Category Archives: Digestive disorder

Only Child on living with chronic pain

The teenage Only Child with her late mother

The teenage Only Child with her late mother

Chronic pain can effect people in many different ways. Some will wallow in no hope. Some will complain constantly. Some will ignore the pain (or try to) and get on with their life. Some will be martyrs. Some will overdue the positive to the point of near Pollyanna portions. Some will just pray. Spare me from the latter three.

I live in constant on and off again chronic pain from digestive tract illnesses  – abdominal pain, lower back pain, pain radiating down my legs. If I had to pick which of the above categories for dealing with it, it is a variation of “ignore the pain (or try to) and get on with their life.” I do try to get on with my life, to live my life. Call me stubborn, resentful of the disease, and call me angry. I think those qualities are what motivates me to get going, at least in part. But I am never grateful for all of this pIN and when I do my usual morning litany of gratitude and non-gratitude, the pain/my health (or lack thereof) goes into the latter.

I also remember my mother, her chronic pain, and what it did to her.

The last yea’s of my late mother’s life were filled with pain – her pain, physical pain. Daily. She had rheumatoid arthritis and scleroderma. To add  insult to injury, both diseases were crippling and deforming physically. She was in and out of doctors’offices, in and out of hospital until the arthritis indirectly caused her death from a fall. The fall caused a brain aneurysm.

My mother wasn’t an anomaly. Many people, and not just seniors, live in constant pain from various diseases. I’m talking chronic pain, not just something temporary. And studies show that women, more than men, live this way. I’m not going into (this post, anyway) the causes for this, so those who wave the “blame the victim” flag about lifestyle choices, well, wave it quietly.

We who are in pain have to deal with this reality. Unlike my mother I have too much I want to live for ( some years yet, although I can’t see me doddering around much past 80), and I’ll be damned if I let pain stop me – if I can help it.

So, I try to alleviate the pain where I can but I won’t take opiates or any strong meds. The strongest I take is acetaminophen and I know it can damage your liver. But when you are trying to live in the present…you have to choose either now or a maybe later. I also try to eat healthy, although I’m not sure how much that helps if just eating supper can sometimes start the abdominal spasms. It’s not what I eat, but the fact that I eat. Taking the aforementioned acetaminophen and the natural tranquilizer Valerian, then just lying down, often gets rid of the pain. Sometimes a glass of white wine in the evening will help.

But there are all the outside factors that contribute – stress being the big one. What causes the stress – financial problems, house problems, weather (if there is a threat for water to get in the basement, for example), family and friend problems, computer problems. All these and more can cause stress and that doesn’t help.

How much of people’s pain is worsened by stress? And of course, the worry about the pain adds to the stress load. But you have to deal with it one way or the other. Those who say “just relax” are only postponing dealing with the pain. Those who say “pray” are expecting some other being to get rid of their pain. . I’ve tried both and neither works. I see the same around me and in the world.

So I try to grab the stress-inducing problems by the bull horns (no bull here) and try to solve them; sometimes I ask for help from others.

I love my late mother very much. But I am not her and I am not living her life.

You have to own your life – pain and all.

This is the way I feel right now. If I get ALS or MS or a few other diseases, I could change my mind.

I’ll end with some links on chronic pain, including some statistics and studies.

The Prevalence of Chronic Pain

Scleroderma from the Mayo Clinic

Women’s College Hospital Pain Clinic (disclaimer here: one of the doctors here  – Dr. Gil Faclier  – was instrumental in getting rid of 90 per cent of my migraines – back in the 1980s when he was a resident doctor, when this clinic was still at Sunnybrook Hospital).

Some alternative medicine info:

Chronic Pain in Depth: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

Pain Management Alternative Care

I also get regular newsletters from the Mayo Clinic – the digestive newsletter and the Women’s Hospital monthly Women’s Health Matters newsletter.

And I walk a lot. And garden – although not much of that lately with winter rearing its ugly head. Doing creative things like cooking and writing, especially writing also help with the endorphins and taking you to a different level, to some enjoyment in life, some life purpose.

How do you deal with physical pain?

Cheers.

Sharon’

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Digestive disorder, Gratitude, Health, Life demands, Only child, Pain

Empire Life Insurance apologizes and Hudson’s Bay reimburses

The garden is one way I have to heal

The garden is one way I have to heal

Last Friday, I followed through with phoning Empire Life Insurance and got a reasonable person in the call centre. After explaining the situation, she said she would look into it and get back to me Monday after 12 noon when she was back into work. When I said I had a dentist’s appointment that afternoon, we sorted out that I have vm and she could leave a message.

She did a couple better than that. She waited until 6 p.m. yesterday to call to make sure I was back home. And she fixed it. She checked my computer file and said there was a flag on it since 2013 to not send the letter and to automatically up the premium at the beginning of each new fiscal year in August. She explained that the letters are generated (from the computer) automatically and  sent out automatically unless someone follows the flagged info and someone missed doing that this year. She said it was human error and she apologized for the company. She also told me the amount of the increase which starts with the August bill and confirmed that the amount on the quarterly bill I have is the right one to pay by June 1  and to ignore the amount in the letter and the letter itself.

I accepted her apology. So, no repercussions for Empire Life Insurance Company now.

The companies doing something to fix their errors continues. I have mentioned before having problems with my prescription glasses which I bought at Hudson’s Bay Optical in December 2014. Unfortunately their warranty is only for one year – which covered the replacement of one pair of sunglasses last fall because the one frame handle kept falling off and could not be screwed back in – only could be temporarily glued. They still had one more frame like it, so the lenses were switched to those frames.

Last month the same thing happened with the new frame and in I went and had it glued back on with the caveat that new prescription glasses would need to be purchased as these glasses frames were no longer available.

Mother’s Day at the restaurant the frame side fell off again. My son snapped it in. Then two weekends ago, the right lens popped out of the regular prescription glasses. When I went in to have them popped in (this is free), I ordered a new pair of prescription glasses and of course had to pay full price as the warranted expired in December 2015.

The saga continues. Last Saturday the lens again popped out of the regular glasses and in a very bad mood I took public transit to Hudson’s Bay Optical. They didn’t mind popping it in again and did so. I was wearing the sunglasses and so just put the regular glasses back in their case. They did check and said the new sunglasses had left the manufacturers on Thursday and should arrive this week, Tuesday or afterwards. They also said the manufacturer is in the United States, which would explain the long time frame (pun intended).

Does this also explain the poor quality of the glasses? Because I decided to complain to the manager about all this nonsense. By then I was out of the optical department and walking through the cosmetic department. One of the cashiers called the manager and he came down.

We discussed the glasses problem with me making comments about the poor quality of the glasses and I never had this problem with Sears and had only switched to Hudson’s Bay Optical because the Sears store downtown had closed and the mall locations of Sears are too far for me to go on public transit. I also said I had been wearing glasses for 46 years and had never had lenses pop before. I also complained of the one-year warranty Hudson’s Bay policy compared to Sears two-year warranty policy. He said he would see what he could do about that.

Then he decided I should get half the amount back of what I paid for the sunglasses and had the clerk in cosmetics do the transaction.

While we were talking he noticed that the frame on my sunglasses had again become detached. I handed him the offensive glasses and like my son had done, he snapped it back it.

The next morning at home I noticed that the lens for the regular glasses hadn’t been popped in correctly – it was the same as I managed to do to pop it in with one corner not all the way in.

I’m hoping it stays until I go in later this week to pick up the new sunglasses. And I’m not wearing the sunglasses much if at all in case the frame falls off again. I cannot pop it back in.

The glitches/snafus are getting to be too much and they have affected my health. Last Thursday, I dealt with five problems – all sorted out; Friday was calling the insurance company. Yesterday I finally had that filling put in the back bottom tooth, so hope that is now going to be okay

What all this stress, all this having to be my own consumer advocate is doing is making my IBS and the like worse and it is scaring me. I’m making some changes – more exercise as in walking and gardening (neither of which was done from Saturday to yesterday because of the cold weather). Today it is still too cold to do more than collect fresh flowers but I hope to get out for a walk. I am changing my diet slightly, but mainly starting to drink more water as I’m sure I’m dehydrated. Have also done some more research on the Internet and will see a nutritionist at the Health Planet for suggestions on supplements to help.

And do some meditation regularly and other stress reduction things. Plus get more sleep. Eliminate some stuff from my life and postpone some.

All this may be very well. But God will have to do his part, i.e. stop sending me so many problems in all areas to deal with. And send me some more money to ease the financial burden. The latter is starting to happen. But the first part has to happen or all the lifestyle changes in the world may not be enough. I don’t have the good fortune to have a partner to help with things so the burden of all falls on me. Lessening it would be very helpful.

That’s my take anyway.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under Anxiety, Consumer action, Digestive disorder, finances, Gardening health benefits, God, Healing through gardening, Health, Help and Support, Home and Garden, Life Balance, Life demands, Life Insurance, Meditation, Older Women living alone and health, Pain, Worrying

Only Child on friend’s unsolicited advice

Only child contemplates living life her way

Only child contemplates living life her way

Should friends impose their advice on what you should do? Unsolicited advice. If you ask for their advice, that’s another story.

Over the weekend a friend of many years phoned me and began to tell me how to run my life and then had the nerve to criticize how I do it.

“Lois” as I’ll call her, decided she had information about a “cure” for my long time digestive disorder. She went into a long spiel about her dental hygienist who saw this medical practitioner who had her change her diet, that it wasn’t all just eating fibre, and…

But I’m coming to the sick part shortly. I didn’t just sit here and let her go on without saying something.

“It’s not diet with me. I’ve changed my diet a lot. It’s stress. I need to relax.  On the Doors Open weekend last month I went to a Buddhist Centre on Crawford Street – not sure if that name is an omen. It was so peaceful and I intend to go back. It’s just been so busy lately.”

I did ask her for the doctor’s name and if he was covered by OHIP. She gave me his name and I did write it down. (Since then I ripped up the piece of paper and threw it in the recycling bin). Yes, he is covered by OHIP, she said. But I couldn’t find him listed in the Ontario Physicians and Surgeons  registry online.

“Does he rely on drugs?” I asked.

He didn’t, but what Lois said that he did to her dental hygienist is sickening.

“She had surgery and he froze part of her intestines.”

Triple yuck! I don’t even want to imagine any side-effects or damage to the intestines.

The conversation continued with Lois saying something about how anti-depressants have helped her.

Was that a hint about how she sees me?

So, I jumped in with, “I’m not depressed (haven’t been for years) but go to the other side – anger.”

“You have a lot of anger in you,” said Lois.

“Yes, but it is all for good reasons. Sometimes I use my anger to do something about my problems.”

She didn’t say any more about that but when I got into what I want to do with my life and what I want to stop doing, she struck again.

Me: “I’ve been spending a lot of time promoting my books.”

Lois: “You won’t make any money that way.”

Me: “Well I enjoy doing that and want to refocus some of my business on doing some of that for authors. Maybe make some money that way. I’m kicking a lot of things and people out of my life.”

I’m beginning to wonder if she should be added to that list. I did wish her a happy birthday as that is coming up later this week, and mentioned that I couldn’t afford to take her out to dinner for her birthday. What I didn’t say was that I had planned to invite her here for dinner, which I would cook. No way now.

Operative word is “had.” She doesn’t deserve that. I’ve wished her a happy birthday and that’s it.

She’s on hold until at least the fall.

Late last night it occurred to me why her derogatory comment on promoting my writing. I am happy about what I do in my writing life (except maybe the straight editing manuscript part. I still like evaluating manuscripts. But that’s fodder for another post). I’m sensing she is not happy with her lot in life. Without going into details about her career, let’s just say she has been doing the same thing for at least 30 years. All lateral.

At least with my writing, I develop and change what I do, learn and improve and also help other authors.

But I don’t tell them what to do about their health and other personal problems. If they ask for suggestions, maybe.

And I have other friends who are not writers and I don’t get this “get a life” attitude. They are respectful and accepting of what I do as I try to be about what they do.

The truth is we are all individuals with individual life paths and it is up to us to decide where we want to go with our life.

So, Lois, take that in your pipe and smoke it.

Oops. Forgot, you quit smoking a few years back. And while I’m glad you did, I never told you to do so.

What do you think about friends who try to run your life? Do they have the right to do so with unsolicited advice?

 

Cheers.

 

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Anger, Consideration, Digestive disorder, Friends, Health, Help and Support, Helping Others, Life demands, Only child, Problems, Stress, Uncategorized

Only Child looks at distraction causes

Only Child literally got a wake up call this morning

Only Child literally got a wake up call this morning

Lately I have moments of sudden distraction with upsetting results. My mind will run around in circles or be over-focused on a problem or an item on my to-do list. Then I go to do something you usually would do automatically. And I mess up.

The scary part is I am not aware of doing the automatic function incorrectly. Until it is done.

The latest was preparing to cook rice in my rice cooker. I had removed the inside pot to fill it with the rice and water. Instead I poured the rice and water into the main cooker. That is the part the instructions tell you not to immerse in water.

I discovered the mistake right away and dumped everything out. I dried the outside and inside of the rice cooker, scooped up what I could of the rice from its dumping point, washed it yet again. This time I put it and the water into the actual pot. Placed the pot into the rice cooker, put the lid on and plugged it in.

Some people would not take this chance of getting electrocuted or having the whole thing explode or burn. I was willing to do that because I was angry that this had happened and I didn’t want the hassle etc. of replacing the rice cooker. The cooker was also a gift a few years ago from my son. And being of “a certain age” I sometimes don’t care about consequences and just act.

I was also very hungry. And there may lie the problem. Hunger plus not enough sleep. Throw in too much to concern myself with and you have a cognitive behaviour alert. Not dementia – not yet anyway.

My late mother had a few of these “senior moments.” The one that sticks in my mind is when she hauled the bacon instead of the steak out of the freezer. She might have been heading for Alzheimer’s. It certainly runs on her side of the family – those with Strauss blood in their veins. But Mom died at 63 of a brain aneurysm so it was too soon to tell.

I have a lot of malnutrition problems cause by IBS and just getting older. As you age your digestive system can’t digest food as well as when you are younger. And don’t tell me to take digestive tablets. Tried that and while some may work for a few weeks, after that they register nil. So I have to eat small snacks in between meals. Often I forget or what sometimes happens I am running necessary errands which go into the supper time, mainly because of time and the time part often has to do with when the stores close. If a store closes at 7 p.m. you have to get their before and when you are working all day (albeit it from a home office) you tend to dash off doing those errands – some business related – before dinner. I also don’t like early evening meetings either unless they include dinner or large amounts of snack food that I can eat. (Gluten-free). I also haven’t been getting enough sleep because of too much to do and sleep can also play havoc with your cognitive abilities. I got my wake-up call (literally) on that one this morning when I woke up 45 minutes late because I had forgotten to set the alarm. Obviously that is the length of time I need to sleep (although I felt groggy when I first got up until after a couple cups of java). When I got up this morning is too late for workdays, so I will have to go from the other end – get to bed sooner, which means something has to be done about that end of the “to do” list.

As for the rice cooker, I kept my attention on it and the cooker seemed to work fine and cooked my rice. Of course it was less rice and I hadn’t put the right amount of water in it. But when I added the steamer of vegetables that part also worked.

Now excuse me while I tackle more of the work part of my “to do” list. This afternoon I’m teaching a crafting a short story workshop at the library and I need time to eat lunch after I do a couple more things.

Any of you have similar experiences? What caused them? And what did you do?

Please comment.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Digestive disorder, Health Seniors, Malabsorption, Mother, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford, Time, Time management

Only Child weighs in on eating to lose weight

Eat fresh foods where possible to lose weight http://www.arthursclipart.org/vegetables/veggiescol1.htm

Eat fresh foods where possible to lose weight

I’ve never been obese…yet, even as a child. The most I’ve ever weighed was when pregnant. In high school I came close to that pregnancy weight. After gaining five pounds over this past winter, I decided to do something about it.

“Thou shalt not” doesn’t sit too well on my stomach and when your tummy is your main problem due to a digestive disorder (that’s me), maybe looking at what you eat would help. So I trolled through the articles on http://www.besthealthmag.ca and found something really interesting – a slide show (not video) on Top 20 Flat Tummy Foods at http://www.besthealthmag.ca/swap-and-drop/top-20-flat-tummy-foods?slide=1.

Some of the foods and beverages included surprised me. Although one of my favourites, ice cream, didn’t make the list, dark chocolate did. Also included are green tea, olive oil, onions, lemon, cinnamon, cucumber, low fat yogurt, legumes, chicken, turmeric, quinoa, pears, berries, salmon, miso, eggs and greens (especially spinach). At some time or other, I eat or drink all but the olive oil, turmeric and quinoa (although I have the latter and when I figure out what to do with it, I’ll try it). This list has got me motivated to drink or eat more of the other items.

Comments for each slide go into the benefits of each food item – for your tummy and other benefits such as antioxidant (berries, for example). Green tea may take the cake (which is not on the list) because it has a great effect on your metabolism – drinking it often can increase weight loss (as well as bathroom visits, no doubt) but it also slows down fat absorption and is an antioxidant. My green tea supply has disappeared but this three-prong piece of information may get me going to replenish the supply and drink it.

Another article tells you how to beat belly fat http://www.besthealthmag.ca/get-healthy/prevention/7-ways-to-beat-belly-bloat?slide=1. This one goes into some of the belly fat problems such as gas, bloating, etc. and references IBS. Suggestions include cut down on the salt, drink more water, peppermint tea and a baking soda-water combo (and live in the bathroom – it doesn’t say that).

For those who are focusing on the belly, you might also want to read Five Reasons Your Stomach  Hurts http://www.besthealthmag.ca/get-healthy/health/5-reasons-your-stomach-hurts – it covers acid indigestion, IBS and hits on the gut-killer – too much stress. Pointers include to cut the stress, calm your nerves and slow because we are always in a chronic state of stress.

That last point says it all. You can try to slow down all you want but will that get rid of the stressors? Getting rid of the stressors has always been my idea of reducing the stress level. However, that is not always easy, especially if, like me, you are alone in the world and have to do and organize everything yourself. Sure, you can try to cut back on what you do (and I’ve blogged about that before), but in reality the stressor may be something you have to do (for example, a painful treatment for a disease, which some people have to go through). And what if the stressor is a person in your life? You can’t go around killing your stressors.

But…I am a writer and journaling about it, putting the “stressor” (disguised and fictionalized, of course) into a short story or novel, works wonders. A relative who really irked me was the inspiration for a bad person in one of my short stories.

And I can pay more attention to what I eat and drink from those 20 food suggestions. I’ll get over ice cream not making the list but…isn’t it written somewhere that we can cheat one day a week? Or eat our favourite food in moderation?

Ice cream does contain milk.

Happy eating.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under antioxidants, Digestive disorder, Health, Only child, Overeating, Stress, Water

Only Child takes the middle road

Only Child's late Mom who had a streak of diplomacy

Only Child’s late Mom who had a streak of diplomacy

As a child I used to go for the happy medium in any crisis, problem, etc. I’ve since learned that I did so because I wanted to please everybody and not get into hot water. It didn’t always work.

Today, I often hit the middle road but the reason has evolved. Sometimes this sitting on the fence is the only way to go when it comes to your health or dealing with pushy people – clients or friends and family.

My late mom taught me well. Julia Langevin could often be tactless but sometimes she showed a streak in diplomacy. The Bully, the “girlfriend” I grew up with (to age 11) would alienate some of my other friends on the block. But one of The Bully’s younger sisters would have none of that. She would come over to play with me and we would do girl stuff with our dolls (yes, back in the grey ages, little girls played with dolls). On one of these occasions my mom let me continue playing with her even though I was supposed to come in and help with the dishes.

“You need to have one friend,” she said afterwards. “That’s why I let you play instead of calling you in to dry the dishes.”

Today, with all the conflicting research in heath matters often the only way to go is along the middle road. Take the issue with calcium supplements versus heart attack risk. The latest research shows that taking calcium supplements can be a risk to heart attacks, so the preference is to get your calcium from food – calcium-fortified orange juice, milk, cheese, yogurt, etc. and only take supplements if you have a bone disease risk. What is a person to do if you are allergic to dairy (I’m not, that I know of) or if like me, you have malabsorption issues in your digestive system? Mine is partly caused by IBS but also by just getting old. Many people are going to run into the latter situation.

Do we have to choose between various arthritic conditions and heart attack risk? No.

Take the middle road. One of these studies (http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/may/24/calcium-supplements-heart-risk) provides the pros and cons and other medical experts say that as long as your daily calcium intake is under 2,000 mg. you should be okay. I’m keeping my daily supplement dose just under 1,000 and hoping some of the dairy, etc. will actually get into my system. However, I am still back up to my 4500 UIs a day for Vitamin D now that the grey days of winter have settled in. I don’t want a repeat of my arthritic-like pains in my leg bone from last winter.

And my pesky clients, especially those who try for freebies long after the contract work is done and paid for? I follow the Julia Langevin method – be diplomatic. Let them know what’s what but do it nicely. Sometimes I have to wait a couple of days to answer their email so I don’t rush in and vent.

Check out more information on these calcium-heart disease studies at: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/HeartHealth/calcium-supplements-linked-heart-attack-risk/story?id=16413252#.UMdgYqyUzFx

And check out my guest blog post (coming up December 15, 2012) on Type M for Murder at http://typem4murder.blogspot.ca/
An author friend, Shane Joseph, will be featured on Wattpad on Dec 14th at http://www.wattpad.com/8704102-lest-they-be-forgotten-foreword

Don’t forget my author blog http://www.sharonacrawfordauthor.com

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Arthritis, Digestive disorder, Health, Heart Disease, Middle, Mother, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford

Fix what ails you – go into your garden

Only Child standing beside Black-eyes Susans and in front of black walnut tree in backyard

I’ve blogged about the healing garden before, but apparently without actually noticing what my garden is telling me this summer.

Although I’m not big on Feng Shui anymore, I do believe a garden will tell all, including some answers for what is bugging you. And I don’t necessarily mean the bugs in the garden. However, maybe I should look into the bug aspect as I’ve been stung twice. Both times I accidently shoved a finger or hand where a “stinging insect” rested and disturbed it. Maybe my answer here is I’ve been shoving myself into too many things without intention and getting bitten for my efforts.

The real thing my garden is telling me is to notice what is growing so well in it. With the drought this summer until the beginning of August, it is amazing that anything is growing at all. My bean plants are stunted and that tells me I shouldn’t be eating some types of beans right now. But it is the huge and taller-than-usual clumps of Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia) that catch my eyes and my soul with an “aha” moment. Black-eyed Susan is a misnomer as the middle is dark brown, not black (although the perennial also gets called Brown-eyed Susan). The main part of the flower fans out from this centre in individual petal strips that are bright yellow. The Rudbeckia is growing all over the front and back of my garden and when I sit outside I can feel the flowers penetrating my body and soul. Yellow is the colour for healing and this summer I am having a particularly hard time with my digestive disorder.

Then there are those two black walnut trees on my friends’ property next door. The branches hang over my property and provide much needed shade in a corner of my patio. It’s not the leaves or the shade, but the earlier-than-usual walnuts that have been falling off the trees, bouncing loudly like a ball against the house. The message: I need to take the homeopathic black walnut for my digestive system. At this point the jury is still out whether that will help, but once I started taking it, the walnut-dropping stopped except for an occasional late jumper. A reminder to keep taking my medicine?

My garden is full of signs about what is going on in my life. I just need to look and listen.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Digestive disorder, Gardening health benefits, Healing through gardening, Health, Horticultural Therapy, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford