Tag Archives: housewife

Qwerty-itis

Being solely a housewife, housewifing around, is as bittersweet as I ever thought it would be.  It’s okay, I like bittersweet.  It’s the only chocolate consumption that I have control over.  But not having a mandatory, preset hour to rise, scheduled lunch hour, and clock-out time has me all over the map.  Now, I could definitely see myself enjoying this unemployment if our income remained the same:

  • Coffee rendezvous
  • Charity work
  • Gourmet meals everyday
  • Expensive hobbies
  • “Lunching”
  • Raising babies

Nope, I’m confined to a 5-mile radius to save on gas and eating more rice and beans than my country people back in El Salvador.  Being forced to take it easy is nice on my energy levels, but the bone-works still creak and spasm.  I still clean-up in the same manner I did during the good ol full-time days, in tiny spurts.  I’ve gotten more workouts in, more reading, more rest, and family time.  But I’m spending plenty of time plugging away at the keyboard as if I still had a job to get out of the house as soon as possible.

My one rule when I got canned was to wake up and get dressed, including makeup, even if I don’t plan on going out or felt like poop.  Some days I dress casual, some I get in gym clothes, as if I could still make the treadmill cry.  It makes me move at a steady paced as opposed to PJ mode.  And sure enough, I’ve signed up at staffing agencies, scattered my resume across the Tampa-metro, and gave monster.com a good spike in web traffic.  In between brakes, I cleaned kitty litter.  They’re so much happier now that I have time to refresh their potty box more often.

Progress update:

I’m still avidly searching with hints at a slightly better future.  Not too much.   Let’s not get carried away here.  I’m looking for part-time so that my body may live 5 more years than if I had the full-time job, but those gems don’t abound.  Administrative skills call for “9-5” days which are really8-5.  What a deceiving term.  Focusing on the Downtown Area so that I’ll land in the heart of the city and feel more spunky than I did in an office with three guys burping and farting.  Making sure that this time there is a balanced gender environment, for sure.  I got a go-ahead from the county to take a Civil Service Exam and see if I can squeeze into a position for Library Assistant.  Dream. Job.

I immediately drove around my alloted perimeter and checked out books on the information I will be tested on and have been practicing my typing skills.  It is required to have 75 words per minute with 90% error rate allowed.  Haha, yeeaaaaa.

The next two days I will be practicing my little fingertips off and refreshing my multiplication skills (since I’ve had Excel do all my math work in the last 10 years).  I find the task challenging and exciting and it keeps my day mentally busier than killing the 30Rock Seasons on Netflix.  Even if I fail this time around, I love any reason to go to Downtown government buildings; and there is always next year.  I want that job.  I’m already practicing bossing people around, telling them to “Shhhhh!”, and visualizing myself rolling around in a pile of books when the lights are out.

via blog.calgarypubliclibrary.com

So, what’s your typing rate?

http://www.sucss.state.il.us/etest/itest.asp

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Filed under Housewifing, Post A Week, Random

A Quickie.

(Since it’s a quickie, editing will be at a minimum.  This is real life ya’ll.)

I’m still here.  The launch of this blog was not a false spark of energy.  As a matter of fact, when I started, I had very little energy.  My usual hobbies and duties had taken a back seat while I sat pretty on the couch with a Wolf flare, one of inflammation and exhaustion that I’m still working to understand.  I was either going to be TV prone or manage to save my my brain cells through the medium of writing.  The only thing I confess to is that the momentum was a bit heavy and posting something funny or interesting every day is just not going to happen.   So I decided if I feel like it, I will write, and if I don’t, I won’t.  There’s no point in making a blog if you lose your joy over feeling the need to cater to an audience.  This project is the exact opposite.  Adversity confronted.

Well, in the last week or so and hopefully in the following days, I’ve been much healthier.  It’s a large part of the reason I’ve been absent from the screen.  No chance I will be typing away when my legs and lungs are at almost-normal capacity.  The symptoms never seem to fully go away, but they do submit to all my careful and meticulous healing methods and avoidance tactics.  However, remission is temporary and who knows when and how it will strike again.  Pummeling through the last week like I have is probably counterproductive to a chunky period of health.  This culture we live in makes it feel like if you’re not go-go-gadget, you’re letting precious time and life slip away, and yes, I’m a conflicted member of that mentality.  It duals with my zen-like, listen-to-your-body-mentality.  Even with husband being gone so much this month, there’s so much that needs to be done.  At the end of the day, some time for perspective is of the essence.  Somewhere between all the things that need to be taken care of and walking to and from parking lots, I get overwhelmed.  This is not intended as a pleasure read, but as a visual representation of my mind going 1000 miles per hour at the end of the day.  Definitely, not in chronological order.

  • Drop off the cat before work to get spayed, power through banging morning headaches and body aches.
  • Make a stop at the gas station, the produce corner, publix, and Target during Saturday mayhem.
  • Schedule half the other errands during work lunches or I’ll get too achy.
  • Make sure you have energy for when Husband comes home.
  • Make sure there is clean laundry for when he comes home.
  • Did you remember the cilantro?
  • The cat food bowls are empty.
  • They’re out of litter.
  • Emergency run to Petsmart.
  • Forgot parent’s anniversary.
  • Food diary: peanut butter makes muscles hurt.
  • Can’t leave the house with just any pair of shoes, a new set of flats is in order. Add shopping, postpone, rinse, repeat.
  • Cancel the peanut butter on Vitacost order.
  • Order is on route. Eat the $.
  • Schedule mattress shopping dates with Husband. Postpone, rinse, repeat.
  • Bought oats, not gluten free.   Eat that cost as well.
  • What’s making my skin itchy, is it the Wolf? Is it dryness? Is it chemtrails?
  • Breathe. Don’t forget to breathe.
  • Include exercise somewhere in there, it’ll give you the energy to last longer.
  • Medicine regimen. Empty stomach before and after, 3 times a day.
  • Cat took off the cone! Get her!!!
  • Read every label of everything you buy.
  • Put on foot lotion after shower.
  • Deny invitations for food and play and cheerfully offer options.
  • Skip meetings, listen in.
  • Catch up through text, forget the written letters.
  • Call in late again. Rush through lunch.
  • Repaint those chipped toenails.
  • Remember to take the nopal, the omegas, the flax seed oil three times a day, drink at least one tea of ginger, make sure to eat fiber every day.
  • Break up the cats, no roughhousing yet.
  • Don’t get sidetracked! You burned the butternut squash.
  • Install shower filter on list.
  • But I thought you took out the garbage?
  • The dishes are calling.  Husband is hungry. Cat is playing with stitches.  Must. Sit. Down.
  • Husband and I are ill and exhausted
  • Did that have caffeine in it?  IC flared again.
  • Send bill payment to new location. Locate the new address.
  • Tell God to take care of the usual suspects, cause I can’t remember what’s going on with who?
  • UPS skipped the delivery, add to the errands list for pick-up.  Wait in line.
  • Forget re-doing the toenails…shave!
  • Forgot to buy distilled water.
  • Smile without looking psychotic!

Does anyone else feel like they’re brain is going to explode?  Is the full moon arriving or is there just such limited time and too much traffic in the city? Do we self-sabotage/load ourselves to cover every little detail and then feel unaccomplished if something on the to-do list goes unchecked?

I don’t know if in reality it isn’t much and it only feels that way, but no matter the lessened pace I impose, no matter how much repose I force myself to surrender to, there has been an underlying sense of overload, especially if anything doesn’t get done.  I don’t necessarily blame being ill on this but I do have to wonder how large a part it plays in my life even when I do feel relatively upbeat and active.

It seems like it’s inconvenience after inconvenience, but its just life, not picking on any one particular person.  It’s about organizing before it gets out of control, or admitting overload when it’s there.  Before I got married, I learned how we automatically as  individuals (especially control freaks) usually take note of the undone without taking stock of the things that go according to plan.  Even if it does happen while running amock, there are many things going our way as long as we’re putting the time and work it.  The balanced person knows that there is more negative than positive, but some careful meditation helps pinpoint good results that are achieved and how its not always found on the chore list.

It was suggested in one of my favorite books on how the mind creates thoughts and affects behaviors.  It proposed that you take the author up, for one week at the end of the day, write everything you accomplished, now matter how small the task.  It was to enhance your viewpoint by the end of each trial period and begin learning to more readily acknowledge your hard work and sense of ongoing accomplishment.  I tried it and it goes to show that even though it felt like complete chaos to do everything on a limited clock, I was getting it done.  Expecting everything at my pace (a pace that I put up against those go-getter superwomen) was where the pressure built and distorted the view that everything was going pretty darn well.

  • Cat fixed. Done and over with.
  • Parents back from El Salvador, quality time spent with them.
  • Date night with Husband.
  • Bob’s Red Mill kindly sent me Gluten Free oats to replace my mistaken purchase.
  • I got my Tofu Press.
  • The health foods are working marvelously.
  • Business has picked up.
  • My kitty just said I LOVE YOU in cat.
  • Husband and I are on the same page, despite the travel schedule.
  • I received recognition for the monthly incentive program at work.
  • Sister send the best talking card and magnet!
  • Got a bomb-a$$ deal at Yankee candle for the parents anniversary gift by coincidence.  (Some lady just left a buy 2 get 2 of equal size free.
  • ….The list goes on, but some things I’ll keep to myself as any of you would.

So, I’m exhausted.  A bit stressed.  Missing Husband, especially at bedtime.  But not worrying about a pretty and perfect post has got me feeling pretty pleased tonight.  My house is mostly clean and I’m set up to go to my meeting tomorrow.  Priorities back on track and I’m sure there’ll be another readjustment soon.  Next week on my list, slow down on new health recipes, repeat a few meals, and instead take proper care of others when done taking care of self.  🙂

Peace out. Lights out.

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Filed under Housewifing, Loopy Lupus, Post A Week, Random, Uncategorized

Pacing myself, Schmacing myself

Living with chronic fatigue and inflammation, the trick is to learn how to pace yourself. Pacing myself is something I’ve never known and might never learn.

Tonight, there is no in-depth and motivated housewifing or organic products to share.  I left work a few minutes earlier so that I may go home and rest since I felt some stress shoving up against the threshold.  The plan was nap, then exercise, then housewife.

But once I was home free, it was so breezy and sunny out….

The plan turned into: go shopping for things that weren’t on the list, reorganize the pantry, refry yesterday’s batch of black beans, make dinner, wash dishes, pass out hopelessly at 6pm with swelling from head to toe, swollen throat and mild flu-like symptoms.

Dang it.

My strength may or may not pick up again and the inflammation may or may not decrease.  At this point, I have to coddle my bratty immune system if there exists any chance of finishing my plans or I’ll end up watching all of Wednesday’s NBC line up.  If I do feel better, I’ll be making more celery juice for wellness and taking advantage of some exotic plants I found during my earlier fake-energy boost exploration.  I discovered a Latin supermarket and bought aloe vera and nopal, the spiky gooey plants that have been Aztec medicinal secrets for centuries.  Getting in touch with my Indian roots. I don’t know how to use them and their exact health benefits, but if I figure it out, I’ll let you know.

via enchiel.blogspot.com

So here is a little treat I prepared a few days ago. Check it out: I created a new page, a link tab of favorite blogs.  The list will be ever increasing, but just a few for now. Gotta pace myself.

https://housewifingaround.wordpress.com/favourite-links/

Shout-out to friends: To those of you who know I have meeting tonight, Husband is out of town so we’re going together tomorrow to another one. Will miss you.

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Filed under Housewifing, Indulgence, Picture of Health, Stimulating the Economy, Under the Weather

The Murder of Two Silver Hairs

Dying hair is not considered much in terms of long-term safety, more so about how long can you go before you drench your hair in paint again.  I certainly viewed it this way the few times I’ve dyed my hair and required follow-up maintenance.  But times have changed and the collective group of women willing to be educated are aware of the chemicals dangers in existence and on the rise.  Last night, I had the responsibility of considering whether I will dye with my mane with Naturint Permanent Hair Color, claiming to be safer than regular dyes (already purchased), or skip the vanity and leave as is, or experiment with Henna dye.

The following article about the risks , although very neutral, had me in a stupefied state.

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0820/is_n253/ai_21034492/


I don’t dye my hair frequently and I don’t want to anymore. As a matter of fact, I’ve sprouted two “gray” hairs more akin to a silvery snow that I’ve grown fond of.  I don’t care to see them go.  But from my last ventures into hair color, I have slight discoloration. It’s only visible in the sun from my natural dark brown/black hair, but its there.  I was even going to name my two strands of wisdom but if I’m going to darken them out, there is no point in becoming attached.

Growing up, I had an uber-conservative mom when it came to beauty.  She never died her hair, barely wore make-up, and other practical fixins considered to be normal in society for a lady.  She grew up a poor and humble country girl where these things were not needed for survival.  She once told me if I ever dyed my hair, I would not be her daughter.  Being raised in Miami where the masses all have the same sun-bleached brain, there was no way I could not join the sheep herd and dye my woolen hair.  But the peer pressure and curiosity got the best of me.  Against momma’s will,  my best friend and a Loreal bottle  colored my hair into the color of a rusty trumpet.

Mom remained in smoldering silence when she saw the hot mess.  Of course, money had to spent on salvaging my straw mop head.  The chemicals must have reached portions of my brain because I can’t remember who footed the rescue bill, but I do know she let me remain her baby girl.  As usual, my dear ‘ol momma was right.  We just have an innate preference for the natural in my family, whether its the way we were brought up or our indifference to popular opinion.  I want my God-given hair to stay as it is.  At this point in adolescence, I went back to black.

Naturally, an unwritten ethos from a whimsical spaz is easy to forsake in times if fashion kicks and identity switches.  I dyed it for my wedding with some lighter and with some golden tones to catch and glimmer in the sun’s reflection.  A year later, I’m back to my natural kick and want it dark again.  And I’m apprehensive.  Should I leave it and wait a few years until it grows back all dark, or hasten the restoration of balance?

We can’t protect ourselves from all every and all chemicals. “Every year 1700 new chemicals are approved — that’s an average of five a day.” (The Autoimmune Epidemic).  We can buy a water filter for our kitchen faucet and still have residual chemicals, or drink bottled water that’s been leaching plastic particles in the overheated truck its being shipped in.  I’m doing a full on detox, but when the pain is insufferable I must take some man-tinkered pill. We can use everything organic, but we step outside and we’re breathing smog.  But I can make a decision for my next move whether to invite a risk that’s I’m suddenly painfully aware of.  Where is the balance?

I was feeling the stress of all the tiny decisions that come with having a hypersensitive, body begging nature to overpower my faulty immune,  whilst living in a highly toxic city and society.  Considering I was going to dye my hair anyway with regular dye, using a healthier one will not kill me today.  Just like we can’t prevent your kids from every stupid decision that comes across their head, like trying to give yourself blond highlights without a pro in the room, I cannot prevent myself from every dirty little compound that might affect me.  I’ve learned how to read one more label and to research even deeper before purchasing products that we’re never much of a concern before.

My hair is a solid chestnut brown and is looking pretty healthy.  The product itself was great and I would recommend it to anyone who colors their locks regularly and would like a healthier option.  But the paranoia I went through about scabbing, follicles rejecting my hair, and a Lupus flare-up: not worth it.  Not to mention my friend’s dad was talking to me about cancer half the time.  Next time  I go with the henna. Or grow it out. I already miss the two little testaments of time that were trying to make a point.

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Filed under Housewifing, Stimulating the Economy, Teensy Projects

It’s Definitely Maybeline

Don’t get me wrong.  When I wrote this little ethos (Because You’re Worth It), I meant every word.  It’s a guideline to survive by. But so long as I’m writing about confessions, I confess that sometimes you just have to swallow your own tasty words with your tail between your legs.  Realistically, it won’t always be followed to the letter and I knew this then.  This isn’t Mean Girls where you get kicked out of the lunch table if you break a fashion rule.  It’s impossible to perfectly keep up with a daily regime without developing or intensifying some form of neurosis. A cheer for all you women who make it seem effortless to be mascara’d and flawless every single day, rain or shine.  But ‘fess up!  There lies a midget psycho in you that tries to escape every day right? Don’t worry, the twitching eye will stop.

In my case, there still exists a pair of floppy sweatpants or two that need to be replaced.  I’m sure Husband would appreciate more matching unmentionables.  There’s been a bit of haircut and styling postponing.  I ate gluten in a bowl.

But I do have good updates. Since putting it on paper (and by paper I mean a web page), it’s been a reinforcement and motivator to keep up with my own suggestions a lot better. I’ve been putting on my face more often. With the exception of yesterday’s man-scale exceeding the average, the Minimalist Look with a Morning Dew is becoming a quick and easy look.   The Well-Rested concealer from Bare Minerals and nude-colored eyeshadow (two items I thought were irrelevant when I was a spring chicken) are as faithful as a BFF.  When the really achy and slow awakenings don’t give me time to slap it on, I lug around my little 2nd chance bag for later.  If I haven’t been able to keep up, I at least throw on the moisturizer and lip gloss.

via cuppycake fiend at Flickr

One of my recently developed habits, on days that I look disastrous because of these difficult mornings that spite me and/or creeping age, is that I come home from work straight to shower, puff some foundation on my face and pretty-it-up, even if I’m just in sexy-house-sweatpants.  I make-up for the ugly day I had.  When I feel that I look better, I get more done and with more spunk.  Yes, I have been known to put eyeliner on to do the dishes.

Writing it down, and most notably, sharing my Beauty Belief with everyone was just an extra push to live harder by it.  It’s like Weight Watchers, when you have people expecting you not eat hamburgers every time you have an emotional crisis, you are further encouraged by your teammates to fight the call of dead meat and cholesterol! Even if you slip up once or twice. Even if you skip a week and the girls don’t really give mind to your every ingested meal, you know the universe knows and it will tell on you if you give up on your self-made values.  Thankfully, they understand the downward spiral, but the gals get down because the power of the united cosmic fight requires more energy to be kept to standard for women all over the world.  I’ve never been to Weight Watchers, but I imagine it’s something dramatic like this.

I’m even thinking  of writing another guideline, this one about abstinence.  Vows of Food Abstinence to be clear. Because it doesn’t matter how organic the half box of whole grain chocolate chip cookies that I ate were, they were still loaded with gluten (note that I’m gluten sensitive).  I ended up with a guilty conscience, throbbing knees, and enough anxiety to become a Wall Street stockbroker in our economy.  This area needs tidying up.  It’s my livelihood we’re talking about here.

The point is, we all have a set of rules we should stick to that help up stay on the mark.  Unless we have obsessive compulsive disorder, we end up breaking our rules to prevent from exploding estrogen all over the walls when things get tough and disheveled.  And if there’s anything that I share to you worth a rat’s patootie (I’m saying patootie until I write a age-and sensitivity appropriate disclaimer for my site), is that you should write down the things that matter to you and inner-confidence and check yourself against it every once in a while.   As silly as it sounds, sharing it with someone adds a seal of authenticity.  Depending on the frequency in which you break your own rules, you’ll know how frazzled you really are and that you need to readjust your wacky chi.

So on a day that you didn’t forget pick up the dry-cleaning, are wearing your shirt inside out and backward (true story), ran out of cat food, burned dinner, gained 4 stress pounds, forgot to pay the light bill, and you find yourself eating a snickers bar in the middle of your living room staring at your great masterpiece, not caring…take a breather.  Take out paper and pen and number of bullet a list of things that will help you either prevent or take care of yourself before things like this happen.  Type it up and laminate it.*

But IF there is splippage, don’t beat yourself up. There is always the clause section.  Not loophole section: clause section. And you can only have those amended if reviewed and approved by an official notary to prevent your sneaky alter-ego from changing your creed when momentary lapses occur. And they will. No matter what kind of sugar empowering high you’re on when you write the ethos.

Just keep checking against it to see how you’re keeping up by your own standards.  No one else’s.

 

via Janny Brocken @ Flickr

*No, I haven’t laminated mine. It’s typed neatly online.

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Filed under Housewifing, Indulgence, Picture of Health

Somewhere Over the Percocet

At work, a small white tablet was found straggling around in my purse.  I heard angel choirs chanting not too far off this multi-dimensional realm.  I split the porcelain little helper in two.  Even before popping the first half, the placebo effect of the hope that was to come was already melting troubles away like lemon drop shots.

All these mornings have been groundhog-ish.  I had an interruption in my regular treatment for the ‘wolf disease’, and so the inflammation and pain came back with a vengeance.  With permission from a doctor’s note, I have stumbled into work late almost every day in the last two weeks.  When I pry my dessert-dry eyes open in the morning, while blood is trashing around in my skull, I begin the process of gauging my pain levels.  Neck: Stiff.  Hips: swollen.  Feet: extra swollen.  Back: stabbing.  Elbows: Stuck. Wrist and Fingers: numb.  Organs: Tender.  I’m exhausted from lack of recuperation, but also mentally, from the automatic conditioning that has set in;  the rapid-fire assessment I make two minutes from wake-up time.  I know the day is going to be a battle and my brain wages war to stay home for an hour or two more.

Eventually I unfurl my spine and muster the bravery to place my feet on the floor.  Morning stiffness and swelling is normal. For the rest of the day, continual movement is paramount, otherwise, my joints will stay stuck in motionless positions.  I still don’t know how to describe many of the symptoms that come with this condition.  The best one yet, which I don’t know if the average person can understand, is that it feels like my blood doesn’t fit inside its veins and my limbs don’t fit inside it’s skin encasing.  The most recent pain is my lower back.  The doctor said there is no damage.  “It’s just inflammation.”  I doubt the words of that arrogant fool, but I’m also helpless in my limited amount of time to take off work and see every doctor for every spot on my body that’s wrong.

My excitement for the Perk was because I had run out of them.  The physician switched me to Vicodin, a very unpleasant substitute which reduces pain, adds headaches, has angered my autoimmune and takes my literal breath away.  This cannot continue.

For that reason, finding a lost little Percocet made my next 4-6 hours.  However, the concern simmers within. It won’t be long before it wears off and no more rogue pills will be laying around to be found.

This is not the most unbearable pain I’ve ever experienced, but it’s the most ongoing pain I’ve ever  had to deal with.  I’m not sure how to do it and when the big picture spans out before my eyes, out of focus and blurry, panic begins to stir.

Am I becoming dependent on a short-term solution?

Am I falling trap to a cognitive dissonance that justifies pill popping. Even if its prescribed?

What constitutes the right to pain killers?

What if you need them to keep your job?

What is the deal with organic herbs that ease pain without causing systematic damage like synthetic narcotics? Why don’t I live in California or Amsterdam?

When will they build a Whole Foods in my neighborhood?

How do I keep my job and my home from being neglected in my condition?

How am I to reduce to a more manageable part-time, if I need to pay for so many medicines, appointments, and tests? How am I supposed to keep my mental peace when its at war with my body?

How am I going to do my part as a capable housewife if I run out of energy too early on the same day that my beloved cat decides to poop on our mattress and pee on all our spare mattresses?

What if  I don’t stop asking all these unanswerable questions and die right here of cardiac arrest?

All these questions ruminate above in my head with great insistence.

They tumble inside my brain like a dryer with damp laundry all they want, but none of it is solvable if i don’t stop the cycling.  Stress exacerbates fatigue, pains, and surrender.  Action however, gets the job done.

I’m a big believer of a mini-break down. If you fight it too long, you’re have a certified melt-down and that’s just too inconvenient for everyone.  After you’re done crying and venting to a friend/family member who provides you a less morbid solution than resorting to admitting yourself in an insane asylum, you wait for your blotchy skin to normalize, you assume rhythmic breathing, you decrease your voice’s pitch from supersonic back to human, send a quick prayer through the proper channels, and you lay out your plan.

As soon as your vision isn’t blurred,  you call all your doctors with reasonable inquiries and requests.  Then you research on acupuncture and and natural therapies because your doctor is bound to take guesses as good as a two-year old.  You buy a box of pinch-proof gloves and an enzyme cleaner for unpleasant odors.  You put aside any feminism and ask Husband for suggestions and to kindly pass the vacuum once a week for you (He won’t know if you don’t ask).  Draw smiley faces on the bills you don’t intend to pay.  Powder your face again if warranted.  Thank your friends for letting you be at your worst with them and still letting you maintain your credibility when the show is over.

Ages 4-7

You also learn to prepare better for next time. It’s time to invest in the sponge bat I’ve been suggesting might be the greatest problem solver in the world.

I especially like this one with the adjustable size for the days my symptoms throw me on the couch and the cats start meowing suspiciously.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Pain killers are a temporary solution. Being in turmoil is inevitable but should always be dealt with.  Being overwhelmed doesn’t have to be the dirty little secret many sweep under the ground as if this life was a summer breeze.  Take meds if you must, but learn how to get on by your own terms. That alone is like natural opiates.

 

 

And that’s the way Sue C’s it. *

*High-five, Glee Geeks!

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Filed under Indulgence, Loopy Lupus, Picture of Health, Post A Week, Stimulating the Economy, Under the Weather

The Autoimmune Epidemic and My Highlighting Skills

Today I look horrible, but I feel great.

No, that’s wrong:

Today I feel horrible, but I look great!

And that’s all that really matters.

Okay, but serious time now. Seriously. No jokes.  Seriously.

Before I knew what was developing in my body, I had heard about certain diseases like Rheumatoid Arthritis, Mononucleosis,  Thyroiditis, Diverticulitis, and Diabetes 1.  I didn’t know they were autoimmune diseases.  I didn’t know what autoimmune was.  The first hint I got was about a year ago when doctors suspected I have Rheumatoid Arthritis; not your average arthritis.  That’s when I learned what autoimmune was.  Had I not been forewarned about my active ANLs and ANAs, I still wouldn’t know what an autoimmune disease really is.  I perused articles online (ignoring the severity of many, since Wikipedia states you’re gonna die from the common cold). I scanned  books about RA. When I read about RA, it seemed so similar to Lupus. But I just couldn’t have lupus, could I? It’s such an ugly word and I prefer a disease with a cool name like Hodgkins or Syphilis.  It doesn’t matter.  Lupus, RA, etc., they’re all in the same family.

Then I found this book. The Autoimmune Epidemic.  Epidemic is a serious word.  And you’re just gonna have to read for yourself how truly shocking and controversial this bug attacking my organs is, and how many people are at risk.  You thought cancer was popular?  I’m VIP.  (Not actually comparing the degrees and severity of the disease, just the occurrence). You can call it the indie disease, because the media sure isn’t giving it any attention (unless they’re pushing a med that causes incontinence).  Why not? Why is the general public unconcerned when it’s very likely you know a few people suffering one of these autoimmune diseases?

If you don’t like to read but are okay with skimming, I’ll highlight parts of  the book excerpt below worth having in your memory bank. It’s long so I don’t blame you if you don’t read it thoroughly. I borrowed this book from the library and since I was juggling books about allergen-free cookies and blogs, I only managed to read half.  The scary half.  I’ve yet to read the last hopeful half that won’t make me want to hide the book in the freezer.

One last note: A reminder that this blog does not advocate Autoimmune Disease/Lupus Awareness.  At least not as adamantly as some dedicated superstars out there.  It’s generally about how to live life with an obstacle in the way, which even the healthy have hurdles.  But since this is my obstacle, it will get mention from time to time when I find quality information….Now, scroll I say. Scroll!

http://donnajacksonnakazawa.com/autoimmune_epidemic_excerpt.htm

Foreword to
The Autoimmune Epidemic
by Douglas Kerr, M.D., Ph.D.

As a faculty neurologist and neuroscientist at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore Maryland, I have spent the last decade evaluating and treating patients with autoimmune disorders of the nervous system. I founded and continue to direct the Johns Hopkins Transverse Myelitis (TM) Center, the only center in the world dedicated to developing new therapies for this paralyzing autoimmune disorder. Increasingly, I see that more and more patients are being felled by this devastating disorder. Infants as young as five months old can get TM and some are left permanently paralyzed and dependent upon a ventilator to breathe. But this is supposed to be a rare disorder, reportedly affecting only one in a million people. Prior to the 1950s, there were a grand total of four cases reported in the medical literature. Currently, my colleagues at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and I hear about or treat hundreds of new cases every year. In the multiple sclerosis clinic, where I also see patients, the number of cases likewise continues to climb.

Autoimmune diseases have not always been this common. The prevalence of autoimmune diseases like systemic lupus erythematosus, or lupus, multiple sclerosis, and type 1 diabetes is on the rise. In some cases, autoimmune diseases are three times more common now than they were several decades ago. These changes are not due to increased recognition of these disorders or altered diagnostic criteria. Rather, more people are getting autoimmune disorders than ever before.

Something in our environment is creating this crisis. What you will read about in the following pages is a powerful and touching and scholarly exposé of what those things may be.

The immune system in our bodies is charged with an amazingly complex task: to recognize and ignore all the cells and tissues within our body and—at the same time—to attack any and all “invaders,” foreign cells, viruses, bacteria, or fungi. Our wondrously complex immune system can successfully protect our bodies while recognizing and eliminating billions of distinct infections with which we come in contact. When functioning well, the immune system immediately recognizes a virus or bacteria that has gotten into our body and initiates a spirited and robust attack on the invader, allowing us to recover from a cold after only a few days. But this precisely choreographed dance between the immune system and the tissues it is designed to protect goes badly awry in autoimmune diseases. In such diseases, the immune system mistakes friend for foe and begins to attack the very tissues it was designed to protect. The soldiers guarding the castle turn and attack it.

But what triggers autoimmunity to occur? Throughout human history, our exposure to such myriad infectious agents has triggered an evolutionary arms race. Our immune system has evolved increasingly sophisticated countermeasures and recognition systems to combat the increasing diversity of the infectious agents with which we come in contact. But this increasing sophistication comes with a cost: an increased chance of the system breaking down. We have evolved right to the edge of the immune system’s capacity.

Now, over the last 40 years, something has been pushing that system over the edge. Something is causing the immune system to increasingly make mistakes in which the line becomes blurred, the immune system attacks the body itself, and autoimmune disease occurs. In all likelihood, much of the reason for this often catastrophic mistake of the immune system comes from the countless environmental toxins to which we are currently exposed—toxins that interfere with the way the immune system communicates with the rest of the body. To paraphrase W. B. Yeats, when that communication is lost “things fall apart, the centre cannot hold.”

The numbers are staggering: one in twelve Americans—and one in nine women—will develop an autoimmune disorder. And since it is clear that not every patient with an autoimmune disease is correctly diagnosed, the prevalence is certainly higher than that. The American Heart Association estimates that by comparison, only one in twenty Americans will have coronary heart disease. Similarly, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, one in fourteen American adults will have cancer at some time in their life. This means that an American is more likely to get an autoimmune disease than either cancer or heart disease. Yet we hear much more in the press about heart disease and cancer than we do about autoimmunity. And this silence is mirrored in relative funding by the National Institutes of Health, the major funding agency for biomedical research in the United States. Though the NIH has expanded funding for autoimmunity significantly over the last several years, the 2003 expenditure of $591.2 million is still only a fraction of the money spent for heart disease and cancer. The NIH budget for cancer is over 5 billion dollars, ten times that of autoimmune diseases. The NIH budget for cardiovascular disease is over 2 billion dollars, four times that of autoimmune diseases. We have not yet recognized the urgency of the autoimmune epidemic.

Why is the prevalence of autoimmunity increasing at such alarming rates? There is almost universal agreement among scientists and physicians that the environmental toxins and chemicals to which we are increasingly exposed are interfering with the immune system’s ability to distinguish self from non-self. Most of the risk of autoimmunity comes from environmental exposures rather than from genetic susceptibilities. So, have those environmental exposures changed over time? The answer is clearly yes. One example of this comes from a 2003 study in which blood and urine samples from Americans were tested for 210 substances, including industrial compounds, pollutants, PCBs, insecticides, dioxins, mercury, cadmium and benzene. The volunteers, none of whom had any occupational or residential risks for such exposure, had detectable levels of 91 of these. In other words, these are ordinary people with ordinary lives who have numerous toxins in their body from ordinary exposure. In a 2005 study, researchers found 287 industrial chemicals, including pesticides, phthalates, dioxins, flame-retardants, and the breakdown chemicals of Teflon, in the fetal cord blood of ten newborn infants from around the country—transmitted to the infants by their mothers’ exposures before and during pregnancy.

We are facing both an increasing prevalence of autoimmunity and an increasing exposure to environmental toxins. Is it clear that the increased exposure of environmental toxins is causing the increase in autoimmunity? Several lines of evidence suggest that this jury, too, has issued the verdict — “guilty.” Researchers recently showed that when added to the diets of rats, PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid, a breakdown chemical of Teflon and one of the chemicals found in the blood panel screenings mentioned above), causes significant impairments in the ability of rats to develop an appropriate immune response. Similarly, other researchers showed that mice given organochlorine pesticides were much more susceptible to getting the autoimmune disease lupus than control mice.

Are these data absolutely definitive? It’s not clear that the type of exposure these animals had is the same type that humans have. It’s not clear that lupus in animals is the same thing as lupus in humans. It’s not clear that a rodent’s immune system is the same as a human’s. Much more research needs to be done on this subject — in the form of both epidemiologic (human population studies correlated with exposures) and animal studies. Meanwhile, the difficulty in finding the smoking gun/definitive evidence of causality is increased exponentially by the number of chemicals to which we are exposed. Do we have to give animals the 287 compounds found in the fetal-blood-cord study cited above to examine their combinatorial effect on the immune system? Not only is such research impractical, it is unethical and probably still wouldn’t be viewed by some as definitive.

There are some who might say that this is nothing more than another case of ranting “the sky is falling” when it’s really not. I suspect those might be the same people who believe that the undeniable warming of the planet is simply a geological cycle that has nothing to do with human activity. But taking these positions—that environmental exposures are not adversely affecting our bodies’ health or that we are not causing our planet to get hotter—is dangerous. To miss the opportunity to change is to not only deny the evidence and miss what may be a fleeting opportunity to reverse these trends, but also, ultimately, a selfish position. What about our children and their children? If we have the opportunity to make a healthier future for them but fail to act either because of indifference or denial, what will tomorrow hold for them?

What is just as disturbing is that only 5.4 percent of the NIH budget for autoimmunity is dedicated to environmental factors that underlie autoimmunity. We need to recognize the urgency of the autoimmune epidemic. And we need to take steps to combat it. Future research is unlikely to define a single cause for autoimmunity, but rather varied triggers that include environmental exposures and infectious agents interacting in complex ways with an individual’s immune system. This research will, in all likelihood, clearly establish the link between these exposures and autoimmunity and will begin to define how these exposures cause autoimmunity. We won’t be able to eliminate autoimmunity in the future. Genetic predisposition and infectious triggers will always be with us. But the fight against autoimmunity needs to be fought on several levels: more extensive research, development of better therapies that more effectively treat these diseases, and action to decrease our environmental exposures. The last action will require personal responsibility, political action, and corporate accountability. If we do these things, autoimmunity will be a cluster of rare diseases that we treat with effective medicines. If we don’t, autoimmune diseases will increasingly devastate families, including five-month-old babies, and will increasingly tax our health-care system. If we don’t act now, it will be too late.

The book that follows is astounding. It is a combination of touching personal stories about individuals affected by autoimmune diseases and rigorous research of the medical and scientific literature. It is the kind of book that will scare you. It will make you angry. It will amaze you with the courage of some of the people described in the book. Ms. Nakazawa examines all of the theories about autoimmunity in detail, from heavy metals to toxic chemicals to viruses to vaccines and finally to the hygiene hypothesis. The Autoimmune Epidemic is every bit as compelling as Upton Sinclair’s groundbreaking novel The Jungle and every bit as necessary as An Inconvenient Truth, the startling movie featuring Al Gore and directed by Davis Guggenheim, that shows us that global warming is upon us and may at some point in the near future be irreversible.

You will leave this book with no reservations about the veracity of the conclusions: put simply, there is no doubt that autoimmune diseases are on the rise and our increasing environmental exposure to toxins and chemicals is fueling this rise. The research is sound. The conclusions unassailable.

Ms. Nakazawa introduces a term, “autogen,” used to describe chemical triggers of autoimmune disease, drawing upon the term “carcinogen,” which denotes chemical triggers of cancer. This term, which should become part of our society’s lexicon, may serve as the clarion call for change that emerges from this book. The change needs to take the forms of personal responsibility and societal change. Companies should have to determine the effect of chemicals in developing autoimmunity as well as cancer, and state and federal legislation is needed to compel corporations to make this happen. This book will inspire you to want to do something to protect yourselves and your loved ones; to do what you can to restore a healthy balance between our environment and our bodies. What that something is will vary depending on the individual. At a personal level, no single recommendation fits all individuals and the degree to which an individual alters his/her environment will depend on the levels of exposures and his or her susceptibility to autoimmunity. The Autoimmune Epidemic ends with a logical and empowering solution to protect yourself and your family and, in so doing, to begin the process of cleaning up our environment in order to help reestablish a balanced immune system in our bodies.

Reading The Autoimmune Epidemic is a necessary first step. Reading The Autoimmune Epidemic is a life-altering event. It needs to be.

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