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.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Learning New Ways To Re-Think Symptoms

I have been reading a book on these last few weeks on how to not to be controlled by your symptoms. The book is called "Stop Being Your Symptoms and Start Being Yourself" a 6 week Mind - Body Program to Ease Your Chronic Symptoms. The book is by Arthur J. Barsky M.D and Emily C. Deans M.D. I'm going to be honest, its taken me a little while to actually get into the book and still at times do not agree with it. There are several things though that I do agree with and think many of the ideas other people may feel helpful.

The book starts off talking about how since medical technology has advanced more people are living longer. Since people are living longer we are contracting more conditions, syndromes, or diseases that we wouldn't have otherwise including dementia and althestimers. Also because of medical technology many people expect to be cured of their conditions, syndromes, or diseases. When a person's symptoms aren't fully alleviated or the person isn't cured of the condition, syndrome, or disease the person gets disappointed. The person either blames their Dr that they are not doing their job or the Dr blames the patient that they are making up their symptoms.

The book also talks about the difference of symptoms and disease. A symptom can be produced by more things than physical disease; they can be produced by our life experiences, expectations, beliefs, and emotions" (pg 19). This is evident in those who have an optimistic outlook on their treatment. Those who are optimistic outlook do have symptoms but are less apt to focus on them. Also it is also evident in those who expect a cure or total remission of sorts. When I got diagnosed with RSD I knew my life was going to change. I did want remission but knew I had to get through every day and did so with the help of my family and friends. After 8 years I still have that support and realize how blessed I am everyday.

Dr's for the most part are taught to diagnose and treat their patients. When they find nothing wrong there is nothing to treat. This is hard especially with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy where nothing shows up on x-rays, CT's, MRI's, or other medical tests. Doctors are left to diagnose the patient by ruling out other conditions and focusing on the symptoms. That is also hard to do since not everyone who has RSD has the same symptoms. Someone may swell like a balloon while person's limbs may turn different colors, while another's may do both.

I will post more about the book when I have read more. I have found it interesting pretty far and so far a good read.

On Saturday my mom and I went to the store to get some fresh vegetables and fruit for the weekend. It was absolutely crazy there. I would go and grab something and almost get ran over. My tension headache from the night before came back full force and I was pretty much down for the rest of the evening. That night my dad had went to cut the watermelon we had bought. We were all so excited since it was the first one that we got this year. It ended up having some kind of worm type holes. My mom ended up taking the watermelon back to the store since it wasn't worth eating. Today we went to my sister's house. We had a Birthday type gathering for my other sister. I brought my vegan burgers and munched on some raw vegetables. There wasn't much I could eat other than corn which I eat with nothing on it (yum!). I had offered to make a cake or cookies (vegan of course) but was shot down by my mom earlier this week. I'm nervous about when I go to NYC what I'm going to eat. I'm going with all meat eaters, and even though I love salads, I do like a bit of variety too.

As I mentioned above Ive been having some trouble with my neck and my tension headaches are back. The only way I know to rid of them is to get my neck massaged and don't have an appointment for a month. If you have any suggestions I will take any at this point.

Healing Thoughts To All of You!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Life Is Good!

Hi All! I hope you are all having a great week and enjoying the lovely weather, I know I am. I have to keep this a little short since my dog is waiting for me to take her on our nightly walk.

I have been having an awesome time eating foods that are nourishing my body, one bite at a time. I actually became a little attached to a veggie sub I started making. My dad had left over hoggie buns from his lunch this week so I grilled one on our stove grill and cut up some fresh vegetables that we had (green pepper, cucumber, celery). I added a bit of spinach and veganise and olala it was soo good! Its perfect for a hot day way no one doesn't want to cook.

Not too much has been going on here. I went to my Pain Management Dr's yesterday to get my SCS reprogrammed. He suggested that I get it reprogramed last time that I saw him. All I had to do was see his nurse practitioner and the Medtronics Representative. The Medtronics Representative checked my battery and let me know the reason that I had to turn my battery up more is because my battery is starting to go. I have a 3-5 year battery and I have had it implanted since December 2007 so it will be 4 years in December. She gave me the signs to look for and my remote will let me know when to call the Dr. I just hope it doesn't happen during the school year. She told me it shouldn't and that I probably have a year left but that is just an estimate.
After the Dr's Appointment my mom and I went to Khols. Since I have lost so much weight in the last year because of becoming vegan I dong have any shorts (besides athletic ones) to wear. I got some really cute shorts and tops which fit me with out me having to go and getting a bigger or smaller size. I had a gift card too so the clothes were needed and were a gift to myself for all of my hard work this year. Also to show off a bit in NYC (we all like to show off, admit it!).
Well I'm off to go on my walk. My dog won't stop crying...lol. I'm reading an interesting book about medical symptoms and would like to share with you some concepts. I will have to next time.

Healing Thoughts!!

* P.S. The Concert on Monday was awesome, I got to see Friends I havent seen in a while. Its always great to get away and enjoy some music for awhile.

Monday, May 24, 2010

An Amazing Weekend! + Pictures

From Friday to Sunday I went to West Virgina to visit my extended family. I haven't been to Wv in about 2 or 3 years so it was great to see my family especially the ones that hardly travel. Due to my RSD I do not like traveling for an extended period of time so it took some will power to get through the 4 hour drive both there and coming back.

During the stay in Wv I finally saw my cousins whom I haven't seen in several years, actually I meet one for the first time. The two of them, are two and four years old are absolutely precious and didn't want to leave my side all weekend.

Alexis and I

Aiden, Alexis, and I

I also got to visit the cemetery where my Grandparents, Uncles are buried. My one Uncle, Uncle Bud I was especially close to before he passed away about 7-8 years ago. I believe I mentioned this but during finals I had a realistic dream that he was there and I ended up waking up crying. I believe with my whole heart that he helped me through finals.

Alexis and Aiden picked "flowers" for me

My mom and I went and bought some flowers today. I wanted a plant for a planter I made the first semester of school but when we got it home it was too large. I ended up getting fresh parsley since I end up using a lot when I marinade tofu or vegetable pizza. I am exited to use it any tips on using it would help.

Tonight I am meeting up with one of my good friends and we are going to a concert that our Church is having. One of our friends that grew up in the Church with us will be opening for the band so we are both excited for this concert.

I hope you enjoy,

Healing Thoughts!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Obsticals of Chronic Pain

Over the last 8 yrs I have lived with the pain of Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. Its hard for me to describe to anyone who doesn't live with this type of pain day in and day out what this does to you physically and mentally. Going to bed with pain and knowing that your going to wake up and experience it all over again can be trying at times. In my case I am a very light sleeper, so I do feel pain when I am sleeping. People may find this to be a hard concept but when you have RSD its reality. Last night esspecially when I would only sleep an hour at a time due to my right arm feeling like it was on fire.

I have never gotten to the point where I have needed help by a Professional for the mental obsticals that RSD has thrown my way. I am not saylng that seeing a Psychiatrist is a bad thing. For many people it helps them express emotions that otherwise they couldn't. I do recommend if you or someone you know has chronic pain to go see a Psychiatrist that has specialized in Pain Managment. I have been able to surround myself with people who support me. I surround myself not only with my family and friends but with others who have RSD. Those of us with RSD can support each other by understanding what each other is going through, encouraging each other through various treatments, and simply be there for one another.

I meet one of my good friends who has RSD on facebook. She and I quickly became friends and a short time later we were able to meet in NYC when I went to participate in the Achilles Hope and Possibility Walk in 2007. Even though her and I are several years apart in age we are have a bond because of the pain we experience each and everyday. I havent seen her since 2007 and I am looking forward to seeing her this summer.

One of my friends from my college, has Cerebral Palsy. Him and I have great talks whenever he comes up to visit as he graduated from the college in 2009. He made a donation to RSDSA on my behalf. He also posted about the walk on his Disaboom site. If you have a chance please check it out. He posts reguarly about Cerebral Palsy. Here is the link to his Disaboom site, click here http://www.disaboomlive.com/Blogs/zachary/archive/2010/05/17/achilles-walk-for-hope-amp-possibility-team-rsdsa.aspx

Before I end this post I do have to let everyone know how strong people with RSD and Chronic pain are. Well actually anyone who has a "disablility" (I hate that word) is strong emotionally and physically. We have to find ways to get things accomidated for us so that we may have an equal chance just as everyone else does.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Vegetables Anyone?

The last few days have been full of healing food, time with my precious dog, and spending time with a good friend.

Ive always loved food and discovering new flavors and creations. I made a great sandwich on Friday which included cucumbers, and tomatoes that were marinated in spinach and herb and parsley herbs along with some olive oil. I grilled the cucumbers and tomatoes and put them on toasted bread with the extra marinade on the bread. It was delicious and I had it again today for lunch.

I made a vegetable pizza tonight for dinner. I love making these especially since they are simple to make. I usually add any fresh vegetables we have in our fridge which included a green bell pepper and onion this time. I added parsley for the pizza taste and added some daiya cheese. I normally don't add daiya cheese but decided to for a change.

Since I came home from college my dog Holly is supper happy that I am home. I have taken her on a few walks if my body and the weather allows. She is always willing to play with her new toy and lets me know quite a few times a day. The following is a picture of Holly and two of her toys. I believe this was taken on Friday after her and I were playing for a good half hour or so. She was out for the count.

Last but not least one of my good friends and I got to spend a good amount of time together yesterday. Her and I hardly see each other do to our schedules. She wont be here over the summer due to working at an amusement park. Her and I went to see a movie and then went out to eat. I ended up getting a Black Bean Burger with Guacamole on top...yum! I don't have any pictures of our outing but we had a great time.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Book Recommendation

I am blessed to be able to live near one of the greatest private teaching hospitals in the country. I'm not saying it is the best but one of the best (also according to U.S News and World Report). I was diagnosed with RSD by an orthopedist at the Cleveland Clinic and refereed to my current Pain Management Dr, whom I still see today.

Dr. Michael Stanton-Hicks has dedicated his life to his patients. He is constantly at conferences helping teach others about RSD and Chronic Pain, in other countries treating those with RSD, or at the Cleveland Clinic spending time with his patients (treating them). He will spend up to 20-30 minutes with each of his patients. He likes to know what is going on with us medically, if anything has changed pain wise, he also likes to know how our life's are going. My last appointment I brought my homework since I knew it would be a long appointment and he started laughing because he thought it was hilarious that my algebra book was so thick and heavy. I hope and pray ill be able to work with him after I graduate from college.

Recently my Dr. wrote a book on Pain Management, The Cleveland Clinic Guide to Pain Management. I am already done with the book and wanted to recommend it to all of you. It is a must read for everyone who has a chronic pain disorder, knows someone who has a chronic pain disorder, or just wants to learn more. Dr. Stanton-Hicks talks about the different types of chronic pain (the different types of pain), how it can be treated with conventional therapies and alternative therapies. He also talks about different syndromes / diseases that can cause chronic pain like RSD, firbromyalga, and cancer. In the back there is also a mock pain diary so you can show your Dr how much pain you feel at different types of the day. Over all its a great book. I know I posted this before but here is my Dr. talking about the book: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5QIc4hZlRJQ

My Avacados

Hemp Protein Shake...yum!

All the way to the top of the glass!

Today was my recovery day since my RSD is going a little out of control due to all this rain we are getting. I am trying to eat as many healing foods as I can to keep my body functioning at its best. I made some homemade guacamole today. I had some on a vegan burger and it was delicious. I am currently enjoying a hemp protein smoothie with a banana and strawberries. I use to only drink my shake every other day or so but now my body is craving them.

I hope you enjoyed the pictures!

Healing Thoughts!!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Day for ALL Women

First I want to say Happy Mothers Day to everyone who has raised a child, is currently or is currently raising a child if it is yours biologically or not.

I have been blessed by being surrounded by so many wonderful women who have helped raise me these last 20 yrs. These women range from my 2 grandmas (one is my great-grandma, both on Dad's side) my aunts on my Mom's Side, my friend's mom who is like a second mom to me and my mom of course. Its hard to mention all the women who have been an influence on me because I could keep going on and on. These women have also been influenced by their mom's and other women before them which simply amazes me.
Mother's Day is a day to recognize those women who have taken the time to raise a child. It is also a day to take the time to help influence the younger generation. I'm not talking about influencing them in a bad way but to show the younger generation how women come together to raise a child and how we all come together to get things done. As Pastor Mark said today; God put something in women that he didn't in men. He gave women the ability to nourish and care. My Professor last semester said that women will always feel guilty whether it having to go to work and leave her child or staying home with sick child and worrying about the person who had to take her shift at work. Women just have this guilty feeling because we care.
Pictures from Last Night:

My neice and I
My Aunt, Mom and Sister

After all these years of have RSD and after 2 years of living away from home (in a dorm) it makes me realize how much my mom cares and loves me. During two of my hospital stays my mom never left my side, she came to all of my procedures, and still comes to my Dr's Appointments to help advocate for me. I love my mom so much.
Last night my mom, sister Missy, niece Cassie, and Aunt Barb went to the Horse Racetrack. I didn't know what to expect since Ive never been there. The only think I knew about Horse races was from Pretty Woman...lol. Since I was over 18 I was allowed to gamble on the races. I just helped my mom in picking out her horses instead. The horses I picked always ended up in the top 3 except for 2 races out of 8. I had a great time with my family, we had a nice dinner and a nice evening together.

Today we had brunch for Mother's Day. I had a Tofu Scramble which was extremely good. I then helped one of our good family friends learn about veganism and introduced her to almond milk and coconut milk yogurt (my favorite). I actually just got done sending her some recipes so that she can try them out this week. She is from India where they follow a mostly Vegetarian / Vegan diet anyway. The couple became Americanised in some of their diet and she wanted to know my "secret". I hope she does well this week and I will let you all know how she does.

Sending Healing Thoughts to All!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Healing for All of Us

As I continue on this journey I my past experiences with RSD come back vividly. Since the day I was diagnosed to this present day I have prayed for a cure for RSD to be found. If a cure isn't found in my lifetime then at least in the lifetime of my future children.

During my RSD journey I have encountered the word CURE and HEALING several times. Right now I do not believe theses are possible unless God has personally healed the person Himself. Many years ago when I was new to my Church the Pastor at the time did a sermon on healing and why God only heals a few people and not everyone. I remember the Pastor saying that not everyone gets healed from their aliments due to God not trying to hurt us emotionally or physically but to see how strong we are. Also He gives us these conditions to help us find who we are and what we were put on this earth to do. I personally think since I have not been "cured" or "healed" at this point in my eight year journey that I was meant to have this for some reason. I believe this reason is to help others with RSD.

I do believe though that some of the damage done to my body by the RSD can be reversed by a whole foods plant based diet. Our body is meant to be treated with food that will benefit our bodies and not foods that will harm it.

Last night I had an opportunity to talk to my mom and aunt about why I choose to eat like I do. My aunt was floured with how this lifestyle helped and is still helping benefit Bethany and many other RSDers and even those with cancer (http://www.crazysexylife.com/). They have both seen how these foods have benefited me in the short time Ive been full vegan. I just really wish they would at least try to switch over also.

The picture above is of my little girl, Holly with her Cupcake. Yesterday I did a spring clean out of my room. I got rid of all the clothes that no longer fit me. I had gained so much weight thanks to my pills and inactivity. Last year I started loosing a significant amount of weight when I got rid of beef from my diet. Now that I am vegan I am at my healthy weight for my age and height. This makes me even happier cause it gives me an opportunity to go shopping!...lol.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

My Life Over the Past Week

Hey Everyone, I'm back!!

I have had a very tough week full studying for finals to early morning hours, taking the finals, catching up with friends one last time, and packing up my room. I am more than exhausted. About half of my dorm room is still in the cars waiting to be unpacked tomorrow.

My dog was absolutely excited to see me and I was just as excited to see her. She's more like a person who can't talk than a pet. She's followed me around the house since Ive been home with her tail high in the air. She even lucked out since her Birthday was the other day, she got her Birthday present a stuffed cupcake. She was excited and immediately started playing with it.

As much as I love my school I was happy to be able to come home and make me a nutritious vegan meal. I made me a vegan burger with cauliflower and broccoli on the side. It makes me happy to know that I'm now able to focus on myself for awhile. I know especially the last two weeks or so I have been following my diet but have been neglecting how my body feels. My RSD has been hurting bad but I will now be able to rest when need to and not have to stay up to study for tests, well at least for a month anyway.

I will be updating more now that I have more time. Again sorry for my absence.