Tag Archives: health

Short Little Update

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Just a quick note for now: I had some of my hormone levels checked and started taking some supplements to help bring them back into balance. However, the new supplements really messed with my digestion, and so I spent some time trying to let my body adjust to them. It was adjusting slowly, but I decided whichever it is of the new supplements I’m taking is just too much for me, and now I’m off the newest group of supplements until I figure out which it is that bothers me. It’s been a couple days with my guts working like they should and I feel GOBS better. Digestion has such a huge impact on energy levels!

More later, as I play catch-up on all those little things, like the blog, that tend to get put on the back burner when things are extra-difficult!

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Spotlight on Supplements: Chondroitin, Glucosamine and MSM

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I’m covering these three supplements in the same post because they are often combined into a single pill, which is how I take them. Again, I’m not a doctor and you should discuss all supplements with your physician.

Chondroitin sulfate is a component of cartilage, and is often sourced from cattle cartilage.

SIDE NOTE: As a former aquarist, I must beg you not to take chondroitin sourced from or combined with shark cartilage, as it is really hard on shark populations, which need our protection–they have it hard enough; we have overfished a lot of their food sources. Back to our regularly scheduled program.

Glucosamine is most often taken as glucosamine sulfate, but can also be found as glucosamine hydrochloride, or N-acetyl glucosamine. It is another building block of cartilage, and is usually sourced from shellfish shells or synthesized.  Taking chondroitin and glucosamine is thought to support the body’s maintenance of the cartilage tissues in the joints, but the latest research on a combination of chondroitin and glucosamine is not very encouraging as far as pain relief goes. It is most often recommended to sufferers of osteoarthritis, but in the latest study showed the combo to have only a mild benefit to only those in the most severe pain, and that group was so small it was hard to tell if the results were statistically significant.

MSM, or Methlysulfonylmethane, is recommended more generally for numerous types of pain. This remedy is solidly in the alternative medicine camp, as there is not much science to back it up. From my research, MSM is recommended mostly because of a single book written by two doctors, which looks a lot like another one of those “natural miracle cure” claims that so often are set up simply to prey on people in pain who are desperate for help.

It is possible that these supplements could serve a more of a preventative purpose, ensuring that cartilage breakdown does not happen because of deficiencies in the diet. I recall mention of a study in dogs in which similar supplements looked like they helped prevent arthritis if it was taken starting young, although I have no idea of the study’s scientific validity.

The other disturbing news turned up as I researched for this blog post was that the supplements that claim to contain chondroitin and glucosamine have been tested with widely varying results–some of the pills sold in stores turned out not to have any of one or the other compound, or the amount from batch to batch varied although the label stayed the same.

After what I’ve learned about these three compounds, I’ll probably take them off my list of supplements I’m currently taking. The combination of “they probably don’t do much” with “you can’t be sure you’re actually taking any” makes me think that I could be spending my money more wisely than on any more bottles of these.

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Life Tweaks

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I’ve tweaked a few things about my life lately that seem to be helping. First, sweetie and I have put some more effort into our meals. I’m pretty good at planning well-rounded meals, figuring out when things need to be defrosted and making shopping lists. My sweetie is not so good at all that, but can do a lot of the standing and stirring or chopping that takes me forever and makes me hurt, so we have become more team-oriented and are eating better, which makes everyone feel better and lets us save time by eating leftovers instead of figuring out something to throw together at the last minute.

We also scheduled time to spend together during my best time of day, which happens to be around 2pm. By the time sweetie gets home from work, my mental and social capabilities are usually pretty adversely affected by my pain level. While I do get to feeling pretty desperate for non-canine social contact, by the time we’ve taken care of food and such necessities, many evenings I just want to disappear in a book or TV show. Getting to eat leftovers for dinner helps with this, but it’s sad that sweetie misses the parts of the day where I can think and interact without it being so much work. So we’ve decided to try to schedule occasional “lunch dates” on days he can split up his work shift and spend time together that is more enjoyable. Our first one was this week and was very nice–I feel like we’re much better caught-up than we have been lately, and that I was much more able to be fully present for our conversation.

I’m finding it’s really important to think creatively about what can be adjusted to make life with CRPS work better. The timing of when to sleep, take medications, spend social time, prepare food, all that can be very flexible when you really think on it. While I do keep a pretty regular schedule, because I find I sleep better and thus have less pain when I do, if the timing of something is not really working, I can often find ways to adjust my schedule so that things work better. An hourly pain journal was really helpful when I first started with this, but now I find I can get a pretty good idea of my patterns without one, although if I needed to make a drastic change I might need to do the journal again to make sure I get the results I’m looking for. With Pain Brain, it’s usually better to trust important things to paper or the computer than my memory!

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CRPS and Noise Sensitivity

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Nervous system. Français : Système nerveux.

Nervous system. Français : Système nerveux. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was just reading this paper on CRPS. One the points of the paper is that in CRPS patients, startle responses, which make normal pain decrease (so one can deal with the threat better), make CRPS pain even worse. They go on to connect the data to the dysfunctional parts of the nervous system unique to CRPS.

What I found personally applicable to my life, however, is that they used a sudden loud noise to test their subjects, who reported significant increase in pain and sensitivity, especially when the noise was on the same side of the body in which the CRPS was found. In our noise-polluted world, as well as in our daily lives, we run across startling loud noises more or less frequently depending on our environment. It seems like this is one of those minor, unintuitive things that, as people who have CRPS, we may be able use to decrease our pain.

We already know that CRPS pain is heightened by emotional distress. But overstimulating environments could also be a pain-increasing influence that we can attempt to minimize, by our choices in where we live as well as the places we go outside the home.

I’ve always been very sensitive to noise, but I think since I got CRPS that sensitivity has become greater. I know I do tend to feel more stressed than I would like when the neighbors all too frequently play their music loud enough that I can hear it in my apartment, but I had not made the connection that the noises from the neighborhood could be directly affecting my pain. I do know that the next time I move house, I’ll be looking for somewhere with a little more peace and quiet than my current abode. And if I return to work, some day, I will make a quiet environment one of the things I look for in a workplace.

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Big Little Victories

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Chicken soup is a common classic comfort food ...

I made chicken noodle soup today. I use two commercially prepared ingredients (broth and frozen chicken breast) (well, and the noodles, but who makes home-made noodles these days?), so it is a pretty simple recipe, but home-made chicken noodle soup is a significant step forward in my ability to be active. It has been months since I’ve been able to really cook, and I have missed it. That I got through an entire recipe makes me very pleased, for many reasons.

One of the things I find difficult about my disability is the loss of independence. If I’m going to have a home-cooked meal, a lot of times, I need someone to cook it for me. It is a wonderful feeling to be able to prepare my own healthy food, even if it is only occasionally.

Another aspect of disability that I struggle with is that I used to contribute so much more to the work of my household than I can now. It feels wonderful to cook a meal for my sweetie that will feed us with leftovers for a couple days. It makes me feel like I have an important role to fill in the household. My disability is teaching me that I contribute to my household in ways that are not based in physical labor, and I am learning how to find my importance in those other contributions. But the lesson is made less harsh when I have the ability to at least occasionally pitch in in ways that are the “instant gratification” contributions like cooking and cleaning.

Finally, being able to cook for myself gives me more control over my diet, which contributes to my health. This day of cooking gives me hope that I’ll be able to eat a little more healthy as I continue to recover from my medication changes, instead of needing to eat so many quick-and-easy prepared foods.

So, even though I’m rather exhausted now, I am extremely pleased with my victory of progress today. My disability has given me a new appreciation for something I used to enjoy at times, but at other times find tedious. Hello, chores! I am happy to be able to do these little tasks now. What a lovely gift of perspective, hard-won though it may be, to have appreciation, mindfulness, and joy in these daily tasks.

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