Hey doctors, here’s a new medical condition: Tough Cookie Syndrome

I’ve made a medical discovery, so listen up doctors! It is called tough cookie syndrome. It goes something like this for me, but feel free to adapt to your own patients’ particular circumstances.

Patient doesn’t feel well so you, the kindly general practitioner, start the diagnostic process. A scan or two here, a blood test or ten there. A specialist or two gets invited into the mix. Way too many tests come back positive. In the meantime the patient (that’s me in this case) is trying to lead a normal life: work, look after the family, balance the budget now ballooning with medical bills. You tell the patient to take three days off; patient says two will be plenty – then ends up crashing out of a meeting on day three. Yes, I know you have patients to whom you suggest three days rest and they plead for four. Those patients don’t have tough cookie syndrome. I’ve realised I often tell the doctors “I’m fine” when they ask how I am. Of course I’m not “fine”! That’s why I’m there!

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Calories in and calories out: supplements count

To minimise stress on my poor joints I am on the weight loss and then maintenance treadmill. I’m a firm believer in the simple maths approach: if one puts in more than one uses, one gains weight. If one uses more than one eats, hurray!

What I’ve discovered is the other things we can be taking for medical conditions have calories! They add up!

Knowing your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is important. This is how much energy you burn just being alive: keeping your heart pumping, breathing, digesting food, blinking. The actual formula is quite complicated so it is handy that MyDr.com.au has a handy calculator. My BMR is around 1500 depending on the scales on any given day. I’m very jealous of the person on Twitter who has one of around 1200 – she is skinnier than me!

Setting myself a calories IN target of 1200 a day and using a minimum of 1500 OUT just being alive means the scales will gradually tip in my favour. I hope. Swimming a kilometre will earn me either a nice downward movement on the scales OR an ice-cream. Decisions, decisions.

Guilty Pleasure - Magnum

Guilty Pleasure – Magnum – a meal on a stick

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International Women’s Day 2015: MAKE IT HAPPEN

How would you feel if you were insulted by your partner on your birthday? Not wonderful? I didn’t think so. All Australian women should feel insulted by the Queensland LNP Women holding their International Women’s Day event at a “Men Only” club.

Now, I’ve read, very carefully, Peta Simpson’s rationale for holding the event at that venue. I agree with some of the points Simpson makes. I still think it as a highly inappropriate choice of venue given the battle for equality is far from over.

It pales into insignificance, however, against this behaviour of one Hani Al Seba’i, a London based “scholar” (very questionable description, if you ask me) who felt it was beneath him to be interviewed by a woman.

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Do you think if I GROVEL to Ford?

My Dream Car

My Dream Car

Loved the song too. OK – we have all changed since 1964 when the Mustang was first released.

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A very short rant about sugar!

As you will of course know, I am using MyFitnessPal to track my food intake. Sugar is unavoidable! Every damn day I have exceeded the 5o-odd gram allowance. Sugar is in everything, it is unavoidable. I’ve not been near the sugar bowl today and STILL the computer says I have eaten too much sugar! Some of it of course is in fruit and I ate some grapes, a nectarine and a banana today.

The yoghurt I’m eating seems to have a tad too much. Weetbix is fine. OK, the Soft Eating Licorice contributed a bit as did the two tiny little Anzac biscuits, but I’m over the sugar battle!

I don’t drink soft drinks, I’ve no chocolate or ice-cream and still the number is RED – TOO MUCH SUGAR.

I think even if I ate raw food all day I’d still be over my allowance.



Rant over.


PS: I have absolutely nothing against CSR Sugar! Theirs is the best. There is just too much sugar EVERYWHERE!!


Exercising and activity tracking with VivoFit

Yes, I’ve joined the VivoFit crowd. I mentioned this the other day in passing. I don’t need some really expensive piece of equipment to keep track of my activity levels, but I did need something now that exercise is so important to keep my rheumatoid arthritis managed. In conjunction with the drugs, of course! My pedometers from the Global Corporate Challenge had finally died/been passed on. The clip broke on one from being attached to my bra, the other one I handed to the kids who had been pleading for months to be allowed to see how many steps they do in a day.

Costco had VivoFits at a reasonable price, so I grabbed one. AFTER I bought my VivoFit, I read a couple of reviews. One really should do this BEFORE purchasing, but I was in a daring mood.

My VivoFit

My VivoFit

It is all good – I like it! See the little + beside the word goal? That indicates I have exceeded my daily target!

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Learning to live with a chronic condition

Fair warning – this is just a dump of the thoughts and emotions one goes through. Everyone will be different, with different conditions, severity, prognosis and circumstances. We all go through a learning curve. If you are in this space in your life, drop by and say “Hi!”. If you have a friend or family member in this space right now, be gentle. I think we try to act tough, but it isn’t always good for us to do so. We have to learn our new limitations and we appreciate your support. If you usually run 10 kilometres a night, spare some time to just walk gently with your sick friend/sister/mother/son/wife. Even if we say no, we’ll be fine.

Today I am home for day three of being off work – again. For me this is perhaps the hardest part. This latest hiccough started on Saturday: I felt a little tired but otherwise OK after what had been a relatively good, stable week at work. Managed the Vic Market shopping, with the help of Mr O Jnr 1, with no problems, but at Costco I suddenly needed to spend time in the porcelain palace. Considerable time. Sunday I suddenly got a sore left calf and could hardly walk. Why? I have no idea. Monday I woke up feeling fatigued and lethargic and still had a sore calf. I went to the GP who wanted to give me three days off and I said, no, two will do (will I NEVER learn).  I called my rheumatologist who fitted me in on Tuesday.

Flowers from today’s walk

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We need politicians with vision

One of the things that bothers me about the current Australian government is lack of vision, lack of the ability to think outside the square or to challenge the status quo.

I’m going to illustrate with an example built around our health system (on which I have written voluminously lately), the horrific domestic violence record in this country, auto-immune conditions and food.

A little background to set the scene. As you may know I am learning the ropes of living with a chronic illness. Trust me, it isn’t as easy or simple as seeing a specialist who gives you a prescription and reviews you once a year. Partly as a result of my own personal experience, I got involved in the Medicare changes debate, while also following research about food and chronic illness. I watch as the Minister for Women remains silent on the continuing violence against women in this country and noticed the financial cost of family violence to the nation.

I see links between all of these, yet I don’t see our politicians acknowledging any connections at all, much less driving any investigations or research. They are much too busy restricting our freedoms, completely contradicting their pre-election stance on the question of individual freedoms.

As a starting point, let’s look at one of the findings from my Medicare analysis. Readers may remember this graph from an earlier article.


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The dose makes the poison – Paracelsus

The dose makes the poison. So said 16th century physician Paracelsus. I learnt this today reading an article in The Guardian titled Inside the food industry: the surprising truth about what you eat by Joanna Blythman. At this point in time I known very little about Blythman but I am going to make it a priority to find out more.

Restaurant Dessert Tray

Restaurant Dessert Tray

While some have accused Blythman of using potentially inflammatory language to make her case, I think she may very well be onto something.

Regular readers know I have at least one auto-immune (AI) condition and consequently have been doing some research. In summary, my learnings include:

  • Incidence of AI conditions is increasing and researchers don’t yet know why.
  • There are over eighty AI diseases.
  • 25% of AI patients have more than one AI condition.
  • Researchers are currently looking at the links between gut bacteria and rheumatoid arthritis (an AI condition).
  • Many AI conditions affect women more than men.
  • In Australia women aged between twenty-five and seventy-four are high users of medical care. I don’t know about other countries at this point, but Australian health seems to mirror that of other Western countries.

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Ernestine Johnson – for two special girls I love