Posted in sober

saying no to wine culture – and yes to life.

As y’all know, seeing people recover from substance abuse is close to my heart and several things have come up in the past few days that I want to share.

First, the 28th was the ten month anniversary of my goodbye to wine :

I will always stop and give thanks to God for those anniversaries and the positive changes they have brought in my life – or, more truthfully, that they have given me my life back.

A couple of days before that, though, I came across this on Pinterest:

And it made me smile. But it also made me so so sad.

See, I am not a Star Wars person – don’t email me, I won’t read it =D – but I loved Carrie Fisher, from her crazy sense of humor, to her willingness to speak the truth no matter what, to her Frenchie Gary. In fact, the second post here on The Autoimmune Hippie was for Carrie and her mom Debbie when they passed away.

And, when I learned that her death was attributable to substance abuse, I was not shocked or standing in judgement of her in any way, but I was again saddened and sick to see another bright light lost to this awful disease.

And, with that heavy on my heart, I was considering another substance abuse related post.

Before I had a chance to make it though, Holly over at Hip Sobriety called my attention to this video that Kristen Bell (who I normally just love) made for Ellen Degeneres (who I also normally just love):

With their moms behind a two-way mirror, laughing, these kids talk about how much wine they see them drink and the times they can’t wake them up the next day.

To which Kristen says, “sounds like you have some fun moms.”

And she tells the kids they deserve the wine for putting up with “you animals.”

And everyone thinks it funny.

But I don’t.

While the level of alcohol abuse has stayed about the same in men, it has doubled in women in recent years and this normalization of “wine culture” is playing into that in a big way.

And kids that can’t wake mom up due to her hangover? So not funny. It’s sad. Very sad.

And, while I do love Kristen, her husband is actively in recovery so I would expect her to be more aware of these issues.

I’m tired of this.

I’m tired of seeing unhealthy behavior treated as “socially acceptable.” As the current maximum standard is one drink per day for women and two for men, it’s safe to say we are well beyond that in this video. And the more it’s normalized, the less likely women who are struggling with their drinking are to seek help.

This is not okay.

So, again, if you know in your heart that drinking has become a problem for you or you feel that you are drinking more than you should, there are so many resources available to you:

Alcoholics Anonymous:

Hip Sobriety:

Celebrate Recovery:

This is worth taking a listen on Celebrate Recovery:

In addition to these, there are numerous church groups and online groups.

Also, as I’ve said in previous posts, if you need medical help, whether or not you have medical insurance or anything else, if you present to an emergency room, they WILL help you.

The average time between when a person starts to think drinking might be a problem for them and when they seek help is seven years – if they make it to seek help. Please don’t wait. Don’t waste seven years of your life.

There is so much freedom and joy and peace on the other side.

It’s hard work – but it is so worth it.

Be well, everybody.

Grace and blessings.



Posted in Jesus

for Rachael

With all of the news recently of sexual harassment and sexual assault and all manner of horrific things, I’ve had so many things to say and I just haven’t quite known how to say them.

Or maybe I haven’t been ready to say them.

It’s hard.

I’m sure I’m not the only woman who is terribly unsettled by this climate.

Every day it seems, there is some new, awful story breaking.

But the thing that has finally brought me out of my quiet is actually this:

When I read Rachael Denhollander’s op-ed piece on all of the things that have happened to her since she came out with her story, of course, it just ripped my heart out.

And made me so angry.

But one line has stayed with me, even more than the others: “I lost my church.”

That has come as I am still just absolutely sick over a church giving its minister a standing ovation for “apologizing” for a past sexual assault as well:

While all congregations are certainly not guilty of this behavior (and our pastor just addressed those issues openly last week), the behavior of “the church” as whole towards victims of sexual abuse has been truly heartbreaking at times – and certainly not reflective of the heart of Jesus.

Whenever a pastor – or any other individual – is protected and “forgiven” within the church, rather than forced to face justice for what he has done, a terrible wrong is done to the victim – and there will likely be more victims in the future as the perpetrator has gotten away with it once.

As Ann Voskamp says, “When the prevailing thinking is boys will boys. . . girls will be garbage.”

The victim leaves this situation hurt not only by the abuse, but also by the church that should have protected her and helped her find healing.

This is so incredibly damaging.

And to see that a woman who came forward many years after her abuse still “lost her church?”


When the “me too” movement started showing up on my social media accounts, I didn’t feel compelled to add my name. A personal choice.

But honestly?

The majority of women I know and saw online have experienced some type of sexual abuse or mistreatment at some point in their lives.

That was just my observation.

I’m not surprised. It is the culture we live in.

And, in responding to that culture, the church should be the first to reach out in compassion to victims, to promote healing, to offer love. It should also be the safest place to be, where NO abuse is tolerated.

The church can, and must, do better.

abuse blog 1

This is the heart of God.

Be well, everybody.

Grace and blessings.


Posted in 2018, 6 month plan

week 1 health coaching myself update

As promised in last Friday’s blog post, it’s Friday Update Day (well, actually early Saturday morning, but, bear with me, plague has struck my home) on my Health Coaching myself project.

As can always be expected when starting a new project, a giant thundercloud has been hanging over our heads this week – the plague struck me on Sunday, our youngest daughter was in the ER twice with kidney problems through the week, and our eldest daughter was in the ER Thursday night with the flu and a crazy high fever.

And now we are both on Tamiflu.


Needless to say, it wasn’t the beginning I had hoped for.

Still, I managed to do my food journaling.

And I’ve written out my meal plans for the weekend.

And added my walks and swims to my calendar for next week.

I’ve also decided to try My Fitness Pal on my phone this week instead of a handwritten food journal to see how I like it.

One big thing I did manage to think about this week was body image.

I’ve written before about the changes in my appearance that have occurred because of my illness and my medications:

  • Of course, there is the weight gain from the prednisone.
  • The pred causes the weight gain to be mostly abdominal, where I usually tend to gain weight in my hips
  • I have the total prednisone “moon face.”
  • I lost so much of my hair due to my meds that I had to shave it and am now regrowing it (and am so grateful that it is coming back).
  • I have deep red marks across my abdomen called striae, that are different from a regular stretch mark, caused by the prednisone.
  • Some of my joints are seriously visually swollen and different.
  • Sometimes I obviously walk with a limp.

And I realize that losing weight will make me feel much better and improve my health – but it will not correct all of these things by any means.

And I have to accept that.

While I was thinking and reading on that, I came across this fabulous lady:

And I posted this picture to my Health Coach Instagram and a link to this awesome blog post of hers:

It is a great read.

Because sometimes we do have to accept the cosmetic things we don’t necessarily like. And just give thanks for all our bodies CAN do.

At the same time, while reading something unrelated to body image, I came across a quote from The Velveteen Rabbit that I hadn’t seen in many years. And it is just perfect. A total God thing:

So, it’s time to start Week Two.


Be well, everybody, and Happy Weekend!

Grace and blessings.

Posted in Health, The Herring Herd

flu should really be a four letter word.

What. A. Yuck. Week.

We were two ER visits in with our youngest, Sara, for kidney problems, and she and I were up all night again last night, but she went back to school today anyway, toughing it out. What a trooper I say. ❤️

And, the plan – bahahahaha! – was that our eldest, Laura, was going to go off with my dad from today through Sunday, gallivanting. They left about 2 PM.

They returned at 8 PM with Laura running a temp of 101.9 with chills, headache, body aches, and a cough.

Of course, by then, I had also given myself my chemo shot for the week at about 6:30 PM. Yay for extra immune suppression!

I gave her a gram of Tylenol and settled her on the couch with fluids.

By 10PM, her temp was 104 – she’s always run crazy high fevers but now that she is almost an adult that is just too much – so I loaded her up in Janis and off to the ER we went.

As expected, the flu it is, as well as another minor infection.

So, she’ll be on Tamiflu and an antibiotic and on the couch for several days.

Even so, the Lord was looking after us, with this, our third ER visit of the week.

Our triage nurse was sweet nurse Becky, who immediately said, when she saw me, “Your hair is growing back!” and got us to a room quickly.

Our nurse and nurse practitioner were both just precious.

And, most importantly, the doctor overseeing all of this is a doctor I know well. When she stopped in before we left, she immediately said, “You need ten days of Tamiflu as well. You can’t get this. I’ll write it for you.”

What a blessing.

I am so thankful.

So now we are home.

Laura is on the couch.

I will be up all night (Again. Dammit.) monitoring her – because 104 temp – until the pharmacy opens at 9 AM and we can get her Tamiflu started. She has to be on alternating Tylenol and Motrin – just like when she was little – to contain this fever so the coffee maker and I are going to be close friends this evening.

The non-exposed family members are downstairs and Thieves is diffusing throughout the house.

I also have my bottle of Valor sitting next to me as I work because STRESS.

I plan to be productive since I am pulling an all-nighter but my lil’ RA body is still sick too and it doth protest.

Help me, Jesus.

I know He will.

And this little dude just seems to know I’m stressed and sick and he’s been sticking extra close too:

He is just the best lil’ service pup in the land. ❤️

Be well, everybody.

Grace and blessings.

Posted in 2018


I don’t want the black balloons and/or funeral themed parties for any of my birthdays. Ever.

All of my birthdays call for rainbow balloons and glitter and sparkles and funfetti.

The higher the number, the more glitter and sparkles I say.

And the number is no secret – you can hire someone to put it in skywriting if you like.

I’ll gladly take as many years as the Lord will see fit to give me and celebrate them all.

I can actually remember being upset when I turned 30 – bahahahahaha! – but then my amazing friends threw me the best surprise party at Habaneros and we had so much fun that I didn’t even care anymore – not even when I found my first grays two days later.

This fabulous memory happened at that party:

To know Ryan and to have heard his delivery of that line. . . It was the funniest thing I’ve ever heard. . .

As I’ve written, Ryan went to the other side, not too long after his 50th Birthday last year, and it has been so so hard.

Since we lost him so unexpectedly and heartbreakingly, I am remembering to add extra funfetti to the birthday cupcakes and say extra thanks for each year.

My health struggles this year have not been pretty and our family has experienced a great deal of stress. As a result, my rheumatoid arthritis has worsened significantly. Even my celiac disease, which has been stable since 2012, “flared” at one point, in the form of a GI bleed. We are working on sorting out things in our home now, to reduce stress and bring back the usual harmony, which will be better for all of us, and I am still working with my doctors to contain my disease process. I am also embarking on 6 month program of my own, making holistic changes to help myself.

More than anything, though I never imagined that I would have to stop nursing at this point in my life, I am so grateful that I am able to be home with my family, be involved in my church, graduate nutrition school this May, start a new business, spend time writing, and have so many amazing things to look forward to.

Even though it is different than what I thought my life would be right now, it is wonderful. God always has the best plans. Sometimes they just take time to all work out. And I know they all will eventually.

So, my wonderful husband came home from work – super tired, no less – and made me these fabulous GF cupcakes:

After some sleep, if this viral flu crud is still with me tomorrow, it will be a PJ’s & Plague, Watch Disney Movies and Celebrate, Sparkly Birthday. And that will be okay too.

Here’s to 39.

New degree, new business helping people reach their goals, new year working on my own health, more fun stuff to get into, more opportunities to serve and love like Jesus.


Be well, everybody.

Grace and blessings.

Posted in Jesus, RA, The Herring Herd

when spoonies get regular people sick

So, today I’m writing from my quarantined spot in my bedroom, keeping the plague I woke up with to myself (I hope) and trying everything I know to manage some gnarly symptoms and get well.

See, last week, our eldest came home with the flu. And I treated her and she is now recovered and even out running the track. And I was so relieved that the rest of us missed it (I thought).

And, yesterday, my husband and I went to Tuscaloosa, and had to the best day, getting to use his Christmas basketball tickets at the Alabama/Mississippi State Game:

We got to see all the new things on campus:

I even finally got to take my picture with Big Al (yes, that was important to me):

And, then, this morning, when I woke up for church, I had a fever, headache, sinus and chest congestion, and my body was on fire. So, no church for me.

Like everything else, even having the flu is more complex for spoonies.

Since I’m on immunosuppressants, I do have to be vigilant for symptoms of pneumonia or other infections developing. As a nurse, I am comfortable monitoring myself for those.

It’s the other issues that are really unpleasant right now.

Because I am fighting a nasty infection, it has triggered my RA and my joints have become inflamed, particularly my ankles and my right hip:

My ankles are so painful and tender that it is just miserable to walk today.

Also, the normal side effects of my medications – like stomach upset – combined with a virus are hideous – ’nuff said.

And, while I still seem to be on the worsening side of this, I looked at the weather and saw this:

Thunderstorms and a cold front. Yippee!

Also, with immunosuppresants, it takes longer – sometimes much longer – to heal from an infection.


So, I am in bed for the next several days I’m sure, with the best nurse in the land by my side:

I am pushing fluids, taking Emergen-C, taking ALL the cold meds, diffusing Theives, and sleeping and reading lots. And walking as little as possible. And keeping my feet and ankles up.

It’s just another one of those not-fun spoonie things. A week-long flu can trigger a month-long flare. It stinketh.

So tonight I am going to revisit my sweet Sara Frankl’s book, Choose Joy, and remember this:

And it will be okay.

Be well, everybody.

Grace and blessings.

Posted in RA

on chronic pain

Yesterday, I got no fewer than five breaking news updates on my phone that Tom Petty’s cause of death was an accidental drug overdose. I later read that he was suffering from a broken hip and that it was a combination of fentanyl patches, oral opioids, and benzodiazepines.

Similarly to when Prince passed away due to an opioid overdose, he WAS overprescribed, probably because he was Tom Petty. For example, the benzodiazepines in his system should not have been given with the opioids in the first place. However, with both of them, they had severe hip problems that would have left them in devastating chronic pain. So they would have absolutely needed pain management of some kind – just better.

But, for me, when I read today that this was the cause of his death, I immediately thought, “Not this again.”

See, as we all know, there is a major opioid problem in our country right now. And our President has declared a “War on Opioids.”

Because of this, physicians are being told how many opioids they can write – regardless of how many they feel they need to write. And pharmacies are being limited on how many they can dispense – regardless of whether a patient has a prescription. This is not the solution to the problem of illegal or inappropriate opioid use. It is, however, making it very difficult for legitimate pain management patients to get the help they need.

I’ve heard tale of patients being sent from pharmacy to pharmacy, trying to find the same prescriptions that they have been on for years, prescribed by the same pain management physicians. They are doing exactly what they are supposed to do as chronic pain patients and still are being penalized.

And, when someone so prominent passes away in this manner, it inclines those who don’t necessarily understand the issues that chronic pain patients are dealing with to place more random restrictions on compliant physicians and compliant patients.

As someone who lives with chronic pain, this week was one of the worst that I’ve had. All of the medications that I have, taken as prescribed, would not get it under control on Thursday. I don’t know how to fully explain this to someone who hasn’t experienced it before.

My spine and hips were literally burning – like they were on fire – and there was no escaping it. The nerve pain medication – which is not an opioid – that can usually at least dull it, would not even touch it.

It hurt to walk.

It hurt to stand up.

It hurt to move.

It is the kind of pain that just makes a person crazy.

And, like many chronic pain patients, I am usually able to talk through it – and even be pleasant and smile through it – because I don’t want to be a miserable person to be around when I’m hurting.

But it is absolute hell when this happens.

In an answer to prayer, I finally found an essential oil concoction that, combined with my meds and lidoderm patch, helped put the fire out enough for me to sleep, and I woke up at my baseline – which is a livable pain level – on Friday – thank God.

Still, I feel the need to speak up.

Though I hate that another person has passed away due to combining too many medications – and also having medications that should not be combined – and I believe with all my heart that something has to be done about the opioid crisis we are facing, we also have to remember that there are many people who are struggling to live every day with the kind of severe pain that overcame me on Thursday.

Many of them are much sicker than I am.

And it is not fair or moral or in any way okay to make it more difficult for them to get the help they need.

I promise, it is already hard enough.

Be well, everybody.

Grace and blessings.