Thursday, 31 December 2020

More on the Anti Inflammatory Diet

 About a fortnight ago, I told you about Dr Donald Thomas' Anti-inflammatory Diet.

I've been following it since then, and so far, I've been finding it quite easy.

I have not yet shown any signs of losing any weight. (I still weigh in at 101kg.) I don't know about how seriously we need to take that warning that the diet should only be followed by people who can afford to lose weight.

The major challenge I think many people will have is only eating during an eight hour period of the day - fasting for 16 hours.  I'm delaying breakfast until 10am, and making sure I eat a light dinner shortly before 6pm.  I'm making lunch, any time between midday and 2pm, my main meal of the day.

I was already gluten free (to relieve irritable bowel symptoms), so that didn't phase me at all.  The recommended cheeses, yoghurt, etc, I've found in lactose free variations so I can eat them without causing reflux. I do still get some sniffle and blocked nose issues eating lactose-free dairy products, but that's nothing an antihistamine can't fix.

I didn't give up nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, etc), because they don't seem to cause me any issues, and Dr Thomas' diet post only said to avoid them if you flare after eating them.

Giving up red meat hasn't really bothered me much. I did eat some at Christmas - and gave myself permission to eat pretty much whatever I wanted out of what was on offer at Christmas.  (It was a lot - my daughter and her partner cooked, and they made sure to make gluten free and lactose free variations of most things for me.) Otherwise, I pretty much just went back to the foods I was eating when I was vegetarian.  Strangely enough, I had gone back to eating meat when my GP told me to stop eating gluten, because I was afraid of running out of things I could eat - but now I'm used to being gluten free - going back to a mostly plant-based diet isn't really that bad.

Keeping chicken/turkey to two meals a week isn't that difficult, and I haven't eaten either at all in the past week, in the previous week I had a couple of meals out and opted for chicken then.

In case you're trying this, and having trouble knowing what to eat, here's a couple of suggestions.

Meatless bolognaise (no set measurements, go with your taste - I just chuck stuff in):

  • A handful of dried red lentils washed (put them in a strainer and run the tap over them),
  • A little bit of olive oil (a teaspoon or two is enough)
  • Onion
  • Your choice of any (or all) of the following vegetables; finely diced: capsicum, carrot, celery, mushroom, tomato, garlic, broccoli, cauliflower, olives
  • Red wine (optional)
  • Passata (tomato puree), or you could use a can of crushed tomatoes
  • Your choice of any (or all) of these herbs; chives, oregano, parsley, basil, chilli
  1. Cook onion (and fresh garlic if using), with olive oil over a low heat until onion is translucent.
  2. Add all the other ingredients, bring to the boil, then simmer slowly until lentils and vegetables are tender and sauce is thick.
  3. Serve with your favourite gluten free pasta, and a topping with grated parmesian.
  4. If making lasagne - layer the bolognaise between lasagne sheets, then top with cottage cheese, sprinkle with black pepper and a little nutmeg, and then a layer of grated cheese.  Bake in a medium oven for half a hour.

Ways to serve a cold potato

The whole cooked, then chilled, potato not sounding great? Try one of these:

  • Make potato salad. Mix your diced cold potatoes with mayonnaise, chopped hard boiled egg, perhaps some cold peas, parsley, spring onion, whatever takes your fancy.
  • Cook potato in the jacket, cut in half and chill. Serve potato halves topped with a mix of cottage cheese and tuna, or cottage cheese and finely cut gherkin.
  • Minted potatoes.  Add a sprig of mint to the water when you boil diced potatoes.  Once cooked, drain the potatoes, and pour over them a dressing of: half a cup of boiling water, half a cup of white spirit vinegar, a teaspoon of sugar and a teaspoon of dried mint.  Chill, and serve with a salad.

Want a really quick meal?
  • Drain, then wash a can of four-bean mix. (Empty the can into a strainer, then run under a tap until the water stops foaming.) This is your protein.  Finely chop a carrot, a stick of celery, a gherkin. Dress with a teaspoon each of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Serves 1-2, depending how hungry you are.
  • Toast a couple of slices of mixed grain gluten free bread. (Mixed grain GF breads will almost always have linseed in them, you don't need to go looking specifically for ones that say they have linseed.) Spread with avocado, and top with tomato and cheese (any type of cheese from the diet will do).

OK.  I'll give you some other recipes over the next few weeks.

So far, this diet hasn't changed my pain and fatigue, but I'm going to stick with it, to give it a proper go, and I admit I haven't added in exercise yet.  I'm trying to decide if I'm brave enough to go back to a pubic pool for hydrotherapy - COVID is very much under control here in Queensland, so the risk is minimal, but even minimal risks bother me to some extent.

Tuesday, 15 December 2020

Anti-inflammatory Diet

 For years, I've been hearing about various anti-inflammatory diets, and even seen a list of foods graded on an inflammatory scale.  I haven't shared any of them with you because, I haven't been able to find any research backing any of it.

Well, here's the holy grail.  It's an anti-inflammatory diet that's based on the latest research.

Dr Donald Thomas, the rheumatologist who brought us the Lupus Encyclopedia (review here), has shared the diet he shares with his own patients, which is based on research. He cites his sources, so you can check them out for yourself.

You can find it on his blog, here:

He does warn it's only for people who can afford to lose weight.  So it's no help for anyone who is underweight.  (Although I am always struggling with being overweight, I know lupies come in all shapes and sizes.)

I looked at it and thought, I will start on it in the new year.  Then I looked again, realised how easy it would be to make those adjustments to my diet, and decided to do it now.  It's really not greatly different from my current diet, except that I eat far more meat.  I've been vegetarian before, so I can handle the reduction in meat. 

There are some foods in my kitchen that are incompatible with this diet, and I will use them over time.  I will allow myself the occasional deviation so I'm not wasting food I already have in my freezer, or so that I can enjoy whatever is available when I'm out.

So lovely lupies, even though I'm only two days in to trying it for myself, I recommend you have a look. As always, if you're unsure, your best advisers are your own GP and your rheumatologist, immunologist or other specialist.

I also recommend keeping an eye on Dr Thomas' blog,

Saturday, 5 December 2020

Autoimmune Research and Resource Centre Fundraiser Raffle

 Here's your chance to help the Autoimmune Research and Resource Centre, and possibly help yourself to something amazing.

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Friday, 4 December 2020

Tips for Pills

Break the foil with a fingernail
 I've always been one of those people who has problems with blister packs of pills.

Theoretically, I should be able to push on the bubble side of the blister pack, and have the pill just pop out of the foil side.  That's what manufacturers would have me believe is possible.

What actually happens is that I push and push, and nothing happens.  I keep trying, and throw my whole body into the effort and almost find myself rolling on the floor wrestling with the packaging.  When I finally do get the pill out, I am more than likely to cut myself on the foil.  Of course, if it's a capsule, by this time, it's flattened, and I'm amazed it hasn't exploded and let all the powder out.

Just recently something miraculous has happened.

I've recently started to grow fingernails.  Well, I've always grown fingernails, but they've been thin, weak and constantly split and broken off.  Since the doctor has been checking vitamin and mineral levels on my regular blood tests, and getting me to take supplements on the things I was low on, I've grown thick, strong fingernails of the type I've only ever dreamed of.  They're so strong, that instead of breaking off, I've actually had to cut them!

Did you know the round edge of a fingernail is just the right shape to fit around the edge of a pill in a blister pack? Now I puncture the edge of the foil beside the pill, and suddenly it really is easy to just pop the pill out of the pack!

Cut the plastic band.
I've also had endless hours of fun trying to access pills in bottles. I'm sure someone in a pharmaceutical somewhere earns a huge bonus every time they think of a new way to make medications inaccessible to people who need them.

You know those plastic bottles that have the band just under the lid that make them impossible to open the first time? I eventually found the solution to that as well. The trick is to carefully run a knife between the lid and the plastic band. There's a weak spot that's supposed to break when you twist the lid, but it never does.  That's what you need to cut. That breaks the seal and makes it so much easier to get the bottle open.

By the way, it's also important to cut through that plastic band before putting the empty bottle in the recycling bin.  That way, if the band somehow goes astray from the recycling system and ends up in the environment, it can't strangle animals.

Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Good News, Bad News

I had the appointment with the gerontologist who looks after my cognitive issues. (See previous post.)  Because the government is allowing telehealth appointments under Medicare  now, I was able to see her over FaceTime and not have to go into Brisbane.

Here's the good news:  I don't have dementia, just still the mild cognitive dysfunction of lupus.  That huge thing I freaked out about forgetting, she said, was just my brain responding to extreme trauma. Apparently my brain just decided to deal with it by not dealing with it. She's sending me to a psychologist to deal with that.

The bad news: my cognition is such that she wants to limit my driving to just my local area and just during daylight hours.  Which means, while it's not dementia, it's still nothing fantastic, and my world is getting smaller.

The other news: she's changing a number of my medications to ones that are more memory-friendly, including one that's not on the PBS (ie not government-subsidised), so I'll have to pay full price.  It's going to take a few weeks to wean off one medication and go on to the replacement, which is always an adventure.

She also says it's about time for me to do a new sleep study. I don't know if things like sleep studies are still going on right now, but some time in the future, that needs to happen.

Note for overseas readers: Medicare is the Australian Government's universal healthcare system.  The PBS (Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme) is the Australian Government's medication-subsidy scheme.

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Time for a Temper Tantrum

I've had issues with cognitive dysfunction for years.  I've had brain scans and other tests, and the only thing of any real note was some vascular changes, which were put down to "normal lupus."

For a couple of years, my GP had me going for regular check-ups with a gerontologist/neurologist, who would monitor my cognitive function.  It was only ever a little bit off, and wasn't getting any worse, so when I forgot to make the next appointment, my GP and I both just shrugged it off and said it probably wasn't worth going back anyway.

A couple of weeks ago, I needed to see my GP for new prescriptions, and found that my GP had left the practice, and I had to see a new doctor. It was the typical lupie first appointment with a new GP, she looked at my record on the computer and said I was down for a lot of medications, some of those must be old things I wasn't taking anymore. I gave her my list of medications (and what they're all for), and yes, I'm still on all those meds.

Fast forward to this week.

Someone mentioned an incident to me, that was the kind of thing no sane person could possibly forget.  It was something huge. I had absolutely no recollection of it whatsoever.

I freaked out.  If I have forgotten that, what else could I have forgotten? How much of my memory have I actually lost?

I set up a phone appointment with the new GP, for this Friday. (It's the earliest appointment I could get.)  I was planning to ask for a referral to a neurologist.

Then yesterday, I started shaking uncontrollably.  It started about midday, and continued until I went to bed.  Weird, I thought, but it was a very cold day, and even though I had a jacket on, the air-conditioner set to heat and a blanket wrapped around me, it sort of still made sense.

Today is not so cold.  Today around midday, I've started shivering uncontrollably.  If I hold my teeth shut tight together so they don't chatter, my whole head shakes wildly.  The only time anything like this has happened to me in the past, I had a raging fever.  I don't have a fever now.

I still have an appointment for the doctor on Friday.  I should just add this weird new symptom to my list of things to talk about with her.

But, and it's a big but:  I'm not just looking at this weird new symptom as some kind of curiosity.  Combined with the big, big issue of what I've forgotten, I'm actually scared.

What I really, really want to do, is lay on the floor and kick and scream and yell, that I don't want the new doctor! I want my doctor! The one I've been seeing for years.

Unfortunately, that kind of behaviour is frowned upon in people over the age of two.

So I'm going to do what I have to do.  Deal with it.  I'm going to talk as calmly as I can with the new doctor and hope she knows what to do about all of this. If all else fails, I'll try to get an extra appointment with my rheumatologist. In the meantime, I'm going to try to keep busy and avoid thinking about what I don't know or don't remember.

Thursday, 9 July 2020

Best Blogs and Other Bits

Hello lovely lupies,
Healthline's Best Lupus Blogs 2020.

Did you miss me?

I had intended to stay with you through the entire pandemic, but things happened.  First was the incident mentioned in my previous post, and then some family stuff including my mother being hospitalised repeatedly.  The stress from all of it combined led to a flare, so I've spent a couple of months in the flare, moving between lying on the couch, and sitting on the couch.

In the meantime, the first wave of Covid has come and gone, and a second wave is starting down in Victoria.  Even Queensland's state borders have reopened, to an extent. People from interstate can come here, under some conditions, with a border pass they have to apply for in advance.  At the moment people from Victoria can't come here at all.  We don't want any of those diseased southerners here thank you.  (Sorry to readers from Victoria.  You know I love you, I just prefer to love you from a safe distance right now.)
I've made face masks.

Preparing for the second wave, just in case it does get here, I've made some new face masks, for myself and for some other vulnerable family members.

Really, however, things here seem to be getting "back to normal".  (If someone knows what normal actually is, please let me know.) I have been out to physical shops, not just buying  things online. The church building is going to reopen, and I am going to miss going to church in my lounge room with coffee and wearing my pyjamas. My granddaughter is on school holidays, having had a term back at her physical school.

Aside from Covid-related matters, the news is that Sometimes, it is Lupus has made Healthline's Best Lupus Blogs for the year again. It's always lovely to realise that not only has someone read what I've written, but apparently liked it.

Hopefully, I will be with you now for whatever else 2020 is going to throw at us.

Sunday, 26 April 2020

My Biggest Mistake

I made my biggest mistake in my 11 years of blogging today.

I shared, on the Sometimes it is Lupus Facebook Pate,  an article about misinformation (that people with lupus don't catch COVID-19) a prominent person in a foreign country said.

My main purpose was to warn lupies that if they'd heard this it was inaccurate.  We have weird immune systems,  that doesn't protect us from other diseases, in fact, anecdotally, many of us catch anything that is going around.

I admit I was also having a bit of a laugh at the person who had announced the misinformation.  In my defence, I'm Australian.  We make a national sport of laughing at all politicians, of whatever party, whether we support them or not.

What I was not prepared for was the response.

Instead of a discussion of how to protect ourselves from this horrible pandemic, it immediately became a massive political argument.

I had no idea of just how strongly people from this particular foreign country feel about their politicians.

I promise I will not be making that mistake again.

So, as always, get your medical advice from your doctor, not from celebrities, politicians or anyone else.

Saturday, 25 April 2020

Facebook Understands

Facebook gave me this helpful recommendation.
I really appreciate online support from others with lupus.  It feels less horrible when I am reminded others are facing the same issues I am.

So, as well as the Sometimes, it is Lupus Facebook page, I'm also part of a couple of lupus support Facebook groups. It helps me stay connected.

I have to say, I was very surprised when Facebook gave me recommendations for groups which it said had similar topics and activity to one of the groups I am part of.

Apparently groups based on department stores and hardware stores also discuss living with lupus, or at least Facebook thinks they do.

Or perhaps, Facebook and other platforms don't understand us at all.

That's OK.  As long as we are here for each other, it doesn't really matter if anyone else "gets it".

Hang in there lovely lupies.  These are strange times, but we'll get through them together (while physically apart.)

Friday, 24 April 2020

Life in the Social Distance

Next to the front door.
Sign available for download
 from Chronically Awesone.
I've been social distancing since about a week before the Australian Government told us to do so.  It's
not hard, if you don't normally go out much anyway.

The only regular outings I had were for groceries, church, writers group and the occasional catch up with family and friends.

I'm talking with family over phone and FaceTime, and with friends over Zoom.

Writers' group has been cancelled, and church is now on YouTube.

Even the pharmacy now has an app, which lets me order medication for delivery without having to leave the house.

I've been to my rheumatologist, because he still does things the old way.  I've been to the GP's surgery for my flu shot, but otherwise, GP appointments have been by telehealth (technical term for her phoning me at my appointment time.)

I order groceries and pretty much everything else I want online. I've found a lot of Australian businesses have gone online, including those wineries that used to only have cellar door sales, jerky and lolly manufacturers, and businesses that used to only supply bulk products to restaurants, etc but are now home delivering bulk groceries..

New weatherproof box for deliveries.
I've put out a sign on the front door, explaining my desire to avoid contact with people. (These signs are available for download from Chronically Awesome in the UK.

One thing I don't want is for the postie or other delivery people to decide there's no safe place to leave a parcel, and to take it back to a post office or depot for me to go and collect it.

To deal with that issue I've bought a large weatherproof box, and placed it beside the front door.  So whatever the weather, there's a suitable place to leave parcels.

The box is behind some trees, so while it's kind of visible,  it's still not really obvious from the street.

Some delivery companies still like to actually see me and confirm I'm the intended recipient, but now the delivery people are signing the paperwork on my behalf.

So, I'm learning to adapt.  It's not a big adaptation, after all.  I'm sure the changes are far more challenging for people who actually do spend a lot of time away from home normally.

How are the rest of you lovely lupies adapting to our new situation? Leave a comment on this post or on the Sometimes, It Is Lupus Facebook page.

Before I finish this post, I want to say a big thank  you, to the people who are making it possible for the rest of us to stay safely home.

Thank You
Doctors, Nurses,
Supermarket staff,
Staff at all other shops and businesses,
Delivery People,
Australia Post Staff
Garbage Collectors,
Cleaners (especially Hospital Cleaners),
Teachers and other Educators who have moved online in minimal time,
All of the Artists of all types who have made their work available online to keep us from going nuts while we socially distance,
Everyone who has helped out an elderly or chronically ill friend or neighbour,
Everyone who has chosen to stay home over doing something they would rather do,
The Clergy of all faiths who've adapted to online worship and finding other ways to support their communities,
Everyone who has had to change the way they work and live their day-to-day lives,
The Politicians who have looked past ideological issues to work together in this crisis.

The Biggest Thank You of All
To all members of the online chronic illness community, for helping each other to get through this crisis, in the best way we possibly can. You are amazing. 

Saturday, 4 April 2020

Hand Sanitiser

I made my own hand sanitiser.
In the annals of things never expected to do, today I made hand sanitiser.

You see, I've been looking for some for weeks, but everywhere is always sold out, or are charging something like $60 a bottle.

So I looked up a lot of recipes online, and came up with my own variation.  I only wanted a small amount, to carry with me when I'm away from soap and water.  I don't go away from home much, but do have to go to the pharmacy, specialist's appointment, etc.

So here's what I used:

3 tablespoons isopropyl alcohol
1 tablespoon aloe vera gel (purchased - I have fresh aloe vera growing, but suspect the gel might go off if not refrigerated.)
a drizzle of rosewater so it doesn't smell so alcoholic.

That's it, just all mixed together.  If I did it again, I would probably also add a drizzle of glycerine to help stop skin from drying out.

It's a liquid, rather than a gel, but to make it thick enough to be a gel, would reduce the quantity of alcohol.  It needs to be 60-80% alcohol to work.

I noticed that the World Health Organisation approved recipe also has peroxide, and I would probably add some of that if I had it, but I don't, and I'm not going to make a special trip out to get it.

The main ingredient is, of course, the alcohol.  Everything else is to make it more gentle on skin, and to make it smell slightly better.

Monday, 23 March 2020

How to access medicines during COVID-19

Coronavirus: how to access the medicines you and your family need

Nial Wheate, University of Sydney and Andrew Bartlett, University of Sydney
Panic buying of toilet paper, no meat or soap on supermarket shelves, and now an apparent run on medicines such as asthma puffers and children’s paracetamol.
The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting us in ways we’ve never had to deal with before. So Australia has announced measures to help people access their medicines.
These include limiting the number of medications people can buy, dispensing only a month’s worth of supply at a time, and placing some behind the counter.
And, of course, pharmacies are essential services so they will remain open during the forthcoming shutdown period.

Read more: Can coronavirus spread through food? Can anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen make it worse? Coronavirus claims checked by experts

There are also ways people who are self-isolating or at risk can access their medicines, from using apps, to government-funded free home delivery.
Here are some of your options for the weeks and months ahead.

Purchase limits on essential medicines

There are now purchase limits on certain medicines.
Customers in pharmacies are now limited to one of the following per person (or one month’s supply, if relevant):
  • asthma puffers (Ventolin) and other medicines used for the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • paracetamol
  • Epipen, to manage severe allergic reactions
  • some heart medicines, such as glyceryl trinitrate
  • some diabetes medicines, including insulin
  • some anti-epileptic medicines.
Purchasing limits have also been placed on many other prescriptions.
Pharmacists have been directed to only dispense one month’s supply for more than 50 different medicines used to treat a range of conditions, including: cancer, Parkinson’s, chronic pain, blood pressure, and contraceptives.
Children’s paracetamol will now be kept behind the counter.

Read more: Ibuprofen and COVID-19 symptoms – here's what you need to know

What to do if you can’t get to your local pharmacy

If you have been directed to self-isolate or if it’s risky for you to shop at a pharmacy, there are still options.
If you are in isolation, are over the age of 70, of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent, or have a compromised immune systems or chronic health condition, you may be eligible for a free service to deliver medicines to your home.
This scheme only covers the costs of delivery for Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medicines. The scheme does not include everyday products like hand sanitiser or regular over-the-counter medicines.

Read more: Why are older people more at risk of coronavirus?

If you’re not eligible for the home medicines service, one way to get your prescription and non-prescription medicines delivered to your home is via an app like mymedkit.
This Australian-based company allows you to take a photo of your prescription and upload it into the app, where the script is then filled by your local pharmacy.
You can choose what day and time you want it delivered so you can be there when it arrives. And if you don’t need prescription medicines, they can also deliver other products like vitamins, skincare creams, first aid kits, baby wipes and nappies.

Read more: Instant prescriptions might be the way of our digital future, but we need to manage the risks first The Conversation

Nial Wheate, Associate Professor | Program Director, Undergraduate Pharmacy, University of Sydney and Andrew Bartlett, Associate Lecturer Pharmacy Practice, University of Sydney
This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Saturday, 21 March 2020

Face Masks

As things heat up with the pandemic, some lupies are using face masks when they have to go out in public.

I tried to find out if any health authorities are actually recommending that. The closest I could find is the World Health Organisation which says people with COVID-19 should wear them, and healthy people in contact with people with COVID-19 should wear them. I can't find any mention of people with chronic illness.

Therefore, that's a definite I don't know.

So as always, check with your doctor if you have the opportunity, and make whatever you feel is the best choice for your health.

I do know that using a mask incorrectly can increase the risk of infection.  If the virus is on the mask, that is rubbing against your face, that's a risk factor.  If you're using one, be careful to do it correctly.

Here's the WHO's advice on who should wear a mask.

And, importantly,  here is how to use one properly.

If you need to make your own,  and can sew, you'll find a pattern here:  The instructions to go with the pattern, if needed, are here:

Remember if you're using a reusable mask, it will need to be washed or, soaked in disinfectant prior to washing, as soon as it comes off. Be careful how you handle it until it's clean, and wash your hands.

Stay safe out there lovely lupies.  We're going to get through this.


Just saw this video from the Lupus Foundation of America, in which Duane Peters from the Foundation asks Rheumatologist Dr Blazer about safety going out, and she recommends masks and gloves.

Friday, 20 March 2020

Things to Do While Being Physically Distant

Well, lovely lupies,  we were already super-careful about infectious diseases, then COVID-19 came along and ramped the risks up.  If, like me, you're avoiding going out unless you absolutely have to, you might want something to keep you occupied at home. And if, like me, you have no money, you might want those things to be free (or dirt cheap.)

So here's some suggestions:

  • Visit the some of the world's best art galleries (virtually) at Google Arts and Culture
  • Catch some live London Theatre at What's on Stage.
  • Other live theatre is  available at Filmed on Stage.
  • Go to the ballet.  Here's 12 Ballet Performances you can Watch Right Now.
  • Watch some of Europe's best Opera performances at OperaVision.
  • Read a free ebook from Project Guttenberg. If there's not enough choices there, go to Nothing in the Rulebook, for a list of 45 places you can download free ebooks.
  • If you prefer to have someone read a book to you, listen to an audio book from LibriVox.
  • Learn something new with one of 1,500 free online courses at Open Culture.  This one also has free courses for kids K-12 (which could be helpful if the schools close), as well as movies and ebooks.
  • Learn to paint. Monte Mart has free online lessons.
  • Plant a vegetable garden.  (I'm doing this - it's going to take a while, because I manage about five minutes of physical labour before I'm exhausted and have to rest for the rest of the day.) You can buy seeds cheaply online, or here are 25 Foods you Can Regrow Yourself from Kitchen Scraps.
  • Want to join in the Adult Colouring craze?  Just Colour has 1,500 free colouring pages.
  • If you like my writing, buy my books from any online bookshop, or direct from the publisher.
  • Write your own book. Paint, sew, do some craft, catch up on all the odd jobs you've been putting off around the house or garden.
  • Tired of being inside? Grab your hat and sunblock and go for a walk. Just choose somewhere that's quiet, and keep your distance from other people you see on the path.
  • Go for a drive.  When my kids were younger, we'd go for drives in the bush, and every time we saw cattle, we'd yell "Cow!". The kids called it "cowing".  It may not suit everyone's taste, but we used to laugh ourselves silly. A variation is the "bear hunt" that's being shared on Facebook.  People put teddy bears in their windows, so families can drive around looking for bears.
  • Have a family picnic - again, just choose somewhere quiet, away from other people. As the social distancing gets more serious, I suggest your own back yard.
  • Keep in contact with your family and friends, use telephone, Face Time, social media, mail, email, or carrier pigeon.  Do whatever it takes to be socially close with your loved ones, while being physically distant from everyone.
  • Missing going to church?  The Uniting Church has a list of its congregations which are live streaming services.  If you're not UCA, your denomination may have something similar. Check their social media postings for information.
  • You can go to the zoo, with Mangolink Live Animal Cams and Videos, or Zoos Victoria.

Note: I will update this post from time to time, as I find or think of other things.

Monday, 16 March 2020

Social Distancing

Source: Queensland Health
Australia is being invaded, the enemy, COVID-19 is invading multiple other countries as well.  Different nations are handling the pandemic differently.

Australia has been acting to slow down the progress of the disease, isolating cases of people who have been proved to have the disease, and now isolating people arriving in Australia.

Sooner or later, the disease will start to transfer from person to person in the community, and the government is trying to get ahead of that, calling for gatherings of more than 500 people to be cancelled.  Other countries, where the disease has further progressed, such as the USA, there is a recommendation to cancel gatherings of more than 50.  In Austria, the limit is five people.

Everywhere, social distancing is being recommended.

We're also being told that a coronavirus is basically a form of influenza, and young, fit, healthy people really don't have much to be worried about.  But let's not forget, that in World War One, the Spanish Flu killed far more people than the fighting. For lots of people this is nothing much to worry about.  For others it can be deadly.

The people who are most at risk of COVID-19 being a serious, or fatal, illness are the elderly, and people with chronic health conditions.

That means, lupies and others like us, who have dodgy immune systems, need to be a little more careful than other people.

If everyone could be trusted to self-quarentine when they are exposed to the condition, we wouldn't really have to worry.  But as the whole thing with panic buying of toilet paper has shown, people can be quite stupid and selfish. Some will catch the disease, feel quite OK, and be happy to risk our lives by going out in public.

Source: Queensland Health
The main thing I plan to do to protect myself, is avoid people as much as possible.  I'm going into hiding. After months of staying indoors to avoid bushfire smoke (I have mild asthma, and my son/carer has worse) we're now avoiding going out to avoid coronavirus.  Now, however, we can at least go out to the back yard, and even walk the dog, so in some ways things have improved.

I'm going to go to ordering groceries online, to avoid supermarkets.  That means dealing with a delivery driver, who I can only hope will be healthy, and with bringing things into my home,  bearing in mind COVID-19 can stay on surfaces for up to two or three days. So I'm probably going to wipe all my deliveries down with disinfectant where possible.

I was pleased to note that supermarkets are starting to have special shopping times for people who are more vulnerable, although disappointed that in some states, they're ceasing home delivery.

If home delivery is cancelled here, I will take advantage of the special shopping hour, or go in times I know from experience are quieter.

There are some things I absolutely have to go out for.  I still have to go to the doctor, the pharmacy, and for blood tests.  The best I can do with that is to choose the times I know they are less busy.

I will avoid public transport.  I have to see my specialist next month.  I usually catch a train to Brisbane for that appointment, this time, I'll go by car.

To vote in the upcoming local council elections, I've applied for a postal vote.

There are only two regular gatherings of people I normally go out for: writers' group and church.  The writers' group has been cancelled. I've decided to stop going to church until the crisis passes or a vaccine is available.

For the most part, I've been living most of my social life on line for years, so things are really not changing much.

So lovely lupies, over the next few months, let's wash our hands obsessively, make sure our meds don't run low, hope and pray for the best, keep in contact on line, and get through this the best we can.

For a complete explanation of social distancing, go to: coronavirus-covid-19-information-on-social-distancing.pdf

For latest information from World Health Organisation on COVID-19, go to:


Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Been in a Clinical Trial? Researcher Wants to Hear from You

Hi lovely lupies, I received the following request for people who have participated in clinical trials to take part in some research.  If you are interested, please contact Jessica directly, via her email address.

Hi Iris, 

I hope this note finds you well! I came across your wonderful blog Sometimes, it is Lupus and wanted to reach out to you for assistance for a project.

My name is Jessica, and I work at The Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation (CISCRP), an independent non-profit organization based in Boston, Massachusetts. CISCRP is dedicated to educating the public about clinical research; as part of our mission, we regularly engage with patients through advisory board meetings, global surveys, and workshops to include the patient voice in research endeavors.

At this time, CISCRP is planning to conduct a series of 1-hour telephone interviews among individuals who have participated in clinical trials and we were wondering if you might be interested in this opportunity. During the interview, you would be asked to reflect on your past clinical trial experiences and to provide feedback on patient-facing materials being developed to help guide patient discussions around participation. As part of this project, we are looking to conduct telephone interviews for individuals diagnosed with Lupus that live in Australia that have participated in a clinical trial.

The goal of the interview is not to recruit patients for clinical trials, but rather to learn from patients about their experience and to provide feedback in order to benefit future patients and minimize the burden of clinical trial participation.  As a thank you for your time, CISCRP will provide honoraria to those who are eligible and participate in the telephone interview.

Through searching your blog, it is my understanding that you have not participated in a clinical trial, however, I was wondering if you might know of anyone who would eligible and interested in this opportunity. Any assistance you can provide would be greatly appreciated!

Warm regards and thank you in advance for your time and consideration!


Jessica Cronin
Research Associate, Research Services
Center for Information & Study on Clinical Research Participation (CISCRP)
Phone: 617-725-2750 x 404


One Liberty Square, Suite 1100
Boston, MA 02109

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Centrelink is Watching

There's a lot of things I hate about living with lupus.

One of those things is relying on a Disability Pension from Centrelink.

I don't like the feeling of being dependent. I also miss being able to pay taxes.  That probably sounds weird if you're one of those people who would do anything to avoid or minimise tax, but I really love education, healthcare, police, courts, all those amazing things taxes pay for.  As well as feeling dependent, I'm upset that I'm not paying my way.

I can't go back to work, because I never know when I'm going to be sick, and no employer wants an employee who needs a fortnight to recover from a day's work.

So, I thought I would try to do things in a small way, to work towards reducing my dependence.  I write my books, but those haven't yet made a profit.  I had a couple of attempts to monetise my blogs, but gave that up as pointless.

Half way through last year I started putting aside $50 a fortnight to buy shares.  A month or so ago, I bought my first $600 worth of shares. That's not high finance, but over time, I hope it will make a difference.

Doing the right thing, I added the shares to my list of assets with Centrelink.

A week later, I received a letter from Centrelink, demanding statements for my bank accounts, and asking, in these exact words: "Where did the money for all these shares come from?"

Yes, that princely sum of $600 is enough to make Centrelink suspicious I was doing something dodgy.  I had to detail every cent I owned, and explain my budget and how I managed to save that massive amount of $600.

I haven't heard from Centrelink again since then, and my pension wasn't stopped, so I guess they have accepted my explanation.

But here's the thing: if I'd spent $50 per fortnight on alcohol or gambling, Centrelink would neither have known or cared.  Instead, I spent it on trying to be financially responsible.  That doesn't fit the stereotype of someone on a Centrelink benefit, so it was suspicious.

The government's been experimenting with a cash-free welfare card, with the idea that people on welfare have to have everything they do controlled by someone who knows better.  Support for that comes from the stereotype that people on low incomes can't manage money.

In real life, people on low incomes have to know more about managing money than people on high incomes.  We learn because we have to make every dollar stretch to its maximum; it's the only way to survive.

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

I've done it all wrong, again

Their email:
In today’s digital world if you want to stay ahead of competition, you should always be prepared to overcome new updates by Google and be ready with new strategies to implement. 

I have a complete analysis report ready with me which shows your website needs immediate improvement. Some of the points are mentioned below: 

  • Due to poor and unauthorized link sites.
  • Relevant keyword phrases are not visible on first page listing.
  • Due to HTML validation errors and warnings present in website.
  • Your website is not search engine friendly.
  • Website content quality is not high standard.
  • Website is having on-page and on-site issues.
Our experienced Google Analytics professional understand all recent updates. We will prepare an advanced digital marketing campaign to generate maximum traffic and boost your search engine ranking.
For more details please reply. We have 24*7 supports, so you can contact any point of time with your website issues.
Thanks & Regards,

My reply:

Hello Linda,

If you’d read my site you would realise that I usually make fun of emails such as yours for the entertainment of my readers. 

Let’s look at your complaints, starting with content quality.  This site is about my life as a person living with a chronic life-endangering disease.  I’m sorry if you don’t find my life of sufficient quality for your standards.  You are not my target audience.  Other people who do live with lupus understand and relate to my struggles.  Some of them even find some comfort in finding they are not alone facing this horror that our lives have become.

Relevant keyword phrases are not visible of first page listing.  I don’t know what you think is relevant.  If you were looking for the keyword “lupus”,  you’d have found it.

Now on to HTML errors, on-page and onsite issues.  Well those aren’t me.  That’s the blogger platform.  You should address your suggestions to Google, since they do that bit.

The website isn’t search-engine friendly.  Yet somehow you, who clearly don’t even know what it’s about, found it.  Again, all the technical bits are run by Google, so tell them what they need to do to make their stuff search engine friendly.  I’m sure they’ll find you just as amusing as I do.

Then there’s the unauthorised links.  I own this blog and I write it.  Anything I put on it, I authorised.

And now, can I make a suggestion to you?  If you want to look professional, and pretend you are part of an organisation (as in “our experienced….”) perhaps you could have something other than a personal gmail address?

Kindest regards
Iris Carden