Lupus NewsLog Articles With Attitude

"A mind once stretched by a new idea never regains its original dimension." Oliver Wendell Holmes

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Lupus NewsLog Articles With Attitude offers research based information, minus the double-talk, from a lifelong lupie point of view. I've lived with SLE for more than 50 years while researching lupus and other autoimmune diseases for more than 30 years. With input from other lupies and our doctors, I dig up clinical research data, to help us identify disease stimulants in our environment, our healthcare and our daily lives. We're gaining wisdom to outsmart the wolf.
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Our Right to Pain Relief

For those of us with Lupus, relieving pain can be a very complicated process since Lupus is in itself an extraordinarily complex disease. It’s often accompanied by diseases which are painful on their own, such as Raynaud's, Fibromyalgia, Scleroderma, Sjogren's and/or others. Finding the correct diagnosis can be a long and arduous journey. Often, by the time we’ve arrived at that point, our illness has progressed to the point of severe chronic pain. Achieving satisfactory pain relief can be as difficult and exacting a process as was finding diagnosis.

On January 1st, 2001, hospitals, all nursing homes, in/out clinics, doctors' offices and pain treatment centers across America were admonished and instructed to fully alleviate patient pain, according to the patient's own assessment of pain. The Joint Commission On Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations signed this act, giving doctors, hospitals, etc., one year to voluntarily comply. Signs and posters explaining our right to pain relief must be prominently posted in all medical facilities.

While this applies only in the United States, it stands as a model for all countries and this standard can be useful to those with chronic pain, all around the globe. Whatever the practice in a particular country, if we act as self-advocates for patient rights and proper treatment of pain, we can raise the standard to a higher level worldwide.

Younger children and those who cannot otherwise express their needs must be offered pictures from which they can identify the level of their pain, the rest of us can select a number from 1 to 10. If we aren’t offered adequate pain relief options, we can refuse poor or incorrect treatment, until our needs are properly met.

We have the right to choose another physician and/or clinic in order to receive the care we merit. When our rights are abused, we can file official complaints with the medical review boards. If the filing of such complaints adversely affects our medical services, that issue could be also addressed by official complaint.

Chronic pain is the reality of daily life for a great many people and many of us are under medicated or not receiving medication at all. A recent study claimed that infants in the womb feel no pain but, even if that were true (other research claims they do), what compassionate physician or parent would chance inflicting pain on a baby? Already, a newer study shows that, traditionally, children’s pain needs are often underestimated and disregarded. Children are typically undermedicated in circumstances where an adult usually would be given medication.

Under or untreated chronic pain hinders healing, debilitates the body's resources, further stresses the auto-immune system, affects the heart, causes depression, sleep disturbances and reduces, sometimes to a crippling degree, a person's ability to function in daily life.

When these factors are overlooked or misunderstood, people with chronic pain are sent the message that they’re somehow "responsible" for their symptoms and "overreacting" to their pain. This medical brush-off can create a fear of character weakness and sense of shame. Because of this, many people suffering with chronic pain habitually underestimate and under-report the level and types of their symptoms, while struggling to lead productive lives.

We’ve been taught to fear pain relief more than pain ~ that's a fallacy. This attitude goes back to the 1920's, when the U.S. government's war on drugs began in earnest, soon spreading and affecting the world view. Some patients and physicians only trying to alleviate pain have been treated like criminals, with ruined lives, destroyed careers and jail records. Numerous studies have shown that morphine and its derivatives, which are the most powerful of all pain relieving medications, are not addictive when properly prescribed for chronic and/or severe medical or terminal conditions.

With these powerful pain medications, our bodies react much as diabetic systems do to insulin. When administered according to actual need, the body is released from pain to focus on healthier function and survival. The relieved body is then better able to fight infection and balance immune system function. Puritanical perceptions are not based in science or compassion and should never be allowed to overrule the needs of people in pain.

The Medical Management of Pain by B.A. Robinson is an excellently researched and written article on the necessity of adequate pain relief and the misconceptions that deny the needs of people in chronic and/or terminal pain. Treating Doctors as Drug Dealers: The DEA's War on Prescription Painkillers by Ronald T. Libby makes clear that laws once meant to protect us now criminalize compassion. This policy analysis can be downloaded in full text.

The American Pain Foundation (APF) is an independent, nonprofit information, education and advocacy organization serving people with pain. They have a patients' self advocacy and education website. They have a Pain Information Library and a APF Publications page with many helpful articles.

The articles, guides and kits APF offers can be invaluable to those living with chronic pain. I especially recommend their Pain Action Guide, which includes the Pain Care Bill of Rights* and essential advice on finding and communicating with a doctor and/or nurse-practitioner who can work with you to ease your pain.

Regardless of who we are or where we live, these are basic rights inherent to us all and when we act as our own advocates in pursuing them, we can greatly improve the quality of our medical care. Taking charge of our own lives by exercising our medical rights is a positive, forthright stance that can permeate every aspect of our lives, improve our health and invigorate our spirits.

Wellness is more than a physical condition; it is the balanced condition of mind and body. Lupus may be a big part of our lives but it shouldn’t overwhelm and control our entire being. Once we take steps to liberate ourselves from pain, we begin to free ourselves to live life more fully.

The Lupus Foundation of America has an Advocacy page where American citizens can urge Congress to pass a strong Patients' Rights Bill. If Lupus organizations and other healthcare advocacy groups throughout the world create similar pages and their citizens get involved, dynamic worldwide changes in patients' rights may well become a reality. It's our responsibility to make it so; we are the ones with the most to lose or the most to gain.

I wrote this article in 2001 and updated it in 2007 - are you still living in a world of hurt? It seems there’ve been no broad, sweeping changes in the last 6 years but we can’t let the Pain Care Bill of Rights (posted below) be forgotten and ignored. We have a right and a dire necessity to protect our needs, our bodies and our lives. Those who speak up, create change. It's your life - claim it.

Pain Care Bill of Rights

As a person with pain, you have the right to:

• have your report of pain taken seriously and to be treated with dignity and respect by doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals.

• have your pain thoroughly assessed and promptly treated.

• be informed by your healthcare provider about what may be causing your pain, possible treatments, and the benefits, risks and costs of each.

• participate actively in decisions about how to manage your pain.

• have your pain reassessed regularly and your treatment adjusted if your pain has not been eased.

• be referred to a pain specialist if your pain persists.

• get clear and prompt answers to your questions, take time to make decisions, and refuse a particular type of treatment if you choose.

Although not always required by law, these are the basic human rights you should expect, and if necessary demand, for your pain care.

Reprinted with permission from:

American Pain Foundation
201 N. Charles Street, Suite 710
Baltimore, MD 21201
Phone (888) 615-7246
Fax (410) 385-1832

(*In 2001, I applied for and was granted reprint rights for the American Pain Foundation’s Pain Care Bill of Rights and related documents by Lennie Duensing, of APF. If you are interested in publishing APF documents on your site or in any other publication, go to APF Publications and download their Reprint Agreement to request consent.)

Lupus and a Wolf-Wise Diet

Because we have lupus, the wolf is our partner in time and our constant dining companion. When we eat, whatever we eat, we’re feeding our inner wolves and we’d better feed them well, to keep them from chowing down on us. An old adage claims, "One fourth of what you eat keeps you alive. The other three-fourths keep your doctor alive." With lupus, that three-fourths also keeps our wolves running wild and craving more luscious lupie morsels.

All by itself, lupus can turn our stomachs inside out and our lives upside down. It can skinny us down to sliver size or swell us up like balloons, independent of our own determined efforts. Lupus makes intense demands on our entire bodily system, drains our resources and creates extreme nutritional need. It robs us, body and bone, of minerals, vitamins and other primary nutrients.

Sometimes, it feels like Ol’ Wolfie’s built a rollercoaster right inside us. Many lupus medications have toxic side-effects and some cause digestive problems, from intestinal gas to pain and cramping, vomiting, constipation and/or diarrhea. Chemotherapy treatment for lupus can also wring us out and use us up. Every medication prescribed for lupus has it’s own built-in demons but healthy eating can help to counteract their evil-doing.

Lupus and its dietary disorders, photosensitivity, medical treatments and medications such as steroids all deplete us. We’re likely to be allergic or sensitive to compounds in natural and chemically altered foods. Soft drinks, coffee breaks, vending machines and fast food can all work against us, unless we exercise caution.

Studies documented at Lupus NewsLog provide guidelines we can use to develop our own wolf-wise diets. With some cunning kitchen experimentation, we might even feed our wolves into submission.

Researchers agree that the best dietary foundation for lupus must significantly reduce or eliminate our symptoms and dramatically slow or completely stall our disease progression. To do so, it has to support our true nutritional needs, reduce our exposure to food-borne irritants and toxins, minimize their effects and be anti-inflammatory.

The most effective protective diet for lupus has proven to be high fiber, low fat and low in additives and toxins. It is based on organically grown fruits and vegetables. We lupies do best with very little or no salt, sugar, dairy products and meat. These mealtime methods can help us cope with loss of appetite, lupus anorexia and digestive distress, including any caused by our hypersensitivity to foods, toxins and additives.

A four year study of SLE patients was done at the Miyagi Cancer Center Research Institute, Medeshima-Shiode, Natori, Japan. Researchers learned that those who use vegetable oils and don’t get enough vitamin C and fiber are likely to develop severe SLE symptoms and disease progression. They’re at higher risk of ischemic heart disease, strokes and blood clots. Another Miyagi study found people with diets of fatty meat like pork and beef were more susceptible to SLE than those on lean diets.

Fats should make up no more than 30% of our daily calories. We can slash or quit using saturated and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Vegetable oils, whether polyunsaturated, partially hydrogenated, trans-fatty acids like vegetable shortening, mayonnaise, margarine or oleo, all stimulate inflammation. Healthful extra-virgin olive oil is a much better choice for us.

Milk does not do our bodies good, as a matter of fact, dairy products are known inflammatories and fire up our lupus. Casein is the primary protein in cow's milk and it hyperactivates the immune system, which promotes inflammation. Dairy and beef products are primed triggers for lupus flare and even for the onset of SLE.

Many adults and children don’t produce enough lactase enzyme to break down lactose, or milk sugar, in dairy and other foods. To some researchers, lactose intolerance is considered a likely culprit in Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Without dairy foods, we may need to supplement calcium, riboflavin, and vitamin D. Acidophilus or lactose reduced milk are healthier substitutes for dairy milk. Broccoli, Collard greens, Kale, Turnip greens and Chinese cabbage or Bok Choy are all high in calcium, without lactose.

Acidophilus and lactose reduced milk are sold in dairy cases, next to the milk. There are also non-prescription lactase supplements that let us drink milk without getting sick. With one, a few drops in milk which then sits refrigerated for 24 hours, can reduce lactose by 70%. Better yet, if the milk is heated and the drops are doubled, the milk will be 90% free of lactose. Or we can take lactose tablets just before eating or drinking dairy-based foods.

Factory bred fowl and cattle are fed hormones and antibiotics, which can aggravate our symptoms. Lupus is naturally agitated by our own hormones so extra food borne hormones aren’t advisable for us. Tetracycline, one antibiotic used, inflames flare and is a known drug-induced lupus instigator. If we do eat meat, lean meats like free range turkey or chicken are a much better choice. Many people raise their own and sell them at public or farmer’s markets.

It’s best to visit the birds at home, before you buy. Free-range birds should be well fed, drug-free and raised in clean yards with room to run around. Birds need plenty of exercise room and their coops and yards must be clean and dry, because of their constant flow of urine and feces. If they get E.coli or other contamination, so do those who eat them. Food and water dishes must be clean enough for you to eat from, although you really shouldn’t.

When we eat meat, we absorb what the animal ate and, nowadays, toxin levels in livestock and wild game are at increasingly high levels. Along with drugs, factory bred animals get shredded, recycled waste mixed into commercial feed. A couple of meat packers claim their products at least aren't drugged but any meat should be well cooked, in smaller servings and eaten rarely. The prostaglandins in meat fats increase inflammation and blood clotting. Cured meats, like "hot dogs" and even barbecued meats, may instigate flare.

Many of us love fish and we lupies often rely on tuna but, nowadays, it and its fishy friends are swimming in toxic soup laced with mercury, PCBs and many other poisons. A University of Maryland School of Medicine study found even low doses of mercury will definitely accelerate and worsen our lupus. This confirms other study results and means we must be very careful about fish.

Mercury is a powerful neurotoxin that can cause permanent damage to unborn babies' brains and nervous systems. It's in many ordinary items that are often tossed into the trash. There, it breaks down into the soil and, with rain and runoff, contaminates our water supplies. Though many items on their own only have tiny amounts, together, they add up. It takes less than a teaspoon to poison an entire lake and all its fish.

According to the most recent studies, mid-Atlantic Blue crab, Croaker, Flounder (in summer), Haddock, farmed Trout, wild Pacific Salmon, Shrimp and Fish Sticks are safe to eat. Please see Lupus NewsLog about what your dinner had for its last supper and what’s fishy about seafood, including good fish, bad fish and fish oil supplements.

Digestive distress is as unwelcome as wolves at many tables nowadays, not just ours. Dining was once a leisurely, social activity – now, it’s often just a pit stop on the rat race fast track. When we gobble our food down, we’re treating it only as fuel, without experiencing the differences in flavor and texture or digesting properly. If we treat our innards like garbage disposals – food in, waste out - we become living toxic dump sites. Even the simplest meal should be savored, for full advantage.

The known benefits of the fruit and vegetable based Mediterranean diet may also be partly due to the creative cookery. Dining is more relaxed and digestion is nurtured by the gentler pace. We might even be better off with 4 to 6 light meals a day than 3 regular meals. That way, we can just eat what we need, when we need it. When less food builds up inside us at once, our systems don't have to work so hard at digestion, absorption and elimination.

We don’t need to be Cordon Bleu chefs to make food worth eating. Experimenting with non-irritating spices, with the aroma drifting through the house, can invigorate appetite. Cooking in slow or pressure cookers or crockpots simmers foods in their natural juices, breaking down plant or meat fibers, releasing natural flavors and the enzymes that help us assimilate nutrients. Some foods may be best eaten raw but more digestible meals can mean more relaxing evenings and brighter mornings.

Raw, al dente and well cooked foods can be appetizing together, with a mix of colors, textures and tastes to tempt our tummies. According to Dr. Andrew Weil, "The best diet is a varied diet, and this goes for methods of preparation as well." Cooking destroys foods’ natural toxins, making them safer and more digestible. For instance, raw celery’s toxins contribute to photosensitivity and immune dysfunction but cooking renders them harmless.

Pineapple contains bromelain, which is a natural digestive agent. Eating pineapple with meals can ease the internal distress caused by lupus and minimize some symptoms of IBS, Crohn’s and Celiac diseases. Bromelain helps speed digestion, eases absorption of sugar, starch and protein and helps us gain greater benefit from the food we eat.

Instead of eating pineapple or drinking its juice with every meal, you might try the digestive panzymes sold in stores. Their primary ingredient should be bromelain, which packs a double whammy on our behalf. It’s not only a digestive, it’s also used as an anti-inflammatory by athletes. Check the labels to eliminate those panzymes made with symptom irritating grains or other fillers.

Lupus meddles with meals in many ways and it can turn our tummies against us so we may need to stimulate and strengthen our appetites. A B complex supplement in the mornings, maybe with crackers and juice, produces gastric juices and gets our hunger cooking. B complex vitamins, like antioxidants, may also reduce our headaches, even migraines. Taking B complex or most supplements on an empty stomach can cause irritation and lead to ulcerations so, please, always nibble something first.

Yes, y’all - our Ol’ Wolfie is a merry prankster with a contrary sense of humor – sometimes, we actually have to eat something, just so we can take something that will help us eat enough. Those lupine canines may be howling with laughter now, but, once we tame our diets, they could be singing for their supper, without us on their menu.

With our individually unique immune responses, we need to pay close attention to our bodies' specific reactions to foods and supplements. If we regularly eat healthy, lean, clean foods, drink plenty of juices and take high quality supplements to replace missing or low essential vitamins and minerals, we'll be protecting and replenishing our vital physical resources.

One article can’t cover all our nutritional needs and options. For more research-based information, source links and recipes, please visit Lupus NewsLog's Articles With Attitude and Lupus NewsLog Wolf Bytes .

Breathe Easy for Better Health

Breathing exercises can soothe the psyche, rebalance the system and ease pain throughout the body at the same time. Many of us tend to breathe lightly, from the tops of our lungs and we don't make much good use of those old windbags. Well exercised lungs deliver oxygenation throughout the body and help support healthy immune system function.

Picture a square and breathe in through your nose, following its left side up, counting slowly to 3 or 4. At the square's top, hold that breath for the 3 to 4 count, then glide down its right side as you empty your lungs through your mouth, to the same count. Hold at the square's bottom for the count, then inhale as you rise back up its left side. Repeating these basic `breathers' a few times a day, especially when under extra stress, can ease its impact and help us focus.

Studies have proven that meditation can reduce pain and stress and sharpen thinking. It needn't be esoteric, psychedelic or require a change of religion because it's simply about using mental and physical techniques that enhance our well-being. Whether we use simple meditation to ease our daily pain or instant calming to handle emergencies, it takes little time or effort and can be a real boon in our balancing act on Ol' Wolfie's tightrope.

Try simple, easy relaxation techniques to ease your tension, stress and pain. Just sit or lie down in a comfortable position and breathe yourself into tranquility. Visit MoonDragon's Health Therapy site and scroll down for more information on breathing, pain control, accupressure, massage therapy and other techniques you may find helpful.

Breathing exercises can be done at our desks, while washing dishes or lying down. Just draw air in deeply through the nostrils, hold gently for a few seconds, then breathe out through the mouth. While exhaling, focus on relaxing your muscles from head to toe, releasing stress, letting it flow out and away. Little by little, you’ll find you inhale more deeply, hold your breath longer and relax more comfortably.

Women in particular tend to hold stress in the muscles of the back, between the shoulder blades, so relaxing those muscles regularly can be very beneficial. Practicing deep breathing for even a few minutes, a couple of times a day, can be restful and revitalizing to mind, body and spirit. Simple breathing exercises increase blood flow, enhancing oxygenation, sparking up the brain cells and releasing endorphins. It's amazing how much better such a slight effort can make us feel.

Boogie Your Woogie to the Beat of Life

I devised the woogie-boogie to work as many muscles as possible, while glued to my mattress after a stroke. It helped me to awaken my system, revitalize my senses and get my body back into action. I still move to the groove because it's fun and it exercises my mind and my body.

You can make these moves on your back, on your butt or on your toes - there's more than one way to work out. Turn on some music, start at your toes and dance your way on up to your ears. Wiggle your toes to the rhythm, curling them in and stretching them out. Then draw your ankles in circles and flow up to flex your knees.

Tighten, then loosen your calves, your thigh muscles and shimmey on up to a hippy-hippy shake. Breathe in as you tighten and out as you relax. Imagine yourself as an old-time fan dancer and grind a little pepper in your shaker. Squeeze your buttocks one at a time, back and forth, to pass the pepper. Do a little belly dancing, tightening and relaxing your abdominal muscles in time to the music. Put a little sway in your back, sashay your shoulders, tilt your head from side to side and back to front, bopping gently to the beat.

C'mon, y'all - do the locomotion with me. Put a little boogie in your woogie and you’ll find your body responds, stimulating your organs to better function and crowding stress off the dance floor. Let your bedroom be your ballroom – come alive and restore your body’s natural rhythm. Sing your heart out while you dance and get your heart and lungs in tune. Smile while you strut your stuff – it’ll perk you up, spark positive brain activity and your body will share the joy.

Obesity and The American Healthcare Shell Game

Obesity is the target of the American healthcare system this year, the bullseye for public indignation and the current detour from the true reasons for the high cost of ignoring well over the official figure of approximately 43 million uninsured men, women and children.

There is an age-old street game, often called Three Card Monte or the shell game. Using a pea supposedly hidden under walnut shells or cards theoretically in the deck, the whole goal is to misdirect the victim’s attention from the real action and separate him from his money. The pea isn’t there, neither is the card so winning is impossible – it’s all a scam.

Every year, Americans are deliberately distracted from the issues of highest concern by one that will deflect dollars and thoughtful deliberation. This year, it’s their fat neighbors and their chubby selves. If you can be made to feel guilty or given someone else to blame, you might not notice that you still have to pay a family’s ransom for medical care or do without.

The count of uninsured Americans is like the count of the unemployed, it never reflects the true figure. Unemployed data only includes those who apply for or receive funds to tide them over. Millions never apply or are turned away when they do. Those not on the rolls are conveniently invisible. The same dubious head count takes place among the medically uninsured.

In both cases, the true figures are so much higher, they might raise the national level of insecurity and righteous anger, were they actually known. Better to focus on our full-bodied figures than our swollen economic statistics, especially in an election year. Drug companies, insurance corporations and medical associations fund political campaigns. Their interests are primarily to meet their own needs, not ours.

Why is obesity not the high card in Canada’s healthcare card deck? According to Why Canadians are healthier it’s because they have medical care from cradle to grave. Canada doesn’t blame its citizens for their ills – it simply meets and treats them. Canadians live longer, with fewer health problems and their economy thrives, too. The UK and other nations also provide for medical needs and do so without shaming their patients.

"The United States is the only advanced industrial society in the world where a patient's ability to pay determines access to health care." says D. E. Joranson, MSSW, Pain Research Group, University of Wisconsin Medical School. Now, that is shameful - the wealthiest nation in the world and perhaps the most selfish.

Blame is an effective distracting device, whether in a personal argument, political campaign or for corporate profit. If you can make the innocent feel guilty, you can turn the focus of attention away from the real issue. Yes, our weight does matter, if it affects our health. Starving children in Africa prove that – some are reduced to eating insects to survive. Somehow, that critical issue doesn’t rate as much indignation and involvement as what Americans are eating.

There are some real health and social issues related to lupus and nutrition. Please read The Fat Fights - Part 1 - The Straight Skinny
and check out The Fat Fights – Part 2 -The Wolf Weighs In. The vital basics of our nutritional needs are covered in Lupus and a Wolf-Wise Diet. All these articles are here, in Lupus NewsLog's Articles With Attitude.

The Fat Fights - Part 1 - The Straight Skinny

The U.S. FDA banned ephedra diet supplements and it only took 16,000 adverse incidence reports and 155 deaths before they made up their minds. The diet industry is almost as powerful as Bechtel but they had a feeling this was coming so they’ve been loudly promoting Ephedra-Free products. Now, it’s business as usual, raking in the cash and looking for the next big money maker.

Americans are obsessed with weight, their own and everybody else’s. Strangers might criticize us if we bite into a slice of apple pie. They might feel their unsolicited opinions are enlightened and even required but they’re not, they’re just rude. In our current culture, love of munchies is the root of all evil and fast food is the new tobacco, sought and scorned at the same time. We love our eats but we aren’t so fond of fat folks, who could be us already or with a few more bites.

Some airlines are just too cheap to widen seats even though that would make anyone, especially those struggling to hold infants and toddlers, more comfortable on long flights. They’ve decided to charge us by weight, instead. Folks they size up as oversized might be charged for two seats - not just the one they occupy but the one next to it. Our flight neighbors’ carry-on luggage may get in our way but that doesn’t rate the same critical attention or increased cost.

By today's Hollywoodized standards, physical attractiveness is considered the realm of the slim and tightly toned so we may feel apologetic for not fitting the sought after standard and punished for our presumed failure. For decades, comely clothes only came in stylish sizes and larger women had a choice of tent dresses, maternity styled blouses and elastic waisted pants. Polyester stretched at the seams and, male or female, our wardrobe options still shrink as our bodies grow.

We’re helped and hindered at the same time. Restaurants serve super-sized meals with free butter and breadsticks, while advertising encourages us to fill up on meats, dairy products, snacks and desserts. Many of these foods create inflammation which causes swelling and adds on fat. Then, to lose the lovehandles, we’re urged to buy diet pills and other dubious weight-loss products. Mirrored in others’ judgmental eyes, we may buy in, swallowing poisonous attitudes and problematic potions, along with the exaggerated sales hype.

With fast food cast as society’s latest villain, folks who gain weight are often considered weak-willed, self-indulgent eating machines. In truth, there are many other possible factors that carry considerable heft. Our heredity, ethnicity, genetics, lifestyle and our health can each have as heavy an impact as crates of chocolate chip cookies.

Many folks, too fortunate to know better, don’t realize that illnesses including cancer, fibromyalgia and lupus can cause our bodies to swell considerably. Medications such as steroids are often prescribed for these diseases and those drugs swell us up like yeasty, rising dough. Bouts of chemotherapy used to fight lupus and cancer can pare us to the bone or round us out.

Eating disorders aren’t so easy to identify as some might imagine and are often misunderstood. Those of us who eat less than our bodies need may be plump because our metabolisms have tilted due to malnourishment. Diseases like lupus, celiac or cancer may cause many food allergies or sensitivities and severe nausea. As a result, people may lose their appetites but plump up or be constantly hungry but bone-thin. Fat or skinny, we don’t always get there on purpose.

We can winnow down and blow up, swinging back and forth like yo-yos, without any change in our diets. I’ve been the same person, with the same personality and character, no matter what I weighed and it works that way for everybody I know. Still, some of those who haven’t been through it and even some who have, will judge others by their appearance – maybe because it’s easier than exercising their own mental muscles.

I remember when American women’s sizes 10-12 were considered medium and sizes 6-8 were small. Now, size 4 is the tiny trend, a 2 is truly chic and size 0 is the pattern of perfection. In only one generation, our clothing standards shrank by at least two whole sizes. Nowadays, a woman isn’t in vogue unless she’s a handy-dandy letter opener, too. To fit into the next new clothing size, we may have to become invisible.

A woman’s got to be as sleek as a platinum credit card, to be elegant in modern times. She’s got to be as versatile as a Swiss Army Knife and substitute as a clothes hanger in case we’ve locked ourselves out of our cars. It’d break Joan Crawford’s heart - not only are wire hangers proliferating, they are human. Nowadays, fashion is to die for but we can always bulk up with implants, for curves to accent our sharp-edged bones.

Men with "beer bellies" may be mocked, whether they got them by drinking or disease but 6-pack abs are ardently admired. It seems almost more desirable to swallow the cans whole and still ringed together, for that hard, round set of belly bulges. Those tight looking abdominal muscles might develop from dedicated work-outs or dangerous illegal steroid use which may also shrivel sexual organs and injure brain cells but, who cares, when appearances are everything.

A drug, a diet, a finger down the throat – whatever it takes to be svelte is sweet, no matter the danger to our health, when substance is suspect. The fat fights are worth the lives damaged or destroyed since our funeral shrouds will drape so beautifully over our bones. Baloney – and pass the sour pickles – real men, women and children eat, if they’re lucky. Bulimia and anorexia are deadly diseases, not healthy diet programs. Catch a clue from the coffins.

Moviemakers and fashion houses are in the fantasy biz but their obsession with an unnatural appearance has altered our cultural perceptions. When we judge ourselves by such superficial standards, our ambitions teeter precariously between being healthy and being fashionably thin. Few who actually eat can reach this unholy grail but some will die trying.

Celebrities with personal athletic trainers, cosmetic surgeons, Botox docs, nannies, cooks and housekeepers swear the products they endorse made them gorgeous. In the US, famous folk must at least appear to use the goods and services they promote or, when fantasy and fiction collide, they might be upstaged by a judge in a real courtroom. Fat chance. As singer-actress Whitney Houston once said, rich people don’t do crack. Products promoting dietary delusions are the crack of the diet dream industry.

Alice tumbled onto pills that made her larger or smaller at will but this isn’t Wonderland. It’s the Land of Milk and Money, where cash cows are drained of moola and fat cats lap up all the cream. Snake oil salesmen live on Billionaire Row, sitting pretty up on Pill Hill and it’s folks like us who put them there.

Hucksters in Armani suits eat high off the hog because the suckers being born every minute are so eager for elegant bones. We only want to squeeze into our regular clothes and our usual faces but we get sucker punched with the rest, while charlatans party hearty on our tab.

Hope springs eternal in the human breast and brings out the beast in the greedy. Miracle drugs aren’t sold over WalMart counters or on the Internet and every product prettily pitched is not necessarily aimed to please anyone but the promoter. Some dogs wag but they still bite – please, don’t take them all at their word.

Pretty is as pretty does, so the old saying goes and looking like a million bucks may cost nearly that much, in these shallow times. When we were kids, our elders often told us, character counts but it’s losing the competition to cuteness. Why be smart when you can be smart-looking instead, in cutting-edge styles, with a few surgical procedures?

Think about it - would you rather have friends who glow in the dark or friendships that glow in your heart? Is it better to look like a Hollywood star or to be celebrated by those you love? How do you define your own value and what do you value most in others – as Judge Judy says, pretty fades but stupid is forever – and death is eternal. We’ve got to eat wisely and well to live.

Don’t let others define reality for you. Shape your life to fit who you really are and all you want to be. We need not starve ourselves or pop dangerous pills to look and feel better.

Please check out The Fat Fights – Part 2 -The Wolf Weighs In in Lupus NewsLog’s Articles With Attitude. Read about the so-called "obesity epidemic" in Obesity and The American Healthcare Shell Game.

Find these articles and much more in this site's links on your left and investigate tips on creating a healthy diet, delicious recipes, fun exercises and support for nurturing your health in body, mind and spirit.

The Fat Fights – Part 2 -The Wolf Weighs In

The wolf is a ruffian who rarely rides alone, especially in SLE. Our symptoms are compounded when we’re hit from all sides by lupus and its related syndromes. These relentless assaults can make managing our stress, pain and weight seem hopeless.

According to numerous clinical studies over several years, chronic stress has clear and serious physical effects. It increases the perception of pain so that which is bearable when we feel relaxed becomes intolerable. It disturbs sleep, raises blood pressure and makes blood glucose levels unstable. This glucose problem is a major cause in the widespread rise in adult onset diabetes, which is also increasing among children.

Chronic stress causes plaque in coronary arteries, contributing to heart attacks. Stressed immune systems are less resistant to infection, more susceptible to flare and to diseases including cancer. One effect of chronic stress is an increase in fatty deposits in the waist and hips. This gain, on top of lupus swelling and medication bloat, can add to the overwhelming pressure.

Gastric bypass has become a popular slimming solution but this surgery is a drastic makeover which sometimes fails and can be very dangerous, even deadly. On the Big Fat Blog, you can read a discussion on Gastric Bypass Death and one on The Thin Pill or how to look like you have cancer for pennies a day.

We can be healthier without stapling our stomachs, swallowing diet gimmicks or crying ourselves to sleep. We need regular exercise to keep our blood flowing, our hearts pumping and our lungs oxygenating. When we do aerobic exercises, we’re stimulating our systems, promoting oxygenation, reducing pain, fatigue and depression and developing stronger muscle tissue in our joints and overall.

A 1998 study concluded that people with lupus related conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia benefit most from rest and range-of-motion exercises during flare. Other and more recent studies found that, when not in flare, aerobic exercises such as swimming, bicycling, brisk walking and even running can do us considerable good.

We can go for a swim, take up walking, try Tai Chi or take a Yoga class. If we start walking just 10 minutes a day, 3 days a week, we can build up by 5 or 10 minutes a day, comfortably and without injury. Walking and swimming may be the most practical exercises for many of those with SLE but some of us may be hypersensitive to chlorination in swimming pools.

Tai Chi consists of slow, gentle exercises which are fairly easy to learn. Because Tai Chi is a contemplative form of exercise, we learn to know our bodies and respond to their needs. We can learn many stretching Yoga movements without twisting ourselves into pretzels. Many communities offer inexpensive beginner’s classes and there are instructional videos for sale or rent.

Light weights can be fashioned from things around the house. If you’re frail, a bag of rice or dried beans hefted in each hand can get oxygen and blood flowing. With gradual increases, you can work up to 2 ½ to 5 pound hand weights when you’re ready.

Exercise can even be fun. Sing your hearts out and increase your oxygen input. Dance your feet off and strengthen your muscles. Slap on a smile and pretty colors and raise your self-image. Sounds too easy? It works, friends, it really does.

©Shar Phoenix, Lupus NewsLog. Article reprints are available upon request. Contributing writers retain their own copyrights. All Lupus NewsLog sites and pages offer research based information to assist in understanding lupus and in self-advocacy. Content here, on sister sites or in email response is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Consult a qualified physician for medical attention.