Saturday, March 04, 2006

Holding up

I'm in the middle of my luteal phase and my breasts aren't killing me. Hows' that for an improvement? I think the acupuncture is helping out.

We went out with friends the other night and I wasn't drinking and I mentioned it was a chinese medicine/acupuncture thing and our friend's girlfriend who is an ear-nose-throat doctor asked me about it. I was dubious of how interested she was but I mentioned that I was having bad PMS, nausea for the better part of five weeks, really bad congestion and post-nasal drip, etc. Her response? That it was probably gastro-esophogeal reflux and that there's medication for that. I said I don't think acid reflux gives you bad PMS, and then she said, well no... I said that the dietary changes and the acupuncture and herbs seemed to be helping and the nausea was now gone. She said it was probably coincidence to which I replied I was sure that it wasn't. Oh sigh.

I went for a massage today, the first time that I've seen this practioner since September 2004. She practices Lomi Lomi massage, a technique that comes from Hawaii. Sometimes she chants during the massage, and she usually starts out with a type of prayer, but she always checks in with you on an emotional level before she starts so she can help use the time for more healing. When she asked how I was doing I said pretty good. But then I told her about the recent EDD and anniversary and I started getting teary. I filled her in a little about the second loss, about my frustrations with Western medicine having nothing really to offer since they don't really listen, and about how depleted I've felt since last June.

We started into the massage and I started crying a bit, it was hard just being touched. Before I got there I thought I might fall asleep during the massage but there was no chance of that happening. She worked a lot on opening up my hips and that didn't hurt but it felt like there was a little grief hidden there. Then I asked her to do some abdominal work and when she started doing that it felt like there was a big tight knot in the middle there. So she pulled back some and started asking me to do some visualizations and breathing and after a while my hands started buzzing, sort of like an electric shock but ongoing. She had placed one hand on my heart and the other on my belly and they were just buzzing and buzzing with energy. Then suddenly I started sobbing and crying and it was really intense, I told her I supposed I had been holding a lot of grief in there. She told me to just cry if I needed to and the tears rolled down the sides of my face into my ears and down my neck. Big fat tears.

She told me to breathe in and on the exhale to direct hope, or light or healing to the part of me where I'm holding my grief. I kept thinking of it like my shadow, a full body of myself but only a few inches thick that was dark and I held in my back. She asked me to acknowledge the place in my center, to ask it if it had a name or perhaps a shape -- what came to mind was the color green and the shape of a kidney bean. It was so odd and emotionally intense.

I'm going to go back for another massage in a few weeks to keep trying to resolve this, to help my body move on more. It's amazing what you can find hidden inside the folds and curves of your body.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Alert: Protect Your Right to Food Safety

In case you are interested in the politics of what you eat, I received an email alert from the Organic Consumers Association that Congress was poised to pass legislation that would disallow States from having separate standards for food safety and the like. They called it the National Uniformity for Food Act. This wouldn't allow States to continue having things labelled as certified organic for California, or Oregon, or Washington. I count on those labels when I shop at the store to help me make my buying decisions. This affects me and everyone else who eats organic food most directly.

The legislation was put on hold for a few more days so there's time for you to step in a help combat this attempt to eliminate some of the few trust-worthy controls that are available in this country.

Learn more about it and take action by emailing your congressional representatives and sending info about it to your friends.

Congress Poised to Pass Bill Taking Away Your Right to Know What's in Your Food

Here's the link to the Washington State Department of Agriculture Certified Organic Program if you want to know what these types of programs entail.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

How My Mom's Doing

I realized that I haven't posted much about my mother and thought I would give you an update on how she is doing post breast cancer.

As you might recall she was diagnosed finally with breast cancer in May of last year, a couple days after I found out I was pregnant. She had a lumpectomy at the beginning of June, where they also removed a lymph node in her breast/armpit area. The cancer hadn't spread at all and it was small so her prognosis was and continues to be very good. As with my abdominal surgery, small nerves were cut in the skin, though for her it made her armpit numb.

Over the summer she underwent daily radiation treatment in White Plains. They had given her two little freckle sized tattoos that the radiation technicians (is that the right term?) used to line up the equipment to focus the treatment on the area. She had some skin changes as a result, mostly a kind of sunburn. She found the treatment made her very tired. Radiation treatment stopped in September/October or so.

She was put on an aromatase inhibitor, Relafin (I think) which has the nice side effect of cognitive impairment. This she was not warned about and had to learn about it online after the symptoms were preventing her from doing almost anything. She asked her doctor about it and he said "oh yeah, that can happen." She talked about it with a family friend who is a cancer specialist (but not a breast cancer specialist) who felt that an aromatase inhibitor was not the correct way to treat a totally focalized instance of cancer and that the side effects would outweigh the benefits.

After much deliberation my mother determined that if she couldn't think then she didn't want to live, as thinking is what makes her tick. It's true, she's a very analytical person who is constantly using her critical thinking skills -- not having access to them would just be wrong, it wouldn't be her. So currently she's not taking anything, just watching her diet, increasing her consumption of fiber and eating more organic food.

I think she's still physically dealing with the stress and I know that she's wanting to lose some weight. Her endocrinologist has cut back her thyroid medication level, thinking that as humans mature they can't handle such a large dose of TSH all at once. Having been on thyroid medication since the late 1960's though, this means that her body is running a lot more slowly than it was used to -- and her early doses of medication were much higher than they would start someone on today. It's just another drag for her though, and too bad as well. She mentioned to me during my visit last weekend that she hopes that someday someone would come up with a better delivery system for thyroid medication that would better mirror the body's typical pulsing doses.

So, she's doing well and taking care of herself and she's got a good outlook. I guess, if that was the bargain (her health for my second baby) then I can live with it, even if it pains me. She's my mom after all, as imperfect as she is.

More Spleen Qi Deficiency Info

I've been reading through my copy of The Web That Has No Weaver, it's one of the first books that brought TCM to the West. My previous acupuncturist said that there were better texts than this one so I take it with a grain of salt but so far it makes reasonable sense based on what else I have read.

I've been looking through the sections about the Spleen, dampness and mucus and it's been interesting what I've seen. Here are a few items:

"copious, clear, or white, and thin discharges (leukorrhea) usually signify Deficiency and Dampness" (p.192)

"The Spleeen like Dryness...Dampness can distress the Spleen...[and] can be seen in signs such as loss of appetite, indigestion, nausea, diarrhea and abdominal edema" (p.148)

"When a person experiences Dampness, the head may feel dull...limbs may feel heavy and sore, and the person will express a dislike for damp environments" (that would be Seattle this time of year with all the rain and dampness)

"Dampness can easily obstruct the movement of Qi producing ...incomplete urination..."

"Mucus in the stool, relatively soft, mobile swellings, lumps or tumors...and a phlegm cough can all be signs of Mucus" (p.252)

It also mentioned that not being able to discern any taste in the mouth (when there is no food, just as it is when it is empty) is also a sign of a Deficient Spleen.

When I read it and I see the various descriptions of things pointing towards heat, wind and other variations on Spleen Deficiency they don't match but the symptoms of dampness and mucus, cold, etc. they all point right at my symptoms. It's pretty weird. I do also have continued signs of Blood Deficiency, particularly Liver Blood Deficiency as I keep seeing dark spots before my eyes and it's been quite constant and distracting to me lately.

I hope that the acu treatment works, the diet changes aren't much fun but I'm already feeling a lot better and the nausea has gone away. I guess we'll see when I hit my LP whether or not the bloating and breast pain has dissipated yet.