I’ll try anything

Whether it’s related to health care or just beauty, that’s basically my approach.

In preparation for our trip to the show next month, we’ve been catching up on recent episodes of The Social tonight.

As we’re blasting through to see what they’ve been doing and talking about, but mostly checking out what people in the audience are wearing. (They gave some pretty specific suggestions related to that when they confirmed our tickets.)

If you’ve never watched the show, it begins with a panel conversation featuring the 4-5 regular hosts when they break down a series of topics, current events and stories. Later in the show, they welcome guests, review beauty products, talk to fitness, food or health professionals. It’s a typical daytime talk show except Canadian and cooler than any of the others I’ve seen.

Early on, we saw a discussion about Botox. Kevin made a comment about why people would do that. I told him, “I would.” He replied, “but you already look young.” (Bless his heart.) I told him I’d actually been thinking about doing it lately not because I want the results, but because I’m just plain curious about it.

The things I wonder:

  • What is the process?
  • Are you sitting up or laying down when they do it?
  • How much does it cost?
  • Does it hurt?

I’m not really worried about wrinkles or looking my age. In fact, I don’t actually even know all the benefits (or the risks, for that matter.) But, I would, most definitely, do it.

In the next episode, they talked about spray tans and I found myself thinking, “I should try getting a spray tan.” And I might.

It reminded me of times when I’ve enthusiastically taken part in alternative treatments or procedures. Sure, they have always had intended results, some were successful, some less so, but for me it was often about the process. I like trying new things. I like experimenting with different approaches. If I am offered an alternative, I’ll probably chase it down.

Do you voluntarily try different treatments? Do you experiment with new procedures when you can? Also, anybody know where I can get a good spray tan?

Dietary update

I sat across from my naturopath yesterday, confessing, “it’s been really hard for me to eat 30 grams of protein three times a day.” She leaned back across at me and said, “that’s really hard for everyone.”

(This is not 30 grams of protein.)

She hadn’t mentioned that the last time I was talking to her. And that’s probably a good thing. Had I known it’d be a tall order for anyone, it might have been even more daunting. As it stands, I’ve met my goal with the exception of one single meal over the last 35 days and I’m pretty proud of that. Turns out, I need to stick with it for another two weeks and then I’ll be off the hook. The reason I was doing it in the first place related to some of my DNA test results. They showed that I have a tendency for a diminished sense of appetite – I don’t detect hunger easily (fact) and I don’t detect when I’m full either (probably, but not as obvious.) Findings have shown that you can sometimes reset these cues with a high protein diets over a period of time so that’s what we were working on. That’s our goal.

We also switched things up with a bunch of new herbs and supplements. More Vitamin D (immunity) and some adrenal support to try to boost my energy. Since I’m still showing some signs of digestive issues, we traded out my old supplements for new, more focused ones.

The best news of all, as mentioned, I can lay off the protein in two weeks’ time. We (one of us more than the other) are hopeful that I’ll be able to get some more enjoyment out of eating again. I’ll still be following my initial anti-inflammation dietary changes, but I’ll have a little more freedom than I’ve had over the last little while.

Why do we need things need to be like other things?

This has come up for me twice this week.

Most recently, just a few minutes ago. While stopping at the most amazing Safeway (Burquitlam) on the way back from my parents’, I grabbed a little package of date balls because I was famished. Now, date balls are good on their own. These date balls, however, weren’t actually date balls – I only gleaned that from reading the ingredients list. These date balls were packaged as salted caramel energy balls. Sounds delicious, right? I dug in as soon as I could tear open the bag once we got back to the car. Guess what? They were date balls. Like any other. Which is PERFECTLY FINE if what you’re buying is a date ball. I was sold a very different idea of what was inside, but it was the same old thing. It only made me feel ripped off that the expectations outlined on the packaging set me up for something way better.

Before that, I’d been talking to a friend who told me that she hadn’t tried a Beyond Meat burger yet. As you know, I am obsessed with them. She said her butcher had stocked Beyond Meat burgers (forward thinking butcher, kudos!) and they also had sausages and wieners. I didn’t even know those products existed so I was super into that. Then she told me that they used to have Beyond Meat chicken tenders, but they pulled them from the shelves because consumers found they tasted too much like fake chicken. This is in spite of the fact that THEY ARE FAKE CHICKEN. (This story seems to be somewhat sketchy, I can’t find a relevant link to support it, but it’s what I was told.)

As a thirty-year vegetarian (to varying degrees over that time) this is something that has always baffled me. I mean, I was pretty conscious of my desire to give up meat at the time when I did it. Back then, meat substitutes were just coming into play. Money’s Mushrooms had a veggie burger and Yves was just entering the market with veggie dogs. Those were basically the mainstream options that you had and you took them. I mean, what choice did you have?

For barbecues, they’re convenient, but outside of that that, why is everything in a pseudo-meat form? We’ve moved pretty far past that as far as what we can produce, but we’re still looking for meat knock-offs more than we are alternatives. Yes, I eat Beyond Burgers practically daily, but it’s because of their high protein content, not because I can trick my tastebuds into believing they’re actually made from real meat.

(Veggie ground round, I get because of its versatility, although for the most part I just sub in lentils instead.)

So, why do people need non-meat products to be like meat? Didn’t they give the meat up for a reason? And whatever that reason might be, they’re seeking a solution that is NOT meat. (The sole exception I can really get down with is that they’re really reluctantly doing it for health or environmental reasons, but I know few people who are that motivated for either.)

So, what’s the deal? How do you see it? Why can’t we call things what they really are?

Homework

You bet I got some yesterday. That’s one of the key things you should know if you’re going to see an ND – there’s going to be work involved. Guaranteed. I think that’s what drawn me to it so much over the years. I want to be a partner in my health care, not a recipient of it. And I don’t mind rolling up my sleeves if I need to.

So.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t go in there with a problem or specific focus yesterday. I’d made some notes and had six or seven things I’m curious about. When I filled out the intake forms last month (like, a lifetime ago) to answer the questions of my top three health concerns, I added only one: Overall Wellness.

That’s my motivation for everything I do. I’m not interested in body composition or weight or calories or anything else. It’s all just numbers and they’re meaningless to me. I just want to feel good.

We went through the getting to know you portion of the visit (I think I forgot to mention that I got a full hour (!) of one-on-one attention) and Dr. Shannon really felt that the best place for us to start was with digestion. I don’t have problems with digestion in particular, but when she broke down the way that poor digestion might rear its head in other ways – especially with how it impacts hormones – I was easily on board. Good digestion is no joke, friends.

For my homework, I had a few tasks.

  1. Listen to this: Samantha Gladish’s Holistic Wellness podcast, episode 41: 11 Steps to Better Digestion.
  2. Pick a step to follow from the episode . I chose eating warm foods because that’s something I’m not very good at. I prefer everything at room temperature (I know. Weird, right?) so this is actually going to be a challenge and I didn’t trust pick the easiest one.
  3. Upload my DNA results to Dr. Shannon’s preferred service provider so she can analyze my SNPs (single-nucleotide polymorphism or “snips” as she called them.) Since I’ve already done an Ancestry DNA test, the raw data will provide her with this information and will shed some light on how my DNA may be impacting my digestion and other health. (I’ll be honest, this one blew my mind.)
  4. Do the HCL challenge to measure how much stomach acid I have. She drew me a little picture of why this is so important and I wish I’d taken it so I could show you. You want to have a healthy amount of stomach acid because it helps not just with the act of digestion, but it improves efficiency, absorption and protects us against bad bacteria that hitches a ride in with our food.
  5. Start taking berberine to help support the work we’re doing.
  6. Continue on the anti-inflammation diet (turns out my new ND is the one who wrote the iteration that landed in our hands!)

And the final piece of homework was one that I requested. I’ve been curious about it FOREVER and really just wanted to ask some question of a professional. This was my chance and I wasn’t going to squander it.

    Start seed cycling. This is using seeds and oils to support the body according to menstrual phases. In the follicular phase we want to promote estrogen – omega 3s help with that – and in the luteal phase we want to promote progesterone – omega 6s help with that. I find this stuff totally fascinating so I’m excited that she could not only talk me through it, but she had some information sheets to send home with me.

If you couldn’t already tell, I’m pretty jacked about this new chapter in my health.

If you’re interested in improving your digestive health, I’d encourage you to go check out that podcast and join me in picking a step. Let me know which one you choose!

Medical overload and recovery

Today, I did something that I’ve been looking forward to for more than a month: I had an appointment a new naturopath. I met her and in minutes it was like the sun came out, the birds started chirping and everything got just a little bit better.

I booked my appointment after we visited Catalyst Kinetics back in February. Like, a minute after. We left and while we were in the car, I browsed the NDs who called Catalyst home, read the bios, chose the one I thought suited me best and made an appointment. All before we’d reached our next stop.

You see, while we’d been toured around the facility, I’d had the feeling. The feeling that I usually get when I’m taking the best care of myself and my body. For me, that means regular care, but not of the traditional medical variety. I appreciate that there’s a place for the MD down the road and I have one of my own who I like and respect. I just prefer to get my care from professionals who are more interested in whole body care than focusing on specific symptoms independently.

Sitting in Dr. Shannon‘s office today, doing the initial intake chit chat involved in introducing her to my medical history, I realized why it’s been over a year since I’ve seen an ND or even had an acupuncture treatment. I was in medical overload. Medical exhaustion.

Over the years preceding, I’d had some pretty significant medical experiences and they’d meant that I had to be doing a lot of appointments. Appointments with my doctor, appointments with my specialist, further appointments with my support cast. I was in an appointment literally every day for months. It was non-stop and it was exhausting. So when it was all through, I rejected all of it. Yes, I’ve maintained the care and checkups that were necessary, but anything extra was unthinkable.

I started to feel the itch last September. I remember it. As we settled into that September is the other January feeling, I started to think back to times when I’d been on my game and keeping up with the care that is so meaningful to me. I think I just needed to give those feelings a little time to mature because as soon as I walked into Catalyst that day, I knew I was ready.

And I was.

My appointment today was refreshing, invigorating and motivating. I’m so excited with the ND I chose for care and I’m excited about our plans.

Ever wondered what it’s like to see an ND? Here’s a Q&A about just that with Dr. Shannon that I found.

Lots of water. Lots of sleep.

Honestly, I’d forgotten how hard it is to do a full clean up of my diet. Twenty-four hours after I started, the foggy, dull ache at the back of my neck from being caffeine free. I was reminded of the tough work ahead by mid-afternoon when I started to feel a little spacey. By the time I went to bed last night, I was best described as groggy. I woke up to much of the same.

Today, it’s been headache and out of body feelings and aches and stuffiness and nausea and cursing every single cup of coffee or sugary dessert or heavy carb product I have been allowing myself to consume.

I know it’s going to be over soon. If I recall correctly, things should start looking up by the end of the day tomorrow. In case I’m overly optimistic, Hillary all but promised me five days is the turnaround. No matter how long, I’ll just keep repeating that mantra until it happens.

Lots of water. Lots of sleep.

Kevin made Superfoods Soup from the Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow. cookbook and just omitted the canned tomatoes. (Also prohibited.) Bless his soul. 🙏🏻

Snow and the highlight of my weekend

If you live anywhere in the vicinity of the Pacific Northwest, I’m sure you have heard about the snow one thousand times already. It’s crazy. So crazy, in fact, that I went into Rogers Arena at about 11am today and it was sunny and there didn’t seem to be a cloud in the sky. It was a gorgeous day. When I came out maybe an hour and a half later, EVERYTHING had changed. The key was white, the winds were blowing and the snow was floating down. The first thing Cara said when we left the arena: “I didn’t think it was supposed to snow.” It wasn’t. I know because I’ve been watching the weather forecast like it’s my job, waiting and wishing for an opportunity to get out and run. I think that’s why I’m feeling so out of it these days – I need to move, damn it!

But speaking of jobs…imagine if you performed your job with the precision of a meteorologist. Cara was right – snow was NOT in the forecast, yet when we looked at our weather apps, they indicated there’d be snow for the remainder of the afternoon. And the end the the prediction keeps getting pushed back as we hit the market, but the snow hasn’t stopped. I mean, COME ON, MAN.

So, it’s snowing and snowing and I’m sure anxiety is rising in many who have to head into school or work in the morning. I’d already planned to work from home tomorrow so I’m off the hook, but I feel for everyone who’ll be waking up every hour tonight to take a peek out the window.

Snow in BC is no joke. People from the east love to mock how panic stricken these areas get, but I’m going to defend my people even though I don’t really count myself as someone who is particularly bothered by it. We get snow once or maybe twice a year. It’s IMPOSSIBLE to learn to properly deal with that whether driving or just getting by. If we had a bit more time with it, if it stayed for just a while longer, we’d be way more capable of coping. Go easy on us.

Anyway, it’ll be all anyone talks about related to the weekend, but it was just a fraction of it.

Today, we went to the Canucks season ticket holders open practice at Rogers Arena. We are some popcorn and a hot dog and watched some hockey drills. It was kind of interesting.

My real weekend highlight, though, was visiting Catalyst Kinetics which is the primary clinic where Kevin is being treated for his injuries. His care has spanned chiropractic, naturopathic and included nutrition and other health counselling.

From their website:

At Catalyst Kinetics in Burnaby, our team is interdisciplinary – doctors, chiropractors, physiologists, kinesiologists, therapists, trainers and coaches work side-by-side. Together, we explore who you are and oversee your progress each step of the way. As a team we unlock your genetic potential.

Yesterday, I went with Kevin for his spinal decompression appointment because he’s been raving about the place and I wanted to take a look. I met one of his doctors, Zain, and he was nice enough to give me a tour after Kevin’s treatment was done. The place is gorgeous. The hallways are lined with the jerseys of professional athletes who have been treated there – you could spend a lot of time checking them all out! There are several gyms, a small training pool and tons and tons of treatment rooms. I love their approach and how they share patients across treatment approaches. After we left, it only took me about thirty minutes to check out all the naturopaths who take appointment there, pick one and make an appointment. I was already in the market for a new ND so I am THRILLED.

Check out this virtual tour:

https://youtu.be/eYW2i4duVYs

What did you do this weekend? What was your highlight?

12.05.18

So, I sat there in my dermatologist’s office this morning and I realized that I had way more trauma wrapped up in my experience this summer than I’d ever stopped to realize. Not until the moment between when I sat across from him fully clothed and talking about what had happened since the last time we’d met and when I awaited his return while wearing nothing but a paper gown, was I reminded of the deep anxiety and fear I felt about getting another declaration that part of me needed to be cut away.

Thankfully, that wasn’t the case and I’ll be keeping all of my parts between now and my next appointment in June. No changes, no concerns, no putting anything in a jar. Phew.

As I arrived at work, I was greeted by the overwhelming generousity of others and that was a nice reminder of all the good there is in the world.

Tonight, I am thankful for a clean bill of (skin) health, that amazing people I know and the opportunity to support friends from afar. (Am I the only one who feels totally paralyzed by awkwardness in the middle of Facebook Live events?!?)

For what are you thankful today?

10.26.18

So, I feel like I told a bit of a mistruth yesterday. I said,

Regardless of the circumstances, I usually find myself feeling inspired and rejuvenated after they’re done. I know how weird that may sound, but it’s true. Whether it’s a checkup or a pap test or a surgery, I always feel like the more I know about my body, the better off I am.

So, that is largely true, BUT I’ve actually had some trauma lately which I haven’t quite copped to.

For the most part, I take any medical treatments or procedures in stride. I don’t get anxiety about them ahead of time and I am not too fussed about having to have something done. I don’t overreact or even sweat it at all. I show up at my allotted time and allow access to whatever body part is needed.

There’s a part of my melanoma story that I didn’t tell online and only shared with a couple of people: I got really woozy during both of the procedures I had earlier this year. By woozy, I mean that I started to feel a cold sweat and nearly passed out. It wasn’t a big deal – we paused the surgeries and the doctor was surprisingly good at calming me and getting us all back on track.

I’ve never had that reaction to ANYTHING before. Mostly I related it to the fact that because it is a teaching office and the student performed both surgeries, there was a lot more talking about what was going on. I’m a doer, not a talker and it turns out that trait rings true to my medical care as well.

This morning, I had my third needle poke in ten days. I’d gone for blood work on the 16th, had my flu shot two days ago and then had to go for different blood work this morning. I wasn’t scared and I wouldn’t even say I was bothered, but I did have a tiny, millisecond flash of anxiety about the pain of the needle and, shortly after that, I recognized that I’d had it about all three of these recent instances. It isn’t what I’m used to and that feels strange. I’m hoping that it’s something that’ll just go away with time. I like being nonchalant about my medical care. I like trusting in my caregivers and allowing them to do their thing without any feelings of reservation. I don’t really know what to make of it and I think I need to spend some time on what it means to me.

Do you have or have you ever felt anxiety around medical procedures or care? What did/do you do to manage it?

10.25.18

If you know me, you know that “my favourite doctor” is not a phrase or a title I take lightly. I am extremely critical of doctors and find that liking one is the exception more than the rule. But I have a couple of great specialists that I see and the one I saw today is by far my favourite. (No offense, to the other.)

Honestly, when I made this appointment, I was practically giddy. 60% of that was because I got to see him, 35% was because I got to see his staff, 5% was related to my health care.

Regardless of the circumstances, I usually find myself feeling inspired and rejuvenated after they’re done. I know how weird that may sound, but it’s true. Whether it’s a checkup or a pap test or a surgery, I always feel like the more I know about my body, the better off I am.

I used to have a naturopath who talked a lot about building a team. Unlike the team building that we talk about in sports or the “fun” activities you may be forced into at work, this is the kind of team that is put together to serve you and only you. As unique as we all our, so would be our teams. What I value in a caregiver is different from what someone else values, my needs are different than everyone else’s.

I’d once thought of that naturopath as the captain of my team, but that would be this doctor I saw today.

This is the first time I’ve seen him in just over a year and walking back into his office was like a reunion. I spent the first ten minutes catching up with everyone and finding out what had changed in that time – new equipment, new practices, who’d left, why. As I stood just inside the glass walled office manager’s office at the front, the doctor walked by and saw me. His face lit up and he waved. This, all of it, was nice and it was what I think healthcare should always be.

My appointment today was mainly a consult, a catch up, a where are we now and how to we move forward. I loved it. And I can’t wait to be back there again.

It also made me realize that I’ve been neglecting my team. We may be in a rebuild right now, but I’m excited to get back to it.

In a perfect world, my team includes:

  • A naturopath
  • An acupuncturist
  • A therapist
  • An esthetician
  • A family doctor
  • Required specialists

Who is on your team? What positions would you add?