Monthly Archives: July 2015

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Friday Favorites #2

Ello Loves! Welcome to Friday Favorites #2. Here are some things I want to share with you this week.

Lemon Balm as a Natural Soother


Modern western society is so eager to jump at antianxiety medications or brain-altering drugs, like Valium, to take the edge off after stressful days and make busy lifestyles easier to handle. There are so many side effects that come with those pharmaceuticals that they are much more dangerous than they are helpful. Once you alter the serotonin and dopamine levels in your body, you can upset your circadian rhythms, which will lead to irregular sleep, digestive problems, chronic inflammation, and can even increase the severity of anxiety attacks. Natural soothers can’t always meet all your needs if you have high levels of anxiety, but you still want to lessen your reliance on seratonin reuptake inhibitors and other seratonin/dopamine altering drugs as much as possible. Lemon balm is an herbal remedy that has been extremely effective for me for its calming, anti-anxiety properties. I take it in the evenings as either a tincture or a tea, and it works wonders. You can combine it with chamomile for an even stronger relaxing effect.

More about Lemon Balm: Benefits of Lemon Balm

My Water Bottle from


You’ve heard it before– you’re dehydrated and don’t realize it. CBS reports that 75 percent of Americans are in a state of chronic dehydration. You should be drinking at least two to three liters of water a day (if you suffer from health problems, probably three). This bottle filled up three times is about three litres. It has measurements printed on the side to help you keep track of how much water you’re drinking throughout the day. Plus, it’s cute!

Heartbeet Kitchen Blog

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Amanda at Heartbeet Kitchen has been diagnosed with SIBO and Leaky Gut symptoms, similar to mine, and she uses healthy food as medicine to help guide her healing. Her blog has awesome recipes for food sensitivities, as well as healthy eaters in general. She has followed the AIP, which is a diet I’ve used to help mitigate my digestive symptoms. Her recipes incorporate a lot of nutrition without sacrificing taste. Check out Heartbeet Kitchen, even if you don’t have food sensitivities. Amanda offers a lot of lifestyle and nutritional wisdom, and her photography is gorgeous!

Zoya Nail Polish

Ladies, have you ever stopped to consider how many freaky chemicals you’re putting into your bodies with your beauty routines? Nail polish, alone, contains 5 major toxins, and that’s only a small fraction of the cosmetics you’re coming in contact with. Toluene, linked to anemia, formaldehyde, a respiratory irritant and known carcinogen, DBP, which has been shown to cause multiple birth defects, formaldehyde resin, a skin allergen, and camphor, causing headaches, dizziness, and nausea. Zoya nail polish is free of all five of these toxic substances, plus it’s vegan, animal-cruelty-free, and offers awesome colors to keep your nails just as fancy as the gross poisonous ones. The teal color I’m wearing is “Dillon” and the Burgundy hiding under my finger is “Tiegen.”

Roasted Spaghetti Squash

I have been loving squash lately. My meals have to be nutrient-dense because my body is depleted and my stomach can’t handle very much volume. Replacing any grain side with squash is a way to exchange mostly empty calories with nutrients like niacin, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, potassium, and manganese. It’s great served as a pasta substitute with bolognese sauce, or on its own topped with olive oil or butter. You can also do spaghetti squash “hash” for breakfast. If you want to supercharge meals with nutrients and lower your empty-calorie carb consumption, any of these meal/snack ideas are great options.

I hope your Friday is better than Tiger Lily Applesauce's. She just CAN'T EVEN today.
I hope your Friday is better than Tiger Lily Applesauce’s. She just CAN’T EVEN today.

One of my best friends, Gabrielle, who is incredibly supportive of me and visits me often

Bird in the Bottom of the Cage– Relating to Healthy Friends When you’re Chronically Ill

“I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.”
― Helen Keller


A new friend of mine recently told me about how he cares for his pet birds. He said he has to weight the birds frequently to tell whether or not they’ve been ill. I asked why their behavior wouldn’t change before they lost weight, to which he responded “They’re social animals. We’re all social animals. It’s to their benefit to get up on the perch and dance and chirp for us, because they know their quality of life depends on our attention. So they get up on the perch and act healthy until they end up tired and thin, lying on the bottom of the cage.”

My friend told me this story because he thought it related to me and my illness. In chronic illness, social functioning becomes confusing. We’re embarrassed about our limitations, we feel left out a lot of the time. We want to be understood, but we don’t know how.

From an evolutionary perspective, we’re socially attractive based on physical qualities that would benefit a group or “pack,” and many of those qualities, like strength and stamina, are lost when we become sick. We can’t keep up physically, we don’t have as much energy as most people would, and we aren’t always the most witty or dazzling conversationalists. However, we don’t completely lose our abilities to be mentally engaging and uplifting people. Most of the inadequacy is based on our deep-seated biological perspectives of ourselves. Even excluding illness, it’s the same problem with any supposed “inadequacy:” depression, high or low weight, learning diasbility, etc.

This causes us to hide behind a “sick curtain.” We go out with friends only when we feel prepared to hide our inadequacy. We don’t ask for compassion or understanding for fear of rejection. We avoid social interaction altogether because we’re afraid of being seen as weak or undesirable. Eventually, we are the sick and lonely birds at the bottom of the cage.

If we were honest with ourselves, we could remedy the situation long before it became so dire. The owner doesn’t stop loving or caring about the bird when it becomes ill, and he doesn’t find it tedious to occasionally lend some extra attention. Similarly, a sick person doesn’t become entirely repugnant when they become ill. It’s only certain parts of our beings that change, and those changes don’t prevent us from being good friends and having meaningful interactions. Furthermore, if you’re ill, you have just as much of a right to be related to as you have an expectation to find ways to relate. You deserve support and understanding, and you are just as worthy of a social life as those who are healthy.

One of my best friends, Gabrielle, who is incredibly supportive of me and visits me often
One of my best friends, Gabrielle, who is incredibly supportive of me and visits me often

If we keep hiding our supposed inadequacy for fear of rejection, we become completely isolated, which is counterproductive to our original goal of social belonging. We have limited physical abilities, but we don’t have limited love, and we may need friendship, now, more than ever. So say something. Pave the way for yourself. You will be slower, sadder, unable to do the same things as everyone else, but you won’t be alone. The alternative is to live like the bird in the bottom of the cage, performing for the outside until you’re exhausted and alone.

Friday Favorites #1

Happy Friday, lovelies! Those of you reading today are about to be treated to my first Friday Favorites page! These are some things I’ve been loving lately, and wanted to share the love with my readers.

Ginger and Turmeric as Natural Painkillers

I’ve had chronic pain for years, and my first instinct was to take NSAIDs like ibuprofen and acetaminophen(Tylenol). NSAIDs actually exacerbate inflammation in the body by blocking the production of prostoglandins, which speed the rate of healing. Inflammation is a good thing, it’s what facilitates healing and lowers damage to the body. When you don’t let inflammation run its course and heal your body, you increase damage over time, thereby increasing long-term inflammation and preventing recovery. Turmeric and ginger are both herbs proven effective in reducing pain and long-term inflammation. Circumin, found in turmeric, is also a powerful antioxidant that helps your body detox and fight free radicals that prevent cell function. I take this brand of ginger and this brand of circumin (from turmeric) daily to help reduce pain and lower the oxidative stress in my body.

More about NSAIDS: NSAIDs: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

This Blog: Chronic Teenage Tears

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Nancy, author of Chronic Teenage Tears, suffers from Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, Gastroparesis, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain & more. Her illness limits her physical abilities, but certainly not her strength of mind. She uses her blog to spread awareness about her conditions and reach out to others who struggle with the social and emotional consequences of illness. She’s incredibly insightful and her blog has a lot to say to those who struggle with disability, as well as fully-functional readers.

Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five


I’m sure you’ve had this book recommended to you before, but I’m going to do it again. You all know I love to read, and this is a new favorite. There is some incredible social commentary in this book, and a lot of wake-up calls relating to war and our limited perceptions of it. Even beyond that, there are a lot of very honest portrayals of humanity, including those of religion, time, relationships, etc. The narrative is very readable, but the framing is unlike I’ve seen in any other novel, and the way it all comes together sent chills down my spine.

Bacon-wrapped Apples


…because bacon. Prepare apples by slicing bacon into thirds, then wrapping. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Bake on middle rack for 23-25 minutes, then broil for 3 minutes to let bacon crisp. Uncured bacon is best, but I used Costco bacon this time, and it was magical. You’ll thank me later.

The Yoga Collective

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This is an online collection of yoga classes from certified instructors. I purchased a Groupon for a year membership from, and could not be any happier with it. Every yoga class I’ve done is well-paced and well-explained. Since I can’t make it to my yoga studio anymore, I’ve been exercising less and less, and this was a great solution! They offer a free trial for one month, and after that it’s $12/month for a subscription. That’s very reasonable for the quality of classes. There’s something special about the studio experience and community of yogis that at-home yoga can’t replace, but these Yoga Collective classes are the best I’ve found for home practice.

Namaste!…and a cat

Treatment and Tests, Continued

I’ve got some exciting brainstorming to do with you all today. As many of you generous readers know, I’ve recently acquired some funds to help with my recovery. I’ve been looking into lots of research about treatment that might help and tests that might bring be closer to diagnosis. I’m going to outline treatment I’m doing now, as well as diagnostic tools I’m planning for the next few months.

To explain some of my weakness and lightheadedness, my doctors have hypothesized that I have symptoms of Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. It’s a disorder of the autonomic nervous system where the heart rate and blood pressure become volatile upon standing. I can get a blood test for POTS, which would lead to a diagnosis of dysautonomia, and line me up for this treatment, which has gotten incredible results. It’s proven to help with any disorders of the autonomic nervous system, which would include Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue, as well as POTS.


For now, I take Ashwaghanda to help with energy (especially in the morning). I also take alternating hot and cold showers (it sounds miserable, but helps with circulation). I also do a lot of walks and yoga throughout the day to help with heart rate and other POTS symptoms (these are NOT the only self-treatments I do, just the ones most directly related to POTS symptoms)

In my last post, I mentioned a hydrogen breath test for SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) and a food sensitivity test. Since I am so malnourished, these will be huge recovery tools for me. Chronic illness results in a lot of oxidative stress, which almost always leads to some kind of digestive distress. In my case, it’s been theorized that I have a bad case of Leaky Gut Syndrome, in which the lining of the gut becomes damaged, leading to food particles in the blood stream. Food particles outside of the digestive tract are recognized as intruders by white blood cells, and autoimmune symptoms follow. That means, at any time, I can develop allergies to foods (especially the “big eight” allergens) based on the state of my gut and the digestibility of the food. This food sensitivity test, based on IgG and IgA antibodies involved in leaky gut reactions, instead of the traditional IgE allergies.


IgG and IgA food sensitivities are actually very common. If you suffer from any health problems, I would suggest looking into the BioTek testing to help rule out food sensitivities and minimize stress from those immune responses. In addition to those tests, I will use funding to get my feeding tube accurately placed in my digestive tract, and continue feeding tube treatments.

In order to help minimize bad SIBO bacteria and deal with leaky gut symptoms, I am currently following a strict diet, somewhat like the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol– basically a lot of veggies, fruits, and lean meats. I still eat eggs and some nightshade vegetables/starches (potatoes, tomatoes, and bell peppers) but cannot tolerate seeds of any kind (including berries, zucchini, etc.). The idea behind the diet is similar to the original Paleo diet, but it also aims to minimize digestive stress by eliminating foods that exacerbate gut irritation and/or may increase autoimmune symtpoms.

It’s also been suggested that I look into Mitochondrial Disease, as well as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. If any of you have more knowledge about any of those diseases that may help, please share! I’d love to hear any ideas you have about any of the tests and treatments I’ve outlined.

Crowd Funding, Support, and a Lot of “Thank Yous”

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Two weeks ago, I was in a very rough place, mentally, physically, and emotionally. I felt so stuck– stuck financially, stuck physically, stuck in depression, literally stuck on my couch all the time. I was doing everything in my power to keep myself healthy and following all the advice of my doctors– STILL, I had so much pain all the time, I had no energy and no self-esteem. I didn’t have the money to progress with the medical tests recommended by new doctors, and I didn’t have the money to continue supporting the treatments I’ve already started. There were resources for healing just out of reach, but they would never be accessible to me. I keep opening the doors to new treatments, and they keep slamming shut before I’ve made it across the threshold. I spend resources on new tests that come back negative, and I’ve tried countless treatments that haven’t helped.

I blog bearing good news today. Under a week ago, I posted the story of my struggles with chronic illness on In five days, I made over twice my original goal of $2,000 (some donated separately from gofundme). I am so, incredibly grateful to all the wonderful souls who offered their support and helped by donating, offering kind words, or sharing My campaign page. The amount of compassion I received was beyond amazing. Not only do I now have the resources to pursue adequate diagnosis and treatment, but I also have a huge community of supportive and understanding friends and family that I’d been taking for granted in my battle. We are rarely as alone as we think we are when we are faced with such trying situations.

Another thing my crowd fund helped with is social image, a constant struggle for the chronically ill. I’ve been sick for four years, and selectively hid my illness from friends and family because of my pride, as well as my fear of rejection. I am disabled, I can’t relate to people the way I used to, and I didn’t know how to explain it or whether I should hide it. Posting my story online and getting such a positive response was so uplifting. I no longer feel desperate or embarrassed about my lack of abilities. I no longer feel stuck. I am empowered, I am supported, and I am strong. Thank you, again, to everyone who participated in my gofundme campaign. I hope you recognize yourselves as the heroes you are.

In the next month, I plan to use funding for a hydrogen breath test for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth from Commonweath Laboratories. This is a disorder where bacteria migrate from the large intestine to the small intestine, causing intense abdominal pain, as well as food sensitivities. I also plan to get food sensitivity testing done by US BioTek Labs, Inc. I’ll post more details about these tests and my progress with diagnosis in the next few days. Please keep reading for updates on my recovery!