Moderation… in moderation

I’m usually vigilant about what goes into me because it makes such a difference in what I can put out.

Today, I went up to Heath Fair, the kind of country fair that has pulling contests for everything from bullocks to tractors, first through third prizes for identical piles of potatoes, rare critters no factory farm would make room for (like this 4-horned goat),

… and also henna tattoos, a massage booth, Chinese food options, and extraordinary handicrafts with century-old handtools being used by gnarly-handed, smiling neighbors.

I started the day with a good solid Brain-Food shake, but once we hit the Fair, that was it.

French fries made from fresh local potatoes, fudge made from fresh local milk, coffee with maple syrup from fresh local farmers.

Then we got home and had ice cream and cheese.

I haven’t touched a single bit of produce (that didn’t have a ribbon on it) since breakfast.

I’m doing okay. Daffy, but okay. A little sore through the elbows, but okay. Not able to soak up any science, but okay. Very glad I didn’t have to drive home, but that’s okay, too.

We stopped on the way home to catch the closing of the Pow-Wow on the Mohawk Trail, a lovely arty cozy time with friends and their friends. And that was more than okay.

Whipped cream on top: learning that moose have moved down to this area…

As long as I do this wild irrational feasting on weird stuff about once or twice a year (no more), I should be … okay.

For one thing, it’s good to keep your body guessing. (That’s why dieters need to have one good belly-filling meal every 2-3 days, so the body doesn’t go into famine mode.)

For another, I suspect it does me good to remind myself why I don’t eat this stuff normally. Even though my body is handling it like a champion, that’s because my usual diligence has created a certain amount of metabolic slack; I can absorb a bit of crap without disaster.

Still no wheat, though. I’m adventurous, but not self-destructive. My lovely hostess, Laurie, indulged me by getting some of the homemade wild blueberry pie and assuring me it was every bit as good as it should be.

While tomorrow brings another day of quantities of greens that could make even Dr. Terry Wahls raise an eyebrow, I’m kind of digging the memory of one day with so much creamy, mouth-melting sweetness. I’m smart enough (finally) to know what’ll happen if I keep it up any longer, but I’m old enough to really, truly enjoy my memories just as they are — without regret, without longing, just with simple pleasure. This is a nice one.

Mmmm…

And tomorrow’s shake will be just as good as ever. Possibly even better.

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Recipe: Kale Shake & the Sunshine Band

Being able to manage means having enough brain and energy to work with. In recovery from a major setback, that means getting down enough kale and berries to choke a couple of horses.

The most manageable way for me to get them in is via my handy little one-person blender. It keeps them raw (maximum nutritional value) and prechews the kale, which can really be troublesome after the 3,000th bite.

Here’s my basic recipe. Options and rationales are below.

– handful of berries (I prefer blueberries and cane berries), or 1/3-1/2 a half-pint container.
– about 1/2 cup water (helps soften berries)
– 3-4 medium to large stalks of the fluffy kind of kale, called “lacinato kale.” 7 or 8 stalks of the smooth variety. Chop in strips ~1″ wide, depending on blender strength.
– about 1/2-3/4 cup apple juice or cider.
– 1/8-1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.

– Options:
   = Dessertspoon of nut butter or a slosh of yogurt, for protein and a bit of oil/fat to help me absorb all the nutrients.
   = Pinch of stevia powder: adds sweetness, further aids with blood sugar stabilization.

Kale: given the quantities I eat this in, it has to be organic or I’m in strife.

Berries: I use either fresh or frozen, whatever is available and affordable. Always organic or close to it, because industrial growers use lots of pesticides on most berries and they’re hormone-based (estrogenic) – I used to live near strawberry country and the spraying was really obnoxious. I tried using berries grown by industrial methods, to save money, but it put me on a horrible hormonal roller-coaster… 2 solid weeks of PMS? Not so good.

Cider/apple juice: provides malic acid, which helps clear garbage out of the cells. Also helps cut the bitterness and predigests the burpy stuff out of the kale. Use a splash of raw cider vinegar if you have to use another juice.

Cinnamon: It cuts the bitterness the rest of the way, and helps stabilize blood sugar. There’s a lot of sugar in this, for me. You wind up not tasting it, but the shake goes down better.

Options: I often add the nut butter. The resulting texture is creamier. The yogurt, even a little bit, makes the shake more filling, so it’s good for making it feel like a meal.

I recommend adding a bit of oil/fat, because it’s so important to squeeze all the nutrition I can out of each bite (especially when nausea makes eating unpleasant) and oil or fat helps with the absorption of key nutrients in this shake.

I also find that pain is less and thinking is better if I get adequate fat in my diet, meaning, a moderate amount more than I need to absorb this nutrition; one day I’ll remember why.  It rings a bell from my nursing school classes. Might relate to the demyelination issue in chronic CRPS.

If I don’t add a bit of something oily to the shake, I have a slice of aged cheese or meat, which provides brain-friendly fat and also gives my body neurotransmitter precursors — adding more oomph to the brain-value of what I’m eating.

It’s an uphill slog but I’m determined to get better again. These shakes really help. Trouble is, there’s only so much room in an individual tummy, and I do need to stay under a bearable weight and eat other things to stay in balance.

Sigh… It’ll work out. It’s hard to be patient enough, but healing in the face of profound illness does take time. If there’s one thing I’m learning, it’s patience.

Time for another shake…

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Just enough

The feds owe me backpay. It should come to quite a chunk of money. Naturally, some of my friends are spending it for me according to their own wishes and tastes. Bless their hearts.

It’s not here yet, and I have to manage with what I have. I’m grateful for my monthly disability income. It would be nice to have more, but it’s enough for me to live on. Just enough. My  income is more than many have, and I have really simple tastes… but most people can live a whole lot cheaper than I can, because my “basics” are different.

I want to ask my blithe friends to point to something in their cupboards — something to eat. Anything.

  • Pasta? For me, that’s 3 days of poor vision, no memory, no thought, of being so disoriented I’m unable to drive, let alone get to the end of a sentence. Corn and rice aren’t quite as bad, but they still cost my body too much.
  • Beans? Depends on the bean, but it usually means sluggish bowels, insulin resistance, worse nerve pain (because the endocrine misbehavior triggers inflammatory responses), and disproportionate weight gain. Every extra pound I weigh is a tax on my feet and legs, where the pain and swelling are already about all I can cope with. 
  • Cannned goods?  Neurotoxic preservatives that set my thoughts rattling, interfere with sleep, make me feel like someone took a baseball bat to my head. 
  • Soda? Oh boy, let’s talk about soda. The phosphoric acid alone will send my peripheral and central nervous systems into spasms, and the caffeine throws my fight-or-flight response a curve-ball. Don’t even get me started on the corn syrup. Corn fractions are bad, but high fructose corn syrup is a straight descent into neurogenic Hell.

I have to put expensive berries and piles of organic greens in my cart.

  • If I don’t eat them several times absolutely every day, my brain starts to shut down. 
  • If I eat too much of the herbicides and pesticides used in conventional produce, it’s a quick descent into autonomic Hell, with weeks of constant PMS, radiant gin blossoms, and blood pressure that won’t settle down. 
  • I choose the high-end cheddar over the store brand. Want to know what they use to keep the store brand “fresh”? I need to let my bowels continue working, thank you… But aged cheeses provide precursors for the neurotransmitters used in memory and decision-making; when I’m having trouble thinking, sometimes all I need is a bit of good cheese and a couple of hours to absorb it.

I spend hundreds of dollars each month on supplements, herbs and homeopathic preparations, carefully tuned at every purchase to make sure I’m getting the best possible effect for my money. Collectively, they let

  • my mitochondria cope, 
  • my nerves fire, 
  • my brain work, 
  • my body repair itself — reasonably successfully, most of the time. 

I constantly double-check and experiment to make sure I’m not wasting my money, that every one of them makes a real difference. They are not optional, and there is no slack in the system.

I can’t live like a normal person. If I try, I’m dead. It’s not drama, it’s just a fact.

I don’t choose to live like this because I can afford it. I live this way, and do without other things. I think of those who live in houses or flats with multiple rooms, petting the companion animals they can afford to feed, with their feet on a coffee table or rug, drinking out of their own mugs. And the poor things don’t realize how good they’ve got it, but eye my windfall askance and look for something more to be dissatisfied with. It’s human nature. I’ve done the same, back when I could afford to.

Everything I own right now fits into a messenger bag and a carryon; that’s it. There are three boxes and a dive bag stored with a friend somewhere. I know I’ll see the friend again (to the extent one can be sure of anything), but heaven only knows whether I’ll see the stuff, because stuff tends to leave me by freaks of chance. In the end, if it’s not important enough to keep with me, how badly do I really need it?

I’ve learned to be relaxed about possessions. Having the US Postal Service lose thousands of dollars of art, books and paraphernalia at a formative moment in life, can have that effect. All I need is enough to wear, plus the laptop and e-reader. Other things (pots, knives, movies) are useful, but I find them hard to hold onto; they keep slipping away, one way or another.

I know exactly what I’m going to do with that backpay. Every penny will be used. Not spent, not frittered, not idly indulged with. Nothing will be wasted. It should be just enough.

There is still no excess or slack in the system. But as long as there is just enough, I can make it work.

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Dr. Oz and Paula Abdul on RSD/CRPS-1

Paula Abdul has an unusual subtype of this unusual disease, and in her case, ice is excellent instead of deadly. Having labeled that huge caveat, here is some excellent, informative, very useful stuff to take away:

[The clip was removed from youtube. Here is the show on Dr. Oz’s page:
Part 2 (with demo of animated light show 🙂 )
Part 4 (which they evidently removed from the RSD segment… discusses highlights of the nutritional changes that turned her disease around]

She and Dr. Oz do a very good job of simply, honestly and clearly conveying the basic physical reality of RSD/CRPS-1. I found her presentation refreshingly honest, very sweet, and completely good.

Note her discussing how food and nutrition (especially drastic amounts of produce) is responsible for a “360-degree change” in her condition. She has found doctors that helped her figure that out; what I want is for those doctors to train all their cohorts!

The (usually passive; occasionally active) resistance of the mass of doctors to nutrition is appalling, but at this point it is the most valuable single strategy that’s available to the most people. The fact that it isn’t available to everyone is a horror which I look forward to seeing the end of: poverty and food insecurity are not good for anyone, and being disabled puts most of us into poverty… so we can’t get the kind of food we really need to manage this disabling condition!

My old commercial-grade blender took a dive off the boat. It’s probably making sushi in the middle of the Pacific Ocean by now.  I can’t wait to get another one and get back to making green shakes. The healthy oils and tons of produce are the best “brain-food” I’ve ever found. They keep the pain down to a manageable level and help me continue to be able to do things like, oh I don’t know, write more blog posts.

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