Tag Archive | rheumatoid arthritis

50 Races by my 50th Birthday

I am back in training mode because, let’s face it, I’m crazy. I also committed to finishing 50 races by my 50th birthday which means I have 20 months to finish 12 races. I can do this. Right? And because I’m back in training mode, I thought It would be fun to share what it was like for me to run my latest race. And what I learned from it.

I trained incredibly hard for the Disney Half Marathon this past September. For twelve weeks, my entire life revolved around my running schedule and my every free thought was wrapped up in routes, nutrition and pain. Lots of pain. And after two years of health issues and a pretty serious fall about three months before my race (separated shoulder, mild concussion and cracked rib), I was ready.

The night before the race, we had a pasta dinner (gluten free for me) and then reflected at the start and finish lines to get ourselves in “the zone.” Then it was back to the hotel to set our things out and settle in for an early night of slumber. Now, I have to ask who really sleeps the night before a big race? Because my mind was all over the place. And did I mention how HOT it was? Good God we were in for a tortuous run.

The alarm went off at 2 a.m. and it was time to load up on the body glide, tape up my shoulder and don my race attire, only to find I had pinned my bib all the way through my shirt. With bib re-pinned, I double and triple checked my pockets, made sure I had my nutrition, ear buds, ID, etc., I forced myself to eat my pre-race breakfast and out the door we went. 3:00 a.m., 80 degrees outside and 70% humidity. WHAT? What the Hell were we thinking? We arrived at Disneyland only to discover there was a yellow flag warning and folks with health issues were encouraged to back out of the race. I am now of course, a bundle of nerves and have to pee every few minutes “I don’t have to pee. I don’t have to pee. I DON’T have to pee…” Perhaps if I say it enough times, I will convince myself that I don’t have to pee. Of course at this point I’m now questioning my training over the last few months and whether or not I will make it to the finish or be swept. Why the Hell is it so hot? Can I do this? Why did I think I could do this? And then the National Anthem plays and we all sing it together. What a beautiful moment. And then the realization hits that this is it. The moment we all trained so hard for. And, we are off.

As we run out of the safe confines of Disney and head out onto the open road, I notice the first of a many ambulances. It has barely been three miles and people are already dropping like flies. Did I mention how hot it was?! At this point there isn’t much to look at because Anaheim isn’t really that much to look at and it’s all mind games at this point. Although I am thankful for the kind souls who lined the race with their creative signs such as “Smile, remember you PAID to do this.” Yup, it takes a special kind of crazy to run 13.1 miles for FUN after paying $200 to do so! (And just so you know, I was having this EXACT conversation in my head as I was running.) As I approach mile 8, I’m fairly certain I cannot go any further. My fingers are so swollen, they are like sausages and I cannot bend them. I’m tired and feel overwhelmed by the heat and my feet hurt and I start pouring water over myself at each water station because I’m so miserable and it’s so hot.  I’m also bargaining with myself at this point and making myself promises in the event I actually survive this stupid race that I actually paid to run. And in that moment the race flag is changed from a yellow flag to a red flag warning. UGH. The game has changed. Now it’s all about survival.

We enter Angel Stadium and the sheer cool factor of running out onto the field makes up for the misery I’m feeling at this point. I run around the stadium high-fiving every spectator I pass in the hopes their positive energy will somehow enter my body and give me the boost I need. And, you know what? It worked! For a while. We run out of the stadium and through the parking lot down the street and see this giant overpass looming up ahead, in direct sunlight no less. And another person collapses. For a brief second I wondered (hoped?) perhaps it was me who collapsed and I was having an out of body experience. No such luck. And so I push on.

Mile 11. This is about the time I started crying. Yes, I actually started crying. It was hot, I was miserable, I couldn’t bend my fingers, I didn’t want to run ever again and I still had 2.1 miles to go. So close and yet so far. Some random woman in the crowd beckoned to me and held up one of those cooling neck rags to give me. At first I wondered why I was being singled out, but if I looked as bad as I felt, there was my reason. God bless her. That and the ice she poured into my bra was what got me and all my delirious glory to mile 12.

Mile 12.  I can see Disneyland. I mean, I can see actually see it. I’m close. Only 1.1 miles to go. OMG. I still have 1.1 miles to go… This race is never going to end. There is a saying that the longest mile in a race is the last .1 miles. Do you want to know why? Because at that point you are wondering where the HELL is the finish line. Because you want to finish strong (ok, who am I kidding at this point. I just want to finish upright) and so you need to be able to conserve your energy for that last sprint to the finish line. I was in such a fog, I didn’t even realize I had crossed the finish line until I did. So much for my happy finish photo. Let’s just say my photo looks pretty much like I’m sure you are imagining at this point. But no matter. I finished. I pushed through the heat and the tears and the pain and I FINISHED!

This race was not the best run of my life. It wasn’t even in the top ten. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is I believed in myself and accomplished something not everyone can do healthy, much less with the health issues I have. I learned that we all have so much more inside of us than we think. That even when my body is begging to stop, to be strong and reach deep down and fight. But, most importantly this race taught me not what I am capable of. It taught me to believe that I AM capable.

And as I walked to the medical tent to ice my shoulder, I smiled and began to plan my next races. Because there will be more. Twelve more to be exact.

 

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The Prednizone Part Deaux

Have I mentioned lately how much I HATE this stuff? Now I get that walking pneumonia is no joke and the docs bring out the big guns. But man… I’ve been cranky and emotional and tired and never mind the night sweats or that every inch of my body hurts to the touch today. I can’t sleep to save my life and I’m doing everything short of locking the fridge so I don’t snack aimlessly. Three more days. I can do this. I just hope those around me survive. Just saying it’s gonna be close.

I did a lot of food prep today and will post the recipes below as they are not my own but man are they good. There’s something so wonderful about spending time in the kitchen on a fall weekend. That is truly when I’m at my best. I did create a recipe today for GF/Paleo pumpkin, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I had to put them away or I would have eaten every last one. I will post the recipe later (I actually wrote it down this time).

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip muffins: the recipe is from the Against all Grain cookbook from Danielle Walker

Instant pot mashed potatoes (I used fresh dill  instead) http://pretenditsadonut.com/2017/10/19/instant-pot-mashed-potatoes/

Crispy Sweet Potatoes: https://thewonkyspatula.com/2017/05/12/sweet-potato-cubes-with-basil-guac/

Breakfast sausages: http://pretenditsadonut.com/2017/08/18/jalapeno-cilantro-breakfast-sausage-patties/

Turkey stuffing meatballs chock full of carrots and kale and no stuffing. But with the spices and flavor combo, nobody will know the difference. https://m.facebook.com/OfficialWhole30Recipes/posts/1596723503681251:0

Buffalo chicken tacos: http://www.thewholesmiths.com/2017/11/02/football-family-and-buffalo-chicken-tacos/

I still need to make chicken nuggets for the grandkids but I forgot to buy sparkling water (necessary to get the batter just right) so I will make those tomorrow after work. That’s how easy these are.  But you can find the recipe here: https://againstallgrain.com/2014/09/18/gluten-free-chicken-nuggets/

I want to point out I did NOT spend all day in the kitchen. Thanks to my instant pot and these super easy recipes, it’s not quite 3:00 pm and I’m resting on the couch. And yet my family will now have healthy, tasty meals for the week. A win in my book. PS -the baked goods are an attempt to apologize for what has or will come out of my mouth the next few days… I’ll let you all know when it’s safe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These boots were made for walking… walking pneumonia that is.

One year ago I was fighting to come off prednisone after being on it for nine years and I wrote about how incredibly hard it was and how I wasn’t feeling particularly strong or brave. But I did it. It took a few more months but I was finally weaned off. And I’ve done pretty well but find it ironic I write this as I sit here recovering from walking pneumonia. I was injected with 125mg of steroids last night and given another 60 today. I feel defeated by this setback. I’ve worked so hard and here I am, my cheeks red and puffy from the prednisone, I can’t sleep from the high doses and I was quite alarmed to see a series of about 20 bruises out of nowhere. Yes, it’s Halloween and I’m back in the Prednizone. And yet I’m reminded this is temporary. When you have an autoimmune disorder you are going to have setbacks. It doesn’t mean you are a failure. Things happen. Stress happens. Grief happens. These things all affect our health in ways you can’t imagine. But you stay the course. Because it works. Eating clean does not mean there will never be another setback. It means the number of setbacks and the length of them diminish significantly and that is what I hold on to. Below is the blog post I wrote exactly one year ago:

“Be mindful of your cape when you pee.”

And now a little about the last week. This time last year we were rooting for our beloved Cubbies in the World Series and this year our Dodgers. A great two years in our house. You have to have good food while watching a ball game, so I made Paleo nachos. So easy, good and filling: plantain chips, pulled pork, radishes, pico de Gallo, cilantro and guac. Did I mention how tasty these were?

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I started a tradition years ago with my girls making rice krispy treat “monster eyes” and I continue that tradition with my grandkids. But I also wanted to make a healthy treat as I’m trying to teach them young about eating healthy. And so we made these incredible green smoothie muffin “monster eyes” as well. For the recipe, please go to this link for the recipe from The Natural Nurturer. http://www.thenaturalnurturer.com/blog/paleo-green-smoothie-muffins  These muffins were kid approved and she even watched me add the spinach!

Now what do you cook when you aren’t feeling well or are in a pinch for time? I make a simple apple sausage skillet filled with whatever leftover veggies I have in the fridge and added some of my mineral broth and chili sauce for some heat. Delicious and just as good the second night. Excuse my little plastic plate. I don’t feel well and grabbed something I could quickly microwave.

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It doesn’t have to be fancy and sometimes good enough is good enough. And you would be amazed how “good enough” tastes.

So, what now? I push through and I stay the course. Because of the high doses of Prednisone I’ve been given, I have to do all I can to boost my immune system: kombucha, green tea, lots of water, rest, vitamin C and Zinc. I’ve upped my turmeric and added more ginger and drinking my immune boosting green smoothies. And am constantly washing my hands. I’m not like “regular” people and have to be more vigilant. It’s work, sure, but in the end is so worth the effort. And if I can do it, you certainly can too!

Hapoy Halloween everyone!

 

 

 

 

Listen to your Body’s Whispers, Before They Become Screams

As I lie in bed recovering from the virus that is currently making the rounds, I thought perhaps this is a good time to share the things I’m doing to get well. I suspect many others are affected by this crummy virus too.

Let me begin by mentioning that last Thursday was World Arthritis Day. What does that have to do with why I’m sick? In a nutshell, everything. I have rheumatoid arthritis. I was diagnosed two years ago. At the time, I thought life as I knew it was over. I was told to stop running and I was devastated. After my initial pity party, I decided I refused to accept that. I found an amazing support group filled with people who still run. We support one another and cheer each other on through the good days and bad. Most people would have no idea I have RA because I’m as active as I am. What they don’t see are the days I struggle to walk down the stairs, they have no idea the days my feet hurt so bad that it feels like every bone in my feet are broken and walking is excruciatingly painful. I suffer in silence as so many of us affected do. Nobody knows what it takes for me to run a race. How much of a toll it takes on my body. Because I don’t complain – there are so many worse off than me. Those of us who suffer from RA or the myriad of autoimmune diseases are warriors. We are fighters who live with a crippling disease of which there is no cure. We all belong to a club we don’t want to be a member of but we make the best of things and go about life suffering in silence. I consider myself one of the lucky ones.

Now back to what RA has to do with why I’m sick. I am suffering from an arthritic flair which started this week. This should have been a clue to me my immune system was going haywire but… here I am. I should have listened to my body. Because I didn’t, I am writing this blog from my bed. And now I’ll share what I should have done and what I’m doing now to recover.

Usually when I feel a flare coming on, I step up the turmeric, I take boswelia, ginger and borage, steep astragalus root tea and take ashwaganda. I also make a huge batch of Rebecca Katz’s Magic Mineral Broth (see link to recipe below) drink my healing smoothies (from the Wahl’s Protocol), drink golden milk and rest. Fortunately I did make a huge batch of my broth last week – didn’t start drinking it until yesterday. Life happens, we get busy and complacent. The problem with being complacent, for me, is my health suffers greatly. I cannot afford to slip however I am human and I do. And then I deal with the consequences, get back on track and move on.

Today I am feeling a little better. I am making smart choices and resting my body. Walking down the stairs is painful, my body aches, my throat hurts and I’m tired. But… I’m feeling better. Normally I wouldn’t bounce back as quickly. Through this journey, I’ve discovered how to heal my body by eating the right food, taking the right supplements and staying active. These are the things that work for me. I’m a huge proponent of eating to get and stay well. Of eating with purpose. And it’s not something I do on my own. I am guided by my doctors and then take what I’ve learned and do the research so I can follow what they insist I do to stay healthy or as healthy as I can. If you are struggling with an autoimmune or just can’t seem to get over illness after illness, seek out an integrative medicine doctor. I promise you will be glad you did.

And now for those links I promised:

https://www.rebeccakatz.com/magic-mineral-broth/

https://whole30.com

https://www.drweil.com/diet-nutrition/nutrition/immune-supporting-astragalus-tea/

http://www.gaiaherbs.com/products/detail/774/Golden-Milk

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A Happy Anniversary to Me and My Blog!

It has been one year since I started this blog. Amazing how time flies! Because of the health issues I’ve experienced and how I learned to cope and heal, I felt the need to help others. To share what I learned and not only be an inspiration to others but a resource as well. And I hope I have done just that.

I remember being handed information as to what to eat and not eat to manage my illness and I felt lost and overwhelmed. Thankfully I’m ever the planner and did a lot of research on how to eat this way – especially when my diet was very restricted. But I felt so alone on my journey. And it’s not that I didn’t have the support of my family and friends. But unless you’ve been there. Truly been there, you don’t know. You can still eat like a normal person. You can choose to eat the way I do or not. I don’t have that luxury. I mean, I can choose to ignore the plan but the consequences for me are serious.

What have I learned/done this past year?

1 –  I LOVE trying new recipies. I’ve continued to follow Against all Grain but I’ve also discovered resources such as the Whole30, Nom Nom Paleo, Physicalkitchness, Iheartumami and countless others. I follow them religiously and love their recipes and encouragement. I also just finished reading The Wahl’s Protocol and am having fun incorporating what I learned into my diet. Yes, this CAN be done!

2 – I’ve discovered a love for things such as my instant pot and spiralizer and the importance of having the right tools for the job. Unfortunately I have a love for all things kitchen-related. But these tools I’m addicted to are used often and loved. I did NOT blow up my house with the instant pot as I feared last year. Instead it has cut my Sunday prep time in half. And Kitchenaid mixer and all your attachments, where have you been all my life?

3 – Organization is key! Each week I sit down and plan my meals. ALL of my meals for each day of the week. By planning and shopping accordingly, we do not have food waste in our house. One meal turns into the next and last night’s dinner can become tomorrow’s lunch or even breakfast. And when all else fails and I’m tired at the end of the day, we have “clean out the fridge” night and I put an egg on it! Those dinner bowls with a fried egg on top have become some of my favorite meals.

4 – This isn’t always easy but that’s ok. I’ve learned to cut myself some slack. And a minor setback is just that.

5 – I rediscovered my love for running. It keeps my mind clear and my body active. I was told, because of my RA, I needed to stop running. I was devastated and then came across this wonderful support group  of people with RA WHO STILL RUN!! They inspire me. We inspire and support one another. They were one of my lifelines and I’m forever grateful. In this past year I’ve run countless 5k’s, two 10 k’s, a 12k and a half marathon. I mentored a running group and ran through illness, arthritic pain, a cracked rib and a separated shoulder. I ran when I was happy, angry or sad. I always say my integrative doctor saved my life two years ago but this past year it was running that saved me. Find what activity makes you happy and DO IT! Movement is so important. Especially for something as debilitating as RA and fibromyalgia. My body used to be so stiff and it hurt to the touch. I’m not saying I don’t still have those days but they are few and far between because I stay in motion.

6 – I’ve learned patience with myself. And to accept and love myself as I am. This past year I finally learned that what others think doesn’t matter. What counts is how I feel about myself. That I’m strong and capable and can do anything I set my mind to. I’m my own damn superhero! And you can be as well. Positive self talk and a positive attitude are everything!

7 – Real food, HEALTHY food tastes good. Paleo, along with my other food limitations doesn’t mean eating styrofoam. We eat a balanced, healthy diet that was created for me to remove inflammation from my body and keep my immune system intact. Everything tastes AMAZING! And most of the time, my family doesn’t realize they are eating “healthy.”

8 – Thanks to three very special people in my life (all colleagues and dear friends), I rediscovered my faith. I spent so much time being angry. I kept saying Why me,  It’s not fair. And then one day it all clicked. I realized I wasn’t being punished. That there maybe was a reason to all of this and I was meant to help people. I went from being unable to pray to being so incredibly thankful for the many gifts in my life, including my life. It was in that moment of clarity I decided to create this blog. That my purpose was to help others struggling with their health. To provide the love and support that was shown me.

Life is this crazy journey of ups and downs and even sideways. And it’s what we learn from those moments that count. There will be failures but so many more gifts and successes than not. I’ve discovered my voice and that people want to hear what I have to say. That you CAN change the course of your health by eating deliberately. I’m living proof. I’m alive because of those changes.

I thank all of you for your love and support of my blog. This year has been a journey and a HUGE learning curve for me, and it continues to be. But it has been a gift and a joy to share my life with you. I don’t know what’s next but I do know I want to continue to teach and inspire people. The how and what I haven’t yet quite figured out. So until I do, I will continue to write and share and encourage because eating to change your health is something I feel strongly about. And a happy anniversary to me and my blog. And remember, if I CAN do it, so CAN you!

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To the Finish Line and Beyond

My doctor suggested I read a book called “The Wahls Protocol” and I’m already fascinated and I’m just on chapter one! As most who know me know, I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and something called ABPA. I am lucky in that I’ve been able to manage both through what I eat – a strict paleo diet and after a very difficult year am now off all meds. A miracle? Sure. But also a lot of hard work. A passage that spoke to me from her book: “You are made of cells…Cells come in different sizes and shapes and they all do different things, but they are, essentially, the building blocks that make up our bodies… They need certain nutrients in order to do the work of keeping you alive and healthy. Without those nutrients, the cells begin to malfunction, even die. Where do those nutrients come from? They come from the food you eat, nowhere else… Your genetics may determine WHAT goes wrong but when the cells aren’t getting what they need, the body doesn’t work right and something (usually many something’s) will go wrong somewhere.”

“People often wonder whether health is mostly a matter of genetics. Do your cells work well or poorly depending on your DNA? If it were up to your genes, then what you eat and how you live wouldn’t matter very much. However, we know this isn’t the case.”

Wow! Just wow! I’m living proof of this. I went from being very ill two years ago to sitting in the car traveling to run a half marathon in three days. I was once so ill that, at the rate I was declining and had someone very dear to me not stepped in, I would not be here today. I’m certain of it. I was then referred to a Functional Medicine doctor who saved my life through diet and supplements. Of this I am sure. I went from being bedridden and weak with such bad thrush I couldn’t eat. The oral thrush then moved into my esophagus; a testament to how very sick I was. The very medications I was being given to cure me were slowly poisoning me.

I’ve written about the struggle to be weaned off prednisone. It was hell. There were days I didn’t want to continue but I knew deep down I had no choice so each taper I fought through the extreme pain -my body hurt to the touch, every joint hurt terribly. The mood swings were awful, I couldn’t sleep or eat. By the time things settled down, it was time for the next taper. And so it went for a year until I was finally free of all meds and, to this day almost eight months later, still am.

I’ve been training for this run for months. I’ve trained through minor health setbacks, including a cracked rib and a separated shoulder. I’ve trained through sinus infections and asthma attacks. And through it all I’ve managed to push through and move forward, one mile at a time.

This is not my first half marathon. My first was four years ago – right before all of this began. But this one is most important to me. Because, you see, I’m me again. I’m strong and healthy. I’m a little battle worn but isn’t anyone who has fought such a battle and won? I’m proud of how very far I’ve come in such a relatively short amount of time. I am a fighter. And I believe with all my heart and soul where I am is because of how and what I eat. And this is why I write this blog. Why I passionately share with anyone who will listen.

To come to terms with what I’ve been through I had to believe there was a purpose to all of this. And my purpose is to pay it forward. To be that person to someone in need. To share what I’ve learned and perhaps make it easier for others. So that even if just one person knows they are not alone and can do this, then all of this will not have been in vain.

And as I cross that finish line on Sunday, I know there will be tears but they will be tears of joy. Of triumph. I’m not just running this race for me but for the many who have been there with and for me the last two years. Those of you reading this know who you are. The ones who prayed with me, cried with me, made me laugh, helped me with my workload, just simply loved me… you will all be with me on Sunday.

I am ever grateful to you all.

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I’ve Lost the Will to Live…

I’ve lost the will to live… that’s what I told myself at mile 7 of my 9 mile run last week. I was so wiped out, I pondered Ubering home but then my inner stubbornness kicked in and I finished my run.  Today was mile 10 day. I felt great the ENTIRE run. No willing myself to die this time. Why the huge difference, I asked myself.  The difference is routine,  consistency and discipline. I allowed myself to fall out of routine and THAT was the game changer.

When training for a big race or just eating Paleo in general, routine and discipline is key.  It’s important you eat right – natural, healthy food that will fuel your body. You must stay hydrated. And I’m not talking the night before your big workout. Daily Hydration helps your body function properly, it flushes the toxins out of your body, it also gives you good skin. For those of you looking for the fountain of youth or who ask why I have such a nice complextion, I’ll tell ya that fountain of youth is no further than the water on your refrigerator door, faucet, etc. Limit your alcohol consumption or cut it completely. I promise you will survive; a glass of sparkling water with lime is just as refreshing. Lastly, make sure you are getting enough sleep and also allow your body time to rest. Rest days are built into a training program for a reason. And if you are injured, for Pete’s sake, allow your body to heal (yes I hear your groans friends and family…). I don’t always follow this. I’m recovering from a cracked rib and separated shoulder and am currently only allowed to walk/run until I’m fully rehabbed. And you know what? My pace has decreased because I’m allowing my body to heal!! Allow your body to heal. It will thank you.

Every run/workout is different. You will have good days and bad ones. But you can increase your odds of good workouts by taking care of your body. After all, it’s the only one you’ve got.

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