Friday, November 28, 2008


I am feeling grateful for many things this Thanksgiving! I'm grateful for yummy gluten free food, for fun games, and fun times! I'm grateful for a husband that makes me laugh everyday! I am grateful for Gilmore Girls reruns and chocolate pie.

I am overwhelmingly grateful for knowledge and for good doctors. These two things have helped me to find ways to manage my pain and live a better life. I'm grateful for what I've learned from the pain that I have experienced at such a young age, because it will enable me to better serve and uplift others throughout my life. I am also grateful that my life--now with more manageable pain--will be more beautiful and fuller than I ever imagined it would be.

I am very grateful for friends who live good lives and who are selfless and kind. Just today our friends gave a us a gift of money that a group of our friends put together to help us pay down some of our medical debt. I've had the feeling that somehow the burden of our medical debt would one day be relieved. Today was an answer to some of those prayers. I am very grateful Penrose 80! We hope we can return the favor and help all of you as well! We are humbled by your thoughtfulness and will be forever grateful for your love and support.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

What to do when money is tight and it's the holiday season?

Money is tight for almost everyone right now, and considering the health care crisis, it can be especially tight for patients with chronic illness. Here are some more financial tips. I'm sure as readers you have lots of ideas on how to save money. Feel free to comment with added financial advice! I'm always interested in learning more ways to save money!

1. Whenever you go shopping always bring a list and stick to the list. I am the worst at this. I can't go to Walmart or Target without a list, otherwise I will leave with things that I think I need because I pass them as I'm shopping. Make a Christmas list, budget ahead of time, and stick to the list.

2. I've given my email address to the stores where I often do my Christmas shopping during the holidays. I've already received a lot of emails from them with promotional codes for free shipping or discount coupons that I can print and use in the store. If you don't want your email inbox full of ads, create another email account that you use only for stores and companies you're interested in receiving coupons from. Kohl's has a promotion right now, if you give them your email address, they will send you a $5 coupon. My husband and I each did this to save $10 on our Christmas shopping.

3. You can also google the name of a store along with 'promotional code' or 'coupon' to find additional offers.

4. Google also has a feature where you can type in the name of an item as well as 'price' and it will give you the stores with the lowest prices on that item. Or you can text google from your phone and they will text you back the stores with the lowest prices on a particular item.

5. If you are able to pay off your credit card in full, 100% every month, you can get a card with rewards points and use them for Christmas shopping or winter clothes shopping. We put medical bills and gas purchases on our credit card and use cash for all our other purchases. We pay our card off every month and never carry a balance. We use our rewards points for gift cards to stores like Old Navy, Gap, and TJ Maxx. New clothing usually isn't an added expense for us; we get it for free using our rewards points. We've never payed any fees to our credit card company, so basically they're paying us to use their card.

6. Since I'm back to my normal weight I can't fit in my winter clothes from last year. I've taken a lot of my summer shirts and layered long sleeve tees under them so I don't have to buy too many new winter sweaters.

7. If you have medical bills but money is tight right now here is a tip: Make sure they aren't gaining any interest. If so, make a token payment of a few dollars for the months of November, December, and January. It is better to make a small payment rather than no payment at all. If you are making small monthly payments they won't send your account to collections.

8.You can turn your water heater down. That way you'll use less hot water on a daily basis and your bill will be a lot lower.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Road to Home

Dissolve Physical or Emotional Pain

There is a balance in dealing with pain. It's crucial to acknowledge and care for physical or emotional pain, but don't get enveloped by it. Listen to your pain, address it in the ways you need to or know how to, and learn from it. If you suppress the pain or ignore it, it could possibly increase. After you have listened to the pain (emotional or physical) and tended to it, and it chronically persists, then it's time to redirect your focus to what isn't hurting and to what is working. Once you've done this, you've found the balance in pain. And you've practiced an important life lesson.

Chronic pain patients are often given the advice to focus away from the pain and channel that focus towards the parts of their body that aren't in pain. This technique is very effective. Try it... If a part of you is in physical pain try to think about the parts of you that aren't in pain. Focus in on those parts, let yourself feel gratitude for the lack of pain in these parts. And if your pain is emotional rather than physical, focus on the things in your life that cause you no emotional pain but rather lift your spirits.

At first I was scared of the pain, so I ignored it. I crowded my mind and life with busy, productive distractions from the pain. After a while, the internal physical pain started to scream at me so I would listen. I stubbornly fought against it, but eventually I listened and worked hard to calm it. There is a certain amount of pain that still persists no matter what I do, so I'm learning to focus away from the pain.

Monday, November 17, 2008


Keep it simple! In the article "The Best Organics for the Buck" (O Magazine October 13, 2008), Karen Springen outlines the most important organic foods to focus on buying when you're tight with money. I know, I know, it's one more thing to worry about. I thought so too, and I also thought organic food was for hippies or rich people. But studies show that organic food is more nutritious, so it's worth the extra cost. The more nutrition you can get when your chronically ill the better able you are to manage your disease. And even if you're not chronically ill, the sooner you start eating organic food or locally grown food the better. Karen recommends the following specific organic food investments (investments for long-term health)!

In the article Karen recommends if you drink a lot of milk, it's good to buy milk organic. "There are so many hormones and antibiotics in many brands of conventional milk" says environmental activist Deidre Imus. Studies show that organic milk can have more nutrients.

The Environmental Working Group has found the following fruits and vegetables have the highest level of pesticides "cranberries, nectarines, peaches, strawberries, pears, apples...sweet bell peppers, celery, cucumbers, tomatoes, peas, and lettuce. Some of the least contaminated fruits are those with removable peels, like bananas, citrus fruits, pineapple, mango, and avocado." (O magazine, p.78).

Monday, November 10, 2008

Remember to Breathe

One of the best ways to free our feelings is to breathe into them. Deep breathing assists us in several crucial ways. Physically, it cleanses our body of air that has been sapped of life-giving oxygen, replacing it with fresh, rejuvenating air. Interestingly, studies show that when elderly people practice deep breathing for only a few minutes a day, their memories improve dramatically. Psychologically, slow, deliberate, deep breathing allows us to move below surface feelings into an awareness of casual, root emotions that may be breeding discomfort in our lives.
Sue Patton Thoele, A Woman's Book of Confidence

I am the worst at this advice. I keep myself distracted, so I don't have to really feel the pain, but that also keeps me from really feeling things and from truly breathing. I have to remind myself to stop, breathe and feel. When I do stop and take deep slow breathes it clears my head and rejuvenates me.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Music is therapeutic

I love the lyrics to this song, Can't Go Back Now, by the Weepies. The songs I included on my playlist are more than just songs I like. They have lyrics that uplift and that also resonate with me and other chronically ill patients. You can read the lyrics here or listen to the song on my playlist on the right hand column of my blog. Music can be very therapeutic when you're in pain.
Yesterday, when you were young,
Everything you needed done was done for you.

Now you do it on your own

But you find you're all alone,

What can you do?

You and me walk on

Cause you can't go back now.

You know there will be days when you're so tired that you can't take another step,

The night will have no stars and you'll think you've gone as far as you will ever get

But you and me walk on

Cause you can't go back now

And yeah, yeah, go where you want to go

Be what you want to be,

If you ever turn around, you'll see me.

I can't really say why everybody wishes they were somewhere else

But in the end, the only steps that matter are the ones you take all by yourself

And you and me walk on

Yeah you and me walk on

Cause you can't go back now

Walk on, walk on, walk on

You can't go back now