RA Blog: What’s For Dinner?

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One of my favorite, simple, and easy things to make for dinner is pizza. We all know cooking with RD (RA) or any other autoimmune disorder can be tough and almost impossible. We want it to be quick, easy, and as healthy as possible. You want it now as well if you have had a prednisone dose (most of us are extremely hungry because of this steroid for pain)!

Well, this may or may not be healthy depending on what you put on it and what type of crust you use. In the one above it’s a veggie pizza. You can buy veggies already chopped or chop your own. You can look in the fridge and just throw whatever veggies you have on the pizza. Think outside the box and take a chance with veggies like carrots and cauliflower. You can buy any type of crust you like or even make your own with cauliflower. I used a flatbread crust for mines. You can choose your sauce and add cheese. The one below is a buffalo chicken pizza topped with bacon. Pizza nights for us are usually on the weekend or it can be whenever you are just not feeling up to cooking a big meal. Add a salad and enjoy.

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When making the buffalo chicken pizza, I bake a boneless chicken breast (season it with Tony’s seasoning), cut it into pieces (slices or chunks, most of the time my daughter does this because of my hands), and let it soak in a buffalo sauce. Any buffalo sauce will do. I let it soak for about 10 minutes and then I toss them onto the pizza. Baking times are usually on your crust package. Once it’s done, I top it with bacon (optional of course) immediately so it can stick to the cheese as much as possible ( I cook the bacon while I am baking the chicken).

~Nikki

RA BLOG: Winterizing Rheumatoid Arthritis

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year alright! But, tell that to Rheumatoid Arthritis! For many of us the cold weather causes our pain to increase and our activities to decrease. I don’t know about you, but my pain also increases over in the night when temperatures are dropping. It took me a few years to realize preparation makes things smoother even when your RA is unpredictable. We winterize our homes and I said to myself “Self, what about winterizing RA? Share what works for you and ask others to share what works for them!” So, here is my list of things that work for me. Please feel free to share yours.

  1. Clean your gutters-Clean your nightstand…and keep cleaning it! As soon as I clean my nightstand and it’s picture perfect, I blink and it’s cluttered again. In the middle of the night who has time to fumble around and knock over the water bottle. Which takes everything else along with it as you search for the lamp. (Do purchase a cheap lamp for your nightstand. Bright light in the middle of the night makes harder for you to get back to sleep).
  2. Get a container from the dollar store. Place your water bottle, pain medication, fuzzy socks, compression gloves, etc in it. Everything you think you will need at night. I have a fashionable pill box in for my purse. I find that if I take it out at night I forget to put it back in or if I put it back, now a pain pill is missing if I need it when I am out. So, I have a pill box (or get a ziploc bag) with about 5 pain pills in it and toss it in the bucket. Everything I need is in that container for the night. The good thing about he bucket/container you can take it with you to the family room!
  3. Reverse your ceiling fans! It helps circulate the heat in the room.
  4. How many times have I forgotten my gloves? I can’t keep count. So I keep an extra pair of gloves in the glove compartment.
  5. Get some winter boots with a good treading for snowy days. We really don’t need a fall! Our gait can be a bit “wobbly” at times.
  6. Blankets are our friends. A blanket in the room where you watch TV or an extra blanket or quilt across your bed comes in handy.
  7. Exercise. You may not can walk in the cold and well, there goes your exercising routine. However, marching in place during commercials or doing some for of exercises indoors will keep your joints from getting stiff. My fibromyalgia seems tightening my muscles more in cold weather. So I do much more stretching via yoga. I love yoga.
  8. Open the curtains and blinds. A dark home can be a bit depressing and when things are not going well for us, pain and etc., a lighten mood is welcomed. Especially, by our loved ones who live with us! No bah humbugs here.
  9. More pain equals less cooking. If you can, when you are feeling well or have help, cook in batches and have a plan. Soups, chilis, casseroles all make cooking less of a task in the long run. Also, a few frozen dinners never hurt anyone.
  10. Breathe. Meditate. Grab a good book. Tell winter how much you love it and you are glad you are here to see it. Don’t let RA make you “hate winter” or the holidays. Think on the things you still love about winter. I love the cozy feeling. I like the fireplace going or all of the different chilis you can save on Pinterests that you never make! LOL

~Nikki

If you have any tips please share!

RA BLOG WEEK: This is Thriller

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Pain, but no gain. Pain meds, but no gain. I can’t say I have taken Opium for pain but, I have taken Tramadol for severe pain. I take a prescribed Naproxen that really doesn’t do much for my pain. I can only take it as needed but, it’s always needed. I do the best I can to get through the pain. You cannot take Naproxen everyday and you cannot take it when you are on Prednisone. So, I take Prednisone when I am in a flare. I take Naproxen when I am in pain and it makes it dull. It’s still annoying and uncomfortable.  I’d rather suffer than to take Tramadol because it helps greatly with the pain but, as my Granny use to say, when you are without your whits, “It makes you foolish.”

We experience pain everyday and that is hard for people to believe. It is hard for doctors to believe and I wonder are there any doctors with RA and Fibromyalgia? A scientist? A research technician? Perhaps you can confirm.

A low grade pain in between the webbing of your fingers for 24 hours and three or four days can drive you up the wall. A pain in your hip or sciatic nerve will have you walking like the zombies from the Michael Jackson video Thriller. But this is not THRILLER this is worse. This is life most of the time, from here on out, until they find a cure. Until then, here’s to heating pads, ice packs, massages, pain meds, herbal remedies, prayer and whatever you need to get through it.

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~Nikki

 

Sunday Morning Coffee Musing:God & Anxiety

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I didn’t see in the Bible where worry, anxiety, having cares is listed as a sin. I don’t know if in your religion, if it differs from mines, if it is listed as a sin or not. I do know in most Christian cultures, or so I have heard it preached it is a sin to worry. You know “You are doubting God if you worry because you don’t believe he can do xyz or you don’t trust god enough this is why it’s a sin to worry.” So on top of your worry/anxiety/depression you are now doubting God and you have trust issues. Great. That helps. However, I don’t see it or it doesn’t read to me as a sin but, it does register to me as not a good thing.

This morning I didn’t go to church as last night I began to feel anxious about going to church. I have not quite figured out where the root of those thoughts or even began to process those thoughts. This morning I simply asked God a loaded question/statement, an offering of thoughts so to speak: “Is being anxious a sin? If so, I certainly don’t see scripture list it as a sin and what about those who suffer from anxiety? I do see plenty of scripture on how to deal with anxiety. I see some don’t worry and don’t be anxious is that a command or is that comfort? Even when I see “be anxious for nothing” or “do not worry” it still doesn’t say it’s a sin. Because in the mind of an anxious person they have to feel more guilt about now sinning. Has the church ever thought about that? I guess not because many don’t acknowledge anxiety or depression as a real illness. Everything not understood or involving science can possibly be evil.” Whew.

Did I get an answer? Yes. It is not a sin to worry. It is not a sin to be anxious. It is not a sin to be depressed. BUT, it is not good because it can lead to what one may call sin but not only that, it can lead to bigger issues: mentally, emotionally, physically, even death i.e heart attacks and strokes, cancers and illnesses/dis-eases.  It can affect friendships and relationships. It can affect your job and hinder your progress. Impede your destiny. Even parenting! Etc. (yes, I believe the mind is connected to emotions, connected to the body).

Gee whiz God! I am just glad it’s not a sin so I don’t have to feel guilty. That is enough right there to set some free and allow them to get help. I was recently told by my doctor it seems as if I am experiencing some anxiety, possibly anxiety and panic attacks. I had no idea what was going on. So I am new to it all and as always I am a seeker of knowledge to gain an understanding.

There wouldn’t be so many scriptures combating worry/anxiety or depression if God didn’t know we were all different and some of us would experience these things in life. I also said to God this morning “How can I cast my cares if I don’t know what my cares are?” You see, anxiety or depression may not always have a source at the moment. It may not always have a reason you can put your finger on right away. God’s answer to me was “You don’t need to know because I already know.” And that, eased my mind.

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This is my blog. These are my thoughts. You have a blog. You express your thoughts. Thank You. Love you.

~Nikki

 

Sunday Morning Coffee Musing: Don’t Crowd Fund Your Self Esteem

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Cup of coffee and clementines. Photo by Natalia van Doninck on Getty Images

It’s not possible you would know everyone who walks along a crowded street or those standing with you at a concert.Crowd funding consists of strangers and a few people you know contributing to your cause or project. It’s not likely those people know you from the eyes of a good friend or the perspective of a wonderful family member. So, in this life why do we seem to crowd fund our self esteem? I know I am guilty of this from time to time but, oh I remember the days where I relied heavily on the opinions of others and even sought after validation. Thank God! Thank God because I did the hard work and made it through the mistakes to get to this point to talk to you, unashamed, about crowd funding your self esteem.

What people don’t understand about those who struggle with self esteem issues is it didn’t start yesterday. They also don’t understand the complex journey it takes to go back in your life and discover where the seeds were planted and the hard work it takes to cut the roots of low self esteem. Crowd funding your self esteem is when you rely on the contributions of others opinions to fund how you feel about yourself. You should cancel this fund raiser (thought) each time it pops in your mind. I could go through a bunch of steps on how to do this but there is this one saying that sums it up and you could tape it to your forehead or mirror. Which ever is more fashionable for you!

The quote is: Comparison is the thief of joy-Theodore Roosevelt

Why are you sad now? Why are you feeling defeated now? Why are you feeling bad about yourself now? You just compared your progress, success, where you are, to someone else’s progress, success, how farther they are in life than you are and now your joy has been stolen by comparison. Stop that. Learn to admire others and set your OWN goals. If June buys a million dollar home don’t try to buy a million dollar home simply to measure your success by June’s. Look at your bank account, do the math, and buy what you can afford. If Courtney just ran her first marathon and you just made it running a mile, how UNFAIR is that to compare yourself? Your diligence and her diligence is simply diligence. I tell you “a truth” as Jesus said in the Bible when he was about to introduce a new concept: If you learn to CELEBRATE YOUR VICTORIES AS WELL AS OTHERS you wouldn’t need to crowd fund your self esteem.

Don’t compare yourself with others. Instead, celebrate yourself and others.

~Nikki

Pain and Potato Chips

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If you suffer from chronic pain such as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or any of the likes you know what it’s like to be in some sort of constant discomfort whether it’s on a scale of 10 during flares or that annoying low grade pain that eventually wears you down. Many of us have weight issues before we ever have the diagnosis or you gain as soon as you are put on the medication. It makes losing weight a challenge to say the least and then to add insult to injury the connection between pain and eating.

I understand emotional eating but, tack on a physical pain and you are certain to go off the radar into the black hole of weight gain. I find myself mindlessly snacking or over indulging during low to mid grade pain that is working my nerves literally and figurative. The stabbing pain of fibromyalgia and the joint pain of rheumatoid is taken down a notch by medication or pain meds but, many times it doesn’t go away. I rarely mindlessly snack or overindulge during big flares. I can’t. But maybe some of you do.

I have decided to make sure I prepare by purchasing some healthy snack alternatives to have on hand so I can get some nutritional value during those times. I also will try to turn my attention to something other than the TV because that can lead to more snacking. Share your tips and ideas if you don’t mind or maybe some of your favorite healthy but tasty snacks or some of your hobbies to get your mind off your pain and food. Perhaps we can help each other out. Many times when you have pain you don’t want to do anything too strenuous but snacking all day and overindulging is not helping us at all.

~Nikki

Kanye-ing Anxiety

 

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There are  times in life when we will face some really difficult situations which can cause us to “worry” or to become “concerned” about the outcome. Anxiety is a perpetual worry and concern. It can come like a flood seemingly out of nowhere or it can come immediately when something foreseen or not begins to manifest right before our eyes. And many times  it may never manifest or at least not to the full degree we allow ourselves to imagine. It is when our active imagination takes us out in the deep where we lose sight of the shore of hope and faith. We are no longer anchored to the shore. We are floating out on a sea of shaky thoughts. We become “see” sick by the things we imagine will happen.

I ran across this quote and I had this thought: “Oh, it’s like Kanye-ing thoughts which create anxiety.” Imagine anxiety with a mic and you run up on stage and say “Look, I’m not going to give the mic back. However, I would like to thank the Creator for all that I have. I am grateful for life. I am thankful for the breath I breathe. I am thankful for the clothes and shoes I have. I am happy I can see, walk, talk and taste the food I have. I am so very grateful for the lessons I am learning….”  You know blah blah blah good stuff until Anxiety walks off the stage and has a seat.

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In many cases it’s rude to interrupt but, it’s perfectly fine to interrupt negative thoughts and “what ifs” that create and build up negative emotions that send you into anxiety rap battles also know as anxiety attacks. I remember reading a book by Inyanla Vanzant that stated “If you are going to play the “what if” game, play the other side.” In other words, what about “what if” it doesn’t happen? Instead, use your imagination to create solutions and calm. Also, if you play the what if game, then ask yourself what can I do if that does happen. I know it’s not easy. I know from experience. However, it’s worth cutting off negative thoughts or anxiety and filling your mind with gratitude instead.

~Nikki

The Mental Whip of Fibromyalgia

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As I type this there is a shooting pain in my fingers. It was pain in my face and well as you may know, fibromyalgia pain can move around your body fast and sharp like lightening. I have swelling and I am tired. I don’t want to talk. However, it’s not easy to do when you have to be a parent and you must put on your parent face. Even if that face feels like it’s being electrocuted.

I am not surprised there is a link to chronic pain/illnesses and depression. The way the two chronic pain twins I have, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia wrecks havoc on my body, I can tell you it can be more than a battle. It can be a war.

Today I have experienced little sharp pains on and off. I did not rest well last night because of carpal tunnel in both of my hands and forearms. So, I am very tired. Later, this evening the sharp pains began to move around and intensify. Again, on and off. Add stress from an event today and my mind is on a roller coaster of I can handle it on the way up and I can’t take this @#$%! on the way down. I’m angry. I ‘m sad. I am hurting. My skin feels like something is crawling on it and it’s itchy at times. This is so annoying and it drives you nuts.

The mental whip of chronic pain is one with sharp objects attached to it. It rips away at your soul as it pulls out and damages your psyche as it comes back in for more. The thoughts to stay strong, when you really want to crash and burn, and sometimes, many times you do, is war. Your body and your mind, and your spirit is taking a beating.

I will pray for us tonight.

~Nikki

 

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Rise Up Again

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You have the courage and the strength to rise up again. Again means you have done it before and  if you have done it before you can do it again. I know. it’s never been this devastating. I know, it’s never been this dark. I know it’s never been this hard. Still, you have it in you to rise once more and again if you have to. And when you rise, pray.

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And when you rise up, TAKE courage. Sometimes you have to TAKE courage and do what needs to be done.

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Rise up.

~Nikki

 

 

Cooking w/Chronic Illnesses? Yeah. Right.

 

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Some of us loved to cook before Chronic Illnesses invaded our lives. Before fatigue, pain, damaged nerves, etc we didn’t mind getting in the kitchen and whipping up a feast or our favorite meals. In many forums I’ve seen some give up by force and some by choice. And that’s okay. Then there are those like me, stubborn and not willing to give up completely. I’ll go down in this ship and they will have to pry that spatula from my rheumatoid arthritic hand.

I’ve been known to be a bit hard headed. I’ve been known to spontaneously decide to do zumba when I’m not suppose to because it’s high impact and then pay the cost later. Usually, friends asking, was it worth the pain? Was it worth the flare? The correct answer is no. But I do feel some sort of satisfaction for doing something RA/RD took away from me. I’m sure I’ll stop that madness soon… Especially after that recent big flare and fatigue.

But cooking, especially when you have a family is not so easy to give up. Plus, I don’t have the money for a personal chef and my daughter is just now old enough to be trusted in the kitchen (thank God). However, when she wasn’t I had to cook. But I’m teaching her and it’s helping out more and more. I’ve scheduled her days and my days. I love cooking and having family/friends over and while I won’t give it up, I must make the necessary adjustments and take calculated risks at best. I really can’t do big feasts and extravagant meals like I did in the past but I can find new ways and new meals. I can adapt old recipes and plan meals out. I can. I will. Until I can’t.

Today, I’ll share a tool I love. The wok. Stir fry. Quick. Easy. And if you are worried about chopping vegetables don’t. Buy them at your local grocery in the frozen section. Also, I learned with Rheumatoid in my hands not to use so much force in stirring and to keep the wrist straight, using swift gentle motions. I’ve even used the wok with my compression gloves on. Also, investing in a chopper or processer is the best thing you can do.

Speaking of chopping and slicing vegetables, it’s difficult to slice and chop hard, thick, dense vegetables such as potatoes. Get someone else to do it if you can. Get a slicer. I didn’t mind slicing and dicing before. You know, it’s the touching and creating, the work of the art of cooking. I do sometimes still cut, slice, chop, easy vegetables like: Squash, zucchini, bell pepper, etc. I like fresh vegetables. On a good hand day I’ll cut and freeze them for later. Many times with help from my daughter.

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I hope to bring you more of my mishaps and lessons, simple recipes and meals.

~ Nikki