Tag Archives: health

Cooking Without Fat: Indian Curry

diet, cooking, Indian curry, low-fat cooking, eggplant, yams, food, healthy eating

The great veggie goodness, before the chicken and mushrooms were added.

I’ve been doing a diet to kickstart my body into losing weight. This means eating low sugar vegetables (no beets, corn, carrots), low sugar, whole wheat grains (no potatoes, bread or white rice), low sugar fruits (no tropical fruits) such as berries or apples, white meat only (skinless chicken breasts, fish) and no fat at all. That means no olive oils, no nuts or seeds and no fatty meats. The warning with this type of diet is you have to do it under a doctor’s supervision because we need fat to function, both for nerves and our brains. By day four you can start to feel shaky or nauseous because the body is missing the fat and going into ketosis. You have to take potassium tablets while on it (available with a prescription) and it is only short term, two weeks at most.  Anorexics, if you normally feel shaky, nauseous, tired or foggy, it means you are starving yourself to death. Stop, before you die and damage your body permanently.

In some ways this diet hasn’t been a big challenge. I normally do a no fat, no grain lunch. This usually consists of a piece of meat, such as a skinless chicken breast, in seasoning, cooked in the microwave with a bit of water, plus some form of vegetable. Either a salad with lemon squeezed on or something like broccoli or bok choi. Sometimes I’ll add some avocado, which is a fat but a good one.

The challenge has been cooking, where I’m not using a microwave. I have a cast iron frying pan and find that if I put it on a low to medium heat I can start with cooking my vegetables a bit. Of course you don’t really “stir-fry” and have to watch for sticking, but I found it works okay for doing eggplant that takes a bit of time. Last night I decided to make a curry. Normally I would have used a pre-bought curry sauce but I realized that these have a lot of oil in them. No curries with coconut milk, which I love because it is high fat, though also a good fat.

The curry needed to simmer with the spices I was adding so I decided to use a pot on low heat. I chopped up yams (my carb for the day) and put the chunks into the pot with chopped onion, garlic, chive tops and Thai chili. The onion has enough water in it that this prevented burning. The key to cooking without fat is to never put the heat too high.

Indian curry, cooking, no fat diet, vegan, vegetarian, diets

The finished result. Worth using a spoon to get every drop.

I wasn’t sure how the baby eggplants would do if I just tossed them in to the pot, so I cut them in chunks, put on a grill, sprinkled with salt and stuck them into the toaster oven on broil to get them going. In the meantime, I added green beans, the last of peas in the pod that were too old and starchy, and celery.  I added curry powder, basil, cayenne, rosemary, dried chilies,  salt and pepper. I meant to add a touch of lemongrass powder but slipped; it turned out okay though. Because the curry powder can be a bit bitter I put in one sugar cube.

Once this was all mixed, I added half of a large can of tomatoes. That was my base sauce. By then the eggplant was browned and softened and I added that in. I let everything simmer for about twenty minutes until the yams were softened. Then I added sliced mushrooms and chunks of chicken breast. The eggplants break down to give a thicker base and adding the chicken at the end kept it tender.

There are probably gourmands out there shuddering at my culinary abuses but it worked. I had a tasty curry with enough for four servings. Without the chicken this would work for a vegan or vegetarian meal, and adding in some healthy oil isn’t a problem. I like my foods spicy so you can see I used three different types of hot in this.  I’m a concocter more than a cook and it’s why I could make my apocalypse diet work, because I could adapt. The recipe, as it is, follows.

LOW TO NO-FAT INDIAN CURRY

Garlic
Chive tops
Thai chili
White onion 2-3 slices, chopped
2 medium size yams
4-5 baby eggplants, chopped into chunks (any variety will do)
1 stalk celery
Green peas (optional)
2 cups green (string) beans, chopped to one inch size
6-8 mushrooms (chopped or sliced)
Skinless chicken breast cubed
2 cups canned, peeled tomatoes
½ tsp rosemary
1 ½ tsp basil
3 pequeno chilies
1 tsp lemon grass powder
½ tsp cayenne powder
1 ½ tbsp curry powder
1 sugar cube
salt & pepper to taste

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Vanity Gone Too Far: Genital Bleaching

skin bleaching, anus, anal bleaching, health, skin lightening

Perhaps a strategically placed flashlight would work just as well. From: newspitter.com

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you’re worrying about bleaching parts of your nether regions then you need to get your head out of those areas and go smell the flowers. And I mean that literally. Some of you might be wondering what I’m talking about.

There has been a prevalence in recent years for some people to bleach their anuses. Yes, truly. It seems it was something that porn stars did to enhance an overall skin tone  for the camera. Where else are you going to have bright lights shining down upon your genitalia, except maybe in the doctor’s office? But somehow, some vapid, silly people got it into their heads that human beings should be of one even color, even the places where the light don’t shine. They think everyone comes airbrushed like Playboy model pictures, porn stars and people in the movies who are lit, pomaded and dressed to look perfect.

We can of course blame media, the internet and the hyper sexualization for this offense. Why yes, I hope to be judged on the color of my butthole because obviously my intelligence matters least of all, then my personality, then my face. Yes yes, let’s prove who is the biggest ass; it’s those who worry about the color of their skin to the most minute degree. I would say that only white people do this because otherwise it would be a bright and shining star in a very odd place, but guess what? Other races or people of darker skin tones worry about lightening all of their skin. They want to be of a lighter tone. Michael Jackson was a fine example of taking the removal of skin pigmentation too far. If you’re bleaching your butthole, there are more things wrong with you than skin tone, unless you plan on being a porn star.

genital bleaching, skin lightening, culture, self-image, unhealthy fascination, narcissism

Because black people want to be white? What's wrong with this beautiful woman's skin tone? Nothing. From: blackskinlightening.com

Have I mentioned that anal whitening has also spread to the vagina? Oh yes, we want our labia bleached perfectly too. People might get certain skin conditions such as varicose veins or the redness of rosacea taken care of. That’s one thing and those conditions have other complications. But a human’s skin tone is not a condition; it’s part of nature’s pattern. Seriously, I have heard fewer things more ludicrous than bleaching genitalia, and any person who is more concerned about the color and tone of my genitals and anus is more of an ass than I care to talk to. I wont even get into the dangers of bleaching areas of such delicate nature. Clearly the people doing this have no idea that humans are made of varying textures and tones of skin, wrinkles, creases, dimples, beauty marks and birthmarks, moles and other differences. We are a landscape, not a blank canvas.

Once upon a time we worried about a good fit with someone as a partner. We also tried to fight racism and judging someone based on the color of their skin. We used to contemplate our navels. Now we’re contemplating asses.

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Apocalypse Diet Summary: Days 8-11

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 8:

It’s Sunday today and I worked out, finding few zombies on the streets. Perhaps they gorged themselves on downtown club goers last night. At least the workout was relatively safe. Then I came home and had leftover turkey curry. And of course, the now ubiquitous chocolates. I wonder, if I run out of vegetables and proteins, can I count chocolate as both? The amount of veg curry with maybe 2 oz. of turkey was about two cups worth. I made it fairly low on fats, just the 2 tbsp. of margarine and that’s it for three servings. It should hold me till later.

mole, food, eating, pollo en mole, Apocalypse Diet, end of the world, stews

La Costena's mole sauce. Enough for a whole chicken.

I have two whole chickens in the freezer. I thawed one and with a jar of mole sauce that’s been in the cupboard for a long long time, I tossed it in the slow cooker with an onion, garlic, two carrots and celery and several cups of water. That should be ready tomorrow and good for quite a few days if I cook up some rice or quinoa with it.

The freezer is actually well-stocked but I had to make room so I can actually use some of the stocks to make more soups. This will tide me over between the meals. To tell the truth, if this was a real apocalypse I would probably be eating half of what I am. I have to go and take some rosemary from my neighbor’s bush. This would be allowed because no one could take all of it and it would exist, come contagion or zombies.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 9:

Lunch was, yes, leftover veggie-turkey curry. I could barely sleep due to the slow cooker wafting out aromas of pollo en mole. Mole is a chocolate and chile based sauce but not sweet. It seems my slow cooker worked over time and the chicken fell off the bone. In fact it was nearly so overcooked that the bones were soft and the cartilage bits very jellylike (yuck!). Always, when I cook a chicken or a turkey, I make soup stock of the bones. These bones were sucked pretty clean of all nutrients so no soup stock.

The mole was okay. When I’ve made it in the past I’ve used the store-bought La Costena sauce as a base and added extra pasilla and ancho chiles and other spices. In this case I added a few red pepper flakes and one dried habanero, making it slightly hot (in my books). I cooked up some red and brown rice and had it for dinner. There was a natural carbonated juice drink thing in the fridge (left behind during the holidays) so, while I don’t like carbonated drinks in general, I drank this mango fizz for the fruitiness.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 10:

Mexican dishes often have sauces and that’s what mole (mo lay) means. Because I cooked the chicken in it, it’s more of a stew. I had the same for lunch today and then packed away containers of the mole with rice and some just of the sauce. There’s quite a bit and it’s fairly filling so now my freezer is very very full. The next while will be alternating this frozen food with the hardier vegetables still in the fridge.

I was at a friend’s tonight so it was a hearty vegetable soup, with a piece of bread, some humous and chips, and a couple of chocolatey biscuits. And a bit of wine.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 11:

end of the world, apocalypse, eating, food, diets, zombies, Apocalypse Diet, food supplies

What would you eat at the end of the world? Creative Commons: sheetalmalik.blogspot.com

The zombies were knocking about the other night, some trying to claw their way in but can anyone explain why a moldering undead thing should have a superior sense of smell, according to Walking Dead, when parts of them seem to be rotting? In any case, it’s cool enough that the sweatiness of humans isn’t drawing them quickly.

Today’s lunch was canned tuna, with some of the leftover curry sauce, and half a flour tortilla. My cat loves it when I have tuna. I also grabbed the last of the peppery Chinese leaf vegetable as it’s starting to turn.

Tonight’s unevent (I was supposed to go for dinner with a friend) will be the last of the unfrozen mole, sprinkled with sesame seeds, and with quinoa and extra hot sauce. Yeah yeah, and a couple of chocolates. My intake in that department is about 100 calories a day.

This is getting long so I’m stopping it here.

For those just popping in, the apocalypse happened on January, 1, 2012, just in time for people to freak out about the Mayan calendar. Of course, since the Mayan calendar actually shows the ending of one age and the beginning of another, maybe it’s now the Zombie Age (we’ve already had the consumer age).

I’m pretending that an apocalypse takes place (maybe it’s a supervirus, massive alien abductions or an evil plot), which stops the supply lines (but for the sake of staying healthy and clean, the hydro-electric power and water are still working). I am documenting how long I can live on the food in my place, without shopping. Here are my rules:

  1. I cannot buy any food at all.
  2. If going out for dinner, it’s a bubble outside of the experiment. I will not be going out for dinner often.
  3. When I start to run out of proper nutritionally balanced foods I will take vitamins.
  4. When I become bored or am on to only condiments and alcohol, I will call my experiment  ended.
  5. I believe I’ll be able to eat relatively healthy at least until March.

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Apocalypse Diet Summary: Days 5-7

Explanation is at the end of just what the Apocalypse Diet is.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 5:

Apocalypse Diet, food, eating, egg nog, starvation, supplies, diets

I was not sad to see the last of the egg nog. Creative Commons: jeffreymorgenthaler.com

If the Apocalypse, zombies or a highly contagious virus had wiped out a fair number of humanity and made the rest afraid, you can bet that there would be raids and mass buying of food in the stores. People might hunker down and hide from the zombies, but the fewer numbers of eating humanity would mean more food though less suppliers. If it were summer, I’d start planting or hightail it to a farm where there would be lots of fresh food.

The interesting thing that I’m noticing about my Apocalypse Diet, and presuming that in a world where supply lines were cut so fresh produce and meats would disappear first, is that I’m trying to extend my proteins and vegetables. This means I’m actually making more dishes with carbohydrates in them. On average I don’t eat pasta, bread, potatoes or rice more than a couple of times a week. I’ve made shepherd’s pie, pasta, and stir fry with rice noodles so far. Those starches fill one up and bulk up the meal.

Because of this my lunches, which usually are only meat and vegetables, now include the last night’s leftovers. So today’s meal was pasta made with canned tomatoes (already opened or I would save this till the other vegetables ran out), mushrooms, carrots, onions, garlic, weird Chinese leaf that I don’t know the name of, and shrimp.

For dinner I decided I needed to finish off the egg nog and realized I’ve been dosing it with rum because it is thick and so sweet. It turns out there was only a cup left so I swished out the container with water and thinned it down. It was fairly strong, rumwise, so I was rather relaxed. Normally I don’t drink more than two days a week so it’s interesting that the nog has upped my rum intake (or finishing off the other rather sweet fruit juice). I had about four crackers with cheese. Later on, when the nog wore off I was digging in the fridge and found a full zucchini, and some swiss chard. I had to cook up the chard as half of it was a runny green mess. And I had to throw out the feta, which was turning purple and yellow. Wasting food–bad. The chard went with a carrot, some chopped onion and a few cheese gratings.

I hate wasting food, especially with an apocalypse on, but I don’t want to make myself ill either. It’s imperative that I keep an eye on the greens and use them in order of shelf life. The zucchini wasn’t moldering but being a fairly soft vegetable I’ll have to use it in the next week. There are no more green beans or chard, but there are still enough veggies for a few more weeks.

ApocalypseDiet (AD) Day 6:

zombie, food, diets, apocalypse diet, eating, end of the world, food supplies

Zombies might be clamoring for food, but it isn't vegetables. Creative Commons: scrapetv.com

Pasta for lunch again today. Thankfully no more nog. Did I mention that I’ve had chocolates every day? Sob, my name is Colleen and I’m a chocaholic. But then, it’s the only way I get my caffeine since I don’t drink coffee or tea. I’m good for weeks to go yet but I only have a few a day.

Tonight I was working on writing and then went out dancing. In all of that I seem to have forgotten to eat, except for a few crackers. So of course when I got home at 3 am, with a friend who couldn’t catch her bus, we gnawed on crackers and cheese, finishing off one of the two cheeses I shouldn’t be eating anyway.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 7:

Being a Saturday, I tend to sleep in and eat less formal lunches. So it consisted of two chocolates (yes, still) and a handful of these Chinese coated peanuts. Some are sesame, some wasabi, some seaweed. A small handful is about 100 calories. I also have a jar of artichokes and although I should be saving the preserved foods for later I had one of these.

By evening I was actually hungry so I cooked up a sweet potato, celery, carrot, onion, zucchini and mushrooms. I made a curry sauce. Normally I have a jar and toss in a few spoonfuls but I only had powder and I’ve found that just too harsh on its own. So it was kind of a curry gravy; margarine, flower, garlic, curry powder, jalapeno, paprika and fennel. Turned out tasty enough, with leftovers of course. I put in the 4-6 oz. of frozen turkey still left form Christmas. The fridge is starting to empty.

For those just popping in, the apocalypse happened on January, 1, 2012, just in time for people to freak out about the Mayan calendar. Of course, since the Mayan calendar actually shows the ending of one age and the beginning of another, maybe it’s now the Zombie Age (we’ve already had the consumer age).

I’m pretending that an apocalypse takes place (maybe it’s a supervirus, massive alien abductions or an evil plot), which stops the supply lines (but for the sake of staying healthy and clean, the hydro-electric power and water are still working). I am documenting how long I can live on the food in my place, without shopping. Here are my rules:

  1. I cannot buy any food at all.
  2. If going out for dinner, it’s a bubble outside of the experiment. I will not be going out for dinner often.
  3. When I start to run out of proper nutritionally balanced foods I will take vitamins.
  4. When I become bored or am on to only condiments and alcohol, I will call my experiment  ended.
  5. I believe I’ll be able to eat relatively healthy at least until March.

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When Do We Start Glowing in the Dark?

Creative Commons: by truthout.org

Japan has been hit threefold with disasters: the earthquake, the tsunami and now the possible meltdown of several nuclear reactors. It’s a sad and tragic time for their nation and for the world. My heart goes out to the devastating losses they’re facing. Of course one nation’s disasters often has ripple effects that can affect the whole world and none more so than nuclear fallout.

While the Canadian government is assuring us right now that we’re okay, even though people are buying up iodine, I wonder how true those assurances are. Every earthquake in Japan can raise the risk of a tsunami there and along the North American pacific coast. As well, we fear that fallout from a meltdown will be blown this way. It’s not an unreasonable fear.

Nuclear radiation, in high enough doses, can cause leukemia, cancer and death. In fact, my mother tells me that one never heard of leukemia before the second world war. Is this true or just an anecdote? Well, one way that forged paintings or other historical artifacts are identified as modern fakes is by the testing for strontium-90, a radioactive isotope that wasn’t really evident before nuclear war and testing. Studies have shown that children born after 1963 had 50 times more strontium-90 in their teeth than before nuclear testing began. The bones absorb strontium-90 as if it were calcium.

Radiation is an invisible demon. We can’t see it, we can’t taste and yet it can affect us in many harmful ways. We have no way of knowing how cancer rates compare to four centuries ago because they weren’t recorded then and may have been called something else. So how do we know? But we do know radiation can be harmful. Every bit of fallout from testing, from bombs, from other disasters or

Creative Commons: Wikimedia Ehamberg & Stannered

uses, does disperse more of the deadly isotopes (and there are others)  into our atmosphere. It goes into our water, our earth, our plants, our animals, our bodies. It builds up.

While our ancestors of several centuries back may have been healthier from fewer chemicals and less radiation, they also died faster from other diseases because medical science was not equal to the task. And it’s true that people can often live through a radiation exposure, though the long-term effects on a person or their ancestors is another matter. The image to the right shows the types of radiation with gamma rays, the deadliest able to penetrate most things and stopped only by thick lead. Of course, lead next to your skin isn’t very healthy either but perhaps we’ll see new fashion trends involving lead woven into items.

The government says not to worry yet they’ve said that in the past about such things as thalidomide. There have been two other related nuclear incidents; that of Three-Mile Island in Pennsylvania and Chernobyl in the Ukraine. Whether it affects the immediate surroundings or all of the world, it is not a good thing. I’m not a scientist and all the aspects of radiation would take a book, but I can’t blame people for wanting to suck back iodine and wear lead coats. After all, it’s better to be safe than glowing in the dark. (And yes, those glow in the dark items we use do run on radiation but on very very low doses.) I think we already glow a little bit.

Below are a couple of articles on Chernobyl and how radiation works.

The Chernobyl Disaster

The_Effects_of_Radiation_on_Matter

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Tonsil Tales

Back in the good ole days, or so I remember being told, tonsils were removed as often as wisdom teeth, as a matter of course, as an extraneous appendage we no longer needed. I don’t know if that’s true or not but I was scheduled to have my tonsils out at age six. However, my family, always running on the dysfunction track, was derailed the day I was supposed to go in for surgery. My parents were fighting and I never did get my tonsils out for a very very long time.

Creative Commons--Knol

I spent my childhood and teen years getting colds like every other child but I as often got tonsilitis, involving very painful and swollen throat and bouts of antibiotics. By my teen years I averaged four colds/tonsilitis episodes a year. Some of the symptoms can be headache, fever, cough, trouble swallowing, sore throat and chills.  I think I was 18 or 19 when I started to noticed it felt odd when I swallowed, like something was stuck in my throat. When I opened my mouth wide, I could see small lumps of white at the back of my throat that sometimes I could remove with a finger. Basically food was getting caught in the holes in my tonsils. This did nothing for my breath either.

Finally, in art college the tonsillitis got so bad that even my tongue was swollen. I had cankers all over my gums and I couldn’t really eat a thing. Of course I’d let it get too bad, being a student, trying to finish projects and not getting enough sleep. So eventually I went in to the school clinic, telling them I had tonsillitis. They told me, you don’t know that. We’ll take a look. And they took a look and said, you have tonsillitis; why did you take so long?

More antibiotics but that finally decided it for me. I made an appointment to see my family doctor, the one I had had since I was about ten, who had seen me go through bouts of this over the years. I mentioned the holes and the food sticking in them. My doctor didn’t even look in my throat but told me it was nerves. I said it absolutely was not. I’m not a nervous person. Then he told me that lots of people got this. I said, they do? It was this incident of incompetence, plus the one where my doctor told me I didn’t clean myself properly when I went to him about a bladder infection, that I tossed him by the wayside and went to a new doctor. That doctor couldn’t see much in my throat but he sent me to a specialist. The specialist took less than a minute to look at my tonsils and say, “You have holes in your tonsils. When do you want them out?”

And so, at the tender age of 22 I had my tonsils out. And something I realized once I healed from the surgery was that I had never ever been able to swallow correctly. My throat had always been swollen. If I’d had my tonsils out at six, like I was supposed to, I would have missed a lot less school as a kid and not been subjected to so many antibiotics. Luckily I didn’t take the incompetent advice of a doctor who should have retired, and I sought out another opinion. I don’t  miss those tonsils at all.

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A Nasty Tale About Lice

I was born and raised in Alberta, where the summers are hot and dry and the winters are cold and dry. I don’t mean dry as in no precipitation but dry as in the air can make your skin flake like a 10,000 year old mummy’s. And the water is mineralized enough to leave scales on taps and pipes the envy of any dragon.

Calgary gets rain (thundershowers), hail (in buckets) and snow that lasts a winter. Or at lease these phenomena were common in my childhood. Because of this you never saw an animal with fleas unless it was in a place particularly dirty or the animal was particularly mangy. And head lice was not something we even had to worry about in school. However head lice and body lice have been around since humans started wearing clothing (if not longer).

Now I don’t know if head lice care about cold or not, or if people washed more frequently or just didn’t get near to each other but we certainly never had warnings or even one kid with them when I was in school. However, infestations have been reported in most countries and a huge increase has occurred in the last 20 years. I don’t know if this is climate change or that these little vermin are just finding humans more appetizing.

I didn’t encounter head lice when I moved to Vancouver, but I did encounter fleas because of the warmer and moister climate. Your cat or dog doesn’t have be mangy to get them. Keeping a place clean certainly helps. I did encounter lice in the US though.

I used to go down and visit friends who had two kids. I’d sleep on an air mattress on their living room floor and play with the kids as well. I never even knew about lice really at that point. But one day a few weeks later I was at my desk and reading a paper, and scratching at my neck. Now due to my sensitivity to some foods, getting a rash around my neck was not unusual. What was unusual was that as I scratched a little born ovoid bug fell onto the page. At that point I frantically rubbed my hand through my shoulder-length hair and watched in horror as more bugs fell onto the page.

My skin crawled and I panicked. I ran to the bathroom and brushed and brushed and combed my hair knocking beige vermin into the sink. I looked over my scalp but really couldn’t seem much there but I knew. I think with a bit of internet searching and calling a few friends I figured out pretty quickly what I had and went to the pharmacy for louse shampoo, which came with a lovely nit comb. Nits are the egg casings of a louse and stick to the air as little white dots. They’re small but tenacious, and so are their parents, the lice.

The full process involved shampooing my hair and, because I didn’t want to shave my head, sitting outside (thankfully it was summer) on my patio and having a friend comb every nit from my hair. Two-three hours later, I was nit free but still had to shampoo a few more times over the week and check to make sure the buggers were gone.

Besides the bodily care there was the washing of all clothes and bed clothes I may have come in contact with during that time. As well, I had to bag pillows or items that couldn’t be washed and dried under a high heat. I had to vacuum everything thoroughly and leave those bagged items for up to a month to make sure everything was dead.

The worst part was that all of this could have been prevented if the friends, who knew their children had lice, had just let me know. Instead of being head in the sand like they had been, I took the onus of contacting everyone I’d been near to tell them about the lice and what to look for. It was like contacting people to say I had an STD. I felt ashamed and mortified yet I was responsible.

I never stayed with those people ever again but had the misfortune a few months later of being at a group camping event where they were at. I went home and found a few lice but caught them right away, and again informed everyone I knew. I think part of the reason these vermin infestations have been spreading is that people don’t take responsibility. School age kids are most susceptible because of their close contact and therefore schools have a huge problem. We’ll never eradicate them as long as there are people but we could get them under control with a bit of knowledge and responsibility. And I hope I never have to deal with any parasite on my body again, besides slapping a few mosquitoes.

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Filed under environment, health, life, nature, people, weather

Head Lice and Shame

I grew up in Alberta. There, the winters are cold enough that the only animal that had fleas would be mangy and often diseased. And head lice were unheard of. Perhaps the cold worked at keeping the numbers down there too.

Then I moved to BC, where there was a plethora of insects and other buggy vermin: spiders that flew in the wind on their spinnerets, spiders the size of your palms, slugs as long as a foot-long sub, moths, aphids, fleas on every animal if the summer was humid, mosquitoes year-round even if they didn’t bite, horseflies, black widows, bugs, everywhere!

The fleas were a horrid revelation and took some getting used to. I was particularly sensitive to the bites and after spending a summer of scratching my legs to bloody, I saw my doctor for something to stop the itching. That, and I moved out from my messy roommates and into a place on my own. Oh yes, keeping things clean can make a difference in the virulence of an infestation. Vacuuming regularly kept the eggs at bay and then it was a matter of making sure the cat was flea-combed or giving it some anti-flea liquid. Fleas are one of a host of vampiric bugs, commonly known as parasites, which include bedbugs, mosquitoes and lice.

Lice have been close buddies of humans for three million years. Which means we may never be able to eradicate them without eradicating humans. Why am I talking about lice? Because I had the utmost misfortune of encountering them. I was once visiting friends who had kids. I slept on the floor, on a mat, in a sleeping bag and played with the kids while there.

A week later, I had a bit of a rash on my neck but I have sometimes got the same thing from mild allergies so it didn’t seem unusual. But one day I was reading a paper, scratching at my head when this bug fell on to the paper. Frantically I began shaking my hair and ruffling it, watching in horror as more vermin fell to the page. Little beige, eye shaped vermin. There is nothing more disgusting than finding live critters crawling on your body.

I don’t remember what I did next but I found out pretty damn quickly that they were lice. Next was going to the pharmacy and wincing as I said I had lice and what should I do. They sold me some tarry shampoo, which I ran home and used. I’ve read you can coat your hair in olive oil, which is supposed to work. Any other oil in a person’s hair and it takes forever to remove. Supposedly olive oil is the only oil that can be shampooed out. Reading the little pamphlet, it said to use the comb afterwards, the special louse comb to remove the nits, which are the eggs of the little vampires. I did but having fairly long hair, there was no way I could be sure that I got them all.

I didn’t relish shaving my head, which is often what happens when kids get lice. So I shamefully called up one of my best friends and asked her if she would be so good as to comb through my hair. I sat outside, luckily in summer and she took a couple of hours to comb through all my hair. I used the shampoo several more times. But I also had to wash any bedclothes or clothes lying about. I had to bag every cushion or anything else of fabric for weeks. I had to vacuum feverishly.

Luckily I got rid of them. But I also did the responsible thing, although I felt ashamed for getting lice and felt dirty. I contacted everyone I had been around and told them what they had to do. I was also extremely pissed off at the friends whose place I was at because they never bothered to warn me, knowing their kids’ school had lice and that their kids had had them several times. That they could be so disrespecting of their friends and so uncaring of their children truly stunned me.

Then about a month later I picked up the lice again because I was around the same people and I had to inform everyone a second time. These people said nothing. Were they too ashamed to admit it? I don’t know but I had to say where I had got them so friends could check themselves. But I can say that I never ever visited or stayed at those people’s houses ever again. 

As far as I’m concerned they should have felt shame for not informing their friends. It’s the same as picking up any contagious disease or illness (like STDs) and not letting the people you came into contact with that they could be infected. That being said, we all manage to pass colds on from one person to the next but by the time you realize you have a cold, you’ve already infected others and with colds all you can do is bide your time. Infestations of vermin are another story and they can get out of hand if not controlled.

Having been fed on by mosquitoes, fleas and lice, I can say I would miss these bugs if they disappeared off the face of the earth. I’ve paid my dues and given enough blood.

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Hospital Food

It’s been nearly two years since my friend Bear died. The hospital he was in, VGH in Vancouver, through unhygienic procedures infected him with C difficile. (He’s not the only person I know who received infections in the hospital: I know of two others who luckily didn’t lose their lives.) I’ve written about this before but I may not have gone into the quality of the food.

Part of the healing process for any person involves several factors. One is getting rid of the infection/disease or removing /fixing the problem. However mental health also plays a big part in healing. If a person is depressed or of a negative frame it can slow or even halt healing. Having experienced depression in the past I know that depression can even bring on problems. I ended up with elbow joint pain that no amount of therapy could fix. It went away with the anti-depressants.

That’s two factors: medical help and mental health. The third and important aspect is having a healthy body that has all the resources for mending. That means having adequate red blood cells, vitamins, nutrition, etc. I’m not a medical expert and there are many doctors that could tell you the specifics, however any deficiency can hinder health. So that third aspect of healing is having the proper nutrition to bring about a full return to health.

Malnutrition in any of a host of vitamins and nutrients can cause everything from deformity to death. It is a serious issue. My friend had several factors against him in regards to eating. They included being a celiac as well as a picky eater, and of course after C difficile took his intestines and shut down his kidneys, food just didn’t taste right.

I often showed up around his dinner time and his plate would include two stale pieces of rice bread, one incredibly thin piece of luncheon meat, maybe a pat of butter or margarine, sometimes one boiled egg, sometimes broccoli boiled to grey, and very little else. His dinners often consisted of a few chicken drumsticks (he was 6’7″) and maybe one small scoop of potatoes. I never tasted the food but his wife on one occasion did when he didn’t feel like eating and her report was that it was disgusting.

On other patients’ plates, in a healthier state, I would see meat, potatoes and gravy and very little resembling vegetables. Luncheon meat has little to no nutrient value and vegetables cooked to mush do not retain much that’s worthwhile either. One slice of luncheon meat hardly makes up a person’s daily intake of protein. Unpalatable meals are not a way to get a person’s appetite back, which is often subdued after a surgery. It is also the worst thing to do to a person whose system has been traumatized by illness or invasive techniques.

Between the food and the infection and resultant problems it’s no wonder that my friend died. If it wasn’t for his wife showing up everyday with home-cooked meals he probably would have died a lot sooner. It’s sad and criminal that someone has to bring in food to try and heal a patient. Many people stuck in the hospital don’t have that luxury of people bringing them good food or the energy to complain, not that it does much good anyways.

In BC at least, premier Gordon Campbell illegally tore up the contracts of union workers in hospitals. They lost their jobs and as the courts looked at the issue for four years, Campbell had the Fraser Health Authority hire the lowest bidders. Cheapest is not always best. Eventually it was found that Campbell’s government was in the wrong but not after it was too late. The damage was done and things like cleaning rooms contaminated with biohazardous waste or feeding people back to health were lost.

It’s too bad Campbell felt it was worth a few lives to save a few bucks and use a dishonorable way of getting rid of workers. It’s too bad the hospitals are so dirty now many people fear having to go in. I know I do and many of my friends do. It’s too bad the hospitals have forgotten one of the principles of health, a good and well-balanced diet. I would like to see a world where truly human life comes first and that even the sacrifice of a few should matter.

If you’re in an area where the hospitals are comprimising someone’s health with terrible food, complain and complain loudly. Involve the media, write your legislative members, blog, tell friends, do what you can so that another life need not be wasted because of such indifference. This goes of course, not just about food but about the cleanliness of hospitals too. It’s time to have people heal healthily and quickly and that involves good food.

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Going Postal Over Workers Compensation

“Going postal” became part of our culture’s vernacular after several instances of US postal workers killing coworkers in fits of rage. From Wikipedia we have:

It derives from a series of incidents from 1983 onward in which United States Postal Service (USPS) workers shot and killed managers, fellow workers, and members of the police or general public. Between 1986 and 1997, more than 40 people were killed in at least 20 incidents of workplace rage. The phrase has been applied to murders committed by employees in acts of workplace rage, irrespective of the employer. It’s generally used to describe fits of rage, though not necessarily at the level of murder, in or outside the workplace.

So when a workers compensation claimant took people hostage this week at the local Workers Compensation Board in Edmonton it was a bit like going postal, although he wasn’t an employee. There is mixed information on Patrick Clayton’s background and it seems he was using drugs on top of it all, but we don’t know if he ended up doing drugs because of how Workers Comp treated him or if he had a pre-existing drug problem before his injury.

Clayton might not be the best example of the frustration people feel at workers compensations boards across the country, but he is in the spotlight because of it regardless. It’s interesting that Alberta’s premier’s first concern was looking at security in government buildings and not looking at what in WCB’s policiies drives people to such desperation.

I’ve outlined my own earlier interaction with WCB in another post. But let’s say there are many many people who have felt frustration, fear and hopelessness as they have been denied their claims or cut off prematurely. I wonder what the statistics are of people who have killed themselves over claim denials or people who continue their lives in pain because of such limitations through WCB.

Some people will claim that for every one legitimate claimant there are ten faked claims (some of the many many comments on CBC’s news article listed below), when it is more like the other way around. I’ve had a nephew whose truck was hit by a train when the truck stalled on the tracks. The truck’s maintenance was the responsibility of the company my nephew worked for and they had ignored the problem. However WCB cut my nephew off after a month or so, even though his shoulder was still screwed up.

This is a common statement for people with claims. If they are not outright denied, their claims are often cut very short. WCB seems to think that all people should heal at the same rate. Every knee injury or back injury is exactly the same as the one before and therefore a person should be back to work in X weeks. When that person responds slower than this ideal list, WCB says goodbye. They pretty much make claimants feel ike cheaters, liars and fakers, and it’s guilty until proven innocent.

As I mentioned previously WCB in BC is called WorkSafe BC and I can’t help but believe the name change is partly because they realized they weren’t compensating workers. Sure there are some claimants who try to get a free ride, and sure there are claimants whose compensation is approved. The first time I had to claim was for a repetitive stress injury to my hands. WCB paid for the physio but again when I wasn’t better within the allotted time it was sorry, no more help. I had to work around the injury and lost a job opportunity because of it.

Any doctor worth their salt could tell you that physiology from one person to the next may be similar but there are numerous factor that can contribute to rehabilitation and healing and much of it not in the patient’s control. There are genetic predispositions, underlying conditions and the vast mystery of how the body works. People don’t respond the same or at the same rate. Would that we could, then it would be cut and dried in fixing people. Everyone into physio and out healed and whole in six weeks.

People lose their livelihoods, their way of life and their physical and mental health when cut off by WCB. They’re often not given anyway to adapt, no explanation other than you should be better and the attitude, whether meant that way or not, comes across as cold and uncaring. My own case had someone taking notes for the vacation case worker talk to me but the actual case worker never actually every talked to me, and just sent a letter of denial. How can a person feel other than ignored and dismissed summarily.

Taking innocent people hostage was not right at all, and could have easily been me or friends or family. But if nothing else, maybe this will bring light to the fact that WCB practices are not seen as fair or just from many people. WorkSafe BC probably did the right thing in changing their name and I think that WCBs across the country should evaluate their mandate. If they’re not their to help the worker then they need to let people know that and change the name.

 http://www.cbc.ca/canada/edmonton/story/2009/10/22/edmonton-charges-hostage-incident.html#socialcomments

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