Daily Archives: October 19, 2007

Checking in on the kids

Okay, okay. I’d decided not to tell you about the test – too much bathroom humor – but you asked for it, and I changed my mind. Up there, by the pig, it says “food and life,” right? Today’s more of the life part.

Danger Tape

Something I actually like about having lupus is how it brings silliness and levity to situations that could otherwise be heavy. My meth, for example. I always hit hit up my meth dealer on Wednesday nights.

Kidneys (“the kids”) are another good example. When lupus begins to affect a person’s internal organs (which, all my moms should take note, it doesn’t always do), the kidneys often show the first signs, so they’re sometimes a heavy subject in our house. (Read: when I hit my quarterly freak-out, at which point I become unreasonably convinced that something bad is about to happen to me or someone I love, they become a subject.)

My kids are healthy healthy healthy as far as I know, but there’s always this underlying nervousness that one day, I’ll go see my doc, and when I get home there will be a voicemail saying “Hey, guess what? We took a look at your urine sample, and . . .” In my head, I never finish the sentence, I just worry (big surprise there, I know).

Anyway, this week I had The Big Test, a more in-depth way to check in on the kids than a regular urine sample, so I was sort of nervous. I locked on to the hilarity of having to save my own pee for 24 hours as a means of dealing with the test’s possible implications.

I usually think ahead. On test day, this proved to be a good thing: I made rice pudding first thing in the morning, before I even changed out of my pajamas, so that I wouldn’t have to cook or touch food during the test. Yes, I believe in washing my hands, but I felt the urge to be uber-Kosher about it. I put a swatch of the DANGER tape I’ve had since high school across the bathroom door, as a reminder. I decided to find a home for the jug in the fridge before I started, just to see where it would fit, and lo and behold, it was too wide for the refrigerator door, and too tall for any of the shelves. But I refused to completely reorganize the shelves of my refrigerator for a container of urine. So all day, up and down the stairs I went, first down to get the container from Tito’s beer fridge in the basement, then up to use it, then down again . . .

Tito pretended nothing was happening. He’s entirely supportive when it comes to the whole lupus thing, but has yet to accept the general idea that I have bodily functions. (After 11 years, he still blushes when I take a tampon out of my purse.)

My first sample was a bit of a disaster. You put a little collection device between the bowl and the seat, and when I stood up, I guess the device stuck to the seat, and somehow so did my ass, so I didn’t so much collect my first specimen as empty it temporarily into the device, then splash it all over my legs, the toilet, and the floor. Pee everywhere. After a shower and an intense cleaning session, I was back at my computer, thankful I had no immediate need to cook. (No wonder no one fills these things up, I thought. They all stop drinking after the first episode.)

I spent the remainder of my day reminding myself that not everyone I saw knew I was trapping my urine – it made me feel so old. And kinda dirty. I tried to go to a yoga class, and felt the first pangs of a bathroom need five minutes before the class started. I panicked and went home. We went out to dinner, and I put a Ball jar in my purse, just in case. For the first 45 minutes of dinner my mind circled around the possibility of getting stuck in the bathroom at a Vietnamese restaurant with more than a Ball jar’s worth of pee. I imagined the proprietor walking in on me, screaming in a tongue I didn’t understand about the crazy woman in the bathroom holding a drinking glass full of. . . So I drank very little. But I got through the rest of the day, without spilling again, and ended up with a new understanding of what toddlers must go through when they’re potty training (the anxiety!).

I’m proud to say that in the end, I filled more than one jug. I carried the two giant orange containers into the doctor’s office in a cute brown paper bag with fashionable, gifty handles. A nurse almost convinced me that I’d done part of it wrong, that I had to do it all over again, but we cleared that up. Now I just wait for the phone call.

And giggle, while my husband shakes his head and rolls his eyes, because now I know how much I pee in a day, and that makes me happy. I’d always wondered.

Pumpkin-Cardamom Rice Pudding 1

Pumpkin-Cardamom Rice Pudding with Maple Cream (PDF)
Recipe 292 of 365

Rice pudding is one of the few foods I develop insatiable cravings for – the urge hits, and I want a giant vat of it. I want to bathe it in cinnamon and eat it out of wide, warm mugs, savoring the sweet mixture of grainy and smooth textures in each spoonful. Here’s a delicious version that makes a perfect home for that random leftover cup of canned pumpkin.

TIME: 15 minutes active time
MAKES: 6 servings

4 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons maple syrup

Combine 4 cups of the milk, rice, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Right when the mixture boils (watch that it doesn’t boil over!), reduce heat to low and cook for 30 minutes, stirring every once in a while, until almost all the liquid is absorbed. Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup milk, pumpkin, and cardamom. Bring back to a simmer, then remove from heat.

Whip the cream in a cold bowl until soft peaks form. Add the maple syrup and whip until cream forms stiff peaks. Serve the pudding warm, topped with dollops of maple cream.

Pumpkin-Cardamom Rice Pudding 4

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