The next day

Getting as much done in a day as I can on good days has been my mantra of late. Make shopping lists organized by store. Prioritize errands and organize them by regions of the moderately-sized city in which we live for best travel efficiency. Put Amazon items on my Wish List for bulk orders about twice per month. Put appointments, key things to do/questions to ask at respective appointments, and errands on the calendar app in my phone so I will always have it with me. Record “to do” items on the calendar as well then just move them to another day when sickness takes over and everything needs to change. Make sure to record the places that I went, dates/duration of major convulsive episodes, start/stopping of new treatments, and aberrations in sleep habits to track this serious illness for trending. Use the note function in the glucose meter when compelled to take blood sugar levels. And stage lists, paperwork/medical orders, supplies, lunch bag, water, etc. by the front door so I don’t forget anything when I can finally get myself out the door. Works for me!

It’s no wonder that I am exhausted after a day with a few appointments and errands completed in this way. Marked fatigue with a difficulty functioning follows even if the first appointment isn’t until after 1:00 pm in the afternoon! Still I would really rather block off parts of days and push through, even if it means sitting in a parking lot somewhere resting between destinations for up to an hour, than to have 1 or 2 commitments every single day of the week. I sit a lot in my truck between destinations: eating a snack, sipping some water, checking my lists or phone calendar, and getting my head together (i.e. if the environment I had just left was ridden with noxious environmental stimuli that is still difficult for my brain to process). All of this completed with some safety measures in place of course.

I figure that I can always rest the next day . . . or the next morning at least. Scheduling my days this way is a form of chronic illness survival, especially when you have to come home, change clothes, shower, and clean everything purchased after every trip. (We still must practice a fair level of extreme avoidance due to my ongoing sensitivities.) Perhaps if I were my own occupational therapist, I might advise a better strategy of energy conservation and pacing. Oh dear, another example of the therapist not following her own advice!

All bets are off as they say, the next day, if there is a major convulsive episode the night beforehand. Appointments get cancelled and re-scheduled. To Do List items get moved to another day. A call is made when I can function, to my hubby-dear to pick up critical items when needed. And if the difficulties last for a few days then I am grateful to be able to use our local grocery store’s shopping and/or delivery services. Sometimes supplements and compounded medications can be sent over in the mail. These are wonderful services that really help on days when I am more home-bound: as recent as 2 weeks ago.

Things are really hard when medical appointments fall two days in a row; these meetings are always stressful for me anyways. Things are equally as hard when illness factors worsen around special occasions and holidays: when things simply cannot be rescheduled. This happened today after a wretched convulsive episode last night. I had planned on preparing a meal and some treats for family members who were visiting and it was all I could do to pray my way through the completion of the project. Gratefully my beloved husband was willing to prepare part of it, but sadly after I awkwardly blurted some speech that was a little too pressured, a little too much reflecting the exhaustion I had not yet yielded to the strength of my Lord’s. I had to apologize. Eventually, I got outside in the milder Winter weather of late and for the first time in the three days that I had hoped to do the same. The Pup and I came home then I finished my tasks (’cause there’s always another thing or two to do before you can sit on the couch for a couple of hours and REST!!!).

Probably a few hours too late to be as effective, I did rest. Even the editing volunteer work on the computer got done. And a whole lot of food got consumed while watching cooking shows on Public Television. (We don’t have cable TV.) Such is life in survival mode I guess. The balancing act begins again tomorrow with a family Christmas gathering at a local cafe. It all reminds me of the Capitol One Bank commercial here in the States where the viking character asks his slain comrade or opponent, “what’s in your wallet?” I always hope that it will be fuller on my next day . . . Tomorrow we shall see! JJ

What’s in Your Wallet?

3 for 1 from the Do It Sick Chef

Finally the haze of a medical setback has lifted for me and I can make my food in regular clothing!  And that is a bonus for fans of the Do It Sick Chef!  Sweats have been replaced by a flannel shirt and jeans.  Woot!  Woot!

First and the best of the bunch are tips for making salad for one or more 1) meals or 2) people, conserving energy and resources as you go.

Next up are subjects important to those planning meals while restricted in dietary choices and dealing with a serious illness.  Not quite sure how I remained upright for the taping of this one!  (See the Six Deer and a Skunk post for the reason!)  Check out these simple tips for freezing food portions to help your meal planning when time and energy are lacking:

And third is a quick take on making your own ghee butter.  That’s butter without the milk solids for those who must be dairy free for health reasons.  It tastes very mild and tends not to burn when used for sautéing too.

To keep closer tabs on upcoming foodie tips from the Do It Sick Chef (yours truly!), “Like” the Facebook page Hope Beyond or Subscribe to my YouTube channel directly.  I will do summary blogs periodically here that will be filed under the “Do It Sick Chef” category at the end of this webpage.  Future topics will include fabulous 5-ingredient Vitamix soups, kitchen organization & simplification, and more.

Remember that food is fuel, food is medicine, and Lord willing we are going to get well!  I will be praying for you Gentle Reader.  Take care, JJ

Do It Sick Chef

And heeeeeere’s an important announcement!

You are invited to join my Hope Beyond Facebook page for the first release of my new video series entitled the

Do It Sick Chef

This soon-to-be published YouTube video series will feature simple meals, meal preparation strategies, kitchen organization tips, and general silliness depicted in real life for persons on special diets recovering from serious illness.  The video will be minimally processed (no-make-up), Non-GMO (nothing fake or poisonous), organic (where possible), grass-fed (when affordable), and filled with an occasional bark from a cute German shepherd in the background.  And if I can convince a foodie friend or two to make me a video for us then they will share the venue too (Sherry, here is your hint, hint!).

Get introduced to foods I know you will love someday like TURNIPS, ghee butter, and frozen vegetables that actually transform into something wonderful when sautéed at ridiculous temperatures in  ghee!

Since I am exhausted from taping the first few segments, all I can share with you now is a picture of the first meal that came together before I collapsed.  Hey, this is real-life, real-food, and really wacky!  I know you are going to get a kick out of it, Gentle Reader.  And Lord willing if you follow maybe half of what is shown, we are all going to get well too (but I make no claims on the turnips part!).

Take care and watch the Hope Beyond FB page for updates (and maybe this blog if I get around to it!).  :JJ

UPDATE:  The first episode is now live on Vimeo!  Let’s make something that resembles lunch!

almond milk, coconut milk, special diet, mold free, gluten free, Candida, sugar free, Lyme, Mold, Mercury, Seizure diet, food as medicine
Sautéed Veggies and Meat, Oven-Roasted Applesauce, and Caila Farms Coconut Almond Milk for Lunch

Too Pooped to Punt? Try Another Way!

When the ravages of illness keeps me from working out, I hunt for alternatives to get my heart-a-pumping!  I recognize that even when we are sick we must keep our bodies moving for the benefits of exercise we all know and to prevent further complications, such as blood clots from inactivity.  This is a constant battle for me these days.  How about you?

In times like these I am hoping that even walking the dog to the mailbox and back counts as physical exercise!  Well, almost.  Exercise at the moment sure takes on a different form, gets performed at different times, and gets done with different strategies fer shure!  For example, twice this past week I got on our elliptical trainer for 10-15 minutes at 2 in the morning!  It actually helped me to relax before bedtime and took the noxious symptoms down a notch that can be worse if I am stressed in any way.  I am very grateful to have an elliptical trainer in my living room just for this purpose!

When I am able to do exercise with a little more intensity, I turn to my garden chores.  Digging in the dirt burns tons of calories but more importantly, it becomes resistive exercise for my lower torso and “lifting” for my upper body as well.  O.k. so I’m not recruiting all of the muscle fibers within the limited range of motion of scooping-and-throwing.  I’m hoping that the diagonal axis of movement actually counts more than the up and down motion of most curls, presses, lunges, and squats?  It’s more like a hybrid exercise that combines the core muscles, upper and lower extremities at the same time, right?

A gal has gotta do what she has gotta do for a time such as this.  That goes for you guys too.  If I have just enough energy on a Monday to lift some weights or re-dig a border around our pine tree, the pine tree is going to see me first!  I just make sure that I use the best body mechanics I can muster during the job, like lifting with my legs, keeping the load close to my body, and so on.  After all, I still am an occupational therapist deep down inside you know and this is the stuff I’ve been teaching patients for years.  The stuff applies to me too and preventing injury is important now when I am more deconditioned than conditioned!

And when that extra measure of energy-grace appears, I do not need a reminder to get out the foam roll, 3-10 pound weights, theraband, weighted bar, or therapy ball.  I still crave exercise!  Gratefully I am able to place these exercise tools within reach in our living room for a quick few reps at, well, 2 in the morning!  As long as it’s a shorter workout, those few reps still won’t keep me from going to sleep.  By the way, like most folks battling Lyme Disease, it’s common to be nocturnal.  The noxious symptoms are the lowest in the middle of the night so that ‘s the time I use to make jewelry for Trinity Jewelry by Design or get my office stuff done too.

I look forward to the time when I can have both a traditional schedule and a traditional work out routine.  Just before my time of illness began on October 11, 2011, I was completing the Metabolic Effects (ME) workout DVD a few days per week, kayaking with my hubby, and our local recreational group and either going for long walks or riding my awesome, custom fitted hybrid, cross bike every week.  I was at the highest level of strength, of fitness of my life at middle age.  Wow.  As I posted in a previous blog about returning to my prior level of fitness, I am Counting on Muscle Memory!  Lord willing, I’ll get back there.  Lord willing, I may even exceed my former level of fitness.  And this is entirely possible if I have less chronic pain in the future.  Wow.   This hope actually keeps me going during the trials of “bothering” to recover from Lyme Disease and Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome.  Someday I very likely could be older, wiser, and better than ever.  Cool beans.

I am grateful to my step daughter-in-law, Kate Horney, for introducing me to a way of working out and of eating that has kept me from gaining weight during this time of illness.  She probably didn’t know that I was tracking her work on  Facebook, long before her successful fitness business.  More on that in a moment.  And when I would need to eliminate all forms of sugar in my diet due to Lyme Disease, because of my familiarity with what the ME folks call the fat-loss diet, the transition went smoothly.  Again cool legumes, not beans!

While I had followed a “protein-fat-vegetable diet” many years ago to eradicate a candida infection, the process in the past was very difficult.  I lost a lot of weight very quickly and was weak/shaky/miserable.  Using the ME approach to exercise more recently actually helped control my cravings for carbohydrates because of the hormone-balancing effect of resistive exercise.  This helped when I was exercising more two years ago and it helps now as well because I did not have to go through a rough transition again when eliminating simple carbs from my diet; they were already gone!  I was also already gluten free as well.  To be sugar and gluten-free are both are very helpful in battling Lyme Disease.  The spirochete bacteria of primary Lyme seems to feed off of simple sugars; gluten-laden foods makes everything worse as it can increase inflammation in sensitive individuals.   Wow again.  It’s like the Lord was preparing me for victory two years ago!

For more information on Kate’s work I invite you to check out her website at:  Beyond FitPhysiques.   While her latest book is titled for new moms, I found that it contains incredible weight and fitness strategies that can help all of us ladies who have bodies in transition, hormones adjusting to illness or post-partum changes, and who need a boost to get back on track.  Check out 101 Tips for Post-Natal Fitness and the Metabolic Effects Diet books by using the links under the NEW HOPE FITNESS RESOUCES in the right hand column of this blog.

Just writing this has energized me to do more than I thought I could do earlier today.  Gee Kate, I hope washing the hardwood floors counts too?!  :J

Step-Saving Cooking and Kitchen Tips

Since I have to cook a lot these days while recovering from a chronic illness, I measure every ounce of energy almost as much as every ingredient that goes into each special recipe.  Then again, most of my recipes are hybrid anyways so the “measuring” is with a pinch or scoop of this or that substituted for that or this!

Tis a good thing that I came into this time of illness as an occupational therapist.  I used to teach my patients about energy conservation and work simplification during activities of daily living.  Those terms translate to saving time and energy doing everyday activities.  So allow me to share a few tips that go beyond the Extreme Dietary Makeover Strategies documented earlier.  Those strategies related more to the recipes; these tips relate to the tasks of working in the kitchen including cooking.

Setting up the Kitchen

Keep seasonings that you use often in a cute container by the stove or main food prep area.  For me this contains white pepper, celtic sea salt, marjoram, onion & garlic powders, etc.  The rest are put away in the spice cabinet!

Keep small appliances, water filter devices, and main serving dishes setting out on the counter or within reach when possible.  For example, my favorite pottery bowl in which I eat most meals is on top of the microwave.  Inside the bowl is a matching small plate that I use to serve my supplements and keep them from rolling off the counter and table!  They were made by a favorite potter too, making things a little more special and pretty.

Everything is placed within the “work triangle” between the frig/stove/sink to save steps gathering items, cooking, and cleaning up the kitchen.  This area includes all of the fragrance-free cleaning products, paper towels, trash can, etc. needed in the kitchen.

I only have one dispenser on the kitchen sink and it contains dish soap.  This works well for cleaning hands and dishes when it’s a milder or fragrance-free soap.  This also saves time and money dealing with multiple kinds of soaps and dispensers.  I just refill the dispenser when needed from a larger, economy-sized bottle.

Use paper towels as napkins!  After I made the change, I saved time and money every week that I would have spent re-filling the napkin holder.  Pull out the paper napkins for entertaining.

Use a low-lint towel for drying fruit/veggies to save paper towels or the time spent cleaning a salad spinner.  Or, use paper towels to dry fruit/veggies and let them dry on the side of the sink.  The damp paper towel is then handy when reused for spills, spot cleaning.

The most often used items in a kitchen, from utensils to drinking glasses, should be in the easiest to reach shelves, cabinets, and drawers.  Does the junk drawer really need to be in your work triangle in place of the silverware drawer, eh?

Place heavier serving and cooking dishes in places that you can access without hurting yourself or your joints!  This might mean keeping your favorite cooking skillet that you might use most days, on the stove, ready for use.

My motto for organization is:  the more I can see, the less I have to dig for stuff.  So there are lots of wire shelves and organizer devices in our pantry and upright freezer.

Make sure that there is adequate task lighting over the area where you are using knives, measuring foods, reading labels, etc.  A simple battery-operated light fixture from your local hardware store that has a press-on switch can reduce fatigue, injuries, errors.  Industrial double-stick tape or Velcro adhesive will allow you to put it where you need it without special tools for installation.

Keep supplements and medications taken at mealtimes within reach and within view of the kitchen table where possible as a reminder and step-saver.  Using an attractive basket or tray for each family member keeps things tidy and organized.

If there’s not already a calendar, grocery list, list of emergency-and-commonly-used phone numbers posted in the work triangle, and home phone (or cell phone charging station) consider adding them.

When bringing frozen foods home from the grocery store, reserve a plastic grocery bag or two to help organize items before placing them in the freezer or refrigerator.  For example, bag up all of the packages of ground beef in one bag and loosely knot it with the plastic handles.  Be sure that you can read the package label through the bag or label it with a permanent marker.  When you are ready to use the ground beef it will all be in one place to find it easily in the freezer and of a quantity to provide plenty of leftovers.

Another tip for grocery day:  group all similar items together before putting them away to save steps and time.   You’ll likely store and organize more items efficiently when put away together than stuffing one item at a time into, say, the freezer.

Put a tray under the pet dish to catch some of the spills and drips if it’s in the kitchen area.  Bow wow.  Meow.

Meal Preparation

Use disposable plastic gloves like those that restaurant workers use for meat preparation and messier food items.  Simply turn them inside out as you take them off and throw them away to keep everything sanitary.  This saves time and avoids the risk of contamination when trying to wash your sticky gooey hands!  Here’s a cheap alternative:  wrap a sandwich baggie around your hand and use that hand to hold the meat while the other hand holds the knife.  The baggie-method also works well for greasing cooking pans.

I learned from the Rachel Ray Show to keep a trash/scrap bowl (or one of the food wrappers) on the counter to collect all of the scraps; throw everything away at the end of your meal preparation, EXCEPT meat wrappings.  Julie tip:  for meat wrappings and containers, cut them open after placing the whole package inside a grocery store plastic bag.  The bag catches the juices and makes for an instant disposal container after the meat is removed.  This also reduces smell after it is in the trash can  so you don’t have to empty it as often.

Keep the kitchen trash can accessible during meal preparation to eliminate time/hassle opening a cabinet or pantry door repeatedly.  Heck, pull out the trash can and put it next to you until you are done generating trash then return it to the cabinet or pantry!  This also saves steps walking across the room and possibly outside of your “work triangle.”

Pile up all of the recyclable containers from meal preparation off to the side of your work triangle.  Take everything to the recycling bin at one time after you are done preparing the meal and pouring refreshments.  A similar strategy goes for composting fresh fruit and vegetable scraps; pile them up on one of the damp paper towels and throw the whole thang into the compost pile at the end of each day.  (I use plain white paper towels by the way.)

Try to minimize the number of spoons, spatulas etc. used on the stove during cooking.  Who says the spoon used to stir the sauce can’t stir the gluten-free noodles boiling in water?  Saves having to wash and handle extra utensils.

Use one sharp knife for meat and another one for everything else during food preparation at a given meal.  Simply toss the meat knife into the dishwasher after use.

Similarly, use one pan for successive cooking tasks where possible.  For example, the meat drippings on the foil lining the roasting pan from the chicken can make great flavoring for oven-roasted vegetables!  Another example:  re-use the pan in which you boiled the gluten-free pasta to steam the vegetables or make the gravy.  You probably don’t even need to wash it after draining the noodles!

Wash the dishes as you go or load them directly into the dishwasher to save clean-up time and stress after the meal.

Leaning against a chair, placing one foot on a stool or the bottom shelf of an open cabinet, or sitting on a step stool can all reduce fatigue and back strain during meal preparation.


Serve prepared foods buffet style, serving them in their cooking pots and pans on the stove and counter.  This keeps everything inside the “work triangle” and prevents having to wash extra serving dishes and transport items to/from the kitchen table.  This also makes it easier to manage different dietary needs and preferences of various family members.  For example, I can open the pouch of shredded cheese for those wanting a cheese topping on a salad and keep mine diary-free because I serve the salad without cheese in one main bowl.  Alternative:  make the salads in individual bowls and save washing a large serving bowl altogether.

Put specific items directly on the plate of the person headed through the “work triangle” buffet instead of in a separate dish.  For example, my husband likes tomatoes on his salad but I cannot have them at this time.  So I put the tomatoes on his plate or in his salad bowl and he serves himself from there.  The dishes are on the counter, by the way, as part of the buffet saving effort from having to “set the table.”

Ask a family member to take drink orders and pre-pour drinks before the meal where possible to reduce clutter and clean-up tasks.


Sometimes I put the whole, covered and slightly cooled saucepan or casserole dish in the frig after dinner, on a heat-proof silicone hot pad.  The next day it’s ready for re-heating.

Sometimes I pull out the lunch-sized storage containers before or after dinner and make my hubby’s lunch right away before storing the leftovers.

Often I’ve made extra servings of each dish to freeze individual portions in plastic containers or baggies after the meal.  The items can be stored as complete meals or separately in sandwich bags; the sandwich bags are then placed into 1-gallon freezer bags marked Meat, Veggies, Breads, or Fruit.  Talk about healthy fast food!

Storing meat portions has become a versatile helper in preparing future meals, especially when diets vary among family members.  I might even store meat-and-cheese burgers separately from meat burgers in respective gallon freezer bags labeled for each family member.  Love freezer bags!  This will save time in the future when you simply do not have the time to make enough food to meet everyone’s needs.  For example, on the night I am writing this, I’m glad I had a half of a cooked baked potato frozen that I could add to my husband’s meal:  I have been unable to grocery shop this past week and he needed more than the veggie and meat entrees that comprise my meal plan.


From meal preparation, mealtime, clean-up, and storing leftovers, you can see that I am all about saving time, energy, and moolaberries!  I do re-use the freezer bags most of the time by the way as long as they do not get soiled from the items stored in them!  If you would like some tips for managing special diets, head to an earlier blog post and I hope you’ll find something useful for you:  Extreme Diet Survival Strategies

Please feel free to share with me your tips and tricks, especially within the context of helping the homemaker with chronic illness.  Take care,  :J