Back to school, organics, yonanas, new apartment, food challenge, and recovery #whew

Hey guys,

I know it has been a bit since my last post and with graduate school underway, it has been difficult to find a time when I am not studying, cleaning, sleeping, or totally spaced out to work on this blog! BUT some interesting updates:

Back to school– oh graduate school sucks! That about sums it up! Haha.  But really…

Anatomy is trying it’s best to drag me down but I am trying very hard to be positive and not self-defeating.  Thus far, I am staying afloat in it…and that’s all I need to do to get through this trimester.

Still it is good to be back at campus, more active than my online classes. Which brings me to update on my online Masters in Nutrition program…I am almost done with it but as the remaining courses are concurrent with the DC program (you take them in the DC program so to save money/time you just wait to take them in the DC program and they will count towards the MSN program), I have currently gone as far as I can for a bit.  But I  did well enough to get Dean’s List twice!

Organics-

The funny thing about that MSN program…is that it has totally motivated some extreme changes in our diets.  I took this one class about food from farm to your plate and it was truly eye opening.  You can find many of the videos we utilized by scrolling through the TEDx videos on YouTube.   Anyways, we were motivated to go almost completely organic.  I say almost because some things are hard to find at a reasonable price and every now and then we aren’t able to do the organic version.  But I figure as much as we can is what matters.   It has been an expensive transition for sure, but one that we both believe is well worth it.  I could espouse all the reasons we believe it is so much better but unless you watch some of those videos and are ready to make the change, it will fall on deaf ears.  So instead, I will just make a short list of the positives and negatives we believe have been a result of going organic.

Positives

  • The food simply tastes better ( my boyfriend at first said that it tasted like something was missing from the produce and we laughed and said ‘ya, pesticides!’)  But since that revelation, food tastes so much better that I would never go back! In fact now, the produce that is not organic has a weird taste to it!
  • It is healthier for our bodies.  The more I learn about it, the more it makes me believe that the more chemicals and hormones we put into our body through conventional foods, the more damage we are doing to ourselves and that this damage is what is leading to many of our widespread diseases and the obesity epidemic.  This is coming from a patient’s perspective.  I cannot say that I ‘feel’ differently since going organic, but I can say that I feel better about what is going into my body.  Knowing that I am not constantly building up toxins in my body and eating clean, healthy food makes me feel like I am making progress. That doesn’t even scratch the surface of it: Definitely check out the TEDx videos on antibiotic resistance due to antibiotic use in livestock.
  • It is better for the environment.  You have got to check out those TEDx videos about how pesticides has damaged soils, air, and waters. Listen to families talk about how their whole town stinks and has unbreathable air due to the pesticide useage and to the stinking waste water pits of factory farms.  Learn about how important crop rotation is to soil and what it takes to be an organic farm. Then take a look at what a factory farm looks like and compare that to the farms of your imagination….see any green pastures and free roaming cows? Now check out organic farms…
  • It is better for the animals. I know they end up the same way but ultimately so do we and that does not change our continuous desire to improve our daily lives.  So check out the way organic farmers treat their livestock and the way they are treated in conventional factory farms.  You will quickly  discover that the animals in factory farms are sickly and being made to produce unnatural characteristics (genetically choosing for larger breasts in chickens, so much so that  they cannot walk…does that sound like a healthy chicken?) which are no doubt having their effects on the consumer who eats them. Furthermore, watch the antibiotic resistance videos to learn about low-level maintenance doses of antibiotics are given in the food but actually end up contributing to poor health of the animal and antibiotic resistance.
  • It IS sustainable! This paragraph could go on and on and on.  But I won’t do that to you. I will just say this…If we raise animals the way they are designed to raised, let them roam freely in the sun with access to plenty of good food and clean water, you are going to get a healthy animal product.   If you let crops grow the way nature intended and utilize natural insects and pest controls, the plants will be healthy.  This mean that the soil, water, and air which are crucial for all life can remain healthy. This means our food supply is healthy which in turn means we are healthy.  So many worry about feeding the population if we switch to organic….but it’s counterintuitive: how can contaminating our waters, producing sick animals, wearing out our soils, and playing God with the DNA of our food lead to a sustainable supply of food?

Negatives

  • it’s expensive

I’m not gonna lie, it costs a pretty penny to go organic, especially in regards to meats! But I do believe that a reduction in medical bills and health problems will balance that out.  In addition, I justify it by knowing it’s better for the environment, the animal/plant, and for myself.  Still, sounds great but how can you afford it on a budget?  I plan to write a blog on this subject, but for now check into local farmers markets and CSA programs. We currently are using Green Bean delivery and they provide us with fresh produce and groceries delivered to our door for $35 a bin.  But we also shop at a handful of places to obtain the best prices on our organic foods.  Currently we get:

Produce- Fresh Thyme or local farmers market (check out amish foods which are raised organically but they don’t pay to have the organic label)

Whole Foods- Meats, lunch meats, eggs, snacks, fresh foods, oddball items- I wont lie…this can get pricey.  We get 2 bags of frozen chicken at $8.99 each (3 lbs each), 2 lbs ground chicken or turkey (cheaper than beef),  2 packs of catfish (about 4/pack) for about $5 each, and then about 2 lbs of whatever meat is on sale that week…usually a roast/ steak of some kind.   This lasts us about a week, maybe 2 and can cost about $50.  Then we get lunch meat from them…try to go on sundays for $2 off/lb.  We usually get about 3 lbs of cheese and meats which end up being another $20.  So we spend about $70 on meats.

Aldis- salad, pasta, sauces, tuna, milk, miscellaneous items- does have some organic produce but its pretty sparse.  Where they shine is for oddball items like pasta sauce and pastas.  They also have a gret price on a large container of organic salad greens.

Other miscellaneous places to try- Walmart, Dierbergs, Schnucks, Costco, CSAs. farmers markets, and Amazon.

Items we have trouble finding for a decent price: tuna, canned chicken, diced tomatoes, avocadoes, bell peppers, olives

As I said, I will probably be doing a few posts on this soon to give you more info,

 

Yonanas

We just finished a 21 day sugar detox and found orselves going crazy needing a little something sweet.   we first tried making ice cream in a blender….well its just not ice cream, more like ICE.  I happened to stumble across this Yonanas machine which makes ice cream- like creamy ice cream- by using ONLY fruit! No sugars, no milk…just fruit.  So we tried it and we love it! I will definitely be posting on this soon!

New apartment-

Well I guess it; snot that new anymore as we have been here almost 6 months already!  BUT still lots to finish up and we plan to get it all done during spring break which is right around the corner so I will be finishing up our apartment part soon here!

Food Challenge-

I KNOW I HAVE BEEN SO BAD ABOUT THIS! But I promise I will be coming back to it! I really loved incorporating new and different foods!  But because of school, this will no longer be a consecutive week challenge but more so a ‘down week’ challenge…when there aren’t finals or a crazy amount of tests!   But I will be picking it back up very soon, promise!

Recovery

Recovery has been slow but steady.   I still do not have the strength to lift much or bend a lot.  Pain is a pretty constant reminder of surgery, but it is better than it was before surgery.  I am now receiving regular chiropractic care from school and I think it might be starting to help. I will be starting acupuncture soon as well so hopefully that will be good too.

 

I think that’s it! Stay tuned and I will definitely have some good stuff headed your way!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Items I wish I had when moving! #movingfail #movingchecklist

Okay guys so I know it’s been like a million years since my last post,  but I assure you I have not forgotten about yall!  In fact I have some fantastic tutorials and pics and ideas in store for you!  Moving has been a job and a half  and school, a part time job,  and a boyfriend… Well time slips away really quickly.    So stay tuned for some really good stuff!

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This post is about things I wish I had remembered to put in my ‘day of’  box but totally forgot to do!  #movingfail!
I foubd all sorts of checklists online to make day of moving so much easier… Even made checklists for my Cheklists…ya…
But inevitably,  you always forget something… Or lots of things,  ya know.
Here is my ‘should have remembered’ list.
Should have remembered :

*phone charger
OMG such a fail!  I was using my phone to take move in inspection pics… And IT DIED!   I went to like 3 places to find a frigging charger and only found car ones…. Until I went to Walgreens,  at which point I spent $15 on one…. Should have just gone home to get it or better yet,  brought one to begin with!

*scissors
Ya so trying to line your shelves with shelf liner without scissors (or a knife)  really doesn’t work…. So I had to run out and get some (while searching for a charger).  *facepalm   who forgets scissors? Lol

*batteries
This includes all batteries,  be it for your remote control,  a flashlight,  or a drill… Bring them with you.    I needed a flashlight to look in some areas to inspect…. But no batteries,  phone was dead… Fail!  Also could have remembered to charge up the drill before moving… Or at least brought the battery with me lol.

*sponges
A bunch of different kinds!  One for the tub,  for the toilet,  a couple for the kitchen,  for the washer/dryer, and a couple extra for whatever other gunk you have to clean.    And not just soft sponges,  get some plastic scrubbing ones too.  (don’t forget cleaners for this respective rooms).

*lamp
This is a big one,  especially if your electricity isn’t on when you first arrive!  We got the new apartment a few days in advance to paint and move,  so electricity hadn’t been turned on that first day.   Painting by moonlight is not easy!

*chairs
Probably folding Chairs or camping chairs or really just anything you can sit in and eat your pizza dinner,  or just collapse into after hours of painting.    It beats the hell out of the floor when your back,  legs,  and hips are killing you from a hard day.

*bottled water
This should be given on moving day…. But if you are like me,  and dedicated a day or two to painting and moving in… Well,  it’s easy to forget this one,  and it’s pretty important.   If you don’t want buy bottled water,  make sure you at least have enough water bottles for every one and to leave around the house.

*utensils
On a similar note,  while pizza is hands on,  sometimes you need a fork for that salad or a knife to cut that burger.   So instead of scrambling to find one,  be sure to bring at least one of each with you (better yet,  a set per person).

*dropcloths
These are very  very important for painting,  so you don’t spill on your brand new carpet!  So grab so cheap tablecloths at the dollar store or some drop cloths from the hardware store and spread them everywhere!  We had a few bear mishaps because I did not have enough of these!
-also,  if your painting,  don’t forget brushes,  rollers,  paint pans,  a screwdriver to open cans,  a hammer to close them, and towels to dry clean brushes on.

*smell good stuff!
This one is such a big deal for me because it instantly makes your new place feel like home and does double duty if removing any unwanted lingering odors.    I went out and bought a bunch of those automatic spraying diffusers and a few car vent scents to attach to the vents that blow out air for an instant refresh!

Other suggestions might include-
Glue (gorilla, hot)
Tape (duct,  painters)
Trash bags
Paper plates
Paper napkins
Plenty of paper towels
Plenty of cleaning towels
Cleaning products
Fresh sheets
Fresh hanger of clothes
Toiletries
A few rolls of toilet paper
Carpet protective tape
Extension cord
Dish soap
Hand soap
Hand towels for bathroom
Smell good spray for bathroom
Pen and paper for notes on move in condition

Stay tuned for my next post about what common moving tips worked for me and what failed!

Please comment as I love to hear from my readers!

Final apartment sneak peak! #projectnewapartment

Alright guys,  sorry it has been so long but moving day is now imminent! It is 1 week away!!!!    I actually allotted about 5 days for us to move because we are going to paint and it just seemed easier.  But now I am wondering if it will be more like a marathon of exhaustion rather than a helpful spread…we will see.
Anyways so moving day is right upon us and it has been chaos here!  I have over 80 pictures of new projects to show you and will add more as we move!  So bear with me!   
Here is one last sneak peak before moving day.

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This is my new apartment color scheme.    Unfortunately I put the gray next to the green and it looks a lot greener than it is… And the dark colors are barely discernable… Sigh.  But I will show you the walls when they are painted.   This is just a taste.
See you at the new place!!! 

Please comment as I love to hear from my readers!

Surgery, Master’s program, and home

Sorry it has been forever! I know I have been bad! There has just been so much going on that I haven’t gotten a chance to update y’all on recovery and school!

So here goes…

Last time we left off, I was having trouble attending school full time, so I had to drop to part time.  Holding up your head all day is exhausting haha.  Even going part time was pretty tasking though.  I was taking Norco (Vicodin) for pain for the few months but then had to be taken off and put on Tylenol 3.  So that was my first withdrawal, it was pretty ugly but the Tylenol 3 helped some.  Tylenol 3 is basically Tylenol + codeine but that was definitely not enough to stop my pain.  It was hard to move or deal with getting up every day.  Around Thanksgiving, I had to be weaned of Tylenol 3 as well…that was a nightmare. Shakes, sweats, stomach upset, you name it.
But remarkably, the pain got better when I got off of the meds! How ironic is that?  So I started doing some digging and found this article: http://www.instituteforchronicpain.org/understanding-chronic-pain/complications/opioid-induced-hyperalgesia

What I found is a condition known as Opioid-Induced Hyperalgesia. Basically, sometimes, in some people, prolonged pain med (opioid) use can cause the body to actually become hypersensitive to the pain.  The difference between this condition and having increased tolerance is that with tolerance, you have to keep taking more of the drug to reduce pain, but with OIH, you have to take LESS of the med to reduce the pain.   It is not clear why this is or what causes it but it is becoming more and more common.  I showed the article to my neurologist and he agreed that in some cases that definitely can happen.

I did not get as much relief from just the cervical fusion as hoped,  not because it didn’t work, but because I need my lumbar done as well.  The PA and I hypothesized that the second would provide marked relief, so we decided to proceed with that for the next semester.

This past semester ended a little rockier than expected but I was not upset; it was one of those times you were just glad to get through it.  So I met with the Dean of the University to figure out what to do about next semester.  I was going to have to fly home to have  my surgery, leaving my cats and my apartment with my boyfriend to watch out for.  Then, hopefully, after about 7 weeks, I would be able to be driven  back and have my boyfriend take care of me in my apartment.  It is supposed to be a 9 month recovery, so I needed to figure out my plan for school.

So the Dean and VP both sat down with me and were absolutely amazing, a refreshing experience after a little tussle with student services.  They both agreed I should take all the time I needed to recover, which stressed me some because while it behooved my health, it meant an additional 7 months out of school.   Then the VP suggested a Masters in Nutrition program that was offered completely online and I could take concurrently with my DC!  What a great plan, as I would probably have gone that route eventually, it would definitely provide me something to do in the recovery period! I was very happy they had recommended this because it helped me feel like I was still making progress instead of losing more time because of this stupid accident.

So they got me all set up and financial aid worked out and I started my nutrition classes in January.

Here comes the complication:  Insurance companies suck!

We had been working with the insurance company pretty much continuously since my last surgery in August. They knew about the accident, my diagnosis, and that I would likely need both surgeries.  In October, we had to jump through a few hoops because they said I needed an additional doctor’s appointment just for the lumbar saying that I needed the surgery.  It was really a technicality because the doc knew that, I knew that, it was in his notes…but they forced us to do it.  So I flew back for a weekend to have the additional appointment in the middle of the semester.  But, it got us the all clear form the insurance company so we all moved forward with the planned surgery.     I planned out the next 7 months of my life around this surgery, knowing I would have to continue schooling to pay for my apartment and commute back and forth. It all worked out fine until one week before surgery.

I had flown in for the surgery and tp have a couple of tests run beforehand.  The day after I got in, I went to my presurgery/ 5 month follow-up appointment with the neurologist.   He did not have good news: the insurance all of a sudden was denying coverage of the surgery, saying I did not meet the psychological clearances necessary for it; well duh I didn’t meet them, I’d NEVER been told I needed them!   They were now demanding I get psychological clearance for surgery (i.e. that depression or some other mental condition was causing my pain) and that I attend 10-12 sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy!  The doctor was flummoxed; he said he had never had such an extensive stipulation on having this surgery before. In addition, why was it not required for the cervical surgery? Why had it not been brought up in October when we were given the Go Ahead? Why are we being given new requirements 1 WEEK BEFORE surgery? This was going to set me back, at minimum, another 5 weeks (assuming I could get into 2 sessions a week of therapy), another semester, and kee[ me from my apartment, cats, and boyfriend for at least an additional month! It was incredibly frustrating! Of course, calling the insurance company is fruitless because no one you can speak to has any authority to do anything, but one guy did recommend we appeal it and gave us the information on how to do so.  So my doctor and I agreed that we would appeal while moving ahead with the clearance and behavioral sessions in the meantime, so as  not to waste any more time.

As of today, my appeal was received about 3 weeks ago and is being worked on, I have attended my psych clearance session and they are waiting on the results for the insurance (should get those hopefully by the end of this week), and just biding my time until then. Pretty sure the psychiatrist did not think I was crazy, but I guess we will see, I have a follow-up on the 19th at which time we will discuss what is next.

As far as school, the nutrition program has kept me sane, but is not into the fun stuff yet. For the most part, it is stuff I already know, but that’s because I have read tons on nutrition on my own time. So far, that means, STRAIGHT A’s! Yay! Haha!

I spoke to the Dean about the situation and possibly needing anther semester off and he, and the VP, assured me not to worry and just keep them updated…they are awesome! It also looks like I will be almost done with the Masters in Nutrition by the time I go back to the DC program, so that’s a plus.

SO that should bring you up to date on the chaos! I am just waiting now and as soon as I know what’s next I will let y’all know! Thanks for reading and if you have any thoughts or comments (such as how the insurance companies suck…) please let me know!

Thanks lovelies! Until next time…

1 month into school, 7 weeks out of surgery-Can’t catch a break? Try and catch your breath

These past 2 weeks have been a nightmare 2 weeks.  I missed 2 days due to a doctor’s appointment that I had to fly back to San Antonio for, then 1 day due to jet lag and then the rest of the week and the beginning of this week catching up and taking exams. Because guess what, 1 month in= exam time.  So not only am I playing catch up, but I am trying to keep up with scheduled exams, all of this while drugged on Norco and Valium all day long.

So  let’s take this a step at a time:

1) my exams (makeup and scheduled) haven’t been too bad thus far, as in A’s and B’.  But today I missed my Anatomy practical exam because I had to lug my backpack up the stairs and was a few minutes late.  He is letting me make it up next week on Monday but it will be one-on-one and oral.   Definitely intimidating.  Plus I still have 2 more quizzes this week and am starting to worry about my attendance levels.   I try very very hard to get to classes but my lower back pain and medication are working just as hard against me.  d

2) my  neck is doing much better and the pain is actually manageable there and my scar is looking good. The doctor gave me approval to wear my brace as needed so I mostly just wear it at school or when I am studying a lot.He wants me to wean off my meds.

3) my lower back is killing me so the thought of weaning off the meds is almost unbearable.  Also, the side effects from the meds are almost worse than the actual pain.  So just trying to manage.  It’s hard to believe that there are so many days when it is just impossible to physically get up out of bed because of pain.  And no matter how hard I try, I feel like such an inconvenience and like  maybe I shouldn’t be here right now.

4) I am trying to keep my head up and stay optimistic.  After all, my grades are overall pretty good, but it’s hard to see that sometimes through the pain.  So my motto that I am hoping to get me through the day is going to be, if you can’t catch a break, try and catch your breath.

Just breathe.   This is when I miss you mom and dad. Just breathe.

Lesson 2 recovery is hard

So after a good solid couple of weeks,  I’m exhausted and that’s not good for healing.    I am working with the school to find a way to take the full course load but not have the full attendance because 8-10 hour days when you are only a month out of spinal surgery is exhausting.    Monday or Tuesday should bring news one way or another.    Worst case I postpone,  better choice is i take half the classes and add a trimester,  and best choice is full course load but not full attendance.    I am good at pushing myself but this is clearly a little too much.    The courses themselves don’t seem to be too much but it’s hard to stay caught up being exhausted all the time.   

I’m enjoying that it seems very much focused on vitalism- this idea of letting the body heal itself and giving it the best chance it has to do so.   
My only complaint thus far in the curriculum is that they do dissection rather than prosection,  which seems like a waste to me because as a chiropractor I will never be dissecting, and the idea is to see an ideal example or a muscle for location and movement, not a butchered one done by students who have no idea what they are doing. 

I’ve met some great people who have very interesting and similar stories to how they got here.    I feel supported by them but also alone in my pain.
I am going home this coming Friday for my 6 week checkup and it will be good to have the comfort of mom and dad to rejuvenate and reassure me.

So really the moral of lesson 2 is similar to lesson 1; listen to your body,  it tells you when you are pushing too hard.     Whatever the dean brings back is out of my hands,  and I have to make healing my priority.  
I’ll let you know next post what the dean says and any further lessons I have learned.