Daily Affirmation

The best things in life are free.
The second best are very expensive.
- Coco Chanel

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

An Apple A Day...

This may be a weird post for some of you.  Feel free to skim, ignore, laugh, whatever your fancy.  I've harped enough lately about health and finding relief from RA, and also about my dad and his trials.  Yesterday was kind of an extraordinary day.

 Mom and Dad on Dad's 84th birthday - having frozen bananas on Balboa Island

For months now, I've been trying to get Dad to see a certain holistic "doctor" for lack of a better term.  She is also a friend, and yesterday was the day.  Dad has probably one of the best oncologists that money can buy.  His doc is such a nice man, so compassionate and kind and brilliant.  But kind of old school.  And the treatment is a misery.  I'm not criticizing - really, I'm not.  I just think that there are so many other options available for treatment other than the big three - surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.  Dad has exhausted all of those, and is currently on a regimen of what is essentially a low dose chemotherapy called Xtandi.  It is very VERY expensive.  It's barely keeping the cancer at bay.  And he feels like crap.  No energy, no zest for much at all.  He is up almost every hour at night and doesn't get a good night's sleep.  No wonder there is no energy, and his day (after his daily gym time!) is spent mostly sleeping.  It's heartbreaking to watch.

I have long been interested in "alternative" methods of dealing with disease.  Literally ALL of them start with a radical diet change.  Lots of juicing.  Lots of organic.  Lots of reading labels and avoiding anything processed or with ingredients you can't pronounce or recognize.  It often times involves lots of expensive supplements to build up those levels in your body that have been so depleted and ravaged by chemotherapy and radiation.  Now, in my dad's case, he is fortunate in that he has always exercised and eaten in a pretty healthy way (with various detours here and there into Sugarland - he has a famous sweet tooth.)  He has never smoked and doesn't drink.  When he had his fat index and muscle mass measured recently, the nurse told him he had the body of a 57 year old.  If only...  But for just a second he stood a little taller, proud of taking such good care of himself all of his 84 years.

So yesterday we went the holistic route, Dad a little afraid that his oncologist would disown him.  She took a thorough history, perused his latest labs, and then performed "muscle testing" on him.  Now if you haven't heard of this, it's a method where you hold a substance (in this case, each of the supplements he was currently taking) and she touches various points on your body while you try to resist her pushing your arm down.  Dad right away pronounced it "hocum" in that lack of tact way he has.  Mary just smiled and explained that in eastern medicine the philosophy is that your body is kind of a miracle of creation - a divine creation in fact -  and it knows what it needs to be healthy, even if your conscious mind does not.  If you are in contact with a substance that your body doesn't need or like, it's like a distraction or interruption in your ability to control holding your arm up.  That gave Dad something to think about.  Some of his supplements seemed to be just fine, and others were not.  For those, she found others to take the place of them, and also muscle tested those for compatibility and dosage before finalizing her selection.

Then Dad underwent an acupuncture treatment.  She concentrated on the top of his head (he is suffering from a lot of cognitive memory loss since chemo) his lower abdomen (he does have prostate cancer) on his lower legs on the inside and outside, and the inside and outside of his ankles.  He relaxed and had a nice nap for about 30 minutes.  The purpose was explained to be a way of opening up the circulation and allowing good nutrition to get to all of these areas to enrich his body and help him become stronger.  When the treatment was over, his face was all rosy.  Mary explained that the treatment had, indeed, done it's job and circulation had improved and was raring to go.

We discussed nutrition and the need to consume more fruits and vegetables than grains and carbohydrates.  His diet is pretty well balanced, however, so it won't be much of a change for him.  I have a feeling that she knew he was pretty overloaded with new and confusing info, and also the holidays are coming.  Let him get through them before lowering the boom on sugar and sweets.

Dad was pretty quiet on the way home.  And actually, after 4 hours in Dr Mary's office, we were all pretty worn out.  I took them home and wound my own way home to a nice comforting treat of French Apple sheep's milk yogurt that I buy each week at the Farmer's Market.  We ALL had a lot to think about. 

I have been corresponding with someone I buy essential oils from, and she has become a friend.  She is trying to teach me, little by little, about energy healing, herbal remedies, and proper use of essential oils.  They have some wonderful courses in this (as I think I've mentioned before) in a little place called Clifton, Idaho.  It is accessible only by car (airports are 30-40 miles away) and there are no hotels.  Kind of impossible to take a week long course when you live in California and there are no hotels.  Still trying to figure that one out.

Now my husband is amusedly tolerant of my passion to learn more about this eastern medicine philosophy.  He cannot deny, however, that these herbs and oils have corrected sinus and ear infections, as well as a recent cold he caught while we were in Utah a week or so ago.  He's not so on board with the muscle testing (and neither was I, quite frankly, until just recently) but he never gives me a hard time and keeps an open mind.  I say there's nothing like having a chronic illness that western medicine can't seem to more than put a band aid on to make you look for other alternatives.

I watched a series of videos recently called "Quest for the Cures."  It was all about alternative cancer treatments, and people, there are some exciting things being done.  Different methods with different cancers.  On that stood out was controlling sugar in your diet (because the tumor feeds on sugar) and at the same time using insulin to control the sugar in the blood.  The tumor literally starves and dies.  I wish I could remember what type of cancer that was for, but it was an amazing treatment.  I was so excited and grateful all at the same time.  So many great physicians and great minds trying to stop this horrible disease.  And they're succeeding.  The regimen is usually tough: very strict diet, lots of supplements.  The basic philosophy is this: a healthy body has a healthy immune system, and if that is the case, cancer cannot exist.  The whole aim is to restore health and balance to your immune system, and folks, that cannot be accomplished if you're killing it with chemicals.  It is, however, a personal decision.  I totally understand why you would want to stick with the more traditional treatment.  Even though it's horrible, it somehow seems more "friendly" and familiar.  I honestly don't know what I'd do if the choice were mine, so I'm not judging anyone's choice.  But these new possibilities are very exciting and very encouraging.

Also, for someone like my dad, who has already been through the mill, and is out of options, trying something new is like, he has nothing to lose.  So why not exhaust all possibilities?  As Dr. Mary said, her aim is to help him feel more energetic, and less tired, and if we're all lucky then maybe - just maybe -  the cancer will be beaten back just a bit as well.  The sky's the limit, and a positive attitude is everything.  I just want my Dad to be able to enjoy whatever time he has left in his life.  He's lived a good life, and had some great experiences, and has been good to people.  He deserves to enjoy some rich experiences as he grows old.

So that has been my focus the past month.  Call it a passion.  I'm excited to learn and see what some of these methods can do for me, because quite frankly, I'm tired of feeling swollen and achy with weird symptoms that my rheumatologist can't quite figure out.  SOMETHING is off kilter SOMEWHERE and I need to work on figuring it out, rather than slapping medication bandaids on it.  Advil is going to kill me if  I don't stop taking so much.  If the Prednisone doesn't kill me first.

Now - we did take a quickie trip to Utah a couple of weeks ago.  Such fun and such beautiful weather.  The day we left it got quite cold, though, with a freezing wind, and I was glad to come home.  I had girl time with old friends Nancy and Michele.  We lunched at The Banana Leaf in Provo and laughed ourselves silly.  I love those girls...  We are planning a road trip to Seattle and Victoria, BC next year.  Saving our little pennies for that!

We picked up my niece Margot and had dinner with my brother and his family another night.  What a great time!  I always realize how much I miss having this brother closer whenever we get to see him.  His daughter is the same age as my two oldest granddaughters, Mia and Lexi, so it was fun to have an evening with little Ari as well.  My niece ran down 3 flights of stairs to greet us, and when we dropped her off, she ran right back up 3 flights of stairs.  Ran.  All the way up.  L looked at me, sighed, and said "Youth..."  She was a breath of fresh air.

We took a side trip to Spanish Fork, UT.  Where my dad grew up, and where we went for vacation almost every year when my grandpa was alive, and we were just little kidlets.   We took pictures of the cute little house he grew up in, and the grade school he went to (where my brothers and I also played on the playground each summer).  It's now a City Hall building, and that playground is now a parking lot.  Too bad.  But they were hanging Christmas lights on the building and that was fun.  Then we took a picture of an old building that looked like it used to be a hardware/building supply store.  I think it's the building that my grandfather used to own so many years ago.  It was such a small town back then that I can't imagine that there were TWO businesses like it in the same town.  I'll have to confirm with Dad.

This darling little house used to have the creepiest unfinished basement EVER.  So different from our Southern California home.  I'm sure it's all finished now, but my dad and his brother had to sleep in the cobwebby version of it way back in the day.  It also had a wonderful summer porch in front (where all the windows are) and an old fashioned kitchen with curtains covering the open spaces under the sink, etc.  It's probably all been updated now, but I kind of want to remember it as it was when I stayed there in the summers as a child, and I was fascinated by it's old fashioned charm.  I was happy that all of the lovely brick work on the exterior is still there.  Nostalgia.

If you click on the picture you can see that the date on the Thurber School is 1910.  It was already 20 years old when my dad first went there.  How I'd have loved to have seen him as a little boy... And what a wonderful old building!

I know that hardware store was on Center Street, and I just can't imagine that this building wasn't it.  It's now a Pizza place.  Sadly.  Time marches on, doesn't it?

And of course, there was Andrew.  Our shipper extraordinaire.  Whoever purchases our Clean Screen Magic products receives them expertly packed and shipped by Andrew.  He is doing such a great job, and is flourishing with his new responsibilities.  It's a pleasure to see.  We had a good visit with him.

So it was a good trip all around, although very quick and way too short.  And here we are: the HOLIDAYS!  Birthdays galore (L's, Zach's, Hayden's, my brother Brent's, my dad's, my SIL Jill, and my mom's is coming up in December), a Thanksgiving feast next week, and then things really get ratcheted up.  I've almost got all of the Christmas shopping and shipping done.  I will be able to sit back and relax and enjoy.  L asked wistfully if I will bake this year (I've been on a strict gluten free/grain free/sugar free diet these past few months) and I think I will have to relent and make some of my traditional goodies.  Christmas just wouldn't be the same without them.  I'll just have to be disciplined and not have TOO much or I'll pay for it.  In spades.

And so that is the November report.  Odd as it is.  The December version should be a bit more lively.  Let's just say there are some surprises planned.  I'll leave it at that.  I love this season with it's warmth and festive lights and comforting traditions.  I'm realizing more and more how important it is to get in there and enjoy.  To not be merely a spectator but to be active in making the memories that our own children and grandchildren will hold onto one day as their comfort and joy.  Deck the halls, everyone.


  1. I love the Screen Magic. It's so nice to keep smudges off the big screen TV. I keep a bottle in my bathroom for my glasses and a bottle next to the TV for all the screens/monitors in the room. If you have a place where you advertise, please feel free to copy the first part of my comment and publish it where you need it. I'm definitely a satisfied customer. I'm very sorry about your dad's health issues. I have prayers churning in my brain. I don't think there's anything wrong with trying alternative treatments. Many people swear by certain treatments and say how much better they feel after using them. Maybe the treatment can't cure what ails us, but it makes us feel better.


    1. I totally agree Janie! And that's the main objective, to feel better. And thank you for your kind words about Clean Screen Magic - it made my husband's day!
      We're trying to figure out how to cut and paste it onto our Facebook page. It's a great comment!

    2. Can't you just highlight it and copy it? If you can't, I'll go to your Facebook page to say nice things.

    3. Yep, that's exactly what I did. I was wanting it to be more directly from you, but instead I just quoted you. Thanks again for the wonderful support!

  2. My wife Jilda and I are both interested in alternative approaches to wellness.
    I think nutrition is at the root of many maladies.
    Healing thoughts going out to your dad from a small farm in Alabama.

  3. Thanks so much, Rick! Dad will love knowing that two people in Alabama are thinking good thoughts for him.

  4. Hello again, dear karen! I've been going to Rheumatologists since 1978 and have been placed on dozens of different treatment regimens. All of the meds I've tried come with a list of potential dangerous side effects a mile long, my favorite being "death." It has also been my experience that RA doctors and others in the medical establishment doggedly resist and reject holistic approaches. Common sense should tell us that fighting fire with fire could do more harm than good. I believe that a healthy attitude helps promote a healthy body. It doesn't happen very often but on days when I find myself feeling better and having more energy than usual, I seize the day with more activity than normal and more intense workouts. Meeting those challenges gives me a mental lift which boosts my energy all the more. That's how you turn a downward spiral around and get it going in the other direction. As always I pray for your dad and wish him well. You, too.

    Once again I will harp at you to try to get on Simponi because I have found it more effective than any other RA treatment method. It's expensive - $3,056 per dose (per month) - and therefore you will need adequate insurance coverage, but it has worked wonders for me. A 10 second injection once a month and I'm good to go. Methotrexate is also required when taking this type of drug but other than that I take nothing - no Advil, no prednisone, nothing. I wish you the best, dear karen.

    I'm happy to know you visited the town where your dad lived as a boy and had a chance to visit the old landmarks. Hope everyone around your lovely, large and growing family is well and I wish you all a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

    1. I don't want to take Methotrexate AT ALL. I've had very bad results with it. So that's part of the problem. I'm on to a few things - it's just discouraging when I have setbacks. And I don't really care for Orencia at all. It doesn't seem to do that much. Try, try again!

  5. Hi Karen! I sure wish your sweet Dad wasn't going through this trial at his age. It always saddens me when I see our seniors struggle after living a long life...shouldn't they just be able to have those last years pain free...stress free? I know life doesn't work that way. My hubby does muscle testing in his practice and has done that since I've known him...his Dad was a Chiropractor too and that's where I first experienced it. Jack always tells his patients..."This may look like a "smoke and mirror" trick, but just trust me here"...so you're with many folks who doubt at first! Too bad you are all so far from him..he's amazing and he has been doing some new research with another treatment that I'm going to get the specifics on and email some info to you. There might be someone out by you doing the same thing. It could help you too. Rheumatoid is a tricky little #@$%^$#! My Mother-in-law suffered so much from it..however, she was a smoker...crazy I know..but that was the culture back in the day. Anyway, I know your approach to sugar free is the way to go. Jack is a big hater of sugar free products however..like nutra sweet and all the other additives except maybe stevia and natural replacements. Sugar free pop is a killer..and I love it..but have been staying away! (Dang it!) My Mom is 88 and when we visit, Jack takes some of his therapy equipment to treat her...I often joke that I think she would be sadder if I came alone to visit! She just does so well after an adjustment. He uses a technique called a "gentle adjustment" with a special piece of equipment called an "activator"...anyway, it works great! Well, enough commercials about my hubby! Ha! I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and I'm jealous that you have all your shopping done..I wish I could get on that track but it takes my family forever to get me a list of what they would like and lately I'm finding myself going the gift card route! So boring..but easy! Take care and tell your Dad we're praying for him.

    1. Kathy, send me the info on this other treatment - I love learning about new things. You never know - it just might be the thing that helps! When I say sugar-free, I don't mean artificial sweeteners. I mean honey, molasses, maple sugar, and sometimes coconut sugar. I've always believed that if you're going to have cane sugar, it should be the real thing and not a chemical replacement, but so far, I've done just fine with honey and the others. Now Christmas baking... I think I'll have to revert to the old white sugar and just not eat a lot of it. I'm to the point where its so overly sweet when I do have it that a little goes a long way. But I know from experience that it's a slippery slope and once you start eating it, it's very easy to slide right back into eating too much of it. (Not my first time around this block, obviously...) Thanks for all the encouragement and info. Wish your husband was here! He sounds wonderful, and I love people who think outside the box. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

  6. I love that picture of your mom and dad! I am sorry to hear about your father's health issues. Sending positive thoughts and prayers your all's way.

    1. Thanks Keith! We're going to have a Christmas decorating party for my mom's upcoming birthday. It's too much for them to do right now so we will be the elves that make it happen! And we WILL "spread Christmas cheer by singing loud so all can here." You'll be with us in spirit, I just know it!

    2. Those pictures look familiar. Where is the house located? I hope your Dad does better. At least he was able to relax and rest for 30 minutes! Funny, I was just reading about acupuncture this morning as a cure for adhesive capsulitis that I've had since August. You do get to a point that you'll try anything to get rid of pain! Take care. Hope you have a great December!

    3. Hi Connie - they are standing on the small bridge that leads over to Balboa Island. What you see in the background is Newport Harbor. What is adhesive capsulitis? Hope you find something that helps - I'm exploring a lot of interesting things - I'll share when I know more! Take care -

  7. How did I lose this post? I'm sure glad I managed to run across it today, because all I have to say is amen. I am all about looking for alternatives when Western medicine doesn't work for you, and your dad definitely has nothing to lose. I absolutely believe that there are more ways to cure a body than the ones my son (and not long ago, your son-in-law) have learned.

    I am wondering how your gluten-free diet is working for you at this point, and I will be interested to hear whether your dad's energy level improves. I'm praying it does.

    So glad to hear that Andrew is doing well and thriving with the business.

    Merry Christmas, Karen. Sorry I've been such a poor correspondent recently. Things have been a little crazy around here, to say the least. Good news is that my Karin is hanging in there with the twins, and Todd is hanging in there with rotations. My mom (and Dick) are hanging in there, too, but we've been spending a lot of time (my siblings and I) lending support. It is a worry. They are weak and not that well, yet they refuse to either hire someone to help or go into assisted living. As I said, it's a worry. *sigh*




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