Happy Labor Day!

Summer isn’t over yet, and there’s always a plethora of yummy produce around a lot of the year, at least here in Seattle! I like eating avocado (though my poor husband is allergic)–not only is it tasty, but it’s full of nutrients as well as healthy fats! These good fats are great for those of us with MS, as they may help our myelin. Any excuse to eat a tasty whole food, eh?

Anyway, I was recently reading a post on Carrots and Cake, another blog talking about food and exercise, and found this post (hah, a post about a post about a post!) listing creative uses for avocado:

Surprising Uses For Avocado

Ends up I’ve done a handful of ‘em already, such as making smoothies and chocolate pudding (oh so creamy!), but thought I’d pass along a few ideas! Avocado in fruit salad… I’ll have to try that one out!

If any of you have interesting avocado recipes, post ‘em below!

on being helpful

August 29, 2014

While going through a lot of medical problems–while going through any problems–there are always people who want to help. (I assume that many people want to help. There are probably a few who merely want recognition. But I’m generally optimistic and will assume that most people mean well.)

I have been both on the receiving end (ugh, too many times) and on the giving end, wanting to help those in need. Thing is, I know when I’m on the giving end, it’s hard to figure out how to help the recipient. Do I make them food? Do I clean their house?

Having been on both sides of the equation, I will tell you this: if you’re trying to figure out what to do for someone, simply ask what they want or need. A few times after surgeries, I have had no appetite and been totally unable to eat, and friends have thought themselves “helpful” by making me a lot of food. I would’ve rather they spend their energy and time sitting and talking with me, rather than making food that I wouldn’t eat.

In the end, just ask for specifics–the recipient will feel like you really are offering your time and talents.

eating for ms on the road

August 26, 2014

…or, eating healthfully at all while on the road.

So, so tempting on my recent road trip in the South to load up on everything around me: fried this, barbecue that, sweet tea until my eyeballs float… which is totally OK to do every now and then.

But after the first few days of our trip, my body was screaming, NOOOOO!!! I was sugared and greased to the gills. I’m not used to eating that way.

What to do?

  • I attempted to portion-control by sharing with my husband. We’d often order one entree and split it.
  • Sometimes, we were able to portion-control by just ordering appetizers. That way, we could also try multiple items. Unfortunately at some restaurants, the appetizers list was full of fried, cheesy, rich items (i.e. not dinner).
  • In more touristy towns, I’ve often found that “all you can eat” and cheap prices tend to go along with lower quality food. Yes, you get more for your dollar, but do you, really? If you’re getting more additives and preservatives…
  • I’ve also learned to listen to my cravings. (Hm… maybe not if they’re for ice cream…) I spent a lot of the trip craving tomatoes, of all things, so I figured that my body needed some component of the tomato. I didn’t eat them every day, but got them several days on the trip, figuring it was a sign.
  • I think it also goes without saying that if you’re traveling someplace warm… stay ahead of hydration needs. Keep on drinking. We were traveling in warm areas, I get dehydrated easily, so (sadly) I had almost zero alcohol on the trip–only a sample or two from a distillery. (It was how I avoided headaches…)

Anyway, just a few thoughts regarding eating, traveling, avoiding dehydration and other MS symptoms. If anyone else has other thoughts and would like to chime in, write ‘em in the comments!

keeping the mind active…

August 26, 2014

There’s a theory that keeping our minds active “keeps us young” (whatever that means), but it’s also clear that it helps fend off neurological problems such as MS.

But how to keep our minds active? I know several who read trivia, or do crossword puzzles. Me… I can’t help but think that’s not really productive. Since I love to travel, and I have a mind for this sort of stuff anyway, I’ve played around with online language sites.

I have no affiliation and don’t get a kickback, but my favorite right now is Duolingo. It’s easy to do a segment when you only have 5 minutes free, and you still feel like you accomplish something in that few minutes. Plus, unlike some other apps I’ve played with, you actually learn useful words and phrases.

The temptation for me (and for other travelphiles that I’ve read) is that once I establish the barest-bones level in a language, I really want to try something else! Oooohh! Shiny! New! But my challenge over the past two years has been to develop my Spanish to a deeper fluency. Growing up in California, Spanish was all around me, and at my small high school, it was my only foreign language choice. I was bored. But now that I’ve traveled to Latin America (and enjoyed it!) I understand its usefulness.

(If anyone is learning Spanish on duolingo, I’m brooke1! Find me!)

Anyway, if you’re into these things, it’s fun (to me, at least) and a great way to develop a new skill while keeping your mind active. They have other language options, too. Check it out!

new stephen hawking movie

August 23, 2014

Just saw a trailer for a new movie about Stephen Hawking which will be coming out in a few months:

New Stephen Hawking Movie

Now… I’ll admit to not buying into all of the hype about the guy, in general. I think a lot of the reason people think he’s so brilliant is his mere publicity due to his ALS. As a scientist myself (but in a totally different field of science), I don’t think he’s worlds more genius than Elon Musk or Craig Venter.

Having said that, Stephen Hawking has had to overcome a hell of a lot physically… and still contributes to society. I think this trailer captures this idea beautifully.

And as someone who also has a neurological disorder, I can appreciate that, and I live by that notion myself!

that was quick.

August 20, 2014

A few days ago, I was trying to decide between new MS drugs (or, disease-modifying therapies, as we call them, since they only slow progression…)

And I did 15 minutes of research to figure it out–or at least to figure out one to try. I think I’ll try Tecfidera (the newest one) first. It’s a little scary for me, as the side effects involve the stomach and GI tract, and I have chronic nausea problems.

But with Aubagio, several people have lost their hair (and I’d rather not go there if possible).

And Gilenya causes heart rate to slow down… mine is already on the slower side. I was given beta blockers for migraines years back, and the slow heart rate side effect made me feel so sluggish.

Tecfidera it is. No MS drug is ideal. I’ll give it a go and report back within a few months…

salt/savory cravings?

August 17, 2014

Hm. This is an odd one for even me, the nutrition geek.

For days now, the thought of anything sweet makes me nauseous. I want to overeat almost anything salty or savory.

Could it be lacking electrolytes? (despite taking my daily magnesium supplement) So bizarre. I’m still trying to figure it out… I’d go a million miles for something savory.

Anyone else with MS/migraines/chronic pain experience anything similar?

I think I’m about done with injections… unfortunately.

Rebif has been working out for me. It has kept me relapse-free. My symptoms have been minimal. So why change?

I feel like such a wimp when I say this, but… too many injection site reactions. A few days before leaving on our trip (end of July) I saw someone at my MS clinic and had a chat about what I thought were lumps from injections. Unfortunately I have a limited number of areas where I can inject myself, since we need a certain amount of subcutaneous fat for injecting–and I don’t seem to have that in the usual areas (hips, upper thigh). The only place I’ve been able to “pinch an inch” for injection is my abdominal area.

That’s gotten a lot of abuse recently, as I’ve also had to work around surgical scars–so I’ve had even more limitation in my injection areas. My specialist understood my dilemma, but told me that this was unhealthy for the skin. She was the one who suggested I switch to one of the oral meds.

I had been reluctant to switch when Tecfidera came out, since Rebif was doing its job. But the side effects are driving me nuts. Also, an oral drug would make travel less inconvenient.

She was also mentioning Aubagio or Gilenya, but I recall side effects being worse for those two?

I need to research all three and make the decision for me (she said that Tecfidera was her top choice)–any thoughts from anyone taking them?


August 11, 2014

Some days, it feels like I’m always waiting…

Waiting for the migraine drug to work.
Waiting for the anti-nausea drug to chase the migraine to work.
Waiting…. to live.

Can you relate?
Do you know what it’s like?
Some times, you wait… and nothing comes of your waiting.
Aside from disappointment.
Disappointment in yourself, that you’ve let others down, and that you’re missing out on life.

Some times, it’s OK to push through the waiting.

But there are some days that it’s not.

traveling is hard work.

August 8, 2014

See the world! Go out and DO stuff! That’s my mantra, what I’m always preaching, right?

In my world right now, traveling is hard work. Because I’m trying to see everything! And I’m trying to do everything! Aaaahhhh!

And since we stay in airbnb facilities so often, with the point of getting to know the innkeepers, we come back from a day of sightseeing… and then, it’s tempting to chat! And being social, that’s hard.

First-world problems. Yeah. I know. Wouldn’t it be great to always have these sorts of problems?

The reality is, these days, I have to know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em. I think I’m handling MS symptoms well, but that on top of heat/humidity and my body’s dealing with three abdominal surgeries this year, plus putting in some hours to my online teaching job while on the road as well… let’s just say it’s a learning experience.

And isn’t that what life is all about, anyway… learning? :)