Mindfulness Monday – Health

feather

“Health is a large word.
It embraces not the body only,
but the mind and spirit as well;…
and not today’s pain or pleasure alone,
but the whole being and outlook of a man.”

~ James H. West

“The secret of health for both mind and body
is not to mourn for the past,
not to worry about the future,
or not to anticipate troubles,
but to live the present moment
wisely and earnestly.”

~Siddartha Guatama Buddha

 

**all artwork on Picnic with Ants has been created by W. Holcombe unless otherwise noted.  This piece was influence by tarren on Etsy, and was a gift to S. Holcombe.

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When A Virus Hits

sick-cartoon

*this post mentions poop.  if you are uncomfortable reading about poop or the smell of poop well, you probably shouldn’t have read this sentence….oops.  Really this is as bad as it gets so if you’ve gotten this far, you’ll be okay.

The past few days I’ve been a big poopy pants.  No really.  I’ve had some kind of bug that had me running to the bathroom constantly.  I’ve been trying to loose weight but this was not the way I planned.  I’m sure most of you can relate.

What most of you can’t relate to is how this virus affected the rest of me, namely my vestibular system. When something like this hits me my vestibular system seems to think it needs to attack me too.  I was suddenly having vertigo while fighting a vicious virus, well poop.  Running to the bathroom with the room spinning can be a challenge.  (thanks hubby for all the help, sorry about the smell.)

Any kind of stress can cause a person with Meniere’s to have more vertigo.  When my stress levels rise there is a strong likelihood I will have vertigo.  When my body is under stress there is even a greater likelihood that I will have vertigo.  A virus will often have my head spinning.  If I don’t have vertigo when I am stressed at the very least my balance will be more compromised than usual…yes even more than usual, it really is possible!

What can I do?  When I have a virus there isn’t much I can do about reducing my stress levels, but I can try.  I practice deep breathing exercises, not only does this reduce stress, it helps reduce nausea.  I sleep as much as possible.  When your sick sleep is a good thing. Really there isn’t a lot I can do, so when the vertigo comes I ride it out the way I do every vertigo attack and hope it isn’t going to be a bad one.  Luckily, the attacks I had during this virus were not very bad.  As long as I stayed calm, practiced mindfulness, and relaxed as much as possible I was able to get through it with as little extra stress to my body as possible.  This was very important, as I was really sick.

I’m pretty darn lucky  that I have a great hubby to help take care of me when things like this happen.  REALLY LUCKY!

Now it’s time to catch up on life.  What’s up with you?

 

Feeling Better – Part 2 (Diet)

"The Perfect Diet" by Fatal Potato deviantARt.com

“The Perfect Diet” by Fatal Potato deviantARt.com

I’ve started this post at least 4 times….how to explain my diet and why it has changed without telling you my whole history with food and health.

Let’s try to put it in a as few words as possible.  Years ago I had a lot of pain and health issues including Gastrointestinal (GI) issues that no one could really explain.  They gave me lots of labels and none really fit.  Eventually I found out I was “slightly” allergic to wheat, so I quit eating it.  I felt better.  I decided to stop eating gluten all together.  For many reasons.  That’s not what this post is about though…so to make this shorter I’ll leave that there.

I also have migraines, gastritis and irritable bladder…all of these require me to be picky about certain things I eat.  For instance, I can’t have caffeine, red wine, I have to be careful about chemicals in foods, acidic and spicy foods….all kinds of things.  Even my beloved dark chocolate can cause me trouble.  (I am allowed small amounts.  So I savor it.)

What else do you ask?  I have Meniere’s disease as you all know.  With that comes a low salt diet.  I also have Irritable Bowel Syndrome.  And last but certainly not least, I have Fructose Malabsorption. I was going to try to explain this here, but again….trying to make it as short as possible, so I found that Wikipedia really did a good job explaining this, so just click on the word and it will take you there and you can read all about it.  After being diagnosed with Fructose Malabsorption I had to really change my diet, it was hard.  I was put on a diet called low FODMAPs.

blog.katescarlata.com

blog.katescarlata.com

I love the description of FODMAPs Kate Scarlata gives on her blog.  Check it out.  FODMAPs Basics.

Here is the list of foods I was given, what I could eat, what I couldn’t eat, how much of this and that…..I never got this right and found out some of it I still couldn’t eat.

FODMAPs Checklist

So why did I still need to change?  As I said…I couldn’t get it right!  I’ve been following Kate Scarlata’s blog for a long time.  She is a Registered Dietitian and a huge advocate and authority on the low FODMAP diet.  She knows her stuff.  So when she worked on a book, a diet book no less, that was based on low FODMAPs I was intrigued.  I wondered, why a diet book.  But I looked at it and found, this will help me.  This book could help a lot of people.

Kate says, “21 Day Tummy is a plan designed for the person with digestive symptoms that also needs to lose weight BUT if you want to just enjoy the amazing recipes and learn more about gut bacteria, inflammation, belly fat and how that all connects to your health…I think it’s a great read with excellent science for just about everyone!and I agree.

This book starts off with a very scaled down version of the low FODMAP diet.  It has now grains in the first 5 days.  It does have potatoes.  You have a Belly Blaster Smoothie for Breakfast every day for a while.  I thought this would be torture for me, I have always been a big breakfast person, but even after I was able to start eating other things for breakfast I have stuck with my smoothies.  If I eat a “real” breakfast, I normally have a smoothie for lunch.  I really like them.  They are good, and like a meal in a glass.  I have one and I’m not hungry for hours!  I do mean HOURS!  It’s funny, I turned to Stuart the other night and said, “How come I can have a smoothie for breakfast and not be hungry for hours and have a full dinner and be hungry in less than 2 hours?”  He said, “Me too!”  Funny huh?

So I have used this diet as an elimination diet.  It has fewer foods than the low FODMAPs main list to start.  It has great recipes!  Everyone knows how tight we have been on money, so I checked this book out of the library 3 times!  Then I got a $50 Amazon gift card for my birthday and finally bought it.  I also bought the cookbook.  We’ve been cooking exclusively out of these books since the beginning of June.  However, we have eaten out a few times.  Try moving like we have and not eat out a few times.  But I have stayed pretty true to the diet.

How has it worked?  Wow!  I have more energy than I have in so very, very long.  My tummy is flatter than I’ve seen it in years.  I lost 5 inches in my stomach the first week.  When I eat something that doesn’t agree with me I can bloat so much that I will suddenly gain 6-10 inches in my waist, I have measured it.  It is so painful!  This has stopped.  I accidentally got something the other night and was shocked.

I’ve lost 26 lbs since the beginning of June, most of that in June.  When I started the diet it started coming off very fast, I’m glad it slowed down, I was getting saggy skin.  My body couldn’t keep up with the rapid weight loss.  It is still coming off, slow and steady.  However, I have lost my “food baby”.  Yes that’s what we used to call my tummy.  Almost every time I ate, I would suddenly look pregnant.  I don’t look that way any more.  I still have weight to lose, but my digestion is so much better, and I just feel better.

I had a physical in June, just a few weeks after starting this diet.  My triglycerides where in range!  They were lower than they have been in 20 years!  Yes 20 years!  I have weighed much less and been much more physically fit in those years.  My doctor was thrilled.  My bad cholesterol was a tiny bit high, but just a very tiny bit.  Every thing looked really, really good.

Is my diet the catalyst to making me feel sooooo much better.  Where my gut is concerned, YES.  Has it helped my fatigue, I would say Yes!  Does it make me feel good, Yes.  When your stomach doesn’t hurt and you aren’t worried about passing gas or running to the bathroom, or if your pants are going to fit after you eat…you feel better.  Plus, I’m in smaller clothes.  How cool is that?  But really, that’s just the icing on the cake.  My tummy doesn’t hurt any more.  I am having regular poos.  I know that what I’m going to eat isn’t going to hurt me.  And I love my smoothies. haha  Getting some of my figure back is nice, and yes, it is giving me some sexy confidence back.  So that is pretty darn special.

Is it helping my headaches?  Maybe.  Is it helping my dizziness?  Maybe.  There are too many other factors going on at the same time to be able to tell, if the diet has helped  This is not a diet for Meniere’s or Migraines, but I think everything is interconnected, so I’m sure everything I do affects all of me.

I know you are all wondering….what exactly are you eating?

are you really wondering that?   I could give you a list of the foods, but without the book to explain things to you, and tell you why certain foods are good for your tummy and why other foods are bad for your tummy….I don’t think it would help that much.  I know having the list of foods given to me didn’t help me much at all.  But the book really helped.  Remember, I just checked it out of the library….3 times….before I bought it.  If you, or someone you love, have any tummy troubles, I think it’s worth checking out.

The low FODMAP diet is the diet for people with Fructose Malabsorption, no doubt about it.  However, it is also becoming the main diet to treat those with IBS.  They are finding that it is also helping those with many other intestinal disorders: IBD…Crohn’s, Colitis….ect.  Oh…many people were also raving about having their acid reflux go away.  Unfortunately mine didn’t, but as I said, I have gastritis.  I need to have another endoscope, that part of my tummy issues didn’t go away.  Drat.

The low FODMAP diet is ideally supposed to be followed for 2-6 weeks under the guidance of a registered dietitian or nutitionist, and at that time they will advise you how to introduce foods back into your diet to recognize your personal triggers.  This is often hard because there are so few dietitians or nutritionist who are well versed in the low FODMAP diet.  Luckily, this is changing as the diet is becoming more understood and well known in this country.  The 21-Day Tummy book does have guidelines in the back to help you reintroduce foods to see what may be your personal triggers.

I haven’t been willing to try to add new foods into my diet yet due to all the stress of moving, I will start adding in new foods soon and will hopefully finalize my diet in the near future.

So now you know a little bit more about my diet.  If you have questions, feel free to ask.

Next part 3 in the Feeling Better series….Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction.

Gratitudes 3 – A Pretty Darn Good Week!

by w. holcombe

by w. holcombe

Things haven’t been perfect this week.  I did have a night filled with cluster headaches.  But I got through it, and since then I’ve been feeling, well, pretty darn good.  Until I got this little virus, but I already wrote about that, and I’m grateful that it will run it’s course and I’ll be done with it!  Plus I’m very Grateful that it really hasn’t been that bad, a couple of icky days, but that’s about it.

I am so very GRATEFUL that I found something that is helping me with my tummy issues!  I found a book that addresses the food issues that I have, but I plan to write a whole post about this, it’s so exciting! And I think it could help others with dietary issues.

I am GRATEFUL:

  • that I have a new psychiatrist!  She is so professional.  I’ve only seen her once, but she took a very detailed patient history, discussed all my medications in detail, discussed my concerns, and our future plans.  I was very impressed.  After the last fiasco with my previous doctor, it is such a relief to find a doctor who is not only professional but enjoys her job.
  • that I have been on more regular sleep schedule.  This is something I haven’t had for a very long time.
  • I am waking up with more energy.  Of course, this is probably because I am on a more regular sleep schedule, but it sure is nice.
  • I’ve been able to go down stairs every day this week. Most people probably don’t know just how disabled I have been, but tackling the stairs have been a huge task for a long time.  Most weeks I’ve been lucky if I’ve made it downstairs one or two days.  So making it down stairs every day for a week, that is a great accomplishment!
  • I have gotten out of the house many times this week!  Not only have I made it downstairs every day, but many days I’ve gone out.  I went to the grocery store….a HUGE accomplishment!  I went for a ride with the top off of the car!  I went to the Thrift store and got a new pair of pants.  I went and looked at glasses.  (I have an eye doctor’s appointment tomorrow, and will need new glasses.)  I even went out to eat, this is hard because of all the noise.  I’m also proud I went out to eat and stayed true to my diet, I didn’t eat anything that would make my tummy unhappy.
  • yoga pose 1yoga pose 2I exercised a little this week….a very, very little…but I did something!  Not only did I do a lot more in general, and you can call that a lot more exercise…I know my body is!  I did a few yoga poses almost every morning.  Just a few.  I’m trying to learn to balance more with my eyes instead of relying on my ears so much.  So I’m doing some of the standing yoga poses while focusing on a focal point.  Maybe it will help.   By going out an doing more I’m also working on increasing my stamina.
  • I didn’t let a virus ruin my week.  I was having a really great week, then I caught a virus and suddenly I felt crappy.  I thought, am I going to start feeling really bad again?  Then I caught myself….Stop thinking like that.  I can’t predict the future.  And what has been happening has been great, but it doesn’t mean it will continue.  I  will live in this moment.  and I’ll enjoy it.  If it’s a bad moment, I know it’s a moment.  It’s my moment.  And it’s OK.  (A note to Laurie at HibernationNow….Yes, I did over do it…You were right!  so I’m very tired today…but it was worth it, yesterday I had a a very fun day!)
  • I realized that even having a virus I still don’t feel as bad as I have felt.  No I don’t want to live in the past, but it was a bit of an eye opener when I realized I was lying here sick and I didn’t feel as bad as I have for a lot of the time this past year….heck the past couple of years.
  • My head hasn’t hurt much at all!  As I mentioned above, I had a night of cluster headaches, but since then….my head has been so good to me.  There’s a couple of reasons I think this may be, but I’m just grateful that it has happened!  I’m sure I’ll have headaches in the future, but to have the relief I feel now….so GRATEFUL.
  • I made my lunch today all by myself.  I cut up my own chicken today, and warmed up my own lunch.  Because of my balance issues and sudden vertigo I haven’t trusted myself to use a knife in a long time, at least without supervision.  Today I made my lunch with Stuart upstairs.
  • To hear my husband say, “It’s so nice to be able to do things with you.”   Remembering to be in this moment…..

The Bipolar Cocktail – when the mixture isn’t right…

Medication_cocktail_by_LaChixMany illnesses are treated with a cocktail of medications, Bipolar type 1 is not different.  For me, I must have a mood stabilizer, an antidepressant, an anxiolytic (anti-anxiety drug), and….I can’t remember if there is anything else.  I think that’s it.  Right now the mood stabilizer is working.  The antidepressant isn’t working, and the anxiolytic is trying hard to work but I have a lot of reason to be anxious.  (that’s what my therapist told me on Thursday anyway).   Of course, you could say I have a lot to be depressed about too, but I don’t normally let depression take over my life.  I’m fighting hard to keep telling myself, “This will get better.”, but it has been a bit overwhelming lately.

The tears, so many tears have fallen.  The words, “I’m sorry.” have passed my lips so many times I’ve begun to wonder if I can finish a conversation without saying it.  I’ve been told by professionals that I don’t “wallow”.  Oh if they could see me some nights, they might just change their minds.

Recently I completely lost control.  In a complete panic! I needed to leave.  I needed to get away from my husband before I hurt him any longer.  I know I’ve become such a burden, I’m not a fun person, I’m worthless, and useless.  I wish this wonderful, caring man had never met me.

How could I leave?  I can’t drive.  Where would I go?  I have no money.  What could I do?  The only answer.   Take the dark lady’s hand, I hear her promises to make it all better.  To help my husband.  To end the pain for both of us.  I reach out….and suddenly I stop!  NO!  This is my illness talking!  It will get better.  My husband loves me, and if I leave with her, he would be devastated.  I can’t hurt him.  “NO! my  lady I will not leave with you.  I’m stronger than you!” … at least for now.

I knew my resolve was weak.  I knew I couldn’t trust myself.  I grabbed my computer.  I searched and searched….I needed an inpatient hospital.  Somewhere I could go for just a little while.  Somewhere I could be made to not listen to the dark lady beckoning to me with empty promises.  I found a listing, I hit on it…..Site Not Found….What???  I went to the next place on the list…it wasn’t an inpatient facility…the next, same thing….again…again!  I threw my computer!

I was so livid!  And so…..I don’t know….I really don’t remember what happened immediately after that.   I know I ended up getting in the bath, (for those who regularly read my blog you will know how odd this is for me, I’ve become quite phobic of the bath due to my vertigo, but in the bath I was.) and my husband joined me.  He held me, and we just laid back in the water.  I talked, he could only listen.  (I can’t wear my cochlear implants in the tub, so even if he talked I wouldn’t have known.)  I cried, he held on tighter.  I told him everything.  He knew most of it already.  He did witness it.   When we got out of the bath, and readied for bed, I gathered all my medications and gave them to him.  I took out 3 pills that I might need during the night, knowing that even if I took the 3 together I would not cause myself harm.  I told him to lock them away, until I was better.  Only giving me the medications as I needed them.   (this happened a few days ago)

My cocktail will be remixed on Wednesday.  It will take a while to know if this mixture is working.  Until then, I will be cautious.  I’m still crying a lot.  The words “I’m sorry” are continuously spewing from my mouth.  I not only feel sad, angry, lost and riddled with panic….I feel sick.  My body feels as if it is fighting off an invader.  I keep running a low-grade fever, on and off.  I am hot….I am cold.  My head, throat, all of me hurts.   I had one of the worst asthma attacks I’ve had….ever…yesterday.  It scared me….suffocation is terrifying.   Once I knew my rescue inhaler was not going to work, we rushed to get the nebulizer up and running.  Luckily, I began to feel relief very quickly.  A trip to the ER was narrowly avoided.

Yes, I have an emergency plan in place now for my deepest levels of depression.  Of course, I have my husband watching my behavior.  I have all my medications that could harm me locked away to be given out only at specified times.  We have the address and phone number of an emergency psychiatric hospital.   At times I am thinking clearly.  Other times I feel so engulfed by the depths of depression I cannot imagine a way out, it feels as if I’ve stepped in a tar pit and it is constantly trying to pull me under.  I have to keep my mantra in my head….”I know it will get better.”   I’ve had problems with my medications before, I KNOW THIS WILL GET BETTER!

Blogging Brings out the Best of Me!

The prompt from BlogHer today is “Does blogging bring out your best or worst self?”  This was an easy one for me to answer….Blogging definitely brings out the Best of Me!

The Best of Me! photo taken Aug.2010

The Best of Me!
photo taken Aug.2010

As any long time reader of my blog knows, I tell all the details of my illnesses, I don’t sugar coat it, but blogging helps me put it all in perspective.  The people I’ve met through my blog encourage me, support me, and have made me want to be a better person.  A better advocate for those with the same illnesses.  A person who doesn’t give up, one who always strives to make life better….even if there is no way to make an illness better.

When I feel down about things, I tell about it here,  but by telling it here makes me want to feel better about things.  I don’t like it when I feel I’m not handling things well.  A friend says that she will “Fake it until she can Make it.”, meaning she will Fake feeling good until she really starts feeling better.  We both realized that when we catch ourselves slipping into that dark, sad state, if we try to keep our thoughts positive, we will soon feel more positive.  No, it doesn’t always work.  But it works enough that I keep doing it, and have noticed a big difference.  (I must note here, I do have a mental illness, Bipolar I, therefore sometimes it doesn’t matter how much positive thinking I may do, nothing can help if my medication isn’t working.)

Blogging makes me stretch myself.  I think about things I may not normally consider.  I dare to write about things I may not have even talked about before.  Why?  Because I know there are others out there who are going through the same type of things I am, by telling my story, in detail, I might reach someone who really needs to know they are not alone.

Having multiple chronic illnesses has reduced my self-esteem immensely.  Through blogging, I now feel I have something to offer, my experiences, and I have found I can write pretty well.  No, I’m not the greatest writer, and the way I write may not appeal to everyone, but some people really find my writing interesting and easy to read.  I’m thrilled to learn this and hope I can continue to reach those who may benefit from what I’m writing about.

Blogging makes me accountable, it makes me follow through on what I start….most of the time…if I tell my readers I’m trying something, I do it!

One day I decided to start a blog, an on-line journal if you will, to keep up with everything I was going though…..then one day someone took the time to email me about what I had written.  She told me how alone she had been feeling, and how my blog had helped her.  After that day, each time I write I think about how my words may reach someone who needs to hear just what I’ve written….Yes, blogging brings out the Best of ME!