My Summer Vacation – Part II
I took my Summer vacation early in the Spring to stay with my son and his family for an extended visit in New England. I had lived there for many years until family matters brought me back home to live. It was an especially exceptional visit because in the years passed my few visits back there were limited to very short lengths and usually centered on a specific busy event. When I moved away my son was barely 21 and single. I decided it was the right time to spend some quality time with him as a flourishing adult in his world.
Little did I know that in addition to a wonderful vacation I would be plagued with a bad mystery allergy and learn a very valuable humbling lesson.
I was so thrilled to be back there knowing I had weeks in front of me to fully enjoy the region I hold a fondness for, re-connect with precious friends and hang out with no pressure like one has to do for short visits.
My son had a small list of favorite dishes and baking he hoped I might indulge him in, if I felt like it. For this ‘ol mom it was music to my ears because it was exactly what I hoped to have the opportunity to do! It is such a warm feeling to almost go back in time except this time I appreciated cooking for him like I never had time to do when family life was so much busier and common. Now I see cooking for family as an opportunity to weave love into the ingredients and joy at seeing it appreciated. One of the perks of getting older is understanding the importance of small things we miss once they are gone and making sure they are not missed in the now.
It was such a treat to spend quality time, unhurried, for spontaneous chats about all kinds of things that don’t happen on the phone or texts.
I got to know his Lady much better with the same kind of chats. I found we had plenty in common and lots to talk about. What more can a parent ask for than to have their child grow up to be a happy adult with someone special to share their life with.
She had no problem with me taking over her kitchen on the nights I made dinner and appeared to enjoy the “comfort” foods that my son had grown up with. She is very adept in the kitchen and I was pleased to learn some tricks from her with renewed inspiration to try new things.
There was a downside in my visit, unfortunately. At the end of the first week I came down with a cold. I started to take some Echinacea pills my son had stocked up. I have been taking it in tincture (liquid) form for decades (only when feeling something coming on) and have become adept at knowing how much my body could safely handle.
A few days after I came down with the cold I started to develop a very itchy rash on my neck and face, accompanied by a noticeable puffy swelling, after sitting in the back yard for hours on a full sunny day. I had never experienced this before and I thought maybe I had gotten a “sun rash”. Yes, there is such a thing because I found it on the internet. I seemed to have most of the symptoms associated with it and it sure looked like it in the pictures offered. After 4-5 days of not being in the sun with no relief in sight I omitted that theory.
More research pointed towards a reaction to some sort of plant or tree in full Spring bloom. Since I had not been in that part of the country for a 1 ½ decades the thought was I had developed some sensitivity that had not affected me before. At the same time I heard my friend’s grandson had developed a mean poison ivy rash where he had not been in contact with the plant physically. She was told that someone mowing their lawn could cross the plant and emit the poison from the plant into the air. This contributed to the idea of some sort of air borne irritant to my dilemma.
I found out the household laundry detergent was heavy with additives that are not in my own “free and gentle” brand at home. So I rewashed all my clothes and bedding. A few more days later with no noticeable relief…another possibility tossed.
A visit to the local natural medicine shop had me trying an anti-allergy product. I took a whole bottle with recommended dosage and deduced my body was being assaulted from the outside and my immune system needed the boost badly.
I had been using my own tried and tested natural creams and ointments for relief but found none in them. In desperation I went to the drug store for more products. With the advice of the pharmacist I chose Gold Bond Intensive Healing and Aquaphor Advanced Healing Ointment. The Gold Bond did alleviate some of the maddening intense itching…to a point. It’s a good product and has been around since1882.
Some might ask why I did not go to a doctor. Call me stubborn but I have dealt with many afflictions without having to do that and successfully. Sure, there are times one just has to go. However, I felt that I would spend the rest of my precious vacation time getting scratched with needles visit to visit, and if they found the source of the allergy…only to get on a plane and go home.
The week before I was due to come home it began to subside enough that my face was not distorted with puffiness and the itching was better. We thought it was truly a “regional” reaction that was getting better because the seasonal pollens were subsiding by that time and upon my return home it would go away. Well…it did just that.
I was under the sad impression I was “allergic” to New England and could never return in the Spring.
Fast forward a couple months after my vacation. I woke up early one morning feeling that “I am coming down with something”. I was out of my Echinacea Tincture liquid and I remembered I still had some pills left from my visit east. I took 2 pills. Three hours later my face and neck began to itch in that way my body will never forget! It was the pills!
I went right to the internet and put the name of the company in. Very quickly I found an article that caught my interest. I read about the FDA coming down on some companies to pull their herbal pills from Walmart and CVS drug store. One of the companies was Spring Valley and listed amongst the herbs was Echinacea which was exactly what I had been taking at the onset of my cold on vacation. The article said that they could contain very little, if any, of the herb they claimed it contained and in its place added something entirely different. “Holy cow” I said! I had been torturing myself unknowingly all the while trying to find an answer topically and internally. I gave my body no chance to respond to my hopeful answers.
What I had done was after 10 days of taking the Echinacea for the cold, I stopped for 3 days, which is recommended. I started taking it again because it helps boost the white blood cells that aid the immune system.
This is where my ego comes into play. I have been following the natural route for so long that my arrogance in what I thought I knew had been seized by the reality of my situation and how it played out. I was reminded that any time someone has an allergic reaction…the medical world looks at anything new that has been added from regular routine. I did know that much! It was my blind faith in the herb Echinacea that allowed me to not suspect that it was a brand I had never used before.
It was also a reminder of however great the internet information highway can be…there is a double edge sword when someone is trying to self-diagnose. I am one that finds it extremely difficult, in the throes of my misery, to be objective while trying to figure out exactly how I feel and what I can do about it.
With 30 years’ experience of using natural health remedy’s, I have seen particular products pulled from shelves over years. My source of the use of particular products came from Naturopaths and educated people about the safety and proper use of them. They were a part of my everyday medicine cabinet while raising my children. I did not agree with their actions in taking the choice away from us and in many fields I have not been alone.
However, I do agree there needs to be regulations enforced as to the content labels and the loopholes that allow companies to distribute lies as to what exactly we are paying for.
My conviction in using natural products remains. My complacency in blind trust has been amplified.
I wish you abundant sunshine, peace and happiness on your path!
Webmistress – The Majickal Garden
I recently accompanied a friend to a class for back problems. The speaker was a physical therapist that specialized in sports injuries. It was, for me, a good reason to catch some girlfriend time over a meal and I hoped to hear something of interest.
Although the speaker was good with just the right level of enthusiasm for his subject matter, I found myself listening out of one ear as my thoughts kept tugging me away. Then he switched gears and started talking about his 5 year old son and how he is always moving his body about even when he was standing in one place. He would be wiggling, standing on one foot, making faces, or jumping up and down, etc. He told how in observing the physical actions of the boy and how he decided to do a study of it in relation to adults. His conclusion was that the older the body the more important it is to keep moving. O.K…this is not new! However, he did have my attention if nothing more than curiosity as to how this observance of his active child was going to translate to be of interest to me.
I am now expecting him to go into a new presentation of a “new exercise regime” that would naturally be difficult to maintain…or something like that! I was wrong. He did say that exercise in any form is very good and spent a few minutes speaking about a few of them including Pilates and Yoga. Then he got to the point.
What he was referring to was conscious movement in everyday life. He asked us to become aware of how we were sitting in our (folding) chairs. Were we leaning back with shoulders hunched or maybe slumped a bit with an elbow thrown over the back of the chair? He mimed how some of us might be sitting in our recliners or couches at home where some might be hunched, slumped and draped almost becoming part of the furniture.
I noticed in the class some of us were sitting upright with our backs straight. This was the position he said we should be sitting in. I must admit with the past back problems that brought much pain, and many years passing with it; was exactly the way that became my habit. I could not sit back on any couch let alone slouch! Consciously thinking about proper posture had become my normal.
Good posture contributes to a healthier spine, better digestion and circulation, and helps bones and joints in correct alignment so our muscles are used correctly.
The speaker talked about using our muscles all the time…with awareness in different activities. When we get up out of our chairs we should use our leg muscles to lift us up instead of heaving ourselves up with the arms off the furniture or using our arms to press up. The thought being the more it’s consciously practiced the easier and beneficial for body strength. Almost sit on a chair and use thigh muscles to stand back up; repeating throughout the day.
While standing, bending down, or reaching up high, being conscious of our posture…shoulders back, butt and stomach tucked a bit enables better muscle control and awareness of the body.
He also encouraged practicing standing on one foot frequently. Stand with weight balanced evenly then lift your foot a few inches off the floor with arms to your side. Hold this position for 5 secs., if you can, and work towards 30 secs. Repeat with other leg. Repeat 1 or 2 more times, if you can.
As you do this exercise, focus on a spot straight ahead. Try to maintain good posture throughout by keeping your chest lifted, your shoulders down and back, and your abdominal muscles braced. And breathe comfortably. You could also use a chair or counter for balance if its too hard. Hold for up to 60 seconds if its too easy. Lifting leg to the front or side could be a variation if its comfortable for you.
This exercise is easy to incorporate into each day (multiple times) and it will get easier with time. This is of course for good balance as well as using muscles to maintain this pose for any length of time! The older we get the more balance can become a big issue. He noted many falls with the elderly are caused by this. It also helps strengthen the ankles which is important for balance as well.
If you are young and maintain an active lifestyle you can make sure some type of balance training is added to your activity of choice. You are never to young or old to benefit.