I am not a doctor. I am providing information based on experiences that my mom has with natural remedies. The purpose of this blog is to help folks to educate themselves. Use this information with your own discernment.

30 November 2011

Weathering the Storms

Ma, Thanksgiving 2011

Life is full of challenges for all of us.  Each of us has some struggle that goes unknown to most people.   Often I forget this fact when I am swimming in self-pity, worrying about things that I can not control or change.

Have you ever sat on a park bench and "people watched?"  

Wondering about someone's life, looking at them and imagining their untold story has always been a favorite past time of mine.  This activity seems to connect me to the individual in my sight.  I feel more compassionate toward strangers; shifting my focus away from myself opens my heart.

Visiting the nursing home, I have met many folks; all of them with a life that is just as special as mine.  All of them experienced love at one time in their lives.  Success, failures, heartaches, loss... every one of the people I see sitting in wheelchairs in the lobby of the home have experienced life.

Compassion flows through my veins, it's the essence of my spiritual life.  I believe that we are all connected and we all need each other to remind us about the importance of love.  Why do we forget in the first place?

Ignorance is bliss. 

Like you, I too have been ignorant to your thoughts and feelings.  I was bathing myself in sadness, bringing with it more sadness.  Pulling the shades of my heart, I shut you out.  I cried.  It felt wrong.  I began to visualize us all together, happy and sharing our lives.  The good times and the not so good times.  I sucked it up and opened my heart to you.  Like magic, healing began with a single hug... Thank you.  No one ever said that weathering the storm would be easy!

Thanksgiving 2011

20 November 2011

How Many Months?

Life is short.  

We all get only so much time to experience the living aspect of life.  Reaching the mid-century mark of my existence on Earth, I realize how much more living I have to do.  

Time goes by quickly.  No longer are the days drawn out like those from my childhood.  Drawn out days which felt like eternity; especially when I was waiting for a specific date to arrive like my birthday, Christmas or a school field trip.  

Time.  We can't see it but we can experience it.  The beauty of living is we have choice, we have free-will; we can spend our time any way we chose.

Have you ever wondered how much time you have to do all that you want to do?  Have you ever thought of your life in months?  If you multiply 12 by the number of years you are, you will be able to determine the  approximate number of  months you have lived on Earth as the person you are right now.

Me?  I'm about 614 months old at the writing of this post.  614 is not a very big number, especially if you look at it in the form of currency... $614 USD is not much money; it's not much time to make your life count.

My mom, she's lived about 986 months.  

How many months are you?

12 November 2011

Coping With Family

The last several nights, I have been woken with my tears.  Gut wrenching sadness fills me.  Upon awakening, my mom immediately comes to mind as do all of my siblings, nieces and nephews.

In my waking nightmare, I see my mom laying out dead in her bed; I witness her end.  I am awake.  I can't wake up.  I am alone.  I begin to sob.  I don't know where to turn.

Every day I see my mom and I know that she's dying.  I am reminded by her fading existence that I need to call an undertaker STAT.  Instead, I have day-mares that are paralyzing.  Unable to move, another day passes and I still haven't contacted a funeral home to arrange for them to pick up my mom's dead body.

The Hospice Bereavement person I spoke with was great.  The help provided allows me to better understand why my siblings are behaving the way they are toward me.  It was explained to me that everyone has a role, both good and bad; it's part of the family balance.

I thought of each of my brothers and sisters.  I replayed in my mind how everyone behaved when we were children.  The bully, the carer, the comedian, the dreamer and the emotionally needy.  Our own little model of the systems theory, my family was balanced.  Unfortunately, my brother died several years ago; we are unbalanced as a family without him.  (Today was Ed's birthday... he would have been 55.)

Family dynamics is wild; the root cause of my angst of Care Giving for my mom.  I had a life long belief which was full of expectation, thanks to my dad.  Unrealistic expectations of my surviving brother and sisters.

Nothing would make me happier to have my sisters and brother near for support.  However, their individual family roles that they played when we were younger has taken precedence.  Old childhood behaviors surface.  Weaknesses are known, blows to the gut are delivered and excuses are answers.  No wonder families are destroyed when tragedy strikes its tepid blow.

Understanding how my family works doesn't make it any easier to get through the sadness that I am feeling.  Watching mom slowly fade is the most difficult experience of my life.  Fortunately, Mom has no idea who is or isn't coming to see her, thank God she hallucinates.

I am tired.  I wonder where I will find the strength to see my mom's dead body when the time arrives.  Do I call my siblings right away and give them an opportunity to see her?  If I do, I run the risk of an abusive exchange that will make coping even more difficult for me.

I pray for my mom's end to come.  I pray that I will make the right choices.  I pray for peace to be restored in my life.

11 November 2011

Intense Daze

October 2011
Ma with Grover, the Cookie Monster
It's been difficult having my mom in hospice, mostly because I know that our days together are limited.  Living for her good days; I arrange my life.  Mom's still inside her frail body, sometimes she comes out and makes me laugh.  I live for the sound of her laughter, soothing to my broken heart, as mom exits this life for whatever comes next.

We live in a "me first" society, caring for family seems to be classified as having a touch of insanity; what's in it for me?  A question that fills the lines of so many faces for the world to read.

What happened to the Old World family values, the real family love that I witnessed growing up with my Polish Grandmother and Aunt?

Family love is now an ideal... when did this happen?  How did it happen?  Why did we all let it happen?

Cope outs.  The easy way out.  Convincing one's self this or that, forming a belief to ease the pain of loss.  There is no easy way out of this life.  We all live.  We all die.  It's what we do in between the biggest events of our life that matters.  People matter.  Stuff doesn't.  Money doesn't.  In the end, all we have is each other.

Mom, she won't be a living and breathing person forever, her days are numbered.  I choose to enjoy Mom, even though she can barely string more than 3 coherent words together.  Sometimes she recognizes me ... sort of; at any given time I am any one of her 3 daughters.   Hallucinations about her absent family brings her peace.  "Marty, Joey and Andy came to see me"  Mom exclaims with joy.  "Eddie, he moved in with me!"  She adds about my dead brother who she believes is alive and well.

Mom knows her family's energy and it calms her, even if the only in the flesh visitors she gets regularly are my sister and me.

Mom, she will live forever in my heart.  I have few regrets.  I am grateful for all the memories that I shared with her, memories that will comfort me for years to come.  I gave Care Giving my all and I am left in an intense daze.

04 November 2011

Have Your Cake and Eat it Too! How integrative medicine is the best of both worlds

Guest Post:  Allison Brooks

Nature and Life. These are two words that should be easy to define, but in today’s culture, the definitions become convoluted. With technology interfering, it is hard to figure out where life begins or ends, and where nature loses its place with civilization.

For example, Death should be the easiest thing to describe about life, but when technology is added, everything changes and the definition becomes foggy. With life-support technology, a machine can do the work the body can’t.  This makes one think, that if the machine were not on, then that person would be dead, so what makes him living now? Do the actions of breathing make one living or does the vision of that person’s soul? In many cultures, like in Japan and Taiwan, life-support is shunned upon because when the soul leaves the body, that person is gone.

This interference of technology is what makes the definition of nature just as tricky. The use of life-support is hindering nature from doing her job. It is sad that when someone thinks of nature, a forest scene comes to mind, and not humans. This should not be the case, humans are nature, and should embrace it. 

This lost sense of being a part of nature, actually has people doubting the laws and effectiveness of nature. For example, more people would chose to listen to a “white-coat” doctor prescribe a plethora of medications, before ever going to a naturopathic practitioner. What is so attractive about chemicals and medications that can barely be pronounced? Herbal teas and homeopathic cures sound friendlier. Natural remedies also, aid the body in healing; actually curing ailments, instead of just treating symptoms. This is not the case with conventional treatments.

This is why integrative medicine is such a miracle practice. It combines the best of the conventional and alternative treatments to produce a rewarding effect. Basically, “you can have your cake and eat it too”. While powerful drugs or therapies, like chemo and radiation, do their job on a specific location, alternative treatments heal the body as a whole, making it more receptive to treatment. Therapies, like Reiki, acupuncture, and massage, have proven to reduce negative symptoms, promote immune system function, and increase the overall well-being of the individual.

There have been many studies conducted over the years on the successfulness of integrative medicine with many different ailments and diseases. Many doctors recommend patients diagnosed with a low-survivability rate cancer to adopt a complimentary therapy while undergoing conventional treatments. Patients with aggressive cancers, like non-hodgkin’s lymphoma, pleural mesothelioma, and higher-stage breast cancers have shown positive results when using integrative therapies.

 Allison Brooks is a recent graduate of the University of Mississippi where she had earned a B.S.  in Biomedical Anthropology.

Allison is currently engaged in research within the study of Ethnography, a branch of Anthropology which compares and analyzes different cultures.   Her focus is on the effects of Biomedicalization with a vast interest in numerous branches of Anthropology.