Life Hacks for Chronic Fatigue: Laundry

rolling cartFatigue is a bitch. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. When you deal with chronic fatigue, it’s the bitch’s bastard  on crack. I hate it and I don’t know anyone who actually likes it. My entire body feels like adamantium was injected into me in my sleep, only I don’t get the benefits that Wolverine does. Everything is heavy and the ability to lift my arms without the accompanying muscle fatigue is an astonishing circus feat. It doesn’t matter whether fatigue is caused by a chronic illness, autoimmune disorder, weak adrenals, or a vitamin deficiency, it all feels the same in the end and even I can’t tell what is causing it.

When this all started over five years ago and I was stuck in bed when not at work the only things I could force myself to do was fix dinner and do the laundry, with some help and shortcuts.

We have rolling hampers which I bought at a big store that is now out-of-business. I used one of the hampers as my laundry basket so I could push it instead of having to lift it. Even with that “hack”, Chaz had to start switching the laundry out for me and bring me the laundry himself.

When the fatigue creeped back in full-force after my car accident in December, I knew I needed to make alterations again because needing a nap in the middle of folding laundry is not normal. Not normal for healthy people that is.

I considered using one of the hampers again but the act of stooping over to push the hamper would wear me out. So, I went searching stores for something I could use. One of those rolling baskets at the laundromat would have been great.  I found one like it at The Container Store, but it was too small. One of the sales people stopped to help me because I was obviously looking for something I couldn’t find.

I explained to her what I wanted, but never explained why. I don’t need to tell everyone I meet the multiple reasons why I get fatigued. I didn’t need to justify why I need a cart to push my laundry around. I refuse to explain myself to complete strangers. I don’t care if I left that store and she thought I was lazy because she doesn’t matter. My health and how I take care of myself does.

I left the store with the above rolling bar cart that she showed me last because all the other options would be too taxing on me. The bonus of the cart is that it folds up when I’m done and while doing laundry, I can use the bottom and the basket to store folded items.

Economy of motion is something I learned in Aikido. Use the least amount of movement/energy in a fight because you don’t know how long the fight will last. I use this principle a lot in my daily life, even when fatigue is not an issue. When it is an issue, I will sit at the dryer and fold the clothes as they come out then add them to the cart. Why pull everything out, wheel it somewhere to fold, and fold it all when you can save some energy when you need it? I’d like to say I do this all the time, but I don’t. It’s just helpful when I’m too exhausted to do much.

Sometimes you just need to think outside the laundry basket to find ways to help you deal with the constant fatigue.



Hot Ginger Apricot Sauce

Hot Ginger Apricot SauceI attempted the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol. A tension headache started in the middle of Day 1 and continued into Day 2 until I caved and had some coffee. I figured in the grand scheme, if I was going off the rails to help kill a headache, better with caffeine than ibuprofen. The headache was gone within minutes. If only my former migraines were so kind. I had this headache about a month before. It lasted for days. Even the chiropractor and acupuncture didn’t have a lasting effect on it, just a few hours of relief. It wasn’t until I broke down and had a Cherry Coke that it went away nearly a week after it started.

So this headache niggled. It went away that night but it taunted me all week. “I’m still here,” it snickered. Saturday it decided to throw a party while getting my hair done. We were supposed to be driving down for our niece’s first birthday party and having a headache was not an option. I picked up some coffee on my way home only to find the party was canceled, but my headache was leaving. Or so I thought. It’s still playing games with me.

I decided that there seems to be something going on putting stress on my body that is causing these headaches. Trying to do a special diet not required was only adding to the stress on my body. I would prefer not to have another adrenal crash, thankyouverymuch. No more Autoimmune Paleo protocol for now. I am trying to limit the foods that are eliminated on the AIP, except for coffee. Okay, maybe one cup a day is limiting for some people, but that’s normal for me. Too much and I get too jittery. I can’t be jittery. Too much to do that keeps getting put off because I lack the energy.

Today was supposed to be a post on my travels. Yes, I have several more posts to do. My pictures had another idea. So, I’m pulling something out I did after the Spicy Plum Sauce. I was so in love with the Spicy Plum Sauce I wanted to see what else I could do before going on the AIP because chili flakes are not allowed. This time I used my favorite, ginger, and apricots that were in my weekly produce delivery. If you made the Spicy Plum Sauce, it is similar, just some different ingredients. You can use this as a dipping sauce for Raw Summer Rolls, homemade chicken fingers, or a topping for pork chops or tenderloin. I loved it as a dipping sauce and a topping for pork.

I call it Hot Ginger Apricot Sauce not because you have to use it while it is temperature hit, but because it is a tad spicy between the chili flakes and the amount of ginger I use.

Hot Ginger Apricot Sauce

6 apricots, stone removed, rough chopped

1/4 yellow onion, sliced

1/4 cup raw local honey or other sweetener (or omit)

2 tablespoons ginger root, minced

1/2 teaspoon chili flakes

Add all ingredients to a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Simmer for twenty minutes on low. Remove from heat. Use an immersion blender to puree until smooth in the saucepan. If you do not have an immersion blender, use a regular blender or food processor. Set aside and let cool if using as a dipping sauce. Store leftovers in an airtight container/mason jar in the refrigerator.

This post is linked to Whole Food Fridays at Allergy-Free Alaska and Wellness Weekend at Ricki Heller.

The Year of Me

Peace and sanity in the midst of a concrete jungle

Peace and sanity in the midst of a concrete jungle

“In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” ~Albert Camus

I put others first.  I always have.  It is something I picked up from both of my grandmothers when I was young.  It is not necessarily a bad thing.  Taking care of others first all the time will take its toll though.

My doctor finally diagnosed me with adrenal fatigue last November after months of trying to figure it all out.  I knew something was very wrong with me and I thought my thyroid was out of whack yet again.  I was having some of my classic symptoms of heart palpitations, getting cold easily, and extreme fatigue.   I also had problems with pain all over my body.  Not at once.  There was the usual suspects, my feet and plantar fasciitis seeming to be constantly wired no matter what I did to take care of them.  No amount of rest between my shifts at work would seem to help calm them down.  Some nights I’d wake up with some kind of pain shooting through some part of my body, like my left hip.  It would keep me awake and I would be dragging myself into work in the morning on 4 hours of sleep.  Inflammation was ravaging my body and I lost control.

Once I had a path to follow and I took my first steps, I started feeling change.  The supplements my doctor has me on for my adrenals immediately helped calm the inflammation and pain.  For the first time in two years, how my feet felt did not rule my day.

I started making changes to my thoughts and thought processes to help.  I started to stop doing everything at work.  Meaning, I wasn’t running clear across the store to take care of a call because the half a dozen people I knew were there weren’t answering.  I enabled those people to continue to not do their jobs by doing that for 2 years, I worked myself up into an emotional frenzy because they weren’t doing their job, and it took a physical toll on my body.  Stress is not just mental and emotion.  There are dozens of physical stressors that can add to the stress load our adrenals are trying to take care of for us.  When I went over all the classic symptoms of adrenal fatigue with Chaz he said what I hadn’t voiced yet, “You’ve been like that since I’ve known you.”

There are a myriad of stressors that accumulated through the years.  As my adrenals became more depleted, the less I was able to handle the stressors the way I normally would when “healthy.”  I felt myself close to flying off the handle all the time.  Little things just made me want to rip heads off.  Then my cousin took his own life and things really went downhill for me.  I couldn’t pull myself out of the grief to smile at all.  Everyone around me knew something was wrong, but I wasn’t talking about.  Because really, how do you talk about  a loved one committing suicide?  I’m the kind of person who likes to lift people up rather than bring them down and with the losses I already experienced up to that point last year, I was done with death.  It also didn’t help that I did not go home for his funeral.

I thought that I could manage still working at my job with reduced hours.  However, I was still coming home with no energy and spending all my time on the sofa doing nothing but watching Netflix.  I thought I was doing okay since I wasn’t crawling into bed as soon as I got home.  In my mind I hadn’t hit bottom like I had when I was struggling with the hypothyroidism.  Then it hit me.  I left a job I loved after 10 1/2 years because they wanted to add to my work load and I knew either my current clients would miss out because I was being stretched thing or I would keep doing for them what I was doing on top of the added cases and then work myself into the ground.  I saw back then if I stayed I would get sick.  Here I was already worked into the ground with a compromised immune system (I was constantly fighting off one infection after another) and I hadn’t left.

As run down as I was I should have collapsed by this time.  I should have been in the hospital with kidney problems.  I should have passed out from the multitude of postural hypotension incidents I was having.  I would tell myself while pushing a flat of furniture, “I should just collapse.  I can feel it coming.  Just give in.  No.  DON’T give in.  Don’t collapse.  Hang in there.  You can make it.”  The warrior in me wouldn’t let me give in.

If you’re wondering why I didn’t leave after my diagnosis, one of the reasons was all the reading I was doing was telling me not to make major changes like quitting your job.  So, I made small changes like requesting less hours.  Probably a foolish thing to do but it made sense at the time.  Looking back, I probably should have gone in and turned in my notice as soon as I was diagnosed.

But, I finally did it four weeks later. I turned in my two-week notice and started to look forward to freedom, taking care of myself, and recovering.

It’s been over two months since I left my job.  I’m getting more consistent sleep.  Not always 8 hours, but it is  more sleep that I’ve gotten in years.  The stiffness in my neck and shoulders is starting to dissipate slowly.  I have more energy.  I can start a task like cleaning the bathrooms and not need several breaks.  In fact, I was able to do all the household weekly chores in one day.  I haven’t been able to do that in a long time.   I am taking less time in the morning to get myself moving.  It used to take me 2 hours or more to get myself going for the day.  Now, I can wake up, eat breakfast, and get myself ready right away if needed without dragging.

I’m not fully healthy.  Not yet.  But I am getting there.  It took me daily reminders once I was home all day to remember that everything didn’t need to happen at once.  I could take my time.  If I didn’t get through what I planned for the day, it was okay.  I stopped pushing myself and instead focused on just me.  I do that a lot these days.  Talk to myself starting with, “It is okay…”  Because it is.  It is okay to slow yourself down.  It is okay to neglect some little things that you can let slide for now in order to take care of yourself.

I’m not the type to do vision boards or picking themes for my year.  Honestly, I never heard of those things until 2 years ago.  If I had to choose a theme for this new year it is Me.  This is the year of Me where I recover and focus on what I want and need rather than focusing on everyone else.  It is not selfish.  It is honoring my body and my sanity.

It is okay to put yourself first.  If you don’t take care of yourself and your well-being, no one else will.