The Corona Chronicles

Sooooo much has happened since my last post, but rather than try to rehash the entire first half of 2020, I will get to a more pressing matter…

The ‘rona.

Also known as the newest coronavirus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic.

My world changed in mid-March when I had to shift to remote work, stop going to the gym, avoid going as much as possible and switch my grocery habits to focusing on the survival of my family rather than maintaining weight loss.

Starting weight in August 2018: 230 pounds.

Current weight: 231 pounds and 12 ounces.

Me mentally right now.

I gained every pound I lost plus two since I changed my diet almost two years ago. I had touched onederland (under 200) briefly and then hovered in the 210s to low 220s for a while. Unfortunately, months of sheltering in place and eating more carbs and processed food took their toll.

Now I know that some people did just fine during this period and were able to maintain their regimen. However, as someone with anxiety disorder, the moment I walked into the grocery store and could barely find my usual staples, I mentally said “eff it” and decided to go into full survival mode until I felt that I would be able to safely and successfully purchase a bag of frozen chicken breasts without potentially getting attacked for grabbing the last one.

Masked up.

As the world gradually opens before the second wave hits, I’m contemplating what to do next. I definitely need to avoid regular bread again, no question. I also need to get moving again, but it will have to be from my tiny bedroom or the yard until I can trust the gym again.

I’ll admit that I dread having to start over, but I know that I can get back to where I was and below if I focus and am more conscious of what I’m doing.

There’s hope for me yet.

Climbing back to onederland.

Seeing 2020

Happy New Year – kinda. I’m using this Leap Day to blog since I haven’t shared anything here in a while. Trust me, I’ve been busy, but mainly on social media:

Facebook and Twitter: Lots of meal rep posts and reposts of recipes, etc.

Instagram: A new venture. Be sure to follow me!

What’s been going on lately? Well, here’s the skinny since I haven’t blogged since this past summer, I think…

  1. My older sister’s diagnosis of Sjogren’s syndrome has been changed to moderate lupus. Eek. Lupus and Sjogren’s are cousins, so I can understand that. However, she does have more skin issues than I do, so it makes sense. She already has rheumatoid arthritis (another cousin) and was also diagnosed with lymphedema. I think that the Fight Like a Girl tote bag that I got her for Christmas will come in handy right now.
  2. My younger sister packed up her family and moved to Tennessee in hopes of a better paying job in education. They have a pretty nice place to stay, and they seem to be adjusting well. I’ve been there to visit a couple of times already, and I got to check out stores that aren’t where I live such as Aldi and Ikea. I didn’t make it to Costco, but we’re finally getting one in my area, so that’s cool.
  3. I nearly LOST IT after spending three months redesigning the website for work. Not that the design work was challenging because it’s not new to me – it was dealing with the old system structure causing conflicts with the new during the transition. I had to take a mental health day at one point due to an unexpected request to roll back to the previous version of the site to retrieve files. I am slowing cleaning out the remnants of the old albatross to keep the system stable.
  4. Perimenopause can go kick rocks. What’s the point of skipping cycles if I’m still going to be in pain? I had to take to the rest of the week off from work thanks to this hot garbage.
  5. I’m at a spiritual crossroads. I decided to do a reset and determine what I really want in terms of connecting with a place of worship before committing myself again. The problem is that I’m probably about 20 years into the future as far as what I want where I live: a nondenominational, dogma-free, multicultural environment that accepts everyone regardless of who they are, will let me fully be myself and will not force me into any obligations. There’s more than that, but I don’t want to scare any of you, LOL.

That’s the short version of what’s been happening with me. I’ll try to get back to weekly posts, although it may end up being monthly. We’ll see.

Oh, I didn’t add a GIF yet. Hmm, let’s see…


Something to consider…In 2017, after being rushed to the ER and experiencing all kinds of random pain, swelling, etc., I had my last-straw experience and decided to try to find out what was wrong with me. The PCP at a clinic I was going to chalked it up to anxiety. Anxiety. ๐Ÿคฆ๐Ÿพโ€โ™€๏ธ (That’s why I hate mentioning my history of anxiety and depression on forms because they tend to not go any further.)

Anyway, after testing positive for Sjogren’s through bloodwork ordered by a NP, a rheumatologist that I went to later didn’t trust the test results. She ran a different kind of test that made her determine that I didn’t have it. Hmph.So, after switching to a rheumatologist that’s 45 minutes away, she believed the results, called the other doctor “textbook” and started a treatment plan.I was glad that I found a doctor who would listen, but I kind of wondered if I actually had some sort of unspecified autoimmune issue and not Sjogren’s.

Then…Guess who just tested positive for Sjogren’s as well? My older sister.

BOOM! ๐Ÿ’ฅ

Now I no longer have doubts, and I get to help my sister out on her own journey.I am sooooo tempted to write both of the doctors who doubted me and tell them why I’m not losing it. ๐Ÿ˜‚

The end.


About six weeks ago, I started working full time again – something that I thought I lost the capacity to do because of my health problems, but so far, I haven’t collapsed yet. Fabulous, huh?

Thankfully, it’s a desk job, so that helps me to even out my energy.

I made some major adjustments to prepare for this life change, including:

Purging my wardrobe. I reduced it by at least 50% and I still have a lot of items. What I do now is as I wear pieces, if I find a defect or it doesn’t fit well, out the door it goes.

It’s all about that “spark joy” stuff that professional organizer Marie Kondo talks about. I’m gradually changing the habit of hanging on to things out of guilt or obligation.

Next, now that I can see my clothes better, I pick out my work outfits for the week so I don’t have to think about that – or iron – every weekday. I am NOT a fan of ironing.

Finally, I have joined the world of meal prep. I cook my lunch for work for the week and put them in containers. Now I just stuff the container in my lunch bag and head out the door.

Talk about feeling like a responsible adult. ๐Ÿ™‚

I certainly hope that I can keep this up. They say that it takes 21 days to form a habit and it’s been more than that, so I anticipate sticking to these changes.

Boob Trouble

I’ll fully disclose at the beginning that this post talks about breasts, so if that freaks you out, you can stop reading now.




Now, to the rest of you…

In December, I came across what felt like a boil on my right breast. It was on the areola where one of the glands are. I found it by accident when I was bathing and bumped against it, so it must have risen pretty quickly. It was painful to the touch, and I could feel a lot of firm swelling beneath it. Over time, this bump filled with pus and began to ooze. I decided to keep an eye on it and let it do its thing. The oozing stopped, and the bump began to dry up and scab on its own. It seemed to be healing pretty good, but I decided to call my OB/GYN just in case. The receptionist scheduled an appointment for me to come in so the NP could take a closer look. By this time, the bump was a 1-2 cm lump with the top layer of skin missing, but there was no pus.

The NP evaluated the lump and said that I had developed an abscess due to a staph infection that I got from one of my bras. WHAAAAAAAT?!?!?!

Now, I admit that I had a couple of favorite bras that I wore a lot because they were comfortable and black, which you can wear under anything. I never thought in a million years that any of my bras would stab me in the…boob. Et tu, Brute?

Well, this was the NP’s advice:

  • Throw away all of my bras. ‘SCUSE ME?
  • Replace them with only white bras.
  • Wash my bras once a week in hot water with bleach.

First of all, I DETEST white bras because they show under some of my shirts, especially T-shirts. That means that I’ll have to wear tank tops under my shirts. Ugh. Right after I left the office, I went to the store, bought a white bra, drove to work, changed my bra in the bathroom and tossed the old bra in the trash – in a plastic bag of course.

On top of that, she said that she was referring me to a breast surgeon to clean out the rest of the abscess. SURGEON? Uh, I was expecting all of that, but anyway…

As I waited for the day of the consultation, another abscess began to develop under my breast right where it meets the rib cage. Fortunately, it didn’t get very far and just left a dark scar. Eek.

On the day of the consultation, the surgeon and a colleague of hers looked at the abscess and said it was healing well enough where I didn’t need surgery. Dodged a bullet there.

They recommended that I use a body wash for sensitive skin as it continued to heal, which I am doing now. The lump has flattened further, so I think I’ll be fine.

I got some advice in a Facebook group I’m in that I could use a laundry sanitizer or bleach for colored clothes so that I don’t have to wear only white bras. I like the sound of that!

So, now you know. Wash your bras, people. Replace them regularly so they don’t build up germs. And most of all, check your boobs for weirdness. Hope you learned something.

Low-carb Adventures

Happy New Year! I took a few months off from blogging to focus a little more on self-care, and I did so by finally doing what my rheumatologist told me to do months ago: go on a low-carb diet. I had been hesitating for some time because I assumed it would be too expensive for me to pursue at my current income level. However, I was invited to join a keto group that piqued my interest.

hmm gif

The funny thing is about getting started was that I decided to start for the sole purpose of proving that I wouldn’t be able to afford to continue. That was in September 2018, and I’m still doing it, so I was wrong as two left shoes.

I was wrong gif

There are different types of low-carb diets, and after reviewing the versions of the keto diet, I decided to go with LCHF (low carb, high fat). Attempting strict keto turned out to be entirely too stressful for me. I didn’t like counting macros, I tend to make up recipes that wouldn’t be listed in any carb-counting app, and there were times when I had to make some exceptions for financial reasons. (For example, most of the food I eat isn’t organic and I have never purchased avocado oil because I can’t afford it.) To be honest, I’m not trying to get into ketosis, and I have never checked to see if I was, either.

gasp gif

Yeah, that’s right. For the strict keto follower who may be reading this, I apologize in advance for offending you, but peeing on test strips just wasn’t for me. Anyway…

What I do is aim for keto-friendly meals and snacks most of the time. I generally avoid sugars, starches and grains as well as most fruit and legumes. I do indulge in carbs here and there, but it’s a conscious decision rather than just mindlessly eating pretzels while on Facebook like I used to do. I also designated Saturday as my cheat day to keep myself from feeling deprived. (I jokingly call this a keto sabbath.)

Have I lost weight? Yep. Dramatic weight loss? Nope. I prefer to lose weight slowly to improve my chances of keeping it off. As of today, I have lost 17 pounds since I started this low-carb journey. It still amazes me that it happened because some of the meals I make don’t feel like I’m on a special meal plan at all. I had fun experimenting and reading about low-carb recipes online. Here’s some of the foods I made with a full disclaimer that I am not a food stylist:

Thanks to recipe tips from keto groups, Pinterest, YouTube, keto websites and just Googling, I was able to find lots of ideas, some of which I tweaked because I didn’t have all the ingredients. (Xanthan gum is still on my wish list.) However, here’s the Cheesebuns recipe I used for my pizza crust, although I also add 1/2 tsp of baking powder to mine:

cheesebun recipe

I still have a long way to go with the goals of reducing chronic inflammation and getting back under 200 pounds, but I have begun to see a difference. I imagine that I will continue this way of eating in some form for the rest of my life so that I can keep my health in check. After all, doctor’s orders.

inflammation test results

I Have Limits

It’s easy to allow life to suck you in and you begin to neglect your own needs – at least for me, anyway.

Whenever I take on doing work or helping someone else, I throw my everything into it, sometimes to the point of making myself ill because I become emotionally invested in what I do.

That ends now.

I mentioned in my debut blog post that I struggle with anxiety and depression, and one of the ways that those illnesses tend to rear their ugly little heads is when I feel like I lack autonomy. I don’t like to feel as if I am being controlled in any way, shape or form. Feeling trapped is the easiest way to send me running.


Last week, I had reached the point where I honestly felt like I would have a nervous breakdown, but what kept me together is remembering that I can’t afford another medical bill, I don’t get paid leave and I don’t have an emergency fund. In other words, I couldn’t afford to crack up, so I didn’t. Good times, good times.

giphy-downsized (1)

That low point made me decide to find more ways to reduce stress in my life and focus more on my own endeavors. I want to actually act on my ideas and not just think about them because I’m too drained to do anything other than what other people want me to do.

A friend of mine passed away recently, and what I remember the most about her was her zest for life. She lived her life out loud, and fear was not in her vocabulary. I can assume that I will live to be 96 like my paternal grandmother, but my friend’s death was a reminder that it’s not a guarantee. Therefore, I have to act now while I still can. The universe is depending on me to carry out my purpose and make a difference, so it’s now or never.

Cheers to change.

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The Activities of My Limbs

Growing up as a “pew baby” in church, I often heard people say during testimony service that they were thankful for having “the activities of my limbs,” meaning that they were thankful for independent mobility. I’m thankful right now that I don’t necessarily have to have a cane, etc. to move around, but for how long?

I found myself cutting back on activities that involved a lot of walking due to fear of pain, but I also recall my rheumatologist telling me that moving around would actually help with pain. For real? How can moving help my pain if it hurts when I move?


I couldn’t see the logic behind this initially, so I decided that whenever I moved a lot, I could mentally note how much agony I was in and prove that moving wasn’t good.


I’m not quite sure how to explain it, but I’ll try. I traveled to New Orleans for several days for a convention, and I not only had to walk from one meeting room to another, hop on the escalator frequently, catch elevators, etc., but I also walked quite a bit downtown for dining and entertainment – IN THE SUMMER HEAT. I was certain I would die, but I didn’t. Imagine that.


The weird thing is even though my feet swelled up and my arches were on fire, the endorphins still kicked in. I was in pain and felt good at the same time.



The following weekend, I went with my family to a water amusement park. I figured this would be a good experience for me since my neurologist recommended that I take up water aerobics. Other than almost drowning while being thrown off a floatie while exiting a water slide, I had a great time in the water, giving my knees and back a break as I hung out in other less dangerous areas.


I learned from these experiences that in order to be more physically active, the following things would help me to carry them out:

  1. Walking with a buddy.
  2. Getting in the water for a good, low-impact workout.

I’m actually still sore now, but it’s the good kind that you get from something like working out in the gym for an hour. I actually feel pretty proud of myself for taking this all on. I rock more than I thought I did. ๐Ÿ™‚


In the middle of a sunrise walk in New Orleans. I’m on the far right. Notice that I am wearing my Sjogren’s syndrome medical bracelet in case things didn’t work out that day. LOL

Thawing Out

Easter snapped.

I’m not sure what is going on with spring this year, but it needs to get its act together. Just when I think my achy joints will get relief from the cold, the temperature dips.

Not. Cool.

At least the Plaquenil is starting to kick in. I don’t feel as fatigued as before. My insomnia continues, but the bouts are starting to shorten. Cutting back on coffee (ugh) and naps (UGH) did help.

Just a brief check-in until “sprinter” ends. See ya.

Happy New Year?

Gosh, I didn’t realize that I haven’t blogged since October! As Ricky Ricardo would say, “Let me ‘splain…”

tenor (1).gif

You’re not that angry at me, right? ๐Ÿ™‚

  1. I took up a work-from-home customer service job which required 10 weeks of training. We’re talking five nights a week for five hours at a time if you exclude lunch and breaks. I finished my training in December, and after two nights doing said job, I resigned. I realized that the call center life is way beyond me now, even if it is at home.
  2. I needed to finish graduate school. I was supposed to finish in August, but thanks to illness, I withdrew a few times. Nevertheless, I persisted. Now I’m just waiting for my MFA degree to come in the mail.

Somewhere during all this madness, stuff happened.

I did get a lip biopsy for Sjogren’s, and it came back negative. However, my new rheumatologist’s interpretation of the results is that it only shows that the Sjogren’s hasn’t affected my mouth, which may be why I still have teeth. (It is common for people with Sjogren’s to lose their teeth.) She also brought up my weight again. I told her about my budget limitations, and she suggested that I try a HelloFresh subscription. That still seems expensive, especially now that I am looking for another second job, so I have yet to try it. I did get a coupon last month, so maybe I can just get a week’s worth and try again later.

One thing she did bring up is my elevated rheumatoid factor and C3/C4. She says it looks as if I am in the early stages of rheumatoid arthritis, and the RA may show up in my bloodwork in the next couple of years. Yay, me. Anyway, I’m not surprised. It takes effort for me to get out of bed in the morning because I am so stiff, and I always feel a burning sensation in areas like my shoulders. I also had a lot of joint pain thanks to the unusually frigid temperatures in my area.

I was supposed to start taking Plaquenil last month. However, I am waiting for the eye doctor to give the go-ahead for it. Since Plaquenil affects the vision of some people, I had to get a baseline evaluation, and I can get the prescription once the rheumatologist receives the results. I had to come in and do extensive testing, which was kind of like…


My follow-up with the rheumy is in a few weeks, so I hope I’ll get to try the medicine out before I come back.

In other news, I’m thinking about featuring people on my blog who are also combating an autoimmune disease. This may require buying a domain, etc. to give me more flexibility, but we’ll see.