Category Archives: Health

It runs deep

I have a strong aversion to folding the clean laundry. Really strong. If I can think of anything else I can do instead, I’ll do it. 

So today I’m going to the YMCA!

I know what you’re saying, I was doing that already, so not a great excuse, but eh… I woke up this morning NOT feeling it. Almost cancelled my ride to the gym. But fortunately I procrastinated on that too, until the bus came, and now I’m on my way. I know once I’m there I’ll be glad I stuck with it.

And that’s my Friday snippet. Make today a good one!

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Everybody does it

I drink a lot of smoothies. Just about every day, a smoothie packed with bananas, berries, yogurt, and spinach. Sometimes I’ll mix it up and add a little juice or milk, or vanilla for flavor. But always the banana, berries, and spinach. Because fiber, y’all. I need it. We all do, of course, cuz it’s an important nutrient, but I seem to be of the brand of human who needs a little help in the elimination department. Oh sorry, I didn’t warn you this post might be TMI for some. But seriously, folks, why does no one ever talk about this? Is it really that sensitive a subject? It’s not for lack of commonality, I assure you. I think it’s just because it’s icky. But I’m not afraid of self-disclosure (clearly, I have a blog for crying out loud) and I’m not afraid to share that I have trouble.

In fact, I’ve always had trouble, so I can’t really blame it on MS – although MS can certainly compound the issue. No, I remember as a young girl having to drink mineral oil and being given enemas. I still vividly remember drawing a picture of my poop once so I could show it to my mom, I was so proud. (You realize what we’re talking about now, right?) She doesn’t remember this, but I do. I don’t know if I should be hurt by that or thankful she didn’t save the picture!

So, back up to the smoothies. It’s really just been the easiest way for me to consume enough fiber. Berries are packed with it, as is spinach, which is virtually tasteless when you grind it up in the blender. Not that I mind spinach, I love it, just not with my fruit so much. My doctor recommends I consume 30 grams of fiber every day and OH MY GOSH, that’s a lot of fiber. So it’s been a struggle, but most days I hit the goal. And it has been helping, but not always enough, so once a day or so I go for a glass of your good ole prune juice. Yech. It’s the most unpleasant beverage I’ve ever consumed, but if you water it down it’s not so bad. It certainly beats mineral oil.

Oh! I almost forgot to mention the best part of this development. In recent weeks I was having a lot more balance problems than usual, and I was starting to use my cane on a pretty regular basis. It had not occurred to me that one issue could be related to the other, but when I started getting “regular”, my balance issues almost disappeared. I’m walking so well now! Now I know I could attribute this improvement to other things like exercise or the change in the weather, but the improvement was so sudden, like within the following day, that I have to give it credit. And the fact that my balance has remained well as I’ve been on this increased fiber – and resulting regularity – just confirms it for me.

I have so much more on my mind regarding food I want to share with you, but I’ve got a lot on my plate this week so it will have to wait for another day. Eat your fruits & veggies, people!!

**If you caught my puns, I applaud you. I love puns 🙂

The Social Security Office

I had to visit the Social Security office today. Here’s the long version (because that’s the only way, really):

I’ve been receiving Social Security Disability Income for a full two years now. After you’ve received benefits for two years, they automatically enroll you in Medicare. I have health insurance through my husband’s employer, so I wasn’t real interested in Medicare, but if it’s free, I guess I can’t complain. What I learned, however, is that Medicare comes in different forms, and the two I was enrolled in were Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance). Now Part A is free, but Part B is not.

Now Part B could be advantageous, if it covered what my current health insurance doesn’t, and saved me more than I would be paying for the premium. But I never looked into it, because I learned that my participation in Part B would deem me ineligible for another program I’m part of. I currently receive assistance paying for my monthly Tysabri infusions (for MS, $20,000 before insurance PER infusion), and if I didn’t receive that assistance I would be stuck with about a $5,000 deductible. (I did warn you this was the long version.)

So basically, I could pay $120 per month for Part B Medicare and possibly $0 deductibles OR I could pay $0 premium and definitely $0 deductible. Now I was a straight A student, and I went to college. I chose the latter.

Simple, right? Not so. In March, when they sent me my Medicare welcome packet, I returned the card stating I was opting out of Part B. Then June came, and with it a welcome letter – and a statement of my insurance premium for PART B. I called to say W-T-F and they told me that was just a standard letter and that I would receive another one telling me it had been cancelled. Another month went by and my benefits came, less the $120 for Part B premium. I was not so happy, and I called again. They acted like they knew nothing about my opting out, and told me I needed to sign a form requesting cancellation, and that they would mail it to me.

At this point I didn’t believe a word they said, but I gave it a week to see if the form showed up. It did not. I called once again, but this time made the call to the local office, in case I needed to make an appointment. They said an appointment was not needed, but that I should come down and they would get it all straightened out. They made it sound so easy but I was still doubtful. I made arrangements (thanks Grandpa!) to get to the office today and guess what? It really was easy. The hardest part, literally, was signing myself in at the kiosk to get in line, when they asked me this question:

Are you….
1) Blind/low vision
2) Deaf/hard of hearing
3) (to be honest, I really don’t remember what was after those first two, but I was looking for an “all of the above” option)

I waited for about an hour, which is what they warned me it would be, and when they called my number I had to ask a few of the people waiting where #10 was, but they were all happy to direct the obvious newbie to her station, and I found it just fine. The gentleman was exactly that, a gentleman, and immediately put me at ease. He reassured me that cancelling was a simple process, and showed me where to sign, and before I even had a chance to ask, he was telling me they would be refunding me the two months of premium I had already paid, and the check will be on its way within the week!

I was so pleasantly surprised at how smoothly it went and I felt pretty silly for having been such a nervous wreck. No worries though, it’s done now and I can move on with the rest of my week. Is it really only Monday still?

 

 

Our first 5K

The Mason State Bank 5k Run 2016:
Mindy – Age 38 – 39:42
Luke – Age 8 – 31:07

People, people. My son’s and my first 5k was a huge success. I achieved my goals and then some. And Luke, not knowing at all what to expect, ran an amazing race. He said aside from the day he was born, which of course he doesn’t remember, this was the Best. Day. Ever. He was over the moon excited, and is already talking about his next 5k. I think we have ourselves another runner in the family.

2016-05-07 20.31.22

What an amazing experience this was. I had no doubt that I would finish the race, and without much walking even. So there was no surprise there. The best part about this race though, was that I felt immensely supported by my family and friends. My brother and sister, who are both rock star runners and have been such motivation to me personally, were both there. My sister-in-law, my two nephews, my father-in-law, a couple dear friends even. All of them came. I even had one friend who told me just hours before the race that she was going to run it too! And even those who couldn’t make it wished me well beforehand and I truly felt them there in spirit. And while my husband was not there at the end (he was helping our daughter start her one mile race), he was there to give me good luck kiss at the starting line. He’s been my biggest fan through this whole process. He helped me find good running gear, like breathable shorts and shirts, and decent running shoes (my slip-on Sketchers were laughable for distance running). Just hearing him say how proud he is of me helps to keep me going. After all, I’m doing this for him and the kids. I want to be healthy, and I want to be around for them as long as I can.

The actual race was fairly uneventful. I think I must have been a little nervous, but I held onto my cookies (mostly). It really helped having a friend running beside me (at least until I left her in the dust after the first mile lol). I kept a good pace the whole time, and only tripped on my toes once, but recovered gracefully with a skip and kept on plugging away. At mile 2 (I think) my sister was waiting to take a picture, and then joined in and jogged beside me for awhile. That was nice because when you feel sluggish, like a tortoise crawling through molasses, it’s nice to have a distraction. My sister is one tough broad and she is an enthusiastic supporter. It was really, really, fun to run beside her, even if it was only for a portion of the race.

The final stretch of the race was up a major hill, and when I got to the top I was not only taxed, but couldn’t see where the finish line was. I knew it was near the end because of all the people standing around (and the smell of food from the local vendors) but the actual finish was just far enough out of my visual field that I wasn’t sure. So I decided to walk just then, to rest my legs and give myself time to gain a better awareness of my surroundings. After a few steps though, I looked to my right and I could see what I assumed to be the finish line, so I started running again. As I ran I started to recognize the banner reading “FINISH” and I started to get a smidge emotional. Not wanting to be a bawling mess at the end, I covered my face and tried to breathe as slowly as possible. As I crossed the line I saw my brother and Luke running towards me to congratulate me and bring me a water bottle. And, of course, to make sure I made it safely to a sitting position. My left leg was genuinely out of commission for a good 10 minutes. I did manage to withhold most of the tears, and just enjoyed the moment. I did it. I ran a 5k, all the way. And I can’t wait to do it again.

 

Oh, the days

There are some days that I feel the need to  emotionally crawl back into my safe little cave. I kind of know why this happens ever so often, and I know it always passes eventually, so I’m not worried about it. I am thankful on days like these that I’m not responsible for anything urgent or super-important. Not exactly. My responsibilities involve feeding the people and keeping things clean-ish and supplies stocked. I generally give those responsibilities my 100% effort, but I’m sure we would all survive even if I gave half that.  So on days like these when I can only muster 70%, we’re doing just fine. I’m not sure anyone will even notice. In fact, when it means processed, frozen burritos for dinner instead of my homemade beef stew, the kids are actually thankful for my slacker status. They love those burritos.

My 5k race is coming up in three whole days! I don’t think I’m nervous. It’s my first race ever, so I don’t have many expectations. If I finish on my feet I’ll be happy. I heard a song awhile back come up on my Pandora station and while it’s not the best tempo for running, the lyrics gave me some motivation. Don’t judge; it was a song by Eminem. I’m trying to hit “like” on songs that sound good to my new ears, and my musical tastes have changed quite drastically. Everything just sounds so different to me now. So I guess New Mindy enjoys some Eminem and can tolerate the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Anyhoo, the song that caught my ears is called “Till I Collapse”, and after reading the lyrics online, I can honestly apply a lot of the sentiment to my philosophy on this running thing. Of course Mr. Mathers was surely rapping about something else entirely, but the nice thing about music is you can make it what you want. What it means to you is just that – what it means to you. Here is the chorus to the song:

“‘Cause sometimes you just feel tired, you feel weak
And when you feel weak you feel like you want to just give up
But you gotta search within you, you gotta find that inner strength
And just pull that **** out of you and get that motivation to not give up
And not be a quitter, no matter how bad you want to just fall flat on your face and collapse”

What’s kind of funny to me is that the fear that kept me from running at first was the fear of falling flat on my face. And if I do, I do. Whatever. In the song he talks about inner strength, but my strength does not come from within. My strength comes from God. He gives me the strength I need, when I need it. So when I feel like quitting, that is where I turn.  I will look to my Savior to keep me going. He has never failed me, never left my side, and together we will run this race!

Training for health

Today was my first attempt at running outside. No treadmill. I tried to have zero expectations. I really tried. But when my foot drop showed up 1/3 of a mile in to the run and I started to feel extreme disappointment, I realized I did have some expectation after all.

I guess I expected it to be more like running on the treadmill. It was nothing like it. Entirely different, in fact. I was surprised. And a lot disappointed. I did not expect the foot drop to show up so soon. And let me tell you, I had felt really ridiculous and self-conscious from the very beginning, so the foot drop didn’t help. I felt like a three-legged duck.

So the foot drop was there, looming, threatening to put me flat on my face. I tripped on my toes a few times, but continued running anyway. Because I gotta get home somehow, right? And this run was really just a test to see what pace I run when I don’t have the treadmill telling me how fast I’m going. There was one trip about halfway through the run that almost took me down, but I caught myself and immediately decided to walk for a bit to allow me to rest my legs (and sooth my ego). Then I started running again. Slowly, and with small steps, SLOOOOOW-motion for sure, but I was moving! And not falling. My biggest fear is falling.

You know what though? Falling is not failing. If I fall, I can’t take the blame for it. My body chooses to do things without my permission. But I can choose to focus on what is within my control. I can keep moving. The more I move, the more I stay at it, the stronger my legs will be, the stronger my core muscles (needed for balance!) will be, and it will get better. I know this is true because I am doing more than I ever thought was possible even a year ago. I am pushing my body slowly, one day at a time, to go a little bit farther. This is one big test, to see what this body is capable of. And I am thanking the Lord that it’s not disappointing me.

I have a 5k race in less than 2 weeks. I have revised my goal slightly after today’s run outside. It was initially to finish in less than 40 minutes. I’m not sure if I can do that in two weeks, so my goal now is simply to finish. Period. Run, walk, crawl, whatever it takes. I will finish this race. And then I will continue on. I will keep running. I will keep pushing. This is not just a 5k I’m training for. I am training for my health.

A case of the Mondays? Almost.

I tried really hard not to let Monday be the way Mondays can be, overwhelming and all. I think I did okay, despite it trying really hard to kick my butt.

I have a recurring muscle spam in my left shoulder and it was back with a vengeance today. When the pain is in full force it radiates all the way down my left arm, and it makes anything but standing up straight extremely painful. So resting was even hard to do. Go figure.

So I spent a good portion of my day trying to calm the spasm. Ice, Epsom salt baths, heating pad. Nothing has really worked, only made it somewhat tolerable.

But while that was the bulk of my day, I did have some positive moments. My new contact lenses came in the mail. And I made chicken noodle soup for dinner, which happens to be one of the few foods my entire family enjoys. So that made for a pleasant dinner time as we all just enjoyed the food and each other’s company. Still, we have leftovers, come on over! 🙂

Oh and my sister and I chatted our excitement about our upcoming appointment to get the matching tattoos we finally decided on after talking about for years (pardon the run-on). More on that later, and if later enough, with pictures!

Thanks for listening, folks. It means the world to me.