Simplify life

It’s been just over a year since I first was diagnosed with exhaustion syndrome. When I got the diagnosis I had been fighting to be up and about as normal for several months. Some days worked better than others, but towards the end of last Winter I felt that each day was a blur and I still don’t understand how I managed to perform at work. I thought it was my normal “end of winter season RA issues” that just had gone over the top. I could not have imagined that one year later I would still be on sick leave. Yes, it’s part time now, and since January I’m able to work 50% which I’m happy about. Last time I saw my doctor and I told him that I was so frustrated that it takes so long time to heal he reminded me that I should be happy that I at least can work 50% instead of nothing! He is right… I should be ecstatic about the fact that I am able to function around 4-6 hours a day pending what activities I’m doing. Last year at this exact time all I did was a daily 2K walk in the woods and then I rested for the rest of the day. It’s just so annoying to feel that I want to do more things than what my body can handle.

I’ve always had to prioritize my health ever since my diagnosis with RA in 2009. I’ve skipped so many fun activities these past years that I’ve lost count. I thought I knew how to handle my illness and keep it “under control”. The RA together with the exhaustion syndrome have forced me to scale down even further. I’ve not had the energy to meet friends nor family. I’ve signed up for events that I’ve had to cancel in the last minute because I had go home and just rest on the sofa. Larger gatherings are now quite impossible for me as loud noises makes my energy levels disappear, actually even being on the subway or bus sometimes feels overwhelming. I’ve not listened to music nor audio books for almost a year. The past months I’ve started trying to every now and then but it works for max 20 minutes before my head feels like it’s going to explode, not because I have a headache but because I just can’t process what I’m hearing and I loose all focus and concentration. Yesterday I actually shocked my husband because when he turned on the car he radio was on and a ABBA song was playing and I actually started singing a little bit. That has not happened in ages! I guess that is a good sign! 🙂

For the past months I’ve started thinking about my life and how I want to live it because as it is right now it is not going in the right direction. I want to work full time, I want to be able to learn new things, I want to see other people on weekdays/weekends and most importantly I want to feel strong and energized. I want to feel happy about the life I’m living. There are lots of “I want” there and in order to be able to say “I am” I need to reprioritize my life and make changes not only related to exercise and food choices. Luckily I have a husband that is all-aboard and understand that we had to regroup and analyze they way we were living. So, long story short, during our one month vacation in February we came to a major decision… we decided it was time to sell our house and move closer to the city to allow an easier and less stressful way of life for both of us. No must-do’s around the house such as yard work and other things we really don’t enjoy doing as home owners, and most importantly no long commute.

2017 is the year when I simplify my life! OUT with all the bad energy and IN with all the new exciting parts… I still need to sort out some bits and pieces, but I can’t wait to have a shorter commute to work, to be able to go to meetings with my RA group on weekdays, to see friends after work, and to fill the free hours of my life with fun things instead of having to commute to the suburb.

 

 

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31 days of yoga

I’m happy to say that I successfully completed the December Yoga Challenge of 31 consecutive days of  yoga. Those of you that follow me on Instagram have surely seen my progress throughout the month.

I did have some challenges due to my hip and a cortisone injection but I decided to stick to the schedule and do what I could do anyway. So, the normal yoga session turned into chair yoga and poses that did not cause tension and pressure on the right side of my hip.

Quite soon into the challenge I started using our sauna for my yoga sessions. I’ve attended hot yoga at the gym previously and liked it a lot and suddenly it just hit me that I should try to do it in our sauna. I had no idea that there is something called “sauna yoga” which I found out when I searched a little online. The only limitation with our sauna is that its fairly small so not all kinds of poses are possible to do. The normal sessions that I follow through YouTube or Nerd Fitness Yoga was out of the questions since I for obvious reasons can’t bring my computer or iPhone into the sauna. Instead, I found an app called “Yoga studio by Gaiam” where I could design my own session based on the poses I 1) can do in the sauna and 2) suits my hip. I just put the iPhone on high enough volume so I can follow the session even though the phone is located outside of the sauna.

The last three weeks of the challenge I did my yoga session at 6 am in the morning (on weekdays, 2-3 hours later on weekends) and it has turned out to become a fantastic start to my day and I’ve continued with my morning yoga even now when the challenge has ended. I might not going force myself to do it daily but I will try. 🙂 My aim will be to do morning yoga at least on the days when I go to work.

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Recipe: Boeuf Bourguignon

When I was grocery shopping online I was just randomly trying to find the week’s recipe for the crockpot. I suddenly came across Boeuf Bourguignon (a classic French recipe) and decided right away I had to try it.

I wasn’t able to find the exact recipe in English but if you search for it you’ll get lots of hits. Here is the link to Swedish recipe. I added more stock, garlic and bay leaves than the recipe called for and the dish turned out fantastic! Together with the homemade mashed potato this is easily a new favorite in the house.

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The ingredients
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Everything in the crockpot
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When it was 30 minutes left I added the pickled onions.
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Dinner is served!

 

 

December Yoga Challenge

The past months have not been good as far as my monthly goals/tasks. My hip has given me problems (still does even though I got a cortisone shot at the end of October) and my fall a few weeks back caused problems with my tail bone. On top of that I’m experiencing problems with side effects due to my new medication Metoject I take every week. So, I’ve decided to completely scale back on my monthly goals and start fresh next year when hopefully my body is in a better mood.

I have decided though to take part in a December yoga challenge held by the Nerd Fitness team. I figured that despite my issues I should be able to do some type of yoga each day and I will choose what to do depending on how I feel each day. The goal of the challenge is to do yoga for at least 10 minutes a day and then collect points for each day you have completed it. The more consecutive days the higher the point. Sharing the journey on Facebook, Instagram etc gives extra points. At the end of December all points are calculated and the top 3 get some type of reward. I’m not part of it to compete for the reward, my goal is rather to finally get up to speed with my yoga plus to actually be able to do something despite the issues I currently have with my body.

Yesterday I did a 15 minute yoga session focused on the back and hip. I thought it went perfectly fine, but when I was going to bed in the evening I could barely lay down because it hurt so much. Took me a long time to manage to rest and go to sleep. 😦 Obviously not the best yoga for me… I particularly need to be careful with the poses specifically targeted for the hip.

Today I woke up with a bad headache and I decided to try something called restorative yoga because I figured it might help the headache. I found a 12-minute video on YouTube that I decided to try. Well, it didn’t help the headache at all, but I did manage to get my yoga session in today too. 😉 Go me!

So, two days completed now! And I’ve just decided to reward myself with finally setting up a little yoga area in our home gym if I successfully complete the challenge! Stay tuned for progress reports! 🙂

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Recipe: Dijon Chicken

A few years ago I bought a crock pot. I’d actually read about them already when we lived in the US but never purchased one. I tried it the first time shortly after I bought it, but then it has just been standing in one of my kitchen cabinets collecting dust. 2 weeks ago I decided it was time to change that! So far I’ve used it twice and I have just picked out a new recipe for this weekend!

Two weeks ago I made a deer stew and found a recipe that was not for a crock pot so I modified a bit. For a first try in a very long time it turned out quite good, but last week I decided to find a recipe made for a crock pot. I was quite set on trying chicken this time around so that narrowed down the recipe choices a little bit at least.
Here are links do the recipe I used: Swedish recipe and English recipe

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The ingredients
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Dijon chicken ready to be enjoyed.

The recipe turned out good although the next time I will add more spices than what the recipe calls for. The chicken turned out really tender, I would actually call it “pulled chicken” as it fell apart even more easily than pulled pork. 🙂

Now I just need to learn that it is possible to leave the house while the crock pot is doing its work. 😉

A slippery world

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Winter has arrived… in the beginning of November! We got 40 cm of snow in one day earlier this week. Apparently it’s the heaviest snow fall in the month of November in over 100 years. I was lucky enough to it happened on the day I’m working from home so I didn’t be outside in the chaos of snowflakes, stranded cars, and a city where all buses was cancelled and trains was on a much irregular schedule. All I had to do, was sitting inside enjoying the beautiful world outside. 😉

I like winter and snow and cold. It is pretty plus that the otherwise so dark months turn a little lighter. On top of that my joints actually prefer when it is colder rather then having the temperature go up and down around 0 degree C. This week though my love of winter came to a halt… within 4 days I fell TWICE! The first time it was not too bad but I did get ugly bruise on my knee plus that my hip started to complain again. Especially annoying since I got the cortisone injection two weeks ago and it had finally started to feel OK. The second fall happened two days ago and I’m considering myself lucky that I didn’t have to visit the hospital. All I remember is that I was standing still and a crossroad waiting for a green light and suddenly I was laying on my back on the ground. A man rushed to my side and wondered how I was doing. For quite some time (probably not more than 10-15 seconds but it felt like “forever”) I couldn’t even move and I told him so. It hurt so much and I was unsure if I would be able to stand up. I did manage to stand up though and both the first guy and another one that had arrived as well wondered how I was doing. I said I was fine–I figured that if I was able to stand up by myself and walk despite the pain it wasn’t too much wrong with me–and continued the 20 meters I had left to the restaurant where I was supposed to meet a friend for lunch. After our lunch I meet my husband in town and we went home together. It was too scared to walk on the slippery roads by myself plus that it hurt too, no matter if I was still or moving.

Two days after my fall I’m still in pain although it is better than it has been. The tailbone is the worst… and I’m having trouble when bending my body, but I’m doing much better than I could even imagine.

I have now purchased new shoes from Icebug that have studded soles. I’ve used them both yesterday on my way home from the store and today when we went grocery shopping. They are perfect! Now I’m ready for winter!

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My new Icebug winter shoes! ❤

 

Reflections of October

The month of October didn’t turn out as planned. The first two weeks were good and I was on track but then my hip started to give me issues and it was impossible for me to continue with my workouts. I called the hospital and last week I was there for a cortisone shot. I’m still not back to 100% but I’m hoping I can get back to my workouts shortly. I have to confess, I kinda miss them! 🙂

My tasks for October I have now transfered to November instead. They are marked with a * (star). I’ve also added 2 new tasks.

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I might not have succeeded with my tasks, but I’m still counting October as a good month though. I had a meeting with a physical trainer at the Pain Clinic and she gave me a TENS machine I got borrow. It works wonders for the pain in my hands and wrists. When I have it on I don’t feel any pain at all. Before I got the cortisone shot I actually used it if I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t go back to sleep due to the pain.

Another good thing is that I finally was able to start with Metoject (Methotrexate as injection. Its a low-dose chemotherapy. I’m getting 0.3ml (or 15mg) per week). Last week I visited the hospital and a nurse showed me how to inject. Yesterday I took my second injection at home. I’ve taken this medicine before but then as pills and suffered from severe nausea. When my rheumatologist suggested to start with it again to see if it would help all the pain I have I said yes on the condition I could get it as injection instead. So far I’ve not had any major side effects. Last week I noticed headache, extra tiredness, loss of appetite and sensitivity to smells for the first 24 hours. So far this week, I’m just noticing headache and tiredness. I’ve decided to work from home every Wednesday as of now. That will give me time to rest more if needed. What I don’t like about this medication is that it is much easier to get infections. I remember how easily I got sick the last time I was on this medication. I’m getting quite paranoid when sitting in the subway or bus and people around me are coughing and sneezing. So many ignore that they are sick and go to work/school instead of staying at home. I’ve decided to take the flu shot this year, and also my husband have decided to do it just because I’m on this medication. Actually a co-worker of mine told me yesterday that she will take the flu shot as well as we’re sitting in these same room. She has never done it previously so it’s very sweet of her to decide to do so. I’m grateful that they are trying to protect me from getting sick. I will try to find other methods to make sure I don’t get sick too, maybe I should start with the “gold milk” again!