Sunday, February 27, 2011

Cold and Flu Season

Now that I am back to taking medications for rheumatoid arthritis, I have wondered how my body would stand up to the cold and flu season.  When the Enbrel nurse was here in July she warned me of being around little kids now that my immune system is suppressed.  Since I am around little kids a lot and many adults who come to school sick, I am at risk.  Also, both of my own kids and my husband have been sick one time each this winter.  While I am not yet in the clear yet, I am happy to report that I have done nicely this cold and flu season.  Several times I thought something was about to attack me and then it quickly disappeared.  Last week I woke up with a little sore throat and thought, "This time I am going to get it."  Steve told me, "Just say 'no' to it."  That made sense so I did and fortunately nothing panned out.  I am in the clear again.  I haven't had a cold or anything all winter.  I don't get flu shots.  The only thing I can think of is that my diet is really clean and it is keeping me strong.   Or, it could be that now that I have mentioned not getting sick, I will be sick tomorrow.  Let's hope not.     

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Foods We Eat DO Make a Difference

"Gorillas Going Green" -  In an effort to help captive gorillas suffering from heart disease, researchers took the gorillas off a processed diet and instead gave them natural foods like romaine lettuce, dandelion greens, endives, alfalfa, green beans, flax seeds, and even tree branches which they strip of bark and leaves.  Not only did the gorillas lose 65 pounds each, it also changed their behaviors.  Hmmm...I wonder what a diet free of processed foods would do for humans? 

My favorite quote from the article is "And, we're just recognizing that surviving on a diet and being healthy on a diet are different. We've raised our standards and are asking, are they in the best condition to not only survive but to thrive?"

I think we can learn much from this video and article.

Speaking of good foods, check out my friend Kate's new blog KateAlice Cookbook.   Kate shares some similiarities with me:  1) We both have autoimmune diseases.  2)  We both believe that diet has a lot to do with the inflammation in our bodies.   3) Although our overall diets are different, we both follow a "grain free" diet and have found wonderful benefits by eliminating this food group.  No matter what your diet choices, I think you will love the photos, writing, and recipe ideas she has to offer.  Since she is new to the blogging community, you might also want to leave a comment and welcome her!

The foods we eat DO make a difference.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Rheumatoid Arthritis, Feet Pain and Barefoot Walking

I have mentioned on my blog many times that there is a direct connection between my digestive issues and joint pain.  I have had some digestive issues return lately and as they slowly made their way back into my life, the pain in my feet returned and bending my fingers became more difficult.  The pain in my joints was at its worse when my digestive issues were at their worse.  This week, I have made some changes that have improved my digestion and guess what?  The pain in my feet is almost gone and my fingers are bending with more ease.  Amazing.

By Friday of last week my feet hurt so bad I didn't want to leave the house because that meant putting shoes on my feet.  Even my Dansko clogs which usually are my best friend sent a shooting pain up the balls of my feet and into each toe.  I decided to give my feet a break over the weekend and not wear shoes.  No shoes, no pain.  When I did have to go out, I put my Vibram KSO Treks on and wore them out.  This was the first weekend since Christmas, when I received my Vibrams, that I felt it was warm enough to wear them outside. (I have been working out in them at home.)  Wow!  They make a huge difference.  Although the hammertoes on my right foot struggle to make their way into each individual toe, the left foot goes right in and feels wonderful once it is on.   Merrell has a new barefoot shoe out that I would LOVE to try since I wouldn't have to fit each toe into its own space, but spending another $100 on a pair of shoes isn't going to happen anytime soon. 

Yesterday morning I started reading The Barefoot Book: 50 Great Reasons to Kick Off Your Shoes by Daniel Howell, M.D.  I love it!  I keep thinking about the following statement that I read on page three, "Encased within shoes whenever we exercise, our feet miss out on the action; while the rest of our body gets a workout, our feet are unable to flex, twist, grasp, feel or breathe.  The stench of the sneaker and the itch of athlete's foot are just two ways our feet are trying to tell us something is wrong.  Modern research supports their often ignored cries, however, and the evidence is clear: Barefoot walking is essential to healthy feet and the constant use of shoes is harming us."

Friday, February 11, 2011


I buy 14 dozen eggs once a month when I pick up my order from the farmer we have been using for about eight years now.  Pick up is on Monday and we are out of eggs.  I made a quick trip to Whole Foods yesterday to buy a dozen until Monday.  As I looked through the selection of eggs, I noticed the poster above and felt nauseous.  My immediate thoughts were, "How sad that we have to be told that the hens have continuous access to food and water because that means a large number are not.  Also, they 'may' engage in natural behaviors like walking, nesting, and spreading their wings?  That truly makes me sad. What about sunlight?"  I am guessing since it isn't mentioned that they don't have access to sunlight.  I just couldn't purchase the eggs.  I have seen lots of information about how chickens are maintained which is one of the many reasons we purchase from farmers we know and trust, but seeing this notice just left me feeling sad for the animals that "may" not ever experience simple things like walking, nesting or even spreading their wings.  It just isn't right.  I feel like there are a lot of places my money can go, but good quality food is a number one place for me.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Slowing Down and Enjoying the Moment

Izzy makes herself a pillow out of our grocery bags.

Slowing down is good.  Enjoying the moment we are in right now is even better.  I was given a very special gift four years ago when Izzy, our border collie, became part of our family.  Each and every day she pulls me away from the craziness of life and into a few moments of pure calm and happiness. 

She has always been my napping partner, but lately when I lay down, I wake up and find her head resting on my shoulder. 

My napping partner.  I love that she is so snuggly. 

The kids say that after I leave for work in the morning, she runs upstairs and lays in my spot on the bed.  I do notice the bed is unmade when I get home even though I made it before leaving.  :)  When she was younger, she would sit by the window waiting for me to return home.

Steve laughed the other day at how she "talks" to me.  He said, "This is definitely something she has developed over the years."  It is true.  She only uses it with me.  Her "talk" involves chomping her teeth together when she is trying to tell me something.  She comes to me for everything - to tell Steve to play with her, to go outside, when she wants food, when the kids are up too late making noise, etc.

She knows when it is nighttime and if she needs to go outside, she quietly tells me. She is respectful of our sleep, but once our alarm goes off, she makes sure we get up, even if she goes right back to bed.  Even on the weekend if I am not up by 6:30, I have to tell her it is okay for me to sleep in, otherwise she wants to make sure I am up.  She likes jumping back into bed with me knowing she took care of her job.

She needs to be busy and constantly watches out our front window. She isn't a fan of other dogs walking by our house and gets quite upset with UPS trucks, mail carriers, garbage trucks, and school buses.  Where her barking once scared them, they all just smile and wave at me now.  One UPS driver said, "Don't worry. She is good.  She wants to protect you." 

I love pulling up in the driveway knowing Izzy will greet us after any time away from home.

As my body has grown stronger over the last several months, I have been able to play with Izzy more frequently.  She now comes to me with a ball in her mouth or her tug toy.  I love playing with her. 

How can I resist her? 

Last week we ended up with about 20 inches of snow.  While we were shoveling the driveway, I took a short break and walked Izzy around on her leash.  She walked straight over to where the sidewalk should be, turned and started her walk.  She wasn't about to let the piles of snow stop her from her daily walk.  I felt bad for her but I wasn't about to walk in 20 inches of snow for a walk.  She had to wait until the driveway was shoveled and then we took her out for a walk on the street.  It drove her a little crazy. She kept trying to get back on the sidewalk.  She is such a creature of habit.  

After Alexander shoveled the back porch and we were able to open the door, I let Izzy out.  She quickly had me laughing out loud hollering for everyone in the house to come look at her as she ran back and forth from one side of the yard to the other making a path for herself.  This line is exactly where she goes to potty.  I had to laugh later in the night when she was outside barking.  I called her in and she followed that path exactly, making a sharp left turn on the path she made towards the house.  Except for the path she has created for herself, the snow in our back yard has been barely touched.   
Her running looked more like hopping.

Her job was complete. 

Everyone comes into our lives for a reason.  As a border collie, Izzy comes with a lot of energy and obsessive traits along with a calm and loving personality.   Many of her traits have challenged me to learn more patience and many require absolutely nothing except stopping and enjoying the moment.  

Friday, February 4, 2011

New Arthritis Informational Site

Last week I received an email from Jim at eArthritisHealth, who has an informational arthritis site in beta. He asked if I would take a look at it and give some feedback as to what I believe makes a good informational arthritis site. Jim says, “We have aggressive plans to make this site not only the source for the best information on arthritis, but also the best place for people to go at any stage of their condition. Our articles are written by health professionals and peer-reviewed in order to give the utmost credibility to the information we provide. Our plans for the site include adding sections to help people figure out what type of arthritis they have based on the location and symptoms present, a discussion forum, and listings of medical specialists across the country (and world) who treat forms of arthritis. “

Honestly, I don’t feel like I am a great choice for this job because I tend to dislike informational arthritis sites. I rarely visit them because they leave me with a feeling of complete loss of hope. I need to feel like I have control over my disease which is why I continue following a clean diet and read/experiment with alternative methods that have worked well for others, while taking my drugs of course. But, I did try hard to look through the site and give the best feedback possible.


• Lots of good videos that would provide good information for someone new to arthritis.

• I like how they broke up the videos into individual body parts.

• Videos of rheumatoid arthritis do show faces of younger people.

• I like that there are photos of the authors. For some reason I like to put a face with the person who has written what I am reading.

• Although there isn’t a discussion forum yet, that is something I might possibly use for specific questions I have for other rheumatoid arthritis folks.

• The site is easy to use.


• When I clicked on the site I was immediately turned off by the photo and almost clicked out. Photos of arthritis still freak me out even after seven years of dealing with this and I don’t understand why we have to be bombarded with these photos on websites, doctor’s offices and pamphlets. I believe I have come to terms with the fact that I will have some deformities, but seeing photos like these still make me hyperventilate. If I wasn’t looking at the site for specific reasons, I would have left immediately. (Later in the day Sophia came up behind me at the computer and said, “Eeewwww…..what are you doing on that site? You don’t usually look at sites with pictures like that.” She knows me so well.)

• This isn’t a site I find useful to me now. What I am looking for now are stories from people that are living with rheumatoid arthritis as I find this more beneficial to me than the same old research. There is only so much information available on rheumatoid arthritis so it all sounds the same.

• There are not enough photos of people. I would like to see more photos of people in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s shown. Maybe there could even be photos of people smiling. We do smile, right?

• Although a few alternative choices are mentioned in the glossary, I don’t see them discussed in the articles. Maybe that will come with time.

• In “rheumatoid arthritis treatment”, medication and exercise are the only areas of treatment explored. Meds are helping me a lot, but I don’t believe for one minute that diet, stress relief, positive thinking, etc don’t make a huge difference.

Check out the site if you have time and leave feedback here. Jim seems like a great guy and I am sure he would appreciate any feedback you have so he can make this the best site possible.