Tag Archives: cope

Pacing myself, Schmacing myself

Living with chronic fatigue and inflammation, the trick is to learn how to pace yourself. Pacing myself is something I’ve never known and might never learn.

Tonight, there is no in-depth and motivated housewifing or organic products to share.  I left work a few minutes earlier so that I may go home and rest since I felt some stress shoving up against the threshold.  The plan was nap, then exercise, then housewife.

But once I was home free, it was so breezy and sunny out….

The plan turned into: go shopping for things that weren’t on the list, reorganize the pantry, refry yesterday’s batch of black beans, make dinner, wash dishes, pass out hopelessly at 6pm with swelling from head to toe, swollen throat and mild flu-like symptoms.

Dang it.

My strength may or may not pick up again and the inflammation may or may not decrease.  At this point, I have to coddle my bratty immune system if there exists any chance of finishing my plans or I’ll end up watching all of Wednesday’s NBC line up.  If I do feel better, I’ll be making more celery juice for wellness and taking advantage of some exotic plants I found during my earlier fake-energy boost exploration.  I discovered a Latin supermarket and bought aloe vera and nopal, the spiky gooey plants that have been Aztec medicinal secrets for centuries.  Getting in touch with my Indian roots. I don’t know how to use them and their exact health benefits, but if I figure it out, I’ll let you know.

via enchiel.blogspot.com

So here is a little treat I prepared a few days ago. Check it out: I created a new page, a link tab of favorite blogs.  The list will be ever increasing, but just a few for now. Gotta pace myself.


Shout-out to friends: To those of you who know I have meeting tonight, Husband is out of town so we’re going together tomorrow to another one. Will miss you.


Filed under Housewifing, Indulgence, Picture of Health, Stimulating the Economy, Under the Weather

What It’s Like

Following is an article my sister found for me the same week I diagnosed.  What a wonderful creature who cared enough to want to understand what it meant for me to be told I have a chronic illness.  I knew I was having a hard time but for all the communication skills that I claim to possess, I was still unable to articulate simple symptoms, daily aches, frustrations, limitations and alien happenings in my body.  I felt like a gassy child  who couldn’t say the the word ‘toot’, so it cries it’s chubby little face pink and fuchsia while all the other humans scramble around you to try and guess what kind of appeasing you need.

This is the simple yet succinct personal account of a woman who has been a through parallel life with the wolf disease.  The sobbing was more like hiccuping as I latched on to each word, finally knowing that someone else mirrored such similar events and that she understood what it’s like.  Every case is uniquely different, but this was the one I related to the most.  Weeks later I read it to my husband. I remember I was weak that evening and halfway through the pages I was out of breath and having chest pain (that I didn’t admit to, of course).  I hadn’t cried since the last time I read it, and the waterworks opened up once more.

I forget that I’m sick, because my mind feels healthy. It’s only my body that causes conflict.  I had learned to push through pain and exhaustion as if it was normal.  It was second nature to ignore that something was very wrong and would tell myself I was just being a wimp.  He finally understood so much better since I had a comparison that helped me explain where I was struggling the most.  Since I didn’t look sick, it would puzzle us why I was out of commission so often.  We’re still a long way from really understanding the full spectrum of effects that having of having to mind physical health for every step really means (the details that go unspoken and unimagined until that moment actually arrives), but I can’t thank my sister enough for finding this for me.  I go back and re-read it often when I just don’t know how to explain what the heck I feel.

Thanks Nana. You are my favorite.

The Watchtower 1990 5/8 20-24

How I Live With Lupus

The scene is always the same. The doctor walks into the examining room and seats himself across from me. With a warm smile, pen in hand, he asks, “Well, Robin, how are you doing?” As I try to recall in detail the past four weeks of sheer misery, he nods his head and rapidly jots down my symptoms. The reason for these visits? I am one of many thousands who suffer from an autoimmune disorder called lupus. Are you wondering what that is? If so, let me tell you my story.

LOOKING back, I guess I could say I had a fairly normal childhood as a girl. Born in 1958 and raised as an only child by my parents, I grew up in the northwestern United States. At an early age, my mother instilled in me one definite idea: I should always serve the Creator, Jehovah God, in whatever capacity I could.

After graduating from school in 1975, I chose part-time employment in order to devote more time to the ministry of preaching God’s Word. I was content with my way of life and had no plans to change it. Unfortunately, there was going to be a turn of events that would change things for me.

A Turn for the Worse

At age 21, my health began taking a turn for the worse. I started developing medical problems first in one part of my body and then in another. Some were located by doctors and eliminated by surgery. Others remained a mystery, causing the doctors to question not only their reality but my mental and emotional stability as well. Infections seemed to find the road to my body an easy one. Frustration and anxiety ran high—I was continually searching for a doctor who could pinpoint an answer to my health problem.

During one of my better health periods, I met Jack, and we were married in 1983. I felt that once the stress and strain of the wedding and marital adjustment had passed and my life was calmer, my health would eventually improve as well.

I remember waking up one February morning with plans to spend the day taking care of household errands. But my muscles felt so strange, as if they didn’t want to cooperate with one another. I felt a trembling inside, and whenever I tried to pick up anything, I would drop it. ‘Maybe I am just overly tired,’ I comforted myself.

As the day progressed, the feelings became even more bizarre. Cold, numbing sensations alternating with inflammatory aches ran down my neck, arms, and legs. In fact, the symptoms made me so miserable that I went to bed until Jack came home from work. By early evening I was running a low-grade fever and was so weak and light-headed I was barely able to crawl back into bed. We didn’t know what to attribute it to except the flu. That seemed reasonable enough, since there was an influenza epidemic in the area where we lived.

When I woke up the next day, I felt better, at least for the first couple of minutes. But soon the aching started again, particularly down my legs and ankles. My fever was down, but I still felt extremely weak. Flu-type symptoms would alternate with those of a more peculiar nature. I remember thinking over and over to myself, ‘Can this really be just a strain of flu?’ As days passed, there were times when I thought I was getting better; then there were other times when I was so sick I could hardly lift my head off the pillow.

The Search for Help

Two weeks later and eight pounds [4 kg] lighter, I decided it was time to see a doctor. The day of my appointment was the worst I had experienced yet. The pain was so severe that I felt as though someone was pulling my muscles apart and jabbing me with hot knives all at the same time. Added to all of this was a veil of depression weighing heavily upon me. I just sat on the edge of the bed crying.

The first trip to the doctor brought no immediate answer. Different blood tests were run, checking for various types of infectious diseases. Only one came back positive, showing a high degree of inflammation present in the body. Several weeks later, still with no improvement, I consulted another doctor in the same clinic. Again, tests were taken, and again, only one came back abnormal, the same one that had previously been abnormal. Neither doctor had any conclusion other than thinking that it was just a bad virus.

Weeks passed, but time brought no real improvement. Finally, two months after the onset of my illness, I went to see another doctor in the clinic, one who had treated me for various minor illnesses when I was a child. I felt confident that he would pinpoint this mysterious affliction.

Much to my dismay, this doctor did not give me the treatment I was expecting. Instead of sincerely listening to my unusual symptoms, he quickly brushed me off as being a neurotic, implying that my strange complaints arose from my being newly married. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing as I tried to choke back my tears of anger and hurt. However, he did agree to repeat that “positive” test. I will always be grateful for that test!After leaving the clinic, I cried for two hours. I knew there was something definitely wrong with me physically, but it seemed as though no one wanted to take me seriously. The next afternoon, I received a call from the doctor’s office telling me that my blood test came back abnormal once again. I was referred to a rheumatologist (one who specializes in arthritic diseases). I was relieved that finally someone realized that there was an actual problem, but why a rheumatologist? How could arthritis make me feel like this?

An Unwelcome Diagnosis

Two weeks later I found myself sitting in the specialist’s office with Jack beside me. After the initial formalities, I began my story. Much to my surprise, his conclusion was immediate, but definitely not what we were expecting. We were stunned when he said that I was suffering from a connective tissue disease, more modernly known as an autoimmune disease, and that he suspected systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus for short). Was this to become my lot in life? The thought of always being this sick scared me.

The doctor went on to explain that although physicians are able to diagnose diseases of this nature more readily than in the past, they still know relatively little about the cause and therefore have no cure. We also learned that through some breakdown in the immune system, the body is no longer able to distinguish foreign invaders from itself. Therefore, the immune system is constantly manufacturing antibodies against body tissues. It is as if the body rejects itself. These antibodies attack and break down connective tissues as well as wage war with major organs. Unless the disease goes into complete remission, these antibodies are almost always causing symptoms of pain and discomfort throughout the system.

Because of the nature of the disease, the symptoms vary and often differ from person to person. Among the ones that plague me are muscle and joint pain, skin inflammation, rapid or intense heartbeat, shortness of breath, pleurisy pains, nausea, bladder pain and pressure, dizziness, loss of balance, and severe headaches, with subtle effects on the central nervous system resulting in decreased concentration, mood changes, and depression. There are many, many days when my whole body from head to toe feels raw and sore from internal inflammation.

Overwhelming fatigue accompanies this disease as well. Sometimes it is so severe that I wake up in the morning unable to get out of bed. Other times it will grip my body when I least expect it. The feeling is that every ounce of strength drains out of my body, making the slightest exertion, such as twisting the cap off the toothpaste tube, beyond my ability. One thing that can make my fatigue and other symptoms worse is exposure to ultraviolet light in sunlight.

New Adjustments

I had not been able to attend any congregation meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses for two months, so my first endeavor was to try to build up enough strength so that I once again could meet with my spiritual brothers and sisters. Although it took great effort and discipline, I forced myself to exercise. Finally, with Jack’s help I was able to attend at least some of the meetings. As time went on, my endurance increased to the point where I was able to care for part of the household chores and also to engage in the Kingdom-preaching activity once again. I was excited with the progress of my health and kept trying to do more and more. Unfortunately, that was a big mistake, for I found out the hard way that pushing myself beyond my limit meant going into a flare-up.

Stress is probably the worst enemy I have, and avoiding it is an absolute necessity. I have to say that learning to pace myself has been one of the more difficult adjustments I’ve had to make. Since I like to be very active, I have to set my priorities and remember that going past my limit means complete exhaustion, irritability, depression, and crying spells. I try to have set days for certain chores, but it is virtually impossible to follow a schedule when I am up one day and down the next. Even on good days, I have to rest between major jobs. I now leave certain housekeeping chores for Jack to do. It’s another part of the adjustment for both of us.

How Others Can Help

True friends can also give comfort when one is ill. Feeling that they understand the situation can greatly lessen the stress. But people, imperfect as we are, aren’t always discerning as to what the ill person wants to hear. What sounds like a compliment or word of encouragement to the giver may seem just the opposite to the person not feeling well. When people come up and ask me how I’m feeling, they almost always say something like, “Well, you sure are looking good!” Comments like this tend to make me feel that they are doubting the genuineness of my illness or that because I look good on the outside, I should be feeling good on the inside. Unfortunately, with lupus, outward appearances can be very deceiving. Victims oftentimes look healthy; especially is this the case with women if they have their hair styled and make-up applied.

I remember someone approaching me one evening after one of the congregation meetings and saying: “It’s so nice to see you. I know it’s not always easy for you to come, but we’re glad to see you here tonight.” Words like this make me feel that people understand the situation to a degree.

It’s also easy for a person battling a disease to feel excluded socially because of the up-and-down periods. The unpredictableness and surprise of new symptoms popping up means most plans have to be made tentatively. The disease changes so much that oftentimes plans made only two hours ahead of time may need to be canceled at the last minute. Consequently, much of my life is spent with apprehension and anxiety.

How I Cope

You may wonder how I cope with an illness that plays havoc with my emotions and puts many restrictions on my life. Well, needless to say, it can be very trialsome, not only for me but for Jack as well. Not being able to engage in a lot of the activities other people may consider normal, I have really learned to appreciate the simplest of pleasures, such as preparing a special meal for Jack, spending time with my family, or just sitting and cuddling my kitty. (I love this part)

Because of my sensitivity to sunlight, I have to take protective measures when I engage in the preaching activity. People can always spot me; I’m the one holding a colorful parasol. I avoid being outdoors on really hot days, as the heat makes me very weak. Also, having a limited amount of energy to expend in door-to-door witnessing, I look for other avenues to talk to people about the hope for the future that is found in the Bible.

Trying to focus my attention on the positive things in life as opposed to the negative has helped to ward off the “poor me” syndrome. My biggest struggle is learning not to put excessive demands on myself and then berating myself for falling short. But even with a good outlook, depression, frustration, and the shedding of many tears do occur. When I’m having a really bad day and the veil of gloom seems to hover over me, I try to remember that it will pass, and with extra reliance on God, I’ll get through it.

I have truly come to appreciate Jehovah God’s qualities of compassion and mercy, remembering often the words at Job 34:28: ‘And so he hears the cry of the afflicted one.’ Yes, mankind is sick, in more ways than one. We need help that even the most skilled physicians are unable to give. I believe that soon Jehovah will fulfill the first scripture I learned as a child. Then it will be said of all people: “No resident will say: ‘I am sick.’” (Isaiah 33:24) Doesn’t that sound wonderful? It does to me!

—As told by Robin Kanstul.

[Box on page 21] What Is Lupus?

Lupus is a recurring and currently incurable inflammatory disease. It is an autoimmune disorder that turns antibodies against all the body’s vital organs. However, lupus is not infectious, contagious, or cancerous. How serious can it be? From mild to life-threatening. Its name comes from the Latin word for “wolf,” since many patients have a red face-rash in a shape similar to the facial markings of a wolf. Its cause remains unknown.

(The mention of God and religious practice was not a sneaky underhanded attempt to preach to the reader. It was part of an article and so it completes a story. This blog is not meant to be about religion, but faith does come up every so often.)


Filed under Housewifing, Loopy Lupus, Under the Weather

It’s Definitely Maybeline

Don’t get me wrong.  When I wrote this little ethos (Because You’re Worth It), I meant every word.  It’s a guideline to survive by. But so long as I’m writing about confessions, I confess that sometimes you just have to swallow your own tasty words with your tail between your legs.  Realistically, it won’t always be followed to the letter and I knew this then.  This isn’t Mean Girls where you get kicked out of the lunch table if you break a fashion rule.  It’s impossible to perfectly keep up with a daily regime without developing or intensifying some form of neurosis. A cheer for all you women who make it seem effortless to be mascara’d and flawless every single day, rain or shine.  But ‘fess up!  There lies a midget psycho in you that tries to escape every day right? Don’t worry, the twitching eye will stop.

In my case, there still exists a pair of floppy sweatpants or two that need to be replaced.  I’m sure Husband would appreciate more matching unmentionables.  There’s been a bit of haircut and styling postponing.  I ate gluten in a bowl.

But I do have good updates. Since putting it on paper (and by paper I mean a web page), it’s been a reinforcement and motivator to keep up with my own suggestions a lot better. I’ve been putting on my face more often. With the exception of yesterday’s man-scale exceeding the average, the Minimalist Look with a Morning Dew is becoming a quick and easy look.   The Well-Rested concealer from Bare Minerals and nude-colored eyeshadow (two items I thought were irrelevant when I was a spring chicken) are as faithful as a BFF.  When the really achy and slow awakenings don’t give me time to slap it on, I lug around my little 2nd chance bag for later.  If I haven’t been able to keep up, I at least throw on the moisturizer and lip gloss.

via cuppycake fiend at Flickr

One of my recently developed habits, on days that I look disastrous because of these difficult mornings that spite me and/or creeping age, is that I come home from work straight to shower, puff some foundation on my face and pretty-it-up, even if I’m just in sexy-house-sweatpants.  I make-up for the ugly day I had.  When I feel that I look better, I get more done and with more spunk.  Yes, I have been known to put eyeliner on to do the dishes.

Writing it down, and most notably, sharing my Beauty Belief with everyone was just an extra push to live harder by it.  It’s like Weight Watchers, when you have people expecting you not eat hamburgers every time you have an emotional crisis, you are further encouraged by your teammates to fight the call of dead meat and cholesterol! Even if you slip up once or twice. Even if you skip a week and the girls don’t really give mind to your every ingested meal, you know the universe knows and it will tell on you if you give up on your self-made values.  Thankfully, they understand the downward spiral, but the gals get down because the power of the united cosmic fight requires more energy to be kept to standard for women all over the world.  I’ve never been to Weight Watchers, but I imagine it’s something dramatic like this.

I’m even thinking  of writing another guideline, this one about abstinence.  Vows of Food Abstinence to be clear. Because it doesn’t matter how organic the half box of whole grain chocolate chip cookies that I ate were, they were still loaded with gluten (note that I’m gluten sensitive).  I ended up with a guilty conscience, throbbing knees, and enough anxiety to become a Wall Street stockbroker in our economy.  This area needs tidying up.  It’s my livelihood we’re talking about here.

The point is, we all have a set of rules we should stick to that help up stay on the mark.  Unless we have obsessive compulsive disorder, we end up breaking our rules to prevent from exploding estrogen all over the walls when things get tough and disheveled.  And if there’s anything that I share to you worth a rat’s patootie (I’m saying patootie until I write a age-and sensitivity appropriate disclaimer for my site), is that you should write down the things that matter to you and inner-confidence and check yourself against it every once in a while.   As silly as it sounds, sharing it with someone adds a seal of authenticity.  Depending on the frequency in which you break your own rules, you’ll know how frazzled you really are and that you need to readjust your wacky chi.

So on a day that you didn’t forget pick up the dry-cleaning, are wearing your shirt inside out and backward (true story), ran out of cat food, burned dinner, gained 4 stress pounds, forgot to pay the light bill, and you find yourself eating a snickers bar in the middle of your living room staring at your great masterpiece, not caring…take a breather.  Take out paper and pen and number of bullet a list of things that will help you either prevent or take care of yourself before things like this happen.  Type it up and laminate it.*

But IF there is splippage, don’t beat yourself up. There is always the clause section.  Not loophole section: clause section. And you can only have those amended if reviewed and approved by an official notary to prevent your sneaky alter-ego from changing your creed when momentary lapses occur. And they will. No matter what kind of sugar empowering high you’re on when you write the ethos.

Just keep checking against it to see how you’re keeping up by your own standards.  No one else’s.


via Janny Brocken @ Flickr

*No, I haven’t laminated mine. It’s typed neatly online.


Filed under Housewifing, Indulgence, Picture of Health

I’m A Snake, I’m A Slithery Little Snake

(Scroll down if you want to go straight for the video.)

Housewifing is taking a break.  This project was for the extra time spend in convalescence.  And though I should be in repose, I’m still dragging my butt around trying to get dinner and laundry done, in a scattered manner, mind you, to match me and Husband’s unparallel schedules.  Husband and I are beat up and we’re struggling mighty hard to stay on point, with the added fiasco of creating strict and isolated environments for our cats since they’re going through feral stages (The babygirl is in heat and being a punk, riling up the little boy. They’re  teenagers!).  He continues being a prince for outdoing himself to support me. Gold Stars for him.

Without garrulous detail, I share that I’m going through flares that are telling me to stay home from work.  Since health comes before work you would think I would kindly indulge my aching and spent body.  But since I’m conditioned the American way, if there is no fever, open surgery wounds or broken bones, how dare I spoil myself to choose rest over hard work. I can still walk, can’t I?  That little limp builds character.

Anyway,  I need a mental and physical break, so I’m not going to exert myself today for anything that doesn’t provide income or spiritual up-building.  Instead, I will provide you with a little something that I cannot resist watching over and over until my IQ drops and splatters on the floor.  This is also for those of you who are also exhausted and have better things to do than take it from the Man.

Disclaimer: If you watch this video and are expecting an explanation for the “why”, you wait in vain.  If you think there is meaning behind this, there is not.  If you are offended by the use of the slang word for derriere, this will indeed offend you.  If you watch this and you “don’t get it”, you have a long way to understanding who this author of this blog is.  It may make you question my sanity and think that I made up the whole bit about being sick too.  There is no reason for loving this next video except that I lose about 5lbs from extraneous laughter and generate sufficient endorphins to distract from pain for several hours a time.

Hoping that next time I meet you on here I’m a bit more coherent and don’t feel like kicking little kids, puppies, and co-workers.  Hasta Luego, my friends.


Filed under Housewifing, Indulgence, Loopy Lupus, Random, Under the Weather

Somewhere Over the Percocet

At work, a small white tablet was found straggling around in my purse.  I heard angel choirs chanting not too far off this multi-dimensional realm.  I split the porcelain little helper in two.  Even before popping the first half, the placebo effect of the hope that was to come was already melting troubles away like lemon drop shots.

All these mornings have been groundhog-ish.  I had an interruption in my regular treatment for the ‘wolf disease’, and so the inflammation and pain came back with a vengeance.  With permission from a doctor’s note, I have stumbled into work late almost every day in the last two weeks.  When I pry my dessert-dry eyes open in the morning, while blood is trashing around in my skull, I begin the process of gauging my pain levels.  Neck: Stiff.  Hips: swollen.  Feet: extra swollen.  Back: stabbing.  Elbows: Stuck. Wrist and Fingers: numb.  Organs: Tender.  I’m exhausted from lack of recuperation, but also mentally, from the automatic conditioning that has set in;  the rapid-fire assessment I make two minutes from wake-up time.  I know the day is going to be a battle and my brain wages war to stay home for an hour or two more.

Eventually I unfurl my spine and muster the bravery to place my feet on the floor.  Morning stiffness and swelling is normal. For the rest of the day, continual movement is paramount, otherwise, my joints will stay stuck in motionless positions.  I still don’t know how to describe many of the symptoms that come with this condition.  The best one yet, which I don’t know if the average person can understand, is that it feels like my blood doesn’t fit inside its veins and my limbs don’t fit inside it’s skin encasing.  The most recent pain is my lower back.  The doctor said there is no damage.  “It’s just inflammation.”  I doubt the words of that arrogant fool, but I’m also helpless in my limited amount of time to take off work and see every doctor for every spot on my body that’s wrong.

My excitement for the Perk was because I had run out of them.  The physician switched me to Vicodin, a very unpleasant substitute which reduces pain, adds headaches, has angered my autoimmune and takes my literal breath away.  This cannot continue.

For that reason, finding a lost little Percocet made my next 4-6 hours.  However, the concern simmers within. It won’t be long before it wears off and no more rogue pills will be laying around to be found.

This is not the most unbearable pain I’ve ever experienced, but it’s the most ongoing pain I’ve ever  had to deal with.  I’m not sure how to do it and when the big picture spans out before my eyes, out of focus and blurry, panic begins to stir.

Am I becoming dependent on a short-term solution?

Am I falling trap to a cognitive dissonance that justifies pill popping. Even if its prescribed?

What constitutes the right to pain killers?

What if you need them to keep your job?

What is the deal with organic herbs that ease pain without causing systematic damage like synthetic narcotics? Why don’t I live in California or Amsterdam?

When will they build a Whole Foods in my neighborhood?

How do I keep my job and my home from being neglected in my condition?

How am I to reduce to a more manageable part-time, if I need to pay for so many medicines, appointments, and tests? How am I supposed to keep my mental peace when its at war with my body?

How am I going to do my part as a capable housewife if I run out of energy too early on the same day that my beloved cat decides to poop on our mattress and pee on all our spare mattresses?

What if  I don’t stop asking all these unanswerable questions and die right here of cardiac arrest?

All these questions ruminate above in my head with great insistence.

They tumble inside my brain like a dryer with damp laundry all they want, but none of it is solvable if i don’t stop the cycling.  Stress exacerbates fatigue, pains, and surrender.  Action however, gets the job done.

I’m a big believer of a mini-break down. If you fight it too long, you’re have a certified melt-down and that’s just too inconvenient for everyone.  After you’re done crying and venting to a friend/family member who provides you a less morbid solution than resorting to admitting yourself in an insane asylum, you wait for your blotchy skin to normalize, you assume rhythmic breathing, you decrease your voice’s pitch from supersonic back to human, send a quick prayer through the proper channels, and you lay out your plan.

As soon as your vision isn’t blurred,  you call all your doctors with reasonable inquiries and requests.  Then you research on acupuncture and and natural therapies because your doctor is bound to take guesses as good as a two-year old.  You buy a box of pinch-proof gloves and an enzyme cleaner for unpleasant odors.  You put aside any feminism and ask Husband for suggestions and to kindly pass the vacuum once a week for you (He won’t know if you don’t ask).  Draw smiley faces on the bills you don’t intend to pay.  Powder your face again if warranted.  Thank your friends for letting you be at your worst with them and still letting you maintain your credibility when the show is over.

Ages 4-7

You also learn to prepare better for next time. It’s time to invest in the sponge bat I’ve been suggesting might be the greatest problem solver in the world.

I especially like this one with the adjustable size for the days my symptoms throw me on the couch and the cats start meowing suspiciously.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Pain killers are a temporary solution. Being in turmoil is inevitable but should always be dealt with.  Being overwhelmed doesn’t have to be the dirty little secret many sweep under the ground as if this life was a summer breeze.  Take meds if you must, but learn how to get on by your own terms. That alone is like natural opiates.



And that’s the way Sue C’s it. *

*High-five, Glee Geeks!


Filed under Indulgence, Loopy Lupus, Picture of Health, Post A Week, Stimulating the Economy, Under the Weather

I Saw Red#40!

It’s becoming a once weekly habit (habit that must be curbed) to talk myself into trouble. Thanks to insistent suggestions on prime time’s syndicated television, I’ve had a violent hankering for strawberry flavored ice cream. It’s a mystery how sugar depravity can make me slicker and enhance my self-justification skills toward any illicit actions. I can talk myself into feeling good about almost anything detrimental.

My diet must remain very low in sugar.  Confectionery items are allowed but sparingly within a month’s time.  The most important part, to ensure my immune system is working at it’s maximum, it must be limited to organic and natural treats.  At this point I have no excuse in my life to be eating anything with preservatives or high corn fructose syrup (Except that the nearest Whole Foods is a million miles away. That’s how far it feels when my body is complaining). Did you see how I just justified having any ol’ adultered cookie in my life again?

A few weeks ago, I read the McDonald’s ice cream portion of their Sundae nutrition facts online.  Although much less than 15 dubious ingredients, I knew the sugar content was high and that corn syrups make your digestive system work too hard.  This is not just because I’m more sensitive to foods; it goes the same for every person.   Additionally , dairy is another food group that I must tip-toe around carefully. Only minimally processed dairy, if at all, or here come the hives and tummy discomfort.  Mind you, I’m not lactose intolerant, but any foreign chemical in my body will tell my autoimmune system there’s a new playground to explore, so it best be pure.

I drive up to the window in shame, as I don’t belong there for any excuse in the book. At the talking, static-y menu, I order a strawberry sundae.  Pulling up to the pay window, it occurs to me I could be making a monstrous mistake.  I never checked the toppings list!  I ask the awkward-acne-freckle faced adolescent boy,

“Would you be able to find out if the strawberry sauce contains food color & dye #40?”

With a non-confident shrug he tells me, “Uhhhmm, I dunno. Uhmmm I don’t think so. Uh, I mean, it’s just strawberries.”

“Just strawberries?  JUST STRAWBERRIES???”, I clamored to the high heavens!  Well, what I really said was, “Do you mind checking to see if you can find out for sure?”

This coming-of-age teenager works at McDonald’s and yet he so innocently thinks what you see is what you get? He probably thinks those Big Macs are made from happy healthy cows skipping alongside fully-feathered flying chickens in a wide open field where the sky is always blue and it never rains!  Bless his heart again. I suppose it wasn’t my job to fill him in that there’s probably baby chick beak in his golden crispy nuggets.  What was I doing there?

Moving on up to the pick-up window, unbeknownst to the server, she hands me a sundae with the nuclear red fruit goop generously drizzled over my white sugary ice cream. Re-submitting my inquiry, she kindly checked with the scrambling servers in the back (it seems nobody in the Riverview McDonald’s has ever asked to know the nutritional ingredients, unless they’re smarter than I am and just stay away from such a place).

“Yes! It does!”,  someone hollered in the background between the french fry heat lamps and corn syrup dispenser.

I cussed up a storm with my inside voice, “Is it okay to change it for a caramel one? I’m not able to have Red #40.”

With a smile she politely obliged.  I paid and I was off.  I ate half of my sundae, justifying that half the damage is better than all of it.  I don’t even want to know what’s in the caramel surprise.

Check your favorite McD's Snack Ingredient Fact. Double dog dare you.

That switch spared me from being knocked down for 3-7 days with a migraine that comes complete with fireworks displays. It’s a 15 minute reaction time to any red artificial ingredient, but more so lasting with the FDA approved food dye and coloring.  Go figure.  Even the unsuspecting Sobe LifeWater will also give my vision and perceptive senses an ecstasy-like “wah-wah”, only with accompanying excruciating brain pain.

This account is not to say there wasn’t any more lesson-learning to be had. The difference between the cheap sundae  and the Natural Breyer’s Ice Cream I should’ve splurged $3 more on (in my defense, I was extremely weak from the work week and wouldn’t last a trip to the store)(more justifications), was still a strong acid response to an already out-of-balance body.  The next two hours I was tossed into bed with weird numbness in my legs and prickling in my shoulders before I could move smoothly again.

The moral of this story, don’t toy with a delicate balance, no matter how much sweetness one need in one’s life.  (Justification No. #I Lost Count: Husband has been out of town for abour 5 days now, the longest he’s every been, and my health logic is wearing thin because I miss his perky butt).

Let me sweetly reiterate that I do not condemn anyone else who does not memorize all the ingredients in restaurants and fast food joints. This is my lifestyle and its wonderful to those who do not live with such restrictions.  My sharing this episode to show what a fragile environment we live in, so that more and more people are becoming intolerant to unnatural ingredients, and that it should not come as a surprise to anyone, anymore, that what we unwittingly stuff into our mouths could be the reason why we’re so tired, achy, and sick.  If your lovely child is bouncing off the walls, get the food diary when you give him/her M&Ms.  No exaggeration: I’m one step away of recording my man-child’s reactions.

It’s second nature to me, usually, to be hyper aware of every single food I consume.  I will not preach to you about hydrogenated oil if we go out to eat together, but I will send our waiter to the chef once or twice to verify that I don’t get any meals that will flare up my knees and elbows.  I will not always react strongly to foods, but for the most part I must be vigilant about what and how much I eat.  Also, I can take a joke or two about it, cause in the end its so hilariously surreal.

Some people are blessed with metabolizing chemical compounds like it’s nobody’s business.  I’m still waiting for Husband to break in half or for his liver to fall out of his butt. Doctors really are baffled at how he hasn’t reacted to years of accumulating compounds.  Makes me so sick I could shove a few Cinnabons down his throat just to get some relative empathy after I eat a Ritz cracker.  Luckily, he still shies away from enriched breads and greasy foods and may be his saving grace.

Well, yesterday night was rough and somewhere in the cluttered back of my head, I knew I would pay for it.  The battle to resist yummy foods continues…

…but if you ever see me reach for a pink cupcake without reading the label first, you’re free to smush it in my face.


Filed under Indulgence, Loopy Lupus, Picture of Health, Post A Week, Under the Weather

Giggly Truth Serum Confessions

Launching a personal blog is a daunting action.  Most writing usually uncovers pieces of the author’s core, but no matter what approach to manipulate a particular picture of how you want people to perceive you, the truth of who you truly are still glimmers through.  I could have chosen not advertise my story to the public, bypassing the announcement to friends and some acquaintances.  They only would’ve found out about it if they are avid internet surfers or if in ten years this website boomed.  I thought about it long and hard before I set on this bold move of being a little more transparent than the lock-down mode I’d been settling into.  Right before I shared it, I called a family member and Husband for opinions.  I was nervous about the repercussions.  Reporting information and/or stories always create an emotional response, opinions, or critics.  To make this work, I knew it would require a bit of private exposition unless it was purely factual.  And well, it’s not.

But let me tell you, I don’t regret the decision.   The conversation with Husband went something like: We know the situation. We’re handling it. You’re not planning to live a hidden life of illness.  But you’ve been a closed book, even with friends.  It felt like a secret.  It even meant rejecting sympathy when I honestly needed it. Everytime I had to explain someone I’ve been less social or MIA because I was sick, it was like admitting a horrible shame.  My positive outlook toward cope was limited so long as I postponed a genuine explanation, instead of letting it fester on the tip of my tongue.

I said a little prayer and hit send on notifications to all, rather than to complete strangers. Every muscle temporarily froze. So soon after tracking the readers’ traffic chart that this website generates, I stopped checking it every two minutes. Slowly, the tension in my shoulders released and my lungs remembered to expand deeper.  It played out almost like a confession. I didn’t have to go into detail; I didn’t have to go over this long saga of what’s been leading up to this day for so long, but I embraced my reality fully. By the next day, I was catching up with friends that I had reduced contact with for fear of mine and their reaction to this news.

This week – health-wise – has been stupid; however, I’ve been spunkier and more productive than usual.  Not necessarily more physically active, but mentally and emotionally.  Without the burden of trying to conceal that I’m not the firecracker I once was, I was free to talk about other things going on in life and smile easier; despite subtle aches roaming in the body. I felt lighter and lighter as I stopped giving the problem so much attention and focusing on relationships and goals.

Last night, I watched Knight and Day on DVD.  At some point in the movie, Cameron Diaz is administered a truth serum.  It was some experimental technology that made her laugh and enjoy spitting out thoughts on the forefront. I thought to myself, “This is what it felt like this weekend”. No, it is not the Percocet talking. The half- tablet is not that powerful.  I exposed myself a little bit, although of course, just a few aspects of life, not all. I reconnected with friends. I’m doing it through one of my favorite mediums: writing.  And I received an overwhelming understanding and awesome response.  It’s off my chest.  I feel I’ve that I’ve man-handled a huge part of the challenge life has thrown at us.

All this is very mushy and layered. Normally, I would prefer to twist this into some form of sarcastic humor, but as long as I’m in the spirit of motivation, I’m gonna suck it up and continue sounding like a self-help book for another paragraph.  This might be a personal experience, but like I’ve said before, I share to relate.  I hope other people, especially younguns or withdrawn ones who are very aware of this critical and harsh world, can find ways to express themselves. Keeping things bottled in only create stress, a confused heart, a conflicted mind, and constipation. Not out of proportion either. Listing every emotion on a Facebook status is NOT healthy.  There is a balance of knowing who, when, how, and how much, to share. But it’s so liberating, and even surprising, how being genuine and truthful can grow confidence.  It took me a while to come clean, but now I have a buzzing giddiness to brag about, and more space to welcome more challenges.


Filed under Housewifing, Indulgence, Picture of Health, Post A Week