Bake on!

We’re now over a full month into our Paleo adventure! We’ve had a few cheat meals, but for the most part, we’ve stuck to the program! It’s been a lot easier than I thought it would be, although it is exhausting having to make pretty much everything from scratch. Luckily, both of us love to cook and cooking together only adds to the fun.

I’m still working on this bread thing. Last week, we made a batch using half cassava flour and half almond flour. It was very good, but it still lacks the size needed for a real sandwich. The cassava flour allows for a more traditional bread texture, which is amazing. Next time I attempt bread, I think we’ll try a recipe that uses yeast, since neither of us have any issues with eating it. 

The one thing I love about baking bread without yeast is that it comes together super fast. There’s no need to wait for rising and you don’t have to knead it; just whisk together and pop it in the oven. Unfortunately, the husband and I miss sandwiches. I’ve been craving a PBJ for ages now, (though it would have to be an almond butter and jelly since peanuts are not allowed). 

Today, I made English muffins! 


Aren’t they pretty? These were also quick to put together, but the cashew butter makes them a bit too expensive for me to want to make regularly. I am very pleased with the flavor, but they’re just too soft to be used the way we’d want to eat them. If you tried to make an egg sandwich or top them with anything other than a bit of butter, they’d fall apart. Again, I’m going to give the cassava flour a try. Stay tuned! 

Whole 30, Day 22!

We are officially more than 2/3 of the way trough this round of Whole 30! 
This last week, we stuck with our breakfast smoothies, so nothing new or exciting there. 

Last week, I mentioned we had a bunch of all new recipes to try out, so here’s the run down. For lunches this week, we had a veggie laden pulled pork stew, (my own recipe, which I haven’t written out yet). I used left over pulled pork, bone broth, carrots, mushrooms, parsnips, turnips, potatoes, celery, onion and kale to make this super filling stew in the instant pot. One serving rolls in at about 307 calories and it kept me full all afternoon, win-win!


My husband wasn’t happy about the mushrooms in it, but otherwise loved it, so next time I make it, I’ll probably omit them.

Sunday, we made another new recipe: cilantro lime chicken, with roasted cauliflower and cabbage steaks.  The original recipe suggests serving this chicken over rice, but since rice is forbidden while on the Whole 30, I roasted up some cabbage steaks instead. I wasn’t sure how the cabbage steaks would go over, but they were awesome. We had a non Whole 30 friend over for dinner that night and he even enjoyed it!


Monday, we decided to make some grilled garlic shrimp with grilled asparagus since my husband was home from work for MLK Day. Oh my gosh, I love these shrimp. Not only are they super simple to put together, they are delicious! 


As you can see, with our shrimp, instead of pasta or another carby side, we had some more roasted cauliflower, (I am obsessed, not sorry), and we roasted a few of our home grown carrots, too. 

The rest of the week, we enjoyed curried shepherd’s pie. I made several changes to this recipe, the most obvious of which was using white potatoes and cauliflower in place of sweet potatoes. I also omitted the peas, since they’re not Whole 30 compliant and used bone broth rather than plain beef broth. I added in some finely diced mushrooms, a turnip and some extra cauliflower to make it a bit more filling. Next time I make this, I think I’ll add a lot more curry powder and probably a teensy bit more salt, but otherwise, it was excellent. 



Saturday was a little different this week since Aaron was working, but my good friend and fellow Whole 30 buddy, Amber came over to make dinner with me. We made NomNomPaleo’s Cracklin Chicken (sooo good!), roasted cauliflower and some kick ass garlic green beans. 


Amber brought her dog, Willow over to play with Freyja and we made a whole girl’s night of it, complete with scary movies. The only thing missing was chocolate and wine, mmmm….


For this next week, we’re having oven roasted pork ribs for dinner and chicken soup (with bone broth!) for lunches. I’ll probably be having just the soup today since my stomach is unhappy about something. Not a great start to the week, but hopefully things will be back to normal soon. 

Whole 30, Day 13


One more week down! This week was mostly leftovers, which made it super easy, but here’s a run down of what kept me going!
For breakfasts, we had smoothies! Yum. We tend to find something we like and use it until we’re sick of it, so all of our smoothies this week were the same: 

  • 90g (1 cup) frozen spinach or kale
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 70g (1/2 cup) frozen blueberries
  • 32g (2 tablespoons) almond butter
  • 1 scoop of collagen peptides
  • 6 oz coconut milk
  • 6 oz cold coffee

I use a kitchen scale for most of my measuring, which is why everything is in grams. I just find it easier to just sit the pitcher on the scale and dump everything in, plus no need to dirty extra utensils! (I am a fairly lazy creature, after all.) I didn’t really take any pictures of the smoothies because they’re not very pretty. The coffee makes it a dark, unappealing color, but damn if it doesn’t make all the difference in my morning! 

This week, I really tried to start cutting out the snacks, but the results were disastrous. I’m going to stick to small, compliant snacks and leave it alone. Being grumpy and tired is just no way to be. For snacks this week, (once I realized cutting them out was a lost cause), I had an orange in the morning, if I needed it and a handful of raw almonds and plain walnuts in the afternoon. This helped keep my energy steady and kept me from being such a sourpuss. 

So, lunch! I tried sweet potato toast! It sounds weird, but I was very impressed; it’s super simple and very yummy, so win-win!

Take a whole sweet potato and give it a good scrub. Dry it off and slice it (lengthwise) so you get long, 1/4″ slices and stick it right in the toaster!


I toasted mine for about 5 min, until they were tender but not mushy. Slather on some almond butter, sprinkle with some cinnamon and a teensy bit of sea salt and enjoy! 

On the days I didn’t have sweet potato toast, I just had the kale and potato soup from last week,(equally quick and easy, since it was already made). 

Last weekend, we made the Paleo Beef Stew with roasted beets, carrots and parsnips; those leftovers served as dinner for the week.

I did, however make fresh roasted veggies to go with it, since I’ve found that those don’t reheat very well. Roasted cauliflower is officially my new favorite side dish. It’s soooo good!! I figured it would be fairly bland and tasteless, but it’s definitely not. Properly roasted, cauliflower has its own amazing flavor. It’s not a strong flavor, it’s very mellow, a little sweet and almost cheesy. Seriously, you have to try it! 


The other dish we made over the weekend was the Carne Asada, which is definitely a favorite around here. 


We found the recipe back in July when we did the Whole 30 for the first time and we’ve been making flank steak like this ever since. We had some cole slaw and pan seared asparagus to go with it. I can’t wait to make it again with the roasted cauliflower! 

This weekend, we’re trying all new recipes, including a curried shepherd’s pie, cilantro lime chicken and a pulled pork vegetable stew, (which I started this morning and it smells amazing!). Stay tuned!

Setbacks, road blocks and fighting through them

For me, the hardest part about chronic illness has always been the ups and downs. A few years ago, I was mired in misery and the good days were so few and far between that all they did was point how very awful my “normal” was. Even when I had a good day, I was unable to enjoy it because I was dreading the return of my pain. 

Now, I generally have more good days than bad, but the bad days hit me much harder than they used to because I am no longer accustomed to the level of pain and fatigue they bring with them. I find that it is so much harder to bounce back from the bad days, especially lately, since I’ve fallen so far off track. 

I finally started going back to the gym about 3-4 weeks ago. Week 1 was great! Tiring, but I felt amazing. Then, on Thursday of the second week, I slipped and twisted the bejeezus out of my left ankle. It was bad. Tears and cursing and more tears followed by a miserable drive home. It nearly took the wind out of my sails, but I got through it, (thanks largely in part to my ever supportive husband!). I gave it a few days to heal up and I got back to walking. 

Last week, I started running again. I decided to restart my couch to 5k program, (AGAIN). I made it through the first two days and then I spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday sick as a dog. It seems to happen every time I start working out, the best explanation I can find is “irritated airways”. We’re talking full blown flu symptoms, they come on super fast and usually last just long enough to throw me off track, (if I’m lucky, sometimes there’s a wracking cough that lasts for WEEKS). This time, I’ve decided that I’m going to fight back. I got sick on Friday, today is Tuesday and I went back to the gym. My workout was certainly not amazing, but I managed to do week 1, day 3 of the C to 5k program. I’m going to take it easy tomorrow and then on Thursday, I’ll start week 1 over again. I figure there’s no point in moving forward until I can comfortably do the entire week’s program. 

I won’t lie, it’s taken a lot of fighting to keep from getting discouraged. I feel like every time I turn around, something goes wrong. It’s a daily struggle for me not to give up, but I know that if I do, I’m lost. I cannot go back to the dark place where the fibro rules, I don’t have what it takes to pull myself out of that pit again, so my only option is to not fall into it.

If I have to, I will do every week of the program over and over until I can get through, but I don’t think it will come to that. Hopefully, I can acclimate myself to the more strenuous workouts and my body will adjust accordingly. My goal is to finish the entire 9 week run plan before the start of 2017. I may be back at square one, but at least I have the benefit of knowing how my body reacts to it. Fingers crossed!

Emotions are painful

One of the things I struggle with a lot is managing negative emotions. Since fibro came along, and for a while before it was diagnosed I’ve been very quick to tears or frustration. It can be anything; an overly busy day, bad news, tiredness and pain. Even little things are enough to knock me sideways. […]

https://fibrofoggyness.wordpress.com/2015/07/23/emotions-are-painful/

We are not alone

I have decided to start republishing posts from some of the blogs I read when I’m not posting my own writing. Not because I’m being lazy or I’ve run out of things to say, but because I find that one of the things that helps me the most is knowing that I am not alone in dealing with chronic illness. Having fibromyalgia or any chronic condition isolates us. We don’t want to bother others with our troubles and before long, we’re all alone in our own little bubbles of misery. I think it’s important to take the time to hear what others have to say and I am often pleasantly surprised when I do. It’s comforting to me to know that I am not the only one suffering from certain symptoms or feelings. I hope that by sharing some of what I find will bring comfort to others as well. 

Looking up

I know that my last couple of posts have been downers. It really has been a rough summer, but it’s not all bad! I put a lot of effort into finding the good in a situation, so I wanted to take some time to talk about some of the good things that have happened over the last few months. 

For starters, I got engaged!! This happened back in May, so I’m more than a little late in announcing it, but it’s definitely been the highlight of my summer. As awful as this summer has been, there is one definite positive to come out of it: I have absolutely no doubts about the man I’m marrying. We’ve been through a lot since we got engaged and it’s only made us stronger. Even if the road gets rough, I know that he will be right there beside me every step of the way. I know that if I stumble, he’ll be there and when I regain my wings, he’ll soar right along with me. If there is a better feeling in this world, I haven’t found it. The wedding is set for early November and I could not be more excited. 

Of course I couldnt’t leave out the ring!

I’m also excited to get back on my feet. Yesterday, I got the official clearance from my doctors to get back to normal. (Yay!) It’s going to be a long road and I know it won’t be easy, but it’s nice to feel like I have at least a modicum of control back. I may be a house cat/couch potato by nature, but I’ve managed to change some of those tendencies and it’s been incredibly difficult to be forced into doing nothing. 

I’m looking forward to the challenge of getting myself moving again and I hope to have more good news to report soon! 

The light at the end of the tunnel

Saying it’s been a rough summer is a bit of an understatement. 

Several times, I started writing posts about what I was going through, but I could never get the words out. I’ve never been very good at expressing my struggles; the worse they get, the more withdrawn I become. That’s why I began writing this blog in the first place, it’s one way of dealing with life’s hurdles without the added stress of actually talking to someone.

Unfortunately, even writing out my thoughts is often difficult for me. I have no problem writing about happy, positive topics, but when it comes to pain or stress, I just feel like I’m whining. I know that there are others out there struggling with worse situations than my own and it just feels silly to sit here and whine about my problems, even when I know it will help me in the end. Which brings us to this current post, I guess I’ve hit my limit of what I can actually carry because now, the words are boiling over in my head, so here goes… 

I’ve been dealing with my own chronic illness for my entire adult life. I know how to live with it and I’ve (mostly) finally figured out how to ask for help when I need it. No big deal. It is what it is. Unfortunately, this summer I got a crash course in the monumental difference between living with a chronic illness and loving someone with a chronic illness. I may have said it’s harder to love a sick person than it is to be the sick person, but until now, I had no actual experience on which to base that observation. I can now say with absolute certainty that it’s true.  

I have no problem being the patient. I’m a great patient, (assuming you’re a doctor who doesn’t mind a million well informed questions). I do my own research before the appointment, I generally know exactly what kind of treatment I’m looking for and I’m usually fully aware of any side effects/complications involved. Unfortunately, none of this is very useful when you are not the patient. 

My fiancée has been dealing with his own chronic illness for about a year now, but over the last few months it’s been getting progressively worse and he’s had to resort to some more aggressive methods of treatment. I do what I can when we go to his appointments, but the doctors rarely want to hear from me. 

The worst part, however is having to sit idly by while he’s in misery. The hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life so far is watch him being hooked up to an IV for treatment. I knew he was sick, but until that moment, the severity of his illness hadn’t really hit me. He has to go to an infusion center every few weeks or so and seeing him in there with the other patients, (many of whom are receiving treatments for things like cancer), is heart wrenching. The first time we went in, I thought I was going to burst into tears. I know that his particular illness isn’t life threatening and I know that it is treatable, but knowing that there’s nothing I can do to help only adds to my everyday anxiety.  

That was all at the start of the summer. Between the added emotional stress, taking care of my fiancée and my own existing issues, I haven’t been able to keep up with my routine. If I’m honest, I stopped working out (regularly) at the end of May, due in part to feeling under the weather myself. Much of my summer was spent taking care of my fiancée, (while trying not to smother him with attention). I made a few sporadic attempts to get back into the habit of workibg out or at least walking daily, but those were brought to a complete halt earlier this month due to serious complications with my own health. 

I’m on the mend now, but this last month brought some very difficult decisions and more pain, both physical and emotional than I have ever experienced. I am not exaggerating when I say I now know what my own personal Hell would be; I’ve experienced it at the hands of doctors and nurses under the guise of “treatment”. Before these last few weeks, I was confident that I was familiar with pain. I was wrong. What I previously believed to be a “10”, (aka, the worst pain imaginable), is now only about a “3” on my scale. I laid there, on that table and the only thing I could do was endure it; there was no way to stop it, I couldn’t even move. All I could do was lay there, screaming inside my head, silently praying for it to be over. 

I think the worst part of this whole experience is that I was not expecting that level of pain. I knew that there would be some pain involved in my treatment, but I was led to believe that it would be minimal. Too late, I learned that I had been mislead, whether or not that was intentional on the part of my doctor, I cannot say. I only know that on top of the physical pain I felt during the procedure, I am left with a seething rage as well as a feeling of complete and utter violation. 

I know I’m being rather vague, but at the moment, it’s the best I can muster. I’m just not ready to delve into the details; I still have too much left to sort through before I can process it enough to make it comprehensible. 

I spent the last 2 years training myself to channel all of my stress, pain, anger, etc. into my workouts only to have that outlet unexpectedly taken away from me. I’m not confined to bedrest, but I’m not allowed to do much either. It’s a strange and very unpleasant sensation, not knowing what to do with yourself. Once, I would have turned to art, but there’s just too much pain and emotion to wade through. It’s as though I’m full to the brim and there’s just no way to channel it into any one thing. If I could run, I could burn enough of it off to make it more manageable, but at the moment, even walking is difficult. 

I’ve screamed, cried and raged, but still, I’m overwhelmed. I can feel the black hole of depression pulling at me, drawing me in; it’s taking all of my energy at this point to keep myself from sinking. Two years ago, when I first started writing this blog, I was in much the same state, except I had actually fallen into that hole and hit the bottom. My life was falling to pieces; I was alone, in pain and had no idea how to handle any of it.

I may be in pain now, but I am not alone. That knowledge is truly the only thing that keeps me going. Not only do I have my amazing fiancée, I have my family and I have those of you reading these words. Even if only one other person out there reads this, it is enough to remind me that I am not alone and that is the true source of light at the end of the tunnel.

Pain and guilt

Lately, I’m rediscovering just how insidious pain really is. If there ever was a double edged sword, it’s name was pain. Living with pain is one thing. I find it far easier to manage my day to day issues when I’m on my own. Loving with pain, however is a whole new form of anguish. 

Part of the problem is that pain is completely subjective; you can never fully understand someone else’s pain and no one will ever understand yours. If I’m on my own, I don’t worry about that. My pain is my own and I don’t feel the need to share it with anyone else. The truth, however, is that I am rarely on my own. I’ve been fortunate enough in my life to have nearly always been surrounded by people who love me. They want to understand what I’m going through or how I feel and that’s where things get messy for me. There is no way to share your pain without inflicting it on others, which is why I generally keep it to myself. It makes me feel guilty to watch my loved ones suffer under the weight of my pain. They can’t physically feel it, but I’ve found that describing it in detail is often enough to cause emotional pain in someone else. 

I don’t mind keeping my pain inside, I’m used to it; most of the time sharing it just makes it feel worse. Sometimes though, some very rare times, the only thing I want is for someone to understand; someone to share the burden when it just gets to be too heavy to carry on my own. 

Every now and then I run into an instance that forces me to reevaluate the very scale by which I measure pain. Something happens that makes me realize what I thought was a 10 (aka the worst pain you could imagine), was a joke. Those events leave echoes that eat away at me for hours, days or even weeks after the pain itself is gone. 

Then, I have a choice: 

A) I can suffer in silence and make everyone around me miserable 

or 

B) I can choose to let someone in, sob my way through a generally graphic, horrifying description of my agony, thus sharing the burden. 

At first glance, it’s a no-brainer. Obviously, I should choose B, if that really helps. And yet… If I choose B, yes, my mind is eased a bit, as far as the physical pain is concerned. Then comes the backlash. I’ve just unloaded my physical trauma onto someone I love and now I have to watch them struggle under the weight of this new knowledge. They now have new concerns about me or my wellbeing, they empathize with me and now they’re stuck with the image of my suffering in their heads. In the end, the guilt I feel over dumping that burden on someone else makes me feel even worse. 

I know that I shouldn’t feel guilty about it, I know that that’s exactly what a support system is for, but I can’t help it. If I had my way, none of my loved ones would ever suffer. I can’t stand the thought of being the cause of their suffering and I hate feeling like I’ve just heaped a whole new load of worry on their plates. 

Right now, you’re probably thinking that I should consider counseling. Believe me, I have. I’ve been to many different therapists who specialize in pain management, they’ve all been extremely wonderful. My problem is that I’m never able to really open up. Even after seeing the same person for months, by the time I get to their office, I’ve mentally tidied up all my issues into nice, neat little packages and when I talk about them, it’s as though I’m discussing the weather. More than one therapist has outright told me that they don’t know how to help me because they can’t get a read on how I feel about any of what I tell them. It’s not intentional on my part, it’s just that I have trouble connecting with people and if you’re outside my little circle, it’s incredibly difficult for me to let you in.

The upside, (which I’ve been realizing as I type this), is that writing it down and putting it out here helps. Sometimes, you just need to be heard, even if what you actually say doesn’t directly relate to the issue you’re dealing with. 

“16 Things People With Chronic Pain Wanna Tell You”

Thank you to Dianna Labrien for writing this article on LifeHack.org!! I have simply reposted Dianna’s entire article, but the original article can be found here

  
It’s not just in our head. The pain is there and always would be even if there is no apparent reason for it. Our pain is real and will not just go away after we take some pills for a week or two. It would always be there and we have learned to live with it. Here are 16 more things we wish you knew about us!

1. We Don’t Make a Mountain out a of Molehill

You think you can imagine our pain? Now multiply that amount by 10. No matter how sympathetic you are, studies have proved that people tend to underestimate other people’s pain. Chronic pain by default is hard to imagine unless you have experienced it in your life. It’s invisible, but it is always there. We urge health care not out of hypochondria or the need for attention, but because of our severe physical state.

2. We Need to Balance Actions Carefully

We use the Spoon Theory: We have a limited amount of spoons each day we could use for different actions. Getting up, getting dressed, taking a shower, driving, walking, picking up the phone — each action requires us to use one of our precious spoons. On good days, we finish with a few spoons left, so we can do something fun. On bad days, we borrow spoons from the next day and need extra recovery afterwards. So if we suddenly cancel our plans with you or tell we can’t do it now — it’s just because we ran out of spoons today. Try to understand this.
3. We Struggle to Find a Good Doctor

Sadly, a lot of health care pros lack knowledge in pain management because it is rarely part of their training. We often visit numerous specialists before receiving a proper diagnosis and wait months to years to see a real pain specialist for treatment. Doctors often fall victim to the cognitive error of underestimating another’s pain and a small number of doctors are willing to take the legal risks involved in prescribing powerful pain pills.

Same goes with the nurses. Finding a good one who can really understand and help us relieve the pain is hard! Luckily, there are some online schools like Sacred Heart University that are training future nurse leaders to overcome these issues in the future and provide better care for patients.
While you may think it’s crazy, we’re willing to travel further to find a good nurse with this kind of training and rave about it when we find one.

4. We Are Not Lazy

Remember the limited amount of spoons we have? Now add the fact that it takes twice as much effort for us to complete even simple things. We try harder than other folks, yet we still manage to accomplish less.
5. We Try to Look Our Best
“But you don’t look sick” is one of the most common phrases you hear if you have invisible disease. Well yes, we try to look our best even on bad days when our body explodes from pain. We dress up carefully to cover up our bruises or swelling, take painkillers at the optimal time, and rest before going out. We would love to pass as normal as much as possible! Even if we feel pain, we would keep it to ourselves until the moment we step into our apartment and just collapse.
6. We Don’t Ignore You

Sometimes our pain occupies too much space in our brains and we simply cannot focus on anything else. Pain can be very distracting and mentally draining, so please forgive us when we can’t give all the attention to you.

7. We Know Our Illness Won’t Go Away

It’s always there. We can’t escape. And yes, we have researched all the possible options. If there was a cure, we would know about it!

8. We Are Not Drug Seekers

Sadly, we need to explain that both to the doctors and folks around. We don’t want drugs. We want anything to make the pain go away even for a little while. So yes, sometimes our treatment requires taking opioids or medical marijuana. We treat those just like any other remedy. And no, we are not particularly fond of the side effects either.
In fact, as the Cleveland Clinic explains: Addiction appears to be distinctly uncommon in patients without a prior history of addiction. Addiction is a psychological phenomenon that isn’t caused by chemical components of the drugs and typically requires a setting different from the one we have. We take our drugs under supervision and come back home to the loving family unlike the street-users.
9. We Don’t Always Know How to Manage Our Pain
Just because we have been dealing with it for ages doesn’t mean we always know how to tame it. Sometimes, we have very bad days when no previous routines help. We just close our eyes and wish those would pass faster.
10. We Get Super Active on Good Days

Physically feeling good is just about the most exciting feeling we can have! We can do our chores normally, go on a day trip, meet with a bunch of people at a time, and even think of running a marathon. On a good day we are super active and excited with everything, trying to get as much done as possible!
11. We Don’t Want You to Stop Inviting Us Out
No matter how many times we have said “no” we still want to be part of the gang and go out when we really can do it.
12. We Don’t Have a Job for a Reason
Again, we are not lazy. It’s just that we often lack spoons to work on the top of our other activities and daily chores. Besides, most employees refuse to take staff for a few hours per week and tolerate the fact that we can leave at the middle of the day if our pain gets unbearable.

On the bright side though, thanks to technology we can work from home in our own pace, doing various jobs online, selling stuff on eBay or Etsy, learn everything we need from self-help and nursing to design or coding online. If we don’t have a regular job, it doesn’t mean we can accomplish nothing in life. Multiple sclerosis did not stop Vanessa Heywood from creating an award-winning music company!

13. We Don’t Want Sympathy, We Want Acceptance
Instead of making that “I’m so sorry for you” sad face, treat us like equals. It’s not that you should completely ignore our condition, but show us you are ok with it and ready to make small adjustments for us.
14. We Don’t Want Your Medical Advice
Believe me, we have heard enough already and feel frustrated, as they don’t work. Thanks for the thought, but let’s just talk of something else. My disease does not define me. I know a lot of other interesting things, I would love to discuss with you instead.
15. We Need to Know You Are Here for Us
No matter how self-sufficient and independent we try to appear, sometimes we just need you to be here with us and hold our hand on a bad day.
16. We Appreciate You and Everything You Do for Us
You should never forget that. We are eternally grateful for supporting us and making us feel loved!

Featured photo credit: carianoff via flickr.com

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