Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tackling Costochondritis - My Regimen

This blog entry is about my nearly two year struggle with costochondritis. You can read my story and follow my blog entries in chronological order by going to this link.

Writing a blog entry for dealing with this monster (costochondritis) is not easy. I probably should start writing down a list of thoughts before I blog about this. I have a feeling I'll be sitting here cutting and pasting my words so that they'll not be so jumbly (and the spell-check says "jumbly" is not a word--but I'm saying it is today). More than a year's research is floating around in my brain, and I know that there's no possible way that I can get it all in in one blog entry (hence the need for a whole series of posts so that you can read on your own time). Today I'm going to devote my blog entry to the regimen I'm going to attempt to follow. I say attempt because my history doesn't exactly include a heaping amount of determination or will-power. However, I'd love to get my life back, and that's a whole lot of determination right there. And that also reminds me to tell you that I'm going to write a post (or maybe more?) about what a bad day is like for me and what a good day is like for me.

But first I want to share with you what I'm going to do to tackle this problem, and with God's help, eliminate it. Speaking of God, I also need to share with you in a blog entry about my struggle and my spiritual growth.

Diet Life-Changing Eating Plan
I hate that word Diet, and anyone who has ever been on a diet surely hates it, too. The word is not pleasant and brings back the thought of endless FAILED attempts at changing my eating habits. The word Diet has an unpleasant letter arrangement that I also associate with failed attempts at changing my eating--d-i-e. Yup, every time I go on a diet, the plan always dies. I don't have much will-power. So, that being said, I have chosen--instead of Diet--to use the phrase Life-Changing Eating Plan.

My eating plan is developed around the perfect whole foods diet eating plan. ;) Whole foods means that there is nothing processed in such a way that nutrients are stripped. So, basically, here is a list of foods I will be eating, followed by a list I won't be eating.

Life-Changing foods (what I'll be eating):
  • whole grain bread, crackers, with no sugar or ingredients that contain -ose
  • fresh fruits and frozen (no sugar added, no preservatives)
  • fresh vegetables and frozen (no preservatives)
  • brown rice, barley, etc. (not refined)
  • no-salt nuts
  • non-breaded meats
  • organic yogurt (no sugar), cheese (no processed junk)
Life-Inhibiting foods (what I won't eat):
  • white flour
  • canned fruit, dried fruit (including GMO fruits and veggies, which I avoid anyway)
  • white rice
  • breaded, processed meat
  • anything with sugar in the ingredients or -ose or -ol in the ingredient list
  • anything with monosodium glutamate in the ingredient list
Since I also suffer from acid reflux, I also plan to eliminate tomatoes, onions and celery from my diet (my acid triggers) for a while.


Stress & Tension - My Slow but Steadily Plunge into Pain
Relaxation is going to be a huge part of my regimen because I've developed the habit of bracing. During the last thirteen years, I have bit by bit held tension in my upper torso. As a result, my neck was my first source of problem. I have alignment issues (because of one leg being longer than the other), but that is only half of my neck problems. When I was 22, I started getting tension headaches. I just thought for years that I was afflicted with migraines; looking back on it and knowing what I do now, it was a part of my stress problem. Thirteen years later, I still have neck problems, but I've added upper back, shoulder, mid back and lower back to my list of pain. Last February, I added chest to the mix. Instead of now simply responding to a stressful situation by tensing my shoulders and my chest muscles, I now tense my shoulders and chest muscles when I am not stressed. I will be sitting in front of the television, reading a book, or simply having a conversation and realize that my muscles in those areas are tense. I consciously realize it several times a day and force myself to relax those muscles.

Morning Pain
My mornings are rough. When I wake up, my sternum and ribs (front and back) are sore. If I awake while lying on my side, it feels like my sternum is being squished. Painful. As the morning progresses, I begin to feel better. This lets me know that I tense my muscles up during sleep.

How I'm Hoping to Fix It - Skilled Relaxation

Last year I discovered a website that has brought me my greatest number of resources in fighting and winning the battle against acid reflux and costochondritis. And that website introduced to me the book on the left: Recapture Your Health. I bought it (and no, I have not been paid to talk about this book), and boy has it been an eye-opener. It's a holistic look at healing your problems when allopathic medication won't bring you healing. (The authors don't dismiss modern medicine--they prefer a natural healing when possible combined with allopathic means of handling other health needs, such as genetic illnesses.)

One third of this book's major topics deals with relaxation (the other two main topics cover exercise and whole foods diet). The idea behind relaxation is to teach your body not to respond to the fight or flight mode that many folks find themselves constantly in. For me, relaxation is simply lying on the bed for half an hour, focusing on my breathing and keeping thoughts at bay. I also occasionally listen to classical music (Pachelbel's Canon is one of my favorites) when I'm having trouble with focusing on relaxing. I don't listen to relaxation CDs with people telling you what to do, nor do I do self-hypnosis or things like that. I simply lie down and relax. I do this twice a day, according to the suggestion in the book. I've not done it long enough to see results. As a matter of fact, the book states that it can take 6-12 months to see major results. Maybe three months before I see noticeable results. I don't care if I have to wait a year--if it'll work, I'll try it three times a day if I need to.

Supplements & Helpful Practices
Here is a list of supplements that I am taking:
  • regular multivitamin
  • folate
  • fish oil and/or flax seed oil
  • magnesium
  • B12
  • Frankincense oil
  • Vit. D
  • chiropractic care & massage therapy as needed
  • gentle stretching & walking
  • Echinacea (two weeks on, two off)
I'm keeping a notebook to keep track of my relaxation sessions, vitamins,and symptoms. This will help me to see if there is a pattern to my pain. Some people claim that weather makes costochondritis worse. I've not been able to see if there is a pattern yet for me. Time will tell.

My goal is to be whole and well again. The ultimate goal would be to pass on my findings to someone else battling this so that they can be made whole and well again, too.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

You Don't Know Me - a Litfuse review

First, let me make my apology to Litfuse and Susan May Warren for not getting this review out when I was supposed to. I was scheduled to put my review up on the 3rd, and somehow I must have deleted the email, and weeks later noticed that there were reviews being put up on the Litfuse site. After then emailing Christen for info on the blog tour, I got delayed with a bad costochondritis flare-up (was not able to type up my review) and then went out of state for my dad's knee surgery and to help out afterward....It's not been my month! Please accept my apology for my tardy review.

If you've not read Susan May Warren's Deep Haven series, you have really been deprived! If you enjoy a nice, Christian contemporary novel with little splashes of romance and suspense thrown in, you will love the novels in this series. I've been given the opportunity once again to review one of these novels (last year I reviewed an advanced copy of The Shadow of Your Smile and also My Foolish Heart). Susan absolutely is a terrific writer. She magnificently fleshes out her characters in a way that leaves me wondering how she does it! I can tell that she spends quality time allowing her characters to develop into their own personalities. She weaves the storyline in a way that feels natural and not at all forced.

The emotion in You Don't Know Me was palpable. Several times, I found myself in tears because of the characters' emotional situations. When a book can bring me to tears, I know it's excellent!!

About the Book: 

A Deep Haven Novel

Sometimes the secrets we keep to protect ourselves can be our undoing.

To all who know her, Annalise Decker is a model wife and mother. She’s a permanent member of the PTA, never misses a sporting event, and is constantly campaigning for her husband’s mayoral race.

No one knows that Annalise was once Deidre O’Reilly, a troubled young woman whose testimony put a dangerous criminal behind bars. Relocated through the Witness Security Program to the quaint harbor town of Deep Haven, Deidre received a new identity and a fresh start, which began when she fell in love with local real estate agent Nathan Decker.

Twenty years later, Annalise couldn’t be more unprepared for her past to catch up with her. When Agent Frank Harrison arrives with news that the man she testified against is out on parole and out for revenge, Annalise is forced to face the consequences of her secrets. Will she run again, or will she finally find the courage to trust those she loves most with both her past and her future?

Meet Susan:
Susan May Warren is the RITA award-winning novelist of over thirty novels. A five-time Christy award finalist, a two-time RITA Finalist, she’s also a multi-winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice award, and the ACFW Carol Award. A seasoned women’s events speaker, she’s a popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation and the author of the beginning writer’s workbook: From the Inside-Out: discover, create and publish the novel in you!. Find out more about Susan May at

If you would like to read more reviews from this blog campaign, click {here}!

I received You Don't Know Me as a complimentary gift in exchange for review from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to give a favorable review; my opinions are my own.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tackling Costochondritis - What Works & What Doesn't, Part 1

With this battle with costochondritis, I've read of soooooo many things one can do, supplements that can be taken, etc. Here is a list of things I've discovered through searching, and in blue italics are my own personal thoughts on those that I have tried.

  • NSAIDs temporary relief, not a cure
  • Steroids
  • Noni juice
  • Flax seed oil  haven't tried long enough to see effects
  • Fish oil  haven't tried long enough to see effects
  • Sunbathing  works great for me in relieving pain short-term (half an hour in the sun is great)
  • Glucosamine/chondroitin
  • Heat  dulls the pain temporarily but tends to cause throbbing later
  • Ice   I didn't find it to be comfortable at all
  • gluten-free diet  haven't tried for costochondritis yet
  • skilled relaxation  I think it will really help long-term, haven't tried long enough to see a big change yet, but my stress levels are much lower
  • Rolfing (a holistic system of soft tissue manipulation)
  • Massage therapy  has helped relieve stress knots, but no relief from sternum pain
  • aerobic exercise   no decrease in pain, but makes me feel more energized
  • stretching   light stretching helps some, but I can easily go too far, with the result being great pain the next day
  • Acupuncture
  • Prolotherapy
  • compression
  • Magnesium, B12   I take these daily (350 Magnesium, 1000 B12) and have for a long time.  
  • Chiropractic care   short-term help, good for overall wellness
  • Essential oils   this one's being worked on currently--Frankincense oil
  • Breast reduction - this was literally recommended to me a few months ago. Because I'm large-chested, the weight of my breasts do cause the pain to stick around. However, I'm more inclined to stick the tried-and-true method below....
  • Weight loss   on my way....

Tackling Costochondritis - the History of My Issues With It

I'm doing a series of blog entries on my struggles with pinpointing the cause and the cure for costochondritis. During these next few weeks and months, I'm going to document the inception of my issues with costochondritis, my struggles with pain, what's helped and what's not, and my research on holistic treatment and--hopefully--a cure for this chronic condition.

Costochondritis is an inflammation of the sternum. It is often a temporary problem that some have, but for others like me, it becomes a chronic condition. Lifting something as simple as a full laundry basket, mopping a floor, or scrubbing a dirty dish releases needle-like sensations of pain along my sternum. Below is my story, followed by the research I am doing to combat this problem. I'm not satisfied with dulling the pain--I want it eliminated.

The beginning--trying to find the trigger
On January 24, 2011, I remarked on my Facebook account that I felt awful. I had awful reflux and just didn't feel good. I began looking into the possibility of Celiac's Disease, and began an elimination diet. On February 6 (almost two weeks into my elimination diet), I began to feel like I was losing my voice, I had a dry cough, tight-feeling chest and just felt bad. I also had a swollen type feeling in my throat, as if I'd eaten something that caused an allergic reaction. A ARNP at an urgent clinic thought she detected a lump on my thyroid and wanted me to have an ultrasound. A second opinion from my regular GP revealed no such lump, but a diagnosis of Laryngopharyngeal Reflux was thrown out there, which matched my symptoms.

Then sometime toward the end of February or early March I began feeling like I had a chest cold--bronchial tickling, coughing, feeling like I had glue in my bronchial tubes, and a low-grade temp that would come and go but didn't ever reach 100. I kept coughing to try to release the junk, but I couldn't produce a productive cough. That kept up for weeks--on April 18 I posted that I was beginning to feel better. However, in its place was a nasty pain in my sternum area from all of the coughing. The pain continued--it hurt to touch, it hurt to twist my body, it hurt to lift things. I began searching online (while I also was still trying to get answers from medical professionals), and discovered costochondritis, which is an inflammation of the sternum that can be caused from blunt trauma to the sternum and/or ribs, excessive coughing, a virus, and other things. Further research taught me that some people have it for a few days while others have it for years. Unfortunately, I was not part of the majority that only has it for a few days or weeks. More than a year and a half later, I still have it. Also during this time, I developed panic attacks and suffered from anxiety, because it was such a painful time. Costochondritis mimics heart attack pain, and when the pain was at its worst (especially at night), I would wonder if I was about to have a heart attack. On April 29, 2011, I finally had a confirmed diagnosis by my chiropractor of costochondritis. My GP prescribed Mobic.

Since those early days, I have learned that my costochondritis problems increase prior to menses, in the cold, sometimes on rainy days, and completely went away when I got pregnant this past May (unfortunately, the pregnancy ended and costochondritis came back about six weeks later).

Suggestions Made to Me
Allopathic treatment for costochondritis
The only internal treatment that was suggested to me was Mobic. It took several days for me to find relief. I was given the prescription for only a month, and when it was out, I was still in pain. I asked for another refill and was given another month's worth, but was under the impression that I would not be given more. After beginning to take the second month's worth, I began feeling better and decided to just use Tylenol and Advil as needed. The pain was manageable, but flared up if I did too much (just about any housework was too much) and also increased before my menstrual cycle.

Dangers of prescription drugs for pain relief
Doctors cannot issue a cure for costochondritis. There is no medication that will eliminate this problem. In fact, NSAIDs are well-known for causing more problems, specifically problems with the gut. I can vouch for that!! NSAIDs also block the body's synthesis of proteoglycans, the molecules that bring water to cartilage. So while you're getting pain relief, you're also depriving your cartilage of the moisture it needs. It's suspected (but not yet confirmed, not that I've found anyway) that conditions such as osteoarthritis can actually increase because of the lack of hydration.

Holistic treatment
Chiropractic care
I have been getting chiropractic care since 2008, and I continued with that. It seems to also help with the pain level.

Massage therapy
Recently I began seeing a massage therapist, who has been progressively working on the incredible knots in my back. I went from having many many knots the first session, to only having a handful or two the third session. I've not seen a decrease in my pain, but at least the knots are going away. These are as a result of the chronic bracing that I've done during times of stress and pain.

Check back for my next blog entry about costochondritis soon!

My goal is to be whole and well again. The ultimate goal would be to pass on my findings to someone else battling this so that they can be made whole and well again, too.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Trouble With Cowboys - a Litfuse review

Jami's Thoughts
It isn't very often that I see a cowboy story pulled off really well. Denise Hunter's The Trouble With Cowboys does a nice job of using appropriate slang at just the right times without seeming overpowering. This story is about a young lady struggling to make ends meet. When her job as equine columnist for Montana Living comes to an end with the promise of a love column opened up, Annie Wilkerson knew there was no way she could give folks love advice because she's never been in love.

When ladies man Dylan Taylor needs help with his blind horse who has become very restless, he goes to Annie, whose skills as trainer are exactly what Braveheart needs. But Annie's not too keen on the idea of spending time near the flirty Dylan, but when he tells her he has already sought the advice of everyone else in the area, Annie feels like she should help--especially since the only other possible option for Braveheart is to put him down. There's only one problem, though: Annie doesn't trust cowboys. After her cowboy father left her mother and sister and her when she was young, Annie has a large distrust for cowboys. The fact that Dylan seems to attract women like flies to a cow patty doesn't help matters. So Annie--against her better judgment--hatches a plan that, in exchange for helping his horse, Dylan must help her with her new lovelorn column.

This book was a great story. I read it in two sittings, and it left me wanting to read more! If you'd like to read more reviews about this book, click {here}!

About the Book: 
Only one pair of boots—and the cowboy wearing them—can get Annie out of the mess she’s in.

Annie Wilkerson is Moose Creek’s premiere horse trainer and equine columnist for Montana Living. Money is tight as she tries to put her kid-sister through college and provide for her young nephew. When Annie’s column is cancelled, she’s given first shot at a new lovelorn column—and she can’t afford to turn it down. Only problem is . . . Annie’s never been in love.

Always resourceful, she reluctantly strikes a deal with the town’s smooth-talking ladies’ man Dylan Taylor: She’ll work with his ailing horse, Braveheart, if he’ll help her answer the reader letters.

Working closely with Dylan is harder than Annie imagined, and she quickly realizes she may have misjudged him. But her unwavering conviction that cowboys are nothing but trouble has kept her heart safe for years. And she can’t risk getting hurt now.
The more Annie tries to control things, the more they fall apart. Her feelings are spinning out of control, and her sister’s antics are making life increasingly more difficult. Annie knows she needs to turn the reins over to God, but surrender has never come easily.

When Dylan reveals his feelings for her, Annie doesn’t know what to trust—her head or her heart. The trouble with this cowboy is that he might just be exactly what she needs.

Meet Denise: 

Denise lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons. In 1996, Denise began her first book, a Christian romance novel, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she’s been writing ever since. Her books often contain a strong romantic element, and her husband Kevin says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too! Find out more about Denise at

Denise Hunter’s The Trouble with Cowboys Facebook Party & Kindle Fire Giveaway
To celebrate the release of The Trouble with Cowboys Denise is hosting a fun Author Chat Party on Facebook. She'll connect with readers and give away some amazing prizes - including a Kindle Fire! 
Save the Date for October 11th!

Grab your copy of Denise Hunter’s latest book and join her for an Author Chat Party on October 11th at 8:00 PM EST (that’s 7:00 Central, 6:00 MST, & 5:00 PST)! Haven’t read The Trouble with Cowboys yet? That’s okay, don’t let that stop you from coming to the party! (You may win a copy!)

During the evening she’ll be sharing the story behind the book, posting discussion questions, testing your trivia skills, and of course, there will be plenty of chatting and fun giveaways – books, gift certificates and – a Kindle Fire! She’ll also be giving you a sneak peek of her next book too!

RSVP today and then come back on the 11th … and bring your friends!

 I received The Trouble With Cowboys as a complimentary gift in exchange for review from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to give a favorable review; my opinions are my own.