Thursday, November 30, 2017

Better living by chemistry?

My grandmother didn't take any medication until after she had a stroke in her late 80s. She always shook her fist happily in praise to God and said: "Your confession is your possession!" when asked about her health. She seemed very healthy to me and lived until her early 90s - so perhaps that's why I've always been a bit adverse to taking medications of any kind. It's a family thing. We just never took pills.

Headache or Pain? No, I don't need that Advil or Tylenol. Twisted ankle? I'll just soak it in a warm bath or put an ice pack on it.

I never wanted to have to take a pill. Well, man makes plans and God laughs. I counted it up today and I now take 19 pills a day. A few of them are vitamins/supplements.. 

...but there are also a lot of prescription medications. Medications that aren't optional. Medications that I never wanted to take. Medications for health conditions that I could never have guessed I'd have and will have to treat for the rest of my life.

I was counting up the number of specialists I have following my care and it pretty much matched the number of the pill bottles above.. there are a few I haven't seen in a while, but the list below are doctor's I've seen within the past six months.

  • Endicronologist
  • Dermatologist
  • Gastroenterologist
  • Nephrologist
  • Orthopedist 
  • Psychiatrist
  • Uro/Gynecologist

I have auto-immune disease(s) including Hashimoto's Thyroiditis and Celiac and probably some related arthritis. 

Bipolar II
Chronic Kidney failure, grade III
Skin Cancer (but that's just chronic, too. Nothing metastatic or scary..just requires visits and ouchy skin removal)

I feel like my medical chart belongs to a 70 year old woman, not me. 

I refuse to think I'm "that sick". Every lab draw to monitor my kidneys or TSH levels just makes me want to go out and run that much longer, that much further. Except, I don't. 

I haven't been running regularly. I can go join my club-mates and run 3 miles easily enough--buy I'm not running regularly and I need to be consistent and get my mileage back up.

I need to go back and prove to myself that I'm healthy. That I'm strong. That my confession can be my possession. 
If I say "I'm a runner" that I'll be a healthy runner with a strong heart, lungs and low blood pressure. That I'll have energy despite the hypothyroidism. That I'll be able to stop taking at least one of the blood pressure medications. 

One less pill. I suppose that's the goal. If I run and build up my mileage, my goal is to need just one less pill. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

It takes REAL talent

I managed to give myself a concussion on Sunday night. That takes some real talent. I've known I'm klutzy for years and it often provides to comic relief when I'm giving presentations in front of customer prospects--but this is a new level of self-injury.

One of the symptoms (or results?) of a concussion is that you don't remember the events very well. (Along with fatigue, nausea, dizziness, headache, slurred words and being a bit slow to answer.)

So, I don't remember exactly what I was trying to do or how it happened but somehow while trying to get out of bed I fell head first into the corner of my sturdy 1970s-era wooden nightstand. Nightstand:1, Carolyn: 0

What I DO remember is that my right ear hurt and that I said something like: "My ear! My ear!" Jeff asked if I wanted ice and went downstairs while I remained in a ball on the floor. Oh! And just now as I'm writing this I remember that Michael, who had just gone to bed, must have overheard all the noise because he came in and awkwardly tried to hug me while I was on the floor. (He's sweet like that.. he always wants to hug anyone he sees in any kind of distress.)

Something I should point out, if you don't already know it, is that I have an unusually high pain tolerance. I have all my dental work done without novacaine. I once had a hernia surgery under only a localized numbing - wide awake. After my last surgery (gastroc recession) they sent me home with two pain medications (oxycodone and something else). I never took any of the prescription stuff, and just took some Tylenol as needed for about a week. (As soon as I could drive I limped over to the Anoka County Sheriff's office and promptly deposited those untouched pain meds in the disposal slot.)

This fall, however, hurt enough to make me cry. That's pretty unusual. Jeff trying to apply ice and look at the spots that were bleeding (behind my ear) hurt even more - so I asked him to skip it and just let me go to bed and go to sleep. 

If it had been more serious, that might have been a bad choice, but I did a quick check for any symptoms that would be worrisome enough to warrant a trip to the ER and deduced that the worst it could be would be a concussion. (Sometimes being from a medical family is a good thing.) 

I woke up in the morning with a throbbing head, some dried blood in my hair and big bump behind my ear. 

End result: I can't sleep on my right side, I can't wear my glasses (the frames touch the lump behind the ear), and I'm pretty queasy and tired--but that hasn't kept me from working or cooking or anything else around the house. It HAS kept me from exercising (no vigorous movement allowed--which isn't a hardship considering I have NO desire to do anything but lay in bed).

I'm not sure how long this lasts (maybe until the lump on my head goes away?) but for a while (especially while I'm dizzy and can't wear my glasses) I think I'll just stay safely at home. 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Why I don't tell you if I'm coming to your town

Dear wonderful friends and family,

I wrote this post back in March, but decided that today, while I work through the weekend (again) is an appropriate time to update and post.

Last Friday I updated my flights and I'll be in three cities for work this week. Yep, I booked on Friday for flights that leave on Tuesday morning first thing. This is my normal.

Back in March, when I booked similar travel I was:

  • less than a 15-minute train ride from one friend who has repeatedly offered to drive as far as New Hampshire to see me. 
  • a short drive away from another friend who I only get to chat to via FB since we stopped working together
  • ANOTHER friend who was about to have a baby (baby boy is since born and I see Snapchats of him frequently--SO CUTE)
  • On the second leg of the trip I could have stayed at my Uncle's house. I was less than a 20-minute drive away from his house. 

Here's the thing: I won't have time for any visits. 

I don't think people who haven't done worked in a position similar to mine can understand. Afterall, I'm right THERE - so close by! Why wouldn't I have time or make time to visit? At least have dinner; you have to eat, right?

Here's the problem with my work travel. It's exhausting and I am working non-stop. There really isn't time to eat. Or sleep. Or do anything but work frantically and meet with customers. 
If I'm not preparing demo data, PowerPoints or ironing a suit then I'm on a conference call for yet another future meeting or driving to a customer site or trying to meet up with the sales person. 

I pack a LOT of snacks and just snack my way through the time I'm working in the hotel room. 
I try to book hotels that are: 
a) near a Starbucks (I can get a gluten free breakfast there on the run), 
b) have room service 
c) have a fridge so I can stow water or tea in them

I'm lucky if I get 6 hours of sleep. I try every time to book my trips so I can get more rest. I avoid 5am or 6am flights whenever possible. 
I usually can't sleep on airplanes though occasionally I unexpectedly (involuntarily?) fall asleep with my laptop open on my lap. Any flight with WiFi means I'm working. 

Though it might sound like it - I'm really not complaining. I chose this job. I get paid overtime. God knows we need my salary. Sometimes I really love this job. Usually I'm pretty good at it.
This is just an explanation for why I almost never post on Facebook where I am, and you won't know when I'm in your town or within a short drive of your home. 
I'm sorry - but it goes with the job. I wish I could see you - hell, I wish I could see some of the towns I visit, but it is what it is and I hope you understand.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

What Would Jesus Do. (At a traffic light)

I was on my way to Whole Foods with Gideon (and if you don't know who Gideon is, I owe you another story about how we have 4 kids now) today when something happened that completely rendered me speechless. If you know me, I'm NEVER speechless so this is notable.

We pulled up to a stop light to turn left and a woman in a large white SUV pulled into the right turn lane next to us. Instead of turning ('cause she could have) apparently she honked at me. (I missed that part, I guess the music was up to loud, but Gid heard it.) Then she started waving - and Gideon said: "Do you know her?"

As bad as my memory is I figured I might - so I waved back at her. She started waving even more enthusiastically like she needed to talk to me so I rolled down the passenger window. 

She immediately yelled: "Do you have Jesus!?" I didn't come up with a witty comeback like: "Yes, tied up in the back, why?".. instead both Gideon and I answered: "Yes." She said: "No, do you have Him in your heart?" And we both said: "Yes" again. 
Then I said: "I've been a Sunday School teacher for 18 years" (actually, combo of nursery and Sunday School, but I whip that one out anytime I need to credentialize my faith) and she said: "Where do you go to church?" as if to say: PROVE IT.  I told her my church (Grace Lutheran) and she was undeterred. 
She said: "Do you know Romans 1?" And I said: "I've read the entire Bible" or something like that.. at this point other cars are honking--probably at her for not turning--and she said: "Well, how can you have that Rainbow, that gay, homo shit on your car?"
At which point the light changed and I turned left and Gideon and I both tried to pick our jaws up off the floor of the car.

"That homo shit." Really!? Really? She thinks that's how Christians should talk? That that comment would convince me of Jesus' grace and love? Gideon cried. He cried because he's strong in his faith but worried what damage this woman could be doing to other kids. How this woman could further estrange them from believing that God loves them. That God is love - and that they are loved by God.

Moreover, let's hypothetically say I wasn't Christian. Let's say I am a devout Muslim (maybe that's what I should've answered to give her an aneurysm right on the spot). Or Buddhist, agnostic or atheist. Who is she to judge? Did she get some special prophecy from God that she should accost everyone at traffic signals and curse at them for the rainbow sticker on the back of their car? Is THAT showing Christ's love and emulating Jesus? I sure missed that part in the Bible. 

I always took more away from the Bible where it said something like let your faith be known by your actions and be a witness by showing Christ's love to others. Also, to have His scriptures written in my heart and remember that to those whom much has been given much is expected. 
I've always aimed for showing love and being a humble servant. I strive to be like my Father-in-Law who is the most humble servant of God I know. 

I think Jesus, if he were to walk among us today, wouldn't be attending a Mega-Church or appearing on TV with Joel Osteen. I think He'd be at a homeless shelter like Hope4Youth. I think He'd be ministering to kids who are hurting because their parents kick them out or refuse to validate their gender identity or sexuality.
I think He'd be ministering to those with addiction, untreated mental illnesses and the children who don't get three meals a day even though they live in one of the wealthiest nations in the world. 

In any (hypothetical) event, I feel relatively certain that He wouldn't pull up to a traffic light and curse me out for having a rainbow sticker on my car. 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

'Culturally Responsive Native American Approach' in Honors English.... Honestly, funnier than it sounds.

It’s not every day (or even every week) you can get your High School aged child to tell you about their day at school.

Today was an exception – and its comedy gold.

My daughter has a student teacher in her Honors English class this term. The student teacher is not a young person—she’s in fact the age when many others would retire, so perhaps this is a second career for her or she’s always hoped to teach and now after all these years she’s getting her teaching license.

She looks like… well, a bit like an aging Flower Child. I don’t know if other people know this term – but I’ve referred to folks like this as a bit “granola”. It’s not a negative connotation per se; I’d probably really like her as a person.

I won’t name names or give any incriminating details – but I am including the handout that gives, verbatim, the things the student teacher said and it’s essentially her lesson plan as well. It appears to be her own material and was presented today on the only occasion thus far that the supervising (regular Honors English) teacher was not in the room for the full class period.

First, a disclaimer: I don't think there is anything humorous about the Jim Crow laws, segregation, our history of white privilege and abuse of African Americans. Nor is the pervasive racism that continues to this day in any way acceptable or humorous.

It’s the WAY the teacher approached this lesson that is so funny I cannot pass up sharing this story. Of course, it was better when our daughter explained it out-loud, but in lieu of a recording my writing will have to suffice.

The class was given a short article on Jim Crow laws. Nothing new to my kiddo as she’s studied AP History and has read extensively, and with much better content, on this topic.

The teacher placed a rock on the floor of the classroom and then insisted the kids sit on the school linoleum floor in a circle around the rock. My daughter was wearing a skirt, but fortunately she also had shorts on under the skirt. Not sure how this worked out for any other girls not wearing the standard issue yoga pants to school, but I digress.

Once they were all seated in a circle she proceeded to ask them to close their eyes and breathe 10 counts in and out and then place their hands on their chest and abdomen and focus on their breath so they could have a REAL, spiritual, deep conversation.

After some time of deep focused slow breathing they were directed to open their eyes. The teacher held a stick. It was the “talking stick”. They were only to speak when passed the stick. (I’ve heard of this and have no problem with this—I get it, it’s a tool so no one interrupts while another student is expressing their thoughts.)

The statement the teacher wrote (and said out loud verbatim) was that the stone and the stick represent a shared nature of all those in the circle. Huh? Ooohhkay…

Each student was then instructed to share how the article mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually made them feel.

Yes. You read that right. She wanted them to provide (and she said it this way) how their SOUL responded to the article. It wasn’t in a religious context – it was just meant to tap into their spirituality.

Yep. This one missed her calling as a yoga teacher.

She started to be an example and said that this article made her physically nauseous and spiritually caused an earthquake in her soul.

If an article causes an earthquake in her soul, I wonder what losing her job and/or not receiving licensure as a teacher will do to it? 😜

Also, the highlight of this story is that my daughter’s best friend is in the same class so they could kvetch about it after the class ended.

I adore her best friend and it gives me the giggles that she (the best friend) accidentally broke part of the “Talking Stick” as it was being passed around. I can just see it in my head and it cracks me up (no pun intended) every time.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Silver Linings and No More "Someday"

The past several months – let’s say the last six months - have been so eventful that I find myself needing to step back and take it all in repeatedly.
Being in the present almost requires pinching myself to absorb the new reality as things shift so frequently. It takes self-protection, humbling myself, looking at things through other’s eyes and reminders of what is good and normal and what is not. Also, to realize that life goes on whether you want time to pass or not.

There are times this past year when my world stopped spinning briefly.

November 9th. When Trump was elected. I wasn’t watching the results the evening before as I flew from Boston and then drove on the rainy New Jersey turnpike to some godforsaken industrial zone to find my hotel.
I woke to the news that Clinton had lost in a generic hotel room in New Jersey as I was ironing my work clothes for the day.

I remember thinking I couldn’t go on with my day. That I needed to be at home curled safely in bed with my family.
My world had fallen off its axis. I sobbed and wondered how I could get my shit together enough to meet with customers (warehouse management particularly) that may very well have voted for Trump and likely be unsympathetic to my red-rimmed eyes.

Somehow I pulled it together enough to fake it through the day. I cried randomly for the next two days. On airplanes. Driving. In the comfort of my own home. I proceeded to denial and stayed there for a nice long time.

I saw I wasn’t alone in my shock and disbelief. That helped a bit.
Then, when Trump rescinded the Title IX protections for transgender students, I went to war. I found out there are active hate groups. They quietly languished after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage during the Obama administration but now they’ve mobilized again. They can’t repeal a Supreme Court ruling so they’re taking aim at anything ambiguously defined - especially transgender rights.

I’ve been a regular at school board meetings ever since. It’s ugly, and it’s necessary and I’ve stuck my neck out there with my voice and my pleading as sugar sweet as tea in Texas.
I’ve been asked to run for the school board. I’m not going to – I’m busy enough and there are fires to put out in more places than just the school district.

This has shaken my world – but broadened it, too. I’m a part of communities I didn’t know existed and have become a mentor and ally to a greater degree than before.
It’s not that the struggle and the hate groups didn’t exist before—it’s that I was less aware of them and the world looked like sunshine and rainbows until they began to feel empowered and began to really push their hateful agenda. They’re going after our kids, and I’ll fight them, their misinformation and hidden agendas and deep funding from radical right wing so-called Christian organizations.

But, Trump and the hate that has crept out of the dark shadows with his rise to power, is not what has shaken my world the most in 2017.

It was Sam’s death. 

He’s not my son – but he grew up in tandem with my son. The Millers are like family, even years after Shelli isn’t raising my babies.

I knew Sam’s heart. His kindness. His tenderness and goodness.
I knew he struggled and I felt like a kindred soul in that struggle. We’re all broken and I’m working hard and knew he was working hard, too.

He loved his son and fiancĂ©e so much – it’s like the same tether that has kept me from harm from time to time, too.

When Sam died, the world stopped, again. I could only watch Shelli and Jason’s raw pain and FEEL it. I imagine what the pain of losing your only son, your youngest child might be like and then know that it must be more excruciating than even my imagination can fathom.

Again, the world tiltled off its axis and it didn’t seem like time could move forward. But then, once again I had to rush to the airport with scant time to hug Shelli and her family and cry with them. At least I has home in time to attend his funeral…but even that was a haze of pain where I didn’t feel like I could be useful.

There were other moments that stopped time. A more trivial one was when I worked my ass off all of 2016 – harder than I’ve ever worked in my life – and was looked over for ANY recognition at the start of our fiscal year and sales kick off in Jan. 2017. 
I’d seen people recognized in multiple categories and for less effort the year before and had been told already by my boss that I was the top; the highest in our group and that I’d be taking my husband to President’s Club (which has been at a resort in Mexico).

The names went up on the screen for President's Club and I wasn’t there. We had small group meetings and no one said: “Good job, you’re number one this year.”
No one acknowledged the 80 hour weeks and the sacrifices I and my family made.

I would have worked hard no matter what; but to be overlooked entirely for any recognition burned. It hurt. I’d been promised something that didn’t happen. I got demoted in title, too. I’ve had to suck it up and continue to do my best work. Suck it up Buttercup.

It stings – it pisses me off from time to time, but aside from being another suck part of the past 6 months, it somehow feels trivial and petty by comparison to others’ pain.

But then I have to stand back and also acknowledge all the bright spots. The beautiful things that have happened that almost don’t feel fair. That I’m almost embarrassed to share because savoring this happiness during a dark time feels like not sharing my candy with the other kids.

My new car. My dream car. It was unexpected and yet…it’s a dream come true. I’m like a 16-year-old kid looking for any excuse to drive anywhere just to sit in my car.

My cello, and taking cello lessons at last. It’s been a wish for as long as I can remember. A promise I made to myself for “someday”.  “Someday” I’ll learn cello and write a book. “Someday” I’ll spend my days quilting. If I win the lottery then…

And this one I made come true. Not someday, but now. And my cello teacher is fascinating and wonderful and FAR better than I deserve or need (she’s a published author, retired principal cellist for the MSO, and a daughter of Holocaust survivors…I could talk to her for hours on end).

I’m running. I’m healthy and strong and able to do what I want to do.
I’m not injured or unable to run with my friends. When I run, I run with a smile and I think: “I run because other people can’t”.  It’s true. It’s a gift (even at my slow pace) to be able to use my body this way. To run with my friends. To do yoga and improve my balance and strength.

Trivial though this may be, I’m also pleased that I got my “turn kick” in swimming back after decades. I haven’t done this since I was a 5th or 6th grader—but I’m swimming while Lucy takes her lessons each Sunday and my flip kick to push off the wall is back after lots of practice. It’s a bit show-off-y, but damn it’s fun. It’s amazing to do something I haven’t been able to do for nearly 3 decades.

All this reminds me of when I was in Israel with Grandma Elaine in 1996.
I remember being in a car with the guide when she and I had ventured out on our own to walk through a very Orthodox neighborhood. I wanted to see the culture up front and it wasn’t part of the tour with the little old ladies, but the guide, who was younger, took me on this side-excursion and educated me on the Hassidic culture in the process.

On our way back to central Jerusalem stopped at a traffic light I saw a young man, maybe late teens, with his arms folded across his chest and no hands on the steering wheel or brakes of his bike just coast through the intersection (downhill) at high speed. He didn’t have the green light, he didn’t touch the handle bar. He just sped through on his bike and no one hit him and he kept going.

I gaped and pointed and the guide explained: “They live their life like they could die at any moment. You can’t give in to the fear. You could be blown up at a cafĂ©, or shot while you’re drafted into the military for your mandatory service at age 18. If you live in constant fear, perhaps you become fearless.”

Maybe this, to a lesser degree, is what has happened to me in 2017.

I’ve fought back from the edge. From illness, injury and constant mental health struggles. But damn it, I’m not letting it hold me back from my bliss. I can't live in fear. The uncertainty and fear - eff 'em. 

I’m going to smile every moment I drive, savor the new car smell, hug my cello and play it (poorly for the moment) every day.
I’m going to work less and do yoga and run more. 
Screw work. There is no reward in killing yourself with too much work and they don’t pay me enough to go the extra miles I’m already going to do excellent work.

I’m going to ask for a god-damned raise. I deserve it.
I’m going to take vacation time and NOT ANSWER THE WORK CALLS this time.
I’m going to stop working earlier and make time to see friends even if it’s a 2pm on a Monday afternoon. I work more than my 40 hours; I don’t feel like I should apologize one bit for taking time for me.  

I’m going to not apologize, needlessly and reflexively like many women do, and tell people how I feel more.
I’m going to say “I love you” and “I appreciate you” and “I hurt for you” and I’m going to SHOW UP. I’m going to hug people and let them know I’m on their side.

If time has to march forward, then I’m going to squeeze every bit of joy, love and goodness out of life. I’m going to fight for what is right and protect those who need our protection.

I’m humbled by the good health, family and material perks that bring me happiness. I still hurt…but I am consciously focusing on living my life like that Israeli teen. (Though not as recklessly.)

I won’t live in fear. I won’t wallow in the pain and disappointment. If time presses on relentlessly then I will make time my “someday” and do what I need and want to do right now, in the present.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Gluten Free Travel

It’s been a while since I’ve finally given in and accepted I have Celiac or at least severe NCGS (Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity). I thought it was so faddish to go Gluten Free that I fought the diagnosis. Even after the blood test came back positive for Celiac. 
Even after the endoscopy - I clung to the comments that the biopsy didn’t come back as definitive for Celiac though I had significant upper-GI damage. I was on expensive medication to make my GI system work. I was physically miserable. 
I remember crying to Jeff and thinking over and over... how could I go on like this for the rest of my life? Not just the $60 copay per month - but the pain and unpredictability with my GI system.

Then came the day an Orthopedic doctor asked me, after a slow-healing stress fracture, if I’d ever been diagnosed as Celiac. This surprised me. Then he sent me for a bone density scan (DEXA) and warned me osteoporosis and more bone injuries were in my future if I couldn’t properly absorb calcium. 

That shook me. It was no longer about resisting a fad. 
It made me stop and think. I knew my mom had to be gluten free. Could I have some of the same issues? I know that food allergies can crop up at any age in life…did I suddenly grow "allergic" to gluten? Most of all, I couldn't bear to go on with the discomfort and expense (and unpredictability) of my GI issues without at least giving it a try. 

I sucked it up and made the effort. I went completely gluten free and within a week or two my guts worked. Like a normal person. I no longer needed that expensive prescription medicine. I no longer felt sick, bloated, or in pain. 
Avoiding any other (gross) details – suffice it to say that I was thrilled my body was acting “normal” at last. 

Here’s the funny thing…a lot of people (again with the fad aspect) go Gluten Free thinking it’s a “healthy” diet and they’re likely to lose weight. That's not what happens. 
Not that you can’t eat healthily while avoiding gluten (wheat, barley, malt and more) - if you substitute by eating more fresh veggies and fruits and quinoa…However, if you rely on packaged foods and snacks you'll find they are packed with fat! Moreover, I’ve actually gained weight now that my body is finally absorbing more of the nutrition in the food I eat. 

Anyhow--it’s easy enough to be Gluten Free (okay, for brevity – hereafter GF) at home. We already eat a lot of white rice. Baked potatoes. Grilled chicken or steak. Veggies & fruit. A normal family meal wasn’t too difficult. The rest of the family could have bread or rolls – I just skipped it for a nice arugula salad with my favorite (GF) vinaigrette. 

BUT. I travel. A lot. It is not as easy to find GF options when you travel. 
Below are my tips and things I’ve learned that help me. 

1. Whenever you can – get a rental car. 
You can find your nearest Chipotle or Noodles & Company where they have GF options. 
a. At Chipotle just be sure to get a bowl. 
b. At Noodles & Co. just before sure to ask specifically for Rice Noodles. 

They can make it with any sauce (just be sure to avoid Soy Sauce or dishes that might include it. Soy Sauce is not GF). My “go-to” is the Pesto with mushrooms and tomatos (their Pesto Cavatappi – but with the rice noodles). They will even denote “Allergy Aware” on your order – which may (or may not) help with cross contamination.  

c. With a rental car and potentially a hotel with a microwave you can find your closest Whole Foods and find a lot of options. 

2. Pack your own snacks. You can bring it through TSA. Really. Pack a lunch box if you want. I bring baby carrots, almonds, my favorite GF chocolate covered pretzels and fruit snacks. 

Note: this was inspired by a particularly snooty Flight Attendant. When Delta had no Gluten Free options with a meal in First Class she told me: “You know, you can order a special, like Kosher, meal.” 
And then chided/reminded me about it 3 more times during the 2 hour flight. At one point she leaned in and said: “So why didn’t you bring your own snacks?” Well, first I was on a quick in & out trip with one small bag and a computer bag— I didn't have room for snacks. 
Second, how was I to know I’d be upgraded to 1st Class? Sure, it’s great to sit at the front of the bus—but I rarely (if ever) have time in advance to order a meal and 99% of the time if I’m in First Class it's because I lucked into an upgrade. 

3. Simple meals are your friend. Ask for a plain grilled chicken breast and a baked or mashed potato. Side salad. Avoid dressings if you can – or go for a vinaigrette (odds are pretty good that’ll be safe). 

4. If all else fails, you can order Dominos to your hotel room. They have a GF pizza and it’s been reliably safe for me. 

5. Culvers. They have a safe GF bun. They serve the bun and the burger separate so you assemble it on your own. Many Culvers serve their fries from a fryer dedicated to non-breaded items only – so it’s worth asking. I tend to be OK eating their fries. Also good news: their frozen custard is GF! Watch out for toppings beyond what they recommend on their website. (Hot fudge = OK) 

Tips: MSP (airport) MSP doesn’t have a ton of GF options. One I’ve found is that Surdyks has a really nice packaged salad with fresh greens & goat cheese. It’s even marked GF. My preferred side dish with this is a bag of Kettle Chips. (Also marked as GF). 

Another option – especially if it’s breakfast – is Ike’s. (This can be spendy, but hey, I’m on an expense account.) They can do an egg white omelet (create your own) and side of bacon – and you’re good to go. 
One note here – they prepare ALL the food on one single grill (currently – because their toaster is broken). So, you might ask about cross-contamination and/or have to educate your server on what you cannot eat. If you don’t you might get a pile of toast on top of your breakfast entrĂ©e. 

I used to prefer Caribou. Then I read up and found out that Starbucks has ALWAYS been more GF friendly. From the get-go. Their coffee mixes (i.e. Frappuccinos) are GF which means just about all of their drinks are GF. 
Their website is also a wealth of information on what is GF safe. On top of all that they offer a lot of snacks and all the GF ones are clearly marked. They are go-to at most airports…even if all I can find is a salad, almonds, and a fruit bar. 

Other airports: SLC 
A bunch of the Delta gates are near a Smashburger. Smashburger has a GF bun and as long as they aren’t out of them – then you have a good option for a grilled chicken sandwich or burger. Note of caution: the fries –should- be gluten free…but I have had to avoid them due to cross contamination. They’re making them in the same place they make breaded chicken strips/sandwiches and so on occasion I’ve felt sickly after eating them. If you get a bigger Smashburger you can ask if they have a dedicated fryer for fries only (GF stuff only). Some of them have that…but typically not at the airport!

I'll add more airports and "safe" eats as I go. But in the meantime - my advice:
  • Bring your own food as much as possible. 
  • Expect to not have a meal you can eat on the Room Service menu. (Hilton, Hyatt, Omni, Marriott...I'm looking at you.)
  • Vietnamese restaurants are a great option (helloooo rice noodles!)
  • Thai is good, too (same reason)
  • Even a steakhouse is better than an Italian place - because you're likely to find a grilled something that you can eat and a potato.
  • Did I mention bring your own food as much as possible?