Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Yogurt for Breakfast, Yoga for Lunch

Despite my continuing, daily IBS moments, I had a great time visiting the French Quarter of New Orleans last week!  This was my third trip to the Quarter, my last one in May of 2005, before Hurricane Katrina hit.  Luckily, things are pretty much the same again, though we noticed some of the smaller one-off businesses were replaced by those owned by one or more other businesses.  Anyway, the food was delicious and there was plenty to drink as well.  We are older now, so we had to cut back to just two meals per day.  (I don't know how we used to do it eating all day long!)  There was a lot of walking to do as well, and though Don worried I wouldn't be up to it, I made an extra effort to prove him wrong.  I needed breaks, of course, but I still had a fun time!  We took the train this time, too - a new experience for both of us.  It was more fun than driving and less annoying than going through security at the airport.  (We're boycotting the airlines until they stop being ridiculous to the passengers about all this TSA bullshit.)  It was a long ride and both ways we traveled through the night.  Sleeping on a train - let me rephrase that - TRYING to sleep on a train is not as much fun, but we survived and enjoyed the new experience. 

Now the party's over and it's back to work and back on track with the healthy diet.  I feel fatter then when I left, but hey, I was on vacation.  Lack of stress is worth a weight-loss setback in my book.

I'm back in Calorie Count's Calorie Camp and logging my foods and studying my nutritional intake.  Today, I started my day with a fun yogurt mix.  At my house, we like to minimize waste and buy the large yogurt containers and get either plain or vanilla flavor.  When it comes time to have some, we dress up dinners with plain wherever sour cream might be called for, or mix in some fruit or preserves for a sweet snack.  I cut up a peach into a bowl, added some French Vanilla Stonyfield Farm yogurt, and sprinkled in some generic Grape Nuts for a fun breakfast.  I'm still dealing with this darn IBS flare-up (no break during vacation either, unfortunately) so I'm hoping the probiotics and occasional yogurt will help calm things down eventually.  There seems to be no rhyme or reason to what causes my symptoms to flare-up or calm down.  I'm speculating something slower or cumulative, multiple triggers are doing something, but it's so hard to pin it all down.

In addition to healthy diet efforts, I started my very first yoga session today, at lunchtime.  (Note: my fibromyalgia doctor has recommended that I try some yoga and start slowly.)  My employer has coordinated with a yoga instructor to come visit our building every Wednesday (starting last week, so I missed that first session) and welcome us to an hour-long session during our lunch hour.  I had done yoga at home years before I developed Fibromyalgia, Chronic Myofascial Pain, or IBS, or any of my other current health issues, but this was my first yoga class.  It was good.  I felt the work in muscles that aren't used to doing that much work.  I shook and did some sweating.  (Unfortunately, there are no shower facilities so I did my best with a change of clothes, a wet wipee "wash" and some deodorant.)  I kept up with most of the poses and even opted for some of the extra challenge poses, but I did have to fall back on others here and there.  I had the most trouble with my wrists after all the push-ups and hand support, but hopefully, I'll build up some strength over time.  Overall, I'm happy with the convenience of the class and being able to enjoy it with my coworkers as well.  The cost is $10 per session, which seems reasonable to me for the convenient scheduling.  Our instructor was also nice and helpful in correcting posture when necessary.  I'm looking forward to the next one.

I didn't have my traditional Whole Foods buffet salad today because of yoga today, but I planned ahead yesterday while there, and bought some self-mixed trail mix and a few nut/fruit bars I'd been meaning to try.  I also brought a banana to work today.  They all helped to keep me full and give me good nutrition with some fun flavors, while allowing me to graze while working. 

I did, however, make the mistake of eating before the yoga session, though, which I did because I was hungry and wasn't thinking, but... NOTE TO SELF: when you have IBS that seems to act up whenever eating anything, be mindful of the timing of any activities that may keep you from a toilet.  I managed to finish things up in time, but it was kind of close, and I felt a little off on the way to class.  Next time I'll work out hungry and eat later.  See?  Learning.  It's all good.  I like progress, even slow progress.  Anything's better than that downward spiral that can suck you down.  I'm working hard to avoid that.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Great Overview Video of FMS

Today I came across a great video.  It's a doctor giving a presentation about Fibromyalgia.  He describes what it is, what it isn't, how it's diagnosed, how it's treated, what patients experience, how Fibromyalgia pain has been studied and measured to be different than in other people.  There are detailed descriptions of many topics and lots of tips on treatment (especially non-drug treatments) and I even learned a few things.  At the very least, my foggy brain was reminded of things I'd forgotten I knew.

As I watched, I found this video to be a useful educational tool for both Fibromyalgia patients and their loved ones alike.  Direct people who are confused about FMS to this video, especially to certain areas relevant to the questions that perhaps you cannot find the right words to explain.  It's an hour and a half long, so if they really want to know, they'll watch.  That said, you may need to take breaks and watch it in manageable chunks.  I also suggest keeping a pad and pen nearby, for any notes you may want to jot down for yourself. There is also a question-and-answer segment at the end as well with questions from the audience. 

I've been diagnosed for over four years now, and have been experiencing chronic pain for over five years.  Having read and learned so much since then about Fibromyalgia, I must say that watching this overview was a great review that kind of puts all the pieces together nicely. 

I realize, though, that not all aspects of the condition are mentioned in this presentation.  For instance, pacing and stress are briefly mentioned, but not given as much time as they might deserve, if relating the portion of time in the video vs. importance in a fibromite's world.  He also doesn't go into great detail about every last symptom that might be grouped into the syndrome, though he picks several of the big ones.  This is a pretty detailed overview of the condition with what we know about it now.   Hopefully we will learn more in the coming years about the cause and better ways to treat or (dare to dream) cure it.

I hope you enjoy this video and learn something from it.  Share as needed.  I also hope that friends and family members of Fibromyalgia patients, and perhaps others in the medical community or general population, will watch at least some portion of this video and try to understand this confounding syndrome which, even Dr. Gross admits, doesn't really belong in any particular medical category because it affects everything.

Fibromyalgia: It's Real It's Manageable What You Can Do

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Party's Over

I was afraid my fibro "remission" was ending when I started feeling icky in the belly a couple days ago. I handled it as an IBS flare-up. No rhyme or reason. It just happens. I accept that.

Then yesterday I had trouble breathing and felt very fatigued, out of nowhere. I worked through it because I have a very urgent and important project to work on so I pushed on, stoically.  I doubt my boss appreciates my efforts. I make it look to easy sometimes, though I still suck at faking feeling fine.

Today, I'm starting to realize I'm having more, not fewer symptoms, and I have to admit... (sigh)... this is a fibro flare.

My belly hurt all night, along with some nerve pains firing frequently in my right forearm for more than a day. During the night I also noticed my right knee hurting for no apparent reason. (My left one is usually the bad one.)

Today, I was completely wiped out and still dealing with vague abdominal pain with a weird lack of appetite at work. Toward the end of the day, I just wanted to go home and lie down.

When I got home, though, my bed was not available due to workers finally installing something in our master bath. I did not want to distract them, since the project has been going maddeningly slowly for the past few weeks now. I went to the computer room to try to relax. 

Well, I didn't do it right. My back is bitching. Went out for a bite then finally, FINALLY, I'm here in my bed. I'm feeling these odd shivers of pain coming over me, trying to get my attention after I've worked so hard to ignore the signs.

Yes, body. I acknowledge that I am ill. I have a note on my desk to remind me to take beaks or you will force me to, by shutting down. I failed. Fuck me. It's time to pay the piper. Crap.

Friday, May 4, 2012

More Smiles and Some Food

Despite the stress of a bathroom remodel that is taking for freakin' EVER, I am still doing remarkably well, considering how awful I was just a few months back.  I am very grateful for the break from a lot of the pain I'd gotten used to just being there and changing every so often, just to keep reminding me that it's there.  If it wasn't for the fatigue part and some minor IBS issues that come and go, my persisting Delayed Pressure Hives on my damned feet, and the pains that just come on suddenly here and there, I'd almost consider this as some sort of "remission" from Fibro.  I'm not completely pain-free, but knowing how bad it can be, this is pretty easy to handle... and I'll take it.

I've been celebrating my feeling better with baking projects and more smiling.  I whipped up another pumpkin pie a few weeks back, from the last of our local farm's sweet little pie pumpkins.  

Benia's Pumpkin Pie
(We froze the pumpkin puree after cooking it in the oven.)  It's my fourth pie ever and I think I finally have it down, give or take some variability due to the moisture factor of the puree.  (I judge it by eye.)  If it's too watery, the pie just has a more pudding consistency to it in the middle.  It's still delicious and a fine way to end your day or start it.  Who knew vitamin A could be so tasty!  If you'd like the recipe I use, here it is.  I modified it slightly.  I don't bother removing the last egg's yolk, and I substituted the spices for 1.5 tsp. of a cheap, pre-packaged, pumpkin pie spice mix I picked up last fall that works great.  I just skipped the cloves.  (Bleh!)

After the pie was gone, I decided to make Oatmeal Craisin Cookies.  I have a big box of generic Quick Oats that I usually keep at my work desk for a quick lunch, in case I'm crunched for time and hungry.  I brought it home and made a batch of the cookies using the recipe on the box and substituting the raisins for dried cranberries (craisins) which we always keep for snacks or adding to breakfast.  They went fast and were tasty. 

Oatmeal Craisin Cookies... YUM!
This is the second time I've made the cookies and I notice that it's a bit messy to mix up all the thick ingredients.  On top of that, my largest mixing bowl is not a mixing bowl at all.  It's a cheap, plastic chip bowl from the dollar store and it's flimsy.  I used it for this batch, but I decided I needed to get myself a nice, durable, glass mixing bowl that is large enough for the job.  I noticed the chip bowl's capacity was still on the sticker on the bottom: 3.5 quarts, so I set out to find something either that size or larger, but made of durable, clear glass. 

I decided on glass because I don't like the possibility of plastic bits getting scraped into the food by the mixer blades, plus I wanted something nice that would last and could be microwaved if need be, and is dishwasher safe.  I prefer clear glass because it makes mixing easier when you can see where things are sticking to the sides and need scraping. 

I came upon a great little store designed for parents who want to avoid exposing their kids to toxins.  (Shouldn't that be everyone?)  It's called Mighty Nest.  They sell a lot of baby stuff and kid toys, but also kitchen and cooking items.  And this online store is where I'd finally found the perfect mixing bowl and another one just a bit smaller that matches it, too.  They are great!  They are just what I needed and are shaped to perfectly fit into my cupboards, too.  They are located in Evanston, IL, just a few towns away, too, so I didn't wait long for them to arrive.  Bonus!  I wonder what I'll whip up next.

Finally now that we've gone through all the sweet stuff, here's a little healthy stuff.  Remember Calorie Camp?  I'm still logging foods and tracking my calories and weight there.  The more I log, the more information I have to learn how to improve my nutrition and be healthier.  As I started looking at my analysis and seeing a pattern - too little fiber and protein, too much sugar.  So I got proactive about it.  On workdays, for lunch, I have been having big, healthy salads from the nearby Whole Foods Market.  Why not?  Making salad at home is nice, but takes a lot of effort (I still have trouble with the prep sometimes) and the food doesn't long.  The way Don and I shop, we'll have produce for a couple days, then nothing for two weeks or so until we go grocery shopping again.  It just wasn't working out. 

My big salad from Whole Foods Market.  I added a baby octopus to this one for fun and protein.  Isn't it cute?
So one day, I went to the salad bar at Whole Foods for lunch and picked out some great salad greens with spinach, bell peppers, carrots, mushrooms, tomatoes, broccoli, red quinoa, chickpeas, hard boiled egg, and a little Parmesan cheese, topped it off with balsamic vinaigrette, and enjoyed a POUND of food for under 500 calories.  If I want to go out and eat less healthy stuff for dinner,  at least I know I got my veggies and nutrients in for the day.  Now I go every day and am getting a more balanced diet more frequently.  It works out great and is worth the $7.99 per pound I'm paying to not have to go grocery shopping, chop stuff up, and pack it up for work every day.  I know the food is fresh, there's plenty of variety available, and I can decide how much of what I need at the moment, when I am feeling it.  Win-win-win! 

Oh and I bring my own reusable bag and keep a real (non-disposable) fork at work so I don't have to make so much trash.  The box is not reusable, but I like to bring the salad back to my desk and eat it most days, so I grab a paper box from the stack and use that.  At least it's compostable.  I also keep an old cloth napkin in my desk so I don't use so much paper.  I just swap it out and wash it now and then.  (It's not that hard to be green.  Every bit helps.)

So I'm doing okay, enjoying life and food and trying to stay positive about my world.  I'm hoping you are smiling.