Elysia B

A Journey through the looking glass - learning to balance and accept the Unknown.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Wasted Potentials?

I fell down a rabbit hole today, I read the Upworthy.com article titled: They Show What's Wrong With The Way The World Treats Girls Without Even Saying A Word.  The title kinda says it all, so by the end of the article there are two organizations you can look further into: "Organizations like The Girl Effect and Malala's Movement stand up for the health and well-being of girls around the world.." Both of which have more articles that open our eyes up to, just how poorly other women are being treated in the world we live in.

The girl effect has numerous statistic's and projects that gives you a better look into the dangers girls face while also providing a new perspective that's worth considering. In the Girl Declaration they feature 5 Goals and 7 principles, that can create change towards a better future for girls and end poverty in the world.

The point that stood out to me most was that they point it out in more financial terms which you can see in the above image that reads,

"The Return on Investing in Adolescent Girls is High, so are the Costs of Excluding Them. Just one additional year of secondary schooling boosts girls’ future earning potential by 15-25 percent. In Kenya, that means national income could jump $3.4 billion – almost 10% – if all 1.6 million Kenyan girls completed secondary school and the 220,000 adolescent mothers avoided pregnancy. In India, the stakes are even higher. With nearly 4 million adolescent mothers annually, India loses $383 billion in potential lifetime income."

Thats a big cost, and it continues further to show how,  "Investing in Girls Helps Solve Global Changes. Investing in adolescent girls is critical to a sustainable future for us all. Adolescent girls can accelerate change on issues ranging from climate change to peace and security. These issues play out on a daily basis in adolescent girls’ lives, yet we fail to make investments that target the unique needs of specific populations of adolescent girls. Building adolescent girls’ capacities accelerates change today and will equip them in the future to make informed decisions about issues such as land resource management, innovative solutions for a green economy and leading more equitable societies. " Continue reading here, Its worth the read or at least a brief skim.

I love that there are organizations in place putting these things together but they need funding to continue, why not support them this christmas season? I find it interesting that in america we focus largely on areas like climate change, environmental issues, food allergies, and  animal testing. There are so many climate change focuses that they even thought of introducing carbon taxes, on most make up brands theres bound to be something featuring animal testing and in almost all coffee shops there dietary fads that flourish. But aside from these popular issues, what about the problems actual people face? 

Aren't these people worth putting the time and energy into helping rather than primarily focusing on  environmental or animal movements. Because IF women are educated in other countries, THEN there would be more brain power going towards all these other causes. And, with all that brain power possibilities would become larger, and opportunities to create a bigger longer lasting change could effect those other areas. Would we not bring a bigger end to these popular issues if ALL women were educated and could then have the opportunities to help in coming up with better solutions? If we look at the UN Statistics on literacy to get a better all around look at the effect on the globe: 

So we can see that if there is 17% of the world's population that are illiterate, and 2/3 are women,  that makes up 11% of the world. Thus,  if 17% of the world is illiterate that's 17% of the brain power we're missing out on, isn't that worth changing or at the very least considering changing. Perhaps a literacy tax would be more beneficial than a carbon tax...

We waste food in america, it's just a fact we are privileged and grow up with increasing numbers of health issues such as obesity, which is a direct result of our privilege. But considering the global stats  of illiterate people, do we not also waste the potential of that 17% when we fail to aid them? 

These are just my thoughts, after reading the article what are yours? 
~Elysia B


Thursday, 4 December 2014

Is there a way to block pain -- true or false

New Research

Recently published on Nov. 26th there was a new medical discovery that seems intriguingly like a glimmer of hope for those of us with all sorts of pain. In Saint Louis University, a way to block the pain pathways in animals. This would mean that they are stopping neuropathic pain at an animal level which is promising and hopeful for humans. You can read the article here, its titled 'Off switch' for pain discovered: Activating the adenosine A3 receptor subtype is key to powerful pain relief

So if there is this way to block pain in tiny animals do you think they will find a way to help humans? 

It seems to me that our brains are far more complex to those of rats with brains the size of my thumb. Could there really be hope, or is this a cruel statement prematurely made? 

~Elysia B 

Friday, 14 November 2014

How the common cold effects Fibromyalgia

Today the neuralgia (? if thats what this is) combined with the fibromyalgia and have stolen my energy. The night before was long and painful as I was up crying, and holding all the parts that hurt. The electric flares up and down my spine shooting to my ears, head, hands, feet, back, and chest. It was one of those nights when the pain is so bad that you can't fight tears and fears at the same time and so they both rush you and flood your systems. After getting 4 hours of sleep between the crying, the shooting pains and coughing. It wasn't till later when I was reminded that the endocrinologist I just waited 2months to see was sick last week when I saw her. Most likely, I have ironically caught a cold from my Dr.... Colds are different for people like me though, they affect all my systems. 

A cold for someone with fibromyalgia, is like a child in a room full of buttons and being told not to push them. The curiosity over comes them, turning the pain nob up and pushing the thyroid leaver back and forth, twisting the temperature up and down, seeing what happens when nerve buttons are played with like a whack-a-mole game. You get the picture..... its not fun. When a cold hits its best to rest, realize limitations and give your body the extra care it needs. 

I had big plans for today, I was going to go to class, write 2 papers, go to my volunteer hours with Victim Services, and help train a new volunteer. I had big plans...its date night too...yet I am confined within my body and plans will have to wait. I will sit in this pain today and ride out the storm as that is all that one can do. But on another note, while in this pain I wonder where is the line I should not cross? How will I know when it gets to bad and I should go in to the Dr and seek medical help? The trouble with being in this kind of pain is that I didn't feel my gallbladder when it got bad enough to go in, I am in a constant state of pain that I no longer recognize when I should seek help. I went into a emerge after the pain became unbearable, they drugged me, and after a couple of hours of blood tests  (and five different needles) they concluded that the flu/ sinus infection had aggravated the already inflamed trigeminal nerve and fibromyalgia. I was sent home with stronger pain killers and no resolution. This is the risk of going in, because when its chronic they have difficult ruling out symptoms as it more often than not all comes on at once with no key answer.
All I know is that today is a rough day, when the shirt I am wearing hurts my skin, everything hurts intensely and I am at a 9.5/10 and my normal is 7 so I wait. With high hopes of it subsiding and going on with my day. Until then, I shall alternate between knitting, and curling into a ball to cry. 

While I'm like this I like to distract myself with hilarious things that I find amusing. I find that laughter is the best medicine for pain, as just because I am stuck in this body does not mean my mind is trapped too. Your mind can be a powerful tool which allows you freedoms you may not be able to reach just yet. However you can still learn new skills while your body is in pain, if you allow it to. Languages, knitting, crochet, courses on any number of things, and of course TED Talks, your brain can be used to learn breathing techniques to deal with the pain better. And on days when you are not sick you may have a new language to try out, or a scarf to keep you warm when you finally get out and about. Its easy to get depressed about your situation when sickness hits someone already dealing with chronic illness, its hard to get back up but I promise you you can. I have fallen many times but gotten back up, at the moment I'm wiped out by a tiny flu bug and will continue to fight to get back up. The flu can send someone with chronic conditions into the hospital as there are more risks involved. While I am down I work hard on essays for classes, and focus on what I can do, thats the hard part. Our brains naturally focus on what we lost, or are losing, but challenge yourself to get back up, to look at what is still possible. I feel as though my motto for life is like this picture these days:


P.S.    A few pictures I found funny:

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Blood Work Advancements

Advancements in blood work analysis excites me, because I've been a glorified lab rat or chronic pain patient, with multiple things that need routine checking. (such as various thyroid levels, iron levels, crp, ana, ena etc.) I've had to learn what different lab results mean, through wikipedia, and other medical research websites. But at the end of the long medical jargon definitions and explanation of numbers I am almost always left asking what are my tests really telling me?

Its great that there have been ways like www.myehealth.ca to find out online what my new test results are, but there may be an easier way to understand what they mean. It's one thing to have it accessible but its even better to have it legible and understandable. It's like having a book thats been translated from Arabic to English. Go read this article about Blood Tests getting a makeover and becoming more readable to the average joe. I just read it, and it excites me because it could be a large medical advancement causing patients to understand results in a simple way.

It means I can now make sense of the numbers in a way that I understand without having to spend hours reading up on a tiny test. Or trying to understand what the Dr said with his big words. At the end of which I would have wasted hours trying to interpret inconclusive results. All in all, its definitely worth checking it out for yourself, cause this is pretty awesome! When your done looking come back and let me know what are your thoughts are on it all? Below I've posted some of the pictures and feel free to use them and interpret your own tests, with the help of them. Also a handy tool to use in this discovery process is a converter to understand your levels in the right measurements. For example my levels of HDL were in mmol/l but with this handy converter I could type in my results and get it converted to mg/dl which is what these charts are in.  

"The Basic Workup : The standard blood workup takes more than 30 measurements and can go on for more than four pages. All sorts of things can turn up in the report; the challenge for physician and patient alike is to find the signal within the noise."

"The Heart Disease Test

Alongside cholesterol tests and high-blood-pressure monitoring, the c-reactive protein, or CRP, test is widely used to spot people at risk for heart disease, the leading cause of death in the US."

"The Prostate Test

Short for prostate-specific antigen, the PSA test is one of the most common workups for men over 40—even though its reliability as a predictor of prostate cancer is controversial."

There is an article here about making this a reality.
The man behind the ideas company is here.

Monday, 20 October 2014

MRI Results

Current updates on my journey through chronic pain, include (1) the flu during midterm season (2) trigeminal neuralgia flares up and an apparent degenerative disc. due to MRI results.

1)This flu has lasted at least a week n a bit and has been kind enough to join me through midterms with a side of brain fog that makes everything fuzzy. Thus in between intimate dates with my washroom I've been studying for midterms and desperately trying to focus. While taking exuberant amounts of vitamins, soup and green tea. I am doing my best, and when that fails I watch funny John Oliver video's and pin funny jokes to make me laugh :)  

2) The MRI results showed an inflamed trigeminal nerve explains the paralyzing pains I've had in my head lately and I would explain it myself but I found I don't remember a lot of what the Dr told me as brain fog seems to cloud it out. However Ainsworth institute explains it as being, "also known as tic douloureux, trigeminal neuralgia is a neuropathic disorder involving the trigeminal nerve (the 5th cranial nerve) that has been diagnosed as among the most painful conditions known to mankind. While its overall estimated incidence is low (1 in 20,000), there may be significantly more people suffering from this due to misdiagnosis. Patients with frequently describe stabbing, burning, electrical shocks, shooting pains in the distribution of the trigeminal nerve that can last seconds to hours. Things as harmless as the wind or chewing have been known to bring on the symptoms. Several theories exist as to the cause, but as of yet there is no consensus." This seems to be somewhat related to the neuropathic pains that I've been suffering.  Yet life goes on, my Dr. has lowered my Lyrica dose down to 300mg in the morning and upped the Nortriptyline  to 30 mg at night to help with the pain. Then also added in Glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM for the degenerative disc. Currently the Pain Specialist wants to pursue looking into the possibility of MS. And the Endocrinologist is looking into the reasoning behind my swollen thyroid, decreased function, multiple nodules and their sizes. So that is the medical side of life, and now back to studying, through brain fog to attempt midterms tomorrow. 

~Elysia B 

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Summer discoveries: Brownies, Knitted shapes, and Frozen herbs

Top discoveries this summer:

1. Coconut Flour Brownies:

A handy tip for using or substituting coconut flour:

  •   use 1 egg to every 1/4 cup of coconut flour  required. 
The recipe that I used to try it out was pinned on pintrest and can be found here, although I altered it a bit as you can see below and it was still amazing. Yet a tip about this recipe is that I found it was quite dry and crumbly so be forewarned. Perhaps coconut oil and an egg per 1/4 cup of dry ingredients would have been better. I will try it again, as it was so delicious that even the crumbs were inhaled.   

Coconut Flour Brownies.
    makes one 8x8 or 9x9 pan
    1/2 cup  butter (coconut oil)
    3/4 cup  brown sugar
    2 eggs
    1/2 tsp  vanilla extract
    1/3 heaping cup  cocoa powder
    1/4 cup  organic coconut flour
    1/2 tsp  baking powder
    1/2 tsp  baking soda
    1/4 cup  dark chocolate chunks

To make your brownies:
  1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2.  In a medium bowl, use a mixer to cream butter with sugar, until light and fluffy.
  3.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each one.
  4.  Add vanilla extract.
  5.  In another bowl, sift cocoa powder and coconut flour to remove lumps.
  6.  Stir flour mixture into wet mixture and mix until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
  7.  Pour into a greased/oiled 8x8 or 9x9 pan, depending on how thick you want your brownies. Sprinkle with chopped nuts if desired.
  8.  Bake for about 30-40 minutes or until center is slightly set and springy, and the sides are pulling away from the pan.
  9.  Cool and enjoy!

2. Knitting a Hexagon Blanket:

After seeing it on pinterest and then being frustrated by only finding crochet patterns my search has ended and I have found that brilliant knitting pattern! So now I can begin a new project for my favourite old yarns to get used up by! Here is the pattern copied from Knitty, Vintage, and Rosy.

One Hexagon requires about 12 yards of wool

Cast on 79 stitches.

Row 1. And every odd row, Purl.

Row 2. K2T, K 10, *Slip 1, K2T, PSSO, K10. Repeat *four times. Slip 1, K1, PSSO.

Row 3. Purl

Row 4. K2T, K8, *Slip 1, K2T, PSSO, K8. Repeat *four times. Slip 1, K1, PSSO.

Row 5. Purl

Row 6. K2T, K6, *Slip 1, K2T, PSSO, K6. Repeat *four times. Slip 1, K1, PSSO.

Row 7. Purl

Row 8. K2T, K4, *Slip 1, K2T, PSSO, K4. Repeat *four times. Slip 1, K1, PSSO.

Row 9. Purl

Row 10. K2T, K2, *Slip 1, K2T, PSSO, K2. Repeat *four times. Slip 1, K1, PSSO.

Row 11. Purl

Row 12. K2T, *Slip 1, K2T, PSSO. Repeat *four times. Slip 1, K1, PSSO.

Row 13. Purl

Row 14. Slip 1, K2T, PSSO, Slip 1, K2T, PSSO, K1.

Break wool. Leave a twelve inch tail. Run end through remaining 3 stitches. Draw close and seam two edges together. Leave end for joining next hexagon.

The only problem is my pentagons are hexagons and I didn't notice the difference till i attempted to pull them together...I think I misunderstood a knitting term and instead of PSSO I may have passed one over, knitted the next and then passed the one back over the one I just knitted.....SOO I have a lovely Pentagon pattern now :) 

3. How to Freeze herbs for the winter 

1. Pluck all the bigger leaves and leave the smaller ones to grow
2. With your pile of bigger leaves and a knife, dice them into smaller bits
3. Melt butter 1/4 cup or so
4. In a ziploc bag dump in the chopped herbs and add melted butter 
5. lay flat in the freezer 
After a day or two you'll have fresh frozen herbs, freezing them will lock in the flavours. When you'd like to use them simply break of a chunk and add to the frying pan :)


P.S. Pictures will be added soon 

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

A quick Update

Dr. Update:

Went to the walk-in Dr to review my ultimately low thyroid levels and he starts off telling me how the Hashimoto's is effecting me and how my thyroid may be coming to it's end. Politely I ask how long it has and he states that based on the levels maybe a week or two and then it will be dead and turn into full blown Hypothyroid. Later the following week I see my Pain Specialist and he tells me that my belly swelling is do to the Pain med's (Lyrica) having Plateau'd  and becoming less effective which has spurred on the development of more swelling and cognitively impairing symptoms. Which explains why I keep getting asked if I'm pregnant, not cool body, not cool. Isn't that a side effect everyone wants at this age... I'd say it was a below the belt symptom haha. Well that's the news oh  and I'm also deficient in multiple area's so now I've added CLA, Selenium, Chromium to the docket of morning pills and will be started on a new pain med and decrease the old Lyrica.

 In other words I will be re-experiencing the medication altering effects so we'll see how that adventure goes. It's always a dangerous trip when sailing into the sea of side effects. Your body takes on a state of illness until the storm clears and as a ship can get turned around in the fog, the side effects of new drugs and side effects of old drugs mingle and I couldn't say which is effecting me and which is not. As I'm certain they are both at war inside me and I just need to wait it out and get back to the harbour.
~Elysia B

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