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Of Ulcers and Life

Hello my friends! I know I’ve been neglecting you and for that I’m sorry. The funny thing is, during the summer I mostly felt crappy, and therefore didn’t feel like blogging. And then so far this fall semester I’ve been feeling pretty great, and so haven’t really felt like blogging…

But here I am. Back again. Like I said, so far this semester I’ve been feeling so good! I’ve only had one sinus infection and one cold; cold bugs have been flying around school like crazy, but miraculously, I’ve escaped them for the most part. In addition to regular school stuff, I’ve been able to walk and/or do yoga consistently for the last 2.5 months, and I’m working towards starting a run/walk program here in a couple months. My goal is to be able to jog a mile straight by my birthday–a very modest goal, but its something I haven’t been able to do since I was a brand-new 19-year-old–just before I got sick.

This semester I also (reluctantly) agreed to be the French tutor. I didn’t know how I’d be able to do it–I was afraid I’d have to cancel all the time and it’d be too much for me, etc. That’s another little miracle I’ve seen this semester: I’ve only had to cancel tutoring once. Once! And I’ve even moved from once a week to twice a week. Still, very, very modest hours (3 per week), but sometimes it feels like a lot all the same. But I’ve been blessed to be able to do it.

Now I don’t think I’ll be getting any awards for “greatest tutor” or anything–tutoring, like almost anything that includes human interaction, doesn’t exactly come naturally to me. Like the other night I had three students from French 1 and one from French 3 come in all at the same time, and I felt totally overwhelmed. But, in a way, I do feel that living with my nieces has prepared me somewhat for those kinds of situations–four students all wanting their own questions answered, etc. at the same time is kind of like having two to three toddlers talking to you and pulling on your finger, your pants, your arm. Someone wants a sippy cup refill, someone wants to show you something; someone wants to go over the homework, someone wants practice questions for the quiz…. You get the idea. The students are generally quieter and more patient though.

That’s part of what I wanted to write about today. The beauty, the blessings, the little miracles that have filled me to the bursting the last couple months. But strange as it may seem, I also wanted to write about ulcers–peptic ulcers, to be specific.

Ulcers are mainly what made me miserable this past summer–the ulcers themselves first, then the medicines to treat them and of course the avoidance of all NSAIDs–which enraged my migraines. Basically, my stomach stopped trying to kill me, but then my head took up the cause. But then my body adjusted, my ulcers seemed to heal, I was able to go off PPIs for a while–everything was awesome! Until about eh, a week or so ago. I started waking up in the night again with that feeling of a hole being burned in my stomach, and then it evolved from simple burning to straight-up knife-in-the-gut stabbing. And then my stomach started bothering me during the day as well as during the night. A couple days ago I finally admitted defeat and started back on the PPIs–but unlike in the summer, when they gave me almost instant relief, they don’t seem to be helping as much.

Basically my digestive system is very angry with me. And I’m not looking forward to going back to the doctor’s and starting the cycle again–the appointments, the tests, the “let’s try this” and “lets try that.” But I know I need to go, and so I will.

I get so tired of doctor’s appointments.

But let’s not end on that note… Let’s see…. A happy note to end on. Falls out here in the Blue Ridge Mountains are GORGEOUS. Seriously, it’s like living in a painting–the thousands of trees and their millions of leaves each a unique hue of yellow, orange or red. And then they fall off and dry out and make that amazing CRUNCH when you step on them. And the air gets crisp, but not to the point where it stings yet.

Yes. I think that’s a good spot to end.

Summer Update

Hey all! As you may or may not have noticed, I’ve been taking a break from blogging for most of the summer. In about two weeks the fall semester starts up and I’m excited to get going with my classes. So here’s a recap of my summer:

MAY

  • Finished spring semester.34859953_10155858655286785_2505407728319463424_o
  • GI appointment- started taking acid-reducing meds and stopped taking all NSAIDs on the assumption my abdominal pain= peptic ulcers.
  • Neurology appointment – talked about trying new migraine drug Aimovig when Dr. L get access, follow up in August for that purpose.
  • First appointment with Urologist because of frequent UTIs.
  • Got job as freelance transcriptionist with Rev. Started doing that.
  • Also got job as freelance copywriter, started doing that as work is available.
  • Went kayaking for the first time!

JUNE

  • Working and stuff.

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    We did forget to wear our Gandalf costumes though… Next time.

  • Turned 23 (I know, I know, I look like I’m 18 still).
  • Got a sinus infection that took 5 weeks of antibiotics + 1 week of steroids to clear up.
  • Went horseback riding for the first time! What?! It was awesome and it turns out
    I’m not even allergic to horses!
  • Cystoscopy. Umm, yeah not fun, but not as bad as I worked it up to be. Of course everything looked fine so back to square one (no idea) on the UTIs.

JULY

  • Working and stuff.
  • Yeah not too much to report from July.

AUGUST

  • Came to the parental’s for a couple weeks.
  • Appointment with Dr. C (allergist/immunologist). Because of Dr. C and his staff’s tireless efforts and benevolent harassment of Aetna personnel, I got approved to switch to Cuvitru! (I did a free trial of Cuvitru in April and I tolerate it much better than Gamunex)
  • First shipment of Cuvitru, first Cuvitru infusion. No more 3-hour infusions! No more infusion hang-overs and migraines! Woot woot. I really love Cuvitru if you can’t tell.
  • Appt. with Dr. L (neuro) again- got ball rolling to start Aimovig. It’ll probably be 2-6 weeks before I get to start and then it takes 1-3 months to see full effects, but I’m excited to try it!
  • Watched a bit of my little bro’s JV football scrimmage – he scored 3 touchdowns, like a beast, but only after we’d left of course.
  • Next week: get to move into new place at school.
  • Two weeks: fall semester starts!

 

So yeah there’s my summer in a nutshell. It’s been good. Not the most exciting summer, but good. I’ve especially enjoyed working as a freelancer – remote work where I choose my own hours has been so awesome and allowed me to work over the summer for the first time ever!

My tummy is doing better, but after three months I’m still having to take acid-suppression meds morning and night, and stay away from all NSAIDs. Thankfully, I have found some natural remedies that help a ton. I’ll write about those next time maybe.

Hope your summer is going well!

It’s Hard Work Being Sick

Last month my normally indomitable dad got real sick with a bad chest infection. In the first case, this man who seems to exercise just as much as he sleeps, rarely gets sick. In the second, when he does get sick he usually gets over it real fast. This time that didn’t happen. He had to go on antibiotics and a bronchodilator (which he didn’t use much because it made him feel weird), miss work, and feel real lousy for a couple weeks. During this time we were having a text conversation- extended in time but limited in word count as is our way- and he said something that gave me a Loki moment: “Being sick is hard work!”

Now I was certainly not happy that my pops was so sick, but it was nice to feel understood by my nearly super-human dad. Being sick IS hard work. But that’s a hard thing to understand unless you’ve experienced it–which is why it’s so hard for healthy individuals to understand what life with chronic illness is really like. They wonder why some people with chronic illness can’t work, or if they can, only part-time; they think it laziness or *shudder* “fun” to spend the day in bed; they don’t understand when we can’t exercise, why we’re always so tired, or why we need so much rest… the list goes on and on. But luckily my dear-old-dad has the answer to them all–being sick is hard work!

Chronic illness is often a full-time job in itself.

A day in bed because of pain/sickness is by far more exhausting than a normal day up and about, and is NOT fun.

Dealing with constant pain/illness is exhausting. Ex. Haust. Ing.

Oh yeah and did I mention? Being sick is hard work!

It drives me crazy (somewhat literally) that I haven’t been able to work out basically at all this semester. You know what I have done though? I’ve had colds, migraines, stomach viruses, the flu, and 1, 2, 3 infections- including a sinus infection I’m dealing with right now. I miss running. I miss basketball. I miss being strong (although I never much cared for the lifting itself–picking things up and putting them down just isn’t that amusing to me). I miss even just being able to walk or bike or do yoga on a regular basis. (Hopefully I’ll soon be able to start the long, long climb into activity again, but it’s hard to build anything with constant interruptions from sickness).

It hurts my pride desperately that I’m not able to work. I want to be independent. I want to work. But right now school takes all I’ve got and more.

The thing is this: chronic illness is all the time. No break. It doesn’t matter if you’re out of juice physically or mentally–there are no time-outs, no subs. There is no choice but to keep going every hour of every day; no choice but to wake up every morning having to face the thing that almost broke you the day before–there is nothing but constant, relentless, hard work.

So for heaven’s sake don’t judge me if I need a nap 😉

100 Little Things That Make Me Happy

This month has been rough, no doubt about it. It seems to be the winter from hell, as far as germs are concerned. Since the semester started a month ago, I’ve had two separate stomach bugs, a strep and sinus infection combo, and now a cold. And it’s not just me–my family members and schoolmates with normal immune systems have been sick almost as much! So what are we to do? Well we could dwell on our misfortune. We could freak out about the Petri dish in which we must live our daily lives (and trust me I have). But a monk from Vietnam I’ve been reading recently might have a better idea; in Peace is Every Step Thich Nhat Hanh talks a lot about mindfulness. At a really basic level, I think of mindfulness as noticing the beauty and little blessings all around us every day. So this week I made a list of 100 of those little things that make me happy.

  1. Random 60 degree days in the middle of winter #Virginia
  2. Opening a new tube of toothpaste
  3. Waking up without a headache
  4. Being called “aunty randa” (by my niece- from anyone else that would be weird)
  5. The space heater in my room
  6. Chocolate
  7. Purring cuddles from my kitty
  8. Purple and orange sunsets
  9. Not having to be on antibiotics
  10. My flannel sheets- so cozy
  11. My flying pig pj pants
  12. Having time to read for fun
  13. Finishing a long reading for class that seemed like it would never end
  14. Class being cancelled
  15. Goodbye/Goodnight kisses from nieces
  16. Family movie nights/ infusion nights
  17. Acing an assignment
  18. Texts from my parents, always politely signed Love Dad/Mom at the bottom so I know who they’re from
  19. Family dinners
  20. Getting a chance to play the piano
  21. Being treated by a doctor as an equal partner in my care
  22. Walks
  23. Feeling my room get lighter in the early morning when I can’t sleep
  24. Corny jokes- especially my dad’s
  25. Pictures of lighthouses
  26. The sound of rain at night
  27. A cup of hot cocoa
  28. Coloring
  29. Birds singing/ chirping
  30. Baby/ toddler giggles
  31. Finding a great parking spot
  32. Autumn leaves
  33. The smell after a spring rain storm
  34. Getting a great night’s sleep
  35. Listening to scores from my favorite movies (HP, LOTR, Hunger Games, etc)
  36. Parks and Rec
  37. Making others laugh
  38. Deep conversations with people I care about
  39. Hot showers
  40. Getting my back to pop
  41. Finding a favorite pen and then writing with it
  42. Learning something new
  43. Writing on the thick, smooth side of the notebook
  44. An empty laundry basket
  45. An empty sink
  46. Having special chocolate in a secret chocolate stash
  47. Stealing chocolate from my dad’s “secret” chocolate stash
  48. Fresh mangoes and pineapples
  49. Getting through my entire To Do list
  50. Sweatpants and hoodies
  51. Finishing a bottle of antibiotics/ steroids/ other loathed medicine
  52. When anyone, especially a professor says “as it were”
  53. Quoting favorite tv shows/ movies/ books whether or not they are actually applicable to the situation
  54. Being greeted by one or more wagging tails at the door
  55. Cold nose kisses from my cat that often jerk me awake at night (I think she thinks it’s funny)
  56. Having a fire in the fireplace (and therefore having an actual fire place)
  57. Remembering what I’ve been trying to remember that’s been driving me crazy
  58. Putting on a clean pair of socks
  59. Remembering everything I needed at the grocery store
  60. Freshly changed sheets
  61. Having no copay
  62. My cat socks
  63. Spontaneous study breaks when a niece or two or three escapes their parents and wanders into my room
  64. Every day, hour, minute I’m not sick or in a lot of pain
  65. A clean and organized work space
  66. When I know just what to write
  67. Finishing an essay
  68. Eating solid food without pain/nausea
  69. Pulling out the needles at the end of an infusion
  70. Waking up and knowing I don’t have to go anywhere that day
  71. Getting to go to church on Sunday
  72. Not having to rush in the morning
  73. Doing something outside my comfort zone (it’s a very small zone)
  74. Alone time
  75. Feeling good enough to work out
  76. Waking up without an alarm clock
  77. When a medicine has no bad side effects– oh wait that doesn’t happen… When a medicine has relatively few bad side effects…
  78. Cozy sweaters
  79. Reading a good poem
  80. Stepping on crunchy leaves
  81. Feeling my kitty at the foot of my bed when I turn over in the night
  82. Pictures of Christ
  83. Skyping/Face Timing the parentals on Sunday
  84. The smell of brownies baking (or any goody really)
  85. Getting a big glob of mucus out of my chest or sinuses
  86. Not coughing (remember I had whooping cough earlier this year so the last few months not coughing has been the cherished exception)
  87. When I catch someone doing something silly because they think they’re alone
  88. Anything Harry Potter
  89. The abridged version of Les Mis (so much easier to readdddd)
  90. Old fashion soda bottles
  91. Miniature pigs (I will have one someday!)
  92. Documentaries/ books about inspiring people
  93. Psych and Monk being on Amazon Video now
  94. Warm clothes fresh from the dryer
  95. Sunshiny days
  96. Watching lightning during a thunder storm (if it hasn’t already given me a migraine that is)
  97. Naps
  98. Christmas lights
  99. Finding a good song on the radio
  100. Jar tops that go clicky-clack

 

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Dad’s “secret stash”

DF6A3027-8B74-4412-AEF1-2FF406DEE00F

Bestower of nose kisses

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Flying pig pjs and kitty socks #thuglife

 

The Chronic Illness New Year

The start of a new year is great right? You watch the ball drop, raise a glass, make resolutions–all that good stuff. January first comes around each year and you feel a sense of a fresh start. You look back on the previous year and see how far you’ve come; you look forward into the new year that holds all sorts of possibilities. Great. But for those of us who deal with chronic, significant health issues the new year means something else as well.

It’s something we dread.

It starts not on January 1, but with the first major medical necessity of the new year.

For me, and my PI homies out there that is generally our first infusion shipment of the year.

You dial the specialty pharmacy number with a knot in your stomach, you try to sound normal as you go through all the normal shipment info, then the moment arrives– with trembling hand you hold the phone to your ear and wait for the bomb to drop. Your copay amount.

You see, the new year means that the deductible you met last year is all gone and you have a fresh pile of money you have to toss into the insurance pit before you’ll get decent coverage.

It also means that your insurance company can make all sorts of changes that come into effect with the new year–maybe they’ll move your infusion medication to a different tier on their covered medications meaning they cover less of it, maybe they’ll increase the cost of your medication, maybe they’ll make you switch to a whole different one because they no longer cover the one you’re on… The terrifying possibilities are nearly endless.

This past week the Chronic Illness New Year hit me and my family hard. I went to order my months supply of Gamunex-c and infusion supplies to be met with the wonderful surprise of my copay increasing from $250 (but actually zero because our deductible had been met with copay assistance from the wonderful folks at Gammagard before I was forced to switch) to $600.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Ig infusions, this may seem like an impossible amount (and really it should be), but the sad fact is that this is a problem continually faced by those who need Ig infusions and their families.

Luckily most Ig companies provide copay assistance to those who use their product and need help paying for it (which is basically everybody). After my wonderful doc and I jumped through several hoops, it looks like I will be able to get copay assistance starting next month from my new buds at Gamunex. But even with assistance many families still have to shell out a considerable amount before the year’s deductible is met.

As I’m writing this I’m thinking I really, really wish that I didn’t have to know so much about health insurance already. But I’m also thinking despite the hoops, the bills, the stress, and all the wonders of the Chronic Illness New Year, I’m just so grateful to be able to have the Ig infusions. I’m so grateful that my immunodeficiency was able to be diagnosed and there is this treatment. And it does help. A lot.

So Happy Chronic Illness New Year! May the odds be ever in your favor…

Another Not-So-Smooth Start to a Semester

If you’ve been following me for a while you’ll remember that my last semester started off with being unable to get my infusion for three weeks and then coming down with whooping cough. Needless to say I was hoping for things to go a bit smoother this semester. But that’s not really how life works I guess.

Thursday was our first day of classes. I had three classes (French, Screen Writing and Dramatic Literature) and a meeting to update my accommodations letter. While I was in Screen Writing I got the bad news–my sister and niece had started throwing up after I left for class. We had the dreaded stomach flu in our home.

The last time I had a stomach virus I was a brand-new 19-year-old. That virus damaged my digestive system, causing gastroparesis (literally “stomach paralysis”), and leading to some very miserable months and ultimately two years away from school. So naturally I have an intense fear of dear old norovirus and all its relatives.

Egged on by this fear I did everything I could to avoid coming down with it this time img_0084around, but by the time I became aware of its presence it was far too late. That night around 9:30 I threw up for the first time. And then again. And again. And again. Until about 5 or so in the morning. *shiver* The stomach flu is the WORST. Every time I have it I get like minor PTSD where for a while I can’t stand certain foods, clothes, tv shows, movies–anything that is associated with the experience. This is especially true for the virus that permanently messed up my digestive system and changed my life.

EA57ED6A-C454-4F26-A275-0833E9EACA3BBut like I’ve said before, even the worst of things pass, and so did this. Well it’s passing. Friday I was still quite sick and miserable, even though I had stopped involuntarily ejecting the contents of my stomach and intestines. Mostly I had gotten really dehydrated and I was having a hard time getting sufficiently rehydrated. I ended up going into the local urgent care in the afternoon because of this; they did not give me a saline IV as I had hoped they would, but they gave me some strong anti nausea medicine to help me be able to sleep and drink more. I hadn’t slept since Wednesday night so I was beyond exhausted. Later Friday (about 4), I laid down to take a nap and woke up at 9:30 the next morning!

Right now as I write this, I am doing my infusion. I didn’t want to do it until I was well hydrated again, since insufficient hydration makes the infusion process (and aftermath) seriously miserable. And I’ve had quite enough of that this weekend.

So yeah, another rough start. But I don’t think it bodes ill for the semester at large–I think it’s gunna be a great one, as a matter of fact. Because, well, why shouldn’t it be?

100 Days!

So this week I have reached approximately 100 days since I contracted Whooping Cough! I was sort of hoping that when I reached the 100th day all symptoms would magically disappear, but unfortunately it’s been a bit more complicated than that. Last week—finals week no less— I caught a bad cold, and as the internet warns, every time you catch a cold for a while after you’ve had Whooping Cough the cold will bring some fun coughing, choking, spitting up, wheezing  remnants of the original Whoop. So it has been 100 days and I’m still choke-coughing. But in between colds it really is getting better. I can’t wait for the day—hopefully not too far off now—that I will be able to stop taking my abuterol everyday, multiple times a day.

Despite the cold I made it through finals alright. I also made it to my parent’s AND to see Star Wars on the same day. I payed for that with a three day migraine though, which is why I didn’t get a post up earlier in the week.

My favorite part of Star Wars was the Porgs and the fact that my fifteen year old brother thought that they were begging for food from Chewbacca… Totally failing to recognize that he was eating one of them. Hahahaha.C316D75E-1D87-43DC-894B-4781729BF23F.gif

In a couple minutes I have to head to a follow-up with my neurologist, because what would Christmas break be without a few doctors appointments? When I get back I will relate the plan that he hopefully has to get my headaches more under control. They are much better than they were (constant), but 3-4 migraines per week is still not really where I’d like to be. And my family still refuses to decapitate me so I must look to more conventional methods of easing head pain.

***

Yeah so I didn’t get to this yesterday after the appointment. My doctor was running an hour behind and so by the time I got home it was time for our family evening plans.

Other than the wait the appointment went well. Dr. L is also still not happy with where my migraines are. He decided to keep me on the Prozac at my current dose and add in a new med to the mix—Verapamil. Although the Prozac does help and is amazingly, wonderfully, unbelievably low on side-effects, he is worried that an increase in that would necessitate limiting my use of triptans so as to avoid Serotonin Syndrome. I can’t argue there. So today I will start Verapamil, which is a calcium-channel blocker. I’m definitely anxious, as I am whenever I start a new med (what horrors might it hold for me?!) but I’m also hopeful.

Dr. L has avoided beta and calcium-channel blockers with me so far because they can cause problems in people with asthma. Of the two, I think calcium-channel blockers are lower-risk for asthmatics. Also Dr. L noticed that my heart rate is often high—tis definitely true and I’m not sure why—so Verapamil might help with that too.

Basically Verapamil—like almost every med out there—may hold for me either the key to relief, OR a crap ton of misery.  Thankfully I get the chance to start it while I’m on break, when if things go awry it’s not as big of a hullabaloo.

So on that note… Merry Christmas! And if I don’t write again before 2018- Happy New Year!

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A Day in the Life of this Zebra

Something kind of surprising that I’ve had several people tell me since I started this blog is that it has been “eye opening.” I guess that’s strange to me because, well, it’s nothing new for me. I sometimes forget that I’m a zebra living in a world of horses; when I hear other students talking about their Friday night plans I automatically think “Sillys. They’re forgetting that it’s infusion night tonight;” when I spend all of my breaks bouncing between doctors appointments, I forget that, that’s not the purpose of school breaks for everyone. Some people can’t imagine what it is like to have a malfunctioning immune system or a head that is always hurting–I can’t imagine what life would be like without them. So whether you’re a horse wondering how a zebra spends her days, or a zebra wondering if you’re the only one, here’s a day in the life of this zebra. (This is a Monday from a couple of weeks ago, but still overall a pretty good representation of an average day)

Monday 8:30 am

I wake up even though my first class isn’t til 10:00. I don’t like having to rush in the morning.

I start my day with cranberry juice and emergen-c. Mostly to prevent UTIs but also just as an immune booster. Then I get dressed (with thermals underneath my clothes because I’m already that cold), etc. and have breakfast.

9:50 am

I’m off to Fundamentals of Creative Writing. Today we are workshoping our poem #2 for our poetry portfolio. Maybe I’ll let you guys see it once I’ve revised.

11:00 am

Creative Writing is over. Normally I’d be heading home but instead I have to go make up the French test I missed on Friday because I had a bad migraine.

12:00 pm

image

Home again home again. If niece number two isn’t already asleep then I’ll probably sitdown to do a nap time with her. Nap time with this aunty means we snuggle on the couch watching simple songs on YouTube until she falls asleep. Then I either do homework or also fall asleep.

1:00 pm

Nap time is over. I’ll grab a quick lunch and then head off to French.

1:30 pm

French. We’re starting a new chapter today. I’ll also find out how I did on the test. I hope I did ok–it was hard studying this weekend with a migraine/migraine hangover. (I missed one question, but all things considered I’ll take that quite happily).

2:30 pm

French is fini and now I’m off to Approaches to Literature. We just finished reading the Tempest. Now I think we will be writing a paper about it. Woot woot.

3:30 pm

Done with classes for the day! I head home and change into sweatpants and a hoodie. I sit down to steam and watch Netflix for a bit. Probably the Great British Baking Show since they just put up a new season. Steaming helps prevent sinus infections and also seems to help ease the aching of my head/face.

4:15 pm

Now that I’ve taken a break it’s time to get down to business, as it were. Let’s see what should I start with? Probably the essay for WWI Lit that’s due tomorrow that I haven’t started…

5:00 pm

Been working for 45 minutes, made decent progress. I deserve a break. So I go out to the living room to see the girlies for a minute.

5:15 pm

Ok back to work. I can do this. I want to finish the rough draft so I don’t have that much to do tomorrow, though it’s not due til midnight.

7:00 pm

Whether or not the rough draft is finished, I can’t think in cohesive sentences anymore. Time for a dinner break.

7:30 pm

For niece number one it’s time for a pre-bedtime breakdown. For me it’s time to choose which is more important– my French hw or finishing my WWI Lit reading for tomorrow. I think I’ll go for the reading. Takes less brain power and by this point my head is hurting at least medium from looking at a screen for so long writing the essay. So I get comfy and dive into All Quiet on the Western Front.

8:15-8:30ish pm

Either I’m finished with the reading or my brain is finished for the day–either way it’s time for some healthy hot cocoa (raw cocoa powder, honey, cinnamon, turmeric, pink salt and a touch of grass fed butter) and an episode of Stranger Things. My sibs have already finished the new season but they’re watching it again with me so I can get caught up. I only have two episodes left!

9:15ish pm

The first episode is over. Now I have to use all my willpower to tear myself away in the 15 seconds before Netflix starts the next one and I’m committed to another 45 minutes. Time to hop in the shower.

9:45ish pm

Shower done. Now time to clean out my sinuses with the neti pot thing and do my nightly stretching. As you can see I spend a decent amount of time each day just trying to prevent sinus infections, which are my bane.

10:15 pm

Take melatonin. Read. Pray. Brush teeth, etc. Fill up humidifier for the night. Set alarm for tomorrow. Take cough medicine. Rub Vicks vapor rub on chest (been doing the last two ever since I got whooping cough in Sept). Lights out by 11:30.

 

A Nightly Stretching Routine for Less Pain and Stiffness in the Morning

Ok people are you ready for this? Today I’m going to share with you my nightly stretching routine. A combo of yoga and physical therapy stretches, it’s taken me years to hone to perfection. I do it every night before I go to bed; it helps me sleep better (less pain at night) and keeps the morning stiffness and pain under control.

1) Standing calf stretch

Hold 30 secs.

Hold 30 seconds each leg straight and repeat on each side with leg slightly bent. I do it with my torso leaning against a wall/ my bed to deepen the stretch. IMG_0040

2) Standing Groin Stretch

Hold 30 secs each leg.

IMG_0041.JPG Again this can be done leaning against something to take some of the weight off of the bent leg if needed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3) Standing Quad Stretch

Hold 30 secs each leg.

Grab hold of something to help you keep your balance if needed, but try to work up to balancing on your own.IMG_0042.PNG

4) Standing Hamstring Stretch

Holds 60 secs.

Yeah I know you won’t look like this at first–but eventually. IMG_0043

5) Standing IT Band Stretch

Hold 30 secs each leg.

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6) Sitting Hamstring Stretch

Hold 60 secs.

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7) Sitting Groin Stretch

Hold 30 secs.

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8) Side Sitting Hamstring/Back Stretch

Hold 45 secs each side.

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9) Figure Four Stretch

Hold 60 secs each side.

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10) Downward Facing Dog

Hold 30 secs.

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11) Upward Facing Dog

Hold 30 secs.

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12) Child’s Pose

Hold 30-60 secs.

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13) Cat Cow

Go back and forth for about 30 secs, bend up into cat with exhale, go down into cow with inhale.

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14) Gluteus Medius Stretch

Hold 60 secs each side.

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15) Kneeling Quad/Hip Stretch

Hold 30 secs each side. You should feel the stretch in you quad and hip flexors.

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16) Low Lunge

Hold 30 secs each side. Then lower back knee and repeat.

 

17) Forward Fold

Bend knees slightly and let head hang. Hold for 30-60 secs.

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All done! I know it seems like a lot but it only takes about 20 minutes once you get the sequence down. Sweet dreams and less painful mornings!

15 Shows Worthy of Sick Day Binge-Watching

Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t really fun being stuck sick at home–especially if it happens frequently. Here are fifteen of my favorite shows that help me get through sick days.

PsychIMG_0037

Psych is the best. A mixture of clever crime solving and ridiculous antics, it just about broke my heart when they took Psych off Netflix. No it did break my heart.

 

Bones

Granted this might not be a great one if you’re feeling squeamish, but there’s nothing like Bones to make a day fly by. In fact, Bones got me through my gallbladder surgery recovery this summer.

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Leverage

I’m not sure if Leverage is on Netflix anymore but if it is, it is definitely worth spending a sick day or five on. It combines the smoothness of White Collar with the ridiculousness of Psych.

 

Everybody Loves Raymond

An oldy but a goody– Everybody Loves Raymond got me through my sinus surgery recovery.

 

Parks and Recreation

IMG_0036I was first introduced to Parks and Rec just over a year ago and since then I have watched it and rewatched it and rewatched it again. My sisters and I basically communicate via P&R quotes now. It’s so funny it might just heal you.

 

 

The Office

Also heartwarming and hilarious, The Office is a fool-proof choice. Though some of the episodes are just too hard to watch because Michael is so embarrassing.IMG_0033.GIF

 

The Good Place

The Good Place is a new favorite; it’s goofy, ridiculous and hilarious just for the sake of it–so basically it’s the best. As of about a month ago when we discovered it, The Good Place has become the official Friday-night-infusion show.

 

White CollarIMG_0032

Clever crime solving + humour + Neal Caffrey’s face = you can’t lose with this one. I
watched White Collar when I was at my sickest with gastroparesis.

 

Hawaii Five-0

I started watching this show because of the pretty views of Hawaii, but I soon got sucked into it hardcore. It has made me second-guess my desire to visit Hawaii though–there’s an awful lot of crime. Especially terrorist plots it would seem.

 

Studio C

Studio C is a sketch comedy show on BYU TV. If you have a pretty goofy funny-bone then you’ll get a lot of good laughs from Studio C.

 

Downton Abbey

If you love zombie apocalypse shows, then Downton Abbey is for you. But really I got into Downton recently because I’m taking WWI Lit and Downton is one of the few shows/movies that covers the WWI time period. It’s super interesting historically–like looking at animals in a zoo. Plus Cousin Violet aka Mcgoncall is hilarious and profound at the same time.IMG_0031.GIF

 

Gilmore Girls

I have to admit Gilmore Girls is a hard one for me. I was watching it when I first got sick with gastroparesis and so it is tied to some rather unpleasant memories. Still, it is undeniably awesome, funny and there’s like a gillion seasons (plus the reboot show).

 

Sherlock

I once thought that there could be no better casting for Sherlock Holmes than RDJ, but IMG_0030.GIFthen Benedict Cumerbatch came along and changed my mind. Sherlock is cerebral, intense and funny (sometimes). Unfortunately it’s produced at a rate of about three episodes every three years–but don’t worry it is a British show so each episode is like a mini movie.

 

The Great British Baking Show

Ok don’t laugh. I am not British, nor do I particularly like to bake, but I love this show. British baking traditions are so different than American ones, it’s super interesting. Plus it’s a nice change from American baking/cooking contest where everyone is so brutal–The British Baking Show is competitive, but not contentious. Also for some unknown reason this was my niece Aiva’s favorite show when she was 3-5 months old. So funny.

 

Once Upon a Time

Ok so good old Once has gotten weird lately. I stopped watching a couple seasons ago. BUT the first few seasons were really good and still worth a sick day watch. The clever twist on classic fairy tales is fun and makes you a little nostalgic.

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