Battling Illness on top of Illness

The title of this post can have so many meanings, and I definitely want to talk about a few of them. To start though, I want to talk about the bout of streptococcal pharyngitis (strep throat) I had last week. Actually at this point I am still on antibiotics and don’t feel 100% yet. Kinda holding strong around the 85% mark. It ruined my Pride weekend plans (though I still managed to make it out for a little bit) and kept me bed ridden for 3 1/2 days straight, other than my short venture to the doctor for a diagnosis and prescription.

fullsizeoutput_104bMy friend and I were joking about how I was a zombie on the weekend, so I became one.

What’s it like battling strep throat while having an autoimmune disease? Pretty much like torture. Strep is bad enough. For those who are lucky enough to not have had it, basically, it’s like having an extremely bad sore throat with a fever and chills, and the most horrid taste in your mouth that won’t go away and basically poisons the taste of whatever you are trying to eat… oh yeah, because you still get hungry. Top it off with horrible night sweats and an on-and-off again headache, and you basically will never want to experience it again. So now add in crazy shooting pains up and down your body. Granted mine were typically in areas that I normally get pain (my hands, left hip, and back), but the pain was much more intense than normal. Part of it is definitely because I lied in bed for days, but part was probably my crazy immune system not understanding what was happening, as usual.

58283952625__A4DF7A88-C640-4344-A77E-4E0D319B84E6Spike was my nurse all week.

So I mentioned that the title of this post has multiple meanings. Another one is comorbidity, which is the occurrence of two chronic illnesses in one person. This could be two physical illnesses (heart disease and cancer, for example) or two mental illnesses (e.g., depression and anxiety) or a physical illness and a mental illness (e.g., autoimmune disease and depression). This is actually quite common, and can make the battle more difficult for anyone. The key is to always try to treat both. I see a million different health care professionals for my physical ailments, but because I was having a lot of anxiety I also started seeing a psychotherapist and a naturopath (side note: I have never been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and likely don’t have one. I attribute this to both my generally positive affect, and also taking the initiative to see a counsellor before things got worse). Take care of both before they get out of control. Your body and mind are incredibly connected. If you are struggling, there is always help out there.

AE633E15-B561-49E7-83A5-D616D8F52EC5At Pride, a lady handed me this paper. I thought I’d share it with all of you, because you too are loved.

Chronic Illness in the Media

Lots of celebrities have talked about their struggles with different chronic illnesses. Most recently, Selma Blair talked to Robin Roberts about her MS diagnosis. I truly find Selma Blair an inspiration for her positivity. I find that it’s important to hear (and have!) celebrities share their stories. For one, they have great influence, be that on individuals who admire them, and on the spread of information which can lead to increases in fundraising for research. On the personal level, just knowing that there is someone out there who is experiencing what you are can bring a sigh of relief. “I’m not alone!” Of course, we have blogs like this and many, many others to share our stories on and interact with others, but I find there is something about having a celebrity share their story that is impactful, at least on me.

So, who are these celebrities who are (or have the ability to) create an influence by sharing their diagnoses? There are actually a lot, but we’ll stick with some of the most vocal ones.

  1. Selma Blair and Jack Osbourne – Multiple Sclerosis.
  2. Michael J. Fox – Parkinson’s
  3. Lady Gaga & Morgan Freeman – Fibromyalgia
  4. Sarah Hyland – Kidney Dysplasia
  5. Selena Gomez & Nick Cannon – Lupus
  6. Daisy Ridley & Lena Dunham – Endometriosis
  7. Gigi Hadid – Hashimoto’s
  8. Venus Williams – Sjogren’s
From left to right: Selena Gomez, Sarah Hyland, Lady Gaga

Sharing stories and information can be so powerful. It can create an emotional experience, influence a workplace, influence a government, or influence the masses. I always encourage everyone to share their stories (when they feel comfortable to). If anyone would like to do a guest blog post, please reach out. Any topic related to health (mental or physical) is welcome!

Healthy Eating & Pain Experiences in Costa Rica

Happy Wednesday everyone! This post is meant to conclude my little travel log about my Costa Rican adventure. It’s not easy having health issues while traveling, but hopefully what you’ve seen from my posts so far is that it is very possible! Eating healthy while on vacation is also very difficult. Chances are that if you go to an all-inclusive you’ll end up gaining a few pounds on vacation. However, our off-the-beaten-path adventure ending up being very good for my digestion (which is often out-of-whack) as well as my friend’s (and she has a number of allergies). Not only did neither of us get sick (everyone told us to worry about traveler’s diarrhea) but we both felt healthier than we ever do at home!

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Just goofing around in Costa Rica.

How and why did we feel healthier? I’m not an expert but my best guess is because everything was locally grown, organic, and straight from farm (or ocean) to table. It was the freshest food I’ve ever eaten.

FrFkrEFaS52gqtuDO1gOne of our delicious breakfasts

Food highlights:

  1. Casada. We had this twice. Once on our first evening in San Jose. And then again after ATV-ing in Manuel Antonio. It’s meat (in my case fish), salad, fries (or beans), rice, and fruit. WYLJWMe9QdKU3T5V2IIvhQ
  2. Breakfasts typically come with eggs and a rice/bean mixture, as well as fresh fruit, which was my favourite part. Especially the pineapples! I even had a banana one day, which I don’t typically like, but it was incredible. 4jrX8OGgTYC0u66QTwKAzw
  3. One our first day in Monteverde I had the most incredible cheese covered corn and ceviche tacos. Again, not normally a big fan of corn but this was da bomb. VlUSOBOkQtax0TT2uGfZYA
  4. Off-the-ground mango. Mangos are ripe when they hit the ground. When we were at the Animal Rescue Centre our guide picked them off the ground and gave them to us. To die for. I could eat one every day of my life. I literally peeled it with my finger nails. JPv1JCb2RmqR7ddMynmxEQ
  5. Seafood. I’m a huge seafood lover. I could probably become a pescatarian. Fresh seafood is the best. I had seafood almost ever single day of the trip. From mixed fish grill to ceviche to calamari to a fish burger, it was all incredible. 9L8sTq0sTNSGsRGW%u00wQ
  6. And for dessert, the win goes to Vegan Chocolate Mousse. I know it’s available everywhere but I’d actually never had it before. It was so good that I ended up having it twice, the second time was on my birthday! kLRKHAzMRQmbgKWa1WVsGQ

Okay, enough about food, what about pain? Honestly the heat was so helpful that most of my daily pain alleviated, without my normal use of CBD or any intense pain killer. Other things that helped my pain were the salt water of the ocean, and the cool, refreshing water of the waterfall. The only day I really had pain was after driving into Manuel Antonio. Thus my need for a massage. I think I’m living in the wrong climate.