Sunday, August 30, 2009
I have spent the last few days reading about the Body Ecology Diet. I am not yet sure that it is right for me, but overall it is a diet I believe in and feel may help my digestion, liver and dampness issues which in turn would help with the inflamed joints. Plus, over the last few years this diet has come up more than once with various people and in different reading I have done which makes me think there is a reason for that and I shouldn't ignore it.
When I was originally diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis I was beginning to follow many of the principles of Weston A Price and the recipes from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon which are based on traditional diets. When I needed to do an elimination diet, I put everything else on hold and never got back to the Nourishing Traditions cookbook. The Body Ecology Diet follows many of the same basic beliefs but fits in a little better with what I am currently doing with my diet - it is not vegetarian, it doesn't contain soy, it relies heavily on fermented foods which balances out our insides, it reduces sugar, and the grains used are gluten free. Plus, the diet focuses on positive visualization for good health. I like that! It does involve work though which I am not sure I am up to as I have added several things to my daily schedule already. But the work involves preparing fermented veggies which I know my body needs.
I will keep reading and see what I think. It may be for me and it may not. What I do know is that my body has the ability to heal and I have noticed that each flare-up lasts just a little bit less time than the last one which is my proof that my body is getting stronger. I am on the right path with what I am doing, but that doesn't mean I can't keep searching for the lucky ticket that finally takes care of this disease once and for all.
Our two and a half year old border collie, Izzy, has several jobs at our house, none of which challenge her intelligence completely. (Border collies are known to be one of the smartest dogs.) But, we do what we can living in a suburban neighborhood without any sheep to herd. Each morning she has the job of waking up the kids. If they wake up on their own, she hears the command, "Say good morning to _____." If it is Alexander or Sophia she runs to them and licks their face. If it is Steve, she runs for a toy. Above is a photo of Izzy this morning as she said "Good morning." to Steve. You can't see it but her tail is wagging back and forth like crazy. She loves this morning ritual. I do too. It is healing to see her enthusiam early in the morning.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
I feel like rheumatoid arthritis has taken control of my life right now. It has sucked the positive thoughts out of my mind and replaced them with feelings of frustration, loss and panic. I know the visions of a healing body are within me, but right now they are hiding. They are afraid of being hurt, afraid of being let down. So for the moment, I will let them hide deep within me where they are safe so that they can come out in a few days and motivate me to keep going again.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
My children have never been to school. When my son was about three years old we decided we would give homeschooling a try. When he was five years old I started our "school at home". We worked on some letter recognition for several days and then my five year old Alexander said, "Mom, if you want me to do this I will, but I don't really want to."
This wasn't the way I wanted our homeschooling experience to be. So, I put things aside and started searching for natural types of learning and stumbled on a type of homeschooling known as "unschooling". The name seemed a little negative to me at first but I read on and couldn't stop. This was it! This was exactly the type of learning I wanted to happen for my children.
The unschooling philosophy often comes from books written by John Holt but has many interruptions. What I have learned from meeting numerous unschooling families is that each family has to make it work according to their own family needs taking every one's thoughts and feelings into consideration. For my family, unschooling is a natural extension of attachment parenting. My children shared a family bed, they weaned from my breast when ready, their thoughts and feelings have been respected and their individual time schedules have been appreciated. We have always tried to honor the fact that we are each different and therefore our needs/wants will differ. In order to make unschooling, rather than "school at home" work is that you have to trust 100% that your children are naturally curious human beings that want to learn about the world and all it has to offer.
My children have learned to read at a far different pace from each other. They have learned math, history and science through play, family discussions, reading together and alone, outings, TV, friends and more. We do not provide a curriculum for them but rather follow their lead of interests and needs. People new to the unschooling philosophy often worry that our children won't get everything they need to be successful citizens. I find this the complete opposite. When children have never been forced to learn, they enjoy learning. They crave more and more! They can't seem to get enough. They ask questions, they learn to investigate, they learn to problem solve, they learn how to learn in a way that fits them individually without having to give up their self esteem or love for learning. They also take breaks. Unschooling children are often criticized because they take breaks between learning. I find it fascinating because I do the same thing. I can read and read and read about rheumatoid arthritis, gluten free diets, self healing, etc and then one day I will say, "That is enough." My brain cannot handle anymore and I need a break to allow my brain to let all the information settle and become meaningful to me. Children do the same thing in their own way. They just don't feel guilty about it!
So, today as we prepare for a visit from my mom and participate in a "Not Back to School" picnic with our unschooling friends we feel lucky. We feel lucky that we are free to educate our children in a way that fits our individual family's values and goals. We feel lucky that along this unschooling road we have met so many wonderful people with similar philosophies to our own and many who have had ideas that have clashed with our own but from whom we have learned great lessons from.
As each of us start our new school year out either in school or at home, I hope it is successful!
Sunday, August 16, 2009
On the drive to the forest preserve, I was thinking about how far I have come in the last year. Last summer my fingers were so stiff I didn't trust myself to pull on the brakes of the bike. My wrists and shoulders were weak and every bump hurt. My knees were swollen and peddling just hurt. This severely limited our riding time. This last week and a half I have felt energized by riding. It is almost as if my body can't get enough. I wake up looking forward to the day's ride. I go to bed tired, but it's a good tired.
With so many good days and more physical activity than I have had in a while, I have been reminding myself that any day I may wake up and my knee will be fully swollen and painful again. I know it can happen. I have been through this enough times. But, I keep visualizing myself the way I want to be. I see my left knee the size of my right. I see myself riding into November and putting biking gear on my Christmas list. I see spring coming and hopping back on my bike without any problems. Visualization can create great things and I am keeping those thoughts in my mind because that is my goal.
So, when I downloaded our photos from the ride, I saw how large my left knee still looks compared to my right and panicked. "Oh no! I am not doing as well as I thought!" The swelling has gone down a lot but to look at this photo, I can still see it has a long ways to go. This is when I discovered how far I have come. As soon as the panic entered my mind, I wiped it out. I have had over a week and a half of long rides, walking, and swimming everyday! I haven't had hardly any pain and I can feel my knee cap again. That is progress.
I decided not to focus on the negative but focus on the positive. Regularly visualizing good things for ourselves makes it easier to return to that place during panic moments. I removed the negative from my mind and replaced it with the photo below. Here we are 1/3 of the way through the ride. I sat on Steve's lap and gave him a kiss on the cheek. Sitting in his arms enjoying an activity we have both always enjoyed together is how I want to remember this day. I am making tremendous progress and although I still have a ways to go, I need to focus on where I have come rather than where I need to be.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
"Chicken." ~ From a mother whose child didn't want to get in the pool.
As a parent who practices attachment parenting, I find statements like these alarming. If our children learn at a very young age that we will not be there for them if they don't do what we want, what do we expect from them as both teenagers and adults? I know, people say to me all the time, "I grew up that way and I am fine." I don't believe that. We are living in a world of people suffering from disease, obseity, emotional problems, insecurities, etc. I strongly believe that if we can let our children know from a very early age that we honor their personal time schedules as well as their individual needs and wants and that we will be there for them no matter what, that we can change the world for the better.
As an attachment parent I taught my children to swim without the threats, without yelling, and without ridiculing. I held them close to me in the pool when they were ready to enter the pool and always let them know I was there for them. I reassured them over and over that I would not let them go and I kept my word. If they weren't ready to dip their head, then we waited. If they only wanted to swim a few feet away from me, then I stayed nearby, if they wanted me to sit by the sidelines when they dove in the pool then that is where I was. Yes, it took several years before they were proficient swimmers but I wasn't just teaching them to swim. I was also reinforcing that I am always there for them and respect their individual time frames for learning.
For more information on attachment parenting check out these sources:
The Natural Child Project - One of my favorite sites that I recommend to all new parents!
Natural Family Site
Attachment Parenting Index - Dr. Sears
The Natural Child: Parenting from the Heart - Jan Hunt
NightTime Parenting by Dr. Sears - This was my introduction to attachment parenting. I remember picking this book up in the book store and remember how it changed my life in only a few minutes of reading. I recommend this book for any new parent.
The path we took today was pretty congested so the ride was slower than some of our other rides through forest preserves, but that just gave us more time to view the scenery! We saw about ten elk and one that was nursing. It was adorable. We shared the path with walkers, roller bladers, other bikers, fisherman, old people, young people, fat people, skinny people, couples, groups and singles. I enjoy seeing the variety of people that get outside to relax and enjoy nature, especially when you consider this preserve is about one to two miles outside of the Village of Schaumburg which is crazy busy with shopping, businesses and lots of traffic.
Today is in the high 80's so shade was good for everyone! (I know Wichita family...we have turned into wimps when we can't handle high 80's to low 90's. I am so ashamed.)
We decided not to stop and take pictures of the water, trees, paths, etc today but I did snap quick photos of my favorite fellow bike riders.
Alexander with his new Kona. Alexander and Steve always make sure all of our bikes are packed and unpacked. Thanks guys!
Sophia who moved up to Alexander's bike but will probably need a new bike by next summer the way she is growing. She is as tall as me. (Okay, I know 5'0 is not a great feat but I am not ready to be the shortest in the family.)
Steve adjusting the seat on Contessa (my bike). He always takes good care of me!
We have another ride planned for tomorrow. I am taking full advantage of my break from joint pain and making sure I enjoy the warm weather before it is gone.
Friday, August 14, 2009
My appointment was good. I shared with my acupuncturist Jim how great my week had been - walking, bike riding and swimming! We discussed how much the swelling has reduced in my knee and how far it still has to go. Jim reminded me of the importance of visualizing my knee healed and how much influence we have in our healing. Very valuable advice.
We also discussed that since my knee has been swollen for about two years, there is a chance it has calcified. I felt a little anxious discussing this issue because this issue has always made me nervous. However, I felt comforted that although there may be a little calcification that has happened, Jim feels that my knee will be about 90% of where it was before the swelling began and that I will be able to accomplish all the goals I have set for myself.
I view the discussion we had today as a good sign. When I was originally diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, deformities and lack of movement were one of my major concerns. Then the pain and discomfort became my main concerns. So, I feel like going back to this being a concern is a sign to me that I am improving. My energy is no longer focused on the pain but instead is focusing more on what I can do physically now and in the near future. If it continues as it has been lately, my future looks good.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Swimming this week has been a big deal for me because it was my goal this summer to get into the pool without feeling my joints tightening up. It has been great to get in and play with the kids. Yesterday they challenged me to swimming laps with them. It felt good to work my body to exhaustion. But, honestly I was surprised at how well the kids did. They would swim a lap and right away be ready for the next lap. Their endurance has improved a lot while I have been sitting on the sidelines.
I am happy with my week. It has felt full!
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
I think with any challenge that life throws us, we are taken back at first and feel vulnerable. I know I felt that way when I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. I felt like it was going to gulp me up and spit me out without any say from me. But, each year that has gone by, I have found a stronger sense of myself. I look back to when I was first diagnosed and I would hyperventilate just reading about rheumatoid arthritis. Today, I feel proud of where I am.
I believe that the strength I have gained from my experiences with rheumatoid arthritis will make the next challenge in my life that much easier because I will know it is a process. I will know that deep within myself is a strength stronger than the world or myself knows about. I am looking forward to seeing my friend find that inner strength although I wish she didn't have to go through the tough spots in between. But, our strength can't be given to us. We have to find it for ourselves.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Check out the post here.
Wow! My thoughts are my best friends. I love thinking of my thoughts this way. It helps remind me that I need to be kind to them and treat them with respect.
Right now the thoughts going through my mind are about the beautiful day I had with my daughter yesterday. We were left home alone for the day without a car. Since it was so hot we decided to go swimming. Once again, I was in the pool swimming without any tightening of joints! My daughter said, "Why is it always fun when you are in the pool with us?" (Huge grin) We swam for a longer period of time than we planned because we were having so much fun. Afterwards we rode our bikes over for take-out food and watched a movie together before the boys came home.
There are days unlike yesterday when life gets in the way of treating my thoughts as my best friend. About six months ago my chiropractor recommended using Rescue Remedy anytime I had a negative thought. He said, "You will be going through a lot so stock up." I couldn't imagine that to be true since I consider myself a fairly positive person. But, he was right! So many times during the day I found myself thinking, "This is never going to go away." or "I hate when this happens." or "This person makes me so mad." When I took the Rescue remedy, I found myself taking a deep breath and rethinking the thought. When I turned the thought around to something positive, I could feel the tension leaving my body. I know for a fact that when I am under stress, it affects my rheumatoid arthritis so learning to control negative situations is vital.
I have a feeling that I will always need to remind myself to turn my thoughts away from being my enemy to being my best friend, but it does get easier the more I concentrate on it and especially when I have great days that I can spend with the people I love! It seems that the more you put yourself in positive situations, the easier it is to think positive thoughts.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
This morning I was a little frustrated with my husband because of some changes we are trying to make. Fortunately, I needed to walk Izzy which always gives me time to reflect on my day, relationships and life in general. I realized that I am expecting Steve to make changes that I have not yet made myself. I guess I don't want to be the first to change, although I don't have any problem giving him a hard time for not making the changes himself.
The changes we are making are going to be a challenge for us right now but in the long run they will benefit all of us. I have a good guy and I just need to learn to be patient with him and myself. Change is not easy for anyone.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
My day started off on its regular path of taking a 20-25 minute walk with Izzy, our border collie, in the morning. If you have ever walked a dog that wants to control everything that moves, you know you have to have strength and balance to walk her. There have been days that I felt I would probably fall over trying to calm her as she lunged at an innocent bike rider. But, she is getting better. She was bred to herd sheep, so bikers have become what she tries to herd.
Last Sunday we went on a family bike ride even though I wasn't feeling that great. I had some swelling and pain in my knee, my back was stiff and my shoulder was coming out of a flare-up. The bike ride made me feel amazing. So, my son Alexander and I decided to start riding in the mornings. We had errands to run and decided to make them a part of our bike ride. We rode three miles to the library and then another mile to the post office and back home. Almost an eight mile round trip ride. When I got off my bike to go into the library and post office, I noticed the limp I had earlier was gone. I think the stretching and getting my blood going is really helping my knee. The best part of the ride was hearing Alexander say, "This is really fun. I am glad we are doing this."
Now, this would seem to be quite the accomplishment already, but I decided to take it another step further. As soon as we arrived home from our bike ride, we headed to the swimming pool with Sophia. I soaked up some sun and then decided I was just going to take the plunge and jump into the pool. Last summer when I was at my worst with rheumatoid arthritis, it was too much to go from the warm air outside to the coolness of the pool. As soon as I would get in the water, my joints would tighten up and I would feel miserable. The pool has always been a place where I can enjoy time with the kids without any interruptions. They like when I swim and play with them and it has really bothered me that I haven't been able to participate in this with them. So yesterday I got on the diving board and decided to do it! To my children's excitement (Yes, even teens like their mother to swim with them), I jumped in and was fine! It was cold but I didn't feel my joints tightening up. (Thank you Chinese herb!) We played for about an hour in the water. It was so fun! I had met my summer goal of getting in the water and playing with the kids!
After a little resting time at home I made dinner, vacuumed the living room and took another 20-25 minute walk with Izzy, only this time Sophia joined us. It was nice. It was like my energy was never going to end.
My day was full. I felt like I was living in the moment all day and I loved it. This is more than I have done in a really long time. At the end of the day I wasn't sore or stiff but I was extremely tired. I was asleep by 9:30PM. But, after a day like this, even Super Woman deserves a little rest, right?
Fortunately a new holistic vet moved into the area and is only twenty minutes away from home. When Izzy tore a ligament in her knee, she did not receive x-rays. Instead she received herbs and chiropractic care. For four visits and herbs, we paid less than $300. Not to bad when I consider a neighbor who had a similar problem spent over a thousand and is now struggling with getting her pet off medications.
Izzy instantly became a member of our family and like any member of our family, we want to treat her well. We make sure she is exercised everyday, we set up play dates with her best canine friend, we pet her often and provide lots of mental stimulation (hide and seek is her favorite). Also, we make sure she isn't eating a diet full of processed food. Originally we bought a pre-made raw food diet which she preferred 100% over the kibble she received before coming to our home. Then she started throwing it up. My original plan was to provide a homemade diet anyhow, so this seemed the perfect time. Now Izzy gets different foods everyday. I purchase meat, organs and bones from our farmer and mix it with veggies and fruits that we are eating. Not too challenging. If you are considering switching to a raw food diet for your pet or just curious about raw food diets, check out this video.
The health of our pets is important. Just as with our human family members, if we don't treat our bodies right, we will pay the consequences. By reducing the vaccines we put in their bodies to the foods they eat, we can help keep our pets healthy and happy for a long time.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Monday, August 3, 2009
This morning I woke up feeling pretty good. My acupuncture appointment went well. We discussed how my body is still having problems with dampness and we have had rain off and on since Thursday. We will continue to work on that issue through acupuncture and the Chinese herb. After my appointment the kids and I accomplished everything else on our list: grocery shopping for the week, picked up meat, milk and maple syrup from farmer, haircut for Alexander, library, post office and more. I love feeling good and having energy to accomplish all that needs to be done. So, Rheumatoid Arthritis, start packing because this visit is just about over!
Monday mornings I have an early acupuncture appointment. Early for me anyhow. So last night I asked Steve to wake me up before he leaves for work. He usually gives me a kiss but tries not to wake me. He said, "Why don't you just set your alarm in case I forget." I went on to explain to him that after years of going without an alarm clock to wake me up, I just can't stand the thought of going back. Sophia piped in right away. She totally got it. Since she is homeschooled, she too never wakes up to an alarm clock. Instead she wakes up to her momma's voice or when she has had enough sleep.
I think I am a morning person because I like the quiet. I like being the only one awake where I can enjoy a quiet cup of tea and my own thoughts. Luckily I am able to do that without the loud sounds of an alarm clock.