Blog, Health, Ramblings

Acupuncture Virgin – Continuing with the lifestyle changes

I’ve been flirting with the idea of acupuncture since I began with this disease and today I had my first session.

I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I wanted to give holistic medicine a chance. I’m hesitant when it comes to chemical drugs because they seem to work at masking the problem, relieving symptoms instead of fixing the problem or they create new problems and come burdened with nauseating side effects. The extreme reactions I had while on steroids (to reduce inflammation) and pain medication were awful, and I’ve gone back to sticking with Advil if the pain gets too bad; otherwise, I suck it up. (Of course, I say this now, during the summer, when I’m feeling overall better thanks to the frequent naps and resting and the lower work load – we’ll see what happens when the semester begins).

Now don’t get me wrong – we need medicine and I am taking some medicine (Plaquenil) for my condition. When we have serious problems that threaten to kill us, they help us stay alive and maintain a relatively normal lifestyle. But, we’ve gotten to the point where we forego general maintenance of our bodies and instead rely on artificial means to return some of what we lost. We learn, too late, that simple lifestyle changes can impact how much disease and medicine we’ll need later on. Some diseases are inevitable – they’re genetically ingrained in us and the triggers are too common and bountiful. But lifestyle changes, true lifestyle changes can help lessen the severity of some diseases.

I’ve noticed this with food. With all this process junk we have in the supermarkets (though I have to admit it’s delicious junk!), we’re feeding our bodies the wrong foods. It’s not optimum fuel and we’re killing ourselves with it. Reading Michael Pollan‘s books has been enlightening; he gives some clear and concise rules on what we should be eating, and really, it’s all common sense! If something has a shelf life of several years, it can’t be that good for you! And what about  the ingredients. MSG, pesticides, artificial sweeteners and artificial food colorings are toxic! I’ve noticed a direct correlation with ingesting these things and pain. I was a huge diet-soda drinker. Huge. It’s all I drank. And I haven’t touched one in almost a year. Correction – the one relapse I had, I paid for with barely being able to walk the following day. I’ve gone through my pantry and taken out all things with MSG, which left it quite bare as MSG has made its way into almost everything, from seasonings to take out food. I’ve also tried to incorporate more veggies (especially dark, colorful ones) and fruits into my diet, really focusing on anti-inflammatory foods, like pineapple, blueberries, chia seeds,  broccoli, mushrooms, celery. Even though I’m not crazy about some of these (mushrooms and celery – eh), I’m finding creative ways to consume these foods.

But I went off on a tangent. The acupuncture session today. It was good. Weird, but good. It’s funny because just entering into the room, I felt the change of energy. The soft music, the incense (which  I don’t always like, but today it felt just right), the soft colors on the walls, and the Buddha in the corner – it all came together in a peaceful manner. We started with a consultation where the doctor went through all of my medical history and asked me questions about my physical and emotional health. She gave me some feedback and suggestions, and then we started the session.

I never really liked the idea of sticking needles in my skin, but everything I read said it was painless. Not quite so. It hurt many times and I definitely felt the needles going in! There were some areas that hurt more than others, which she explained was normal. Once all the needles were in, she dimmed the lights, put on a small lamp near my feet, and left me to my thoughts and sensations. I felt a sort of tingling (which, she explained, was the energy moving through), and some I had some aching specifically around my right ear and left arm. I think she said the ear was emotions. But don’t quote me on that.

The thirty minutes were up quicker than I anticipated, and when I got up, I felt somewhat dizzy. Soon after, however, I was feeling good. Not perfect, not 100% pain-free (and my stomach was as upset as before), but I felt a little more energy which, over the last few days, had been declining again.

I can’t say it was a great experience, but it wasn’t bad, either. It was different. And I think I’ll be repeating it for a few weeks to see if I notice an improvement. I hope to also take up yoga in that center. I really liked it.

A quick side note: my husband also went and had a session. Instead of feeling more energized, however, he left feeling groggy, exhausted, dizzy.


Blog, Ramblings

Who’s Eating My Cucumbers? Pickleworms, That’s Who.

My humble vegetable garden is, of late, my pride and joy. Since I don’t have a particularly green thumb, the mere fact that we were able to get seedlings to grow, and we were able to actually harvest what we planted, well, that was an accomplishment.

We harvested a total of six cucumbers before I encountered a nasty pest that has forced us take drastic measures to eradicate it (without having to turn to harsh chemicals or pesticides.) The culprits? Pickleworms.

In case you’d like to see what a pickleworm looks like, here’s one I caught on my cucumber plant. I took the picture after I cut the stem off.

Apparently, pickleworms are larvae from a specific moth, and they attack mostly cucumber, squash, and other cucurbit plants. I spotted the eggs first this morning, though I didn’t know what they were at the time. I just found a bunch of gooey, white blobs around my cucumbers. Then, early this evening, we were performing our normal rounds in our garden: watering, pruning, inspecting. My husband noticed two of the cucumbers were ready to cut, so I got the shears out and was getting ready to cut when I noticed the above critter on one of the cucumbers. It was on the outside, apparently munching on the skin. When I cut the other one, I noticed two minute holes on one side. After my initial gross-out, I gave the cucumber with the worm to my husband so he could take care of it, and I proceeded to dissect the other cucumber. Though it has those two holes, there is no evidence of pickleworm inside, much to my relief. However, I’m not sure if I can do anything with the butchered cucumber, nor do I know if I want to, especially since the holes means the pickleworm was inside that cucumber….that just doesn’t sound very appetizing to me.

We busted out our organic pesticide, chopped off all remaining fruits (all which had pickleworm holes and egg residues) and damaged leaves. Instead of the immense foliage we had, we’re now left with a bare-boned plant. I have no idea if we did the right thing, but after much consulting online, it seems as if there’s little to do once these pests take hold. Very sad day for me.

I also discovered another possible pest: Vegetable leafminer. I’ve been wondering why the leaves of our plants (from the larger cucumber and squash leaves to the small basil ones) have these zigging and zagging lines on them that look like this:

Photo taken from
Upon some “googling,” I found my answer.
I think I now understand why chemical pesticides are used; and why it costs more to grow organic.
Blog, Ramblings

Growing Gardens

In early March, a few month’s after my son’s school had planted a garden and my son came home excitedly talking nonstop about cabbage, broccoli, and carrots, I decided to try our hand at planting a vegetable garden. This was also around the same time that my health was pointing me towards healthier, organic alternatives. So son in hand, we headed to Home Depot and picked out a few seed packets, a greenhouse kit for kids (with cucumbers and tomatoes), and an herb set. We planted the cucumbers, tomatoes, lemon-basil, oregano, chives, and thyme first. In those first weeks, the herbs took off, as did the cucumbers. The tomatoes died.

As our “garden” started growing, we decided to invest in a larger area for the vegetable garden. In BJs, we found an inexpensive option for a raised bed, and converted a part of our backyard into our garden. We transplanted the four original herbs, and the cucumbers, and planted more seeds: summer squash, peas, lettuce, mixed greens, dill, spinach, and radishes.

The verdict? We’ve already harvested two cucumbers (and five more are growing), lettuce, and herbs. The peas are almost there. The radishes, well, those I had to replant because the first ones didn’t yield anything. The squash plant is large and leafy and healthy, but I don’t see any squash yet. I’ve already had amazing salad with my own lettuce and cucumber (and some organic carrots, nuts, seeds, raisins, cranberries, and chia seeds). I’ve already cooked meals with my thyme, oregano, basil, and chives. The dill is just getting ready to harvest, so I’ll be using that soon.

I’ll post some pictures soon. I’ve been feeling quite proud, as before this, neither my husband nor I have ever had a “green thumb” – this is certainly a step up!