Have You Laughed Lately?

Maintaining a sense of humor when you have a chronic illness is vital.

Roses Are Red Violets are Blue,

You have a Chronic Disease, the joke is one you…

Well, except it is not a joke. It is no laughing matter. We face challenges on a daily basis that would cripple most; we are forced to make decisions and then live with those decisions that are not always pleasant. Yet in spite of this, we keep going and are a pretty amazing group. There are days when laughing or trying to find something to laugh about is impossible. Which is why, that is the most important moment to find something to laugh about. “A day without laughter is a day wasted,” according to Charlie Chaplain. Let us explore what that means in the context of chronic illness.

Maintaining a sense of humor when you have a chronic illness is vital. We all know that after a while that sense of humor gets cynical, and sometimes a little sick in the head. As a demographic, we are more likely to suffer from depression. While this will not eliminate depression, it will lighten those moments or give us a brief reprieve when at that moment all seems dark.

You know that friend that always has the “cure” for your disease. Drink the boiled warts of wild boar, mixed with two teaspoons of lemon juice, a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, mix in the ash of the death star, and when all done add to a triple green smoothie of kale, spinach, and broccoli and you will be magically healed. Oh, you thought that orange creamsicle smoothie was good? No, change that to a triple green of kale, spinach, and broccoli, add the powder of one dried beet, and drink when the rooster crows at dawn. It is pure magic; the immune system will heal itself. Wait….. no don’t wait.

Go on, admit it, we all have that one friend that will give us that magic cure to help us. They may have the best intentions, but the eye roll just came out didn’t it? You can admit it.

Do you have that go to tv show or movie? What about that friend that makes you laugh? We know that humor makes us feel better physically and emotionally. So the next time you are feeling down, or depressed, play with your puppy, cat, rabbit, or pet; find that YouTube video, call a friend, put on a show, or just make yourself laugh. Even the physical act of smiling releases those happy little endorphins. Never underestimate the glorious feeling of joy as that laughter rips through your belly as you lose control…. Just don’t pee your pants because you were laughing so hard. Oooops, some of us can’t help that.

“ I have not seen anyone dying of laughter, but I know of millions who are dying because they are not laughing.” Dr. Kataria

Future Product Reviews 

Below are pictures of products that I have received this week to review. So over the next couple weeks you can expect reviews on:

Essential Oils from Cure OilsOrganic Skin Care from The Natural Sisterhood (Etsy)

Port Pillow and back support pillow from Louise’s Sewing Basket (Etsy)

Candles and wax melts from Farmhouse Candles KY. (Etsy)Thanks to all the companies who sent me products to trial!!

Meal Prep and Recipes 

We all know that the routine things that need to be done around the house are often harder when living with chronic illnesses. One of those tasks is cooking. The thought of having to cook a meal at the end of a day can be exhausting in itself. But eating fast food or frozen dinners daily aren’t healthy and can actually be expensive. So how can we make the daily tasks like cooking a little easier? Simple…. meal prep and cook more than one meal at a time. 
The thought of meal preparing can be overwhelming. But there are a million websites out there these days that provide you with recipes that you can prepare ahead of time and then freeze. It’s so handy to be able to run to the freezer and pull out a meal that just needs to be heated up or cooked! Yes, this will take some time in advance. But will save you some time and energy on a daily basis. And it’s something that you get your kids or spouse involved in as well! 

There are a ton of different options as far as meal prep. There are meals you can put in the crockpot, meals that you can make in the oven. Simple things as sandwiches that can be prepared and frozen. Another way to meal prep if you don’t want to mass produce meals is to cook something early week and separate them into portion sized containers that are easy to grab and go. 

Other things you can do to help make sure you are eating the proper portion size and be ready for meals.  Is to prepackaged snacks, like chips or crackers. If you divide the chips into individual serving sizes and put them in baggies then you have them for when you want them. And you aren’t as tempted to eat the whole bag of chips. You can also do this with veggies and fruits. Anything I can do to make the morning easier as I run out the door. Or easier after work I will do. 
Below I will include three of my favorite meal prep recipes. One of a slider/sandwich, one of a meal you can make and divide into Tupperware and a prepare and freeze crockpot meal. 

Ham and Swiss on Hawaiian Rolls 

Prep: 10 Minutes

Cook: 20 Minutes

Serves: 12 

RECIPE DETAILS
Ingredients

24 Slices of deli honey ham

6 Slices of swiss cheese, cut into fourths
1/3 cup Mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Poppy seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup Butter melted
1 tablespoon Onion Powder
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 packages (12 count) KING’S HAWAIIAN Original Hawaiian Sweet Dinner Rolls
Preparation
Step 1

Cut rolls in half and spread mayo onto 1 side of the rolls. Place a slice or two of ham and slice of swiss cheese in roll. Replace the top of the rolls and bunch them closely together into a baking dish. 

Step 2

In a medium bowl, whisk together poppy seeds, dijon mustard, melted butter, onion powder and worcestershire sauce. 

Step 3

Pour sauce over the rolls, just covering the tops. Cover with foil and let sit for 10 minutes. 

Step 4

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Uncover and cook for additional 2 minutes until tops are slightly browned and crisp. Serve warm.
TACO MEAL PREP BOWLS

YIELD: 5 SERVINGS PREP TIME: 20 MINUTESCOOK TIME: 40 MINUTES TOTAL TIME: 1 HOUR

This saves you money, time, calories – you honestly can’t beat that!

INGREDIENTS:

* 1 cup brown rice

* 2 tablespoons olive oil

* 2 pounds ground beef*

* 2 (1.25-ounce) package taco seasoning

* 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed

* 1 (15.25-ounces) can whole kernel corn, drained

* 3 Roma tomatoes, diced

DIRECTIONS:

* In a large saucepan of 2 cups water, cook rice according to package instructions; set aside.

* Heat olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add ground beef and cook until beef has browned, about 3-5 minutes, making sure to crumble the beef as it cooks; stir in taco seasoning. Drain excess fat.

* Divide rice into meal prep containers. Top with ground beef mixture, black beans, corn and tomatoes.
Slow Cooker Shredded BBQ Chicken
Ingredients

* 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts

* 1 cup ketchup (I like Simply Heinz)

* 2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce

* 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon brown sugar

* 1 tablespoon chili powder

* 1 1/2 teaspoons hot sauce

* 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder

Directions

* Create homemade BBQ sauce by combining ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, chili powder, hot sauce, and curry powder.

* Add chicken breasts to your slow cooker and top with BBQ sauce.

* Cover, and cook on “low” for 8 hours.

* Shred chicken and return to slow cooker to mix with remaining BBQ sauce.

* Serve!

BONUS RECIPE – Mango Coleslaw

(My family loves topping our Shredded BBQ Chicken sandwiches with this simple, homemade slaw.)

Ingredients

* 1, 16oz bag of shredded green cabbage and carrots (coleslaw mix)

* 1 mango, peeled and shredded (about one cup)

* 1 cup mayonaisse

* 1 tablespoon honey

* 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

* 1/2 teaspoon salt

* 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions

* Combine all ingredients.  (Can prepare day ahead and store in refrigerator.)
Hope you enjoy

-Amber 

Product Review

It’s time for another round of reviews of the products I received from the amazing owner of The Spoonique Boutique on Etsy. All of her products are homemade and amazing. I’ve yet to come across a product I didn’t like and if you remember she sent me a LOT of products. 

First we will start with BIRTHDAY CAKE candle.  Amazing, amazing smell!!!  Truthfully made me want to eat a cupcake, LOL. Was strong but not overbearing.  My only criticism,if you want to call it that, was that it didn’t seem to fill the whole room with the scent. Mainly, just the area where the candle was sitting.  And I like my candles to fill the whole trim. Some may not. That being said I would still buy another, simply because it smells so good. 

Next, I want to talk about the face masks. Both are AMAZING!!! They come in either calming scents or peppermint scent. My favorite was the calming scent.  The product went on so easily and provided a nice full coverage without feeling like your face was caked in mud. I usually left them on for about 15 minutes. And I was truthfully shocked at the results. I’ve used other masks in the past with little luck. But these made my face feel so amazingly soft. I have used them a couple more times and had the same result. She’s got a long time customer here. A+ on this product!!! 

Next on my list are the Foaming Bath Salts. These are a lot of fun and they smell amazing. They do just what what the label says they should. And makes taking a hot bath more fun and enjoyable. 

That leads me to the Himalayan Pink Salt Bath Scrub. This product is tremendous!! I have multiple rough areas on my body and after using these in the bath my skin was as smooth as a babies skin. And really a little goes quite a long way so this small container will last you awhile. The smell is tremendous as well.  Another product I will be buying in the future. 

Then the last couple of  products that I will be discussing today are soaps. The first one is the Goats Milk Sweet Pea Soap.  This is one of my favorite actual bar soaps I’ve found in awhile. Knowing that it is made clean and not with a ton of chemicals in it makes me even happier. But the small is great and it does good things for your skin.  After using it I felt very clean and my skin felt very smooth.  Another great product by this shop.  

The other soap that I have used from this shop I wasn’t as big of fan of and it make he the shape and size. I felt like I had a hard time holding on to it and so it was hard for it to do it’s job. But the product smelled wonderful and left a good after-shower smell!  Because of the Shea Butter it did leave my skin feeling smooth. If only I could have held on to it better. Lol 

I have a few more products to review but overall almost every product I’ve tried has been pretty fantastic! If you are interested let me know or you can find her on Etsy or Instagram @ Thespoonqiueboutique. 

I hope when you get your products you enjoy them as much as I do!! 

-Amber 

What Was I Writing About???? Oh YA…. BRAIN FOG

When someone mentions brain fog before you have ever experienced it you just shake your head and wonder what they are talking about. Once it hits you, you never wonder again!!! It real, and its real frustrating. It can make holding a real discussion very hard because you can’t come up with the words you want. It also can make you feel really dumb…. Not because you lack intelligence, but because you can’t say what you mean. Brain fog can be a problem for many people. Not just those with lupus. People receiving chemo call it chemo brain, mom’s- to -be call it baby brain, and those with fibromyalgia call it fibro fog. And many other chronic illness just call it brain fog or “The Fog.” That being said there is a LARGE amount of people who have this issue. So you are never alone.

What is brain fog you may be asking. Well it is said that a person with brain fog may have any or all of the following symptoms: confusion, forgetfulness, lack of focus and mental clarity. Brain fog is NOT a medically recognized term, but is generally used to sum up the symptoms mentioned above.  When you are feeling those symptoms some think that is an indicator that there is an imbalance in your life somewhere that needs to be corrected. So lets look at causes and kinds of brain fog!

Cause 1You are probably eating the wrong foods.

  •  Eating refined carbs like sugar often send your blood glucose soaring and then drops it. This is problem because your brain uses blood glucose as its main source of food. Low blood glucose leads to Brain Fog, mood swings, irritability, tiredness, mental confusion and impaired judgement.
  • Too much aspartame can also be a problem as it contains three brain damaging chemicals.
  • Too much MSG can also cause brain fog, headaches, mood swings, dizziness, anxiety and depression
  • Wheat- mayo clinic found that celiac disease,  an autoimmune disease triggered by gluten, goes hand in hand with dementia.
  • Dehydrations- It only takes a 2% loss of fluid to affect your attention, memory and other cognitive skills.
  • Caffeine withdrawal- Once you have cut out your caffeine you can experience withdrawal symptoms. You could feel brain fog, headache, fatigue. and even flu-like symptoms like nausea and vomiting.

Cause 2Nutritional Deficiencies– Your brain needs all the essential nutrient’s in order for it to run smoothly, when they are lacking one of them, you may feel an increased brain fog. There are multiple nutritional deficiencies, I will only cover a couple of the biggest.

  • Vitamin B12- If your memory is poor or you feel like you are living in a constant state of brain fog, its possible that you may be low in Vitamin B12. This deficiency alone affects up to 40% of all adults. Two populations that are at risk are the Elderly because they generally have poor absorptions. And those who follow a vegetarian diet due to the fact that B12 is only found in meat products.
  • Vitamin D- This mineral can be in charge of lifting your mood, banishing brain fog and depression, improve a persons memory, and increase problem solving ability. Over 1 billion people worldwide are low in Vit D.  Sun exposure is the best source of Vitamin D. That being said those with Lupus or others can not be out in the sun for long periods are at a high risk for his deficiency.

Cause 3- Lack of sleep–  It is estimated that around 40 MILLION Americans suffer from 70 different sleep disorders. Sleep is critical for your brain to work in the way it is supposed to. It is during sleep that you consolidate memories so you can remember what you learned the previous day. So if you aren’t sleeping you can see why this is a problem. Just one night of not sleeping or getting poor sleep can affect your memory, concentration, coordination, mood, judgement and the ability to handle stress in the coming hours.

Cause 4- Stress – Stress puts you at greater risk for every major disease you hope to never get. Included diseases of the brain like Dementia and Alzheimer’s. Prolonged stress leads to anxiety, depression, poor decision making, insomnia, and memory loss.

Cause 5 – Inactivity- When you are involved in physical exercise your body releases endorphins and gets more glucose and oxygen to your brain. And will burn off stress. Recent studies have shown that physical exercise could be one of the most important things you can do for the health and function of your brain. You don’t need to participate in strenuous activity to help give your brain that small boost of energy during the day.

Cause 6 – Underlying Health Conditions – For many people, an underlying health condition is the root cause of their memory  and cognitive issues. These issues were mentioned in the opening of this blog. Other conditions/diseases that list brain fog as a symptom :

  • ADHD
  • Adrenal Fatigue
  • anxiety
  • brain injuries
  • candida albicans
  • chronic pain
  • depression
  • diabetes
  • IBS
  • Heavy metal toxicity
  • Hep C
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • hypoglycemia
  • Lyme’s disease
  • menopause
  • RA
  • seasonal allergies
  • substance abuse or withdrawal

Four ways to reduce your Brain Fog- In order to decrease brain fog, it will be crucial to control your total inflammation. Your whole body will benefit from a lower level of inflammation, but you may find that you have boosted your energy, clarity and motivation.

1.Sleep and Stress- Getting enough sleep and night and sticking to a consistent bedtime will help to increase your total sleep.  Also find ways to manage mental and emotional stressors, like conscious breathing or exercise.  Lack of sleep, poor quality of sleep and stress can get in the way of your body’s abilities to ward off inflammation and brain fog.

2. Blood Sugar – If you are one of those people that skip meals or like to binge on sugar, you really need to change your eating habits.  Skipped meals AND lots of sugar can cause spikes in your blood glucose, which in turn leads to pro-inflammatory stress hormones. Those same spikes in blood sugar can interfere with the signals your body’s hormones send and receive. (These can be things like adrenal fatigue, estrogen dominance, hot flashes during menopause, and disorders like PCOS.) And brain fog is often on the list symptoms for these disorders.

3. Low Grade Infection – Binging on sugar will also feed on any small infection in the body. A low grade infection slowly drains the body  of energy by constantly tapping into the stress response. You can help to prevent or control these types of infections by eating fermented foods, drinking probiotic drinks, and consider going sugar and gluten-free.

4. Environmental Toxins- Any environmental pollutant or chemicals can place unnecessary stress on the body and the regulatory system. You can take supplments like milk thistle, wasabi, sarsaparilla, and artichoke leaf to help detoxify your body.

I hope that you have gained useful information about the causes of brain fog and how to eliminate some of the causes of the brain fog.  If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact me.

-Amber

References:

  • http://bodyecology.com/articles/4-steps-to-reduce-brain-fog-and-brain-inflammation
  • https://bebrainfit.com/stop-brain-fog-know-the-causes-symptoms-and-solutions/

 

What is Interstitial Cystitis?

Interstitial Cystitis….. I’ve never heard of this? What is it? How would it make me feel??

Interstitial Cystitis or IC (Bladder Pain Syndrome BPS) is defined as a chronic or long-lasting, condition that causes painful urinary symptoms. It is a feeling of pain and pressure in the bladder without having an infection or other clear causes.

What are the SYMPTOMS of IC- The symptoms from this condition vary widely from person to person. That being said the symptoms may also come and go and not be continuous. Some people state they feel like they have a bladder infection, even though no infection is present. Women also complain of painful sex, discomfort, pressure, tenderness or pain in the bladder, lower abdomen, and pelvic areas.

What CAUSES IC? – Experts are not totally sure what causes IC/BPS but below are some theories of the cause.

  • A Defect in the bladder tissue, which may allow irritating substances in the urine to penetrate the bladder
  • A type of inflammatory cell, called a mast cell. This cell releases histamine and other chemicals that lead to IC/BPS
  • Some in the urine that damages the bladder
  • Change in the nerves that carry bladder sensations so pain is caused by events that are not normally painful (like the filling of the bladder)
  • The body’s immune system attacks the bladder. Similar to other autoimmune conditions
  • Having a family member with IC/BPS increase your risk of developing either

How is IC/BPS DIAGNOSED? At this time there is no medial test that can tell a patient they do or do not have IC/BPS?

  • To make the diagnosis the physician first determine if your symptoms are typical for IC/BPS.
  • Next they will need to determine if there could be another cause of your symptoms.
  • The doctor will need to take a detailed medical history including: how long the symptoms have been present, what symptoms you are having, past health problems,  current health problems, any medication (prescription or OTC)you are taking, and your diet.
  • They will do a physical and neurological exam
  • Your provider will most likely do voiding tests and ask about pain related to voiding.
  • They can also do a couple of different procedure to check for IC/BPS
    • Cystoscopy- using a special tool to look into the bladder. This test will also rule out any kind of cancer.
    • Urodynamic Evaluation- this will involve filling the bladder with water through a small catheter. This will measure the bladders pressure as the bladder fills and empties. Patients with IC/BPS the bladder has a small capacity and maybe pain with filling.

How is IC/BPS TREATED? IC/BPS can be treateed with lifestyle  changes, bladder training, physical therapy, medications, surgery, botox or a combination of any of the above.

  • Diet- People with IC/BPS should try to avoid: alcohol, caffeine, spicy foods and any foods high in acid.
  • Lifestyle- physical therapy, limiting stress
  • Medications- some of the medicine that can be used to treat IC/BPS are: Oral Pentosan Polysulfate, DMSO, Hydroxyzine, Amitriptyline, Heparin
  • Hydrodistention- a procedure usually done under anesthesia to fill the bladder back up to normal size by instilling saline

Can IC/BPS be CURED? It is possible for IC/BPS Symptoms to come back even if the disease has been in remission for a long time. No one knows what causes the recurrence.  And there is no known guaranteed way to prevent said recurrences. The following can be attempted by the patient to try to prevent recurrence.

  • staying on their medication and treatments even after they are in remission.
  • avoid the foods known to cause a flare up.
  • avoid certain activities or stresses that may make IC/BPS worse.

 

I hope you have learned a little about Interstitial Cystitis/ Bladder Pain Syndrome. Please feel free to share this for those who think they may be suffering from these conditions.

-Amber

 

Resources:

  • http://www.urologyhealth.org/urologic-conditions/interstitial-cystitis/after-treatment
  • https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/interstitial-cystitis-painful-bladder-syndrome

 

Something to Read

I’m sorry this won’t be my normal Blog post but I’m down with a killer migraine. So here are a couple good articles for y’all to read. Hope to get a real blog up tomorrow. Have a happy symptom free weekend. 

*http://februarystars.co.uk/2016/03/offer-advice-someone-chronic-illness/

*https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/turning-straw-gold/201603/when-should-the-chronically-ill-see-doctor-heres-guide

-Amber