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Chronic Disease and Nutrition

Managing a chronic illness on a day-to-day basis is not easy. Depending on what you are dealing with, you probably visit a specialist and take medications that are aimed at providing relief of your pain and discomfort.

While medications can certainly help, our food choices and the things we drink contribute to how we feel. Research has shown that when heavily processed or sugary foods are consumed, this increases the level of inflammation in the body. For people with a chronic illness like Lupus, Sjogrens, RA, or MS, this can cause debilitating symptoms such as painful joints, migraines, digestive issues, and fatigue.

It is easier and less costly (physically and financially) in the long run to eat in a way that promotes good health, than to be forced to deal with the aftermath of unhealthy eating. Making choices which do not contribute to a healthy lifestyle can lead to heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, organ involvement, and the development of other illnesses. It is advisable to check with your doctor with regard to any dietary changes, but in general the focus should be on whole foods such as fresh vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, good fats, sustainable protein, and foods high in fiber. All of these foods promote good gut health as well.

For me, I gradually cut out meat and dairy and have followed a plant based lifestyle for some time now. This along with exercise, stress management, and focusing on gratitude has helped tremendously. Do I still have flare-ups? Sure, but knowing what helps my body to recover is key. Try eliminating certain foods for a while and pay attention to how you feel once they are added back. It can be a process to discovering what works for you, so be patient. Just stay consistent and committed to your well-being.

-Monaye

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Don’t Lose Yourself

What a year this has been. Living with Lupus is not without it’s challenges. Some days are good, while others can make me question everything. It’s tough to navigate life’s path while looking “normal” to the outside world, but dealing with all of the things people don’t see when they look at me. After all, I am the one who deals with the emotional and physical pain, the feelings of disease alienation, and the numerous changes to my body that have joined me on this unpredictable journey.

What I’ve had to realize is that while Lupus is a part of my life, it is not who I am. I am not my fatigue. I am not my various pains and nerve damage. I am not the hair or digestive issues. My identity is not tied to an illness, but rather to who Christ says that I am. Victorious. Strong and courageous. More than a conqueror. This body of mine is just a temporary vessel and regardless of what it goes through, the spirit who lives on the inside of me has already won the battle.

I choose to honor the warrior that’s always been on the inside of me even before Lupus made it’s presence known. My authentic self. That’s what really matters. Whether you are fighting Lupus or some other chronic illness, don’t lose yourself in the process.

Monaye

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Hello Lupus

                             Storms make trees grow deeper roots.

I’ll never forget the day I heard the doctor say, “Your results are back and you have SLE Lupus.” I’d heard him, but surely what I heard was wrong. I said, “I have what?” The doctor repeated his words. You see I had already completed lab work that he ordered weeks prior and I was at my appointment to get the results.

In that moment, I was nervous and anxious because I really didn’t know what to expect. I had so many questions. How would this disease impact my life? What would that mean for my day-to-day routine? I was 39 years old and other than a previous surgery, my health had always been pretty good. The doctor reassured me that it was not a death sentence and that it was a manageable disease. He gave me some informational pamphlets, asked if I had questions, wrote a prescription and sent me on my way.

As I walked to my car, I couldn’t help but to feel like I’d just been given a death sentence. While I didn’t know everything about Lupus, I had heard of people dying from complications. I couldn’t help but wonder what path Lupus would take me on.

It seemed like as soon the diagnosis was confirmed, every possible symptom became my reality. Migraines, rashes, fatigue, painful joints, digestive issues, and hair loss to name a few. Because I didn’t have anyone who I could relate to, I began to feel depressed. I had goals that I wanted to accomplish. I was in the process of changing careers to something very rewarding in the Criminal Justice field.

Lupus put an end to that.

Here I was on a new path in life. Certainly not the one I wanted for myself. So what was I going to do? Give in to the pity party swirling around on the inside of my head? I wanted to. But I couldn’t.

I allowed myself time to process this new normal. I cried. I cursed. I questioned God even. But at the end of the day…I realized this:

I found out how strong I was.

I realized that there were others like myself.

I realized that I could use my voice in a positive light.

I chose to go to battle with Lupus.

I remembered that I had two little ones who were depending on me.

I found strength in my struggle.

Whether you are a fellow Lupus warrior or fighting a battle of a different kind, please don’t forget that you are victorious! Your illness does not define you. If you are reading this, you are still here and the world needs more of you. Even if you feel like you don’t have much to offer, that’s simply untrue. The world needs your smile, your words of encouragement, and your determination to keep going! You never know whose life you may impact with your courage.

Monaye

If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving.” – MLK