Summers in Texas, Spoken Like a Native

My dad and me in 1977

My dad and me in 1977

Today WeGo Health has asked us to write about the delights of summertime – family vacations, grilling outside, water sports – all of the joys that only summer can bring.

When I think about all the summers I’ve spent in this beautiful state where I was born and raised, I immediately think of my childhood – playing on the soft green grass of my father’s meticulously-manicured lawn, no shoes on; enjoying the endless summer days with sunsets that lingered until 9 o’clock; our days filled with swimming and sports; summer’s tanned skin; highlights in my hair; family dinners and Sun Tea. My sister and I were blessed to spend many summers in intimate fellowship with our parents. My mom stayed home with us, and together with her best friend (also our godmother), was always at-the-ready to create gleeful galavanting for us. My dad took us to work with him sometimes, and he came home early more often in the summer. How I loved to “go to work” with Dad and help him run our family restaurants. He had a way of making me feel useful and important, because he treated every moment as a chance to teach me. I felt all grown up yet with a kid’s twinkly-eyed spirit and a feeling of complete safety to explore life’s every opportunity. I never felt scared or afraid to pursue, imagine, ask questions or find new ways to stretch my young mind, even when school let out for summer.

My sister and me in 1982

My sister and me in 1982

I’ve learned that many people, if not most people, who are not from Texas, have the perception that Texas is nothing but HOT. For most people, I guess Texas is pretty darn hot, but the Lone Star State is much more than its weather, and since I grew up in the heat, it really doesn’t phase me. What many people don’t know is that Texas is really like five or six small states, and the weather is vastly different across the differing regions, making any given Texas summer the possibility to be a new and exciting memory-in-the-making.

A Texan's Map of Texas

A Texan’s Map of Texas

Mesquite's BBQ & Grill | Lubbock, Texas

Mesquite’s BBQ & Grill | Lubbock, Texas

West Texas – For example, I grew up in Lubbock, Texas which is considered to be part of the High Plains or Panhandle Plains. Colloquially, we Texans refer to the region as “The South Plains” or “West Texas.” West Texas is mostly a dessert with its signature hot days and cooler nights, high winds, mesas, cacti and cotton. Of course who could forget all that dirt, all that cattle, all that barbecue, and the uniquely addictive cuisine, Tex-Mex (read: cheese, chili, beans and flour tortillas)! Of course, there are also dust storms that sometimes rival those of the Middle East, big Texas rainstorms over vast horizons, and booming thunderstorms that often produce tornadoes. Despite the dust and accompanying hay fever, West Texas also has all the charm of all four seasons. It even snows!

The city of Lubbock (where I’m from) is lovingly referred to as “The Hub City” since it’s the largest city within hundreds of miles and serves as the main medical, educational and commercial area for this seemingly boundless region of Texas, which includes the Texas Panhandle and even parts of eastern New Mexico. West Texas is also the birthplace of Buddy Holly. The area has an unexpected and rich heritage of music, art and entertainment, not limited to country music or cowboy style. Our summers were spent at summer camps, going to festivals and fairs, participating in July 4th parades, entering family recipes into Chili Cook Offs, countless backyard barbecues and playing in a swimming pool somewhere almost every day. The weather is so dry that a dip in the pool is barely noticeable after 10 minutes. The dry winds have a way of vacuuming every drop of moisture from any surface.

buddy_holly

An afternoon thunderstorm in West Texas. The peak on the right is called a Wall Cloud, the precursor to a tornado.

An afternoon thunderstorm in West Texas. The peak on the right is called a Wall Cloud, the precursor to a tornado.

While my personal experiences are probably typical for many families in the area, in actuality, West Texas is quite a quirky place. We are definitely a bunch of rednecks in the middle of a dessert, but the experience of living there seems more like growing up on an island in some respects since the city is so isolated. Collectively, West Texans share many of the same experiences. For example, Texas Tech University is a part of every Lubbockite’s coming-of-age experience, from the powerful and ever-present reverence for football to the not-so-apparent academic side of country life.

A Texas Tech football game is a religious experience of sorts!

A Texas Tech football game is a religious experience of sorts!

The Texas Tech campus is one of the largest in the U.S. and boasts a beautiful, unique and historic Spanish architecture.

The Texas Tech campus is one of the largest in the U.S. and boasts a beautiful, unique and historic Spanish architecture.

Even in this dessert-island of sorts, we had the privilege of growing up in an diverse community surrounded by amazing people – artists and professors; musicians and restauranteurs; researchers and scientists, who come attempting to unlock the secrets of the sky; doctors who teach, research and practice; lawyers who are trained at the university’s well-respected law school; undeterred business owners who learned to make a living in an unpredictable business environment; big construction and real estate moguls; big oil money; deep roots and sometimes deeper pockets. I’ve found that the unique environment has a way of producing some of the most hearty, good-mannered people who are full of character, chivalry, and a big ol’ dose of give-a-damn. West Texans are rebels, pioneers, full of strength and grace, with big dreams and even bigger hearts, high hopes and level heads that are packed with book smarts and street smarts. The older I get, the prouder I am to call West Texas “home,” though I have not lived there full-time since high school.

Summer in West Texas is wholly different than that of the other regions of the state. West Texas summers during the 70s and 80s, when I was growing up, were truly restful, rejuvenating, full of family time and memory making, full of community and long enough for parents and children alike to be ready for the new school year. We got out of school around Memorial Day and went back after Labor Day, when the first hints of autumn were in the air. I often wonder what good it’s done to keep kids in school through June only to send them right back in August. Most of my school buildings were not air conditioned, so maybe that had something to do with the longer summers, but a lot of my best learning happened outside school, during the long summer days in Texas.

Summer is a completely different experience, depending on what region of Texas you’ve had the occasion to enjoy. Texas is more than just HOT, more than just one season called HOT.

Texas-hill-country-blue_thumbThe Hill Country, home to our capital city, Austin, is a beautifully-verdant hippy town and home to my alma mater, The University of Texas (Hook ’em Horns!). Oddly, I’m pretty sure I know the Texas Tech fight song better than UT’s fight song! Football and Texas – any region – go together like peas and carrots. In the Hill Country, also sometimes called Central Texas, the Bluebonnets and other native wildflowers bloom in spring and early summer. The result is a forest of color, unmatched by any other place I’ve seen. Known as the Music Capitol of the World, Austin is beginning to outpace Nashville with its diverse music scene. My college years are some of the best years in my life. From “floating the river,” to Robert Earl Keen concerts, to Zilker Park festivals and El Arroyo, the memories I made here are enough for a lifetime.

TexasRosesThe Piney Woods is home to what we Texans call “East Texas,” a secret garden of sorts. There you’ll find pine trees as tall as any you’ve ever seen and Tyler, Texas – the small city where the famous Yellow Rose of Texas blooms. My godmother is from this part of Texas, and my great aunt and grandmother have both retired in these parts, making this my “second home” in Texas. It’s where I got married, and probably where I’ll spend my last days. Summers here smell of toasted pine needles. The damp and humid summer nights are punctuated by lightening bugs, beautiful roses, azaleas and spectacular farm lands.

The Glitzy Dallas Skyline at Night

The Glitzy Dallas Skyline

North Texas is home to “Big D,” that larger-than-life city -Dallas, Texas. According to the regional map, it’s in the Prairie & Lakes region, but we call it “North Texas.” The lore, the tall tales and tall hats, the rodeos & boots, it’s all here. Dallas is a bigger than life city. Over the almost 20 years I’ve lived here, the city has become even more glitzy and glamourous. We still care lots about our hair and lipstick. We have world-class food and world class shopping. Although in many ways Dallas it the most “Texas” Texas city, it has become less and less so over time. For the most part, the people you may meet in Dallas are not originally from Texas at all. It’s becoming more like L.A. – not a good thing in my opinion, since there already is an “L.A.” But what sometimes is our better half, the neighboring city of Ft. Worth gives me a peace that this region will never lose its Texas roots.

Ft. Worth's central watering hole, The Stockyards

Ft. Worth’s central watering hole, The Stockyards

Big Bend Country

Big Bend Country

Big Bend Country is the land of big skies and even bigger stars. This is where the famous film, GIANT, starring Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean was filmed. It’s where the “Fashion 500″ doted upon for a time, by way of the quirky and unmatched town of Marfa, Texas. Did you know Texas has mountains? Guadalupe Peak is our highest peak at an elevation of 8,751 feet!

Prada, Texas :)

Prada, Texas in Marfa, Texas :)

The "South Beach" of the Gulf Coast

The “South Beach” of the Gulf Coast

The Gulf Coast – Sometimes we like to play with the “big boys,” The West Coast and The East Coast, by calling ourselves “The Third Coast.” Despite the little coast reputation of our Big State, we do have beaches and islands. In fact, summer vacations in Galveston and Padre Island are a rite of passage for many 18 and 21-year-olds (for fairly obvious reasons). Summers on the coast are salty, sandy, filled with sand castles and sea shells and the smell of suntan oils and sunscreen. This region of Texas also has its own Gulf Coast Cuisine, a unique mixture of Texas’ fried cuisine, fried fish and the rich Cajun flavors of our coastal neighbors in Louisiana.

The Rio Grande Valley

The Rio Grande Valley

South Texas – Texans call it “The Valley,” (Rio Grande Valley). It’s where Texas Ruby Red Grapefruits and oranges are grown. It’s where beautiful Spanish missions of antiquity are still standing. It’s where the rich heritage of the Spanish, the Mexicans and the Texans come together to make an entirely different and rich culture of Texans. Summers here are HOT, but it’s what makes for a Texan who’s full of heart and the sweet harvest of late summer.

To sum it all up, I could spend 100 more summers in Texas and still not be satisfied. Too many grand memories have been made here, too many destinies have been sown here, and if you think the heat will kill ya, just wait ’til you meet the people of Texas. I promise, they’ll make it up to you.

In the words and songs of Lyle Lovett,”That’s right, you’re not from Texas, but Texas wants you anyway!”

All it takes to be a Texan is a Texas-State-of-Mind. Don’t worry, y’all. We’ll teach ya!

The three most important ways to combat marginalization or stigmatization by others

Today, WeGoHealth has prompted us to write about our “Perfect Comeback,” a time when we felt marginalized or stigmatized by someone because of our health condition(s). What did we say or what would we have said to take back control and let them know they were out of line?

Words without love are just noise.

Words without love are just noise.

As I’ve said many times, one of the most significant challenges a writer faces is to write with honesty. To write words that will mean anything to anyone, we must be honest with ourselves, about ourselves; otherwise our words are just noise.

I have not had a “Perfect Comeback” because I don’t think such a thing exists. However, I have felt marginalized and stigmatized often, not only because of my own health conditions, but also because of my efforts to raise the sounds of the voices of those injured by polypropylene medical mesh implant.

In short, I’ve been called an idiot, crazy, a liar, a thief, stupid, irresponsible, someone who just wants attention, a predator preying on the ill. Let’s see… what else? I’ve been called a blue Smurf (that one makes me laugh because Smurf would suffice, for ALL Smurfs are blue), a fake, someone who is benefitting from my own mother’s injury or my own illness, a clown. I’ve been made fun of and marginalized for being Christian and living that part of myself out to the same fullness that I live other parts of my life. I’ve been called a liar for saying, “I’m not religious,” when that’s exactly what I mean. I’m sure there are more, but that about sums it up, I think.

The Pharisees were about religion. Jesus was about the very nature of God.

The Pharisees were about religion. Jesus was about love and the very nature of God.

These words hurt me at first because I was shocked and so baffled about why anyone would say those things when I was sacrificing a great deal of my personal life, finances, time and privacy in order to do what I thought was right – stop immediately, as soon as I became aware, and render aid to the sick and suffering. Some people said I wasn’t “doing it right,” or that I wasn’t doing enough; that I was doing too much; that they didn’t like my way of helping. Through a series of public attacks on my character, I learned that what the naysayers say does not matter one bit, and there will always be naysayers. Just because someone says something does not make that something true.

These experiences made me much stronger. To be the recipient of an ongoing character assault does nothing but help me in the the long run, because if not for going through it now, on a very small scale, how would I be able to handle it on a large scale? I am grateful to have learned how to navigate toxic people. These people have tried to marginalize me, but they’ve failed, and I really didn’t have to do much of anything but stay focused on my own mission and leave them to focus on theirs. Destruction of anything or anyone is never more powerful than truth and love. And, it never will be.let-all-you-do-be-in-love

I don’t feel the need (at least not anymore) to “tell these people they are out of line,” for I think they do a good job, themselves, of showing others that very notion, and I don’t have to waste a second of my time or breath to tell these people anything.

The three most important ways to combat marginalization or stigmatization by others are:

1) Take your mission seriously, and don’t take yourself too seriously.

2) Understand that purity of focus, love and creating good for others will always outweigh fear, destruction, hate, jealously and lies.

3) Always speak the truth with love. Truth separated from love is judgement.john 1

My goals in life DO NOT CHANGE because there are other people with other goals, even if those goals are full of hatred and destruction. Who I am DOES NOT CHANGE because there are people who lie about me. My love and sincerity in my work DOES NOT CHANGE simply because someone else believes another way to help is better. The realities of my mother’s injury and illness or my own illness DO NOT CHANGE because there are those who question.

Truth is true; therefore no amount of scrutiny can change it. My mother IS very sick, and I AM trying my best to help her and others. I AM sick, and I am trying to live my best life with that truth. It doesn’t matter if others believe it or not.

So, how do I “take back control” or “tell others they are out of line?” I don’t. I don’t need to have control of others. And to know they are out of line, all I need do is listen. WhatYouShouldFocusOn

My mother gave me a great piece of advice in high school. She said, “When other people tell you who they are, listen the first time.” Wonderful words of advice that I have taken to heart.

#HAWMC

Meet Rachel of the Quinolone Vigilance Foundation (QVF)

Hello all!
Today is a day of rest. @WeGoHealth asks us, “What’s your ideal day in?” and “How do you relax, recharge and reset?”

I’m pretty boring I guess. My ideal day in is a movie marathon with back-to-back documentaries or maybe a good psychological thriller all day with my hubby and my pack of critters. On really special rest days, we have what’s called “Fur Island,” where everyone gets to get up on the big king-size bed with the humans for movie time. So, it’s back-to-back episodes of “Fur Island” today while you all get to meet our amazing guest blogger Rachel Brummert from the Quinolone Vigilance Foundation


QVFRachel

The last decade of my life was spent in surgery to repair ruptured tendons. From a casual stroll to reaching in the cupboard for food, simple daily activities caused nine ruptures in my hands, arms, knees, legs and feet. I took Levaquin in 2006 for a suspected sinus infection. A month after stopping it, while walking across a parking lot to my car, I suffered an Achilles tendon rupture. Years later, I was given levofloxacin (generic Levaquin) in the hospital without my knowledge and continued suffering adverse reactions. I was also diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disease as a result of fluoroquinolone (FQ) antibiotics. Add that to a total of nine ruptured tendons, and you can begin to see the picture of what can happen with “Fluoroquinolone Toxicity.” A time will come when my neurodegenerative illness will progress to the point that independent living is no longer possible. Sadly, there are countless people just like me who took an antibiotic and will never be the same again.

Those of you who were injured by transvaginal mesh could be at a greater risk for receiving a prescription for a fluoroquinolone antibiotic due to the adverse effect of a higher risk for infection.

But antibiotics are meant to help us feel better, right? And they are safe, right?

Yes. But sometimes the risks of prescribing antibiotics outweigh the benefits of their healing properties.

Such is the case with fluoroquinolone antibiotics such as Levaquin, Cipro, and Avelox (also sometimes referred to as the drug class, Quinolones).

Fluoroquinolones were manufactured for life threatening infections such as Anthrax, a very rare, but treatable bacterial infection. These drugs were never meant to be given as a first line of defense, because they are very, very powerful medications which come with severe adverse reactions. Taking a fluoroquinolone antibiotic for non-life threatening infections like the beginning stages of Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) or sinus infections is like detonating an atom bomb to kill a mosquito. There are far safer alternatives.

Anthrax Spores

Anthrax Spores

It should be noted that fluoroquinolones come in oral pills, IV, eye drops, and ear drops. All delivery methods carry the same adverse reactions and risks.

achillestendon-copyAdverse reactions from Levaquin, Cipro, and Avelox include tendon ruptures, tendonosis, peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage) which can be permanent, joint pain, muscle wasting, seizures, food and chemical sensitivities, mitochondrial damage, psychosis, chronic gastric problems, tinnitus, retinal detachment, arrhythmia, visual and auditory problems, can also lead to neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, MS, and others. For a comprehensive list, see: http://www.saferpills.org/resources/quinolones-101/ mitochondria_rejuvenation_formula

This severe damage can happen after just one pill, or it can be a delayed reaction that happens days, weeks, or months after stopping one of these medications.

Many patients are not warned of the adverse reactions, or their doctors have downplayed these potentially permanent side effects of fluoroquinolones and why this class of antibiotics is much different than Penicillin-based antibiotics (like Amoxicillan) or any number of drugs from the class called Macrolides (like Zithromax). Fluoroquinolones are also frequently given during surgery or for inpatient treatment, and most patients are never informed that an antibiotic drug in this class was given to them. Too often, it is after a patient suffers one of these severe adverse reactions and subsequently accesses medical records that a patient becomes aware that he or she was prescribed a fluoroquinolone. Most commonly, patients are informed via pharmacy insert, and the warnings are either incomplete or hidden by confusing language.

What differentiates fluoroquinolones from other antibiotics is that these drugs cross the blood-brain barrier and so can cause horrific damage that leads to long term injury, disability, and can cause death.

To learn about why the blood-brain barrier is an important aspect of the body’s security system for one of its most important organs, read this article by The Society of Neurosciene at brainfacts.org:

The Blood-Brain Barrier

Why are these dangerous drugs still on the market if they cause such widespread damage?

There a few reasons:

A medication can be pulled off the market if there are enough “Black Box” warnings. A Black Box warning is the highest warning issued by the Food and Drug Administration. There are currently two Black Box warnings on fluoroquinolones, one for tendon rupture and one for peripheral neuropathy. Two Citizen’s Petitions submitted by Dr. Charles Bennett are requesting the FDA add two more Black Box warnings for Mitochondrial Toxicity (http://www.saferpills.org/citizen-petition/) and dangerous Psychiatric Effects (http://www.saferpills.org/citizen-petition-psychiatric-effects/ ).

The FDA has not yet responded to these Citizen’s Petitions.

Another reason the drugs are still being sold is because the pharmaceutical industry pulls in billions of dollars in profits every year on these drugs. Companies are allowed to fast-track medications through the FDA review process, which leads to faulty clinical trials and bypasses vital safety protocols.

Lastly, fluoroquinolones are a necessary evil when it comes to life-threatening infections, such as Anthrax. In these cases, the benefit of prescribing the drug outweighs the higher risk of imminent death or injury. When a doctor prescribes these drugs for more common infections, when such a powerful medication is not medically necessary, the risk of serious adverse events outweigh the potential benefits, and a patient is put at unnecessary and preventable risk.

Prescribing the “big guns” for common infections can lead to antibiotic resistance, a growing problem worldwide. For more on antibiotic resistance. please read: http://quinolonevigilancefoundation.blogspot.com/2015/01/antibiotic-resistant-infections.html

keep-calm-and-protect-yourself-19What can you do to protect yourself?

Unless you are suffering from a life-threatening infection, always ask for the safest antibiotic medication. You can also ask that your physician take the time to culture your infection. Knowing which pathogen is causing illness helps your doctor to accurately prescribe the most effective antibiotic for you. You are your best advocate.

What about generic fluoroquinolones? Are they dangerous too?

Simply put, yes. Eighty percent of all prescriptions are generics. Currently, due to a 2011 Supreme Court ruling called Pliva v. Mensing, if you are damaged by a generic medication (fluoroquinolone or not), you have no recourse. Generic drug makers are not required to update their warning labels even if new information comes out. You also have no legal resource.

fdaBuildingOn March 27, I testified at an FDA Hearing on this very matter. The FDA has proposed a rule that would close the generic drug loophole and hold generic drug makers accountable for the damage their products cause. The matter is now on the FDA docket for September 2015. For more information about that and to sign a petition started by the American Association for Justice, visit our site:

http://quinolonevigilancefoundation.blogspot.com/2015/03/fda-hearing-march-27-2015.html

What are the generic names of fluoroquinolones? avelox-side-effects-162x300

Oral fluoroquinolones:

  • Avelox (moxifloxacin)
  • Cipro (ciprofloxacin)
  • Factive (gemifloxacin)
  • Floxin (ofloxacin)
  • Levaquin (levafloxacin)
  • Noroxin (norfloxacin)
  • Maxaquin (lomefloxacin)
  • Penetrex (enoxacin)

Fluoroquinolone Eye Drops

  • Besivance (besifloxacin)
  • Cetraxal, Ciloxan (ciprofloxacin)
  • Iquix, Quixin (levofloxacin)
  • Ocuflox (ofloxacin)ciplox_eye_ear_drops
  • Vigamox (moxifloxacin)
  • Zymar (gatifloxacin)
  • Moxeza (moxifloxacin)

Fluoroquinolone Ear Drops

  • Cetraxal, Ciprodex (ciprofloxacin)
  • Floxin (ofloxacin)
  • Xtoro (finafloxacin)

Thank you for reading! We at QVF support the health and healing of the mesh-injured community and we are honored to speak to you today through this guest blog!

Rachel Brummert

Quinolone Vigilance Foundation

www.SaferPills.org

Rachel@saferpills.org

Pet Pals – Cute Overload!

Today @WeGoHealth asked us to write a thank-you letter to our four-legged, furry, feathered or otherwise so-called Creature Companions! I LOVE MY PETS! I could write a book of love letters to them! They help me cope with my illness daily, with my mother’s illness. Sometimes I even feel they’ve saved my life, with all the joy they bring to it.

Trainer-with-a-Baby-Dolphin-2-457x303I have always been fascinated by animals. In fact, until I was about 22, I wanted to be a dolphin trainer or an exotic animal trainer. I actually did go through the application process at Sea World San Antonio but chickened out when I realized that at 22 with a bachelor’s degree, I was already four years older than most of the staff and most of the applicants! I felt too old at age 22 if you can believe that! But in many ways, it’s not unlike being a professional athlete. The amount of physical strength it takes to swim and train underwater is daunting. I was in good physical shape, but I felt that ultimately I had missed my window of opportunity.

As I grew older, I began to understand that life dreams like that can become hobbies and don’t necessarily have to be one’s primary vocation. So I get my fill now by adopting and training animals. Over the years, I’ve mostly trained my own cats & dogs, but we’ve had the occasional hamster and Guinea pig as pets.

Every close friend and family member knows that I love my pets about as much as anyone can. They bring animation to our home with their funny antics. They bring joy to a room with the pitter patter of their little paws. They bring endless hours of humor with their playful intelligence and the purity of their sweet lil’ souls.

Our inventory of creatures is low right now in my opinion. We only have three dogs. I am hoping that soon I can start my modern day Noah’s arc with about two of everything. Next to “friend,” two of each – parakeets, tiny pigs and two horses. For right now, Gabby and the Insane Clown Posse keep our hands full!

Our 9-year-old German Shepherd, Chow mix named GABBY BEAR:

Gabby_for_2014-2

Gabby is so beautiful! She’s a mutt, so they’ll never be another quite like gabby. :(

Our 5-ish-year-old “Porkshire” Terrier, BROOKLYN NEW YORKIE:

Johnson-139

And our 3-year-old American Redbone Coonhound named JUNIPER P. COONIE

Juniper is now CHEWniper

Juni’s entry into the “Bad Dog” photo website!

When our entire pack is together, I call it the “Rodeo Clown Car.”  Each pupper dog has such a different personality, and they all keep life interesting and hilarious!

Juniper!

Wake up Mommy. We are ready for you to start our day!

For example, because of JUNI (“Juni” for short), we now have the “Dog of the Month” contest because she is the youngest and often needs the most correction and positive reinforcement (Um, see picture above!). Poor Juni has lost the contest again for April because she found some of Mommy’s flavored chapstick. She put the lime in the coconut and ATE IT ALL UP! With all her purebred grace, power and might at 80 pounds, she is the one who most believes she is a lap dog. To sleep alone with no crying, she requires a cushioned above-ground bed and at least two blankets. And she WILL NOT let you forget to tuck her in before 9 p.m. each night. Junipers_Pillow

BrookyLookingUp-Paint

Little toot!

BROOKLYN brings our family constant joy with her hilarious terrier capers. In fact we often call her “The Terrierist,” because she is relentless and will do anything to get what she wants! Once she’s satisfied, you won’t find a sweeter or more loyal companion. In fact, she is so attached to me, that even though she loves food more than anything in the world it seems, she will not get up to go to the kitchen and eat if I am feeling unwell and have been bed-bound. She won’t let her daddy pick her up. I have to get up and go with her to tell her it’s ok to eat, or she’ll skip meals!

Maybe she's a muppet?

Maybe she’s a muppet?

Or possibly she's a Fraggle?

Or possibly she’s a Fraggle?

We also sometimes wonder if she is a Muppet or possibly a Fraggle, posing as a dog. She is the one who has brought the most new vocabulary into our lives, including:

Brooky_Tigger_Edit_1

Pre-pigletting

Pigletting

1. verb – the action of flipping over on your back and rolling back and forth swiftly while making piglet snorts, squeals, grunts and snarfs.

2. alternate definition – the action of flailing about in ridiculous movements until you’ve dislodged your hair bow.

Usage in a sentence: Brooklyn is pigletting about, trying to get her new Easter bow out of her hair.

Steak Finger Feet

1. noun – the quality of having such cute feet that it creates in humans the desire to squeeze them, dip them into gravy and then nibble on them.

Usage: Brooklyn New Yorkie has the cutest cat-like feet. They are so deliciously-sweet, I could dip them in gravy and eat them.

The Grrrr Scale

1. noun – a scale of “Terrierist Threat Level” including the nano grrr, pico grrrr, regular grrrr and the grrrr of all grrrrrs, Alien Super Grrrr!

Usage: Brooklyn gave Daddy the full on Sigourney Weaver, Alien Super Grrrr when Daddy tried to move her away from Mommy.

B-W Gabby

Strike a pose, Gabby!

Then there’s THE GABBY BEAR. We have heard from most every person who’s ever met her something like, “Oh my gosh, this is the most well-behaved dog I’ve ever met.” And it’s true. She is smart, loyal, obedient, friendly and a beautiful mutt! She often draws attention on walks and people think she is some kind of exotic purebred or a giant Pomeranian (which continues to elicit a belly laugh from me when I think of all the times she’s been mistaken for a giant rendition of a toy breed).

Strike a pose; there's nothin' to it. Vogue.

Strike a pose; there’s nothin’ to it. Vogue.

When she and I were both younger, she would be content to lay on the floor at my feet all day or go on a five-mile run. She is the most flexible, chilled out dog on the planet. She never gets too upset, but she does live up to her name. She’s the first to bark (hence the name Gabby) to alert us that someone new is near. I marvel at how she picks up so quickly on changes in our environment. I sometimes think about how I will miss finding her balls of fur on the floor when she’s gone. She literally makes an impression every where she goes. :) When I travel with her, kids will often ask if they can take a “Selfie” with Gabby. So, I guess Gabby is the super star of the family. Her Dad and I are just here to manage her career and keep her admirers from going overboard. ;)

I am a very firm believer that, for all the sacrifices – expensive food, vet bills, ALL that fur, the work-arounds we adopt to accommodate them – pets are one of THE BEST PREVENTATIVE MEDICINES for everything that ails we humans and THE BEST CURE for the blues and loneliness.

No wonder we consider them family members. Honestly, I like to call us all a pack though. After all, they do outnumber us in our household. Every night, we check for 16 legs, 5 heartbeats, 3 dogs and 2 humans. Then we know our whole pack is safe.

Our Pack

Our Pack

This Pack Post is dedicated to all the pets we’ve loved before, who’ve snouted in and out our doors! Bill, Bob, Popeye, Chia, Gretchen, Isabella I, Isabella II, Bill Cosby, Princess Petunia, Cherokee, Skeeter, Edie, Peyton and Sammy.

#HAWMC

Slip into your inner artist before you watch this. . .

Hi everyone!

I’m feeling pretty good about the fact that it’s April 9th, and come hell or high water, I’ve posted every day of the @WeGoHealth Writer’s Challenge thus far! I’m grateful to have the energy and support from friends and my family of chance to spur me on to love and good deeds in this specific way.

Today @WeGoHealth asked us to write about this subject, verbatim from their email prompt:

“Challenger – Share with readers about a time you had to overcome a daunting challenge. What words of encouragement would you share with others who find themselves facing similar difficulty?”

For me to really write honestly about this subject, it would fill an entire book, in fact, it probably already has if you count all the blog posts! So if you really want to read about my biggest “challenger,” read all posts from about June 2013 – December 2014. Each post is in some way about the MONSTER called Polypropylene Mesh (Plastic #5). I try to defeat this MONSTER every day, and it bites back, but I am making headway alongside others who care deeply, and this song does a really good job of describing my entire 2014, the year that has been the biggest challenger so far in my 40 years on the planet.

I realize that art is in the eye of the beholder, so I’m definitely taking a risk by trying to communicate with you through modern dance and modern music, but it’s the best non-verbal definition I’ve found so far (um, and it doesn’t hurt that the video features a VERY FIT Shia LaBoeuf – that’s JUST FOR YOU, SWEET EVY!!).

Enjoy, and please share with me whatever comes to mind about mesh, about chronic illness, about adversaries that bite back, about any obstacle you’ve had. What does the video make YOU FEEL. Like me, don’t limit yourself to words. Post a picture, a video, a piece of art – anything that describes YOUR biggest challenger and INSPIRES others to keep fighting!

My “encouragement” to all of you is that “Mesh Bites” but we who fight it BITE HARDER. All things are possible!

I suggest headphones or very good, loud speakers! Love you all!

#HAWMC

The Talisman

Today, my @WeGoHealth community asked the community of Health Activist Writers (#HAWMC) to write about “Things Remembered,” – items we’ve kept which remind us of an important time in life – whether it was a good day, a stressful time, or a happy moment in life.

Several years ago, my husband and I had a very intense conversation about “The Talisman.” Our lives were getting so out of control with illness, job stressors, family stressors, daily stressors, etc. that it was difficult to stop the world from spinning just long enough to look in one another’s eyes, breathe, and remember that many of those negative stressors, though urgent, are not ultimately important to our lives, to us individually, to our marriage or to our family.

I laugh when I remember that evening. While at dinner, we used a cut lime as an example of a talisman. A talisman is really just any “amulet or charm,” but it’s also “anything whose presence exercises a remarkable or powerful influence on human feelings or actions.”

The “amulet or charm” that evening was a lime slice. We wanted, needed even, to mark our conversation in time and space so we wouldn’t forget the depth of our conversation, the meaning of those few precious minutes suspended in time, marked by our lime-talisman.

Small turquoise rocks, found in the Arizona dessert.

Small turquoise rocks, found in the Arizona dessert.

Since then I’ve taken the concept further in my life. I keep and give small remembrances to mark special moments in time. Since most of us don’t need just one more “thing,” these things remembered generally fall into two categories for me:

1) Pebbles, shells or unique rocks found, and. . .  2) Bracelets. Lots and lots of bracelets.

The found items usually come from a long walk, one I take to pray, clear my head, make a difficult decision, unwind from an emotionally stressful or tense situation. Last year, while staying with a mesh-injured friend in Arizona, I had one such difficult decision to make. I took a 45-minute walk in a nearby park. In the sand and dirt of the dessert, small rocks of turquoise and/or quartz are easily found. As I combed the dirt, I prayed for each person involved in the situation and picked up a piece of unique rock. I prayed again. I rolled the rocks between my fingers as I remembered each person. At the end of the walk, I had six rocks for six people and one decision that I knew was the best decision I could make, with the information I had at the time.

#TMWF's Mesh Injury Awareness Bracelet

#TMWF’s Mesh Injury Awareness Bracelet for sale at http://www.tmwfoundation.org

Similarly, I have an inventory of very special bracelets, given to me by close friends and family members. I don’t know if it’s a Texas thing or a me thing, but I feel naked if I leave my home without at least four bracelets on my arm and lipstick on my lips and in my purse. ;)

Ok, maybe it’s a weird idiosyncrasy, but the bracelets serve as talismans for me. I have several special ones, given to me by women in the mesh injured community. I have one very special bracelet given to me by mother, which I seldom, if ever, leave the house without. I look down throughout the day and remember those I love. The bracelets remind me to be in continual prayer for women in my community and to be ever mindful and thankful for their unique influences in my life. They are each so indescribably special to me, and their efforts to love me by noticing that I wear bracelets and then sometimes even making bracelets for me – these are nothing short of exquisite gifts that fill me with gratitude in joy. bracelets_resized_retouched

Music holds a similarly strong effect over me, and I often make playlists (formerly the items known as “mix tapes”). :)

Music is the greatest language of the world. It unites all people, no matter what their primary language is. I can share love, hope, anger, frustration or determination with my whole community through the miracle of music and how easy it is to share music today. I often post playlists on SoundCloud, and these too serve as deep-seeded reminders of a past time, sometimes good, sometimes painful, but always powerful.

Other items I have in my home serve as talismans. If you know me, you know there is NOTHING in my home which doesn’t hold a very dear memory for me of a person or of a special time. Not even one glass or piece of furniture is meaningless to me. I guess you could say I’m rather sentimental. But these items represent very important times and people in my life. I dare not risk forgetting. I want to dwell in and among the memories as long as I can. After all, much of what makes us unique is the compilation of our unique set of memories.

Barbs_Angel

#HAWMC

Things are getting pretty personal today – I’M COMING OUT!

Today is World Health Day, an international day of recognition, designated by the World Health Organization (WHO). This year, the organization is focusing on food and nutrition as a means to increase health. Here is a great article to start off your quest to increase your health through food and nutrition:

wholesale-nutrition--supplements-and-your-skin_16000966_800708325_0_0_14049651_600-600x350The Health Benefits of Popular Foods

My friends @WeGoHealth have asked their health activist writers to write about how our diagnosis has affected our diet and nutrition. Here’s where the rubber meets the road for me. For almost two years now, I’ve been calling on medical device companies to tell the truth; doctors to be held accountable for their actions to implant mesh; to be honest with the people they are supposed to be serving; to say who they are and mean what they say. I also regularly call on public officials and other individuals to be the same person in public as they are in private. I often call upon people to stand by their word(s) and to be real.

I wouldn’t be a very good health activist if I did not take my own advice, and hold myself to the same standards as I hold others.

I have to do this with a little humor, or I won’t do it at all, so queue the Diana Ross background music:

I can’t write truthfully today without sharing with you my own recent diagnoses and how I’ve had to drastically change my life, including my diet and nutrition, in order to take hold of my health in the ways I can control. It all started around April of last year, though I believe I was experiencing symptoms that I didn’t understand or recognize as early as August of 2012. In April of last year, I started to experience a bone-weary, can’t-lift-your-head, suck-the-life-out-of-ya fatigue that I have never experienced. I tried to go on with my very fast-paced life as normal, but it became increasingly difficult to will myself to overcome this fatigue. I began having a day or two here and there where I simply could not lift myself from the bed. My hair was so dry that it barely needed washing once/week. It was coming out in clumps. My digestion was an issue too. I could seldom go out to eat, and if I did I walked somewhere close with my husband and ultimately, 9/10 times, I had to leave in the middle of the meal because I was so sick.

I thought it was stress.

It wasn’t normal fatigue, but then again, my life wasn’t exactly normal. My mother was/is so severely injured and so severely ill from mesh that it was taking every ounce of energy I had to fight with her and for her. As I’ve said many times, I believe mesh injury is a family injury, and subsequently a family illness. One cannot remove the mother, our Sun, from our Solar System without big, big, catastrophic fallout for the entire family. Again, for these reasons and more, I thought my weariness was simple stress, and I tried to go on as best I could, but I wasn’t able to be “at the top of my game.” I wasn’t able to complete a busy day in the way I have always been able. And I felt more pressure than I ever had because I was advocating for my mother, for all mesh injured. I was staring a foundation, The Mesh Warrior Foundation for the injured (www.tmwfoundation.org) and I didn’t want to slow down, didn’t want to stop making strides to help. TMW_line_art_color_logo

It was during this period of time, before I knew what was causing my illness, that I felt the sting of rejection from so many people; close friends, fellow advocates, even some family members who I thought would understand most. The most hurtful and unkind words were said to me during this time. One friend said, “I just don’t think I can handle a day in your life. I don’t think I’ll be able to be part of your ‘support system’ during this time.” Wow. Stunned. If one day in my life is a little tough on you, HOW DO YOU THINK EVERY DAY IS FOR ME? But, no matter, friend of twelve years or not, I needed to know she felt this way, for that is not someone who belongs in my ‘support network’ indeed.

Another person, a patient advocate as well, said “You’ve become unreliable, and I don’t want you to damage my reputation. I’ve taken a long time to make these connections.” Oh, ok. I thought patient advocates were people who advocated for PATIENTS, not invisible people they’ve not known or met. But ok, again, good to know. I was mistaken. I WAS NEVER important to these people. What I COULD DO FOR THEM was important to these people. And plain and simple, I could no longer “do” for them. I could barely do for myself. They didn’t care to be part of the solution, so it seemed to be just as well. I’ve heard stories like this from many in the mesh-injured community, but I now was experiencing it myself. I now have knowledge and personal experience to lend to my cause. A family member ridiculed me for not being able to get out of bed ONE morning in a series of many, many busy mornings and days. Others were telling me they didn’t like my way of advocating for patients; that I wasn’t helping in the right way; that I wasn’t helping them personally; that I wasn’t helping enough overall; that I was helping too much. It was madness. VERY few friends, associates and family members loved me enough to stand by me and help me figure out what was causing my illness and my decreased level of functioning, which has been very, very high for most of my adult life- some would even say my standards for myself were too high. I was beginning to have to sacrifice everything I loved to do: jogging, yoga, eating out, going to conferences, working with others, hanging out with friends, staying awake past 9pm, getting up with ease, charging on each day – motivated by love to help the mesh injured community. I was losing what has made me, “me.” I was losing friends, activities, relationships with some in my family. I was losing everything I held dear, and I didn’t know why. My illness is a gift, though I couldn’t see it at the time. It separated the wheat from the chaff for me. I didn’t have to do it; my illness made it impossible for me to maintain stressful relationships or relationships that were based on what I could do instead of WHO I AM.

I could barely move my limbs or have enough energy to speak or respond to my husband, and by May of 2014, he had to take me to the ER because I was loosely holding on to consciousness. My blood glucose was below 20, a number at which most people fall into a coma. The hospital released me two days later, with no diagnosis other than hypoglycemia and or depression. To cope with the fatigue, I began drawing. I’m not Monet, but I didn’t know I could draw anything other than possibly a stick figure. Drawing and painting has helped me cope. My husband has been so supportive of this new endeavor. In fact, he’s been supportive of any thing that has healed me, even just a little bit, bringing me back to him with every inch closer to health.

Devastated that I could not observe the Mexican holiday, Dia de Los Muertos, I drew my own "La Catrina," the iconic figure of the day.

Devastated that I could not observe the Mexican holiday, Dia de Los Muertos, I drew my own “La Catrina,” the iconic figure of the day. With no art supplies, I used a pencil, a black sharpie and my make-up. Ha!

My first pastel drawing, of a hibiscus flower I had seen.

My first pastel drawing, of a hibiscus flower I had seen.

anvils

The only way I could describe the level of fatigue was to say, “Every single cell in my body aches and is tired, from my eyelids to the muscles in my upper arms, to my legs to my toenails. I feel like I have tiny little anvils hanging from every single cell.” If I could find a doctor who would even listen, “tiny little anvils” doesn’t have a diagnosis or billing code. I was visiting endocrinologist after endocrinologist who DID NOT LISTEN and sent me to have blood work done for diabetes. I didn’t have high sugar, I had dangerously LOW blood sugar, consistent and chronic hypoglycemia. To see a three-digit number on a glucosometer was a RARE occurrence for me. Lack of blood sugar regulation was the only clue I had at this point, and hypoglycemia itself runs in my family. As expected, all testing for diabetes came back saying I not only did not have diabetes, but I had a DECREASED likelihood for diabetes. I would ask them to check my thyroid and do a full thyroid panel and they would just tell me, “I already checked your TSH. You are fine.” They would not honor my requests to do a full thyroid panel. They simply would not do it. Month after month, my health declined and doctors would not listen to my symptoms or me. When I began to have lab results that I could present and take with me to the next doctor, hoping he/she would listen, my hope renewed. But it was a fleeting hope, because I heard everything from “the labs are wrong” (WHAT?!) to, “Let’s check you again for diabetes because in rare cases, pre-diabetics can by hypoglycemic.” (WHAT AGAIN?!) Why are we looking for rare causes at the beginning of the diagnosis process?

Mesh news Desk 185 wideI felt like I was on the same merry-go-round of horror that I described when I wrote this article for Mesh News Desk in 2013 about seeking out help with all of the health problems my mother was suffering, which we now know are caused by the mesh implant.

One doctor even lied to me, telling me she could speak Spanish without knowing that I am fluent. When she realized she was found out, she back peddled saying that it was actually a nurse who was fluent. “Oh really, an LVN or RN,” I said. Another lie, “An M.A.,” she answered. I guess she thought I didn’t know the difference between a medical assistant and a nurse. If you are someone who lies about small things, you will eventually lie about big things, and I don’t, no I SHOULDN’T, trust you with my health.

I thought, I’ve gotten better health care in MEXICO! Wait, there’s an idea. Maybe that’s where I need to go to find out what’s going on with my health.

I’m fortunate that my husband’s family has a very long history of living in Mexico. His grandparents retired there in the 60s and we still live in the community where his grandmother lived until she died at the age of 93, a wonderful community where we’ve received health care for minor emergencies when traveling. My health was deteriorating so quickly that my husband asked for the ability to work from home for a few months while he took care of me and helped me seek medical attention.

One car, two people, three dogs and off to Mexico we drove. To make an even longer story short, it wasn’t until we met this doctor and gentleman, Mr. Marco Alvarez, that we would begin to piece together a diagnosis of

A fine man, Dr. Marco Alvarez

A fine man, Dr. Marco Alvarez

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an autoimmune disorder, in which your own body destroys your thyroid glad. He performed an ultrasound on my thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland in the neck. The results showed scaring and evidence of progressive disease. He recommended an antibodies test to confirm his suspicions. With the recommendation of Dr. Alvarez, I went to an endocrinologist in Mexico, who finally did a full thyroid panel, including a TPO Antibody test, and the suspected diagnosis was confirmed. It was necessary for me to leave the care of two unhelpful endocrinologists to pursue my health with Dr. Alvarez’s help.

Based on my first set of labs, my primary care physician in Mexico suggested an

Dr. Jorge Garcia D'La Rosa

Dr. Jorge Garcia D’La Rosa

MRI to scan for abnormalities in my pituitary gland. He is another true gentleman and doctor, who actually cared about me and wanted, himself, to know how to help restore my health. I was also diagnosed with hypopituitarism, of unknown origin as of yet. He saw a very sick person, a lack of health.

Both of these men are medical heroes to me, because each man simply followed the science. No drug reps pushing “treatments” for symptoms only, no dollar signs in their eyes as they see a diagnosis of diabetes, needing long term care, lots more visits and commensurate copays. Doctors trained in Mexico are not of the same mind set as most doctors in America. Healing is their gift, their family’s mission, their father’s work, their family pride. They often feel as if they were chosen or destined to become a doctor, and they take their roles as healer, health companion, scientist and patient advocate very seriously. If they have not or cannot help you, often they feel they have not used their god-given talents to heal and help. They will work beyond what the typical American doctor would do to care for you. They are not afraid to touch their patients; they are compassionate and dutiful. They are direct. There is no health insurance company between you and the doctor. In fact, there is very little administrative assistance. In most cases, you hand your cash to the doctor himself. There is no “appointment turn time” or “15 minute window.” When we began asking, “How much time have you allotted for our visit?” they seemed confused and responded, “As much time as it takes.” Often doctors will not take payment if they have not been of service to you, or in the case of Dr. Alvarez, when I went back to him for another appointment with questions, he sat with me, helped me, and did not charge me because he saw it as an extension of his original service to me. I was floored. I went back several days later and gave him a gift, because THAT APPOINTMENT, THAT CONVERSATION with him was the turning point. He was honest with me, told me how to get help, and most of all he LISTENED to me. He asked me to tell him my symptoms and how I was feeling, and he’s a radiologist! His service to me was the turning point in my health. It was the first REAL medical care I got, and as a result, I was able to begin to regain my health. Both Dr. Alvarez and Dr. d’La Rosa focused on achieving health, not simply efforts to eliminate symptoms, and because these two men did that, I am getting well. I have been educated and accepted by communities like Facebook’s Hypothyroid Mom, Dana Trintini and Janie M. Bowthorpe at www.stopthethyroidmadness.com.

thyroid changeOther organizations like Thyroid Change have also helped me to know that research is being done, and I am among many who suffer from Hashimoto’s specifically, a disease process wholly different than hypothyroidism.

With education and a supportive community, I brought all my lab results back to America, and I began seeking out the best doctor for help. For goodness sakes, when I came back, I went to a PCP to get a referral, and before I knew it, I was ushered into a room and entered into a sleep study without even knowing that’s what was happening! Welcome to America, the land of LACK OF INFORMED CONSENT!

When my nurse put me in another room, after I’d seen the doctor and said, “They’ll be right in,” I asked, “Who is they?”

She said “I don’t know.”

And I said, “Well, then who does? Is this a part of my treatment and the reason for my visit today?”

Again she said, “I don’t know. I’ll find out.”

She came back within the minute and said, “You’re free to go.” Oh really, I’m a FREE PERSON?

In my first doctor’s visit upon returning, I was whisked off into a sleep study where my health information was being shared with the “they!” Had I not been an educated patient, I would have thought it was part of my visit for that day! Shameful!

I-Love-You-Bed---Funny-Cats-PicturesI researched integrative medicine and found a highly recommended doctor. My integrative physician ordered more tests, and is getting closer to the origin of the hypopituitarism and has started me on a treatment plan for hypothyroidism. After a month or so, I’m starting to feel a renewed sense of health, more energy, and hope that my bed will not be my best friend for another year and that I can keep fighting for you all, my inspiration, my family of chance (FOC), you in the mesh injured community who have become my friends and my reason to continue fighting, for my mother, for you, for myself, for all patients, because I now know, even more personally, just how broken our healthcare system is. It’s unacceptable, and I can have a voice for change, so I must. I had begun taking a stack of 12 pictures to my appointments, praying that the photos of my degeneration over time would tell the story that I couldn’t seem to tell. Trust me, these pictures are not flattering, but they do tell a story.

A picture I took while on a skiing trip to show my mom that I was wearing the scarf she gave me. It's the only full-body shot I have from that time.

December 2013 – A picture I took while on a skiing trip to show my mom that I was wearing the scarf she gave me. It’s the only full-body shot I have from that time.

As far as lifestyle habits and nutrition changes, you can read my most significant changes in a blog I wrote a few days ago: My 5 Best & Worst Health Hygiene Habits! The most significant change I’ve made is believing that I AM WORTH BETTER than what’s being offered to me, which is pharmaceutical care or no care. I’ve always known that was happening to YOU, but I’ve only recently been able to see myself in the same light.

Thank you for teaching me. Without this mesh-injured community, whom I call my family of chance, I would not be the same person. I wish I could name each of you here. THANK YOU ALL. THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING ME. THANK YOU FOR STICKING WITH ME AND KNOWING THE TRUE ME.

My life since March of 2011, when I learned just how sick my mother was, has been a 180, a completely different journey than I ever thought would be part of my story or my family’s story. But, I am grateful still. There are so many bright examples of fine human beings, that but for the darkness, could never have shined so bright.

Thank you for giving of your time to read about me today. It means more to me than most anything else.

God bless you all. To OUR health!

Aaron

TRUTH and THE PEOPLE who tell it – The radical heros of our time

I am grateful for the @WeGo community’s daily prompts to inspire us during our 30 blogs in 30 days health activist writer’s challenge. A good health activist, after all, is an active one.

At the same time, I’ve had some difficulty figuring out how to write about the prompts because my writing style is more relevant to what is happening in our community currently, or at least about relevant realizations I’ve had along my journey with #polypropylenemesh, if I think they might be of help to anyone in our community.

Today, @WeGoHealth asked me to write about my hero. I dread, and have always, dreaded this question. There are the likely and common answers: my mom, my dad, my sixth grade English teacher, the most horrible bosses I’ve ever had (I learned what not to do from them.), but somehow, even though all of these people have been very influential, they are daily heroes – all parents, teachers and bosses are or can be.

My definition of hero necessarily excludes those close to me – my family, teachers and bosses actually. They all had personal investments in themselves, their careers and me that encouraged them to ensure my success. And I don’t say these things without a deep gratitude for all these folks, especially my parents and especially my mom. I know that when she is taken from this earth, the one person who has been connected to me so closely physically, mentally, emotionally and as my lifelong best friend will be gone. She is irreplaceable. We each have just one woman we call mother, and I have the best one in the world. In a way she and I kind of grew up together. And due to her mesh injuries and subsequent illness, we trade roles, or at least our roles are less defined now. Sometimes I play mother, but I think as we age, and as our parents age, inevitably, nature will call upon us to love our parents and take care of them as they did us. It’s a difficult transition, but I believe it’s natural. So my mom is the person who knows me best, will love me the most completely, and has shaped me more than any other person on the planet. . . but she is not my hero, and not because of anything she did or did not do. I simply believe that a hero has absolutely no personal gain to be had by choosing their path – to love the unloveable, help the forgotten and discarded, invest in those who may never be able to or capable of reciprocation in any way.

My hero is ANY PERSON who does what’s right and tells the truth, regardless of the potential negative consequences and regardless of how it might benefit him or her. He or she may suffer because of the truth that must be shared; the light of truth that must be shined in their individual spheres of influence.

We are losing people in this category in our county at an alarming rate. It seems every person is out to get the most the he/she can from every one they can, as fast as they can, even if it’s necessary to be opportunistic, amoral, dishonest, hurtful or tell a series of white lies that seem harmless but are not. When you have a society full of people who are more and more focused on their wants than on what’s right and truthful, you start to have large groups of people who have the same lack of character – like roving gangs – perhaps entire companies, entire social movements, entire government entities, entire cities, entire families, even entire churches.

My hero is THE TRUTH, or anyone who places its pursuit above their own interests in an effort to improve the lives of those around them, for the gain of others primarily. There is an absolute truth, and we can know it, just as we know what comes up must come down because gravity is an undeniable truth.

Most of us have been insultingly disappointed in the “heroes” of years past. Keep in mind that America’s corporations can be individual heroes, because a corporation is considered an individual person legally, a person in a court of law, but you and I know that a corporation in NOT A PERSON. A person has a set of morals which guides an individual mindset and weighs the moral consequences of each decision he makes. A corporation is a collective – a group of people who are each making their own decisions for their own best interests (namely, keeping their jobs) with the express mission to PROFIT AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. Our current society enlists the help of many bullies who, shrouded in dark and secrecy, lurk as palpable threats to our ability to rightly pursue happiness: the FICO credit score for example. It whispers, “If you do not agree to this 60 page contract for a phone, we will ruin your ability to provide transportation for yourself, obtain a house, or rent a car.” The relationship is entirely controlled by the company – deeper pockets than you and me, legions of departments that can keep you on the phone all day, arguing about semantics, and nothing but time against your meager human body and your 30 minutes of daily spare time. Here’s a good education about what a Corporation actually is in our society, a documentary, free on YouTube here: The Corporation.

So speaking of corporations, Johnson & Johnson is “a family company,” right? Sounds like a hero for EVERYONE, huh? Infants, children, mothers, grandmas and the whole darn gaggle of ya. NOPE. You may not realize this, but JnJ is not in the business of keeping families together with their products. Their main business is taking your money in return for often lethal products and then investing that money. JnJ is an investment firm, not “a family company.” JnJ’s toxic drugs and medical devices maim and kill millions, AND THE COMPANY KNOWS IT. I invite you to sit in on any number of trials where you can hear the proof yourself, just like I did in March of 2014. I saw and heard their lies. Court proceedings are open to all citizens. Don’t take my word for it. Visit a JnJ #transvaginal mesh trial yourself, and you’ll see all the gory details of what they have know and when. Patients aren’t people; they are points on an actuarial table of legal costs measured against sales of subpar, under-tested products destined for legal fallout. When the two lines intersect, that’s when the company stops selling. NOT before. Not when they know YEARS in ADVANCE that they are destroying lives and families and killing innocent people with their products.

Here are some REAL HEROES in the medical community:

In the same way that Johnson & Johnson is one of America’s oldest companies, one many still offer praise and respect for their success, another well-known, iconic company, grabs the “Corporation of No Remorse” prize. McDonald’s – the one that sells you addictive, unhealthy food – ya, that one. Food isn’t even their core business. Their business is real estate. They own a lot of land, and it makes them a lot more money, a lot more than selling $0.99 cent hamburgers. Quit giving them your $1 for your favorite artery clogger, and find a local PERSON who owns a hamburger joint to support.

Here are some REAL HEROES in the food industry:

Terry

American Airlines, the iconic American airline that should conjure memories of Americans taking to the skies, of the Wright Brothers, and of our country’s crowning achievements in engineering and connecting families for holidays. But I bet you don’t think happy thoughts when you think of this American business, the one who is subsidized by US, via our taxes and bailouts that come from OUR PAYCHECKS. They do not run a sustainable business model. They need our help, help from the government and its source of income – OUR tax payments.

Here is THE REAL HERO of the Airline Industry: Rise Logo Plane

  • Rise and it’s Founder Nick Kennedy – @IFlyRise is giving dignity back to their neighbors here in Dallas. One thing we still have in America is the ability to become educated and the choice about where we use our hard-earned cash. Rise is doing it rightly, fairly, friendly, and putting humans first, dignity second, and profits to follow those two rules.

AT&T, the company that was already slapped out of monopoly once when it was forced to create the “baby bells” by region, like Southwestern Bell and Bell Atlantic. Someone hasn’t been paying attention, because the multi-headed monster has re-formed into, yep, you guessed it, a monopoly. And is AT&T really in a consumer-sustained business? Judging by the satisfaction of their customers and their actions, I would say they are not. So what is this big company who controls our telecommunications, records and shares our conversations, provides our data to authorities, and does so quite arrogantly? I think they don’t really care about selling good services to good people. They, too, are an INVESTMENT COMPANY, not much to do with consumer satisfaction but more to do with INVESTOR SATISFACTION. And when you start digging into these and other “American Icons,” you see that they have not only NOT EARNED the status of American Iconic companies, but they have squandered it and the only way the average person can have a voice is to NOT GIVE THESE COMPANIES ANY MORE MONEY, NOT ONE MORE DOLLAR OF YOURS. If you have an ounce of compassion and decency, I promise you don’t support their mission. It really is that simple. Without millions of customers to skim, they have no investors; they have no company; they have no abuse of power available to them.

The REAL HEROS of communications and entertainment content:   

Truth lives here.

Truth lives here.

  • Glenn Beck’s Blaze TV – A sustainable model for buying content you want, and losing the content you don’t want. An early adopter of the Internet TV model which has been talked about since I was in telecom PR in 1999! Again, here in Dallas, AN INDIVIDUAL MAKING LIFE BETTER FOR HIS NEIGHBORS.
  • NETFLIX – Despite their ups and downs, their investor management and content acquisition woes, they have continued to push the market to serve the customer and put what the customer wants first.
  • Roku – giving you access to content you want to pay for, not forcing you to pay for content you don’t want in order to get the content you do. Actually people creating a better environment for other people.
    ROKU

Bottom line: a CORPORATION is not a person (even if the law says so), and it doesn’t have the interests and moral compass of an individual person who manages a business to improve life for themselves and their customers. The above corporations once were bastions, heroes of American capitalism and companies who made our lives better. But these companies have “jumped the shark” and now no longer provide a good product for their consumers. Instead, the almighty P&L is their god, what they worship. They have forgotten that businesses start as neighbors who go into business to improve the lives of their neighbors WHILE making money, not objectifying and lying to their neighbors in order to take advantage of them and win their work hours (counted in dollars) from them. These companies don’t realize that it’s time to shut down the proverbial “Happy Days” franchise while they’re on top, but truly, I think that time has passed and they are the only ones who don’t know it. . . or more likely know and don’t care.

What we have control of, as consumers, as citizens is the ability to hasten the fall of opportunistic business models and support the REAL HEROES of our society, REAL PEOPLE who take significant risks to make our lives better, and this borne out of a love for their neighbor, this borne out of their individual abilities to assess the morality of their decisions, a quality that a collective company simply CANNOT, WILL NOT ever have. And like I said earlier… what goes up always must come down.

I can’t wait.

#JoinYourNeighbors #SupportPeople not #Entities #HAWMC

P.S.- Just for good measure, some of my #PersonalHeroes are those who paved a way to tell the truth even when it wasn’t popular; when it could (and some cases, did) destroy them, even taking their very lives.

marie-curieMadame Curie – Mother, wife, scientist, feminist, inventor, who sacrificed her life to help us understand radiation

Eleanor_Roosevelt_Childrens_Day_still_624x352Eleanor Roosevelt – First lady who turned a blind eye to her husband’s infidelities and instead focused on others, improving the lives of many despite ANY obstacle

RNS-DIETRICH-BONHOEFFERDietrich Bonehoeffer – philosopher, priest, enemy of the Nazi’s, friend of God’s, brave & sacrificial prisoner of war

brennanBrennan Manning – prolific author, humble priest, recovering alcoholic, ragamuffin before God, loved by Christ

GutenbergJohannes Gutenberg – Inventor of the modern-day printing press, for he is the reason that the PEN will always be mightier than the scalpel!

Happy Easter!

Hi Friends!

Today @WeGoHealth asked us to write about ourselves, about our top accomplishments over the last five years. For those of you who know me, you know the greatest wins we’ve shared together as a community. But you also know something else about me; I live by the words of Christ. For those of you who don’t know me well or at all, really the only important thing to know is that Christ’s love is my teacher. He is my example. If there is anything good in me, it is because of Him. So that’s all I have to say about myself. Happy Easter!

happy_easter

Creatures of Habit – Health Hygiene

To some degree, even the most disorganized of us has a “method to the madness.” We are creatures of comfort, and often habits create feelings of calm, comfort and a sense of control in a crazy, upside down world. We love that morning cup o’ Jo. We haunt the same restaurants and grocery stores. We have nightly rituals that calm us before going to bed.

Some of these habits are good; some, ummmhh, not so much. Here’s a list of the Top 5 Health Hygiene Habits that have changed my health and my life dramatically for the better. But I’m no show off. I’m also going to share my Top 5 Worst Health Hygiene Habits, my dirty little secrets, those I’m working to improve, or have overcome to some degree, learning in the process that dropping these habits like flies or a bad boyfriend has lightened my load in life considerably!

THE BEST

5) Sonicare Dental Care – Many years ago, my mother bought me a Sonicare toothbrush for Christmas. No, she

Healthy Smile!

Healthy Smile!

wasn’t dropping a concealed hint about my dragon breath. I actually asked for the Christmas present.

At the time, a Sonicare was way outside my budget. But the Sonicare line of toothbrushes (now $39-$249) has changed my dental health and my life! I LOVE BRUSHING my teeth, and I haven’t had a cavity since! The brush gives subtle prompts telling you how long and where to brush. It’s truly revolutionary, and the clean teeth feeling I get is unbeatable. I now love to brush, even more than the recommended twice a day for 2 minutes each. :)

4) Proactiv Skin Care – I promise I’m not getting paid to tout the benefits of these products!

Healthy Glow!

Healthy Glow!

I am fortunate to have come from a line of women with beautiful skin and great skin hygiene. My grandmother has initiated each girl in the family at 12 or 13 by taking us to the Clinique counter at Dillard’s to learn the 3-step cleansing process. My 80-year-old grandmother still has beautiful skin. She keeps her morning and nightly regimen religiously. Now that I’m much older, I’ve moved into products that pack a little more umph. The Proactiv line of skin care products is THE ONLY skin hygiene regimen I have ever kept (Sorry, Nana!). The basic 3-step process has changed my aging skin in a way that is noticeably different. I thought it was mainly a product for those who suffer from Acne, but when I used it on my skin, WOW! It turned my dull looking, sometimes even gray-ish skin into a vibrant, healthy and glowing blush day in and day out. It’s affordable, and I’m here to tell you; it produces results!

3) Tea Time – A few years ago, an Englishwoman taught me the delights of the ritual of British tea time. I now

Tea Time!

Tea Time!

have tea often – at 3:00 in the afternoon with a small sweet treat, and I fancy a similar nightly ritual.

The best thing about teas, for me, is that there is an endless variety, so my nightly indulgence never gets boring. There are teas designed to help with every ailment from constipation to respiratory health to those created to enhance mood and mental clarity. Do these teas actually “work?” For me, yes. Even if it’s psychosomatic, it’s a great feeling to know that you’re intentionally drinking to your health, and a warm cup o’ tea, no matter what kind or what time of day, seems to have a powerful ability to soothe.

2) Drinking lots of water – For many years now, I have binged delightfully upon great-tasting water, and I have
found that not all waters are created equally.

My favorite “daily drinker” is Sparkletts. My husband and I bought an upright cooler from Sam’s a few years ago, and it’s one of the best investments in our health we’ve ever made. Cold, tasty water at your fingertips 24/7, and the unit even has a knob for hot water which equals perfect tasting at-the-ready tea, too! I seldom drink sodas, diet or otherwise, or any other sugary beverages now.

For times when I’m feeling festive, I drink Topo Chico. It’s a sparkling mineral water, made in Mexico, and is Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 7.14.27 AMmuch cheaper than its fancy European cousins. I drink it with a squeeze of lime, or sometimes I add it to a healthy no-sugar-added juice to cut the calories and give the juice a festive, fizzy flavor. This concoction is a fun drink for kids too! Pick your juice; add as much or as little fizz as you like; then top it off with your favorite pieces of fruit! Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 1.45.32 PM

Fizzy fruit waters!

Fizzy fruit waters!

I actually crave the taste of my favorite waters now. You will seldom find me without my reusable water bottle, the S’well! It keeps cold drinks cold for up to 24 hours, and hot drinks hot for up to 12 hours. It’s insulated stainless steel, so NO PLASTIC and EASY TO CLEAN! Yay! I tout my favorite water tote to anyone who will listen, and I often give them as gifts. At $35 each, they are worth every single penny.

1) Daily Vitamins & Supplements – Oh, how I used to dread taking even a multivitamin in the morning, horse pills that taste like iron and B-12. Yuk. When I decided to suck it up and swallow all my objections, I learned the benefits of a steady regimen of vitamins and doctor-approved supplements. I now feel a sense of great pride over my morning ritual of waking up and immediately taking control of my health and well-being for the day. In kind-of an OCD fashion,

wholesale-nutrition--supplements-and-your-skin_16000966_800708325_0_0_14049651_600-600x350I line the bottles up by size and take them in the same order every morning. For me, this is the easiest set-up to ensure I don’t forget anything! I take a liquid or gummy multi-vitamin (instead of the horse pills!); a D3 Supplement for bone health and calcium absorption; a vanilla-coated Omega 3 supplement for healthy cardiovascular function, optimal triglyceride and cholesterol and healthy joint and nervous system function; a probiotic for healthy digestion and improved nutrient absorption; an adrenal system supplement to help strengthen those little stress-fighting glands who are always under attack; and an OTC stool softener since I have trouble with constipation and digestion OFTEN. After a solid month of taking this regimen every single morning, not missing even one day, I can say I have more energy and vibrance than I’ve had in the entire year prior! No joke. I do not believe that taking supplements is literally flushing money down the toilet. It’s a solid investment into my health; a way to take control of the parts of my healthcare that I can, and an excellent self esteem booster to boot!

**BONUS** Allopathic or Integrative Care – I see this as a luxury, but a necessary one. The definition of Integrative Medicine is – “an approach to care that puts the patient at the center and addresses the full range of physical, emotional, mental, social, spiritual and environmental influences that affect a person’s health. Employing a personalized strategy that considers the patient’s unique conditions, needs and circumstances, it uses the most appropriate interventions from an array of scientific disciplines to heal illness and disease and help people regain and maintain optimum health.”

SOURCE* Duke University

I have switched to an integrative physician as my primary care provider, and the methods he employs encompass a much more scientific approach to care, searching for the source of subprime health and focusing on restoring health as the goal, not simply alleviating an array of symptoms through pharmaceuticals. I’ve been “prescribed” everything from diet changes to physical therapy to nutrient-based supplementation to doctor’s orders to rest and avoid specific known stressors. I find this whole-health perspective to be based upon the latest relevant science, rather than the latest pharmaceutical or medical device. It’s also a program designed specifically for me, and is not limited simply to “conventional methods.” He also takes the most conservative approach to healing, i.e. healing through science-supported, healthy strategies for living, supporting the body’s own mechanisms for health and immunity and any invasive procedure as an ultimate last resort. It just makes common sense to me. The difficulty can be visiting an allopathic or integrative physician who takes insurance. According to my doctor, he wants to treat patients on the basis of their needs, not what insurance will or will not pay for, so he has a cash model and doesn’t accept insurance at all. A smart strategy for someone who doesn’t want to “play the game” of healthcare. No kickbacks for breaking out the prescription pad, no chance that he will over-treat or overprescribe based on pharma and med device care sales rep visits.

MY SHADY BAD HABITS! – Yep, I’m airing my dirty laundry, and my husband is sitting right next to me, holding me accountable to tell you the truth!

running-on-empty5) Allowing myself to run out of steam – I have learned some better coping skills for keeping my level of activity within healthy limits. When I have truly run out of steam, it comes down on me like a freight train and can sometimes keep me in bed for a whole day! Now that I know my limits better, it’s my responsibility to make sure I don’t push outside them.

Bllliiizzzzaaarrrddd!!!!

Bllliiizzzzaaarrrddd!!!!

4) Unhealthy eating habits – including skipping meals, waiting too long to eat and eating empty carbs (ice cream at night!). Especially when skipping meals, when the time comes to eat, I am more apt to overeat, which is not good either. I’m learning to keep my hunger at a minimum and never to let my energy tank run down to empty. I carry healthy snacks that need not be refrigerated so that I can manage hunger on the go without stopping at a Starbucks or Dairy Queen (oh my gosh, did you know that the April Blizzard is Salted Carmel Truffle!) Oops, I did it again.

 

Too busy fail!

Too busy fail!

3) Overextending myself with everything! Work, physical activity, emotional availability to others, etc. and leaving nothing for myself or for those who truly care for me. There is a balance to be learned for us all, but especially as a patient advocate, I tend to want to do for others in need and neglect myself and my own family, a bad habit I’m working hard to break.

Happy Feet are Healthy Feet!

Happy Feet are Healthy Feet!

2) Ok, this one is gross! Confession time here. I have a bad habit of, ahem, shall we say over-manicuring my toenails? I know, it’s weird, really weird. I always use sterile instruments, but it’s an anxiety-induced behavior, and I sometimes injure my toes badly enough that I can’t wear certain shoes! Definitely need to find another outlet for anxiety. :( There I said it. I feel all naked and embarrassed. Ewwww.

Just Breathe. . .

Just Breathe. . .

1) Holding my Breath (literally not breathing) – another anxiety induced habit, I’m sure. When I’m typing intently or on the phone having a difficult conversation, I hold my breath. I actually forget to breathe. Breathing deeply has been scientifically shown to lower blood pressure, anxiety and help calm our sympathetic nervous system – the body’s “fight or flight” mechanism. When we don’t breathe, we’re not giving our nervous system access to stimulate the process of calming us.

What are your GOOD HABITS? What BAD HABITS are you trying to break? Health hygiene covers everything from emotional self-care and keeping up your physical appearance to sticking with your treatment plans. Share with us – what healthy behaviors have helped you cope with your illness?

#HAWMC