I am fighting back against Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) with natural foods, stress reduction, and by embracing my inner flower child (making everything from scratch, and eating all those yummy natural foods)in addition to my medications. All of this is carefully balanced with my busy life as a homeschooling single mom of 2 boys, the exhaustion that RA brings, and a very limited budget. I would like to share my journey with you, so that it may benefit you as well, or give you a better understanding of what it is to fight this disease.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Starting Over, Starting Better

So, I started this blog last year as a way to motivate myself, keep track of all of the info I was gathering, and to hopefully help others with chronic inflammatory conditions.  After getting a good start, learning a lot, and hearing some good feedback, things seemed to be looking up.  Then, life just happened.  And kept happening and piling on more and more "stuff", and something had to give.  Teenager meltdown, foot fracture that just wouldn't heal, not being able to work, all kinds of stuff just kept adding up. During this time, my rheumatologist abruptly retired, too.  Blogging was the first to go.  I really wish I had kept it up, but I was drowning and needed to let go of all but the barest of essentials.  There's no sense playing the "I wish", "should have" type of game that serves no purpose but to add unnecessary stress.  I am just going to start fresh and leave the past in the past.  Learn from it what I can, and limp forward.

Now, I am in the process of putting my life back together one bit at a time.  While sitting at home incapacitated for 4 months, I had lots of time to take stock of my life.  As much as I wanted my life back, I really wanted an improved version of my life back. I fully believe that "crashing and burning" was a result of way too many years of taking care of others and neglecting my own needs and health.  Working 7 days a week for 2 years never gave my body a chance to heal and rebuild.  Taking on anything that would provide for my family if I could cram it into my already packed schedule, and saying yes to too many kid activities left me too exhausted and time crunched to cook healthy meals or spend time on me.

Thanks to God's healing and the power of prayer, and the care of a great team of doctors, the bone is completely healed.  I am currently working with a physical therapist and a massage therapist to regain strength and range of motion, and am so incredibly happy to be back on my feet.  I also was blessed with a new job that is a much better fit for my interests, abilities, and family needs.  I won't be getting rich any time soon, I still won't have health benefits, and I will still have to keep a couple of other jobs, but this is a great start.  My teenager is back at home with me, and things are going better, if not perfectly.  I think the shock of having mom unable to do much of anything, and having to take on a lot of responsibilities in the home helped wake him up a bit.  Overall, I would not wish my past several months on anyone, and I hated much of it, but the experience has been good for me in many ways.

Moving forward, I have made the scary, uncomfortable decision to declare this the "year of me".  Meaning, I will take my own needs into account when making decisions. This is a difficult process for me, as I balance the Christian principle of "dying to self" and the necessary steps to put my needs in a primary place in my decision making.  Here is a short, incomplete list:
1. I will work a maximum of 6 days a week, and preferably 5 or fewer.
2. I will limit kid activities to one at a time other than church, and will re-evaluate on a monthly basis which ones to keep.
3. I will cook foods that are nourishing for my family, and healing for my body despite the inevitable whining that will likely ensue.  I will NOT cook separate meals.
4.  I will make a basic menu plan for the week, which will include lots of leftovers to minimize my time in the kitchen.
5. I will strive to remind myself that taking care of me does take care of my kids.  It will make me more energetic, less grumpy, and healthy enough to be around to raise them.

Finally, I will leave you with a recipe for Quinoa Tabbouli.  I made this last night to go with some poached chicken breasts, and even my picky almost-5 yr old asked for seconds.  Quinoa is high in protien, grain free, high in fiber, and contains lysine, which is used for tissue growth and repair.  Tabbouli is one of my very favorite foods, and perfect for a hot summer day.

Quinoa tabouli:

1/2 c. quinoa cooked in 1 c water, cooled
1/2 tsp salt
juice from 1/2 large lemon
1/4 c olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
4 scallions, minced
black pepper to taste
1 cup packed minced parsley
15 mint leaves, minced
1 large tomato, diced
1/2 cup chick peas
1 small cucumber, seeded and diced.

Mix it all up, let it sit a while in the refrigerator before serving.