Tag Archives: Chronic Pain

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.

 

 

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Ten things to make vacations possible with Chronic illness

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Ten things to make vacations possible with Chronic illness

I can’t go on vacation. I could never keep up. I can’t slow my family down. It would take weeks to recover.

I hear this all the time when I tell other chronically sick people I went on vacation. I am here to tell you it is possible. It takes planning. It takes determination but it is possible. The last three years we have been doing a camping trip to Disney, here is what I have learned.

  1. Plan it out

 I am not talking about the little things. I am talking about generalizations here. We leave on one day, set up camp. We go to the park the next day. We hang around camp/pool the next day. The last day we pack up and go home. I am not slowing anyone down this way. We all need time to recover and relax after the park. This also includes increasing exercise. I started this about three weeks before we left. THREE. WEEKS. Planning helped me plan in rest/recovery time. I planned out what I was bringing with me to help my body hold up. I planned out where the jacuzzi’s were to help my muscles recover a bit. I started cutting back on soda and increasing water three weeks prior to leaving as well. Taking your body on vacation it needs to be well hydrated before you even start.

2.Eat anti-inflamatory foods before leaving

Before we left I made sure to stock up on anti-inflamatory foods. Cucumbers, celery, pineapple, and ginger. I cut back on pasta and white rice. I made sure I was eating foods high in Omega three’s.This is not far from what I normally eat but, I tried to be extra vigilant about these things. I severely limited my sugar intake as well. Sugar causes inflamation on so many levels.

3.Sleep

I would say the three days prior to leaving I was super protective of sleep time. I tried to fall asleep close to the same time every night. I get that sleep is hard. Good sleep is even harder. This is where I pulled out all my tricks. Melatonin, cherry juice and magnesium.

4.Supplements

So if you follow me pretty regular you probably know what I am going to say here. Ultracur. Yes, I took it on my vacation. I did not take aspirin, aleve, or any other nsaid. It was not however the only supplement I took. I was also taking a flaxseed oil supplement three times a day. I took the ultracur four times a day. I took L-lysine two times a day. I use a Stomach enzyme and probiotic mix that I took twice a day. I also took a ginger supplement twice a day. It has taken me at least three years to figure out which supplements give me the most help. I can’t afford to take them all the time, plus I already take enough pills. I also highly believe that you should space these out.They should not be something you take daily all the time. I have found it to be more effective that way. I know others have not. This is where you have to really know your body and really take the time to find out what works for you. Briefly I will explain why I take each of theses. Ultracur which is Curcumin the helpful property in Turmeric is basically a coverall. There is hardly an area it doesn’t help. It is anti-inflamatory, anti-microbial and anti-fungal,works for the skin, the brain and the digestive tract.  I use the ginger mostly for help with muscle pain although it is good for many other issues as well. Flaxseed for joint lube. L-lysine is for membrane health. Originally I started taking it for coldsores but found my muscles really really like it when I take that. I kind of think the stomach enzymes and probiotics are self explanatory. They make my stomach and gut muscles happy. I am all about making my muscles and joints as happy as possible. I have tried glucosamin condroitin and really could not decern a noticable difference. I know some swear by it.

5. Spread it out

This somewhat goes in with planning, but not exclusively. For me I don’t mind not getting to all of the park, for others that might be an issue. There are two ways around this, plan more than one trip, or more than one park day. FOr me that would require extending our stay and I know my body and it is not up to that. I am pretty determined to camp because I love it so much. I used to hike and camp. That is really hard and I know I can’t do that. I can’t carry a sixty pound backpack and hike. This is my compromise with myself, that also allows me to give my daughter the experience of camping. Perhaps it is not important to you and you are good with a hotel. DO what your body can handle.

6.Eat to keep up

Protein protein protein. We all know that you need protein for your muscles after you exercises. Sometimes it is easy to not think of walking around a park as actual exercise. It is essentially what you are doing though. Eat high protein and low sugar while at the park as much as possible. However, that being said, you are on vacation so indulgences are allowed. Disney made it pretty easy to eat a balanced meal at every meal. Breakfast even had veggies available. This is where paying attention to serving size mattered most to me. Protein was the main part of my plate with room for fruit and veggies and a small space for carbs and sweets.  Don’t forget to keep hydrating. Drink a lot of water, when you think you have drank enough ,drink a bit more. By eleven am I had already drank sixty ounces of water. It sounds like a lot. Sure it made me go to the bathroom a lot. A lot. Factor in it is also summer in Florida. Sweat was dripping off us when it wasn’t raining. This is where I would also say powerade or gatorade are acceptable choices of hydration. I personally can’t stand coconut water but it is also an excellent hydrator. Don’t swear off all sugar and caffiene. They can be helpful tools to help you last all day. I tried to make sure the water I drank was twice as much as any amount of caffiene/sugar I had at each meal. Use the sugar/caffiene high to your advantage.

7.Rest frequently

Sit where and when you can. Sometimes it hurts worse to even try to sit down. I know I get that way too. However, your body needs it. Try to remember to stretch when you sit. I will be honest here and say I didn’t always remember that. There where times that sitting felt a lot like what the tin man most look like trying to sit. Keeping an eye out for oppurtunities for me to sit down really helped though. Even though I was tired, I made sure we got jacuzzi time in. There was one day I used it twice for the full fifteen minutes each time.

8.Allow indulgences

Normally I try to keep desserts and treats to a minimum. I know it doesn’t always seem like that and I am not always good at it. Remember though, this is vacation. Aside from knowingly consuming corn(an allergen for me) I let myself have desserts and other things, High carbs, I normally wouldn’t.  I had bread with breakfast and lunch and dinner most of the time. We had sweets and I sure did drink a lot of juice.

9.Keep hydrating

The last two years the week after hit me pretty hard. It took me a while to realize I had slacked off on hydrating. I wasn’t outside sweating any more. It is easy to forget to hydrate. Just like it is going to take more out of us to do the vacation, it takes a lot to recover. Hydrating is going to make that easier. Your muscles will thank you.

10. Allow for rest afterwards

This year I did not allow for full days of rest. I have found that to actually bring on a flare worse. Instead I planned short small activites with lots of rest afterwards. The first full day back I did my cleaning job and then we rested. A friend and I took my daughter to the beach. Which was perfect because I could rest knowing my friend had an eye on the kid. The salt water also really does help. If you are not near a beach plan on epsom salt baths. I still used those on top of the beach. Be gentle with yourself. I know this is a hard one for me too. I was starting to get discouraged I wasn’t back to normal by friday which was a week after we left. Pushing at it though is not going to help. I don’t really feel like I am fully recovered even now. I don’t expect to start that rise back to my “normal” level of everything until Tuesday night or even possibly Wednesday.

Remember this is after three years of almost the same exact trip to learn this for my body. After the first year I put in the extra day to relax before coming home because I paid for not having it the first year.  The only other thing that changed was which park we went to.

The hellfire and brimstone juice

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Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I repeat I am not a doctor. I don’t even want to be one. This is what I have learned while tortureing myself. I also would only use this for a max of three days and if you are not 100 percent better GO TO THE DOCTOR. Although I am not sure his Tardis will pick you up. You will need to see a doctor.

I can’t believe it, well actually I can. Anyway people have actually asked for the recipie for the nasty juice I use in replace of antibiotics.

There is nothing pleasent about this juice mix. NOTHING. It’s gross. It goes down like acid and feels like hellfire and brimstone for at least five minutes. Sometimes I chicken out and instead of keep drinking water I eat a tums or two. Lets face it when you are drinking this three times a day, a chicken out is gonna happen.

Let’s first dissect why I use what I use for this juice.

Ginger: It may be spicey and weird looking but it actually has broad-spectrum antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant, and anti-parasitic. I am fairly certain it just burns it away. It is also an anti-inflamatory. Inflamation is a bugger boo to get rid of and if you battle chronic illness’s its not normally irradicated easily. Not to mention it does wonders for your GI tract, although probably after its absorbed not while its burning a path way through! This is not an exhaustive list of the benefits. This is just the benefits I am concerned about and have read about in these produces.

Turmeric: oh Turmeric, what don’t you do is more the question here. Its pretty much a superstar. It does the whole antioxidant thing, the whole anti-inflamatory thing too. Oh it boosts that immune system that is constantly rebelling. They keep finding more and more about this, Anti-cancer, antiviral, antibacterial, anti-tumor. Its been around thousands of years and it seems they have only scratched the surface of what it can do.

Red Onion: I admit I like cooked onions. I don’t mind cutting them, but raw has never been my thing. THen I found out they do so much, heart and bone health. They also can pass on some anti-histimanie benefits as well. They do stuff for your gut track too and they are also helpful for keeing that skin youthful. A little ball of a fountain of youth.

Lemon: Lemon is mostly for detoxing effect it can have. I don’t want whatever crud the above just burned out to hang out somewhere else. Please let me just get rid of that and move on! Then it also has its own antioxidant properties plus it does so much more. Insomnia, losing weight, gives energy and helps lift the fog. Not too shabby mr. Lemon not too shabby at all. Plus it helps fight off scurvy so there is that too.

Garlic: It has all kinds of good nutrition in it. Its good for your heart. It likes to lower your blood pressure which is good since we are at high summer and the kid and I are butting heads more. Detox pops up again here but its best for detoxing metals. It also good for bone health.

Cucumber: Ah cucumber. Remember when I bought three a week and they rotted. Yeah. Now I blink and they are gone. I use the cucumber to try and cool down the juice. It may or may not help. I don’t know. It gets the last of the stuff out of the juicer so I know I got all the above stuff. They help with your brain. They are hard at work fighting inflamation.  They are good for your digestive system and support heart health.

if the infection seems bad or I feel especially horrid I add a twig or two of Basil. Its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and is full of minerals and stuff your body needs, vitamin A, C, K, Manganese copper, Iron calcium magnesium to name a few. Its good for treating a cold. Its helpful in upset stomachs and acne and headaches too. It also rocks for oral health. Oh alright its also good for your eyes too.

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For each 2.5 oz container.

1/4 ich ginger

2 large fingers of Turmeric or four smaller ones.

two to three cloves garlic

a fourth of a lemon

an inch of cucumber

annd if you choose a twig or two of Basil

It may make more than 2.5 oz but I wouldn’t recommend trying to force more than that down at once. Have something light in your stomach and have a full 12 oz glass of water near by. You will need that water.

I add the basil about once a month at this point but I do this juice one day a week three times that day. I can honestly say it works to get rid of infections and quickly.

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.

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.

The truth about flares

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I often get accused of being a chronic complainer.I don’t post how i feel for sympathy. Sometimes just seeing it in black and white helps me.  I just need to vomit it all out so I can move on. Its cathartic. This is not to say I don’t appreciate the comments.

Chronic illness is an asshole. Sometimes it makes me seem like an asshole. Most of the time in a flare I feel like I am being an asshole.
When I am resting I still feel like I am being lazy. I still think you are thinking I am being lazy. You can tell me all you want that you are not. When I have to cancel plans there is a part of me that feels I am just making an excuse. I know, if I went the pain would magnify. I know it.

Chronic illness makes your anxiety triple. Anxiety is an asshole too. Anxiety over what I do get done in a day. Anxiety over what I don’t get done in a day. Anxiety over what others are thinking about what I did today. Anxiety often makes me feel like I am being a complete wimp.
I feel ridiculous saying my skin hurts. Or any other body part that is acting up.
I feel like it’s an excuse even when I know the pain is too much to push through.Dishes have to get done ,I know that. It would seem standing doing dishes should be no big deal. Standing is a lot more work then we realize. There is a reason it takes babies so long to learn. There is a reason they get tired easily from it. If I do push myself my hips,knees and ankles blossom into painful bursts. If I keep pushing my hands will start to cramp up.  Have you ever tried to wash a plate and had your hand cramp. Most times I break the plate. It would make sense to stop doing the dishes before that happens. That is the thing though, the frustration, you don’t want to stop.

I am just as frustrated about my body flaring as you are, if not more. My brain is still functioning and often going a thousand miles a minute. I am thinking of all the things I need to get done. The things I should be doing. It is even more frustrating to feel somewhat okay while laying down yet, within five minutes of being up doing things, you are exhausted and often shaking.

I have a tendency to emotionally eat. Yes I know I shouldn’t eat that but sometimes emotions need to be fed. I do try very hard to balance my emotional eating with healthy eating. I do aim for that balance. I know full well I will pay for it later. Sometimes I feel it is worth it. Sometimes later when I am paying for it, I think I was being stupid. Just because I ate it yesterday or last week or last month doesn’t mean I can eat it during a flare. I could have eaten it yesterday and today it makes me want to vomit. I could have had it at lunch and my stomach tolerated it just fine. Eating it with dinner, not so much. It can be as small as garlic or lemon or as big as chicken. There is often no rhyme or reason to it.

So there it is the cold hard truth about flares and complaining.

The important thing.

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I could tell you how hard it is to get out of bed , while I feel like death warmed over, to walk.

I could tell you how many times I was way too hard on myself.

I could tell you all of this. It would all be true. It would not however be important.

The important thing is to start.

Arthritis, Fibromyalgia and Myofasical Pain Syndrome are not gentle issues. They are not very happy with exercise. In fact they protest it loudly. Three years of walking and I am just now getting to the point where I can actually wear exercise clothes without my body protesting. When I first started I could not wear sports clothing. It was like it flipped a switch for my muscles to act up even more. Now I am just used to going walking in jeans that it doesn’t bother me at all. Okay well maybe when I am a sweaty mess it bothers me a bit.

I started small, walking twenty minutes at a time.  I walked for twenty minutes at a time, twice a week for months. I felt stuck. If I tried to go further, I could not function. I finally figured out I just needed to be okay with what I was doing. It was not an easy decision. I felt like I wasn’t making any progress. The truth is when I look back, the fact I was even doing it was progress. I was not giving up, that was progress. I was not giving in to my body, that was progress. I then branched out with changing my diet. This was also something that was very slow going. I wanted to go out and buy all the healthy foods and just switch. The more I researched the more I realized that would not work. It takes time for your taste buds and your palate to change. It is so easy for both things to revert back to bad foods. The junk food out there is addictive. I could not just switch to eating grapes when I was craving sugar or any of the other hacks really. Deciding to make any change to your lifestyle is brave. When you are doing so with a body that already does not feel good, even braver.

The problem is my expectations of myself don’t always match what my body is up to. I still have issues with this. I still feel I should have done more, accomplished more, made more progress. That whole self-compassion thing.

Every time I have increased my pace or my distance it has not been a conscience decision. It was on a whim and then once I realized I did it. I wanted to do it again. This is not to say that I don’t over do it. I do. Some days my walks are great and I can function. Some days my walks are great and my body says, “um No.” to anything else that day. It took longer than a normal person to reap any of the benefits of exercise. However now it is coming fast and furious. I sleep better. I am loosing the weight. My heart conditions are better controlled. The more I walked the more I wanted healthy choices to eat.  Had someone suggested I could use food to ease some of my symptoms a few years ago I would have said. “Nope tried that.”  Same response if someone had told me to exercise more. For the longest time I could not think of it as exercise. Of course this means I did things a bit harder. I didn’t want to think of it as exercise so I went on nature trails. It is really hard to increase your distance and your pace on nature trails-with a body that does not cooperate. Since I started walking a flat surface designated for walking and cycling, I have made significant progress. It only took me four months to come to that conclusion though.

Having a friend or someone to encourage you to keep at it, really helps as well. Please feel free to email me and let me know you are taking the important step of starting. I would be glad to email you encouragement!