Tuesday, May 21, 2013
I only have a moment to stop and reflect right now before I have to run out. It seems like I always have somewhere I need to hurry off too... Right now the thought is making me a bit irritable but the honest truth is that if I were to stay here now, my only desire at the moment is to go back to bed. I feel tired, not just tired, weary. That is something that has not really changed in the last six weeks. Things are shifting, not as much as I would like but they are shifting. It's still hard to drag myself out of bed but I am not paralyzed by anxiety the way I was. (This is where I left off 3 days ago to run off, I'm just now getting back to the blog). I have some time today to finish this post. Yesterday I was sore and fatigued in a way I have not been for a long time so when I woke up this morning, still exhausted, I decided to go back to sleep and take my last available sick day of the year. I slept deeply and well, and when I got up, I felt so much better. Gone is the rain of yesterday, and the sun is shining. I got right out of bed when I awoke again and even thought for a little that I was fully rested and no longer sore. That turned out to be a bit untrue. I do feel better then yesterday. My hips don't ache so badly and I don't feel like a ninety year old woman anymore, but I am still tired. The good news is that since I took the morning off, I still have about four hours until I need to leave home to go teach yoga. So now, after my power sleep, I think it is time for another nap. While my mental state is much improved these days, I have still gone back to my pre-diagnoses guilt about things like taking the day off, sleeping in, or just laying around the house. I am no longer so anxious, but there is still this annoying little voice in my head that is always questioning if I am forgetting something or if there is something I should be taking care of. The most annoying thing is that although that voice is quieter, it never fully shuts up and so I feel half-guilty about taking a break. Normally, I would still be at my day job so this time would be occupied but I am still here questioning myself about whether there is something I should be taking care of. This thinking is crazy for anyone, but is especially crazy for an exhausted woman with an auto-immune disease. Life is entirely too short to go through it feeling bad about my choices. It is also too short to be packed full of must-dos rather than things I want to do, therefore, I will now try to go take a guilt-free nap before I need to go teach two yoga classes. Now vs. 6 weeks ago? A lot better but I am still crazy:)
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Dietary Recommendations for Managing MS Multiple sclerosis can be a devastating diagnosis, but learning to manage the disease can ensure that you maintain a good quality of life and diminish your symptoms. One way that many have found to manage their condition is to focus on diet to avoid exacerbating symptoms. There have been many "best" diets promoted for multiple sclerosis, but the research has not shown that any of them are the "right" way for managing MS. Instead, there are some general recommendations that may or may not help you manage symptoms, depending on your own body type and your unique condition. Here are a few dietary recommendations that may help you to manage your multiple sclerosis: Eat More Fish Oil Fish oil is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are not only good for your heart but can also help you to reduce inflammation in your body, which can help diminish the symptoms of MS. You can get all the fish oil you need by eating fatty fish like salmon and mackerel. However, if you don't like the taste of fish, you can still get the benefits by taking fish oil supplements. These are sold as capsules that you can take every day, or you can get oil to add to your smoothies or other recipes. Just be careful to eat a diet that is low in overall fat, as this has been shown to improve the symptoms of MS. Cut Out Gluten More and more people have been shown to have an intolerance or a sensitivity to gluten, which can cause a number of health disorders, including immune-related problems and inflammation that can lead to poor health and disease. Even if you don't have an intolerance to gluten, it can still cause inflammation in the body, which can aggravate the symptoms of MS. Simply cutting out gluten -- found in breads, cakes, cookies, pasta, and any other products that contain flour -- and focus on other sources of complex carbohydrates, like brown rice, oats (as long as there is no cross-contamination), and quinoa. Cut Out Dairy Dairy has also been shown to increase inflammation in the body, though there is some debate about this. You may find that cow's milk gives you problems, but that goat's milk does not. Or you may find that milk is an issue, but that some types of cheese or eggs are not. Most seem to agree that casein is the problem ingredient found in dairy. Experiment with an elimination diet to see what helps you in reducing symptoms the most. Get More Vitamin D Some research has suggested that there is a link between low levels of Vitamin D and a risk of developing MS. The link is most pronounced in children who have low Vitamin D and then develop MS later in life. People with MS have also been shown to have lower bone density and to be at higher risk of developing osteoporosis, which definitely indicates a need for more Vitamin D. You can get Vitamin D from direct exposure to sunlight, by eating fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, and by taking supplements. Eat Plenty of Fruits and Veggies One thing that everyone can agree on -- whether you have MS or not -- is that a healthy diet consists of eating a wide variety of fresh fruits and veggies. By doing so, you will get the nutrients you need, you will reduce inflammation in the body, and you will improve your overall health. You'll feel better and you'll help to diminish the symptoms of your MS. Proper medical care, medication and therapy are, of course, the best approach to treating and managing your multiple sclerosis. However, improving the quality of your diet may also be able to help you reduce your symptoms. Try these common suggestions to find out what works the best for you and brings you the best results. About the Author: Bridget Sandorford is a freelance food and culinary writer, where recently she’s been researching all culinary schools in the US. In her spare time, she enjoys biking, painting and working on her first cookbook.
Saturday, April 6, 2013
I am just trying to live one day at a time, one minute, even as my mind keeps extending farther out into the days and weeks before me. Even the idea of little tasks and responsibilities fill me with panic. The only way to get through is by continually dragging myself back to right where I am in the moment, continually reassuring myself that I only need to think about the thing right in front of me. I just need to focus on that one thing. I guess that is the only way I am really hanging on right now. The more focused and present I can be, the less my panic. The problem is that it keeps sweeping over me in overwhelming waves. I am so ready for a solid shift back to feeling good, or even just ok all the time. Right now I truly value the minutes of ok. In times like these, I know it is good to go back to gratitude meditations. The trouble is, I am so overly fixated on the things that are not working, the worst possible outcomes. Sometimes these visions make me want to avoid even the things I should enjoy. Now I will try... I am grateful for the growing warmth and light of the early spring. I am grateful for my strength and generally good health. I am grateful for my friends, family and those I love. I am grateful for my home and creature comforts. I am grateful to be employed. I am grateful for my cats. I am grateful for yoga and moving arts. I am grateful that others do not judge me with the harshness I judge myself. Despite the darkness and the struggle, I believe I am grateful to be alive. I am grateful that right in this moment I am ok.
Thursday, March 28, 2013
I promised myself just over a week ago that if my head-space did not get better within a week, I would reconsider going on anti-depressants. I made it halfway through Tuesday (even wrote a nice hopeful blog post), and then the depression and anxiety hit me like a load of bricks. I found myself talking aloud, praying (something I don't do), and basically begging God to take mercy on me and to take away the pain. "I can't live like this, I can't live like this," I chanted to the unsympathetic walls. I scared my cats with my tears and outburst but there was a voice in my mind whispering, "It doesn't have to be like this. There is help to be had." It took all my will power and determination, but I finally emailed my doctor to ask for anti-depressants again (Effexor). I even called the pharmacy. I spent the evening alternately yelling at myself and crying. I promised myself that I would stick by my decision and follow up on getting the meds first thing on Wednesday. I got up, felt lousy and still managed to call and email again. Dragged myself out of the house and to the dentist's office. While I was there I had to decide whether I was going to authorize them to do over $300.00 in dental work and order me a bite guard (for clenching my teeth, huge surprise there). The total bill was $736.00. I don't have that kind of money right now. I was pretty well ready to just lay down and give up, but that's not me, not the real me. So I pulled myself together and said, "Put it on a credit card and a prayer." I forgot to mention... Tuesday night when I emailed my doctor, I made the decision not to second-guess my choices. I made the decision to be really kind to myself. I made the decision to do whatever I needed to do just to deal with day-to-day life. I decided to put my well-being above all else until I can feel strong, happy and in charge again. I think this was the best decision I have made in a really long time. I also feel proud of myself for making the big decision to help myself by admitting my need for help and not shying away from the dental decision. I think I might have a new, new year's resolution: be decisive and feel good about my choices. Anyway, back to my story... So when I got out of the dentist's office I still had not heard from my doc. Five minutes later though, I checked my phone again and I had just missed his call. He had prescribed me the med and asked me to call him. I did. He was very kind and reassuring and promised we would talk again in the next few weeks. My neurologist also emailed to check on me. By the time I had picked up my med, I felt so good about myself for taking this very hard step, that I even drove all the way to Boulder to meet a friend and take a hike. Last night, I felt some of my darkness had lifted. Going on this med is hard. For me the physical adjustment is intense and I know it may take some time, but I am determined to stick with it, to really just live one day at a time because I know beneath the chemical cloud of sadness cast by my depression, I am a strong, tough fighter.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
I want to take a really deep breath that fills me completely. I want to follow that breath with another and then another, so that all my breathes are deep and steady. Right now, too many of my breathes are shallow. Not long after being diagnosed with MS, I was also diagnosed with Asthma, but the thing is, I never had asthma before... I only have asthma when I am anxious or depressed. It is more my reaction to stress, but it sucks to not fully breathe. I can tell when my mental state is not exactly as I want it to be, just by the quality of the breaths my body allows me to take. Despite my best resolves to just be, here and now, to be more than ok, I am still struggling. I want the struggle to just go away. It seems I am taking far more punches than I am throwing, but I also haven't thrown in the towel yet. There have been much harder times. I have my health and my freedom. I am safe and comfortable (even when my mind doesn't believe it). I said it before, and I will say it again, "I am not licked yet." I ask myself now: "How do I make this easier?" How do I remind myself that good days build on good days, that just a good now is more than enough? In another post, I mentioned breaks in the clouds-- how do I continue to find those breaks and then make them last? I know from experience that I can change my day, my reality, any minute, any second, but how do I do that when I have so many doubts? Lately, this blog has gone from "inspiring" to my own personal attempt to help myself. I guess I want it to be inspiring again. I have been psyching myself up lately. "Be fierce," I tell myself. I remind myself that I am tough. I remind myself that there are many things that make life good, and then I put my head down and push forward, getting up after each blow to fight again.
Saturday, March 23, 2013
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
I remember writing before about a dark night of the soul. Actually, I remember writing about many such nights. Last night I had what I might term, a light night of the soul. I went to bed early, planning to try to pick up a morning substitute teaching job, but I couldn't sleep. I took a little klonopin to help with sleep and to keep any anxiety that might pop up at bay. It could just have been the drug that relaxed me, but suddenly things seemed clear, easy. All my doubts and fear melted. Suddenly it was like, "I got this." The whole job hunt thing didn't seem so hard. I stopped worrying about what ifs. I got excited about the future a bit, and at least last night, I knew what I wanted, and it seemed simple. There were no obstacles in my way. I can work hard. If I teach, I know how to teach. I don't need to be afraid of what I end up with because I can do it, whatever it may be. I realized that while money and security are not the end all be all, they do help me to relax a bit. I spend way too much time worrying that I won't have, or won't get what I really need. When I look at this in the light of a new day, I may have missed the mark a bit, but some of the things I thought about last night were on point. No matter what I actually end up doing, I do want more security. I thought I really wanted to own and operate my moving arts business, but I think I might rather focus more on being a student. Sometimes I would rather just show up to learn and play. Right now I am imagining just working during the day, and then having most evenings to do with as I please. I realize that in my mind I have sort of glamorized this stuff, glossed over all the things that were really awful before. I am glad I am taking the time now to write about last night. It was beautiful, that temporary certainty that obliterated all the doubts that have been stalking my mind. When I look at some of last night's logic now, some of it seems rather flawed, but I took something from it too. I need that kind of certainty and confidence in myself all the time. When I believe in myself and allow myself to trust that things can and will work out, I feel good and any failures are just tiny set backs. Sometimes I doubt myself to the point where I am almost afraid to leave home or to take on any challenges. The truth is, most of the things I fear, I do just fine with. Last night I felt for a bit like everything was "solved." It's not, but somehow I still feel more hopeful and more confident today than I have in a while. I think I needed that short stretch of pure illumination.