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Posts from the ‘health’ Category

Burnout syndrome? Chronic fatigue? Turn to the nature

Popular assumption is that burnout is the result of excessive stress. Stress management system of the body is a very complex multi-action trigger and response system that involves both branches of the autonomic nervous system: sympathetic and parasympathetic, the brain and the HPA axis (the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis), as well as other pathways.

Burnout syndrome and chronic fatigue syndrome are quite difficult to diagnose because when somebody experiences frequent headache, chronic pain, depression, anxiety, insomnia, loss of appetite, lack of interest in anything, hormone imbalance and irritable bowel symptoms: these symptoms do not immediately make us think about low cortisol and a suppressed HPA axis which have eventually resulted from stressing oneself to the maximum over long periods of time. Physical and mental exhaustion manifest as similar set of symptoms, therefore, overdoing with inappropriate physical activities, overloading one with duties or studying and learning until complete exhaustion occurs is not a good idea.

Burnout syndrome and chronic fatigue syndrome may seem to be very different, but they are quite similar, in fact. The same hormonal abnormalities are present in both conditions, as well as similar complaints about physical symptoms. It could be that the brain has decided to shut down the HPA axis activity in order to prevent us from damaging our body completely. If we did not experience tiredness, sleepiness and exhaustion, we would probably work until our body is permanently damaged and unable to recover. Research suggests that the brain, and the HPA axis may be responsible for the fatigue experienced during burnout and with chronic fatigue syndrome.

Our body loves balance, so that all mechanisms and systems can work in a well-adjusted, well-balanced way. We certainly want to be safe and rich, and have no financial struggles. Many people go for 2 jobs or work even at 3 places. Nobody has cancelled family or kids; that takes our condition to the point when every single day is too short. When we start feeling worse and weaker, we can get done much less, so one wonders how that was possible I studied and worked and still had time to go out and enjoy? This pretty much affects any tasks we have to deal with: whether work or relationship related, and it does not stop there. Burnout causes to lose any motivation and interest in the job or activity which could have been even exciting and good opportunity when we started out.

It is not always work which causes somebody to burn out. It is usually a combination of things. That can be job that has become very difficult to cope with, too demanding boss or too many tasks; sick parent who needs daily care; kids’ education that needs attention, difficult and worsening relationships with spouse or friends who were there to support before, so on and so on. Loss of somebody very meaningful, especially if this person was more or less associated with anything we do. Stressful situations and events just pile up and we seem to have less and less control over them and less and less power to manage everything.

The worst part is that these emotions and feeling completely ill are like a vicious circle: they will not go away until the cause of never-ending stress is eliminated. It is easy to say: quit the job or leave the family, move to another city or town, or place your parent in old folks home. Most often the financial situation and debt are the most stubborn issues. Still, if you reach the point when it is almost impossible to keep doing that job or fighting with duties or people, you will have to quit it. Your health will demand it. In burnout syndrome, mental issues prevail; chronic fatigue manifests more as a physical illness.

Feeling good and healthy makes everything else happen.

My personal recipe before one turns to brain-affecting medications or drugs and alcohol is being in the nature. Being with it, in it and having oneself immersed in the nature. That is why these who have a garden or backyard are better off.

The soil and grasses have huge power: as you touch soil with your hands or stand bare-foot on a fresh, green grass, the bad energy flows out and energetic imbalances return to normal. We have so much electricity in us that sometimes it just needs to be unloaded. Give it to the soil, return into natural circulation. Doing garden work is good in any regard and no gym can ever compare to that. Don’t do this to become the world’s best gardener: do gardening for yourself and as much or as little as you can.

The other thing that makes time and everything else disappear is art. Meditation with pencil or brush. How wonderful is that? Drawing flowers or scenes where everything is included and balanced. Peaceful soul reaches out to the beauty of nature. Be careful, though, if you do art for achieving the status of the best artist ever, but not to relieve your stresses, there won’t be results. I am talking about activities which are completely different from your daily duties. Who cares what your drawing or painting is like? Nobody, as long as you have let stresses go for a while.

If you are an artist or writer who feels completely exhausted and swallowed down by the competitive world, you will have to choose nature for walks, forests for discoveries and gardening for making brain and body more saturated with simplicity.

Simply switching activities can help, too.

The worst way to gain more time is depriving oneself of sleep. Sleep has to be made a big priority. Cannot sleep? Drink chamomile with honey, lemon balm (if you do not have low blood pressure because it lowers blood pressure a lot), literary: smell roses and lavender.

Late night is not the time to resolve anything. Morning always knows better.

Why am I suggesting such simple things for extremely complex conditions? Because I’ve been through this. The last stretch of 4 years was horrible. I have made through it without falling apart completely only because of nature, garden, work in fresh air and art. It is not that easy to paint or draw after a bad fatigue episode when everything hurts. It is not easy to get back to life after being exhausted or depressed. If we don’t do anything, nothing good can happen either. Change is hard work, but we need to find strength within ourselves. Nature is smart, way smarter than we admit. It is very rewarding to find a part of our strength in the nature.

This is what heals me

The fantastic fragrant air raising from apple blooms: it works like a medicine

Lilac beauty and fragrance therapy

The spring blossoming this year was so intense that I could not resist taking a few more pictures.

Enjoy the blooming!

Healthy lifestyle habits that put you at risk for undesirable side effects

We live in a global environment: any news flies around the planet in seconds and that includes fake promises, expectations and lies about healing miracles. It is quite difficult to distinguish between scientifically proven truth and assumptions on which many potential cures are based.

Why does that happen? We have to understand that in nowadays profit-taking world it is not consumers’ health that always comes first. While many companies which intend to manufacture health promoting products start out honestly, there are also very many companies that use the consumers’ trust in miracles in their favor. TV and media advertising do not promote only good and well-tested products: they will advertise anything that looks like it might be true and brings in money.

Considering the epidemic obesity rates, which include early childhood and young age obesity, abnormally high numbers of patients with cardiovascular and cerebrovascular, as well as heart diseases, not to mention cancer epidemics, people need something promising. TV, phone, laptop and computer screens scream to us: vitamins and supplements are the answer!

This era is also characterized by extreme efforts trying to maintain youthful look and energy, as well as live and stay active longer. There was no long-term research present when the first statements about the beneficial use of synthetic vitamins and supplements as our daily routine were made publicly available. Since the naturally occurring vitamins, amino acids and minerals played such an important role in functioning of our body and mind, it was simply believed that more of these nutrients are better. It was believed that the source of these nutrients was not the most important aspect.

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For how many decades now have you heard from your doctor: just take some multivitamins, use omega-3 or fish oils, don’t forget vitamin C and E; obviously we all suffer from lack of vitamin D and calcium, so these should not be forgotten either? That has become such an indisputable healthy life-style feature that you will find hardly any person in the developed countries who hasn’t been on lots of vitamins and supplements at some moment of their life.

The CONCERN ABOUT OVERUSE OF SYNTHETIC VITAMINS and SUPPLEMENTS is growing with every new clinical trial that has been carried out to observe whether there are any significant benefits from such synthetic supplement use. The findings are shocking at some point. While almost everybody knows by now that multivitamin use did not result in any health benefits, not everybody is still aware that over-the-counter supplements do not do what they are supposed to, as well.

Millions of people reach every day for their calcium or vitamin D3 pill, or combination thereof.  Here is a quote from Science Daily (summary of a clinical trial): “Taking calcium in the form of supplements may raise the risk of plaque buildup in arteries and heart damage, although a diet high in calcium-rich foods appears be protective, say researchers at conclusion of their study that analyzed 10 years of medical tests on more than 2,700 people.”

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161011182621.htm

Almost everybody over 50 believes that taking calcium supplements will aid in avoiding bone fractures and loss of bone mass and its mineral density: osteoporosis. That is not the only review; there are quite a few clinical trial conclusions that state the same: calcium in the form of a synthetic supplement does not provide with the same effects as consumption of dietary calcium, calcium naturally occurring in food products.

Meticulous testing showed that most of calcium taken as supplements did not even get to the bones: it was partially excreted with urine (hypercalciuria was quite common among calcium supplement users) and also calcium spikes were observed which does not happen with calcium-rich food intake. Judging by tests which showed no improvement with bone density, researchers believe that the other part of synthetic calcium dose is absorbed by soft tissue which explains arterial plagues and calcification of arteries. Calcium spikes were also responsible for heart conditions. Strokes and coronary artery blockages occurred much more frequently in those taking high doses of synthetic calcium supplements. Moreover, there was not observed decrease in fractures or osteoporosis.

Journal of the American Heart Association  https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161011182621.htm

Quote: “Because of the widespread awareness and treatment of osteoporosis with calcium supplements among older adults, this population would appear to be at greater risk of developing the adverse consequences of positive calcium balance, including vascular calcification.”

 “Calcium may be involved in pathogenesis of CVD (cardiovascular diseases) through multiple pathways, including through influences in lipid metabolism, insulin secretion and sensitivity, inflammation, thrombosis, regulation of body weight, and vascular calcification.”

The same goes for so much widely popularized omega-3 or healthy fatty acids. The evidence from many clinical trials exploring different conditions, such as omega-3 effects on cardiovascular and heart diseases, strokes and heart attacks, impact on brain function and delays of age-related dementia, rheumatoid arthritis and quite a few others, is very unconvincing. The widespread assumption that fatty acids may help delaying onset of some heart conditions, eye degeneration, brain malfunction and prevent cancers has no strong scientific evidence. It was noted that people who lived far north and consumed mostly fish suffered less from the above mentioned conditions. It wasn’t taken into account that their physical loads may be way different or their environment might be almost pollution-free. Therefore, it was soon assumed (and that was based on the facts that human body does not produce omega-3 fatty acids, therefore they have to be consumed) that synthetically processed omega-3 might contribute to higher levels of absorbed omega-3 fatty acids. We know by now that more is not better. MORE SUPPLEMENTS that exceed the daily allowance for such doses can cause significant health risks. Omega-3 fatty acids interact with medications, as well. If you are taking fish oil, especially fish liver oil, vitamin D and vitamin E, you are at significantly higher risk for bleeding. When all these supplements are combined with blood thinning medications (anticoagulants) that many people take to prevent thrombosis or heart attacks, the outcome might be seriously bad because the blood clotting will be significantly affected.

None of the previously carried out clinical trials about benefits of supplemented omega-3 use has provided with statistically significant proof that such use is beneficial for any of these conditions, but healthy life style and consumption of omega-3 fatty acids from clean food sources is. Therefore, it is much more advisable to eat good food and stay away from supplements, unless your doctor has prescribed them. That might be a drug form that is different from the over-the-counter form and, therefore, it might work for you. Uncontrolled use of any kind of supplements when somebody is already on prescription medications can be DANGEROUS  and it CAN AFFECT THE WAY YOUR PRESCRIPTION MEDICATION WORKS. Always consult a doctor, assuming your doctor is aware of the newest scientific discoveries and follows up on developments in the area of synthetic vitamins and synthetic supplements.

US National Institute of Health publication https://nccih.nih.gov/health/omega3/introduction.htm

The truth is that synthetic supplements have a different chemical composition; it is not the same respective vitamin or mineral which we are absorbing from food. Therefore, the metabolism pathways and the way this supplement or vitamin act and behave in the body are not completely known. It is also believed that vitamins and minerals from natural sources work the way they do because food usually contains a set or combination of minerals, amino acids and vitamins in their natural form which is recognized by the body; and this recognition is due to the program which is set by our very individual DNA.

Next articles will review the problems with synthetic antioxidants, vitamin E (the only synthetic form which is available at pharmacies: alpha-tocopherol), vitamin C and some other supplements. If you do not know where to look for supplement and vitamin recalls (there are quite a lot of them), google Health Canada and FDA websites. Such lists are publicly available.

 

 

Are you wasting your money for supplements and vitamins without experiencing any benefits?

The multibillion industry of non-prescription food supplements and vitamins is most likely operating on assumptions. How so?

Absence of controlled clinical testing

Prescription drug has to undergo many stages of clinical trials: to obtain statistically significant trial results there has to be a sufficient research population, control groups, dose safety and tolerance testing and also estimates of benefits versus harm. That is why placement on the market of a prescription drug might take quite many years. When studies in animals have proven potentially safe use for humans, healthy volunteers will try the drug before it is assigned to people with a particular condition or disease. First phases are blinded and double-blinded when neither treating doctor, nor patient knows what they are receiving placebo or the active substance, and the effects of study drug are compared to placebo. Placebo is a drug that looks like the active treatment drug, but has no active substance. That allows excluding false improvement cases and accessing the success rate. Next phases (assuming that the drug has gotten so far) will compare doses or combination treatments. There can be both: dose safety testing and testing in combination. Only when the obtained results from controlled studies (controlled means the indicators and values are taken at baseline and periodically throughout the clinical trial and at the end of it and all results are appropriately documented and patients are monitored) can reveal significant benefit versus risk ratio, as well as statistically significant improvement, the drug would be approved for marketing and selling it.

That’s not the case with supplements: they are left on conscience of producer and manufactured at discretion of a company. Clinical testing and clinically proven in such cases might mean a small population with not properly recorded baseline indicators and improper monitoring throughout the testing period. The outcome of a study always depends on study subjects; that’s why there are meticulously elaborated inclusion and exclusion criteria in real clinical studies. Many supplements usually bypass the multi-patient testing since it is time-; labor- and cost-consuming.

As soon as the first synthetic vitamins were created and as soon as we realized the role and importance of these organic nutrients, it was assumed: there were no risks, but only benefits with their consumption for everybody.

The global market for complexes of vitamin compounds, minerals, herbs with vitamin compounds, enzymes, synthetic proteins and similar substances has become an uncontrollable, huge profits gaining monster. Can you trust a clinical testing that is carried out and paid for by the manufacturing company? That is a very doubtful testing for results because we are talking about billions of dollars in potential profits.

What is the danger?

Unlike any advertisement tells, it is by far not as safe as we believe to take supplements and vitamins, especially in the absence of proof of authenticity (buying online or from not certified provider). Virtually, anybody can manufacture non-prescription supplements because the regulations and standards for this type of products are not sufficiently regulated and controlled. The medical authorities become aware of harmful substance or risks associated with the use of some product ONLY after they receive reports about serious side-effects, illnesses caused by these products or even lethal cases. Do you really want to be the healthy volunteer who goes for it?

Supplementation is important for the treatment of certain health problems, especially clinically significant deficiencies that cause chain reactions in the body by inhibiting some processes; however, there is little evidence of nutritional benefit when used by otherwise healthy people.

The supplement market assumes we are all the same

Overdose or unnecessary consumption of such products can result in side effects. What global market of vitamins and other supplements does not take into account is the individual condition of a person, individual medical history, climate where one resides, nutrition or malnutrition history, specific genetic inheritance and so on, specific conditions and so on. We differ in any aspect: patient A could be absorbing some supplement very well, patient B experiences neither improvement, nor worsening with it, and patient C has side effects; and these differences will be due to their personal metabolism and thousands of other factors. Therefore, it is WRONG to assume that any supplement or vitamin will make you healthier. Vitamin A and E supplements do not only provide any health benefits for generally healthy individuals, but they may increase serious health risks. The wide-spread opinion that omega-3 supplements help maintaining heart health and overall health is somewhat doubtful, too; at least clinical trial (6 years long, in more than 12,000 patients) showed no efficacy as compared to placebo group. We also have to remember that under influence of health maintaining goals, lots of food products have added all kinds of synthetic supplements and vitamins, especially vitamin D and calcium.

Dangerous vitamins and supplements

The safest way to find out our body’s necessities

We need to know and we need to be aware on how our body works, what we are short of and what we have enough. The assumption that life time long consumption of supplements will make us disease-free and increase the life expectancy is not based on strong clinical proofs. It is based on assumption that more is better. We are becoming more knowledgeable thanks to quick lab tests, but once again: the body and mind love BALANCE. Not more, not less, but as much as needed. We receive this in a dose that is suitable for us personally when we consume balanced, nutrient-rich, fresh and organic food. The problem with organic food can be also a misleading labeling, well, use your common sense.

The only way to find out where we are standing is to ask your doctor for tests. If there is a clinically significant deficiency, you might need completely different form of this particular substance, not the over-the-counter version. Repeated testing will show whether you are absorbing any of this supplement or not. There are cases when people take iron supplements for prevention of anemia, but these supplements do not work at all because body does not recognize them in a form they are provided, and that is the main issue with all synthetically produced supplements and vitamins: it is not always that we will be making any use of them, even in case when no harm happens.

Are you obsessed with health issues?

If you are, you should be aware that consumption of supplements won’t have any benefits if you have a good health already. Consumption of nutrient-rich food will provide you with everything in a balanced and proper way. Whenever possible, we have to use the most natural, nothing added and nothing removed products.

wasting-money-for-supplements

I will continue with clinical trials, dose-dependent harms or benefits and explain why some supplements do not work as expected or do not work for every person in the next article.

Living green means simplifying and enhancing life

So far, we have been taught that more is always better. We have known for decades that having more than anybody else is the best.

It is fairly obvious, however, that it is better to have a few good things than very many useless ones. We have to educate ourselves every single day, and do that not based on what somebody else believes, but based on facts, our and other peoples’ experience and tested, proven truth. The campaigns which claim to provide us with miracle products are just advertising trick because the real miracle of life is our ability to change the aspects affecting us. We always have a choice, would that be food or place to live.

We love excuses, we can justify any laziness or idleness of mind and body. There are diseases, there are accidents, many of which wouldn’t happen if just paid more attention and implemented some preventive measures. Accidents and diseases are quite often caused by things WHICH WE DID NOT WANT TO DO. Which we felt we were too tired or too exhausted to do.

Prevention is the best protection, both against diseases and accidents. Having everything safely placed at home and in the outdoor space, prevents plenty of childhood accidents. It is not that difficult to never place hot or boiling substance close to the table rim. It is not that difficult to fence in open water on a property. One ambulance worker said: if people didn’t try so hard to show off how brave or strong they are, many accidents wouldn’t happen.

Choosing simple things over expensive equipment and gym isn’t any worse sporting activity. In fact, we are aware now, that MODERATE physical activities are the best. That means people who already have some illness or disorder, have to be careful and choose activities which won’t harm them more.

Everybody who can, should take walks. The added bonus is doing that in tree-rich area, parks, forests, taking a path away from busy traffic routes. When we compare walk in the forest and workout in the gym, it is almost like having decent organic meal and dining at fast food restaurant.

Appearances take huge place in any area of our life. I mean, people do so much stuff not for themselves, but to show off to somebody who is “EVERYBODY”. I have noticed how TV uses “everybody”: everybody eats this and everybody watches that; everybody wears that outfit or color and everybody exercises like that. EVERYBODY is NOBODY.

Thankfully, we are also all different as our DNA proves. There are no 100% identical people on the planet because even twins due to epigenetic factors develop distinctive life styles or get different diseases in their life-time.

Epigenetic factors have strong influence, therefore, we are not only determined by our genetic potential or some genetic disorder.

The best way to keep ourselves healthy is to ALWAYS stay close to nature and natural products and environment.

We can learn a lot from the garden: how to start fresh every year, how to bloom regardless of bad weather and how to get through tough winter peacefully and being ready for new blossoming. Therefore, we can impact our destiny and genetic predisposition by returning to nature: fresh air, unpolluted water, undisturbed sunlight and clean soil will always take care about basic products, greens and herbs on our table. The beauty and tranquility of a garden is the best environment to recharge and reset one’s energy.

It was late fall, and some flowers were still blossoming. Sunflowers are beauties with a strength and surviving power of a warrior. Colors of leaves make us wonder every fall: the nature has so many shades of colors and shapes.

Blessings from people who wish us well go long ways

I am very thankful and grateful to all my friends, fellow bloggers who have supported me so much during this extremely tough time.  It might seem like nothing special to those who do not blog frequently or have done this for a short time yet. However, there are moments when our life reaches the point when we become completely upset because of some health issues, we lose our determination and all good intentions are forgotten since there is no energy to implement any of them. During these times, my friends, bloggers were right there. There were hundreds and hundreds of prayers, good thoughts and blessings sent.

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I think the aspect which makes blogging so unique among all other forms of social interaction is the ability to really discover people, make new friends, even though, they are far away and scattered over all countries of the globe. I am certainly grateful for this ongoing, never stopping support. Among you are many people who suffer or have suffered from all kinds of health problems. That’s life and that’s something which we get as a side effect of living not in a perfect world. One second can turn our life upside down, and the sequences can stretch over decades. We need courage to realistically access our condition, and we need lots and lots of strength. What was the most pleasurable experience during the days when I was totally off? Those were encouragements, wishes feeling better and blessings which arrived from all sides of the globe.

blessings-1

It is so wonderful that there is love which never ends; there is kindness, appreciation and gratitude. It is wonderful to feel better, and lots of friends have contributed to my inner comfort.

blessings-3

I can only repeat that starting my two blogs (one 4 years ago and this one just last year) was the best thing I could ever do. There isn’t anything else like blogging; no Facebooks, Twitters or other media can ever replace that because of content, unlimited exchange of thoughts, ideas and inspiration.

I am attaching 3 fall photos from my personal archive; I hope you’ll love these.

Those who love art are invited to check out https://inesepogagallery.com/2016/09/25/2949/

and http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/inese-poga.html

And finally: I feel blessed for all this help and am sending back my prayers and blessings to those of you who need them at this moment.

The inappreciative patient and my lost summer pleasures

I have mixed feelings towards people who are too positive, too optimistic and expect too much when there is no good reason to do so. It is twice as bad if your doctor sees things for not what they are, but assumes them way better than the real condition shows.

lost summer 1

This is my stormy summer

The surgery itself went quite smoothly. We cannot escape unpleasant feelings and sensations with lots of cutting. However, I was very shocked when they quickly dressed the huge wound and told: ok, let’s go. I wasn’t really able to walk because one part of incision was fairly close to the ankle while the other which did not cause that much discomfort was under the knee. This leg has grafted skin since 1992, so this type of skin is unable to hold sutures. The doctor told there was no need also to apply something else. He proudly announced we would expect this to heal quickly by second intention which simply means: wound that is extensive and involves considerable tissue loss, and in which the edges cannot be brought together, heals naturally from the inside out. I certainly was concerned when they told me to walk right away, but my head was very foggy, and so we drove home.

I was wearing loose long pants, so only when I fall in the bed and lifted up the fabric, I noticed blood spots. They became larger and more and more intense until I had to cover this up with a few more layers of gauze. The blood was literally streaming through the gauze. I called the doctor’s office. They told to send a picture. It’s needless to say, my exhaustion was insane and pain was increasingly stronger, so it took me big efforts to send a picture over the phone, sounds funny, but it was like that. Well, they said: I had to go to emergency. Emergency was quite surprised how they had let me go, but after some 3-4 hours they were able to fix the issue and stop bleeding.

I am always careful with medications I am prescribed or signs and symptoms which occur. The pain was just stronger and stronger. The ankle area was totally swollen. I had fever, too, and that was pretty much an indication of infection. All surgeries have 2 main complications: bleeding and infection. It looked I was getting both. If my head was clear and I had my normal brain sharpness, I most likely had noticed what antibiotic I was prescribed. I did not pay attention; I just took a pill from the small container and watched the clock not to miss some dose. On the next day, I was fairly sure, things are not right. I have had so many surgeries in the past that I am able to feel when something is getting out of control. Some so-called home care doctors came; they took vitals and had a look at the dressing. I had to go to emergency again. The doctor who checked the wound at emergency seemed to be really in shock. It’s infected, he stated. Well, I knew it already, but nevertheless, when I looked at the wound myself, I almost fainted. Necrotic spots were visible; the look was so terrible that I started hysterically crying. The part that hurt me most was: so much of viable tissue was lost. I needed it, I needed it so badly in order to heal!

Thankfully, they had sent a wound swab to the lab. Meanwhile, I was given i/v and attached to an i/v antibiotic infusion pump. It’s a fairly uncomfortable thing, if you are not familiar with it. They had initially attached it to the vein in my right arm, straight below the elbow, so for a few days I couldn’t use my right arm. This pump stays with you for 5-7 days, so one is very limited in mobility because the long infusion line gets caught everywhere and sleeping with it is scary.

On Monday I received a call that I have to return to emergency immediately. Why? That was the third time within 5 days. The antibiotic I was receiving was not able to handle the nasty microorganisms, they didn’t give anything about this particular drug, there was a complete resistance.

3-4 more hours at emergency, and finally I was given another i/v, another antibiotic which supposedly would be working. Therefore, I had lost more than 4 days, and for type I diabetic with extensive surgical site infection, that is like eternity. 3 more days with my friend infusion pump. This time I knew how that feels to have this pump attached day and night to the vein, so I got the line inserted in the left arm, on the outside and not directly under the elbow. If only my head had been clear enough to follow-up on these antibiotics which I was given! I had told the doctor: cephalosporins DO NOT work. The previous doctor had already found out that. I really regret there does not exist a unified online database with patient records so that any treating physician could see sensitivities, intolerances and resistances right away, BEFORE MAKING SUCH TERRIBLE MISTAKES, before causing conditions which are absolutely preventable. Nevertheless, he had prescribed exactly cephalosporin. Did he think I had no idea what I was talking about? His ignorance caused me abnormal troubles, pain and resulted in severe complications. It’s hard to understand, but it seems every doctor in Ontario prescribes cephalosporins as a first choice medication, and most likely that is causing the resistance. They are overprescribed and over-applied.

The doctor? He told everything was fine even when I sent the black and blue necrotic and infected wound pictures. Is that even possible that somebody can be so wrong with the evaluation? Does this somebody have zero experience? Is he so sloppy and negligent that he does not want to admit things went so wrong because of lack of ANY PREVENTIVE MEASURES? It looked bad and shocking, and it was clear the healing will take much more time. Not to mention the stress, anxiety, worries, frustration and despair.

Lost summer 2

Meanwhile everything is blooming outdoors

I do regret I did not try harder to raise funds for having this surgery done in Latvia. I had never such a bad experience before, and quite honestly, I would not have survived the injuries back then if treatments were like this one. It makes me feel as if patient does not matter. It all comes down to money eventually. The doctor said if he was even ok with me staying at a hospital, they did not have enough beds for such “easy” (?!?) surgeries.

The only thing I still hope for is: this has a good end. This wound heals without any other complications.

Lost summer 5

Summer goes on with colors and heat

Meanwhile, my lovely summer disappears with a speed of light. I love the crisp mornings after rain, I love the exhausting heat and sipping cold lemon water in my backyard. I love watching my flowers and vegetables blooming and exploding in beauty. I love the saturated colors of ripening vegetables, and I miss the garden work so much! The last good year for me was 2013. That was the year of my daughter’s second wedding, the year of traveling and pleasure. My biggest goal is now getting this finally fixed and forgetting everything that happened this summer like a bad dream. I haven’t painted for a fairly long time. I feel so exhausted, so drained and so helpless at the moment. When I’m seeing quotes and wise advises on what’s life, what’s success and what’s happiness and similar intellectual pearls, that makes me laugh and cry at the same time: just stop pretending you are not aware how things do not depend on you. Living in the moment is fine, as long as this moment is tolerable for you. Nobody asks or ever will ask you whether you are ok with pain or struggles that are inevitable. Everything has a very logical cause and a very logical effect. I am mobilizing all my internal energy and strength at the moment to overcome the side effects and to bring the wound to a good healing stage. Well, it’s already looking better.

lost summer 3

Catalpa tree has made beans already while I was sleeping inside

Scars from the past and fears of the future

Some people are definitely more intact than others, and I am referring to people who have experienced severe mental or physical injuries and traumas. Some have inherited or developed stronger defense mechanisms; therefore, they can withstand bad relapsing conditions and depression triggering events easier. I think our mental strength gets also affected with any physical trauma. I am not one of those people who write blogs about their struggles and suffering. I know that sharing a bad condition brings sort of relief and can possibly show the way out to others. It’s just possibly, because there are no two 100% identical cases, there are just similarities, maybes and huge inter-and intra-individual variations. However, as bad as my conditions and pain might be, I do not want to allow these disorders and pain to identify me.  I just refuse to be somebody who always suffers since that’s not what I am here for. I am here to protest, to oppose, to help, to teach and share some facts and my discoveries.

art of surviving disaster 6

Nevertheless, it’s been 3 very tough years. Again. I already had once 3 very tough years after I left the hospital which had become my home for almost a year. It’s very interesting how before the accident I didn’t even know what a simple headache was. After the accident, I learned everything about hospitals, pre-and post-treatments, medicines, their side effects and I discovered billions of new small bits about the human body and the ways it functions or dysfunctions. So far, I have spent 30 years studying everything from depressive and cognitive disorders to anything related to type I diabetes, heart and vascular, kidney, liver, lung and digestive diseases, and I am paying special attention to the brain activity and anything which affects it. While I can fairly well assess my own disorders, I cannot cure them on my own. Apart from being hard to tolerate, pain is also exhausting and drains me out of energy. It is capable of doing this to the point when I am almost always asleep. Pain is a bad and obtrusive companion: I wake up with it, I go to sleep with it, I have my lunch with it and it seems to be always around.

Those of you, who live with chronic pain for lengthy periods of time, probably are aware that pain makes us more vulnerable, more sensitive, more open to depression and desperation. Whatever somebody would say, whenever the pain attacks, we have to experience it on our own. If you are extremely sensitive to any chemicals and medicines as I am, you are aware how they make one sick even at doses which would be considered tiny and mild. So, that’s the issue, I am trying to be stronger than pain without much of medications. I would take them only when it is absolutely, completely intolerable. Even in these cases, I’m using only 200 mg or 400 mg Ibuprofen or Advil. Nothing stronger, nothing which affects the brain function and interaction of brain chemicals. I take pills rarely, as rarely as only possible. Instead, I am crying, tossing around on a couch and feeling how my willpower leaves me. Why? I don’t want to damage more than inevitable my kidneys, my liver and get ulcers, bleeding or holes in the stomach which can happen with prolonged use of potent pain relief medications. Unfortunately, when we have to rely on OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan) covered care and treatments, the waiting times are insane. It can take about 6 months to see the specialist. In my case, it took 3 years to try getting something done. I am going to have a surgery very soon. I am absolutely scared because the results are not very predictable. In fact, they are much unknown, but since there aren’t plenty of choices, surgery seems to be the best option.

I do anything which I can, which I can at the moment. I certainly hope to return to normal life. I would love to have normal nice summers and winters again; I would love to go out here and there, to have some vacation, to see and meet people outside this place, to do anything which most people can do without any problem. Well, I hope to be there someday soon.

I also disagree with those who are convinced: once you let the past go you are like brand new and ready for a fresh start. How about the past not letting you go? This accident happened 24 years ago and that’s when I got quite a few new acquaintances: lots of pain, depressive episodes because I wasn’t able to cope with life as before, so on and so on. Whenever we are just fixed up after bad mental or physical traumas which happened in the past, we will never be the same. We will have anxieties and fear of so many things which were unknown before the trauma. We will be patched up and sewn together, but never again without cracks and scars. These scars might be invisible to others, but they are always there. Fears and worries are sneaking up on us whether in a dream or in reality.

Before your hand starts writing you are sorry (in case you decided to read this update since I was so bad, I couldn’t post anything for quite a while and most likely I’ve lost all followers), I would love to say I don’t want somebody to be sorry. It’s ok not to be sorry. I am a fighter, I always have been. I would appreciate much more you went to the gallery and art blog and checked out my Fine Art America link on the right side and the art for sale on the art blog. Ironically, when we are in the least favorable state and condition to make some money, we need the financial support the most.

art of surviving disaster 3

Yams

art of surviving disaster 4

More of my yams experiment

art of surviving disaster 2

Zucchini

art of surviving disaster 5

Cucumber blooms

The other thing which I am doing to get my mind off is my backyard and plants as you can see above. I have put something in the soil, just like always, and yams are absolutely experimental for me this year. Not much happening with painting, but the bits will be published on the gallery blog assuming I get to this before the surgery.

Keeping memories alive and our brain fit

We know what happens to body parts not in use, for instance, during longer periods of immobilization: they degenerate and we have to work very hard to re-establish their flexibility and activity, and that involves all tissues and cells. That takes work, exercise and treatment. While wrinkles on somebody’s face or body shape clearly indicate person’s age and are visible at a first glance, the memory glitches and mild brain dysfunction are not. That’s why most people are obsessed with looking younger at any means, with diets, must have outfits and tools. That is an inevitable part of the visible and directly noticeable personality. Nobody is afraid to spend money on gym, sports equipment, hairdo, makeup, plastic surgeon and costly skin treatments. There’s so much money spent on useless food supplements which quite often harm the user without giving any of the benefits commercials promise. How come the most important part, the commandment and interaction managing center, the brain is so frequently left out of the scene of self-improvement?

Brain fitness 3

Keeping memories alive and watching the brain health is the most neglected aspect of our general health. Why?

Most likely, the main reason is nobody can see the aging of our brain or notice it right away. As it progresses, the person experiencing this badly affecting disorder is not even aware of it. This trouble becomes a serious issue when the memory loss is already large enough to affect the daily routine and any normal activities.

We simply should not allow that happen. Do we? Along with genetically inherited factors, mobile and digital devices do not demand us to use the memory and our brain. Everything is on the phone or laptop: directions, reminders, alarms, alerts and lists. We can send notes to ourselves and make endless to-do and other lists. How is that bad? It’s very simple: while we are watching screens or scrolling through them, our brain is half asleep. It’s crying for attention, but most people do not take this seriously until the brain turns itself off. The usage of our brain with well-known activities even with demanding, but familiar mental activities is very little. The brain requires daily exercise, daily workload and high level usage. That’s the only way to keep neurons alive and not to lose any connections which are called synapses. That’s the only way to develop new neurons at any age. The research in twins shows that genetic factors are by far not everything since one of twins develops dementia or Alzheimer’s while the other does not. That is a very strong indication in favor of epigenetic factors, like our daily activities, the work we do, the level of our involvement in challenging mental tasks.

Good food, absence of harmful chemicals, physical activity and proper care are essential elements of our well-being, but they make no sense when the brain stops functioning. They make zero sense without cognitive function and memory. The sad reality looks like this, however: once we are done with school and degrees, the active learning period ends, too. How many people who engage in intentional brain exercises on a daily basis when their job does not require that do you know? Let’s compare this number with people who care about their diet and physical activity. I can bet that there are very few who will say they know a lot of people who learn playing a new instrument, who do a research or learn a new language and who do visual arts for their brain exercises every day at an older age.

I would call the lack of brain exercising phenomenal in times when statistics reveal that the number of people suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s is expected to double in countries like Canada and the USA by 2038. Besides, there is nothing complicated about it: book your drawing and painting class, language learning course, music class or do your research with visual illustrations right away. Do not delay because any hesitation is causing trouble.

Brain health

It’s proven by now through many controlled trials that the best brain life boosting activity is drawing and painting because:

it is something new every time;

it is challenging and requires obtaining new skills every single minute;

it is a skill one can build on while starting at an easy level;

it is rewarding and pleasurable activity;

it involves socializing when taking a class in a group;

it reduces stress, anxiety and nervousness;

it involves positive thinking and positive attitude towards reality.

Brain fitness 2

These elements of brain exercising are essential. Besides, doing an art class is easy, affordable and some class always takes place close by. Just a small note: drawing and painting with alcohol does not improve brain function because we get opposite effects: alcohol kills brain cells while visual art extends the life of neurons and number of their connections.

Taking care of the brain is essential. We shouldn’t put it off.

Preveting memory loss

Food for brain: feed your happiness, not depression

Do you sometimes think that everything you eat can make you happy, full of energy and joy, or upset, depressed and exhausted? The truth is, feeding our brain the right way will provide us with more power to overcome bad days, allow to have much fewer bad days and to feel better and less stressed out or anxious.

We are aware by now that we can successfully teach and exercise our emotions and feelings provided the chemical reactions and levels of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters are in balance. However, we rarely think, that food we consume and nutrients we provide our body with have an extremely huge impact on our mental state, emotions, feelings and ability to determine whether we are having more bad or good days. Among the most important brain chemicals are serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, melatonin, insulin and prostaglandins.

Due to external and internal stresses, many people might complain about very long-lasting mild depression. I have heard recently many saying they experience a seasonal affective disorder. Well, we all do to some extent if any nutrients are lacking in our diet and we don’t give an appropriate boost of those.

I used to have extremely bad intolerance to winter darkness and was upset most of the time when the weather was cold and I couldn’t get enough air and sunlight. I had sort of no energy to deal with any issues. I refused jobs just because I didn’t feel I could handle them. As many of you know, I’ve devoted many years to medical research, writing and analysis of patient data and symptoms; therefore, I have come to conclusions that everything which is within us affects everything from our physical condition to our mental states.

Digestive and metabolism disorders heavily affect the balance of brain chemicals. For instance, most of serotonin is produced in our gut and during the sleep. It’s extremely simple: people who have good metabolism and no noticeable lack of nutrients and who take their time to rest and pay attention to long enough and good sleep, shouldn’t be having too many bad days either.

How about external stressors which do not depend on us? Like the angry voice of your boss or piles of work that needs to be done, but you’re stuck in a traffic jam, or kids insisting you do one thing, husband being grumpy about something else while you’d rather do nothing of that, but something totally different you believe you need at the moment? That’s exactly the same story: we have built in coping mechanisms, and when our brain chemicals are in good balance, when we do have our thyroid and adrenal glands not working in hypo-or hiper- regimen, these coping mechanisms can work properly, too. That is why you will see in the same situation one person laughing, the other person ignoring this situation completely, but the third one will be crying or going crazy. It’s not exactly their personality that causes these reactions; it’s how well they are prepared for dealing with any issues.

Happiness starts in the gut

Everything starts in the gut. When we are treating a mood disorder or mild depression with strong medicines, alcohol, drugs and comfort food, we are aiming for side effects and reactions which we actually want to avoid. The New Year is almost at our door step and holiday season is in full swing, so alcohol consumption is high. Your liver does not care how beautiful the cocktail looks or how expensive the drink is: once the processing starts, a big label “toxins” is assigned to the contents of the decorated drink. Many pre-processed foods, soft drinks and food with high content of artificial ingredients get assigned the same label: “toxins”. When we add to this some damage which over years has happened to parts of our body that take care of removing any toxins and leftovers, the picture becomes quite clear: these toxins are going nowhere, but accumulating straight within us, poisoning our mood, destroying our chemical balance and making levels of brain chemicals significantly off. Therefore, it should be very easy to understand: treating bad mood with a pill, drug, alcohol or sweets is absolutely wrong. This means relieving symptoms for a short-term while, in fact, we need a long-term adjustment and correction to the cause of all these disorders and imbalances. That’s how we get caught in a roller coaster of sweets and sugars that we decorate with a glass of wine or champagne.

Happiness starts with food 5

Artificial supplements and drug store vitamins might not always get absorbed as good as the ones which come from the real sources, just because your ancient DNA and your body recognizes them much better.

If you love engaging in writing New Year’s resolutions, the first and the most important item should address the BALANCE: balanced activities, balanced sleep-awake periods, balanced intake of nutrients, balanced body processes, balanced reactions due to balanced metabolism. Everything else is secondary.

Happiness starts with food 6

I love not only eating vegetables, but I’m extremely happy to take their pictures, as well. This activity alone lifts my mood. I paint these things quite often also: beautiful shapes, colors, it’s pleasure for eyes, as well.

Avoiding harmful chemicals and making good choices to quench our thirst is a big deal

While standing in the grocery store line, it’s impossible not to pay attention to what people are putting in their shopping carts. There is pretty large crowd which walks around the store with flyers in their hand looking for deals and discounts. Well, it’s not that the best products or the freshest ones get into this flyer, but we can sometimes get promotional products at very inexpensive prices. However, the most deals are offered for unhealthy and processed food and drinks.

I would say there’s a reason why soft drinks like Coke, Pepsi and Sprite family drinks are banned from schools and their neighbourhoods in quite a few European countries. My native country Latvia has always been strict with such foods and drinks, the positive side is that we didn’t even see them or know they existed until borders were opened in 1991, and the Latvian market was flushed with North American chemical foods and fast food places appeared. We had practically no obesity and related issues until the era of imported stuff begun. Believe or not unlike in Canada, real dairy products are still available in Latvia. It’s always up to consumers because manufacturers will try to meet the demand. When consumers show their dissatisfaction with chemically enhanced food, manufacturers and food producers have no other way, but to offer food and drinks which are in line with healthy eating guidelines and which are compliant with restrictions in use of chemical ingredients.

I’ve read in some surveys how people who told Coke was a total poison and Pepsi was a pure junk were attacked. That makes one wonder: are there really too few obesity, type 2 diabetes, digestive and heart and blood vessel associated diseases and cases yet? Isn’t there proof enough that not real food, proteins, carbohydrates and fats make a person sick, but their chemical substitutes and surrogate ingredients? Nobody would need to ever diet or fight the unwanted pounds if all of a sudden fast food, processed food and chemically produced food and drinks disappeared. However, that is NOT going to happen because profits always come first. There is a wide range in standards for chemicals and their maximum contents in food products. Therefore, the choice is ours: we all can exclude chemicals, fast food and processed foods from our menu. To some extent at least, because vegetables, fruit, berries, herbs and organic products are still a subject to standards, and these standards allow for plenty of variation. Organic DOES NOT mean the product is completely free of chemicals, pesticides and fertilizers. Organic means the amount of harmful chemicals meets the stated limits.

It has been abnormally hot in Canada, Ontario for the last 2 weeks. We are expecting one more heat wave. Everybody will need to quench their thirst, and everybody will have a choice: use pure water, mineral water or fruit flavored water for hydration, or just grab some soft drink, milk shake and juice. When we talk about hydration, there is nothing better than PURE water. There simply isn’t. For quite a few reasons: for its chemical formula, for the fast absorption rate, for its friendly attitude towards our cell structure and for its lack of chemicals (however, some tap water can contain a lot chlorine, even antibiotics, even metformin which is blood sugar lowering drug, even residues of very harmful chemical elements: everything which does not degrade naturally and fast within the source of drinking water). We are very fine when we use MODERATE amounts of water because overdoing anything has bad consequences (hyponatremia or deficit of sodium in the blood stream). Everything else will have some additional something: juice is too high in sugar, soft drinks are high in sugar and mainly consist of chemicals, milk shakes and ice-cream based drinks have way too many calories. The only thing we actually need is to hydrate ourselves and maintain a good functionality, isn’t it? We don’t have to intake as many calories as with meal for this purpose.

How about kids? Kids will use whatever their parents are offering them from early childhood. When the family does not use soft drinks, kid will never have cravings for them. When the family is not addicted to sugars and fast foods, kid will never know such disorders as type 2 diabetes even exist. Some parents are very worried that child does not eat enough. Well, normal kid will not starve himself to the point when some disorders occur. Kid could be reluctant to drink enough water, though. I also told this in my previous post: making fruit flavored water with colorful slices of citrus fruits is a good idea because this type of drink does not raise the content of sugars noticeably, but hydrates well. Nobody has appetite when the blood glucose level is too high. We humans are having lots of signals in place to know when we are hungry (and being hungry is really good, but not starving), therefore, if kid has had some sugar-rich food or drink before, they will not be interested in eating normal meal. Adding colored ice to such drinks is also a nice thing: we can freeze small mint leaves in ice cubs, we can freeze tea and juice to add to water, it looks very attractive.

My photos of fruit flavored water and ice

Fruit flavored water

Colorful, fresh and healthy

Mineral water good choice to quench our thirst

Mineral water: good choice to quench our thirst

Add fruit and ice to regular bottled water

Add fruit and ice to regular bottled water

Sparkling mineral water

For people who want to stay away from alcohol: using sparkling water with lime and mint allows to get rid of cravings for alcohol

Still life with water and fruit

Fresh and delicious: what’s not to like?

I’m always embarrassed how when we have to stop on the roadside while travelling for some snack these places always will push one to have a Coke or Pepsi with food, but when I ask whether they have sparkling water or mineral water, they quite often don’t. Well, I usually get by asking for water with lime.

Stay hydrated and use healthy water to quench your thirst!

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