Sunday, June 23, 2013

Don't hope Decide!!!

As usual in my meanderings of Facebook and the internet I came across another gem of social observation. So often the posts I see are things to glance at and think "oh that's nice", or "that's so pretty", but this reached out to me and left me thinking. 

To be clear, I did not create the following anecdote and do not claim any ownership of it, but wanted to share this with any and all who might happen upon my blog in the hope that it will make your day a little brighter and your sense of hope in the power and possibility of love a little stronger.

(If you're interested below this story will be my observations, thoughts, feelings etc.)


While waiting to pick up a friend at the airport in Portland, Oregon, I had one of those life changing experiences that you hear other people talk about. You know, the kind that sneaks up on you unexpectedly? Well, this one occurred a mere two feet away from me!

Straining to locate my friend among the passengers deplaning through the jetway, I noticed a man coming toward me carrying two light bags. He stopped right next to me to greet his family.
First, he motioned to his youngest son (maybe six years old) as he laid down his bags. They gave each other a long, and movingly loving hug. As they separated enough to look in each other's face, I heard the father say, "It's so good to see you, son. I missed you so much!" His son smiled somewhat shyly, diverted his eyes, and replied softly, "Me too, Dad!"

Then the man stood up, gazed in the eyes of his oldest son (maybe 9 or 10) and while cupping his son's face in his hands he said, "You're already quite the young man. I love you very much Zach!" They too hugged a most loving, tender hug. His son said nothing. No reply was necessary.

While this was happening, a baby girl (perhaps one or one and a half) was squirming excitedly in her mother's arms, never once taking her little eyes off the wonderful sight of her returning father. The man said, "Hi babygirl!" as he gently took the child from her mother. He quickly kissed her face all over and then held her close to his chest while rocking her from side to side. The little girl instantly relaxed and simply laid her head on his shoulder and remained motionless in total pure contentment.

After several moments, he handed his daughter to his oldest son and declared, "I've saved the best for last!" and proceeded to give his wife the longest, most passionate kiss I ever remember seeing. He gazed into her eyes for several seconds and then silently mouthed, "I love you so much!." They stared into each other's eyes, beaming big smiles at one another, while holding both hands. For an instant, they reminded me of newlyweds but I knew by the age of their kids that they couldn't be. I puzzled about it for a moment, then realized how totally engrossed I was in the wonderful display of unconditional love not more than an arm's length away from me. I suddenly felt uncomfortable, as if I were invading something sacred, but was amazed to hear my own voice nervously ask, "Wow! How long have you two been married?"

"Been together fourteen years total, married twelve of those." he replied without breaking his gaze from his lovely wife's face. "Well then, how long have you been away?" I asked. The man finally looked at me, still beaming his joyous smile and told me, "Two whole days!"
Two days?! I was stunned! I was certain by the intensity of the greeting I just witnessed that he'd been gone for at least several weeks, if not months, and I know my expression betrayed me. So I said almost offhandedly, hoping to end my intrusion with some semblance of grace (and to get back to searching for my friend), "I hope my marriage is still that passionate after twelve years!"

The man suddenly stopped smiling. He looked me straight in the eye, and with an intensity that burned right into my soul, he told me something that left me a different person. He told me, "Don't hope friend...decide." Then he flashed me his wonderful smile again, shook my hand and said, "God bless!." With that, he and his family turned and energetically strode away together.

I was still watching that exceptional man and his special family walk just out of sight when my friend came up to me and asked, "What'cha looking at?" Without hesitating, and with a curious sense of certainty, I replied, "My future!"

-Michael Hardgrove-

 Most people who have had conversations with me about relationships and love etc. will say I am an incurable romantic and up until a couple of years ago I would have agreed. But if I were to describe myself now I would say that, as I have grown up and grown older, I have become at the very least a skeptical romantic.

Although I hold on to the sweet dreams of soul-mates and love at first sight and being swept off my feet, as happens in all the great romance stories, I know it rarely happens that way. I feel as though the world in its harsh reality chips away at those daydreams with the multitude of stories and examples that demonstrate the opposite of love. Too many stories of relationships that end badly, of abuse, of heartbreak and other terrible things. All these things resist the rose-tinted view of the perfection of love and relationships.

The terrible stories, statistics and situations that could make me afraid or disillusioned don't entirely succeed  because somewhere between my incurable optimism, my romantic streak and the inspiration that those quiet but constant love stories offer, it is enough to keep my faith in the possibility of love and romance alive. These happy stories are there to remind us that it never hurts to hope and to keep seeking the possibility of these positive ideals. They remind us of the power of family, of dedication, forgiveness, trust and commitment. All things that are harder to keep hold of, especially when the world creates so many obstacles, temptations and trials. But as in the moral of this story, it is not a matter of hoping and dreaming alone, but of making a decision, a decision to keep believing and keep trying.

Having faith and inspiration from these stories is what keeps people like me seeking romance and love in its various forms. But it is balanced with the acknowledgement that effort, determination and the teamwork of all those involved in the relationship are what really make it special. These are the things I took away from reading this sweet little story and I hope to combine these lessons with my life observations as I continue striving to  build extraordinary relationships and connections with people.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Tegan M- Health detective

After all my bladder health troubles started to really bother me I started doing some serious internet detective work and below is some of what I found or figured out along the way.

Suggestions and info from my research;
  •  It’s always good to consult with the appropriate health professionals and doctors when considering trying new medications or supplements, particularly if you have existing medication or other health issues it may interact with.
  • Learning to recognise the signs and symptoms early, according to how your body presents them can make a big difference in how quickly it can be treated and you can recover.  This is really important as bladder infections and UTI’s can progress to kidney infections, which can be serious and do long term harm if untreated.
  • If your bladder infections or UTI’s are associated with having a catheter check whether you are using one that produces the least irritation e.g. silicone versus rubber catheters (I find the rayleen/silicone works best).
  • Try to maintain a steady intake of water (preferably) or juices, tea etc. This will help keep the body hydrated and the bladder constantly being flushed through.
  • Minimising extra sugar and caffeine is advised, as sugar can encourage bacterial and fungal problems. Caffeine is a diuretic and can cause bladder spasms and irritation. Also avoiding alcohol if you have an infection or limiting intake if you have a catheter is a good idea, as alcohol is an irritant and often has high sugar levels.
  • Don’t put off using the bathroom as bacteria can build up if the bladder is held for too long. This also counts for people with catheters, so ensure there is good drainage and that the system is emptied regularly.
  • General hygiene is important so correct bathroom techniques and washing is essential. This includes changing catheter bags regularly (I have been told once a week).  For women, changing sanitary pads etc. regularly helps to avoid bacteria build up.
  •  Underwear made from cotton or with cotton between the legs (wash with gentle cleaners) is important as it reduces the chance of irritation from clothing fibres and wash powders. Also not always wearing tight fitting pants may also help the area from being overly suitable for bacteria.
  • Do your own research, ask questions of professionals until you find a system of health management that works for you (I didn’t think it was possible in this case, but I’m hopeful I was wrong).
  •   Below are some natural options that have been indicated as helpful; 
  1. Vitamin C- 5000mg or more for immune support and bladder cleansing,
  2. Pineapple with antibiotics- Bromelian enzyme may help fight UTI’s,
  3. Blueberries- similar to cranberries with cleansing and antioxidant effect,
  4. Baking Soda- teaspoon full in water neutralizes acid to reduce discomfort and makes bladder environment less suitable for bacteria.  
  5. Buchu- disinfectant and improves urine flow,
  6. St Johns Wort- anti- inflammatory, may help reduce spasming, and is antibacterial
  7. Billberry- antioxidant and anti- inflammatory
  8. Lemon balm- anti-inflammatory properties, antiviral.

A Cranberry a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

For over a year I have been putting up with almost continuous bladder infections and other related problems. These have been initiated because I have a catheter, because of nerve damage relating to my disability. As a result of these infections I have spent weeks and weeks on various antibiotics trying to get well. After such an extended period of problems and having researched both natural and medicinal options I realized there was one main reoccurring suggestion, both from doctors and natural health advisers. This reoccurring suggestion was cranberry!

Being who I am and not being a fan of cranberry in general I had for a long time dismissed this option. In reality I can’t stand drinking cranberry juice due to its strong taste and weird texture, which was enough to put me off the idea of this as a cure. But after such a long time of infections and pain it had driven me to a point of desperation to find an answer that would work long term.

 After looking through available research and suggestions I found out that there are several plant extract oils that are considered beneficial in reducing the rate of infection or helping to eliminate an existing infection. Although there was some opinion and data about the effects of these things, the evidence seemed largely inconclusive. Some of these natural options included oregano oil, high vitamin C doses, pineapple, blueberries, baking soda and a number of others. But when I questioned the naturopath about the concentrates or supplements she was concerned about interactions with the other medications I take (my blood pressure/ heart medication). So at that time my only option seemed to be either to continue in the never-ending downwards spiral of infections, or to be more open to trying things like cranberry which as far as I know is safe for pretty much all cases.

Speaking further with the naturopath, I was fortunately told that I would not be stuck drinking litres of cranberry juice to get the effect, but was introduced to cranberry concentrate capsules. The ones I am currently using are called Thompson’s Ultra Cranberry 17 000. When it comes to natural remedies I tend to be open minded but somewhat skeptical as to how effective they will be. I guess after being reliant on strong antibiotic treatments for various health problems and infections over the years it is probably to be expected. Also my difficulty with swallowing tablets or capsules over a certain size tends to have an influence on what I can or choose to take. 

If I am unable to swallow a tablet because of its size we have had to resort to crushing them into powder and trying to disguise the taste and texture with various substances like yoghurt or ice-cream. (I am sure anyone with children or those with swallowing difficulties will know what a problem and how unpleasant this can be). Fortunately these cranberry concentrates come in capsules which have the advantage of being easier to disperse through a substance like yoghurt and also do not taste overly unpleasant. 

Nearly two months since my last diagnosed bladder or kidney infection I have noticed there has been an overall improvement in the comfort levels of my bladder. Previously I would have episodes of spasming pain or stinging/ burning caused by irritation or oversensitivity due to bacteria or other irritants. Since I have been taking the cranberry capsules this has improved significantly and still no sign of infection settling in (keeping my fingers crossed). I checked with my GP a couple of weeks ago as to what signs might have been indicated in a sample I provided and was informed that the simple test they carried out showed no signs that would indicate infection. This is the first time in over a year that there had not been a positive result for signs of infection. 

Although it is early days I feel like this hiatus from infection and health issues connected with my catheter is worth celebrating. I am determined not to take this reprieve from issues for granted and am continuing to maintain my dosage of cranberry capsules. If that is what will help me to avoid almost continuous doctors’ visits and antibiotics I am certainly willing to do it.