Monday, October 25, 2010

Prevention Is A Naughty Word In Healthcare

I consider myself to be fairly intelligent and well educated, but I need something explained to me. I cannot for the life of me figure out why everything in this country related to healthcare seems to be backwards.

I had a few questions about what could be reimbursed for my Healthcare Spending Account, so I called to find out the answers.  I was told that I could be reimbursed for over the counter medicine like cough syrup and Tylenol, but not vitamins or supplements.  "Basically anything that's not preventative," were the exact words of the representative.

So let me get this straight.  If I'm trying to prevent myself from getting sick I can't get my money back.  But once I am sick I can get reimbursed for buying drugs.  It's like I'm being rewarded for covering up the symptoms by body is giving me to tell me something is wrong.  And we wonder why we spend gazillions of dollars on health care.

This kind of thinking leaves me dumbfounded, and although I'd like to be optimistic I don't see it getting better any time soon.  Do you know that in some countries that practice "Eastern Medicine," the practitioner doesn't get paid if you get sick.  That means he or she has a vested interest in keeping the patient healthy.  That makes much more sense to me, unlike in this country where doctors don't make any money if the patient stays well.

I plan to continue exploring "alternative" health options, even if I have to pay for them out of pocket and don't get a refund from my health spending account.  I may not get my money reimbursed, but I will continue to be proactive rather than reactive with my health.  Maybe if enough of us start to feel this way it will make a difference.  I can only hope.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Dancing Queen

Over the summer I participated in a class called the Rhythm of Life Design.  I blogged about the life changing effects from the class here.

I met some amazing people at the class, and several of them were in town last weekend for a drumming workshop/concert.  One of my new friends teaches African dancing, and she was going to perform before the concert.  Or so I thought.  It turns out that she was actually teaching a dance class, and after a few moments of indecision and sheer terror I decided to go ALL IN and overcome a fear that I've had for 20 years.  Since I don't believe in coincidence, I realized I was meant to take the class, even though I would have been much more comfortable spectating instead of participating.

I have a love/hate relationship with dancing.  I love to dance, but I hate for people to watch me.  This stems from an insensitive comment made by a college boyfriend.  We were dancing at a bar, and he leaned over and shouted something in my ear that sounded like, "You dance like a cow."  Because of all the noise I was sure that I had heard him incorrectly and he couldn't really have said that, so I asked him to repeat himself.  No, that was definitely what he had said to me.  The boyfriend didn't last, but the crushing blow to my ego and self esteem did.

During the dance class last weekend I was still self conscious, but I also really enjoyed dancing for the first time in years.  I realized that everyone in the class was more concerned about what they were doing than what I looked like.  There was a concert after the class, and it didn't even bother me when people arrived early for the concert and stood along the glass windows to watch us dance.

What kept me going was some great encouragement from my friend/teacher.  She said that sometimes she steps outside of her comfort zone and finds herself "going for it," even if it makes her uncomfortable.  She does this to help the people that are watching her, because they might not have the courage to try something new.  By overcoming her fears, she is showing others that they could do the same thing.  I'm trying to remember that lesson.  Not just in regards to dancing, but regarding everything else in my life that I find difficult or intimidating.

At Rhythm of Life Design we set goals for ourselves for one week, one month, and one year.  With lots of encouragement from my friends, my one year goal was to dance in public with them at the same time next year.  It appears I've managed to manifest this goal about 10 months early.  The most important thing I've learned from all of my new inspirational friends is this.  If you go "ALL IN," you are guaranteed to grow.  And you might just enjoy yourself in the process.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Are You Eating Bugs?

My son had his first preschool field trip last week.  It was the first time he had been around other kids that had brought a lunchbox from home.  Over the last few years we have educated ourselves and overhauled our food consumption at my house.  We tend to eat fairly healthy things now, and we try to stay away from artificial sweeteners and food coloring, and anything with partially hydrogenated or corn syrup on the label.  My general rule of thumb is if the label contains more than a few ingredients or something I can't pronounce I try not to buy it.  Except for "cheesy poofs," which my son continually begs me to buy and I can't seem to say no.  Maybe it's just the cute name he has for cheese curls, but for some reason my rules go out the window when it comes to cheesy poofs.

I was not prepared for the inevitable questions about food when my son returned from his field trip.  "Mommy, Jimmy had a packet of red stuff he put in his water at lunch time.  Can I have some of that?"  Luckily, my husband, who actually started the healthy eating campaign at our house, picked up the charge. "Didn't you say that Jimmy got in trouble on the bus ride back to school?  Sometimes when we eat things we shouldn't it makes us hyper and it's hard to control ourselves."

We've actually seen the evidence of this first hand.  Our neighbor has a child that was having some behavior problems, but instead of medicating her they decided to try a diet change first.  After cutting out foods with preservatives and food coloring, the child's behavioral problems went away.  I wish more parents realized that there is a correlation between food and behavior, something I didn't realize myself until the last few years.  I wonder how many children on Ritalin would be better served by a dietary overhaul instead.

"Besides," my husband told my son, "that red stuff is made from crushed up bugs."  My husband teases my son all of the time, and I could see the look of disbelief on my sons face.  "He's not kidding this time buddy," I chimed in.  It is a little known fact that red food colorants called cochineal and carmine are made from crushed up bugs.  Here's one of the many google references if you don't believe me.  (I found it hard to believe too.)

Food Coloring Made From Bugs

Unfortunately, I can see where this is going to go.  My son will go to school and tell the kids that there are crushed up bugs in their drinks.  The kids won't believe him, and four year old arguments will ensue.  A few kids may actually go home and discuss this with their parents, and the parents will tell their kids we made it up because we don't want my son drinking the red stuff.  If only they all read my blog, then they would know the truth!

I'd like to say I've completely stopped eating anything red since I found out about this, but I just can't give up my ketchup.  I'm afraid to look at the ingredients, so maybe right now I'll go with the philosophy that ignorance is bliss.  Maybe if I decide to look I'll get lucky, and it will only be Red #40 on the ingredient list.  That way I'd only be eating a coal derivative instead of bugs.  Thank goodness we have the FDA to protect us from natural things like Stevia, but allow us to eat tar.  But that discussion is for another blog.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

100 Writings of Blogs On the Wall

I didn't actually plan to write 3 blogs in one day.  Technically it was only two, since I wrote the first one last night but didn't have my computer with me to post.  This is perfect though, because my 100th post is a significant blogging event, and today is my birthday and a day that feels very pivotal in my evolution, for some unknown reason.

39.  It's still hard to believe.  I think 40 is going to be a monumental, life changing year for me.  But why wait until 40?  Maybe because I need a year to prepare.  I am not nearly as worried about 40 as I was about 30.  From age 26 on, I was counting down the years to 30 with great angst.  Even at 30, 40 seemed incredibly old to me.  It's amazing how your perspective changes.

I won't say I'm actually dreading 40, because I think I still have some amazing things to accomplish in my life.  It is a little daunting to think I'm as close to 59 as I am to 19, but I try not to think about that.  At the warp speed pace my life has been taking lately, 59 will be here before I know it.  I've spent the last 20 years accomplishing the personal, ego centered goals I've set for myself.  I plan to spend the next 20 years giving back,  making a contribution to the world that I can be proud of.  I guess I really am having a mid life crisis.

I'd like to write some words of wisdom on this 39th birthday.  Something I can look back on later and be amazed at my forethought, or just give myself a good giggle over the things that never materialized.  Nothing profound is coming to mind though.  Actually, I read something in "The Sin Eater's Last Confession" last night that was very appropriate.  This is the book I've been reading about Celtic Shamanism.  The author of the book was talking about his encounter with angels, and the message he received from them.  He saw the words "Be Tranquil," in the shape of a lemniscate or figure eight.  I have a previous post about lemniscates and their significance to me.  Here are the words he used to interpret what this message meant to him.

"It meant "accept who you are," "stand in your power," "know your truth," "follow your destiny," "release expectations," "let go," "relax," "embrace," "engage," - all of these things and more.  Finally it meant:  "We are here for you.""

I couldn't have said it better myself,  as I need to work on all of these things.  And the last one gave me the chills as I read it.  I was giving reiki to a friend this weekend who is very intuitive, I would even say psychic.  During the session, she said, "They keep saying "WE ARE HERE.""  When she said, "I'm listening," they said, "Not you," meaning the message was for me.  Then they proceeded to tell her I don't listen to them.  Could that little nagging intuition I occasionally feel be something more?  Or do I not listen because I just can't hear them?  It's a little strange that she had the message " We are here," and then 2 days later I read a book where angels are saying "We are here for you."  My husband would say I'm reading too much into something that is nothing more than a strange coincidence.  I'll leave it up to you to decide, but I am definitely listening.

Happy Birthday To ME

I had a birthday gift from the company today.  When I checked in for work at 5:30 this morning, there was a little "acknowledge assingnment change" message on the computer.  This is normally not a good thing.  It means they've changed my assignment for the day.  "Please don't do this to me," I silently prayed, expecting the worst, while visions of having to go on the road for three days in a green speckled shirt circled around in my head.  Not to mention, I was looking forward to having birthday dinner at home with my family.

Imagine my surprise when I acknowledged my assignment and discovered that my whole day had been cancelled!  All I had to do was ride in the back of the airplane home, instead of my scheduled Boston-Philly trip I was supposed to fly.  Have to go now, I'm home in time to have lunch with my wonderful husband.  Happy Birthday indeed!

You Are Stronger Than IT

As I drove to work yesterday, I found myself incredibly frustrated.  A friend was visiting for the weekend, and although we had a great time I didn't get much accomplished around the house.  I spent most of yesterday playing with my son instead of catching up, and about an hour before I was to leave for work I realized how much I should have taken care of during the day and didn't.  The pile of mail that had been sitting for a week, the bag of groceries that never got put away, the pile of clothes on the bed, the laundry, etc. etc.

It's a fine line between playing with my son and getting chores done for me.  I will never regret a minute I spend playing with him, but I have a hard time being fully present with him when I know I have a list of projects hanging over my head to accomplish.  My motto lately has been, "the laundry and dishes can wait."  Even though I can physically avoid doing the dishes, emotionally I am not able to forget about the sink and just enjoy the time with my son.

As I drove to the airport yesterday, I wasted valuable energy berating myself.  For all of the things I didn't do or should've done, for the fact that I haven't blogged for a week or exercised in the last two, for running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to get out of the house for work.  I said things to myself that I would never dream of saying to anyone else.

Stuck in traffic, I used my time to pray to God that I didn't do anything stupid while I was at work.  Not that I was worried about doing something dangerous stupid, just stupid stupid.  What qualifies as stupid stupid?  Well, last week while I was doing my walk around check of the airplane, I tripped on the hose from the fuel truck because I thought it was just a shadow.  Since I didn't realize it was there, I tripped on it about three times in the second it took my brain to realize what was going on.  The fueler couldn't control his laughter, and I'm sure it instilled a lot of confidence in the passengers watching me from the windows of the terminal.  It always gives people a warm fuzzy feeling to see that the person that is about to pilot their airplane has trouble with something as simple as putting one foot in front of the other.

Either God didn't hear my prayer, or he thought I was referring to today when my trip actually started, and that I didn't need help with my commute to work last night.  Whatever the case, he certainly didn't save me from myself and from doing something stupid stupid.

I had decided to start eating healthy again, so I made myself a green drink.  The drink contained about every green vegetable imaginable, plus spirulina.  For those of you unfamiliar with spirulina, it is a bright green powder, stain-worthy enough to be used as a dye for Easter eggs.  I put the drink in a flip top container, which I then stuck in the seat back pocket of the airplane so that it didn't spill under the seat in front of me.  Half way to Chicago, at about 30,000 feet, the pressure was too much for the container and the top blew open.  A shower of green rained down on me, the passenger next to me (luckily a pilot I was commuting with), and everything in our row from the seats to the tray tables to the ceiling and sidewall of the airplane.  It may even have hit people in the row in front and behind me, I was too embarrassed to look.

As if this weren't bad enough, I had a scheduled overnight at home tonight, which meant the shirt I was wearing was the only one I had with me.  (I commute in uniform because it is easier to get through security.)  It wouldn't have been such a big deal if I had had my leather jacket with me, but I conveniently forgot to grab it as I raced out the door to work.

I guess maybe God really was listening to my prayer though, because when I turned my phone on in Chicago, I had a message from a friend who is a great inspiration to me.  The message was actually from the day before, but I had forgotten to listen to it, and now I know why.

My friend said that she had been catching up on my blog, and just wanted to tell me I didn't need to be so critical of myself.  (Which I already know, but for some reason need her to continually remind me.)  The message she had, which was exactly what I needed to hear that minute, was this.  "You are stronger than IT."  Whatever it is.  Whether it's the unpaid bills, the lack of exercise, or green speckled airplane seats and uniforms, "you are stronger than IT."  Boy, did those words ring true for me.

I am stronger than IT, so I'm making another resolution, a birthday resolution if you will.  This day, 365 days before my 40th birthday (yikes), I vow to be kind to myself.  In whatever form that takes.  I vow to not say things to myself that I wouldn't say to other people.  And I will not get upset with myself when I inevitably slip up with these vows, or do something stupid stupid.  And that's the word of the day, straight from the mouth of the Jolly Green Giant.  At least my tie covers most of the spirulina.  Amen.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Blame it on the Samosa

I made it 2 whole days.  Today, day 3, I succumbed to the Indian buffet.  Now that I've self diagnosed the liver stagnation, I've added spicy foods to my normal avoidance list of wheat, dairy, and sugar.  Almost everything I ate tonight was spicy, but at least I managed to avoid the naan bread and the mango lassi.  I had a little wheat and dairy, and a ridiculous amount of rice pudding, fruit pudding, and halva pudding.  Interestingly, I noticed that an hour after eating I was exhausted and felt like crap.  Will I ever learn?

At least I journaled today.  Writing was actually listed as a helpful activity for liver stagnation.  Maybe that will inspire me.  Oh well, back to square one tomorrow.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

New Discoveries

I'm on day two of the "old new me."  I have been doing pretty well with my goals so far.  The day before yesterday I got up early and went for a walk.  We are definitely having an Indian Summer here and it was just too beautiful to stay inside.  In fact, I'm sitting on my candlelit porch right now and I'm almost hot in a sweatshirt.  Unheard of for mid October around here.  I also wrote in my journal that morning and did my affirmations.  Today I did my affirmations and then stayed inside and did some writing for my writing class.

I also started taking flower essences again, this time it's Bach Flower Remedies.  I just happened upon them the other day at the grocery store, and they have really made a difference.  A flower essence is the dilution of a flower into a liquid for emotional support.  I put several drops of each in a glass of water a few times a day and drink it.  I can't believe how well it works, because I certainly was skeptical the first time I tried it.

I am taking a nettle blend, which actually isn't by Bach.  This is for my allergies, and I am learning that nettle is good for all kinds of ailments.  I was unfamiliar with stinging nettle until I met my English husband.  Either I was just lucky as a kid, or we aren't assailed with nettles here in the states like they are in the UK.  He absolutely hates them, but I have made friends with them and am finding them quite useful.  I guess I'll feel that way until I get stung by one.

I also bought something called the Bach Emotional Eating Support kit.  Since I've had no will power concerning food the last few weeks, and I have been eating things with ingredients like carnuba wax and glycol, I thought this might be helpful.  It contains the following 3 remedies.

Cherry Plum - helps you act rationally and think clearly with a calm and balanced mind when you fear losing control

Crab apple - helps you accept your physical imperfections and feel better about the way you are

Chestnut Bud - helps you observe your mistakes objectively so you can learn from them and move on

And I also bought Mimulus, which I have taken before for my fear of public speaking.

Mimulus - brings courage and calm to things that frighten or worry you, also aids the shy and timid

I can't tell you how they work but somehow they do.  I also had another interesting discovery today, which I will need to research further.  I have a book called Healing With Whole Foods.  It is a great book, but it is huge and I can't take it to work with me.  It's also the type of book that I can't read right before bed when I'm only half awake.  I really want to be able to read it cover to cover, because I'm not getting the full information by just looking at symptoms.  That being said, I'm pretty sure I have a liver stagnation.  What does that mean?  I'm not sure myself other than I need to be eating different kinds of foods (which my intuition was already telling me.)  Actually, I just googled liver stagnation to try and explain it better, and I just realized why I have it.  This is from an article by Anasuya Batliner.

"A main function of the Liver in TCM (traditional chinese medicine) is to  move Qi (energy) and Blood so that all the other organs and muscles are energized and nourished. Liver likes to be motivated, to accomplish goals, to move forward in life in a creative and dynamic way. Anger and frustration emerges when our way forward is thwarted. Liver is the organ system most affected by repressed emotions."  I'm not going to go into detail other than to say, "Yep, that would explain it." 

Friday, October 8, 2010

I'm Coming Up

"Coming Up,"  an annoying and yet catchy McCartney song that is now running circles in my brain and won't leave me.  Maybe it explains my current mood.  Coming up - like a flower - coming uuuuuuupppppp.  Sorry, I tried to convey the song in my head onto paper and it's just not working.

I had a realization today.  Part of the reason I'm in a bad mood is because of the garbage I have been putting in my mouth.  Well, not exactly garbage, but things I know I shouldn't be eating.  This spring I did a pretty restricted diet, where I cut out all wheat, dairy, sugar and alcohol.  Even though it was a horrible spring for allergies, I didn't have any of my usual symptoms.  The down side was that food suddenly lost it's appeal since all I was eating was rice, vegetables, eggs, and nuts.  In fact, the main reason I stopped doing the diet was because thinking about food all the time and what I could and couldn't eat was just too stressful.  I did feel better though, and it was the first time in years I didn't have allergy symptoms.

The last few weeks my diet hasn't been very clean.  I just got home from work, and on this trip I had a flour tortilla, breaded fish, coffee, and a Sheila's Dream Bar.  What is a dream bar you ask?  Well, it's a delicious dessert bar that has everything I shouldn't be eating, including dairy, wheat, sugar and chocolate.  On top of all that, it also has carnuba wax and propylene glycol.  Now, it's bad enough that I seem to have no will power lately, but normally if I read the ingredient list of a food and it has things in it that could be used to wax my car or de-ice my airplane, I wouldn't put it in my mouth.  Not today.  Today it was delicious.

I've decided I'm sick of waking up in the morning with dry, bloodshot eyes from my allergies.  I'm tired of being grouchy and in a bad mood.  I've finally decided to suck it up and make a change.  Here is my plan.

1.  Daily Affirmations to release anger, anxiety, negative and self limiting concepts
2.  Stop eating junk I shouldn't be eating.
3.  Start taking Bach Flower Remedies again.  I ran across these at the grocery store of all places, and they called to me so I bought them.  I'm going to start with them in the morning.
4.  Getting up early to write/yoga/journal/whatever I feel like doing that nourishes ME

Wow, just writing the list is intimidating me, but I am ready.  I guess that means I better go to bed so I can get up early and start with day one of the new me.  Now that I've committed to this in writing (even if no one reads it), hopefully it will guilt me into staying motivated.  We'll see what happens when the alarm goes off in the morning.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I Don't Have Anything Nice to Say, So I've Been Quiet

Don't confuse the important things in your life with the necessary things in your life.  That was the message last Sunday in church.  My life seems to be jam packed with important things, which I keep trying to finish before I will let myself do the necessary things, like writing.  The message is certainly not lost on me, I just can't figure out a way to stop worrying about not accomplishing the important things.

I thought after my checkride was over I would have plenty of time to write, blog, do reiki and yoga, basically any activity that nourished my soul.  I have done little of those things since last week, as the chores of life seem to keep multiplying on my never ending to-do list.  What have I gained my putting my to-do list ahead of my to-be list?  I've gained an unwanted attitude adjustment.  I'm in a horrible mood, angry, grouchy, and generally pissed off at the world.  I haven't felt like writing because I can't find anything that inspires me to write about.

Why is it that when I am in the right frame of mind nothing seems to bother me?  Now, because I've fallen off of the happy wagon and can't seem to drag myself back up, everything seems to annoy me.  The school board meeting I can't attend tonight because I'm working, the argument I just had with my husband, the fact that the sushi restaurant closed 20 minutes early - all these things would normally not cause me to think twice on a good day.  Today they all got the better of me, I'm embarrassed to admit.

I'm trying everything I can to get myself back to a place of love.  I read an interesting quote yesterday.  It basically stated that there is no evil in the world, only misguided love.  I don't know if I believe that or not, because it certainly seemed evil when I couldn't get my miso soup and shrimp tempura today.  It does help me to realize that people aren't intentionally trying to piss me off though, so maybe I'll hold onto that.  And I'm also going to try to make writing my first priority in the morning, before I do anything else.  Maybe that will put me in a better mood right from the start.  I'll let you know how that goes.