Thursday, January 31, 2013

When any indulgence can hurt

This post is not written to elicit sympathy or pity. It is written to give an insight into why some people can seem" annoyingly health oriented" or unable to just indulge a little.

I've been very interested in real food and healthy living for years, but tempered with moderate treats. However, for the past year and a half I've had to keep tighter and tighter control on my habits. Most of my readers will know that I have undiagnosed /untreated symptoms that as far as I can tell, are immune related: digestive,pain in the spleen area, food and chemical sensitivities. It used to be I could eat reasonably well and exercise all week, have dessert and a few drinks on the weekend, and all would be well.
Not so now. Sugar? Raging yeast infections. Drink? One maybe, but more than that and I'll be up half the night with a racing heart and feel ill the next day. Skip a workout? More than one day in a  row and my body will let me know about that too. Wear hand me down clothes without washing them myself because the previous owner washed them before passing them on? Usually helps to have an inhaler handy.
It is what it is and most days, I do pretty well at viewing my challenges as a blessing rather than a burden. It can be hard, though when people encourage me not to be "too good", to practice moderation, to INDULGE. Really, do people not think that if I could eat a big slab of chocolate cake every week and wash it down with a nice red and suffer no ill effects, I'd do that? Really, if you can the worst you'll need is an extra workout. But the key phrase here is suffer no ill effects. I've slowly had to give up my reasonable indulgences over the years because it's simply NOT worth the aftermath.

Now, while you all probably know how I feel about things like fake foods and not exercising, but unless you live in my house (if I may be involved in paying your medical bills and/ or may see you naked, I DO get to voice an opinion) , or unless you ask my opinion, I generally don't say anything to people. It makes me wonder sometimes if the simple act of having good habits can feel like judgement to some people, and they feel a need to encourage vice for their own reasons ( "Why we are uncomfortable with Virtue" may be another blog post all it's own!) In either case, it may be that the person who doesn't let go and have that slice of cake or that beer has his or her reasons. She doesn't need your pity, but needs her "no" to be respected. Aren't we trying to teach our kids that anyway?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Some hormonal thoughts on why women soldier through

WE all know that stereotypes are wrong, yet we also secretly admit that many stereotypes do have a grain of truth.
One that I have found to be more true than not, in my life and the lives of others I know, is that regarding how women and men react to minor illness.
Of course it's not across the board, and there are men who keep going through any illness and women who curl up in a ball at the first sign of a sniffle. However, things do tend to go the other way around.
I was cogitating upon that yesterday as I inwardly bemoaned my bloated state and reminded myself more than once that it;s not OK to snap at others for hormonally induced reasons- while being thankful that at least I don't have the bleeding and cramps to look froward to- that of COURSE women are more likely to keep going through discomfort. From our teens, our bodies train us to do that. Given how far we are past the fictional concept of a "red tent", when we are gushing like a crime scene and would love nothing more than to spend the next three days in a sobbing ball of pain and emotion, we have to get up, throw back a triple dose of Advil. and do what the men do, only backwards and in high heels. And we do this until and unless we get pregnant and/or decide we're done with our uteri and have something surgical done about it. And no, I'm not angry at men about it. I blame evolution.
But really guys? People with a cols are capable of wearing pants.

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Friday, January 18, 2013

Stubbornness? Have you considered other reasons?

I see this billboard when I drive north on 99 to work. After months of being annoyed, I decided to deconstruct why.

Men : Yes, we know that men 24% less likely than women to have visited a doctor in the past year. However, to suggest that only men neglect doctor's visits and women never do is offensive.

Money:  The role of money can't be ignored in a person's decision to abstain from medical tests. If someone has a job, paid sick time that can be used for preventative care, medical insurance, and the ability to pay any co-pays that may arise, it's much easier to decide to get recommended testing. If a person has no sick pay, no insurance, or has insurance, or their co-pay would be high enough to be a burden, it's much less likely they can afford to test for an illness they may have no symptoms for. In a country where many people can't afford diagnosis or treatment for diagnosed conditions, it might be better to spend money on subsidizing tests than on billboards.

Comfort Level  Say you don't have the limitations described above. Say you have a great employer and health insurance that pays all the costs of all your tests at 100%. Will you still get them all "on schedule?" You might, or you might still abstain from some based on comfort level. Think about some of the tests people avoid; prostrate exam, colonoscopy. I was scheduled for a colonoscopy last year,due to digestive symptoms. Despite those symptoms and a few family members who had colon cancer, I chose not to go through with it. Why? The thought of the procedure damaged my calm in such a way that within days I knew that *for me*, there were things worse than not knowing. Really, if you think about it, it's not surprising so many people choose not to sign up NOT EAT for at least a day, take medicine that makes you poop until it's clear, and get drugged so someone can shove a camera up your anus. It's a shock to me that so many DO, especially in the total absence of symptoms! Let's get some research on non-invasive tests, mmmkay?

Risk level: The recommended timeline for medical tests is at best based on averages. There's no doubt that makes things easier for the medical community, and for patients who just want to be told where to be when.  But for some, especially with the more invasive stuff and/or when money or time are at issue, we want to know it's REALLY worth going in for. I've been in a monogamous relationship for 20 years, had normal Pap smears, and do not smoke? Am I at the same risk as the "average" woman for cervical cancer? Do I get a Pap smear every year? No, and no. In fact, I stopped doing so at a point of my life where having small children to care for intersected with my insurance, at the time, requiring co-pays even on yearly check up (and those co=pays kept rising, right up to $30). This would be a terribly irresponsible decision for some women, but I in no way feel I've endangered my health. By the same token, I breastfed for 8 years, am not obese, and have no family history of breast cancer. I haven't gone for a baseline mammogram, even though it would be covered at 100%.

Fear of overdiagnosis or medical complications: Briefly put, some people choose not to know. They may know in advance that there are treatments they are unwilling to go through, or not want to risk going through treatment (with it's attendant risk of complications) for something that may not have been terminal, or may not have killed them for years. Is that not their choice?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Last week, I thought I would spend this week doing a detox diet. I sold this to my family as a case of trying to "heal my digestive system" (which would be AWESOME, of course!) but the fact is that I was attracted by the fact that it promised to melt off between 10-17 pounds in one week.
I would always love the idea of getting down to my target weight magically in one week's time, but even more so as we approach our 20th wedding anniversary. Because we will go out to a nice restaurant, and I will wear a sexy dress. Despite the weather, I am planning to wear a green dress my husband got me when we were newlyweds. I've been able to fit into it for a few years now, but for this, I want to look really FABULOUS, better than I did when I first wore it 20 years ago.

I only got a day and a half on the detox diet, but I had all these vegetables I needed to use so I made a huge batch of vegan squash and veggie soup. As I served myself a bowl for lunch yesterday for the third day in a row (served with a generous amount of kale!) I thought to myself, "All these squash and kale soup lunches will help me look great on our anniversary". And the next thought I had was, "There is no way my husband is thinking anything even remotely similar to this".
Now, it must be said that my husband doesn't like me to try to speak for him. But it's absolutely true that he doesn't think about being in shape to go out with me. And, he doesn't really care if I do. Even though I'm in much better shape now than I was the last time I wore that dress, 2 1/2 years ago, I don't want to use the fact that he thought I was sexy enough then as an excuse to slack off.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Unholy Night by Seth Grahame-Smith

Unholy Night is one of those books I picked up with a mixture of anticipation and trepidation. On the one hand, I'd read many of Grahame-Smith's horror infused retellings of literature and history, and enjoyed them. But, the Nativity story! Isn't that just bound to be...irreverent?

It could have been, but it wasn't.

Unholy Night casts the Wise Men as three escaped criminals who find themselves thrown into a violent journey with a young Jewish couple and their enigmatic baby. This brings me to the major gripe of the book: the Wise Men meeting up with the infant Jesus . (This bothers me about most Nativity scenes and children's Christmas storybooks). This book is not for the fainthearted...even if you normally don't mind violence,  the slaughter of the innocence and a torture scene just might  push past your limits. But if you have a strong stomach, Unholy Night is a highly enjoyable read that treats Jesus's birth with respect and asks a deeply important question...what if Christ had come into the world just as He left...surrounded by thieves and women of ill repute?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Things my 15 year old has (really!) said recently

To me: "I know I haven't always been appreciative enough, but I want you and dad to know how thankful I am that you both put so much effort into seeing we're clothed, fed, educated, warm, and secure".
To me: "I don't think I'm moving through culinary arts fast enough. I think I need to be doing at least another lesson a week.@

To sister, after she complained about our rigourous home education: "I haven't always felt this way, but I now see that Mom is doing the right thing by giving us such a good education. We're going to be a great advantage in college and in the work world because Mom gave us such a great start."

To little brother "I hope you can forgive me for anytime I've ever said something mean to you. You're a great little brother and I love you."

That's just this week. I have such an awesome kid.