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?

 

 

 


Creating Your Own Formula for Good Health

Carie ShermanBy Carie Sherman

People much smarter than me could tell you how everything in the universe follows a mathematical equation. And although this is likely a complete misapplication of the theory (math was never my best subject), I have a suggestion: Find better health by determining the right formula for you.

I’m a writer. As such, I enjoy studying the craft. If you look at uber-popular contemporary authors, you’ll see they tell stories using their own unique formula. Their readers pay good money to find out that the small-time lawyer will defy odds and expose the evil corporation. Love will conquer all for the impossibly good-looking 20-something widower and the beautiful yet damaged rich woman who just moved into the old family estate. These authors have found, and often stick with, a formula that works.

Finding My Formula

For more than a year, I had more bad days than good. Through the help of good doctors, my wonderful husband, and a whole lot of trial and error, my days started getting better. Moments of lucidity cleared a path for my inner nerd to re-emerge. I began a study of my good days.

It didn’t take long to see patterns.

I spent more than a year waiting for a doctor to fix me. It wasn’t until I began focusing on life beyond my bottles of pills that I started feeling better.

I’ll talk more about my own specific formula of wellness in a future post. Until then, give some thought to your days and what parts—no matter how small—make you feel good. I’m talking about any aspect (my formula includes half & half in my morning coffee and the three minutes of snuggling I steal before my toddler asks me to turn on cartoons).  

Do you have a “formula” for a happy day? Please share your comments below. Your insight might be exactly what another reader needs to hear today.


Food Intervention!

Carie ShermanBy Carie Sherman

This is my self-imposed INTERVENTION.

Over the last few years, my illness has forced me to make changes. Big ones.

Some were for the best—like going freelance, rediscovering yoga, and simplifying (pretty much) everything. Some changes were the worst, like no more running, becoming a social recluse, and needing more naps than my toddler.

Like it or not, these changes have kept me in relatively good health.

A health I’m very much enjoying, thanks—in NO part at all—to my terrible eating habits.

My brain and body know good food leads to good health. Yet I keep making bad choices.
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Paging Dr. Crane: Your Patient is Now Sulking in Room One

Carie ShermanBy Carie Sherman

I admit it. Some days I feel sorry for myself.

My most recent funk started at a family dinner. I went from being engaged and interested to being a spaced out, slightly crabby, vacuous lump.

Thankfully, Dr. Frasier Crane helped me snap out of it.

That evening I was flipping channels, trying to find something inane to capture my unreasonable mind, still mad as heck though not sure why. I had seen this black mood before. By now, my brain knows better than to launch into a state of Why Me.

So why was I again so mentally miserable?

Frasier had it all figured out.

It was really quite simple, he said. You aren’t mourning the fact that you may have lupus. You’re mourning the life you thought you would have.

Frasier paused. I started thinking about when my mood went south.

Perhaps it was during the excited talk of racing in one of those insane mud runs—an event I would have happily signed up for. Maybe it started when I was holding my sweet nephew, born around the time my doc told me It’s Best to Wait to get pregnant again. Or it could have been watching everyone enjoy my favorite ooey-gooey chocolate cake. Cake I couldn’t eat because I took another doc’s advice to try a gluten-free lifestyle.

YES, I told Frasier. That makes sense! Those happy conversations reminded me that my life has changed. And it’s okay to be sad about that.

The acknowledgement alone yanked me out of my pity-party for one. Why? I’m not entirely sure. The conversation with Dr. Crane was pretty one-sided.

Still, it was enough to convince me: It’s okay to mourn the life I had expected. And next time I’m feeling gloomy, I’ll try shifting my focus to the wonderful things the last few years have taught me.

My “new” life awaits. And I’m thrilled to explore it.

Does your illness affect your mental health? How do you cope?