Three Healthy Tips for Lupus Patients (And Every Other Human on Earth) from My Friend Michelle

Carie ShermanA few weeks ago I introduced you to Michelle, a fellow lupie turned fitness and nutrition pro. She’s graciously volunteered to help me be as healthy as can be.

Now, despite my romantic entanglement with high-fructose corn syrup and Red Dye Number 40, I’m a farm kid. I know how to eat well and how to be active. But eating well is hard when your food source isn’t growing just out your front door and no one is there to cook for you. And moving is hard when illness keeps you in bed for days at a time.

 But dear Michelle has “been there/done that.” And while sympathetic to my excuses, she knows I can improve my foggy brain, achy body, and soul-crushing fatigue because she’s already done it. Here are three ways she suggested I get started.

  1.  Drink plenty-o-water. Yeah, yeah, you’ve heard that before. But Michelle suggests making it fun by adding fresh lemon, limes, berries or even herbs. She reminded me that all of the meds, while life-saving/enhancing and all that, do mess with you, making water key to keeping your energy up, delivering nutrients throughout your body, and flushing out waste and toxins. Teas can also be useful, but be sure you talk to your doc or pharmacist as some teas can interfere with common lupus issues like blood thinning. Here are some divine-looking ideas for infused water. Let me know if you try them out! http://blog.freepeople.com/2013/05/infused-water-recipes-summer/
  2. Eat real food. At 16, the new-found freedom of an ‘89 Chevy Corsica had me frequenting Casey’s General Store where I’d grab a Mountain Dew, a glazed donut, and three Tootsie Pops. But being young, active, and thin, I thought nothing of it. Years later my weight crept up, so I switched to “diet” mode. Michelle helped me realize that my love of empty calories has to some degree left me malnourished. I might maintain a healthy weight, but it doesn’t mean I’m healthy. And not eating isn’t doing me any favors either, even when I’m nauseated. She was prepared for my excuses, telling me that once my body has quality whole foods coming in regularly every day, I’ll again feel hungry and may feel less nauseated. Empty stomachs don’t handle some meds well. And my body is likely preserving what little food energy I have–as fat!–just to survive. Better, frequent eating will increase my energy by nourishing my body’s cells and repairing…everything.
  3. Move. It’s so hard to exercise when you’re flaring. So on those days/weeks, Michelle says to move when I can and try getting my heart rate up. Also, because metabolism is directly impacted by how much lean muscle mass you have, a resistance/strength routine could help my body feel hungry again. I hate the gym, so she told me to add “power” exercises like planks and push-ups to my normal yoga routine.

After making my excuses look as weak as network TV’s Friday night lineup, Michelle did what Michelle does best: She gave me a big old (virtual) hug, and told me I could do it. And while I may not feel like doing any of it, the thought of feeling even 10 percent better has been helping me power through.

I’ll keep you posted. Thanks, Michelle.

What changes have you made to positively impact your health?


July Newsletter

 Lemonade from a Lemon: Delaying the Large Employer Mandate for Coverage

lemon-CopyBy Ryan Biehle, Health Policy Associate Colorado Consumer Health Initiative

In a surprising announcement earlier this month, the Treasury Department decided to postpone the employer mandate, as it is called, in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) until 2015. One of the key provisions of the law, the mandate requires employers with over 50 employees to either offer health coverage to their workers or pay a per-employee penalty. It seems nobody saw the decision coming and speculations on the consequences ran rampant. Thankfully, the shock has worn off and implementation of the ACA is moving forward with few impacts. Read full story.

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Before You Complain About Your Doctor(s), Again…Please Read

Carie ShermanBy Carie Sherman

I spend a lot of time with doctors.

For more than a decade, I have written for physicians and count many as clients. In fact, earning the respect of my physician clients has been one of my greatest achievements as a writer.

And like any good lupus patient, I spend my free time in waiting rooms—a primo place for people watching that delights the writer in me.

It’s easy to recognize the regulars. They smile. They look relaxed. They knit, read, play video games, stare unapologetically and take notes (okay, maybe that’s just me). But newbies are far more fun to watch.

While I’m usually entertained by a freaking out newbie, a lady yesterday infuriated me. What began as some serious huffing and puffing ended with a fist pounding on the reception desk and followed by a…

If I treated my clients this way, I’d blah, blah <explicative> blah…!”

She went on…

Overpaid < explicative >, lazy, they’re the reason health care in America sucks…”

Her tirade ended with a resounding…

F&*% doctors!”

And to my relief, and that of my waiting room peeps, she exited the building.

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Intervention – An Update and an Intro to a Fellow Friend in Lupus

Carie ShermanBy Carie Sherman

A few weeks ago, I humiliated myself by sharing my food intake. My confession was accompanied by a vow to eat five fruits/veggies daily. I’ve stuck with it and—surprise, surprise!—I feel better. My stomach again growls, and I’m hungry for something besides high-fructose corn syrup.

Thanks to everyone who responded on Facebook, and my friends who sent me texts ranging from “REALLY?!?!” to “No wonder you sleep so much” to “You’re gonna get fat and I’m going to laugh.”

And special thanks to two people who made this dietary change much easier to swallow. First, thanks to my meat-and-potatoes-husband who has prepared and eaten more salads in one month than he did during 2006. Second, thanks to my friend Michelle, who sent me a 2,500 word email filled with crazy-good info about finding better health.

Lupus Colorado introduced me to Michelle because we had a few things in common: We were “similar” in age (bless you Debbie for thinking so), both new moms, and both had lupus (Michelle’s diagnosis definitive; mine as of last week still in limbo).

Meet Michelle. AKA, My Daily Inspiration

You know those people you meet and within 30 seconds, you’d do anything to be his or her friend? That’s Michelle. She’s bright, funny, warm, empathetic, energetic, bubbly, motivated, fun, adventurous, thoughtful, and holy crow—I honestly could go on!

Michelle lives on the western slope and drives to Denver once a month to see her doctors at University Hospital. Our first meeting was at a playground, where we shared our stories and our little girls ran around as if their watered-down Juicy Juice was swapped with Red Bull.

I felt like crap that day and did my best to hide it. Michelle was in great shape, and I learned she was a fitness instructor and a total nerd about nutrition. It was shocking to hear that less than a year before she had been fighting for her life, spending months in intensive care due to lupus complications.

lupus colorado healthy eatingShe had been so sick. And she was now so healthy.

My excuses for not taking better care of myself were weak, and I knew it. Not that she made me feel bad. Instead, she encouraged me to make small and sustainable changes. Like eating real food.

It took me a while, but my Milk Dud box mittens have come off and I’ve rediscovered proper kitchen utensils and the foods that come with them. And I owe so much of this to Michelle.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll share Michelle’s encouragement and the hard-fought wisdom she earned on her journey from ICU and chemo to teaching multiple fitness classes a day. And of course, I’ll share my own experiences of trying to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

Doctors can’t “cure” us, but we can improve our health. It might be hard, but like Michelle told me: The changes that heal you are easy to adopt for good.

What lifestyle changes have you made that help?

Until next time,

Carie

P.S. I sprained my wrist while carrying a grocery bag. I tried to avoid the doctor but it bruised, swelled and made typing miserable, which simply cannot happen in my world. My PCP is sending me to see an orthopedist today. This injury and a few others may or may not be related to my connective tissue disease—does anyone else experience such injuries? Or am I just a klutz?