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Health
Posts

  • East vs. West vs. Hippies on my FACE!

    Fuck my life.  I got shingles again.  I felt something on my face Friday night, and just assumed that something weird was formulating.  No big deal.  I didn’t want to over think it.  Saturday morning I woke up, felt my face, and knew something was wrong.  So very wrong.  The same wrong as my fucking shingles that I had only 6 months ago.

    I was supposed to go to my cousin’s baby shower that morning but I knew I had to go see the white man doctor to get the white man medicine.  So I called the dermatologist I went to before assuming that would be the best first move since he already had dealt with me.

    Toni: Hi. I have shingles festering on my face and I need to see a doctor.

    Operator: Well, it is Saturday so dermatology is closed. You will have to call Monday morning to make an appointment.

    Toni: Please, I really need your help.  I have had shingles before.  I know that is what I have.  I can’t wait until Monday.  Last time they were almost as painful as childbirth – and my baby came out horizontally.

    Operator: Well, who is your general practitioner?

    Toni: I don’t have one.

    Operator: You don’t have any doctor that you see?

    Toni: Well, I have my hippy doctor.  But they are hippies.  They don’t answer their phones – especially on a Saturday.

    Operator: I guess you can come in to see the after-hours family practitioner.  But you really should get a doctor.  Can you get here by 10:15?

    I was out the door and at the hospital by 10:00 am, feeling really sorry for myself.  Let me tell you, there is nothing more depressing than a hospital on a Saturday.  The after- hours family practitioner’s office was literally abandoned.  There was no one in the hallways, no one in the waiting room, no one at the reception’s desk – everywhere was just empty.  It was like a Twilight Zone.  I sat there for 20 minutes by myself, thinking that a nuclear bomb had gone off and somehow I was the sole survivor of the blast, when finally a man hobbled out the door with puss-soaked gauze wrapped around his leg.

    Eventually a woman called me back to the offices, and I waited in the room poking at medical equipment for the standard half hour to see the nurse practitioner.

    Nurse: So what is going on here?

    Toni: I am pretty sure I have shingles.

    Nurse: I see in your chart you have had them before so I am sure you know what you are talking about. Let me take a look? Did you put makeup on to cover them up?

    Toni: No, I don’t wear makeup.  Last time I had shingles I had an acupuncturist see me, and she gave me this cream to put on them.  I have no idea what is in it because it is all in Chinese, but I put it on anyway.

    (I have to say I was pretty offended that she would imply I was vain enough to cover up shingles with makeup??  I mean I know they are not pretty, but putting makeup on a festering wound seems like a pretty bad fucking idea.  Not to mention the fact that said cream was white, and looked like I had sloppily slathered toothpaste on my face.  So this double insulted me because the nurse obviously thought I was really pathetic at applying makeup discreetly).

    Nurse: Yeah.  You definitely have shingles. Do you see how the pustules have already formed here around the eye and nose?

    Toni: Please don’t ever say the word “pustules” again.

    Nurse: Those are the shingles erupting from your face.

    Toni: Yeah, I get it.

    Nurse: So do you have a general practitioner?

    Toni: No.

    Nurse: Do you go to the doctor?

    Toni: Not really.

    Nurse: Have you had a pap smear then?

    Toni: You mean at the gynecologist? Yeah those things are horrible.  I don’t do those.  I guess I went about 3 years ago, and then about 6 years before that.

    Nurse: Maybe you should go the doctor more often…

    Toni: Yeah, okay

    Nurse: You know you can get a vaccine for shingles.  I highly recommend you doing that once this clears up. Here is your prescription.

    Although the crazy burning itching pain of the shingles hadn’t started yet, all I could do was anticipate the suffering.  Last time I had shingles, I didn’t know how bad it could get. But this time I was fully aware of the potential agony, and was in a state of total panic.  When I got home I called the acupuncturist and made an appointment for 1:00.  I then started recklessly taking supplements, unsure which where for my allergies, frequent periods, or the last time I had shingles.  I took 3 out of every bottle… which was about 60 of them.  I then started pacing maniacally waiting for the acupuncturist to torture me, and by they time she got there I was terrified.  Not only of the pain of the shingles soon to come, but the pain of this tiny Asian lady jabbing me with needles then twisting them around sending electric shocks throughout my body.

    Toni: Yeah, so my shingles are back.

    Acupuncturist: Mmmmmm… yeah I see the pustules.

    Toni: Great.

    Acupuncturist: Let me take your pulse.  In acupuncture we don’t just want to treat the disease.  We want to know why it is happening.

    Toni: Yes, yes, yes, I want to know why too! Can you tell me why?

    Acupuncturist: Too much cold.  Here.  In stomach.  Stagnation.  Very cold.  Energy needs to flow.

    Toni: Okay, so why do I have them again.

    Acupuncturist: Stagnation.  Here.  Stomach. Lower back.  Energy stuck.

    Toni: Okay… that really clears things up.

    After the acupuncture, she gave me a bunch of Chinese herbs to take.

    Acupuncturist: Just take these.  Chinese herbs.  No supplements.

    Toni: The hippy doctor gave me the supplements.  So I shouldn’t take them?

    Acupuncturist: No.  Just Chinese herbs.

    Toni: What about the pills the doctor gave me? Should I take the white man’s medicine?

    Acupuncturist: No, just Chinese herbs.  Acupuncture and herbs take pustules away.

    Toni: Why does everyone keep saying that word?

    Acupuncturist: Excuse me?

    Toni: Never mind.

    I don’t know what I did to deserve this.  This whole experience brings up a host of issues for me.  For one, my conflict with vaccines, and how paralyzed I feel about them as a practice.  Should I have vaccinated myself for shingles, should I in the future, should I be vaccinating The Munch?  My head is spinning.  Then of course the western doctor is in conflict with the eastern doctor, who is in conflict with the hippy doctor.  I don’t know what to do.  The last time I did everything – the supplements, the acupuncture, the herbs, the white man’s medicine, and I have no idea what cured me for sure.  Was it a combo of all of them?  I don’t know? Who should I listen to? Who should I trust? Help me!!

    (Have you ever seen anything more surreal and sad than this waiting room?)

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    August 19, 2013 • Adventures, Health, Mommy Body, Mommy Mind, Musings • Views: 5850

  • I like doing stuff for you, and me too

    It is really important to be a good friend.  But even when you want to be there for someone, you also want to be there for yourself.  When my friend Gita smashed her finger in a car door, it got swollen and infected to the point where she needed to go to the hospital, so I said I would go with her…..as long as I could bring my computer so we could edit some of my writing.  As much as I’m a committed friend, I am also committed to my own selfish needs.

    Gita: “Thanks for coming with me.”

    Toni: “Can you check that the power cord for my computer is back there?”

    Gita: “Yeah its here.  Toni, I really don’t want to lose my nail.”

    Toni: “Gita its no big deal.”

    Gita: “But then I am going to have to wear a band-aid all the time.  You can’t expose a nail-less finger to the world, can you?”

    Toni: “No way… the skin underneath will just get all rough and sandpaper-y.”

    Gita: “Gross.”

    Toni: “It will be fine.”

    Gita: “Maybe if I lived in the country. I live in dirty New York City.”

    Toni: “Touché …. Touché….

    We got to the hospital and were brought back to the room where we did what you do in hospitals.  Wait for an hour for someone to poke you for a bit, write some stuff down, and then come back an hour later.  Luckily I brought my computer…we got a lot of work done!

    The plan the doctor and Gita come up with was he was going to burn a hole through her nail to drain it.  He went and got a tool called a cauterizer, which is basically like a small blowtorch.  Then he went straight for Gita’s hand without any warning.

    Gita: “Wait wait wait… are you going to do it right now?”

    Doctor: “I sure am.”

    Gita: “Is it going to hurt?”

    Doctor: “Yeah.  I am burning a hole through your thumb. And by the way, you are probably going to lose the nail.”

    And with that, he scorched a hole through her thumb and the room filled with the wafting scent of burnt human.

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    May 13, 2013 • 2 years old, Adventures, Health • Views: 893

  • Sometimes Being Eco is Annoying

    I really don’t want to live in a trashcan of a world, but being eco can be annoying.  To exclusively support organic fair trade local products that you also happened to grow in your back yard, had harvested by virgins, and processed by leprechauns is a fucking challenge.  The other day I thought I would buy some organic cotton t-shirts for The Munch, and one shirt was $40?! When I saw the price I threw up in my hand and then had to eat it because my dinner was from the organic store and my tofu kale wheat-free sandwich was not cheap.

    I know the responsibility is on me to be the change I want to see in the world, but I already changed my underwear today -isn’t that enough?  It is a lot of pressure for me to always make the right decision when there is so much crappy crap out there that is way crappy, but easier to get.  My main question is, why is there so much temptation to poison ourselves with toxic shit?  We have so much access to such a vast variety of products, but the majority of them are actually semi dangerous.  Major corporations are exposing us to some sort of poison, subjecting employees to horrific working conditions, and sometimes secretly feeding people rats they think is lamb.

    So there is plenty of incentive to be conscious consumer.  In fact I consider myself to be a PROsumer with all the positive shit I buy.  Get it? PROsumer rather than CONsumer? Am I lyrical genius or what?  But sometimes I want to be just like ahhh fuck it! I mean I got The Munch this hippy sunscreen because I read that sunscreen, although may protect you from getting skin cancer from the sun, actually just gives you another kind of cancer.  So I slapped the eco stuff on her, and it worked in the sense that she didn’t get burned, but it wouldn’t absorb into her skin.  She was walking around looking like Casper the Ghost the entire day.  I mean that is fine for a kid and all, but there is no way as a self-respecting woman, I can go out in public like a member of the Adams Family.

    Of course when we are talking about green products, food is the one I am most committed to.  But sometimes I get sick of being healthy.  Over the summer I am part of CSA (community supported agriculture) and get all my organic vegetables delivered to me.  They are grown in the most fertile soil and picked by a bearded farming angel.  Yet by time September rolls around all I want is to eat cheeseburgers and doughnuts.  I get so sick of vegetables I want to throw them against the wall, and then waterboard them.

    I know I should probably find a balance and feel peace knowing I am doing what I can and all that…. But what the fuck world?  Why can’t eco shit just be the only shit we can buy so I wouldn’t have to compare it to the other shit?

    (Here I am…. saving a spider and bringing her outside so I don’t murder her…. because I am environmentally responsible!)

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  • So This is What Trust Is

    The Munch having pink eye was not only a revolting mess for me, but I also sometimes care about her too – and it looked pretty darn uncomfortable.  Plus it wasn’t healing, so after about 4 days of “Old Indian Bark” (not a joke… and that not being a joke makes it even more disturbing than if it were a joke) I decided to try the white man’s medicine.

    The first attempt of getting the medicine in her eye was truly traumatizing.  I had this goo I was supposed to line in the inside of her eyeball twice a day. That means pulling down the bottom lid, looking deep into that red cavernous veiny grossness, and then squeezing gunk into it.  All while her eye was open.  Three of us had to hold her down and she was so upset by it, she immediately wept out all the medicine.  So that was an epic fail and I was pretty sure that unless I had sedatives (I mean, ones that I was willing to share) I had to come up with a new strategy.

    That night I did something so brave, so reckless, it is hard to believe I am still here to tell you about it.  Before I begin, I have to let you in on one fact.  The Munch is still on the boob.  I know… that is fucking nuts.  She will be 3 in July, and I can’t tell you how over it I am.  It is the one thing we get into serious fights over.  I never knew my boobs were in such high demand.  Just kidding, I have dated a man before.  I only do it once a day to get her to nap, but please Gaia let this be over soon.  I will sacrifice my first born if you do.  Seriously, I totally will.

    So I had this idea that if I let her do “nana” (as she likes to call it) while I put the medicine in, then maybe she wouldn’t struggle the same and I could actually get it in her eye.  Of course this was a fucking ludicrous idea.  What sane person would put their boob in such a vulnerable position, as in – someone’s mouth where it could get chomped off -while you were administering medicine in their sensitive eye?  Especially if said person is an irrational toddler who is intensely afraid of this process.

    But I figured it was about trust.  If I showed The Munch I trusted her, then she in turn could trust me.  I mean even though no one likes to have their eye peeled open and have crap squirted into it, unless you are into that sort of thing- no judgment here- this process wasn’t going to hurt her if she just relaxed.

    And you know what? It totally worked! She did not bite my nipple off, and now her eye is better.  So I highly suggest next time you are trying to get someone to trust you who is having a hard time and battling their fear, let them cup your balls or vagina.  Trust me.  It will work.

    (Only when feeling healthy is one ready to rock their leopard vest with no pants)

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    April 15, 2013 • 2 years old, Baby Body, Baby Brain, Family Drama, Health • Views: 1018

  • Hey, That’s MY Message!

    Information is social currency.  When I send someone a link, or post something illuminating, it contributes to my public value. The Internet allows us not only to spread information but also to become associated with it. It’s almost as if we can brand ourselves alongside the messages we are spreading.

    So last week when everyone was talking about the Monsanto Protection Act I was really involved in the discussion. This is an issue that I am very passionate about and have been researching for over a decade. I wanted to be an active part of the discussion – to help spread the message of why I think Monsanto should be a major part of the public dialogue and we should all have a clear understanding of not only its power but its product.  Our food system.

    I had first learned about Monsanto and genetically engineered food over 10 years ago when I was in college. Before understanding the science behind food, the only thing that concerned me was calories and fat grams. Then one fateful night, while smoking joints with my friend Marisa she told me,

    “You know, the reason why Americans are so overweight and unhealthy is because of partially hydrogenated oil.”

    “Wait, what is that?”

    “They, like, add hydrogen to the oil, so it is fluffier and takes up more space. They can then use less of it and save money, but the human body can’t digest it. That is what makes you fat.”

    “Why do they do that? How do they do that? And who is they?”

    “You know… they!  I don’t know Toni, I am not a scientist… look it up. But I am telling you. That is why Europeans are all skinny, because they don’t put crap in their food.”

    This really blew my mind into a thousand pieces. Before that moment, I had never considered that highly processed food wasn’t actually food. And I did not want to get fat because I was unconsciously consuming a science experiment. Forget that we were scarfing down ice cream at that moment…. We were high – remember? I am perfectly okay getting pudgy eating delicious treats, but there is no way hydrogenated oils were going to give me a muffin top.

    After that fateful conversation I started looking at ingredients rather than the silly numbers on a side of a box of processed food. Initially my rejection of GMO food may have been for my own vanity or health, but the more I learned, the more committed I became.

    I then read The Age of Access by Jeremy Rifkin, and started to comprehend the environmental consequences of genetic engineering. The massive destruction of natural resources, the farmers that it oppressed, the annihilation of biodiversity, the subsidies that forced an economic stranglehold on the entire food industry, and – perhaps most demented – gene patenting. Rifkin hypothesized that the future held forth a new economy based on owning and patenting genes. The thought of corporations and life-science companies owning the building blocks of life and leasing out the rights to it seemed like an apocalyptic nightmare.

    After understanding the full scope, I became outraged. I was so committed to this cause that I spent three years of my life trying to open an organic fast food restaurant so more people could have access to clean food, but in a format they were accustomed to. I wanted to bring organic food to as many people as I could. Even though my vision did not work out the way I wanted it to – I didn’t get to open my restaurant – I could still do my best to continue promoting the idea.

    So when everyone was talking about Monsanto last week, I made a little cartoon with The Munch and me and posted it on Facebook. It started making the rounds and people started sharing it. But I didn’t put my logo on the picture. So then I started seeing other friends post the pic, and other groups, but it wasn’t associated to me any more. I mean it was my picture, but it didn’t link back to me in any way.

    At first I was so mad at myself.  I felt like a missed a major opportunity to drive traffic back to me! So more people would see me… like me… care about me! I wanted to be the giver of the information!  Me! Me! Me! The more I saw it floating around, and not attached to me, the more I freaked out.  Of course the original picture I shared had 1,700 shares thanks to my friend reposting it on her popular page… but that had a spelling mistake in it because that is my fucking karma! (Hey! I know I am using the concept of Karma wrong here, but I am being emphatic so forgive me).

    Okay… pause….

    I found this to be a really interesting example of how the ego gets tied into things that are essentially ego-less. In reality, I should have been happy that people thought the image had value and wanted to share it. That it took a small part in spreading awareness about an issue that I cared about. But as much as my rational mind knew this, my emotional-self wanted to be credited with that message. WHICH IS ABSURD!!  It was beyond ironic that I had the audacity to feel used by people sharing my picture without crediting me, when the message could easily say I was using it to promote myself.

    That is the thing about activism. It has to come from a pure place, and not from wanting to somehow have ownership over the message. Because to feel personal attachment to the information you are trying to spread, is the very same paradigm that we are trying to change with activism.

    “Mamma you are being silly!

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  • Branding A Child Mentally Disabled

    According to a recent study, 1 in 50 children have been diagnosed with Autism.  That seems like a lot! It is said that a contributing factor to this increase is that more doctors are identifying kids as Autistic than in previous years -so it is unclear whether the actual number is increasing.  Maybe there are more Autistic children because of something specific yet to be identified, or maybe there was always this ratio of Autistic children but they are only being labeled as such now?

    Bipolar disorder statistics have also skyrocketed 40-fold in children being diagnosed.  And the solution is to put them on anti-psychotic drugs.  A doctor can look at the symptoms, and analyze behavior, but does one person’s opinion of another mean they should be considered disabled and immediately medicated?

    The thing about mental “illness” that has always concerned me is that it is a completely subjective science.  There is no blood test or concrete objective experiment that can prove someone has a mental condition.  Brain scans can offer insight, but does not provide substantial evidence that can make a diagnosis concrete.

    When I was 10 a psychiatrist told me I had ADHD. Maybe.  But perhaps if she had asked me about my diet, and realized that it included candy for dinner, she would have possibly examined my nutritional intake before suggesting meds.  I ate more sugar as a child then Willy Wonka, and am pretty sure that was a contributing factor to my manic energy.

    When my brother was a young child his doctor diagnosed him with Autism because he hadn’t started talking.  My mom was very worried, and I am sure felt terrified, but she also didn’t believe there was anything wrong with him.  Rather than immediately sending him to professionals, she decided to be patient and continue seeing him as a healthy little boy.  When I was born, just before his 3rd birthday, my mother brought me home from the hospital and my brother spoke his first words.

    “Baby Toni. Baby, baby Toni.”

    And you know what? My brother hasn’t shut up ever since, and he is a Harvard graduate with two masters’ degrees.

    Maybe my brother and I are running around as high-functioning autistic, ADHD adults, or maybe we were just children developing into humans in our own way.  I wouldn’t say either of us is “normal,” because we are both totally weird, but I don’t feel like I have a mental disorder that I should have been medicated for.  Who is to say what is a “normal” mental state?  I don’t feel intellectually held back, even if I eat chocolate for breakfast.

    Having a doctor diagnose your child as “abnormal” and “disabled” can be crippling to both the child and parents.  Families can internalize news as  sentence set in stone rather a perspective that should be examined.  There is hope like in this study that suggests children can even out grow autism.  Of course there are kids who suffer from their mental state, and need immense help and support -but there is also a wide spectrum.  Medication should be the last option after everything else is exhausted.  Especially because the adults are making decisions for the child, and it is one that will affect them for the rest of their lives.

    (Here I am as Boy George and my brother as David Bowie…. pretty cool kids if you ask me!)

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    March 21, 2013 • 2 years old, Baby Brain, Behavior, Current Events, Health, Parenting • Views: 7896

  • The Forbidden Fruit Has Been Tasted

    It happened.  My child has been exposed.  She experienced the taste of sin. A drug she will battle with, and probably abuse many times.  And I am not talking black tar heroin, because we already kicked that habit when she was 18-months.  I am talking about sugar.

    It started innocently enough. With an organic, vegan, gluten-free, coconut Popsicle my mom gave her.  The Munch’s unpolluted mind had never even heard such words as cake, candy, or cookies.  But the more she started to understand the world around her, the harder it became to lie about what things were.  She started to look at me with doubt when I insisted that a lollipop was made of fairy skin.

    A birthday cake was the gateway drug.  My friend’s husband offered her a piece.  I almost refused.  I was this close from convincing The Munch that cake was bread with barf spread on top of it.  But it was for free, and he insisted she have a taste.  I figured it was a special occasion, and let her live on the wild side.  How often does one go to birthday parties? It turns out, quite a lot.  Now all she cares about at these stupid parties is the cake. It doesn’t even matter whose party it is.

    I think I was the one who gave her the first cookie.  But it wasn’t my fault.  I was tired, weak, and had my guard down.  I didn’t have it in me to fight against her wrath.  She manipulated me.  And now she knows not only that cookies are fucking delicious, but also what they look like.  This makes going to a store very complicated because she understands that round circles with black dots means that shit is good.

    The ice cream happened with her babysitter… the candy too.  Now The Munch is fully aware just how tasty sugar is.  The only things I have been able to keep from her are chocolate bars.  I told her they were “Mamma crackers” and made out of cat poop.

    Maybe it is not a big deal?  Sugar is a part of life and if I deprive her totally I will only make the forbidden more seductive.  But it is not good for the immune system.  It doesn’t contribute anyway to her her health.  And even if its organic treats she is getting, it doesn’t mean its good for her (although I tell myself that organic ice cream happens to be great for me).

    I am trying not to care too much.  To realize that finding a balance is part of parenting and if I am too controlling about what The Munch eats I could give her a complex.  But her naivety made my life so much easier.  She was totally oblivious to the temptation.  The Munch’s ignorance protected her from feeling the disappointment of lacking – or maybe more important it protected me from her.  Now she knows what she is missing when I say. “no you can’t have that.” The subsequent distress, frustration, horror, and tantrum that follow are because she can taste the vacuum of what could have been.

    Sugar is the first drug children are exposed to.  It has an addictive quality, and also makes you feel high.  The rush.  The hyper manic energy that makes you want to punch a cat in the face.  And then of course the crash, that leads into the depression of being without, that eventually morphs into then the desperate searching for your next fix.  And like the need for drugs, kids will do anything to get their sweets.  Including scream in your face, embarrass you at stores, and weep uncontrollably while shaking in the corner.

    “Hey Mamma! This doesn’t taste like fairy flesh?!”

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    March 19, 2013 • 2 years old, Baby Body, Baby Brain, Eating, Health • Views: 4646