Seven Life Hacks for the Chronically Ill

Carie ShermanBy Carie Sherman

In my last post, I confessed that my tendency to avoid chores stressed me out.

First, thank you for the suggestions! And for commiserating. It doesn’t matter if you’re sick or not–it’s overwhelming to stay on top of everything.

So I did me a lil’ search on Pinterest, and found a few fun tips that even organizationally-challenged folks like me can handle. Enjoy!
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Attention Future Self: You’re Welcome

Carie ShermanDo you ever wonder about the type of person who might be taken over by a cult?

Me too. And I bet it’s someone like me.

I’m a searcher. I’m always looking for mechanisms for improvement. When the Tony Robbins and Zig Ziglars and Deepak Chopras of the world sleep, they dream of my face, emerging from beneath a halo of dollar signs.

I hide my addiction in a bookcase that rivals any self-help section in a big box bookstore. Even my followers on Pinterest–a treasure trove of inspirational gold–remain unaware since the advent of the “secret” board.

So what got my attention this morning? A little nugget that shined brighter than all the rest:
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Fatigue! Questions to Ask Your Primary Care Physician

By Carie Sherman

Carie ShermanWhen your adventures include autoimmune disease, fatigue is your constant companion. And by “fatigue,” I’m not just talking sleepy.

You know the commercial for COPD where the elephant sits on the woman’s chest? That’s what fatigue feels like for the lupus patient. Only the weight of the elephant isn’t just restricting movement and breathing–it’s also restricting your ability to think. Every step you take become scripted events: You literally must think through each action you take once your eyes open.

I must have sounded like Rain Man to my many docs, chirping “fatigue, fatigue!” at each appointment. My persistence paid off: Eventually, they helped me discover other issues impacting my health. And I’m thrilled to report it’s been months since I found milk in the pantry or woke up to honking at a stoplight. (I promise, I rarely drove after that incident!)

 Here are common conditions that impact my fatigue and could warrant a conversation with your physician.

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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?