Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Wednesday Weigh-in: Fruit Basket Turnover

This has a been a week of utter chaos.

Our homeschool year is complete, and Michael only has one more day of "post planning" before his summer break begins. What are we planning to do with our time off?

Completely rearrange  (That and teach English. Teachers don't really get the summer off, y'all. ;))

Phase one began over spring break when we repainted the master bedroom and moved one piece of furniture out to the living room. We also emptied a large entertainment center and a few bookshelves that we intend to sell. We don't watch tv and we own too many books for the amount of space we have. (Yes, you can own too many books. LOL) That furniture is way too big and has to go! However, our living room and dining room have served as storage areas for two months now. Ahhhh!

The boys spent Memorial Day cleaning and completely clearing out their bedroom while I cleaned out the classroom closet and Michael cleaned out the attic. Good times! I canNOT believe how much stuff I had crammed in that closet. It was like I pulled a School Box and a homeschool convention out of there.

Yesterday, I worked furiously while seated on my bed. The boys brought piles of stuff from various yard sale storage areas around the house and placed them all around me. I sorted through the mound, pricing and labeling, until I could see the bed again... at which time the boys brought another big stack of things... lather, rinse, repeat....

In the midst of it all, I managed to log into MFP every day! Woot! Drum roll, please....

I lost 1.2 pounds!
I have lost 14 pounds total!

This week you can pray for our big sale on Saturday. We plan to move the boys into their own bedrooms and need to get rid of a lot of stuff. That's why I had to clear out the classroom. Our academy no longer has a dedicated school space. :(  Our guys are too old to need a cutesy classroom anymore. A desk and bookshelf will do just fine. Pray that all this activity doesn't prompt a pain flare, too. I have been pacing myself and making modifications (like sorting from my bed) which usually helps.

Thanks for checking in!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wednesday Weigh-in: Sleeping Beauty

My husband's nickname for me is Aurora Carina. That's Spanish/Latin for my full given name (Pronounced "uh-roar-uh car-een-ya"; If you're really cool, you can trill those Rs. I can't.). I have always treasured that nickname because it reminds of me the Aurora Borealis and Princess Aurora from Sleeping Beauty. He is my Prince Charming, and that name encompasses a beauty which makes me feel like a princess. It is my handle over at My Fitness Pal, too, if you want to "friend me." (no caps: auroracarina).

However, this week that name has been more appropriate than ever (the sleeping part, not the beauty part ;)). Last week, I mentioned I felt really sick. Well, people with auto-immune diseases don't just snap back from a minor cold after a few days. Colds quickly develop into bronchitis or pneumonia (3 days this time for me; 3rd time this school year.).  Therefore, it takes us a couple weeks and lots of specialized treatment to get better. Therefore, my battle with fatigue raged twice as fierce this week. I lost. Soundly sleeping by 7 p.m. each night, I have managed merely to complete the absolute have-to's each day.

For that reason, I missed counting calories on MFP three days this week. I did work hard to keep a mental estimate of caloric intake and did not allow extra, unnecessary calories. Well, I did splurge a teeny bit and indulge by savoring a small slice of cheesecake on Monday.

(It was my 18th anniversary, y'all, and cheesecake is hub's and my tradition. shhh...)

 Despite my bout with narcolepsy and the indulgence, the scales were kind to me this morning.

I lost 2 pounds!
That brings my 2-week total to 12.8 pounds!

I was thrilled with that loss given the circumstances of the week and that I lost so much last week that I anticipated a small gain this week.

For those of you praying for me, remember my sleep cycle if you would, please. I finish my prescriptions for my "cold" tonight and am starting to feel well again. Thanks for your prayers. If there is anyway I can pray for you, please let me know in comments or by email.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wednesday Weigh-in: Starting Over

About a year and half ago, I started a weight-loss meme, and it really helped keep me on track. I lost over 30 pounds.

Then a lupus flare hit.

A big, bad, nasty flare which lasted several months. When those come along, it is a huge struggle just to do simple tasks like brushing my hair. Counting calories is just not going to happen in the midst of a flare.

I started my meds for lupus in December and my pain flares seem to be under control. I say "seem to be" because with this disease, you just never know. Another flare could be lurking around the corner. Regardless, I have decided that it is time to get back on track with nutrition and weight-loss. Working through the side effects of the meds and getting my pain levels manageable was phase one of my get healthier plan. So, now on to phase two....

Truthfully, we don't really eat all that bad around here. I like most fruits and veggies and serve up lean, baked meats most nights. Our favorite meal as a family is chicken cooked in the wok with white wine and fresh herbs, steamed rice, and squash (also cooked in the wok with a little olive oil, herbs, and white wine).  The problem for me is snacking. Lupus keeps me from leading an active lifestyle which means there is NO room in my diet for extra calories. I have to count them and stop eating as soon as I'm out.

Plain and simple... it works for me every time, as evidenced by this week's weight loss.

I lost 10.8 pounds this week!
Now, here's the thing. 1st weeks are always big losers for me... water weight and all that business. Then I got hit with a nasty bug and lived on popsicles and chai tea for 2 days.  I'm sure that contributed to my big loss, and it is possible that I will put a little back on next week. (Not planning to do that, but you know what I mean.)
I'm not putting the meme up this time because I can't turn this into a big responsibility. It is something that I must do to keep me motivated and moving in the direction of better health. I appreciate your prayers and words of encouragement, though, so please comment away.

Friday, May 10, 2013

I'm a little bit lupie.

I have lupus.

Phew... there! I said it.

Technically, I have mixed connective tissue disease which presents itself as lupus and most likely is lupus.  Was that confusing enough for ya? That's life with an auto-immune disease. What that really means is that I exhibit most of the critical criteria to be diagnosed with lupus but I also exhibit symptoms of other rheumatic conditions like RA. I'm kind of a mess, and since my auto-immune probs most resemble lupus, I just tell people I have lupus. It's easier that way. Today, I have decided to tell you because it is World Lupus Day.

What exactly is lupus?
That's a really good question. I'm convinced that not even the experts can explain it in precise terms. It is a very complicated disease which has multiple symptoms and presents itself differently in almost every patient. In a nut shell, it is an auto-immune disease which, in layman's terms, means that the immune sytem is messed up. Instead of just attacking foreign invaders, like viruses and bacteria, the immune system of the lupus sufferer also attacks the body's tissues.

What are the symptoms?
Well, as I said earlier, there are a lot of them. The biggie and what seems to be the common thread among us lupies is joint swelling and pain. This can be immobilizing at times, folks. It can affect every joint, including between the vertebrae. That's not fun! It explains why doctors sent me for MRI after MRI over the years trying to find a herneated or slipped disc and why it took until December of 2012 to get a correct diagnosis.

Lupus flares can create the same shock waves of pain as a spinal injury, put the sufferer in a wheelchair or bed for days or weeks, and then suddenly... (POOF!) all better. That's because it is a disease of flares and remission. Sometimes you feel like you're near death's door; other days you feel just fine. For that reason, it is also called an "invisible illness." It is very common for the lupus patient to be told she doesn't look sick. Trust me, she is.

It also causes a wide varity of other problems including photosensitivity, skin rashes, respriratory problems, mental fog, constant flu-like conditions (imagine living with a recurring fever and cough), and FATIGUE. Lupus is also a cause of infertility and miscarriage, and in serious cases, can cause kidney failure, heart disease, and stroke.

That sounds scary.
Are you going to die?
As long as I take care of myself, it does not seem that lupus will "cut my life short."  My prognosis is excellent, and my doctor seems to think that as long as I take my meds and keep my lifestyle as healthy as possible that I will be just fine. That sounds easy enough, but for an over-acheiving homeschooling mom who wants to model a strong work ethic and pour myself out for others and in the Lord's service... pacing myself is torture. Lupus will most likely not be the death of me, at least not any time soon, but it has been the executioner of many of my dreams. There is much I would like to write about that topic because I believe God is always good and what He ordains is always right. I don't have room in this post to say what is on my heart, so for now, I will sum it up by simply quoting Job, "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."

Do you have any of the major problems?
Given that I have likely lived with lupus for 20 years, it is wonderful news that my vital organs show no real damage. After four months of meds, my pain levels are WAY down.

I am still struggling with fatigue and major brain fog. I have to write things down, set my phone's calendar to remind me to do just about everything, and I canNOT be interrupted. That's not a pride thing (most of the time ;). It's that if someone stops me mid-sentence, I cannot just pick up and resume where I left off. I have to return to point A and work my way back through it all- IF I can remember where point A was. That is why I have NOT been in the blogosphere much lately. I just can't process all the info out there and I often can't collect my thoughts enough to get them publishable.

Will you get better?
Pray that I will. My doctor says that I stand a good chance of going into a long or even permanent remission. I am following his orders to the tee.

Will you continue to teach... to blog... to homeschool?
Yes, yes, and yes. Teaching is something that, with modifications and boundaries, I can do. It keeps me appropriately active and happy.

Blogging is something I want to keep going but can only do as I have the mental energy to do. I won't be tackling any big blogging projects in the near future. I am loving all the activity going on in my archives, though. Thank you to those who keep reading and/or sending others this way.

And homeschooling... you have to understand that it would take death itself to stop me from homeschooling my sons. They are in the home stretch as Ben starts high school in August. Brian is on Ben's heels. (Ben is Orville, and Brian is Wilbur, btw. I've decided that since they are now old enough to own their own blogs, they are old enough for me to call them by their real names on mine.)

With that said, I am getting real about what I need to teach directly and I what I need to seek out help for. I am learning about setting priorities and taking care of myself while fulfilling my duties as a Christian wife and mother. So much to say, so few brain cells....

What can I do for you or someone else I know with lupus?
Whether you are an irl or online friend, please remember me in your prayers as you can. Also, today is World Lupus Day. If there is someone in your life with an auto-immune disease, please take a little time to educate yourself. Empowered with that knowledge, show understanding. Most likely, your loved one feels like she has a severe back problem, arthritis, the flu, demensia, nagging allergies, morning sickness, mono, and poison ivy all at once. On top of that, she is carrying the pain of lost children and/or lost dreams, living in a body which is aging more quickly than it should, and contending with a whole lot of misunderstanding about her condition- not just from friends and acquaintances, but within the medical community, too. She is having to fight for her health by finding the right medical care, following the correct treatments, and finding a balance between too much and too little. Give her your love and kindness. That's the best thing we can do for anyone, whether she has lupus or not. :)

If you want to know more about lupus or how to help your friend/relative with lupus, return soon. I want to share with you what I learned from spoons.

Yes, that's right.