It’s difficult to explain how important it is to lower my monthly expenses by paying off my student loans- as well as other debt- without explaining where a huge chunk of my annual income goes without any real choices… my medical expenses.
For someone like me who has chronic illnesses, maintaining health insurance coverage can literally be the difference between a fairly normal life and absolute destruction. I make the joke that I work for health insurance but to be honest it’s not much of a joke. According to BCBSTX the billed amount for my medical expenses in 2018, a really good year for me with only one chronic illness really causing problems rather than all three, was $46,823. That’s a full time salary for many in the US and it doesn’t even take into account costs that I incur outside of the insurance plan for uncovered medications and services. In order for me to ever be fully financially independent I need to eliminate as many of my monthly debt payments as possible while also building a large emergency savings so that in the event of a job loss I could afford to maintain my healthcare costs without going bankrupt.
For this reason, I thought taking you through a summary of my anticipated costs for 2019 would be helpful. So here we go. First, some important terms then a summary of this year’s insurance plan and then a quick run through of additional costs.
This post is part of a series that will look at ways to save money on medication, questions to ask your HR representative during Open Enrollment season so that you can make an informed decision and more. Insurance and healthcare are, understandably, a huge passion of mine which I have only dug deeper into since beginning to work in Human Resources four years ago. I hope that this series can be beneficial to you.
My Insurance Plan
I currently have a fairly good plan but it is a High Deductible Health Plan which can get very costly if not budgeted for and fully understood. Being an informed consumer is of utmost importance with this kind of plan as 100% of the cost for services is on you from day 1 until you meet the deductible. Here are the details for my exact plan:
My insurance plan does not cover two of my currently prescribed medications (up from one in 2017) or any of the over-the-counter medications that my doctor utilizes as part of my treatment plan. This part is standard though, no prescription drug plan will cover OTC medications as a rule and have exclusions for covered prescription medications. Since this particular medication is purchased at a compounding pharmacy is was pretty much known up front to be an uncovered expense.
It also doesn’t cover some of the testing I have to do at my allergist/immunologist’s office when I am in a flare, vitamins and minerals that I supplement with when symptomatic, or any of the alternative treatments that I have found helpful to maintaining my health. While it is true that most of these costs boil down to personal choices that I have made to seek these treatments the quality of my life has increased drastically since introducing them so keeping them in my treatment plan if possible is ideal.
Not Covered Costs Breakdown
Without any of the ‘not covered treatments’ category we’re looking at:
One thing that isn’t accounted for in any of these numbers is the fact that I have to be careful about the foods that I eat and products that I use. I am allergic to a lot of things- most artificial scents, gluten, celery (random I know), bananas, and a slew of other things. This translates to needing to use more expensive personal hygiene and cleaning products in many cases as well as having a more heavily padded food budget than your average single person. I wish I could discount this but its part of my life and relates directly to my health issues so it likely should be mentioned. In my house you will find no scented candles, plug-ins, or etc. as they trigger migraines for instance and just this past Christmas I borrowed some basic laundry detergent while on vacation and was covered in hives for three days… so you can imagine a lot of shampoos, detergents and etc. can ruin my week pretty easily.
Ways I Lower My Costs
I write all this out not to convince you to feel sorry for me or what have you, because I think that I am extremely lucky to be able to work at all as I have many friends who are not able to do so. And not only that but I have a job I love, that pays me enough to afford the life I have- including insurance and salary that can encompass these expenses, a life that’s amazing with hobbies that bring me joy and friends that bring light and happiness to it, and a family that is just without words wonderful. It’s more than I deserve and I will always be grateful for it all. I write this to show you a window into my life for better understanding of one of my largest “why’s” when it comes to becoming financially independent and debt free. Having a “why” for your goals is important as without one you will be more likely to convince yourself out of the hard but necessary tasks along the way towards reaching your goal.
Until next time,
Comfort EatingRead Now
If you're anything like me there are foods that you subconsciously associate with good memories and feelings... and these are foods that you turn to in times of stress or emotional turmoil even though we know it isn't the best choice. Maybe its cookies, or pizza or chips but everyone I know I would say they've done it at some point or another so I would say this is a common enough human issue. We comfort eat, and its often foods that are high in carbohydrates and sugar when you think back on it. Today was one of the time for me. I regret allowing myself to do so but I'm not going to beat myself up about it either. I'm acknowledging the emotions that caused it so that next time I can find a healthier way to cope with those emotions should they come up again which I think is a much more effective use of my energy personally.
So, what happened? It's a bit of a long story that involved days of letting myself get emotionally run down to the point that my decision making ability wasn't up to where it needed to be essentially and I gave into the temptation of easy carbs. What did I learn? Take breaks when I need them instead of forcing myself to push through... I've done this my whole life and its time that I stop and acknowledge that I have limits and need to respect them. So, if you want to read the long version, here it goes:
I've been spending a lot of time going through boxes over the last few weeks as I unpack items that have been in storage for years while I didn't have my own place. This weekend it was time to go through the boxes I had stored in my guest and office closets as well as the garage as I had most of the weekend free of obligations. Thursday evening was lovely- I went through boxes from my childhood, discovered photos of my family from years ago, sorted through stuffed animals and trinkets I had collected over my younger years. There were moments of intermittent pain as memories surfaced of my mother's parents who both passed over the last year or so but the painful moments were brief and were far outweighed by the happy memories of summers and Christmases with family and friends.
And then came Friday night. I started out by putting together my brand new whiteboard for my office so that I could begin teaching again online. It was fun and even the dogs were having fun playing in the packaging. I figured that I'd finish up the guest room closet and then still have time to get through most of the office as well since I'm a night owl. The first boxes I opened were wedding memories and the next were boxes of our time in Korea. I had avoided those boxes like the plague for the first year after I came back to Texas and they had been in storage after that while I house-hunted for the next few years so opening them back to back wasn't a great choice but I thought it would be easier after all this time. I wasn't expecting the rush of memories and pain that those memories would elicit. Always logically minded I decided it needed to get done so I may as well finish the job and pushed though sorting the items: photos of our courtship, letters received from a beau in boot camp, a Valentine's Day gift card, photos with mutual friends and ones with family members, even some of his things that had been mixed in with my own because that's what happens when you're married... mostly good memories (I had taken care of the more negatively charged items in a previous purge) that dredged up pain that literally gave me palpations and drained. I should have stopped and waited to go through those boxes another day when the emotion hit me like a brick wall rather than go it alone and all at once but instead I finished as much of the task as I could. I ended up with a pile of items that will go to his parents to do with as they please, a pile for the trash and a few things that I simply wasn't ready to part with. Memories of happy times before the pain that I couldn't yet let go of despite the years that had passed and the hurt he caused me. Once everything was sorted, I did reach out to a friend but not the ones that would have been able to help me sort through the emotions in my head and heart the best and I ended up caught up in my own head for most of the night reliving a life long gone. I ended up watching a movie to try to move away from those memories with thoughts of finishing everything else today and fell asleep on the couch before waking around dawn to move to bed.
Today came, as it always does, and due to the late night movie session I had a really late start to my day but I finished up the little there was to do in the garage and went baby shower shopping- always a fun adventure. I didn't realize that I was avoiding the last of the boxes until I literally had done everything else but sort through them for most of the day. Wrapped presents for my nieces, two baby shower gifts, reorganized the guest bathroom, did the laundry, vacuumed, you name it. It was time to finish the office eventually though so I did, that's just who I am... if there is a job that needs doing I'll wrap myself in as much strength as I can muster and get it done. It needs doing after all and who else will do it? It was easier than I expected as most of it ended up just being paperwork- taxes, business documentation from when I was a dance teacher, lesson plans for my Kindergarten classroom, simple things with either little emotional attachement or good memories. Then there were high school photos which were fun sorting through- graduation, homecoming, choir parties, all kinds of fun. Occasionally a photo with my ex would crop up as we had dated in high school but we attended different schools so they were fewer than I would have anticipated... until wedding photos and family trips post marriage started coming up in the stack. Everyone was so happy and there were dear faces that I will likely never see again amongst the photos. To be honest it sucked, bad, and I had to lay aside the photos for a while but I finished the sorting and thought I had put the issue to bed. Not so much.
Refusing to just deal with the emotions and pushing them away caused me to make poor choices when it came to a very belated dinner where I was both hungry and hurting. I understood the why as I made the decision but didn't really care at the moment. Eating bad food didn't help the issue of course so I still had to deal with the emotional aftermath of three days of walking down memory lane afterwards. I have started that process already and will likely be continuing to do so for a while yet. But I'm doing it, I'm not tucking it away again to deal with at another time that never comes.
Why share this failure? Why show the world the cracks in the facade that is the me I've rebuilt the last few years? Because failure happens and that's ok. It isn't the end of the world to make a poor choice and you can come back from it 99.9% of the time without lasting harm. It may take me an extra couple of days to get to my goal weight now but in the scheme of things its not a big deal. I'll still make it there in the end and I'll be a happier person in the end due to the self-care of working on the emotional why's rather than self-torment over failure to stick to an eating plan.
We need to stop pretending that they're perfect 100% of the time and show our imperfections. We can help each other and build each other up rather than forcing everyone to feel a need to hide what is really happening inside themselves. Its the imperfections that make us the beautiful creatures that we are. They show where we've grown, strengthened weaknesses, where people have touched our lives- for good or bad... they show beauty and strength and trust in the person that you are sharing those imperfections with. Share your lives, be bravely imperfect rather than showing the world perfection... perfect is a lie.
Until next time, be amazingly imperfect,
Wrapping Up 2018Read Now
2018 was an interesting year, full of major positive moments as well as some huge downturns as well. I struggled to stick with my "One Word" more than any other year to date... balance was difficult to achieve consistently. With that said, it was overall a good year. I thrived in my career, had amazing experiences with my friends and met a lot of my goals, including the giant one of buying a house!
So, let's jump into goals and wrap ups for each section of my life in 2018.
My career goals (which don't go online... sorry!) were almost 100% accomplished this year which was great. I love what I do and the people I work for and with and am continuing to learn and grow which is my #1 priority in this category right now. Unfortunately I didn't accomplish all of my side-hustle goals though. This was for several reasons but it essentially boils down to time commitments and my mental health. My Oma (grandmother) passed in November and my health had taken several hits in the previous few months which both affected my mental well-being. I needed to take a break to get back into a healthy place mentally and that need superseded the rather aggressive timelines I had set for my side-hustle goals in this situation. Its important to realize that sometimes your goals change or need to be put on a temporary hold for something more important- and that's ok. Just don't give up on something that you really want, rework the plan and keep going!
Social & Recreation
I didn't put any goals online in this category but I did have a few things that occurred here. With my "One Word" being 'Balance' this year I knew there would have to be some changes but, as I stated before, it was a battle. I hate saying no. Like, really hate it. I love my friends and my hobbies and would love to participate in everything that is out there... but I can't. The end of this year saw me cutting back on chorus activities to take care of myself and find a bit more balance in my life. Long term this is a transition to, unfortunately, resigning from one of my choruses and the board member position that I hold there. This was a difficult decision as I love all of the women there but with the move it just isn't possible to keep driving there weekly. This decision was announced in the last quarter of 2018 and will take effect in April. I'm working to find a way to keep these wonderful people in my life though, I love them!
Well, this one's simple... still single. Haha! I'm online and making sure to remain open minded about people that I meet but so far I haven't begun a relationship with anyone. We'll see what 2019 holds though. I'm content with my life but I am also hopeful that I will find the person God has in mind for me eventually. Fingers crossed for 2019!
Health & Wellness
Here's another place where I didn't quite make it to my goals. I did great for the first 3 quarters of the year but depression and stress derailed me. I'm back on track though and didn't let the partial failure get me down. Giving some grace and moving forward! I ended up losing about 20 pounds (I had gotten up to 40 pounds lost before things went crazy in my life) which means I've got a ways to go. I reset the under 200 pounds goal to June 2019 but I am hoping that I make it there a little sooner, we'll see! I love keto though, its definitely that best option for my body and its where I've decided to focus going forward.
Health wise... well its been more difficult for me the past 4-5 months than I have had to deal with in the past few years. This caused additional stress and pain which I'm sure didn't help with the weight loss journey. One day I'll talk about my medical conditions but I don't really have enough time to get into all of it today. I'll leave it at I've been in a lot of pain intermittently, my heart rate has been elevated significantly more often than usual and I've been dealing with some major allergy issues. No fun.
Education & Personal Development
I did meet the goals I put here with the exception of SEO classes. No time, its been rescheduled to later in 2019 and I'm a-ok with that. I read several really great books and have developed a love for audio-books during my drive time. Give it a try, I definitely recommend audio-books!
I'm still in progress on this goal as I added it towards the end of the year. I'm using the YouVersion app to work towards it. :)
Household & Home Life
I bought my house! Ahh! This is a new category since I'm officially back on my own (well, with the pups) so you'll see some goals developed here over the next few months. For now its mostly been: unpacking everything, getting the Master bed and bath linens purchased, sorting through clothing and trying to decide on curtains. The last one is still in the air... I'm not great with curtains.
OK, the big one that I talk about a lot here: financial goals. My main goals for 2018 here were: save up for a down payment for a house (check), pay off $5,000 in debt (the payment didn't clear till January, but soooo close!) and lower my monthly expenses. I managed to stick to my goals until I got the house when the last one- lowering monthly expenses- got a little more difficult. Between having some unexpected home bills, unexpected travel and depression it was difficult to keep steam rolling at the pace I was going before and I back slid a bit. Not an astronomical amount but I had hoped to blow the $5,000 goal out of the water rather than missing it by a paycheck. I'm not deterred though and next year will be easier to plan now that I've been in the house a bit longer and have a better idea on my monthly costs. I'm excited for where this one is going. One thing to note... though I didn't pay off as much debt as I wanted my net worth rose by over $15,000! This is from investments and growth in my 401k and 403b, debt payoff and the house purchase. Here's to next year being amazing!
I've updated the home page with my current set of goals for the coming year. Have you set your goals? Next week I plan to be back with another app review. See you then!
December Personal UpdateRead Now
Well, its been a while since I've been online. A lot has been happening in my life and I needed to not be online for a while for my mental health. I appreciate all of you sticking around during the break! Today I want to do a quick update on what's been going on and then I'll do a full 2018 Recap later this week in preparation for 2019 Goal Setting. I'm excited to be back.
So, what's been going on? Answer: a lot!
What this amounts to... a few months offline, a few goals' timelines needing shifting and I'm a little poorer and a little heavier than I'd planned to be by this point but I'm much more prepared to accomplish my goals after taking this short break to help heal myself. I highly recommend taking a mental health break if you need one!
See you again shortly with the 2018 Recap!
New Diagnosis, New HopeRead Now
So a completely unexpected thing happened the other day... I got another diagnosis to add to the intake form. New diagnoses aren't something I fear anymore. After all, no matter how scary the name, a diagnosis doesn't change my symptoms for the worse just by existing. Sometimes the new meds that come along with it can cause a hiccup in my life for a while, sure, but in the end knowing can only lead to potential help from my point of view. Knowledge is power and having a name for something means that there is likely research and papers out there that could potentially improve my life.
I'm pretty used to diagnoses taking years to get at this point. That's how it's always been for me, my first dysautonomia diagnosis took 6 years! That's actually pretty average for that group of disorders too in case you're thinking "that's CRAZY!" The other day though... hours, mere hours. The diagnosis: MCAD. It was exciting to speak with a doctor who actually understood what was going on in my body rather than just in the one area they look at... and she brought a hope for a brighter future that I haven't really had in a long while back into my life. Dr. G thinks that treating my MCAD can help everything from my migraines and pain (it may not be fibromyalgia after all!) to my dysautonomia and asthma. She didn't promise a cure for all of my ills but she did provide hope for lessened symptoms over time rather than the understanding that I've been living with: that I would get worse over time and there wasn't much I could do to stop it.
When I made an appointment with Dr. G I didn't expect anything, not really. I was hoping that this pulmonologist that I had found on Google- because she was open on Saturdays and I didn't want to take any more time off work in case I needed to go back to the neurologist- would at least treat the asthma that had been flaring up more than normal and maybe find a new allergy medication for me since the one I was one seemed to be barely helping at all. I resigned myself to likely needing to go back on oral steroids and just hoped that when she saw my intake form she wouldn't write me off as having a Somatoform disorder and send me on my way.
It's a real fear guys. Once you're labeled 'officially' as having it all in your head doctors stop listening. As soon as it touches your health record it's so hard to get things done for you, necessary things... like medications that keep your heart rate in check or a check to see if your electrolytes are out of balance when you head to the ER because you can barely stay awake. Thankfully I only have had doctors say it out loud to my face ("I don't believe in that disorder." Seriously Doc? I have, in my hands, more than a decade of medical records that you are dismissing because you 'don't believe' in a known, researched and many times published medical condition... yeah, patient advocate time.) but never bother writing it down. This is not the case for many patients that I know... they have to fight with hospitals and doctors to get a note added (but the old note remains) that the previous note was incorrect.
Side note: Those intake forms where have you check all the boxes of symptoms that you have experienced in the past 3 months are the bane of any Spoonie's existence. 'Normal' people might check that you've had several headaches, sinus issues, and one or two other things then check off a family history of diabetes and be done. We have to check nearly single every box... and hope that they take us seriously when they see all the side scribbles and notes on the margins trying to explain why there are so many and that we aren't hypochondriacs.
Hypotension- check- Monday afternoon 96/60
Hypertension- check- Tuesday afternoon 160/101
Heart palpitations- check- also on Tuesday
Tachycardia- check- Monday evening 135, standing
Bradycardia- check- Monday morning 54, sitting
Nausea- check- Monday evening, likely due to tachycardia
Digestion issues- check- IBS, cycles
Dizziness- check- related to dysautonomia
Vertigo- check- related to dysautonomia
Headache- check- migraines, tension headaches, sinus headaches; being treated by Dr. Y
Trouble breathing- check- this is why I'm here
Sinus trouble- check- also why I'm here
Joint pain- check- referral out from Dr. Y to a rheumatologist
check, check, check, check, CHECK!
"When everyone is super, no one is"... the same goes for symptoms. If they're all checked then doctor's have no idea what is actually important, they don't know where to even start. Don't even get me started on the 'Medications & Supplements' area... two lines, really? Diagnoses and surgeries... I need my cheat sheet for all those dates. But I can spell everything for you when your nurse asks me about it all to put into the computer in 15 minutes. It takes forever and is pointless because you just have to go over it all in context when they come in for your little bitty time window appointment. *end rant*
Anyways, Dr. G didn't do any of that... exactly the opposite actually! I gave my information to her interns (who had growing eyes and lots of questions for each thing on my list... they must have been new) and as they were filling her in on everything I had told them she made a few hypotheses. The first was that, despite being on anti-histamine drugs for years and having taken a dose less than 24 hours before, I would test positive on a histamine test. The nurse tested me and, of course, a nearly instantaneous positive result came from the test. I didn't realize it at the time but that's not supposed to happen for normal allergy sufferers apparently. In her consult she made sure to let me know why she wanted the test and what it meant. This was my first inclination that I had stumbled upon someone who could, and would, help... she didn't guess and medicate, she made hypotheses and tested them before doing anything further.
Next up was a Pulmonary Function Test and a diagnostic form to verify that my asthma wasn't under control. Again, unsurprisingly... it wasn't.
The first consult happened next. She brought the hypothesis forward that I had MCAD and gave her reasoning and plans to verify this hypothesis. Based on my history (I was very general on the forms that I filled out because I figured it would be more likely that those in the office had heard of the general category of disorders rather than the specific subsets. I should have just put the specifics down to begin with but I'm a bit jaded I suppose...) and the few tests she had run already she managed to identify nearly all of my specific diagnoses as well as some that are still in unverified status but highly likely. We were able to discuss my symptoms from ALL of my diagnoses and how they interrelated and how MCAD could be affecting my body and it's disorders. A real conversation... if you don't have a chronic illness you don't understand the relief and joy that comes from meeting someone who you can speak with about what you go through without having to 'dumb down' or explain everything. Not to mention the anxiety and fear that you'll somehow scare them away from you- doctor or friend alike on this one. I was nearly giddy by the time she left the first time! I had to call my mom and let her know that the quick appointment I had anticipated was going to be quite a bit longer and so much more fruitful. Apparently I had stumbled upon the doctor that I would have eventually ended up at once I got back to a dysautonomia specialist again... she works with people like me all the time! There are really no words to explain what I was feeling at this point... relieved, excited, giddy, happy, optimistic... none quite fit yet they all do. I know what I wasn't though- scared or anxious.
She wanted to do an allergen test next. That cost a pretty penny but I haven't had one since I was a child and that was prior to having years of allergy shots as well as moving around the world so it was, needless to say, rather outdated. It was... less than fun. This will sound like a complaint but it's just a run down of the next hour or so. We started with the test on my back. The little needles stung and I itched for pretty much the entire next few hours but if it helped make me better I was all for a little pain. Like my massages, they hurt at the time but they help so I say go for it. Lying on my front also caused my ribs to have significant pain so lying still wasn't 100% possible but we found a way to make it work. I was pretty glad when that was over to be honest and hopped right off the table to get dressed. Hopping directly off the table wasn't my best choice but I was excited for answers and completely forgot about managing my POTS so ended up grabbing a wall as the room spun around me for a bit at that point. A rest lying down was necessary but and I was able to move forward by my next consult time. I still make silly mistakes that cost me time and energy all these years later. It's rather annoying but its part of being human. :P
The final consult consisted of figuring out a plan of action- together. She placed an order for some lab tests (which she's going to personally call and discuss the results with me... who does this anymore!?!) as part of the next step in finalizing the diagnosis. Then we discussed whether I wanted to go straight to medicinal treatment or try some more natural approaches to desensitizing my mast cells first. I'm all about natural methods and staying away from the more dangerous or long lasting medication when I can so I'm super psyched that she is as well. There can be so many interactions when you're being prescribed many different meds but many different doctors... its hard to tell sometimes what caused what and if a treatment plan is actually working. For this reason, we ended up deciding on a mixture of natural and medicinal for the next few months. I'm on allergy and asthma medications, which are necessary for me at the moment, plus I started an elimination diet to start the process of lowering my histamines and finding out what causes issues for me. I'm not going to lie, it sucks. She gave me a bare bones list of items to avoid and told me to try to stick to a low histamine type diet as best as possible until I came back in. I threshed it out a bit more because I'm me and needed to understand the why and do's/don't's better. What I ended up with was a low histamine diet mixed with AIP basically. I do best symptom-wise on Paleo and when you add in a histamine intolerant diet to that mix it gets pretty restricted in the flavor area... at least it seems that way for a big fan of cooking like me. In 6 weeks I go back to discuss how the diet and meds have helped and we will look at beginning at the next step of my treatment plan. Hopefully that will include adding in some of the foods I've cut out as I already miss cheese and salsa something major.
I came to terms with my health years ago. A lot of the time it's felt like a fight to stay where I am rather than a fight to get better, at least in recent years. The IBS issues and tachycardia would improve with trying this new thing or that but then the pain would get worse. A new medication would cut my migraines in half but made my heart rate unstable so I couldn't exercise. I've gained weight, pain and exhaustion the past few years despite gaining some ground on the nausea, tachycardia and IBS issues. Don't get me wrong, I'm in a much better place overall than I have been in the past medically speaking. I have a fairly normal life (and I can remember a time when that seemed to be going away) with friends, work, & hobbies. I'm very blessed and I know it... but I stopped praying for someone to find a cure. I started instead praying that I wouldn't get worse like so many of my friends have. Eventually I stopped asking at all about my health. That doesn't mean that I stopped treatment and just stayed home depressed and miserable, I didn't. I kept fighting and I always will. I just found some good in the bad that I have experienced... I found peace in being who I am and stopped dreading the future so that I could fully live in the present.
Now? I'm still sticking with that outlook of peace and trying to live each day that God has given me to the best of my ability... but there's hope, and prayer, for a brighter future than the one I had resigned myself to.
Sorry guys, I've been super busy lately and let the blog fall off my radar. I had certification exams to study for, a couple shows to prep for, and some medical issues crop up again that took a lot of my time and energy up. The good news is that I've already been at work on a few new pieces this week and should have two posts out next week and be on track again after than for once a week. If you're following my Instagram you saw that I had made some lotion bars not too long ago... that recipe will be up on Monday at 8:00 AM CST! What kinds of things would you like to see next? I have a few more quick and simple DIY beauty recipes in the works as well as a personal piece that I've been working through for a while but I'm not sure what exactly you, my lovely readers, would like to see next. Sent me a message or post in the comments (or over on Instagram) with suggestions or questions and I'll try to get them into the queue for upcoming blog posts soon. Ciao for now!
Just a quick update on my "New Year's Resolutions" (let's just call them what they are: Goals. Ok? Mkay.)
2016 New Year’s ResolutionsRead Now
I don’t really do New Year’s Resolutions… I know that seems abnormal with today’s society of fad diet crazes, cheaper gym plans, cleanses, and post after post of organization tips and meal plans in January. I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions because I think they give you an excuse to not take an action that you know you should because your start will be a later date. I prefer to make a goal for myself and start it whenever it needs to be started, preferably sooner rather than later. I started one of my goals about 3 weeks ago for instance. This year I will make an exception, a week late, and make my current goals into ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ that I will share with all of you. Some of these goals are ones I have had for a while but updated to start as of Jan. 1. I have spent the last month or so doing an evaluation on my life and priorities and this is the outcome.
This may be a lot of goals… but I don’t do Resolutions so this is a first for me. Perhaps next year I can chose one or two to highlight and call Resolutions for the year but I doubt it.
[Edited on 1/11/16 to add financial goals which I had forgotten to put on here as they were continuations and just part of my habit 100% by the original date of this posting.]
Hi guys! I wanted to do a quick apology for the lack of posts recently and catch up with all of you on what is going on with me. Basically, my computer died (no bueno) which means that I wasn't really able to do much writing until I could get a new one. I was able to pick up a new one this past weekend thankfully so I am working on some new posts to get back up and running shortly.
On the health front I am pretty much 'post-flare' (back to my 'normal') at this point which is great. I had lingering after effects from the flare that dragged on for a few weeks it seemed which kind of sucked, not gonna lie, but the nearly two week full on flare was killer (and nearly ruined my vacation) and I am grateful it has passed. At this point all that's left most of the time is an elevated heart rate in the mornings/evenings beyond my norm and a longer morning routine as my bp is still too low first thing to get back to my old routine. It's all manageable though and I'm back to living my life.
My evenings are a bit more open as well since Oktoberfest season is over. I don't have practice or shows for another month or two with my folkdance group. I plan on using the extra time to work on writing some extra posts as well as study for my Economics and Finance classes. On that note, grad school is going pretty well this term. So far I have an A in both of my courses but they are more difficult for me than my Education classes the last time I was in grad school (this is my second masters degree).
I think that's pretty much it for me other than the fact that this is Dysautonomia Awareness Month so I'm taking to Instagram quite a bit with posts for that. Feel free to follow me @RealLifeWithHeather if you would like to take a look at those posts and/or see pics of my pups and upcoming posts.
I am currently reading Wheat Belly: Total Health by William Davis. I'll post a review once I am finished reading the book but so far I can say that this book is jam-packed with more information than I will be able to fully absorb in a single read so if you are looking for a comprehensive text on the history of grains and how they interact with the human body this may be your book. Since I was spending so much time delving into the complexities of wheat as a food stuff I was wondering how much my avoidance of wheat was truly the reason I was feeling so much better as the book states... so I posed an experiment. I re-introduced grains for one week, 7 full days. I made sure that I was keeping as many other factors the same as possible within my diet but I added in bread and other grain products. For instance, when I ate a hamburger I ate the bun instead of my usual bun-less burger. I didn't go crazy and change my diet 100% back to the Standard American Diet, just a few servings of grains per day. All in all the week went exactly as I expected... here's the breakdown:
Monday: I reintroduced wheat by choosing a small portion of mushroom stuffed ravioli at lunch but kept everything else the same in my diet. I felt more tired that evening and had a touch of the insomnia I had previously kicked while being grain free.
Tuesday: I had a biscuit at breakfast and a slice of pizza at a work gathering at lunch but dinner stayed the same as usual and was nearly carb free as I was feeling pretty poorly. My stomach began acting up and I started to bloat.
Wednesday: My POTS started acting up with tachycardia and nausea. I also had to take some headache medication and was exhausted by the time I came home from dinner. I did not have grains with lunch or dinner, only at breakfast.
Thursday: Still feeling poorly in general, my stomach was still acting up- IBS was back in full swing- and I needed to lie down at work for a few minutes as I had a tachycardia attack with nausea and vertigo. I didn't make it to my after work activity (choir) as that was out of the question... I simply went home to lay down on the couch.
Friday: I had been noticing that it was more difficult to think as clearly this week but now it was quite pronounced. I could only read a few pages at a time without a break today as I typically had to re-read sections to fully comprehend the complex subject matter of my grad class. I fell asleep early tonight.
Saturday: Today was a bust... I woke up with a migraine which meant that I didn't move or do much of anything until well after lunchtime and then was exhausted and still in pain/nauseous for most of the day- even with 3 different migraine/pain medications. For this reason I ended up ordering a pizza and calling it a wash- I was already on the eating grains bandwagon for two more days and it was easy to be honest. I have been craving sugar like it's nobody's business since about Wednesday as well I realized.
Sunday: Since I fell asleep at nearly 4am due to the copious amounts of sleep I got on Saturday and the physical and mental exhaustion that has been the week in general I missed church in the morning. I was still sluggish for most of the day and trying to do homework was ridiculous in the evening. I was looking forward to stopping the grains again on Monday but not looking forward to the possible withdrawal symptoms triggered by coming back off the grains.
Symptoms that came back on grains:
If you are interested in purchasing Wheat Belly: Total Health I am including a link below. Your local library likely has several books on Paleo and grain-free living as well. Happy reading!