Friday, March 21, 2014

Throw back Thursdays...

My children should probably start considering long-term health care for me as I have tendency to "wander" back in to the past a lot of days. Yesterday morning was such an occasion and brought on by an even odder (to them I'm sure!) scenario.

Getting ready for work I decided to remove my earrings and give them a good cleaning, along with my ear lobes...I know, I told you it was odd! ;) While doing this I couldn't help but remember the ear piercing experience of my youth and yes, some happier times that went along with it.

Back in the day there were a total of three families that lived down here on our road...myself, the neighbor girl a mile and a half up, and the two boys that lived another mile or so on farther. I don't know when or how old we were when Karla and I first "discovered" each other, but we did become fast friends. We would trek the mile or so gravel road back and forth to each others houses where we played, rode horses, or listened to our meager collections of 45 rpm records! This was mostly during the summer months though, as she and I went to different was a boundary thing!

One particular summer we were both about 12/13 years old, I was at her house, and her folks were gone. Karla was more "worldly" than I was and had already had her ears pierced. I don't recall if hers had been done professionally or were a part of an attempt we were about to make, but either way, they were pierced and I thought they were cool!

My own personal stint of earring wearing went along the lines of the clip ons...remember those? My grandmother used to send me jewelry in the mail, odd bits and pieces, and she always included a set of clip ons. Now these weren't for actual wearing, they were for "dress up", and most of them were HUGE! Anyway, here we two girls were in the bathroom using make-up...yes, we'd hit that stage where blue eye shadow and clumped mascara was a go to thing! And to set the record straight...this was NOT with our parents permission!! ;)

As we're both hugging the mirror and smearing our eyelids, Karla remarks that I should get my ears pierced, I agreed, and she then suggested SHE could do it...really? "Oh sure...I seen so and so do it and it's easy!" Uh, okay??! At this point the thought DID cross my mind as to what my mother might have to say on this subject, but like most 12/13 year old girls contemplating a life-changing experience, I ignored that small voice in my head that said, "You better not do that!" And she preceded to gather her tools.

Those "tools" consisted of a very large sewing needle with a piece of thread, an ink pen, a clothespin, and an ice cube. The procedure went as follows: hold ice cube to intended earlobe for as long as possible to deaden the skin, apply the clothespin to the edge of earlobe to further "numb" the intended area, mark a dot on intended area, stab with a needle and pull the thread through...yeah, OUCH!!!!

If you knew me at all, you would know my fear of needles, although my fear was of the kind attached to a medical person, but anything that "hurt" was not my forte...and THAT hurt!! I also bled like a stuck hog (I'm sure only those of you with rural childhoods know what a stuck hog bleeds like!)!! One ear down, second ear was NOT happening!! I don't know how Karla managed to convince me to do that second ear, but she did and once I had a piece of thread strung through both ear lobes I was good to go.

Now being raised by the mother I was, I completely understood sanitary conditions and before I would let Karla get close to my ear I informed her the needle had to be sterilized. Hydrogen peroxide was a mainstay in rural homes, as well as rubbing alcohol...we had both! Like the professionals we were, we lit a match and burned the end of the needle, we then dipped that into the peroxide, followed by the alcohol. We also ran the thread through some alcohol so it would be "safe" once it was THROUGH the ear lobe! :) It wasn't until AFTER both procedures that I began to panic over my mother's reaction to all this. Karla's reaction? "Well, if she gets mad, just pull the strings out and they'll close back up!" This was then followed by her all-knowing understanding of the "follow-up" advice if I was allowed to keep the strings!

I honestly don't recall Mom's reaction to this little escapade, but it must not have been too bad as those holes in my ears are the very same ones I still sport today! Yes, the procedure went just infections, nothing. I kept them doctored with peroxide and vigilantly worked those threads back and forth to keep the hole open. A couple of weeks later, Karla loaned me a pair of earrings to further the openings (per her instructions!) and until I could get a pair of my own. I don't recall my first pair of earrings, but I've rarely went without a pair in all these 40+ years!

As life would have it, Karla and I both grew up and moved away and as life sometimes also happens, we moved on in completely different directions. I didn't see Karla for many years, not until she attended my brothers funerals, as well as my mother' was good to see her after all those years. She still had that ready smile and her special laugh that I will always remember. She was a good and loyal friend and I will never forget our days of sunshine, riding old Dobbins through the woods and hills, playing in the barn lofts with the new found kittens, or wading in the creek collecting tadpoles and crawdads...and every time I clean my earrings, I can't help but think of her and that long past summer adventure! Thank you Karla...for the memories....


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Pancreatitis...and what I've learned/am learning

I ran into some health issues this winter, although it's not the first time I've experienced some of this. However, this is the first time it's ever sent me to the ER! Back in my mid to late 20's I suffered some terrible stomach pain and being young (as well as broke!) I tried to suffer through it. Doubled up in pain wasn't pleasant, but you tell yourself "this too shall pass". After the third spell of trying to suffer through I gave up and went to a doctor. Now mind you, no tests were done, blood work, ect. just symptoms related and I was diagnosed with a hiatal hernia, given some medicine, told not to eat spicy food, or lift more than 5 pounds. The food script I could manage, the lifting I could not. I had two kids, some livestock, and was home through the week by myself while hubs worked in the city and only came home on weekends, but I did the best I could in trying to follow doctor's orders. I had several spells off and on over the next few years, some mild, some not so mild, but I took the medicine (which had no effect on it btw!) and just did the best I could.

Fast forward to about 25 years ago and our move to this area. Somewhere along the line I quit frying food, or at least fried it rarely. Fish still remained fried and on the occasions I could get my hands on shrimp, that also was fried, but most everything else was either grilled, baked, or crock-potted! One reason for this was because once I was back in the country I wanted to get back to some "old ways". I also had a sick child that nothing the doctors recommended seemed to be helping, so I started on my own search and research. I got into herbals, growing and using my own, back to eating  farm raised meat and eggs, canning my own produce, and just generally eating healthy. Guess what? My issues disappeared! I would rarely, if ever have a "stomach spell" as I came to call them and I'm talking few times in the course of many years for stomach or bowel either one. Now fast forward about 2 years ago.

I've gotten lazy in my older age!! Okay, maybe not so much lazy as I am just TIRED!! :) But the last couple of years I've taken on a little more work load that computes into hours after the regular job, making me later getting home, why fix supper just pick something up type of mind set. We have seriously eaten more fast food/pizza/premade junk in the last two years than we've consumed in our entire married lifetime and guess what??? Stomach spells returned with a vengeance!

I had a little sick stomach going into this past November, but it came and went..I blamed it on my sinus drainage. Then during our Christmas break from school I began to really become much in fact I couldn't eat. I literally lived on toast and water for a week! I thought I had the flu and it was just "hanging on". Back to work I go, still feeling under the weather and with my upper stomach starting to have some light pain. Long story short...I was at work when I had some extremely sharp pain and thought I was having a heart attack, which landed me in the ER. Blood work, x-rays, showed everything as fine...heart was good, pain was still there. I asked about gall bladder...welllll, ummm....this was bantered back and forth with no real answers being given so I went home and contacted my own doctor. After reviewing everything he sent me immediately to have a CT scan once again, with more blood work. The scan showed calcification on the pancreas which he believed was caused from chronic episodes...there was no hiatal hernia. My enzymes levels were way up as well as my white count. I then went for a HIDA scan to see if the gall bladder was causing the pancreatic problems...gall bladder was working as it should be.

Now then, most chronic pancreatitis is brought on by alcohol consumption...something I don't do. Some is genetic...could be possible? And some is idiopathic...meaning they just don't know why! Something I have learned and that is the genetic aspect tends to start in the early 20's...hmmm? My grandmother and my dad both suffered with "stomach" issues and again, back in the day when you didn't run to a doctor you treated yourself. I remember words like ulcers, bleeding ulcers, ect. but I don't think any of these were diagnosed, let alone CORRECTLY diagnosed! My grandmother also suffered a gall bladder rupture up in her older years and survived it at almost 80 years old and I have to wonder just how much of all this was tied to the pancreas. My dad drank and had spells grandmother did not and had spells now and then. Both of them drank buttermilk during these "spells" (think probiotics here!) to lesson the pain and get rid of it.

Hind sight is always 20/20 and I've been slowing adding things up. Stomach issues have always seemed to be a "Stevenson" trait and perhaps this is why! My sister has problems and was told years ago she had a spastic colon....maybe? My son also suffers with various stomach problems, including a bout of h pi lori with chronic Epstein Barr when he was younger that is possibly tied to a malfunctioning pancreas...I'm leaning toward genetics here!

With all this in mind I have done a major change of diet. I've thrown out soda completely (and I truly LOVED my Dr. Pepper!), nothing fried (which I rarely do anyway!) and NO FAST FOOD (miss those fries!!). I've cut my coffee intake way back and doing half-caff to wean myself off. I'm piling on the fresh veggies, especially the dark greens, fresh fruit (what I can afford!) and no red meat (at least not yet!). Turkey burger, chicken, baked fish (which I hate btw!!!) and pork loin are on my nightly menus. No vegetable fats (read: olive oil, red palm oil or real butter), farm raised eggs (which I already had), and hopefully full time raw milk (if I can get the supplier on the boot!). Water or herbal tea are now my drinks of choice and I'm also working on my intake of milk kefir (that's for another post!) for the probiotics. I intend to only allow what I make that I can control to pass my lips and it's not near as hard as it may seem! I've already discovered an improvement in my bowel, as well as the loss of about 5 lbs. and so far the stomach is pain, no nauseousness! I was never a "big" eater, but I keep my portions smaller than my normal and snibble in between times when I can.

Will this heal my pancreas with no future problems involved? I don't know...what I do know is that it will certainly take a lot of strain off of my already problematic one and common sense tells me that will only help toward the goal of healing. I continue to read and research and try new things in the dietary department. Since I like to cook anyway, playing with new recipes has actually been fun for me! Including natural enzymes means mine won't have to work so hard to produce it's own and again...that has to be beneficial. Where it all will end I have no clue, hopefully many years down the road when the body just wears out naturally, but having chronic pancreatitis also makes you a candidate for pancreatic cancer and I want to do everything I can to avoid that health issue if at all possible.'s to happy eating!! :)


Sunday, March 2, 2014

It's been a loooong two months...

I think my last posting was clear back in December, before Christmas even and there are several reasons for that. First, I was having some health issues right after Christmas and to be truthful...writing was the last thing I wanted to do. Thinking was a problem in itself! Those have since (somewhat!) cleared up, or at least I'm working on the clearing up, but then I started having computer problems...uggg!! Once I got on high speed internet I downloaded the Google chrome and loved it until just about a month ago when it started acting up. Over the last couple of weeks it has done nothing but crash continually and not even load. So, I uninstalled it, done a complete computer clean up and reinstalled...same thing. So I went back to Firefox...which doesn't want to access half of the web pages I go to. I found I couldn't do my online bill pay or get to blogger at all through it, so back to IE I have went. I'm still getting a few error messages trying use my Google products through IE, but at this point I don't know what else to do. I've read and tried just about everything that was suggested and nothing seems to work, so don't know if a Microsoft update has sent everything awry or what!

But I realized once I was able to access my blog again that I had snowflakes falling in my background. Needless to say there are snowflakes falling outside my window as well, but it is March dangit! And I'm NOT going to look at snowflakes in both places!! :) Not being well versed in all the makings of blog, and having been gone from it for a couple months, naturally I had to "re-learn" everything again, which included trying to figure out WHERE those blasted snowflakes were encrypted and how to get rid of them...once again....arrrrggghhh!!

The good thing to all of this is I happened onto a new template (as you can see!) that has hummingbirds as the background and I love it! I've been a feeder of hummingbirds for many years, all started from watching my sister-in-law Shirley feed the hundreds she has at her house every year. Like her, I watch closely, and look forward to seeing my "scout" show up somewhere toward the middle to end of April and I really miss that day in late September when they decide to head back out.

With the winter we've had here on the 40 this year I will definitely be looking forward to seeing the hummers return...right now, I'd be glad to see 40 degrees again!! It's been a long, and bitter cold winter and this morning we've woke up to a continuing of that! It may be the second day of March, but it appears more like the early part of January....brrrr!! Below zero temperatures and windchills in the negative 20's has not made for a pleasant winter this year and we're all just.....well....tired of it!!

With the long hard winter though, I have accumulated a few new things I've learned, am learning, or just trying them out to see whether I like them or not!!! No doubt I'll be posting about some of those things a little later on, but for right now, I'm just glad to be back to my blog where at least it looks like Spring has arrived. And with that thought...I'm headed back to the kitchen to bake something so I can get warm!! :)