Thursday, January 5, 2012

It's My Party and I'll Bake if I want to

Yesterday, following a many-years long tradition, I baked my own birthday cake.  Before anybody feels bad, let me explain; I love baking.  And cooking.  And anything else that allows me to be in the kitchen.  I have a terrible sweet-tooth, but if I had to choose between eating sweets and baking sweets, I'd pick baking any day of the week.  Cooking is one of the few activities that minimizes my tics; I'm comfortable in the kitchen and there's something comforting about knowing that when I combine the right ingredients in the right ratio, it will work.  My birthday is the one time I get to completely indulge; I bake whatever I want with real butter and chocolate and cream.  This year I chose to bake Smitten Kitchen's tiramisu cake (link at the bottom of the post) and it was phenomenal. 

Life with Tourette's is difficult to explain to someone who doesn't experience it on a daily basis. I can cook in the kitchen, use chefs knives, and be around boiling water and the hot stove with absolutely no tics. But, put me in a quiet room with an exam and a pencil and tell me to write an essay, and it's torture. If I weren't a teacher candidate, I would most likely be at culinary school because it is one of the few professions I could do and enjoy doing with my disability. I am thankful every day that my choices and my life experiences have led me down a path that allows me to work in a profession that I not only enjoy doing but that I can do with my disability. I would not be the same teacher I am today, were it not for my experiences both when I was growing up in school and in college as a teacher candidate. I have more empathy for my students and I understand what it is like to live with a disability, and have to work and live in a world that is not adequately set up for you. I am unendingly grateful that I did not choose to go into a job field that would require me to sit at a desk in a cubicle for hours on end. There are many adults living with Tourette's who have to work in jobs that are difficult for them to perform with the tics that they have. It would be impossible for me to work at a 9-to-5 job  sitting at a desk without distracting everybody around me.

Birthday Dinner - Me and my sister

My birthday present to myself had to do with my new medication.  Because the doctor wants to put me on such a high dosage of the medication, I have to gradually increase it; every time I increase the dose I get nauseous and dizzy for a few days.  Last night I was supposed to increase the dosage of the medication I am on, but as a birthday gift to myself, I decided to wait until tomorrow.  I am tolerating the new medication surprisingly well - in spite of the nausea and dizziness, and even though I'm not seeing any benefit from the medication yet, 2 weeks is long for me to be on a medication with no side effects.   This medicine is a pretty big long-shot, it is an anti-convulsant and not really used to treat Tourette's, but it's the end of the line for me as I have tried everything else.


Tiramisu Cake Recipe
Adaptations I made to the recipe:  I doubled the amount of espresso soaking liquid, and while the cake was pleasantly moist, I really love tiramisu and in the future might even triple the soaking liquid and allow it to soak longer. I also doubled the amount of powdered sugar in the filling\frosting after reading reader reviews. This gave me a very firm frosting that I was able to spread all over the cake with absolutely no problems.

postscript: This post was nearly ready to put up last night, but at around 8 o'clock the pinched nerve in my neck became too much to bear, and I had to put the computer away. I don't say this to inspire sympathy, but to explain one more aspect of life with Tourette's.  This isn't something I deal with on a continuous basis; it flares up relatively infrequently. The combination of many events led to the nerve in my neck getting pinched as severely as it did last night, and I don't foresee this happening again in the near future.

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