Inspired Til I’m Tired

Have you ever had that great burst of inspiration where you had an idea so great that you spent time to write it all down only to find that you were exhausted when you were done?

Yep, that’s me. Almost every single time.

I get an idea that I would like to see happen, write it down, and, in the process, expend all the energy in that one step. Since I’m all fresh out of steam, I let it sit and promptly forget about it.

What brought this on? I saw a response to a Facebook status that spurred me to comment my real feelings on an issue. This resulted in me having an idea for a book, a very silly little book.

I have had many ideas over the years that I have written down. They sit there, and I get distracted by something. And forget it.

Completely.

While chatting with a friend tonight, I remembered that I had this silly book inspiration and told her about it. And I remembered that I forgot.

I do have terrible short-term memory, but something else is going on here.

I find the generation of ideas, especially creative ones, to be intensely stimulating. So stimulating, in fact, that my energy level goes through the roof as my mind races through a dozen permutations of how I could go about making this happen. I feel like I have a top for a brain, spinning at its fastest speed as it tries to get everything written down before the inertia sets in.

I literally exhaust myself from the excitement of the new idea generation. And these ideas that I love to think about, create, and develop end up going nowhere.

I am curious if anyone reading this has the same issue. What have you done to break this cycle of mental intensity of idea creation that burns itself out?

I am interested in your experiences, ideas, thoughts, and helpful suggestions!

Snowmaggedon 2015! Eeeek!

I have a confession to make: I love a good snowstorm. When I say that, people usually look at me like I’ve grown three heads instantly in front of their eyes. For me, winter isn’t a winter without at least one day of snowfall and with at least one snowfall of 12″ or more.

Looks like I’m in the middle of getting my wish. Normally, the NYC area gets considerably less snow than the Boston area. This time, we’re getting about the same. The National Weather Service blizzard warnings today have estimated between 20″ and 30″ by the time all is said and done by midnight on Wednesday.

WOO-freakin-HOO!!

I understand that snowfall like this is not everyone’s idea of fun. When snow falls, people work. Essential personnel have to go to work and stay there. They don’t get to stay at home and have a snow day while the rest of us do (and this is one of the reasons that I don’t have those jobs). It can be a hassle and difficult to shovel the snow.

But for someone who doesn’t ski or like spending all day out in the cold, I sure do love winter and snow. I do go for walks in wintertime, though, because I’ll be damned if I spend three months indoors. I love winter and snow and wearing down jackets. I love piling blankets on the bed and snuggling next to my husband to warm up. I love the way fresh snow looks as it sits on the branches, the bushes, and the houses. I love roaring fireplaces and toasted marshmallows and watching a good movie with freshly made popcorn. I love not being too hot to sleep at night.

There is something about the extreme contrast of seasons that I love. I can enjoy winter for the cold and seasonal opportunities and enjoyments that it brings, just like I love the heat and the humidity and biking outdoors and swimming in the ocean. Remember how long it’s been since the last time makes me enjoy the present all the more, whatever the weather.

I’m not really freaking out about the weather, but this guy does a great job of what it feels like other people are doing when you hear the news report about an impending snowstorm. Enjoy!

Learning to Love Lemon and Lettuce

As part of my attention to diet in addressing fibromyalgia, I have been paying a lot of attention to my meals. I used to think that breakfast was my easy dish to make and that lunches and dinners would be hard. Now I am finding that what I have actually done is to redefine breakfast.

What do I mean when I say I have redefined breakfast? I mean that I am looking at breakfast as my first meal of the day. Along with the first meal, I have been thinking of lunch as mid-day meal and dinner as evening meal so that I put them all on the same level.  Instead of relying on cereal, pancakes, and bacon and eggs, I have been attempting to ensure that each meal contains a healthy protein, a healthy fat, and healthy carbs.

When I focus on that combination instead of on the mental biases calling a meal breakfast/lunch/dinner, two things happen. One, I find that my breakfast dishes are more interesting because they have more variety. Two, I am eating better overall and getting more vegetables in my diet, especially salad.

Salad as part of breakfast? Yes!

I used to be horrified when I heard that people had steak and eggs for breakfast. To my mind, that was a dinner dish. The thought of eating steak and eggs first thing in the morning made my stomach turn. Recently, I have heated up leftover slices of steak and put the slices over a plate full of lettuce or mesclun mix. The best part of this is that I am getting more salad into my diet without having to designate an entire meal of salad and while eating more interesting meals. Cool!

Speaking about lettuce/salad brings me to another important discovery I have made: squeezing fresh lemon on food makes everything taste delightful! Instead of dressing, I have used only fresh squeezed lemon as a dressing on my greens, put it on my leftover rotisserie chicken, and even on top of steak. Yes, steak!

Lemon brings out the flavor of the meat and vegetables and is a lively taste on the palate. I myself feel brighter and refreshed after eating a meal where I’ve squeezed lemon over everything. Give it a try. Maybe you’ll love it like I do. When I told my mother, she exclaimed, “Giuseppe came back!” Apparently, my father used to squeeze lemon over everything, too, and was just as crazy about it. Hearing that made me happy.

In any event, I urge you: think of your meals as meals, not breakfast/lunch/dinner; stick lettuce under your protein; and squeeze fresh lemon juice over everything!

Feelin’ Somewhat Better!

I went food shopping on Friday at Fairway and got a lot of food. I picked up some interesting new meats, wild boar sausage and venison & pork sausage, as well as grass-fed beef and ground turkey for stuffed peppers. I picked up some golden beets with greens, chard, kale, lemons, and kirby cucumbers; cashew and almond butters; macadamia nuts, goji berries, and pine nuts.

I picked up some fermented items – kefir, a fermented yogurt; kombucha, a fermented tea; and kimchi, spicy fermented cabbage – the national food of Korea! I’m a member of a Facebook group called Foods for Fibromyalgia run by a certified nutritionist (among many other degrees this lady has) named Deirdre Rawlings. Getting probiotics into one’s diet via fermented foods is one of the healthful foods that she recommends. One of the issues with fibro patients seems to be not enough good microflora in the gut, so I figured I would try it out.

Since Friday, I have been putting an emphasis on eating meat that has iron, a variety of veggies, and a bit of fermented food to aid digestion. For example, I had muesli with fresh cranberries, chopped almonds, and coconut milk along with two tablespoons of kefir, which is like fizzy yogurt. With lunch, I took several sips of the kombucha. With dinner, I opened the kimchi and put a few pieces on my plate. I bought Your Mother’s Kimchi with napa cabbage, and boy is it delightful! You have to like spicy food before you attempt kimchi. My hubby used to buy another brand, but it wasn’t nearly as tasteful as this one was, and I wasn’t nearly as motivated to add it to my diet as I am now.

And I definitely feel like Saturday I felt better than Friday, and today I feel better than yesterday. When I got on the treadmill, I felt like I was in less pain than the last time I got on the treadmill (last Wednesday). I felt perky and peppy in a natural way. I made some jokes and generally felt like nothing was forced, that happiness could just bubble up a bit out of me because I was feeling that much better. It’s really hard to be the happy person you are when you’re bogged down with pain from head to toe.

I still have a lot of pain throughout, but I feel like I have a bit less brain fog. You have no idea what a relief it is to feel like your head is clearer than it has been in years, and that maybe it’s just a little bit of proof that you have haven’t entirely lost all the smarts in your head. Because, lemme tell ya, brain fog makes you feel like you’ve lost 20 IQ points. Now I feel like I’ve regain 5 IQ points. That can feel like quite a jump.

I hope everyone has had a great three-day weekend.

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!

Eating Mishaps

Yesterday morning, I made a sweet potato with quinoa, 1/2 banana, and hemp seeds for breakfast. Then I proceeded to eat most of the whole thing, way past the point of when I was full. Within a couple of hours, I began to pay for my refusal to stop eating by getting a stomach ache.

For the next six hours.

I tried GasX and had two doses of Pepto Bismol, which usually does the trick. When that didn’t stop the pain, I grabbed a heating pad and lay on the couch for the rest of the day. By about 6pm, I was actually hungry, so I had a cup of butternut squash soup and some crispbread. By 8:30pm, I went to bed, exhausted from the stress of having hours of pain.  When I woke up at 10pm to take some medication, I realized I had not posted my scheduled Thursday post and made a quck one to keep readers appraised that one would be coming.

Not only was today a much better day in comparison, it was a better day overall than how I’d been feeling earlier in the week. Maybe it was the sweet potato and the squash giving me an extra boost of vitamins A and C. I had enough energy to get showered, go food shopping at Fairway (new to me), have lunch, and then head back out to volunteer at PetValue for a while. I’ve also managed to eat dinner and chat with a friend before sitting down to write here.

And that’s even though I don’t feel great.

This month, I have become increasingly aware of how awful I feel and have felt. The problem has been that I have not wanted to admit it to myself.  This problem is a lifelong one, rooted in childhood illnesses and the relationship with my primary parent. That alone is worth a post all on its own. Since I’m only recent aware of what’s been going on, I think I’m going to keep mulling it over until I get more clarity before writing on it.

The short of it is that I have been ignoring how I really feel. I haven’t wanted to admit it to myself so that I wouldn’t have to admit it to anyone else and make the necessary changes. It felt too much like giving up, like conceding defeat to myself as the Sick Kid. All I wanted to do was soar and be fierce. It’s hard to be either when you’re exhausted or running a fever.

Well, the good news is that at least some of my exhaustion has been from vitamin deficiencies that I am now working on addressing. Maybe I’ll feel better by summer? Ooooh, that would be tremendous.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Post Poned

Due to illness, today’s post has been delayed until tomorrow. I apologize for the inconvenience.

Deciphering Health

In last Monday’s post, I mentioned the results I received of the latest round of bloodwork in the office of a NYC doctor who specializes in functional medicine. If you want to know whether you’re deficient in vitamins, minerals, and hormones and how to treat them, this is the kind of doc that you want to see.

My bloodwork came back with the following: low thyroid, low morning cortisol (morning sleepiness), low Vitamin D, very low Vitamin C (!!!), low iron, and low magnesium. I got a second prescription for thyroid medication (Armour) that I began this week to supplement a custom T3 slow-release thyroid medication that I began after my first visit in December. I’m taking iron with Vitamin C, magnesium before bedtime, and an herbal supplement for the adrenal glands, which are responsible for cortisol.

This week, I also tried cutting yeast out of my diet because I probably have Candida (symptoms of bloating, sugar cravings, and headaches). I essentially cut out sugar and breads of all kinds, sticking to crispbreads with no yeast, nor vinegars nor spices nor cheese nor anything that might grow bacteria on it. And I have no idea if it’s that or if it’s the Armour, but I have lost between 3-4 lbs. With low thyroid, it can be hard to lose weight. Everyone says that it gets harder to lose weight as you age.

But what if it isn’t your age? What’s if it’s just that you are low on thyroid, and that’s why the weight stays on? Acne and headaches are also indicators of thyroid problems, both of which I have. So, is it yeast or is it thyroid that’s keeping me in constant headache status? I don’t have a minute of a day in which I am not cognizant of some level of headache. I can’t remember the last time I had a headache-free day. I guess I’m just going to have to wait to see if my thyroid levels get back into the optimal range to find out.

I talked with a friend after my last medical visit. She wanted to know if the doctor knew why all this was happening. Would you believe that question didn’t enter my head to ask the doctor? You go into a doctor, you think you’ve asked everything you’ve wanted, and then your friend asks what’s the problem. Brain fog! I have been saying that I’ve had fibromyalgia for years because that’s what the docs I saw decided it was. Apparently, brain fog is also a sign of thyroid issues, as is lack of concentration. One specialist I saw pooh-poohed the idea that I needed bloodwork to test for Lyme or for anything, really. After what I’ve experienced, all I can say is:

Don’t listen to them!

If you don’t feel well and you’re not getting better, you need a doc and a panel of bloodwork to find out.

After moving to NY, the doc I chose did a whole lot of bloodwork. But since she’s a primary care and not a functional medicine doc, she did not get me on supplements. A year goes by when I tell her that I want someone to treat the whole me because I reject her idea of going to a psychiatrist just to manage the adjustment of Cymbalta.

I started taking Cymbalta because it was reported to help patients with fibromyalgia sleep better at night, one of the signature problems in fibromyalgia. I wanted off the Cymbalta because of the expense and because it’s not helping the problem itself. I am tired of spending $200 a month on pain and sleep medications. If I have to spend that much, I might as well spend it on supplements that are addressing deficiencies.

My primary care referred me, and so this is how I end up with this functional medicine doc who does blood work and puts me on appropriate meds and supplements. Then my friend asks me what is causing all this. So now I wait, but this is fine with me. I started a file wherein I am keeping track of the questions I have for this doc at my next visit in April. Two weeks before going, I’ll get another round of bloodwork to see if the meds and supplementation are having any affect on my deficiencies. In the meantime, I decide to start reading.

Trying to educate yourself on health issues by reading online is likely to leave you confused and with a headache. From what I gather, gut issues (Candida, for example) can cause an inability to absorb nutrients. Lack of nutrients affects your body’s ability to create hormones (ie. thyroid). Stress, lack of sleep, etc. can disrupt the HPA (hypothalamus, pituitary, adrenals) axis, which leads to a disruption in the hormones that these organs produce which, in turn, causes a disruption in the ability to absorb nutrients.

I have been exercising regularly, I meditate daily, and I have relatively low levels of stress (although driving on the roads can send it soaring occasionally). I definitely need help with the sleep thing, still, but I am going to give supplements the time to do their thing. Even though the gut – vitamins absorption – hormones – sleep cycle seems like an unending loop, fermented foods can help restore good bacteria in the gut. Things like birth control pills, long-term antibiotic use, and lack of fermented foods in the diet can contribute to poor gut. From what I have read, a restored gut can also mean reducing or lose food allergies because it’s now back to being strong enough to handle what you eat. It’s been suggested that certain food allergies, like to gluten and dairy, might actually be an issue with the microflora in your gut.

Fermented foods are things like sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, and kimchi. I bought milk kefir this week, but I want to get the kefir grains so I can make it on my own and reduce my expenses. You can also make kefir with water or coconut milk. I want to try my hand at making sauerkraut, although I will have to wait much longer for that to cure. I have friends who have made kombucha, and I’m going to try that, too. I want to become more confident in the kitchen, broaden my diet, and throw in some good bacteria. Sounds yummy, doesn’t it?

I hope to the highest of high heavens that I can be restored to something approximating good health. I am coming to the conclusion that, although rour regular primary care doctor may be good to visit when you are sick with a bacterial infection, you need to go somewhere else, if you care about achieving optimal health.