Living With Autoimmune Disease and Food Allergies

Since the Month of May is Celiac Awareness Month, and the week of May 8 2016 through May 14 2016 is Food Allergy Awareness week, I decided to share, both personally and professionally, about what living with an autoimmune disease and food allergies are like.

While your results may vary, there are aspects of living with a chronic condition (involving the attacking of the body’s tissues from your immune system), and living with severe food allergies, that overlap.

Much of the overlap falls in the realm of psychological and social health, not just physical health. It is here that we become one community, even if our symptoms aren’t exactly the same. Frankly, having an autoimmune disease sucks. So does having one or more food allergies.

And in suffering through the suck, I’ve discovered there is this whole other life out there — and in here (*pointing to brain*). If you know someone who has autoimmune disease and/or serious food allergies, please feel free to share this post with them.

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    Benefits of Recovery

    Welcome to Daylight Savings 2016, and the loss of another hour of sleep!

    Woman (and author of post) laying in bed sleeping under white covers, with two Siamese cats seeping on a pillow and on her foot.
    Zzzz! Learn about the benefits of rest, recovery, and naps! Photo courtesy of Imei Hsu. Use only with permission.

    A few seasons ago, an experienced athlete shared with me a piece of sage wisdom:

    “You can only race as well as you can recover.”

    It’s the occasional freak of nature — and perhaps our belief that we may be that one percent or less of the overall population — that drives us to behave in ways that are contradictory to the well-understood and time-tested fact that athletes perform better when they get consistent rest and recovery times along with their training, nutrition, body work, and other medical care.

    Many people were stunned when marathoner Ryan Hall announced his retirement at age 33. Hall, cited as one of the greatest American marathoners in history, had been struggling with fatigue and low testosterone. The rigors of training for one marathon and half marathon after another had taken its toll on his body and particularly his hormone balance.

    As a therapist, I see very few clients who perform at these high rigor levels of demand in their work lives and private lives. What I do see are people who have extremely busy and productive schedules at work, at home, and even at play. To find time to “have it all and do it all”, many of them cite sleep as the activity they give up most often.

    To get all the items checked off the list, the kids shuttled to soccer practice and ballet dance lessons, projects at work finished and home renovations projects completed, to care for an aging parent, and make sure the pet gets its surgery and regular teeth cleaning — well, sleep gets whittled down to the bare minimum to get by.

    But at what cost?

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      On Adulting

      picture of a house with a garden in front
      Find yourself wondering how good you are at “adulting”? How do you gauge your own progress in the world of grownups? Some practical thoughts On Adulting.

      The other day, I made a comment to a friend that my cat, Loomi, sometimes doesn’t “cat” very well. It was a reference to her dog-like behavior involving being greeted at the door by her, her affectionate mannerisms and occasional eagerness to please, and her anticipatory head drop as she looks down at the ground when she sees one of humans pick up the laser pen. She’s got “dog” down pat, and only when I hear her tearing around the house in a manic romp do I remember that she’s “catting” as well.

      I expect strange behavior from cats. They are, after all, space aliens who have decided to inhabit cute, furry bodies in order to study human nature. [j/k]. When it comes to people, however, I find it equally interesting that some of them tell me they aren’t very good at “adulting”. What is that all about?

      Ever since the gerund “adulting” entered mainstream conversation, I’ve been more surprised not by its appearance, but by who has taken it most to heart. If you assume it has been taken more seriously by Millennials, think again! The age group that has the most to gain by learning the skills of adulting –and the most to lose for having not learned those skills — are currently in their late 30’s through early 50’s.

      If you’re in that age group, fear not. What I’d like to share On Adulting is helpful for all age groups, yet this brief post is particularly important for you. Read on.

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