Blood and Guts

I am back from another trip to see my nature path. This visit was primarily to get an interpretation of my results from a few weeks ago. We spent well over an hour going though the whole report. There are three tests that gave him a baseline. They were a Cardiac Reactive Protein test (CRP, High Sensitivity), Hormones (thyroid, reproductive, etc) and Cortisol. There were countless others including a food reaction test but we focused on the big three.

I am going to do my best here to give you a layman’s version of what he spoke about and what the plan is for the immediate future. I did some basic research (which really means I googled it) to give a bit more back ground into the whys.

So about this CRP (no, not short for crap). It is a test to actually help determine your risk for cardiac disease. It is an indication also of how inflammation affects you overall health.  I hit on the very high-end of the scale for this one. General base for this test is less than .9mg/L, I hit it at 30.3mg/L.  Doc was not too surprised as this test is also used on fibro patients and he was expecting an elevated result.

I was actually very encouraged with this result. Nothing pays with your head more with chronic illness then the thoughts that “it’s all in your head”. Granted there is not an actually blood test just specifically for fibromyalgia – but the ones I have had give me a more valid diagnosis.

I would like to think of this tests results as the umbrella on top of the other findings. It is everything underneath that we are dissecting and getting a closer look at to get me to my optimal health.

Hormones, oy! I am happy to report that my thyroid is in good shape. It’s doing the best it can do send out the necessary signals to create the what my body needs. All the T3 Free floaties in my body are in working order. My progesterone, however, is tanked. This explains a lot too.

With the low, low amount of this mighty hormone (like to think of it as estrogen’s big sis) my body has been in “we must save the fat or we’re gonna die” mode. Now here is the kicker, did you know that a study has shown that low progesterone can be linked to heavy periods? Me either!!

The doctor is having me utilize a progesterone cream at intervals during my cycle. We will be carefully guiding my body into a normal range for once in my life.

Cortisol anyone? Yet another test that validates the myalgic encephalomyelitis and fibromyalgia diagnosis I have. The normal range for this test 6.0 to 18.4ug/dL.  Your girl is at 6.0ug/dL. Whattheheck?Talk about the stress hormone being stressed! Lordy.

This poor little guy has raised the white flag and surrendered. No wonder my fat has taken up residence. There is very little my body is doing right now to aid in the metabolism of fat, carbs and proteins

We are gonna aid this malnourished adrenal by the use of hydrocortisone in pill form. With it being so low, it affects my weight and most importantly, my sleep.  What I wouldn’t give for a solid eight hours of sleep.

I am very happy for what I learned with my blood tests. I feel encouraged and ready to get these unwanted pounds off my body.

More to come next month on the progress of going diary-free and reducing my gluten intake.

 

Three Tips on How I Prepare for Summer

Arizona has two seasons – HOT and not hot. We were treated to a very rare cool spring but our days are escalating quickly to the 100 degree mark and our summer monsoon season is just about to hit.

I am, however, in a better state than ever as this Summer rolls into town. Just this month I was able to take a full day’s vacation that wasn’t eaten up by a doctor’s appointment or being sick. It was a glorious. Not only that – but I still have time available to me for the rest of the year. Go me!

Once it starts getting warmer I switch my capsule wardrobe to summer mode.  I wear comfortable dresses that flow and are not too tight against my body. I have always been comfortable wearing dresses and search for ones that will be appropriate for work but also meets summer comfy requirements for me. I am also on the search for perfect pair of palazzo pants for this summer. Being a petite person, this is harder than it should be.

Next is, ice-cold water. And lots of it. Now, if it is a tumbler full of nice shaved ice with water, Even better. Slushies make an appearance with me on the hottest of days. I keep a limit on those due to the sugar and dye intake. I should never be without water – this is one area that still needs improvement.

Lastly, Rest. I am talking about at least a half an hour each day with quiet time. No distractions. No phone. Got kids? Too busy? Do it anyway. Make it a family goal to spend time being quiet. Even if you only get 15 minutes, that is huge. We all have lives with responsibilities – you are own advocate for being well – so take some time to chill.

What do you do to prepare for the Summer? Leave your tips in the comments below.

 

 

 

How To Plan A Doctors Visit

Planning a Doctor's Visit

 

I tire of visiting doctor’s offices by this time of the year.  Whether it is a dentist or eye doc, I grow weary of waiting impatiently in a cold sterile room. Nonetheless, I still make the appointments and I go.  I find the greatest thing I can do for myself is go plan, plan, plan.

It starts with setting up yearly appointments for what I call the wellness basics. They consist of the a visit to the gynecologist, optometrist, and dermatologist.  These three are the once a year doctors that can generally book in advance and rarely have a follow-up appointment.

Not a lot of prior prep work needed for these basic visits. Wellness visits are a must for any women – so ladies reward your self for the rather uncomfortable visits once a year.

The Core Group consist of my rheumatologist and now my naturopath. These two appointments have more frequency and consistency. These two also have more follow-up and have other elements to review like blood work.

Since I am now on a every six months schedule with the rheumatologist, it’s important for me to have my questions prepared in advance. Too often, I found my self giving a confused, blank look when asked “so, do you have any questions?”. Ummmm.

Prepare yourself! One way I do this is with my calendar. My current setup has a daily page layout. I go ahead and write down my questions/concerns on the day of my next visit. I believe it was David Allen who said (as I loosely paraphrase) your brain is not a storage unit. Write it down!

Anyone with a chronic illness will spend copious amounts of time doing research…we always have questions. Mostly, I want to know if I am being prescribed something that is going to make me feel worse cause the side effects are horrid. Have you heard about this study that came out recently? Do you recommend this therapy? You get the picture, right?

This practice takes time and effort. It only takes a couple of “oh snap, I forgot to ask about this” to get you into the habit of writing it down.  It doesn’t take a fancy set up – just a pen and paper.

How do you prepare for your doctor’s?

 

 

It’s in the Blood

So, your girl is going dairy and gluten-free. May we have a moment of silence for the loss of pancakes?? Sad as it may seem, it is what my naturopath recently recommended. The gastro issues I have been having are being feed by an inordinate amount foods that make my tummy very sad. plus, it wants sugar, it really wants sugar.

What are the guidelines to going dairy and gluten-free? Does anyone know? In a recent trip to my local library I was only able to find cook books but no “how to”. Hello, where are my step-by-step instructions to life changes? I don’t know if I am particularly ready to give up avocado toast and ice cream.

Thankfully, there was a Complete Idiot’s Guide to Gluten-Free Eating a my library. In it, it gives details on what grains to look for in labels. I understand from my naturopath that he wants to delve into gut health so I better get reading.

On the other plate is dairy. My recent blood work showed surprising results for allergies to Cow’s milk and of all things, eggs. The doc stated that humans are the only species that drinks the milk of another species. Makes milk sound a bit gross now. It may take me a bit longer to let this one go. I do consume quite a bit of dairy during the day.

There is cheese on the eggs, ice cream, and sour cream with my Taco Tuesday! Not to mention the yogurt I just had for breakfast. OY! This is a very wicked plan to get me to eat more vegetables.

Where do I start? That is my question right now.  I recently asked my crew on Instagram for recommendations on books and sources. One mentioned a vegan site…they shoot meat eaters with carrots, don’t they?

If you have a resource, please share in the comments below.

What to Pack for a Day Trip

first aid pouch

I am excited to share with you the essentials that I packed for a recent day trip in my hometown of Phoenix. As a person with a chronic illness I had a few things I wanted to be prepared with.  I am a total list making freak so I am always searching thru the interwebs for inspiration. There are boundless lists out there for us, lists for peeps with kiddos, lists for peeps with pets and so on.

Depending on my excursion, these”essentials” can be stored in my travel bag along with my wallet, keys, small notebook and camera. For the purposes of this post, I used a Fjallraven mini kanken. I was so very happy that everything fit and it didn’t end up feeling weighed down.

The first kit I put together was for first aid – inside I have a few of my prescription pain meds, various band aids, alcohol wipes.  A visit through a local dollar store yielded up a small case to store the bandages as well. This was by far the biggest of my three pouches and it when in my bag first.

day trip first aid

Next was my eye care.  As a contact lens wearer, you can never be too prepared in this area. I sacrificed a weeks worth of contacts should I have to replace the ones I was already wearing. I also packed a pair of glasses (last years prescription glasses work for a back up) and solution as well.

day trip eye care

Lastly was a pouch with what I call “what if’s”. I had some hair ties, tissues, wet wipes and such. Not pictured, a gel hand sanitizer.  Ever been to a public restroom that had no toilet paper?? Just sayin

day trip kit

What do you consider as an essential when out about town or travelling – share your ideas in the comments.

**This is not a sponsored post – these are products that I use**

 

Weighty Issues

I am consumed with one thing right now in my life. It is my elephant in the room. It’s the thing that people politely not say to you. “Your fat, Lissy.”

It goes without saying that the pharmaceuticals that we take to help manage our illnesses can either load you up or skinny you down. I am the one who always seems to get the one that adds weight. I have tipped the scales pretty high in my adult life and have been ultra skinny on occasion as well. For me, what finally woke me up to get “healthy” was the recognition that I was no longer cute.

I’ve got sass to me that comes with a bit of class, I’m petite, got the red hair to match my fiery disposition and I know how to get back on my feet when I get knocked done. Granted, over the past few years, it just takes a bit longer to get back up.  I’ve always considered myself as a cute girl. There is a bit on tomboy in me but I do clean up well.

Mirrors don’t lie and neither do scales. Reality has come to the forefront recently when I realized that for the first time in our adult lives my sister and I are at the same weight. My sis (the most creative person I know) has always dealt with weight issues for most of her life. As she enters a new phase of womanhood (that would be menopause people) her body is currently shedding the weight – but not me.  OY! I’m so done being this fat. My BMI is obese and that just will not do. I just want to be healthy.

For me, healthy means eating more veggies (gah), being conscious of when I am storm eating, and overall daily movement like walking. Learning what foods makes my tummy hurt and do I really need that candy bar. It means that I will probably have pizza once every 180 months instead of once a week. Upping my water consumption and lowering my soda’s to once a week. Treating myself to a bad day with something other than comfort food. Need I go on?

As I sip my green smoothie today, I going to tell you about my recent trip to Revolution Health Medical Center. I have been a patient of theirs previously (in fact, they were the ones who dealt we me when I first developed symptoms of chronic fatigue). Though my previous naturopath is not seeing new patients, (technically, I fall under this category) I was able to get a Saturday appointment with Dr. Johnson.

His background in emergency medicine, conventional medicine and then alternative medicine is extraordinary. With this, I received the first honest to goodness review of my own medical history. People, an hour and half with my doctor.  When is the last time you received that much attention from one doctor.

On the right track, though. I learned that my concerns are valid, that yes, my meds play a part but so do other factors such as what I eat, what I drink and how I sleep. I know this stuff, and I had already implemented a lot of his suggestions. Go me! However, implementing and carrying out are two different things. Right?

Woah! Due! So much information was given that I don’t really think it is all sunk in. I tell ya what – next months health update will be where I will collect my thoughts and let you in on what has been working and what hasn’t. How’s that?

Do you go to an “alternative” health practitioner? Let me know your thoughts and if you have any questions, let me know. If you are in the Phoenix, AZ area and would like a referral to Revolution Health you can leave me a message at dragonflykeepls@gmail.com

laters,

lissy

 

Five Tips to Start Your Day

Nothing so jarring as that morning alarm ringing in your ear. Snooze button is my friend. I have come to learn over the last few years living with a chronic illness how important it is to have routines. Mornings used consist of a morning shower as my wake-up before make-up but that has changed. I found out quickly how utterly exhausting it could be to take a shower in the morning. Sounds crazy but sadly true. Now I shower in the evening so my body can rest afterwards.

This meant I had to utilize my mornings sufficiently so I could still be an active member of society outside my bedroom door. Most of my good energy is in the morning. It’s why I get up at 5 a.m. to write blog posts. By the end of the work day – you’d think I had pulled an all nighter.

The following are tips I have learned along the way to get my day started on the right foot. On the weekends, I actually have to work a bit harder to remind myself to take my medication.

Clean. Which in translation is “make your bed”. I will honestly state that this something I need to work on more but it is important. It has often been said that this one simple task can be a life changer. I know for myself on the days that I don’t make my bed, I feel down. I heard a talk on this and put into context of being an accomplishment. If everything else goes to pot, at least you accomplished one thing – making your bed.

Medicate is its own separate category mostly because it can be so automatic for me that I stop and think “did I take my meds?” This is why I use a tracking app. I use Mango Health for iPhone. Not only does it allow for customization but also checks your medications for possible interactions, allows you to customize a healthy routine and rewards you for making good healthy choices.  It also has an option for adding Care Recipients – so if you have a sick kiddo or furkiddo, you can get reminded of their medication routine as well.

Dress to your shoes. Do you know FlyLady? She has been helping others get organized and sustain routines for the masses for years. I learned about her through my bestie, Ms. Monkey. I still use her methodology to get my mess in order on a weekly basis. One of her take-a-ways is getting “dressed to your shoes”. Meaning, always be on the ready. You never know when you are going to have to run out the door in an emergency fashion. For the work week, this is a must – it’s the weekend days that I need to work on.

Check yourself. Do I have what I need for the day in my bag? Where’s my keys? Did I turn off all the lights? I have a list taped to my bedroom door to remind me of doing a quick check before I leave for the day.  I can not being to tell you have useful this can be on the days were I am lucky I actually made it out of bed. I haven’t had my coffee yet – how am I supposed to think?

Automate. Remember The Clapper commercials? Ha! Well, I don’t actually have that particular device but I do have a timer for my bedroom lights. It comes in handy to have a source of light when you are rushing out of a room at o’dark thirty in the morning. I have a set of LED twinkle lights that give off enough light for me to see my way around in the morning. This is not the only thing that you can automate. Heck, I bet your coffee maker is set on a timer. My point is, if you need something done in a limited time – automate it.

I truly hope that these simple tips help you navigate through your morning. As always, leave a comment below and let me know what is a must do in your morning routine?

 

lissy

 

Breaking Bad

#Sorrynotsorry but this isn’t a post about Walter White.

It’s about tracking new habits while breaking bad ones. The past few weeks I have accomplished something that I never thought I would. I took my vitamins! I know right? Something so simple. Well, yes and no.

When a flare hits, I don’t care if school keeps. (As my mother is fond of saying.) As much as I would like to have a pause button – life goes on. This month is all about capturing the things that I feel contribute to a flare. As I do, I really wanted to track all of the things but I really did best with the vitamins.

Another key to my wellness is tracking my symptoms. I use an iPhone app to monitor my pain levels, what type of pain, where, what lovely side effects was I dealing with and whether or not I had to take something for the pain. It was a success at the beginning of the month but not so much on this last half.

I won’t dwell on what I could have accomplished because I TOOK MY VITAMINS! Sometimes, just having one thing done means the world to me.

lissy

Photo Courtesy of Kaboompics

 

Shaping Up For Fall

Now that the days are shorter and life is getting cozy again, I’ve been reflecting on my goals. This past summer has been a rough one with my own motivation going slightly array. It has taken all that I possess to get in front of my computer lately and keep this blog going.

I know that compared to five years ago, I’ve come a long way health wise. I know I still push myself, my eating habit are crap and exercise is a laugh. With this in mind, I sat down this past weekend to work out some goals in three areas that I had the most concern about with my health.

This has led me to a three-part series that I will be sharing with you over the next few months.  Frist, I will be working on Tracking My Illness with paper and an app. Then, onto two very critical aspects to keeping me well – Fitness and Food. This girl really needs a plan when it comes to fitness and food. With this, I will also be working out “Plan B” for the days when my illness flares and it halt’s any game plans I have lined up.

I hope you will join me on this trek as I am so very excited to get moving!

lissy

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