Monday, October 20, 2008

Wrestling with the Angel (Image: The Wrestling of Jacob and the Angel by Chagall)

In Rachel Naomi Rehem's book, a national bestseller, My Grandfather's Blessings, she recounts the beautiful story of Jacob wrestling with an angel as her grandfather once told it.
Sometimes a wound is the place where we encounter life for the first time, where we come to know its power and its ways. Wounded, we may find a wisdom that will enable us to live better than any knowledge and glimpse a view of ourselves and of life that is both true and unexpected. Almost the last story my grandfather told me was about a man called Jacob who had been attacked in the night as he slept alone by the bank of a river...He awakened to find himself gripped by muscular arms...It was so dark that he could not see his enemy, but he could feel his power. Gathering all his strength, he began to struggle to be free.
'Jacob was a very strong man, but even using all of his strength he could not free himself..." "How long did they struggle, Grandpa?" I asked with some anxiety. 'A long, long time...' he replied, 'but the darkness does not last forever. Eventually it was dawn and as the light came, Jacob saw that he had been wrestling with an angel...Jacob's leg was hurt in the struggle. Before the angel left, he touched [Jacob] on the place where he was hurt...He touched it to remind Jacob of it. Jacob carried it all the rest of his life. It was a place of remembering.' Looking back on it, I have wondered if my grandfather..had not left me with this story as a compass. How put the struggle behind you as quickly as possible and get on with your life. Life might be easier then but far less genuine. Perhaps the wisdom lies in engaging the life you have been given as fully and courageously as possible and not letting go until you find the unknown blessing that is in everything." (p.25-27)

Monday, October 13, 2008

This quiz will save you from getting sicker, and help you age slowly...

Answer these questions from the book The Anti-Inflammation Zone by Dr. Barry Sears to see you if have internal silent inflammation:
Are you overweight?
Are you always craving carbohydrates?
Are you constantly hungry?
Are you tired, especially after exercise?
Are your fingernails brittle?
Is your hair limp with little texture?
Do you sleep excessively?
Are you groggy upon waking?
Do you have a lack of mental concentration?
Do you lack a sense of well-being?
Do you have headaches?
Are you constantly fatigued?
Do you have dry skin?
(The Anti Inflammation Zone, p. 34, by Dr. Barry Sears author of the New York Times bestseller The Zone)

Dr. Sears writes that "if you answered yes to more than 3 questions, you probably have elevated levels of silent inflammation." (p.35) Silent inflammation can go undetected for years and manifest itself later in life as chronic illnesses like Alzheimer's disease and early aging. It's important that you listen to what your body is trying to tell you. Silent inflammation can also contribute to depression. Be mindful of signs that your body is under distress, and take the time to care for it.

Sometimes I was too busy to listen to what my symptoms were trying to tell me. If you have screaming pain, you already know you have inflammation. Inflammation is what causes pain, so if you nurse the inflammation, you will help calm the pain. In order to combat the inflammation, Dr. Sears recommends taking fish oil, exercising regularly (but not excessively), and reducing stress. He also suggests extra-virgin olive oil, ginger, and Aloe Vera (p. 91-92).

My doctor also says it's important to pinpoint possible food intolerances. Recent studies also show that if you avoid using too many strong cleaning chemicals, you can reduce inflammation. Using more natural beauty products--rather than products with a lot of chemicals--can help you reduce inflammation. Check back for future posts on more ways to calm internal inflammation.
"By reversing silent inflammation you will: think better, look better, feel prevent heart disease and stroke, help ward off cancer, help reverse type 2 diabetes, help prevent neurological disease (Alzheimer's, depression, attention deficit disorder, Parkinson's), help reduce autoimmune disease (rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis), help reduce screaming pain (fibromyalgia, migraines, chronic pain, arthritis, and so on). But most important, you begin to control your own future."

Dr. Barry Sears The Anti Inflammation Zone p.8-9

Healthy food

The best advice I ever heard about eating healthy is this...

Try to eat mostly plants and as close to their natural state as possible.
(O magazine, October 2008)

If that sounds incredibly lame to you, trust me! As you add more of those gross veggies into your life, little by little you'll convert! Vegetables are more nutritious when they haven't been cooked or processed. And if everyone followed this advice we'd all be a lot healthier and happier. We'd look better and live longer.

On personal note...

I remember vividly the day my worst pain flareups began. It was the day of my sister's wedding. I was already struggling to heal and manage a really strict, allergen-free diet. I'd dealt patiently with months of vomiting, tons of weight loss, fatigue, brain fog, clumsiness, and a lot of side effects (just to name a few things). But the day of my sister's wedding, the pain was off the charts! At the time, I didn't realize that horrible pain would become a permanent fixture in my life. I wished I could be rushed to the emergency room, where the doctors could fix whatever was causing me pain, and I'd be cured in a few hours of surgery. Some days I wished I had cancer or diabetes, because at least then people would know and understand my sickness. But that's not my story. Instead I got a invisible chronic illness with a name that people haven't heard before. I did have several expensive surgeries, but no cure, just worsened pain. I got a disease that takes many doctors visits and that requires constant maintenance.

With all this lameness, I continue to count myself as incredibly lucky. I am blessed because I have an incredible husband who helps me get through all this crap. He carries me through the difficult days. When I was vomiting a lot, he would hold my hair back and comfort me as I threw up for hours on end. When I wake up in the night in pain, he holds my hand and asks if I'm okay. I married the most amazing person I've ever met in my entire life. I aspire daily to have more of the traits that my husband embodies. And I'm super grateful he puts up with me! I don't deserve him! He is continually sacrificing to help me. He could write his own blog on how to care for a chronically ill spouse!

Credit Crunch

Here are some quick tips on how to improve your credit (and feel free to comment with any additional tips):

1. Don't apply for a lot of credit cards or loans. The inquiries will hurt your credit score.

2. Make sure you have credit cards or loans in your own name. You need your own line of good credit. You can't depend on using your spouse's. That way, you have a double safety net. If either of your credit gets damaged, at least the other one has good credit.

3. Don't charge a lot to your credit cards. If the limit is $2000, then only charge $200 to the card. If you have a small amount charged to your cards and high credit limits, it will increase your score.

4. Don't be late on payments ever!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Thank you friends and bloggers!

Thank you for all your supportive posts, comments, and emails! They help to strengthen me, especially when the pain is at its worst! Thank you to all of you who posted my link on your blogs so others can link here. And thanks to all of you who put really nice posts on your own blogs to support my efforts here. I couldn't survive without your help!