Monthly Archives

February 2015

Simply Wholly Living

Is your food causing inflammation?

February 26, 2015

From time to time, I will post relevant, rich and timely articles from others like this one. Please read the original from SetaHealth >

Here’s an intro to get you started…

“One of my teachers at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, Dr Andrew Weil, referred to inflammation as the “silent killer” and while the word “inflammation” made me think at the time of the type of visible redness that can be seen on the skin when its irritated. I soon learned that he was speaking of chronic low-level inflammation. The type of inflammation that is responsible for chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, heart disease and obesity.

If inflammation is the common factor in all these major illnesses including autoimmune disease, what the heck was causing it and what could be done to stop it?”

Read original from SetaHealth >


Simply Wholly Living

Sticking to the game plan

February 25, 2015

We met with Dr. Jacobe Sloan at BIDMC here in Boston. And no surprise to anyone, he re-confirmed that I indeed do have MS. I’ve already settled into this disease of mine and it has had such a profound and positive impact that I would have been thrown for a total loop had he said anything other than that.

We went through my scans again and he pointed out all the areas that were responding to contrast on my brain and spine. Again all old news.

The only one surprised was the Doctor when he found out that his hospital actually sent me home with a diagnosis of exhaustion after my first episode and having been admitted for 2-days.  In hindsight, I was really not in a mental place to be dealing with any of that during that time. Everything happens when it’s supposed to.

He suggested two treatment options. Copaxone, which he sees as the best option for me based on my disease status/stage and plans for a pregnancy. Copaxone, as it was explained to me, takes 6-months of injections (7x/week or 3x/week) before it’s fully effective. However, it is not known if it will harm my unborn baby or if it will pass into my breast milk. The second option, which is pill form and only takes 6-weeks to begin to work is Tecfidera. Just like Copaxone, it is not known if it will harm my unborn baby or if it will pass into my breast milk. )If you’ve had any experience with either of these drugs while pregnant, I’d love to hear about it.)

What does this mean for me? It means, I’ll be sticking to my plan. No drugs until after I have had my next child and I am done breastfeeding. I am open to revisiting that plan though if my scans in August show progression of the disease or if I experience a relapse between now and then.

Until then, I stay focused on very clean eating and adhering to my anti-inflammatory diet, my supplement regimen, yoga/barre classes and simplifying everything in my life. It’s been a really backwards thing for me to be putting myself first. But in really it just “feels right” and I have never felt like my family or the other people that depend on me are suffering bc of it. If anything, we all are benefiting from it.

It’s quite an amazing thing.

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase,
just take the first step.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Recipes Simply Wholly Eating

Recipe of the Month: Molly Steven’s Elemental Braised Cabbage

February 20, 2015

Favorite Recipe this Month is Molly Steven’s Elemental Braised Cabbage. Seriously, who knew! I never thought that I would truly like cabbage. But i do! I love this stuff. To be fair, I also use carrots, parsnips and onions in this recipe. It take a while to cook but it’s so darn good. The recipe is following the image.

It’s amazing how I could never lose 5lbs when I wanted to before my diagnosis and now that I have a laser focus on fueling my body for health, I am not only more energetic but I have lost 10lbs!

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3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1½ tablespoons for the dish

2 pounds green cabbage, cut into 6 wedges

Salt and black pepper

2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into thick coins

1 large onion, sliced thick

Pinch crushed red pepper flakes, or more, to taste

2/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth, plus 3 tablespoons, if needed

1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions, whites and greens

Lemon wedges, for serving, optional

PS: I added parsnips as well bc I had them in my fridge!


With the rack in the middle position, heat the oven to 325 degrees. Smear a large baking dish with 1½ tablespoons of oil. Add the cabbage, turn to coat with oil, and arrange in a single layer (if necessary, overlap thin sides). Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt and black pepper to taste.

In a medium bowl, toss the carrots, onion, 3 tablespoons oil, ¼ teaspoon salt, and black pepper to taste, then scatter evenly over the cabbage. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes, add the 2/3 cup broth, cover the dish tightly with foil, and braise until very tender, about 1¾ hours, turning the cabbage after 50 minutes. Remove the foil, adjust oven temperature to 450 degrees, and roast until the vegetables brown a little, 15 to 20 minutes (if the pan begins to look too dry, add the extra broth). Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature. Sprinkle with scallions just before serving with the lemon wedges, if using.

This is totally worth the wait! Hope you enjoy as much as I have. Bon appétit!


Simply Wholly Living

Making time for me

February 20, 2015

It’s been a couple of weeks since my last post. I needed some time breathe deeply, read freely, and be contemplative.

In that time we have had more than 7ft of snow (and the Pats won the Superbowl!) Recording breaking, historic amounts of snow and cold. Two blizzards this winter! It has been tough to say the least, but I have been able to find some solace in the quiet and bright soothing white. It is the perfect setting for mindfulness and visualization – which I practice daily.

My husband doesn’t necessarily have the same feelings about it. But, my son seems to be enjoying it!

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2015-01-28 14.13.13

I also had my first session with Molly Hammil. It was eye opening, reaffirming and healing. Since our session I have put into practice a number of the recommended techniques. Stress is a trigger for symptoms that I would rather not have. But stress is not going to go away, however it can be managed. I am making more time for yoga and I have started Barre classes as well.

I have also really been good about finding time for healing visualizations. I do them on the train, in the shower, laying in bed at night. Really any time I can get 30 seconds to just me. I envision ribbons of violet running over my brain down my spine and out to each extremity and bursting into bright while light. At the very least, it is a peaceful time for me. But at the very best, this technique along with my strict attention to nutrition and exercise, has contributed to the cessation of the tingling in my right hand and arm.

I also started reading The Gifts of Imperfection by Dr. Brene Brown. So far, so good.
[Update: I finished reading this book. Go.Get.The.Book. That is all.]

I realize that my resistance to starting drugs may not be popular, but there are many people that have successfully controlled the progression of their disease this way. I believe in the power of my body and mind. And my faith in the reality of miracles is all I need – for now.

Second opinion on Monday. We’ll see what this Doc has to say.

A Day in the MS Life Simply Wholly Eating What's on my plate

What to eat if you have an auto-immune disease

February 17, 2015

Some great info on nutrition that supports an anti-inflammatory lifestyle that I am following.

There is a whole body of research emerging now about autoimmune disease and diet. When I was diagnosed in 2001, I was told by my doctor that I should “avoid alfalfa sprouts” and beyond that, it didn’t matter what I ate. While alfalfa sprouts are known to cause reactions in those with lupus, there was a whole world of knowledge about lupus and diet that my rheumatologist completely left out, simply because she wasn’t educated enough on the subject.

I’m glad I didn’t stop searching with that conversation. It turns out that its critical for a person with lupus to not only have an anti-inflammatory diet (which makes sense since autoimmune disease causes so much inflammation in the body) but to cut out foods that reduce inflammation and eat foods that improve and balance immune function. So what are those foods? Continue reading >

Image Source:

Simply Wholly Living

Hot Potato!

February 15, 2015

The initial shock of the diagnosis sent me into full-blown “I must plan every thing ever right now” mode. This is me in typical crisis-mode. Did I mention that I didn’t cry when I got my diagnosis? It wasn’t until days later when I finally allowed the truth to sink in.

Not the medical truth that the Doctors were saying, but the truth that I had no control over it whatsoever.

The irony of my entire life is that I have spent every waking hour trying to control as many variables as possible. Whether it was for myself (often not) or for others (more often than not), I subconsciously assumed the role of caretaker for the world.

And you know what? That worked for a very long time. I carved a nice place for me in this world, while seriously strengthening my ability to detach emotionally and get shit done. Whether it is a huge program at work, caring for my mother that has late stage melanoma, helping other friends or family members, offering to help strangers that I’ve met on the subway write their resume (yes, I’ve done this), producing my church’s web site, I was convinced that I could do it all.

And I truly believed I was being good and right. That I was doing what God wanted me to do. I am not perfect. I am a mess most the time, but I committed to always work on being the best person I could be. (Maybe it was the constant Irish Catholic guilt that I am still recovering from!)

There were a few key flaws to my approach.

  1. God has a job. I have a job. My job is not God’s job.
  2. Helping others is great! Helping others while putting myself, my marriage and my family on the back-burner is bad.
  3. God needs me to need him. He didn’t create me to do it alone. (See #1)

To me, the simple truth is this. I have taken a lot for granted for a long time. I viewed my strength as my ability to go it alone. And now I am faced with the very diagnosis that threatens to strip me of the ability to do just that.

The first step to ensuring that I never relapse is not nutrition or exercise (although I will do that anyway because I do not believe in coincidences), it’s to surrender to God and pray for his guidance through all of this. To assume that I have or can find all the answers would be making the same mistake again. I need to get my spirit back in order and reconnect with the universe and all the energy around me. What an awesome chance at a fresh start!

Who knows where this transformation will take me? I don’t have a clue. I’m giving it to God. Hot potato! Hot potato!

A Day in the MS Life Simply Wholly Living

Where the hell are my rose-colored glasses?

February 3, 2015

Staying present and being positive is HARD WORK. And it can be so draining. Today is one of those days when I misplaced my rose-colored glasses and I have to face the harsh cold winter blues. And I mean that in a total literal sense as well. We got more than 30″ of snow in the blizzard last week and another 12+” over the last day. It’s been brutal.

These “blues” probably happens to me more often than I like to admit but as William Faulkner says, “The only thing worth writing about is the human heart in conflict with itself”. So, here I am.

Since this diagnosis life has been pretty wild.

There is at least one point of every day that goes something like this: Looking for solutions and trying to map out longterm plans. Then stopping bc I realize I can’t control any of this. Then go into my room to meditate and get some balance. And if that doesn’t work, then YOGA! Yes, yoga. But what about Reiki? ShouId I just learn Reiki and do it myself? And then maybe I can help others (Whoops! There I go deflecting from my need to help myself as usual). Okay so maybe I won’t become a Reiki Master any time soon but perhaps I can look into essential oils. Shit, we just need to sell the house and downsize. I really need a different career. What about Mom’s Doctors appointments? We need to stay close to the city. Do I really need a car? I mean I could really reduce my carbon foot print if I just start taking the bus. Wait! I get bus sick. Ughhhh. Shit, I need to get back to work. I need a coffee.

Then it hits me that I just need to chill out, have a little convo with God about all this nonsense and be open to letting the plan unfold the way it will. Relinquish control. God knows. (Like he really knows I need help with that.)

It’s okay to be scared. I am learning to trust myself and God and allow all the emotions that show up to hangout and get comfortable. They all deserve their own place at the table. But like all house guests, there always comes a time to leave. And if they aren’t leaving, it’s totally okay to give them a little nudge.

This post is my attempt at a nudge.

Right now I am going to focus on the present facts.

  1. I am blessed. God loves me. Full stop.
  2. If you ever met my husband, you would have to agree with #1. He’s great. He loves and supports me completely. I am so grateful for him. (Did I mention he does the laundry AND food shopping?)
  3. I have a great family. My mom, sister, niece and nephew, Mom and Dad in-law, sister-in-law, nephew, Uncles, Aunts. Yeah, we are far from perfect (like very very far) and drive each other mental on a regular basis like any other family but we LOVE each other.
  4. I live in area with a world-renowned medical community. People travel here from all over the world to see these Doctors and they’re in my backyard.
  5. I’m healthy.
  6. My son. Just amazing. Every day, I just can’t believe it.
  7. My friends. They get me. And love me because of all the things. Not in spite of them. That’s friendship.
  8. My job. My co-workers. Extremely smart, equally compassionate, and entirely flexible. In 2 years I have been able to go to every single appointment for my mother, for myself and for my son.

Well that’s a relief! Have you ever tried that before? Jotting down all your blessings until you feel better? I’ve done that in my head. But this was a first actually putting fingers to keyboard. And it is way more effective.

Lesson learned (for the moment!). Faith, family, friends. It’s all that matters.

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