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An Easter Tale

Once upon a time, in a land of salty, gray ocean, two little girls scampered around in their cotton night gowns, searching for treasure.

Baskets claimed, foil wrappers surrounding them, jelly beans sorted and traded, the girls reveled in an early morning high.

The mother looked upon them and realized they didn’t understand the meaning of this day. She focused their attention and talked about the glory of Jesus and his miraculous rising!

The littlest of the girls looked up with her dark, wide eyes. With a nod of understanding she proclaimed, “Like Michael Jackson’s Thriller!”

**

Happy Easter to all!

Erin

 

Cat Food

Can I just tell you that I’ve spent hours (HOURS) researching cat food. It’s so painful. I try not to be persuaded by commercials, but I want to give my babies food that will keep them healthy and allow them to live a long life. My little angel Cecilia is 12 years old, her brother, the Trouble Bubble (Ted) is 11, and that leaves Baby Duke at about 8. So they are all up there in age, in the “geriatric” category for cats. Two are fat. One is skinny and slinky.

My vet told me to specifically NOT feed them a specific brand of cat food. In his opinion, he’s seen more cats come in with crystals when on this diet than any other. So, I tossed that food. Another brand was recommended and I use that for their dry food. I’ve added daily wet food to their diet A) because they LOVE their wet food; B) both of my vets have recommended it (yes, I have more than one vet); C) wet food adds hydration for cats who are notorious for not drinking enough water (like their mama).

But what is good and what is bad? The whole bi-product thing has me in a tizzy. If it was just bones and organs, then I’m okay with that. HOWEVER, many times it’s not just other parts of the animal. Sometimes it’s human food that’s gone bad, or other things that no animal would eat. Then there’s grains. Ugh. Grains. You read, “don’t feed your cats grains – just meat.” But then the pet foods developed for weight management by VETS have lots of grains (to make them feel fuller so they don’t eat as much and lose weight). So do I give them grains or not? What about Vegetables? Have you ever known a dog or cat to raid the neighbor’s vegetable garden for those tasty carrots? No. Peter does that. Peter Rabbit. Mr. McGregor hated that rabbit. Rabbits raid gardens.  Cats eat birds. Mice. Lizards (ugh, Ted has caught three lizards and a frog in the past month – all INSIDE my house).

Then there’s cost. I feel guilty when saying this because I love my cats. But some of these cat foods are just too darn expensive. I mean, I have a budget for my human food, so they have to have a budget too. I found a brand of cat food that seemed to fit the budget, has meat as it’s primary ingredient, AND is a pate. My cats don’t care for slices or chunks. They adore the GRAVY that comes with slices and chunks, but they lick all the gravy off and throw the meat around the room, then cry because they are hungry. Oh, the crying is usually at 4:00am. So I stick with pate.

OK, so I got a food. Price was fine. Ingredients were fine. Guess what? The cat’s don’t like it. You know what they like? Cat Chow (affectionately referred to in my house as Crack Chow) and Fancy Feast. The cheapest, grossest, McDonald’s equivalent of cat food you can find. They snarf that crap up. ARGH.

So I’m still on the hunt for the perfect cat food. I’m open to suggestions…

Cheers and Purrs,

Erin

 

Be an Organ Donor #DonateLife

#DonateLife

This month marks the one year anniversary of my husband’s liver transplant. It has been quite a year. As with many big life events I think there’s a part of me that says, “Wow, it’s been a year already,” and the other part says, “It’s ONLY been a year?” It’s been a very eventful year. Part of me wishes I had journaled the events a little more closely. Reflecting on the events and emotions has been good for me. It makes me realize I can get through a lot and come out on the other end a little wiser, a little softer, a little smarter, and at the same time a little less willing to put up with too much bull*@%t.

I’ve told the story of Jerry’s transplant in previous posts. The day we got the call is a day I will never forget. Post surgery he was in ICU for a few days – which had its own entertaining factors. Like the High School students who were visiting as part of a program to see if they wanted to be nurses. Jerry gave them the history of lunacy and its relation to the full moon (???). Some of the drugs made him a little nasty at times and I had to leave the room. He fought his breathing tube and it was heartbreaking to watch and difficult for me to keep my shit together to try to calm him. But I did.

We had great nurses on our floor – specially trained in transplants. I felt comfortable enough to go home and sleep at night, among piles of boxes from moving day, and rise semi-rested to be back at the hospital for doctors’ rounds. We had to practice walking again, doing laps around the hospital floor. During one of those laps we ran into a friend who worked at the local SCUBA shop – he was also an IT tech for the hospital. Big City, Small World.

The complications were the hardest. Not knowing what was wrong, but that something was wrong, tests upon tests, doctors from every department. The diagnosis was a worst-case scenario, something incredibly rare in organ transplants. There was a significant chance he wouldn’t survive. But he did. Why? As my sister said, “Because he’s Jerry.” As he recovered, doctors and surgeons came to see him during our post transplant visits and said things like, “You really gave me a scare, I lost sleep over you.” and “I called in every day from vacation to see how you were doing. I’m so glad to see you well.” Jerry turned to me and said, “I almost really died, didn’t I?” Yeah. Yeah, you did.

During his first follow up visits he wasn’t strong enough to walk from the car into the clinic, so I’d load him into the wheel chair, get him in the lobby, park the car, run back in, and we’d get to where we needed to go. He had to wear a mask so he wouldn’t contract any germs. As the weeks and months went by he got stronger and stronger. He graduated to a cane, and now he tells me to walk faster to keep up with him. His medication schedule is a little different than most transplant recipients due to the complications he experienced, but he’s a fighter. The strongest person I know. He’s my partner, my love, my friend, my everything.

For him to receive this gift, someone else had to die. We don’t know much about her, except that she was a young female. Her family chose to give the gift of life to others and donate her organs. For that we will be forever grateful. This year we celebrated her, as we will every year. We will remember her and we will honor her. I have always felt organ donation was a logical thing to do; now there is no question in my mind. I’m quite passionate about it. So I turn to all of my readers and ask you to think about it. Are you already a donor? Tell me about it. Have you donated a loved one’s organs? I’m deeply sorry for your loss and admire your strength to make that choice in a time of great pain and sorrow. Thank you.

You can register through your local DMV to be an organ donor or you can register through www.DonateLife.net. The website answers many questions and lists all of the ways you can save a life by donating your organs and tissue. Different organs can include: heart, lungs, kidney, liver, cornea, intestines, pancreas, and tissue. Tissue can even include bone, muscle, skin, nerves, and connective tissue.

The website also addresses questions and concerns about organ donation including some that I have been asked: #1) Your life always comes first; #2) People of all ages and medical history can donate; #3) An open casket funeral is possible even with organ, eye, and tissue donation; #3) Major religions support organ donation as a final act of generosity and compassion.

So Donate Life. Save a husband, a wife, a best friend, a son, a daughter. #DonateLife

With gratitude,

Erin

 

 

What is She Doing To Me? Part 2 – Why Do I have Knots?

I get this question a lot. Why do I have knots? What can I do to NOT get knots?  I cannot tell you how often I wish I had an MRI machine embedded in my brain. I’d love to see every muscle, scar, tear, break, and knot. It would be my super power (and flying – I mean flying is a super power given right?). Alas, all I can do is feel. I’ve been praised with giving a very intuitive massage and I hear so often, “You found every place that hurt!” Even that magical MRI wouldn’t be able to see the cause of the issue: be it physical or emotional. Let’s get technical for a moment. Here’s a little groundwork that explains your body1:

Fascia                                               

Fascia Close Up

Fascia is a type of connective tissue (the most abundant tissue type in the body) that possesses two physical states: Sol state and Gel state. Massage can change the fascia from the more gelatinous Gel state to the more pliant and elastic Sol state. When in the Sol state, the fascia allows muscles and trigger points to be manipulated. Hydration is key to helping the transformation between the two states.

 

Muscles

Muscles allow the body to move, maintain posture, and produce heat. They respond to signals from the nervous system.

Spasms

A spasm is a localized muscle contraction, usually caused by the stress of a minor injury like a strain or contusion. When the neurological stimulation causing the spasm is repeated in succession, a knot may form in part or all of the muscle.

Trigger Points

Trigger points are similar to spasms, but can be found in muscle, tendons, fascia, and ligaments. However, trigger points in the muscle are basically neurochemical events that cause fibers to stick together creating a knot or rigid zone.

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Now for the why: When I say, “I don’t know,” or  “you can’t do anything to stop them,” I see the disappointment on your face. I answer that way because there are SO many reasons you may be experiencing pain. Most are daily activities. Here are a few:

Fine motor movements: keyboarding or playing a musical instrument require your body to perform movements of constant fine motor control while maintaining posture.

Gross motor movements: yard work, sports, or exercise that use large muscle groups.

Posture: Yep, we don’t think about it, but resisting the force of gravity is work for our bodies.

Stress and Fatigue: Anxiety and depression. A muscle will spasm in response to stress like it will to a physical injury. The stress may be emotional or physical.

Inactivity: Sorry, if you do nothing at all, ever, you will not avoid the pain. Think about it: when you have been lying or sitting for an extended period of time you get up with pain and stiffness.

Direct trauma, disease, and disorders: From a slip and fall or car accident to fibromyalgia or arthritis, the body reacts to all of these conditions.

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So how do you fix it? I feel a teeny tiny bit bad when I say, “massage,” (sometimes I get actual eye rolling and an “of course,” from people when I say “massage”) but massages will truly help. They aid in circulation, loosening that fascia so your muscles move more freely, and releasing those knots that are causing you discomfort. The list of benefits is endless: both physical and emotional. Here are a few other helpful tips to keep you going between your massage sessions:

Everything in Moderation: The two worst things for your body are over use and no use.

Drink Water: Because I said so. The rule of thumb is 0.5oz per pound of your body weight. So if you weigh 130lbs, you should be drinking 65oz of water per day (that’s about eight, 8oz glasses). No. Coffee is not water. No. Soda is not water.

Warm Up Properly: If you don’t warm up prior to exercise you risk muscular tears and facial restrictions that will limit performance. Give yourself a minimum of 5-10 minutes of warm up. It’s worth it.

Try to be Healthy: Good nutrition promotes healing. Excessive use of alcohol or barbiturates slow metabolism. Disease or habits may decrease oxygen supply: smoking, diabetes, sleep apnea.

Circulation: Promoting good circulation is so important for tissue healing. Circulation delivers oxygen and removes waste-product. Massage is great for circulation. So is a healthy diet, drinking water, not smoking, and managing stress.

The body is an amazing thing. Be kind to it. Be kind to yourself. You will be rewarded.

Cheers!

Erin

1 Salvo, S. Massage Therapy Principles and Practice. Third Edition (2007).