Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Three years ago, my mother had cataract surgery. Immediately after the surgery, she noticed that things didn't look right. Since she was an avid reader, her best description of how things looked to her included the page of a book. Take the page, cut it in half lengthwise, then move the right side of the page up about half an inch. THATS how things looked to her. Her doc tried and tried to correct this, but couldn't. She got tired and quit pressing. I had my reservations, but I learned long ago how far forcing my mother to do anything got me. Nowhere, maybe even back a few steps...
Last year, she developed clouding in her vision and it turned out that she needed to have her implanted lenses 'lasered off' - I don't remember the technical name for this procedure right now, but that's basically what they do. It clears the proteins and other organic substances that build up on the lenses.
Immediately after this procedure, she remarked how her vision was markedly different. Not good. Her doc sent her to a specialist and the diagnosis of Macular Degeneration took my breath away.
My mother is a go bug. She is independent. She's stubborn as an old horse and anyone who has tried to physically pull a horse anywhere they really didn't want to go knows how tiring that is! She smokes (gah! I've preached, begged, cajoled, all to no avail... at least she's using the extra filters now...)
This diagnosis hit her like a ton of bricks. She was down and sinking.
Started doing some reading and research. Learned a lot about macular degeneration. Thank God it was the dry one.
Discovered some really interesting things about supplementing for Macular Degeneration. Like many ailments, there are claims that folks have reversed it with nutrition and supplementation. I took those claims with a grain and decided that while I would certainly hope for improvement, my aim was to put my size 11 foot right in the middle of the degeneration and stop that in it's tracks!
My mom is a pretty healthy eater, she just smokes. Smoking depletes some vitamins/minerals. She gets the little filters she puts on the ends of her cigs that prevent her from getting ALL of the garbage from those dang things. I'm just grateful for every tiny bit of trying she does in that aspect because I truly think she just likes to do it.
I made some minor suggestions for her diet and then I bought her a load of vitamins, minerals. Specifically, melatonin, zinc, selenium, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin b2, lutein, glutathione and Magnesium. She takes others, but these are specifically for her eyes.
Also talked to her about the power of positive thought - she's not really a negative person, but this got her down. I reminded her about the time she tore her meniscus and the doctor was going to schedule surgery, but she delayed him. By the time she went back to visit him again, it was well. She said she 'thought it well' because she didn't want that surgery. I implored her to employ that again for her eyes..
Last May, her vision was in the 20/200 territory and she'd miss letters right in the middle of each line she was reading. Yesterday, she got 20/50 and, while she did miss the occasional middle letter, she didn't miss all the middle letters.
The word 'phenomenal' was used over and over by the specialist!
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
You need Adobe Acrobat Reader - it opened rotated for me, so you can change that by clicking on VIEW within Reader.
If the Government knew about our soil depletion problem in 1936..........
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Just over a year ago, in May of 2010, my doctor and I had an interesting exchange.
I had begun having terrible down times after every workout, no matter how small. I'd been doing Cross Fit for a while and was loving it - even making some really nice progress. But every time I worked out, I would have DAYS where I was too sore, too tired. Even though I was SO tired, I would have trouble sleeping.
She explained that my self inflicted combo of thyroid drugs (I didn't feel 'good' on my dose of thyroid and added a little tiny bit more - BAD move*) had worn my little adrenal glands down. That I needed to take it easy for a while. How long? Eight to 12 months.
In typical me fashion, I wanted her to give me a shot or a pill or ANYTHING so that I could keep pushing. LOL Nope. Not gonna happen. Rest.
But I AM superhuman! "Then you're just going to have to get used to being merely human again."
Yes, that exchange really took place. Frustrated as I was, I knew in my heart that she was right.
As I embarked on my year, I set all these unreasonable limitations for myself such as "I will not gain weight even though I can't work out"... Yeah. That didn't go the way I planned.
In my year, I learned a LOT about the adrenal glands and what they do. The adrenal glands are SO important to health! If they're not working right, your thyroid tries to pick up the slack. If your thyroid isn't working right, the adrenals try to pick up the slack. If your Ferritin (a protein that stores iron in the body) is low on top of either of the above, a crash is in the cards.
My ferritin was 22 in March of 2010. Taking a huge amount of iron - which, if you take vitamin C WITH it (has to go down at the same time as iron) it doesn't hurt the tummy - got me up to 28 by September. Started adding 1 Ferritin capsule and got my Ferritin up to 55 between September and December. By April of this year, my Ferritin was up to 72. My target was 80. I did notice that the higher my Ferritin got, the better in general I felt.
I was getting my feet wet with just a few movements - squats, back extensions, GHD situps.... a little cardio on the bike or treadmill. I had hurt a tendon in my left wrist and could not start lifting heavy so I did therapeutic stuff. Working lightly in my vegetable garden - not a HUGE garden this year, but a bit.
Then my sleep started getting weird again some nights. Hmmm... maybe it's stress, I did have to run my mom around to a bunch of eye appointments....
Then odd tiredness. Whether I slept really well or not, I REALLY wanted that afternoon nap some days.
Then I had my TOM & less than 2 wks later did that again. Uh oh... THAT is a big symptom of iron issues (yes, it's a paradoxical thing - the lower the iron/ferritin, the heavier and longer TOM gets). Blood test showed that my ferritin had slipped between April and July to 36! Dang!
I'd been keeping VERY good notes during all this. I noticed that when my ferritin had gotten so high, I had used this nifty little supplement called Ferritin. I called the company and had the good fortune to speak to someone in research. I wondered if this supplement could have given me a false high reading. I did mention that I was of Native American descent and that I remembered both my maternal grandparents having anemia issues from time to time.
Did you wait 5 days before getting tested? yes. Well, then, no false high.
Then she went on to explain that in native populations, because of the way we ate, the body didn't have the imperative to convert vegetable based irons into ferritin. That we got so much actual ferritin and heme iron in the way we ate, we just dropped the ability to convert non heme irons readily. She then asked me if I ate meat (OH YEAH!) and told me that if I could find it, spleen was a better choice than liver for this.
Seriously, this conversation meant SO MUCH to me. Here, I thought I'd made all this false progress and I really had made progress, just needed to keep doing 1 more thing...
When my ferritin was ZERO back in 2006, I had eaten liver almost every single day in addition to taking iron. For two years. To say that I tire of liver quickly now is somewhat of an understatement. :)
So, my quest for spleen began... My butcher enabled me to order spleen, but had to order a lot in order to get a deal and I guess to make it worth his while. Not a lot out there about it as far as recipes go... I will tell you that it has a lighter flavor than liver, has something like 10 times the amount of iron over liver - mostly in that delightful form of FERRITIN... It makes a beautiful paté and served on crackers made of baked cheese.... YUMMY. And sort of primal.... I know my ancestors didn't get to eat little crisps of burned cheese, but I bet they wouldn't turn it down! LOL
At any rate, taking iron, too. Instead of taking a huge amount, I'm taking better forms (for me) - heme iron, the ferritin, a little non heme. 3x a day.
Really want to see if I can get the ferritin back to where I was kind of fast, then maintain. The blood test after 1 month will tell how this is working and I can go from there.
During my year, I reacquainted myself with soaping. My great grandmother had made me help her make soap when I was a teen. Heck, it's a lot of fun. Now I make all natural (REALLY natural - even colors come from spices and herbs, NOT fd&c chemical colors) bar soaps, liquid soap and laundry soap. I had kind of dreaded making some at first, but once I got going, it was fun. And I love the smell of soap curing in my oven or crock pot.
During my year, I read another PILE of books, papers, etc. about adrenal glands, the hormone cascade, thyroid, etc., and the HUGE part nutrition plays - or rather lack of it in development of disease. I learned a LOT. Seriously. A LOT.
During my year, I gained weight back. In my reading, I learned that many people just do while they're taking care of the other things that are going wrong with their body. While having to wear larger clothes has been dismaying, it's not nearly the disappointment of not being able to pick up as much weight as I could last year (which is how the tendon got REALLY hurt - I had aggravated it, then while it was still aggravated, I tried to pick some really heavy stuff up and dang near detached it at the wrist OW), but I know that things will get right. As much as I want to put my head down and just push as hard as I can, I also know that crashing in a few weeks will take all the gains away again and set me back.
So, instead of looking at set backs, I have decided that this time is the SET UP.
Like preparing delectables for a party or meal, lining up plates on the bar to lift, making all the plans for a trip, setting up all the checkpoints for a marathon, racking up the balls for a game of pool, this is my set up.
I'm setting up myself for the rest of my life. A HEALTHY and happy life wherein I can work out and work my kids out without having to worry about how many down days that workout just cost me.
Set UP not set back.
*The adrenals put out cortisol. When they fatigue, they put out less cortisol (and in many people MORE adrenaline which makes for anxiety attacks out of the blue). Without adequate amounts of cortisol, no matter how much thyroid meds one takes, they're not working at the cellular level. Even tho the TSH will look 'normal', the thyroid hormone isn't being escorted into the cells by cortisol because cortisol is missing, so the feeling is generally hypothyroid symptoms. Increasing the thyroid dose in this situation actually makes the adrenals fatigue more, then it makes the hypo feelings WORSE.
Monday, February 28, 2011
I do the best that I can.
Is that enough? If you consider my 'best' compared to someone else's 'best' and their best is better than mine, does that make me bad?
Of course not.
The 20 year anniversary of my father's death recently came and went and apparently, I was supposed to not only notice it, but DO something, I guess. Hmmmm....
While I certainly do not harbor anger or a lot of hurt regarding him anymore, I really don't see a pressing need to go stand at a grave site and say a bunch of stuff that I'm just not feeling yet, either. Glorifying someone who is dead really isn't my gig. No matter HOW GOOD they were. They pass, I'm sad, I say prayers for them and think of them. Their dust is the only thing left in the grave - why go there? I don't get that, but it's probably just me. I certainly do not ridicule those who choose to go do that sort of thing, but don't expect to see me there.
At Christmas, one of my favorite aunts made a remark to my daughter about my father being the "best brother in law ever". She set her jaw and her lips like she does when she's angry. But she didn't say flip to me about it. I don't even know how he came up - my daughter said it just came out of the blue.
Those of you who know me or who've read my blog much know that it wasn't peaches and cream with my dad. I didn't have an idyllic childhood. Once he passed, my brother and I both felt like we could trust the rest of our family with this secret and guess what? We were chastised.
I stopped talking and got on with my life - such that it was.
Two of my cousins used to come and stay with us for a week or two during summers when I was small. My dad was a different person when they were around. Kind and fun and he treated them so good. I would do my best to talk and act just like them after they left in the hopes that he'd treat me a well as he had treated them. Not only did that not work, but I got ridiculed and humiliated (sometimes in public) for trying to act like them.
They're the two who protested the most and said "I just can't believe".... So sorry my reality bit your fantasy's head off.
My mother's words - he did the best he could. ooooh. But she's right. Again.
He DID do the best he could with the choices he made each day. It's just too bad that his 'best' almost destroyed his children. My brother is an alcoholic and while I didn't develop a substance problem, I have been through some things and in situations that were just so wild and woolly most folks who know me now really would have a hard time believing. Yeah, that's another blog. Maybe. Some skeletons get locked away with intent - at least until some statutes of limitation come and go... LOL -- kidding. :)
Maybe with an idyllic childhood I wouldn't have put myself in those situations. Maybe I would have. We'll never know. What's important really isn't the scary choices I made sometimes.
What is important: I learned how NOT to be; I learned what I truly wanted out of life; I learned that if I worked hard enough for what I wanted I could get there. On my own steam, with my own self intact. No selling out. More than one time, I was the only friend I had, too. I believed in me.
No matter who believes the truth or doesn't, IT IS WHAT IT IS. There is no going back and changing what happened. The only thing one can change is how they handle things from this point on.
My brother and his bride(zilla) often say things to the effect that our father treated him MUCH worse than anyone else and he's got a greater burden in this life, etc. Yeah. Sounds like the crutch he needs to keep curling those beers instead of some iron and get it together. what ev. Wrote him a letter and threw some wisdom at him that just bears repeating.
"Dad was an abused child. A terribly abused child. He lived through and saw things people shouldn't have to live through or see. He was basely betrayed by people who should have protected him. It made him fearful and angry. Instead of working on and feeding the positive side of himself, he worked on and fed the angry side of himself and in the end, it was his anger, nothing else, that killed him dead. Not his job. If ever there was a poster child for the way NOT to live, it would be him. We should NOT seek to emulate who he was, but rather, emulate who he should have been. "
Which is what I try to do every day. I do my dead level best to make sure that my children do not feel like they have to act like someone else to obtain my approval, that they feel ok with who they are and how they look every day, that everything they say or do isn't being picked apart and attacked just because they said or did it. They know they are important to me and I tell them how proud of them I am. I tell them I love them every. single. day. And I mean it. I tell them the truth about who their grandfather was, all of it, the good and the bad. I want them to understand how broken people can be - so they can better recognize it and so they can react with as much compassion and composure as possible in their lives. They truly are OK with who they are.
And I think my 'best' is pretty dang good.
Wednesday, February 09, 2011
Sitting alone in the stillness of the morning. Thinking about things. It's a beautiful time of day.
Sometimes, I think about the next round of gardening. Sometimes, I think about the things my family and I are going to do together. Sometimes, my thoughts turn to less pleasant things like the inevitable losses that are coming my way (kids growing up & leaving home, parents, uncles & aunts passing) - not dwelling, you understand, but maybe preparing myself.
Other times, I take a moment and examine my life and who I am right now today. I look inside and make sure that wounds are really healing, that guilt isn't growing and that the old skeletons of who I used to be aren't so scary anymore.
Someone recently asked me a question that was basically this: How did you turn out OK coming through all the crap you came through?
I rebelled against it, I quickly answered.
While that wasn't always the case, it certainly was the general direction. There were days I gave in to the depression and melancholia that was draped over me from such an early age. But for the most part, I fought hard to remove that oppressive draping and become who I thought I was meant to be - a sunny dispositioned (for the most part), loving and generous person who doesn't judge others or impose oppression upon those I love the most.
It isn't easy. Just like rebuilding your body on the outside, it takes daily diligence, forgiveness of self after a fall, and focus - never losing sight of the goal no matter how deep in the muck you are at any given moment.
Superficial things come and they go. Everything you can hold in your hand is superficial and stripped down, you're left with yourself. Are you proud of the only thing you truly own?
Spending time working on the body without working on who you are might not be the optimal way to go. Are you truly happy with who you are? Do you try your best to be authentic and deal with people honestly and in a genuine way?
Do you hang out with your friends because of how they look, who they know or what they can do for you at any given time?
Change is part of growing and progressing. When one simply clings to who they were the last time they felt OK with themselves and refuses to be open to the possibilities of who they might become if they just open to the idea of change, they wither in upon themselves and become a shadow (often a bitter one) of who they could have been.
Walls rise up from the ground and we're alone, but because we've spent so much time not really knowing ourselves, we can't even keep ourselves company.
In turning away from ourselves, we doom ourselves to a superficial existence. Not really knowing who we are or what we are really about or capable of. In turning away from ourselves we can get caught up in a disingenuous life where, because we do not know ourselves, we truly do not know those around us.
In embracing ourselves and offering ourselves forgiveness, comfort (not food-type!) and room to grow, we are opening ourselves to the possibilities of the greatness we have inside us and that life really has to offer.
Without self love and acceptance, we can not fully love nor accept others.
With self loathing and criticism, we can only offer criticism and loathing to others.
Forgive yourself and try to do better from that point on. Do not expect perfection. Anywhere. Just keep trying to be better than you were yesterday.
It's in the doing better than before that we conquer the ills of the past.
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