Tag Archive | stress

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?

32F05776-7F8C-4D3A-957E-91CC36D597FC

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.

39A48FD7-3192-4CB6-A9E8-7DF01D0B7AFD

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!

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

The Day the Music Died

While I normally post about food and exercise and dealing with an autoimmune disease, yesterday was such a profound day of loss, I had to switch gears a little just this once and I hope that’s ok.

Yesterday was a sad day. The day the music died. I was trying to put into words why I was hit so hard by Tom Petty’s death or by the shooting in Las Vegas. I mean, I never met Tom but his music was with me most of my life and his music carried me through and defined moments in my life. So many memories… And to see him in concert was pure magic. And I didn’t know anyone at the concert in Vegas. And yet it was a tragedy that hit us as a nation hard. And I mourn. We all mourn. As a nation, and as fans.

I awoke this morning feeling the world off-kilter because life is forever changed. And for me, this is yet one more sad change in a sea of change – one more thing, one more person, one more change to mourn. So last night was one of wine and Tom Petty songs and Las Vegas news as we worked through our grief.

Today my world, OUR world is a little darker. We mourn and we weep. And we wonder why. And there are no answers. No right or wrong way to feel. In this moment of time we must be especially kind to one another. Yesterday there was such love in action. Strangers caring for strangers, sharing grief. Loving one another. We must continue to help each other through. Give blood, give of your time and your treasure. Be there for others. Share stories and remember. Most importantly, we must continue to enjoy and experience and share music with others. To not be afraid to congregate in a large group and do just that. And so, I end this with my favorite Tom Petty song:

Alright for Now
Goodnight baby, sleep tight my love
May God watch over you from above
Tomorrow I’m workin’ what would I do
I’d be lost and lonely if not for you

So close your eyes
We’re alright for now

I’ve spent my life travelin’
Spent my life free
I could not repay all you’ve done for me

So sleep tight baby
Unfurrow your brow
And know I love you
We’re alright for now
We’re alright for now

 

Now what?

Perhaps you have been dealing with an autoimmune disease for some time and are tired of all the meds. Or your doctor suggested you follow an autoimmune protocol diet (AIP) or paleo or Whole30 and you don’t know where to begin. Here are some tips to get you on your way.

  1. If you have not already done so, seek out or asked to be referred to an Integrative or Functional Medicine doctor. There are lots of certificated specialists and that is probably just fine, however I’m more comfortable knowing who I see is also an MD. At your first visit you will be assessed and odds are they will run a bunch of tests, including a food allergy panel. This is to give them a baseline to see where you are. For me, I was then put on a very restrictive Elimination Diet for three months. I was also told to start eating as much fermented food as possible to start healing my gut.  All of this was so that we could bring down the inflammation levels and calm my body down so I could heal. After my first visit, I left with tons of notes and handouts and even more questions. This is where my inquisitive nature kicked in as I pondered “Now what?”
  2. “Now What” – Fortunately there is now so much information available. Unfortunately there is now so much information available.  How do you know where to turn and which information is correct? Some people claim things are AIP or Whole30 compliant and yet those things are not.  First of all, your doctor should have given you a list of compliant foods.  Keep that.  You will be referencing that often.  In my searches, I found that Against All Grain has been my go to for everything.  She keeps all the different food allergies and diets in mind when creating recipes and her cookbooks also delineate which recipes are nut free, AIP, etc.  She’s a great resource! http://againstallgrain.com/  Through her blog, I was introduced to the Whole30 and Melissa Hartwig.  Melissa’s tough love and humor caught my attention and I’ve followed her ever since.  https://whole30.com/ And I’m now also stalking Chrissa from Physical Kitchness because she cooks like I do! Simple, easy meals. http://physicalkitchness.com/
  3. The next step is to go through your pantry and refrigerator. Remove any foods which are not compliant. And I don’t mean by eating them. Throw them away and then restock your pantry with the following to begin with.  Almond flour, coconut flour, coconut milk, arrowroot powder, compliant spices, nut butters… you can also go to my previous blog for a complete list.
  4. Meal plan. They key to staying “on the wagon” is planning ahead and staying organized. Once you get he hang of it, it becomes a habit and you get better at it. I sit down on Saturday and plan what I’m going to cook all week for breakfast, lunch and dinner and then shop accordingly. I always keep my pantry and fridge stocked with the basics and fill in with fresh produce and protein. I also play meals so that tonight’s dinner can become tomorrow’s lunch or even breakfast. Learn to change your mindset of what breakfast should be. I also take leftovers and turn them into other things. Tonight’s tri tip will become tomorrow’s steak salad. Or mixed with scrambled eggs and sweet potatoes. We don’t waste food in this house. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Blueberries and eggs are good honest! I would have never discovered this if I wasn’t open to trying different recipes. I’ve also discovered plantain chips. Where have these been my whole life?

Some days will be easier than others. Be kind to yourself and embrace the journey.  Know that knowledge is power and arm yourself with as much information as you can. I didn’t have anyone to walk me through this. I had to discover all of this alone.  And because of this I hope that what I’ve been through will be of help to others.

Becasue it is now summer and vacations are upon us I’m sure you are wondering how to deal with travel and eating out. Tomorrow I will share my tips and hacks on how to survive both.

IMG_5167

Embrace the lessons

Still sick. It’s a sinus infection gone sideways and now my jaw is locked. Seriously. Can’t make this stuff up! And now I don’t care if I never see another bowl of applesauce again. COMPLIANT applesauce because even though I can eat precious little right now, I’m still keeping to the plan.

A dear friend said she’s praying “It’s enough Lord” for me. No kidding, right?! But that got me to thinking… perhaps the prayers should be that I embrace the lessons and be grateful for the journey. Because it’s through this journey that I see goodness and hope. People are now reaching to me for help with their illnesses. Friends are sharing what I’ve been through with others and encouraging them to reach out to me. And that they actually want to hear what it is I have to say is still hard for me to wrap my head around…

I’ve been praying for the Lord to show me His purpose in all of this and every day it becomes more clear. Perhaps not only is each experience meant to make us stronger but we are to then to go forth and share those lessons with others. And that is now where I am in my journey. Talking to people. Sharing what I’ve learned and where to turn for help.  Holding their hand through this as someone held mine. Modeling that having a chronic illness does not have to mean the end of the world but that it is instead the start of a new one full of promise and hope.

I’m not perfect. Dealing with my illness is hard and I have to be ever vigilant. And there are times, such as now where I could easily give up and stop hoping. Times where I don’t want to do any of this anymore if I’m going to be brutally honest. But what keeps me going is hope. Hope that I have more good days than bad. Hope that I can make a difference in this world. In somebody’s life. Hope that all of this isn’t for nothing.

So whatever it is you are going through. Be grateful for it for there is a lesson just waiting to be embraced. One which could change your life for the better.

IMG_4579

 

 

“It’s the climb”

miley-cyrus-its-the-climb-quotes-1

This morning, “It’s the Climb” by Miley Cyrus came to mind because I’m in the middle of a blip. Oral thrush and fungul sinusitis. More prednisone and an antifungal. My diagnosis yesterday. Ugh. I had a bit of pity party because how much more? I had to step a bit out of myself to find the answer to this one. The bottom line is I suffer from chronic, autoimmune disease. It’s always going to be  there and my normal will never be just normal. And the truth here is that although I’m currently sick, I’m much better than I was this time last year and that I’m going to have blips along the way. What counts is how I handle those blips that determines the success of what I’m doing.   Some days I handle it with grace and other not so much.  But I’m human, right? No matter the day, the most important advice I can give you is to be kind to yourself.  I can’t control this illness anymore than I can control the weather.  However, I CAN control the severity by how I treat my body. By what I put in and on my body.  By staying positive even when I want to curl up into a ball and cry. By taking an active role in my health, I am beating this and I will continue to beat this because what other choice do I have, really.

So, today I thought I would share some simple tips with you which make my life a bit easier and all of this less daunting.

  • Get out of bed.  No really.  That’s it.  I have RA. Things creak and hurt.  And right now I don’t feel so hot.  However, get out of that bed.  Move.  The more you move, the better you are going to feel.  And, I’m going to say it, the better your “system” will work, if you get my drift. And gut health is key here (more on that another day).  Those endorphins will also make you feel better.  REALLY! Also, getting dressed and made up can make you feel better about yourself.  Sometimes it really is all about those little things.
  • PLAN AHEAD!  Eating paleo is not something you can’t just do on the fly.  It isn’t.  But, it can be with a little prep work.  When you get home from the store, dice those veggies, spiralize the squash, prep the sauces. Trust me, you will be glad you did during the week.  Because now that you’ve prepped, you have paleo fast food at your fingertips!
  • Meal prep – This doesn’t have to be fancy OR difficult.  In fact, some times dinner is something as simple as a fried egg over leftovers.  I’ve found that we no longer waste food.  Tonight’s dinner could become tomorrow’s breakfast or lunch or repurposed for dinner.  But, here’s a few hacks for you:
    • Riced cauliflower – You can buy it ALREADY done.  Yup.  Just open the bag and you are set.  However, to save money, I rice up a few batches and store in my freezer. That way I always have cauli-rice on stand-by.  You can also mix this up by ricing some sweet potato or carrots as well, just for variety.
    • Spiralized noodles – You can also buy these already done.  I like to keep in the fridge for whenever the mood strikes but generally I spiralize ahead of time and store in the fridge.
    • Cook up you sweet potatoes and spaghetti squash ahead of time in the microwave or Instant Pot. Still just as good and way quicker.
    • Spiralize veggies and then roast them in the oven.  Once cooked, throw into a bowl and add a beaten egg or two and then cook up in your waffle iron.  YUM!
    • Do you have veggies in your fridge that are looking sad.  You know what I’m talking about…  That little bit of cauliflower, baby carrots, broccoli and asparagus left over in the back of the bin.  Take it all, toss with a little olive oil and roast for 15 mins at 425 degrees.
  • Travel – Never EVER leave the house without food in your purse, bag, whatever. Let me repeat that. Never EVER leave the house without food in your purse, bag, whatever.  I always have a compliant snack in my purse and I always carry protein.  And I never leave home without water.  If I’m traveling long distances, I pack more snacks. Never get caught with nothing to eat.  Do you know what happens when you do that?  You eat crap and then you FEEL like crap.  You can go to Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain Blog for lots of tips on how to eat while traveling.  For me, I like to pack nuts, apples, lettuce wraps, hard boiled eggs and I always have one of those little tuna packets with me.  I also like to make my own cereal bars (and these are super easy to make and taste better than that awful store-bought crap.  http://againstallgrain.com/2012/08/11/glutenfree-cereal-breakfast-bars/  
  • Tools – Have the right tools in your kitchen.  If I was going to be stranded on a deserted island and could only bring one kitchen tool besides a knife and a fork (with electricity of course and an abundance of food – hey this is my fantasy…) I would bring my Instant Pot (although my KitchenAid was a close second.  Those attachments and the machine count as one, right?).  How I went so long without an instant pot can only be summed up that I am a big, fat chicken who was afraid she’d blow her house up.  Hasn’t happened yet.  What has happened is I make fantastic meals in a fraction of the time. Now I have more time for fantasizing about that deserted island and grocery shopping on line.
  • Research – You can’t do this alone.  Believe me, I tried and failed.  Visit the different blogs and web pages out there.  My favorites are Against All Grain, Whole30, Nom Nom Paleo and Physicalkitchness.  You can find their web pages or look them up via social media.  I have found a plethora of support and it makes me not feel so alone in this.
  • Shopping – Eating paleo can get expensive but there are ways to save (both time and money).  Our local grocery store will do the shopping for you and bring it to your car. I love this.  While I’m prepping my meal plan for the week, I shop online and pick the groceries up two hours later. A shame they don’t unload them for me, but that’s what the Hubs is for.  Also take advantage of sites like Thrive Market.  The discounts I get by shopping at their site more than make up the annual fee.  And they ship fast.  Whole Foods –  did  you know some stores deliver?  OMG!  And right to my office door. Then there is Costco for things I buy in bulk like coconut oil, ghee, nuts, nut flours, etc.  I also shop Amazon for deals as well.  Sometimes you even get same day delivery.  Wow. How lazy am I? Although I prefer to say I’m efficient and making the best use of my time. I round my shopping out with local farmers markets when I can get to them.  I really need to be better about that.
  • Keep your pantry/fridge stocked!  Things I ALWAYS have on hand: coconut milk, coconut oil, ghee, bacon, nuts, nut flours, almond butter, sunbutter, cashew butter, bone broth (more on that in a minute), avocado oil mayo, honey, arrowroot powder, spices, chomp sticks, compliant apple sausage, chicken, coconut aminos, apple cider vinegar, Nutpods creamer, fresh fruit and veggies, tuna, eggs and almond milk.  There’s more and maybe my next post will be a lists of all things needed.
  • Broth -Make your own.  It’s super easy.  Especially with an instant pot.  I’ve been making Rebecca Katz’s Magic Mineral Broth.  I make giant batches of it and then store some in the freezer.  It is the base of all my soups, etc.  And when I’m not feeling well I like to sip on it.  If you are going to buy broth, make sure it’s bone broth.  Much better for you.
  • Go see an Integrative Specialist.  Get tested for food allergies/intolerances.  Or follow the Whole30 plan. It’s not easy but 30 days is doable and isn’t your health worth it? You will thank Melissa later.
  • If changing your whole routine is too large a task at the moment and it seems overwhelming to you.  Then make one small change at a time.  However, if you really want to get good results, the Whole30 is a great tool to follow.

I could go on and on and I’m sure you feel like I have.  This is just something I’m passionate about and believe in. By taking an active role in your health, you can change the outcome.  Sure there will be days that are more difficult than others.  There will be some blips along the way but it’s all part of the climb. YOUR climb.

It’s the Climb – Miley Cyrus

I can almost see it
That dream I am dreaming
But there’s a voice inside my head saying
“You’ll never reach it”

Every step I’m taking
Every move I make feels
Lost with no direction
My faith is shaking

But I gotta keep trying
Gotta keep my head held high

There’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be a uphill battle
Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose

Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side
It’s the climb

The struggles I’m facing
The chances I’m taking
Sometimes might knock me down
But no, I’m not breaking

I may not know it
But these are the moments that
I’m gonna remember most, yeah
Just gotta keep going

And I, I got to be strong
Just keep pushing on

‘Cause there’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be a uphill battle
Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose

Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side
It’s the climb, yeah!

There’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Somebody’s gonna have to lose

Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side
It’s the climb, yeah!

Keep on moving, keep climbing
Keep the faith, baby
It’s all about, it’s all about the climb
Keep the faith, keep your faith, whoa

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!

IMG_4477

 

 

 

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.

IMG_4476