On the road to overcoming  my struggles 

On the road to overcoming  my struggles 

I made a decision that I don’t  want to feel the way I have been lately and needed to do something to break out of this low mood and lack of motivation with life. 

I thought about what things I can start doing now to help me change my state of mind. To reenergise me and start making me feel positive and alive. Doing things that will help me feel like I’m a doing something meaningful. I decided to go back to some old things that I enjoyed doing with my family such as doing outdoor activities. So every weekend my husband and I are going to do just that. Last Saturday we packed a picnic and took ourselves and our puppy to the beach. 


We spent the whole day playing with our puppy, relaxing, soaking in some sun and I felt really great at the end of the day. But the next morning I had the same lack of motivation. So I have to keep this up and hopefully how I feel will improve in time. 

I also decided to try some new things and with the help of some friends and family have the current list of things I’m going to start doing. 

1. Learn a language 

2. Learn to dance 

3. Learn to play guitar 

4. Write a book about my cat

5. Learn a martial art 

6. Join a social club 

7. Be comfortable in my own skin – I had already started this one from the beginning of the year, more on this later. 

8. Try surfing 

9. Visit new places in Australia 

10. Do a counselling course and volunteer at lifeline  

The plan is to add more to this list but this is what I have for now. Here is hoping for feeling better and learning some new skills. 

Gluten – friend or foe?

Gluten – friend or foe?

  About a week and a half ago my doctor declared that I needed to do a test to see if I was gluten intolerant. After telling her I don’t eat gluten anyways because it is bad for inflammation, she told me I had to start eating a significant amount of gluten every day for a month until I did the test. I have been strict with my gluten consumption for over a year now and haven’t had anything with gluten in it. I was curious to see what would happen to my body when I start eating large quantities of gluten again. 

At first I got a little carried away thinking of the things I would eat that I haven’t been able to. The first thing I ate was a glazed doughnut from Krispy Kreme. That was the only gluten I had eaten that day, I didn’t feel any reaction as such but my belly looked like I was 6 months pregnant. 

The next two days I struggled to get the right amount of gluten into myself. After substituting for so long it was hard to think about what to eat. I had noodles, bread, wraps and soy sauce! But found it really hard to get equivalent of three pieces of bread into myself each day. The task seemed impossible!! (To me anyways, my colleagues were not sure why I was finding it difficult). 

It was only after about four days into the gluten diet  that I started getting a headache, constant feeling like I’m always hungry but at the same time feeling full and like vomitting. I also started to get more neck and knee pain. I felt that my hands were feeling weak.  I felt exhausted and that I wanted to sleep all the time. At first I thought it was only that day, but I have been feeling this way now everyday.  It has almost been two weeks of having gluten everyday and I don’t know if I can do it for another 2-3 weeks. I have also gained weight. I’m not surprised considering how heavy my stomach feels immediately after eating something with gluten in it. 

For me eating gluten is not worth the effects I am having as a result. I just feel lousy and depressed, yet hungry and full and just feel hungover everyday with a constant headache that won’t go away no matter what I do. I can’t seem to think so clearly. I don’t feel like this is something I can do for another three weeks. It is pretty obvious from my reactions that I might not have coeliac disease but I do have a gluten sensitivity to some degree. 

Gluten is definitely not a friend of mine. 

Who doesn’t love a good Hot Dog 

Who doesn’t love a good Hot Dog 

There is something about having a gourmet sausage in soft bread with mustard and sauerkraut that makes me instantly feel happy and satisfied. Eating a hotdog reminds me of weekends as a child when my mum would make sausages and we would turn them into hotdogs with ketchup, mustard, and relish. When I eat a hotdog it takes me back to a happy place. 

Unfortunately, I haven’t had a hot dog in a long time because I can’t have gluten. I thought hotdogs were just another thing I just couldn’t have anymore. That was until this afternoon, while shopping at Woolworths I came across some gluten, soy, dairy free rolls. I decided then and there I was having a hot dog for dinner tonight. (There was a party in my head at this point). 

 

   

 

These rolls although gluten free, is not true paleo as it has flours from grains and also something called invert sugar. I googled it, it is pretty much sugar, with the same health consequences. I don’t have any sugar in my diet, but for the small amount in this bread and my dying need to eat a hotdog I made a small exception (I am only human). 

Being pretty exhausted today (I just had an Infliximab infusion today), I used gluten free chorizo and cooked it in a pan to heat it up and brown a little. I served my hot dog simply with mustard. 

  
The verdict: the bread itself was a little dry and felt slightly grainy, but with the chorizo and mustard it worked well enough to satisfy my hotdog craving. It was a lot better then many other gluten free breads I have tried. 

My body didn’t have any reactions to it, so I feel like this is something I am able to include in my diet as an occasional treat. (Yay!) 

Eating to avoid inflammation:  My Dairy and Sugar free Chocolate and Cherry Ice Cream 

Eating to avoid inflammation:  My Dairy and Sugar free Chocolate and Cherry Ice Cream 

  

Who says a strict diet can’t be fun 

I try to manage my condition using a holistic approach. Looking after all aspects of my life and what I need to do to avoid triggers to inflammation. I have found sticking to a paleo diet has really been beneficial to me. The main triggers for me are gluten, soy, and sugar, although I haven’t noticed a trigger with dairy I also avoid this, as it can cause an inflammatory reaction in the body. Along with legumes, nightshade plants, and some grains. 

I enjoy cooking and inventing new recipes that meets my dietary requirements, and is healthy and delicious.  I want to share these recipes in order to help others manage their autoimmune condition but not feel like they are missing out on things they enjoy.  

I recently bought a Cuisinart ice cream maker so I could make my own healthy ice cream at home and not miss out on something I have always loved. 

With this particular mixer you need to pre freeze your mixing bowl overnight. If you don’t have an ice cream maker you can use a bowl of ice with another bowl on top with the ice cream mix and a hand mixer to improvise. 

Ingredients 
1 can organic coconut milk 
3 tablespoons raw cocoa powder (use more if you want a stronger taste)

4 tablespoons raw organic honey 

I cup frozen pitted cherries/ or fresh if you have it (make sure you pit your fresh cherries)

Method 

1. Combine coconut milk and honey and whisk until smooth. 

2. Add the cocoa powder and give it a good mix until smooth.

3. Add the mix to ice cream mixer and turn on. 

4. Microwave the cherries for about 1 minute or until soft and defrosted, but not hot. If you are using fresh cherries or defrosted cherries you can skip this step. 

5. Crush half of the defrosted cherries with your hands and keep the other half whole to give your ice cream some texture and hidden treasures. 

5. After mixing for 20 minutes add in the cherries and let the ice cream maker churn for another 10 minutes. (This takes 30 minutes in my mixer, if you have a different ice cream maker the times may vary)

6. Once the consistency is soft and creamy, transfer to a container and refrigerate to harden up for a few hours or overnight. 

When you are ready to eat it, take out the container for 15 minutes so it slightly softens. 

This makes just under 1 litre of ice cream. 

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. 

Another day, another dollar: my morning narrative. 

Another day, another dollar: my morning narrative. 

 

What is that blaring noise? 

My eyes they can barely open, they are so puffy and sore it’s hard to see anything. I look over to my phone by my bed and the alarm is going off.  It’s 7am, time to get up, time to get ready, time to go to work for another day. As I reach over to the phone my arm feels so heavy, my head feels so heavy, my body it refuses to move.  “Come on”, I tell myself. “If you don’t get up now you will be late for work, again”. But my body refuses. I tell myself 10 more minutes and I’ll be ok. 

My eyes open again, I feel exhausted.  My body aches, my legs are sore. It is so hard to move the blanket, it just feels so heavy. I tell myself “one leg at a time, you just have to sit up”.  It takes some time but finally I’m sitting on my bed, my feet are touching the floor. I just don’t know where I’m going to find the energy to get dressed, look normal, get to the train station and make it through 8 hours of work. I think to myself maybe I should stay at home, but I can’t say I’m working from home again, I can’t call in sick again, I don’t want to keep disappointing people who are counting on me. I force myself to the bathroom, I tell myself “I am stronger than this” and just put one foot in front of the other. 

It’s takes some effort and some time, but I get my body moving, I feel my joints loosen a bit, I don’t have the energy to even put on my makeup or do my hair, but I have to, for me. I tell myself “If I look like nothing is wrong, I can bluff through the day, people won’t ask me what’s wrong”. By this time I’m already running late. Still feeling exhausted, I get my things and get into the car to drive myself to work. It’s so cold outside.  I drive to the train station, the car park is full.  I have to park about a 5 minute walk away from the station. I have to motivate myself,  “you are almost there you just have to make it into the train and you’ll be fine”.  Standing on the platform waiting for the train, it is so cold, I think about the longer I stand here the more energy I waste trying to stay warm.  The train finally arrives and it’s packed. I see so many sick people who I have to be so close to “what if I get a virus”.  No one offers their seat, I feel angry because I’m struggling. I tell myself why should they, I don’t have a physical disability. The train ride is only 15 minutes, but for 15 minutes I concentrate on my breathing, as I start to feel dizzy I stress about fainting on the train. I think about the time I fainted on the train on the way to work last year and hit my head and fear that it will happen again. The whole 15 minutes I feel so tense. 

The announcement comes on that we are arriving at Flagstaff station and I feel relieved that I made it. Now to get through the crowd and walk to work. Only a 5 minute walk, but I have already wasted half of my energy and I haven’t even made it to work.   I get to work it’s a little past 9am, I’m late, I know I’m late. I walk in, I smile, I say Goodmorning. 

The charade begins 

My autoimmunity or why the body attacks itself

My autoimmunity or why the body attacks itself

Quit hitting yourself

Having an autoimmune disorder of any shape or form can be described as ordering a military to open fire at kittens thinking they are trying to invade the country and cause harm to its people. (Pretty sad if you picture it, those poor kittens). But that’s what happens in the body of anyone with an autoimmune condition. The body goes into war when there is no threat.

But why? It’s all in the genetics, passed down through generations much like valuable jewellery minus the sparkle and monetary value (it’s nothing like jewellery). It doesn’t necessarily pass down each generation, it waits for the perfect combination of chromosomes from both parents much like winning the lotto of bad genetics. In my case I have it, I have 3 siblings, 4 nieces and nephews, endless aunts and uncles, none of whom have it, but one lucky cousin who also won the lotto of bad genetics.

My autoimmune conditions are Psoriasis (sore-eye-a-sis) and Psoriatic Arthritis.  I have had Psoriasis since 6 months of age, always in a mild to moderate form but increased to severe chronic Psoriasis by my mid 20’s, this happens to 2% of people. Psoriasis appears as a result of the immune system being overactive and increasing the production white blood cells for skin renewal, it is between 11-30 times faster than the “normal person” (I say 11-30 because the information on the cell renewal cycle is very inconsistent). It shows up as scales, rashes, blisters or small dots on the skin based on the type of Psoriasis a person has. It can also be on your scalp, nails, in your ears, in the nether regions (oh my). It is uncomfortable, sore, and itchy, it can bleed, and even become infected. It has been known to cause dehydration, loss of sleep (from being itchy) low self-esteem, psychological issues, the need to hide and cover up, isolate yourself and significantly reduce your quality of life. Anyone with Psoriasis specially a severe form will tell you it’s more than skin deep, it really takes over your life and that of people around you.

Psoriasis is also related to a form of Arthritis called Psoriatic Arthritis, I was officially diagnosed with this condition at 28 (I say officially because I had the symptoms for many years but no GP had any idea or even considered a form of arthritis due to my age). It is similar to rheumatoid arthritis, causes joint pain, stiffness, difficulty sleeping, itchy eyes, fatigue, low self-esteem and same as any autoimmune condition the quality of your life and those around you.

These are the two I have, but there is a list of autoimmune conditions to give you a better idea of how many there are (there are 160 on this site of autoimmune and autoimmune related conditions) http://www.aarda.org/autoimmune-information/list-of-diseases/ (WOW!!!)
So that’s my explanation of it. It is based on my learnings over the last few years. Stay tuned on more posts on diet, lifestyle, how I have tried to manage my condition, work, relationships, medication, doctors, frustrations, wins, maybe even fashion tips that help me with my conditions.

The only thing tough enough to kick my ass is me