Flare Days

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Colorado views, mile after mile of melting snow

My planned topic for today was more about menu planning and tips etc., but … I’m having what is known in chronic disease circles as a flare day. What causes a symptom flare? Hard to say, the causes are as diverse as the diseases themselves. Superhubs and I are both having high pain days today so I’m guessing it’s autoimmune/weather related. We’ve crossed over into Wyoming and the weather has taken another change. It’s windy, rain moving in but sunny/cloudy right now. We are both very weather sensitive. Combine that with five days of driving 4-5 hours per day and the general work load involved in heavy travel and we’re both a mess. My problem is my inability to get comfortable in any position due to chronic pain. I can’t sit for long, lay for long, stand for long or walk for long so I’m pretty much in constant motion right now and it’s exhausting. Sometimes the bouncing leg or flipping foot helps temporarily. It’s a type of restless leg, nerve damage, brain cloud thing. I’m not complaining, there are many of my Spoonie comrades out there who have much more pain than I do and are not in my fortuitous circumstances. You see, I don’t have to work a full time job, I don’t have children to care for, I have a super supportive partner. But still, what precisely does one do when every muscle and every joint in your body hurts? Here’s what I do, sometimes one or two actions, sometimes all of them.

  1. Change positions often. I sit at my computer (laptop) for as long as I can, then I get up, move around, do something else, like put dinner in the slow cooker, make a cup of herbal tea, then I’ll get an extra pillow to sit on (helps relieve some of the pressure on my hips and back) and try again.
  2. Yoga, I have some yoga moves that I modified/created to help the stiffness of the joints that are hurting the worst. I do them every hour when I’m seated at the computer.
  3. Go for a walk, get away from what you’re doing, and from the position you’re doing it in.
  4. Today, I slathered my body in salon pas. Those little heaty patches. I’ve got four of them covering my worst pain spots right now.
  5. Totally change locations. I’ve been sitting at the computer for quite a while today, so I’m now in bed with my feet proped up (did I mention my ankles swell and I lose the feeling in the feet), using my lap desk to write this. It changes the point of pressure on my hips and actually helps quite a bit.
  6. Cold seems to aggravate the condition so I put on warmer clothing, cover my legs with a blanket, stuff like that.
  7. Take some pain meds. I generally use a couple of Naproxene Sodium (Aleve).
  8. Drink an herbal tea, something you find soothing. Take some GABA or use some Bach’s Flower Remedy.

I have dinner in the slow cooker tonight.  Whether I’ll have enough spoons left by this evening to wash my hair remains to be seen. So for today, here’s a quick easy vegan all-in-one chili recipe.

1 1/4 cups water
1/4 cup uncooked quinoa
3/4 cup can black beans, drained and rinsed
14 oz diced tomatoes (one can, I use the ones with green chilis)
1 tablespoon dried onion flakes, chili powder, black pepper, salt, cumin, garlic, and whatever spices you normally use in your chili. I have no measurements for you, I give it a couple good shakes of each.
1/4 cup corn kernels (optional)

Toppings — all optional
chopped avocado chunks
chopped green onions
shredded carrot
cheese (I use Daiya vegan)
sour cream (I mix a packet of “pure lime” into 1/4 to 1/3 cup of plain dairy free yogurt)
1. Add the water, quinoa, black beans and tomatoes, corn (if using) and spices to the slow cooker. Stir to combine.
2. Set the slow cooker (Crock-Pot) to high for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or on low for 5-6 hours (for high, monitor the last 30 minutes and for low, monitor the hour). If you like a chili with more liquid, do the 2 1/2 on high, and 5 on low. If you like thicker and just a little bit it liquid, go with the higher number for each option.  Serve with tossed salad.  Easy Peasy.

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