Friday, 30 September 2011

Curves Promotion

If you've read many of my posts, you'll know that I absolutely love my local Curves gym.

For October, there's a deal going on to help encourage women to care for their health in more ways than one. The idea is to have a mammogram - and Curves will waive their joining fee.

Here's the information from the promo brochure:
 At Curves, keeping you health is our business. Reducing your risk of breast cancer through exercise is quick and easy with our workout. Curves' strength-training circuit for women is a great way to keep your whole body fit and takes just 30 minutes,3 times a week. This October, raise funds and help beat breast cancer when you join for free with proof of a recent mammogram or donation to a Breast Cancer Organisation.  

There's some fine print of course, so if you want details go to

Sue Sproul, Owner, Curves Keperra
(Great Western Shopping Centre, Keperra, Qld)
with the free joining in October promotional brochures.
I love the Curves program because it encourages me to take care of myself, working at the level I'm able to do. There's a lovely sense of community among the members and staff at Keperra where I go, which makes the effort of going to the gym an enjoyable experience.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

In praise of pills!

The way to start the day
I moan about my pills a lot - especially steroids.  I don't like having to swallow heaps of pills. I really don't like side effects.  But I have to confess, there is something I really do like very, very much. That is when they work as intended!

A couple of weeks ago I was in so much pain (especially in my shoulder) that I couldn't even make my bed. It was really awful. I was very grateful that someone came around and got my housework up-to-date, and especially that she changed my sheets. (She also washed the curtains - my bedroom seems so fresh and clean again - it's just amazing.)

Now, I've been on the higher dose of prednisolone for a while.  This week I'm back at Curves (yet again - I've missed being able to work out so much) and..... wait for it...... I washed the car! I washed the outside Sunday afternoon. Today, I'm going to clean out rubbish and wash the inside of the windows, and later in the week I plan to vacuum it.

Being out of pain is so incredible! It's how I imagine "normal" people feel most of the time (apart from the two hour nap during the day). I have this amazing sense of freedom, like I could do practically anything.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Fantastic Freezeable Food: Buttermilk pancakes

I admit it: a cooked breakfast is a very rare treat in my house.
I have to admit upfront: a cooked breakfast in my house is a very, very rare treat.  But when it happens, this recipe means I can freeze more serves for another breakfast (and get double my treat for basically the same effort.)

2 cups gluten free self-raising flour
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 600ml carton buttermilk
Optional: 2 punnets of raspberries or blueberries.

Place flour and sugar in a large bowl, make a well in the centre.
Add eggs and buttermilk, and mix in.
Allow to stand five minutes, then gently fold in berries, if using.
Cook spoonfuls in a non-stick frying pan. When bottom is browned and top bubbles, turn over, and allow the other side to brown.

Serves: 8.

For something yummy to accompany this (sorry, this won't freeze, but you can store it in the fridge for a couple of days.)   Wash and slice a punnet of strawberries, sprinkle over a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar and a teaspoon of splenda sweetener. Allow to sit for at least ten minutes, and stir gently before serving. (This serves one hungry/greedy person, or two not quite so hungry people.)

Monday, 26 September 2011

Fantastic Freezeable Food: Crustless Zucchini Quiche

Another great recipe for the freezer:

Crustless Zucchini Quiche

5 eggs
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup gluten free self raising flour
1/2 cup lactose free milk
4 tablespoons grated parmesan
3 medium zucchinis, grated
3 medium carrots, grated
1 medium onion, grated (hint - don't peel or cut the root end of the onion, then you can grate it without fumes.)

Beat eggs, oil, flour and milk together.
Add other ingredients.
Pour into a flan or quiche tray.
Microwave for about eight minutes - with rests every two minutes, until set.
Alternatively: preheat oven to 180 degrees C, and bake 15 to 20 minutes.

Serves 6-8.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

New fat-derived stem cell treatment restores Lupus body functions

New fat-derived stem cell treatment restores Lupus body functions:

'via Blog this'

This article is fascinating reading - adult stem cells being used to treat lupus.

The patient is given a drug to stimulate the production of their own adult stem cells, which are then harvested and frozen.

Then the immune system is destroyed, and the stem cells then used to build a new immune system.

The article doesn't say how far away this new treatment is from general use. It seems like it could be a cure, rather than just another treatment.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Getting Organised

I keep trying to get control of my life by organising everything.

My smart phone and my computer are synced at least twice per day as I add in appointments and items on the to do list, and tick things off, make notes, etc.

Some of what I'm trying to do is to make sure the things that have to happen do: eg bills being paid, suitcase being packed before I go away next weekend (wait a moment - got to put that on the to do list; and to divert the church phone to our youth worker instead of me... I'll be right back.)

OK, that's on the to do list.

Now, I've got to remember the chemist tomorrow after church - give me a second... I'm back - that shopping list's done, I know what I need. Oh wait. ... Back again. I had to add to my to do list that I have to take new prescriptions in to the chemist with me (they store the repeats so I can't lose them when I'm suffering from brain fog.)

I've just realised I haven't put reminder dates on some items - so that the phone and computer automatically remind me I have them coming up. That's very important.

So why is it important?

Firstly, because otherwise, I'd have bits of paper and post-it notes all over the house. (Sometimes I do anyway.) I'd carry a huge diary and an equally huge notebook and be always scrambling through them. And even then, I'd forget any number of things I really need to do.

If I'm not organised, things get out of hand. That's partly because of brain fog - I just forget that I have to do things. It's partly because of depression (which goes hand-in-hand with lupus for me) and my brain just decides it's not processing any more.

When I'm exhausted or in pain, it all gets too much, and unless the list is in front of me,  I can forget that I actually can achieve some things. Ticking off the list tells me I'm not completely hopeless or helpless. If I had the energy to pay the phone bill online - I achieved something important, and that tick on the list tells me I did it.

Keeping a careful diary means I'm not trying to be at the church and the doctor at the same time, and dropping a kid somewhere else at exactly the same time. The more organised I can make myself, the less stressed I feel.

The other thing about keeping everything as organised as possible, is that it gives me the feeling that I'm in control of some small part of my life.  So much of my life just is not any way I would have planned it. I have to accept that, and live the life God has given me. But I have this little bit of power over how I will organise my days and that is precious.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Fantastic Freezeable Food: Red Lentil dahl with spiced basmati rice

This recipe is from the Low GI Vegetarian Cookbook.  It says it makes four serves, but I find it will actually do about six serves for my family.

250g (1 cup) red lentils
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 x 3cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground tumeric
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
875ml (3 1/2 cups) vegetable stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup coriander, roughly chopped
lime wedges, to serve.

Spiced Basmati Rice
250g (1 1/4 cups) basmati rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 cinnamon stick, broken
1 dried red chilli
435ml (1 3/4 cups) vegetable stock
55g (1/3 cup) roasted unsalted peanuts, finely chopped.


  1. To make dahl, place the lentils in a sieve and rinse under cold running water, until the water runs clear. Heat the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 6-7 minutes, or until the onion softens. Add the ginger, ground coriander, cumin, tumeric and chilli powder. Cook, stirring, for one  minute. Stir in the lentils and stock. Cover and bring to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the lentils are soft and the mixture thickens. Season to taste. Stir in the lemon juice and coriander leaves.
  2. Meanwhile, to make the Spiced Basmati Rice, place rice in a bowl and cover with plenty of cold water. Set aside for 20 minutes, then rinse and drain well. Heat the oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Add all the seeds, the cinnamon and the chilli. Cook, stirring, for one minute. Remove the cinnamon stick. Stir in the rice and stock. Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, without stirring, for 12 minutes. Remove pan from heat and set aside, covered, for 5 minutes. Add the peanuts and use a fork to separate the rice grains.
  3. Serve the dahl with the Spiced Basmati Rice, and accompanied by lime wedges.
This is easier than it sounds, and is incredibly yummy - and reheats from frozen in the microwave without any trouble at all.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011


I'm starting to feel tired - but still hyped up with the prednisolone I'm taking. It's a strange feeling, knowing I need a rest, but not being able to settle.

I'm getting things done! It's easy to be efficient when you can't stay still - but I also very much need a very long nap! I'm also starting to get nauseous. That just goes with the drugs, too. (Maybe if I feel really sick, that will help me eat less and stick to my diet.)

On the plus side, the pain is still under control - after a few weeks of having my shoulder in unbearable pain, and not able to do anything with it, that's a great blessing. In fact, that feels like a miracle. It's something really to celebrate.

My psychologist told me to get back to my arts and crafts, draw, paint, embroider, anything that requires me to focus on just that so I can slow my mind down from constantly trying to do a million things at once.  That may work - and I'm actually enjoying carrying my sketch book and pencils most places I go. But now, I don't know how to slow my body down. My knees are bouncing around under the desk as I write.

Spring is has begun - and the aches and pains from winter should start to go away anyway, so maybe the extra prednisolone won't be for long.  With spring comes the warmer weather, which makes me tired - so it's time on the patio in the cool of the morning - and then trying to stay in airconditioning for the rest of the day from now on until late autumn.

My son's on school holidays, and we have a school holiday tradition of going to a shopping centre or fast food place to sit in their airconditioning for the hottest part of the day. Otherwise, I have a little portable airconditioner I keep in my bedroom/office here at home, so I will practically live in this one room now.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Nervous energy

I'm full of nervous energy today, bouncing off the walls. I'm getting lots done.

What's happened?

I went to the doctor last week, with unbearable pain in my shoulder, and some not quite so strong ouchies in other joints as well. She increased my steroids - from 2mg of prednisolone per day to 15mg.

Fifteen milligrams of anything doesn't sound like much does it?  Believe me, with a steroid, it can make a world of differenc

Last week, my shoulder hurt so much I could barely do anything. One of the ladies from my church came around to change and wash my sheets, because I just couldn't do it myself, and to catch up on lots of things around the house that I'd been steadily been getting further and further behind on as the pain had increased.

Today, I feel like I could do anything.  My daughter reminded me how much trouble the nurses and I had trying to get her to settle down when she was in hospital with a fractured skull when she was about 10.  Once she was given steroids, she thought she was supergirl, and it was only when a serious headache settled in that we could get her to stay still.

That's what it's like for me today. You know how Jack Russell Terriers are always just bouncing all over the place? Now imagine one with ADHD. That's what I'm like. This morning I've baked, paid the bills, done three loads of washing, mopped out the laundry, typed a week's worth of jokes on to, done the dishes, cleaned the kitchen, written a card to someone from church who's not well, done some other paperwork, sorted my week's pills, chosen music for Community Care (the church senior citizen's group that meets tomorrow morning), decorated a birthday cake, made a quiche, and written my grocery list.

As I sit to type this, my knee is bouncing up and down.  I'm just not able to stay still.

I'm thinking about 100 times faster than I can type, so if this seems disjointed it's because my brain's always on the next thought before I finish typing this one.

So, in some ways it's great to feel like superwoman. I can get things done, and the things I haven't been able to do have been frustrating.  It's looking like I'll be able to get back to Curves again, after weeks away in pain. (The pain hasn't completely gone, but it's not severe enough to interfere with actually doing anything now.)

But the other side of lupus for me, apart from pain, is fatigue.  All of this energy I'm using is great - but if I don't try to manage it, I'm heading for a big crash. So, after lunch, whether I feel like it or not, I still have to have my afternoon nap.  I will use the relaxation exercise my psychologist gave me, to try to calm down a body and brain that just want to keep go-go-going. I will well and truly need the rest, because although I feel like superwoman, I'm not. As much as I wish I could, I can never forget that I have to stick to a routine to look after my health.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

What is Lupus?

It seems fairly basic, but one of the things I am most often asked is what lupus actually is.

I want you to think about a B-grade cold war era spy movie.  You've got the good guys the bad guys, and the ones you can't quite pick until the movie's ending.

Your body is a nation - the good guys. The secret agency protecting it from all foreign influence and attack is your immune system. If it needs an abbreviation (and all good spy agencies - bad ones too - need an abbreviation) it's the ISM - the immune system of me.

The ISM has a job keeping the nation of Me safe. So it has access to all areas of Me, every function, every organ, every part of Me is accessible to the IMS. It must have this access to be able to detect and counter any attacks on Me.

Now comes the twist - the ISM polices Me - but who polices the police?

It seems the whole agency has been corrupted. The agents are now double-agents.  The entire agency is conspiring against Me.

Because the ISM has access to every single part of Me, it can attack any single part of Me.

In another twist, we discover they're not really double-agents at all. It seems the ISM has been given false information. It's seen dangers where there are none - like weapons of mass destruction. It's attacking Me, but it's attacking Me because it thinks all of the various parts of Me have crossed over to the other side.

The ISM is attacking Me in a misguided attempt to protect Me from danger!

Enter the Rheumatologist - he's heading up a Royal Commission into the management of the ISM, and has authority to curtail its activities. Where possible, he's going to keep the ISM functional, to do its normal job, but where it's been abusing its power, and where it's just plain out of control, he can crush it like a bug.

Of course, between the ISM going off the rails, and the actions the Rheumatologist has to take to bring it back into line, the nation of Me sometimes looks a bit like a war zone.  But that's what happens when you see weapons of mass destruction where there are none.

Where will the movie end? Will the good guys win?

I can't tell you about my movie, because the script's still being written, just as it is for lupus patients all around the world.

Maybe the day will come when we actually have a cure. Then we could all, well many of us anyway, have our happy ending.

If you want to revisit my earlier post on what it's like to live with the fatigue of lupus it's here (Post: The Energy Budget, 23 June, 2011.)

Friday, 16 September 2011

Not Happy

I've had my monthly visit to my doctor today. (And now I'm back to fortnightly visits.)

My lupus is flaring again. (Well, really I knew that.) My pain, fatigue and depression are all getting out of control.

In an effort to get my pain back under control,  the doctor's increased my prednisolone (steroid) from 2mg per day to 15 mg per day. I've been higher than that, but it was hard work getting it down to the 2mg level.

She's checking out the process of referrals, but sometime fairly soon, I should be going to visit a physiotherapist, to start hydrotherapy (physiotherapy exercises in warm water.)

And she wants to know if I'm doing too much!

This is what upsets me. How much is too much? Most of the time, I feel like I'm not doing enough - at least I'm not doing all the things I want to be able to do. Maybe I am doing too much, but I can't find anywhere in my life where I'd be willing to cut back on what I'm doing.

But if I can't cut back on what I do, and get some rest, there's always the risk of being forced to cut back even more when I simply can't do anything.

I absolutely hate lupus!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Are You OK?

It's Are You OK Day.

The idea is that many people suffer depression, or have other health problems and never seek help.

If you ask someone whether they're OK, that could mean all the difference. Asking the question might even save a life.

So go on - ask someone today. "Are you OK?"

Learning my lessons - again

I know I shouldn't do it - but I went grocery shopping yesterday.

I had my son to push the trolley.

We did a quick run around Aldi to get the stuff that was cheaper there (ie fair trade coffee and chocolate, lactose-free milk, a few other bits and pieces.) Then we went to the greengrocers for fruit and veges. And for me that should have been a whole day out. Instead, we had a break and went to Woolworths for our main grocery shop.

This was fatal (well, not really, I am still alive - but it wasn't good.) I ought to have ordered the groceries online and had them delivered. I know that.

I went for my nap at about 2pm yesterday. I woke up at 6pm to take my pills and go to bed. I got up again about 9am today, and I'm still exhausted, still have aches and pains everywhere - and the groceries are still waiting to be put away. Yesterday's dishes are still waiting to be done as well.

The dog and cat looked at me in horror when I announced I was having coffee and pills before I fed them. But it's that kind of day - the kind where I just have to look after me.

I do have to at least start putting groceries away. And I do have to do the dishes. Apart from that, it's a quiet day. I'm going to do a little bit of writing for work, and a bit of prayer and reflection time, a long soak in a warm bath, and a relaxation exercise CD my psychologist gave me.

If I take it easy today, hopefully tomorrow will be a better day. And next time: I'm ordering the groceries on-line!

Fantastic Freezeable Food: Corn Frittata

Here's another recipe that's easy to cook and freezes well for those times there's just no time or energy left to prepare a meal.

Corn Frittata

Eight eggs
1 cup frozen corn kernels - allowed to defrost
1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup lactose-free milk
1 tablespoon gluten-free flour

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
Beat eggs.
Add other ingredients.
Mix well.
Pour into a 20cm x 20cm oven tin.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until set, and lightly browned.

Serves: 4-6.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Fantastic Freezeable Food: Red Lentil and Tomato Soup

One of the things that helps with limited energy is to cook extra when cooking a meal and freezing some serves for those days when there's just not enough energy to cook dinner. Taking a nutritious meal from the freezer and nuking it in the microwave is much faster, healthier and cheaper than going for take-away.

I thought I'd share with you some of my favourite freezeable recipes. All recipes from my kitchen are gluten and lactose free, and easy to make.

Today's is Red Lentil and Tomato Soup.

1 dry red lentils
1 800g can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon vegetable stock powder
1 tablespoon pre-made curry paste.

Place lentils in a strainer and rinse until water runs clear.
Place all ingredients in a large saucepan.
Fill the tomato can with water twice and add to saucepan.
Bring to the boil and simmer until lentils are soft (about 15 to 20 minutes.)

Serves: 4 to 6.

Click on "comments" for Louise B's curried pumpkin and lentil soup recipe just sent to me via Facebook.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme

One of the great benefits of living in Australia, is that we do have some significant supports for people who really need them. The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) is one of those. I really love the PBS.

Most of our prescription medication is subsidised - everyone, whether they realise it or not, has access to discount medication just by being Australian and having a Medicare card. That's why medications generally cost in the range of $30 to $40, when they might otherwise cost much, much more. That's the general coverage of the PBS.

For those of us on pensions, or other low incomes, our medications are already subsidised more - and most of my prescription medications are between $5 and $6. Given how many medications I take, this is a huge blessing!

Thanks to the Safety Net of $336 spent on PBS medications through the year, I've now reached the point where I receive PBS medications free until the end of December. I have a couple of medications not on the PBS, and things like the bucket-loads of fish oil capsules the rheumatologist wants me to take aren't even prescription drugs, so I will still have to pay a bit at the Chemist's but this will make things much easier.  (For people without a concession card a Safety Net of $1318 would allow them to receive their prescription medicines at the concession price - and then a further $336 would allow them to have free medicines.)

For those of us for whom a trip to the chemist requires as long a shopping list as a trip to the supermarket, the PBS is a life-saver. Without it, I know I would simply not be able to afford all of my medicines. I imagine other people in my situation would have the same problem.

If you want more information about the PBS, what medications are covered, etc, check out their official website:

Monday, 12 September 2011

Monday, Monday

Monday being the day I'm most tired, it seemed like the day to try out the Progressive Muscle Relaxation CD my psychologist gave me.  I've got to say it's good. After I'd finished the relaxation exercise I had a three hour nap.

Her other big suggestion requires a referral from my doctor - who I have my monthly visit with on Friday. That is hydrotherapy (physiotherapy exercises in warm water).

Why see a psychologist?  Lupus, and I suspect a number of other chronic illnesses, has a link with depression. Depression makes lupus worse. Lupus makes depression worse. Either one can start a nasty spiral.  The idea of seeing the psychologist is to help prevent the spiral starting.

Her suggestion about hydrotherapy is because there is a strong link between exercise and mood. (Everything just affects everything else.) On the days I'm in pain, I can't handle the gym. Since warm water helps ease the aches and pains, and support the joints, it's easier to exercise in warm water.  Once I have my referral to a physiotherapist, I can have a set of exercises designed specifically for me. It all sounds good - I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

But it's supposed to be Spring!

Well Spring has sprung - the weather had begun to warm up. I'd even started to turn my air conditioner on to cool the room down so I could sleep better at night.

Then, out of nowhere, the late winter westerly winds reappeared. And they brought cold. Lots of cold.

All of the joints in my left side, especially my shoulder, but even tiny the tiny joints in the fingers of my left hand and toes of my left foot, are telling me it suddenly got cold. They're yelling it more than telling me.

This is incredibly unfair!

There's not a lot I can do about it, except have warm baths, and apply lots of anti-inflammatory gel, and take all my pills. Apart from that, I just go on with business as usual.

I'm the only human at home, so I'm thinking it's a good time for a long nap before everyone else reappears from wherever they've gone.

Have a great week everyone, and stay warm.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

The Little Things

I looked at my stats for this blog this morning. I've had 989 page views - so I'll get to the 1000 mark today.

I have no idea if, in the world of blogging, that actually is any kind of achievement. But I'm going to let myself get excited about it. When everything hurts, it's great to have little things to be thankful for, to get excited about.

For example, my daughter turns 20 tomorrow. (Oh, I feel sooooo old - but mostly that's aches and pains, to be truthful.) She wanted me to make her a cake with a bird in a cage on it. The weather was far too humid for the icing work I would have done (icing would have just melted everywhere).  My awesome friend who has a knack of finding exactly the right thing for everything (usually at very little cost) went shopping with me - really we were looking for ideas. She found beautiful model birds, very inexpensive.

I've pulled out my cupcake "tree" and put the birds on it. Today, I'm making cupcakes, and before my daughter's party tonight, I will have turned them into butterfly cakes.  She will have a cupcake tree full of birds and butterfly cakes. It's something I can do without a lot of effort, but my daughter will love - she was thrilled when I told her what I was doing. (And I can do extra butterfly cakes, so when other friends come around tomorrow, I can rebuild the cake to share with them as well.)

It's little things that I can do that are so exciting!

When I'm in pain, or tired, it's easy to think only of the stuff I can't do. But there's so many wonderful little things, that I really enjoy, that I can still do. Whether it's typing on the computer, or baking cupcakes, or pottering around my potted "garden" the little things help to make it all worthwhile.

I hope you find some little things to really enjoy in your day today!

Added later: 
The finished birthday cake: Ta Da!

Thursday, 8 September 2011

The Ouchies

For the past couple of weeks, I've had a bit of pain. The medications I take just aren't controlling it completely. It's not severe - just enough to be annoying.

So, when the drugs don't work, what can control the pain of lupus?

The first point of control is rest. Fatigue makes everything hurt more - everything hurting more makes it harder to sleep - not sleeping makes the pain worse.  It's important to catch this before the cycle starts. Any time there's any sign of either fatigue or pain starting, the most important thing to do is rest.  Exercise is great when things aren't hurting - it helps strengthen muscles to support the sore joints, and to keep the joints flexible. When everything hurts - exercise just makes it seem worse.

My rheumatologist gave me another very effective form of relief.  At the time I was in too much pain to sleep. He asked if I had a heated pool or spa. (This made me reflect, not for the first time, that specialists tend not to be in the same socio-economic group as their patients.) I told him I had a bathtub. He said that would do - have a long soak in a warm bath before bed.  I've upgraded since then - I've got one of those spa mats that you put in the bath - you know, the ones that air pumps through, making bubbles, the cheap imitation spa. A half hour in my "spa" with some mild bath oil to soothe itchy, dry skin and some epsom salts for aching joints, makes everything feel better for a while.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Nice things to do for someone in pain

I found this lovely link on the net - a site called, which has a list of 12 things you can do to help someone in pain.   It takes a while to read - because it's slides, and you have to click through each slide to read it. (When I say I found it, Friends Against Lupus, put the link on Facebook, and I clicked on their link.),,20489189_1,00.html

It made me think about the nice things people have done for me while I've been in pain. I thought I'd share some of them with you.

  • My kids have zipped up endless dresses, and even at times done up shoes.
  • A friend who just automatically takes the lift instead of the stairs when we're out together.
  • Same friend came around and did my cleaning, and helped me set up my "gardening" - putting my potting bench out in the courtyard, etc.
  • Virtually anyone visiting has got things down from high shelves.
  • Friends who I've been shopping shopping with understand when I say I need to go for a coffee that it's code for "I need to sit down for half an hour and a coffee shop is as good as anything."
  • One of the elders from my church has emailed me to let me know she was concerned and praying for me.
  • I went to a funeral (not one I was leading). The church was already crowded with all the seats taken when I got there - and someone just got me a chair from somewhere.
  • The staff at my local Curves gym have always let me work at my level, never pushing me to do anything more.
  • My congregation members graciously accept me sending them cards or phoning at times when another minister would have visited. They understand that I do care, I just can't do everything I wish I could.
  • Mr Wonderful drives whenever we go anywhere, even when we're in my car.
  • My kids, and occasionally a friend, push shopping trolleys when I go to supermarkets instead of shopping on line.
  • Friends who come to my home for coffee, to save me the effort of actually going out. 
  • So many people have carried stuff for me.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

When is a setback not a setback?

I've been a bit mad at myself lately, because while everyone else in my weight loss group is achieving their goals beautifully, I've been gaining weight.

With a history of being an emotional eater - it's a struggle to not respond to that by having a really big binge - sometimes I've lost the struggle, and had the binge. Would you believe that hasn't helped?

My training as a journalist leads me to go ask questions about things I don't really understand, so I turned to the book Weight Loss for Food Lovers, by psychiatrist Dr George Blair-West.

In Chapter 14: Sabotage-proofing through setbacks, I found some information which I think will prove quite helpful.

According to Dr Blair-West, "Our unconscious is not particularly complicated or sophisticated, but it is sly and crafty (much like refrigerators and pantries really!) Its greatest power comes from stealth, from staying below the radar so that we are not aware it is at work until it is too late, until we have blown the diet and allowed our old habits to re-establish themselves."

Apparently, I'm waging a guerrilla war with my own subconscious.

The idea is that my subconscious has the task of keeping me safe.  It does that by keeping things familiar. What worked before ought to work again.  The problem is that for me, and many other people who struggle with their weight, what worked before didn't really work after all.

So, until my subconscious learns that the habits I'm trying to develop actually will work better, it's going to find ways to try to sabotage my efforts to change.

The response - to be on the lookout for what is hiding in the forest.

When I have a setback, I have to say, well, that was interesting, what can I learn from it? I need a plan - so that when that same (or a similar) situation comes up again, I'll have an appropriate response.

Because I'm always starving in the afternoon - and tend to eat from afternoon tea time to dinnertime, what I've learned is that I can't let myself get hungry in the afternoon. The possible solution I need to try is to eat a more substantial lunch - preferably with low GI carbs, with fibre and protein - all of which help fight hunger.

For me, I'm also tired at that time of day - so going for my nap as soon as I get tired, avoiding the tendency to eat to overcome fatigue, should also help. Well, I'll give it a go.  I'll let you know what happens.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Monday Morning

I know I said yesterday that I love Sunday morning, and I really do. And I said that preparing for Sunday worship helps to give me energy, which is true.

There's a downside. I have a serious case of Monday-itis.  Monday morning I'm exhausted.

Preparing for Sunday helps to give me energy - but Sunday morning itself takes everything out of me. That doesn't mean I would want to give it up - the year I didn't work at all was the worst year of my life. If the church couldn't afford to pay me, I'd still want to lead Sunday morning worship for free. If I had to permanently retire - I'd still want to lead worship. It's what I believe I was made to do.

So, it's only a quick check-in today . I have to go and get Mr 17 to school, and then I'm going to sleep for as much of Monday as humanly possible.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Sunday Morning

When I was first ordained, my mother made all the predictable jokes about ministers "only working one day a week".  That's far from true. But Sunday is the most important day of the week. It's the day where we take all of the life of the congregation and the world around us and present it before God - and when we receive back from God what we will receive to live our faith in the world for another week.

It's not only the most important part of ministry, it's also my favourite part. (If you're wondering, this picture's from last Christmas. All the bags of lollies on the communion table here are because I used lollies to tell the Christmas story - doesn't everyone?) I love the drama, and the ritual. I love the sermon, taking time out to try to apply what we learn from ancient documents about God's relationship with human beings to our lives today.

In my 30% time working, the congregation only asked me to lead worship on alternate Sundays - instead I usually take only one Sunday off each month. While I have the energy to do that, I want to keep doing it. It's not that I try to take on more than I need to, but that those things I know I do well, and that I love, aren't really that much hard work. There's time, there's intellectual energy and a lot of commitment involved - but strangely this work also gives me energy as well. I can spend hours preparing a worship service and feel less tired.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Giving Thanks for the Gifts I have.

It's been a strangely long day. I woke up about 6am, checked my emails and went back to bed. I woke up again at 10.30am.

My son and I went grocery shopping and I've started to make a cake for Mr Wonderful's daughter - she's having her 10th birthday party tomorrow. If I bake the cake, I can make it gluten and lactose free so I can eat some of it. Apart from that I just love baking, and I especially love to get creative in decorating cakes.

Because she loves ponies, I'm making it to look like a show jumping arena, making jumps out of lollies, and with a little plastic horse and rider in the middle.

Believe it or not, jumps made of toothpicks and red licorice were
later fitted in between the horse and the candles! 

I enjoy doing the creative stuff that requires lots of thinking and planning, but little physical effort. That's why I bake and why I blog. (You may have noticed the joke blog is now being edited by my cat. That's a little more fun and creative than doing it "myself".) It's probably partly what I love about ministry - leading worship takes lots of creativity, lots of careful planning, but not a lot of physical effort.

While I did enjoy my sport (taekwondo) when I did it, my real gifts have always been in writing and arts and crafts. I'm grateful for this now. I've had to give up my sport. What I still have is what I've always been good at and loved. I may be doing a bit less (and that does frustrate me, especially with regard to the work I wish I could do) but I haven't had to give up the things most important in my life. Lupus could have been so much worse.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Pottering Around

One of the things I have learned about life is that if I'm willing to be creative, I can have many of the things I'd really love to have, within the limits of my financial and health situations.

I've always loved the idea of a kitchen garden - somewhere there's always fresh fruit and vegetables, lovely fresh herbs, ready to be picked just in time to be used for cooking a meal.

In theory, the yard in this house has enough space to grow heaps of fresh veges.  In practice, the limiting factor is my energy in gardening.

One way I've found to have at least a limited version of what I would love to have, is to grow the plants in pots.  I've got herbs and strawberries, cherry tomatoes and a chilli plant, and dwarf citrus all in pots around my front patio.

Instead of digging a garden bed, I fill a small pot.

One of my friends has an amazing skill at finding anything I need either cheaply or for nothing. One of her chief sources is going around before the big City Council clean-ups to pick up useful things from the footpath and recycle them.

She has set me up a potting bench in the back courtyard - all of my tools, everything I need to pot up new seedlings is at the right height that I don't have to bend or stretch for my pottering around. She's also found me  some very pretty shelves so I can fit all my potted plants together on the patio, conveniently and easily able to access to water and to harvest.

My gardening is done with very small bursts of energy, and confined in a very small space. And I may not be able to pick all of my fruit and veges fresh. But I do have the pleasure of lovely fresh herbs, and the occasional fresh piece of fruit. And I have a lovely spot on the patio for my morning tea.

Now, if I owned the house, there'd be a couple of chooks running around the yard, eating vegetable scraps and laying yummy fresh eggs!

Thursday, 1 September 2011

I could sleep all day - oh wait, I already did.

I don't know if you've ever felt that every last bit of your energy was gone.

That's what I feel like today.  Yesterday I slept pretty much all day.

Today I had a morning meeting, which was over by about 11am. I came home, put on a DVD, lay down on the couch and went to sleep.  My son woke me up a while ago, he'd come home from school early because he's not well either. That's why I'm awake and blogging. I'm going to go back to sleep for the rest of the afternoon.  I have another meeting tonight - but that's later - and I suspect I'm going to sleep again as soon as that's over.

So am I getting sick again after all? I don't know. I certainly don't feel as bad as I did at the weekend. The joint pains are back to normal levels, maybe slightly more than normal. My headache's well and truly gone, as are the rashes. But I do have some strange abdominal pains and this overwhelming fatigue.

Right now, there's dishes to do, there's a meeting to prepare for, there's a service to prepare for church for Sunday. Apart from the meeting, I think everything's waiting until tomorrow.