Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Excerpts from My Book on Living with Chronic Illness

I am home briefly in between trips - three trips in 10 days' time! It's a busy month with a lot of family stuff, so I thought I would share some videos here today.

Since I started my YouTube channel in February 2021, I have made quite a few videos based on chapters from my book, Finding a New Normal: Living Your Best Life with Chronic Illness (available everywhere, in print and e-book, and more info on the book at that link). This book is meant for anyone living with any kind of chronic medical condition, with a focus on emotional coping, daily living, healthy relationships, and figuring out what your best life is, within your own restrictions and limitations.

I recently made a couple of brief videos (YouTube Shorts, under 1 minute each), with a quote from the beginning of two chapters:

Who Do You Tell and What Do You Say? - all about deciding what to reveal and to whom about your medical condition.

The Hidden World of Invisible Suffering - how chronic illness showed me a hidden world with lots of people facing challenges others don't see.

And these are longer (12-25 min) videos, based on full chapters from my book:

Get Out! Nature Improves Health - based on the chapter, The Restorative Power of Nature, includes some photos and videos of nature, plus tips on how to enjoy and get the benefits of nature, no matter what your limitations.

A Plan B Day - a useful concept with specific steps to help you prioritize, reduce stress, and listen to your body.

You're Right Where You Need to Be - how techniques like acceptance, giving in, and living in the present can help you to live your best life with chronic illness.

Finding Joy in Every Day - simple habits that can help you to identify the small joys in your everyday life and create more of those moments, to improve your quality of life and happiness.

What Are You Looking Forward To?one simple tip I learned from a wonderful psychologist that can help when you are feeling stuck in a rut.

Celebrate Everything, Big and Small - when you celebrate the small stuff - with minimal effort! - you add joy to your life and give yourself and your family something to look forward to. It's fun! 

So, I hope that will provide some useful information to you while I'm away.

What tips and strategies help YOU live with chronic illness?

Let me know in the comments below.

You can also connect with me on Facebook and Twitter.


Tuesday, September 19, 2023

TV Tuesday: Daisy Jones and the Six

Last December, I read Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (my first novel by the popular author), and it surprised me in a good way. So, when the TV adaptation was released this spring, my husband (who had not read the novel) and I watched it together. We both enjoyed the show very much, and it was fun for me to see the characters and music come to life on the screen.

It's the story of a 70's rock band, from it's humble beginnings in Pittsburgh to its skyrocket to fame in California to its sudden, unexplained demise. But it's also the story of its two lead singers who were both passionate, charismatic, damaged people: Billy Dunne and Daisy Jones. As with the novel, the story is told in hindsight, as an oral history of the famed (fictional) band, based on interviews with its members and other people who were involved. So, from the very beginning, you see the band members as they are today, talking about their propulsive rise to rock icons. The whole thing began with Billy Dunne, played by Sam Caflin, and his brother, Graham (played by Will Harrison) pulling together a band in their hometown of Pittsburgh with their friends. Their band was called the Dunne Brothers, and after playing some local and regional venues and slowly growing over the course of six years, they were noticed and invited to record their first album. The band's members had changed a bit over the years, finally comprising Billy as lead singer, Graham on lead guitar, Warren (played by Sebastian Chacon) as the easy-going drummer, Eddie (played by Josh Whitehouse) as the ever-resentful bassist who wanted to be lead guitar, and keyboardist Karen (played by Suki Waterhouse). After moving to L.A. and being renamed The Six, they recorded an album and went out on tour, living the wild rockstar life. Billy, in particular, got out of hand, with excessive drinking, drugs, and women, in spite of his beloved (and pregnant) wife, Camila (played by Camila Morrone), back home. Meanwhile, a young girl who had named herself Daisy Jones (played by Riley Keogh) grew up in that world of rock and roll, first as a groupie, but with dreams of being a star herself. Eventually, their mutual manager, Teddy Price, played by Tom Wright, brought Daisy's raw songwriting and singing talents to The Six, and there was instant chemistry between Billy and Daisy. Billy, though, was reformed by then and fully committed to Camila and their daughter. That passion and tension are at the heart of this band, as Daisy's inclusion takes them from moderately successful to global superstars.

It was really fun to see this novel as a TV series because while I was reading it, I kept wishing I could hear the music, which is at the heart of the story. The casting here is excellent for all of the characters, but Sam Caflin and Riley Keogh as Billy and Daisy really make their larger-than-life roles feel real (Riley is the granddaughter of Elvis Presley, so charisma and musical talent run in her family). The show is filled with catchy, original music; the band's full album, Aurora, is brought to life in recording sessions and scenes on stage. The story encompasses both the personal lives of the band members as well as the band's meteoric rise to fame, with spotlights on Billy and Daisy. My husband and I were both fully immersed in this fictional rock band's story and enjoyed going along for the ride.

Daisy Jones and the Six is available on Amazon Prime.

Monday, September 11, 2023

Movie Monday: Air

Last weekend, we decided to watch a movie, and I suggested Air. My husband said, "I really don't have any interest in a movie about sneakers." I told him I didn't either, but I'd heard it was a good movie. So, we popped some popcorn and watched it! We both enjoyed this entertaining movie with an all-star cast very much.

Air is based on the true story of how the concept behind Air Jordans revolutionized the athletic shoe industry and changed Nike from being last among its competitors in basketball shoes to the undisputed leader (not to mention earning many millions of dollars). In 1984, Rob Strasser, played by Jason Bateman, is working in marketing in the lagging basketball division of Nike. Sonny Vaccaro, played by Matt Damon, works in a unique position in the group, as a talent scout, going to high school and college games around the country, looking for upcoming new talent to convince them to wear Nikes on the court. Nike is losing this race, though, with most pro basketball players wearing Converse or Adidas shoes. Then Sonny spots a young Michael Jordan and sees something special in him, something that no one else has noticed yet. The basketball team at Nike usually chooses three or four players to sponsor, but Sonny goes to Nike CEO, Phil Knight, played by Ben Affleck, and convinces him to spend their entire budget on this one young, inexperienced player. When Jordan's agent won't work with him, Sonny goes right to the center of power: Michael's mom, played by Viola Davis. Sonny shows up at their house and talks with Michael and his parents, just asking them to hear him out. They agree to come into Nike to hear their pitch (over the complaints of a very angry agent!). Now Nike needs something spectacular to lure the Jordans to Nike. Sonny comes up with the wholly new idea of designing a shoe around Michael Jordan and works with shoe designer Peter Moore, played by Mathew Mayer, to make it happen. The rest is sports and pop culture history!

In case I wasn't clear up front, I have absolutely no interest in televised sports, basketball, sports icons, or athletic shoes. But I loved this movie. That top-notch cast is paired with great writers (and the incredible true story) to create an engrossing, gripping drama. In spite of not really caring about the subject matter, my husband and I were both rooting for the team at Nike and got caught up in the excitement of their ground-breaking approach. Sonny, with his enthusiasm and vision, is an especially likable character. And the nostalgia here is wonderful! The 80's clothes, cars, TV ads, and setting are backed up by an awesome 1984 soundtrack. We were thoroughly entertained by this compelling movie.

Air is now streaming, available on Amazon Prime.

Thursday, September 07, 2023

NEWLY UPDATED: Treating Yeast Overgrowth (Candida)

Yeast overgrowth (sometimes called candida) is a very common problem in people with ME/CFS, Lyme disease, and long-COVID, though many patients are unaware of it or the severe effects it has on their symptoms. The specific type of immune dysfunction in ME/CFS and long-COVID allows yeast or candida (a normal, natural fungus that occurs in the body) to over-populate and cause symptoms that can greatly worsen these conditions. In addition, bacterial infections are common in ME/CFS and long-COVID and often require antibiotics--as does Lyme disease--that can kill off the body's natural probiotics, allowing yeast/candida to grow out of control. Patients may be unaware that they have yeast overgrowth, but it can cause severe fatigue, brain fog and other cognitive dysfunction, flu-like aches, sore mouth/throat, and other symptoms.

In spite of many years of treating yeast overgrowth effectively, mine recently flared up badly this summer (probably due to sugar and refined grains sneaking back into my diet!). In spending the past few months working with a variety of doctors to get my yeast overgrowth back under control, I realized that I could update my blog post on Treating Yeast Overgrowth (Candida) with some new information and new treatments, based on what helped me and what I learned from doctors and research. So, check out that newly updated post, which explains how to tell if you have yeast overgrowth, with a long list of possible treatments to get it under control.

I also updated a couple of blog posts that linked from that one, with yummy recipes for candida-friendly treats:

In addition, last year I updated my post on Eating Paleo for Immune Disorders: Our Approach, which is also essential for controlling yeast overgrowth, with information on all the reasons why this type of diet is so effective for us, how to eat Paleo, and loads of recipes and ideas for easy, healthy meals and snacks.

So, all together, those updated blog posts should help with managing yeast overgrowth, which will help to improve all symptoms. I always forget just how important it is to keep yeast overgrowth under control and how much better I feel when it is controlled. This summer reminded me of that important lesson once again, so I wanted to share that information with you.

Do you struggle with chronic yeast overgrowth/candida?

What treatments for yeast overgrowth have most helped you?

Let me know in the comments below.

You can also connect with me on Facebook and Twitter.

Friday, September 01, 2023

Chronic Illness Tracking: Symptoms, Treatments, Exertion & How I Feel

For over 21 years now, I have used a simple system to track important aspects of my chronic illnesses at the end of each day: how I felt, my exertion and stress levels, any unusual symptoms, and stopping/starting/changing treatments. I just take five minutes to jot down a few numbers and a few notes on a calendar before bed. Over the years, this data has helped me to get diagnosed, find patterns in my symptoms (including how much exertion or stress leads to a crash/PEM), and figure out whether or not treatments are helping.

In this brief new video, I explain how and why I do this, so that you can set up your own tracking system that works for you. You can watch it on YouTube or below:


My system is still mostly paper-based (other than heart rate tracking and step counting), so if you use apps or other electronic means of tracking, I'd love to hear about it.

How do YOU track symptoms and other aspects of your chronic illness?

Let me know in the comments below.

You can also connect with me on Facebook and Twitter.