I am an Undergraduate Student who has Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy and embraces the Vegan lifestyle. Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy is a Chronic Neurological Condition that I hope and pray there will be a cure to one day. Until then I live my life to the fullest, embrassing the life the Good Lord has given me.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Self Esteem

The average women (or man) struggles with self-confidence thanks to their peers and not to mention some of their elders. When you throw a chronic condition into the mix it makes the situation a whole lot messier.

As has been stated in my Nursing Anatomy Class; when your treating the body of the patient your dealing with what is also going on mentally. As anyone with RSD or any chronic condition will admit, the procedures are not too glamorous. The side effects of the medicine cause us to gain weight or lose too much weight. This affects us mentally and the fact that our peers are "healthy" affects us too.

Throughout my journey with RSD Ive always believed that I need to be stronger than the RSD. Thanks to me getting educated in nutrition I feel a renewed confidence that I am stronger than this syndrome I have. I am in pain but I know that I can get up each morning and fight with the medicines I take, foods I eat, and how active my body stays. Many people believe that they are being punished, but I honestly believe that I was given this for a reason - to help others who simply need the help.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Friends, Food, and Love

This weekend was an exceptionally great one for me. This weekend was full of Food, Spending time with Friends, and learning the true meaning of Love.

Starting on Friday I got to spend some quality time with my mom. My mom, Aunt, and I went to a favorite restaurant of ours, California Pizza Kitchen. There we got to catch up over amazingly good food. I got the Vegetarian Pizza.The waitress was nice enough to let me know that they were able to leave off the cheese for me...yeah! I enjoyed the delicious pizza full of veggies, I really missed pizza and I never realized it.

Today my mom and I went to Church for Palm Sunday Service. Almost all of us are taught the Palm Sunday story and it is told to us each year. It is nice though to be reminded that God loved us so much that His only Son died for our sins. Easter has always been my favorite holiday. Not because my family comes together, its because we celebrate that Jesus has done this remarkable deed for us. I find it truly amazing.

After Church mom and I went to Whole Foods. We picked up some food that we both wanted through the week and grabbed some lunch. I had squash soup, it was exceptionally good. We then stopped at a friends apartment and visited with them a bit.

I am looking forward to Easter Break even if it is only a few days away from school. At least it will give me a break and a time to catch up with my classes.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Being an Optomist

There are many factors that affect how a person responds to treatment when they have a chronic condition. Attitude is one of the major factors that comes up. With RSD it is hard to exactly be "positive" but having a glass half full type of attitude is going to be more helpful then a glass half empty type of attitude.

When my RSD came back at 17, I had to get home tutored because my pain was so bad. I literally thought my life was over especially since I hardly had a social life and I was in the most horrific pain. I knew if I wanted to turn my life around I need to do it myself. My friend and I would try to find one thing that entertained us everyday. We would make sure that these things were positive and would put a smile on our faces. I started developing a different attitude about life and about my RSD. I actually didn't hate my RSD, I accepted it. When I would go in for treatments I would make sure I had my sister paint my toenails a hot pink, my signature color. The Dr's and nurses loved the fact the my toenails were pink and could always identify me by that. I would go into procedures or surgery smiling knowing that this could be the procedure or surgery that could be the one that provided me with the relief I needed, thankfully my SCS did it.

Now that I am in college and around a diverse group of people I can see how being an optimist helps with not only chronic illnesses but also life in general. I help co-run a group on Facebook called RSD aka Really Sucks Dystrophy. I love helping co-run the group. I have actually made some of my best RSDer friends from the group. Ive noticed though that people's attitude's about their RSD are reflected on how others feel about their disease. This was actually mentioned in a NY Times article that if the group's attitude is negative then the members attitudes in the group is most likely going to be negative the same goes for the positive side.

I know RSD isnt the easiest disease to live with but we can have a say if it is going to control our lives. I refuse to have a negative attitude and let my RSD affect me like that.

NY Times Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/25/technology/25disable.html?WT.mc_id=TE-SM-E-FB-SM-LIN-OSN-032410-NYT-NA&WT.mc_ev=click

My friend Haley and I, Summer 2009

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Great Day

I have been exceptionally busy the last few weeks with multiple tests. It seems like I have one right after another. Once I get done with one I start studying for the next. Last weekend there were several points that it seemed that I just couldnt study anymore. Thankfully my family came to the rescue with a family dinner earlier yesterday evening celebrating my Mom's and Sister's Birthdays. We went to a Mexican Restraunt which is about halfway for me and for my family. I'm not a big fan of Mexican and getting a meal which could satisfy my diet and wouldn't kill my stomach was hard and pretty much impossible. My other sister had gotten a vegetable fajita dish that I should have gotten and she let me have some of it.

Much to my mom's and sister's surprise my brother and his wife had asked the staff bring in the cake that was bought for them. The staff sang to them in Spanish, it was so much fun. I broke my no eggs, no milk just for a little piece of cake and I didnt eat the frosting or artificial coloring.

The warm weather has been teasing us here. It is currently Thunder Storming out. Im looking forward till the day that the nice weather is here to stay for awhile at least.

Sending Healing Thoughts!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Achilles Hope and Possibility 2010

My mom and I will be attending the Achillies Hope and Possibility Walk this year in NYC. My mom, sister, neice and I went in 2007. I am excited to go back this year to see my RSDer friends and support a great orginization. In the Achilles Hope and Possibility Walk, there are two portions. One portion is the 5 mile run and then the walk after that. RSDer's have the option of either walking the 5 miles or the two mile walk. I am excited since in 2007 I wasnt able to walk the whole two miles and I am looking forward to doing so.

I am asking you and would appreciate if you could make a donation on my firstgiving page. All the money goes to RSDSA. They use the money torwards resarch and awareness projects. They are an amazing orginiazation and have supported my family and I throughout my journey with RSD. My page will be open for awhile. Thank you!

Firstgiving Page: http://www.firstgiving.com/erikkafightingagainstrsd

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

School Lunches

School Lunches have never been known for their great nutritional quality. I remember packing my lunch all the way through school (thanks to my amazing parents). Only buying my lunch on the rare occasions that I forgot my lunch or something "good" was being served that day for lunch.

Now that I am in college I miss those days that I would open my lunch box or bag and find a cute note on occasion from my mom. These days I struggle to find a nutritional meal in our college cafeteria and most days leave hungry. My parents have been supportive with my life style and help me keep my room stocked with vegetarian soups, fresh veggies, and frozen veggies for the occasion that I cant make it to a meal or that I just need something to eat.

A teacher in Illinois is finally sticking up for her students. At the start of the 2010 year she started eating lunch everyday in the cafeteria to see the nutritional quality of the food. She has a blog if you would like to follow along. I haven't had a chance to check it out yet but will soon.

Here is the article: http://shine.yahoo.com/channel/health/would-you-volunteer-to-eat-school-lunch-every-day-to-prove-a-point-this-teacher-did-1157394/

Here is her blog; Fed Up With Lunch: http://fedupwithschoollunch.blogspot.com/

Monday, March 15, 2010

Treating Pain

Treating chronic pain has been tough for all Doctors alike. Doctors are not taught in medical school how to treat chronic pain. Actually most Doctors do not like taking on chronic pain patients, especially those with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. Doctors dont like taking on chronic pain patients because they are so hard to treat, RSDers especially.

I have been blessed with two amazing Dr's who fully believe in me. My Pain Management Dr has been looking for a cure for RSD and wont give up until he finds one. He is devoted to his patients and making sure they get the best pain relief possible.

Here is an article on treating Pediatric Chronic Pain. Thankfully I was able to find an amazing Dr who has helped me get through these last 8 years.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

This Is The Life

Im sorry I havent posted in a little while. I have been increadibly busy with school work, no one ever said being a Undergraduate Nursing Major was easy but is rewarding. Ive taken time out of this week to enjoy the nice weather that was here for what seemed like a brief moment.

I attend a Small Private Catholic College in Northeast Ohio. I love it here because if you have a question for one of your Professors, you are able to meet with them after class or during office hours due to their open door policy. I work for a Professor for my work-study and she understands when I cant come due to not feeling well or if I have a test scheduled. I am mentioning this because when I was on Spring Break my friend Mike went to Nationals for Racewalking. He was #2 in Ohio behind a kid who went to a college in Southern Ohio. Well Mike went to Nationals and with 2 laps left to go in the race, he paced the kid who was #1. Mike became the National Champion of Racewalking. I know many of you dont know what it is so I will post the video of the Nationals Race. The same week our Wrestling team went to Nationals and won. So NDC a small Catholic College has two, National Champions, one is a team and one is an individual. Being a former High School swimmer I know all these athletes (especially Mike) has put a lot of time and effort into getting where they are, congratulations NDC!

I am looking forward to the days were it says warmer longer. I know that everyone is going to enjoy being able to get outside once again even if it is to study or read a good book.

Sending Healing Thoughts!

National Racewalk Event:

Thursday, March 11, 2010

My Everyday Life

This first week back has been busier that I have expected. It seems that my body is able to endure more than I believe it is capable of. I already miss spring break and the comforts of being able to access whole plant foods at every meal. I do believe the way I am eating is helping my body keep up with what I am needing to do.

I have been blessed with Professors who care about me and want to see me succeed as a nurse. They are especially tough though which helps demonstrate how much they want us (the students) to succeed. They want to make sure that when we are certified that they wouldn't mind us being their nurse. This semester particularly I have been using my Nursing skills, thanks to A&P. I have been able to think more like a nurse and Im so excited about that.

I am looking forward to this weekend when I can get a little more rest than I have this week. Being a nursing major isn't easy especially when RSD is thrown into the mix. Oddly I am enjoying the experience.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Im Back!

I am currently back at school. Spring break not only reminded me about what life is really about but showed me that I need to help out more when I am home which isn't that often. I love my parents they have always been there for me and would do almost anything for me. My aunt who is currently staying with us is the same way. I wish her body would hang on even longer than it wants too. She did mention to me today that she might switch over to my type of lifestyle. I was so excited when I heard this. I haven't been pushy this last week just eating lush salads, craving broccoli, and baking vegan desserts for the family and my friends here at school. I was so happy to here that she is considering making the switch.

As I mentioned over the last week I have been filling my body with nothing but the best foods. My mom and I today went to the store to get steamed veggies just in case I cant find anything in the Cafeteria or if I end up missing dinner. In the frozen section this time I found fake riblets and Chinese sweet and sour ch'kn. I am so happy that the vegetarian companies came out with a Chinese meal since I have been craving Chinese for a while.

On Friday a few good friends of mine and I went out to lunch to one of our favorite restaurants. One of the girls is vegan so her and I like to swap recipes and tips. On the way to the restaurant I ended up spraining my left ankle. I do believe it is sprained rather than the RSD setting in. I have my RSD in three of my limbs; bilateral in my arms and my right leg thankfully not my left leg. I have it wrapped and have been trying to keep off of it to let my ligament heal properly.

That is pretty much it for now, I still have been getting knots in my neck and shoulders which are causing my headache. I am guessing this is caused by the way I study, hopefully changing different positions will help.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

What is Beauty?

What constitutes someone being beautiful? Is it how skinny are girl is?, how toned a guy's muscle's are?, or how much makeup we can put on our face?

Beauty is defined differently in different parts of the world. For people in the United States beauty is everything. Today on the Oprah Show, Oprah had Jessica Simpson on. To see more about the show click here http://www.oprah.com/showinfo/Beauty-Around-the-World-with-Jessica-Simpson. Jessica Simpson may not be the greatest role model but she is a beautiful girl. She was talking about how the tabloids tell girls that they are not beautiful. Jessica Simpson has been in the tabloids alot because of her weight fluctuating. Magazines talking about the weight of different celebrities directly influences how girls think about themselves. Girls get a low self esteem due to the fact that they see beautiful girls in magazines that are a size 0 and have flawless skin. The magazines talk about how each one of us should look and which products we need to buy. They want us to believe if we buy a certain product we will feel a certain way, then a new product will come out and because our skin didn't totally clear up from the first product we go out and buy the other product. The same goes for weight loss products, why do you think there are so many on the market?.

Real beauty is our personalities, our souls, our dreams. Society may tell us that we are not good enough and that we'll never be good enough. I have just realized within the last couple months that I am beautiful. That people see a beautiful girl inside and out. The thing that still gets me hung up a bit is my RSD. Due to my hypersensitive skin I am not able to wear jeans. I also have to wear a scarf on my right arm to be able to wear a sweater. It seems that some people are not able to get past the fact that I wear a scarf on my right arm. I simply do this to protect my arm from 1) being touched and 2) the different fabrics from my sweaters. I do like to be stylish though and love to mix and match outfits together. Makeup is another favorite of mine even though it conforms to the western standards of beauty. Real beauty is what is going to ultimately attract people to you and keep them there.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Not everyone is going to agree on who is cute, or what looks good. What society thinks of beauty will continue to evolve just like it has over the last couple hundreds years.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Keeping Busy

The past couple days I have kept busy but not like I am when I am at school. I finished the remaining homework I had this morning which will let me spend more time with my mom and aunt. My mom and I may even go on a little road trip on Thursday to see my cousins near the Ohio - Michigan border. This is about a four hour drive and we would be coming back on Friday. My RSD of course isn't going to be too happy but it will be nice to see them since I haven't seen these cousins in a good while.
Like I said I would I made the Vegan Banana Bread today. It looks absolutely amazing. When I put the ingredients together it started smelling so good. It also smelled amazing when it was baking. I am looking forward to eating the first slice once it is cool. I am looking for recipes for the left over tofu I have so if you have any suggestions (especially desserts) please share.
Putting the Ingredients Together

The Finished Banana Bread