired and sluggish and depressed, I imagine.

I also had my antibodies tested and they are normal!  Normal is considered as less than 110 and mine are 105.

This would normally be a time for celebration, but of course, my TT is scheduled for March 20th and here I am, looking like after 6 years, I could be in remission and I’m weeks away from having my thyroid removed.  My thyroid that is behaving itself, even if it’s a bit beat up, diffuse, and multi-nodular.

The thing is, I still have a goiter and my health insurance premium/coverage is not sustainable for frequent lab work (I hate that this is a deal breaker) and of course, there’s no rhyme or reason to Graves’ and it could come back at any time, thereby necessitating the frequent lab work.  I’m fairly angry that of all the times in the last 6 years, once I resolve to have a TT, my body decides to play nice.  Like my resolve is being tested….

I had this visual last night of my thyroid, like a child being threatened with revoked privileges, pleading with me, saying

“no, please don’t take me away!  I will be good, now, okay?  See?  I can behave!”

Because after all, the thyroid is the victim too.  It’s being attacked and doing what it’s told to do with the gun of the TSI antibodies against its head.  Now the criminal has fled, but what happens when “he” returns to the scene of the crime, and then six months from now, a year maybe, when thyroidia forgets that she was in danger of being sliced, gets caught with her purse open and TSI villain shows back up and I’m sitting here looking at a line-up with heart palpitations, having to wait months for my levels to go back down with a higher dose of meds saying “why didn’t I go for it when the time was right?”.

Thoughts??

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2012 in Graves' Disease, Total Thyroidectomy

 

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Master Cleanse: Day 1& 2

Last spring, I took about 8 weeks off from drinking alcohol.  I realized that in about a decade, I hadn’t gone more than a week without a drink.  I decided to do it partially to see if I could, but also to give my body the rest and to reset my relationship with alcohol.  After working in bars for so many years, it got so easy to have a drink or two after work, and if you work 4 or 5 nights a week, that’s a lot of drinks, especially when you include wine with dinner or a few pints with friends on a night off.  It became too habitual to have a drink after work, so I wanted to eliminate the habit and adjust my relationship with alcohol.  It was just what I needed, and it did just what I wanted it to.  It’s something I feel I should do at least once a year.

Recently, I started a new job at a restaurant that includes a bakery.  Without going into too much detail, the bakery is where most of my on the job “nutrition” comes from.  The last few weeks, I’ve been eating in a very out of control fashion.  I love food, sometimes I wonder if I don’t go through periods of food addiction.  When I’m eating well, it’s relatively easy to avoid the refined stuff, but once I start on it, it spirals out of control.  I’ve been able to mitigate my exposure to sweets and super refined calories by not keeping it at home, but it’s in my face constantly at work, and I’ve succumbed.  I feel like in the last few weeks, I’ve had a very dysfunctional relationship with what I choose to put on my plate.  I’ve been making poor food choices, eating too much, eating when I’m not hungry, and quite voraciously regardless of the status of my hunger.  I’ve often read of food addiction being compared to drug or alcohol addiction and heard it said to be a trickier thing to control because you can not cut food out of your life, you have to eat it.  The thing is, you can cut it out temporarily.  That is partially why I am trying out the Master Cleanse for ten days, it’s my food rehab.  Much like the sabbatical I took from alcohol, I am taking one from food.

I started the cleanse yesterday and most of the times I craved food were when I drove by a place that I’d normally stop if hungry and nearby.  I noticed how many times I’d have the impulse to reach for food out of habit over hunger.  I’d get excited like eating something “bad” was a fun thing to do on my day off and have to remind myself that I’m off food for the moment.  When I sit down at the computer, I habitually have food.  I know that’s an awful habit and that’s why I want to break these.  I want my impulses to eat food to stem from hunger; to feed my body, not overload it.

Yesterday I felt mildly headache-y most of the day, but my mood and energy were pretty good.  I had a haircut and there were a few hours where I got rumbles in my stomach, but nothing too bad.  Today I haven’t really had any rumbles, though I can definitely feel it when the lemonade wears off and it’s time for another.  I was under the impression that today was supposed to be the day where I felt bad physically due to toxins being released, but actually I feel pretty good.  As for the saltwater flush, I couldn’t get the whole quart down this morning, the taste was just dreadful.  I think I got enough down for it to do the trick, though, as elimination is a very important part of this cleanse.

In general, I’ve eaten real food, most of the time in the last couple of years, as my diet and learning about food evolves.  However, in the last few weeks I’ve chosen way too much refined flour & sugar.  In the last ten years I used to smoke and work in a smoke-filled environment, I used to drink diet energy drinks, I used to microwave plastic wrapped veggie burgers, I used to drink Slim-Fast as a meal replacement at work…  aaaaand I’ve been on medication for almost 5 of the last 6 years.  I’m sure there are plenty of toxins built up in my fatty tissue that are keeping me from feeling my best.  I’m looking forward to releasing it as well as my toxic relationship to food.

 

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2011 in Lifestyle

 

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