Saturday, June 30, 2007

Cruel Summer

Summertime is here, and for a fat girl, that means some extra care is needed in certain areas. Fortunately, I've found some things that really help.

Under-breast rashes
Rashes under the breasts in summertime are the result of yeast infections. They can be cleared up with jock itch or athlete's foot creams (miconazole is your friend). Prevent them by washing your bras EVERY time you wear them, with bleach if you can, keeping the area dry with medicated powder (Gold Bond works), and showering daily, cleaning the area with soap and water.

If the miconazole cream does not bring enough immediate relief, Desitin is very soothing, and it does not stink like it did years and years ago (and, try the creamy type; it goes on easier and washes off your hands easier). Put that on along with the miconazole; you need to fight the infectious agent as well as easing your pain.

Rashes between thighs
Nothing is as painful as getting a raw, red rash between your thighs as they rub together. Prevention is key, but they sometimes crop up anyway. Some tips for prevention:
1. Avoid pantyhose if you can help it. The nylon will rub you RAW, especially as you sweat.
2. Use pantiliners to absorb moisture, and change them as needed.
3. Use medicated powder to keep the area dry. Keep powder in your purse for reapplication.
4. Make sure your pants don't have holes in that area; reinforce them with patches before they wear out. The holes are worse than just not having pants on at all (wear a skirt, you pervs!), because the fabric rubs.
5. Clean the area very carefully during a shower; if it's hard to reach, get a sponge on a stick or something. This is especially important after sex, as the fluids produced can be especially irritating to the sensitive skin down there.

If you manage to get one anyway, the very best thing you can apply to the rash is Desitin. It soothes and heals the rash, and if you get the "creamy" kind, it doesn't have the terrible odor that you might recall from years ago.

Athlete's foot
Once you get it, you're pretty much stuck using medication for at least two months. If it persists, you should talk to your doctor about a prescription medication. Athlete's foot is a fungus that eats the dead skin on your feet. So, keep your feet clean and dry, scrub them to remove loose, dead skin, and use lotion to prevent your skin from drying out too much. Use powder in your shoes or on your feet to absorb moisture, use socks that wick away moisture, and avoid going barefoot in shared showers and hotel rooms.

If you do get athlete's foot, use the medication every day for two months, even if you don't have symptoms. If you stop too soon, it won't be eliminated. Wash your feet at least twice a day with soap and water, and dry them off thoroughly. Don't re-use the towel without washing it first. Don't re-wear your socks before washing, and preferably, bleach them if you can. Don't wear the same shoes every day if you can help it (or, get crocs and disinfect them daily), and spray the shoes out with an athlete's foot spray before/after wearing. If you have any foot care items, like a foot file or nail clipper, disinfect them between uses.


Another item I've found to help soothe rashy skin AND itchy feet is CVS's foot soap with bran, borax, and iodide. It can be added to a bath for a soak, or just to a bucket of water for a foot soak. It tingles at first, but after fifteen minutes, the rashes and itches will be soothed. Dry carefully and apply whatever medicated cream or lotion you need for your problem.

I hope this has helped some of you.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Here it comes

I felt it coming. The right nostril stuffed up, my right eyelid drooped slightly, and my cheekbone started to throb slightly. Then, the apex of my eye socket began a dull ache, along with the right canine tooth. Dull pain blossomed at a spot just to the right of my spine, at the base of my skull.

A cluster was coming on. For those who haven't experienced them, they are a trip to hell in your head. The most common, and apt, description is, "It feels like a white hot poker stabbing through the eye". For whatever reason, the instinct one feels to combat this feeling is to jam something, anything, into the eye. I once massaged my eye socket so hard to relieve the pain that I bruised the bone.

Now, however, there is a magic bullet for these brutal attacks.

Imitrex is not without serious side effects, but for anyone who has experienced a cluster, it is worth it. In the deepest throes of an attack, you will do almost anything to stop the pain. You'd cut off a body part, sell your firstborn child, and convert to a wacky religion if it would help. In comparison to these options, taking a $20 pill that might give you a heart attack seems relatively tame. It certainly beats the only other real option: Waiting it out in agony, banging your head against the wall, rocking back and forth in a fetal position, and begging people to please kill you.

My last cluster, triggered by carsickness, was like a war going on in my head. When it was over, I was drenched in cold sweat and felt like I had run a marathon. It's exhausting, and it's awful. The next day, I made an appointment to talk to my doctor, got some Imitrex samples, and am a lot less scared of experiencing them. Right now, I'm waiting to see if the Imitrex or the cluster wins the race going on in my head. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Wedding Vows

I wanted to share my wedding vows. Brian and I were married on May 5 of this year.

"I love you. You are my best friend.
Today I give myself in marriage.
I promise to encourage and inspire you, to laugh with you,
and to comfort you in times of sorrow and struggle.
I promise to love you in good times and in bad,
when life seems easy and when it seems hard,
when our love is simple, and when it is an effort.
I promise to cherish you, and to always hold you in highest regard.
These things I give to you today, and all the days of our life."

Man - the Modern Animal

I read a lot of laments about our modern tendency to medicate our psychological and emotional problems, from children to the elderly. A lot of what I read is complaint and protest about the situation. I, of course, have an opinion.

We are the most bizarre form of life on the planet. I believe that we are the only creature that attempts to deny its status as an organism, an animal.

Humans are apes, which are mammals, which are animals. Most animals survive based on their genetically programmed instincts. Most mammals have a mix of instinct and learned behavior. Most apes still have a big pile of instinct, but also learn a lot of things from their families. Then some freak mutant race comes along with a big, complicated, and most importantly, fairly EMPTY brain. A brain that needs to be filled by learned behavior if this ape is to survive.

If you take a random mammal out of the wild and stick it in a cage, providing it with all its physical needs, that mammal will most likely become psychologically damaged over time. They go crazy, because they get zero stimulation. Everything they've been programmed to do is something they cannot do, so they go mad from boredom. They also get fat, because their bodies do not get put to use the way they are supposed to be. Their claws may get too long, overgrowing from lack of use, and curl around, growing into the pads of their feet. Not using their bodily or mental resources causes damage to those resources.

I believe it is the same for us. We developed big brains to figure out what fruits are safe, how to hunt without claws and fast feet, and how to avoid becoming prey. We have taken these enormous brains and put them to some pretty extreme and unnatural uses. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but using our brains for reading, quantum physics, and writing Harry/Snape slash instead of hunting mammoths, finding the best mangoes in the rainforest, and figuring out how to crack open a coconut just might have some side effects. We use our bodies in unnatural ways as well--we're not hunting, running, climbing, working to open up difficult fruits, fleeing predators, and so on. We're sitting for hours on end, or standing for hours on end without rest, or doing the same task over and over, resulting in repetitive stress injuries.

If our bodies sustain damage from our modern, unnatural lifestyle, why not our minds as well? I am not suggesting a return to the stone age. I do, however, want to acknowledge that our epidemic of mental health problems, especially in highly developed countries, is not the result of coddling or weakness, but because we are using our minds in unprecedented (in evolutionary terms) ways. Our schoolchildren are learning to read younger than ever before, doing harder math than thirty years ago, learning to operate computers, and expected to pick up on complex sciences and other subjects. Their brains, which evolved to hunt and gather in forests and grasslands, are being put to some comparitively bizarre uses. Is it any wonder that they experience depression, anxiety, and other ailments at young ages? Is it any wonder that we as adults experience it?

Another way that we have pulled away from our animal roots, and this one I'd like to see change back to the old ways, is our child-rearing. Most mammals have pretty intense care for their young programmed into them. Imagine a cat with her kittens, a mama opossum covered in babies, and meerkats looking out for one another. If anyone has doubts about animals having feelings, the purring of a mother cat as she grooms, nurses, and dotes on her kittens should sweep those doubts away. Kittens get a pretty big investment from their moms; mama teaches them the ways of the world--and when they're ready, she lets them go at exactly the right time.

We have lost that loving touch, I think. I often see American babies treated as fashion accessories, as objects. Too few parents actually HOLD their infants anymore. They're carried around in those basketlike car seats, plunked into prams, or just left somewhere. I can't tell you how many of those car seat basket things I've nearly tripped over in stores because the parent just sets it down in the middle of the floor, and is two rooms or aisles away shopping, without a care in the world. We dress babies up in cute outfits, photograph them in bizarre costumes (Thank you, Anne Geddes), and generally focus on the "stuff" of babies (wallpapering the nursery, a million stuffed animals, etc.) instead of maybe just investing some ATTENTION into them. A lot of American children are attention starved but overprotected. They desperately just need love and affection, but the parents substitute toys and overprotection, not really understanding the difference. The kids don't know WHAT they're missing, consciously, and they don't understand anything of independence, so they grow up neurotic, dependent, and miserable. It's hard enough that we're testing the limits of our intellect with our complex world; we are also growing up in an emotionally sterile one as well.

I really think that medication will help the former issues, but for the latter, there are a whole lot of people out there that need to learn how to love and be loved, and I don't have the answers for that. All I can say is, if you have children, look to a mother cat, mother Egyptian mouthbrooder (a fish), or even the mother alligator to see that nature intended for altricial offspring to be raised with love and affection, and for them to learn independence as well. For those already damaged, I guess you can acknowledge your situation, ask for some help (medication, counseling), and learn to form loving bonds with the people around you. You can take drugs for the problem, but healing will only really come when you share love with someone else.


I will admit that there have been a handful of times where, thanks to my oft-malfunctioning reproductive system*, I missed periods when I had been sexually active prior to them. While I was reasonably sure that it was my crappy body acting up and not pregnancy (because we used protection!), the first thing on my mind was abortion. I never wanted to be pregnant. I never wanted to have a baby. I never wanted to be a parent. And I'm glad that I have, my entire life, had the freedom to make that choice.

I have never had "regular" periods. I got my first one on my 10th birthday. I was really too young to understand my body very well, and I thought that I was doing something wrong because I never had the "28 days" cycle. Sometimes it was 30 or more. Sometimes it was 21. It has never been regular, my ENTIRE life. They also have been excruciating, heavy, and nauseating. I didn't get gynecological care when I was a teenager--that wouldn't come until I moved out and dragged myself to the doctor.

Even later in life, when I got on birth control pills, it wasn't regular. It would start up randomly in the middle of the month, even while I was taking the pills. I took Seasonale for a while, but I still had weird sporadic periods. I've got a lot of things wrong down there, but I didn't know that until I took myself to the doctor and got checked out, after I'd moved to New York. I had ovarian cysts, which resulted in the removal of an ovary, a fallopian tube, and a hunk of uterus. I probably have endometriosis, which is hard to diagnose without exploratory surgery. My grandmother had it, and it caused her horrible pain--similar to what I had when I was still having periods--and they found it all over inside her, including on her spine.

Now, I have the Mirena IUD, which has ELIMINATED all of these problems. I don't have a period at ALL. No cramps, no hormone fluctuations, no bleeding, no random misery that happened just whenever my body felt like it. Without it, I may have resorted to hysterectomy to finally get some relief. Mirena exists because of reproductive CHOICE. Any other birth control device (besides surgical sterilization) can be sabotaged, but this is pretty secure. I am really glad that I have this option, without which I would be in a lot of pain. My husband is sterilized, but I like having the backup anyway.

Random Thought

It has been my experience that those who complain the loudest that my trust is too difficult to earn are also the ones who would have betrayed it the moment it was given to them.

* no bearing on current situations, just a thought *

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Our children IS learning...

Boys Are Quick to Master No-Dish Meals

Kid #1: ... So then I took a waffle and I filled it with eggs and grits and syrup, and I folded the whole thing up and ate it like a taco...
Kid #2: What? You're going to catch diabetes that way!
Kid #3: What are grits, anyway? What do grits taste like?
Kid #1: Syrup. They taste like syrup.

--Canarsie-bound L train

via Overheard in New York, Jun 14, 2007

I could go on about these kids having a fear of food indoctrinated in them. I could point out that they're not even talking about the usual "bad" sugary foods--they're worried about normal breakfast foods being filled with "diabetes" that can be "caught" like a plague. I could wonder what Kid #2 had for breakfast that day--was it half a banana, an ounce of skim milk, and a diet pill?

I think, however, I'm just going to leave the speculation up to others; I'm too disgusted.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


My husband and I found a house that we love, and our bid was accepted today! While the house itself was perfect and beyond, the gardens were a real charmer for me. I have felt so stifled living in apartments; I grew up in the country, and we always had something growing. There's even an apple orchard at mom and dad's place--it's small, but it's got mature trees that are almost as old as I am!

Gardening is a true love for me. I am awful at growing houseplants; I have doomed more plants to death by trying my hand more often that I should have at keeping them indoors. Gardens, however, seem to be easy for me. I also have some hydroponic skills; it was like second nature when I took horticulture classes in college.

Brian's planning out his woodworking space, while I'm dreaming up flowerbeds! Wish us luck on the closing bit.

In other unrelated news, I fiddled with the layout a bit--I put a new title on the blog, and added an appropriate photo of myself. Enjoy!

Monday, June 4, 2007

Am I a good citizen? Or just a nuisance?

While driving back from Montreal last night, Brian and I encountered a vehicle that seemed to have no lights on. As we got closer, we realized that it was a dark colored truck towing a trailer that was not hooked up to the truck's electrical system, so there were no taillights visible. On the dark highway through the Adirondacks, I could envision a fast-moving, unobservant driver plowing into the rear of the trailer, not seeing it until it was too late to prevent a collision. The driver was also swerving erratically, not quite staying in a lane, and if s/he was signaling, the lack of taillights made it impossible to tell anyway.

I had Brian call the police on a cell phone, and I stayed behind the vehicle, about six car lengths behind, with my flashers on to prevent others from rear-ending the vehicle. Brian told the operator our mile-markers as we traveled down the highway, and an officer was positioned at exit 18 to pull the truck over. The operator told us we could stop and talk to the officer if we wanted, but we didn't have to. We chose not to, and after seeing the truck getting pulled over, we turned off our hazard lights and continued onward to home and sleep.

I'm sure that the truck's driver thought we were incredible jerks for turning him in, but if I'd just passed him and not done anything, then later heard about an accident because of it, I'd be very ashamed of myself.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Ambien is waking up the brain dead

Article here.
"...researchers conducted a study of a 48 year-old woman who developed akinetic mutism due to oxygen deprivation to her brain following an attempted suicide by hanging. The patient was totally dependent, unable to speak or walk, and was using a feeding tube for nourishment, although she was able to understand single words. Two years after the suicide attempt, she was given zolpidem for a bout of insomnia; 20 minutes later, she was able to communicate to her family, eat by herself, and move. These effects lasted for up to three hours."


Also, an article about how Viagra saved a newborn's life.

Biology lesson: Leeches are fascinating! No, really!

Leeches are really neat creatures. They have a lot of habitats; there are even some that live on land! They are used medically today in limb reattachment. Anyway, this site has everything you could ever want to know about leeches, just about!

And maybe stuff you didn't want to know, like how leeches make little leechlings!

Art Appreciation

I picked up a print at the Pike Place Market when we visited Seattle a while back. My husband Brian framed it and gave it to me for my birthday this year. He is REALLY good at framing pictures, so I was thrilled. This is the artist's site:

This is the print we picked up in Seattle:
Voice Of the Voiceless

We received another Liza print as a wedding gift, titled Dragonfly Mermaid Fairy

I love mermaids, and we have a lot of mermaid art here. Liza Phoenix has a lot of mermaid, fairy, and fish art, among other stuff. I highly recommend checking it out.

This is another artist's work that is also on our wall. I think that the piece really reflects who I am!