Tag Archive | colds

The Prednizone

Nope, not a typo. I’ve entered back into The Prednizone. Third day in and I’m exhausted. I haven’t slept in two days, I’m cranky and just so darn tired my eyes hurt. But I have to power through a few more days of this hell . Why did I give in and let them prescribe this to me? Well, it’s keeping me out of the hospital. That’s why. There will be times I must have a prednisone burst because of my asthma and ABPA, and this is just one of those times.

So, because I’m so wiped out from this trying to breathe thing, I’m making very simple meals, one that flows into another. Quick and not energy zapping. I bought cauliflower and sweet potato rice this week and have used it for breakfasts and dinners: under fried eggs, under a Hawaiian chicken patty and added to other leftovers. A little pop of color and it tastes great. We don’t waste food here so one meal is just repurposed into the next. Even breakfast can become a sweet potato and some leftover pulled pork with avocado. It’s using what you have and yet being creative. Last night, I took a sweet potato and then covered it with leftovers consisting of broccoli,  riced cauliflower and sweet potato, ham and apple sausage and then drizzled my dairy free ranch over the top; a simple meal that was pretty to look at and yet quick and filling.

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be difficult. I do all my prep work on Sundays so the rest of the week is a breeze. Heat and eat. And by repurposing leftovers, you are keeping things interesting and also not wasting food.  The key is to prep things on Sunday which can be worked together during the week.

My ranch dressing recipe:

1/4 cup avocado mayo

about three tablespoons of coconut milk or enough to get a ranch dressing consistency

1/4 tsp celery salt

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/2 -1 tsp dried dill (I like lots of dill)

small pinch of salt and pepper

mix until the consistency is smooth and this will last a week in your fridge.

Another tip is to take that small amount of   Dijon mustard you are about to throw away and add a little champagne vinegar and honey. Shake well and you have a nice vinegrette. Again, no waste.

Once you get the hang of repurposing meals, it gets easier. Honest. And if I can do it, so can you. So, what are you batch cooking this week and how will you turn those varied leftovers into meals?

Signing out from the Prednizone. Maybe I’ll get a nap today. Oh, who am I kidding?

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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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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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Making it through illness without prednisone or antibiotics

Before when I would get sick, I would go downhill so quickly the doctors would pump me up full of prednisone and antibiotics. In fact because I came to know the drill so well, they gave me refills on my antibiotics and prednisone so I could self treat. Because, they said it was the only way. Can’t make this stuff up…

Fast forward to now. Here I was with the flu and what I believe to have been a sinus infection. What to do… well I know what NOT to do and prednisone and antibiotics was not the answer. So here is how I’m handling things:

Sinus rinsing – I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – sinus rinsing is your friend. You can safely rinse your sinuses as many times a day as you need. See my blog post on sinus rinsing for more info/tips. I swear by it!

Fluids – Drink lots of fluids. Non alcoholic fluids that is… Water is really the best thing for you but add a little honey and some lemon and perfection! The honey is soothing for a cough and the lemon has antibacterial qualities. Plus the hot water will help to open your sinuses and thin the mucus which is more than likely causing your cough in the first place. I also like to add some green tea to the equation and drink lots of Magic Mineral Broth created by Rebecca Katz.

Probiotics – I take a daily probiotic. A doctor friend of mine recommended inner-eco and I love it. You can find it in the refrigerated section at your local grocery store or at Whole Foods. When I feel I’m getting sick and need an extra boost of probiotic, I switch to VSL-3. It’s a bit pricey and you need a prescription from your doctor but I have found it to give my body the extra boost it needs. I buy the cachets and mix in my smoothies. I also drink kombucha. I prefer the kombucha with chia seeds when I’m sick. It just feels soothing on my throat.

Supplements – I’m on a daily regimen and you can read more about what I take by going to an earlier blog post. However when sick, I bump things up a notch and add in more vitamin C, drink turmeric milk and GI Revive. I also make sure my smoothies have a boost by adding chia and gelatin, as well as lemon juice. This is when I drink my healing smoothies.

Rest – I’m one to tell you about rest but it really is important and something I’ve had to learn. Make sure to listen to your body and give it the rest it needs. For the first time ever I actually spent the weekend in bed and willingly. I’ve been working out with a trainer and working out hard up to my getting sick. And while exercise is important, so is rest.

Amazingly and for the first time, my body is doing its job and fighting back. And without prednisone and antibiotics as the first option like before. Now there is a time and a place for both and there will be times I will need one or the other or both because of my condition. But, if I can boost my immune system enough to lessen an infection, I also lessen my need for either medication. That’s a win/win in my book!

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A Doubting Lisa and the Flu

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Sometimes, I feel I just can’t do this anymore.  And by “this” I mean all the work that goes into being healthy and well.  I know that I must continue if I want to stay in remission but it’s a daily struggle.  People praise me for my bravery and for making this seem so simple.  And the truth is I’ve learned to make it simple but it is still a daily battle.  Some days I long to be able to relax on Sunday instead of spending all day in the kitchen.  To be honest, there are days I despise all of this!  ALL of it.  And yet, what choice do I have?  So I chop and measure and plan because I have to.  And through all of this I still find my body reacting.  Causing problems.  Sometimes setting me back.  It’s not fair. And it’s hard and I question and I get angry.  And this is all normal.  I share all this because I want to be honest.  I want you or your loved one to succeed.  I want you to understand this is work.  It’s hard and some days it sucks but it is still 100 percent worth it in the end.  And if you don’t fully grasp this and accept it, you will not succeed at this.  You have to find that inner fight inside of you and learn to make this a habit and find ways to make this easier for you.  To not listen to that voice inside of you screaming “I can’t.” Because you can and you must if you want to heal yourself.

These past couple of weeks have been rough. I’ve been through a biopsy and a very anxious time waiting for results.  I’ve been told the doctors think this is autoimmune in nature and not cancer, but will watch me for a while to be sure.  What they can’t tell me is what type of autoimmune and why.  Because they don’t know.  And that’s maddening.  I initially thought: I do everything I’m asked, I eat healthy, I exercise, I take the supplements I’m told to take.  And it seems my body still hates me.  But the truth of the matter is even with this set back, I’m still in a MUCH better place than I was. My bloodwork looks great and my adrenals are actually working.  We weren’t sure they would kick in. And this week I’m battling the flu but, rather than my usual of declining rapidly, I’m getting better. My body is doing its job. So, what I’m doing – it DOES make a difference! I hope by keeping things honest and real, I can continue to be a mentor to people.  It’s important you know there is no magic fix.  That this is work.  It’s hard work and one has to be totally dedicated to it. And there will be blips along the way but it DOES work.

So, now that I’ve bared my soul, let me get back to sharing food and recipes.  My new favorite recipe is something I call Eggs Over Stuff, Drizzled with Stuff and is paleo fast food at its finest. Basically I’m cleaning out my fridge.   Leftover brussels sprouts, bacon, pulled pork and cauli rice warmed up and served with a fried egg and avocado on top and drizzled with compliant hot sauce and cilantro.  Best. Meal. Ever!

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And… if you have not yet done so.  Go buy that Instant Pot already!  This has revolutionized my meal prep abilities and cut that prep time IN HALF!!  IN HALF people!!!  I love that I can just take something frozen and have dinner ready in 17 minutes or less.  Follow my lead.  Some days will be harder than others.  Some days you will want to give up or feel that you can’t.  Trust in the process and that eating clean DOES work.  And know you CAN heal yourself through diet.  I will always keep it real for you because I don’t want you to feel alone or think this can’t be done.  Focus on the big picture and know it’s ok to have a pity party once in a while as I have done the last week or so.  The difference for me this time around is that I never got off track.  I may have questioned but I still stayed with the plan because even though it’s not always easy, I know it’s what’s best and it works. It really works.

Clean eating… Is it really a big deal?

So, anyone who knows me knows my answer is a resounding YES!  Changing the way I eat, the supplements I take, it changed my life! It healed me.  And the control freak in me loves the fact that this is a way I can control my health.  I wish I had agreed to do this sooner but I wasn’t ready and, let’s be honest here, I thought all of this was a bunch of hogwash.  But no more.  I’m a believer.

It is fascinating to me how certain foods cause inflammation in your body and that the inflammation can actually trigger your own body to attack itself.   For years, YEARS, I’ve had some major swelling and redness in my left wrist, partially because of my rheumatoid arthritis.  Because of the changes I made, my left wrist now looks almost like my right – normal.  I also have more energy, I’m in almost no pain and I now actually have an immune system – I’ve successfully fought off two colds in the last few months.  While everyone else has the “plague” I’m just happily going along with a day or two of mild symptoms and then nothing. NOTHING!!  Usually, by this time each year, I’m just miserable.  One of the coolest things about a clean diet is your ability to recognize a trigger food.  For me the last two days it was grapes.  Normally, grapes have not been a problem.  I ate grapes twice this week and each time I did, I had an asthma attack.  I would never have connected the dots if my diet wasn’t clean.  So, now grapes are off the list for a while.  More the pity because I like wine.  But, I like being healthy more.

And because I am such a believer, I now feel called to do something with what I have learned.  To help people. That was the main reason I started this blog.  I wanted to share my journey and let people know there is hope; there are alternative ways of healing that work. What I would love to do is take what I’m doing further. Find a way to help people who are being told they need to make these changes. Be a resource.  Go through their pantries, shop with them, teach them how to meal plan, grocery shop and batch prep. Show people the many resources out there.  Because when I started on my journey, I knew nothing. I remember feeling so lost, wondering how on earth I could make such a big change.  Because it is.  This is a completely different way of life.  No more opening a box or can or jar of something for dinner.  No more stopping at the drive thru or ordering pizza for something quick.  Something quick now means that I spend all day Sunday prepping everything for the week ahead and then on a Thursday night, grabbing the veggies I already cut up to roast or reheat and throwing together a quick buffalo chicken burger like I did last night.  It means packing my leftovers for lunch and making a breakfast quiche at the beginning of the week so I can have that for breakfast every morning. It means having the foods I need readily available so that I’m not tempted to cheat.  And I’m not perfect by any means.  I still have slip ups.  The difference is I now ask myself why I slipped and then I move forward. Because it’s done. I want people to learn from me, a real person with the same struggles because I “get it.” I’m still not sure how exactly how I’m going to go about this next journey. But I know there is so much more in store.

*My disclaimer, don’t start on some new eating program without first speaking to your doctor.  Everything I do is at the direction of my integrative health doc. My diet is a modified paleo because there are some foods my body just can’t tolerate.  Same with the supplements I take. I’ve been tested to see where my needs are and only take supplements as I’m directed.  Truly what works for me may not work for you.  This is NOT a one size fits all. If you are feeling it’s time to try a new way of healing your body, I  recommend seeking out an integrative or functional medicine doctor. Do NOT do this on your own.

Sinus rinsing, aka water torture

Sinus rinsing.  Yup, this will be some exciting stuff. Bet you are on the edge of your seat just filled with anticipation, aren’t you?  So, let’s talk getting rid of snot.

Have you ever been told to do a sinus rinse by your doctor?  Did you look at him and think he completely lost his mind and there is no way on this planet you will comply?  Or are you one of those people who are willing to try anything if it will make you feel better?  All of the above apply to me.

When I was first dealing with all the craziness of sinus infections and sinus surgeries, I was told to do sinus rinses regularly. I thought they were crazy and refused to comply.  And then my doctor got stern with me.  So I tried it.  OH. MY. GOD.  I hated it and I think I almost drowned!  I had water everywhere, except for where it should have been, which was up my nose.  But I’m no quitter and I tried again, this time with better results because I actually followed the directions.  Go figure. And I kept up with the rinsing and found that maybe they were on to something because it actually worked and I found some relief.  And (I’m warning you this is gross but…) there is something satisfying about seeing what was trapped in my head.  A kind of “So that’s why my head hurt so bad” kind of thing. And so I’m a believer.  And I’m always telling everyone else to try it and now I’m telling you.  Really, it works and is so much better for you than taking a bunch of medication which just masks your problem. Sinus rinsing decreases your symptoms naturally and safely. And that’s a winner in my book. And now my tips:

  • Make sure to always use distilled water. You can also use boiled tap water.  But never, EVER, use water straight from the tap.  So many germs and you don’t want to introduce those directly into your body.
  • Never use hot water.  I know this from experience.  It hurts.  Warm water is soothing but room temp is good too.  Cold?  Just don’t. Talk about brain freeze.  Again, trust me on this one.
  • Make sure you sanitize everything and often. You can just throw your neti-pot, sinus rinse bottle, etc. into the dishwasher. I usually just throw my stuff into a pot of water and boil and then air dry – just the same as you would do for bottle nipples.
  • Make sure to wash your hands BEFORE doing a sinus rinse.  You don’t want to contaminate your sanitized equipment. And this goes without saying, I hope, but use soap and make sure you really wash your hands.  Sing the ABC’s to yourself while you do it and then you’ll be sure your hands are clean.
  • Follow the directions included in your rinse kit of choice so you get optimal use.
  • Do NOT do a sinus rinse directly before bed. Make sure you allow enough time for your sinuses to properly drain.  Otherwise you are going to bed with warm fluid in your sinuses – a perfect breeding ground for infection.
  • Do NOT be alarmed when you bend over and water leaks out your nose.  I’ve had this happen hours after a rinse.  It happens. You’re not dying. I promise.
  • When travelling, I like to buy the pre-mixed rinses in a can (make sure it’s a rinse or irrigation and not a saline spray).  That way you aren’t dealing with finding ways to sanitize everything.  When we traveled to Ireland, I threw a bunch in my suitcase and didn’t have any problems.

While home sick last year, I saw an ad for and interesting nasal rinse contraption called Navage. http://www.navage.com/  It’s a suction-based nasal rinse which takes all the mess and “yuck” out of sinus rinsing. I decided I had to have it and am so glad I bought it.   I love it and it was worth every penny.  Just pop the salt tab in, add water and let the machine do the work for you.  I can even walk around and talk while doing it but that kind of freaks my family out. When I’m finished, I just throw all the pieces into the dishwasher and I’m done.

When do I rinse?  All the time!  Why do I rinse?  Because it works! When I’m sick, I’ll do a sinus rinse 3-4 times per day! I’ll be honest, I’m supposed to do it daily and I don’t.  But I know my body and when I need to step it up. The moment I feel the slightest of sinus pressure or stuffiness, I’m on it.  It’s also great during allergy season or if I’ve been out doing yard work because I can flush the allergens right out.  Really, I swear by sinus rinsing and am sorry I hadn’t complied earlier.  Give it a shot. It’s really not bad and you might find you enjoy it.  And, I promise, you won’t drown.