Archives for posts with tag: health

I started walking daily last fall. I started tracking my walks on a phone application on December 2nd.

Since that time, I’ve walked over 200 miles and during the coldest and rainiest time of the year.

So that’s over 200 miles on my journey of health. Hooray!

In case you missed this picture of my glamorous walking outfit from an earlier post. Today I am wearing a light weight teal rain coat and striped socks!

In case you missed this picture of my glamorous walking outfit from an earlier post. Today I am wearing a light weight teal rain coat and striped socks!

My grandma took a lot of nutritional supplements and thought a lot about nutrition. She worked at a health food store, Ames’ Nutrition, until she was about 80. In some respects, she was far ahead of her time, for example her concern about cholesterol. Other times, her beliefs and health practices struck me as eccentric and at times, down right illogical. Like the time she asked for a whole wheat bun at Burger King. Maybe she thought by requesting whole wheat, it would help the fast food chain reconsider their offerings. Okay, now that doesn’t sound so illogical. A better example would be when she put honey in my grandpa’s eyes to help his cataracts. Grandma always carried a large purse. When we had some kind of ailment, she often had some remedy in there. She always had papaya enzyme tablets in there, in case someone had indigestion.

My father-in-law was visiting recently. He got a look at my pill box and was impressed by the size of the daily compartments. After many years of just taking vitamin D and calcium, I am now taking A LOT of supplements. I laugh at myself and think, “I am one of those crazy supplement people. One of the pod people.” Cancer has made me more like my grandmother than I had expected to be.

So what supplements are in the enormous pockets of my pill organizer, you ask? (Everything but the multi-vitamin are what my naturopath has recommended for me.)
Vitamin D (breast cancer prevention)
Vitamin E (tissue healing)
Fish oil (cancer prevention)
COQ10 (for cardiac health)
Bone Strength (combo of calcium and other goodies for the bones)
Zyflamend (combo of turmeric, ginger, and other anti-inflammatories for cancer prevention)
B12 to combat fatigue
B Complex for stress
GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) cancer prevention and skin health
Magnesium Citrate-for sleep and to keep me regular ’cause the 2 TB flax meal is not enough for a lady on hormone blockers
Multiple Vitamin (You know, just in case I missed anything.)

Every other Thursday, I have a new little routine of doing a couple of hours of my business paperwork at the local coffee shop, Bird on a Wire. I was there two days ago. The baristas were both sick though not coughing on things. They were just congested. However, this should have been enough of a hint for me to high tail it out of there. (I am usually the Howard Hughes of avoiding illnesses. As a child psychologist with a private business, if I can’t work, no one can cover for me and plus, I don’t get paid.)

To the left of me, seated about 7 feet away was a regular customer. She is there every time I go to the coffee shop in the morning. I can tell the community at the coffee shop means a lot to her. Now she was coughing up a storm and exclaiming, “I just got this cough yesterday. I think I have a cold.”

This is when I was hijacked by hubris. I thought something along the lines of “I am pumped full of vitamins and good food. I walk three miles a day. I am strong. I a wonder Wonder Woman!”

So I stayed in the coffee shop.

This morning I woke up with a headache and a cough.

Fortunately, my hubris was not as Icaris proportions and I’ll live to learn from this experience, congestion and all.

I’ve been struggling with water, the gift of life, aqua, good ol’ H2O.

There was leaky pipe in my office last Saturday, which would have created a deluge had my office mate not been there to see it so a plumber could be called to fix it.

Yesterday, as usual, I went for my three mile long walk. It was rainy, which is not unusual for this time of year. I donned my Gore-Tex armor, which has served me so well-Gore-Tex hat, Gore-Tex hiking boots, Gore-Tex parka, Gore-Tex boots, Gore-Tex pants.

If I lived a considerable distance south of these parts, I might even call myself a Gore-Texan. The rain at night, lasts a fortnight (clap, clap, clap, clap). Deep in the heart of Gore-Tex!

I came home from my walk, my boots squeaky, my socks soggy, and soaked through my coat, insulated long-underwear shirt, t-shirt, and bra! Only my Gore-Tex pants managed to maintain my faith in the magical rain shedding powers of Gore-Tex.

I took my smartphone out of my ZIPPPED Gore-Tex parka pocket. Uh-oh. It was covered in water. The screen was flickering! I quickly turned it off and opened it up. It was wet on the inside! I dried it off but being fool hardy, I tried to turn it back on even though my brain was telling me, “Leave it off and call AT&T.” It turned on but was frozen on the “Samsung” boot up screen. So I turned it off and broke it down again.

“My precious! My precious phone! My extremely complicated work, medical, family, personal life calendar is on there! The names of all of the new patients I will see between now and March 5th are on there!”

“Golem, I feel your pain,” I thought to myself. “I am a psychologist. I am not addicted to technology. I am an excellent problem-solver. Get a hold of yourself, woman!” I took a deep breath and called AT&T.

A very sweet technical support rep named Shannon answered. “Oh, I just did that. I was so worried. I keep EVERYTHING on my phone. Surround your phone with rice to get it to dry out. Leave it for at least a day. I’ll call you tomorrow and see how you are.”

Shannon has felt Golem’s pain as well. I confirmed with her that if the phone didn’t dry out, it was curtains for the information on my phone. (And yes, Google is supposed to automatically back up my calendar but that stopped working and I’ve been procrastinating about figuring out a fix for that problem.)

“My precious! My precious! God, you can take my breast but not my SMARTPHONE!” I was again, I’m afraid, losing some perspective. So I then imagined the Albert Ellis section of classic 1960’s psychologist training film, “Three Approaches to Psychotherapy“, also known as “The Gloria Films”. Gloria, a real person with real life problems, agrees to be taped seeing three super famous clinical psychologists (Fritz Perls, Carol Rogers, and Albert Ellis), one at a time. Pioneers in fields can be kind of extreme. The Gloria films illustrate this quite nicely. By the time I saw the film in the 90’s, it was for historical purposes. The film served up unintentional hilarity with a side of guilt since Gloria was a real person with real problems. They were not getting addressed.

So what does this have to do with my meltdown about “My precious”, you may ask? Albert Ellis was a brilliant psychologist who developed Rational Emotive Therapy (RET), which is the foundation of modern cognitive therapy. The goal of RET is to use reason to reduce psychopathology. However, Ellis did this in the absence of stuff like, you know, demonstrating empathy and establishing rapport. He also had a rather distinctive nasal northeast accent. Combined with his lawyerly therapy style, it was pretty funny. “I can see that your situation in inconvenient, but it is not terrible and awful.” Or my favorite when Gloria puts her self down and he responds by telling her that if she makes a mistake it does not make her a “no good-nik”. The sight and sound of Dr. Ellis trying to use 60’s-era hip slang was double hilarious. Check it out for yourself here.

“Elizabeth, your anecdotes require too much exposition! What does this have to do with your phone?”

Thank you, patient readers. Basically, I tried to reason with myself as I often do, but this time I remembered Albert Ellis, and it made me laugh.

That pulled me out of my tizzy and I went about recreating my schedule, piecing it together from memory, emails, and other non smartphone dependent methods.

Today, I took my phone out of it’s rice bed and it awoke!

Thank you, Albert Ellis. Yesterday was inconvenient and more than a little stressful but it wasn’t “terrible and awful.” I hope you forgive me for laughing at you and for being able to do a dead-on impersonation of you. You were definitely not a “no good-nik.”

I met a goal today. My BMI (body mass index) now officially lands in the “Healthy Weight” category. Hooray!!!!

Now for maintenance, which is even harder. But I am cautiously optimistic and for today, I’m going to concentrate on the achievement!

By eating better and exercising, I have:

-Decreased my chance of future serious health problems, including decreasing the chance breast cancer recurrence.
-Improved my daily quality of life. I am more energetic, positive in attitude, and confident.

-I am now a better role model of healthy living for my 14 year-old daughter.

Okay, now to celebrate with a big box of chocolates! I kid, I kid!

Thanks to the very inspirational Tracy of FEC-this, my blog has received another nomination for Very Inspirational Blog. I have again fudged the rules for the nomination, mainly the rule that I nominate fifteen other blogs for the award. Instead, I will write something related to inspiration.

In my last post, I wrote about my initial foray into gluten-free bread baking. At the recommendation of my naturopath, I checked out the Gluten Free Girl and the Chef blog. I found what I was looking for, gluten free recipes but I also found an inspiring love story. Gluten-Free Girl, a.k.a. Shauna, is a woman who was terribly ill for YEARS until she was diagnosed with celiac disease several years ago and cut gluten out of her diet.

Then she falls in love with a chef. He ends up owning his own fine dining restaurant. Eventually, without her even asking, he changes his cuisine to gluten-free. He wants to share all of his cooking with her and also to provide a place for people to eat safely who have celiac disease, which I’ve learned is really quite awful. Even a little bit of gluten will make Shauna sick for three days, like chemo-level sick. So chef’s restaurant was (it has since closed) a mecca for folks who had not eaten in restaurants in years because of their health problems, as well as to people without celiac disease who were simply looking for a fine meal.

Shauna is also a professional writer and former English teacher. She is passionate about the subject as well as about her family. This combination is a recipe for a very well written blog.

A little lumpy but delicious!

A little lumpy but delicious!

P.S. My bread is delicious! I followed the recipe here.

Thank you, Cancer Curmudgeon for the nomination for Very Inspirational Blogs. There are rules that come with this nomination: 1) list 7 random facts about myself, 2) nominate 15 other bloggers for the award, and 3) tell the bloggers of their nomination.

I like the spirit of this positive and supportive pyramid (un)scheme so although I am not following the “law” of this, I’m going to try to make this good. So here is an annotated list of a few of the blogs I’ve found very inspiring over the years. Also, I don’t like the idea of choosing some of my fellow WordPress bloggers but not others, I am only talking about blogs outside of WordPress. I know, I am difficult but it is too difficult to choose, especially among my fellow breast cancer bloggers, all of whom I find extraordinarily inspirational.

1) Infertile Ground: On which I tread and sometimes kneel
This is a poignant and superbly written blog about a woman’s experience with fertility treatments over about a three year period. This blog, which I was so lucky to have encountered, was my first experience at seeing the power of blogs in helping people heal. This blog attracted a very devoted following of women struggling with infertility. They formed a very supportive community and it was clear from their comments that the blog was a wonderful resource for them. I no longer have this blog bookmarked because it was inactive for a very long time. But I see now that there has been at least one post this year and perhaps more to come.

2) Marta’s Memories, Etc
This is my mother’s blog, which she has kept since 2010. She and my dad’s lives are inspiring to me. They have been married for 58 years. They live is a big house in the woods where my five brothers and I grew up. My family of eight were supported financially by one salary, my dad’s as a sheet metal worker. And then there was my mom rearing six kids while staying active as a singer in church, which she has done since age six. My family did not live big. My parents set a good example of living within one’s means, being kind to others, working hard, doing things together as a family, and laughing hard. They now have a very happy and active retirement, spending lots of time in nature, in church, and with family. My mom’s blog has great old photos of her family, who started out as Italian immigrants in the greater Seattle area at the turn of the 20th century. She also posts about her life now, her garden, and their home projects. One of my favorite posts is “The wench with a winch“, which chronicles my parents’ use of a large winch to move a fallen Douglas Fir out of their yard.

3) Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life
This is the blog for the book of the same title, written by the late David Servan-Schreiber, M.D. Ph.D. and now carried on by his colleagues. Okay, so the purpose of the blog is in large part to promote the book. And that is my intention in listing it here, as well. Dr. Servan-Schreiber became a strong force in integrative medicine for cancer care after learning that he had brain cancer as young professor of psychiatry and neuroscience. Integrative medicine is not to be confused with alternative medicine. The strategies discussed in the book, which include nutrition, exercise, reduction of environmental toxins, and mindfulness meditation were intended to be used in combination with conventional cancer treatments. The program described in the book is currently being investigated at the highly esteemed Anderson Cancer Institute in Texas. This book had a very positive impact on my approach to my own treatment, which focuses on using multiple resources to help me live a healthy life. Although the long-term impact of my daily health routines remain to be discovered, eating healthfully, walking every day, and doing mindfulness meditation has made a very positive difference in my health right now.

I know that’s not 15 blogs but I did annotate them! Oh and I almost forgot the seven random facts about me:

1) When I was 14, I wrote an advice column for kids for the Seattle Times called, “Gotta Gripe.”
2) When I was 15, my mom and I got tear-gassed in the goat barn at the Western Washington State Fair.
3) When I was 15, I fell into a man hole (a square one that had not been put back properly) up to my ankle, falling quickly to the ground. Fortunately, I was carrying a big bag on my shoulder, which swung in front of my body, keeping my face from hitting the asphalt. (This occurred during the same week as the goat barn incident.)
4) At 47 years of age, I can still sit in the lotus position and put my foot to my head, though I am the absolute worst at yoga.
5) Although I always say I don’t have a favorite color, it is really red.
6) I once seriously considered becoming a nun.
7) Today my blog reached 1000 comments. Most of them are mine!

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George Lakoff

George Lakoff has retired as Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley. He is now Director of the Center for the Neural Mind & Society (cnms.berkeley.edu).

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