Friday’s Food For Thought

So I have to admit I have a passion for food and cooking and food blogs and cookbooks! For me, what I eat is a big part of my treatment plan that I’ve worked out with my doctor. She has me following a Paleo diet, and when I’m careful and follow the plan, my inflammation and pain is practically nil. It’s stunning how what we eat can so drastically influence how we feel. For me, this is the best plan. I’ve tried vegetarianism, and even veganism, but the grains kept me inflamed. I would love to go grain free ovo-vegetarian, using eggs laid by chickens I raise myself, but that dream will take some time to come to fruition. So for now it’s Paleo.

For those of you who don’t know, Paleo is basically a diet that is grain free, legume free, dairy free, sugar free, and alcohol free. (Sounds fun, huh?) Basically you eat pasture raised meats and poultry, and wild caught fish, along with LOTS of veggies, some fruits, and some nuts and seeds. It sounds very restrictive, and it can be if you like to eat out a lot. But considering the improvement I make when I eat right, it’s worth it.

So my first recipe will be my Bolognese sauce. I’ve given it to a number of friends already, and it’s very versatile. If you don’t have a problem with grains or gluten, it’s wonderful over pasta. It’s also just as wonderful over spaghetti squash, or in a halved lengthwise zucchini with its seeds scooped out as a zucchini boat. Now, you’ll notice there is wine in my recipe (I’m Italian, we add wine to almost every recipe!), but the alcohol burns off in the cooking process, and adds a ton of flavor.

Enjoy! And let me know how it works for you!

sacue ingredien pic

Bella’s Bolognese Sauce

Ingredients:

I use one pound of grass fed ground beef

Almost 2 cartons (canned is no good) of Hunt’s sauce (the cartons are the 33 ounce variety and can be resealed and stuck in the fridge if I don’t use the full two cartons. If I was using the full 2 cartons, I’d go with at least 1.5 pound of ground beef.)

1 vidalia (sweet) onion

Minced garlic (2-5 cloves, depending on personal taste and how much sauce you’re making)

Dried basil, up to 2 tsp (fresh is always nicer if you have it)

Fennel  seed, 1-2 tsp, and if you can grind it up a bit with a mortar and pestle, it will release the oils and be even more flavorful.

Up to ¼ cup red wine

Salt to taste, olive oil for browning onions

Method:

Brown your onions in a few tablespoons of olive oil until they just begin to caramelize. Add your minced garlic and cook for a few extra minutes. Throw in your ground beef and brown, cutting it up with your spatula as you go, like you would for taco filling. When it’s just about done, throw in your sauce. Add your basil, fennel seed, wine and salt to taste. Simmer on medium low heat for 30-45 minutes.  Let cool completely before freezing. Note:  you can add the salt at the end, and it tastes best the second day, after the flavors have settled.

This sauce easily freezes, but if you plan to do that, it’s best to use ground beef that hasn’t already been frozen. I’ve done it, but it comes out better if I can avoid it.

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Not the Best Timing

chronic illness meme

So for the past two days, I got really sick, seemingly out of nowhere. (Isn’t that always the way?) So bad, in fact, that yesterday, I missed over 2 hours of class. Our last class. Class that constituted clinical hours that I would need to graduate and sit for the licensing exam.

I emailed my instructor. I texted my study group to alert my instructor to read her email in case she hadn’t by the start of class. I hate missing class, even when I am in really bad shape, I do what I can to force myself to show up, hedging my bets that the adrenaline will eventually kick in and distract me from whatever I am suffering from.

I really hate writing those emails, even as infrequent as they are. I always feel like someone is going to think I’m making excuses. Or worse, that I am looking for attention. I have a love-hate relationship with the somewhat public nature of my illness. I want to spread awareness, because I would HATE to see someone suffer the way I have suffered, and to that end I think I’ve already helped a few people seek out proper treatment. I seem to be the go-to person for those friends and acquaintances in my life who have questions about Lyme disease and tick bites and treatment. And I’m happy to be that resource. But because so many now know, I get asked “how are you doing today?” with that really concerned and knowing expression in their eyes. Or, on my really bad days, “You don’t look so hot, what’s happening?” I hate those days the most. It means I am failing miserably at hiding my illness, and I sincerely don’t want people to think I am begging for attention or making excuses, especially when I know so many around me are also fighting battles of their own.

There is another part of me that thinks, “They NEED to know.” People need to know that something as innocuous as a walk in the woods with their pooch can debilitate them if they aren’t aware of the risks. They need to know to wear bug repellent and protective clothing. They need to know what to do if they find a tick, and how they should be treated. And if they don’t have cooperative doctors, what they can do to help themselves.

I’ve dedicated the remainder of my life to this disease. It’s the reason I’m in school, again, after 20 years, and the reason why I will continue my education until I can treat my own patients one day. I know I will be fighting not just the disease, but the establishment as I do so. I’m ok with that.

Waiting for the Other Shoe

doumbel and zills

I spent most of yesterday in significant pain (as if it wasn’t obvious by yesterday’s pity party I threw for myself). After alternating heat and ice, anti-inflammatory drugs, a muscle relaxant, a massage from my therapist, and an Epsom salt bath, I woke up this morning feeling a bit more myself. But as the day wears on, that familiar ache is beginning to settle in again. It’s like I’m waiting for the extra shoe to drop, and I’ll be in horrific pain by dinner time if I am not careful.

Normally, I do my best to stay away from prescription meds. I’m still on oral antibiotic/antimalarial treatment for Borrelia, Babesia and Bartonella, but most of what I take are vitamin supplements and herbs. For a while now, I’ve steadily increased my turmeric in an attempt to keep the inflammation down. But now I’ve been reaching for my go to script for Naproxen Sodium (basically prescription strength Alleve) more frequently. And when I’ve been really bad, I throw in my script for a muscle relaxant, just to get me through times like my menstrual cycle when everything seems to hurt ten-fold. Well, I’m taking that more often these past couple of months, too. It concerns me.

This morning I emailed my LLMD and called my primary care physician (who is not an LLMD but doesn’t give me grief for being treated by my specialist) to ask about rebound pain. Since I’ve been increasing my prescription strength pain relievers slowly, I’m now at the point that I fear rebound pain once I come off of them at the end of this session of nursing classes. If I’m in for some rebound pain when I finish up the semester and try to get things back on track before classes start in the Fall, I want to know about it, and how to approach it.

When we do get break, I want to sleep. And cook meals I can freeze that will help prevent me from the spiral that happened this past year. I gained way too much weight, and I know it’s part of the issue that is driving the pain and inflammation. God willing, I’ll be able to focus on my own physical health, and get back to eating right (which for me means strict paleo), and maybe even get in some yoga and walking. And if I dared to dream, I’d add dancing to that list. (But to be honest, I’ll probably have to just accept practicing zill and doumbek rhythms for the time being. Yesterday, I discovered that practicing my drum rhythms was a good distraction from the pain.

If you want me, I’ll be over here, going Dum Dum Tek Ka Tek Dum Tek Ka Tek  or R-L-R  R-L-R R-L-R-L-R  completely ignoring my nursing books and homework for the next few hours.

Scared. Overwhelmed. And completely drained.

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I made a mistake today. I forgot to take my anti-inflammatory before class lecture. And 3 hours in, I was holding back the tears with clenched fists. Now I sit here, surrounded by and sitting on, pillows and cushions, popped my pill, and am icing my back, and trying to ease the pain in my hips.

I’m frustrated. I’m scared. I see my physical limitations and I worry about being able to succeed in my first job as an RN. I keep telling myself it will only be for a short time until I can earn the higher degrees that will let me see, diagnosis, and treat patients in an office setting as an NP, but I’m really worrying about my body’s ability to keep up with the demands I am going to be placing on it.

I have 2 weeks more of class and clinical before I take my final for the summer session that following Monday. I was hoping to begin the process of reclaiming the health I was beginning to get back when I was my first year into treatment, and before I applied to nursing school. I wanted to start back on my treadmill. I even ordered some new yoga tapes to try. I even wanted to get back to dancing…

But I’m frightened. And in pain. And overwhelmed. And I want to cry. I’m tired of the fight that this disease has become. Always being cognizant of what I eat. Even when I eat. What medicine to take and when. Trying to ration out my energy stores to deal with only the most pressing issues. (I’m pretty sure “spoonies” know all about this.) And not just my physical energy, but my mental and emotional energy as well. My ability to process any more input at this point is almost nil, and I try to save it for my academics. This means that I can’t even have conversations with my teenage daughter like I used to, because my brain screams in complete sensory overload. And I respond the same way to any physicality. If she or my husband want to hold or hug me, or cuddle before sleep (yes, even at her age, my daughter still begs to cuddle with her mommy at night before sleep), I cringe in pain and withdraw. Again, it’s just too much sensory overload. And neither one of them truly understand it. It makes me feel horrible. And guilty.

Oh the guilt. I can go on for days about the guilt. But I really don’t want to go down that rabbit hole at the moment… I’m still trying to claw my way up and out of this one.

My Personal Treatment Plan

My Personal Treatment Plan

Wanted to reblog this, first to share with other who may not have yet found this blog, and second so that I may reference it again later.

When Life Gives You Lyme

I believe in holistic healing of our BODY, MIND and SPIRIT. A delicate balance exists between these three aspects of “self.” When one is compromised the other two follow suit. That’s why it is of utmost importance that we address our overallwellness. Swallowing some antibiotics may give us some relief in the short-term, but will not offer total and complete healing. Lyme forces us to our knees, but it also offers us the opportunity to grow and re-examine the way we were living before illness struck.

I, for one, was moving at about 90 miles an hour through life. I would push myself in my job, in my studies and in my personal life. I thought that taking time for myself meant zoning out in front of the television while eating unhealthy treats to numb the stress. Self-esteem played a part too. I would push myself with voices of self-doubt and self-deprication in order to…

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