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March Update

Apparently March is Autoimmune & MS Awareness month!


No updates.

Other health related things:

(Most importantly, any health issues I’m experiencing that could be autoimmune or at least affected by inflammation in my body, are important as markers, because if these things are getting better it could be a sign that the MS is getting better.)

February was a bad migraine month. I either had 1 really long headache or 2 shorter ones close together. I was getting really frustrated and did even MORE reading online, and it turns out I might have already been experiencing a rebound effect from my medication AGAIN, even though I’ve been super careful with how much I’m taking since December. So that was really frustrating and I was considering seeing my neurologist about it, BUT . . .

There have been a few times (one particularly) when I thought I was getting a migraine (the one time it felt like I already had one, but I didn’t want to take my medication because I was thinking I might need another break from it) and I tried a trick a friend told me about, which is putting a cold compress on the back of the neck (thanks, Tina!). It worked. And trust me, it was not a placebo effect because I wasn’t expecting it to. πŸ˜‰ So, after a troublesome week+ in mid-Feb, I’ve now been migraine free for the last couple of weeks! (I occasionally have a mild headache but it either goes away on its own or with the help of the ice pack.)

What I am eating/cooking:

I rediscovered my love of processed food. πŸ˜‰ Granola, hummus (okay, that one barely counts as a processed food), and crackers! I accidentally found some paleo friendly grain-free granola with minimal added sugar, and it was so nice to have a breakfast and/or late night snack option that wasn’t meat. πŸ˜‰ And on one of the educational videos my mom and I watched, a woman mentioned how much she liked seed crackers, so on an impulse I bought a package of those (they’re gluten free) and they’re SO yummy!!!

However, it’s now time in the clinical trial to eliminate nightshades, which I knew was coming, but I didn’t realize we’re also supposed to eliminate legumes, all grains, and all unsoaked nuts/seeds. So, there goes my hummus, my crackers, and my granola (hopefully just for 3 months). *big sigh* Plus, rice & beans, and all my soymilk & tofu. (Dr. Wahls has a granola recipe that I could make if I soaked all the nuts/seeds, and I might do that, but it was SO much more convenient to just buy granola.) After the 3 months, we reintroduce the foods one by one and wait to see if we have a reaction. So like I said, hopefully eliminating these foods is just temporary. But I’ve figured out that I can’t have Polish sausages or the chicken sausages I’ve been buying, or the beef snacks I bought to have on-the-go, because they have paprika or something else I can’t have. (Actually, anything that just lists “spices” as an ingredient (that’s the case with the chicken sausages) I’m supposed to avoid on the off-chance that it has a spice I’m not supposed to have.) *another sigh* πŸ˜‰

However, I’m going to try adding eggs back in. I had scrambled eggs for dinner on March 8th, so assuming that I have no bad reaction, I’ll be able to eat eggs again. Theoretically I could do the same thing with gluten & dairy, but it’s discouraged during the study. Technically they don’t even want me to do it with eggs, but I was feeling desperate about how few things I could eat. And then on the latest support group call, they said it needs to be workable for us, and they don’t want us to drop out, and part of the study is to see if this is a realistic lifestyle for people to stick to, so if we needed to make changes that was okay.

So, to summarize (I’m making this information into a sign for our kitchen so we can remember what’s allowed!):

Amanda & Gail

ARE eating eggs (yay!) but still are NOT eating gluten or dairy

And for approximately 3 months (until approximately mid-June) we are NOT eating:

Nightshades (this includes tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant, cayenne pepper, red pepper (and flakes), chili pepper, chipotle powder, paprika, chili powder, blends containing curry powder, steak seasoning, mustards, etc. Black, white, and pink peppercorns are okay because they are from a different plant.)
Legumes (this includes soy and other beans)
Any grains (even gluten-free) (this includes rice & corn)
Any nuts/seeds unless they are soaked/sprouted

Hopefully after the 3 months we will be eating those groups of foods again (although still not gluten or dairy).

I’m up to 78 types of edible plants eaten since 12/12/20 (up from 69 last month). Mom & I tried a new kind of avocado (I thought it tasted the same) called a Sharwil avocado that apparently used to only be available in Hawaii (it was at PCC). We also tried starfruit (which we’d had before, but not since we started the challenge!), and a lemon plum which was my favorite of the three.

How I’m doing emotionally:

Still having my ups and downs, and of course there’s plenty to feel sorry for myself about regarding food, πŸ˜‰ but that’s looking up since I decided to eat eggs again.

As many of you know, my dad is back in the hospital (for that story, you can visit his CaringBridge site) with either another stroke or “recrudescence” of previous damage (basically just means that somehow the damage got reactivated. Doesn’t make that much sense to us but apparently it’s a real thing). Things are less crazy this time around. He’s been getting better and it sounds like he’s coming home, as opposed to the last time this happened the plan was changing almost every day. Home? Nursing home first? When? So that was stressful, and Mom was staying at the hospital from about 8AM to about 6PM almost every day (she’s not allowed to visit this time), so that was stressful for her and lonely for me. So I felt pretty helpless to do anything for my parents who were both at the hospital, and there was some guilt too. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I had my major MS symptoms (leading to my later diagnosis) while Dad was in the hospital last time. So I’m really working on not worrying about things until we have definite answers, because anxiety was so much of my stress last time. To be clear, I did all that to myself. I’m not blaming anyone else. (A beloved professor in nursing school told me years ago that I worry about things so I feel like I have some control over them, and she was right.) I also wasn’t taking care of myself while I was home by myself so much. Eating a lot of junk food and not exercising much. So it was just a bad time health wise. On the other hand, MS was bound to show itself sooner or later so the fact that it was sooner is actually beneficial in a lot of ways. πŸ™‚ BUT, I don’t want to stress my body that much again if I can help it.

Things I’m proud of:

Continuation of a lot of the things from last month, but also Mom & Dad were out of town for almost 2 weeks this month, and I went on several nice walks by myself, and also arranged to workout with other people. So I was proud of myself for going on walks because I usually don’t do that unless someone’s with me, and also for being proactive about scheduling time with friends.

Also, I finally this week ordered a blackout curtain for my bedroom!! I’ve talked about doing this every summer I think for several years. I’ve been waking up around 6:30-7, which I don’t mind in a way, but I don’t feel like I’m fully rested yet. I realized recently that maybe it’s the light getting earlier. So, we’ll see. It’s a thing I’m proud of because I’ve been meaning to do it and putting it off for so long. The early light wouldn’t be such a problem, except that as we move into the summer it’s going to stay light late into the evening, so it’s hard to go to bed earlier.


Peter was inspired to learn to play the ukulele, and I had been thinking for a while that it would be good to learn either guitar or ukulele, so I’m learning too! I haven’t been practicing every day like I was at first (I started on February 21st), but hopefully I’ll stay pretty consistent with it. We were using Dad’s, but then one of Peter’s friends lent him one so we’ve been using that one.

Mom was making all the smoothies, because she complained about how I was making them (they were pretty bad, I admit. Just WAY too many greens and not enough other stuff to balance out the flavor). But since she was out of town a couple weeks ago, I had to learn to make them myself again. Mom likes the way I make them now, so now we’re having our smoothies more consistently since Mom doesn’t have to be the one to make them all the time. Also, I make a double batch, so we each get 2 servings of greens whenever I make a smoothie. So I expect that this month my servings of greens will be even higher!! πŸ™‚

What I read/am reading this month:

The Stress-Proof Brain: Master Your Emotional Response to Stress Using Mindfulness and Neuroplasticity by Melanie Greenberg, PhD – This book has been really inspirational for me. I recommend it. I think the best way to show you what I like about it is with quotes:

  • “Repeated practice of mindfulness over weeks or months may even change the structure of your amygdala. In a study by Harvard Medical School researchers (HΓΆlzel et al. 2011), an eight-week mindfulness course led not only to reduced stress and anxiety but also to changes in the brain: the amount of nerve cells and neural connections shrank in the amygdala but increased in the hippocampus. Neither of these brain changes was found in the control group.”
  • “If you’re dealing with uncontrollable stress, you should feel happy that you bought this book. Research shows that if you can find some way to perceive control over your stressful circumstances, you’ll be less likely to be negatively affected by them and more likely to cope effectively (Rodin 1986; Thompson et al. 1993). How you view your stressor is just as important as your actual circumstances when it comes to long-term effects on your health and happiness!”
  • “Researchers found that women facing chronic stress who exercised vigorously for an average of around forty-five minutes over a three-day period (similar to national health recommendations) had cells that showed fewer signs of aging compared to stressed women who were inactive. Many of these women were caring for relatives with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.”

(Obviously I read more books than what I mention here: there are just some of them that I really want to highlight.)

Fitness Goals:

My fitness goals haven’t changed, but I have visited the gym more often. I’ve had some strange idea that I needed to get my first pull-up in a certain way, like only stuff I can do at home (negative pull-ups etc) not using any machines at the gym. I have another blog (actually more than one) where I talk about fitness stuff, and I guess I thought it would be inspirational to other people to see that you can achieve this sort of thing without access to a gym. But I decided: who cares? Literally, who cares? Not *that* many people follow my other blogs, and even if they do, are they really holding me to this? I don’t think I made a pledge or anything, it was just sort of my plan in my head. So, although I will still probably do a lot of stuff at home, since I rejoined Samena (mainly for the pool) and have access to the assisted pull-up machine, I’m going to use it. πŸ™‚ I’ve definitely gotten a lot stronger with exercises at home, so I probably could get a pull-up eventually that way, but I also like having the variety of different exercises. And once I’m at the gym I’m a little more motivated and the time seems to go by faster. πŸ˜‰ (I have to make a 45 minute reservation, and however much time I have left after I use the pull-up machine I usually spend on the stationary bike, which is almost kind of like “me time” because I listen to my audiobook. πŸ™‚ So I look forward to doing that and my 45 minutes is up before I’m really ready!)

Quick Summary of the Month (February):

I converted this section to a table so that you (& I!) can see how I’m doing with these things over time:

Walking17 mins18 mins20 mins! πŸ™‚
Dark Leafy Greens1.21.21.3
Averages per month (a serving of leafy greens is 2 cups, all other servings are 1 cup each)

(I don’t care that the colourful servings are down, because I’m aiming for 2-3 of each and the other 2 categories were higher than in previous months.)


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