Category: Health

This week in food and fitness

I’ve cooked too much food over the course of the last two or three months. I blame my Instant Pot. Yes, it’s as wonderful as everyone says it is, but all of the recipes I tried were designed to feed the family. I am but one woman with a husband who refuses to eat the healthy meals I cook because he doesn’t want to take it away from me. My life is weird.

What went wrong

Cooking ahead and freezing seemed like a great idea, but it restricted me to eating the same things over and over. Plus, frozen food looses its appeal after a week or two.

The lentil soup I made was tasty, but it started to look like an unappetizing brown mush. I also discovered that I don’t like whole wheat pasta. It just didn’t work in the Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe I tried. My Instant Pot tortellini dish was good the first night, but it didn’t hold up well after being frozen. I’m ashamed to admit that I threw some food away.

A new approach

This week I’ll try cooking something every couple of evenings. My goal is to have food to take to work, and an option for dinner. I’ll aim to eat the recommended 5 servings of vegetables a day. Adding a serving to breakfast should help with that.

Check out the Nutrition Diva’s tips for getting more veggies in your diet.

Illustration of eggplant with human characteristics.
I’m good for you!

150 minutes a week

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week. I’m aiming for at least 30 minutes each day. Strength training for all the major muscle groups is also a must. The government says to do it twice a week. Exercise is not a problem for me if MS fatigue doesn’t get in the way. If I happen to catch a cold, or the flu, exercise becomes difficult. Gentle stretching and some yoga poses are an option for me then.

I have chiropractor appointments three times a week for the next two weeks. I’ll try and make it to Planet Fitness on the evenings I’m not being adjusted. I’ve been having a lot of fun with Wii Sports, Wii Sports Resort, and Wii Fit. I want to get back to a more regular yoga practice. And there’s that Tai Chi app I downloaded.

Should I make a workout schedule? Maybe. I could be making better use of that Happy Planner of mine.

Figure exercising on mat.

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Follow-up on the MGUS

I talked about my bloodwork and upcoming (then) appointment with the doctor. I said something about some numbers being high.

As it turns out, I’m not qualified to make predictions based on my own lab reports. Who knew?

The doctor (an expert) said that my numbers are stable. She did not order another bone marrow biopsy or skeletal survey. She told me to come back in 6 months to be checked again.

So I had my husband worried for no reason. I’m not sure why he thought I knew what I was talking about. He knows I’m not a doctor.

The moral of this story is don’t look at your lab results before a professional can tell you what they mean.

Will I do the same thing again next time?

We shall see.

Three chocolate lab dogs.
Labs! Do get the joke?

Some new light

Previously

A few weeks ago I talked about being sick and having extreme tingles. I was beginning to think I might be experiencing my “new normal.” This must be how people with chronic pain feel most of the time.

Getting help

It occurred to me that relief could be found with the help of a chiropractor, so I made an appointment with the doctor my brother and sister-in-law see.

First, Dr. Morrow talked with me about my issues. Then he examined me and found that the range of motion in my neck was far below what it should be for someone my age (almost 48.) He took some x-rays and scheduled me for a follow-up appointment for the next day.

Diagnosis

My neck is a mess! A normal cervical spine has a curve like this:

Case courtesy of Dr. Andrew Dixon, Radiopaedia.org. From the case rID: 32505

Mine curves the other way. It’s called retro lordosis. I also have some disc degeneration, spondylosis, and a few other minor things that I won’t bother mentioning.

The fix

Luckily, things can get better. I’ve started getting spinal adjustments, ultrasound treatments, and traction three times a week. I’ll be getting physical therapy as well.

I’m feeling so much better. My range of motion has increased, and I no longer feel so broken.

I’ve been feeling angry at my body for having MS, being overweight, walking weird, etc. Nothing good can come from thinking that way. I need a paradigm shift!

Moving forward

Now that I’m feeling like a human, I can get back to regular blogging. I never realized how much energy you need to sit in front of a computer and type and think.

Coming soon

I see the Hematologist find out if my MGUS has progressed to Multiple Myeloma.

Sneak preview: My M protein number is higher than it’s ever been. 1% of people with an MGUS go on to develop Multiple Myeloma each year. The odds have got to be with me.

Illustration of dice

The not so common cold

I think I’ve been suffering from a cold for the last week or so. It’s hard to tell with me. When I think I have a cold, I get a little post-nasal drip and congestion behind the eyes. I don’t get the traditional stuffy nose. My energy level is lower than usual, and I need to sleep longer than I usually do. During these more prolonged periods of sleep, my dreams are more intense and involved.

I think that my colds last longer because I have MS.

Do a search on ‘MS and the common cold,’ and you’ll find tips on avoiding a cold like staying away from sick people and washing your hands. Some sources hint that a cold might trigger a relapse. When I see that, I start to wonder if I’m having a relapse. I tell myself that probably isn’t the case and then start Googling.

So much and so little

It seems like there are tons resources for learning about MS. It seems that way, but I keep running into the same info. Maybe I’m looking for something that will apply to me specifically. That’s not going to happen, because MS is different for everyone who has it.

Rest is important

All of the experts emphasize the importance of rest. I was looking for something definitive about overdoing it and having a relapse. I couldn’t find anything, but it seems like it’s a good idea to treat yourself well. Get regular exercise, but don’t push yourself to exhaustion. That’s good advice for all of us.

Here’s a brochure from the National MS Society on managing MS fatigue. It doesn’t have the personalized answer that I’m looking for, but it gives me permission to take a few naps every day. I might just give that a try.

The quote is from Lalah Delia. Learn more about her here.

Yoga and MS

I started doing yoga in the 80s when I bought the book, Raquel: The Raquel Welch Total Beauty and Fitness Program. I practiced on-and-off over the years and got a little bit serious about it when I lived in Champaign, Il and took an Iyengar class from Lois Steinberg.

I’ve taken classes on and off in Bloomington, but mostly practiced at home with my trusty Rodney Yee DVDs. I took a class for about three weeks at the YMCA a couple of years before I was diagnosed with MS. I had trouble keeping up because of what I now understand was MS-related fatigue. I found that my legs worked better after taking the class.

These days I find myself downloading yoga apps to my iPad. There are a few good ones, but sometimes the pace is too fast for me. I know enough to be able to practice without step-by-step instruction, but that keeps me in my comfort zone. I’m more likely to do the asanas that aren’t so easy if I have the guidance of a video.

In my quest for a way to make yoga work for me, I stumbled upon Adaptive Yoga Moves Any Body (Created for individuals with MS and neuromuscular conditions) by Mindy Eisenberg. I’m not sure if it’s exactly what I need, but it should be useful. I’ll post about the book sometime in the future.

Exercise is so important for people who have MS. Yoga can help build strength, flexibility, and peace of mind.

Looking to get started with yoga? Check out 5 Yoga Poses for People with Multiple Sclerosis (+ Easy-to-Hard Variations) from Yoga Journal.

Woman in vrikshasana (tree pose)
Photo by Nathan Cowley on Pexels.com

Fun with imaging

I got my yearly brain and spine MRIs on Monday. I’m fine with being in a confined space for a significant amount of time (the whole thing takes about two hours). You even get music these days. I think they use Pandora. I chose music from the 80s. The 80s and the 90s were my eras for music by the way. I was treated to some Janet Jackson, Dream Academy, John Mellencamp, Duran Duran, Roxette, Chicago, Julien Lennon, and Power Station. There must have been more, but that’s what I can remember. I fell asleep for a little bit.

MRI on screen
Stock image of an MRI in progress

Anyway, the worst thing about the MRI experience is the feeling of nausea and sometimes near vomiting that happens when they inject the contrast. I warned them at the start and had the lab tech bring a receptacle for me just to be sure. She started the contrast and asked how I was feeling. I was okay. Then she said they had begun using a new formulation of the contrast that had fewer side effects. It was like a miracle. I did not feel any nausea. For once, this yearly check on the lesions on my brain and spine caused by MS was a reasonably okay experience. The worst part was having to get there at 8:00 in the morning.

The doctor’s office called on Tuesday to say everything looked stable. I’d say the three Copaxone injections each week are doing the trick. I’m hoping I can get on an MRI every five years schedule. If that’s a thing they do.

Three years until my first colonoscopy! Huzzah!

Thinking about the body

Yesterday

I’m at my local Planet Fitness recovering from my 20-minute treadmill walk and a smattering of strength training. I need this recovery period to get my legs working a little better. I’m uncomfortable crossing the road to get to my car.

Treadmills at Planet Fitness

Today

I’m at home on the couch continuing the post.

I’ve been thinking a lot about body image. I’ve gained weight over the last couple of years and I find myself not liking my body. I’m letting myself get worried about the food I eat. I feel guilty when I consume unnecessary sugar.

I don’t want to be that person.

My body has served me well for 47 years. I can say that even though I have MS. I could berate my body for betraying me, but I’ve gotten past those feelings (mostly).

I know from experience that a good way to improve body image is to use your body and appreciate how that makes you feel.

I sleep better at night on days I’ve worked out. My mood improves. I feel proud because I’m taking care of me.

I think if I focus on taking care of myself, the good feelings will follow. That means not worrying about every gram of sugar I ingest and letting my body rest when it needs to.

Funny how things become more clear when you write about them.

“Lighten up on yourself. No one is perfect. Gently accept your humanness.

Slightly Insane

Two stuffed teddy bears.
Bear Dog (left) and Lib

I have two stuffed bears. I hug and kiss them goodnight, every night. I cover them with my baby blanket and make sure they’re comfortable.

The bear named Lib has been with me since I was one or two years old. He’s called Lib because that’s Bill backward. My dad was Bill.

I sometimes ask Lib if he can believe that he and I are almost fifty years old. He doesn’t say anything, probably because he can’t believe it, or because he’s a stuffed animal.

The other bear is called Bear Dog. I got him as a gift for my dad when he had some sort of surgery back in the 90s. My mom thought he was a dog, so I gave him the name Bear Dog.

I think Bear Dog had magic that protected my dad. I can’t prove that was the case, but I really do believe it.

I might be slightly insane, but part of me believes that the bears are sentient beings. I would like to someday stop tucking them in at night, but I worry that it would make them sad.

I’m still the little girl who believes her dolls and stuffed animals might come to life if she prays hard enough, of wishes on a star.

I’m really a woman who might be somewhere on the OCD spectrum. See delusional disorder. Oh, the joys of internet self-diagnosis!