Paleo, RD, & Vacation

Wow, what a week!  We made it through Walt Disney World, and my rheumatoid was a NON-ISSUE!  I can’t believe it!

I worked a half-day on Wednesday, then we flew to Florida, arriving at our hotel around 10:30-11:00 PM.  Cavan got sick on the first night, awaking at 4:30 AM with a significant fever, so bad that he didn’t want to go to Disney!  Ugh.  My husband and I found a pharmacy, loaded up with over-the counter meds, and a short time later, he was good to go. 

Day #1 was Epcot.  There were 5 of our group of 8 (my husband’s family) that went.  It was hot (upper 80s.low 90s) and MUGGY!  Unfortunately, we got there late enough, due to my son’s sickness, that we weren’t able to get on many of the cool rides we wanted to go on, but we still saw many things, ate a cool dinner at Germany’s Biergarten, and made it home at a respectable hour.  I ate mostly meat at Biergarten, combined with food we had at “the family condo” and stuff I made at home and brought with us.  My rheumatoid disease, despite a ton of walking, was FINE!

Day #2 was a double whammy.  We went to Magic Kingdom all day (all 8 of us), arrived early, hit many rides, etc… and had a good time.  The park closed at 7:00 PM, but we bought ticket for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, which allowed us to stay until midnight.  I think we started heading out around 10:30, but it was another hour or so before we got home.  Still, it was a great time, with no rheumatoid issues even with the late night.  I ate pretty well, sticking to my diet.

There a bat on that mouse!  Or is it Batman?  Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party

There’s a bat on that mouse! Or is it Batman? Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

Day #3 we planned to go to the beach as a relax day.  I had been concerned my body would poop out after a late night, so we planned little activity this day, and I thought I’d be plunked at the beach.  As it turned out, I felt great, but the rest of the group (only my husband, son, and I stayed out for the Halloween piece) were exhausted and wanted to stay at the hotel.  So, we did a little swimming, then decided to go to Downtown Disney for dinner at Rainforest Cafe.  I wish we hadn’t done that part.  We had to park about a mile+ away.  The walking was fine except it was stinking stinking stinking hot and muggy.  That walk, from a heat perspective, sucked the life out of us.  We thought about going into Magic Kingdom for the evening, but after that walk, my husband and I decided we wanted the nice air conditioned condo, so home we went.  Still no RA issues despite an upset tummy after eating at Rainforest Cafe.  I’m not sure what didn’t agree with me, but it had no impact on my RA, just my intestines!

Day #4 took us to Universal Studios Island of Adventure (just the 3 of us).  I am a Harry Potter addict, and this park significantly fed my addiction.  I had a couple of little cheats here (ok, I had 2 Butterbeers).  No issues RA-wise, so I assume no gluten or dairy, which I think are probably big problems for me.  I felt like a I had a bit of a sugar buzz, but it was worth it!  We stayed until the park closed at 7 PM, then back to the condo.

Butterbeer at the Three Broomsticks... would LOVE the real recipe!

Butterbeer at the Three Broomsticks… would LOVE the real recipe!

Day #5 took us back to Magic Kingdom with all 8 of us arriving at different times.  The park was quite busy this day, and we had to stand in lines a lot longer than a few days prior.  While we anticipated this to be the case, it made for a less exciting time for our son.  Given the great time we had at the Halloween party (and knowing they were having it again on our day #6), we got tickets for it, knowing we’d probably have less lines.  Day #5 was a little tougher on me.  I don’t think I ate enough for breakfast, had 91 degree humid temps, had some “girl issues”, and just about passed out in early afternoon as the food places were so busy and we couldn’t find anything to eat that didn’t involve a long wait.  I eventually got a frozen lemonade with tons of food coloring and corn syrup, figuring it might make me worse in the RA department.  I can’t believe it didn’t, and I felt better after having some calories in my system.  We had a longer day (park was open until 9:00 PM). Home we went, feeling rather good still.

Day #6 took the 3 of us to Hollywood Studios.  We got a bit of a late start, as we were tired, and my son was still fairly sick.  We figured we wouldn’t get to see much at Hollywood, given we arrived about 2 hours after opening.  That proved to be the case, but we saw a few things, then went back to Magic Kingdom, being allowed in the park at 4:00 PM with our Halloween passes.  This proved to be a great time, and we were able to get on many rides with minimal to no wait time.  I will say you can only do Big Thunder Mountain Railroad only so many times before you want to vomit, but my son LOVED this ride.  This being our last night, we stayed in the park until closing at midnight, and loved every second.  Taking the ferry back to our car, my husband and I spoke at length of how well I held up.  We took a trip to Disneyland in CA 2 1/2 years prior (and pre-Paleo).  I had a really hard time, had to sit a lot, and could barely walk by the end.  This time, I was doing better than my husband was, no limping, no pain, and still some degree of energy left.  In all fairness, my poor husband mostly got stuck carrying the heaving backpack.  Still, my body held up, did great, and we were both shocked and amazed.

What I ate:

Breakfasts were at the condo and were various degrees of scrambled eggs, bacon, banana-pecan pancakes, and shakes (coconut milk, collard greens, bananas, and frozen blueberries).

Lunches were either snacks (jerky made at home, dried fruit, date bars, nuts) or food we bought in-park (turkey legs, half chickens, or salmon)

Giant turkey leg, or is it a hippogriff?  Island of Adventure, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Giant turkey leg, or is it a hippogriff? Island of Adventure, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Dinners and lunches tended to be a combination.  We didn’t typically eat 2 meals, but rather 1 lunch/dinner meal and snacks.

My cheats:

  • 2 butterbeers
  • 2 frozen lemonades with corn syrup
  • any number of things I bought could have had paleo no-nos on them (salmon, chicken, turkey), but I tried the best I could

My RA:

  • No significant issues to report in-park
  • Mild issue with my left knee when I tried to walk too fast.  Keeping a moderate pace made it fine.
  • On the plane, after walking for 6 days, my body didn’t like sitting still.  It was a 4 hour flight home and sitting still that long after all that walking made me a little sore.  After getting moving again off the plane, I was fine.
  • It is now 2 days since I’ve been home.  I took a 25 mg shot before we left for the trip.  My prescribed dose is 2 shots/week, although my doc supported my weaning off to one every 1-2 weeks.  It has now been 9 days since I’ve had a shot, and I am starting to feel like I need one today, so will take one.  I took one with me on the trip in case I needed it, but I didn’t.
  • I took a total of 3 ibuprofen on the trip, mostly for my neck, which got bounced around a bit on the rides, and due to my “instabilities” it was hurting a bit.

I can’t say enough good things about this diet.  I think my body kept up as well or better than other on our trip (and they don’t have autoimmune issues).

Cavan got pushed REALLY hard, given how sick he was.  His asthma didn’t kick up at all, which was amazing given how hard he was coughing.  We had him at the doctor’s office immediately after our plane landed, as he was still quite sick and we pushed him pretty hard (but not beyond what he wanted to do).  He had a chest xray, and all was well (they worried about pneumonia due to a pain in his side, but his lungs were totally clear).  He took and extra day off school and was pretty good upon sending him off this morning.

Rheumatoid Arthritis – Potential Good News on my Elbow

For those who don’t know, my elbow took a beating about 7 years ago.  I was carrying my son into the house from the car in his carseat/baby carrier.  My elbow suddenly went “pop.”  It hurt horribly for about 5 seconds, then didn’t hurt anymore, but it never straightened again. 

Things to know:  my elbows have been great throughout my entire 17 years with RA.  There have maybe been 2 times when they’ve caused me mild pain, for maybe a couple of hours.  They (along with my back) were my “go to” joints to abuse for many years… because they WORKED!  I never went to the doctor about it, thinking it would heal on its own,, and the rest of my body was in terrible condition RA-wise at the time.

Fast forward 7 years.  I’m trying to exercise, to get my neck muscles stronger to support my neck/spine instabilities.  This involves using my arms, and my elbow is not happy about it.  Suddenly, it was getting worse, waking me at night every time I exercised.  My right elbow remains fine.  I talked to my rheumy about it for probably a year and finally decided something needed to be done.  After seeing an orthopedic surgeon (who didn’t even want to look at it, saying it was such an old injury that nothing could be done, and he thought it was from muscle contractures due to RA), he relented and ordered an MRI.  Given that it’s getting worse when I exercise, I argued that I should at least know what’s going on. 

It’s been a couple of weeks since I had the MRI, and nothing from the surgeon.  Then out of the blue, my rheumy called tonight.  He said he had seen the MRI and wanted to make sure the surgeon had called me with the results (which of course, he hadn’t).  I’m glad I argued about the MRI, as this might be treatable.  The rheumy said that this could be RA or an injury.  I had a torn ligament, although he was unclear how badly it was torn (but probably not completely).  I had a ton of fluid in my elbow and my bone was swollen.  He said this was indicative of RA, but could also be indicative of an injury and re-injury.  He said he thought more likely RA, even though I’ve been doing so well.  I, of course, don’t think that, but likely an injury/RA combination, more injury than RA.  The point is, he thinks that draining the fluid, and injecting with a steroid to treat the bone inflammation might bring back a portion of my range, but it probably still won’t straighten all the way.  I still have to talk to the surgeon about the torn ligament and any implications it may have.  I think I might also talk to my physical therapist, as she might have some insight into what the joint stability might be like after draining fluid that may have been there for a long time.

Paleo – Vacation

We’re going on a vacation!  Not a little vacation, like local camping and such that we typically do, but Disney World.  Yes, we’re going to see Mickey Mouse, with my husband’s side of the family.  But how do we stay true to Paleo?  It’s requiring a lot of planning, but it will be worth it to keep my RA in check.

For starters, I’m bringing back an old staple that we used to eat all the time when we first started Paleo, but I probably haven’t made it in a year…. jerky!  I make jerky out of ground beef from the grass-fed beef we get.  I have struggled to find flavoring for it that you can taste after it’s dehydrated, but so far mustard (GOBS OF IT) seem my best flavoring.  I use a jerky gun (yes, there is such a thing) to make the ground beef into jerky strip shapes.  I dehydrate it on the highest setting, then cool and freeze it.  Supposedly it doesn’t need to be cold for a while, but given that it’s raw meat, I feel better keeping it frozen as much as possible.

Ground beef jerky, with loads of mustard, ready for dehydrating

Ground beef jerky, with loads of mustard, ready for dehydrating

I’m also packing Kit’s Organic Bars, dehydrated mango (store-bought), cinnamon coated almonds, tea, and Stretch Island Fruit Co fruit strips (think fruit roll without all the bad stuff, I hope).  Sometimes I make my own fruit roll, but this is more convenient for traveling.  Given we’ll have a kitchen where we’re staying, I may make Paleo banana pecan pancakes, freeze them, and try to take them with us.  With the bananas, they’re sweet enough to go without syrup, unlike my other go-to pancake recipe (gingerbread pancakes), which I love, but I really only like with some maple syrup.  Other than that, I think we’re chancing it and eating in the park.  I’ve researched a bit, and I think it can be done.  If not, well, maybe I’ll lose a few pounds!