I Can’t Hear You! LALALALALAAAA!!!

Ruh roh.

What’s this?

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Ankles are weird.

That, my friends, is vas-cu-freaking-litis.

What happened??  Is the juicing not working??

Oh yes.  It works.  If you actually DO it.

I went to a funny place in my head this week.  That negative little place with that irritating little voice that says crappy little things.

“You’re too old to go back to school.”

“Juicing probably isn’t really the reason that you’re healing.”

“You can’t pull off flesh colored jeggings.”

Actually…go ahead and listen to that last one.  No, really.  Please.

For some reason I talked myself out of juicing for a couple of days this week.  It was more than the ‘pain in the assedness’ of it.  I mean, yes.  Juicing is a pain.  And expensive. And it it sucks to clean it…blah blah blah…all the stuff we all know.

It was more than that.  It was letting the skeptics in.  And of course, you are your own worst critic.

“How can juicing REALLY be helping that much?  What is it about JUICE that makes my blood vessels stop exploding??  How is that even slightly possible?”

It was a talk myself out of it, cross my arms and pout kind of moment.  So I found myself juicing just once a day.  And then…not at all.

The little voice whispered:  “It’s not going to make a difference.”

“It might.”

“It won’t.  And is this really something you want to do everyday for the rest of your life?”

“Hmmm…I guess not.”

Here is a solid truth.  Dietary changes are some of the hardest changes you’ll ever make.  And definitely the hardest to stick with.  Convenience foods are called that for a reason.  They are convenient.  At the time.  But if they are making you sick then they aren’t convenient at all.

I’m an old school kid.  I was raised on pink antibiotics and chewable kiddie aspirin (remember those?? yum!).  If the Prednisone and Plaquenil and Colcrys had worked I would still be taking them…popping them in 2 twice a day and shrugging off the side effects.  Driving to the doctors twice a week…sitting in the waiting room…sitting in traffic…sitting in line at the pharmacy.  I would have done it all without question.

That total trust in Western medicine?  It is hard to let go of that mindset.  I’ve said it before and I still mean it…there is absolutely a place in our lives for medicines.  But not the whole place.  And not with blind trust.

Is juicing hard?  Yes.  Is making most of our food and cutting out processed food and constantly educating myself a pain in the boohiney?  Yes.

Are there side effects of juicing?  Oh hell yes.  Energy.  Better skin. Thicker nails.  Healthier hair.  NO HIVES OR VASCULITIS.

Are there side effects of the medicines?  Just a few.  Nausea, stomach cramps, loss of appetite, diahhrea, dizziness, or headache, arm/leg/back pain, fast heartbeat, hair loss/color change, mental/mood changes (e.g., anxiety, depression, hallucinations), ringing in the ears/hearing loss, worsening of skin conditions (e.g., psoriasis). serious (sometimes permanent) eye problems or muscle damage, sensitivity to light, vision changes (e.g., blurred vision, seeing light flashes/streaks/halos, missing/blacked-out areas of vision), muscle weakness, severe stomach/abdominal pain, severe nausea/vomiting, easy bleeding/bruising, signs of infection (e.g., fever, persistent sore throat), seizures, shortness of breath, swelling ankles/feet, extreme tiredness, dark urine, yellowing eyes/skin, rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), dizziness, trouble breathing.

And that’s just the Plaquenil.

So shake it off, woman.  For reals.  I don’t know WHY my body seems to react so well to these diet changes but why the hell would I ever look a gift horse like that in the mouth?  And then shoot it?

So what’s important ISN’T that I stumbled.  It’s that I got up.  And back on track.  It’s that I’m going to go register for classes next week and that I have bone broth simmering on the stove and that I’m about to drink my second juice of the day.  It’s that I put duct tape on the mouth of that awful negative inner voice and instead I listened to the whisper of the vasculitis.  The worst thing that has turned into the best thing.  My gift.

Take Off Your Pants And Do A Happy Dance!

You should see my kitchen.  It’s kind of awesome.  I’ve got yogurt cooking, kombucha brewing, juice a’juicin’, chicken stock brewing, and a freezer full of whey.

In other words…I’m losing my damn mind.

But.

It’s the one thing I’M able to control right now.  I don’t know what my body will do on any given day.  I can’t make the swelling in my face and stomach go down.  But I can do everything in my power to make sure that everything I’m putting in my body right now is helping me heal.

AND ON THAT NOTE….

LET’S DO THAT MOTHER RUNNING HAPPY DANCE!

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BECAUSE…

Guess whose vasculitis looks AWESOME??

THIS GIRL!

Guess who is down to 40mg of steroids a day?

THIS GIRL!

My vasculitis was SO bad on Thursday night that I was in tears.  I had planned to run up to my doctor on Friday to beg for a steroid shot because I didn’t know what to do.  My upper thighs were blood red and throbbing.  But they weren’t any worse on Friday morning so I decided to hold out.  And started juicing 3x a day.

Guess what I found out?  Dark leafy greens are vital for vascular health.  Guess what I’ve been juicing 3x a day?  Dark leafy greens – mainly kale. (And that one unfortunate cabbage juice experiment…)

Is the juice the reason for the improvement?  I don’t know and I certainly don’t care.  Maybe it will all flare back up again tomorrow.  But then again…maybe it won’t.

It’s just awesome.  And I wanted to share.

xoxo

She’s Got Jowls Like Churchill…

Here’s the good news.  Everything on my body has suddenly calmed down.  I feel like Truman in his little sailboat on the water…tossed around by crashing waves one moment only to be thrust into an eerie calm the next.

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Are you there, Vasculitis? It’s me, Danielle…

That’s good, right?  Hives gone. No waking up in the middle of the night to the feeling of blood vessels bursting in your legs (seriously the creepiest feeling ever).  No standing and talking to people while you repeatedly slap your stomach like a crazy person and they politely pretend not to notice (fact: stomach slapping is the best itch cure while face slapping continues to be the best bitch cure).

But it’s not good.  I mean, it’s ‘good’ but it’s dangerous.  Because this is where I get complacent.  I gave the doctor my big, heavy burden and he took it and squished it down into a nice neat package that I can easily fit into the side pocket of my diaper bag (where it will reign supreme amongst soggy goldfish crackers and old restaurant crayons).

But.  But But But.

Then I look in the mirror.  I look in the mirror and I see that girl with the puffy, jowly face of Churchill looking back at me.  But sadly, none of his wisdom.  Dark circles under her eyes.  Just different. And I remember that for all of the good that these meds are doing…they are affecting my body in other ways too.

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‘V is for Vasculitis!’ Don’t you just want to squish the face of one of the greatest leaders of our time? No? That’s just me then…

Then I grab a towel and clean the mirror and then the sinks and then I feed the fish and then I start to clean out my closet but when I carry something into the kitchen I decide to unload half of the dishwasher but then stop because maybe I’ll reorganize the silverware drawer first but when did I get this spoon? was it a wedding present? hey do I have that picture from our wedding that I love so much? I’ll go look in the office…oh my gosh all of this paperwork needs to be filed I’m going to do that right now but look! a box of cards and letters maybe I’ll sit down and read these but I can’t sit on the bed because look at all of this laundry that needs to be folded first okay I’ll fold the laundry and hey I never installed the hooks in the boys closet so they could hang up their own jackets and they really need to have more responsibility around here and I KNOW I’ll make a responsibility chart but I guess I need to go to Michaels and get poster board first so I’ll just get dressed and hey! my closet! maybe I should clean it out!  SQUIRREL!

The steroids make you a little agitated.  And skitzy.  If you can harness those powers you’d probably be able to take over the world (or at least actually complete a few Pinterest projects).  But if you’re a little scattered to begin with…well it makes it hard to really get anything DONE.

And then there is this side of it too…the medical bills start rolling in.  Actually, they do more like a creepy hunch shuffle up into your mailbox which you desperately try to ignore until you realize that you’re avoiding eye contact with your postal carrier who is clearly trying to signal to you that she CAN’T FIT ANYTHING ELSE INTO YOUR MAILBOX!

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POW! SLAP! KABLAM! Holy medical bills, Batman!

So I’m going to do something really hard.  I’m going to post pictures of my pantry.  Because that is my first start.  Food. Diet. Clean eating.  I going to post these pictures because I feel like it will make me more accountable.  And I give myself one week to change it.  Clean it out.  Start fresh.  I’m meeting with a naturopathic doctor too but this is my first start.

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Move along, judgey hippies…nothing to see here!

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Only focus on the delicious honey from Italy…ignore the Campbells soup can you see before you…

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Fair trade turbinado sugar…that wipes it all clean, right? Right?? Anyone…hello…

Anyhoos…look back next week for my pantry transformation and my first solid attempt at meal planning because my grocery bill is out. of. control.

On a lighter note…this scenario greeted me in the playroom.  Don’t you kind of want to party with these guys?  Viking Lego and Darth Hulk…what could go wrong??

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VADAR SMASH!

XO from The Dark Side

Today I Woke Up With A Fat Face

Is that politically correct?  Probably not.  Did I care when I stared at my puffy cheeks this morning?  Nope. Was I crying all night?  Had I finally realized that my 2 small children were never going to stop wiping questionable fluids on my pants?  Nah…I cried about that 2 nights ago.

It. Was. The. Stupid. Steroids.  I’m getting the dreaded steroid moon face.  Plus a nice 10lb weight gain.

What's worse...the number of pills per day or the fact that I keep them in a Max & Ruby bag??

What’s worse…the number of pills per day or the fact that I keep them in a Max & Ruby bag??

60 mg of them a day.  For over a month.  And they aren’t working.  The Prednisone (steroids) are in addition to the Plaquenil (an autoimmune drug).  And the Colycrys (a drug used to treat gout…which I do not have). And the huge doses of calcium, vitamin D and Prevacid to reverse all of the damage that long-term steroid use can cause.  Oops…don’t forget Zyrtec and Allegra for the hives.  What’s all of this for?  “The kissing cousin to lupus.” A little (lot) of vasculitis.  And some hives that would make you slap a puppy.  (Sorry puppies…just kidding…) Within the last 6 weeks I’ve found myself thrust (unwillingly) into the bizarre world of a undiagnosable autoimmune disease.  What started as a bad case of the hives and some tiny bruises on my legs quickly spiraled into a visit to the internist…which led to the allergist…which led to the dermatologist (and some nice biopsies) which landed me straight into the lap of a rheumatologist.  Well, not LITERALLY into his lap…although that would explain my multiple appointments…hmmmm…

Yup.  That's exploding blood vessels.

Yup. That’s exploding blood vessels.

Seriously. Itchy.

Baby Got Back…hives…

Baby Got Front Hives Too.

Baby Got Front Hives Too.

See...I couldn't slap a puppy with that hand even if I wanted to so just calm down!

See…I couldn’t slap a puppy with that hand even if I wanted to so just calm down!

And everyone just thought I was a dainty little walker!  Blush!

And everyone just thought I was a dainty little walker! Blush! (And yeah, yeah, yeah…I need to puts the lotion on the skin…)

Scattered in there were more blood draws than I can count (one visit consisted of a nice but mildly sadistic Thai phlebotomist and her 13 glass vials waiting to be filled…you need a cookie after a visit like that…), a chest x-ray to rule out Wegener’s Disease, a steroid prescription, a stronger steroid prescription, a stronger steroid prescription and finally…a refill of that strongest steroid prescription.  And let me tell you, those things suck.  But more on that later.

So I says to my doctor, I says, “Doc.  Give it to me straight.  Are you telling me there are no answers?”

To which he replies, “Of course there are answers.  You definitely have an connective tissue disease.  But you don’t fit the symptoms enough to know which one it is.”

So that’s an answer.  But it’s a sucky one.

My ANA panels show me as having Sjogren’s Syndrome.  Sadly, this is not a Bjork like condition that causes you to fling dead swans around your neck.  It’s more of a ‘all of your glands that produce tears and saliva are destroyed’ kind of thing.  Venus Williams has it.  Very glam.  So I settled into that, did too much reading on WebMD, freaked myself out and then soothed myself with the knowledge that Venus and I would become very close friends and I would in fact receive valuable tennis lessons from her and finally nail that back swing.

Sorry Venus.  Put away those tennis whites and dry those tears (ooooh…too soon?).  Looks like you can come up positive on a blood test for an autoimmune but if you don’t have the symptoms (which I don’t) then they don’t call it that.  And as blinky and dry eyed as I felt when I read about Sjogren’s, I have to say that I don’t have the symptoms.  If anything I error on the side of spraying it when I’m saying it.  So that leaves me with the ‘kissing cousin to lupus’ diagnosis.  Great.  I got the inbred disease.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m not whining.  Well…I’m whining a little.  But please understand that I get how lucky I am.  I have and have had friends with way worse things.  I was diagnosed early on, before kidney or liver damage.  Most people search for years before they get answers. I’m not dying (well, not in the RIGHT NOW sense…I mean, we’re all dying…yada yada yada).  I actually feel fine.  If I avoid gluten then I don’t get sore joints.  All of my other blood work comes back great. I was actually lucky to have such intensely visible signs to let me know that something inside my body wasn’t working.  Well, was actually overworking.  I’m just frustrated.  Because nothing is working!  My immune system is like Honey Boo Boo on a rampage for pig skins and the doctors canNOT make it stop.  They are stumped.  Both of my rheums (let’s just call them rheums because I’m lazy) can’t figure out why my vasculitis won’t go away.  I’m on huge amounts of steroids in addition to the extra doses they jab me in the boohiney with every time I enter their office.  The last time I was there they were talking about adding ANOTHER new prescription to the mix.  But I can’t.  I just can’t.  They will throw you anything you ask for.  Sleeping aid? (Steroids MESS up your sleep).  Antidepressants? (Steroids make you a little…edgy.  I kicked a wall.  Bonus points for not kicking a human, right?)  Luckily for me I can manage to sleep 6 hours a night (BUT IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS HOLY DO NOT WAKE ME UP IN THE NIGHT!) and my usual vibe hovers around chill so edgy and irritable is pretty manageable.

But here is the deal.  I feel like my body is giving me a gift.  It’s literally screaming at me to let me know that something is horribly wrong in there.  My first instinct is to just lift this heavy burden off of my lap, hand it to a doctor and say, “Here. You. Fix this.  Fix Me.”  After all, I’m busy.  I chase kids and clean up enormous messes and rewash the same load of clothes 3 times (that’s just a damn commitment to procrastination) and never, ever, ever feel caught up.  So please.  Fix me.

But what happens when they can’t?  Or what happens when I realize that my health is up to me?  That I will have to make big, big, bigger changes to the way I shop and eat and think.  I’m not shunning western medicine.  I think there is a place for it.  But I think there is another way too.  A way to stop fighting my body and start listening to it instead.  To work with it. We honestly take more care into the fuel we put into our cars then what we put into our bodies.  I’m just as guilty of it as anyone.  I’m the one that was eating Cheetos with my head stuck in the pantry tonight.  I’d call myself a lazy hippie.  I know most of the facts…I’m just too tired to use them half of the time.

This blog will be my journal of my journey.  Journey Journal?  Ugh…do NOT say that 5 times fast.  Of course I’ll ramble on about other stuff too…I can’t help but make fun of my kids on occasion.

I mean, they live in their Underoos and dip their bacon in butter...who wouldn't make fun of that every once in a while??

I mean, they live in their Underoos and dip their bacon in butter…who wouldn’t make fun of that every once in a while??

And of course there will be food and book talk (gluten free…sorry ’bout that).  But I thought this experience would be interesting to share and I’ll try to do it with humor.  And no more creepy skin shots.  (Fingers crossed).

xo Danielle