May 26, 2010


Living In The Body: The Trade-Offs Of Life

I don't like to be a downer or complainer. And I'm afraid of being a hypochondriac like my mother. So, I don't talk about physical ailments much. But, lately, I've really been struggling physically. I don't know if it's simply part of getting older, going through perimenopause, or just getting used to being in my body, now that I don't constantly dissociate every bodily feeling away. It's probably a combination of things.

There are the on-going struggles. Some of them I find answers and solutions for. Other things, I may never figure out. In my child abuse recovery therapy, I get many body memories. I've gotten rather used to them and they seem to always pass eventually. However, I believe that I probably have some old injuries that I received during childhood torture that never received any medical attention.

There are the little, nagging things. This spring, for instance, my allergies have been driving me crazy! There are the things that I don't really want to have a doctor tell me about, because I don't want some crazy surgery suggested. Like, for instance my mysterious problem I have with swallowing sometimes. I've chalked this up to some kind of allergy reaction/flemmy thing and I simply try to control it with antihistamines and expectorants.

It is What It is

It is What It is by MarjakaThriver(on break) on

Here's the trade-off part: The upside is that I'm much better now at comforting and nurturing my little inner child parts who get scared whenever there is any physical feeling of pain. I don't automatically turn to dissociation and ignore what my body is trying to tell me. I used to have an extremely high tolerance for pain. Take, for example, the fact that I had my son without any drugs or pain medication whatsoever...even though he was flipped and I had back labor! I used to ignore anything my body was trying to tell me.

I take much better care of myself than I used to. I don't work myself until I literally drop any more. I hardly ever drink coffee these days. I don't overindulge in alcohol and I no longer smoke. I get outside and move my body with regular exercise. I'm not on any prescription medications and I take some really great natural supplements.

...On the other hand...

Now that I'm more consistently in my body, there are a lot of things I notice that hurt! Over the last four years, I've fallen during biking and skiing accidents and broke ribs on both sides. I had some skin cancer removed from my face. I've dealt with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome in my right shoulder and arm and avoided surgery (thank goodness).

I've been struggling with this perimenopause over about eight years now. All of my female relatives, including my twin, have had hysterectomies, so I don't know how this is supposed to go. But, I feel embarrassed to say that it has not gone smoothly for me. I've gotten the hot flashes and night sweats somewhat under control, but my periods are now very troublesome. I won't go into the gory details, but I've really had to work on my anemia and I've had a lot of monthly pain and PMS symptoms. I try to deal with it naturally, but I have gotten consultations from two different medical doctors. One just told me to take lots of Ibuprofen and the other ran some blood tests and simply stated that my hormone levels were "within normal limits."

Now, my D.O. says I have tendinitis ("tennis elbow") from the repetitive actions of my hours at the drawing table working on my botanical illustration. The pain and weakness in my right arm would get so bad sometimes, that I would go to pick something up (maybe even something as small as a coffee cup) and I'd almost drop it! I'd have to steady the object quickly with my left hand. I'm taking lots of breaks from the desk and drawing table, and I'm doing stretches and taking a supplement that all seem to be helping somewhat with that.

The nagging pain that I haven't been able to get consistent relief on is in my back, between my shoulder blades. My D.O. and my massage therapist have helped me get only fleeting relief here. After a night where I slept very little-- because of extreme discomfort and bloating feeling...and feeling like the food I had eaten that day (this was Sunday) just didn't seem to be digesting or moving in the right direction--I did a little on-line research. I think I've come to the conclusion that I've got some gall bladder problems. I'm a good candidate for it: my grandfather had his gall bladder removed. My mother is morbidly obese and has diabetes. I'm not sure if she's had her gall bladder out or not, but it wouldn't surprise me.

I'm sure it's no big news to anyone who knows about my abusive and neglected childhood that I was not taught any healthy eating habits. I have a terrible sweet tooth. I can get off smoking, drinking and coffee easier than I can get off of my addiction to sugar, carbs and fattening foods. I have been using them--eating "comfort foods"--way too much ever since I started the therapy marathon for my dissociative disorder back in October.

I was complaining recently to my D.O. that, even with the weather improving and getting out and getting a lot more exercise lately, I haven't lost any weight. (I have about 20 pounds I'd like to get rid of.) He suggested that I go out first thing in the morning, before I've had any calories, and take a brisk walk for an hour. In this way, my body has no other choice but to burn fat for its fuel. Brilliant, right? I thought so and I've started doing this three-to-five times a week. I enjoy it and it feels great, but I haven't lost anything yet. This bloaty feeling continues to bother me and I was floored to see on several sites online that gall bladder symptoms can cause this pain between the shoulder blades! Uh oh!

I've got an appointment with my D.O. next week and I'll talk to him about my suspicions. I'd like to try to get it under control with diet (and exercise) and avoid surgery if at all possible. In my research, I noticed that a lot of foods that are recommended for a healthy gall bladder and a lot of foods you are supposed to avoid are similar to the colon cleanse and diet I did three years ago when I lost 18 pounds.
I don't think it can hurt, and it certainly might help. At the very least, maybe I'll lose some of that weight and not feel so bloated all the time. If you read this here post and comments from three years ago, you'll see that I enjoyed some of those results then.

I discovered that there are some specific gall bladder cleanses/flushes I can try, too. But, I'm not going to launch into any of those before I talk to a doctor.

For now, I've been shopping for lots of organic items at the health food store and I've got a diet plan. I'm going to cut out all dairy except for low-fat cottage cheese. No more butter and no more ice cream! I'm going to limit bread to only whole-sprouted grain types. No more baked goods like cookies and cinnamon rolls!

I'm going to eat lots of leafy greens and vegetables (avoiding the tooty cabbage family) with organic olive oil, apple cider vinegar and lemon on my salads for dressing. I'm eating fruits like apples, pears and apricots, with yummy berries for a treat. I'm going to severely limit my intake of meat (I never eat much anyway) and emphasize cold-water fish like salmon and trout with lots of Omega 3's. For some reason, several of the sites I looked at suggested eliminating or limiting fowl. I usually eat a lot of chicken, but I'll try this for a while.

I've switched from my black tea in the morning to green tea. I'm drinking lots of fresh-pressed carrot, apple and grape juice, as well as soothing chamomile tea. And, of course, I'm drinking lots of water. I have to admit, over the last several months, I had kinda gotten out of the habit of drinking as much water as I usually try to.

Thankfully, I'm just at the right time of the year to really be successful at this. There are so many choices of fresh fruits and vegetables coming into the stores right now. And we're signed up to receive a box every week from a local, natural grower here in Colorado. Also, I will have my organic herb and vegetable garden plot, as usual, this summer. I'm going to try to emphasize the organic choices even more than I usually do. Something I read said that herbicides and pesticides really wreak havoc on the gall bladder. That just sounds like a good idea to me.

If you've listened to/read all of this so far, I thank you for your compassion and understanding. I really don't mean to be a complainer. Being all negative and judgmental doesn't serve me well. I really am grateful, overall. Other than the IBS that I continue to work to control, I don't suffer with a lot of common ailments and disorders that many of us survivors have to live with. I don't have lupus or fibromyalgia. I get migraines from time to time, but not often. Although I'm struggling with a perimenopause that is not worry-free, I still have all my female organs intact. I'm a little chunky, but I don't have any full-blown eating disorders.

I am counting my blessings. And I hope to have even more to count and report back to you before I leave for our summer vacation at the end of June. In the meantime, I've gotten behind on a lot of things. I hope to finish my final botanical illustration plate in my Colored Pencil II class this week. After that, I'll be taking two months off from my classes. My backyard landscape project has been almost at a standstill, but I'm determined to finish it on my three-year plan--which means this summer. I've got to hurry and get some plants in the ground before it gets too hot.

I will continue to keep the Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse up and running on a monthly basis. But, I am behind on many interview and guest blog requests and things of that nature. I shouldn't keep promising when I think I'll be caught up on those, so I won't right now. I even got a cute award with a meme attached from my dear friend Katie recently, and I had hoped to pass that along. I'm not sure when I'll get to it. I'm just going to try to stick to this diet and exercise routine and get to feeling physically better. That's my first priority. I hope that all of you are well and working your way over to the thriving end of the Survivors-Can-Thrive spectrum. I have the utmost compassion for all of you, to, you know. And I'll try to get around to some of your blogs soon.

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May 17, 2010


Blog Carnival: Hope & Joy Edition


Tracie must have stayed up late, because she's already got our Hope & Joy Carnival up. Amazing! I'm glad we extended the deadline, because we got some more folks to join us at the last minute. It is now officially huge! There are over 30 posts in there. Wowie Kazowie! We've got a nice selection of posts under the Hope & Joy theme and some neat stuff to look at in our new Art Therapy category.

I can't thank you all enough for your continued support, contribution, promotion and enthusiasm of and for this awareness-raising carnival. I just love our survivor solidarity and community! :)

Well, Blog Carnival dot com is back up and running now. I checked myself with my own submission and see that the form is now working as well. I just heard back from this month's host, and we've agreed to extend the deadline until midnight TONIGHT. Thank you all for you patience and perseverance. And thank you, Tracie, for being such a committed, patient and hard-working host--and for the first time hosting, too. Wow! :)

Update: Wednesday, May 19, 2010:
I do not know the cause, but apparently the website at Blog Carnival dot com is down. I can't get the widget on my sidebar to load, the submission form doesn't work, and I cannot get to the BC dot com home page. This has happened once before and they got everything up and running again fairly quickly. This time, it seems to be taking a bit longer. I don't know what the problem is or when it will be fixed. I'm sorry for the confusion and inconvenience. I will be in touch as information becomes available. Thank you for your patience.

On Friday, (That's this Friday, May 21) Tracie will be hosting our Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse. She's just coming off of a weekend blog-a-thon, so I know she's tired. But, I think she's pumped, too! She's pumped with advocacy, awareness, doing good and changing the world. What perfect timing. I just know she'll be a great host.

She's chosen Hope & Joy for the theme for this month's edition. I told her that I thought this was timely, because I've really been experiencing some moments of pure, lighthearted joy this spring. If you're a survivor who's been through phases where those moments are quite few and far between like I have (and what survivor hasn't, really?), you know how much I appreciate these precious little moments.

What precious moments bring you joy and hope for a better tomorrow? In her announcement post for this carnival, Tracie said, "What is your hope, what do you hold onto when the healing path gets dark and it is hard to hang on much longer? What is your joy, what makes you smile and dance and laugh, even in the midst of pain? I fully believe that as survivors it is important to share our stories and our pains and our troubles. In this sharing we find a community, we find help and understanding, which is an important part of healing. We also need to share our hopes and joys, we need to give them freely to other survivors who may have lost sight of theirs."

The deadline is Wednesday, 5/19, midnight Pacific time (U.S.) for the Friday edition. In addition to the "Hope and Joy" theme, we still have our regular submission categories of Advocacy & Awareness, Aftermath, Art Therapy, Healing & Therapy, In The News, Poetry, and Survivor Stories. You can use this submission form here. Thanks, in advance for joining us and spreading the hope and joy! :)

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May 02, 2010


Following Those Dreams!

Colored Pencil I

Still busy away from the blogosphere working on my botanical illustration. If you look closely, you can see the work I did recently in my colored pencil I class. My piece is the one with the four objects "pointing" at each other: the brown seed pod, the orange pepper, the onion and the tamatillo.

This was featured on the April 27th post at the botanical illustration program's blog:

If you go to that link, you can see the work a little bigger. I'm still a cyber klutz when it comes to embedding photos and stuff on this blog. :P But, I was so excited to see this there! Just think how excited I'll be when I enter my first show or sell something or get a commission. Something to look forward to. It is so nice to be dreaming again...and following those dreams.

Hope you are all well. I'll try to get around to all of your blogs soon.

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