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Quitting Caffeine.

Why would I quit caffeine, my final drug love affair?  In order to have a foundation for research I used my one palpable symptom—a large cyst in my left breast, which gets larger and more painful near my cycle.  I have a host of other symptoms I can attribute to too much caffeine, but let’s use the very obvious physical growth which isn’t imagined or complicated by too many variables.

During my last mammogram the tech said, “you know cutting down on coffee or quitting would reduce these,” so I believed it was a scientific fact there is a correlation between caffeine and my benign breast cyst, after all, she is the expert.

The American Cancer Society reports:

Some women report that their breast symptoms improve if they avoid caffeine and other stimulants found in coffee, tea, chocolate, and many soft drinks. Studies have not found these stimulants to have a significant impact on symptoms, but many women feel that avoiding these foods and drinks for a couple of months is worth trying.”  (http://www.cancer.org/healthy/findcancerearly/womenshealth/non-cancerousbreastconditions/non-cancerous-breast-conditions-fibrocystic-changes)

The Mayo Clinic reports:

No, caffeine doesn't appear to cause breast cysts… Anecdotally, some women report reduced breast pain when they go off caffeine. Although no research has documented this effect, there's no reason not to go caffeine-free to see if it relieves discomfort from breast cysts.” (http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/breast-cysts/expert-answers/breast-cysts/faq-20058342)

The LiveStrong Foundation synthesizes the Mayo Clinic article:

According to Mayo Clinic internist Sandhya Pruthi, M.D., there does not appear to be a clear-cut connection between caffeine -- or coffee, a major dietary source of caffeine -- and breast cysts. However, in very large doses, the caffeine in coffee may indirectly influence reproductive hormones, which, according to MayoClinic.com, are thought to affect the development of fibroadenomas. Moreover, some women report relief from fibrocystic breast changes when they reduce caffeine intake, according to Pruthi. So if you drink a lot of coffee and suffer from uncomfortable fibrocystic breast changes, you may want to try going caffeine-free, says Pruthi. MedlinePlus also reports that while there is no evidence that caffeine causes fibrocystic breast changes, some women believe reducing their consumption of caffeine -- as well as chocolate and fat -- helps.  (http://www.livestrong.com/article/491367-does-coffee-cause-breast-lumps/)

And finally, the website ‘Women to Women’ writes:

“There is also some suggestion that caffeine causes breast tenderness and may increase the incidence of fibrocystic breast lumps in women of all ages.”  (https://www.womentowomen.com/detoxification/the-caffeine-controversy-whats-the-buzz/)

Marcelle Pick, a founder of the Women to Women website warns, “But be prepared — caffeine is not an easy drug to quit for some women. I see patients in my office willing to make every other single lifestyle change I suggest, yet who break down in tears when I suggest giving up caffeine.”

Of course I enjoyed Marcelle’s article the most because it elaborated on the issue from a wholistic perspective.  While the Mayo Clinic and The American Cancer Society are brief and to the point, ‘if you want to see if your cysts decrease by quitting coffee, there is anecdotal evidence which suggests it may help,’ it will honestly take more than that for me, because frankly, I can stand the discomfort of a cyst because I love coffee that much. 

My answer to the simple question is, ‘it would likely help to cut down or cut out coffee.’

“Wahhhhhhhhhhhhhh, I don’t want to!”  

I often say, “coffee is the one drug I abuse and I’ll be damned if I will give it up.”

Then Marcelle adds a few more criteria for me to consider:

The caffeine addiction quiz

Answer yes or no to the following questions.

Do you use caffeine to facilitate a physical activity (for example: waking up, exercising, having a bowel movement, concentrating)?  YES

Do you have to have caffeine in the morning?  YES

Can you substitute hot water with lemon? yes

Do you crash or have caffeine/sugar cravings in the afternoon/early evening? YES

Do you grow irritable, have headaches, feel disembodied if you miss your caffeine fix? YES

Do you have difficulty falling asleep at night and waking feeling refreshed? sometimes

Do you need caffeine to heighten the effects of other substances, e.g., nicotine, alcohol, sugar?  sugar, YES

Do you feel your social routines would suffer without caffeine use? YES YES YES

Does the idea of going without caffeine seem impossible to you?   IT SEEMS REALLY, REALLY TOUGH.

My husband, in solidarity, rarely drinks alcohol, and he hasn’t around me since my last drink six years ago.  However, there is zero chance he is going to quit coffee.  When he is home we wake up and share a pot of coffee, when he is fishing he drinks coffee non-stop, when we go to his parents we have coffee, when he stops by the shop for lunch we have coffee.  The only time of day we have reduced our coffee habit is right after dinner, which until about 9 months ago was completely normal for us to make a pot of coffee after dinner.

We have made a few changes to our coffee habits after our first #whole30.  We begin taking our coffee black and have never gone back to coffee with 1/2 and 1/2.  Before our first whole30 we bought at least one fancy coffee/day.  He drank a grande double mint mocha and I drank a grande single latte with a hint of real cinnamon and honey (basically a warm milk); every day we spent at least $10 for those coffees.

For the past 6-7 months we have cut back on our fancy coffee (we are in the middle of our third whole30 now=no fancy coffee).

Is the next step, for me at least, to cut it out altogether?

I tend to be black and white in my habits.  I prefer very structured diet guidelines, in fact, it’s the only place in my life I appreciate and respect routine.

There are a host of other issues I could address in my quest to quit caffeine, such as:

The effect of caffeine on mood, energy, sleep, nutrient absorption, calcium depletion, dehydration… all components of a system I work to keep in balance and cannot deny caffeine doesn’t assist in balancing.

When we get back to the foundation, instinctively I know to quit coffee, in my case, would be more beneficial than detrimental.  I have quit tough things before. 

I will let you know how the cyst does, off coffee, because although I can tolerate it, why wouldn’t I do the one thing that has anecdotally shown to help?

Yancey, I am going to apologize in advance for this week because the only way I know how to quit something is cold turkey and I am choosing today to begin; it’s okay that I began the day with coffee after all, I don’t believe it takes the sun rising to make a new day.

 

 

Lisa Nilsen
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I understand, I am tired of it too.

It started yesterday afternoon. It wasn’t a bad day. I thought if I just lie down I might have the energy to go to the shop and clean before we got on the ferry at 3am.  I even bought our ferry tickets the day before knowing I wouldn’t want to deal with it early in the morning; the idea of being up at 3am was weighing on me. The shop not being cleaned up and everything I hadn’t completed was all settling on me.

The house was quiet at 5pm.  And at 6pm.  I set my alarm for 8pm.  “I can wake up and go to the shop at 8, clean and head to the ferry,” I told myself.  My body said, “NO”.  My body, which I hadn’t asked much of the past two days, began to feel like lead.  I sent the message to my mom, “too sick to make the ferry,” in a few more words.  I can’t look back at the message because a fight with Yancey then escalated.

    

I screamed at him, the primal scream that leaves your throat raw.  I threw my phone at the timber wall of my room.  It bounced off, unbroken.  I stormed out of the house, down the steps, to the edge of the property and threw my phone as hard as I could towards the beach.  It landed 8 feet from me just below the tree line of the beach.  I stood still for a moment, disgusted, I couldn’t even throw it to the beach.  It was raining, that would do the job. 

Crying, yelling, feeling like a failure for not being able to control this, to get through it and get the kids to the ferry. I hadn’t thrown a phone since 2012. The pressure in my head caused me to rock and beg, “please, just break.” An aneurysm, anything, the pressure built further.  Lying down sent shooting stabbing jolts from above my ears to my crown. Sitting up felt like I was trying to get to the bottom at the deep end of the pool. The pain was unrelenting. I thought, "I should go to the ER."  When I did sleep for a few minutes I woke up crying.  Around 4am the ferry passed by the house, the familiar humming of the engines as it passed sent me into another round of quiet choking sobs.

Around 5am I thought I should let Yancey know about the phone. I went upstairs to Miranda’s room, “what’s your code,” I whispered to her. I put the code in. Five minutes later I couldn’t recall the code, I asked her 3 more times this morning before saying, “please write it down.” I also had to write down a phone number because I couldn’t remember the seven numbers from looking at a text it was sent in to typing it back into the phone, though I tried several times.

With another phone lying by my head the texts and phone calls began again.  We fought again. For hours. It doesn’t matter what we said, as always we are both at fault. I screamed again. I set Miranda’s phone on the bed, and kept screaming. I hit my bed with my fists, I stood up on the bed and swept all books, magazines and glasses off the shelf at the head of our bed. A vase with paper flowers from mothers day hit the wall and shattered.

Glass was all over the carpet and sprayed into the hall. I stopped screaming. I picked up Miranda’s phone and walked to the living room. Merrick met me at the bottom of the stairs. His eyes ringed with red splotches from crying. He had come in my room when he woke up and wrapped himself around me. Tears fell on my cheek, his tears, mixing with mine.

“I am sorry,” I said, “it wasn’t about you guys, I just got sick and it’s hard for me to travel.”

“I know,” he said. I wrapped my fingers around his and felt ill for his disappointment. “I love you,” he said again leaving my room.  He was likely red eyed over missing the trip, not because I was screaming or breaking things, but part of my wanting out is because of what the kids have to witness and experience with me.

“Here,” I said to Merrick, handing him Miranda’s phone, “please take this or I will break it,” I turned away grabbing the broom to start cleaning my room.

There isn’t a feeling I despise more than losing control, more than breaking things. It snaps me out of the anger for a moment, the anger having snapped me out of despair as well.

“You feel better when you are angry,” Yancey has said many times. Meaning, I get mean and angry and fight to avoid feeling bad. He is right. Today I understood something new. Despair, stress, suicidal tendencies all rob energy from me. Anger must have a chemical reaction that pushes adrenaline through me because I do often believe I can do anything at the same time I am threatening to leave him or just being cruel. For a very short time there is actually relief from the pain, while I am causing more for someone else.

And so the cycle runs.  The house phone rang again.  Lying in bed, alone in the house I knew if I didn't get up and answer it he would send someone here.  His parents had already picked the kids up.

"Yes," I said.

"I just want to know you are okay."

"Yeah, if I was ABLE to kill myself I would have done it a long fucking time ago," I said and slammed the red receiver down.

It has been a good run of not feeling this bad.  It hasn't happened like this for a long time.  I can speculate why but the truth is it just happens.  It happens if I am drinking, sober, abusing medications, taking none or taking the one that has worked best for me, which I am and will continue to take.  

I don't have prescription medication at my house which could be used to O.D.  I am terrified of dying, of actually hurting myself.  But I am not scared of falling asleep forever.  I am a spiritual person and that thin thread of believing I don't have the right to take my life is always there, no matter how badly I want to end the pain forever.  I research things like, how much tea tree oil is lethal, but again, that's not an appealing way to go.  So you could easily say I live in the "Desire for Suicide" or suicidal ideation, when I feel desperate or extreme mental anguish.

http://arcsp.org/-image credit

Don't worry if you don't understand, I am sharing for people who do.  Since I have a fear of dying painfully I usually decide, "I will starve myself to death, slowly, without telling anyone."  But rather quickly I realize I am really very hungry.

 

I have been questioning if I am strong enough to keep the shop open, and truly hope I am.  It feels humiliating to be here.  I feel ashamed when I can't keep this from happening.  I do everything in my power to navigate around feeling this way, but since I went to the Doctor in April I have known that there are things in my life that I have to address.  I have been isolating, I have been feeling crushing failure as I work to be more present at home and things at work give out. 

It has been a rough day.  The worst kind of day.  Something must be changing or I wouldn't have the ability to write. I've learned riding out the storm is preferable to fighting it and although I wish for a permanent solution to severe temporary pain, I am not capable of it, it seems.  

It's easy to say "fall down seven times, get up eight."   I don't know what the answer is for anyone else.  Today I'm wondering, "what can I do differently to be well."  No one can answer that for me either.  It's not cancer.  It's not diabetes.  I don't actually know what it is and I am 100% sure no one in a white lab coat or title "Dr." does either. It's not logical someone who lives as healthy and clean as I do would have a brain which backfires so severely or a body which fails so easily (and this is with the benefit of LDN, I cannot imagine where I would be without it).  

Truth is its a problem I can't solve today.  It feels like a mean joke to be good at something, but not strong enough to maintain, which feels like the pattern and one I desperately want to break.  Right now though, I am like SUPER hungry... I suppose that is a good thing.

 

I laughed a little today at comics new to me on nedroidcomics/Tumblr, which I stumbled across and was thankful for while heading to www.123rf.com for the images in this post. 

Lisa Nilsen
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Something I believe in.

Stay safe.  Stay connected.  Remain inReach.
Lisa Nilsen
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Products? What? Is that what this is for?

Of course there is a template for posting this blog, it begins:  

Title "Blog about your latest products or deals".  

I think it's a suggestion since this is a business website.  There may be a day I get all in your face about why you should buy something from me, why shopping with us is the best thing since poached eggs, but not this day.

Selling is a struggle for me.  It is apparently important in retail.  

A lady walks into the shop and says, "what kind of deal can you give me."  In no other American shop would this work, but here?  My daughter physically cringes as the customer asks, her fists tighten, she turns to me with her "Mooooommmmm!" face (it's one reason staff don't want me coming to the service counter, I'm likely to give everything away). Today I only gave the customer a  20% discount. Progress!

Now, here is me.  I go to a garage sale and there are two stunning glass terrariums, very filthy, but I can see their value.  

"How much?" I ask.  

"$3 each," says the owner.

"No way, they are worth much more than that!  I insist I pay $15 each," as I hand her 90% more than she was asking for (is that correct maths?).

If you like our shop it's not because I am a kick ass roller derby girl that knows everything, about everything about skating.  When someone comes in to look at a long board I can see if they know more than me and I think to myself, "they know that's a long board and now I should just listen to what they need."

Sometimes people walk into the shop, begin to spin a little, and then stumble towards the door saying, "O.V.E.R.whelmed!".  Not the effect we are going for.  Is it the disco ball?

Often customers suggest we change the name of the shop, to make it more clear what we do and what we have.  We won't be doing that, but would love to hear names which people believe wouldn't alienate any person.  Simply navigate to the "contact us" page, write us a name our shop should be called, and send. I love experiments!  

In general my life has been overtaken by my passion to spread the word about Low Dose Naltexone.  I don't draw cartoons yet have a few illustrations in the works, just to clarify when a Dr. says, "it's too new, it's too expensive, it's too risky, it's too side effect laden," what they mean is, "it would completely topple the entire medical system," which is generally working extremely well for everyone except the patients.

Follow me to my personal MOM-O-FIVE link where I share experiences sincerely hoping it will help one other person suffering from similar awesomeness.   The following occurred to me tonight, I will put anything personal about me right out there in writing, but don't like people in my house.  Is that weird?  

http://bentoforfive.tumblr.com/

 

We DO have a "Welcome Back bkr" contest happening now!  Go to our Instagram account, find the photo which says "Enter to Win", leave a comment and get entered to be a winner!  Contest ends July 15th.

https://instagram.com/skate.of.gear.ak/ 

Lisa Nilsen
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LDN, the too good to be true story of how I came to not feel suicidal for the past month.

Photo credit, Stephanie Stewart-Howard “12thandbroad.com” (see link at the bottom of this page).  

It is precisely the “Snake Oil Effect” that makes peoples eyes gloss over when I mention LDN.  It just sounds too good to be true.  

It is inexpensive and has little to no side effects, even at the higher FDA approved dosage of 50-300mg/day, which has been used to help wean addicts off opiates and alcohol since it’s 1994 FDA approval (see LDN factsheet link below).

LDN is literally “Low Dose Naltrexone,” using dosages of 1.5-5mg/day for healing vs. the approved FDA label “high” dose for helping relieve alcohol and opiate addiction.

“It’s even effective on cancer!” I have been heard saying enthusiastically, as the person I am speaking to turns and quickly exits the conversation.

Why does it seem too good to be true?  Because it doesn’t fight the disease itself, it heals your immune system so that your body can fight the disease. Is it a miracle drug, no.  Will it heal or cure everyone and anything?  No.  If you keep drinking diet coke and eating preservative laden food, smoking, drinking, and sitting on your bum, will you likely feel well even if you take LDN?  I seriously don’t have any idea, as I work to avoid those things.  

cannot think of a profession more frustrating than working as a doctor or health care professional in the modern western world:  

Dr., “How can I help you today?”

Patient, “I am hurting, sick and/or depressed.”

Dr., “We know that a healthy diet, exercise and hydration are key to wellness.”

Patent, “Sure, I do all that... but I am still very ill.”  The patient just went through the McDonald’s drive through and enjoyed a quarter pounder with cheese and a diet coke on the way to her appointment.  When she gets home she will have 2 double bloody-marys to relax.  She also drank 6 cups off coffee, including several vanilla latte’s today.  She never drinks water. To be fair, she did run 4 miles at the gym.

Dr., “Well, if you are doing everything we know will keep you well, I suppose I can prescribe a few of the miraculous medications our Pharmaceutical Reps have shared with us, out of the goodness of their heart and the desire for the healthiest population in the history of mankind.”

Patient, “Thank you for listening and caring.” And she leaves with a prescription for Ambien, to sleep better, Klonopin to feel less anxiety, and Lithium for her original diagnosis of bipolar.  She knows she can get any drug available, with less than a request for it, based on her diagnosis.  She also knows she will misuse or abuse any medication she is given.  She actually seeks out drugs that will be effective in an overdose.

Dr., “Next.”

I didn’t want to be that patient anymore.  No drinking, no diet coke, exercise as tolerated, eat organic and clean as much as possible, pray, meditate, sleep well... and guess what?  Since I am bipolar, and after 3 years of being medication free, I ended up back in the Dr.’s office.  I was sure there wasn’t an answer for me. That was on April 24th.

 On April 23rd, the day before my doctors appointment, I had emailed the Seattle Neuropsychiatric Treatment Center. The first question, and it’s a fair one, was who am I insured with.  I found out that Electric Convulsive Therapy, ECT, would run about $30,000.00 for 12 treatments and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, orTMS, about $9,000.00 for a 6 week course. During which I would need to be living in Seattle. 

 I spoke to my husband, who had stayed in from fishing more than twice this April to take care of me. That doesn’t happen.  He has missed children being born, holidays, birthdays, life.  Life goes on when you are married to a fisherman, unless he is so worried that life will not go on, and in those rare crisis he has stayed by my side.  In the past that meant he came in after I was hospitalized.  Recently it has been because he understood I did everything in my power to be safe and healthy, and still wasn’t.  So he stayed.

 When he was in town again, although the tides and fishery allowed him to be on the fishing grounds, I said, “I am going to have to go get help.”  And he said, “please go to the doctor here and ask him about your idea, but I support you no matter what.”

And that is how I found out about LDN.

 When I left the Dr.’s office that Friday the clinic was closed.  He had listened sincerely, he had given me feedback on ECT and that he didn’t know anything about TMS.  He gave me the option of Depakote or LDN, but I didn’t write down the name of the second one, and I knew I would refuse the first option.  He listened to me for so long that the clinic was closed when my appointment ended.  I walked out into the clinic corridor to a building only lit by daylight.

My best friend, who works there, led me to the door to unlock it for me.  I hugged her. I cried in defeat.  My anger and disbelief overtook me.  After all I had done, after all the changes, I would have to be medicated.  There seemed no other option. 

 I couldn’t find any information about LDN that weekend, having not written the name down.  

 “Can I have your doctors appointment Missy?” I asked my daughter. 

 “If you really need it,” she said.  I really did.

 When I went back on Monday morning I said, “tell me again, what is the name of the other medicine, not Depakote?  I couldn’t find it anywhere.”  

 After finding it wasn’t a bigPharma drug, my heart and mind opened a little more.  I didn’t believe there was anything that could help me either.  And for less than $75 per month with little to no side effects? Puuuuullllleeezeee.  And Mrs. Stewart-Howard may say, “who do you think you are filling people’s minds with unscientific garbage!”

 Except, it is science.  Why does it work on so many illnesses?  Because it isn’t attacking the illness, it is repairing the immune system.  It is helping your own body heal itself.  It’s that simple.  If you want to learn more, or know more, please “Google LDN,” as the author Joseph Wouk suggests in his like titled book.  He also drank diet coke, he suffered from MS and his symptoms were relieved with LDN.  

 I tentatively noticed the first morning, after my first night dose, that some veil, some cloud, something was gone.  I didn’t want to get my hopes up, yet I recognized it as something I had rarely felt in my life, an absence of wanting to die.  

On May 29th I will have been taking LDN for a month.  Did it take weeks to work, no.  Will it be the same story for everyone?  Of course not.  However, what has anyone got to lose?  Suppose you try it for your illness and it works. Hooray for you.  Suppose you try it and it isn’t the problem, your immune system doesn’t need support, your endorphin levels are normal, well, you can always work on your diet, hydration, exercise and meditation.

It reminds me of when my mom would say, “Lisa, why don’t you try saying a prayer.” 

Of course I would say, “that won’t automatically make things better.”

And she would say, “it can’t possibly make things worse.”

And that’s LDN.  It can’t possibly make things worse.

http://www.ldnresearchtrust.org/sites/default/files/UK%20LDN%20Fact%20Sheet%202015_0.pdf

http://www.12thandbroad.com/story/news/2015/05/06/broad-bits-snake-oil---why-are-we-so-easily-led-by-conspiracy-theory-over-science-when-it-comes-to-health/70905164

 Disclaimer:  the realization that there is a medicine that has relieved symptoms and increased my hope for health in no way reduces my prior blogs.  Many ailments can be remedied with diet, exercise, hydration and meditation.  My experience with LDN is in addition to the many changes I have made, and maintaining those choices give me the best chance at a healthy life.  Bipolar I is a devastating illness which I worked very hard to maintain without drugs.  In this case I feel BLESSED to have found a drug, a medicine, that has helped with symptoms I had to work extremely hard to manage, or couldn't manage.  Even if it felt, initially, like I was betraying my own self. In order for growth to be possible, flexibility must be present.  It took some major flexing for me to accept medication.

Lisa Nilsen
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Shouldn't we be aware all the time?

My mind expands when I listen to another viewpoint, process it and do so with respect.  Thank you Laura for taking the time to put together this heartfelt perspective, Love Lisa.Why just during an awareness "month"?

Why just during an awareness "month"?

I’ve participated in plenty of organized awareness activities for different groups, and my heart truly is there, but honestly I just don’t get them. For instance, May is mental health month or October, get your mammogram because it’s titties month. How about Tourette awareness month from mid May to mid June? I lovingly chuckle at that one because I live in a home with Tourette’s and I get it. These are frustrating for me it feels limiting; or maybe it’s the commercialism, or maybe I just don’t get it because in my mind I’m thinking, “Shouldn’t we be aware all the time?”.  Also, e.v.e.r.y.o.n.e. has a cause to bring awareness to these days.  There are so, so, so many of them. It doesn’t lessen the importance, they are all important. So, what are they trying to accomplish?

Let’ start with what www.mentalhealthamerica.net defines as the purpose of mental health month:

  • Fight stigma 
  • Provide support 
  • Educate the public and
  • Advocate for equal care

Couldn’t those bullet points apply to every single activist group out there?

Then it hits me, this is all rather selfish of me. I have a 41 year history of events coinciding with mental illness. I’ve practiced fighting stigma, I’ve practiced providing support, and I’ve practiced educating my friends and have been directly involved with mentally ill patients getting access to appropriate care. If I haven’t been able to practice those appropriately, I’ve learned from them. I don’t want to sound like a crusader, rather it’s more that my exposure has created an open mind and I assume everyone thinks that way.   As a human race, as cultural societies, we are still so young and continue to make humanitarian advancements.

Take stigmas for example. Racial equality in the U.S. really hasn’t been around for very long. Still, it’s very different than it was in the 1950s. Do we have more work to do? Yes indeed. How about gender equality? We’ve come a long way since the early 1900s, but do we still have work to do? The answer is yes; if you were going for something different then stop…the answer is yes. We could go on and on about equal vs. unequal groups, but if you look at the underlying issues of these you will find that stigma is a common thread. It’s one brick in the wall though. Another may be ignorance, another not being compassionate, and yet another, intolerance. On and on.

What about providing support and educating the public? Recently I was in a lecture about how the Seattle Police Department responds to domestic violence calls. One participant asked,“What good are public service announcements on T.V. about domestic violence which tell the abusers what they are doing is bad and they should stop? I mean, they aren’t going to look at that and say ‘Oh, I guess I should stop beating my loved one now’. And it doesn’t apply to me but I still have to sit there and watch this commercial when I know it’s not going to have any effect on the actual abuser. So who is this benefitting? What’s the point?” I related to what he said. Then I started thinking about the domestic violence PSAs that have been very prominent on the Alaskan T.V. channels recently (Real Alaskan’s Choose Respect). I really, really appreciated those. I knew it wasn’t going to solve an epidemic in Alaska which has ranked it as the #1 domestic violence state in the U.S., but like the SPD police officer pointed out, those PSAs let the abusers know that we are openly talking about it now. The problem is not staying behind closed doors, it’s out in the open now. Furthermore, there are support groups, there are agency assists for both the abuser and the victims, and we are making progress forward. I suppose this is one example of how campaigns strive to raise awareness.

These awareness campaigns, of which I’m both cynical and hypocritical as I complain while I participate), admittedly mean something to me. If for nothing else, it sheds ignorance and raises awareness. Who in roller derby had a pre-conceived notion about the game and its participants that changed once they started participating themselves? Mmhmm. Was it the sport that changed? Did the players, refs, NSOs, and volunteers change? Nope. They remained the same. Our education about them changed and we became less ignorant. We essentialy went through an awareness-campaign-process when we started donning our skates and learning the rules. We’ve come to admire it; we want to eat, sleep, and breathe derby. We realize there is a place for everyone in derby, and don’t we want to sign them all up for this epically awesome adventure with us? Now, apply that thought process to any of your stigmas of us vs. them, to your ignorance of an issue that breeds fear, or to keeping silent during a seemingly innocent slam against something you didn’t understand before. When we elevate our understanding about a mentally ill person for instance, they don’t suddenly change, we do. We don’t try to conform them to us and make their issues invisible, we acknowledge and go on with our lives with more inclusiveness.

If you have also participated in roller derby you can relate to Bonnie D. Stroir:

“Most seem to find roller derby in transitional periods…. We ruin our bodies to save our souls, and for some reason that makes perfect sense.” 

And you still feel above that person struggling with mental illness? Bitches please! Start at home first, then take it to the streets (or track). I only ask that you do it all year, not just in May. <3

Laura Johnson
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Water is Life.

 “The cure for anything is salt-water.  Sweat, tears, or the ocean.”   ~Isak Dinesen
Lisa's Perspective:  just drink it.

My coping toolbox would give any H2Pro mechanic’s stacking, rolling and gliding tool cabinet a run for it’s money.  When I say, “I am out of tools,” it means there are days a tool may not stop the leak, or you know, the crying.

Today began ideally.  I woke up before my alarm well rested, did the a.m. Booty Quake workout, said my prayers and had a shower; drank a glass of (warm) water, took my fish oil and was on my feet as the kids left for school.  The morning was moving along so well I decided to switch out laundry and sweep the floor and I could still get to work earlier than normal.  Then I made a crucial error.  I decided to curl my hair.

Getting ready for the day and leaving the house is a trigger for me.  I become a 13 year old.  A few years ago I smashed a curling iron against the sink over and over until it broke; immediately my husband came into the bathroom yelling, “Stop it!  Who does that?!”  Today I could feel the pressure gauge rising.  “Do not freak out,” I said to myself in the mirror.  “Do NOT freak OUT!” I pleaded a little louder but now I was kneeling on the floor in the bathroom.   And the tears started.  And it was over. 

It was over because there wasn’t anything terribly horrible about my hair and I knew it.  The reaction was familiar and demoralizing, it sent my brain immediately to it’s default:  “I don’t want to be here, I can’t do this (life), I am a fraud.” Hysterical, I called my husband at work, “Who does this?!” I screamed back his question from years before.  He gently reminded me, “be kind to yourself.”   The faucet still ran and depleted my reservoir (insert complete breakdown here). As it dried up I felt exhausted and spent. 

“What would have been a solution today,” I asked myself.   What tool didn’t I use?  I knew,  I began using it several months ago. It’s very simple:  I don’t put make-up on or fix my hair at home, instead I get ready enough and drive to town.  Once I am at work I take a few minutes to finish getting ready. 

Fighting the urge to beat myself up for missing work I turned my attention from what I couldn’t do to what I could.  First, ordering replacements for broken shelves in the fridge.  Second, more laundry.  Third, looking for articles to support a blog about how important drinking water is.  Fourth, taking my own advice and adding a water consumption tracker to my phone.  Fifth, sitting and writing about what began as a very good day, became the worst day, and even though I spilled a glass of water on my bed… is still looking up.

Why should H20 be the first “medicine” you reach for?

“The most natural remedy known to man” Slain Bell writes, is drinking water, but “in order to reap the health benefits of water, you must drink it frequently throughout the day.” http://www.stayinghealthy.org/health-benefits-of-water/

“There is no more important nutrient for our bodies than water.  No other substance is as widely involved in the processes and make up of the body.  A man's body is about 60 percent water, a woman’s approximately 50 percent.”   http://people.chem.duke.edu/~jds/cruise_chem/water/watdiet.html

Illustrating by numbers how important water is to every vital organ in our bodies:  “blood that flows through your body and delivers nutrients is 82% water; muscles that hold your bones and move your body are 75% water; lungs that pump oxygen crucial to your survival are 90% water; bones that protect your organs are 25% water; your brain is a whopping 76% water.”  ~Slain

The author’s at Cruising Chemistry (http://people.chem.duke.edu/~jds/cruise_chem/water/watdiet.html) continue to illustrate the complexity of the machine that is our body and the role water plays in keeping it running efficiently and healthy:

 Solvent:  “Water is the fundamental solvent for all biochemical processes in our bodies.  Because water is highly polar (has an unequal distribution of charge), it is an excellent solvent for other charged and polar molecules.”

 Transporter:  “Blood… transports oxygen, CO2, nutrients, waste products, and more from cell to cell; If we don't get enough water and can't produce enough urine, toxic levels of wastes build up in the body and we can become very sick or even die.”

 Protection:  “It keeps your mouth moist and washes away dirt and grim on your eyes.  Water even lubricates our joints, keeping them from getting stiff and making sure motion is smooth.”

 Chemical Reactant:  “Water is involved in many processes and pathways of the body.  We use it to digest food in the gastrointestinal tract, to access stored energy for muscles and organs, and for countless other reactions.”

 pH Regulation:  “Our bodies must maintain a very specific pH level of 7.4.  pH values less than 6.9 and greater than 7.6 are life threatening.”

 Electrolyte Balance:  “Electrolytes transmit all sorts of information to our brains in the form of nerve impulses and are important in muscular activity as well.  To maintain electrolytes at the proper level in our cells, water flows in and out of the cell to make sure that these ions remain in balance.”

 

“75% of all Americans are chronically dehydrated.” ~stayinghealthy.org

For the next 30 days.  A challenge!

Drink one warm or hot glass of water as soon as you wake up. 

Switch to a glass water bottle 

(Takeya, Surf Recycled, BKR). 

Use a water tracking app, such as “waterlogged”.

 

Disclaimer:  I am not a doctor or a therapist.  My initial experience, since using the waterlogged app, is my body reacted with cotton mouth and excessive thirst.  As if my body was saying, "FINALLY, we don't have to conserve every drop of water in this body, bring it!"  It's starting to feel like a HEALTHY HABIT instead of a chore. Every human will benefit from keeping their machine hydrated.  It's science!

 

 

 

Lisa Nilsen
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Just. Breathe.

“I remember when I saw a water spider and it brought down a bubble of air and placed it over its nest – a magical and fantastic thing.”  –Mark Tobey
Lisa's Perspective:  without drugs.

 The fourth time was the charm. I was 37 years old when the Alaska State Troopers flew into town, zip-tied my wrists and set me in the backseat of a floatplane. In the 17 years leading up to this, twice I had arrived at the hospital by ambulance, once I drove myself, and this time earned a law enforcement escort.   The first time I went to the hospital I have no memory of, but for years charcoaled or bbq food would trigger a gag reflex.  The second time I looked around me and realized, “damn, I am NOT this kind of crazy!”  The third time I whined, “It’s not my fault!”  What I do remember clearly about this period in my life was a lot of pills: to lower my anxiety in public, help me sleep and for my diagnoses. And of course I needed an inhaler.

 The fourth time I took responsibility for my own health.

 
“Have they suggested tapping yet,” my husband teased me over the phone.  “Matter a fact they have, and I am learning it!” I admitted.  Lying flat on my back (the mattresses were slightly less hard than a slab of wood) I would close my eyes and begin the tapping and breathing pattern we learned at group.  There would no longer be a sleeping pill or sedative to push me into sleep or numb me into a comfortable cloud in a crowd.

“Guess what?” I shared giddily with my husband during visiting hours. Sitting as close to each other as possible on a plastic covered couch under florescent lights he waited patiently... “OXYGEN is the ANTIDOTE to ADRENALINE!” I shrieked.  After hundreds of hours spent in therapy and counseling one very simple idea at group had finally worked it's way into my brain. It was IN ME, the answer. Using pills hadn't made me well or healthy, more importantly the feeling that I "couldn't breathe" didn't go away in all the years I took medication.  

 
An article by Anxiety Care UK highlights the "biological effects and consequences of anxiety."  It is the reason many of us feel we cannot breathe.  It states, "learning to use abdominal breathing, as first aid for anxiety and panic sensations is invaluable."  Highlights from the article are:
1.  Anxiety activates the flight or fight response.
2.  That response is adrenalin based.
3.  Even minor stresses can begin a chain reaction of anxiety=flight or fight=adrenalin, until your poor body begins to feel physically ill.
4.  Sources of relief include:  "correct breathing exercises, relaxation techniques, stress management, regular exercise and diet... (although) relatively simplistic, easy to do and can be carried out by everyone.  Nevertheless, to achieve success... requires a great deal of commitment and effort on behalf of the sufferer."  


(Please follow this link to read the amazing article in it's entirety:  http://www.anxietycare.org.uk/docs/biologicaleffects.asp   It is also awesome simply because it's British and says things like, "is unable to eat and may go off sex."  Which is very much not how we write here, and I love it.)
 
It comes from within and is my responsibility.  There is no magic pill or easy fix, it requires lifestyle changes and accountability.  Just breathe.  As oxygen replenishes and balances your blood supply, which your adrenaline moved to your extremities to help you flee or fight, your breathe will become the antidote to adrenaline on a cellular level.
 
Lisa's life-happens disclaimer.  In spite of my best efforts there are always a few days each month that I am a puddle of tears and it requires every ounce of me, all day long, to maintain a crying state rather than a more devastating one. Getting through those days will be another topic another day, and of course deep breathing is an essential part of those days too.

 

Laura's Perspective:  drugs required.

I have to pay to breath. I was diagnosed with asthma in my early 30s and started the process of trouble-shooting a medication and maintenance plan. It is clear I will be dependent on medication for the rest of my life.
 
My diagnosis didn’t stop with asthma.  A few frustrating years after my initial diagnosis I saw a pulmonologist and underwent a bronchoscopy. We discovered I had something a little more uncommon and specialized: non-bronchiectactic bronchiectasis. I don’t have bronchiectasis, but my doctors were now going to manage me as if I did because it was close enough.  Basically I have a chronic battle in my lungs. The asthma wants to constrict the lung walls and the air that’s trying to move, the “bronchiectasis” is causing my lungs to lose its elasticity and not move the air very well, and to clog everything up I’ve got a permanent MAI infection (mycobacterium avium-intracellulare, a nontuberculous mycobacterium). Physicians can’t tell me how I acquired it, only that I have, and that it's what causes the bronchiectasis.  A silver lining is that it's non-contagious so I cannot infect others with it. To hear me cough one would want to argue otherwise!
 
Can I take an antibiotic to get rid of the infection? Sure, for about $700 a month (out of pocket) for 12-18 months.  Even then there’s only about a 50% chance of eliminating the bacteria.  It’s not guaranteed to eliminate it permanently; it could return after just two years.  The potent antibiotic would likely cause liver damage over time, which means tests and monitoring throughout the course of treatment. 
 
A cheaper and more realistic option is what my doctors and I refer to as lung hygiene. 
1.  Take a daily inhaled steroid (I opt for the lowest dose possible).
2.  Use albuterol when needed.
3.  Use my Acapella device (a lung-fluttering breathing tool) daily.
4.  Stay well hydrated.
5.  Do regular cardio exercise. 
 
Or at least that’s the idea. Many people only have an occasional sick day or come down with a short-term bug.  For me I have occasional days of what I call clarity.  These are days where I have minimal to no coughing, my lungs feel clear, without congestion, and I don’t feel short of breath at any time throughout the day.  When my lung hygiene is on target, I have days like these.
 
My lung maintenance feels like a full-time job and it would be easy to just sit down on the pitty potty and not do anything. However, I determined long ago that asthma is either an excuse or an inconvenience and the difference is in the action. If it’s an excuse, the action is to blame the condition for a limited lifestyle. If it’s an inconvenience, the action is to push the boundaries of limitations, to build strength, and to focus on the possibilities rather than the impossibilities. I don’t know what could be more roller derby than that. 
 

TRENDING!  Find another sweet BREATHE excerpt:  page 56 of the March 2015 RealSimple magazine.  Ahhhhhh.  

Lisa Nilsen
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