Jobs for People with Chronic Pain

I'm back at work! I really can't believe it. I feel like it is one of those pinch me I'm dreaming moments.

Years ago when I made the switch from graphic design to teaching, I knew I made a wonderful life decision. While a lot of parts of teaching are stressful, I found that there are just as many wonderful, heartwarming moments. I love the fact that some of my old students still contact me and keep in touch.

I'm one of those teachers that always viewed my students as my own kids.

So when I had to give up my teaching career because of my adhesive arachnoiditis, it was life-altering, and not in a good way.

I have spent the last 3 years rehabilitating my body and while I've had setbacks, I've also gotten stronger and learned to deal with my condition.

Jobs for People with Chronic Pain

If you haven't heard, I have a podcast now with my PIC #awkwardyethealthy Rebekah Svensson, Chronic Warrior Women. She has been such a positive influence in my life. In fact, she is the reason I have my current job!

Rebekah started teaching with VIPKid back in June. When we were chatting one day after recording our podcast she told me how much she earned with them in July and I was shocked.

I immediately asked, what was the name of that company? Can I teach there?

The answer is yes.

If you have a 4-year degree in any subject and 1 year of experience with kids (church, babysitting, teaching, etc.) you can teach with VIPKid!

I'm so happy I kept my teaching certificate current! I passed the initial assessment and got an interview scheduled, which was a 5 minute demonstration of a short lesson. After passing the demo, the next step is passing a mock class for one of the teaching levels.

With my experience in education, I had no problem passing the Level 2-5 mock classes, with practice, neither will most people!
I'm in my 4th week of teaching and loving it.

I've taught with high pain, with my tens unit on and ice packs with zero problems. If you meet these qualifications I recommend giving VIPKid a shot!

Just let me know and I will send you an invitation link to fill out an application!

Getting Back to Pain Free Days Part 2

Howdy y'all! It's been a beat since I was able to post. I have finally, fingers crossed, come out of my terrible pain flare. My lumbar spine has stabilized and I have enjoyed some low pain days in the past two weeks.

It took a lot of work to get back here and between you and me, I need to stay strong and keep trucking on my path.

I'm sure you are sitting there asking yourself what did I do to get back to low and no pain days...

Well, I will address that question in detail over the next few posts.

In summary, I talked to my awesome physical therapist, got a program to follow (more on this later), made sure I was eating healthy regular meals, getting adequate sleep, didn't bend over at all for any reason, and started a new career.

That sounds like so much in such a short time, and believe me I'm flabbergasted that it's September. How in the hell did that happen? Where the heck did this year go?

It seems like so much of my year has been playing catch up but I really have been able to take care of some long term goals that have been floating around my cabinet of undone accomplishments.

In fact, today I'm working on some of that to-do list, like the never-ending task of transferring files and programs to a new laptop. UGH! So tedious but has to be done.

Getting Back to Pain Free Days

Man, what the hell is up with 2019?

I feel like it's been one long string of bad luck experiences. It's as if I've been stuck in Retrograde all damn year.

What gives? I'm starting to notice that years ending in 9 are some of my worst years.

What the hell universe? Seriously.

I was doing great, January I had zero pain. I was feeling awesome.

Then I got BioTe, Bio-Identical Hormones, at the beginning of February and it was all downhill from there.
I knew that my testosterone was .02 when I was tested, so I had been on hormone cream for a couple of months. However, it was hard to remember some days to apply because let's just face it, remembering things is hard when you have chronic pain...especially when you are currently in a pain flare-up.

We're working on our house this weekend and my father-in-law asked me where the paintbrushes were, I know we have them, not a clue as to where. Now, this may sound fine and normal to some people, but I'm the kind of person who can tell you the peanut butter is on the 3rd shelf up, on the right, behind the tuna. Damn, I hate what pain does to my brain.

Back to BioTe...

When my functional medicine doctor was getting my dosage ready for the implantation, he asked me if I get headaches before my period starts. I answered yes, so he said, "Let's put a little estrogen in the mix to help with that."


Huge mistake.

In the next few months, I gained 15 lbs...and I was still working out and eating right, so it was the effing estrogen. Also noting that I felt like I had chronic fatigue syndrome, I was a constant bitch to my husband, my joints became even more hypermobile, and did I mention I gained 15 lbs?

F- that! I'll take the damn headaches, just get this crap out of my body.

Well, I had to wait until they "dissolved" for the estrogen to just go the hell away. Meanwhile, back at the lodge, in April, I hurt my back trying working out harder than I should have to lose the weight I had gained from the estrogen. My chiropractor got my back into place from the misguided workout attempt, but two nights in the ER had it out again.

Why was I in the emergency room you ask?

That same day of my extreme workout, I had routine blood work done for my annual physical and the phlebotomist punctured my artery.

That next week, I flew to Orlando for #breadwinnerbff's 40th birthday. I walked about 8 miles around Universal Studios. That is an amazing feat for someone with Adhesive Arachnoiditis. I got to rest for two days after that but was home alone taking care of myself, like the stubborn idiot I am (introvert wants alone time).
Finally, #leohusband came home from Kuala Lumpur. We got Luke, our third attempt at a rescue dog, the very next day and...

Luke was infested with fleas, so I hurt my back, again, trying to give him a bath with #leohusband that same day. I spent the next week vacuuming and running laundry every day. More trauma to my back.

Going into our third week with Luke, I made ramen for dinner and subsequently spilled the boiling ramen all over my legs when I crawled onto the couch to eat dinner.

I haven't moved that fast in years, especially since I got Adhesive Arachnoiditis. I jumped off the couch, bent over and ripped my ruined yoga pants off my body as fast as I possibly could, and sprinted to my shower to drench myself in cold water.

My legs were on fire and #leohusband is Googling that I need to stay under the cold water for 20 minutes. My back seized up under the cold water and me shivering halfway through the twenty minutes.

I know what you're thinking, geez could it get any worse?

Oh just wait!

So that week we had some really, really horrible thunderstorms come through. Turns out that Luke had severe thunderstorm anxiety. No matter where I was he would try to get as close to me as possible, which meant my lap. My lap is not made for a 76 lb dog. After constant attempts to sit on me, the pain in my back just got out of control.

#leohusband left for another trip and I could not physically take care of Luke on my own, so I ended up calling his foster mom to come get him.

Then I had two weeks of being on my own, trying to keep the fort running, and waiting until #leohusband comes home to finally take care of my back issues.

So by this time my back has been out of alignment for 8 weeks. It has spent so much time out of alignment that it is the norm for it now. My freaking hypermobility is so annoying. Actually, I have some real choice words for how I feel about my hypermobility but I'm trying to keep this blog PG-13.

#leohusband finally got home but the damage was done a long, long, time ago. We traveled to San Antonio for my nephew's graduation which there was no way I could do hours in a stadium seat so we did dinner and quality time, and went home.

Mid-June when my chiropractor would put my back into place and it would shift back out within 20 minutes to 48 hours, I called in for back up.

#leohusbands mom came down to do laundry, help us put together freezer meals, and do some odd jobs around the house that I just haven't gotten to and if I did them, I would just further piss off my already infuriated back.
With her help, we planned another weekend for her to come back with my father-in-law to do basic home maintenance jobs that just aren't getting done because they involve two people and I simply can't do it. Well, I'm stubborn enough to do them but I shouldn't do them if I want to stay out of a wheelchair.

That's the reality of the situation. All the gains I had with the last two years of yoga have been lost in 3 months. Muscle death with Adhesive Arachnoiditis is real y'all.

So my awesome physical therapist gave me a 28-week plan and I joined Life Time Fitness. Upon my first day it was obvious there's a cult following where some people have had the Kool-aid. Why are you at the gym all day? What are you an athletic model? seriously?

All I care about is getting my stretch on, doing my PT, and then hitting the treadmill or lap pool. Last week was hell. I don't know how I even made it to Friday. I was so tired, and in so much pain, but I've got to keep on it to rebuild the muscle I've lost.

In short, I haven't kept up with my blog, or my Instagram, or just life in general. I am finding it hard to function period. I've probably said this before but when #breadwinnerbff was getting married and her sister missed her flight, her reaction was priceless, "It's not that I don't care, it's that I can't."

Nothing has ever been so pricicely clear than that phrase. That's exactly how I feel, I should care about keeping up my presence online and in social media, but I just can't right now.

I'll be up and motivated to spread my wisdom and help again soon, because I refuse to give in to this disease and that folks, is what this battle is all about. I just need to direct my energy to me for a bit.

Gluten Free Ramen with Creamy Avocado Sauce

Inspiration can strike when you least expect it, or in my case, a moment of starvation.

I had a moment of wanderlust in my local Costco and I stumbled upon Gluten-Free Ramen.

Now, I normally eat grain free, but on the occasion I need to have something more substantial, I tend to turn to brown rice. That's exactly what this ramen was made from, organic brown rice.

I couldn't wait to get home and try it out.

Gluten Free Ramen with Creamy Avocado Sauce

1 T Ghee
1 Avocado
1 t Curry Powder
2 t Minced Garlic
1 T Coconut Aminos
1/4 t Sesame Oil
1 Handfull of Cilantro
1 Cup Bone Broth or Vegetable Broth
1-2 t of Taste of Thai Green Curry Paste (Whole30 and Paleo compliant)
Leftover Green Vegetables (I used zucchini, broccoli, and asparagus)
Leftover Protein from Dinner or Soft Boiled Eggs - How to do Soft Boiled Eggs omit if vegetarian or vegan.

Boil the gluten-free ramen as per instruction. If making eggs start that water as well in a smaller saucepot.

While the water is heating to a boil, in a large skillet on medium high, heat the ghee.

When the ghee is warm, but not smoking, add the garlic and let it come to a warm golden color. Then add the spices, green curry paste, and coconut aminos. Whisk spices together and warm until fragrant, about 1 minute. If using leftover protein, add that to the skillet with the leftover vegetables and saute for 4-5 minutes.

At this point, the ramen and egg water should be boiling so get that started.

Add the broth to the skillet and bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.

Cut open the avocado and mash half to a fine paste. Add to the broth and stir well. Salt and Pepper to taste broth mixture to taste. Thinly slice the rest of the avocado for topping.

When the ramen is done, drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Leave the noodles in the sink and work on the eggs if using them in the recipe. Once everything is ready, add your ramen to a bowl, pour the broth mixture over the ramen and top with the leftover avocado, eggs, cilantro, and sesame oil if desired.


Summer Vegetables and Meatballs

Summer is officially in full swing and I can feel the heat just sitting inside my darkened house. I swear if you didn't know any better you'd think houses in Texas were inhabited by vampires since I keep the blinds shut all day long to keep the house cooler.

In the words of Xander on one of the best shows ever created, Buffy the Vampire Slayer..."You know, our friends, that sleep all day and have no tans..." Yep. Texas looks like it's full of vampires in the summertime.

However, the one great thing about Texas is the variety of veggies that come out. Particularly, zucchini and my new favorite heirloom tomato blends. Yum.

I decided to start a Whole30 in between events this summer. That's after my nephew's graduation from High School and before #leohusband's birthday, even though that means a Whole30 July 4th - American Independence Day for my non-US readers.

I feel confident that my two servings of fruit from a cold watermelon on Independence Day is just fine with me in lieu of peach pie.

Unfortunately, my back has been totally f'ed up since April and I haven't had the chance to sit down and evaluate what I need to do to actually feel better. I've been in pure survival mode hanging on by my fingernails trying to keep up my blog, keep up with my daily 'I need to do this to feel normal' activities, promote my awesome new podcast Chronic Warrior Women with Rebekah Svensson aka #awkwardyethealthy, be social with family and friends, oh, and do my daily responsibilities like laundry and ironing, etc...forget about getting a meal on the table.

By the time I'm done with all that I'm done - stick a fork in me!

Needless to say, I haven't been eating that great, not bad, but not up to my normal standards. In fact, I had to switch my morning affirmations from I love my life, to I love to cook. This is so weird to me because back when I was teaching, I did love to cook, it was my stress reliever. Now, it's my stress inducer. Crazy!

So yesterday was my first Whole30 day. Well, I felt so bad I didn't even start eating until lunchtime when #leohusband woke up and made breakfast for lunch. LOL! Then all I had to do was dinner.

Summer Vegetables and Meatballs

5-6 Zucchini
2-3 t salt

First, prep the Zucchini. Wash, dry, and spiral about 5-6 large zucchini. Place the spiraled zucchini in a colander, in the sink, and generously salt the zucchini. Set a 20-minute timer and start working on the meatballs.

1 lb of grass fed ground beef
1 egg
1 T almond flour (as long as it's not the main ingredient this is OK on the Whole30)
1/2 T Italian blend herbs, divided.
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper

Mix all ingredients in a medium-large bowl with your hands. Wet your hands and then roll the mixture into 1.5-2" balls. Bake on a baking sheet lined with parchment at 375 for 20-30 minutes. Around this time the zucchini should be finished.

1 T olive or avocado oil
1 t of minced garlic
1/2 small onion, diced
1 lb of mixed cherry tomatoes
1/2 T Italian blend herbs, divided.
1 t salt
1 lemon zested

In a large skillet, heat the oil. Add the garlic and onions and saute until fragrant and the onions are slightly translucent.

While the onions and garlic are sauteing, slice the cherry tomatoes in half lengthwise. Add the tomatoes to the pan and salt and pepper the vegetables.

Head to the sink and grab the zucchini and a bar or tea towel. Dump the spiraled zucchini in the middle of the towel. Pick up all four corners of the towel and now you are going to twist the towel to "ring out" the excess water from the zucchini.

Add the drained zucchini to the tomato mixture. Saute for 5-7 minutes.
Around this time the meatballs should be finishing. Check to make sure that they are done in the middle. Temp should be around 165 degrees in the center and juices should run clear. If the meatballs are done add them to the skillet.

Toss everything and top with lemon zest. Serve.

Essential Oil No More Scars Blend

I have so many scars on my body.

So many.

I always like to think of that line in the movie The Replacements with Keanu Reeves...Chicks Dig Scars...Glory is Forever..etc.

Well, I don't think men dig scars on women as much as we dig scars on them. #leohusband has this awesome scar on his back and he likes to tell people, in jest, that it's from a bar fight. He is 180° different in appearance than someone who would have a bar fight scar.

I have 23 surgery scars on my body. You can't really see them because I have a magic trick.


Essential Oil 'No More Scars' Blend

For the carrier oil, you are going to use vitamin E oil.

In your rollerball vial:

Frankincense 15 drops
Helichrysum 10 drops
Sandalwood 7 drops
Top off with Vitamin E Oil - I prefer Jason 5000iu Skin Oil

Use twice a day after moisturizing so it stays in place. If on your face avoid makeup in that area, if possible. Let's put it this way, there's a reason I styled my hair differently for 6 months.

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