Community Acupuncture

Acupuncture is my hands-down favorite form of health care.   With diminishing budget and cost increases at the clinic I’ve gone to for nearly 8 years, I had not been able to go in for a treatment for quite some time.

Then I found Springs Community Acupuncture.   Two visits with Becca under my belt and I’m again amazed at how much regular ‘tune-ups’ enrich my life.   And I’m excited to know I can get those tune-ups without breaking the budget.

Springs Community Acupuncture is part of the POCA co-op (People’s Organization of Community Acupuncture).   Founded on the principal that acupuncture should be affordable and accessible to all, this co-op of clinics use innovation and sustainable business models to serve their local communities.

With on-line scheduling tools, walk-in options and a sliding scale of $15-$35 per treatment, I’m doing my best to spread the word about their clinic.   Fast, Friendly, Caring and Economical, I just can’t find enough wonderful adjectives to describe it all – –

If you live in the Eastern Colorado area, I highly recommend this acupuncture clinic.   If you do your best to follow Shop Local guidelines of 100 miles or less,  then you’re within range  if you live in any of the following areas:

Black Forest, Calhan, Cripple Creek, Divide, El Paso County, Elbert County, Elizabeth, Ellicott, Falcon, Florissant, Hugo, Limon, Lincoln County, Matheson, Monument, Peyton, Ramah, Rush, Simla and Teller County, Woodland Park.

Confessions of a Smoker, Part Deux

Last fall, a bout of flu turned pneumonia, followed by a nice case of pleurisy (mistakenly diagnosed as a ‘rib out of place’ and ‘strained sternum area’ by the grand gods in white, aka MD’s) resulted in chest, rib and back pain of various intensity levels everyday for the following year.

Needless to say, I dinked around for quite awhile, thinking perhaps all the coughing had injured my torso muscles and ligaments, and not-so-patiently waited for the injured areas to heal.   I can report there is simply nothing you do that does not require using the muscles in your chest, rib and/or mid-back area.   Honest!   Even sleeping in one position for too long caused the ‘pain’ to pool to one area, which meant not only was I in pain, but also sleep deprived.

(Me sleep deprived is akin to Bandits on Tequila – -I tend to want to raid the village, steal the women and rape the horses)

So in November 2010 – a full year after the worst of the pneumonia was over, 3 x-rays and 4 blood tests later – I go back to my acupuncturist and inform her I’ve waited long enough, nothing I’ve done is ending the pain, medical science says nothing is wrong and can she please fix me? (Please don’t ask why I didn’t go earlier – it’s a long and complicated story…mainly centering around my tendency to be stubborn.)

Ten treatments later, I was doing much better; however, it became very obvious that my chest pain intensity was directly linked to my smoking.    Something had to go and I realized the cigs were it.

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I’ve smoked for over 25 years.   During that time, I successfully ‘quit’ twice – once for 6 months and once for 3 months.    Once with gum and once with the patch.    The stresses of divorce, illness & surgeries derailed those attempts.

Subsequent attempts to quit resulted in horrific nightmares (patch induced), as well as SBS – (Screaming Bitch Syndrome) and NSCS (Non-Stop Cussing Syndrome).   Life was sheer hell and let’s face it, you can only say “I’m sorry” to your spouse and kids so many times before they are begging you to “please start smoking again.”

I will say that while divorce from hubby #1 resulted in a return to smoking, Hubby #2 did not divorce me when I was trying to quit.   See?  Miracles do still happen.

Given the miserable results of the last four attempts, I again researched the various options for quitting.

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Before listing the quit smoking choices,  I wish to pen a line to the various authors of such articles as “The Top 5 Quit Smoking Tips” and “10 Ways to Beat the Quitting Smoking Blues”:

After reading your list of helpful hints for quitting smoking, I will say you obviously aren’t a smoker, never have been a smoker and apparently decided to write about how to quit anyways.   Exercise, eating nuts and raisins as snacks and drinking lots of water are all fine ideas, but They Don’t Do Shit for someone who uses nicotine and alone time in the garage to tranquilize and distract themselves from the stress of their life.    Please write your next article on something you actually know about.

Okay, I feel better – now on to the real options available:

  • Nicotine Gum – makes my mouth sore and as expensive as smoking
  • Nicotine Patches – induce horrific nightmares and as expensive as smoking
  • Cold Turkey – induces SBS, NSCS and thoughts of suicide – not an option
  • Pharmaceutical Prescription Help – May cause aggression, depression, thoughts of suicide – also not an option
  • E-Cigarette – Immediately cut out the harmful effects of inhaling burning tobacco, slowly step down nicotine levels while weaning yourself away from other portions of the habit. Cheaper than cigarettes after initial investment in batteries, chargers, etc.

I’m sure you know which one I picked.

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Before I share how the first month went, some facts to keep in mind:

  • I switched to organically grown, additive-free tobacco cigarettes flavored with mint instead of menthol approximately 5 years ago.
  • I will smoke even when very ill (I smoked while passing kidney stones, 2 hours after major surgery while sitting in a wheelchair in the parking garage and even discovered how to shallowly inhale so I could smoke while in the throes of pneumonia – face it, I’m a Dedicated Smoker)
  • I do not smoke in my house.  And will only smoke in the car with the windows down – even if it is 30 below with white-out conditions
  • If I feel good and can keep to my ‘want-to-do’ schedule, I smoke between 10 and 15 cigarettes a day – If I don’t feel well enough to be up doing things, I can quickly move to a pack or more a day.
  • My usual expenditure on cigarettes per month ranges between $120 and $160 per month (face it, if it says “organic” or “additive free” you’re immediately going to pay more.) If I’m going to quit smoking, I wish to also have the financial benefits of doing so.  And sooner than 3-6 months from now.
  • Most nutritionists advise menthol is more addictive than nicotine – My experience supports this, as I can chain smoke five regular cigarettes and still be dying for a mint/menthol one.

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*Please note I’m sharing with you not only the mistakes I made, but also links to information and the companies I have ordered from – if you decide this may be for you, please visit E-Cigarette Forum and read, bunches, before ordering.  Trust me, you’ll get great information as well as the bonus of coupon codes for various suppliers if you do decide to order!

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12/26/10 – Google search “e-cig”: Look at first 10 links.   Decide to order starter kit from Primevapor, because they use USA sourced and made vegetable glycerin (VG) for carrier agent rather than propylene glycol (PG).

(I choose to use VG based liquids as they adhere to my ideals regarding nutrition, sustainability, etc.   If I chose to, I could make vegetable glycerin in my own kitchen with locally available materials.  This may or may not be important to you.)

12/30/10 – Place Order with Primevapor for 1 starter kit with 2 batteries, USB charger, wall charger and five menthol, 36 mg nicotine cartridges for $49.95.  Also order an additional six 5-cartridge packs in two other menthol/mint flavors and lower nicotine levels in hopes to have full first month supply.  (Because people vape differently, it’s hard to compare cartridges to packs of cigarettes – I used their estimate of one cartridge being equivalent to 2/3 a pack of cigs.)  Order total, $109.65.   I also vow not to exceed $140 budget for the month of January.

01/03/10, 11:10 a.m. – Receive order.   Would have received on Saturday, but for the holiday.   I’m all set to start vaping.  Batteries charged and I am vaping 2 minutes after opening my mail.  Taste is different, but so far, so good.

1:05 p.m. – Hubby says the exhale vapor reminds him of the smell of a cappuccino.  I smile and continue puffing in my warm, cozy living room.

1:12 p.m. – Have the urge to sit in the garage.   Don’t ask me why.   I associate smoking with the garage.  And having a ‘break’ –  Becoming very aware of all the different aspects of my smoking habit.

2:15 p.m. – Catch myself thinking, “Well, guess I’ll go to the garage and smoke before I start this project.”  Again aware of how much of my daily routines center around accommodating my smoking habit.

3:15 p.m. – Feeling a bit restless and scattered.   Not irritable and so far, no SBS or NSCS episodes – realize I’m having withdrawal symptoms related to sitting in the quiet, testosterone free garage.

Finish out the day with no real cigarette smoking (referred to as analogs by the vaping crowd)  I notice my chest and back pains are not at their usual evening levels.  Great!

01/04/10, 7:30 a.m. – awake to morning breath; however, my mouth does not feel as foul as usual.  Chest and back feel pretty good.  Have my e-cig with morning coffee.  Funny, coffee doesn’t taste as good as it used too.

10:15 – Gave in to the urge and sat in the garage while smoking my e-cig.   Funny – doesn’t have the same feel to it.  Plus, it’s damn cold in here.   Think I’m okay giving up my “office” in the garage.

1:35 – This is so infinitely cool!   I just did some database coding and wrote 3 articles – and didn’t have to leave my desk when the nicotine urge it!   I’m back to being productive once again!  Less than a day and the habit of garage sitting is broken.

3:15 p.m. – Feeling slightly nauseated.  Realized I’ve gone through 2 1/2 cartridges today – Since I can vape, anytime, anywhere, I start setting my phone timer to remind me, “I’m done” instead of continuously vaping while reading, doing computer work or watching TV.  That should take care of over-consumption of nicotine.

End of Day Two and I’m convinced that with tweaking, this way of kicking both the smoking and nicotine habit is a good one.

Days 3 – 16

Chest and back pain gone except when I really over-do. (lifting 5 gallon water jugs still causes some twinges.)

Sleeping much better and deeper.  Not sure if because of lowered pain levels or less carcinogens in my system, but deeply grateful.

Acupuncturist informs me my tongue looks much better (examining tongue for texture, color and coating is part of the diagnostic tools of Chinese Medicine)  I smile and say my mouth tastes better too!  Down to 1 treatment every 2 – 3 weeks, instead of once a week.   More money saved.

Hubby raves about how pleasant it is to ride in the car without either the smell of smoke or freezing from the open window.  Cleaned the car and threw away my cup-holder sized ashtray.

Due to increased health and no ‘garage breaks’ I’m getting more done in a day than I’ve been able to for a long time.

On the downside, my teeth and jaw hurt, because I’ve been ‘hands free vaping’ – face it, the battery and cartomizer are heavier than a analog – I quit doing that and teeth/jaw feel better within a day.  I also have been going through the cartridges faster than I thought I would.  Need to better monitor how long and often I’m vaping.

Day 17

9:15 a.m. – WTF!?!   I thought I had another full pack of cartridges!  I can’t be out!

What to do, what to do.    Hmmm…. I really liked the mint, low nicotine cartridges.   I have a bottle of essential peppermint oil in the cupboard.

11:20 a.m. – I purchase food grade vegetable glycerin and mixed with small amount of water and peppermint oil.    Reload empty cartridges after looking online at how to do.   WOW!  What a mint hit!  Fabulous.   I don’t need no stinking nicotine!  Amazing – I hit nicotine free much faster than I thought I would.

3:15 p.m. – Sort of edgy.  Maybe I wasn’t quite ready to go nicotine free.  But not too bad – maybe I can wait it out.  Probably hitting me worse, because the first few days I was actually getting more nicotine than with cigs.  Think I’ll wait it out.  Besides, no one locally sells the e-liquid for refilling my cartridges.

7:15 p.m. – Really Edgy.   Hubby and son are purposefully doing things to irritate me, even when I’ve informed them that I’m feeling the effects of nicotine withdrawal.  I live with sadists.   I’m going to bed.  Surely it will be better tomorrow.

Day 18

5:30 a.m. – Puff, Puff, Puff – Yup, lots of mint flavor, still no stinkin’ nicotine.    Google search says the worst should be over in 24 – 36 hours.   So I’ll wait it out. “Menthol is more addictive than nicotine” my arse…

7:30 a.m. – Thank gawd my family is at work and school.   If they were here, I’d have to hit them.

9:30 a.m. – Why is it we never got a cat to kick?

9:33 a.m. – Why did I ever think I wanted to make bread from scratch?   What the HELL is wrong with this stupid oven!   It’s broken….Just F***in Great!  Oh, wait, I forgot to hit ‘Start’….okay, it’s working.  But Still, It Could Have Been Broken…..

9:47 a.m. – As soon as I’m done in the kitchen, I think I’ll go to bed and sleep through the rest of the withdrawal phase.

10:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. – Can’t sleep, all documentaries and cartoons are stupid, tried 4 books and one lecture series – the authors/teachers are all a bunch of idiots!  Just why did I think embroidering and quilting was so great?  Great way to injure your fingers….

(I could go on for about 17 more paragraphs, but I’m sure you get the idea – I managed to try to ride it out through day 19 – in the end for my own sanity and the safety of my family, I went and bought 1 pack of my organic, mint cigs.   Which tasted like crap.   Three puffs at a time provided enough nicotine to keep me from being edgy.

I repeat, cigarettes taste terrible and my garage is cold and depressing.)

Days 20 – 35

Finally found a store 30 miles away that had a limited selection of e-juice (PG based, not VG and about 5 times the cost of online choices) – the only menthol one they had was low nicotine levels.   I purchased the one 3ml bottle they had available with menthol and a bottle of camel flavored PG juice (also low nicotine) for $12, mixed them together and added a drop of peppermint oil laced VG to stretch it further.    Chest hurting somewhat and after researching different options available for e-liquid, refill options, etc., I learned peppermint oil isn’t water soluble, so basically, I’ve been coating my lungs with oil,  there is such a thing as ‘oil pneumonia’ and ain’t it interesting the things I do to myself when experimenting without proper research…

I limp through the rest of the month with my mix of e-liquid and the occasional analog, determined not to steal from other portions of my financial budget to enhance my ‘nicotine habit’ budget.  In the end, I spent $137.97 on e-cig supplies and regular cigs (5 packs, compared to the previously consumed 30 – 40 packs per month) before my full months supply order of e-juice arrived on February 3.

I’ll also note that mid-month, one of my batteries quit working two puffs after being on the charger all night.   Checked the FAQ’s and sent an email to Prime Vapor, asking what else I should try, or if I should just chuck it and order a new one.   (batteries should last between 2 and 3 months, before needing replacing).  They reply once in awhile there are defective batteries and promptly mailed me out a new one, free of charge.   Very impressed with their customer service!

So far, I’ve spent $38.75 on nicotine habit expenditures for this month of February.   (30 ml of menthol e-juice with nicotine and 5 blank cartridges purposely made for refilling.) If my calculations are correct, this will be the total I spend this month.  If they aren’t, I’ll be sure to post an update.

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During my first month, there were many aspects of my smoking/nicotine habit that I became aware of and some which really surprised me.  Here’s the highlights:

  • I vaped in public places and only once did someone call me on it – when I showed  him I was not ‘smoking’ he immediately apologized and then spent the next 15 minutes asking me questions, as he was a smoker and thinking about switching to the e-cig too.  No other “You Can’t Smoke In Here” incidents happened.   Which surprised me – are folks ‘entrained’ to identify smokers from the smell rather than seeing a cloud of vapor?
  • I realized the years of being a social pariah has taken its toll on me.  It took nearly two weeks of vaping in front of  my family, friends and in public places before I lost the feelings of unease and fear of conflict.   Years of both well-intentioned as well as cruel, unsolicited advice and opinions regarding the smoking habit had put me on the defensive much more than I ever realized.

While I’ve been fully aware the “No Smoking Campaigners” chose to pursue their objectives via a moral war, rather than legislation, I was not fully aware of how emotionally affected I had been by the social stigma  of my habit.

  • While being a smoker is not socially acceptable – it does appear that being a nicotine addict is all right, as long as you don’t get your nicotine from cigarettes.  There are so many “good for you” comments regarding me not smoking, that I wonder how the No-Smoking Fanatics managed to miss educating their followers about nicotine addiction.    Those close to me know my ultimate goal of being nicotine free and have been very supportive.

Casual acquaintances  and complete strangers seem completely oblivious to anything other than the fact that I’m not polluting their air with second hand smoke.   I still am amazed at how total strangers will walk up and comment on my habit (either smoking or vaping) and offer their judgments on the former and congratulations on the latter.   I do not approach the morbidly obese and chastise, nor the healthy looking and congratulate; The socially-acceptable behaviors surrounding the smoking issue still confuses me…

  • I found out there are those who choose to vape using zero nicotine, flavored juices – the varieties available will boggle your mind!   Cherry cola, fudge brownie, cinnamon roll, bubblegum… the list is durn near endless.  For me, once I’ve eased myself off nicotine, I doubt I’ll vape at all.   My first month’s experience has proven to me I’ve broken most of the other habits associated with smoking (sitting in the garage, puffing on something, the sensation of inhaling,  taking a break from work, relaxing, etc.)  – I smoke and vape for the nicotine at this point.
  • Me on no nicotine results in a mentally scattered and disorganized feeling at best, uncontrolled irritation and anger at worst – also a feeling that everything is going wrong.  I hope that with a gradual lessening of nicotine levels, I will be able to both physiologically and emotionally adjust to these withdrawal side effects with less trauma and angst.  I’ll report when I have better data…

As for what I wished I had known before that I know now:

  • 1 ml of e-liquid is equivalent to 1 pack of cigarettes – depending on the company, you can order e-liquid in a variety of nicotine levels, usually with 36 mg at the high end and 6 mg at the low end.
  • If you vape in places/situations you can’t or won’t smoke, unless you’re diligent, you will vape more (and hence, increase your nicotine intake levels) than you smoked.   Be mindful of how much you are vaping so you don’t unintentionally increase your nicotine consumption, rather than decreasing it.
  • Purchasing a starter kit is great to get started with the ‘supplies’ you need for vaping; however, in the long run, utilizing blank cartridges and refilling your own, as well as purchasing your e-liquid in 30 ml or larger sizes is the cost effective way to vape.
  • There are stores in the Colorado Springs/Woodland Park area that carry e-cig supplies – the costs are equivalent to or more expensive than purchasing regular cigarettes.  If you view vaping as a ‘cost-effective’ alternative, best order your supplies online.

As for the companies I’ve ordered with, I can report I’m very pleased with all three – order processing time, shipping time and customer service and response times all have restored my confidence that good customer service does still exist.   Here’s the links to those I’ve done business with:

Primevapor

Nhaler

InnoVapor

While each of these have great FAQ and informational pages, I again urge you to also utilize the E-Cigarette Forum if you wish to learn more about vaping.   After my initial (and very shallowly done) research and order, I found loads of information at this site that I wished I knew before I started this adventure.

While the jury still seems to be out on whether vaping is a quit smoking solution, I can say that though I’m not nicotine free, I’m very happy to be smoke-free.   The benefits I’ve experienced from vaping are wonderful and even if I never make it all the way to zero-nicotine, I’d still be happy with both the cost and quality of life improvements I’ve experienced from switching.

 

Food and Chemicals

Lynne McTaggart’s blog this morning, citing the work of Dr. Grace E. Jackson, highlights the increasing volume of evidence linking some pharmaceutical medications to dementia.

The list of medicines cited as the biggest offenders against our brain matter:

  • Cholesterol lowering or blocking
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Anti-depressants
  • Sleeping pills
  • Certain Medications for ADHD

All have been shown to have debilitating effects on our grey matter, often resulting in some form of dementia.

Now I know why the recent elections in my area went the way they did.

Silly me, I thought people were just too lazy to research – turns out, they are probably suffering from some stage of dementia.

I feel bad about my previous harsh thoughts towards my fellow citizen voters.

Sick people deserve compassion.

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I’m also concerned about Dr. Jackson’s career.   History tells me she’s on a path that ends in being ostracized from the Lodge of Modern Medicine.  I’m awaiting her being added to the Quackwatch list.

(No, you don’t get a link for quackwatch.   This guy doesn’t do his homework.  I only know about him because he came out with egg on his face when the Weston A. Price foundation refuted his findings on a point-by-point basis.   Those folks know how to research and footnote, therefore are link-worthy. )

Maybe I should send her Mr. 11 Dimensions’ address – they can hang out in seclusion together.   Although I think he may be currently enjoying genius status….his status in the world of Physicists has changed frequently – so not sure if he’s in seclusion or not.

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I’ve always held that modern medicine has gotten very good at keeping the body alive while what’s wrong is figured out.   Broken bones, gun shot wounds, blocked airways…hey!  Modern is where it’s at.

I’m still convinced that daily health and quality of life comes from ingesting properly prepared, nutritious food and seeking assistance from a holistic provider when you’ve gotten yourself ‘jacked up’ (Politely referred to as ‘out of balance’ by the holistic circle.)

And taking supplements if you’re not getting nutritious food.

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When I first entered the Traditional Diet world, I ran my mouth to friends, family and neighbors nearly 24 hours a day.   The changes I observed in my own body were so significant I could hardly wait to share.   So many things became clear on why I had suffered from various health problems for so long.

I turned my back on USDA and FDA guidelines.   My new guidelines were: “Was this available to my ancestors who lived 40,000 years ago?  In this form?  If not, how much would they have to eat in order to get that amount?”

(Did you know that to get a cup of corn oil into your system, you would need to ingest 1/2 bushel of corn or more, at one sitting?)

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I’m a big fan of ‘experiential data’ – I’ve seen what happens to data when the graph doesn’t look just like someone wants it to…especially if that graph is directly tied to that someone’s paycheck.

I’m also a big fan of ‘natural selection’ – even though completely adhering to that would mean I would be dead by now…and wouldn’t have lived long enough to procreate….

My brain full of history tells me that if physical bodies evolve slowly to survive in new conditions, our bodies haven’t had enough time to catch up with all the wondrous food products that come to us via the Industrial Revolution.

I can trust my brain – I’m not on pharmaceuticals.

I can go crazy all by myself, thank you very much…

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I have my own set of data on whether to believe Modern medicine or Age-Old practices.   I’m not afraid to experiment on myself.   And I’m not afraid to say, “oops!  that didn’t go well, let’s try something else”.

I think my ‘all or nothing’ personality combined with a healthy skepticism of anyone who makes grand promises with a similarly attached price tag, along with personal mishandling by both modern and holistic practitioners,  has placed me in a position to be rather open to views that go against the majority consensus.

I also refuse to knowingly purchase anything with Aspartame in it.   My son sorely misses chewing gum.    We haven’t been able to find one that doesn’t contain aspartame.

If you do a search of Aspartame, you’ll find plenty of people crying “Poison!” and about the same number shouting, “Shut up, quacks!  It’s fine!”

My deductive reasoning says, “If it’s ‘fine’ then why do your footnotes (if you have any) contain studies 20 years old and dissenters cite numerous studies conducted almost non-stop for the last 10?”

Until proponents indicate to me they are willing to back up their claims with current, 3rd party performed, non-grant funded research, then I’ll stick with avoiding it.

(Maybe they are suffering from dementia and can’t remember to put footnotes in….)

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I changed over to ‘good fats’ in 2006.   As of January, 2010, blood tests revealed my Cholesterol (good, bad and trigs) to be in normal ranges.   2 modern medicine doctors, a chiropractor and an acupuncturist all stated they couldn’t see any problems there. (although one of the modern medicine folks suggested I should start medicine, to keep the number good…arggghhh!)

I’m over 40, my exercise entails typing and doing housework, I’m a smoker with a kitchen devoid of ‘fats’ except for the following: homemade lard, real butter, coconut oil, olive oil, tea oil and a smidge of peanut oil.

I’ve stubbornly ingested in large quantities the very fats the FDA, USDA, AHA and AMA have all told me to avoid like the plague.

Hmmm….still here.    Good Cholesterol levels.   Brain functioning (okay, maybe not to your standards, but I do not leave my house only to be found 6 hours later, wandering around in the woods, unable to tell you what my name is or where I live…)

I don’t take my blood pressure.   I don’t have any scales in my house except for those to weigh food (Uniformity in homemade dinner rolls necessitates this piece of equipment….)

I look over each day and ask: “Did my health prevent me from doing something I wanted to?  Do I have clothes that fit?” (I hate to shop – I still have the nightgown I wore on my wedding night…and yes, it still fits….)

I check in with my body after I eat.   Is my tummy happy?   How’s the digestive process going?  Painful?  Loud?  Smelly?

I also analyze my sleep patterns and dreaming.   If those are unusual, then I know something has gone astray either in my brain or my body.

(day 2 of no coffee…. day 3 of no Tylenol pm…..tummy is happier, body still not sure how to sleep 8 hours straight, on its’ own…but I did get to 4 last night….)

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In short, I come back to the same thinking.   I’m not particularly afraid to die, nor am I trying to extend my life as long as I can.   I instead am trying to enjoy whatever time I do have.

Home cooked meals with Hubby and son, made from food purchased direct from farmer/rancher satisfy my nose, heart and tummy in a way McDonalds can’t.

Pain pills, anti-depressants, and hormone therapy side effects made me decide the original symptoms were the lessor of two evils.

Extra Vitamin C, various Chinese herbal blends and aromatherapy make me feel better when I’ve overindulged in thoughts or substances I should have left alone.

Day after day, I practice medicine on myself…

Some things are just better left out of the hands of ‘experts’.

The Dark before the Dawn II

Some time back, I wrote an article for That’s Natural regarding healing and what sometimes appears as a ‘one step forward, two steps back’ process. (Original Article Here, pg. 11)

Apparently, what I reported on is not just my unique viewpoint.   Health care providers asked permission to copy and give to their patients.  I realized my article could be utilized by the incompetent to convince patients to spend more time/money with their inadequate health care systems.   On the other hand, the requests to copy could mean that I had adequately conveyed and encouraged others in a topic that caregivers are all too aware of.  (Remember, I’m a good fence-walker…)

Basically, once you’ve gotten yourself ‘all jacked up’ (my favorite phrase that sent my first acupuncturist running for her American Idioms book), sometimes the road to healing isn’t a smooth, open four-laner.

More often, it resembles a narrow, mountain path – danger of falling boulders from above, sheer drop off to your right.   A thin rocky ledge, strewn with rocks to turn your ankle on and pebbles that work their annoying way into your shoe – persistently poking the most tender parts of your foot.  (yup, I’m not a hiker….)

My only advice is, “Hold on and move slowly.  Or better yet, sit down and rest and wait for the Search and Rescue guys to show up.  Just make sure you have plenty of water.”

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I’ve spent the past 5 months getting progressively more jacked up.  And not via a bottle with a black label.   Due to unforeseen circumstances, my acupuncturist of 5+ years is no longer so.

I tried other modalities.   I visited other providers.   Nothing gave me the relief of my previous care.  I observed the continuing decline and kept waiting for the healing sought to just show up, on my doorstep.   I asked didn’t I?

But I must not have communicated properly, because doorbell and “Avon calling…” was what I got.

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Starting with a new health care provider is sort of like dating again after being comfortably married for 20 years.    It’s scary.   I already informed Hubby that if we should be parted, I shall remain alone.   Dating in today’s world just seems like too much effort and energy.

(Sidenote*  My godmother, widowed for over 5 years, recently got remarried.   They are sooo cute and appreciative of each other.   All she did was go to church and sit at home waiting for the phone to ring.  Not that she was ‘waiting’ per se – she was just living her life.  But, the way the story sounds, didn’t even come close to the heart-wrenching horrible first date tales I see reported on Facebook.

Her activity worked well for him, because after he was widowed, he was shocked by the number of women in his age group who had taken the liberated stance of asking him out.   He was impressed with someone who waited for him to do his part.   And, I will add, I was Really impressed with how he did his part!   No grass grows under that man’s feet.   Once he makes up his mind to get a new queen, he makes a Princess’ life look drab!

Old-fashioned romance can still live, even in this liberated, modern world.)

I want my search and union with a new health care provider to work the same way.  I want to visualize what I need and then just wait for them to show up or call.

I’m a romantic at heart.

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After months of waiting and a few not-so-successful first dates, I mean appointments, I finally set up an appointment with someone locally.  Remember my “shop locally” transition?  I  had to lower my requirements for my new acupuncturist to be from China and a Dr. of Oriental Medicine in order to be in tune with shopping locally.

(I also have to make other hard choices when choosing organic vs. not-pure-organic, but grown locally by people I know, who eat the same stuff they’re selling me.   I’ve really gotten loads better at compromising.)

This new one has over 3000 hours training in various areas of Chinese Medicine – I figure they couldn’t have slept through ALL the classes – and they must really love the subject matter.

I’m a big fan of working with those who love what they do.   So off I cart my sorry self to another prince I hope isn’t a frog.

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Appointment went well.   I felt heard and, to my immense relief, my new provider does not think I’m crazy or a hypochondriac. (2 of my greatest fears – years of undiagnosed endometriosis schooled me well in the western medicine care model, “Here’s some pain pills, see a therapist.”   So now, being so well trained, I’m quick  to ask if those who supposedly know think I’m crazy…)

I left with improved emotional and mental well-being.   Checked in with my body.   Chest not so bad, back/ribs still sore, but not as much.   Went home, rested, drank plenty of water and gleefully reported I was NOT going to take Tylenol PM tonight.  (Yes, yes, I know – but Willow Bark just wasn’t cutting it and I had degraded to the point of not caring about liver damage….)

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And now I shall report the dark before the dawn – literally – sometime around 3:00 a.m.   Eyes open.   OUCH!   Why is my back and neck so sore?  What’s going on with my ribs?   I have a headache……

Finally stumbled from bed about 4:00.   Gave up on getting back to sleep and too late in the dark hours to take make-you-sleepy medicine.   Figure some coffee and cigarettes will distract me from my woes…

On the plus side, the Peak looked beautiful this morning…. I’ve gotten used to not being up at this time of day… Just think of all I’ve missed…

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Mentally, my committee was on running a full board meeting:

Ms. Hopeless: “See?  You’re never going to find another provider to work with.  Why do you keep trying?”

Ms. Sensible: “I told you to drink more water.  You have to flush out the released toxins.   And no, Pepsi is not considered water….”

Mr. Grumbles: “Would you all shut up?  My head hurts….”

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I went over my actions after my treatment.   Did I drink enough water?   I had been informed to take a heavily epsom salt laced bath when I got home (instructions in direct contradiction of my previous provider…who was right?)  Did I do enough deep breathing exercises?  Was my body protesting the lack of OTC assistance for sleep?  Maybe I should have done more resting and less reading when I got home….

I know just enough about holistic health to be dangerous to myself.

I also know just enough about mind/body medicine and Positive Thinking ideology to further injure myself with thoughts along the lines of, “Well, you could heal yourself if you wanted to..”

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Thankfully, I remembered to do a thorough check-in with my body before I called and left voice mail canceling my next appointment and sat around with Ms. Gloom and Mr. Doom center stage.

Here’s Its’ report:

“Wow!  Did we cut wood while I was asleep?   I’m feeling sort of stiff and sore this morning, albeit, in a good way.   And hey, what’s up with no Tylenol PM?  I’ve sort of gotten used to that, ya know.   But, que sera sera, I guess I can adjust if you can.  Might take me a few days, so quit nagging me, okay?   You’re the one who started this mess.   I do like what we did with the rib area.   Feels roomier and not so constricted here now we’ve flushed some of those toxins out.   Never really cared for them, they didn’t match the decor….”

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And as the bee-u-ti-ful sun turns the Peak from dusky pink to golden gleam, I stretch, take a deep breath and think, “Wow!  I’d forgotten how good it feels to breathe deeply.  Think I’ll go do some breathing exercises, now that it doesn’t cause sharp pain….

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The dark before the dawn is not the most pleasant time of day when you’re ill.   And narrow paths strewn with danger aren’t the most fun hiking trails.

But chin up.  Watching the sun come up or surveying the view you’ve hiked to makes it all worth it.