Of all the things I’m bad at, breathing is at the top of the list!

Asthma. I have had it pretty well under control… until this week. I’ve been suffering the granddaddy of all asthma attacks all week and now also have oral thrush. Really?!! Because of course I do. I finally gave in and went to urgent care today because my peak flow was hovering around 150.  My personal best for all you knowing asthma sufferers is between 480 and 500. For those of you not in the know, we people who suck at breathing have to stay on top of this and have an action plan in place for what to do as the numbers drop that goes something like this and In this order:  emergency inhalers, breathing treatments, urgent care, emergency room then ambulance. To put this in perspective for you, I was floating between needing the urgent care and emergency room and not quite yet an ambulance. And because I’m stubborn, had I not let my husband talk me into urgent care there was going to be an ambulance in my near future. Because I’m dumb and stubborn.

Actually that’s not completely true. Those of us who suck at breathing always second guess ourselves. Is this attack really that severe? Am I going to look stupid going to the ER or calling an ambulance? Am I making a big deal out of nothing and if I just relax it’ll go away? We’ve all been there. We also know how exhausting it is not being able to breathe. I explained it to my husband like this: I feel like I have an elephant standing on my chest and I can only manage short breaths and those short breaths hurt and are laborious which exhaust me. It’s like I’m slowly suffocating and can’t get enough air. And then I panic which makes it worse. And asthma is serious folks. You can DIE from it.  And yet we tell ourselves not us. Mine isn’t THAT bad. This attack isn’t THAT bad. But let’s face it. At this point we are oxygen deprived and shouldn’t be allowed to make any decisions on our own. Right? That’s why it’s important to share with a trusted friend or loved one the warning signs and your action plan so they make sure you get the help you need and quickly.

I am now back home after spending the morning at Urgent Care. The doctor asked if I’m a nurse because I’m so knowledgeable about my illness and health and what I need to feel better. I told him I’m well-versed and have found it makes Dr. Visits more efficient by me staying organized and up-to-date on my health. He agreed and said it was making treating me easier and faster. He was able to get me a breathing treatment quickly with the right medicine and dosage that would work for me as well as the barrage of inhalers and drugs I’ll need for the next week or so. Including prednisone. Ugh! On top of asthma I also have chronic ABPA (allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis) so my lungs are damaged. While I was weaned of prednisone and have been in remission I know there will be times when I will need a prednisone burst to get over the hump. And as much as I hate prednisone, I’m quite knowledgeable  in how to survive it. I picked up a very strong probiotic (VSL3), stocked up on kombucha and licorice tea and am steeping astragalus root in my tea. I will also make sure I give my body plenty of rest the next few days. And, most important, to take my prednisone in the morning so it does NOT affect my sleep. All things I’ve learned after being on prednisone for 9 years (been weaned off since January). I will also behave and do breathing treatments every 3-4 hours for the next few days.

And I rushed home to tell you all of this because what I really wanted to share with you is, one, the importance of listening to your body and, two, the importance of understanding your health and the care you need and to be prepared for Dr visits- Keep a list of your current meds, and any allergies and what has and has not worked in the past. It is important you take an active role in your care. Ask questions. Make sure you understand all instructions and that you have everything you need before you leave. If your Dr forgot to prescribe something. Say something! Honest, it’s ok! It’s totally ok! Because in the end, your health is your responsibility.

And now that the shakes have stopped from my treatment I’m going to take a nap.

May the breathing gods ever be in your favor!

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Asthma and emotions/stress

The declining health of a parent, the anniversary of the death of a loved one, work stress…  All things out of our control and yet things which affect us emotionally.  All things which may make it hard to eat, to sleep, to concentrate.  Well when you have asthma, stress can affect your breathing. Stress is the enemy to asthma and anyone who has asthma needs to learn how to manage stress.  And it’s hard.

Believe me. I sit here typing after having my third breathing treatment of the day.  I was up all night unable to breathe.  I started coughing until I gagged and vomited.  Awesome, right?  And why?  Because rather than keeping my stress in check, I let it fester and grow until it made me physically sick.

I talk about food and health and how important it is to eat healthy to stay healthy.  But emotional health is important too.  I shared this with a student the other day who was very stressed.  I told him to find a time in his day to regroup and breathe.  And normally, I follow my own advice. There’s always time in your day.  ALWAYS!  Find something that calms you and make time for that. Go for a run, listen to music, go outside for fresh air.  Remove yourself from the situation.  Don’t let the small things become big things. Talk to a friend or loved one.  Whatever it is that works for you, do that.  Because nothing is more important than your health. Nothing. As for me, worrying won’t make my mom better or bring my loved one back or make that colleague any easier to work with.

If you have asthma, I challenge you to find small ways in which to work on handling the stress in your life.  When I actually practice what I preach, my asthma stays in check. I saw the warning signs but I refused to stop and listen.  I’ve been using my emergency inhaler so much the prescription I filled on April 4 is already empty and I can’t get another inhaler until May 4 without my doctor’s intervention.  I also know that because I let things get this far and I’m bordering on bronchitis I’m probably going to be forced to take a prednisone burst.  And darn it, I know better.  Because now here I am beating myself up… more stress.  I would laugh but that makes me cough!

So, learn from me.  Not taking your health seriously can have serious consequences. Pay attention to your emotions, get rest, eat properly and follow your asthma action plan. Reminders for both you and me. Together we CAN do this! We CAN keep our asthma under control.

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Living with a corn allergy. Read your labels, read your labels, read your labels…

I have a corn allergy – not an intolerance but a true allergy. If I consume even a trace of corn my chest closes up and I have breathing issues. I can tell immediately if I eat something with corn. And do you know how difficult it is to live with such an allergy? Let me tell you, corn is in EVERYTHING.  Even places you would least suspect. This is one of the reasons I’m such a big label reader.

So, if you have a corn allergy what should you be looking for? Did you know corn is an ingredient in most vitamins? It’s even in baking powder! You also have to read labels for bacon and sausage and if I want ketchup or BBQ sauce, I have to make my own. Fortunately I’m not a soda drinker because… corn syrup. I have to even watch some cold medicines.

What is really the pits is eating out. I do my best when ordering to make sure I’m sticking to a paleo diet but I don’t fully know what ingredients they use no matter how diligent I am. And trust me, I’m one of THOSE customers. Only I’m alway friendly and polite and I tip well.

So you have a corn allergy. You just have to look for corn or corn syrup, right?  Nope. Here is a link to corn and ingredients which may contain corn. The list is long and even I get it wrong sometimes and end up with a miserable wheezing attack. http://www.cornallergens.com/list/corn-allergen-list.php

If you too have a corn allergy, I feel for you. It is the pits. I eat a paleo diet to keep the inflammation levels low in my body which keeps my autoimmune at bay however I do not consume corn because I truly can’t.

Whatever the reason you are following paleo or have a food allergy, read labels on EVERYTHING! Food, supplements, lotions, shampoos. Educate yourself. Because we never really know what we are consuming until we start paying attention. It’s not easy but it is my way of life. You can do it too. Honest!

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Easter. What can I eat?

Holidays are tough when you have a restricted diet. Tough but not impossible. Because holidays are filled with lots of good food, I used to dread going to someone’s house or having anyone over. It’s exhausting explaining what I can and can’t eat and why. And, if I made something I could eat, would anyone else want to eat it. Fortunately I have a very supportive group of family and friends who want to know so they can support me. Also, fortunately, I have such a love for cooking that I’m always experimenting. I also love to research and have found so many wonderful recipes that about 90% of the time nobody would have any idea what they are eating is paleo.

So, it’s Easter. What do I serve my family so that I can still eat? Fortunately for me there is Danielle Walker from Against all Grain to the rescue!  I’ll be making recipes from her new cookbook: blood organge glazed ham, potato salad and grilled veggies wrapped in bacon. For dessert a blueberry galette. http://againstallgrain.com/2016/08/13/grain-free-blueberry-galette/  Nobody will go hungry, including me!

Really, this is all doable. In fact, in a few weeks my sister in law is coming to stay with us so I can teach her the basics. It’s become my passion to teach others that diet can change your health. I’m not saying this is easy because it’s not, but I would rather spend hours in the kitchen vs hours in the hospital. Wouldn’t you?

I’m working on a couple of recipes and will share soon. Recipe creation with nut flours etc is tough which is why I usually prefer to use others’ recipes. However, I’m a determined spirit so… Stay tuned.

Wishing you a wonderful Easter with your family. If you aren’t sure yet what to fix, check out Danielle’s blog or cookbooks. You will be glad you did!

 

 

 

Inflammation and autoimmune

A friend of mine shared with me this article (click on link below) about inflammation and auto-immune disease and it was so fascinating I had to share: http://drhyman.com/blog/2010/07/30/how-to-stop-attacking-yourself-9-steps-to-heal-autoimmune-disease/

This article so resonated with me because Dr. Hyman may as well have been writing about me.  I was told I had Inflammatory Breast Cancer and I have never been so afraid in my life.  Turns out, instead, it was my body being angry and attacking itself. It was also discovered I had Sjogren’s and Rheumatoid Arthritis, along with Fibromyalgia.  My body hurt, I was swollen and puffy, I had extreme exhaustion, fungal sinus infections, asthma, etc. (in fact, all of my blog posts can attest to how awful things were for me).  It wasn’t until I started seeing a Functional Medicine Doctor that things began to change.  I’m now completely off all my meds, all my labs have come back in the normal range, I know which trigger foods to avoid and I am living a happy, active life.  I feel fantastic!  I’m running a 10k in a few days, a 12k in a month and a half, and a half marathon in September.  I have my life back.  And you can do the same.

If you or a loved one are currently suffering from any type of asthma, allergy, autoimmune diseases, etc., read the article;  look into seeing a Functional Medicine Doctor. I once thought this was all pure nonsense.  It wasn’t until I got really sick and was desperate to try anything, that I took this step. And it was life changing.  It takes a lot of work, you have to be diligent and follow the plan but to be off all meds is a miracle. I feel fantastic and am pretty much symptom free. Really, if I can do it, so can you!

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What a difference

What a difference hard work and determination can make, and what a long way I’ve come. The photo on the right is 4 years ago, full of prednisone and a few months after surgery number two. The photo on the left is today-completely weaned off all meds and in remission. Life is good. And looking at these two photos, how can you not believe that clean eating is the best thing for you. Is my journey over? No. I have a long way to go. But looking at this photo, I see how very far I’ve come.

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It’s St Patrick’s Day and I hate corned beef. So, this is what was for dinner. Salmon with Dijon mustard, honey, lemon and dill in the instant pot and green beans with a little Cajun powder from Penzies Spices. Much tastier, I say.

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I also was wanting something special for dessert and came across this recipe from Barefoot Provisions:

For this epic shake- you’ll need:

1 cup almond milk
2 handfuls ice
1-2 tbsp coconut sugar
3/4 tsp mint oil or extract (fresh mint would be great)
1 tbsp cacao nibs
inch of vanilla bean
1 tbsp of your favorite nut butter

These are ingredients I always have on hand. And, because I’m still fighting off a sinus infection, I also threw in a little VSL3 probiotic for good measure…

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So, you see, anything is possible if you work hard enough for it.  I’m not missing out on anything and, most importantly, for the first time in a really long time I feel great and I think it shows. Honestly, if I can do this, so can you!

 

 

 

 

 

A Prednisone Rant!

Don’t worry, this isn’t a rant because I’m taking it again – because I’m not.  I belong to and follow a couple of Rheumatoid Arthritis groups and one of the groups was touting the miracle drug that is prednisone.  It made me angry. Now don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for this drug but taking it long term should never be an option for anyone.  Ever.  The problem is that so many doctors disagree and prescribe it like crazy.  Never mind the awful side effects that come with long term use.  And, hey, let’s just take another pill to offset those side effects.  I was on that merry go round for a long time and then one day had enough.  There had to be another way.  And there was.  Thanks to my functional medicine doctor, I am now completely prednisone free and I feel GREAT!  Through diet, supplements and exercise, I’ve been able to lower my inflammation levels in my body.  My asthma is under control and, as long as I stay active, so is my RA.  (Yes, I have asthma and RA and I still run and work out with a trainer. Contrary to what some doctors say, it IS possible.)  And I feel better than I have in years WITHOUT prednisone. It kills me now when I see all those commercials for the various drugs they are advertising.  You know the ones I’m talking about where they go on and on about the horrendous side effects.  I watch and think to myself how so many of the ailments for which these medications are prescribed can be controlled by diet. And by diet, I don’t mean “dieting.”  I mean eating a clean diet.  Paying attention to what you put in your body.  Eating deliberately according to what your functional medicine doctor recommends for YOU and your needs.  Everything I eat, all the supplements I take – all of these things have a reason behind why I eat what I do. And these things are occasionally changed dependent upon the results from the regular testing I have done.    By following a clean diet and exercising, I have completely changed the course of my disease and am not dependent upon medications as I have been in the past.  It’s a wonderful thing!

Because of my diligence, I survived the flu. That my body did what it was supposed to and fought it off was amazing.  And while people have had the cough that seems to linger, I did not. I do however, have this sinus thing and I fear I may have to give in and take antibiotics but that’s the way it goes. I did find that, although I love my Navage sinus rinse machine, my Neilmed sinus rinse bottle seems to be doing a better job of flushing all the crud out so I’ve switched to that for now.  Again, more tweaks according to what is going in that moment.  If there’s one thing I have learned through all of this, it’s to be flexible.  To be patient (ok, who am I kidding?  More patient than usual…)

Because I believe so deeply in all of this, I continue to find ways to share my message and, I hope, to help people.  People have been asking and I’ve decided it’s time to write a cookbook. Now, I have absolutely no idea how to go about this but I feel I have much to share, I love to cook and want to teach others how to eat a paleo diet and not feel like they are missing out.  I decided this cookbook will be filled with comfort foods – chocolate pudding, mac and cheese, lasagna, chili… So, now I’ll be turning my kitchen into a laboratory and my family and coworkers will be having to taste test lots and lots of food. I’m hoping to make this book not only a cookbook, but a how to, so to speak.  How to eat paleo, how to convert your kitchen, how to meal prep…  The recipes will be a bonus. I hope. 

So, stay tuned.  I will be sharing all my mishaps and, I hope, successes with you and also hope to start sharing in my blog new products that I come across and think you may like. We are also all beginning to plan vacations (spring break, Memorial Day, Summer).  With a little planning, you can travel on a paleo diet and not feel deprived and I will show you how.  Stick with me.  We can do this together.

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