When Time Stood Still: A Hiroshima Survivor’s Story

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One of the finest stories I’ve ever read online: It Speaks For Itself.

And, the book version is available from Amazon: Rising from the Ashes

Hope for Simplified Screening for Alzheimer’s

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Here’s a quick read from the Washington Post this morning; Researchers are experimenting with simplified testing methods to exploit the seeming link between loss of sense of smell and development and progression of Alzheimer’s.

Read it here in the Washington Post: Alzheimer’s Researchers Hunt for New Tools to Identify Disease’s Onset.

Put On Your Happy Shoes!

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Here’s a quick explanation of an interesting recent study linking CYNICISM with DEMENTIA.

We’ve all heard many, many anecdotal stories of happy people living longer. To me, this study hints that happy people may live longer, smarter.

See what you think.

I occasionally Tweet @MyKarmaWheel. I admit it.

A Microthought Poem, A Direct Consequence of Becoming a Twit(terer)

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Sitting at my computer,

Drinking a cup of tea,

Asking myself this morning,

Do I own my computer or does it own me?

Do You DARE? New Computer Program Will Show You The “Old” You…

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An assistant professor at the University of Washington has created a piece of software that’s the Ultimate Anti-Dorian Gray Mirror of the Future.

Say WHAT?

The program, which will be released later this year, can use a photo of ANYONE at ANY AGE and create a surprisingly accurate forecast image of that person’s appearance as an Elder.

By “Elder” I mean OLD PERSON.

In other words, a view into your Geriatric Future. The typical reaction of the typical person? Ick, that’s not for me. But let me do my Ex, my sister-in-law, my ….

Even the CREATOR of this program (who is 33) hasn’t looked at her “Old Self.” She claims she isn’t interested. Those of us who read a lot think we know the real reason, but we shall remain respectfully silent : )

Click here to read the fascinating story about why it was created, how they did it, and what they began to realize about how faces “age.” Great reading, brought to you by the Philadelphia Inquirer!
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Follow My Karma Wheel on Twitter @MyKarmaWheel

One of My Favorite Wellness Tools

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If you’ve taken personal responsibility for your own health and wellness, here’s a link to an invaluable tool, Ask A Patient.

This is a CONSUMER-based forum that allows actual patients/users post their reactions to a variety of prescription drugs and supplements.

Just enter the name of the RX or supplement you want to research, then read pros and cons that have been posted by real people, revealing their real world experiences.

I’m a very athletic, normal-weight ( size 8 ) woman. A few years ago, I experienced a very surprising, almost inexplicable 3-day, 6 pound weight gain, centered exclusively in an area where I never gain weight (upper abdomen). I quickly realized that for some reason, my cortisol levels were up. I eventually traced this (thanks to askapatient.com) to a very tiny dose of bioidentical progesterone cream I’d been using for many months.

Much to my shock and concern, I learned from browsing through AskAPatient that many women are experiencing some HORRIBLE side effects from what is often considered a “safe” and side-effect-free over-the-counter cream.

As in anything else you supplement, if you need it, it’s great (surprisingly, it can be helpful to asthmatics and those with COPD); but if you don’t (or if you get too much, as I apparently did), you can start a cascade of negative side effects.

Fortunately, I worked at correcting my issue by stopping the cream and using something called DIM (to simplify, a supplement that helps metabolize out excess “bad” estrogens). It took almost 18 months to “get back to normal,” even with careful eating and intense exercise. My lesson? Don’t Mess With Hormones! There ARE alternative solutions that are much safer and better in the long run.

Just as an FYI, here’s an in-depth article about the interplay of hormones and their complex relationships from Women to Women.

If you’re into self-care, preventative medicine, and personal responsibility for your own health, you owe it to yourself to make good use of AskAPatient.com. You’ll have to do a lot of reading and evaluating for yourself, but this is a priceless treasure trove of real world experience. Good luck!

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Follow My Karma Wheel on Twitter @MyKarmaWheel

BPA (preservative) in Canned Foods: Health Risk?

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Here’s an article that will make you think; researchers are finding that canned foods account for significant exposure to BPA, a preservative linked to increased risk of heart disease, cancer, etc.: Read the full article at Discovery Health.

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You can follow My Karma Wheel on Twitter @MyKarmaWheel

Help for Ulcer Sufferers: The Plan

This is an archived post. Why is it here?
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If you’ve read my previous posts (here and here), you know I earned some ulcers (and some bonus gastritis) from my bout with a ruptured appendix last December (2009–this is an ARCHIVED POST).

I tried the conventional medical route to heal the ulcers (the proton pump inhibitor, Prevacid) but decided I needed a more natural approach. I didn’t like the idea of interfering with Mother Nature; I think my stomach needed its acid-producing capacity in order to properly digest my food (I forgot to mention that I lost 14 pounds in the course of this & felt very weak and tired). I also think this acid is crucial to maintaining a healthy balance of bacteria in the stomach, helping to boost your body’s bacteria killing ability at one of its largest “ports of entry.”

So I did my research and found three supplements that helped me heal from the inside out.

Please keep in mind that nutritional supplements ALWAYS take a little longer to work than most pharmaceuticals. You won’t get the instant relief a painkiller will give, but you will be arming your body with the components it needs to heal itself. Be patient.

I’m living proof that this regimen works; I’ve regained my weight, energy, and life and am extremely grateful for the improvement. I’ve really never experienced sickness before in my life, and it was a scary, powerless situation.

You also need to learn what foods to embrace and which to avoid.

For me, anything tomato-based was a KILLER until my stomach healed. No tomato-containing casseroles, spaghetti, linguini, ravioli, etc. Avoid tomato-based soups. Even raw tomatoes were a major trigger for pain for me.

Fats and greasy foods were also a problem. Coffee was a major no-no and even my favorite green tea was off the menu for a few months. Fruit juices were also off limits to my stomach.

Healing foods included oatmeal, coconut oil, a simple rice pudding made with almond milk, saltine crackers, and, surprisingly, yogurt. I think the yogurt helped reintroduce some important bacteria that had been wiped out by the heavy antibiotics I was given after the ruptured appendix. I chose a Greek yogurt (lower sugar, higher protein) and sweetened it with stevia, adding my own blueberries.

Blueberries, bananas, cantaloupe, and watermelon were very healing to my stomach. I also lived on Braum’s orange sherbet; for about 3 weeks, it was about the only thing besides crackers my stomach could handle. I think the sherbet was artificially flavored, so its acidity didn’t seem to be an issue for me and was very soothing.

Here are the three supplements that really turned the tide for me:

1. Mastic Gum: I took 2 capsules, 3 times a day on an empty stomach with a full glass of room temperature water. One dose on rising in the morning, one dose at about 2 PM, and one dose before bed. I did this for at least 2 months and still take an occasional dose in the morning if my stomach feels “needy.”

Mastic gum is derived from a Mediterranean tree; it smells like pine rosin to me, but it definitely will help your stomach rebuild its lining. I could take a dose and feel some relief within 10 minutes.

2. DGL (de-glycyrrhizinated licorice): This is a miracle worker; it’s a licorice supplement with the glycyrrhizine compound removed (to avoid raising blood pressure). They come in little lozenges that you slowly dissolve (or can chew). DGL is proven to help the stomach heal its lining. I found this soothing when the ulcers started acting up; I could dissolve 2 or 3 lozenges and feel relief. In the acute phase, I probably took about 8 of these a day. NOW has a sweet version that is easy to chew; I prefer Planetary Herbal’s variety–the flavor is less intense. But both work great to help the stomach reconstitute itself. I would take these before eating, after eating, or on an empty stomach.

3. PepZinGI (an amino acid/ zinc preparation taken with meals): I took this with 2 meals a day (usually breakfast and dinner). This is a combination of zinc and the amino acid L-carnosine. This supplement helps your body rebuild the stomach and intestinal lining. I definitely felt an improvement with this and highly recommend all three supplements.

Another tip: if your stomach starts “seizing” (cramping and hurting and burning)–take a half dose of old fashioned Milk of Magnesia. The magnesium will help soothe and coat the stomach and also helps relieve and calm the muscles of the stomach–it’s truly amazing how effective this is. BTW, AVOID Maalox, Pepto Bismol, and Tums and Rolaids LIKE THE PLAGUE if you have ulcers. Pepto Bismol contains salicylic acid (aspirin) & you’ll just be eating through your ulcer and making your pain worse–believe me, I did this & ended up in the emergency room. If you need relief, use Milk of Magnesia (with caution–it’s a laxative).

I learned from this experience, too, to eat FREQUENT SMALL MEALS. Don’t let your stomach stay empty for long. Also, if you start to “burn,” there is an elegantly simple solution: drink a full glass (or two) of room temperature water. This will dilute your stomach acid & relieve the pain (how I wish someone had told me that!!!).

Here are links to the specific supplements I mentioned; I buy my supplements from one of three trusted sources: Amazon.com, IHerb.com, and SwansonVitamins.com.

Source Naturals Mastic Gum Extract 500mg, 60 Capsules (Pack of 2)

Planetary Herbals DGL, Chewable Tablets, 200 tablets (Pack of 2)

DGL from NOW Foods at IHerb.com.

PepZinGI from Doctor’s Best at IHerb.com.
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Originally published 4/28/2010
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Follow My Karma Wheel on Twitter @MyKarmaWheel

Heal Your Ulcers, Cure Your Digestive Issues?

This is an archived post. Why is it here?
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After I made it through the surgery in December (2009) for my ruptured appendix, I suffered some setbacks, as many patients whose appendixes rupture are wont to do.

First, I had two abscesses that required another hospitalization. Then, as a result of the stress of everything surrounding the ruptured appendix PLUS the powerful medicines needed to treat it PLUS painkillers I had to take orally, I ended up with gastritis/ulcers (I was told it could not be officially diagnosed as one or the other without an endoscopy, which I decided to forego). Basically, this equaled a LOT OF PAIN (actually, I found the aftereffects of the ruptured appendix much more painful than the initial attack of appendicitis). These complications sent me back to the emergency room on 2 more occasions. My illness dragged on from late December 2009 until mid-March 2010. [I did not really get completely back on my feet until early May 2010].

I FINALLY got relief for my gastritis/ulcer problem by doing some internet research and combining some supplements that gradually healed me from the inside out.

The emergency room doctors were wonderful, but their solution for my ulcer/gastritis problem was a referral to a gastroenterologist and a prescription for an over-the-counter proton pump inhibitor (Prevacid) and this just felt wrong to me.

Why would I want to stay on a medicine that inhibited my stomach’s natural production of acid? I’d even read that the bacteria that causes ulcers, H. pylori, can actually thrive in a low-acid environment. I complied with this regimen for 6 weeks, thinking that perhaps I did need to inhibit the acid for the ulcer to heal (and I continued to hurt). In the end, I abandoned ship & implemented my own treatment plan.

Here’s what worked for me:

A combination of these three supplements; I’ll go into further detail on the dosages & explanation of ingredients in a later post:

1. Mastic Gum
2. DGL (de-glycyrrhizinated licorice)
3. PepZinGI (an amino acid/ zinc preparation taken with meals)

I also quickly learned what foods helped and which hurt my condition; I’ll share that, too, in the next post.
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Originally posted 4/27/2010
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Follow My Karma Wheel on Twitter @MyKarmaWheel

Ruptured Appendix I: Happy to be Back Among the Living

This is an archived post. Why is it here?
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FINALLY, I’ve recovered my health and met all my outstanding deadlines & finally have time to update my blog (4/26/2010).

Hindsight is always 20/20, but looking back on what happened to me, I should have known better. But I didn’t–I, a devoted health nut, ended up in the hospital emergency room with a RUPTURED APPENDIX.

Appendicitis can happen to ANYONE at ANY TIME (think celebrity Bret Michaels), so I thought I’d share my story in the hopes it helps someone else get help earlier than I did. As I learned after my attack, about 1 in 15 people will have a bout of appendicitis. If appendicitis is treated quickly, recovery from surgery only takes a few days. If you don’t get help before it ruptures, you can DIE.

And, contrary to what I thought before it happened to me, you might not have the “classic” symptom of a stabbing pain in your lower right abdomen. You might, like me, have a more generalized stomach/abdominal pain that is actually appendicitis.

Knowledge is Power. So, here’s my cautionary tale:

I started feeling a little bad just before Christmas 2009–kind of tired, no desire to run, and with a dull lower abdomen soreness I WRONGLY attributed to a muscle pull from the previous week’s run on the treadmill. THIS WAS MISSED CLUE #1.

Then, the day after Christmas, I started having a stomach/abdominal ache that just wouldn’t quit. At first, I thought I’d taken the wrong mix of supplements and given myself a “bellyache.” I also had a painful, burning sensation from my throat downward. I made a mistake: I just tried to “soldier through” and get over the pain. The only way I could get relief from the pain was to lay on the couch with my legs curled up to my chest. I slept the same way. MISSED CLUE #2. I did this for 2 more days, sipping Odwalla Superfood Juice & slowly losing my appetite (MISSED CLUE #3) and being unable to go the the bathroom (MISSED CLUE #4), finally becoming convinced that if I could just use the bathroom, I would feel fine (MISSED CLUE #5).

So, finally, at about 8:30 PM on Dec 29, I decided a brief walk on the treadmill might make this possible. I summoned all my energy & tried to walk at a 2.0 mph speed. Well, I lasted less than a minute and a half and then was overcome by an overwhelming abdominal pain that made me bend completely over (CLUE #6 FINALLY HIT A HOME RUN)–so my husband & I decided we’d better get to the emergency room. By this time, I was in incredible pain, bent over & moaning constantly.

My husband took me to Baylor Southwest Medical Center’s Emergency Room on Oakmont in Fort Worth. I actually sat in the Baylor emergency room, still moaning and bent over, for more than 40 minutes without ever being seen by anyone. My husband was furious by this time, repeatedly asking the receptionist for a trauma nurse, and we both decided that if this was the level of treatment at this facility, it was not the place for us.

So he loaded me back into the car and we drove another mile or so to Harris Methodist Southwest Hospital (Texas Health Resources Southwest) in Fort Worth. As soon as we arrived, a security guard put me in a wheelchair and wheeled me into the receiving area. A nurse was checking me in within 2 minutes and I was quickly in a private room in the ER, where I was given pain medicine. By midnight, a CAT scan confirmed appendicitis and I was tentatively scheduled for a 7 AM appendectomy.

Luckily for me, Dr. Gerald Stephenson, a FANTASTIC surgeon, had just left the hospital about 20 minutes before & the ER was able to reach him on his cell phone. He kindly returned to the hospital, greeted me and my husband & performed the surgery from about 2 AM to 3:30 AM. Had this been a “normal” appendectomy, the surgery would have taken less than 20 minutes. Learn from my mistake!

The rest is history. I have no doubt that Dr. Stephenson absolutely saved my life. I don’t know what would have happened to me (probably advanced peritonitis) if I’d had to wait until 7 AM for my surgery.

Dr. Gerald Stephenson’s surgical skill is without question and I recommend him most highly to anyone in the Southwest US (or anywhere else, for that matter), who needs a skilled, compassionate surgeon. I understand he is particularly skilled in cancer surgery and I’ve spent enough time in his waiting room to tell you that his patients are very grateful to him for his great skill as a surgeon and his kindness as a human being.

Now, as anyone who’s had a ruptured appendix knows all too well, the surgery was just the beginning of my “adventure.” I’ll post more about the cascade of events this triggered, then share my own “treatment plan” that finally helped me heal my digestive tract. Coming next

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Originally posted 4/26/2010
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Follow My Karma Wheel on Twitter @MyKarmaWheel

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