Cool. Cool cool cool.

Well, that lasted a day…

ohwellI decided it was not worth it to stay off Facebook because I couldn’t listen to my Spotify playlists or publish this blog to all my friends on there. Also, I missed everybody, and it is my primary way to socialize, thanks to MS.

It wasn’t a total loss, though. I did get some graphic design work done yesterday for a good friend and have realized that I want to include things on this blog that I do every day on FB. From now on, 3 Great Things is gonna be a staple here. I’m thinking that the Daily Cute belongs here as well. One last “daily” item that I will be adding is a music video, because I watch at least 1 decent music video a day.

Awesomeness for Thursday, July 31st.

3 Great Things About Yesterday

  1. Made it back to the gym and put in a half hour on the treadmill without seizing from overheating.
  2. After Adam sent back the Skin Balancing Kit I’d purchased from Paula’s Choice (which irritated the everlovin’ hell out of my skin and made it bright red, tight, and embarrassingly flaky), I was able to find good skincare at Walgreens for about half the cost. I will never order skincare from a mail order company ever again. If I can’t swap it out immediately and for free if it doesn’t work for me, I’m not interested. While Paula’s Choice says they refund all your money if you’re not satisfied, you still have to pay to ship it back and then wait up to 2 full months for your refund. 😛  I’m calling it a learning expense.
    For any interested parties, I’m now using CeraVe hydrating cleanser, Olay Regenerist micro-sculpting fragrance-free serum, CeraVe SA renewing lotion, and CeraVe PM moisturizer. The only things I’m missing are toner and sunscreen, and since I’m in the apartment 99% of the time, I’m really not that concerned about either.
  3. Really enjoyed dinner: baked salmon, asparagus, and rice w/ some moscato wine.

Daily Cute
Today’s Daily Cute comes by way of my friend Fox Circe… so it is, of course, foxy. 🙂

Today’s Earbug
Today’s Earbug is a catchy little ditty (written by a Big Machine’s Aaron Scherz) that, on its surface, empowers women by complaining in the lyrics about how the country music industry has made them into sex objects, but subversively maintains the status quo in the video.

Feminism aside, it’s been stuck in my head all damn day.

Staying cool…

I still have not settled on a cooling vest. There are too many options out there, and I have no idea which one is right for me. I have, at least, decided against an evaporative cooling vest.

I’ve had a tab open to this one for a full week now. I haven’t gotten it because it’s pricey and goes over your boobs. In my case, that means that it’s going to sit on top of my chest and not under my breasts and against my abdomen (which is where a lot of heat accumulates.) Because of that, I don’t think it’s probably my best bet.

This one looks like it’s adjustable for the female form, but I can’t reasonably go for it because for it to work, you also have to wear a $400 water reservoir and power supply.

The Kool Max Secrets Vest is the least expensive of all of them at $54 and looks to me like it might be the best design for me because I would not need to worry about my chest at all. It’s basically a 5″ long waist-cincher made of cold packs.

The only complication to making my decision is that there are 2 other waist-cincher model vests by the same company that are very similar — the Kool Max Slim Torso Vest that is longer by 1.75″ and contains 2 extra cooling packs for only $10 more, and the Cool58™ Secrets Vest which is the same size as the Kool Max Secrets Vest, but costs about $25 more because the cooling packs do not need to be frozen in order to be effective. Why am I not immediately sold on that one? Because the Cool58 packs do not remain effective as long as the Kool Max packs do. I’m torn.

Do you have a cooling vest? Do you like it? Any thoughts or suggestions are appreciated!

Making Some Changes

Breaking The Habit

dollyThis morning marks the beginning of an important change in my life. Last night, I gave Adam my computer and asked him to change my Facebook password and not tell me what it is, so that I can break my habit of waking up, checking FB, and several hours later realizing that I haven’t eaten anything, drunk any water, or done anything productive around the house at all.

I’m not going to say I’m addicted to social media, but I’m totally addicted to sitting on my ass and reading articles that my friends share, and that’s pretty much the same thing.

Thankfully, for whatever reason, none of the other social media outlets puts such a choke-hold on my attention. I can check Twitter for 10 minutes and then not care about it for days… and G+, well, I made the mistake of adding back almost everyone who ever added me to a circle, so it is just an annoying spamfest.

There’s only one hiccup, and that has to do with sharing my blog on FB. I don’t have the password in order to refresh the connection between WordPress and FB, so I’m only publishing to Twitter and WordPress at the moment. Kind of a bummer. Hopefully, when Adam gets home tonight, I can get him to put in the pw and have that fixed up for tomorrow.

I’m experiencing similar frustration with Spotify. Can’t log in with FB. At least I can still log in at all, I just don’t have access to any of my playlists. I guess this is just an important lesson.

Maintaining Good Habits

goodhabitsOne thing that I do every day on Facebook is chronicle 3 Great Things About Yesterday. This daily exercise has been instrumental in helping me maintain good mental health, so I don’t want to quit doing it just because I’m not on a particular website.

3 Great Things About Yesterday

  1. Watched the finale of this season of Masterchef Australia (my favorite reality cooking competition in the world), and the contestant Adam and I liked best actually won!
  2. Adam cooked steak w/ mushrooms and mashed potatoes for dinner, and it was ridiculously delicious.
  3. Was able to convince our building manager to finally find and fix the smoke alarm in a neighboring apartment that had been beeping every minute for the last month. It was driving me insane, and now it’s not! 🙂

What made your Tuesday terrific?

It’s Margarita Time!

attitudemargaritaYou remember how in my last entry, I wrote that I was dealing with quantum pregnancy (having to act like I’m pregnant when I may or may not be)? Well, just like the answer to Schrödinger’s question, the truth can always be found in the box. 😉 (Yup, I think I’m funny!)

Don’t worry, I’m not feeling mopey about not actually being pregnant yet. We haven’t even been trying hard. We’re just enjoying marriage without birth control and are letting the chips fall where they may. I have friends who have actively tried for years, so I’m not expecting to be insta-knocked-up. Things will happen when they happen.

I am, however, quite excited to have a few days of guilt-free booze and forbidden foods… and 5 Hr Energy (because I am so fatigued it’s crazy) and Aleve (because cramps suck). This is particularly good because it means that I can drink a 5 Hr Energy during the time we’re going to be recording a commercial for them in the hopes of winning big money.

Being More Realistic

In my last post, I wrote a couple of things that I’m now going to take back. I needed time to think, and writing in this blog always helps me process things.

First, and foremost, we’re definitely going to keep fostering kittens. I called my OB’s office, and they assured me that as long as Adam’s the one doing the poop-scooping, and I wash my hands after handling the kittens, I’ve got nothing to worry about. That makes me very happy! I enjoy raising kittens, and I know that there’s no good time table for us to know when we’ll finally be pregnant anyway. I really don’t like the idea of putting that part of my life on hold unnecessarily.

kawaiisushiAnd then there’s sushi. Delicious, delicious sushi. I totally forgot that there are several types of sushi that I love that are fully cooked (and therefore entirely acceptable to eat during pregnancy). BBQ Eel! Shrimp tempura! California roll! Spicy shrimp! Soft-shell crab! Veggie! Teriyaki chicken!

There are actually more types of sushi rolls that I enjoy that are cooked than ones that are not. So, I’ve decided to quit trying to convince myself that I need to abstain from sushi entirely, and instead enjoy what I already know is both good and safe.

I think the biggest thing that I realized after yesterday’s post is that I’ve been catastrophizing. As soon as I realized that my thinking was completely irrational, it was a lot easier to calm myself down and be more realistic. Keeping a level head makes life much easier and more pleasant.

On that note, I’m going to actually get off the computer and do some things around the house. You know, like I had planned. 🙂

The Quantum Mechanics Of Babymaking

Basic Quantum Mechanics

For those of you who aren’t brushed up on your quantum physics (or fans of the Big Bang Theory), please let me introduce you to the concept of Schrödinger’s cat in a nutshell.

Schrödinger’s experiment involved putting his cat in a sealed box with a flask of poison and a device that had the potential to break the flask of poison, killing the cat. After a certain amount of time you can’t know for sure whether the cat is alive or dead. Thus, quantum mechanics implies that, for the purposes of making any kind of predictions, the cat must be viewed as simultaneously alive and dead. (Basically, you have to consider both possibilities as equally valid.)

The same kind of thinking applies when you are in the process of trying to start a family. During a month when you’ve had sex with your partner in an effort to conceive a baby, but prior to the pee test showing a positive or you getting your period, you are both pregnant (P) and not pregnant (NP). This presents several paradoxes that can cause anxiety.

Do This, Don’t Do This

Currently, my head is spinning with the number of things that I should do if I’m not pregnant, but should not do if I am pregnant. As I am presently both P & NP, I often am at a loss for determining the correct course of action and am sort of shooting from the hip.

Losing Weight
I am currently overweight. My doctors all want me to lose weight. I want to lose weight. How do you achieve this? By limiting caloric intake and maintaining or increasing physical activity.

What are you not supposed to try to do if you’re pregnant? Lose weight or restrict calories.

What am I doing? Recording every bite I eat in a journal and damn near losing my mind wondering whether I’m eating properly. I’m focusing mainly on having good nutrition and not overeating. I aim for between 1400 and 1600 calories a day. I’m taking prenatal vitamins every day and making sure that I drink enough water.  I’m honestly hoping to continue to lose weight until I have a pregnancy test that comes back officially saying “positive.”

One of the best ways to increase your caloric burn while also keeping your body healthy is to lift weights. If you are not pregnant, there’s no question that weightlifting is good for you.

If you’re pregnant, the answer isn’t quite so clear. There are people who say that lifting weights while pregnant is a good thing. There are people who say it’s bad.

What am I doing? Following the advice of the camp that is in favor of weight lifting with resistance machines during pregnancy, while listening to my body and not pushing for gains, but rather endurance. I also am avoiding plank pose. (Though to be honest, that’s got way more to do with laziness than anything else.)

Protecting My Nervous System
I have MS. This means that I need to be taking a disease modifying drug (DMD) to slow the progression of the disease if I’m not pregnant.

The only DMD that is acceptable to be on while you are actively trying to conceive is Copaxone, and most neurologists have you quit taking it once you are pregnant. I no longer take Copaxone because my neurologist determined that it was doing absolutely nothing for me, so it’s not even an option.

What am I doing? I’m not taking any DMDs. This leads to a lot of anxiety for me. On the one hand, I want to conceive and carry a healthy baby — and I feel healthier and better because I’m not dealing with the side effects of medications that suppress my immune system. On the other hand, I’m having a marked increase in seizure activity, fatigue, and muscle spasticity.

Fostering Kittens
If you’re not pregnant, fostering kittens is rewarding and fun. It’s something I’ve done for many years that brings me a great deal of joy, not only from my interactions with the kittens but from the knowledge that, despite my disability, I’m making a positive difference in the world.

If you are pregnant, it can be dangerous to deal with kittens because of the danger of toxoplasmosis.

What am I doing? Sadly, even though Adam has said he’ll take care of scooping the litter box for the duration — we’re taking a break from kitten fostering. Better safe than sorry.

Eating Sushi or having Alcohol in Moderation
There are actually scientific studies that suggest that light drinking while pregnant can be a good thing. At the very least, drinking as little as I do and as infrequently as normal will not harm the kid.

If you’re Japanese, sushi is considered good neonatal nutrition.

If you’re American, you’re not supposed to have any sushi or alcohol. And it sucks.

What am I doing? So far, not drinking or having sushi. And it’s making me cranky.

The best things in life are not safe for pregnancy.

I just want to take a moment to recognize the things that I deeply appreciate that I am foregoing while in this quantum state… the things that if I’m actually not pregnant, I’m missing out on for no other reason than caution.

  • Medical cannabis to help with muscle spasms and neuropathic pain… I miss you, bud.
  • Aleve… because Tylenol doesn’t actually do shit.
  • 5 Hour Energy/Caffeine… Naps are just not as effective as you are.
  • Afrin… Nasal washes just aren’t the same, but at least they do something short-term.
  • Soft cheeses… feta, I miss you the most.

I hope this is all worth it.

The Cruelest Prison Is The Mind

For a long time, I mourned the fact that I could no longer drive. I used to love driving. Losing that ability was, for a long time, my reason for not going out and doing things. But now, I’ve gotten comfortable with public transportation, and I still don’t go anywhere when I’ve had seizures the day before. I don’t know if I’m chickenshit or wise… or maybe a little bit of both.

Probably the most depressing thing in my life is acknowledging that I can sit on a couch all day long, looking out at beautiful weather, and still feel like I need some sort of excuse to go outside. Like I need an excuse to move. I have a dog. He likes going for walks. I can take him outside whenever I feel like it. And still, I sit here, alone, and not only don’t go outside, but also get very little done inside because it feels like nothing matters.

Oh, Jesus. That sounds frighteningly like depression sneaking back in. Time to keep myself busy.

I’m officially tired of feeling sorry for myself. I’m going to get dressed and take Brisco for a walk, and then do some chores to loud dance music.

An Unexpected Change of Perspective

Yesterday, at the gym (because, really, it would be way too convenient for this shit to happen at home), I had a “time travel” seizure. (Let’s shorten that to TTS.) I was not over-heated. I did not have an aura before it. I had barely even started working out. Honestly, I don’t know what caused it. Could be hormones. Could just be MS fucking with me. But the cause isn’t the reason I’m talking about this particular seizure. I bring it up because it’s the first time I’ve had a TTS where I’ve woken up believing I was at the beginning of my MS journey.

2007 Rachael, Welcome To 2014.

Usually, when I have a TTS, music will bring me back pretty quickly. That was not the case yesterday.

Several things were thrown at me all at once, upon the combination of waking up confused and music not helping. “New” information: I got married to Adam. I regularly have seizures, and those seizures are definitely a progression from “the nods” that I was experiencing in 2007. Oh, and I have MS, not narcolepsy. I live in Chicago, of all places (which was my least favorite city in the world prior to being forced to live here), and I’ve never taken the IL bar exam. I graduated law school, but never became an attorney. I have no job at all, and I have gotten fat. (Nevermind the fact that I’ve lost 20 pounds in the last 6 months. Right then, it didn’t matter. 2007 Rae was in the best shape of her life…and was 50 pounds lighter than I am now.)

I was *super-pissed*. And I don’t mean I was just upset and stewing. I was actually shouting mad. I grieved everything all at once: No career as a film and music attorney. No interns looking up to me. No submissives to toy with. No clubs to perform in. No beach. No Los Angeles. No free shows because “DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?” No pride in my body. No driving. No “dream life.”

And sadly, because I was, for all intents and purposes, 2007 Rae, I had none of the very necessary psychological coping skills I’ve developed over the last 7 years.

The number of times the phrase, “I SHOULD JUST KILL MYSELF” went through my head were innumerable and intensely painful.

Fortunately, when Adam put on “Timber” by Ke$ha & Pitbull, I remembered a Bulls game… and then a cardiology appointment… and then just about everything up through November of last year. And I felt very embarrassed.

We Are Our Harshest Critics.

When I fully came back to myself, about an hour or so later, several things occurred to me: that 2007 Rachael was shallow, power-hungry, and very unforgiving… that I have gained a lot of inner strength, patience, compassion, and empathy through the hard work that I put in with several therapists… that I don’t really like who I was as a person back then, even if I thought I was cool. I wasn’t cool. I was trying too hard, all the time.

Honestly, I don’t even know if 2007 and 2014 Rachael would be friends with one another. 2007 Rachael was so disenchanted with the world that she had questionable ethics with regard to how she treated herself and others. She put “reaching for her dreams” above everything and everyone. And her dreams? They had everything to do with control. The dream was to be a taste-maker, somehow being able to promote the bands I liked to stardom. The dream was to become completely independent and rich, so I’d never have to depend on anyone else for money or care. Heck, even though Adam and I had already moved in together at that point, she never thought it would last. The words out of her mouth last night? “I never thought we’d stay together. You’re too nice.” I’m glad I was wrong.

Being Okay With Today

Whenever I time travel, the insights I take away from it tend to echo in my mind for a while, really shaking up my perspective on the way I’m living. I always have to question those thoughts for truth.

When I found out that I wasn’t an attorney, and that I don’t have a career, the words out of my mouth were, “I don’t help anyone!” Adam was quick to correct me. He said that I make a positive difference with this blog. He said I make a difference in the lives of my friends who I interact with on Facebook and PatientsLikeMe. He said I make a positive difference in his life.

Honestly, I don’t know how I could do life without Adam. And that scares the shit out of me. Hold onto anything too tightly, and it will slip from your grasp. The fact that he stays with me despite this shit boggles my mind. I’m not sure what I ever did to deserve this kind of unconditional love, but I’m deeply and profoundly appreciative of it.

And really, after revisiting my 2007 self, I don’t totally understand how he fell for me in the first place. Sometimes, it’s hard to remember that I am not the sum of my problems. I guess there was a lot of good there that I’m presently ignoring. I was actually living up to what I thought was cool… doing yoga several times a week, going to farmers markets, being ambitious and persistent with regard to law school, writing regularly in my LJ, clubbing with friends, hiking, and coloring my hair blue. I could have done a lot worse.

So… what now?

This just leaves me wondering what I can do nowadays to feel as good about myself as I did then. I want to genuinely believe I’m cool, and that’s something only I can control.

So what’s cool to me? Being creative. Being social. Being helpful. Being healthy.

I know the first thing that came to mind was writing more regularly in this blog, and about more things than just how seizures and MS affect me. I used to live life for the stories that I’d tell on Live Journal. That wasn’t necessarily a bad way of living. It got me out of the house on days when I otherwise would have just turned on the TV and zoned out.

There’s nothing terribly interesting about spending my days on the couch, scrolling through Facebook for hours at a time, doing chores, hitting the gym, and then watching TV until it’s time to sleep – over and over again. Moreover, there’s no good reason for me to be living that way. It doesn’t exactly scream “joi de vivre.”

As far as physical activities go, I know I’m headed in the right direction with our 3-4 x a week gym habit, but I really miss yoga. I hope I can find a place where they don’t crank up the heat and don’t charge over $100 a month. Maybe I just need to find some good routines online. Suggestions are both welcomed and appreciated.

I also miss the health benefits and social aspects of Hike the Geek. Heck, Reichart even said a few years ago that if I put together a HtG group here in Chicago, he’d join us when he’s in town… but in the few months since I’ve regained the ability to hike, it’s been too hot outside for me to do so.

I keep talking about buying a cooling vest, but I haven’t pulled the trigger. I’m not sure why, other than I keep thinking I can create one for myself that will be more cost effective, since most quality cooling vests are both ugly and pricey. (We’re talking $125-$450.) That being said, being cheap with myself has done nothing but create stress for me recently, and nobody has time for that nonsense. I certainly shouldn’t let a couple hundred bucks hold me back from being active, being with friends, and being happy.

I guess, if I’m taking anything positive away from yesterday’s experience, it’s remembering that I’m both in control of being awesome and am happy to do the work.

Fitness & MS… My Complicated Relationship

In the 3 years prior to my MS diagnosis, I lost 70 pounds. I didn’t count calories. I wasn’t on any particular diet. I was single, and had decided that when I had nothing else to do (work, school, chores, or hanging with friends) that I would spend my time at the gym, doing whatever class was available or swimming. It kept me from feeling sorry for myself — especially when I was living with my grandfather right after the divorce.

When I was diagnosed in 2007, I was at my absolute healthiest. I even was in a great relationship with the guy who became my husband. I worked out at least every other day, and I was at my lowest weight since freshman year of high school, when I marched for about 3 hours a day, 4 days a week with a 30 pound bass drum. I was a mere 5 pounds away from a “healthy” BMI.

The diagnosis didn’t stop me from working out… but about a year later, seizures most certainly did. I was afraid of falling off the cardio machines. I was afraid of embarrassing myself in yoga class. I was afraid of falling down on a walk. And none of this was baseless fear. I was having hundreds of seizures a day at that point.

This lead to the only logical thing it could lead to: weight gain… and not a little bit either. I managed to gain it *all* back.

The Paleo Diet & Dances with Orthorexia

When one of my good friends found out that I was diagnosed with MS, she suggested that I start following the Paleo Diet. I laughed her off for a couple of years. It seemed like way more work than it was worth, and there was no reputable, repeatable scientific research that suggested that it would actually help me in any way.

Fast-forward to a couple of years after my seizure disorder diagnosis, and I was desperate for a way to lose weight that didn’t involve exercise. I started compiling a cookbook for myself that later became The Paleo Compendium.

My repeated attempts to adhere to the strict diet are well documented on this blog. For a short period of time in 2011, I was successful. But for the most part, it was a challenge that caused me to think about food almost all day, every day. When my therapist mentioned the word, “orthorexia,” I had never heard of it before… but I had many of the symptoms.

I worried constantly about what I was putting in my mouth. I wanted so badly to get better, and all of the propaganda that I was reading said that food was the only answer. Not medication. Not exercise. Just food. I mean, major news networks were reporting that Dr. Wahls “cured” herself with her protocol & the paleo diet. (Nevermind the fact that, in reality, she did not cure herself, but rather significantly decreased the severity of her symptoms.) If I wasn’t following that diet, I must have wanted to deal with the deterioration I was experiencing from MS, right?

I constantly worried that I was causing my MS to be worse by not being strict enough. If I “caved” and ate food at a restaurant or my in-laws’ house, I felt like a horrible person – a failure with no self-control who was causing misery to myself and anyone who cared about me. (My loving, wonderful in-laws are Polish. If there’s not bread, pierogi, or some preparation of potatoes, it’s just not a meal. Saying “no” to their hospitality always made me sad and embarrassed.)

I spent days (not just hours, but actual days at a time) adding recipes to the Compendium. I spent hours every week planning menus and making grocery lists. I started asking Adam if we could go longer between visits to his parents’ house, just so I could avoid looking my mother-in-law in the eye and telling her that I couldn’t eat whatever she’d made. I became increasingly depressed by the fact that even though I was doing everything I could do to control my eating, I was still experiencing MS symptoms. I felt guilty for craving bread, even after I acknowledged that wheat is addictive.

I was so embarrassed about having a “new” eating disorder that I didn’t even tell my husband about it… or anyone else, for that matter. It wasn’t until a friend posted about orthorexia on FB today that I felt that it was important to share my experience with others. It was only today, after several months off of the diet and 3 weeks of working with a FitBit that’s making me crazy in a whole other way, that I felt like I should come out.

The Paleo Diet is especially hard to follow for those of us with MS because of fatigue. So tired you can barely move? Tough. You can’t pick up any convenience foods. Everything you eat has to be made from scratch. Raw fruits and veggies and nitrate-free lunch meats are convenience foods to folks who are on the paleo diet.

“Eating clean” meant putting more effort into making food every day than I used to put into food prep for an entire week, not to mention the avalanche of dishes that it created every day. I would calm myself by telling myself that I was doing what I could do to keep myself as healthy as I could, despite MS. I would tell myself I was doing this for my husband, for my family, for my friends. I was hopeful that I was keeping the really bad stuff at bay.

But then, even though I was eating clean, I had an MS exacerbation where I lost feeling in my hands. It forced me to acknowledge that I cannot control my MS. Not by diet. Not by medication. MS is simply uncontrollable… but orthorexia is not. When I realized that eating paleo wasn’t stopping the MS from doing its worst, I gave it up for good. I’m pretty sure Adam and I wouldn’t have made it through that last exacerbation without Grubhub &

That’s not to say that nothing good came from the experience, nor is it to say that you shouldn’t follow the paleo diet if you feel it’s right for you. There are many people who have experienced a decrease in symptoms due to its focus on anti-inflammatory foods. I know, at the very least, eating more nutrient dense food helped abate some of my fatigue.

I am happy to say that because of my time trying to follow the diet, I’ve substantially increased my intake of vegetables and still keep my grain consumption much lower than I used to. Fewer sandwiches, more salads. Fewer bagels, more smoothies. Honestly, just yesterday, I picked up a loaf of 100% whole wheat bread and felt deeply guilty…but I enjoyed the sandwich I had for lunch. Baby steps.

Working Out & Pseudoexacerbations

Regardless of diet, exercise is important for people with MS. It helps fight fatigue and depression, keeps your heart healthier, and helps regulate bowel and bladder function. Honestly, there’s no downside to exercising besides being sore the next day. The only problem is that it’s scary.

Why’s it scary? Because it can easily make you feel like crap. Uhthoff’s phenomenon causes MS symptoms to show up temporarily when your body temperature rises by even half a degree for some people… and exercise, well, it raises your body temperature. The good part of Uhthoff’s phenomenon, however, is that once your body temperature gets back to normal, the MS wonkiness stops. Because of this, I’ve decided that it’s well past time that I invest in a cooling vest.

When I looked at the scale in 2012 and saw a number that was higher than I’ve ever seen, I decided that I could no longer afford the “luxury” of being afraid of working out. Since my seizures are entirely caused by MS, this means that I have a disproportionate amount of seizures at the gym.

Fortunately, I’ve stopped worrying about what will happen if I seize while on a machine. I can tell you exactly what will happen because it’s happened so many times I can’t even keep count anymore. Adam will pull me off the machine and I will sit down until I feel better enough to walk to the car, and then I’ll try again the next day.

I’d hoped that I would be able to lose weight as quickly as I did in 2004-2007, especially since I was dieting and exercising, but that just hasn’t been the case. I started back at the gym in 2012, and here in 2014, I’ve only lost about 20 pounds — and 10 of those were in the last month alone.

Curious what changed in the last month or so? I stopped taking all medications other than my blood pressure medication and got a FitBit One.

FitBit Makes Me Crazy, But It’s Effective.

As I mentioned in a previous entry, I received a FitBit One as a part of a study on the effectiveness of activity trackers on improving MS symptoms. So, for the last 3 weeks, I’ve been logging all my foods in MyFitnessPal and all of my activities on Fitbit’s website.

Yesterday, I stepped on the scale, expecting to see no change. FitBit had told me that I was only at a deficit of 637 calories for the week. I was shocked to find that instead, I’d dropped another 4 pounds. FitBit’s calculations had to be wrong. I realized that all of the information it provides is an estimation at best. I have come to the conclusion that the simple act of food and activity journaling is enough to make me mindful to the point that I change my habits to conform as well as I possibly can with my goals. This little device has shown itself to be as helpful for my weight loss journey as meditation has been to my overall well-being.

Because I really want to get back down to the weight I was when I was diagnosed, I’m going to keep using the device even now that the study is over. Even if counting calories makes me feel crazy some days, looking in the mirror and hating what I see consistently makes me sad. At the end of the day, I’d rather be crazy and hopeful than sad and hopeless.

Then again, I fully admit this might be about controlling what I can in a life filled with things I cannot control. *shrug* As long as it gets me to a healthy BMI, and it doesn’t negatively affect my relationships with the people I love, I don’t really care.

Real Estate Law Is Borked.

Didn’t get the house. Someone came in with a cash offer after us, and so the bank went with them.

I have to be very honest: as someone who studied contracts in multiple classes in law school (heck, almost all of my elective classes were contracts-based), I thought I had a reasonable understanding of the way contract law works. I don’t understand real estate contracts even a little.

I mean, let’s take this house buying experience as an example. A bank lists a house for sale for $150K and advertises it on Zillow, RedFin, and other websites. If you did that with a piece of personal property or with services that you would perform, that would very clearly constitute an offer. But in the wild world of real estate it’s not considered an offer. I honestly don’t know what it’s considered.

In real estate contracts, the purchaser makes an offer to the seller to buy a house that’s been advertised. This puts all the power in the seller’s hands and allows them to pit bidders against one another so they can come out with the best offer for them. Oftentimes, because purchasers are expecting that haggling is a necessary part of the process, they low-ball their first offer.

Can you imagine if this was the way commerce worked for regular goods?


Oh, Hello.

oh hello

I have a confession to make: I’m addicted to Kroll Show. I want another season already. Not joking. When I make tuna melts, I now think to myself, “That’s too much tuna!” even if it’s a totally reasonable amount of fish.

But anyway.

I know it’s been a long while since my last update. I just have this internal rule about not blogging unless I feel like I have something to say. Sure, I’ll update FB till the cows come home, since it feels largely ephemeral, but I try to keep the blog to stuff I want to keep around. Maybe that’s silly. Actually, I know that’s silly, but it is what it is.

Over the last several days, I’ve gotten an unusual amount of spam, masquerading as real comments, trying to get me to add content to this site using “free content” services. That made me think that it’s probably time to add some actual content of my own.

The Great House Hunt of 2014: Update

A lot of my time over the last couple of months has been taken up by the search for a house.

On Monday of this past week, we put in a bid for a place that we think is “the one.”  Of course, there had to be other people who also want the house, because it’s awesome… so we’re in a bidding war. We’re now waiting with bated breath (and an unreasonable amount of HGTV renovation shows) for the bank to let us know whether or not we’ve won.

It’s a foreclosed 4 bed, 3 bath property on a double corner lot in a good neighborhood in one of Chicago’s southern suburbs. It’s in quick walking distance of 2 grocery stores, a Walgreens, a branch of our bank, and a ton of restaurants – plus, there’s a bus stop very close-by that goes to the Metra in one direction and the Orland Park mall in the other. Needless to say, we are both extremely stressed, excited, and hopeful.

There are a ton of things I like about the place, but I will admit that it needs some work. For example, one of the bathrooms is decked out with mustard-colored fixtures. Nothin’ against that color, but I can’t imagine wanting to take a bath surrounded by it. It would make the bathwater look like pee, and that’s not my jam.

There’s something terribly evil about the waiting process. I find myself trying to remember everything wrong with the place, steeling myself to hear the news that we aren’t getting it. The idea, of course, is that if I can convince myself there are too many problems, I won’t be let down if we don’t get it.  Unfortunately, this also kind of poisons a bit of the happiness that comes with really wanting it — because now, all I can think about is “all of the projects.” (All of them! ヽ(^◇^*)/) Ok. So maybe it just makes me more excited in a way because it means we get to really put our stamp on the place.

We’re so happy. Let’s ruin it with kids!

Speaking of projects… it finally happened, folks. I got my blood pressure under control, and I dropped ~20 pounds. I’m no longer on any MS meds, any birth control, any antidepressants, or anything that would put a pregnancy in danger. Not even smoking weed to help with muscle spasms or seizures. A moment of silence, please, for the lack of bud… (◡﹏◡✿)

That means, it’s go-time for mommyhood. It’s only been, what? 2 full years getting my body ready for this? Maybe longer even. I’ve lost track.

Adam doesn’t want to put our family planning in the public spotlight, and I dig that. It’s not like we need pressure in this arena. Therefore, this is the last I’m gonna talk about it until I’ve become pregnant and it’s stuck for 12 weeks. I just figure that y’all have been with me on the long and frustrating journey to getting here, so I’d let you know that we’re now able to start trying. And that’s pretty damn cool if you ask me. We’re not in a rush or anything – not doing the scheduled sex “thing” where you do piss tests to see if you’re ovulating or anything – we’re just leaving it up to fate and passion at this point. If we need to change our tactics later, it’s always an option.

Another tiny addition to my life.

Recently, I became a part of a scientific study through They wanted to see how using a FitBit One would affect MS symptoms and weight. Wearing this thing 24/7 has made me crazy. Actually, it’s the judgmental food and activity journalling process that’s driving me insane and unnecessarily increasing my stress levels.

I’ve never been a fan of calorie counting. Calories don’t tell you about your nutrient levels. Calories don’t tell you if you’re eating well. Counting calories does, however, make you question everything you put into your mouth. It makes you calculate whether something is “worth” eating and whether or not you’re willing to listen to your body.

The Fitbit One is a 100% ableist calorie-Nazi. It counts all the steps you take in a day and estimates how many calories you’ve burned – and then compares it with what you’re eating to tell you how much you should be eating total. There’s nothing in the program that allows you to tell the device that you were physically unable to move for part of the day. It doesn’t care. It’s a machine. I, however, am not.

Almost every day, I get the experience of looking at the dashboard and seeing, in great big red letters, the word “OVER” — even on days when I’ve only had ~1200 calories. It’s made me feel like I have an eating disorder. On days when I am not feeling well enough to go to the gym, thanks to MS, it actually suggests that I eat a maximum of ~900 calories.

Sorry, FitBit, but this girl refuses to eat fewer than 1200 calories a day. I’m not slowing down my metabolism to fit your algorithm’s fat-shaming ways. I’m not going to berate myself for not meeting your 10,000 step-a-day goal when I’m having seizures that stop me from being able to do simple household chores — and I’m sure not going to feel bad about myself on good days when I have put in 45 minutes of cardio and done weights, only to make it to ~8000 steps.

I mean, yesterday is probably the best example of how asinine following this thing’s advice can be. For breakfast, I had a 230 calorie smoothie made with strawberries, bananas, peaches, mango, and almond milk. For lunch, I had a salad with grilled chicken, romaine lettuce, sliced almonds, pecans, blue cheese crumbles, and dried cranberries. It estimated the salad at ~750 calories. Before I even ate dinner, FitBit was telling me that I had over-eaten for the entire day… suggesting that I exercise to earn the privilege of eating dinner. For a moment there, I felt genuinely bad about myself. I felt guilty for eating “too much,” and I’d only had a smoothie and a salad.

Needless to say, if you’re gonna use one of these things, you’ve got to take its advice with a grain of salt. It’s supposed to be a tool to help you improve your activity level and how you eat. If you’re letting it make you feel bad about yourself, you’re doin’ it wrong. That being said, it’s made me painfully aware of how inactive I am on days when I’m in MS’s vice-grip, has motivated me to take the stairs much more often, and has helped me lose 3 pounds in 3 weeks. To say I have a love-hate relationship with my FitBit is putting it mildly. I both appreciate it and want to smash it with a hammer.

As for other things…

Other than that, things are relatively calm. I’ve been having loads more seizures than when I was on birth control pills, but it’s still nothing compared to how things were when I was first diagnosed. I’m not terribly surprised, considering that my body’s getting used to regulating its own hormones and the fact that I’ve been stressed with everything that’s been going on. Most of them are simple partial seizures which are annoying but not such a big deal, since I don’t wake up confused. Still, more seizures and hot summer weather means less opportunity to go out and see friends and explore, which is kind of a bummer.

On the bright side, more time on the couch has given me the chance to look up fun, free things to do in Chicago so that I can take advantage of my time in the city on days when I am feeling well. There are a ton of free things to do. I’ve actually been really surprised at how much quality entertainment there is in this town.

At least, if I’m not feeling well enough to go out, I can cure my boredom by watching HGTV in my air conditioned apartment and fantasizing about the future. 🙂