Thursday, August 26, 2010

I'm back...

Don't forget it's National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week. Check out the website. There are a ton of great articles, resources, and videos.

It's been a crazy summer with a new foster baby, work, church stuff, traveling and lots of visitors, but I'm back in the blogging world. Surprisingly, I can honestly say that I'm happier now living with an illness than I was when I was healthy. I found the following great article that reinforces how I feel.

10 Things I’ve Learned From Chronic Illness

  1. There is some truth to the old adage “What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger” (even though I think that things that in fact may be killing us can still make us stronger). After my initial diagnosis I never thought that I would ever be able to be strong again but the past 7 years have taught me that I am stronger now than I ever was.
  2. Sometimes you need to be like Gibbs and go with your gut. If you feel like something is not right, it probably isn’t and you need to learn to be your own advocate. Ask questions and push for answers. While you cannot trust everything you read on the internet, it is important to research and educate yourself.
  3. Sometimes laughter is the best medicine. When I’m feeling blue, popping Finding Nemo can do wonders for my spirit, especially now that I can share it with my daughter. Dorie is a great doctor :)
  4. Doctors are not always right and there is nothing wrong with asking for a second opinion. I’m not sure my Celiac would have ever been caught had I not sought a second opinion.
  5. Buy cute pajamas to wear after surgery. It gives you a little bit of pampering when you need it most. If you know you’re going to be donning a hospital gown for a couple days, buy cute socks. Believe me, after 4 surgeries, it goes a long way!
  6. Finding a support team/group is absolutely essential. I do not know if I would have ended up where I am today with the support of others. After my endometriosis diagnosis I was lucky to find GirlTalk (an online support group through the Endo Research Center) that I became a member of and now serve as the Program Director. During our infertility treatments, I found a wonderful group of ladies that provided support and encouragement. It doesn’t matter if you find a support group that meets in person or online. Knowing that you are not alone gives you strength to keep fighting the fight.
  7. Cereal can be a perfectly acceptable meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  8. Your faith gets challenged. While I never doubted God and His grace and love, I had my share of questions. And it was through the wrestling and searching for answers that I learned more about God than I ever did in seminary. Not that I have all of the answers to my questions. In fact I may have more questions know than ever but I know who I serve and I know that I can trust His character and that that is enough for me.
  9. Find an outlet whether it is blogging, painting, or songwriting. Healing comes when we open ourselves up and acknowledge our hurts, hopes, and dreams. When I began this blog in 2007, I would have never guessed how redemptive it would become to my faith and health.
  10. You are more than your disease/diagnosis. It is important to never ever lose sight of that. I am determined to let the world know that while yes I may have multiple illnesses, I am a person and a warrior and I will not be overcome.

Jamee is a wife, and a mom. She says, “I am also a warrior battling multiple chronic illnesses. In life, I have learned that sometimes things happen and life doesn’t always go back to the way things were. Instead, you must find a new kind of normal. ” Read her blog A New Kind of Normal.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Thank You Family and Friends!

Wow, a lot to post about. You know I love a random post, so here I go...

I've been amazed at all the wonderful support we're receiving for our sweet foster baby. It's wonderful to have so many people treat him so wonderfully and serve us so much even though it's not your normal 'new baby' situation. It means so much to us. I just wanted to say thank you Mom and Dad for your visit, gifts, and all the love you gave him! Thank you for getting up in the night with him, for treating him exactly the same as all your other grand babies, and for welcoming him into the family so perfectly. Thank you book club (Kristi, Jaime, Katie, Meredith, and Alisha) for the shower you surprised me with. It meant a lot to me since our future with this baby is uncertain. Thank you Ully for the gift card. You are the sweetest. Thank you Liz, Leslie, Virginia, Deb, Kenna, and Deborah for the clothes, toys, and yummy food. Thank you Krist, Diana, and Steve for the packages with cute baby stuff! Thanks Amanda and Thevs for cuddling him so much at beach. Thanks Abs and Linds for the gift. I love the Puma outfit and all the awesome baby stuff! And thank you everyone else for the emails, phone calls, blog comments and offers to babysit! Our sweet baby is so grateful for all the love. And Catherine, you're the best. I am obsessed with your artwork. That is by far one of the best gifts I've been given!(If anyone's interested she can customize one for you. Just let me know and I'll get you in contact with her.)

I've noticed there's a great support system out there for new moms, I'm really grateful for that. As for chronic illness it's a different story. I thought I'd list some things that friends and family did for me during my most physically painful and exhausting times that helped to pull me through. Thank you family and friends for your examples of selfless service. I know oftentimes it's difficult for all of us to know how to serve someone that deals with different levels of physical illness day in and out. I want to raise awareness so that we can create a similar support system for people struggling with illness...

1. Meals
2. Hopeful packages
3. Calls, emails, or FB messages,
4. Financial help with the insurmountable medical bills and the inability to work
5. Asking how I was doing and really listening for the answer
6. Cleaning house
7. Showing genuine concern
8. Flowers
9. Small and simple thoughts to let me know they cared
10. Prayers
11. Advocating for me to others who don't understand chronic illness or invisible physical illness (when I don't always look sick, but feel it)
12. Researching new info on my disease
13. Remembering that it was a daily struggle and continuing to support and asking how they could help

Thank goodness I'm at a point where I can focus more on what others need instead of being in so much pain that I'm incapable of doing much. Thank you everyone for your amazing support during the last crazy painful years of my life. I'm in a much better place cause of all of y'all!

More good news...Yeah! I did a 10k. I walked it, (cause running increases my pain) but I did it. I feel grateful that I've come so far.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


So we got placed with a 2 month old foster baby this week. I can't say any details about his situation, but I can say that he is really adorable. We are so grateful he's in our home. His circumstances for being placed in a foster home are sad, but we feel blessed we can love him and keep him safe.

He smiles at me often and looks at me with so much love. He is precious. I feel like I've been given a million dollars and that nothing in the world matters as much as him. We don't know how long he'll be with us, but we hope we can be good parents to him while he is here.

Friday, April 16, 2010


Living with chronic illness requires a delicate balance between what I can and can't do. Thankfully I never thought I'd be able to do as much as I'm doing now. But obviously there are still things I wish I could do. I wish I could eat whatever I want, hike a trail, do some weight lifting (ha ha isn't that a random wish), sleep through the night, be able to function free of medication, get pregnant, go a day without pain, or even just run a mile without any pain.

Even though I can do a lot more now, people sometimes can't understand why there are times when I can do certain things and times when I have to cancel. They think "I saw her yesterday and she was fine. Why isn't she here today?" or "Why did she have to cancel again?" I read the following essay on this great chronic illness blog. (I'm not sure why she chooses to use spoons. Maybe just a random object to create a visual, but the principle is what matters.)

The Spoon Theory by Christine Miserandino

Let's face it. No matter how understanding people are, sometimes it's just daunting to explain our illness time and again to new people or even to the people we already care about. It's tiring. But if someone cares enough to read it or hear about it, the Spoon Theory sticks! In case you're pressed for time, I'll summarize: Imagine a bunch of shiny, dinner spoons in your hand. Each time you spend a little energy, take one away. So for someone with chronic illness, a spoon might be taken away with the simple act of getting out of bed (I know that's true for me). Miss breakfast because you're running late? Take away a spoon. Miss the bus and have to walk a few extra blocks to make it on time? Take away two. And if you have chronic illness, it's more than likely you have much fewer spoons to start with anyway...

That's the genius of the Spoon Theory. It helps people who are chronically ill help people who are chronically healthy to understand; to see that every decision and circumstance throughout the day has some kind of effect. Things most people don't even think twice about. In my days, everything must be measured and weighed. This can be very frustrating (even downright depressing). Whatever it is you feel, remember that you're allowed to feel it. Don't waste your spoons on feeling bad... about feeling bad! Most of us put so much pressure on ourselves to be strong and not let our illness "beat us", but why look at it this way? Chronic illness, by definition, is not going away -- so it's best not to make an enemy out of it (at least that's what I've found).

I give myself time to feel however I feel about my "spoon deficit". Sometimes I'm just pissed off. I want to cry or scream. Sometimes I'm actually quite motivated by it all. Sometimes I'm confused and questioning why life is just a little harder for me. Sometimes I feel proud that I've come this far without a full "spoon count". Sometimes I want to pull the covers over my head and give up or even pity myself (but this one can be tricky...I think it's important to put a time limit here, which I'll explain in a future post). No matter how we spin it, having fewer spoons isn't fair and it's more than okay to have a reaction to that. In fact, wouldn't it be strange if we didn't care at all? The way I see it, that apathy would mean someone else was in the driver's seat. Our feelings show we're still tuned in to our lives.

I might sound confident, but only recently am I starting to really own my limitations; to explain them to others without guilt. I owe a big part of that to the people who are now in my life (who I'll definitely single out later, don't you worry guys). These friends aren't easy to find, but they're out there. They've lightened this load for me and always, always understand. That brings me to the next point about the Spoon Theory. Of course, it's not all about LOSING spoons! Have a great talk with a friend? Laugh a little? Get a spoon or two back...there's no better medicine. Get a care package from a family member? Cuddle up with your dog? You'll definitely be up a few more. It's all a balance and it forces us to really think about our actions and weight what's important to us. I think that's the good that can be found here.

Instead of spending time feeling cheated, hurt or sad about our illness, is it possible that we can see our lack of spoons as an opportunity? It does make us stop and think about things other people don't have to, but here's an example of the unexpected good. Because of Spondylitis, I've come to realize who I can count on...who the people worth spending my spoons on are and who will replenish my spoon count. I've found ways to shorten my tasks at work because I have to. I've come to appreciate nights when I do have enough energy left to actually cook or clean - things I might otherwise see as mundane chores. Simple walks are tremendous pleasures. In some ways, dealing with illness can make you more efficient and much more appreciative of the spoons you do have. Thanks for reading :)

Thank you to all my friends and family that add spoons to my days :) And thank you to all my friends that understand when I have to rest, and I have to cancel plans. Love ya!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Suffering and Healing

Sorry it's been so long since I've posted. Life has been so crazy. We also had our first semi foster parent experience caring for a little girl for a few days. I LOVED it. Learning about some of her emotional healing and reflecting on my own physical healing prompted me to do a post on suffering and healing. Now we all know I can be pretty random, so bear with me while I try to put my thoughts into a post.

Suffering: If you allow yourself to feel sorrow and pain, it can bring you to be exactly where you need to be. Pain has the potential to purify us. It's interesting how in our culture we avoid pain at all costs and we push through it, instead of allowing it to work through us. In Mark Matousek's book, When You're Falling, Dive, he travels the world interviewing survivors of pain and misfortune to discover the meaning of suffering. He notes:
...terror can be a door to enlightment...Our prevailing contemporary view of pain and loss as handicaps to be avoided at any cost is...wronghanded. Terror is fuel; wounding is power. Darkness carries the seeds of redemption. Authentic strength isn't found in our armor but at the very pit of the wounds each of us survive.
Dr. Rachel Remen, one of my favorite authors, was diagnosed at a young age with Chrohn's disease. She talks about how
healing is a mysterious process whose principles often contradict reason. Working with thousands of patients, shes has learned how often the body's intelligence defies expectations...The body is hardwired to persevere. If I cut you, your body will heal stronger than before.
She continues
When we try to avoid loss or plow through our pain, our lives are actually diminished. On the other hand, there's an extraordinary wisdom and clarity that emerges in people who genuinely meet their pain, not in theory but in life...the process of wounding actually awakens us to our strength. It shuffles our values. And the top priority is never what you thought it would be...It always turns out to be about love.
Through the suffering there can be transcendence and even perfect glimpses of what really matters in this world.
Now in regards to physical healing: When is comes to illness, something I've come to learn is that it's complicated. A lot of times we think that if you're sick surgery or a pill should fix you, and if it doesn't, then you have cancer or diabetes. We're not educated enough on the different levels of illness and how they can be treated, as well as how they affect daily life. My illness isn't cancer and it can't be fixed with just a pill or surgery (believe me I tried). But I am healing, and even though it's incurable and chronic, I've learned how to somewhat to manage it through medication, diet, level of activity, rest, physical therapy, massage, and exercises. I still struggle with less sleep, pain, fatigue, and I visit the doctor often, but I can manage the pain more than I ever thought possible. I'm also able to live a relatively normal life.

I also know my healing is also the result of hard work, research, faith, and blessings. They all work together. Here is a link to a video that talks about the tender mercies of the Lord. He's taking care of us.


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Recipes and Food Rules!

First, thanks everyone for the best wishes! I'm really grateful for your wonderful support during the foster parenting process. (I will keep y'all posted, but there are a lot of rules regarding the children's privacy, so we won't be giving too many details from here on out.)

Second, I need some new recipes. Has anyone made something recently that's yummy and healthy that they could email me or post in the comments? I'm desperate for some new food ideas. (Don't worry if your recipe calls for stuff I can't tolerate, I'm really good at finding substitutions for just about any ingredient!)

Doesn't it seem like everyone you know right now has a cold or recently had a cold? Here's a recipe I wanted to share. I was sick with a cold a week ago and invented this really amazing chicken soup. I'm not a good cook, but this was super easy. It did the trick too--my cold didn't last long at all. Here's a yummy way to get a ton of veggies into your diet. (Only use the veggies you like. You don't have to use them all.)

2 48-ounce boxes of Swanson's chicken broth
10 green onions, sliced (1 cup)
1 cup carrot, diced
1 cup celery, diced
3 teaspoons dried fines herbes
1 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
3 bay leaves

1/2 cup broccoli and/or
1/2 cup tomatoes and/or
1/2 cup corn and/or
1/2 cup zucchini and/or
1/2 cup squash and/or
1/2 cup peas and/or
1 cup spinach

2 1/2 cups packaged noodles (5 ounces) (I like more veggies but you can add more the chicken or noodles if you prefer a more equal ratio of chicken and noodles to veggies)
1 9-ounce package frozen diced cooked chicken (about 2 cups)

1. In a pot combine chicken broth, green onions, all veggies (except spinach), fines herbes, pepper, garlice, and bay leaves. Bring to boiling; add noodles. Cook and stir until the mixture returns to boiling; reduce heat.
2. Cover and boil gently for 7 to 9 minutes or until noodles are tender (don't overcook). Add chicken and spinach to soup; heat through. You can freeze leftover soup. It's sooooo yummy!

I read this really great book by Michael Pollan called Food Rules. It's only $5 at amazon and it has simple, perfect advice for eating healthily without feeling overwhelmed. You can read it in 30 minutes max and it is extremely helpful. Here are some rules I liked from the book.

Populations that eat a so-called Western diet generally defined as a diet consisting of lots of processed foods and meat, lots of added fat and sugar, lot of refined grains, lots of everything except vegetables, fruits, and whole grains--invariably suffer from high rates of the so-called Western diseases: obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
1. Eat food, not too much. Mostly plants.

2. Avoid food products that contain more than five ingredients...(The more ingredients in a packaged food, the more highly processed it probably is.)

3. Avoid food products containing ingredients that a third-grader cannot pronounce.

4. Avoid food products that make health claims. (For a product to carry a health claim on its package, it must first have a package, so right of the bat its more likely to be a processed rather than a whole food...Generally, it is the products of modern food science that make the boldest health claims, and they are often founded on incomplete and often bad science. The healthiest food in the supermarket--the fresh produce--doesn't boast about its healthfulness--...because [it] doesn't have the packaging.)

5. Eat only foods that will eventually rot. (...the more processed a food is, the longer the shelf life, and the less nutritious it typically is. Real food is alive-and therefore it should eventually die.)

6. Stop eating before you're full.

7. Plant a vegetable garden if you have the space, a window box, if you don't.

8. Cook. (...Cooking for yourself is the only sure way to take back control of your diet from the food scientists and food processors, and to guarantee you're eating real food and not edible food-like substances, with their unhealthy oils, high fructose corn syrup, and surfeit of salt. Not surprisingly, the decline in home cooking closely parallels the rise in obesity, and research suggests that people who cook are more likely to eat a more healthful diet.)

9. Eating what stands on one leg [mushrooms and plant foods] is better that eating what stands on two legs [fowl], which is better than eating what stands on four legs [cows, pigs, and other mammals).

10. Break the rules once in a while. (Obsessing over food rules is bad for your happiness, and probably for your health too.)
Speaking of healthy eating, my husband and I joined a Community Supported Agriculture program. We pay $5 a week for 3 lbs. of locally grown fruit that we pick up from a farm that's down the street from where we live. You can't get any fresher than that. If you're interested you can find a CSA program near you at

Friday, February 26, 2010

It's official! We're certified foster parents.

We got the call yesterday. We passed the homestudy process. We're now licensed for foster care. It's been a tedious process, but well worth it. Thanks everyone for your phone calls and support during this emotional time. Love you.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

My guilty pleasures, healing arsenal, and vision for 2010

It took me a while, but I've almost mastered the art of caring for myself, so I can care more for others. So indulge me why I list what my guilty (or not-so-guilty) pleasures of 09 were, what healed me this past year, and what my plans are for 2010!

My favorite things of 09

-beach trip with family
-dark chocolate: Yum! Full of antioxidants, no artificial ingredients, organic, and fair trade certified. Just an occasional guilty pleasure from Whole Foods or World Market.
-herbal tea: Herbal tea is so calming and healing. I love this sweet cinnamon spice tea warmed up with milk and honey to sweeten it.
-brother returning from his mission
-reading some close to perfect books (The Glass Castle, Left to Tell, The Book Thief, Pope Joan)
-smoothies, sushi, coconut ice cream
-a place to live with a fireplace and a garage (Necessities for snow days.)
-my husband starting his Phd and lovin it
-new and old friends
-Death Cab concert in the mountains
-farmer's market
-Fit TV; all kinds of exercise routines almost any time of day and being well enough to exercise
-Hautelook; If you want designer clothes (nice quality, comfy, soft, long lasting clothing) for Target prices, Hautelook is the best. I've bought a few things and am NEVER disappointed. Everything I've bought from there has been under $20!

-Shikai; I LOVE this hair care. It's all natural and it's safe for colored hair. It extends the life of your hair color by weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks. It uses natural things like henna to make your hair look blonder, or redder, or darker, and shinier!

I always get the question, what's healing you? Oh, sooooo many things. Especially the medicinal marijuana. (Just kidding, just seeing if you're paying attention.)
So here's my list of what's healed me in 2009:

-friends and family (all my adorable nieces and nephews)
-faith and lots of prayer
-lots of hard work micromanaging all aspects of my life that increase my pain
-fish oil, vitamin D, and acidophilus (healthy bacteria; good for digestion)
-the perfect combo of medications (took awhile to find the right mix for such a complicated illness, but I'm finally there!)
-physical therapy
-my T.E.N.S. machine (I could not exist without it. It keeps my pain to a minimum.)
-ice, ice, and more ice. (Those with pain know ice is a miracle for us!)
-lots and lots of veggies
-less acid
-no milk or gluten
-deep breathing
-natural cleaning and beauty products (Less chemicals equal less inflammation, and yes inflammation is the battle I'm constantly fighting. Less inflammation equals less pain.)
-less stress
-love and laughter
-exercise (I'm able to do it everyday now, yeah baby!)
-blogging (Reading and writing of course. Keep writing girls, your posts lift me!)
-meditation (Lovin Eckhart Tolle. First person to every successfully get me to shut my dang mind off!)
-walking, walking, and more walking
-good movies (Silly chick flicks, as well as the deep thought provoking stuff.)
-taking care of myself and then others
-work (Yes work, when you're pain is less and work becomes real again, it heals you.)
-parties (Can't forget the parties. They are my fave!)
-cooking healthy meals for my hubbie
-service, helping others heal from illness

My vision of 2010:

I read on Kris Carr's crazy sexy life blog that she has a vision board for all her dreams of the new year. It's just a cork board where you put somewhere special and you decorate it with your creative dreams, ideas, and goals. My husband and I made one with our creative, family, career related goals. Here's ours and the tools that Kris Carr suggests to make your own:
Vision boards work because they allow you to turn your dreams on. They create a path that leads to action. Look at your vision board like a road map, allow yourself to believe that you are powerful beyond measure and that you deserve to live your best life. Your vision board can be a very helpful compass. But it’s not enough to post stuff and then sit on your sofa and do nothing. Plot and plan your attack! Your tools: magazines clippings, prayers, sayings, quotes, paper to write stuff on, scissors, glue & poster board, thumb tacks & cork board, imagination, freedom, and a positive attitude, childlike whimsy, giggles, and a sense that anything is possible. 2010 is the perfect time to start a board. You have nothing to lose – well, except doubt and the blues. Share your powerful stories with us! We’d love to see your boards and hear how they’ve transformed your life. Peace and thumbtacks, Kris

Some of my own ideas: Become a certified nurses assistant to boost my resume. Get a job as a caseworker. Take a trip with my husband and my girlfriends. Foster children in need. Adopt. Read really great books and not just the informative ones. Forgive, forgive, forgive. Start a book club. Dance. Smile. Kick the rest of my pain in the butt with lots of physical therapy. Exercise everyday. Be a good friend, sister, aunt, wife, and daughter. Serve, serve, serve.