Wednesday, August 28, 2013

You are what you eat

The phrase "You are what you eat" has been doing the rounds for years.  I for one thought I knew what this meant.  If you eat fatty sugary foods you gain weight, if you eat lean protein and vegetables you will be lean.  There is no doubt about it these are true facts.

However since embarking on a paleo lifestyle I am learning that there is even more to the statement "you are what you eat" than I first thought.  When I first switched to paleo I thought I was doing the right thing by eating fresh protein like beef, lamb etc.  I thought that all protein was equal, well apart from the fat content of various cuts.  I have since learned that I was wrong.  There is a difference between grass and grain fed meats.  At first my perception was that grass versus grain fed was just something nicer for the animal.  As a former vegetarian I started to lean more towards grass fed meat as I have visions of a happy healthy animal roaming a field and enjoying fresh grass.  This is true but  I have since learned that there is a lot more to the grass versus grain story.

Not only am I what I eat but the cow is what it eats!  Stick with me a moment it will become clear.  My whole motivation for changing to a paleo lifestyle was to avoid grains and processed foods as they were causing an inflammatory response in my body.  If a cow is what it eats and it is predominantly eating grain products, will this then impact on it's meat? The short answer is Yes.  A cow has 4 stomachs to aid with it's digestion of grass, not the processed grain that it is fed to fatten it up. We humans need to consume essentially fats which we get from places like meat.  If cows are being fattened up with the wrong foods does this impact on the meat we eat and what does that mean?

Omega 3 and Omega 6 are fats that we need for survival and our bodies do not produce them.  Omega 3 provides strong anti inflammatory properties which means it plays a role in preventing arthritis, asthma etc.  It is also essential for heart health and for brain function and development.  Omega 6 is beneficial for cell growth and for use in the nervous system.  It is worth mentioning though that too much Omega 6 is serious and can cause massive inflammation, obesity, heart disease and diabetes to name a few conditions.  Omega 6 overdose is often called the silent killer. 

In the western world we have the balance of omega 3 and 6 the wrong way.  The ratio in the Western World is believed to be 15:1 (omega 6/omega 3) when the optimal ratio is 3:1.  This imbalance without question contributes to the number of diseases in the western world. 

It has been proven that cows fed grain products including corn and soy have much less omega 3 in their meat and more omega 6.  Whereas grassfed animals have the correct omega 3/6 balance.  Therefore by consuming grainfed meats even while eating a paleo diet I was not in fact helping my autoimmunity.  I was continuing to feed the inflammatory process with incorrect ratio's of omega 3/6.  I have since switched to grass fed meat.  I am also finding it more tender and flavourful. 

Here are some more interesting facts about grass fed meat.

There is no doubt about it, grassfed meat is more expensive but the question I put to you is What Price is your health?


Monday, August 26, 2013

Favourite items in the kitchen

I have neglected my blog and my readers recently and for that I apologise.  I had technology dramas the last couple of weeks and my trusty laptop had to be sent off to the the "geek hospital" to be resuscitated.  Luckily the crew at Geeks to You were able to revive it and return it to me with haste. 

I kept busy and stocked my freezer up with as many paleo meals and snacks as possible.  This was to help keep me on the paleo bandwagon and allow me to get as much sleep as possible between shifts.  I am pleased to report that this is working.  I returned to work a few days ago and things are going smoothly. 

I am very excited because I am starting to see improvements in my energy levels and I have lost 5 kgs since going paleo.  I'm even contemplating a return to the gym! I have to be careful that I don't become too obsessed with the gym.  In the past when trying to lose weight and get healthy I have literally become obsessed with how many hours I can do in the gym, and how many thousands of calories I can burn each day.  I then backed that up with eating very little.  Essentially I was breeding an eating disorder.  I do not plan on going back down that route, it was extremely unhealthy and very unhelpful in regards to my long term health.  So this time it is all about positivity, current and long term health and remembering that it is not a race to get to goal weight.  It MUST be sustainable.

Ive been keeping the postman busy recently and getting a few things from online shops.  I received the "Against All Grain" cookbook by Danielle Walker and love it.  The food is clean, easy to make, filling and nourishing.  I highly recommend you all check it out.  Her website is also fabulous and has some recipes to try.   

I am also trying MCT oil which is supposed to help with energy levels, absorption of fat soluble vitamins and help boost the immune system.  I will take it for a few weeks before I report back about how I am feeling. 

And finally I bought a spirooli to make my vegetables into beautiful spirals.  I am already in love with this machine.  It is easy to use and for someone like me with arthritis that is a big plus.  Also the vegetables are turned into spirals quickly and I am all for quick when preparing food.  I served Tomcat zuchetti bolognaise for dinner and he loved it. 

Do you have any favourite cookbooks? or kitchen gadgets that you just can't live without?  Let me know in the comments.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Road Trip

This morning I am typing this post as hubby drives us out of Port Macquarie NSW enroute to Sydney.  Yesterday we spent 8 hours in the car, today is to be 5-6 hours.  Being organised with food before leaving has really helped.  I have been able to snack on ham, veggie sticks and for lunch we stopped and I bought a pre mixed salad from woolies.  Unfortunately I made the mistake of eating the salad dressing and I suspect it contained gluten.  This morning I have some hives on my face and left arm.  It relieves me that I made all my gluten, grain and dairy free 'breads' to bring with me.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Travelling and Paleo lifestyle

How has your week been?

Mine has been filled with work and cooking.  Meal prep is getting easier and faster but I have a whole new hurdle on the paleo eating front to get over. 

Good news is that i survived my first night shift since switching to this lifestyle.  Lots of protein definately helped keep hunger at bay.  Plus who doesn't like eggs for breakfast in the morning, post night shift they tasted pretty amazing. 

I also got to catch up with my Immunologist for the first time in a month.  He was very pleased with my progress, I still get hives but it's now only once a day instead of all day and I have had no more facial, throat or mouth swelling.  My blood results are improving and I have been taken off one medication, this excited me no end. 

Tomcat has noticed that my energy levels seem to be improving.  Instead of wanting to go to bed each night at 6pm and actually sleeping until my alarm at 0530, I have been able to sit down, regroup and then continue on.  I think that means that I am winning this battle. 

My biggest hurdle is this coming week.  I leave Brisbane tomorrow to drive to South of Sydney to catch up with my in laws.  We will stop over in central NSW to give us a break from the driving.  It is a 13 hour non stop drive for those who aren't in Australia  I haven't been faced with being away from home, eating out or staying at other peoples homes since starting my paleo lifestyle.  I have tried to prepare as much as possible and this evening have made my paleo bread and a pumpkin paleo bread.  We will have an esky in the car to keep it fresh until I can freeze each portion at my in laws house.  Ive also stock up on ham and chicken, veggies etc for me to munch on in the car while travelling.  I don't think service stations etc will be able to cater for my needs. 

To be honest my biggest worry is explaining my new lifestyle choices to my in laws.  For those who don't react to gluten, grains and dairy it would be extremely hard to understand.  However they know what I have been through with my health in the last 6.5 years and they have been supportive.  My response is going to be that if they want grandchildren then this is how they can support me.  I think they will be on board with that.  Time will tell...

Have a great week.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Paleo while working

How has your week been?

I returned to work on Wed and was met with a heavy work load, teaching high school teens about trauma and coping with having to get up at 0530! Ugh that is seriously a horrible time of the day.  I am pleased to announce however that I survived the alarm clock, work and eating paleo whilst at work.  If there is a place that my new 'diet' would fail it would be work.  I had to be incredibly organised and everything was frozen in portions at the start of the week for me to pull out the night before. 

I have noticed that I am much less bloated, water retention in my hands and arms is slowly easing.  I am however still very tired and still getting the odd patches of hives.  It is still very early days into my paleo experiment though so I am not worried. 

I am thrilled to have found a yummy and filling paleo 'bread'.  You can see the recipe here.  It is gluten, grain, dairy and yeast free. I have been having a slice of this with hard boiled eggs in the morning.  It is incredibly filling.  Nothing worse than feeling starved. 

Tonight is my first test of a social situation and being the only paleo person there.  Luckily it is at my place so I am very much in control of what is available.  I always put crisps, dips etc out for everyone when they arrive.  I am still going to do this, I am not so horrible that I will inflict my new way of eating on everyone else.  I have some prawns and prosciutto for me to nibble on and I am also a fan of asparagus and prosciutto.  Then we are having roast chicken, roast veggies, sweet potato for me and normal roast spuds for everyone else.  For dessert I am going to make an apple and strawberry crumble which is completely paleo.  Fingers crossed it is yummy. 

I don't feel too deprived and I always feel satisfied after a meal.  Let's hope that lasts and I continue to notice changes to how I look and feel. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Coal under pressure equals Diamond

It is 2 am on a Tuesday morning.  I am struggling.  I feel overwhelmed, discouraged and like a failure.  How can my body betray me so badly to cause autoimmuity which nearly killed me once with toxic mega colon in 2007 aged 24.....

On my 25 birthday (July 2007) I had a nurse specialist say to me "Happy Birthday Cat, we didn't think you would make it to see your 25th!"

I pretended to be ok with this comment but silently it tore me apart.  I had been that close to death? really? Then I questioned my consultant colorectal surgeon who operated on me for 5 hours overnight emergently.  He said I had had 12 hours to live and even with the surgery it was questionable if I would surive.  I was 24, newly turned 25 and only 18months married, how do you digest those details????Add in that I had immigrated to the opposite side of the world 6 months prior completely well... I had no support network, just my husband and some very new friends.  I was shocked, disgusted, angry, overwhelmed, frustrated and silent.

I called on my faith and as I lay in an Intensive Care bed I called out to God as a backslider in faith.  I didn't even know if my pleas would be heard, I thought it was too little too late.  I remember crying with my mum (she flew to Australia to Ireland) and saying my prayers aren't working, God doesn't hear me.  She assured me he did and he heard all the many prayer requests around the world for me.  I will admit to feeling discourage but not defeated.  I still FULLY believed I would LIVE FULLY. 

Gradually as I was taught to take one step after another ( i lost 70% muscle and had to learn to walk again), I realised that God was infact directing my rehab.  I was fighting back under guidance.  I WOULD WIN!!!  My purpose would be to inspire many others to fight back againt Autoimmunity.  We can SHINE BRIGHT LIKE A DIAMOND!!!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Week 1 Paleo

WOW what a fast week that turned out to be!

As you know I started my search to the perfect diet to fight autoimmunity last Monday.  I opted to try the Paleo diet.  The principles being that if it doesn't walk, grow or swim on this earth then I can't eat it.  So it was bye bye beloved sweet chilli sauce, ketchup, bread, pasta, noodles, take away, did I mention bread!

I started pretty well last week.  I had pre made some homemade gluten, grain and dairy free granola but then I served it with fully dairy yoghurt.  Lunch and dinner were much easier, I had experimented with carb free before so to have a protein rich dinner with lots of veggies was no problem.  I made cauliflower and broccoli fritters served with roasted chicken, home made bologanise sauce served with ribbon zucchini,  even a paleo pizza base with salami, capsicum and onion topping, it was all very yummy.

However as the week progressed I found myself craving bread, pasta etc.  For the most part I did resist, however some bread did pass my lips and perhaps a late night bowl of pasta (gluten free of course!).

Today I had a dietitics review. How had my first week gone?

I confessed my diet downfalls, the craving bread being one and the late night pasta.  Oh and most importantly the skipping breakfast because I slept in late and decided it was better just to wait until lunch.

But my wonderful dietitian Julie was not phased by my cravings and sneaky bread eating.  It is all normal when you have to give up things which have been your 'norm'.  Instead of chastising me she gave me solutions in the form of paleo friendly bread recipes.

What stopped me in my tracks was that I was actually to have no dairy!!!!  What!!??? I am the granddaughter of a dairy farmer, my extended family makes a living from dairy!!! I LOVE cheese, how can this be happening to me!!!! 

It was then explained that in order for my gut to heal it can't have dairy, if I am to absorb nutrients I can't keep making my gut sick with dairy, gluten, grains and processed foods. 

I have already started using Bone broth which is rich is gelatin, mineral, vitamins and very good at healing the gut.  It isn't to my taste but I determined to continue because I know it is my long term best interests. 

Fair play to Julie, she gave me alternative recipes for sour cream.  I remain sceptical but I am prepared to give this fake cheese a go.  After all I want to be well and thriving more than I want cheese.

On the menu this coming week

Banana bread (grain, gluten and dairy free)

Multigrain paleo bread (grain, gluten and dairy free)

Dairy free sour cream

Paleo Lasagna


Bone Broth mixed into vegetable soup

Savoury mince served in a egg omelet (paleo burrito)

Apple and strawberry crumble (gluten, grain and dairy free)

Asian spiced chicken and asian slaw.

Green smoothies

Fruit smoothies made on almond milk

and I plan to research paleo protein balls.

What is on your menu this week?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Can you stop autoimmunity through food??

WOW!!! what a stormy few weeks it has been.  I successfully stayed out of hospital while waiting for my Immunology appointment.  Having said that I was covered in hives for the whole 7 weeks and had severe joint pain.  Who knew it was possible to get hives on the soles of your feet, ouch!

The big day arrived and the immunologist told me that I was having suffering from an autoimmune crisis.  My heart sank.  After 6 years of battling indeterminate colitis, psoriatic arthritis and osteoporosis I was not looking forward to facing off against another crisis.  I was started on chemotherapy injections, previously it had been chemotherapy tablets but the specialist felt that I would not absorb enough of the medication to improve. 

I left with a heavy heart, I was on 3 more oral medications, and a weekly chemo injection.  That was on top of all the medications and injections that I was already on.  The only way I can describe autoimmunity is being told that there's good news and bad news.  The good news is that you don't have cancer, YAY! The bad news is that you have to take chemo for life!! It's a bitter pill to swallow.

I was days away from my 31st birthday at this point.  I gave myself 24 hours to be miserable, mind you it took me 4-5 days to finally cry.  My poor GP had to gather me up when I finally let it all out.  She confirmed what I already expected, my depression was flaring up again.  I needed to fight back and quickly.  Luckily the medication had taken the edge off the hives and they were becoming fewer in number. 


... there is always a but

I continued to feel unhappy.  At 31 I was pumping my body full of medications, some that are extremely toxic.  Whilst they were helping me feel better, i wondered what they were doing to me in the long term.  I was already sporting the horrible steroid bloat which makes me miserable.  I wondered if there was something else that I could do to heal my body from the inside out.

I began to research diets, health regimes, juice fasts etc.  I returned to my fabulous dietitian Julie and explained how I felt about the new diagnosis and the tablets.  We have agreed to try me on a mix of Paleo and GAPs diet which will be used in conjunction with my tablets.  I am not in a position to cease the tablets as I am too unwell.  However i have fortnightly blood tests and my progress is closely monitored.  I am hoping that I will be able to reduce my dosage over time and hopefully come back off the chemo injections. 

Julie and I agreed that we would give me the weekend to get set up for my new food program.  I needed to shop and plan.  So tomorrow marks the start of a new regime, a journey to heal me with food from the inside out.  I will document my journey here and I am very open to suggestions so feel free to leave me a message.

Let's do this! I'm excited!!!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

When life throws you lemons

For those who aren't aware I am battling autoimmunity and was told last week that I was in the midst of an autoimmune crisis. After 6 years of battling autoimmunity I was not thrilled to face this crisis.

I am proud to call myself a survivor. What started as a search for remission has become friendship, love and growing up (at 31 some might argue it was time!)

I have learned that life is messy ...and brilliant, gorgeous and staggering, crazy and sexy, just like my autoimmune battle.

The hardest thing to face and learn is that I am mortal, I'm gonna die, as are you, my time is limited as is yours and I refuse to use my time up by pretending to be ok. I'm not, I face daily pain , daily battles, but I will be survive.

I have made peace with my autoimmune battle and that makes it ok. I'm not going anywhere anytime soon (if i have anything to do with it, hello green smoothies and raw food), but I will no longer pretend to be ok on the bad days, i won't sugar coat my reality. Covering it up is something i have done for the last few years and definately the last 6 months. It is time to get real!

I aim to educate everyone on autoimmunity and its impact on everyday life of sufferers and their family. Love you all and I thank you for your support, prayers, positive vibes and well wishes. Your emails keep me smiling and laughing xxx

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Turning Negativity into Positivity

This is so true for me! If something is going horribly wrong, I love nothing more than being able to whinge about it,, to anyone and everyone who will listen.  Why? I don't know.  None of the suggestions that people come up with are ever "right" for my situation.  Perhaps I love misery.....

However I am determined to change this mindset.  When someone asks? How are you Cat? I will only reply with positive statements no matter what is happening.  This makes me feel better.  It reminds me of the good things in life. 

I listened to a sermon from Phil Dooley (Pastor of Hillsong South Africa) last night and he talked about Simon Peter who was in Jesus presence in a storm at sea.  Simon Peter was in the boat, Jesus was on the water.  When Jesus said "COME" Simon Peter got out of the boat and followed Jesus.  No questions ask.  Simon Peter knew that in the storm, that miracles only happened where Jesus was.  I need to do that.  I need to get OUT of the boat and TRUST Christ.  I can't just sit around and hope that the miracle of good health finds me.  I need to seek Christ, follow him and TRUST him.

In order to do this I need to STOP talking about the negativity in my life and START giving thanks for the positives.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Friends in good times and bad

I must confess to being somewhat self absorbed this week.  I won't lie, an element of woe is me has settled in but enough is enough.  Yes, I was admitted to hospital, no we don't have the full story yet, yes I have to wait quite a few weeks to see a specialist and yes I feel I've had enough ill health so why me?!  I need to snap out of this state of mind and appreciate the good things within my life.  Being miserable is not helping the situation and it is just making me feel even more miserable.

One thing that has become extremely obvious this past week is that I am loved by many friends and family members.  I have felt overwhelmed with the out pouring of love that has come my way.  I love my friends and family dearly.  If I could pack family and some of my oldest friends up from Ireland and move the to Australia then my life would be pretty much perfect.

What is a friend?

Friend n, a person whom one knows, likes and trusts

I am blessed with many friends, I am a very social person.  The joke in work is that you can place me in a part of the unit away from my friends to keep me quiet, however the plan will fail because I will just make new friends.  Often people find it hard to believe that I was ever shy, but I was in fact a very shy person until I started nursing.  Now I am able to have a conversation about pretty much anything.  I love conversation and I love hearing about peoples lives, adventures, experiences and dreams.  I guess it could be said I love people. 

This past week I have found that I am loved in return, loved more than I even knew.  We all lead busy lives, but this week I have been blessed by people taking time out of their busy schedules to sit with me, pray for me and laugh with me.  Many who couldn't physically be with me have sent beautiful emails and text messages. 

I have found it challenging to be the centre of attention due to illness.  I always like to present a very controlled front, I still show emotion (mostly happy, excited, bubbly emotions) but I won't show fear.  I am more likely to crack a joke to hide my fear, and that can give off a tougher image than perhaps I should present.  I am talented in changing the topic when it gets too close to the truth of an emotion that may cause my bubbly happy mask to slip.  I have realised this week that it is the fear that people won't know what to do with the raw real me in the face of bad news.  Having had a lot of ill health in the last 6 years, I am subconsciously trying to protect them from a lot of the negative emotions it can bring out.  I guess I want them to still see me as me and not look at me with sympathy.

Since my overnight hospital visit last Sunday many of my friends have challenged me in this very area.  They have not let me hide behind jokes.  They have not let me suddenly change the topic.  They have held my hand when my lip has trembled and they have LOVED ME through every minute of it.  There have been no looks of sympathy.  They have helped me form plans of how to deal with this new health crisis.  Some our christian and are praying daily for my health and that I be healed in Jesus name.  Some are non believers and are making sure I can get to and from appointments easily and that I have enough to eat.  Each one of my friends has touched my heart and I am so thankful for them.  I still have a lot of work to do in the area of sharing the bad as well as the good.  I know I am hiding the bad from them as an act of love as I want to spare them.  However they are teaching me that it is ok to share it all and they will LOVE me no matter what. 

So this Thankful Thursday post is for all my amazing friends.  I am truly grateful to have each and every one of you in my life.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A trip to Emergency

A lot has happened in the 5 days since my last post.  I wish I could say that it was new and exciting things but the reality is very different. 

It began with my return to work on Saturday.  I was on shift with a great group of people but it was an extremely busy day.  I finished late but didn't mind as Tomcat was picking me up and I wasn't going to be stuck waiting for a later bus.  MissD and family were coming for dinner so we raced home to get ready for their arrival.  Tomcat had worked wonders on the house and everything was clean and tidy.  There is nothing worse than the fear people will rock up to the house and it is a mess. 

We had a wonderful evening with MissD and family.  It was music to my hears to have laughter ringing throughout the house.  I can safely say that the company of good friends is great therapy for my stress.  It wasn't a late night because MissD has two little ones and I myself had to get up at 0530 for work the next day. 

Sunday in work was another of those busy days.  Initially I let things get to me, but AussieB (one of the first people I became friends with in Aus 7 years ago) took me to the side and made me sit and deep breathe until the acute stress phase stopped.  AussieB was worried because the hives which had been settling were now back and all over my arms and hands.  I dismissed it.  At that point I had had hives for 2 weeks straight.  I had become used to seeing them appear and then disappear.  Antihistamines and steroids were the medications of choice but to be honest they weren't doing much.  They made me feel like I was at least helping myself and getting treatment but the reality was they were doing nothing. 

On Sunday evening it all changed.  I was watching TV, the highly anticipated return of "The Block" but I couldn't really concentrate on it.  I felt 'off'.  My face started to feel tight and I noticed my lips were feeling bee stung.  I looked in the mirror and my whole face, neck and lips were swelling up.  I spoke to Tomcat and discovered my voice was very hoarse.  I tried to clear my throat to see if it helped but it didn't.  Throughout the conversation my voice was becoming more and more quiet and hoarse and my lips bigger and bigger.  Tomcat drove me to the hospital and I could feel the panic rising in my chest.  Would I need to be intubated to protect my airway?  I text a couple of nursing friends to ask for prayer and one came to the hospital to be with Tomcat in case I had to be intubated and put on a ventilator to keep my airway open.

At the hospital they took one look at me and put me straight into resus.  My oxygen saturations were dropping, my blood pressure was ridiculously high and my heart was racing.  All i wanted to do was cry but I had to really force myself not to as it wouldn't help my breathing.  I was given lots more medications and had a drip put in.  Unfortunately I have very difficult IV access so the consultant had to do it using an ultrasound. 

Everything was pointing towards an anaphylactic reaction. When they took into account the 2 week history of hives and already being maxed out on antihistamines and steroids the anaphylaxis was less likely.  Plus I wasn't recovering with adrenaline.  What on earth was happening to me?

I am now being investigated for a rare disorder called C1 inhibitor deficiency.  It looks like I do have it but we have to wait for blood tests to come back.  I also have to be reviewed by an immunologist but unfortunately they are high in demand and low in supply.  If nothing else this is teaching me patience and forcing me to rest.  I am back on sick leave for this week and back at home after my night in hospital.

I am sharing my story because it may help others to recognise when something is very wrong with someone.  My symptoms all pointed towards anaphylaxis which is a severe allergic reaction.  If anyone ever has any swelling of the mouth, nose, tongue, get help straight away. 

Friday, May 10, 2013


At my wits ends, still covered in hives and having only just recovered from the realisation that I am in fact suffering from stress, I was left with a dilemma - How do I recover right here and now? The decision to reduce my working hours had been made but that won't kick into effect for a couple of weeks.  I sat and looked at my painful broken skin on my arms and legs and felt nothing but sadness that i had let it get to this point. 

As a nurse I am often the one handing out the advice to everyone else, not having to take the advice myself.  In my mind I was replaying everything I would tell my patients, their relatives and even my own friends - eat well, drink less, move more, do something you really enjoy, hug your loved ones, take a stroll on the beach... I have even been known to throw in meditation.  That's when I felt despair, I was beyond having those actions help bring me back to a place of tranquility.  Given time they would most definately help me, but in that exact moment they would not stop the ugly outbreaks on my skin, they would not help me to sleep at night instead of staying up scratching until I almost bled. 

I had another lightening bolt thought, a flash back to a conversation I had with another friend only a couple of weeks before.  My little scottish friend YummyMummyS, a fellow nurse and expat on the other side of the world from her extended family.  YummyMummyS had suggested acupuncture, she herself had it in the lead up to fertility treatment and during her pregnancy.  It reminded me that Tomcat had it years before he met me and has raved about it ever since.  YummyMummyS reported it greatly helped her morning sickness (perhaps it could help my hives) and Tomcat had reported it helped him relax after long stints at work.  I felt a sense of hope and excitedly rushed off to check if I was covered through my private health fund.  Voila, I was and they recommended a practitioner a short 5-10 minute drive from my house.

It was after hours so i was unable to make an appointment at that time, then at the back of my mind I started having doubts.  I found myself thinking "you are a critical care nurse, you know that medicine and time is what you need, none of this airy fairy stuff".  Don't you just love those little voices that pop up, burst your bubble and plant doubt in your mind!  I decided that I should research it before making an appointment.  I jumped straight onto the World Health organisations (that's WHO to you and I)  website and discovered that they recognise acupuncture as a valuable treatment and recognise research that has been done in this field.  That was good enough for me.  The next day I made my appointment and found myself sitting in the clinic 90 minutes later.

I have to admit to being excited, nervous (it was needles after all) and if I'm 100% honest still a little sceptical.  The practitioner was lovely, not a hippy like I had made up in my head, he made me feel at ease instantly.  I few simple questions about what had brought me to the clinic and he learned about my stress and being signed off work.  I then hopped onto the couch and he started to take my pulse.  Recognising this as a great first step in any medical treatment I felt at ease, this guy knew what he was doing.  I took a few deep breaths and then realised he was taking the pulse on my wrist and using different levels of pressure on 3 different spots and then did the same on the other side.  At the end he said I had a "very low kidney pulse".  Bang, there it was the sceptical side of my arose once again.  I stopped him in his tracks and said "I'm sorry but i should probably tell you I am a critical care nurse and you are holding my radial artery which isn't even near my kidneys".  Fair play to this poor man who had suddenly encountered a nightmare client, he smiled and listed a lot of symptoms associated with a low kidney pulse.  Here are some of them:-

Feeling deeply drained
Feeling tired but wired
Fear, anxiety, paranoia, panic
Lack of inner calm
Afternoon sweat attacks
Night sweats
Dry mouth especially at night
Needing to go to the bathroom a lot at night (nocturia)
Foot pain, in particular high in the arch and heel

The only thing I could say to the poor guy was "oh ok, point made there is no way you could have known I have all of those".  He simply smiled, put me at ease and next thing I know I had needles in my feet, ankles, up my legs to my knees and one in each wrist.  For the record I didn't feel them at all. 

I was then told he would leave me to relax (there was that horrible word again!) and that he would return in awhile.  As he left I was thinking how long is awhile, what if I need you? But he was gone. I spent the first few minutes alone looking at the needles and cursing why I decided to do something that so clearly was way out there that it would never work. I heard the acupuncturist taking a client into another room and starting her treatment. I thought, oh great, now i have to lie here with no relaxing music (like at the beautician) even longer while you sort her out as well. Well this is stupid.  Can you tell I don't particularly like new experiences?

Having been awake since 0400 that morning I decided to close my eyes for awhile and then 'it' started happening.  I felt myself relax, I felt like I was melting into the bed, I felt peace.  I could feel tension leaving my body, my breathing slowed down and I felt calm for the first time in weeks.  I don't think I have enough words to describe the feeling of rest that I had during and after the treatment.  On the drive home I found myself thinking that if I drove into something I would probably shrug and say oh well.  That was how relaxed and chilled out I felt.  That feeling lasted for a good 3 hours after treatment.  I slept well that night, not for a long time - just 5 hours and the next day I didn't have the same level of anxiety or worry.  My hives were settling down, no new outbreaks but the intense itch was still there.  I am learning that i can't expect things to be fixed overnight.  I didn't get into this situation overnight and it will take time to recover.  Acupuncture is going to play a key role in helping me get there.

I am going back for my second treatment this afternoon and this time I can't wait. 

Have you had acupuncture?
What was your experience like?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

When your path shifts and the goal posts change

I made mention earlier this week about being off work on sick leave.  The story behind that is that I am experiencing lots of stress from different aspects of my life at the moment.  Some areas are completely within my control and others are not.  I am not the sort of person who openly discusses with friends or even family what it is that is getting me down or making me feel overwhelmed.  In my scrambled thought process it is a way of admitting a weakness.  Don't get me wrong I don't think people showing weakness is a bad thing, I love to help others but I can't admit my own weaknesses to myself or anyone else.  This is part of what prompted me to return to the blogosphere as it previously gave me an outlet for these thoughts and allowed me to work through things. 

On Monday I was ordered to rest, to take care of myself and to relax.  I had broken out in hives and Monday was the 9th day in a row of being completely covered in them.  My largest measured 18cm x 6cm, ouch.  This year I have been going at what feels like 100mph every day and suddenly the word relax was being thrown at me.  First thought was one of panic, as if I could slow down, didn't the doctor realise how much I had to do.  I was already feeling overwhelmed by life's tasks and now she wanted me to pause for a week.  That really wasn't going to work for me, but i smiled politely, took the sick certificate and came home and sulked! Yup, you read it, I sulked.  This was me, a person who had just finished working 4 nights shifts, had 1 night off, worked another 4 night shifts, had 1.5 days off and then returned to day shift.  In the past 3 weeks I hadn't had more than 1 day off in a row, I felt overwhelming exhaustion with the inability to rest deeply at night due to dreams about some of my stressors.

The start of the dreaded hive outbreak.

When Tomcat arrived home on Monday night he took one look at me and asked me to reduce my hours at work for my own health's sake.  You see I have a complicated medical history and in truth I am extremely lucky to be alive.  I will share more on that another time.  In recent weeks and months I had toyed with the idea of cutting back at work but felt a sense of guilt at not being able to work full time.  This time however I knew Tomcat was being 100% serious and I knew I had to listen.  Earlier in the day a close friend (the ever talented and beautiful MissD) emailed me something that was like a thunderbolt and stopped in my tracks, " I'm so praying for you - I don't believe you should just be managing like this but you should be flourishing."  In that moment all the thoughts about needing to slow down, needing to adjust my path and goals made sense.  I had dismissed them and thought, no not yet.  In that moment I knew God was speaking to me through MissD, I felt a sudden peace with the decision to reduce my hours, and the sense of guilt at what I perceived as not being able to cope just drifted away.  On Monday night I had my first restful sleep in many weeks. 

Now I find myself in uncharted territory.  Until now my grand plan had been to work hard and long hours for as long as I was able to.  Even writing that statement now makes me laugh, money from long hours was not even coming close to making me happy, so that was a very very silly goal.  Now the path has shifted and I am going to have more time on my hands.  I need to set new goals as I don't want to waste my new found free time.  I still want to serve others but I am unsure in what sense or area.  One thing I do know is that I have to help myself first.  I need to teach myself the art of relaxation and yesterday I discovered a new way of doing so (more on that later in the week).  I need to optimise my health and only then will I be in a position to be of use to others.

Have you been dismissing thoughts about needing to change an aspect of your life?

What are your goals at the moment?

What do you do to relax and rejuvenate?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - a few of my favourite things


Handmade invites instead of generic facebook event invites or text messages.  So pretty, fun to make and make people feel loved.
As a household of shift workers we can go can go for a week or more without seeing each other.  Sure we are aware of a warm body in the bed gently loudly snorning when we jump in the other side.  Communication is therefore a problem.  Here is one of the love notes I left Tomcat while on a week of night shifts. I simply adore finding notes, random text from my wonderful hubby.
Sunrise at the end of a long night shift.  This is a wonderful sight.
Showing Tomcat the North Antrim Coast of Northern Ireland (and this is winter!)


I share parts of my day on instagram, come check me out.

 What are a few of your favourite things or places? 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Return to the blogosphere

Today I have found myself at home on sick leave with strict instructions to rest and take care of myself.  This is a challenge for me and I am sure that I am not alone in that.  There always seems to be something else that I deem to be more important than sitting down, breathing deeply and recharging my batteries. 

So here I am once again in the world of blogging.  A few years ago I blogged under this very blog name, I enjoyed it, I enjoyed the interaction with like minded people and I loved shedding some light into my world.  I feel it will be a good outlet for me to sit down, deep breathe and do something for myself.

Who am I?

My name is Cat, I moved to Australia from N.Ireland 7 years ago this week.  I guess it could be said that this is my Australiaversary.  I moved permanently after going between Australia and UK/Ireland for 2 years.  You see my husband (lets call him Tomcat) is Australian, we did a lot of umming and ahhhing about where to settle and you guessed it Australia won.  But instead of sticking with what at least one of us knew as familiar life, we moved to a different state from my in laws.  Yup some may call us crazy but we saw it as an adventure.  Time to strike out and make a name and life for ourselves.  It has been a tumultuous 7 years - but more on that later. 

What are my interests?

I am Christian and believe we each are here to make a difference. I will in the future share some of the areas and campaigns I am particularly interested in.

I work in health care as a Critical Care Registered nurse.  I thrive on adrenaline in work but in my private life I am extremely cautious.  I think it comes from witnessing many accidents and misadventures.  I constantly fight the urge to wrap my loves ones in cotton wool and forbid them to do anything 'risky'.

I love swimming, reading, movies and most of all my family and friends.  If I could pack my parents, sister and some of my oldest friends up and move them down under life would be pretty much perfect.  Add in a glass of bubbly and I think i would be the happiest person alive.

Thanks for dropping by, feel free to leave me a comment and I look forward to getting to know you all while sharing more of myself.