Guess who’s back – and she’s not taking any more bull poo.

Hello, sparklemice. My goodness, how i have missed you all terribly. But i promise, my temporary leave of absence was entirely for your sake. As some of you can relate to, i am currently in atrocious steroid withdrawal. The whole nine yards, shaking, mood swings, breakouts, pain…you get it. Had i posted during my last downswing, my blog would have consisted of a string of incoherent swear words, and maybe an occasional cheesy sad Tumblr quote.
But fear not, my loves. So much has changed since our last encounter, and this badass’ journey seems to have a turn for the sparkly-er.  As i write this i am sitting on the quad under a deliciously shady tree at my choice college, watching my group of lovely new friends play ultimate frisbee while we wait for open mic night, where i will be performing (EEK!) My secret music career dreams (PLOT TWIST,) have actually seemed to slide into the realm of possible…for the first time in a loooooong time, i have my voice back. I’m ready to write again. So while my heart is full of regret that the lupus took over for a while there, i am so ridiculously happy to be myself enough again. Which brings me to this post.

Failure. We all, sick or not, have to deal with failure. Whether it’s not landing the promotion,or letting the disease win for a little bit, or not finishing the marathon…we all fail. FAILURE…the big scary pit we are taught to delicately teeter around, looking down at those unfortunate enough to lose their balance. Well i have a secret: the goddess Athena, my current income, and failure all have something in common. They are MYTHICAL. Failure is not a real thing. Totally made up and then accepted into society as some concrete concept and ultimate reality. Which is really quite the tragedy, if you think about it. Following in the human trend, we have created a problem for ourselves where there is none.
We think that when we attempt something, and the outcome isn’t our goal, we have failed. And that’s not our fault, we were taught to believe that just like we were taught to believe we will one day die.  It’s terrifying and inevitable and a part of life.

But this past sh** show has taught me something…or rather coming out the other side of it has.

Failure isn’t a reality, it’s a perception fallacy. An attempt doesn’t end until you’ve succeeded in what you were trying to do, or realized that it wasn’t what you’re meant to be doing. What we perceive as failure is just a part of trying. It’s research on how to do better next time, or research on whether or not what you’re pursuing is right for you. There is no failure, there is only a process. But because people believe in this “failure” bullsh (my personal favorite curse word abbreviation,) they stop mid process, and then hate themselves. And it’s a tragedy. So let’s debunk the myth, yes? When i went radio silent on you for the past few months, i thought i had failed. And i was stuck in my sad little failure bubble of netflix and solitude. But then guess what happened? The tunnel ended. And as the light fell across my sweatpants and sadness- clad body, i realized that every dead end i thought i had hit during that run through the tunnel was actually just a turn. Failure isn’t real, and we don’t have time for lies up in here. Only truth or fairytales 😉

stay badass, my loves. SO glad to be reunited.

“The Meryl Streep”

This light smoothie, much like Meryl, is versatile, delicious, and a universal crowd pleaser. Also like Meryl, it’s my mom’s favorite. I personally love it for breakfast,(paired with a green tea,) but it makes for a great poolside snack as well. Tastes best when paired with a bowl of watermelon and a tiny umbrella 🙂

The Meryl Streep

1 cup vanilla yogurt

1 cup frozen peaches

1/4 cup filtered water

1/2 cup frozen strawberries

1/4 cup your favorite pure fruit juice (I use Ceres Boisenberry.)

If you happen to have mango on hand, ADD IT. Swoon. Not a necessity but SO GOOD. 

Sprinkle finished product with pomegranate seeds or 1 tsp of chia seeds for a little crunch.

stay badass ❤

The Secret to Being Really Actually Happy, For Real This Time.

I am forever balancing on this tightrope between catering to my Autoimmune- readers and my, uh, non- Autoimmune readers. So here’s the deal. This post is the golden ticket out of WHATEVER is currently bothering you. I confess, my lovely little badasses, that i have been slacking on my blogging duties and for that i am eternally, deeply apologetic. However i must also confess that the rage-laced emails demanding my return and threatening to “come find me,” if i stop posting were more then just a little flattering, and so i’m not really THAT sorry. There’s nothing like being missed. 😉 However I do have a valid excuse for my leave of absence. In addition to my Lupus, Fibromyalgia, POTS, and Celiac, i have been stricken with an atrocious case of writer’s block. Between that and the Prednisone induced ANGER, my brain has been stuck in a tailspin. Had i attempted to blog in that state, the resulting product would have read like the fight scenes in a Quentin Tarantino movie. Think F-bombs and incoherent grunting. So really i was just sparing you guys. You’re welcome.

However, thanks to the very thing that this post is about, i am back in the game. Ready to deliver to my beautiful sparklemice. Now what, you may ask, could have gotten Leah out of her rut? What made her haul her sweatpants-clad butt out of bed, into the world, and on the search for the metaphorical chainsaw to rip through her mental dam? Four letters. One word. But before i tell you the word, you must promise me that you will not see it, panic, and click the little red ex on the upper right corner of your screen. Because (un)fortunately, the internet is overflowing with love/hate letters to this one word, and i assure you, mine is different. I’m taking your silence as a promise. Do not click ex. Do not.
YOGA.

Namaste with me here for a sec, i promise you this post applies to you (Could. Not. Resist. Yoga. Pun.) For AGES, Yoga has been attracting people from varying walks of life for millions of  reasons, the most popular of which include weight loss, flexibility, instagram likes, and the license to wear Lulu Lemon. In this post, i am going to tell you why this ancient art form is  not just some sepia-toned social media fad, but actually your pass to a happier, healthier, sexier, more fulfilling life. I’m not saying “you,” in general. I’m speaking to you specifically, reader. You. YOU. The one looking at the screen.

Reasons that Yoga is the Answer To Whatever is Making You Such A  Sad, Self- Pitying Grouchypants:

1) Looking Good = Feeling Good-  Unlike other workouts, it is IMPOSSIBLE to do Yoga without seeing physical results. While quick paced cardio has the reputation for creating that Victoria’s Secret Angel body, really it’s just weight loss as a result of high calorie burning. Sometimes that weight loss isn’t even fat loss, just water retention fluctuation. Yawn for flat booties and bony bellies. Yoga aids in making you feel gorgeous by burning calories through muscle development and stretching, resulting in toned limbs, a longer appearance, a muscular core, and a lighter footstep. Cardio die- hards don’t tune out just yet, a vigorous Vinyasa flow focused around inversions and seamless transition will have you out of breath wayyy faster then your treadmill ever could. Extra points for glowy skin (a result of heightened organ function,) and detoxed blood (same reason.) With a clean, balanced diet and a few studio hours each week, there’s literally no way to not up your Kate Upton factor. Much of the weight management is also due to a mental shift. You start to view food as something amazing, that gives you the strength to become lighter and more agile, not an evil adversary trying to take up residence on your thighs. Binge eating becomes less and less appealing as you learn to listen to your body,not your brain. and this just AUTOMATICALLY happens. No assembly required. Plus, you get to wear cute leggings and matchy patchy sports bras. It’s like an instagram filter FOR YOUR LIFE.

2) Yoga Makes You Think Like A Badass– Yoga is the physical manifestation of everything we strive to mentally be. We want to become stronger, braver, more stable, more kind, and less breakable. Every time you get on the mat, you get to work towards PHYSICALLY becoming those exact things, on a much more manageable, tangible, scale.  Yoga is more then just the practice of pushing yourself to your physical limit, it’s the practice of forgiving yourself once you’ve reached that limit. THERE IS NO BODYSHAME IN YOGA. It’s different from other forms of fitness in that it’s not about reaching specific external goals, wherever you are in your practice is where you’re supposed to be. Its about learning to accept your current physical state for exactly what it is, so that you can improve it. And forgive yourself when you fall short of your own expectations. Wanting to be better doesn’t have to mean disliking where you are. I would love to be a published writer with a big shiny book on the New York Times’ Best Selling list, AND i love being a blogger with approximately 80 readers. See? Yoga brain. That “i wish i looked like,” voice in your head gets quieter and quieter, and gets replaced by a lovely, peaceful silence.

3) You Time- Whether it’s the boyfriend/girlfriend who needs constant validation, the sticky handed toddler tugging at your shirt all day,or the workload that refuses to ease up, we all have something that’s a consistent drain on our energy source. This is a good thing, as life is ABOUT draining your energy into something you care about. However we have this tendency to totally forget that energy, just like money or time, runs out. The thing about getting on the mat, is that every time you do it, you do it alone. Nobody else is there with you. No significant other, no kids, no boss. It’s time that you give to YOU, to improve on your own physical well being and mental outlook, and it’s not about anyone else. It’s like a spa that you have access to all the time. Ironically, this selfishness is also ridiculously beneficial to the people around you, as it’s scientifically proven that mental-clarity makes you less bitchy and more helpful. When you turn into a grouchy toddler, give yourself a yoga- time out. I find that i’m usually only a few poses in when i realize that the world is not, in fact, a horrible dark hellhole of destruction that’s out to get me personally.

4) Battery Recharge-  A good Yoga class is like an espresso shot. Once the practice becomes a part of your routine, you’ll find that you’re at your clearest and most YOU as your rolling up your mat after a session. We play ten million different roles during the day, (parent, child, teacher, student, boyfriend, girlfriend, the funny one, the flirty one,) depending on who we’re with and what we’re doing. That makes it really hard to remember who we actually are to ourselves, when nobody else is around. While your focusing on your breathing, and the minute positioning of every little vertebra in your body, all of those layers get miraculously stripped away, and you are left with your realest, purest, most relaxed you. You are also left with a tight little yoga booty and a better body image.

5) Its the Foundation of Overall Health-  So if the tight butt, nice abs, happy brain, shiny hair, clear skin, and flexibility aren’t enough of a reason to try rolling out the mat,  try this. Yoga poses were created to enhance organ function and reduce inflammation. Not only that, but it gives attention to crucial things that we never would have thought about prior to Yoga, such as toe flexibility and cartilage health. These things don’t SOUND important, but, (listen up my little autoimmune bunnies,) take it from the girl with the wackadoodle Lupus joints. When your toes are too tense to bend, you can’t put on your shoes anymore. And when your cartilage is crumbly, everything hurts. Inflamed connective tissue feels like walking through an unpredictable thornbush. You may not think these things apply to you, and maybe they don’t. YET. But eventually, humans get old. And i was (un)lucky enough to have a peek at what creaky joints and weak bones feel like, and how much they disable you. Keeping the body flexible and strong is a more worthy investment of your time then anything else you can be doing during that hour, i assure you. Because no matter what you achieve, no matter how much money you make, or how many tests you ace, you only get one body. That’s it. Always. Just one. And you have to live in it. It goes where you go. You want to be comfy up in there, no?

So that, my loves, is where it’s at. In a rut? Yoga. Not in a rut? Yoga. Hate your teenage daughter? Yoga. Hate your body? Yoga. One size fits all, and all sizes fit.

Namaste, sparklemice.

Stay badass.

The Gap Year (Featuring Brain Fog Stifled Flirting, Bambi Eyes, Sexy Katniss, And a Very Hungry Celiac.)

The Gap Year

10 months, 60 girls, one dorm building, and 0 personal space. Like many other Jewish teens, i’d been dreaming about my Israel year for as long as i could remember. In my family’s social circles, it’s basically a right of passage. You finish high school, you spend the summer breaking up with your boyfriend (because you want to “find yourself,”) you pack your lulu lemon leggings in the suitcase that your sister used, and you get on the plane. “This is the year that changes everything,” they tell you. “This is when you get to grow up.” So as you can imagine, despite having only been diagnosed in June, i was lazer-point focused on that September 7th departure date. There was no way in hell i was going to let everyone I know go on their magical eat pray love journey in a beautiful foreign country while i read pamphlets about monthly colon screenings in the waiting room of my Rheumatologist’s office.  I challenged those doctors to keep my away from the country full to the brim of waterfalls and mountains and eligible, cute, 18-21 year old guys that my mother would approve of. Staying home was not an option. As i saw it, it would completely derail my whole life. I was going. End of discussion.

Because of this desperation, i was willing to let the doctors try whatever they wanted to get me there. Doped up on high doses of Prednisone (little did i know…) and a prescription to start on Methotrexate (RAWR,)  upon my arrival, i got the green flag. Despite my swollen eyes, tired brain, and lack of functional intestines, i was standing in that group of overexcited college kids at JFK international airport on September 7th. Now in my previous post, “What They Don’t Tell You But You Need To Know, AKA: The Golden Rules Of Badassing,” I mention a few things that the Doctors failed to warn me about upon my diagnoses. Being the autoimmune newbie that i was, there were some questions i had failed to think of until…well…my arrival.

Questions I probably should have asked PRIOR to leaving, that i instead only asked as the situations arose:

1) Wait, how do doctor appointments work here? What do you MEAN do i have my insurance card? I have insurance???

2) What the HELL am i supposed to be eating? (At the time, my system couldn’t tolerate gluten -even cross contamination- chemicals, preservatives, dairy, or any form of animal protein. That diet is difficult to maintain when you live across from a trader joe’s and have a full kitchen at your disposal. Imagine living in a dorm building, that was located on a horse farm, that happened to be 45 minutes away from the nearest grocery store.) My fellow gap year adventurers were living off chocolate bars and Doritos…andddd i was screwed. oops.

3)  Do i tell people that i’m sick? If i don’t, how do i explain away those days that i have to stay in bed? Or my random puffy face days, when i look like a sad bloated chipmunk? Or those times that i can’t play my guitar cause my fingers don’t bend? What do i tell the doe- eyed megahealthy blonde, who is supposed to be my peer, about my body’s internal functioning drama if she’s never even had a cold? Do people treat the sick kid differently? Holdup, am i the sick kid now? Is that a thing?!

4) Can i party? Will that work? Or like, do people with Lupus not do that? What do i do when everyone’s…well…being freshman in college? Like, do i just go to yoga or something?

All of these little things are second nature to us well seasoned autoimmune badasses, and before making a decision we calculate every little special thing we’ll have to do pertaining to our illness. Well, not newly diagnosed leah. Oh no no no. Newly diagnosed Leah DID NOT THINK THIS THROUGH. She had her glitter turquoise- lined eyes on the prize, and she would not waver. Silly little future badass. Didn’t see it all coming.

*As i’m writing this, i’m eating the most amazing Raw Paleo Brownies EVER that i made in like, ten minutes. Remind me to post the recipe. OhMyGoshSwooooon…*

Anyway instead of gracefully floating into my life the way answers sometimes do, the answers to these particular questions slammed me in the face like a ton of very unwelcome, methotrexate coated bricks. One month in to dorm life, and I had a very rude awakening. Here’s what i discovered, in order, pertaining to the questions i had failed to ask:

1) The answer to question one came from Darla. Ohhhh  Darla. The lady on the phone at my new Rheumatologists office. “Yes, darling you have insurance. You also have  a whoooole policy, dedicated just to the care of your Lupus. HOWEVER, being a grouchy, sadistic, angry insurance lady who you’re never going to meet in person, i’m not going to explain it to you. Oh no. Here in insuranceland, we just throw fancy pants terms at unsuspecting sickies until they break down and end up badgering Siri about tax subsidies with no pants on.”  The terminology swirled around my head like a tornado. Factor in the brain fog, and i didn’t stand a CHANCE at keeping my own medical stuff together. But i was supposed to be a grown up now, and i wasn’t about to call my parents and ask how to book an appointment…so i just made my self look like an idiot repeatedly until eventually someone pitied me and gave me my weekly slot.

2) What will you eat, you digestion- challenged celiac?  You will eat gluten free oats, sparklemouse. 3 times a day. If you eat anything else, you will projectile vomit. And being the big baby you are, you will then cry, because you HATE throwing up. Good luck fueling your workouts, sunshine. Woohooo. Oats.

3) Should i tell the other people in my program that i’m sick? Will that be a stigma? Being the open person i am, it took about 4 seconds (upon someone asking me “what was up with the pharmacy,” in my carry on,) for me to casually say, in the tone that one might admit to ADHD, “Oh, i have lupus.”   By some weird, evil, karmic miracle, all 60 of my fellow travelers decided to tune into my conversation at JUST that moment, and proceeded to bombard me with the largest group of pity-swollen Bambi eyes i have EVER seen. EVER. It was like this was the hunger games, and they all just realized i was definitely dropping first. The odds were not in my favor, and the deemed Katniss of the group (the healthy, annoyingly gorgeous girl with the yoga mat strapped to her side and upper thighs that are so far apart they’re probably INCAPABLE of touching each other,) instantly responded with, “Oh you poor thing. My uncle died from that. Can you like, be here?”    ……..Thank you Katniss. No really, that was helpful. Thanks.

4) Can you party? Later on in your life, partying will be an option. But for now, HELLS TO THE NAW. Take a shot of tequila. See what happens. (the answer was fainting in the bathroom, by the way. One. Shot. Out cold and woke up shaking like a leaf.) Didn’t work? Well why don’t you go check out that awesome music festival at the dead sea? (Oh, um, because you’ll get hit on by a GORGEOUS, toned, tanned soldier, but your brain fog will take over and you’ll end up FORGETTING YOUR CELL PHONE NUMBER WHEN HE ASKS YOU FOR IT. YOUR OWN NUMBER. Anyway after stammering and trying to explain how you forgot your own number, he will see Katniss, and he will be gone with the wind. (* Insert mockingjay whistle/hand signal here.*) Ohhh fine. Well if you can’t drink, or rave (neither of which are really my scene anyway, by the way, i’m more of a red wine, netflix, sweatpants kinda chica, ) why don’t you just go to that really upscale black tie roof party? because if you do, you will sweat through your dress (thanks, prednisone,) lose a clump of hair DURING A FLIRTING SESSION (thanks, methotrexate,) and look like a chipmunk in every. single. selfie. that. you. take. the. whole. night.

After a little bit though, i got my footing. I was loving my classes, i was running six miles a day, i was doing yoga every morning at dawn, and people started coming to ME for advice on adjusting to being in a new country. I felt pretty badass. All was well.

CUE THE METHOTREXATE. *Jaws theme music*

Despite my perceived thriving, my bloodwork wasn’t showing up quite right. So my international doctor, who barely knew my case at all, decided to up my dosage of the metho. Two pills, once a week, he said. You’ll barely feel it, he said. Did anybody else have the HELLACIOUS experience that i did? Theres something about the outside of your body not reflecting how you perceive yourself that can drive you crazy, you know? I didn’t look like the smart, put together person i was trying so hard to be. I looked puffy and swollen, and my metabolism had slowed enough to spark a little weight gain, despite my eating almost nothing. It was really alienating, to see all of my friends pass out at 4 am, wake up at 7, eat dorritos for breakfast and look like beautiful, toned, tan supermodels while i was spending my entire day working on my body’s health, and looked like i wasn’t taking care of myself at all. It made me insecure (NOT an emotion i was previously in tune with, i’m what some might call delusional- confident. a few extra pounds? whatev man. I like this bikini and i’mma wear it allllll day.)It made me jealous. It made me all the things i always loved myself for NOT being. Approximately ten minutes upon swallowing, i was a vomiting, shaking, crying mess. My chemicals were so wacked out that i literally couldn’t listen to music because of how emotional it made me. My stomach was hard as a rock (not like, sexy toned hard. Like dead, bloated goat hard. Not cute, not comfy,) and my previously, thick, caramel main was dwindling faster then you could say “Tresemme.” Also, it made me mean. Like really mean. My poor unsuspecting roommate would cough, only to have me respond with something along the lines of “WHY ARE YOU SO LOUD YOU NARCISSISTIC PSYCHOPATH KEEP IT TOGETHER FOR ONCE IN YOUR SORRY PATHETIC LIFE.”  (It was actually her who ended up sitting me down and telling me to listen to my body, because “these new drugs are eating your personality alive.”) She was right. After calling my Rheumy (crying, actually, and telling him i would stop taking it myself if he didn’t agree to wean me off safely that day,) they began the process of getting me off of the Metho, and slowly but surely i became normal again. And i had another healthy few months.  Thanks to CraneoSacral Therapy and acupuncture, my roller coaster was at an all time high. I felt like Beyonce, i looked like me, and finally, FINALLY, i was thinking like me too. I hadn’t even realized the anxiety and probably depression, in retrospect, i’d been experiencing the whole time.

On top of all that, i really didn’t want to be a burden on anyone. I didn’t want my new friends worrying, or the staff of my school panicking, or anything like that. So i hid it. I wore big sweatshirts (during a little weight-loss spell that had me lookin kinda bony,) and sunglasses (to hide the puff,) and drank green tea all day to trick people into thinking i had food. I lied. I lied SO much. I told everyone i was feeling great, pushed myself to hike when they hiked, told them that the stomach pain was PMS. The highs were high, but the lows were LOW. Certain days i would just hide in my  stuffy dorm room and PRAY that nobody would come looking for me.

So how does the story end, you ask? I’ll tell you, my lovely BAIT (again, badass in training,for those of you who forgot.) During one of my higher highs, (think teaching a daily yoga class and essentially being the school therapist,) i felt a crash coming on. A big one. All of a sudden my mood swung Miley Cyrus style, full on WRECKING BALL. I was throwing up somewhere near 5 times a day (whenever i tried to eat,) and waking up in the middle of the night from uncontrollable twitching. I tried to laugh it off, but my parents could tell from phone calls that something was off. It was soon discovered that i had what my homeopath called “an accumulative overdose,” on the prednisone. I had been on too much for too long, and it was getting dangerous. I needed to start the weaning process ASAP. Unfortunately, that’s not the kind of thing my American doctor was comfortable conducting from overseas. So 6 months in, starving, tired, but very emotionally fulfilled, i booked my ticket back early. It was hard, and i knew i was going to miss those huge Saturday night jam sessions on the beach, but every muscle in my body relaxed the minute i clicked “book ticket.” It was like my immune system knew it was going back to my blender and whole foods, and i felt the adverse effects of the drugs winding down. Its funny how your body sometimes knows what you need better then you do. I feel really satisfied with that time, anyway. I learned a lot about myself, and accomplished what i went there to.

So that’s where i am now, dolls. Still unpacking my suitcases, I’ve just gotten home and am currently in the beginning phases of the coming off the steroids process. Sweating? yes. Crying? yes. Shaking? ohhh yes. But at least i have my easily accessible, bountiful organic produce, my yoga studio, my car, and my American doctor. Commence operation get strong and bendy again. Plus, in my free time, i started this blog and met my currently 37 (and growing,) devout, glittery badasses. And for that, i am uber thankful. *sniffle*  You guys are totally worth the Prednisone drama. A little autoimmune- driven fate, perhaps? 😉

Stay badass & stay tuned,

Leah

My Story (Featuring a Period Cake, some Kardashians, and a very interesting diagnosis.)

You came back!! I knew you would.

Hey Dolls. So i figured before we get to the goods (ie; the smoothie making, the laughing at my expense, the rambling about life and food and beauty,) i should give you a brief overview of my sitch. This post is to give you some context, for the stories, like a timeline. Only interesting. Usually i make people buy me a drink before we start discussing my super un-cute bodily functions and whatnot, but i suppose given the circumstance this will have to do. This will be one of my lengthier posts, but bear with me. It’s a good one.

In the spring of 2014, i noticed i wasn’t seeing the clock so well. I know this doesn’t sound very exciting, but as you can imagine this escalates quickly. I figured that i might need an eye checkup, so like any other human with other things to think about, i immediately proceeded to not get an eye checkup. The only time i was ever reminded of my mildly burry vision was when i tried to look at the clock, and being a lazy, irresponsible freshman in college, that was like once a week, while i was waiting for Game of Thrones. As long as the pages of People Magazine were clear enough for me to properly analyze Mindy Kaling, and i could see my Iphone, i really didn’t see the problem. I let it slide. Khaleesi and Khal Drogo were about to sail the black sea, and i just didn’t have time to deal with irrelevant issues like obstructed vision. You don’t mess with the mother of dragons. Priorities.

Fast forward a couple of weeks and i notice my face is getting a little swollen. Again, i decided to ignore it. Every morning i just slapped on some Mac Studio Fix concealer and bronzer, and went about my day with an artificially contoured face, a la Kim Kardashian. No problemo. Thinking that maybe it was a freshman fifteen thing, (although the scale wasn’t changing,) i swapped my Skinny Chai Latte for a green tea and my daily jog for a sprint. Life proceeded as usual. Unfortunately, within the  month my vision was almost totally useless. I started experiencing RIDONKULOUS stomach pains, (think like, swallowing a cheese grater,) and a serious case of ugly swollen face. I was too fatigued to think a coherent thought. My usual happy, sunshine personality was replaced by a shell of a girl who i didn’t recognize, (or particularly enjoy the company of.) My gym addiction was replaced with an inability to get my own water, and my sense of humor…was actually still on point. I was basically i blind swollen Tina Fey. Anyway, prior to this, i had been relatively healthy my whole life. Sure, my blood pressure was a bit low and my metabolism a bit slow, but that was it. Nothing major other than a couple of fainting spells after some particularly strenuous situations (once after a root canal, once after a marathon, etc.) The whole thing hit completely out of left field, and the doctors were stumped. Soon, i was reaching the point where i couldn’t leave my bed, cause i was blind as a bat and my joints were positively useless. My blood tests were no bueno, but nothing was adding up. My friends would come visit and could not get over my un-Leah appearance. My eyes faded to a lighter color, and i had a butterfly rash across my nose like a suntan. I was moody and pouty and sweaty and swollen, and it was really….well weird. It was just really weird.

Now understand, my family is basically the Jewish equivalent of the Kardashians. Everyone is in everyone’s business all the time, always, no exceptions. There are no secrets, ever. Not one. Like, before i even decide whether or not i like a guy, both of my sisters (and my sister-in-law,) have instagram/google/facebook stalked him, both of my brothers, (and my brother-in-law,) have decided to hate him, and my parents have memorized his lineage from his neanderthal ancestors till his parents. This phenomena is most easily relayed via what i mentally refer to as the “Period Cake Incident.”  During my first, um, visit from aunt flow, i, (a gawky long limbed hippie 12 year old who liked her guitar more than boys,) came home from school only to find a scarlet red Baskin Robyn’s cake with the words “You’re a women now, PERIOD,” gracefully scrawled across the top in a delicate sans-script cursive. Oh yes. I got a period cake. My entire family, and even some extended family, partook in the period party. Boundaries? No comprendo senior. What is this word you speak? Brother in laws and cousins should get to eat period cake, too.  Totally normal.

So naturally, my older sister was on the case the second the doctor uttered the word “confusing.” That was just not an answer she was going to accept. There is no confusing, there is only obsessing until you know EXACTLY what’s wrong with your blind swollen little sister. Just to clarify, i was being observed by top notch physicians of all disciplines, analyzed from every plausible angle. Nobody had answers. Neurologists, neuro-ophthalmologists, Gastros, you name it, all stared at me like a bunch of color blind kids with a Rubics cube. It was unnerving, to put it lightly. As anyone with any kind of medical drama can attest to, there is no sentence more annoying then “it’s probably just viral.” After weeks of the psychological hell of not knowing why my body was quitting on me, it took my sister (she is not a doctor,) approximately 14 seconds and a tiny conversation with Siri to confidently diagnose me with Celiac. Sure enough, a few blood tests and biopsies later, (another amazing story for another post,) I have an official diagnosis. Hard core, full on, dysfunctional intestine celiac. Sexy, right? Nothing says “meow,” like leaky gut syndrome. Please, boys, don’t all swarm at once.

Desperate to feel better, i became a gluten-phobic whole foods freak. I cut out all gluten, all processed foods, dairy, and anything that had ever been in a factory. I did Yoga to detox my blood every day. Within days my vision was back, my skin was glowing, and my mood was perfect.  My metabolism was fast. Like, realllly fast. Think two soccer mom’s fighting simultaneously spotting the last copy of 50 Shades at Barnes and Noble fast. Everything worked again. I got back to my usual routine, both athletically and academically, and attacked school and the gym full force. I thought it was over.

Unfortunately, i was knew to the world of autoimmunity. Just like the general mercurial nature of these things, a week or so later i was back in bed, with immobile joints and the worst vision yet. But my stomach was better.

In may, (my birthday is also for another post, but a fantastic story that involves my amazing mom dragging my sick, gnarled body 4 hours to NYC to go hear Idina Menzel. Because “birthdays do not pause for illness.” ) it came up that i might have this relatively rare disease called lupus, but the odds were tiny. Ten minutes with a specialist, and the mystery was solved. On June 1st, I was diagnosed with SLE (lupus,) and fibromyalgia.

I spent the next month gathering what information i could on the disease, clinging to the hope that i’d be able to go to Israel on my gap year as planned. After putting me on a ridiculously high dose of prednisone (I hate you, demon drug. DIE. I WILL NEVER FORGIVE YOU, YOU DECEPTIVE LITTLE PILL OF MASKED EVIL, but more on that later,) and plaquinil, i was told i could go if i wanted to, as long as i was sure to be on top of my blood work and maintain my stringent diet and rigorous workout (once again, that’s a whooooole post in it of itself. That was absolutely crazypants.)

So that’s the timeline, dolls. Three months of nervous, jittery ignorance, to the point where my diagnosis hit my ear like a song. Ignorance is not bliss, it’s hell. Each of those phases had experiences that will be written about in other posts, each was it’s own deep, crazy, roller coaster. But now you have an overview. and the knowledge that i got a period cake.

stay badass,

Leah

Ps. Just to reiterate, these posts are for those who suffer from autoimmune disoders and those who do not.Most of what i write applies to all you lovely sparklemice, just in different ways.  For some of you, it’s advice, and for others, it should read like a memoir, or a view into a lifestyle that’s not your own. Smoothie recipies, nutrition advice, beauty, health, and fitness tips…one blog fits all ladies and gents. Xo. Stay tuned.

How to be a Badass

Warning: This is not the fault in our stars. This blog is an honest account of the brutal, gross, hilarious, unexpected realities of being “the sick kid.” While i love me some John Green as much as the next girl, I am done with the neatly wrapped, sepia toned, 2 hours -till -happily – ever -after- Hollywood presentation. This is the real version, where hand tremors ruin your selfies and your eyeliner, and nobody’s kissing in the rain, and you don’t look like Shailene Woodley. My diagnoses was six months ago, and Ansel Elgort is nowhere to be found. I’m calling BULL.

Welcome, dolls. My name is Leah, and last June i was diagnosed with a slew of super sexy, life-altering diseases. Now, lest you become all starry-eyed and excited for the personal blog of Hazel Grace, be forewarned. Unlike in the books and movies about the sick kids, there’s nothing particularly Nicholas Sparks- esque about my life. I am not an angst riddled, metal loving, misunderstood outcast with a touching story and a broken heart. I don’t pout, or ponder the abyss of death, or write “why me,” poetry.  On the contrary. I am a normal, yoga obsessed, smoothie drinking, drama free 18 year old girl from Maryland. Repeat: I DO NOT DIG THE DRAMA. I like anthropology and running. There is no tragically ill boyfriend/love of my life. (Actually, i might be the single-est person alive. My Augustus Waters/ Edward Cullen/ Christian Grey is Netflix.) There is no tale of stoic bravery, where i battle my Lupus/Fibromyalgia/Pots/Celiac and arise victorious.  I am not a brooding, introspective genius who nobody understands. I am a happy, open, zen teenager with the minor detail of my dearly misinformed, charmingly useless immune system. No filter, no soundtrack, no montage scene where i fall deeply in love with a fellow sicky. 

Now, what there WILL be is as follows. This is the story of the parts the camera pans away for. This is the part that nobody talks about, and it extends farrr past the good, the bad, and the ugly. L-U-P-U-S, five little letters that essentially mean my immune system can’t differentiate between healthy tissue and foreign invaders. In other words, if my immune system gets triggered by anything, the bod goes all sons of anarchy on me, just full on attacks itself (more on that later.) Now there are many different reasons, if i may say so myself, to read this blog. It just depends on who you are. For those of you who don’t suffer from any autoimmune diseases, maybe you’ll get a laugh, (not maybe, you will, i’m hilarious,) or a firsthand view into a lifestyle that’s not your own. Maybe you’ll just get to read relate-able stories from a brutally honest, compellingly witty 18 year old stuck in her bedroom with a laptop.  You’ll definitely get smoothie recipes and eating tips, and advice on how to look gorgeous when you’re too tired (or lazy,) to move. Maybe, just maybe, it’ll raise a little awareness for these faceless, cureless, diseases that could use a little attention. Now, for those of you stuck chugging along with me on the autoimmune crazy train from hell, this blog serves a difference purpose. I want you to see that you’re not alone. Those nights in your tank top on the bathroom floor, those flirting sessions ruined by steroid induced brain fog, the (countless,) pics you can’t Instagram because of puffy eyes, i get that it feels like you’re the only one who could possibly have such random garbage to deal with. I know you think you’re the only one (under the age of 80,) who has to worry about if you’re joints are gonna be working tomorrow morning. I thought the same thing. Surprise! You’re not. There’s a whole bunch of us, and we all hate swollen prednisone face too!! The effects of these disorders, (or diseases, whichev,) are physical, emotional, spiritual, social, and psychological, and we ALL feel them. This isn’t “wah us, we’re so sick,” pity party. This is a gathering of badasses who are going to laugh about the things we can’t control.  This is my chronicle (CHRONICle. hehehe. Medical pun,) of living with this unpredictable insanity. My goal here is to relate to the people who suffer and can’t explain it, and to explain it to the people who don’t suffer.

I want this blog to show the entire spectrum. Should you decide to come on this Journey with me, (okay gag, can’t believe i couldn’t think of a less cliche way to say that, cringe,) i should warn you the path changes. Alot. The stories will be sad sometimes, and funny sometimes, and it all gets very deep and introspective. Even medical and boring, on occasion. But the one thing i promise not to change, is that they will remain consistently honest. More then just the physical nonsense, this blog will cover friendships, and gap years (I studied abroad,) and guys, and being forced into responsibility wayyy to young. It will cover the how to’s, and how to not’s, and the golden rules of being an autoimmune badass (or just a regular badass. Whichever.) Its about the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Hashtag no filter, dolls. Pretty is for the weak 😉

Always,

Leah

SIDENOTE:

Lupus, also known as “the cruel mystery,” is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system cant differentiate between healthy tissue and foreign invaders. There is no known cure. Symptoms, prognosis, and all that fun stuff will be included in a later post (like, um, all of them.)

Fibromyalgia involves hypersensitive pain receptors, cognitive fog, fatigue, and muscular problems. There is no known cure.

Pots is an acronym for a longer name i refuse to commit to memory, but it basically means low blood pressure and quick heartbeat.

Celiac is  fancy term for “i’m terrible at eating, especially gluten.” No cure, but treatment currently consists of dietary restriction.

While that’s just a teeny, one dimensional outline of those suckers, it gives you a reference point for the rest of my posts. Cheers, dolls 😉 stay badass.