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Archive for January, 2012


Yep.  I did, I’m ashamed to say.  I knew better, and I did it anyhow.

At first, I conned myself into thinking a little wouldn’t matter.  And you know how that goes- once you have a little, well, heck, you might as well go for broke and do what you want and have a lot, right?

And then, the really twisted part of my brain joined in and said, “It’ll be an experiment, and then I’ll know for sure one way or the other.”

Epic fail. Big time bomb.

And truly, the only one suffering is me. Go me for allowing my stupid stubbornness to get the best of me and letting myself con myself into not just falling off the wagon, but staying off the wagon. 🙄

I think this started on Thanksgiving. I “allowed” myself to have some dinner rolls, and thus, I started the fall off the gluten-free wagon.

I didn’t have any really bad effects initially. Indeed, I was flying high when my rheumatologists gave me the green light to run, and actually forbade me to stop. I started increasing my mileage and joined the Runner’s World Holiday Challenge. My mileage was good and I felt great.

I really thought, in my heart of hearts, that the worst with the diseases was behind me. How could it not be? I’d conquered the bulk of the pain; the plantar fasciitis (a kind of connective tissue) was all but resolved thanks to my Vibram Five Finger shoes, and my chronic tendinitis issues seemed to be on vacation. Systemic inflammation was down considerably, which I considered to be a major victory.

And then came Christmas week. I am pretty sure it was the combination of not napping/getting my feet up in the afternoons and the normal stress of the season that did me in. Christmas morning, I managed to crawl out of bed around 8 am and was back in by 10:30 am where I spent the rest of and entire next day.

That week, I had run 52.25 miles, and things were feeling a bit achy. In a matter of two days and a few hours, I had gained 12 lbs of fluid. Even with my continued running, I was swollen, pitting, and generally feeling like crap. This was by far the worst flare I had hit in several months. It took about a week, but the pounds dropped off.

The pain, however, remained. The first week of this month, everything was still hurting. As the pain increased, my mileage varied, as I decided to do some shorter runs to see if that would help. Stomach unease was a near constant, which meant I was doing overall a really good job staying away from the sugar cookies, knowing they would exacerbate things.

When we got the crud going around, though, the only thing I was interested in was raisin bread. And this is when the twisted part of my brain really took hold and let me fall completely off the gluten-free wagon. I mean, I was already in a lot of pain, so why bother not eating what I wanted to, right?

Shame on me. I know better.

I had nearly tricked myself into thinking I was “normal;” that I could eat “normally” and make “normal” goals and things.

Shame on me. I know better.

Part of the reason I started running eons ago was so that I *could* eat and not feel guilty. That was my reward (well, one of them) for running: the ability to eat ice cream or chocolate and not feel guilty. 🙄

As part of my research on my conditions, one theme I had run into repeatedly was the gut connection to inflammation. I’ve been tested for Celiac, and apparently there was no “intolerance.” The thing is, you don’t have to be completely intolerant, nor do you have to have an allergy to something to have it affect you and give you adverse reactions.

Yep. Sensitivities can cause all kinds of things. There is a difference between food allergies, food sensitivities, and food intolerance. I’ve undergone extensive allergy testing. By this I mean a series of over 300 injections where the “bump” is measured for allergic response (you’re going to have a bump; how high the bump is determines the level of your allergy). From what I remember, wheat was not one of my allergies.

We know that the gut/intestines – the enteric or intrinsic system- has its own nervous system, which has as many neurons as the spinal cord.

Did you get that?

Let me say it again- your digestive system has its own nervous system that has about the same number of neurons as your spinal cord. How does this work? One example would be to think of someone who is clinically brain dead (has no electrical activity in the brain) and yet survives artificially, with a feeding tube etc. Did you ever think about how that works?

How the Gut’s ‘Second Brain’ Influences Mood and Well-Being is a really good article to get you started.

I’m not going to go into a lengthy lecture about anatomy and physiology, but I WILL say that what we eat is FAR more connected to how we feel and act than most people think. Conditions like ADD/ADHD and autism often respond to dietary intervention and are often exacerbated by food with certain food colorings and additives like MSG.

There is stuff in food (like wood pulp, aka cellulose) that we don’t have the ability to digest. And then we wonder why we can’t?

There is much evidence and continuing studies that show a link between gluten and autoimmune conditions and pain. Celiac and arthritis, for example, have a link. (Celiac Disease is NOT an allergy to gluten, it is an autoimmune disease; some children with wheat allergies can outgrow the allergy.) Studies show that Sjogren’s and Raynaud’s both have links to gluten.

And gluten is in all kinds of stuff- it’s not just bread; it’s not just connected to wheat, and it’s often hidden (like whey in hot dogs, casein in tuna, or MSG being called “natural flavorings”). Gluten can be found in vitamin supplements and some medications. Most grains can have gluten, so it’s not safe to say “I’ll just eat oatmeal” because there could be (and often is) cross-contamination. Wheat free does not = gluten free.  😦

I often wonder why people are more agreeable to treating illness with artificial chemicals than they are to think about what they are eating. Is it just because processed foods are easier? (ok, I admit, this feeds into my theory of a “right now” society whereby people want things right now; easily, without having to think or work, and I believe that treating it with a pill is the route most people chose just because it’s “easy”.)

I DO think people want to take the easy route, and in some ways, I am no exception. You probably already know we don’t do a lot of processed foods and we LOVE the eggs we get from our chickens.

Gluten-free options are not abundant (nor cost-effective) where I live. And, since it’s really only me in the family that is affected, it’s hard to justify spending the $$ and having the rest of the family go gluten free. So that leaves me more or less where I started (bear with me, please, while I whine :D)– cutting out what I can on my own and hoping I see results.

Actually, that’s not entirely true. At this point, I’m nearly 100% sure that I’ll see results and my pain level will once again decrease. I’m going to miss my raisin bran.

If, in a few months, I start to complain about wanting to load up on breads and grains again, would y’all just poke me, please?

Thank GOODNESS I can still eat popcorn……………

**Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. Don’t shoot me or try to sue me if some of this information isn’t spot on or is debunked in 50 years. I’m just a regular ‘ole person scouring the internet and researching what I can. If you have experience with any of this, PLEASE leave me a comment!

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There’s pride and then there’s PRIDE. Generally speaking, I think a little pride can go a long way. There’s nothing wrong with feeling good about achievements and accomplishments.

Pride can easily turn into arrogance, and that’s what I have a problem with. By the time someone is rubbing their “accomplishments” in other people’s faces and gloating for the point of making the other person look small, that’s when I’ve just about had enough.

And while I generally try to remove myself from the situation, there’s often a part of me thinking, “Put a sock in it already.” Not nice, I know.  It’s at that point that I try to redirect my thoughts with conscious understanding that the root of the behavior is insecurity.

There are times, however, when I think unabashed pride is well-earned. Like when laying eggs, for example.  :mrgreen:  (sheesh, people, you didn’t really think I’d be thinking about humans, now, would you?? :lol:)

In my thorough research of chickens, I learned early on about the “Egg Song.” I read about those whose chickens did it; I read about other people who had laying hens and had never heard the Egg Song, much to their deep disappointment and chagrin.

Fortunately, we can count ourselves firmly in the camp of those with Egg-Song-singing-proud-as-punch chickens. After several months of hearing it daily, I have to honestly say it still make me laugh out-loud. A lot. It also makes me cross my fingers and hope nobody complains.  😆

The Egg Song singing is not as bad loud as a rooster crowing, for example. We absolutely had to get rid of Jasmine. We still miss him. We still hope they didn’t send him to freezer camp, but we are too afraid to ask.

The Egg Song singing is not as obnoxious grating as the dogs yapping around in the neighborhood, including the one next door that regularly wakes me up on the weekends.

In the beginning, it was the Egg Song, actually, that alerted me to the fact that Cocoa was probably trying to lay. Except it was more or a screech like, “Whhhhhhhaaaaaattttt the heeeeeeeccccccckkkkkk is haaaaaaaaaaaappening to meeeeeeeeeeeeeee?????????” 

She was so loud that we brought her inside, because she’d been at it for a while. I was pretty sure she wasn’t dying, but thought intense observation would be prudent. Once she let loose of her egg, she was really quiet- shell-shocked, literally.

We saw that many of them would sing their song before going in to lay. Roxie, for example, is one that will go in to lay, come out and sing, and then go back in and lay. I’m watching right now to see if she comes out to sing. (nope, she didn’t- this was more of a “Hey look, everybody! I’m gonna go do something great! If you miss out on the end result, you can’t say I didn’t warn you!”)

It’s not a given that all chickens will sing. You are tragically missing out if they don’t, though. I’ve got a few who are sneaky layers- they sneak into the nesting boxes, drop the egg, and then sneak back out. They are like kids who don’t want to get caught doing something.  😆

I haven’t recorded any of my peeps doing the Egg Song, but I did find some others, for your listening and viewing pleasure.  The second offering is an egg laying epic feature, but well worth the length. 😆

This first one had little dog barking in wonderment and clamoring to get on my lap to see the offending chicken in the house.  😆

This second one is just- well- epic. Well written. Gifted directing. Incredible star power. Moving and inspiring soundtrack. Need I say more? Enjoy!

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This is book 1 of the Angelaeon Circle series. Scroll down to the video clips for the teasers.

Melaia, young priestess, witnesses the murder of man outside the walls of her temple. He came to deliver a message, but before getting the chance to tell her, he is viciously attacked by a hawk. While Melaia managed to get a blow to the hawk’s head and send it off, the damage is done to the man, whose blood flows freely from his wounds.

Melaia and the young priestesses who live in the temple are healers. As they take the man inside to clean his wounds and try to heal him, they are stunned by his secret.

This is no ordinary man. This is an angel.

Thus, the tangled tale begins, as Melaia struggles to learn what is real; what is legend- and what is her role in restoring the Wisdom Tree. “Within this tree stood the stairway to heave made wholly of light.” 

Will the feud between the two immortal brothers destroy the stairway forever? Will she fulfill her destiny and restore the stairway, or will she fail, dooming the tethered angels to earth for another 200 years?

I usually appreciate the cast of characters at the beginning of a book. In this case, it made me wonder what I had gotten myself into. 🙂  I do think that while the legend the story is based on was given early on, the book could have benefited from a prologue at the very least. I felt like I was stepping midway into “something;” there easily could have been a series prequel to this book.

This was a slow start for me, probably since fantasy is not my most favorite genre. This was multifaceted and layered with angels (including the Nephi- 1/2 man, 1/2 angel; yes, I believe this to be a reference to the Nephilim- and no, for the purpose of this review, we are not going to delve into the books of Enoch or Jasher even though I am moderately compelled to go and read the book of Enoch with an eye to the spheres of the Angelaeon…..) and other beings like dwarfs, shapeshifters, and draks, which are hawks with feet that are the hands of the person the drak was formerly. Interesting, to say the least.

I was glad to have the character reference at the beginning of the book in addition to the map. I was happy I was reading a hard copy and not an e-copy because of this. It took me a while to get on board and sort through it all. Overall, it’s a really interesting premise and intriguing enough that I’ll be watching and waiting for the second book due out the spring of 2012.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. If you enjoy the fantasy genre, this book is definitely for you. This is also considered young adult, and I wouldn’t have a problem with my older kids reading it.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

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You’ve probably figured out by now that I find human behavior pretty fascinating.  I’m a little late to the party on this one, since it happened in 2007, but it just came across my FB desk this morning.

(You might also know that I am an absolute classical music junkie {my background is in music (piano, band, choir, music theatre, vocal performance, etc) and my parents thought I should be a music teacher} and that my perfect job would be to get paid copious amounts of money to listen to classical music of all periods. I cannot do anything else when I listen, because I become too absorbed in the actual music; in the themes and the intricacy of the writing; listening and isolating particular instruments and imagining what the score for that instrument looks like- I can see the music in my head…… but I digress…… 😆 )

“In Washington DC , at a Metro Station, on a cold January morning in 2007, a man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, approximately 2000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. 

After about four minutes, a middle-aged man noticed that there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, and then he hurried on to meet his schedule.  About four minutes later, the violinist received his first dollar. A woman threw money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk. 

At six minutes, a young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again. 

At ten minutes, a three-year old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head the whole time. This action was repeated by several other children, but every parent – without exception – forced their children to move on quickly. 

At forty-five minutes: The musician played continuously. Only six people stopped and listened for a short while. About twenty gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32. 

After one hour: He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed and no one applauded. There was no recognition at all. 

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars.

Two days before, Joshua Bell sold-out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100 each to sit and listen to him play the same music. 

This is a true story. Joshua Bell, playing incognito in the D.C. Metro Station, was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people’s priorities. 

This experiment raised several questions:  In a common-place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?  If so, do we stop to appreciate it?  Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context? 

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made… How many other things are we missing as we rush through life?” 

What would you do? Leave me a comment and let me know!

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Y’all know what I’m talking about? Yes? (No, not the movie :lol:)

So that we’re all on the same page, let me offer this definition: the point at which a relationship falls apart, most often ending up with a split.

It used to be the “cause” of this referred to a man having an extra-marital affair. Anymore, I think this can be applied to people in long-term relationships, whether married or not; and I don’t think we can say infidelity is one-sided. These days, I don’t think we can even say that infidelity is “the cause.”

This is not in our heads. It is real. Statistics will back this up. Here’s an article from Psychology Today that you might find interesting.

I also don’t think this just applies to people who are legally married. I think this is one where we can paint with a pretty broad brush and say “relationships” in general.

I’ll even go one step further: I think this can happen in increments of on or around 7 years.

Here are some examples:

Seal and Heidi Klum

Jennifer Lopez and Mark Anthony

Madonna and Guy Ritchie

Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston

Reece Witherspoon and Ryan Philippe

Interestingly, some articles are now claiming that the “7 year itch” phenomenon is now becoming the “3 year itch” instead. It makes me wonder what they call the short-lived marriages of people like Kim Kardashian, Britney Spears and Russell Brand and Katy Perry. Hmm.

I honestly don’t spend a lot of time thinking about celebrities in general, but I DO spend a fair amount of time thinking about and observing relationships in general. Celebs just give us easily access. 😀

The older we have gotten, the more marriages we’ve seen disintegrate. Many times, infidelity has been the cause. Some of the time, there has been significant struggle for a good many years before the end came. Some of the time, one spouse left the other completely unexpectedly (usually for someone else).

Besides relationships, are there other events or circumstances to which this rule applies? Do you think this is a real phenomenon or an excuse to end a relationship? Is there prevention for it?

Give me your two cents and leave me a comment!

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This is a young adult collection containing the titles Only You, In Your Dreams, and Don’t You Wish

Only You begins with 16-year-old Sierra on a mission trip to Europe. While Sierra is thrilled to have made new best friends, she worries what will happen to those friendships when she returns home. And, she wonders if she’ll ever get a boyfriend, after seeing both of her new best friends with theirs.

Sierra isn’t totally thrilled to be going home, either. A move to a totally new town awaits her. Her parents decided to move in with her aging Granna Mae since she was becoming confused and now needed help. Sierra meets Paul on the trip home, and asks him some pretty deep, thought-provoking questions.

Sierra arrives at her new home and starts at her new, private Christian school all within a week. Will she adjust to the larger school? Will she ever see the older Paul again?

I wish there would have been a prequel to this title. I haven’t read the Christy Miller series for teens, where Sierra was introduced, but it would have been nice to have a stand-alone book to really introduce Sierra, and then have it included in this series.

I haven’t read young adult books in a while, but am always looking for titles for my kids, so I thought it was worth a shot. Some of the situations and attitudes just didn’t resonate with me. I get that the book is about Sierra changing her attitude and making an effort to adapt. I feel like, though, that it’s kind of one-sided in that what Sierra changes about her behavior isn’t modeled by the other kids at school. For me, it’s easier to see a “wrong doing” or attitude adjusted when there is the opportunity for comparison.

I’m giving this title 3 out of 5 stars because it didn’t seem realistic enough to me. I will have my oldest daughter read this once I get the hard copy and see what she thinks. It’s entirely possible that my spin comes from being an adult.  🙂

The format of this book was electronic, for my Kindle. I was not able to get the entire series; what I got only had the first title, which is why this is a partial review. I spent considerable time with Blogging For Books, Edelweiss and Amazon to sort out the issue. Amazon didn’t feel it was an issue with my device, but wasn’t able to compare files to validate that I wasn’t missing content from the original file.

Don’t let that keep you from ordering from Amazon, though, because the file size of the one it has is different from the one I received from the publisher.

In the end, I’m doing a partial review and B4B is going to send me a hard copy of this collection. Once I’ve gotten that and have read the other two books in the collection, I’ll update my review here.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

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Yesterday, I crashed; went back to bed in the morning and stayed there until I dragged myself out to shut my computer down at 9 pmish. There’s not a part of me that doesn’t still hurt right now. Totally par for the course, although I think this is something contagious, since hunny is feeling rotten, too.

In the midst of this, he came home with some news. I’m still bothered, even though we knew it was a possibility, and even though it’s had a little bit of time to sink in.

A friend of our has been more or less diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS); aka known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. I say more or less because the dx is 97% sure (I think they’re sll waiting on additional test results).

I was first acquainted with ALS over 20 years ago, as an inservice for work. At the time, I was doing contract and home health, and those in the medical field know, you have to do a certain amount of inservices to keep your license.

It was then that I realized the sheer horror of this disease. I know a lot of people think Alzheimer’s is the worst- but it’s not. This is, to summarize, the opposite of Alzheimer’s. Why?

With Alzheimer’s, your mind goes, but your body stays. Yes, eventually the body deteriorates and mobility skills are lost, but the person isn’t aware of it at the time. Family members are sad, knowing they aren’t recognized anymore; sad to know the ability to speak has been lost. But still, the person is locked inside their own mind, while the brain loses mass, and isn’t aware of what’s really going on around them.

Not so with ALS. While in some, dementia does happen, it’s not a given. Nope. With ALS, the body fails, while the mind is kept intact. The person is completely mentally aware of what’s going on- that they can’t eat by themselves; that they can’t walk; that they can’t talk. This, to me, is like a living hell.

ALS is 100% fatal. There is a single drug available for treatment, although there are others in clinical trials.

As the body fails, those affected often end up with tracheostomies, so they can be hooked up to breathe. The breathing muscles have stopped working. People often get feeding tubes, because they’ve lost the ability to chew and swallow.

One of the early symptoms is muscle wasting. Our friend is a burly former Navy sailor in his late 40s. His daughter is young; maybe 8 (I forget). He and his wife just finished building a house a few months ago. He’s finally gotten his life to where he wants it.

The average life expectancy after diagnosis is 3 to 5 years. That being said, there are some, like Stephen Hawking who have lived significantly longer with the disease. Our friend’s aunt lived around 10 years before succumbing to ALS (which would indicate he has the familiar form of ALS).

It is scary to see the rapid rate of muscle loss; so much so that even a week after his last testing, he had lost another something like 8% (or was it 3% – at any rate, enough for them to haul him back in for significant additional testing).

Even though I feel junky and have my own stuff to deal with, I’m bothered. I’m bothered because I know too much about this disease. I’m bothered because they (he and his wife) know too much about this disease, and know what’s coming.

I’m bothered because he’s not much older than we are, his wife is younger; his daughter is around the same age as my two younger girls and we (my husband and I) can identify with them. I’m bothered because it’s another reminder that while we’re all going to die, we have no guarantees.

It’s easy to sit back and think we have all the time in the world; all the time in the world to get our finances in order; all the time in the world to do the things we want to do; all the time in the world to get right with God.

And you know what? We don’t. We could be taken in a split second; unexpectedly. It’s easy to be in a place where we think about getting hit by a bus or being in an accident and feeling it’s unlikely, so let’s not worry about it.

When I got sick, that thinking went out of the window for me.

I’m bothered, wondering about these things for him. It’s tragic. It’s heartbreaking. There’s no way to console someone when this is staring them in the face.

I’m bothered, because I know to a degree how he must be feeling; especially to the point of diagnosis. And now to have the answer which is *this* and to on the one hand have some sense of relief; on the other hand to have all the feelings that go along with a fatal diagnosis (which I don’t have).

I’m also bothered, because to some degree, I’ve experienced the wrong diagnosis, and I know how that gives hope when you get another diagnosis. He, too, was told he had Lupus. Now he’s being told it’s ALS…..

I can’t do anything about being bothered. I can, however, pose the question “Are you ready?” and hope folks get there.

And, if nothing else, I can suggest people learn more about ALS. Here are some links with really good information:

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/amyotrophic-lateral-sclerosis/DS00359

and http://www.alsa.org/about-als/

ALS. The worst disease ever, in my book. 😦

 

 

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