Tag: MS

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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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

A YouTube channel about MS

I’m always on the lookout for information about Multiple Sclerosis. Recently, I found Dr. Aaron Boster’s YouTube channel. Boster is a clinical neuroimmunologist specializing in multiple sclerosis (MS). He is based at OhioHealth in Columbus, OH.

Here’s a recent video from Dr. Boster about MS symptoms. He explains how one symptom can effect other symptoms. I recommend visiting his channel for more useful videos.

Look for Aaron Boster on these social media channels:

Not quite right and doodling

I came down with a cold, or something that resembled a cold, a few weeks ago. I took a Monday off and then worked the rest of the week. I did the same the next week because I thought I was better. I should have taken a few consecutive days off because it seems that sitting at a computer can wear a person out.

When I sat at my desk for too long I got a pretty severe tingling sensation on one side of my body. This is an MS symptom that I’m more likely to experience when I’m sick or when I haven’t had enough sleep. When I get the tingling it’s usually mild. These extreme sensations make me worry that the disease is getting worse. It probably isn’t, but it’s easy to jump to negative conclusions.

I think the tingle is related to my tight neck and shoulder muscles. I need to look into a way to tame the tension in those areas.

My blogging has suffered because I’ve been too tired to sit at the laptop. I get upset with myself for not blogging regularly. I haven’t had the energy for digital scrapbooking either.

I’m mad at my body for betraying me, but that’s fodder for another post.

I managed to do some doodling while lounging on the couch this weekend. This was drawn by hand with a Micron pen and then scanned and processed with Art Card for iPhone.

 

Doodle digitized

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.

Instant Comfort

I tried another Instant Pot recipe, Healthy Instant Pot Mac and Cheese from The Girl on the Bloor.

The ”healthy” component of the dish is broccoli. You could add other greens to up your veggie game. The recipe called for regular pasta. I wanted to use whole wheat, but I found none at Walmart. I used the Colby/Monterey Jack cheese I already had in the fridge instead of the white cheddar on the ingredient list.

Overall, the cooking was quick and easy, and I got a little more comfortable with my Instant Pot.

The flavor wasn’t spectacular, but it tasted good and did feel like comfort food. Switching to a tastier cheese might improve the flavor.

I’m liking the Instant Pot more and more. It’s helping me to make healthier food choices for myself. For me, better eating means less trouble with those everyday MS symptoms like fatigue and the dreaded ”brain fog.”

What tricks do you use to make healthy eating happen?

Finding a way

Taking time for fitness

For me, exercising as soon as I get home from work is the way to go. I can do something at home or go use the eqiupment at Planet Fitness. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I schedule the workout before my Copaxone injection. It’s a system that works. Even if I’m feeling a little fatigued or under-the-weather, I can at least get on the floor and do some stretching. I need to lose about 35 pounds and I plan to lose it the way I gained it, slowly. My eating habits are pretty good, but I’m not as active as I need to be. If I don’t make progress in the next couple of months, I’ll have the doctor check my thyroid function. I’m pretty sure it’s a lifestyle problem and not hormones.

In other food news

I got an Instant Pot for Christmas. Now I have to learn how to use it and find recipes that don’t call for 15 ingredients.

Art for sanity

I want to revisit art journaling this year. The book I’m altering is turning into an art journal. I had a thought that I could turn books into journals and sell them on Etsy.

I don’t like how messy the art journal process is. Things would be so much easier if I could quit my job and do art and jewelry full-time. That is something to put on the vision board. That’s another to-do!

I could focus more on digital art, but I like working with real objects. I want to add digital scrapbook paper and embellishments to my Etsy inventory. More to-dos!

Paint on a book page

Keeping your balance when you have MS

Balance problems and difficulty walking are two of my most troublesome MS symptoms. Luckily, there are exercises I can do to reduce the impact these symptoms have on my everyday life. 

Cat walking on a fence

Even if you don’t have a neurological condition it’s a good idea to add balance training to your fitness regimen. Start improving your balance with the help of these articles and videos. Consult your doctor before starting a workout program if you haven’t been active for a while. 

Living with MS: Avoiding Falls

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a neurological condition that affects a person's brain and spinal cord. Some of the most common symptoms are fatigue, visual disturbances, altered sensation and difficulties with mobility (balance and walking).
This list features articles about improving balance, strength, and mobility.

Free From Falls : National Multiple Sclerosis Society

This eight module program is designed to increase your knowledge about risk factors associated with falls and provide you with strategies to reduce your risk of falling.

Exercises to Improve Balance for People With MS | Everyday Health

Balance problems caused by multiple sclerosis can make walking a challenge, but some simple exercises can help.

MS: Exercises for Better Balance and Coordination

Not only is exercise is a good way to improve some of the physical effects of MS, but it can also help you regain balance and coordination. Here are several moves you can try.

Improve Your Balance : National Multiple Sclerosis Society

In order to improve your balance, you may have to lose your balance! You CAN address balance problems by challenging them. By sticking to a program that is safe, yet pushes you to your limits, your balance can gradually improve.

5

Improve your balance and stability workout | Move more with MS

Improve your balance and stability workout | Move more with MS

Join Dom, Koz and Samia while they demonstrate some simple leg exercises that help teach you how to stabilise your body for better balance.

Balance Exercises For MS: 3 point Toe Touch

This is a great exercise to improve balance while changing directions. Often times, people with MS feel are fearful and non-confident in their body due to fe...

MS Yoga Balance

A short yoga practice that uses a chair for balance.

Body Balance Meditation — Meditation Oasis

A mind/body approach to physical balance.

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!