Monday, December 2, 2013

Wickedly natural

It seems the earthy-crunchy fairy snuck up on me when I had my back turned. She smacked me with with a good bit of fairy-force and her cruelty-free, fair-trade wand and flew away before I could blink. For some women, this wouldn't be a big upheaval, but hey... have you ever seen a picture of me? Yeah, I don't go so light on the makeup. I also don't wear Birks. And even though I've given up Aluminum-laden deodorant, I haven't given up deodorant all together. It's just a more natural alternative that I use now, which happens to work better for me. But, I'll never, ever, ever give up my makeup! Not unless I wake up looking 18 again, and even then I'm know I'm going to want some eye shadow, blush, and lip gloss. That Southern part of me will never change.

I think what started it all was the pottery. **Nodding head** That had to be it. A little over a year ago, I sat down at a pottery wheel and discovered life on the green side may not be so bad. Or maybe it was when I started getting interested in Feng Shui about fifteen years ago. Either way, now when someone comes into my home, they're just as likely to hear Tibetan Singing Bowls playing in the background, as they are Adele or Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. There would also be the smells of essential oils wafting through the house from the oil burner that I made myself... or the cute one I bought on Amazon.

If you're wondering why I'm even bothering to write about this, it's because I think it's worth knowing.

The first little change was when coconut oil came it into my life. I read that it was really good to use in place of lotion, that it was a medium-chain triglyceride, and can basically replace plasma... lol... OK, that last one was taken slightly out of context, but it is a wonder oil. So, I grabbed a little 14 ounce jar at my grocery, and the rest is history. Now I have it set up to arrive in two big 54 ounce tubs every month through Amazon. This stuff has so many uses that I'm not going to even begin to list them all, but if you're wondering what it can specifically do just Google "The uses of coconut oil." I promise you, you'll be surprised. One of my favorites, though, is my homemade Magic Shell... it puts the grocery store stuff to shame. No, I'm not humble. Did you ever think I was?

Once the coconut oil became established in my pantry and bathroom cabinet, it seemed to pull some sort of ethereal power from the universe which then pushed out the fluoride and parabens. I switched my toothpaste from Crest (with fluoride) to Nature's Gate... do y'all know just how bad fluoride is? I switched out my body wash, shampoo, and perfumes. I then replaced my paraben-ridden body lotion with a brand called "Hempz" that's got this great little pot leaf on the front and smells good enough to eat. *Disclaimer: there is no THC in the lotion. Sorry, folks.

Then I attacked the items I was using on my face, one by one. Out went the facial washes and creams that have more bad ingredients than good in them. No wonder I have adult acne! Once I was aware of the ingredients and the potentially harmful affects, it just made sense to remove the threats where I could. The marketing departments of all the popular cosmetics companies were really doing their job though, because I had no problem remaining ignorant for years. But... "From small beginnings come great things." Now I rely on Amazon for items that are more natural, with the added bonus of being much cheaper, AND surprisingly, they actually work better than the Philosophy, Clinique, Smashbox, Estee Lauder, and all the other expensive brands that were hanging out in my makeup tool box. Between these changes and using the Clarisonic Mia and Opal that my oh-so-sweet and generous sister sent me months ago, I am now actually seeing the wrinkles diminishing, the spots fading, and the acne calming down. I'm now using oil cleansing and Dudu-Osan black soap instead of ProActiv. I switch them up in the morning and at night, and I love it!

As you may or may not know, I had a spinal fusion about 15 years ago. It wasn't a little fusion. It required a bone graft from my hip, metal cages placed at three levels in my lower spine, and a few months of recovery. It went perfectly, though, and gave me back my life for the next 13 years. About a year and a half ago that changed. All it took was the wrong angle with just the right weight and something seriously went wrong. It's been a long road since then, but I've survived and so has my wicked sense of humor. Thankfully, so has my marriage, too! About eight months ago, the chief orthopedic surgeon at the local military hospital told me I needed another fusion, but that I needed to put it off as long as I possibly could. Because of my age... I ain't THAT old yet, but the fact that it's already fused at three levels, it's just going to get worse, and they can't fuse my whole spine. So, I regularly see a pain management specialist who shoots me up with steroids and gets to poke tortuously long needles in my spine, all the while playing his favorite music in the background. He's cool, though, and I appreciate how he helps manage my pain. I recently talked to a psychiatrist and took a test to see if I was crazy enough for a permanent implant, of which of course I am! This implant will change the pain signals to a pleasant tingling. That'll happen right after the New Year, and a tingling I will be! After that procedure, I think I'll be able to give the Bionic Woman a run for her money.

With this sense of desperation for a reduced-pain life, I decided to attack it not only from the outside with pain killers (don't judge, please), but also from the inside with my diet choices. I'm now incorporating foods that have anti-inflammatory properties and learning more and more that Mother Nature IS smarter than man.

Which leads me to my most recent plight of using natural methods to relieve an issue: Oil pulling! You see, I've got gum recession right smack dab in the front on my lower teeth. It seems it's always been like that, no matter how much I brushed or flossed. At my last dental checkup, the dentist told me I needed a gum graft or one of the teeth might just get loose and fall out. Well, I don't think I can make that look work, and  I almost went to the specialist, but as fate would have it I put it off for good reason until February. It's odd how things can randomly happen.... or is it? Now, considering I'm already battling a good deal of pain on a daily basis, I'll be damned if I let them do one of the most excruciatingly painful procedures known to man or woman. Haaaaail NO! Can you tell how emphatically I feel about this? I would rather go through childbirth again. So, I Googled "Curing gum recession" and up popped about five thousand references to oil pulling. Basically, you take a tablespoon of oil (Coconut, Sesame, Sunflower... whichever you prefer) swish it around in your mouth for 15 minutes, and let the oil do its magic. Then you rinse with warm sea-salt water, and finally brush your teeth. Not only does it help your entire mouth and whiten your teeth, but it also detoxifies your body. I'm on my fourth day, and so is my husband. I dragged him into my experiment, and in turn, he's going to balance my Chakras. Laugh and roll your eyes if you want, but I'm determined to be THAT annoying woman ten years from now, telling everyone how I was almost in a wheelchair, as I'm eating granola out of an eco-conscious container and strapping on my number for the local marathon. Oh, who am I kidding... I don't like running in any dimension, but I AM going to repair the damage and be all the stronger for it.

It's scary how much we turn a blind eye to what we put in and on our bodies. While I'm not giving up every single vice, I am making significant changes. The last two months have been the biggest leap into living more naturally, but I actually started incorporating small changes about a year and a half ago. With the smallest changes, I was able to stick with it until I was ready to add more things. There's been no shock to my system, or my family. I'm currently waiting on an order of essential oils to be used for everything from pain relief, acne treatment, and just making the house smell nice. Now, if I could just get the tater-tot to eat her vegetables, life would be grand.

If you've got any health issues, or dental issues, what can it hurt to try a natural remedy? YouTube and Google are your friends. While most are not overnight cures, you might be surprised to find out that some natural remedies work faster than you can get in for an appointment with your doctor these days. If you have your own natural remedy for an ailment, please post a comment as I'd love to know, and it might just help someone else, too.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Don't do drugs without adult supervision

All I can say is, thank god I didn't do drugs last night.

Shoot, that's just not as fun to say as when I was in my twenties. Especially when the drugs I'm referring to are prescribed. My pain management Dr. prescribed a new medication for me, so I read up on it online last night. After reading a couple of legitimate pages from sources such as WebMD, I then took a gander at a blog that robbed me of an whole hour, but I got many laughs out of it as she was Funny with a capital F. What began as describing her story with migraines and weaning off this particular drug, turned into me reading all her posts from the last few months. It turns out that she's a Dr, so it gave the perspective of someone who took this drug and was able to understand all those big words in the warnings. While she didn't experience any of the really bad side effects that others reported, she was also using it for a different reason.

I also read some from a page called "CrazyMeds". Hmmm, I'm not crazy, am I? HAHAHA... gotcha! Yes, I'm crazy, but it doesn't bother me. This medication is not to treat my crazy, though. There's no helping that. This medication is to treat nerve pain and muscle cramps, and hopefully with the side effect of helping me sleep. I started having these "not sleeping" issues about a year and a half ago, and now my tolerance to (natural) sleep aids has forced me to try stronger things. My PCM gave me Ambien, but my pain management Dr. said he really didn't like to put patients on that. So, two weeks ago we tried a muscle relaxer that was to help with the awful cramping in my feet and legs AND help me sleep, but the dose is not keeping me asleep, plus I'm still having the muscle cramping. Which brings us to this new drug. Yet, I couldn't bring myself to take it. People's reviews seemed to be 50/50. Some said it was amazing and saved their lives, and that the tingles they got were a small price to pay.... then others said their eyeballs nearly popped out of their heads (OK, slight exaggeration); they lost a lot of hair (I cannot spare the hair); one person (or two) said they heard voices; others felt highly aggressive; and then the grand finale of weaning off too quickly can cause seizures. This is the point where I say "Legalize, already!". No Daddy, I don't really mean that. **To all you others: wink, wink**

Disclaimer: (before some self-righteous person judges me for that little joke) I do NOT use any drugs or medications that are not prescribed to me. I am extremely structured in managing my pain, even on the bad days when the pain killers don't give more than an hour or two of reprieve. I don't do illegal drugs. I don't even get to enjoy a glass of wine anymore unless I forgo a dose of my pain killer, so that means hardly ever. In a different world, though, I would like to see more natural options. That's all.

Mr. Wonderful is off being wonderful at his job, and the little tater tot and I have several days to ourselves. Oh, wait... let's not forget we have TWO cats. That would be two conniving cats with a very twisted sense of humor. They have their place in this story.

So after reading a lot of reviews on this medication, I decided to keep taking my current medication until Mr. Wonderful gets home. I didn't want to have stark-raving-mad dreams or be incredibly dopey while taking care of tater tot. I went to bed too late last night to feel comfortable trying this new stuff and I want to make sure I have 8-9 hours to sleep the first time I use it. As it is, I already have trouble sleeping and develop super-sonic hearing when he's away. This only sets in once all the lights are out. Last night was no exception. As I snuggled down in the middle of the bed, ready to read from my Kindle, I heard the first bump. I chose to ignore it. Then I heard a scraping noise. I chose to ignore that, too. But by the time I heard the thunk, I had to get out of bed to check the house... again. Tater tot was sound asleep with her lambie. All the doors were locked... still. No one was in the house, hiding behind a door or piece of furniture. But the cats were oddly out of sight. I'm quite sure they were right around the corner, laughing their fat little cat-butts off. After that, I climbed back into bed, ignored all the noises, read for an hour, and thankfully had a good night's sleep. Imagine if you will, though, how bad it could have been if I'd tried the new medication with Mr. Wonderful being gone and two crazy cats plotting to push me over the edge. Add to that the idea of it not being strong enough to get me to sleep, and then hearing all those noises throughout the whole night. No, thank you. I'd like to hold onto my sanity. Remember, my "sanity" may not be your "sanity." But here I am today: drinking my coffee and ready to get on with the day.

My doctor's office called me early this morning about scheduling my next epidural steroid injection, so I asked about this medication. She reassured me that they had several people taking it and no one had reported any of the horrible stuff that I had read about. That makes me feel better, but with these conniving cats and Mr. Wonderful being gone, I'll just stick to what I'm using until he gets home. I want this stuff to work, but I don't want to begin it with negative thoughts and fears that might taint what could be a positive response. But, if you see me in a couple of months with only one eyeball and no hair, please be nice and just tell me my butt looks great. OK?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Favors and not so favorites

It's been a while. A long while. This is because I use this blog as a place to fill in gaps of time that either my husband is away or I truly need to vent. In this case, I want to vent.

I try to be fair... and yet I realize that can never be more than a subjective attempt. Especially when I know I am biased because anything that happens to us is tainted by our "perspective." I do try to take responsibility for my actions though, and I step up to the plate and apologize if I unintentionally wrong someone. So, after much deliberation and conversation with my husband, I'm done with trying to be fair and done with giving someone the benefit of the doubt. I'm simply angry and I'm going to let the poison out.

We had a young girl who was occasionally babysitting for us...

Side note: we have about 4 babysitters we call, and I have my two favorites. I'm not saying names, just that one of their names starts with J and ends with "ackie" and the other's starts with B and ends with "rittnee". So there. I can have my favorites, and I'm sure any mother can relate to this. It's our child and our money, so as long as we're paying someone to come into our home and take care of our daughter, we'll pick who we damn well please, thank you very much. But this does not involve one of our favorites.... thank you little baby Jesus.

Another preliminary side rant: I am a decent enough person that I would NEVER say something mean to a person's face (or through text). I would, like any other decent person, do it behind their back, in the privacy of my own home, and most likely only to my husband. Yes, I can be snarky, but only with those adults that I like and that I know will give it right back in fun. But I am not mean. And I most definitely would not be mean to some impressionable teenager. I remember what that age was like. Oh my goodness, girls that age are so very sensitive, and the ones who act like their bad-ass tough only do so because they don't want anyone to think they're weak.... but they're still all sensitive. If you show me one who's not, I'd be willing to bet there's some serious dysfunction or emotional damage, or a missing/extra chromosome. So, I would never say something to damage any young girl's self esteem. I try to give encouragement and positive feedback to any young girl because they all need it.

Back to the original situation. The teenage babysitter was in my home talking to me about how she didn't have anything nice to wear for her family Christmas picture... how she really wished she had a nice dress, but was broke. Well, **shaking head and sighing** trying to be nice... I offer her one of my dresses to try on. It was a beautiful, 100% silk, red, White House Black Market, around $200 dress. She tried it on, said she loved it, and asked me if I minded if she borrowed it. This is where I want to be clear: I told her that no, I didn't mind her borrowing it at all, but I did want it back within a few days of having the pictures taken... not two or three weeks. I said this! And I said it gently. I said I didn't expect her to return it the very next day, but within two or three days after they had their pictures taken. We live in the same neighborhood, too, so I didn't feel this was unreasonable. I made sure (or so I thought) that she and I were on the same page. Y'know... the page where you do something nice for someone and you think they'll show their appreciation by returning the item, or at least being honest and forthright if something happens and they can't??? So, I told her she looked great in it and even gave her a wide black belt to wear with it, and then took her home.

Fast forward to two weeks after her family pictures. I politely (yes, politely) asked her about the dress when I was taking her home and then she tells me her little brother got it dirty and she was going to have it cleaned and would get it right back to me. I told her that was no problem and that I understood. I even tried to make her feel better about it by saying something to the effect of how accidents happen and it was not a big deal.

In that same conversation, I asked if she'd be able to watch my daughter the following Wednesday (this was on a Sunday). She told me to check back with her later on during the week. I said, "It's only three days away, and if you don't think you'll be available then I'll need to ask someone else." She said she'd call me that night. She never did. Nor the next day. Now, this was over Bruce's Christmas vacation and we didn't have the flexibility between his schedule or the Arts & Crafts centers holiday schedule to wait around until the last minute or even go on a different day, and we really wanted to have a day to spend together and work on our pottery. If she really wanted to babysit for us, she would have gotten back to us. We're not talking about weeks from when I asked her, just three days, and actually only two full days between. So, that Tuesday (the day before) I lined someone else up to watch my daughter. Then I sent the girl a message saying I had it covered, I figured she was probably busy, and that I hoped she enjoyed her last week of break... and inserted a smiley face.... oh, and I also said that she'd definitely be hearing from us another time, though.

Of course, it will be a cold day in hell after her yelling and screaming, rude mother called me yesterday afternoon.

Ahhh... but I'm getting ahead of myself. So, that text was the last I'd sent. Not because we didn't like her. Not because she hadn't gotten my dress back to me. Not because of any reason other than one of our favorites has been available and we've just been asking her lately. One who is dependable, nice, knows how to deal with a four year old. One who doesn't ignore my daughter and get on Skype for hours at a time. One who I relate to and has a great and easily likable personality. It sure doesn't hurt that the young woman has some medical training, too. We also haven't been going out as much in the last month and a half. But anyway, it's no one's business who I ask to watch my child, and I do not owe anyone any explanations.

Here's the kicker: After loaning this dress to her daughter, waiting nearly two months and it still not being returned, and simply asking the daughter about it nicely through a text... which by the way, I asked her about it because she's the one who borrowed it, you'd think, and expect, that if a girl is responsible enough to watch a child, she should be responsible enough to do the right thing concerning something she borrowed. Not go lie to her mother, if that is the case, because I don't believe she's telling her mother anything close to the truth in all this. I'm thinking this might be the problem, or her mother is simply crazy, or both. And what has happened to teaching our children responsibility? Is it my fault that the girl didn't have enough common sense to simply wait until after school to text? If she knows she's not supposed to text then why in the hell did she text? She could've simply waited three hours and then responded. It's not like I was badgering her. I sent ONE text (at 11:45 or so) simply asking about the dress, and I did so because I happened to realize yesterday morning that she still had not returned it, as I was trying to decide on a dress to wear for a ceremony I was about to attend. She responded immediately that they were trying to get the money together to have it cleaned. Because she responded so quickly I replied "Goodness, how much are they trying to charge you?" and then immediately texted not to worry about having it cleaned. Once again, trying to be nice. If they're really so broke they can't afford the dry cleaning for one dress over a two month period, then I don't want to put that strain on them. So, I said "Maybe you could just watch Alyssa on a Saturday or a Sunday when we go to pottery." How is this being "awful"? But, she responded "Sorry. I can't watch her this weekend but that's fine, I'll return the dress." **shaking my head** Was she kidding me? She makes it sound like she's doing me the favor. Oh, and the only text she sent that said she was in school was an hour and a half after the last text she sent. I, honest to God, thought she was texting during her lunch when she responded earlier. Either way, it's no one's fault but her own for texting. Of course, this is the perfect example of deflecting responsibility. The mother's wrong and her daughter's wrong. They took advantage of a favor, and were not responsible or appreciative, or even decent about it. Instead I was treated to disrespectful, hateful, and rude behavior. The dress should have been returned. It's as simple as that. The daughter said they didn't have the money and the mother said they've been busy and had forgotten it. Either way, it's not a valid reason after two months. It's an excuse for being inconsiderate, especially after I told her not to worry about having it cleaned.

At 2:30, the mother calls me yelling and screaming that I did not leave things on good terms with her daughter, that I was awful to her daughter, and then proceeds to list many things that I "supposedly" said and did to her daughter. Some of which were: I MADE her daughter clean up after our cat (how could I MAKE her when I wasn't even here??? I NEVER asked her to, and when she did, of her own accord, I thanked her profusely.... our cat had been really sick and had spent three hours at the vet the day before); I "supposedly" told her daughter she was a bad babysitter and that we had found someone better; I was supposedly rude in a text about a milk cup (I couldn't find the cup and simply asked, word for word, "Hi, do you happen to know where Alyssa's milk cup was?", of which in less than a minute, I responded "Found it!" How much nicer can you possibly ask a question? I don't know how I could've phrased it any differently.) Oh, and then she told me her daughter had followed ALL MY MANY RULES. Yep, that sure makes me sound like I have a bunch of crazy rules, of which I don't. My daughter is on a schedule and I simply gave the babysitter Alyssa's schedule. She does well on a schedule. She knows what to expect and we don't ever have any huge tantrums or acting out (Well, even as I write that, we all know little kids act out from time to time, but that's normal). But do I really have to defend myself because we have a schedule? And it's not as if it's in stone. It's just a guide. All it included was what time her meal, snack, and nap times were, and that she wasn't allowed to eat on the couch. Oh! I did ask her if she minded pulling up Alyssa's comforter and throwing her two pillows back on the bed after her nap. She said "No, of course not." Oh, and I also asked her to wipe Alyssa's bottom after she went to the bathroom. That's it. Was that unreasonable of me? Did she think her daughter would come waltzing into my home and me just walk out the door without leaving any information or instructions?

At the beginning of the phone call I tried to get the mother to slow down. I said "Whoa, whoa, whoa... wait a minute... hang on, please... I think there's been a misunderstanding. Did you even read my texts?" I said all this in a surprised tone, not an aggressive one. But she was yelling over me the whole time, and only paused to tell me that I needed to "be quiet and listen to her". Meanwhile, I'm thinking "You are one crazy bitch" but I listened to her. She never gave me a chance though, through hurling her accusations and insults, and then she hung up on me. Then she sent more texts saying mean and untrue things about me and then telling me to never contact her daughter again. As if! But I never responded to any of it. She finally stopped texting. If I didn't mention it before, her behavior took me completely by surprise because we've had interactions since the last time her daughter babysat and she was nice... really nice. She had always been so bubbly and sweet, and I mistakenly thought we were somewhat friends. But, case in point, just because someone is nice and gives you the impression they are nice doesn't mean they behave consistently in a sane manner. And, although some people would say not to worry about it, or that if someone knows me they wouldn't believe her, I am worried they'd believe her because up until this point she was always so nice. And because we interact in the same circles, I hate the idea of people who know both of us thinking that any of this might be true. Even though it all made me really angry, it also really, really hurt my feelings. I literally cried for an hour after her phone call. Thank goodness I still have each and every text. My husband could hear her yelling through the phone. Once she hung up on me, he read through all the texts and said she was crazy.

While listening to her spew her insults during her phone call, in my silent, seething anger I wanted to fill her in about her "innocent" daughter, but I didn't. I didn't let her know the fact that her daughter ignored my child for hours while she logged onto Skype on more than one occasion (and it was not during nap time). Yes, I checked the history after I saw Skype was up and running in the background the next day. There are logs and our computer saved it all. I'm sure the mother is not aware of her daughter's activity. There are other things, but it won't do any good to bring them to light. I'm sure it will all catch up with her through karma.

So here's the gist of what I've learned: It's not worth doing any favors for people who are not close friends. Nor will I ever have another babysitter younger than 17. You just can't trust people will do the right thing. For those of you who only know me as an acquaintance, I can only hope that if you are friends with her, too, that you take what she says with a grain of salt and keep in mind that there's always another version of what happened. For those of you who truly know me, at least I feel safe that you'll just laugh at the idea of me being mean to this girl or any young girl, for that matter. I refuse to be bullied, and I also refuse to have someone say such things about me without standing up for myself.