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Good Stuff From ChronicBabe

ChronicBabe is always an awesome site; recently it’s been overflowing with terrific articles and links.

Illness and Empathy for Others
In her latest contribution to ChronicBabe, Laurie Edwards (whose articles I love) describes how her illness influences her interactions with loved ones when they have a passing illness — both positively and negatively.

Work and Illness
Lily Thomas, who has CDH and migraine, writes about working with people who don’t really understand what your illness is like. And her experience sorting it out when her boss was the one who didn’t understand.

Emotions in Patient-Doctor Communication
“Emotional patients” have trouble remembering what their doctors tell them, according to findings of a recent study. The “emotional” participants in the study latched onto frightening or worrying information.

Keeping Cool
Heat and dehydration are big headache triggers. ChronicBabe gave this link for ways to cool off.

Acceptance
In an essay on NPR‘s This I Believe, Kay Redfield Jamison writes about accepting the role of bipolar disorder in her life: “It is not a gentle or easy disease. And, yet, from it I have come to see how important a certain restlessness and discontent can be in one’s life; how important the jagged edges and pain can be in determining the course and force of one’s life.”

Invisible Chronic Illness
Next week is National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week. During the week, people who live with invisible illnesses are encouraged to educate the “general public, churches, healthcare professionals and government officials” about the frustrations of having an illness that others can’t see.

Thanks to Jenni and all ChronicBabe contributors for sharing coping strategies and great resources.

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Eat Your Fruits and Veggies

At the grocery store this morning, I walked happily through the produce section, greeting all the employees with a big smile. While I’m generally a friendly person, I was extra perky today.

Why the spring in my step? Because the fruits and vegetables were beautiful today. It’s not that they were brightly colored or smelled terrific, which they did, but simply that they were there.

The season of delicious, plentiful produce is upon us. Artichokes, spinach and radishes are only the beginning. Cherries, berries and peaches are right around the corner.

Of course you know that fruits and vegetables are good for people. But I’m thoroughly convinced that they are especially good for those of us with chronic illness. You only get maximum performance if you put the right fuel in.

In her latest Chronic in the Kitchen article, Jennifer Hess describes the benefits of produce that’s in season now, complete with easy recipes to enjoy the bounty.

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Guilt & One’s Social Life

Having to cancel plans, not pulling your share around the house, letting down co-workers (or not being able to work at all)… Everyone with chronic illness has an overabundance of guilt. Writer Laurie Edwards explores the affect guilt has on her social life and ways she’s tried to overcome this.

I’ve raved about Laurie’s other ChronicBabe articles and am thrilled that she now has her own blog, Chronic Dose.

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Dating Your Doctor

Figuring out how much to disclose about your illness requires a balancing act that often feels like the scale is askew. In January, Laurie Edwards shared the story of a cute guy at a party who didn’t run when she disclosed her illness in more detail than she normally would.

She’s since learned that finding a good doctor and finding a good partner have much in common — including how picky one should be about choosing the person you fall in love with.

Laurie writes:

“A first appointment with a new doctor really is the medical equivalent of a first date. It’s all about the chemistry, that intangible sense that this person is worth another look.”

“Think about the ways we’re trained to evaluate first encounters of the romantic kind: Was he (or she) polite and engaging, or brash and curt? Was the other person merely hearing the words coming out of our mouths or actually listening to them? All of these litmus tests apply once you step into that exam room.”

In addition to writing articles for ChronicBabe, Laurie also has her own blog, Chronic Dose.

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Kitchen-Based Medicine

Instead of letting fibromyalgia force her out of the kitchen, Jennifer Hess revamped her approach, making cooking and eating a medicine that treats her physically and mentally. In her Chronic in the Kitchen series on ChronicBabe, she kindly shares lessons that she’s learned and some delicious recipes.

Jennifer broke the recipe-following rules when she developed her
recipes — follow her lead! If an ingredient is a known trigger for
you, make a substitution. Black bean soup made with garbanzo beans?
Chives instead of onions? The first few incarnations may be strange,
but you’ll eventually get a recipe that’s tasty and doesn’t invoke pain.

Avoiding Sausage Headaches
Two of Jennifer’s recipes use sausage, which can spell trouble for people with headache. Because it’s so tasty and easy to use, I’ve searched far and wide for sausage that doesn’t trigger headaches. Here’s what I’ve learned:

Always check the labels and try to avoid varieties with nitrates or any form of MSG. Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Wild Oats all carry brands that fit the criteria or come really close. Many stores in the Safeway family (which includes Von’s, Dominick’s, Randalls, Tom Thumb, Genuardi’s and Carrs) also carry some varieties.

Brands that taste good and aren’t filled with junk include Applegate Farms, Cantella’s, Gerhard’s and Organic Prairie. Again, check the labels. One variety of one brand might be fine, but another sausage by the same company may contain MSG.

Also, a little bit of a “bad” additive might not cause problems for you. Try it out when you feel brave.