nurturing thursdays: choices…changes…part 2

This is where I come in…

This year I turn 65. The year of Medicare. On the thresh hold to formally entering…old age. 

I’ve been practicing for a while, even telling folks I was already 65. My husband who turned 66 recently, pointed out my mistake. Seems I was rushing him along.

Funny thing. As the years pile up I’ve become more preoccupied with, of all things, death.

Without realizing it, death has become my point of reference these days. Not in a morbid sense, more like savoring the pluses in my life while trying to downplay or diminish the minuses.

So with my daughter as ring master, I’m jumping through the hoops and…going for the gusto!

On Facebook the other day, I saw a photo of my mother-in-law seated with her 7 daughters. They were the picture of health and happiness. She sat shrunken, a shadow of her former, robust self. A quick glimpse of her eyes spoke of a woman growing older by the second. Yes, she looked all of her 80+ years. But she seemed to me, even older on the inside.

Years before my mom died, she fell in the bathroom of a vacation home we rented near the beach on Oahu. Her legs were like toothpicks, bowed from years of suffering the effects of arthritis. She was probably mortified that it took several of us to get her to her feet. Sadness seemed to hover over her like a black cloud in spite of her efforts to smile away her tears.

Both images are permanently embedded into my brain. Old age is not a pretty sight to behold.

For more than a decade now fibromyalgia, arthritis and I have occupied the same body…mine. In recent years I’ve been forced to take a backseat, while they’ve taken to calling all the shots. By late afternoon, I’m totally fatigued. Muscling through dinner preparation and evening chores, I usually fall into bed exhausted, aching from head to toe.

Caring for our dog who has heart disease and chronic neck and back stiffness, has only added to my own aches and pains. I must cajole her into taking her meds morning and night, including forcing a capsule down her throat. I must lift her in and out of the car when taking her to the vet, as well as carry her up and down flights of stairs.

Knowing that we women are often the designated caretakers, I wonder how long I can manage to help those about whom I care, as my own health dwindles. How can I help my husband should his health fail?

It’s more than likely my chronic pain was caused by the statin CRESTOR which I started taking to lower my cholesterol. I alerted the prescribing doctor to the fact that news reports indicated Asian women were susceptible to muscle pain caused by the drug. He’d not heard about it so I remained on Crestor, especially since it did the job intended. Even a subsequent physician, who happened to be female and Asian, ballyhooed my information. Not until a third physician drew blood to measure my C-Reactive Protein number and found it to be 1000+ instead of within the normal range of mid-100, did I stop taking CRESTOR. Only after trial and error did I end up with the one I’m currently taking which doesn’t have the same effect…yet.

In the midst of trying to determine the cause of my chronic pain, the doctor sent me to a rheumatologist who diagnosed me as having fibromyalgia. Like the “kiss of death,” I’ve been living with it ever since. Thanks, CRESTOR!

Alternative medical practitioners, including chiropractors and massage therapists, have helped me live a fairly normal life. I’ve done pretty much whatever I’ve wanted to do. But with old age settling in for the duration, quality of life becomes harder and harder to sustain. 

After much reading, discussions with my naturopath, and soul searching,  I have begun the WILEY PROTOCOL natural hormone replacement therapy. 

Not having had the truly bothersome effects of menopause like hot flashes and night sweats, I never felt the need for hormone replacement treatment. But now that old age is staring me in the face and my quality of life is in jeopardy, renewing my body’s resources seems imperative. 

Without hormonal balance, our bodies are going the inevitable route of shutting down. And while that is the natural order of things, I’d like to make the journey as enjoyable as I possibly can. 

I’d like to savor the moments I can still do for others, and with others. I’d like to continue laughing, and hugging. I’d like to feel the excitement of learning new things no matter how old I get. I want to keep on writing, and blogging.

Essentially, I’d like to keep on…keeping on.

So why choose to change things up? What’s my goal? Well I’ll tell you…it’s for quality of life…no matter the quanity of years.

…here’s to living life…the best way i possibly can!!!

………hugmamma.IMG_3370

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man-made food…and i don’t mean home cooking

Corn

Wonder why sweet corn no longer tastes…sweet, or for that matter…like corn? I could say the same thing about…farmed shrimp. But that’s a whole other kettle of fish…farmed vs. wild.

Only recently have my taste buds been questioning the corn I’ve been buying, specifically canned and frozen. Fresh ears of corn have not yet given me pause to wonder. Emphasis on…YET. 

There’s a Washington State vote on the horizon, I-522, to do with genetically engineered foods. I’ve read enough to know that messing with food made by Mother Nature is not good for my health. In fact, eating stuff created in corporate laboratories probably contributed to my digestive system being out of whack for some time. Thankfully I’m back on track with the help of a naturopath, and literature I’ve read on the subject.

According to local nutrition educator Nick Rose, genetically engineered foods are not more nutritious as is being touted. Instead they’re ” ‘stacked with foreign DNA so they will either produce pesticides or withstand herbicides or both, such as Monsanto’s new ‘double-stacked’ sweet corn.”

Rose goes on to speak of his concern about salmon…”the very first GE animal for human consumption, genetic engineering has produced a food offering less nutrition than the original food it is replacing.”

Salmon intended for consumption as food

Salmon, easily the most iconic food celebrated here in the Northwest, will very likely soon become the first ever GE animal food for human consumption. And the company that produced it admits their GE salmon is less nutritious.

What’s the unique nutritional benefit from salmon? Omega-3 fatty acids that supports brain health, helps manage inflammation, and is found in very few foods.

So, why would anyone want to put eel-like genes into salmon, knowing the end result would be a less nutritious food? To make the fish grow faster. GE salmon reach their market weight in about half the amount of time it takes today’s salmon to be ready for market. As a result of this super-growth, the GE salmon contain higher levels of the growth hormone IGF-1, a known carcinogen.

To summarize, the biotech industry has created a new “food” to replace one of the healthiest foods on the planet, except that the new and “enhanced” GE salmon will offer fewer heart-healthy omega 3s, and more cancer-promoting IGF-1 growth hormones. Oh, and did I mention that consumers won’t be able to tell whether the salmon they are buying at the store is genetically engineered? That is, unless…

This November, Washington voters have a chance to tell the food industry that they would like to know whether or not their foods are genetically engineered. Voting “YES” on intiative 522 will require foods produced with genetic engineering to be labeled in Washington state, making it much easier for everyone to make an informed choice when shopping at the grocery store.

GMO labeling is important to eaters around the planet for a wide variety of reasons, and 64 countries around the world already label foods produced with genetic engineering.  Do you want to avoid GMOs in your breakfast cereal, lunch box and salmon dinner? Then vote YES on 522!

Needless to say I intend to vote YES to labeling genetically engineered foods.

I understand that the practice of speeding up nature’s growth cycle may have been in response to feeding the planet’s hungry. Unfortunately success seems to have caused the industry to run amok. It’s as though a new magic trick has been discovered and all manner of magicians want in on the act. The fact that there are health risks seems of no consequence. After all, we never think preventative until we’re in the iron grip of some dastardly disease like cancer or Alzheimer’s or diabetes

Having Diabetes

Having Diabetes (Photo credit: MsH_ISB)

Why is it that mankind is always “behind the eight ball?” Is it because we think we can always dig ourselves out of the hole we dive into? Or is it because we’re just…plain stupid???

I don’t know if you live where foods have to be identified as having been genetically engineered. If you do, count yourself lucky; if you don’t…start reading labels…and everything else you can lay your hands on to do with genetically engineered foods. After all it’s your life…and those of your loved ones…that’s at stake! Even a capitalist society should allow for…freedom of choice. 

Yes, we all need to eat. But need it be at the expense of…

…our health?…

………hugmamma.

ConAgra: Genetically Modified Foods You Love (...

ConAgra: Genetically Modified Foods You Love (g1a2d0035c1) (Photo credit: watchingfrogsboil)

 

wellness…

It might seem to some of you that I’m forever making reference to certain failings of mine.

Why is that you ask?

Some time ago I read a small, thin paperback on how to write well. One piece of advice stood out from the rest.

Write what you know. That’s just what I’ve tried to do.

For some time now I’ve had health concerns…from chronic inflammation…to digestive issues.

A firm believer in alternative medicine, I see a massage therapist monthly and a chiropractor as needed.

Within the last year or so, things have gone haywire.

naturopath

naturopath (Photo credit: mugley)

I chalked it up to old age and moved forward as best I could.

I sought help from everyone in my bag of medical practitioners….family doctor…hand orthopedist…gastroenterologist…chiropractor…massage therapist…physical therapist…and most recently, a naturopath.

I credit all of them for bringing me along physically, mentally, and even emotionally.

What I’ve learned from all of them…and from my daughter, a professional dancer…is that life makes perfect health...impossible!

The experts do their best to get my body functioning again. However a resumption of my normal activities eventually erodes the progress made.

That’s life…in a nutshell!

Every now and then, however, there are “aha” moments.

Today I had a followup appointment with my naturopath. I left her office with a lot of good, useful information.

I discovered I’m sensitive to certain foods…almonds, walnuts, peanuts, sesame, wheat, eggs and egg yolks (from chickens…I can eat the ones ducks lay), pineapple, green beans and lima beans, cauliflower, mushrooms, garlic, both baker’s and brewer’s yeast, cheddar cheese, and yogurt.

How will I ever forgo…peanut butter slathered on a slice of bread? Asian food cooked in sesame oil? The occasional glass of wine or fruity martini?

Only time will tell, I guess.

Then there’s the fact that the level of the good bacteria in my stomach is too low to offset the effects of my bad bacteria. As a result, sugar intake increases the growth of the bad bacteria.

Oy vay!

These lips will never taste sugar again. It’s a good thing I got my fill of holiday candies and cookies when I did.

My thyroid is slightly elevated. “Why the concern?” I asked. “It affects your metabolism.” I was told. No doctor had ever…in my 63 years…mentioned my thyroid. Let alone test it.

Now for a little good news. The ratio of my good cholesterol to my bad cholesterol…HDL to LDL…is 1.8. Well within the acceptable range of 0.0-3.2.

As a result of what we learned from my blood tests, we discussed the diet I should follow over the next several weeks. After that I’ll check back to discuss how it affected my overall health.

If the news is positive, I’ll  reintroduce some of the questionable foods to see how well I tolerate them. Eggs being the first challenge, according to my naturopath.

Following that eye-opening appointment, I had another one with the chiropractor.

Since my favorite practitioner had the day off, I was treated by a doctor who had recently joined the staff.

After an adjustment that took roughly 20 minutes, I left the office talking to myself.

“WOW!!! Oh, my God! I feel great! My back feels great! My hand feels great! My hips don’t ache! I feel taller! I can stand up straight! I don’t feel so fatigued! My head isn’t fuzzy!”

On and on I mumbled, unable to fathom that all my symptoms could be completely cured in such a short time.

Upon “returning to earth,” I knew it’d take a day or two for my body to settle into the adjustment. Another visit with the chiropractor on Monday will ascertain whether or not he needs to do any tweaking.

Chiropractor

My faith in alternative health practitioners has grown steadily over the years. They have helped me understand my body. From them I have learned to take precautionary measures to ensure…quality of life…as I continue to age.

…i write about…what i know…

………hugmamma.

guilty…as charged

We all tend to put our best foot forward…especially when describing ourselves to those who aren’t privvy to what goes on behind closed doors.

My fellow bloggers will concur, I’m sure, that somewhere along the line we throw caution to the wind and unveil our foibles to the masses. Whether to garner a chuckle, align ourselves with the majority, or demonstrate to others that, in fact, we aren’t as perfect as we wish we were, or others think we are.

Regular readers of hugmamma’s mind, body, and soul know that I’m not without my devilish moments. Take for instance my irreverent invitation to leave a comment.

Laughter is life’s best medicine. Poking fun at oneself keeps us in check. In the grand scheme of things, God’s or Mother Nature’s, we humans are but one species striving to survive. We have a hand in our own self-destruction, but we don’t control the what, when, why or how.

So let loose…once-in-awhile. Admit to the unthinkable, within reason of course. Remember, a balanced life is a much happier, more satisfying environment than tipping the scales too far in either direction.

My latest sin, for which I’m now paying dearly? Downing an entire box of See’s candies in the space of 1 week. Swearing never to repeat such a transgression, then doing it again when my biological clock struck 63!Nuts and Chews

(Photo credit:  http://www.sees.com/Cat.cfm/Nuts_And_Chews )

And what reward have I reaped as a result of what I’ve sown? Heightened inflammation run amok!!! My arthritic joints remind me of the dietetic sin I have committed. Sugar equals pain…pain…and more pain.

So until I see the orthopedic specialist to determine whether or not the pain in my wrist is temporary or permanent, I will refrain from popping sugary delicacies as though they were placebos.

Just because life ends with the Grim Reaper ferrying us to the other side, doesn’t mean we have to take the “express.”

…sugar…in any form…hastens the end…

………hugmamma.  😦

more exercise, less sugar

Dragged myself from bed at 6:46 a.m. to prepare for exercise class. Would’ve preferred sleeping in, especially with my propensity for late night blogging. Will find a balance one of these days. But having had a spotty attendance record so far this summer, I feel compelled to get myself  to the gym, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Our instructor gave me a further reason to push myself.

Kristina is in the midst of some remodeling. She told us that she was grateful for her exercise regimen. Needing to replace a steel rod to rehang her garage door, Kristina successfully undertook the task herself. She felt we would be as capable given our attention to exercise. And she’s right. Many a time I’ve thought how easily I lug grocery bags in from the car, usually making it in one trip. Unless allergens are swirling overhead, I can walk my dog up and down hills with minimal huffing and puffing. My chronic lower back pain is on “simmer.” Even though I’ll never eliminate my arthritis, I can manage the pain without drugs.

Incorporated into our exercise regimen, we use 3 lb. and 5 lb. hand weights, ankle weights, flex bands, and poles. Lying on the floor, we do sit ups, push ups, leg lifts, pelvic tilts, and hold our bodies parallel to the floor for up to 32 counts. All of this comes on the heels of aerobic work to get our heart rate up. On Mondays we do lunges across the floor several times, sometimes even doing the length of the gym. On Wednesdays we add a step to the mix. On Fridays we lay on our backs, legs bent on the seat of the chair. From this position, we do all our floor exercises. All of this wasn’t easy at first, but 4 years later, I feel stronger and more in control physically and mentally. 

Exercise and cutting way back on sugar, which causes inflammation, are my “magic bullets.” When I don’t get enough of the first, and get too much of the latter, I ache, badly. As soon as I return to my “weapons” in defense of good health, the pain melts away. It’s taken years of trying different diets, including Weight Watchers 3 times, and The Perricone Prescription, to arrive at my solution. It’s not a quick fix or a perfect one for I stray often, especially on vacations. But I get back to my routine as soon as I can, and my body thanks me for it.

It’s still a struggle to age, but I’ve no choice in the matter so I opt to do it healthily and therefore, gracefully.

wish the same for you…hugmamma.