Category Archives: Chronic Pain

A guest post for 1000 Voices of Compassion Speak

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My friend Suzie is an amazingly strong woman that recently drove from Alaska to Florida. Living here in Florida while her husband is in Alaska, due to health reasons on her part. Her strength amazes me. Her courage astounds me. When she asked if she could write for 1000 voices of Compassion Speak, I didn’t even hesitate.

Gratitude, to me, is that rush of feeling, a hot liquid sensation and sense of triumph after the release of cramped abdominal muscles far south of the belly button and the relief, knowing I have made it to the white commode in time. In time for what, one might ask? In time to avoid a future that includes changing one’s clothes and hunting up a washcloth for a partial bath . Hurrying along on a walker is a harrowing experience of balance, pain, frustration, determination and acceptance of whatever outcome. It wouldn’t have been the first time for an “accident” and it won’t be the last. Gratitude is in the moment, in a bathroom. From the abyss of the couch cushions, my cell phone merrily played its country jazz text alert song repeatedly until a woman, near driven to insanity, finally located it, banished it into my friend’s safekeeping and it was delivered back into my hands. Gratitude was what I felt, affectionate amusement was what I saw in my friend Erin’s face. I was thankful to not have to purchase another, lose all the phone numbers I have collected, and briefly resolved to copy them all into an address book, the traditional paper way. This commitment will hopefully last, and be remembered, after a brief nap. I am not grateful for my useless swollen right foot. At least I have a right foot, but I would prefer a useful prosthetic piece of plastic just so long as I could go for a bicycle ride, although diving into the ocean wouldn’t be as easy. My left ankle now aches from the strain of trying to give the right one a respite. I wait, grateful, I suppose, that I am in snow and ice free Florida, not predictably dangerous Alaska where walking without twisting an ankle is a daily test. I failed that test numerous times, although not directly due to precipitous conditions. I have gratitude for owning this computer and using it as a vehicle of frustrated self expression. Creative whining. If my ankles were in good repair I wouldn’t be using this computer. If I weren’t thinking about gratitude, I would be doing what exactly? Unsure.

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What it is like

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Social media can truly be a miracle sometimes. When asked a question you have time to think without your facial expression giving it away or making it awkward. It is a small thing but one I find very helpful. Recently I was talking with someone who had just gotten diagnosed with a chronic pain illness. It would be a matter of constantly managing it. She asked me, “What is it like? How do you do it? I just can’t imagine ever being okay with this. It is so distracting and I absolutely hate it.”  I agreed. I still feel all of that. It hasn’t gone away, more like it is just simmering.
Simmering, yeah that is a good description. Let’s go with that. It is a lot like cooking a meal that will never ever be done but you know it will be worth it.  It is a labor intensive meal like Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. It is like you have four pots on the stove and something in the oven.
One pot is emotional/mental health. One pot is physical health. One pot is spiritual. One pot is work and in the oven is the family. Just like in cooking you have to keep adding ingredients and it can simmer on its own for a bit but it needs a stir now and then. Every so often, and often when you feel you have it the most under control, all the pots start boiling over. Sometimes some smoke even starts coming from the oven.  Normally though the boiling over happens one at a time and you can handle it and move on. You take a taste every once in a while to check on it as a means to see how it is coming along. Sometimes tasting can tell you if there is a problem. Sometimes it tastes good but really something has started to go bad you just can’t taste it yet.
Then there is the other problem. Suddenly an ingredient is no longer working. It is no longer bonding with everything in the pot to make it one solid thing. It could be that self-care has fallen off your radar. It could be that you cut back on exercise. It could be that you thought it was self-care by sleeping in on Sunday, but really you hadn’t done anything else for spiritual health so it really wasn’t self-care. It could be that you cut back on exercise–physical health–for good reason, yet it negatively affected another part of physical health, vitamin D.  Sometimes you find an ingredient you thought would work well actually doesn’t and you have to take it back out of the pot.  Sometimes while you are disposing of that ingredient another pot starts to boil over. Don’t forget you changed the dynamics of that one pot you took the ingredient out of so you will need to adjust the temperature!
Yes, but that is essentially life isn’t it? You have to add the chronic pain as well. You are right about that, we are handling that as well. Hopefully each of the pots and the oven are helping that. Chronic pain though, that is the tricky element. That is the part that makes the ingredients suddenly stop working so well. That is the part that says, “that worked for a while, but now, not so much.”
On the really good days the chronic pain is like the background noise of the dishwasher going. You hear it, you know it’s going on. You just try not to pay too much attention to it until it dings. When it dings that is when you find out that suddenly the soap you were using didn’t work or something got gummed up in the hose and the rinse cycle didn’t go off. Sometimes there is not even running water to wash the dishes by hand while all the other stuff is happening. Chronic pain does that. You find something and your brain says, “hey, thanks this is really working,” so it starts focusing on something else more pressing.
So essential pain management just becomes part of your routine. I can’t tell you when it happens, just that it does. I can tell you that I am never okay with it. Chronic pain just adds to depression and anxiety because you are constantly longing for what you cannot have. Things you used to do are no longer an option. It took quite a bit of looking around trying to figure out what I wanted to do. It took even longer for me to realize that what I want to do will always be in flux. Some days I am overwhelmed that my health issues are only going to get worse as I age  because they are degenerative. Degeneration is already an issue as you get older. It is just sped up in my case.
Some days though, I don’t care. I am enjoying the moment for all that it is. Those are the days that make all the above worth it. They balance out all the bad days where all the pots are boiling over there is smoke coming from the oven and the dishwasher just plain won’t work.
It takes a lot of self-analysis to make those good days happen. In the beginning, I fought that. Don’t look too closely. Don’t fix what isn’t broken. If it is hanging on by a thread and still working, it isn’t broken. There comes a time though that it just doesn’t work any more. Nothing about it works and self-analysis is forced on you. You have to sit down and look at it. You have to acknowledge the problem.
Slowly you realize that sometimes you could be a bit more proactive. For a time that is all it is. A thought. You don’t act on it. Then one day you do something proactive and you see it pan out that it fixed a problem you didn’t even realize was coming. I am not saying that before you know it you are doing this all the time. I am not. I know I am not. I know there is always room for improvement.
At the end of the day, that is what I tell myself. I think about the things I handled proactively and the things I didn’t respond to that I should have. Tomorrow. Tomorrow I tell myself, we will try again. We are not going to try harder because we are already trying our hardest. We will just simply try again. I can tell you that if you keep telling yourself this each night you will believe it. I can’t tell you how long that will take. It could take months. It’s harsh to think that, Months! I can’t take months! I need a fix now! So take a deep breath and remind yourself that slow and steady cooks the meal.

 

 

The pretty good not from a recipe soup I made

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I am not a great cook. This is not something I hide from people. In fact, normally the fire alarm is an indicator of if dinner is done or not. However I have had some interest of improving in this area.  I don’t do recipes. Now don’t get me wrong recipes are fine, they just don’t work for me. On the logical level I know cooking is a science. It is however, also an art. That is really the only explanation of why recipes don’t work for me. Often I base what I make for dinner on what I am craving, sometimes a family member. This time it was my daughter. She wanted okra. The only ways I like okra is fried or in soup. We are trying to eat healthy and clean so soup it was! I was telling my friend Jen about this after the fact and she said you should totally blog that. I laughed because see above sentences about cooking. As far as I can tell it is both vegetarian and vegan. The wheels started turning however and I was thinking how healthy this turned out to be and good. Did I mention it came out good?

This is what you need based on what I remember.

1 bunch of kale Chopped

1 chopped and diced bulb of fennel (good for calming the stomach and intestines)

4 large carrots

1 bunch scallions

8-10 red creamer potatoes diced

2 yellow squash

1 Large zucchini

2 1/4 inch ginger minced (muscles really like ginger makes them all loosey goosey)

1 tablespoon ground ginger  (only because I didn’t feel like chopping up more fresh stuff)

1 tablespoon basil (its yummy and it fights bacteria and virus’s , Boosting immune system is important stuff)

1 teaspoon minced garlic

Green beans cut up

1 tablespoon rosemary ( I really love Rosemary and it helps muscles as well as it supposedly helps memory, circulation and immune health. However I really like it. )

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup green lentils

a container of Veggie broth ( I get organic low sodium but that is just me)

All measurements are from me eyeballing it.

Toss all ingredients in a large pot. Add the entire contents of the broth fill up with water and dump that in too. Let all this simmer for an hour.

Toss in the lentils and let it simmer for another twenty minutes or so.

Boom! Soup! It passed family inspection even if it didn’t have meat in it. I was not at all bothered by the lack of meat.

Time to dig out the toolbox

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I didn’t realize how much my body and my mind had started to crave my walks. It is getting hotter out. I have been to tired, too achy. I put them off. When I did try to get back in the swing the heat and the humidity have reached the point that I need to cut my walks in half. Trying to walk the full four miles left me swollen for hours and too depleted to function. This is where my brain and my body don’t agree. My brain says you can do it. My body says not even close.

I know that now it’s not as hot and as humid as it will be in the dead of summer. I know this is just the beginning, which is why I need to get my Fibromyalgia/mental health toolbox out. I need to get it up to date and keep it fresh in my head too. We need to have a good balance of things that I can do inside and outside. I am not saying I am perfect at this. Far from it in fact. This is why it is important to have it out where you can see it.

What? Don’t you know what I am talking about? What toolbox do you ask? Well if you ask me this is essential and you probably already do it on some level.

This is a list you keep handy to help you remember ways to pace, function and recover.

This is mine. What works for me won’t necessarily work for you. However, this can get you started and give you some ideas. Slap this list up on the refrigerator. It needs to be somewhere you will be often. Chances are you will be going to the refrigerator at least once a day. The bathroom is another idea.

I pulled mine and looked it over and updated it a bit. As I am sure many of you know, what worked six months ago may not necessarily still work.

Pace tools

1. Schedule classes/activities in the early morning or late afternoon as much as possible.

This now I would probably change the morning and early afternoon. Late afternoon is not a great time for me to function. I don’t want to have to jump out of bed either so anything after nine am is preferred. Of course, this is not always possible. This is where other aspects of your toolbox will help

2. Take medications on time.

Sigh. I do this one really well for weeks at a time. Then, I fall flat. It’s four hours past medication time and I wonder why I am so exhausted and my heartbeat feels so fast. I then start setting really annoying alarms to go off on my phone. It doesn’t help if you look at it and turn it off and still forget to take your pills. I have done that too. The more annoying it is the more likely it is I will stop what I am doing and take the pills.

3. Schedule Recovery time after activities.

If I am going out and we will be out an hour, I am probably going to need at least half hour recovery time. This is not one of those things I follow all that great. I should, I really should. It really does work. I can get a crapload done around the house if I do it. Twenty minutes cleaning thirty minutes resting and so forth.

Function tools

4. Take a water bottle!

Hydration is of the up-most importance. Obviously it is for everyone. However, our chronic illness/chronic pain bodies are working twice as hard. Drink water! Bring it with you, don’t assume they will have it. If you are not keen on the taste of just plain water, try infused water. Try not to use artificial flavors. These may seem to help you drink water, but it really doesn’t help.

5. Eat!

I can’t tell you how many times this one catches me off-guard. Wait. I eat. I ate this morning. Oh, that was six hours ago. Yeah, those shakes and feeling light-headed might just be related to a lack of food. Specifically protein will be the best bet. I keep roasted peanuts in the car almost at all times. It’s amazing how fast a bit of protein and water will help me recover enough to function until I get home.

6. Focus

Sometimes what we have to do overwhelms us. It can overwhelm anyone, even those without any illness. When I am having trouble functioning, I try to focus on just how much longer I have to do this. How much longer until I can sit down, lay down, be home? This is where some of my recovery tool box items come in handy, like deep breathing.

Recovery tools

7. Meditation

It took me a long time to get into this. I had no idea there were so many types of meditation. The more I explored the better I got. The first few you try won’t necessarily be it for you. I can tell you there are plenty of Guided meditations on YouTube that the person’s voice is like nails on a chalkboard. There were ones the background music drove me nuts. I think a few even made me twitch. You can find a lot of downloads for Guided meditation which is what I recommend. Self-guided was of absolute no use for me. I need someone to tell me breathe in and count the seconds and all that. Tell me what I am supposed to be seeing in my mind. Tell me how my body is supposed to feel. Guess what? It is completely okay if this is not for you. It is completely okay, actually really good if you fall asleep. I often use meditation for this exact purpose. When my brain is focusing on every twitch and pain, my brain is going a mile a minute of all the things I should have done today. It redirects my mind and before I know it, I am asleep.

8. Ginger Tea

This stuff is magic. Ginger works so well for muscle relief. I can’t tell you how many times Ginger has aided my recovery time. I will make it extra strong in just a few ounces of water and toss it back if I am not particularly in the mood for tea. Ginger is scientifically proven to help. This combined with number nine has taken the place of aspirin or Advil for me.

9. Ultracur

Curcumin has so many benefits, not just for people with chronic illness/chronic pain. It has completely changed the way I medicate. If you tried this and were on prescription pain meds, chances are you didn’t notice a difference. I never got the full benefit of it until I had to go off my prescription pain meds. It easily took several weeks for me to notice a definite difference. It took six months before it completely replaced Advil. I am now working on trying to stop taking Tylenol all together at night. Until I found Ultracur it was hit or miss if I could find fresh Turmeric root. Quality products of Turmeric or Curcumin were out of my price range for the amount I needed to be taking per day. Ultracur is by far the most reasonably priced I have found. Every now and again I run out and I realize just how much it does help. It’s very subtle so it’s effectiveness can easily be missed.

10. Epsom salt bath

Okay so this one wasn’t working for me for several months. It drove me nuts. Nothing like looking forward to relief and it not coming. I still haven’t been able to soak for twenty minutes but I have gotten to ten minutes without getting too uncomfortable. Adding essential oils can greatly increase the effectiveness. I use them but there are times I just use Epsom salt. Muscles like magnesium. They like it a lot.

11. Natural Calm

It’s a specific type of magnesium that you drink. It doesn’t always have the greatest taste. However, it works. This is another thing I will take like a shot of alcohol. Just toss it back. Natural Calm tends to work quite quickly. Start your dose very small and work up to the full dose if you need it. Your doctor should be consulted to see what your magnesium needs are and how much you should use for relief. Of all the doctors I have seen, I have yet to have one tell me not to take it.

12. Tart cherry juice

This is another new one that I added not too long ago. It was primarily to help sleep but it also seems to help a bunch of other things. I didn’t like it when I first started drinking it. I struggled to get the minimum two oz down. Now I am more likely to pour at least a six oz cup of juice a few hours before bed.

So there they are, things in my toolbox.

Please do share what is in your toolbox! Let’s share ideas!

Starting a food prep/cook day with a chronic illness

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Recently I was in a discussion about how I handle food prep and cook day to ensure I continue to eat healthy. It is so hard to function by the end of the day that it is easy to just order take out night after night or to skip eating all together. When my pain level rises I rarely am hungry. Having this day is not easy and it is an all day thing. Don’t expect to function much afterwards. Do expect a rise in your pain levels the first couple times you do it. I promise the more you do it, the more you put good healthy REAL food in you the better you will feel.
I think the best way to start is to go super easy. Lets start with Overnight oats for breakfast , egg and veggie muffins for snacking, Mason Jar salads, and what I call freezer meals. You are going to need a lot of mason jars for this but its the easiest thing to use and for some reason, the salads stay good for over five days in them. Not sure why. Probably some weird science thing.

Breakfast food grocery list

 

14 Mason jars with lids  1 large tub of Greek yogurt( ideally this would be plain but you can get away with vanilla) 1 pint blueberries and I think Blackberries are in season so 1 container of those 2 slightly under-ripe bananas Sliced almonds chia seeds Ground flaxseed Fat free milk(you can use any kind of milk , so almond milk coconut milk those are fine too) Old fashion oats Set out seven mason jars. In each mason jar pour 1/2 cup milk first, then add 1/3 cup greek yogurt, 1/3 cup oats, 2 tablespoons chia, 2 tablespoons flaxseed 1/2 cup fruit( you can mix or just do one fruit in each jar) I like blueberry banana . Bananas need to be sliced. 1/4 cup sliced almonds. Shake and put in fridge.

Snack Grocery list

1 dozen eggs

1 bag chopped kale

1 bag sliced mushrooms

Ground turmeric

ground ginger are a great boosting option to this, add to your taste.

Mix all in a bowl. Grease a muffin tin and pour mix in. Bake at 350 for twenty minutes. When done set aside let cool.  Two “muffins” can go in each zip-lock bag. A really smart friend then put her individual snack bags into a large zip-lock bag so they don’t all get lost and spread over the refrigerator

Lunch Grocery list

1 can chickpeas

1 can salmon or tuna

1 package Deli chicken strips

1 head of romaine

1 bag spinach

2 containers feta

sliced carrot sticks( like the little matchstick ones)

4 cucumbers diced bell peppers ( our store has them diced but sometimes i have to slice and dice them too)

Salad dressings of choice

Line up seven mason jars. In the bottom you are going to put your salad dressing. It is recommended to keep this to no more than two tablespoons Then comes your hard veggies, Carrot sticks, peppers, diced cucumbers(each salad should get roughly half a cucumber) Then comes the chickpeas, This is also where you add a meat choice here to mix it up or even some can tuna or salmon. I personally like the salmon. Then you can rotate Romaine and spinach add the feta last.

The snack eggs should be done by this time. Just set aside to cool.

Dinner freezer meals;If you prefer to use a toaster oven and avoid the microwave you are going to need small glass entree size containers. Otherwise glad or zip-lock entree containers are fine.

Dinner Shopping list

2 pounds chicken

1 pound fish

1 bag quinoa

1 container chicken broth(the less sodium more organic ones are the best option)

1 bag parsnips

about a pound of green beans

Sugar snap peas

1 head broccoli

1 bunch beets.

The easiest way I have found to cook this is on a cookie sheet wrap it in tin foil. Then wrap chicken with whatever seasonings you want in tinfoil. I set the chicken in the middle of a square of tinfoil then fold up and close it up. I typically just use garlic rosemary and lemon zest. Sometimes adding Turmeric as well. You can season each chicken breast seperately if you so choose. They will be cooking in tinfoil in their own juices. Repeat with fish of choice, my family will eat tilapia the easiest so that is what we use but you can use any white fish. Typically I just cook it with lemon and we top with parmesean . Slice the cauliflower and our favorite is to coat in coconut oil add some sea salt and some dill seed and thyme. Wrap it in tinfoil same as chicken folding it up. Slice the beets and add a tablespoon of oil of your choice really Wrap those in tinfoil the same way. Parsnips you can peel if you so desire we don’t normally. Same thing with tinfoil normally i just roll them in about two teaspoons of oil and sprinke sea salt on top. All this goes on baking sheet that was wrapped in tinfoil. Goes in the oven for an hour at 350. The tinfoil helps it all cook evenly and makes it so much easier to clean up after. Set four pots on the stove. Cook enough quinoa in the chicken broth for seven servings in pot one. In pot two go the green beans , pot three sugar snap peas and pot four broccoli. The veggies in the pot you are going to slightly undercook. When the meat and veggies are done in the oven take out and put on table. Well I put it on the table. Then put the pots next to it. Line up your seven entree dishes(gladware or glass) and put about 1/4 cup quinoa two veggie choices and a meat. Put top on and toss in freezer.

 

I only know how long it takes to thaw and heat in the microwave. If you can remember to take one out of the freezer in the morning and put it in the refrigerator that makes heat up time about five minutes. If you have it in the freezers no worries its about eight minutes. Of course this all depends on your microwave.

The first two times you may want to ask a friend to help you. Then you kinda find your rythm or groove or whatever and it goes faster; None of this is set in stone. Change up veggies for dinners as seasons change, same for fruits in overnight oats. There are tons and tons and tons of overnight oats and mason jar salads on Pinterest. The freezer meals I came up with several months back for my husband so he could have real food when he worked nights. Like I said with the salads they last up to ten days so you can easily do this for two weeks if that makes it easier.

DO plan for this to be a full days project.

It typically takes me from eight thirty am to about two thirty pm to complete and I normally am only capable of resting after that. I am pretty much spent for the day.

Then you can start exploring make ahead crock pot meals that you can freeze. So easy.with the same premise only these everything goes in prepped but not cooked in zip-lock freezer bags freeze it and then the same though of defrosting in fridge then dump the bag in crock pot. This would make it more family friendly. There are so many crock pot recipes on Pinterest I find it hard to believe you can’t make two weeks worth of food without someone getting bored of crock pot.

I did this entire thing for a friend of mine who also has fibro and she noticed a dramatic difference in less than a week.

Research the recipes you want to use and plan it out. I would recommend planning it on a different day than actually doing it. My brain can’t handle that much with chronic pain also going on.

Some funny title goes here

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I had this whole post planned out in my head. I planned to write it on Sunday. Fibromyalgia and arthritis just laughed and laughed and laughed and said “No”. So the post that I have in my head will stay there a bit longer.

Here is this instead, how to shut Fibromyalgia and Arthritis up in three oz. It is not necessarily tasty.Think of it as taking a shot of alcohol. Some really nasty alcohol but the idea remains the same.

What you will need: A juicer

1 lemon- use 1/4

some ginger root – 1/4 inch

four to five pieces of Turmeric root

About an inch slice of cucumber

About two inches of celery(not pictured because I added it last minute)

three cloves of garlic

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With in twenty minutes my pain levels were noticeably less. I don’t think an hour ago I could have even typed this much.

The most exciting Doctor’s appointment and I wasn’t even pregnant!

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I had put it off for long enough. I finally bit the bullet and made my yearly womanly appointment. In my defense they were the one’s that cancelled and then rescheduled me for a day I couldn’t make it. It’s not exactly a pleasant doctor’s appointment so it was not the top thing on my mind. Most of the time when I did remember they were at lunch. Anyway, that’s mostly just excuses.

Here it was the day of the appointment, I did my duty and got on the scale. I actually liked their scale. It was two pounds less than what mine had been saying. SCORE! Blood pressure and pulse were excellent for once, maybe that meditation stuff is working. You know what comes next, here is a robe wear it like a jacket and a paper cover to go over your legs. The ultimate fun.

The appointment started and everything was going fine. Then the fire alarm went off. I looked at my A.R.N.P and she looked at me. I looked down at my robe and paper. Then it stopped. We sighed a relief. She said ” they hadn’t told us they would be testing it today. ” So lay down and inch on down the table and it starts up again. She leaves the room to see what in the world is going on. It stops. ” Is that a fire drill because I have a patient in stirrups!” I can hear. Oh how wonderful.  It starts up again and Then I hear her scream. Now it probably only took about three seconds for her to come back in after that scream, but that did not stop my brain. Oh no it was sure that the building was falling down and in flames. Or the fireman was there because we all know fireman show up seconds after the alarm goes off right? Or there was some kind of hostage situation going on. Or….or…or… she comes in. ” Man that thing is loud it went off right when I was walking by.” Okay so maybe the scream was more of a yelp. It’s not as if I was feeling very confident laying on a table with my feet in stirrups. It doesn’t go off any more through that part of the visit but as soon as she was done she told me to get dressed and then we would finish just in case. I have never been so happy to put my bra and jeans back on, EVER!

Reviewing labwork was next on the agenda. Oh look, I get a new diagnosis as well. It wasn’t really a surprise. We had suspected this was coming for the last six months. Hypothyroidism. My levels had been flip flopping and were low but just a little low. Since one of the side effects of the medication can be a heart arrhythmia and I already have tachycardia we had decided to just keep a close eye on it. Well now we were at the point, medication was needed. It was probably what had been causing my bottom dropping fatigue where I was just flattened. It was probably why I kept hitting plateaus on loosing weight. So many things this answered. In truth, this was probably why I delayed going in so long. Why I was not so much in a hurry to reschedule. Hypothyroidism runs very heavily in my family. My mother was diagnosed at 19. I feel lucky i made it to 34 without it. She did order an ultrasound just to be on the safe side but I had already had the full blood work panel done many times, as many as insurance would allow, including the thyroid studies. She is doubtful we will find anything. If I know my body that is a loaded statement. Never say that about my body. It will slap you upside the head. Any way further review of my blood work showed some of my problem areas were now hovering on the inside low area of normal. I will freaking take it. Potassium and Magnesium being the biggest of concern. She said the fact that they were so much higher without supplementation shows how much my diet has changed and improved. YAY. Juicing my fruits and veggies seems to really have done the trick.

The next thing we discussed is other preventative care that was coming up. They want to squish my boobies!!!! Next year it won’t even be a well if you want to have it done I will order it. No it will be part of my yearly physical. My little saggy baggy almost flat anyway stretched out from pregnancy and breastfeeding boobies. Smashed. I will get it done, I know how important it is. I am all for preventative care. I just am not really happy about it, ya know.

I don’t like it, but I do it.

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It started in an attempt to make sure my husband ate healthier. At the time he had been eating oatmeal for breakfast and often ramen noodles for lunch and dinner. I had a genius idea to cook a lot at once and portion it out and freeze it for him to have better meals with all the work he has been doing to support our family.  Then one night I got home and I was just done. There was nothing in me to cook. We were out of milk so cereal wasn’t an option. I used two of his freezer meals and felt better about what my daughter and I ate for dinner. Soon after this I started working part-time. When I picked up my daughter she had been fed. I just had to feed myself. Cooking for one just does not appeal to me. Some weeks I go really crazy and prep lunches for my daughter and me plus the freezer dinners. One week was going to be really really busy so I even prepped breakfast.

Chronic illness takes so much from us, taking back my nutrition has been one way to fight back. True I do have to plan for most of the day to be spent cooking and prepping and resting. It really does take a lot out of me however, I have found it’s value far out weighs the energy spent doing it. When I first started doing it took me a lot longer. The more I have done it the more efficient I have gotten at it. This is what works for me. When I first started this was almost a six hour process for me.  I really don’t cook using exact measurements. The food you will have to use your sense of judgement of how much your family would eat. Some I know the amounts only because I was able to dig up Farmers market receipts and find the amounts I got. So if you are looking for exact measurements, this is not for you.  However, I do know that the more nutritious meals I can eat the more my body will thank me for it. The easier I can make it to get veggies and fruit in my diet the better I function. When I have complete meals like this ready,the less likely I am to resort to cereal for dinner or other crap, like pizza.

Here is how I do my food prep/cook days.

Grocery store list:

8 pounds of chicken

one head of cauliflower

1/2 lbs Green beans

Baby Carrots

Two sweet potatoes

1 lbs Parsnips

Quinoa

Brown Rice

 1 head of Broccoli

about 1/2 a lbs Sugar snap peas

2-3 Squash(whatever is in season) I normally stay with acorn or butternut squash as they will hold up the best.

Eggplant- I often get the baby eggplants as they are easier. I get between six to nine

Tin foil

Olive oil

If you don’t already have them Ziploc or Glad entree containers (this normally does about 12-14 individual dinners)

So then I come home and clean all the veggies. Turn the oven on to 350

Line two trays and two baking pans with tinfoil(this makes clean up simple) (and by the time I am done I need simple)

Place your chicken in one of the foil lined baking pans. Add olive oil and seasonings to your liking. I have found the best combo is garlic rosemary and sea salt.

 Toss the chicken in the oven and set the timer for an hour. It does best on a top rack.

Then in the other baking pan I place the cauliflower and baby eggplants  and sweet potatoes. Cover well with olive oil. We like to use garlic and dill on the cauliflower and garlic and salt on the eggplant. The sweet potatoes I individually wrap in foil and just toss a splash of olive oil and salt in with it.  This normally takes me about fifteen minutes and I toss it in with the chicken.

Next up are the parsnips and carrots. Peel and place on baking sheet. coat in olive oil and season. Again we tend to do garlic rosemary basil and salt.

Toss that baking sheet in.

Half the squash and de-seed it. sprinkle some cinnamon nutmeg and clove on it.  Slap it face down on the baking sheet lined with tinfoil and a bit of olive oil. Toss that baking sheet in.

Now go lay down. There should be about twenty minutes to thirty minutes left on the timer.  I sometimes cheat and just sit down and snip green beans.

The timer goes off.

Take out the parsnips and carrots first and set aside. The cauliflower and eggplants are also normally done. The sweet potatoes if the very center is still firm that is fine. Remember you will be microwaving them so they will finish cooking.

Check the chicken. Most of the time it is done but it could need a bit more.

On the stove you will need four pots.  In one you will mix brown rice and quinoa and set it to boiling. I normally save the kale and spinach pulp in my juices and toss that in with it. I make quite a bit but as usual I don’t normally measure it. I would approximate a cup of each. It will make a lot which is what you want.

Then the green beans and sugar snap peas and broccoli in the others. Cook them to just shy of being done.  This way when you microwave them later they finish cooking the last little bit and are perfect.

Now you can line up the gladware or ziplock containers. I throw about a tablespoon of quinoa rice mix in all of them. A chicken breast. Then two veggies. Mix how you wish.

Quinoa rice spinach and kale mix

Quinoa rice spinach and kale mix

Quinoa mix, chicken sweet potato and green beans

Quinoa mix, chicken sweet potato and green beans

Quinoa mix chicken and caulflower. I believe the carrots got lost under the caulflower

Quinoa mix chicken and caulflower. I believe the carrots got lost under the caulflower

Sugar snap peas caulflower chicken.

Sugar snap peas caulflower chicken.

Quinoa rice mix, parsnips and carrots and chicken.

Quinoa rice mix, parsnips and carrots and chicken.

Top and toss in the freezer.

Take out as needed.

For lunches I normally do a salad with some cubed ham or turkey shredded cheese, hard boiled egg and mandarin oranges. In ziplock bag, fried noodles  or a seed mix(pumpkin and Sunflower) then in small containers dish out a squirt or two of dressing. This keeps it from getting soggy.

For breakfasts we like to do a layer of greek yogurt a layer of granola a layer of fruit drizzled with honey sprinkle on some ground chia and then a shake of cinnamon. These stay good for about three to four days. For the other days I normally portion out oatmeal and mix in ground flaxseed, wheat germ and some cinnamon. Then all I have to do is add water.

Another meal I normally toss in the oven after all the food prep is brussel sprouts mushrooms onions baby carrots, minced garlic a  little lemon zest and olive oil then season with whatever you wish. Toss that all in some tinfoil and wrap closed. Toss THAT in the oven for about thirty minutes or so. Most of the time I just turn the oven off after thirty minutes and leave it in the oven. I normally have a bit of quinoa rice mix left over so I spread that on plates and top with the brussel sprouts mix.

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Sparkly happy on a cloudy day TTOT #83

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Ten Things of Thankful

Well it is Wednesday before I have even started this post.
In my defense I have been really busy. There was playing with baby goats, and working, and walking and more working. Some house cleaning, some waiting on repair man. Oh and a parent teacher conference and that was just Sunday to Wednesday.

Honestly Monday was a crap day. Outside it was grey and dreary and foggy. In my head it was black and thundering and foggy too.

It is however my first item on my list of thankful’s. Being that it is now Wednesday and I can look back. I am thankful for the bad days because I can see how far I have come. They are just days now. Not weeks. Not months. Days. Sometimes there is no plural to that word, as in day!

Let’s back track a bit though. Sunday the besties were coming over and the house was a mess. Fast thinking as I am. Lets take some carrots and whatnot down and feed the goats. Easily we can spend enough time there and then walk to church. Oh had I only known how fantastic this would be. I would have brought instant hand sanitizer. We got to the goat pasture and they were penned up inside the pasture. However when we had walked by the barn we heard people talking. Let me just go and see if they will let the goats out. Farmer Brian did one better. He let the girls come back and go into the pen. He showed them how to pick them up after you pinned one down. Goat kids are pretty darn fast. The giggling, the petting, the naming of the babies. Oh so much fun was had. Farmer Brian even had a bit of an ulterior motive. He let the girls catch the ones he wanted to inspect. OOOOOOHHH the squeals! To be helpful and have fun. Well nothing beats that.  However it was a good ten minute walk and I felt like I must have said 100 times.Don’t touch your face. Keep your hands where I can see them. AS soon as we got to church they were marched into the bathroom for a good handwashing.  Despite our best efforts. We still brought goat poop to church on the bottom of our shoes.

Of course there are pictures. I will only share a collage instead of the 35 I took in twenty minutes! (thankful ten,I was still able to enjoy the girls joy and still feel I had adequately documented it for treasured memories later)

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Thankful two is this awesome project that has brought me so so so much happiness and mood boosts and joy already.

#1000speak

Compassion has been something that I have been dwelling on more and more. When Lizzi tagged me in this project. I just can’t even describe how fast my brain said. THIS! Compassion for others and what they are going through.Compassion for myself. Giving myself just as much compassion as I would another. Just stopping and instead of instantly judging and being sassy and sarcastic to look at (fill in blank) with love and kindness. (Thankful nine is for perfect timing, a lesson I am still learning)

Thankful Three is a fantastic Parent teacher conference. I didn’t feel pressured to get my daughters learning disabilities diagnosed or to have her medicated.(thankful eight)  There was a free flow of communication and I really felt empowered leaving that conference.

Thankful four is a working dryer. Oh my gosh how much this makes me happy is ridiculous.

 This brings us to Thursday.

Oh look I forgot to fill this in,  but am too lazy to go back through and change the post.  Thursday I got to see two hawks rather close. They are so regal and gorgeous. They have a quiet look of arrogance that only a bird-of-prey can have.

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(Thankful Seven)

Friday…

The day I decided not to function to loose myself in the vampire diaries and go to my reading spot extra early.

I had clawed my way out of the dark stormy turmoil of Mondays brain and the weather seemed to mock Me. Here I was happy and content. It was grey overcast and foggy. I could sit in my parking spot look at the three trees feel the cool breeze and the baking feeling of the sun. As I sit crossed legged in my car with the windows down because fuck you hips and knees and ankles. Until it brings tears to my eyes to do it -I will sit how ever I want not how arthritis tells me to sit, even if I have to hand maneuver my limbs into place. I could appreciate the beauty. I could say, yes I know I am teetering on that edge. Several years earlier I would not have even realized I had wandered off the path let alone was lost. (thankful six)It doesn’t make the depression feel any less imposing. The problem with depression is it always wears you down…I know I will always have a day where I just can’t function. I don’t want to function so I have nothing to fight it with. I often know it is coming and fight to get it to a day where just maybe my world won’t fall apart if I don’t participate for a day. I can do all the deep breathing and meditation I want it just makes me sleepy but yet I won’t sleep. In the days before that no functioning day I feel myself grasping desperately at my self help tools. Sometimes I even feel them slip between my fingers despite my tight grip.they ooze through my fingers incredibly slick and slimey and smooth all at the same time.  That day of not functioning I read a lot of blogs. I read books I watch mindless TV. My thoughts don’t often bring me to tears. I have found I have to watch super sappy TV shows to cry to.There fore I am not crying for myself but for the TV show. Yes I am crying for those TV characters not myself. Perhaps if I could here and there cry I could avoid a no function day. That however did not happen so as odd as it may sound. I am thankful my nonfuctioning day came on a day I was able to be nonfunctioning. That is thankful five.

So now that I am only at five. Time to go through my week again,thus numbers that seem out of order-but are not.

update on product review of ultracur

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I have a habit that when I find something that works, I am not always picky on the brand. This one I am. I can honestly say it works better than anything I have tried before.

Nature’s Made and Sundown being my normal go to brands. I ran out of Ultracur and I had some sundown on back up. My daughter actually takes it to boost her immune system in the winter. It wasn’t like from one dose to the next I noticed the difference. It was more once I reached the 24 hour mark without Ultracur. I started noticing aches, pains that had quieted. Could I have really pin pointed when they quieted. Probably not. It was like. oh hey, that was gone. Don’t worry there were other areas that were yelling. When it kicks in, it tends to be just as subtle. I know for me when I am not functioning my brain is constantly checking my body. NOW? Can we go do something now? Can we at least sit up? Can we stand? Once I am up and moving I tend to think less about my pain issues.

My routine has become I get up and take two. About thirty minutes later, my morning stiffness is noticeably less. I should note I also use Ginger,either in juiced form or in my Chai. Often two to three times a week I take a four mile walk. When I return from my walk. Two capsules and ginger. Most of the time thirty minutes later I can function again. Sometimes if I have really pushed myself it takes an hour.

At this point a little over a month after starting it, I have completely stopped taking aspirin. I only take Tylenol at night to help me sleep. For whatever reason Tylenol knocks me out. It is worth mentioning there is some minor risk taking aspirin and curcumin together. I never took them at the same time it was either one or the other. Until I tried this one, I had not found anything that would work at bedtime where I could stop using so much aspirin to help the muscle pain and the Tylenol to take the edge off the joint pain.

There have been some nights I have begun to question if I even need to take Ultracur at bedtime. I have skipped it several times and surprisingly had decent sleep.

If you missed the original product review you can read it here.

Please still contact Casey if you are interested. We continue to work together.