Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: My Favorite Tools of the Trade

Rather than review personal moments from the past year, I want to review the tools of the chronic-illness trade that I couldn't have done without in 2013.*

1. Omron Blood Pressure Monitor: I finally broke down and bought a BP monitor this year.  It has been an invaluable purchase for me.  For one, when I am having a rough day, it is nice to determine if my BP is the culprit, and if I need to take action to raise it.  In addition, my doctor really likes having data to refer to between appointments.  The more quantitative data you can offer your healthcare providers, the better.

2. Polar Heart Rate Monitor: I have discussed my HRM before.  I use it a lot to help determine how different activities affect my HR and of course to ensure I maintain healthy exertion levels during my workouts.

3. Instant Heart Rate: While I get a lot of mileage out of my Polar HRM, there are moments I need to check my heart rate on-the-go when I am not wearing my chest strap.  The Instant Heart Rate app on my smartphone is great.  The app is very accurate and an easy way to check my HR in a pinch.

4. O2 Cool Necklace Fan: This fan has been a lifesaver for me. My heat intolerance is one thing that takes me down pretty quickly. I keep my fan in my bag, so when I am in a warm waiting room or store I have a better chance of fighting off my heat-intolerance-induced symptoms. My original fan recently died, and when I ordered my replacement, I bought two.

5. BlenderBottle: Even if I did not have a chronic illness, I would love my BlenderBottle. When I say love, I really mean love. I have two different sizes of the BlenderBottle and even convinced my brother to buy one. These nifty bottles are great for mixing up powdered drinks and smoothies in an easy, spill-proof way.  I have also used the smaller-sized bottle to make healthy salad dressings. Add ingredients, shake up, enjoy!

6. Freestyle Lite Blood Glucose Monitor: When I am feeling hypoglycemic or my symptoms aren't explained by my blood pressure, it is nice to be able to keep an eye on my blood sugar. The Freestyle Lite is so compact and easy-to-use. Generally, I am queasy with needles and blood, but I am able to use this monitor without an issue.

7. Herbal Biotic: I am on quite a few supplements, and I am seeing benefit from many of them, but Herbal Biotic is my favorite.  My doctor first put me on it when I went in for a monthly check-up, and I had a low-grade fever and seemed to be coming down with something.  She had me start taking Herbal Biotic that day. Later that night before my last dose of the day, I had that ominous achey feeling foreshadowing the next day's full-blown illness. The next morning, I felt absolutely fine; Herbal Biotic stopped it in its tracks.  Last week, it worked its magic again when everyone else in the family became ill after Christmas. I take this daily for immune support.

Photo from theloftonbroome.com
8. Zing Bars: While these protein bars are expensive and not always easy to find, I love them. Zing bars come in three gluten-free, soy-free and dairy-free flavors. This specific brand was recommended by my doctor. I keep them in my bag and on my nightstand to fend off hypoglycemia.

9. Traditional Medicinals Ginger Tea: Most of us with POTS are plagued with nausea on a regular basis. This ginger tea really helps to settle my stomach, plus it is delicious.

10. iPad: Having a tablet is a great luxury for someone with an illness. You have TV shows, movies, music, books, social media and online support groups all at your finger tips. Thanks to its portability, a tablet is an easy thing to keep on hand.

Have you used any of the "tools" I mentioned above? What are some of your favorites that you couldn't do without?

Happy New Year everyone!  I hope 2014 is a happy and healthy one for all of you.

*Any products and brands mentioned are based on my personal experience. I did not receive compensation from any of the companies or stakeholders of these products.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

31 Going on 70

Wow... I am officially the worst blogger of all time.  In my defense, POTS got the best of me throughout October and November.  Perhaps this blog will be the focus of my 2014 resolution.

So today is my birthday, and I turned 31.  I became sick at the age of 29, so I feel a little like I am not sure where the past two years have gone.  A friend of mine asked me today how it feels to be 31.  I told her it feels like I am 70, which is a lot like how 30 felt.  So I guess turning 31 didn't miraculously cure me.

I tried my hand at making a batch of "healthy" cupcakes, so as not to completely break my strict dietary guidelines: Pumpkin cupcakes with Vanilla Cashew Frosting.  The cake part was pretty good.  I replaced the white sugar with honey, but I think maple syrup would have been better.  (Unfortunately I was out.)

Let me level with you about the Vanilla Cashew Frosting though.  While it came together well, it just tastes like sweet cashews to me.  I'm not sold on it.  I really like using cashews to make dairy-free "ricotta".  It also has somewhat of a nutty taste but once it is mixed in with spaghetti squash and sauce, I love it.  I should have stuck with whipped coconut cream to top them, which I made for Thanksgiving and really liked. (Of course, I haven't had real whipped cream in years, so I may not be the best judge.)

Anyway, I realize this is more about food than POTS, but it's my birthday, I can write about whatever I want. :)  I hope everyone out there is doing well and soaking up the holiday season!

I will leave you with a video of Straight No Chaser singing "Fix You".  It is not a Christmas song, but it is a song the group always performs at their holiday show in Cleveland.  My friend Amanda and I weren't able to attend the show this year, so she sent me their YouTube video the other day instead.  Then tonight, I turned on PBS in the middle of their TV special as they were performing it.  So the song is choosing me; I didn't choose the song.