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Archive for April, 2013

la_ca_1217_TheCroods_

There it is, I’ve decided to take on the wee beginnings of what will be a lifetime of experimenting and negotiating with my body.  I’m in pain, right now, pretty much all over; hands, feet, ankles, upper neck/spine. It’s not debilitating, but fairly substantial. I’m a newbie in RA circles, otherwise know as RAbies. The doctor is just throwing narcotics and a prescription anti-inflammatory my way to get me through until it gets worse. That was interesting to hear.  I didn’t respond well to the steroids – I’m bi-polar too, which makes medicating me difficult and while I’m throwing out labels I’ll mention briefly I’m a recovered/recovering (trust me in the alcoholic community wording that can cause huge arguments – so I split the difference) alcoholic. So, I use the narcotics sparingly – just enough to take the edge off. They don’t work after a certain point anyway unless you want to walk around with a cloudy brain.

I’m currently studying Nutrition at a Holistic school and finishing/starting (depending on your point of view) a Biology degree at the University. Trying to make sure my credentials sound important enough there to back up my statement: I know nothing. I want to learn more anyhow. I’ve had issue’s with my health that I’ve thus far been able to ignore for a long time. The migraines from childhood, hives, achilles, breast cancer (lumpectomy) and the depression mania cycles  — all of which I didn’t really acknowledge until the last 10 years. Age – it has a way of making one become aware of pain, yet at the same time there is a resilience for the long haul, and an understanding past the stubbornness of when it’s time to get this looked at.

I’m in the stage of “research” – just slightly past denial.  Listen, after you have researched exhaustively everything on alcoholism and bi-polar I just said WTF to the RA and shelved it. Then I ate as clean as I could. I’d already thrown out white flour, wheat, sugar, fast food, and the like. And, eventually my diet cokes and cigarettes. (1 diet coke can and 7 cigs) – Though not the diet coke and the medium layered butter (actually 10/40 oil) popcorn at the movie theater.  Not yet on that one. Added  walking, swimming, fish oil, flax and berries to the diet. But with RA you pretty much can’t eat anything. Besides the usual culprits I can’t eat corn or nightshades – that includes the tomato and the potato. And it turns out shellfish is out as well.  (I’ve never been a big meat eater, anyway) No peanuts, (no biggie) but whole grains are out except rice and quinoa, most legumes except adzuki  – Vegan cookbooks are almost worthless, so are the gluten free ones. Try googling, wheat-free, soy-free, corn free, tomato free, potato free eating? I’m sorry, woman can’t live by steamed veggies alone!

I’m in the early stages and hits the internal organs and the complications are numerous. I think I’ve had it a long time, it just made it’s self visible in the form of fatigue after the lumpectomy. And then an infection seemed to turn on the digestive pain and then suddenly it seemed it felt like someone took a sledgehammer to my hands. Turns out my body as been fighting a great battle and I didn’t help it for a few years there.

Now I know better. I don’t have insurance – when I looked into it I had already been diagnosed with bi-polar so, pre-existing condition. I actually had to leave the country after the breast cancer diagnosis for the lumpectomy in order to afford surgery.

The thing is this is not a subject I want to blog about except in passing. I’m not qualified to give advice or even speak to what RA is besides it’s an auto-immune chronic disease – not just, “my joints ache.” I’ll read other blogs about it and if I find something helpful that someone reading here might find useful I’ll share the link.

I do know that RA flares can cause fatigue or pain or both. Somedays my hands are swollen and so hot/inflammed I need to run them under cold water. Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason even if I’ve eaten like a saint. Sometimes it might come out in tone of writing -BUT  We’ve all got something we are trying to keep balanced in life, to keep light, to make it easier for our loved ones to be around us and god, not complain! Maybe a gripe or two. I spied two books that might either make me a better patient or run for the hills.   “How to be Sick: A Buddhist-Insprired Guide for the Chronically Ill” — See, sick and ill in the same sentence – and chronically! Such a bright and shiny invitation to accept you are really screwed! And the other is “You Don’t LOOK Sick!: Living Well With Invisible Chronic Illness.” A tad better.

But, I am extremely hopeful about my path to Naturopath. Between the alcoholism and learning how to deal with it ortho-molecularly (vitamins, Dr.Linus Pauling) and finding ways to help ameliorate the bi-polar without meds at first and then learning how to combine medications, exercise and vitamins and which ones had contraindications — not that any of that was streamlined or done perfectly. It was a raw process .  The important thing in life is to have direction and purpose and this is just another learning tool in the arsenal.

Like my new favorite animated film The Croods exclaim every morning: Still Alive!!

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A Parents Job

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“A parents job, from the time a child is born is not to screw it up.”

Don’t shame, or guilt them. They are who they are at birth. They have a personality, including flaws – just like you. Don’t try to beat it out of them, just teach them how to deal with the discovery of who they are. I mean whats the one thing we are constantly buying self-improvement books for? How to deal with who we are. Usually done by trying to change, affirm, muscle build, diet, recover our way out of our own shame and guilt and lack. The stuff we usually try to blame on our parents.

I mean my mother won’t get any awards and because of that I’m a better mother. There you go, but I still did and do stuff that is genetic. My dad always talked about when he would be dead, and his grandfathers death and the do and don’ts of death. I never thought much of it as a ‘thing’ to bring up with the therapist. I just noticed in fact that I do it too – and that it scares my sons, all this prep for death stuff. I realize now I never liked it, ever. I worshipped my dad so I didn’t think that was a ‘bad’ thing (that tendency to black and white the world makes the in-between hard to distinguish). So, I told my sons I was sorry, and about their grandfather and decided to stop. They feel better, I feel better – and though it is now probably part of something deeper inside of them and I probably screwed up there, they are also men of their own, dealing with their own shit, of my making, their making, life’s making and they have to stumble through like the rest of us.

All I could do in the early years to make that easier was and is to love them unconditionally for whoever they were. I watched layers of personality develop and just tried to steer them into being able to deal with all of their emotions – without telling them not to have them, or to have different ones. They didn’t need to be fixed; they were perfect already.  I guess most of us don’t get that about ourselves, hence the big search.

And the other thing, “get off your ass and get involved”. Not in soccer practice, but stop shouting across the house, or living room or whatever instead of stopping what you are doing which in my generation usually meant in front of the TV or cooking, yours is probably in front of a computer or that extension glued to your hand, and GO talk to them. They need you, lots and lots of you and your face – and that means your face exercising a little bit of self-control – you know that stuff you are trying to teach them!

Okay, done with kid lecture. You’re a kid too, you know. You never really grew up Peter Pan or Arrietty. You’re loved, somehow, somewhere we aren’t alone and we are loved.

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