Same Old Problems, New Diagnosis

It’s been awhile since my last update and quite a lot has happened, including trips to urgent care and the ER and a bunch of testing.

For the past few months I’ve been in a funk. The last thing I wanted to do was spend more time thinking about being sick. But I think I’m coming out of it now.

During my break from blogging, I’ve continued to follow the autoimmune paleo protocol (AIP) and even wrote about my experience with the AIP for xojane. Basically, I’ve seen some small improvements in my overall health, but I’m still pretty sick on a day to day basis.

I’ve also been working with a nutritionist who specializes in bio-individualized medicine. Again, I’ve seen some small improvements — especially with my insomnia — but no huge changes.

Three months ago, I finally got my lyme testing back, and I’m CDC positive on the western blot for lyme disease. Yesterday, I had my first visit with an out-of-state LLMD and he told me that he has no doubts that I have lyme disease. Like a dork, I broke down in tears. I’m not even sure why. I’m happy I have answers but also scared that I’m not going to ever get well.

Late stage lyme disease is controversial right now, and I’m tired of controversy. After my thyroid ablation, I’ve had to deal with the controversy with hormone replacement therapy for years, and now I have another illness that the medical community is arguing about. You never realize just how sloooow the medical community moves until you become sick.


5 Christmas Gift Ideas for Friends and Family with Chronic Illnesses

Are you still finishing up your holiday shopping? Here’s a quick list of some of my favorite gift ideas for women with chronic illness or chronic pain conditions. 

Pile of gorgeous gifts

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. Hot Water Bottles

Hot water bottles can be good for taking the edge off of chronic pain. For me, they work best for mild or moderate pain, as they don’t quite get hot enough to make much of a difference for more severe pain.

Dream Time Inc has a series of Spa Comforts Hot Water Bottles in four pretty designs: Inner Peace, Relax Dahling, Relax and Balance Yourself. Each bottle comes with a removable fabric cover, which makes them cozier to snuggle with and easier to keep clean. I have the black Inner piece design, which I got from Amazon, and my only complaint is that it has a really strong rubbery smell, especially when you first start using it.

2. Cozy Slippers

Of course, slippers are great for keeping toes warm during the winter. But they can be extra useful for those of us with certain chronic illnesses, like hypothyroidism, which can cause cold feet. Zappos has a wide selection of slippers and carries a variety of popular brands, such as Uggs, Crocs and Coach.

What if you’re looking for something with a bit more oomph? Spa socks, like the ones by Spa Comfort, can be used warm or hot to soothe aching feet. Just heat them up in the microwave or cool them down in the freezer before use.

3. Pajamas 

Ever since I was a little girl, I loved opening up a package of brand new pajamas for Christmas. Those of us with chronic illnesses and pain probably spend more time in pajamas than our healthier friends and family members, so it’s fun to have a few comfy pairs to choose from.

4. Gift Cards

Chronic illnesses are expensive. Not only are there expensive prescriptions medicines, supplements and doctor’s visits to account for, but many people living with chronic illnesses are unable to work full-time jobs and are often on limited budgets. Gift cards allow the recipient to choose their own gift — whether it’s something they need or just want.

My favorite gift cards are probably from Amazon, just because of the wide variety of items you can choose from. Because I’m signed up as a student, I get free two-day shipping on all Amazon Prime items.

5. Medical Alert Jewelry

Some people with chronic illnesses are required to wear medical alert jewelry. Etsy and StickyJ are two of my favorite places to search for medical alert bracelets and necklaces. If you are getting the jewelry inscribed yourself, make sure you know for sure that you have the correct information.

Autoimmune Paleo Protocol (AIP) Update — 2 Months

Okay, so now I’ve been on the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol (AIP) for well over two months, and (knock on wood) it looks like things are going pretty well.

Autoimmune Paleo Protocol (AIP) Update -- 2 Months

To recap: For the past year or so, my gut consistently been in some type of pain.  A good day just meant less nausea and pain than usual. A bad day is when the nausea and pain are so bad that I can’t really think about anything else.

But after a couple months (okay, it’s getting closer to three — I’m a little late on this update) on the AIP, I can honestly say I’ve had some moments where I’m not in any sort of pain. Not just low amounts of pain that I can try to ignore. But, really, no pain. I’ve also not been feeling quite as shaky and light-headed.  My neck is no longer inflamed, and I don’t seem to be retaining as much water in my face and stomach.  Oh, and my skin is looking clearer.

I’m still having some pretty bad days, but there are some good days mixed it. So I’m hopeful that I’ll continue to see improvements.

In addition to eating according to the AIP, I’ve recently started taking beef gelatin as a supplement. It’s pretty gross mixed up in water, but I’ve added it to stews and made some healthy gummies out of it. I’m not sure if it was just a coincidence, but it was after I began supplementing with gelatin for a couple of days, that I started to see some major gut improvements.

AIP Two Month Update -- Great Lakes Beef Gelatin for Gut Health

I’ve been using this unflavored gelatin from Great Lakes. I get the reddish orange bottle because it has gelling properties. Apparently the green can doesn’t. So if you want this stuff to make candy or gummies, make sure you get the one that gels.

I’ve also tried adding L-Glutamine, which is an amino acid known to promote gastrointestinal health, but I think it may be causing me to feel manic and making it difficult for me to sleep. So, I’m going to skip the L-Glutamine for a few days and see what happens.

Disclosure: I started writing this post last week, and have had a couple of really bad days again since then (including the appearance of some mysterious rashes/bruises), but I still believe that my gut is improving overall. Sometimes, when things aren’t going well it seems like nothing is improving. But a year ago, I was having trouble eating any meals without vomiting. Now, I’m eating regularly, not puking and having a few days where I barely even think about my gut. Good changes are happening, albeit much slower than I originally hoped.

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Secret Support Sisters — October Box of Encouragement

As I mentioned on the Chronic Chic Facebook page, I signed up to take part in A New Kind of Normal‘s Secret Support Sisters project. You can read more about the project over on Jamee’s page, but basically, everyone is assigned a “sister” to send an encouragement package to each month. It’s too late to sign up for this round, but there will be a new round starting in January for anyone who missed out this time around.

Now, I’m not going to tell you what I sent my Secret Support Sister for her October box of encouragement just yet, but let me show you what I just received in the mail a couple days ago:

Secret Support Sister Goodies

– Telescopic Shocking Extensions Mascara

-Almay Apple a Day Liquid Lip Balm

-Maybelline Expert Wear Chic Natural in Linen

How fun, right? I love everything — especially the super sweet card! Secret Sister, if you’re reading this THANK YOU!🙂

Now, anyone have any ideas on what I can send my Secret Sister this month?

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Date Night In Series — Halloween Movie Night

Date Night In Series Logo

Whether you’re bed-bound, house-bound or just out of spoons for the night, my new Date Night In series should help you come up with some fun ideas for date nights at home. This first date night is inspired by one of my favorite holidays — Halloween!

Halloween Snacks:

English: Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, one with ...

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Right now, because I’m still on the AIP diet, it’s not like I can just grab a bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (my fave!), so I decided to sleuth around and find some tasty alternatives for people who are either on healing diet or have food allergies/intolerances.

I haven’t tried them yet (nuts and chocolate are also still off-limits for me) but Mom Gone Paleo’s Dark Chocolate Almond Peanut Butter Cups look like they’d be a great alternative to my favorite Halloween candy. I’ve seen several other variations of these made with different kinds of nut butters.

Now, these Yam O’Lanterns at Apron Strings may not be chocolate, but they are a fun way to eat a healthy snack and completely AIP-legal. With only three ingredients (yams, olive oil and sea salt), these are good choice for anyone on a restrictive diet. You can also swap out the olive oil for coconut oil or add some cinnamon and nutmeg.

There’s nothing better than snuggling up and sipping a hot drink when it’s chilly outside. I normally prefer a cup of hot cocoa with marshmallows, but again, that’s not an option right now. Baker Bettie’s Crockpot Apple Cider is a tasty alternative and can be made with or without sugar.

Halloween Movie:

When it comes to Halloween movies, I prefer something funny or corny rather than something that’s really scary. My absolute favorite Halloween movie is Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (and hey, it even doubles as a Christmas movie!). This stop-motion musical even comes in 3-D now. Oh, and if you enjoy the movie, don’t forget to also check out Nightmare Revisited!

The Nightmare Before Christmas

The Nightmare Before Christmas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No-Carve Pumpkin Decorating:

I love the idea of carving pumpkins, but in reality, I just don’t like all the work involved. Slicing through a pumpkin is hard, especially if you have chronic pain or fatigue! So I found some easier ways to decorate — no knives required.

If you like using power tools, Better Homes and Gardens has a tutorial on how to decorate your pumpkin with a drill. And Momtastic has a tutorial on how to decorate pumpkins with black chalkboard paint. The best part about the chalkboard paint is you don’t have to commit to just one look.

So do you have any plans for Halloween?

My family had a Halloween party at my parents’ house last weekend, and it was pretty fun. Here’s a couple pictures from the party:

Diana Vancura and Grandpa Al

Me and Grandpa Al

Family Photo

Family Photo from Halloween

Don’t forget to follow the Chronic Chic Facebook Page!

Diana Signature