Sunday, August 7, 2011

Stomach Acid: Inspiring, Isn't It?

It's 4:20am and I have just spent the last 20 minutes gargling and rinsing after waking up lying flat with a mouth full of stomach acid. You see I fell asleep on a stack of pillows practically sitting up, but gravity had it's way with me last night. It's been happening frequently on my vacation because I forgot to pack my wedge pillow. This time it was so awful, I'm too freaked out to go back to sleep.
I have to admit, I don't follow all the rules of Reflux. I have coffee in the morning. Occasionally I eat onions. Last night, I had Ice cream. I usually do not eat at least 4 hours before going to bed. I was planning on staying up to watch the movie Paul with my brother, but I crashed while I was putting my son to sleep. He's on the tail end of his separation anxiety phase and until he's completely asleep, he's got a death grip on my arm.
He's about to start the school year next week. He's progressively getting better and will soon have no problem falling asleep on his own. I know I'm supposed to just let him cry himself to sleep, but I just can't. To be honest,I have separation anxiety as well. He stays with his dad every other week. I hate joint custody. I feel like I'm cheating or something because he's with his dad 2 weeks out of the month. Shouldn't I be enjoying my free time?
I think the root of the problem is that deep down I feel like I will be making up for time I haven't lost yet. Let's be realistic: I have two progressive diseases. I plan to live another 60 years and although I don't believe in God I can still hear her laughing.
I'm afraid of what I might miss, so that extra 8 hours a day I spend with him while I'm sleeping will somehow make up for it. I also take every opportunity to drop some knowledge on my son. He has a great vocabulary for a 7 year old. I don't give him nick names for private parts when he asks me where babies come from. I tell him the truth about how he came into this world 8 weeks early, but it's a happy story because I got to meet him 8 weeks early. It's amazing how one can learn to spin a story about an event that scared the shit out of my family, into an amazing story of how strong I believe this little boy is.
You see, although my health is an ongoing sometimes soul suckingly depressing fact of my life, I am one of the lucky ones. We all know someday we are going to be gone from this world. Anything can change in a minute. No different that a completely healthy person stepping in front of a bus. But for me and probably many like me we are very aware we are living on borrowed time. Every minute is a gift. I've squandered my share, but to finally get to my point, I use every teaching moment I can with my son. I also forgive myself for giving into his separation anxiety issues at night when he goes to sleep.
This started out as a rant about Reflux, but like any good therapy session, it shined daylight on the underlying issue. Not my son's separation anxiety, but my own. I make any moment I can a teaching moment and just for now, it's okay to indulge myself by listening to him sleep at night. This phase is in it's transition with him. He will be going to bed on his own anytime, but just for now I'm going to take advantage of the extra hours I get with my son, even though he's asleep, because every moment is a gift.

Monday, July 25, 2011

What's New

Well I can't tell you EVERYTHING, but I will dish. I've made some changes in my life. I broke up with my boyfriend a few months ago. He's now my room mate in addtion to the other room mate. I moved my room right next to my son's and let my ex have the master bedroom. Why still live together? Well, it's a 3 year lease, he walks the dogs and is a very good friend. So it's the opposite of Three's Company, 2 men and a woman.
If you follow me on Twitter or Face Book, you have seen I recently took a trip to The Bay Area to my brother's. He and my sister are my two best friends, so we were one short but we had a great time. I brought my son's Skippy Jon Jones along on my road trip. While I was up north my laptop exploded and I'm still in the process of exorcising the demons from my desktop PC. So now I am typing on a teeny tiny Dell I'm in love with because it works.
I have been working with Jules of We have been video blogging or "vlogging" together. We work well together and we are becoming great friends. Please visit her site to check out our Vlog-isodes. We have chemistry and we think we are quite funny.
I started a Box Wine Book club on face book. I am currently in therapy to work on growing my spine after years of playing a door mat. I thought, "what a great idea to share the books I'm reading". So, I posted a book I had started reading. The more I read the more it became about my walk with Jesus and less about my journey. Hey, I love Jesus. he was all about caring for the sick and all, but that has nothing to do with my spine regeneration. So, that's the last time I do a book club about a book I'm in the process of reading. I'm changing the book to Bossy Pants by Tina Fey. I've read it, it's wonderful and I can't wait to talk about it on Face Book with anyone who has or is reading it.
I have set two new goals. The first is to allow myself to be me. Yes, I'm just going to "be" for a while. I never quite got over my divorce as far as being on my own for a while so other than the occasional friend with benefits, no relationships for me. My second goal is to get into shape and have an ass almost as well sculpted as Shakira's. I say almost because let's face it, that woman has got a fine backside. It's good to have goals.
How will I do it you ask? Well the first goal will involve reading and learning about setting boundaries.For example, I used to expect the worst from people so that I would never be disappointed. It turns out that was a very bad idea. I'm going to expect the best. So far, I like this approach much better. I have a lot to learn about myself and life and I look forward to the personal growth, which I hope never stops. I will acheive my second goal by Yoga and Zumba. My motivation is to post some hot pictures of me- fully clothed of course. After looking through photo albums from the last 10 years, I have few very good pictures of just me. I though it would help motivate me if I felt like skipping Zumba class and so far, it's working.
I am also working with someone to rebuild my blog. Most of my energy will be spent putting that together so please forgive me for my fewer postings. I do appreciate everyone who takes time from their busy day to read my 2 cents. I am very grateful.
So, now that you are up to speed, please visit my Face Book page and answer my question of the day. Thanks again for reading and raising awareness of Scleroderma, Sarcoidosis, Autoimmune diseases and my quest for a backside like Shakira's.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Raynaud's: What works for me.

April 26, 2011

Exercise. It’s good for all blood vessels. Yoga and breathing exercises help me cope with pain. Stress is a HUGE trigger for Raynaud's for me. Yoga has helped me cope. I started with Kundalini Yoga in 2005. I just started studying Anusara yoga one on one with a yogi at Yoga Living Studio here in Temecula. It's helping a great deal. Remember, exercise is always a good idea.
Eating well is also a good idea, but beware of anyone who tries to sell you herbs specifically for symptom or diseases. For example, cayenne pepper is excellent for circulation, but if you have any type of Reflux, it will damage your esophagus. I mention the alternative medicine because if you seek out a yogi or yoga instructor focus on the exercise. Chanting and movement doesn't cause exacerbation of symptoms.
In 1994, My Raynaud's was very aggressive. I was in college, had to change my major, break up with my boyfriend who I moved to Wisconsin with from California. Some of us have stressors we're not even aware of. I was in denial, which was the stressor I ignored and found some poor ways of dealing with it.
Raynaud's is a response by the sympathetic nervous system- fight or flight. It is an unconscious reaction to a threat. Now that we're no longer hunter/gatherers threatened by predators our stress has changed, but the fight or flight response is still present. How will we feed ourselves? Take care of our offspring? Deal with our environment? (i.e. cold) Take care of ourselves?
As someone who experienced Raynaud’s at a young age, I would suggest to anyone with Raynaud's to find ways to cope with stress such as yoga, meditation & exercise. Don't hunt for stressors if you don't know what they are. That just creates more stress. Focus on the coping so that you are prepared for whatever life hands you. Something as simple as a manicure or pedicure once a week is a stress reliever. A massage once a month is great. My biggest regret is not doing yoga in my 20's. I discovered it in my 30's. Find a studio near you. Keep working with your doctors. I have some posts about what happened to me on my blog. I don't want to scare anyone so if you read them, please keep in mind this was almost 20 yrs ago, before Viagra and no one believed me when I reported my onset of symptom. Back then my doctors wrote it off as "hysterical female syndrome".
Here is the website to the Yoga Studio I go to called Living Yoga Andrea; the owner is also an excellent source of information as well. You may be able to find a place similar to it in your area if Temecual is too far.
One more thing:
My mom used to massage my hands gently, when she could and when I lived with her. Just throwing that out there. If I was sitting around watching TV, I'd take a wet towel, put it in the microwave until warm, coat my hands with lotion (I now use Kama Sutra Almond oil- works better than anything I've tried and smells great) cover my lotioned or oiled hands with towel and relax while watching TV or hanging out. Then after the towel cooled, my mom would gently massage my fingers, great for my circulation and my mind. A partner, roomate or a good friend also make great massage buddies. It's one way friends and family can help when they feel helpless.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Our 20 Year Anniversary. Yes, Me and Raynaud's: Here's some Ideas From an Old Couple.

Yes, it’s been 20 with Raynaud's. Here's a timeline list.
1992. My doctors didn't believe me.
1993. My Doctors were not sure what the hell it was.
1994. Congratulations! It's Scleroderma! CREST is not just my favorite toothpaste anymore.
2008. Viva Viagra!
2012. Happy 20th with Raynaud's! (Do I register at Macy's or REI for TEVA sandals?)
One good thing that I have from my 20 relationship with Raynaud's is a wealth of information of what not to do. Even better, things that have helped that I can share with others. REMEMBER: These are things that work for me. Check with your doctor. Nothing is ever one size fits all.
1. It doesn't matter what climate you live in, just take precautions and be plan to be cold all the time. It's a real timesaver.
2. Tune out people who tell you just because they aren't cold it means you are just "oversensitive", because they are uninformed and believe they are helpful.  Remember THEY believe they are helping you.  I know it's difficult, but I have to tell you receiving stupid advise from well meaning people becomes easier with time.  The sooner you let it roll off of you, the better you will feel.
3. Except when sleeping, I always wear 3 shirts to keep my core temperature even. For example: a short sleeve shirt always has a tank top or something like it underneath. Then I either wear or bring a light sweater or jacket. My rule: undershirt, over shirt, jacket. It may be 100 degrees outside, but transitioning into an air-conditioned environment can trigger a Raynaud's attack. Bringing having  a third layer helps prevent an attack. I love wearing a thin cotton long sleeve shirt underneath a cute short sleeve. I can wear it with shorts or long pants. I also use a thin cotton long sleeve under casual sundresses with some converse or cute sneakers. It gives me an excuse to wear socks. I notice when my feet are covered in comfy socks, my core temperature stays consistent.
5. If I have a Raynaud's attack and have no other options, a quick way to warm my hands is to (icky warning) put my hands under my armpits (over clothing), or even better, someone else's (They are usually warmer)
6. When having a Raynaud's attack, warm water can help, but I tend to make it too hot which can cause further tissue damage, so be careful.
7. Massages are helpful for me .  Scleroderma is not a one-size-fits-all disease and always ask your doctor f massage is right for you .  Massages can be expensive.  I have found Massage Envy very affordable and their therapists are well trained. Never be afraid to ask about a therapist's experience. ALWAYS observe their cleanliness practices and don't be afraid to ask them about it. Let them know if you are on immunosuppressant drugs.
8. Weekly manicures and monthly pedicures are awesome. Never ever go to a "discount"  place, especially if it looks like an assembly line. You will get an infection in these places. Keep in mind, just because a salon may charge more doesn't always mean they are consistent with cleanliness practices either. Ask and observe. Some high end salons have memberships or work out deals with frequent patrons. Don't be afraid to ask, because everyone has to live on a budget these days. Always let your nail technician know about your circulation problem and if you are on immunosuppressant drugs. The massage helps quite a bit on my hands and feet,but before you even get a massage anywhere on your body ask your doctor first.  Oh and during a pedicure, If someone ever pulls out a razor and tries to "trim your calluses" with it, always say no and report them to consumer affairs. They are illegal to use in salons. A pumice stone or a file is the only thing needed to soften calluses in a salon.
9. Find a good podiatrist. They are great for keeping calluses under control and the only person that should ever use a razor to trim back calluses.  Your podiatrist can show you or a loved one how to do it at home.
10. Make sure your shoes are supportive and comfortable. I have no fat pads on the bottoms of my feet. I even have to wear shoes in the shower. If you notice pain when you walk, ask your doctor or podiatrist about custom made inserts. I haven't tried the Dr. Scholls in the drug store, but I bet that would be an affordable solution if not covered by insurance.
11. Occupational therapists can be helpful. Beware of being treated like a carpal tunnel patient. I had good insurance at one time (I now have Medicare and veteran's healthcare, which is even better.) and a private OT chain treated me like a cash cow. It wasn't the therapist, it was the business office. I learned a lot from my 1st OT in 1996 after my digital sympathectomy.  The right occupational therapist will teach you many useful exercises and prevention tips.
12. Digital sympathectomy. In 1996, Viagra was not available, so a digital sympathectomy seemed like a good idea at the time. There are so many vasodilators available these days, surgical sympathectomy are needed less. Today, I take Viagra 4xs a day, plus niphedepine once a day. These meds can cause headaches because of the rush of blood flow to the brain. I have some coffee in the morning to keep that under control. My doctor knows about it.
14. The very best thing that helps keep my Raynaud's in check is exercise. If you can squeeze in just 5 or 10 minutes of constant movement a day, you will notice a difference. I have. I tried to commit to doing yoga every day, but found it difficult to fit it into my schedule. Sometimes I just put on some music and dance for one or 2 songs and that movement help get blood to tips of my fingers and toes. I’m a terrible dancer, but my 7 year old son and I do a little boogie after he gets dressed in the morning before school. When my son's not here, my dogs will at least keep me company. They look at me like I'm crazy, but they can keep a secret. I have progressed from planning to exercise and never fallowing through to adding 5 minutes of it to my day. I have started going to the YMCA when they have things like kids cardio or kids zumba. My son has some fun while I walk on the treadmill.
15. If your feet get cold quickly and are sensitive to the surface of the bottom of the pool or wherever you swim, don't be afraid to wear some shoes. Aqua socks are useless to me because the bottoms of my feet are just bones with no cushion. TEVA makes a great sandal made to wear in and out of the water, and they look good too. It takes some getting used to swimming with them on, but the injury prevention is worth it. I love mine. I even use them in the hot tub.  (Good God!  James Brown's Celebrity Hot Tub Party)
16. Moisturize.  Fo me, Kama Sutra Oil is the only thing that keeps my the skin on my hands and from cracking. The skin on my fingers is scar tissue and  their Sweet Almond Oil seems the most effective for me.  It's not just for hot monkey love.
So those are my tips.  If you have any to add, please leave them in the comments section because my way is not the only way.  Living with Scleroderma isn't easy, but it can be done.  It takes a lot of patience, some sedatives and some good old fashioned stubbornness, but it can be done.  You may have Scleroderma, but Scleroderma does not have you.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Quick Word about Duloxetine.

I have been taking Duloxetine for more than 3 years. I ran out once and had to wait a week for a prescription refill. During that week I had the usual withdrawal symptoms such as "brain zaps" or lack of concentration, but overall I felt awful. I think a great deal of my depression is related to pain. Before taking Duloxetine, I started taking 2 vicodin every morning and after doing so, I felt like showering and getting dressed was somehow easier. I was more productive on days I took vicodin in the morning. I noticed an even bigger improvement when I started taking the Duloxetine. Now I use Vicodin more of an as needed basis, which is better for my liver.
When I read the PubMed posted on Twitter by @fibroaction, I was happy to read “In addition, the efficacy of Duloxetine was found to be due to direct effects on pain symptoms rather than secondary to improvements in depression or anxiety." It's tough to just "walk off" chronic pain at such high levels.
It's good to see other patients will benefit from this pain relieving benefit and I am not imagining things. Sometimes pain is so frequent and intense, it really feels like I'm crazy. I may be a mental patient with depression, but I fell less like a nut today.

Monday, March 7, 2011

I'm Ready To Live

Who wouldn't want to stay in their nice comfy bed after the alarm goes off, but my snooze button addiction had become out of control. Today, I tried something different. I used my new phone as an alarm clock this morning and there was a way to name my alarm. At first, I called it, "Wake up asshole!” Possible left over attitudes about morning left over from boot camp. Then I thought about waking up to calling myself an asshole first thing in the morning and realized I was going about this all wrong. Perhaps it wasn't my fatigue that was keeping my hand on the snooze button, maybe it was my attitude. So I changed the name of my alarm to, "If you wake up this early, you are going to have a great day!” You know what, it worked. I didn't hit the snooze button. I stopped the alarm, got up, had breakfast and even took all my meds without having to remind myself. Maybe I'm onto something. I have been so negative for so long. A good friend asked me recently why I think things continue to go down hill for me. My answer was I always think, "What next?" Today, I see that I have reached that point of letting go of "What next?" and allowing the true feeling of, "I'm ready to live" and start my day.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Yes, My Butt Does Make My Butt Look Big.

So, I'm doing something about it. I'm getting a membership to a local yoga studio today. I have attended a few classes already and they have done some one on one work with me to help me do the poses correctly. I'm really excited about it. Not only will this be great for my lungs, range of motion and mood; it will help with that big butt problem.
Off to the VA today for a routine appointment. For those of you traveling the 215, you've been warned.
Have a great day all!