Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Midway to MRI Results

It was two weeks ago, today, that I had the MRI.  In approximately 2 weeks, Tex and I will learn the results.

You know? . . .
. . . For the vast majority of the time, I've been pretty peaceful and calm about the whole thing.  I know the source of such Peace and Calm.  It comes directly from Our Lord; it's HIS Peace and HIS Calm.  And thank You, Jesus, for that very precious gift.

Two weeks ago, I also decided that I was going to go on the premise that "no news is good news".  I'm guessing that if there was something of significant and immediate importance, that one of my doctor's colleagues would contact me, without waiting for my doctor to come back to work (to remind y'all, she's out of the office for the month of September; hence the reason for waiting so long to get the results of the MRI).

This particular mindset has been working well for me.  Periodically (but also infrequently), a "what if" will squirm its way into my grey matter and whisper to me, "What if there is something wrong even though no one calls you before your appointment?" 

"What ifs" generally are not very productive; at least not in scenarios such as these.  So I flit it away with a wave of my hand and then come back to focusing on the present.  I'll find out the results when I find out . . . and it will be at that time that I'll deal with the facts; whether they bring good news or whether they bring challenges.

In the meantime, please know that I very much appreciate those of y'all who have shown support and given me encouragement during these past couple of weeks!  Thank you!

In other (but related) news, y'all may remember that I mentioned a plan that I had put into place.  Part of that plan is following the GARD eating program.  GARD = "Glutamate-Aspartate Restricted Diet".  It also has come to stand for "Gut Absorption Recovery Diet".  It's a healing eating plan designed specifically for those of us who have seizures.  Y'all can read more about it by clicking HERE

Nutshelling it down, it's an eating program that restricts Soy, Corn, Casein and Gluten.  The soy was a no-brainer.  I've known for many years now that soy is a seizure trigger (additionally, it's also a neuro toxin in other ways, and it's also carcinogenic).  The corn was pretty easy as well; I'm not really a corn eater (although I did very much enjoy making my annual cast-iron skillet cornbread every time a new year rolled around). 

The casein?  Well, I've never really been a milk drinker, but boy did I love my cheeses!  And, yogurt.  Plain yogurt; not that stuff that is ladened with corn syrup in the guise of fruit.  And ice cream.  Real ice cream without all the chemicals and toxins.  And butter.  Real butter.  Real, unsalted butter.  Fortunately, butter is actually "allowed" because the casein content is so low, it's negligible. 

An interesting side note:  as some of y'all may know, goat dairy products have a much smaller casein content than that of their bovine cousins.  This means that I might still be able to occasionally indulge in cheeses; I'm still researching this (from the angle of seizure triggers).  And, one day, I'm going to make ice cream from coconut milk; I've been telling myself this for several months, so perhaps this new way of eating will be the catalyst for that.

The gluten?  Gluten is probably the most complicated aspect of this particular eating journey that I have embarked upon.  Gluten is in myriad foods - from various grains, to some nuts & seeds, to even dried beans.  Even meats contain gluten (albeit in small amounts).  That's probably been the most significant change; restricting gluten from what I eat. 

Ironically, grain-wise, I really don't eat much bread unless I make it myself (most commercially-prepared bread has soy in it in at least one form, sometimes more - along with other ingredients that I do not like to consume; i.e., corn syrup and unpronounceable chemical words).  But, pasta is a completely different story.  Tex loves pasta . . . and if I'm honest, so did I.  :)

So.  I've been following the GARD way of eating for 25 days now.  And, while I don't believe there are any GARD-specific cookbooks out on the market (yet), I have purchased a couple of cookbooks that deal with one or two aspects of GARD (even though that wasn't the focus of the books).  I ignore (or modify) the recipes that contain soy, corn, casein and/or gluten, and I focus on the recipes that are GARD-friendly.  I've also found a pretty neat blog that, for the most part, has recipes that I can use (or adapt) for this new lifestyle.  It's still a fairly new blog to me; so I'm going to give it some more time to "test it out" so-to-speak before I provide a link to it, here in "Swirlings".

Are ya wondering what I actually do eat?  Great question!  :)  Basically, I eat fresh produce (both fruits and veggies - including potatoes), meat (from a variety of creatures), rice and eggs.  Oh, and herbs and clean spices, too - I love my herbs and spices!

I consider it a huge blessing that I have 26+ years of food research and label-reading behind me.  It has made the transition to GARD pretty easy.  Before implementing GARD, I already did not eat the very vast majority of packaged foods, I avoided soy and lab-created chemicals pretty-much across the board; and for the past 2.5 decades, I have truly loved to cook real and healthy food, from scratch.

So, there you have it; an update of sorts, while I count down to October 2nd.  Again, my thanks to those of y'all who have checked up on me and offered their encouragements.  I love my friends!

And remember . . .
If you pray, why worry?
If you worry, why pray?

Thanks for reading!  Y'all be blessed,

p.s.  Anyone else find it amusing that I'm following an eating plan designed by a veterinarian?  I personally find it pricelss in a very weird and wonderful way!  :)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Driving School 101

Most people (hopefully) know that they are supposed to stop at a stop sign.

And.  When the stop sign is at the exit lane of a school, that is even more significant.

Oh.  Also, most people know that the roads surrounding schools have a slower speed limit; especially so when traveling on school property.

As I was walking Lizzee this morning, I was crossing the entrance / exit lanes to a school.  I was already half-way across when a SUV-driving mom came zooooooming down the exit lane . . . when she reached the stop sign, she looked at me, looked at the stop sign and then breezed on through, without even stopping.  Lizzee and I were just mere feet from DoodleHead Mom. 

I was not impressed.

I truly consider it Our Lord's Protection that we had not walked further than we had when this woman came careening down the exit lane.

I'm pretty sure I would not appreciate being hit by a car just because someone is in a hurry and believes that she is exempt from obeying traffic laws . . . but please don't make matters worse and hit my dog!  Additionally, given the amount of kids that walk to this school, it would be horrendous if one of them was hit by a car simply because the driver was in too big of a hurry and couldn't be bothered with stopping at a stop sign.

(Tomorrow, I'm going to have my phone's camera ready to snap photos; and if I encounter her and she's driving the same way she drove today, I'm going to take a picture of her license plate so I can share it with our local police.  Perhaps they can encourage her to drive more responsibly).

Consider this a PEA.  Hey; whaddya know?!  Two PEAs in a row; one today and one yesterday. 
I must be feeling bossy.  No, wait.  Not bossy . . . I'm tapping into my inner educator.  Yep, that's it.
After all, it's a PEA, not a PBA.  Ha!

And, of course, today being 9/11, I'm sure most people's thoughts are on the events that took place 12 years ago.  May Our Lord bless and comfort all of the families who lost loved ones during those horrible events of that day.

Thanks for reading y'all!
Be safe,

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Observations on Customer Service

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm sure I'll be writing more about seizures and other applicable neurological topics, but today's post is taking a different path.

Tex and I went to a Home and Garden Show over the weekend.   For the vast majority of our time, we really enjoyed ourselves.  We got ideas for future projects, chatted with different people and gave our legs some walking exercise.

There were two very glaring exceptions.  Both of these involved our stopping at booths to look at products.  In the first instance, the man approached us and asked if we wanted to buy such and such.  After Tex responded that we were just looking, the man immediately and angrily walked away.  Then, less that 3 feet from me, he told his co-worker - in words loud enough for me to hear, "Man, this day sucks.  Nobody's buying anything."

Hmmm . . .

The next exception to our wonderous stroll through the marketplace was somewhat similar, yet different at the same time.  I had stopped to look at a product that Tex and I have discussed purchasing sometime down the road - you know when it fits our budget priorities a bit better.  The man working the booth came up to me and asked if I was interested in making a purchase.  My response was, "Well, not today," and before I could even draw breath again to finish my sentence, the representative huffed and then walked away from me.  The rest of my sentence, "but this is something that we want to purchase in the future, and I have some questions to ask you" was left to swirl silently inside my thinker. 

At that point, both of these booths that we had stopped at were among the very first ones, and I was beginning to think that the entire show was going to be filled with rude and impatient sales people.  Fortunately (and for the most part), that proved to not be the case.


Let's examine both of the above examples, shall we?  You agree?  So do I!  Great minds - you and me.  :)

I'm sure that Tex and I were not the only people strolling around Market Hall last weekend who had not planned on making major purchases while attending the Home and Garden Show.  Many people go to these types of events to gain information and to tuck business cards and brochures away for when they're ready to buy whatever it is that caught their attention at the show. 

A good salesman will know this.  Sometimes the sale doesn't happen immediately.  Getting angry about it, walking away and then complaining to a co-worker within ear shot of potential customers is probably not the best way to make that customer their customer.

Tagging onto that, dismissing such a potential customer when they are in the middle of a sentence and thus shutting out any opportunity for the customer to ask questions about a product that they are genuinely interested in doesn't seem to be such an award-winning idea, neither. 

On the other hand, we had lovely conversations with the gregarious lady at Angie's List (who took a photo of Tex and me while I was wearing her very funky glasses and who also introduced me to Alegria shoes because I fell in love with her "Hippie Chic" Palomas), the friendly man at Cutco, the very entertaining man at VitaMix (who nicely listened to me ask about purchasing a dry container replacement and then cleverly incorporated my question into a public sales pitch), the great guys selling the trampoline, the man who let me ride his demo C.A.T. Scooter (oh man - fun - especially, when standing up!), the man who wittily intrigued us via remote control (as we were walking by) with his roof that resembles (and functions as) flat horizontal blinds, the very informative guys who were showcasing the slide-out cabinets, the nice flooring guy and last but not least, the very busy-yet-cheerful lady at the Sleep Number booth.

The majority of the 2+ hours that we spent at the Home & Garden Show was dispersed among the businesses I've mentioned above.  Yet, out of all that time and all those booths, we spent a whopping $11 (in addition to the admission tickets).  For the ultra curious, the $11 was for the sign-up fee for Angie's List. 

All of the other booths mentioned above?  They didn't make one red cent off of Tex and me this past weekend.  But.  They were so friendly and engaging and they made sure they answered our questions thoroughly and accurately.  That's the type of people that we do business with.  That's the type of people that we'll remember when it comes time to make future purchases.


One more example; simply because I've encountered this scenario more than once and I know of at least one other person, offline, as well.

A few weeks ago, Tex and I went to a birthday party that we had been invited to attend.  The party was held at one of the local steak restaurants.  The salmon listed on the menu intrigued me; and when it came my time to order, I asked the waitress if the salmon was marinated in soy (as many of y'all know, I don't do soy; it's a seizure trigger . . . and for those who yearn to learn, it's also a toxin pretty-much across the board).  When the waitress responded that the salmon was marinated in soy, I simply said, "Oh, never mind; I don't want that," and started to go on and order my "second choice".  Instead of accepting that I would know what I wanted (and did not want) to order, the waitress said, "Oh, but it's only a litte bit.  Trust me, you're going to love the salmon."  Without boring you with more of who said what, I'll tell you that I tried 2 more times to gently let her know that I didn't want the salmon, but she wouldn't listen to me and she kept trying to push the salmon.  Maybe it's her favorite dish at that restaurant.  Maybe her long-lost cousin from her mother's stepbrother's daughter's grandfather's side of the family was the salmon culinarian for that particular eating house.  Who knows?  But man, she was pushing that fish dish!  I finally had to very firmly tell her that I was not going to order the salmon.

I love wait staff and I always try to interact with them and let them know that I'm a friendly sort.  

I'd also like to take this moment, however, to suggest that if someone doesn't want to order a particular dish, then that should be that - without argument or efforts of persuasion; especially if the reason is because of a specific ingredient.  It's a food allergy world we live in today; and some allergies are much more dangerous than others.  One of my family members has a very serious milk allergy and even touching milk products (including) butter can sometimes cause a reaction severe enough to require a trip to the hospital.  Yet, time after time, when she has inquired about whether a particular menu item contained milk (and after telling them she has a milk allergy), the response she often gets is "Well, it's only a little bit."  Well, in her case, "only a little bit" could prove to be quite harmful.

Additionally.  Even if the reson for not ordering something is not allergy-related, it's really none of the server's business to question or to argue the decision.  There ya go.


I don't want to end this post on a negative note . . . and in reality, the intent of this entire post is not meant to be negative, but rather educational.  I haven't done a PEA (Public Education Announcement) in a while; let's consider this particular post to be one of those. 

My first thought, in bringing this blog post back to a positive outlook, was to list all of the above-mentioned friendly businesses' representatives and their contact information.  That may or may not be a good idea seeing as how I haven't asked their permissons to do such.  But!  I don't think there's any harm in at least re-listing the business themselves.  I encourage y'all to patronize these companies . . .

. . . Except, I wouldn't recommend that you play with your Cutco knives while riding on your C.A.T. Scooter; and remember, reserve the jumping for your SpringFree trampoline; not your Sleep Number bed.  There ya go.  :)

- Angie's List ("We're relentless when it comes to providing trusted reviews.")
- Cutco ("The World's Finest Cutlery)
- Equinox Louvered Roof ("Take Control of your Outdoor Living Space")

- Furniture "N" Floors, Inc.
- RBB Scooters (C.A.T. / Compact Adult Tricycles)
- ShelfGenie ("Designed to Transform")
- Sleep Number ("The only bed that knows you.")
- SpringFree Trampoline ("The World's Safest Trampoline")
- VitaMix ("Superior Nutrition in Every Blend")

Thanks for reading; happy shopping!
Y'all be blessed,

Please note that the parenthetical quotes listed next to each business were taken directly from the printed business cards or brochures supplied to us.  There.  I trust that I have sufficiently and legally covered my, uhm, posterior in case anyone disagrees with any of the quoted phrases.

Monday, September 9, 2013

What - Do You Have Rocks in Your Head or Something?

Raise your hand if you've heard that before; either in statement or question form and either directed at you or someone else.

It's a phrase that's been around for a while; at least a few or more decades, doncha know.

And to answer the question:   actually - yes, I do; except only one . . .

Going back to July when I had to take a trip to the ER because of sustaining some injuries during a seizure . . . the CT scan they performed showed a a small tumor on my brain.  The specific type of this illustrious visitor is called a meningioma.

The cool thing about meningiomas is that they are slow growing and are usually benign.

Now.  The cool thing about the meningioma that has claimed my cerebral area as its residence is that it is calcified (the tumor; not my brain - let's be very clear on this, y'all  Ha!).  A calcified tumor means that it's been there a while and it's not going to grow in size.  Not growing in size is definitely good news.

The ER suggested that I visit a neurologist for further consultation.  After finally getting to the place where I was able to even consider this, I made the appointment, and then Tex and I went to it together. 

Pre-appointment, I figured the doctor would want to order an MRI.  I figured correctly.

The MRI was performed last week, and we will learn the results on October 2nd.  The reason why we need to wait so long is because my doctor is out of the office during the month of September.  However, I am choosing to go on the premise that  "no news is good news".  I'm also guessing that if something of significant impact were to show up on the MRI, that one of my doctor's colleagues would surely immediately call me.  Hence, no news is good news.

In the meantime, I'll go on with life and try not to get wrapped up into "what ifs".

Speaking of what-ifs . . . I'm not so much concerned about the tumor.  It's calcified (hence, having a rock in my head - LOL) and it's not going to grow.  It probably is also benign.


And, to seque for just a bit . . . through personal experience, I've known for some time that a seizure can affect one's short-term memory.  Specific to me, a seizure absolutely does affect my short-term memory for a day or two preceeding and following a seizure.  Boiling that down even more and providing a real example, there's a good chance that if I meet someone during that time frame, then the next time we meet, I'm probably not going to even remember that I met such a person.  It won't be a case of simply forgetting their name; it will be as if we've never met; at least for me.  My apologies to y'all in advance in case this ever happens to you; it certainly isn't intentional.  There are other examples of short-term memory loss that I've experienced, but let's stick to just one for now.
Going back to the "but" (the conjunction, not one's derriere) . . .

. . .What knocked me off my feet for a few days after my appointment with the neurologist is what I learned about long-term seizure histories.  Basically, the more seizures one has and the longer period of time that one has a seizure history, the greater the risk of pervavise comprehension and cognition loss / decline; not just short-term memory loss surrounding specific seizure events.

I was not at all prepared to hear this.

If you know me, then you probably know that I have been researching food, health and nutrition since 1987.  You also might know that the first seizure occurred about 6 months into the beginning of my endeavoring to live a healthy life and that is then when I also started slanting my research to include combating seizures without pharmeceuticals.  You probably also know how so very much I avoid anti-seizure drugs.  I arrived at this stance not only by doing research but also and most importantly through my own experience with several different anti-seizure pharms.  None of the drugs I was prescribed ever controlled the seizures; and more importantly, the side effects were horrendous, with a couple of such side affects being completely intolerable for me.

One such unacceptable side effect was that of losing my comprehension skills while on the drugs.  This was in the early 90s, and I don't know if I can ever convey to anyone how completely daunting that was for me.

So.  The drugs were not controlling the seizures and the side effects were appalling.  That's when I decided that anti-seizure drugs were not for me.

And if you know me, you probably also know that I'm anti-pharmeceutical pretty-much clear across the board (not just regarding seizure drugs) . . . I don't even take OTC pain relievers, nor do I even use "seemingly innocent" products that have drug warnings on their labels.  I'm certainly not proclaiming that everyone follow suit; but for me, I'm just not into taking drugs of any kind.

But . . . I suddenly found myself between a rock and a hard place a couple of weeks ago, while sitting in the doctor's office.  Taking anti-seizure drugs can affect one's ability to think and comprehend.  However, long-term seizure histories can do the very same thing.  Twenty-six years seems a bit long-term to me, and I won't even try to guess how many seizures I've had during that time (I didn't start logging them until a few years ago).

But.  All is not lost.  :)  I've got a quasi plan in place and have discussed it with Tex.  He is in agreement with me on it; and that is so very wonderful.  Of course it all depends on what we learn about the MRI in a few weeks; but going on the presumption that nothing else (other than the calcified tumor) is wrong inside my grey matter, I do have a plan; one that I actually implemented about 2.5 weeks ago.

That's about all for now.  I'm sure I'll be writing more about all of this; but for now this seems like a good stopping place.

Am I nervous about this (whatever all this entails)?  Yes, I am.
BUT.  I also know that none of this came as a surprise to Our Lord, and that He already was covering all of this before I ever knew about it.  I know that to be Truth.

I don't know where this journey is going to take me, but I do know two immutable facts:  (1) God is going to be with me on this journey - every step of the way.  (2)  And, so is Tex.

What more could a girl want?

Thanks for reading; y'all be blessed!
HIS Peace & HIS Joy,