The Day to Day of Living with Fibromyalgia

Abundance

I first noticed that something was wrong with me, other than just normal fatigue, when one day it hurt to lift my arms and pain radiated from my elbows. For about a year my lower arms and elbows ached really bad. After that, I began to notice burning in both my shoulders and lower back areas. A burning sensation like I had pulled a muscle or injured something in those areas. The year was 1995 and in the area I was living in the doctors I was seeing had no clue what was wrong with me. Tests were run and concluded nothing. I was told to rest more and eat a better diet.

Years later at a doctor’s appointment for what I would later discover on my own was IC (interstitial cystitis), I was asked if I had ever been diagnosed with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).  Yes, I had been in 1986. Back then I think the doctor called both of the things I had complained of–overactive bladder, which would turn out to be IC, and a sluggish? lazy, I think? bowel, which would turn out to be IBS.

Fast forward to 2004 when symptoms of my fibromyalgia were in full swing. I suffered from burning pain in shoulders, buttocks, and hips, burning hot feet, sore elbows, upper back and neck, brain fog, fatigue so bad I could have fallen asleep standing up, and an all-around feeling of depression, and loss of appetite & ambition.

Some of this I attributed to the fact I had just quit smoking.  But the level of pain I was experiencing was not from my not smoking anymore. At this point, I was also dealing with issues from IC, and some hormonal issues like hot flashes. So off to the doctors I went to see what was going on. After three blood draws I was escorted into a room to wait. When my physician arrived he concluded I did not have a UTI, and the one test he had done for hormones did not conclude any hormonal fluctuations. His feeling was that I go see a urologist. So I did. The urologist asked me a couple of questions–same ones the doctor did and informed me that what was wrong with me would go away on its own. I asked him what was wrong with me? He stated–“you have what we call little ulcers on your bladder wall, sometimes things like this happen, they will go away on their own.” Once home, of course, I went straight to my computer and googled ulcers on bladder wall and found out what I had was called IC, and I promptly joined a community of fellow sufferers at https://www.ic-network.com/ 

Had it not been for this network I wouldn’t have known what I had wrong with me, how to cope with it, or what things I could do that would help me live a normal life again.

I’ve probably had fibromyalgia since I was a teenager. Though there is no concrete reason as to why people get fibro, some think it may be due to an undiagnosed infection, injury, PTSD, traumatic childhood, and genes. All of which I am predisposed to or have suffered from for as long as I can remember. My nature is that of a worry wart. I hide my anxiety well, most would never believe I am a nervous person. I have always had what I call dark moods–dark days. I have suffered from PTSD for most of my life–learning this just recently, and had two undiagnosed infections (Strep, UTI) both when I was in my early twenties, and my first back injury at 18.

Add to that I started smoking at an early age, had a poor diet up until my forties, am a recovering alcoholic, and worked in healthcare twenty years. I’d also experienced two ectopic pregnancies, two premature births (24, 26 weeks) and a stillborn baby when I was between the ages of 18-24.

Now, in my fifties, I have suffered well over 25 years with fibromyalgia and have also been diagnosed with myofascial pain syndrome (pain from knots in muscle), arthritis in my back, and feet, and PTSD.

When I was in my forties I began a lifestyle change. First I quit smoking. Second I decided to eliminate all chemicals from my life. I started by–

  • Changing my diet to a more whole food, organic, diet.
  • Eliminating all chemicals, sprays, cleaners, lotions, deodorant’s, detergents, and make-up.
  • I stopped using store bought feminine hygiene products and invested in mama pads.
  • I started drinking water vs. pop, tea, coffee or alcohol.
  • I started to be more active–daily walks, bike rides, hiking, and pelvic floor exercises along with daily stretches.
  • I started taking naps and sleeping a minimum of eight hours a night.
  • I did everything in my power to eliminate all unnecessary stress from my life-priorities.
  • My health and my quality of life became an important priority in my life and my husband’s life.

I’ve lived in the same area for almost 22 years and dealt with, due to our insurance through work, the same inept doctors this entire period of time. For the most part, I have found that fibromyalgia is still not taken seriously by many doctors. The push seems to be to give the patient a ton of anti-depressants, and or, pain-relievers and bid them farewell. I’ve found that by my doing the aforementioned list of things my mood is better, thus I am more able to perform my household duties, and work. A healthy mind helps one to have a healthier body is my mantra. I have many days that my fatigue is nearly overwhelming, and my pain keeps me grounded in my chair a bit longer than I’d like. But somehow and someway I pull through it, and I am 100% certain it is because I changed my lifestyle so drastically almost 14 years ago.  Everyone has a different story, experience, threshold, and life to live so my experience may not be yours. I definitely believe in removing chemicals from your life. I am a firm believer that if you smoke and drink and suffer from fibro that you are only making things worse–seek out a health provider and look at all your options for quitting. If there were three things I have done that have made a difference for me living with fibromyalgia I would say they are–

  • Adequate Rest
  • Balanced diet- whole foods vs. processed foods
  • Less Stress- you’re always going to have stressful things in your life. Prioritize those things that are stressing you and work on one thing at a time. For the things you cannot control or change–let them go.

I’ve also found the Facebook group –Fibro Colors Fibromyalgia Awareness (@FibroColors) to be of great comfort to me, and also extremely informative.

I hope the new year brings you peace and good health!

Advertisements

Spring Planning– Seed Catalogs for 2018

It’s not long after Christmas that I begin to think gardening. This year I requested my seed catalogs early–

Richters Herb and Vegetable Catalogue and Seed Savers.

I mentioned earlier this fall I was going to overwinter a geranium and rosemary plant. Well, the geranium ended up getting gnats in it and all new growth was yellow so I threw it. The rosemary plant, however—

has some new growth. I could hardly believe it because it has really been looking rough. For once following directions for care has gotten me somewhere. Anyone else out there have the same problems as I do when you follow directions of care. I’ve killed African violets, succulents, Christmas cactus, so many to mention following care directions. But my 40-year-old cactus and a couple of succulents I have are thriving and I’ve ignored them both.

At Christmas time I bought a bag of Halos at Walmart, which almost always tend to be a bad idea, but this year perfection!

Three a day has kept the doctor away even when my husband came down with a slight cold/allergy that lasted for four days after Christmas. I had him take Sambucol Elderberry syrup from his first symptom and whatever he had was cut in half and like I said lasted just four days.

My Lemon Cypress is holding on as well–

This year, coming soon, I will be posting about Endocrine Disruptors–a subject I’ve been researching for about three months.  I will have that post completed in the next two weeks. I also hope to take you on my journey ordering and caring for Heirloom tomatoes, what I order from my seed catalogs, some favorite Keto and Paleo recipes I tried over the holidays, and so much more.

 

 

If you’d like to make a one-time donation for my writing, research or anything that has inspired you through my blog you can here-

PayPal.Me/KimVanderWerf

I thank you and my family thanks you. If you ever have any questions about any of my posts or just want to talk to me feel free to email me at runjumpbegin@gmail.com

 

A Very Cranberry Christmas

Cranberries are definitely not just for Thanksgiving. Cranberries work perfectly paired with ham, duck, and turkey at Christmas time too.

Last Christmas I made an Orange Cranberry Bread w/ Honey from a recipe here that was a hit.  It worked great to serve it Christmas morning, and by Christmas dinner, it was ALL gone.

Every year I watch two Christmas movies from the show Little House on the Prairie–A Merry Ingalls Christmas and then the past three years I’ve made one homemade ornament or decoration inspired by these heartwarming shows. The first year we made a silver star out of aluminum foil like the one Carrie buys for a penny at the mercantile. The second year my husband made this paper garland–

this year we are making a cranberry garland like this one over at Ocean Spray only we’re skipping the popcorn.

At Thanksgiving time I don’t make cranberry sauce, I make a cranberry relish instead. I use a recipe by Tyler Florence that works great and goes well with turkey, ham, or duck. I also use it to spread like butter over bread with leftover ham or turkey for sandwiches.

So, that’s my story about my love for cranberries at Christmas time. Making homemade ornaments for Christmas is a way to incorporate something simple, yet cherished, into your holiday making. Cranberries though traditionally served at Thanksgiving look marvelous and taste great when added to bread, relish, even salsa.

I’ll be sharing my post with Marty over at A Stroll Thru Life— come on over and join the party!

Thanksgiving Menu–adding a couple of new dishes to the menu

I’ve been making Thanksgiving dinner since I was 18 years old. For my husband I’ve been making the same Thanksgiving meal almost 23 years. Several years back I decided not to try new dishes for the first time during holiday meal making, because if they don’t turn out then my stress level goes through the roof. Nothing worse than a dish that flopped and there are a minimum of10 hungry people at the table. Every year though I say to myself– “self, I should try something new this year”, but I never do. Until this year when I began prepping our Thanksgiving meal a few weeks in advance with a trial run of mashed cauliflower and a new dessert- pumpkin bundt cake with cream cheese frosting.

The recipes I chose worked great and both the cauliflower and pumpkin bundt cake turned out terrific.

I followed a recipe from Eating Well for Creamy Mashed Cauliflower.

Now, I don’t like garlic. Well, I used to, but I haven’t been able to tolerate it or onions for about five years now. No clue why?

Once my cauliflower was cooked, mashed and creamy I added butter, buttermilk, and nutmeg. Try Nutmeg– I promise you this will become your go to seasoning. It works well on cauliflower that has been steamed or boiled (just sprinkle a little over the top once done) and works great with green beans and brussel sprouts. Just make sure to have a bit of butter worked into the veggies and then lightly sprinkle with nutmeg. In place of butter, if you like, you can use any oil you would normally drizzle on veggies. I would find a good priced quality extra virgin olive oil if you are opposed to adding butter.

My menu looks something like this—

Roasted 16# Turkey
Mashed Potatoes
Mashed Cauliflower
Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Baked Squash drizzled with Maple Syrup
Gluten Free Stuffing
Homemade Parker House Rolls
Pumpkin Bundt Cake
Pecan Pie  

(I love King Arthur Flour recipes– their pecan pie recipe is a big hit everytime I make it)

Until next time Happy Thanksgiving!!!

My love affair with heirloom tomatoes

To be truly honest with you when I was growing up I’m not sure what kind of tomato we were growing. I suppose they could have been heirloom? Maybe they were started from seeds grandma saved? There was no Walmart’s or Home Depot’s back in those days, so our only source besides seed saving was purchasing plants from local greenhouses.

I’ve loved tomatoes since I was eight years old and never throughout the last forty-five years has my appetite for them waned. Up until a few years ago, I’d never had a home garden. Which meant any tomatoes I would be eating would either come from a grocery store or a Farmer’s Market. I never enjoyed grocery store tomatoes, but I ate them nonetheless. Because (ahem) I love tomatoes.

In the last three years, I started seeing Heirloom tomatoes pop up at the farm stand and a time or two at the Dane County Farmer’s Market. When I say pop up I mean scarce and rare, but it happened. I remember buying one for $4.00 about three years ago and thinking “boy that was worth every penny I spent.” But that’s a lot of money. The last two years I’ve waited patiently for the farm stand we visit every week to have them. Usually, right at the end of the season, they’ll have a half dozen heirlooms sitting at check out waiting just for me. I pay about a $1.00 a pound for these. This year the farmer saved just one big red one–the nicest one he could find just for me. I’ll take them bruised, soft, and overripe. It doesn’t matter to me. While eating the heirloom this year I vowed never to eat another tomato for the rest of my life unless it was homegrown and an heirloom tomato. No more store bought ever again.

Until you’ve tasted an heirloom tomato you have no idea what you are missing. Their taste is more than just sun-kissed, or warm and fleshy. Heirloom’s taste like the very best homemade pasta sauce you’ve ever tasted –authentic and flavorful. Nothing sold in grocery stores for the last thirty years can compare.  There are also taste differences between the different colors of heirloom tomatoes. I prefer the red ones which are quite acidic, whereas the yellow ones are very mild.

For tomatoes to qualify as Heirloom tomatoes there seed must be at least 50 years old.  I found out a lot of information here about heirloom tomatoes.

I’ve found a place online that I am going to order heirloom plants and seeds from and I am going to try to grow my own. If successful I will be delighted, and if not well–I’ll wait for the farm stand to save me a few precious tomatoes at the end of their growing season. It’s a small price to pay to be able to eat a real tomato.

Here’s an almost current picture of my container garden all wrapped up for winter!

We bungee strapped a couple more blankets around the middle of each tree hoping to keep the roots from getting cold. I read that keeping the roots from freezing is the secret to over-wintering container shrubs and trees. Fingers crossed. I brought both the rosemary bush and the last geranium inside to overwinter because both plants performed better than any flowers or herbs I’ve grown yet and I’d like them to have another chance next spring.

I’ll be sharing this post over at the lovely blog A Stroll Thru Life for Marty’s 398th Inspire Me Tuesday!

Homesteader Goal #5 & 6

Buy a cast iron skillet- check

I bought a Lodge at Walmart for $15.00. Right away I went to YouTube to watch videos on seasoning cast irons. There are a million videos out there. The first time it worked fine, but the video I watched suggested to season it a second time before use. This time it came out sticky even though I used a very very tiny bit of oil. I scrubbed it good with a brush and fried bacon in it and it seems to be doing just fine. No more stickiness.  I’ve hesitated for years buying another one after a disastrous seasoning experience in 2000.

For my birthday this past weekend, my husband bought us a Berkey Travel Water Filtration System. I’ve researched this system for over a year and we finally reached the point, tired of buying water, to purchase one. The taste of the water is incredible–absolutely incredible. We’ve been drinking Evian for years and both love it. However, the water we are getting from our Berkey is even better than that. Cleanest, clearest tasting water in the world. No more city water straight from the tap for us. The reason we didn’t buy the Big Berkey is this travel size is recommended for two people and it works just fine for us. It holds 1.5 gallons of water at a time, filters fairly quickly, and my husband has gone completely crazy over it. I’ve never ever seen him drink so much water.

Twenty-four years ago I couldn’t pay him to drink water. Then five years into our marriage he would drink flavored water. Fifteen years in still at flavored water until he started drinking Evian. Then he would drink a bottle here and there and he the last five or so years he’s up to a couple of big bottles a day. But drinking Evian is expensive, very expensive.

My goal for over a year has been to buy a water filtration system so–now we own one!

Goals 1-4 of this Urban Homesteader:

  1. learning to grow garden plants from seed
  2. learning to grow vegetables and fruits from both seed starters and plants
  3. producing food
  4. preserving food

I’m feeling pretty good. Hope you all are too! Until next time, be well.

Sundays in our home

Every Sunday in our home is roasted chicken day. It’s also fresh baked cookies day, in preparation for the work week. I begin to prepare dinner around 2:30 p.m. every Sunday and I’m out of the kitchen, usually, by 7 p.m. after clean-up. This time of year brings with it a lot of baking– I bake pumpkins and save the pumpkin for pumpkin bars and pie. I dry the pumpkin seeds for our winter population of birds. About twice a week for approximately four- six months we eat squash. We love acorn squash. Apples my husband didn’t care for were peeled, sliced, and cooked into homemade applesauce. I like mine a bit on the chunky side. For 3# of apples I got four cups of sauce–I peeled, cored, and cut the apples then added 1/4 c. sugar and heated on medium heat for 25 minutes.








Tomato Tortellini Soup

I’ve needed this soup lately. This fall has been a bit trying. We live in an area that up until six months ago was fairly quiet. Suddenly construction started around us everywhere. There has been construction on the interstate that starts up at midnight and goes on until we get up. While I realize this is the only time some of these repairs can get done– we get no sleep during these times.  Most of the construction has involved machinery that digs down deep into the cement, tears it up, chews it up, and then a truck backs up (beep, beep, beep) and collects it. Then during the day, there is construction from 6am until 6pm right across the street. On the weekends the property manager for us has been trying to have the driveway and parking lot fixed, so you guessed it over a month now of construction right outside our door. My husband sleeps right through it, me not so much. Six months of this and I’ve reached my limit. Here’s hoping for finished construction projects and long cool nights of sleep in my future.

Here’s the recipe for the Tomato Tortellini Soup 

There is nothing better after a long day of work on little sleep than a good hearty tomato soup. You will love the Tomato Tortellini, it’s easy to make and yummy.

This month has been busy already with processing squash to eat this winter, visiting nearby lavender farms, zoos, even a corn maze, and of course visiting local apple orchards and buying lots, and lots of apples for eating and applesauce.

canva-photo-editor(17) 1

I hope your fall is going great!

Fall food from the farm stand

Well it’s that time of year again when we head to the local farm stand and buy up approx. 20 acorn squash to freeze. I cut each acorn squash in half, remove the seeds, place on a cookie sheet (8 halves fit on mine) and bake for 1 hour at 375 degrees or until skins are loose and squash inside is tender. I used to brush with butter while cooking but that gets pretty messy. Once the squash is cooled down enough to handle I scoop it out into freezer bags (1- 1-1/2 cups in each), press out air, seal, date, and place into the freezer flat.  Reheat a portion or two on the stove top when ready to eat, add a bit of butter and pepper, and enjoy! While at the farm stand we  bought some of the last of the heirloom tomatoes to be found. After eating them I made a promise to myself to never buy grocery store tomatoes ever again. From now on heirloom tomatoes only. I found a great site online that will ship me some heirloom tomato plants come springtime- here.

We also bought some apples, new potatoes and sauerkraut and I fixed my husband a meal of baked apples, new potatoes, sauerkraut and local organic pork sausage. Great fall food!

Compost scraps from a broasted chicken dinner made a colorful photo. I’ve also put up 14 bags, with 2 cups each, of shredded zucchini- so zucchini bread, zucchini fritters, and zucchini pancakes are in our future.





Until next time–Happy Fall!

Cherry Clafouti

Every summer, usually around August, my husband and I head for Door County WI. This year was no exception and we arrived during cherry picking season. Between the Cherry Cobblers and Cherry Crunch, I thought for sure I wouldn’t need another cherry dessert. That was until a friend of ours suggested Cherry Clafouti. Here is the recipe I used this past week- Cherry Clafoutis

I used our stand blender and found this recipe to be quite easy and the results–fabulous! Enjoy!