The fog is slowly lifting

You might have noticed (or maybe not) that I haven’t posted in over a week. Either way, I wanted to let everyone know that I’m around, just laying low. I’ve wanted to post on several occasions, but then just didn’t get to it for one reason or another.

Photo courtesy of sektordua
Photo courtesy of sektordua

The past two weeks have been a major roller coaster for me. I’ve had ups and downs and many twists and turns. I’ve had more appointments than you can shake a stick at, including with my general practitioner, a cardiology nurse, an eye surgeon, an optometrist, a therapist, a reiki master and tonight, a massage therapist. There was a nearly a visit to the ER one night as well. Also, Jody has been out in California for work this week, so I’ve been focusing all of my energy on being as functional as possible.

The bad news is I’m still dealing with some issues (not as much crippling anxiety now – thank God!!), but I’ve been experiencing double vision off and on. Due to my eye history (including 4 surgeries for strabismus – eye muscles), this is not uncommon, but it’s not been fun either. And quite honestly, it makes it pretty easy to avoid the computer without feeling bad about it.

The good news is that the anxiety and panic attacks are happening less and less and when they do, it’s not nearly as disabling as it was previously. I have many more tools now (thanks to my friend the reiki master and psychic counselor) to get it under control.

So that’s where I’m at. I feel like I’m definitely making improvements (thanks largely to my reiki sessions which I hope to write about further another time), and the fog is slowly lifting, but I’m not out of the woods yet. I hope I can get this vision issue under control sooner rather than later. Your continued positive thoughts are most appreciated. Thank you. :)

Anxiety & anemia, but is there more?

On Dec. 31 of last year I wrote that my big goal for 2009 was to take care of my mental and emotional health. I knew I needed to do this for a few reasons. Not only was I treating my children and husband with the love and respect they deserve, but I felt my physical health was starting to suffer as well. I had started having anxiety or panic attacks – again.

I thought they were a thing of my past. I had experienced anxiety attacks while Jody and I were trying for month after month after month to conceive Ava. It was a difficult time in my life. I so wanted to be pregnant and to be a mom. I was charting using the Fertility Awareness Method and we seemed to be doing everything right, but it was not happening for us. It obviously eventually did happen (with a little help) and the anxiety attacks went away. That is until several months ago.

I don’t remember exactly when they started up again and because the symptoms weren’t consistent with what I’d experienced in the past, I wasn’t entirely sure they were anxiety attacks. My heart would start racing which would make breathing a little more difficult. I was also feeling dizzy at times, tired, lethargic and sometimes depressed.

Over the past month, the frequency of the attacks increased dramatically. I started having several anxiety attacks a day or ones that would last for a long, long time. I started getting worried that this was more than just anxiety. After consulting Dr. Google and my favorite resource, Twitter, ;) I thought I might have a thyroid issue or even a heart problem. After a particularly bad attack, I finally called my doctor’s office and scheduled an appointment. It was five days out. Five very. long. days.

During those five days the attacks continued. I debated about going to urgent care once or twice. I thought about going straight to the ER. And then, the night before my appointment, as I tried to go to sleep I had one of the worst attacks ever. My heart would not stop racing no matter what I tried to tell my brain to calm myself down, no matter how much I focused on my breathing. I told Jody I was doing really bad and that I wanted to call the doctor on call (while I was really thinking, “maybe you should call 911”). I had all of these fears that I would die the day before my appointment because I had put it off too long. That I was going to leave my children motherless and my husband a widower. It was too much.

I called the doctor’s office and spoke to the woman at the answering service. She told me to stay on the line and she would try to call the on-call doctor (not my doctor, but one in the same practice). To my relief the doctor answered the phone (even though it was 12:30 a.m.). I talked to the doctor for about 20 minutes. She reassured me, based on the symptoms I was describing that it was likely anxiety and not a heart issue, but she was also glad I was scheduled to come in for an appointment. I felt better the longer we talked and had calmed down a fair bit by the time we hung up. Of course, my heart started racing again after we were off the phone and there was no way I was going to sleep any time soon, but after watching Scrubs with Jody for an hour, I felt better and was able to go to sleep at 2 a.m.

Photo courtesy of Neeta Lind
Photo courtesy of Neeta Lind

The next morning I happily went to see my doctor. I told her my symptoms, she examined me and said she felt I was likely experiencing anxiety. My blood pressure was normal and my heart sounded, in her words, “perfect.” She did want to rule out thyroid and heart issues just to be sure, so she sent me for blood work and an EKG.

I had told her that I did not want to go on medication unless absolutely necessary, but I was looking for natural ways of treating this. She recommended a therapist, acupuncture, a $300 biofeedback video game called The Journey to the Wild Divine (it looks really cool, but pricey!), as well as fish oil (double the amount recommended on the bottle). She gave me a prescription for Xanax too, just in case I really needed it. (I haven’t taken it, although I was tempted to today.) She said she felt confident that we could get this under control and she wanted to see me back in two weeks.

In the meantime, I had my blood drawn and my first EKG. The EKG came back normal, but the bloodwork revealed that I am mildly anemic, so it was recommended that I go on an iron supplement and increase my green leafy vegetables.

It’s been nearly two weeks since my appointment and while the anxiety attacks do not seem to be happening as often, they are still happening – some worse than others (like last night’s when I was up until 2 a.m.).

I really want to believe that everything I’ve been experiencing is just from anxiety and anemia but honestly, I feel like it could be something more. And I don’t think I will be satisfied until I’ve ruled out those other possible issues.

This week I’m going back to my doctor for a follow-up appointment and I have a therapy evaluation scheduled. I might be making an eye appointment with the doctor who did my strabismus (eye muscle) surgery several years ago and revisiting my old neurologist too. I just want to get to the bottom of all of this. While I feel like there have been improvements in how I feel just in these two weeks, I still have a long way to go before I’m back to feeling like my old self. I miss my old self and am going to keep trying to get her back.

The fabulous organic food co-op

About five months ago, after receiving interest and encouragement from others, a friend of mine decided to pursue starting up a small organic food co-op (or food cooperative). Because she owns a business, she fulfilled whatever qualifications are necessary for ordering food at wholesale prices. We just have a minimum dollar amount for each order (which is not hard to fulfill at all).

There are about 10 of us in the co-op and while it would be cool to open it up to others, it’s confusing enough just trying to figure out who’s splitting what with who with only 10 people involved. ;) Of course because we are ordering in bulk and generally nobody wants 50 lbs of onions or oranges themselves, we have to decide who wants how much of each item. It’s not really that bad, but it can get a little hairy at times and is time consuming for the friend of mine who heads this up.

In December, we placed our first order and have been periodically placing orders about once every two to three weeks. It’s an awesome way for us to get great quality organic food at good prices and I’m so thankful to my friend for coordinating this and receiving shipment of all of the food at her house for us. Oh, another perk is that we are able to choose to buy our food from local growers too (when available) and buying in bulk reduces packaging.

We usually each chip in $5 and my friend uses it to buy extra produce for the local food bank. This week we forgot and instead all brought some nonperishable foods and/or donated some of the food we ordered. It makes me feel good to be able to do this, especially now that more and more people are losing their jobs and having to get help to make ends meet or feed themselves/their families.

This week for my family I ordered 2 dozen eggs (which will last a couple weeks), 10 lbs. of onions (that should last quite a while), 8 lbs. of rolled oats (which will come in handy with all of the PB granola squares I’ve been making lately), 18 navel oranges, 2 lbs. of baby bok choy (which I’ve never made before), 4 lbs. of cucumbers, and 2 bunches of broccoli – everything was organic – for $35.

Box of co-op produce My big helper with the onions

I was so happy to get home with all of my food tonight because after the great cleaning out of the fridge before the Food Waste Reduction Challenge and in anticipation of my co-op order this week, my fridge had been looking pretty bare. Plus we ate our last orange (Julian’s current favorite fruit) yesterday so it was good to replenish our stock.

Anyway, I mention all of this because an organic food co-op might be a viable option for some of you and your friends. All it takes is a few phone calls. Let me know if you have any specific questions and I’ll see if I can get answers for you.

Breastfeeding? Scheduled for a biopsy? Read this and pass it on.

Today I have a guest post from Tanya of Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog. She’s trying to spread the word about this valuable research and I’m happy to do my small part by passing it along to you. The original post is here and it is copied and pasted (with permission) below.

Picture this: You’re breastfeeding.  You notice a lump.  First maybe you think it’s a plugged duct.  But then it doesn’t go away, after many, many feedings.  You’re worried about it, so you make an appointment with your doctor, who doesn’t think it’s related to breastfeeding.  She sends you for a mammogram, but you’re told that you’ll have to have weaned for six months before the test can be done.  What do you do?*

I’ve mentioned before that I’m involved in a powerful research project based at the University of Massachusetts, and supported by the Love/Avon Army of Women breast cancer project.

I’d like to explain more about it now, and ask for your help in recruiting participants for it.

It’s probably news to most of us (it was to me) that when you make milk, cells from your milk ducts are exfoliated off in the process.  These are called epithelial cells, and they’re detectable in your milk.

Past research has demonstrated that long before we notice a lump, those epithelial cells start changing in ways that are precursors to the development of breast cancer.

Dr. Kathleen Arcaro, a UMass professor who studies breastfeeding and breast cancer risk wants to analyze those cells.  She’s been nice enough to visit a breastfeeding group I run, and answer questions about breastfeeding and breast cancer.

The primary goal of her research is to determine if it’s possible to create a non-invasive, early way of assessing our breast cancer risk through our breastmilk.  If it’s successful, it would also establish ‘molecular biomarkers’ for breast cancer risk.

An additional benefit to breastfeeding mothers is that we would not be told, as some are, to wean before a mammogram or biopsy can be done.  No more choosing between breastfeeding and a breast cancer test.  It could be as simple and sending in a milk sample to a lab!

In order to conduct this research, Dr. Kathleen Arcaro needs to find 250 women who are both lactating and scheduled for a biopsy.  To participate, you’d overnight milk samples to her lab, at no cost to you.

So if you, or someone you know, is both breastfeeding and scheduled for a biopsy, please ask them to email either me, Dr. Arcaro, or Dr. Sarah Lennington as soon as possible.  You can visit the project’s website to learn more.

If you write a blog or are in contact with lots of moms on a forum, please pass this link around!

And if you haven’t done it yet, register for the Love/Avon Army of Women.  You’ll join one million women volunteering to become part of a rich pool of women researchers can use to find the causes and prevention of breast cancer.  You can see other participating studies on the site.  Here’s a recent Today Show clip on the project.

* Mammograms can be done on lactating breasts, but they are viewed as less accurate than on non-lactating breasts.  Some doctors will do them, others require mothers to wean first.  Some send mothers for ultrasounds.

Recycled jewelry giveaway from Mama Goes Green

UPDATE: This giveaway has ended and is closed to new entries.

This February (as in right now) I’m having a month of giveaways to show my LOVE and appreciation for my amazing CDG readers, because let’s face it, you all are da bomb-diggity and I love ya! :)
Giveaways will include:

I know you don’t want to miss these (a Vita-Mix blender, people!!) and if you subscribe to my RSS feed, you won’t have to worry about it. :)

Thanks to Mama Goes Green, the first giveaway I have to show you my love this month is a beautiful Smart Glass Eco-friendly Recycled Circle Necklace. Here’s a little bit about this cool necklace:

Large recycled bottle disk, cut and fired and finished with 18 inches of large sterling chain. Fully adjustable. Glass approximately 3 inches in diameter (think beer bottle size….) Patent pending. Color shown: amber from a beer bottle.
You will see your favorite beverages in a whole new light! Each piece of SMART GLASS jewelry is individually selected and cut from an empty bottle, making each piece of jewelry an original work of art. Featured in IN STYLE & OK magazine, and worn by celebrities like Katherine Heigl.

The winner can chose from sage or teal. (Sorry, no amber currently available.)

In addition to having a selection of recycled jewelry, Mama Goes Green also sells reusable bags, bottles and lunches, non-toxic cleaning products, organic baby products and natural personal care products.

One cool feature that I like is Mama Goes Green has the option of creating a Wishlist that you can send to anyone – your husband, your partner, your mom, your friend, etc. What better way to get exactly what you want for Valentine’s Day (hint, hint), a birthday or any other holiday than by creating a list of the things that you’d like the most?! As an added bonus, all recycled jewelry is currently 20% off through Feb. 14. Please note, the last day to order something from Mama Goes Green and receive it by Valentine’s Day is midnight on Feb. 9.

Now onto the giveaway.

WIN IT!

If you’d like to win a Smart Glass Eco-friendly Recycled Circle Necklace in sage or teal, please visit Mama Goes Green and leave me a comment telling me what product you like best. Giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only.

For additional entries (you will receive one additional entry for each of the following that you do):
– Sign up for the Mama Goes Green newsletter (and leave me another comment telling me you did so).
Or
– Put the above I heart my readers button on your blog linking back to the main page of Crunchy Domestic Goddess (and leave me another comment telling me you did so).
Or
– Go over to Mama Goes Green and create a Wishlist and send it to someone with your Valentine’s Day wishes (and leave me another comment telling me you did so).

There you have it, four possible chances to win a beautiful, eco-friendly necklace!

The deadline to enter this giveaway is noon Friday, Feb. 13. The winner will be selected over the weekend using Random.org and contacted via email (so be sure to include a valid email address). Thank you and good luck!