Burgers. Fries. Happiness.

Nic Note: If you are a Chronic blogger named Brittany, who happens to be pregnant and has a resultant Ketchup aversion, this warning is for you: THIS POST CONTAINS KETCHUP. Also, Hi. Also, Yay Critter!

I’m in a foodie mood this week, Chronic readers.

I’ve posted before about how when you have POTS, you need to eat a diet high in sodium, and so most cardiologists grit their teeth and tell you to eat everything that they usually tell patients not to eat. It’s a medical necessity that I eat things like potato chips, pretzels, and pretty much any kind of fast/processed food you could think of.

That being said, while eating that way makes me feel like magic for about 15 minutes afterward, it’s not a great long-term diet plan for anyone, high sodium need or not.

I tend to eat incredibly basic (and boring food). It’s actually kind of trendy right now- I “eat clean” and was “paleo” before your Cross-fit friend gave up carbs (though I have yet to give up potatoes, as they are probably the only reason I am alive right now #MajorFoodGroup).

But you know what? Even the most healthy-eating Chronic needs a burger and fries sometimes.

So I made this up.

Behold.

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Nic’s Deconstructed Hamburger Bowl.

Step 1: Brown hamburger meat. Drain any grease (no one needs that).

Step 2: Microwave 2 small red potatoes until fork-tender.

Step 3: Gather favorite hamburger add-ons.

Step 4: Construct the deconstructed. Cut up the potatoes. Pour hamburger meat on top. I like to add cut up pickles (healthy sodium!). Then I pour sugar-free ketchup (Heinz Simply Heinz brand) all over it and eat it with a side salad.

I made it pretty for the picture, but usually it’s an ooey gooey mess of the best tastes of a burger and fries without the greasiness or the heavy I-wish-I-hadn’t feeling. Yay! Plus it’s super quick and doesn’t need a lot of attention, so if you’re feeling brain-foggy or tired, you can still eat well- and that’s something we can all feel happy about. 🙂

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Make my day, then break my day, why don’t you General Mills?

There are a few highly processed, yet magically delicious foods that as a celiac disease sufferer, I am destined to live without.

Wonder Bread, PopTarts, Cheerios…

Wait!

Cheerios!

I admit, I’m late to the party thrown by General Mills in conjunction with the Celiac Disease Foundation.

This is how I found out that General Mills decided to make Cheerios (in nearly all flavors) gluten free:

Scene: Whole Foods.

Nic (disgustingly healthy boring food in hand) walks through the cereal aisle to get to the checkout counter.

*Sighs Heavily*

Nic: Oh my gosh, I wish they made good tasting food gluten free. Like cereal! It doesn’t even make sense that oat cereal isn’t gluten free. I wish so much that I could eat Honey Nut Cheerios. I have developed weird tastebud memory- I can still remember what they taste like and it’s cruel that the imitation companies expect me to think that “Gluten Free Yummy O’s” or whatever taste anything like real Cheerios.”

Mom: What do you mean? Cheerios are gluten free now.

Nic (stops dead at the end of the aisle): What? No. I would have heard that. Where did you hear that?

Mom: On the radio.

Nic (rolls eyes): No. No way. I don’t believe you. You shouldn’t mess with me like that. Psh. On the radio…

Mom (rolls eyes just as fervently): Go check. I mean it. It’s real.

Nic pauses skeptically then goes tearing back down the aisle.

Nic: No way. No. Way. Oh my gosh. The radio was right! (Hugs box of Honey Nut Cheerios. Voice jumps at least an octave in excitement) This is the greatest day. No seriously, like you have no idea how happy I am right now. I mean, my life is CHANGED.

Nervous fellow cereal purchasers move away slowly from deranged girl having a euphoric Cheerio dance party in the middle of the aisle.

Close scene.

I’m too embarrassed to reveal the level of cheer(ios!) I reached when my sister came home from Costco with a double value size 2-pack. It was intense.

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Nearly as intense?

Yeah, that would be my level of freakout when I heard that some boxes of supposedly safe Cheerios had been contaminated with wheat (gluten!!) at a factory in California. I happened to read that on the Internet at the same moment I was busy shoveling some honey coated goodness into my mouth. Fortunately, my Cheerios were not from a contaminated batch (if they had been, I would probably have to have my entire digestive system replaced due to the excessive amount of Honey Nut Cheerios I’ve been ingesting) and I triple checked the labels. Luckily, there’s a whole country of fly-over states keeping me a safe distance from contaminated cereal products. #EastCoastSnob

This glutenizing snafu did put in perspective though how even if a traditionally gluten-filled company has the best of intentions, accidents can still happen.

Personally, I’m pretty cranky that PopTarts isn’t even trying when other companys/products are quickly populating their shelves with gluten-free versions (Oh hey, Eggo waffles! Long time no see!) because I used to live on PopTarts (at least on every other weekend and some holidays) and I would probably lose my mind if they made them and they tasted like the real thing (which are just sugar and butter anyway- how hard can it be Kellogg’s?).

But I do understand the hesitation. For Celiac disease sufferers like me, a contamination isn’t just an upset stomach and a return of the unused product. Rather, it can mean intense, unrelenting pain on the “mild” end of reactions, and damage to intestines and other organs through the autoimmune response gluten activates on the “severe” end. Not many companies want the responsibility. I get that.

Part of me applauds General Mills (THANK YOU FOR MY CHEERIOS!) while another part of me remains skeptical that they can pull this whole partial-switch thing off (other General Mills cereals remain bottomless pits of gluten).

I do appreciate their efforts though.

I mean really, have you ever had a bowl of Gluten Free Yummy O’s?

Bleh.

My mid-afternoon snacktime is now legitimately yummy.

Mmmmm Cheerios…

 

Check your Cheerios Chronics!

http://generalmills.com//en/News/NewsReleases/Library/2015/October/cheerios-10-5/645b5aaf-c2ec-4661-b968-391f41953bfc

Celebrities are just like us, Part 2

Alternate title for this blog post: Selena Gomez has Lupus, reacts like every Chronic girl ever.

You guys.

You’ve probably heard the news by now.

Remember how Selena Gomez disappeared for a little while somewhere in between being a doe-eyed Disney screen queen and becoming Taylor Swift’s #1 BFF? (No? That’s totes ok, Chronics. I’m more of a #TeamDemi, too, but let’s go with it.)

Tabloids speculated that she had entered rehab to hide out after her breakup with Justin Beiber. Had she turned to drugs? Was she teen-pregnant? Was she <Enter Salacious Untrue Assessment Here>?

None of the above.

Selena was in fact, chronic busy (See previous post: https://iamchronicallywell.com/2015/07/08/the-busy-bee/ )

While paparazzi camped outside her house, making up the craziest stories they could think of, Selena was tucked away inside dealing with the reality of moving forward in life with a chronic illness. She recently revealed to Billboard magazine that she has Lupus.

“I wanted so badly to say, ‘You guys have no idea. I’m in chemotherapy. You’re assholes,’ ” she says. “But I was angry I even felt the need to say that. It’s awful walking into a restaurant and having the whole room look at you, knowing what they’re saying. I locked myself away until I was confident and comfortable again.”

I feel you, girl.

Mmmhmm, your Chronic friends hear you loud and clear!

I “disappeared” the 2nd semester of my senior year of high school. Sometime after my birthday in February, my insides just decided to be done. I couldn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t shower. I thought I was just going to die from all the <yuck> my bodily systems were inflicting on me.

Pretty much <zero> people reached out to find out what was going on with me. When I showed up to the Mother-Daughter Senior Luncheon out of the blue in May, determined to remain conscious for the 1-hour my mom had promised to take me for, I’m sure it was a little confusing for my classmates who hadn’t seen me in a while. I know it was confusing for me, especially when one girl came up to me in the buffet line and laid it all out for me:

“So are you, like, in rehab or something? I mean, if you don’t want to tell me, that’s fine, but like, I know other people who have been, so like, you could totally tell me.”

I had spoken to this girl approximately 1 time in our shared high school experience, and I’m pretty sure that was to say, “Excuse-you!” when she bumped into me forcefully in the hallway.

It’s weird, to be going through something that is huge and monumental to you, and you don’t know what it is or what it means, or how you would even begin to deal with telling people about it. It’s weirder to find out that other people have been <falsely> filling in the blanks on your behalf.

Every Chronic has someone or a group of someones that we want to be like, “Yeah, but you know what…..!!!!!” and then spew about how hard/awful/difficult our Chronic lives are. We are angry, we are resentful, we are…

Hurt.

Yes. Quite simply, we are hurt.

Selena says: “I felt like I’d lost everything,” she says. “Just because it’s not plastered everywhere doesn’t mean I didn’t have my rock bottom. I’ve had my moments, and it’s almost unsafe for me to even talk about them, because I’ll be taken advantage of.”

Sure, Selena Gomez is talking about being taken advantage of and hurt on a scale that most of us can’t imagine- no one wants their personal heath situation debated on TV, the internet, and by jerk-face radio jockeys. But her sentiments really hit home. When you are in crisis-mode, you can’t see out. Being a baby-Chronic (as in newly diagnosed) is by far the scariest, most lonely time. The line between over-sharing and asking for support or acknowledgement is so misty. Where is it? Who do we trust-really? Who can handle us and all our Chronic baggage?

Selena seems to have a good support system (we should all be so lucky as to have a Taylor Swift-like bestie). Her parents live close and she has the financial freedom to pretty much do nothing for as long as she wants to/needs to seeing as she’s been a working actress/singer/celebutant since she was 7. But even with all of that at her disposal, when it comes down to it, she is the same as every other Chronic girl out there- glad to be moving on from the shipwrecked life of her past and swimming towards the shore of her healthier future.

“Gomez quotes the worship band Hillsong United to illustrate where she’s at now: “I touch the sky when my knees hit the ground.” Her lupus is in remission, and she says the key to staying healthy is “diet, routine and medication,” plus keeping the right kind of friends around.”

That’s all any of us can do as Chronics. In truth, as hard as it was for her, I’m glad that Selena decided to talk about her illness publically. I mean really, if anyone is going to get a “But you don’t look sick!” it’s going to be this girl:

selena-gomez

The fact that she is honestly sharing does so much simply because it publically reinforces the idea that you can’t know what’s going on in a person’s life just by looking at them. So thanks, Selena, for being brave enough to be just like us ❤

 

Read the full article: http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/cover-story/6721941/selena-gomez-revival-album-taylor-swift-justin-bieber-lupus-empowerment

They tried to make me go to rehab…

…Physical therapy rehabilitation that is.

And I said NO NO NO.

A while back I posted about having hurt my foot; it was determined to be a stress fracture in my calcaneus (heel bone). Every 2 weeks since the end of August I have hobbled on over to my friendly neighborhood orthopedist who declares me “headed in the right direction” and sends me home still confined to my boot-cast.

September has been an incredibly long month.

I am not one to let things go, and I certainly wasn’t about to sit around and become my couch while waiting out this heel injury, even though I had been given medical license to do just that. My doctor had laid out an extensive plan that included “wait-and-see” for 6 to 8 weeks followed up by physical therapy for another 6 to 8 weeks, as all that “wait-and-see”-ing around actually sets one up for more injuries as you are weakening the area by keeping it tucked snugly into a cast all the time.

He said I could think about running again next year.

Yeah, not gonna work for me.

Ok, ok, I did spend a week (or two…) like this:

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This is what injured runner depression looks like. I’m pretty sure Runner’s World does not endorse Jumbo-sized marshmallows as part of their Nutrition Special…

Nothing beats Rest Ice Compression Elevation with a hefty dose of self-torture. And crying. And marshmallows.

I even had some friends sign my cast since I figured we’d be spending a whole bunch of time together and I could use the love:

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But then I looked in the mirror and said, “What are you doing, girl? This is why you started running in the first place- so that you would be different! So that you would act and re-act differently! Don’t go backward! Go forward!”

So I headed over to my friendly neighborhood library and got my autodidact on.

#SelfTaught #TheresABookForThat #LibrariesAreImportant #SaveTheLibraries

I picked up a copy of Joseph Pilates’s original works, Return to Life Through Contrology (1945) and Your Health (1934). Even 70+ years ago, Mr. Pilates knew what was up. I find it’s always best to go back to the basic basics when researching because too much current information and newer publications are cheap reincarnations of someone’s earlier, more substantial work. (See <every self-help guru ever> ripping off Napoleon Hill 1937 and Dale Carnegie 1934)

What we now call “Pilates” or the “Pilates method” is what the man himself called “Contrology.” The short version is that Mr. Pilates had been a very sickly child (#ChronicLife) and studied various forms of gymnastics and martial arts to work his way back to health. He created a series of exercises (y’all must know about The Hundred) that he felt were essential to building strength. They focus mainly on the core muscles (back and abdominals). Essentially, it is the original body rehabilitation method, as most exercises can be done by anyone at any level of fitness with little-to-no impact on joints.

Ok, so I do not need my heel to do Pilates. Check.

I can strengthen all my muscles with Pilates while I’m literally sitting out of the running game. Check.

There are a multitude of free Pilates videos available on Youtube, so I can create my own rehabilitative program at home, by myself, for free. Check.

After much deliberation, I decided to follow Blogilates, because Cassey Ho not only stays true to real Pilates method and technique, she is also super adorable and makes her videos really fun. She’s a life coach and a fitness instructor rolled into one, which I don’t mind because let’s be honest: No running = A whole lot of 😦 I could use the perking up.

One month of following the Blogilates calendars (which tell you exactly what to do and when #Easy) and Joseph Pilates’s timeless advice (no sugar, lots of veggies, and something called “dry brushing” in which you scrub your dry skin with a dry loofah to improve circulation), and I am boot-free my friends! It’s kind of a miracle. #WorkedForItThough

I can also do this now, so you know #Bonus:

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#Starfish #SidePlank #Selfie #Multitask

I have been reminded very sternly not to get too excited. I have to transition first to regular sneakers, worn all the time. Good thing skimpy sandal season is over! Boots are also good supports. (If I can get over my recently developed aversion to them!) I can take walks.

But…

I don’t have to go to rehab!

My doctor was uber impressed that my leg and foot muscles were not weirdly limp or deconditioned. In fact, he seemed almost confused at my improvement.

That’s what happens when you take care of business. #MikeDrop

Bonus: I only have to wait 1 more month before I can safely start to (slowly, slowly!) start jogging again!

Life lesson: Doctors are smart, but you can be smarter, at least about your own body. If your doctor gives you advice or a treatment plan that you aren’t crazy about, research it! Figure out if there are alternatives. Read, read, read! The internet is great, but sometimes the best answers can be found in long-forgotten books from 80 years ago.

 

Have you ever done Pilates, Chronic reader? If so, how did it go? I am slightly addicted now and am even looking for a (cheap) gym that offers classes on the reformer- which looks like a Pilates torture chamber of doom, but is actually supposed to help you get even stronger.

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Me, next week? #Goals

PS: I’m on Instagram now! Follow me and let me know if you are doing the #dysautonomiaphotochallenge so I can find you!

#BeAware

Happy Invisible Illness Awareness Week, Chronic readers!

I know the week is almost over (YAY Friday!) but that doesn’t mean I can’t squeeze in some last minute awareness.

Dysautonomia Awareness has been on point this year. Some highlights include an appearance by a POTSie on the TV show The Doctors and having Niagra Falls lit up in turquoise for Dysautonomia Awareness Month (October, which means right now!) last night from 10 to 10:15 pm. Talk about a great way to get 15 minutes of fame!

If you are a Chronic or have Chronic friends, you have probably seen at some point this week a questionnaire about invisible illness. I filled that out last year, so I won’t repeat it. You can read that post here: https://iamchronicallywell.com/2014/09/10/invisible-illness-awareness-week/

What I really want everyone to be aware of this year is pretty simple: Everyone’s got something.

Human beings are pretty good at poker faces. Sure, there’s a wide variety (I, for one, always loose at poker because excitement is my eyebrows’ favorite emotion), but mostly, we are fairly adept at keeping up appearances. There are really very few visible afflictions.

It’s ironic then that our natural inclination is to judge by appearances, when we know logically that appearances do not give a full or even truthful account.

So do your part- be aware of this disparity.

Give everyone the benefit of the doubt.

Judgment is ugly, and I can tell you, that kind of ugly definitely shows up on your face.

I love that Ellen Degeneres closes her daily talk show now with the simplest of phrases: Be kind to one another. It’s something that every one of us needs to be reminded of.

Yes, the world would be a better place if funding was given to this disease and that disorder and so on. I am first in line when it comes to lobbying for treatments and cures. I do, however, realize that that aspect of awareness is a marathon, built solidly over time.

Kindness is not a marathon. Kindness is instant gratification. Kindness makes a difference right now, today.

Everyone’s got something– physical or mental illness, emotional distress, turmoil in some form. Just because you can’t see it or recognize it does not mean that it’s not there.

Treat everyone as you would like to be treated- or better!

Kindness is free, and it’s the best way to donate. #BeAware