Monday, 21 May 2018

Scheduling Sleep with RA

Those of you who have known me for a long time probably know that I have a wacky sleep schedule.  I've always been a bad sleeper - I take hours to fall asleep and sleep very lightly, according to my mom since I was at least 2.  I'm also a night owl, and no, working a regularly scheduled "adult" job has never really fixed this.  Normally, having to get up at 5 or 6 every day meant that I slept in until noon on the weekend.

RA has changed a lot.  I can't get away with five hours of sleep anymore - I need somewhere in the area of 10 or so.  I have less energy even if I've slept more.  I wake up frequently due to pain, and for the same reason I can't lay in bed for hours waiting to sleep.

From mid December through early April of this year, I was dealing with a really nasty reaction to a biologic called Remicade.  The first infusion was fine, the second unpleasant, the third knocked me on my ass.  Begin four months of chronic fatigue, migraines, unresponsive muscles, and at least 15 hours of sleep a day.  Fortunately my MRIs (I had 3: brain, neck, and spine) all showed no signs of lesions, and by early-mid April the worst of the symptoms were beginning to slowly ease up.  Since the beginning of this month (May), I've been able to be relatively active - by which I mean my daily steps according to my Fitbit have gone from 600-ish to a few thousand on average.  I still can't exercise in my typical sense of using the elliptical, doing an hour of yoga, or attending a ballet class, but I've been able to walk around my apartment complex without exhausting myself, made it up to 5 squats, 15 seconds balancing on one leg, and 3 single-leg elevees.  This, considering I was couch-bound and at times couldn't walk for four months, makes me so happy!

Bad thing: over those four months, I got into some really bad sleep habits.  The primary one was going until I was utterly exhausted and collapsing for however many hours my brain would let me sleep.  Probably necessary then, really not sustainable with having an actual schedule.  My primary care doctor has put me on Gabapentin to help with pain management, and it has been amazing for night-time pain.  I know it has a bad reputation for side-effects, but so far I haven't had any.  Hoping it stays that way.  On the other hand, one of the side-effects (drowsiness) was supposed to also help me with sleeping, but that hasn't worked so far.  Enter doctor number 4 so far for 2018 - sleep neurologist.

I'm not a fan of the sleep schedule she gave me.  I can see how, in theory, it can help, but at 10:30 PM I really just want to go to bed right now!  (Sad since I woke up less than 12 hours ago... but still!)  So for the next three weeks I have to do the following:

  • Take melatonin and Gabapentin at 10 PM
  • Get off technology by midnight
  • Wait until 1:30 AM to get into bed
  • Get up at 9 AM
  • No naps longer than 15 minutes
  • No caffeine after 4 PM
I don't expect this to be a magic fix for being a terrible sleeper, but it would certainly be nice if it meant no more being able to sleep for only 3 hours at a time.  I don't have a problem waking up to alarm clocks.  I have a problem turning alarm clocks off and going back to bed.  For tomorrow I've put my alarm clock in a hard-to-get-to place across the room from my bed.  I've also ordered Clocky, an alarm clock that rolls off the night-stand and around the floor like a crazy-thing at the doctor's recommendation and after watching several YouTube reviews.  We shall see.

My idea to help myself stay awake in the mornings is to make some tea and do some physical therapy.  I'm thinking doing chores will also help me wake up, and then I'll probably go in to campus to work because if I stay at home there is no way I will make it a whole day of being sleepy and not napping if I work from home.  I'm open to other suggestions, too!  How do you stay awake in the mornings when you're tired and don't have any set-time commitments?  

Stockpile Clearing Take 2: Days 4-6

So this is a combination of Wed, Thurs, and today, excluding the weekend since I was away at a retreat with my mom. Here are some of my meals.

Wednesday: Strawberries and almonds, pretty healthy.

Thursday: Yeah... there was nothing healthy about Thursday's breakfast... it was an off day.

Today (Monday): This was the last bottle in my fridge, and I didn't feel like like dealing with breakfast today.

Wednesday: Easy lunch.  I haven't liked a lot of these Epic Bars, but this one was okay.  I think my favourite so far has been the chicken.  Probably won't buy any of these again though.

Thursday: Lunch was a bit more successful than breakfast, though that was 100% because I was awake between 1-5 AM instead of sleeping on a human schedule.  Stir fry with sugar snap peas, tofu, water chestnuts, tomato, carrots, and celery.  Same sauce as I've been using.

Today (Monday): Leftovers from Thursday.

Wednesday: I cheated and ordered pizza.

Thursday: Leftovers (shocking!)

Today (Monday): Single-serving GF Freschetta pizza, cause I was lazy.

So tomorrow is going to be a challenge as I'm out of easy left-overs and I'm not letting myself have my last frozen pizza for at least a couple of days.  I'm open for suggestions to do with frozen veggies (other than steam and salt/pepper.. cause that's super boring)!

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Stockpile Clearing Take 2: Day 3

Today was a low-spoons day, so food was boring and breakfast didn't happen.

Didn't bother with a picture because it was the same GF chicken sandwich as yesterday's dinner... except now I'm out of bread, so that's disappointing.

Blueberries and chocolate-toffee bark.  Also out of blueberries now.

Rice, pizza sauce, and mozzarella cheese - the result of me leaving the rice in the cooker for over 24 hours and not having the energy to deal with actually cooking.

And that's all.  Not a very exciting day, though that chocolate-toffee bark and any kind of berries is completely amazing.

Monday, 14 May 2018

Stockpile Clearing Take 2: Day 2

I'm calling this day 2 since I wasn't home all weekend for Mother's Day.  I feel like I was pretty creative with my food today, and I'm quite pleased.

Blackberries (leftover from Mother's Day) and almonds

I found a Cornish Hen in the freezer, so I roasted that today with some rice and the last of the frozen peas. 

I had this twice... chocolate-toffee bark and the rest of the blackberries.  A very yummy combination.

GF bread, chicken, lettuce, provolone, tomato, and ranch.  The bread was a bit dry, though to be honest it's been so long since I've eaten real bread that I don't know if bread was always dry and it's just been that long that I've forgotten.  Still, I enjoyed having a real sandwich for the first time in... forever?

Also today, I planted all but two pots in my balcony garden.  Pictures on my instagram, so check it out!

Friday, 11 May 2018

More Stockpile Clearing (Take II)

I took a couple of weeks off because I needed to not think so much about food.  But I'm back at it!  I have a small stash of fresh veggies from my last shopping trip, but I still have quite a lot of frozen veggies, and I even found a Cornish hen in the freezer. 

So today I worked through some more of the veggies in the fridge and the stir fry I made yesterday.

Salad wrap with provolone cheese.  Sadly... this was the last tortilla shell, so that's the last wrap for a while.  This tasted better with sliced turkey, but I ran out of that at the beginning of the week.

Stir fry.  I forgot to take a picture before I dug in, so here's a picture from last week of pretty much the same thing cooking (it looks better in the pan anyway).  I meant to add water chestnuts to it again this time, but I totally forgot about them as I was putting it together.  

I have a stash of seasoning packets I bought in bulk at the beginning of the winter that I've been really enjoying.  They're the Simply Asia GF Stir Fry Sweet Ginger Garlic mix.  Quite yummy, through probably not the healthiest way to season vegetables.  I probably won't buy them again once I've gone through the packets, but for now it adds variety.

What else is yummy for seasoning a stir fry that doesn't have a bunch of sugar and corn starch?  Recommendations?

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Clearing out the Stockpile Challenge, Week 2

A lot of repeat meals since I posted last.  Oatmeal for breakfast, leftovers of some kind for other meals.  Here are some of my new creations.

Tortilla shell pizza: Rudi's GF tortillas (I actually don't like these for anything but baking pizza on because they are too hard and don't taste very good), pizza sauce, the rest of my cheese, and some pepperonis.  Quite tasty.  I had this a couple of times, but I've since run out of pizza sauce and cheese.

Beef tomato crockpot thing:  Found more beef in my freezer, along with some frozen tomato sauce (I freeze everything I'm not currently using otherwise it rots in my fridge), so I chopped up the last of my onion and a carrot, threw in some spices (oregano, basil, bayleaf) and a spoonful of garlic and just let it cook for about 5 hours.  I had to add a little sugar to kill some of the acidity toward the end.

The result: it was edible, but not great.  Partly I've had red-meat overload the last couple of weeks, between the steakhouse and the buffalo and this beef from my freezer.  My stomach is looking forward to going back to tofu and chicken.

Salmon fillet!: I was excited to find this in my freezer!  Actually I found 2, so I'll be doing this again, probably next week.  Some more basmati rice and frozen peas made a really filling meal!  The salmon was okay.  I can't cook any meats very well, and even eating at "good" restaurants, I've only once had fish in Michigan that actually tasted good (Whitefish, I think in Leeland...).  I miss Japan's fresh, yummy fish.

I also have made one pot of chicken broth, which is now back in my freezer.  I have more chicken carcasses than I originally thought (I eat a lot of chicken...), and I definitely don't have containers for all of the broth that those would make.  So I think I can make one more pot and then I'll have to make some actual soup before I can clear out more of those carcasses.

Progress has been made though!  I did buy some GF bread as an experiment at the store, because I really wanted peanut butter, but other than that I haven't really bought anything significant for a couple of weeks now, and I still have over $150 left in this month's grocery budget!  Yay!

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Clearing out the Stockpile Challenge: Day 11

 This weekend was a bit of a shit show health-wise, but here is a snippet of some of my meals (I forgot a few, and one I ate out for a workshop).

 Sweet potato hash browns and summer sausage.  I'm really enjoying this one.

Oatmeal and fruit.  Also yum, a bit sweet.

Yeah I cheated on Saturday cause I felt like crap.

Taco rice, one of my favourites from Japan.  I magically found ground buffalo in my freezer!  Not entirely sure where that one even came from, but judging by the "freeze by" date, it was about a year old.  Basmati rice, ground buffalo and seasoning, cheese, and salsa.

Today's dinner:
Hot dog, basmati rice, and frozen veggies.


So with the taco meat still in my fridge and having run out of cheese yesterday, I caved and went to the store today.  One bag, I picked up cheese, some fizzy juice, clementines, and garlic, onion, and celery for making chicken stock.  Also a bottle of wine, cause yum!  

I'm quite pleased at my progress through my freezer and cupboard!  I still have a bunch of frozen stuff left, which is a bit blah to eat but it'll be a good challenge to get creative with that.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Clearing out the Stockpile Challenge: Day 6

Today was a tough day in terms of health, so when I had to go to Target anyway for more meds shortly after getting out of bed (around 2PM) I really didn't have the willpower to not get comfort food.

Amy's Bowls broccoli and cheddar bake

Leftover stir fry from yesterday.  This was an "I need to eat a meal" meal that I didn't really want and my stomach didn't really appreciate.

I think the only thing that will be entering my stomach for the rest of the night is peppermint tea. ~_~

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Clearing out the Stockpile Challenge: Day 5

I failed with pictures today... but I cleared out three things from my fridge: applesauce, lime juice, and leftover mashed potatoes.

Regular oatmeal with nuts, frozen berries, and apple sauce.  I found some maple syrup in the fridge, so I had that instead of brown sugar, and it was yummy.

Tofu stir fry with bean threads and a Thai sauce that I have a recipe for with fish sauce, Sriracha, sesame oil, lime, and tamari.  I had a picture, and then managed to delete it when I was clearing out old photos because my phone storage is full... Oops.  I have leftovers though, so that'll probably come up tomorrow or Friday.

Fuji apples... my second-to-least-favourite apple. -_- I bought them to make curry with last week because they were the only reasonably priced apples in the store.

Leftover potatoes and peas with a hotdog.

I can't believe it's already been 5 days... this will definitely go for over a week, though I may need to top up on fruits and onion/garlic so I can cook down the chicken carcasses in the freezer...  Do you have any recipes for chicken stock or bone broth?  I usually use carrots, an onion, a whole garlic, and whatever scraps are in my freezer.  I like putting in the tops of celery with the leaves, but I really don't like eating celery otherwise and I don't want to buy veggies I know are probably going to go to waste.

Clearing the Stockpile Challenge: Day 4

Mini crisis! I'm out of clementines. T__T  One of my favourite fruit snacks. 

I slept through lunch again today but did manage to clear out two items from my fridge: leftovers and pickles.  I'm not counting the now-expired milk cause I didn't actually manage to finish that... If they sold 1/4 gallons I would definitely buy them.  I hate wasting food.

Oatmeal, nuts, applesauce, brown sugar, and frozen berries.

Left over attempt at Japanese curry, minus the enoki mushrooms I originally cooked in there because apparently I can no longer eat those...

This recipe wasn't bad, but it wasn't what I was hoping so I'm not going to share it.  I will share once (if) I figure out one that actually tastes like Japanese curry.  This was very acidic.  I know I was missing fennel (I'm out), but I'm not sure what else I'm missing in there.

Buh-bye pickles! Those have been in there since January I think.

I am almost out of fresh foods in my fridge, so we'll be moving more into the frozen veggies over the next few days.  I suspect I will be eating oatmeal every day just to get the berries. T__T I already miss my clementines!