Category Archives: Health and Medicine

My Black Friday

Friday morning. One of those which is so blackly frustrating that you are certain you are getting a foretaste of Hell itself. I have been having increased pain in my arm and it took a lot of crying and tossing and turning to fall asleep. Then, an amber alert went off at 2am, waking me again. No surprise, I woke up later than I wanted.

Getting dressed in new clothes always takes a little longer, due to the tags and whatnot. Getting dressed in new clothes with a messed up arm and hand is even worse. DELAY.

Blood glucose, which was low at the time of the amber alert, is now high. Decide it’s best to take insulin now, rather than in an hour when you get to work. DELAY.

Frustration after frustration happened in the short time I was getting ready to go to work. The final straw was when I could not find my glasses and spent 10 minutes looking for them. I wanted to do violence to something, but I couldn’t think of a proper target. Just one of those frustrations where you want to scream and hit something and fall into a puddle and sob until it gets better.

But I’m still running late.

And I have to scrape snow and ice off the car. With my painful, messed up arm.

WHY am I in Hell? What did I DO to deserve this?

The drive in to work was probably mostly fine. The normal morning rush and all that, but I was in a black mood (and knew it). I wasn’t driving with road rage, because I don’t do that. But there was plenty of profanity in my head for all. My apologies, fellow drivers.

I arrived in Ann Arbor with some time to spare, so I decided to stop at Starbucks to get some coffee and breakfast, as I had taken insulin before I left. While there wasn’t a lot of people in line at the drive-thru, this is the slowest Starbucks ever. DELAY.

I make it to work and to my desk with 2 minutes to spare, but I was already done with Friday.

THANKFULLY, I love my job and my coworkers, and I had a project to work on, so things improved greatly from there. I got to have breakfast, work on my project, take some calls, and prep for a professional certification exam I was taking in the afternoon.

I had sent a message to my Neurologist’s office yesterday about the increased pain and numbness and received a message back, adjusting my medications. I looked up the gabapentin online to look at dosing and saw that it peaks in effectiveness about 3 hours after you take it, and can make you sleepy. I was told to increase my dose to about three times what I was currently on. My boss noted that everyone will have to keep an eye on me, as I adjust to the new meds, and make sure I’m good with the changes before I tackle my long commutes. He asked when I was starting the new meds. As soon as I got home, I replied, as I had counted out my medication for the week and only had the old dose on me (which was fine). The suggestion was made that I start the new dose at home, where I can evaluate how it affects me. Which was my plan all along.


The drive home took TWO HOURS. It was grey and cold and rainy and SLOW. I had to keep turning the heat/defrost on, then back off as I got too warm. I was getting really tired, bored by the slow traffic and lack of distraction (my phone battery had died), and was feeling slightly nauseated from all the stop-and-go. And, of course, this was just about three hours from when I took my noon dose of medication. Never mind that it had never affected me like this before, but NOW I was being crushed with fatigue.

I made it home without incident, but I was crazy tired. I mean, like I was drugged (hahaha). I stumbled to and from the mailbox and brought packages in, took my dinnertime medications, and immediately fell into bed. I was asleep probably within 5 minutes of being home. I slept from 6 pm until 4:30 am, when my alarm went off.


(Sorry, everyone. I don’t have any pictures from Friday.)

doTERRA Essential Oils: Peppermint

Peppermint is some potent stuff! I was first introduced to peppermint in my introductory class at the Troy Community Center about a month or so ago. It was passed around for us to put a drop in our hand and sniff it. I couldn’t even take a complete breath in — it was strong! But it does give that nice, minty clean feeling in your nasal passages and throat, similar to Vicks Vaporub.

Since I really wanted to give essential oils a good, fair trial, I also got a book about them, so that I could learn about each oil, its uses and applications.  (The following facts about peppermint are from the book, “The Essential Life,” by Total Wellness Publishing.)

Peppermint is listed as being good for:

  • Alertness
  • Allergies and Hives
  • Asthma and Sinusitis
  • Autism
  • Bad Breath
  • Cravings
  • Decreasing Milk Supply
  • Emotional Balance
  • Fevers and Hot Flashes
  • Gamma Radiation Exposure
  • Gastritis and Digestive Discomfort
  • Headaches and Migraines
  • Loss of Sense of Smell

And has the following properties:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Analgesic
  • Antispasmodic
  • Warming
  • Invigorating
  • Cooling
  • Expectorant
  • Vasoconstrictor
  • Stimulating

Now for my personal experience with peppermint.  It’s a little mixed, and I’ll tell you why….  It’s potent!  This is one of the oils which is listed with a safety warning:  “Dilute for topical application as may cause skin sensitivity.”  THIS IS NO JOKE, PEOPLE!  A friend stated that she used peppermint topically on her forehead and back of the neck for headache relief, so when I had a headache, I decided to give it a try.

I forgot that I have sensitive skin.

So, I ended up with a huge rash and a bad allergic reaction.  Like, affecting my breathing bad.  The rash lasted for about a week and a half and then went away, but it was red, raised and itchy while I had it.

Moral of the story:  pay attention to any warnings that are on the oils!  Some are not meant to be ingested, some may be irritating for sensitive skin, etc.  There are carrier oils, like fractionated coconut oil or almond oil that you can use to dilute the essential oils, and these may be helpful for some of the more irritating oils.

While I’m sitting here typing out this post, I have a cough from a mild cold.  Since my essential oil book is right here, I decided to look up what you can use to treat coughs.  In order of efficacy, they suggest lemon, cardamom, respiration blend, peppermint, and cinnamon.  I only have the peppermint, so I decided to give that a try.  I put 2 drops in an 8 oz glass of cold water and have been sipping on that while writing.  Since it’s in my glass, I can also inhale it as I sip.  It has helped my cough somewhat.  Better than a cough drop, actually.  Be careful not to exhale into the glass with your eyes open, you don’t want to get peppermint into your eyes!

doTERRA Essential Oils: Therapeutic, Placebo, or ?

doTERRA Essential Oils
So, you may have heard about essential oils from a friend, or heard about someone trying them. At the moment, it’s kind of the “in” thing to do, along with buying trendy, healthy food from Whole Foods or Fresh Thyme or Trader Joe’s. At some point, you will probably try some, just to see what all the hype is about.

This more or less is me. Just to let you know where I’m coming from, I am a big skeptic when it comes to these things. I am a firm believer in modern medicine and science. I think medications made by pharmaceutical companies work because they have researched the exact component or chemical needed to be efficacious for some disease process or the other, and have found a way to replicate or isolate this component, so that you are getting precisely the effect you are going for.

There are pros and cons to everything in life.

I recently attended a seminar on essential oils, willing to hear their side of the argument and find out for myself what it’s all about. I’ll tell you right now, I suck at direct sales and am a much better consumer than salesperson, so I’m not here to pitch you a line or make you buy anything from me. I *am* here to try out this line of products and give you my brutally honest opinion. Like anything else, if it’s a quality product, its got nothing to fear from a little scrutiny, right?

Here are some pros, coming from someone who has made selling doTERRA their full-time job:

  • It’s natural, not synthetically made.
  • Components are not removed from the essential oil, so that if the oil from a plant has 20 different compounds within it which are good for treating 20 different ailments, you are getting all 20.
  • It’s a lot cheaper per dose than pharmaceutical drugs.
  • Essential oils do not have the same long scary list of side effects as do pharmaceutical medications.
  • You can treat a lot of common problems at home without a prescription.
  • Because they are natural, you can feel confident about what you are putting in your body.

I’m sure there were a lot more benefits that I’m not remembering at the moment.  What I was left with was a few questions….

  • Since I’m getting “all 20 compounds” in an essential oil, is it possible that I’m over medicating, or getting chemicals that I don’t need, or to which I could react, when I’m seeking to treat just one particular ailment.  E.g.  If I want to treat acne and the plant is also known for raising blood pressure (completely hypothetical, I don’t know that anything like this exists, but it could), could I inadvertently raise my blood pressure while taking the essential oil treatment?  This would be an unintended side effect.
  • DOES IT WORK OR JUST SMELL GOOD?  This is probably the biggest question.  After all, there’s no sense in buying into (literally and figuratively) a product which doesn’t do what you think it will do.

All this being the case, I am going to be writing articles on my findings and publishing them here.  I’m hoping that the essential oils will win out over my skepticism.  I really do.  I am intrigued by the idea of being able to take care of things on my own without resorting to a whole medicine cabinet of prescription drugs.

Since I post a lot of different things on my blog, I’ll be tagging these posts with “doTERRA” and “essential oils,” so feel free to search/filter by these tags.  🙂 Join me on the journey! And feel free to ask me any questions along the way! I will try to find an answer for you.

Giraffe Report

So, today was pretty much forfeit. *sigh* I could probably blame it on everything I did yesterday, which might be true, but it’s also possible that it’s random.

Yesterday, I got up and my blood sugar was a little low, so I went to Starbucks for breakfast. I came back home and danced around the living room for a while. Then, I got to meet a friend who has been living out of state and celebrate her little girl’s first birthday with the family. I’m *so* excited they will be moving back soon! We were there about 3 hours or so, and then it was time for her daughter to take a nap. I was ready for a nap, too. My stamina is nothing like it used to be!

But, I had a whole list of things I intended to get done, so I went about my day. First, I stopped at Home Depot to get some supplies so that I can fix the window in my bathroom shower. I wandered all over the store and had about 5 different employees help me, but I think I finally left with everything I needed. I was *exhausted*.

Grocery store next. I had made up a grocery list and was determined to get everything I planned, although I felt so bad that I was sagging on the cart as I shopped. So thirsty! I think I got 15 different beverages, just because. I had a caffeinated energy drink in the parking lot.

Once home, I put away the groceries and started tackling the window. I knew that if I stopped then, nothing would get done. I quit after applying the caulk, since it needed to dry for a while, and resolved to finish tomorrow (today).

I talked to a friend on the phone, took a short walk, had dinner, watched some TV, then went to bed.

Today, I also had a lot of plans. However, I wasn’t feeling well, so I stayed in bed later than I had anticipated. I got up around 10:30 am and made lunch, and ate it on the couch watching TV. Then, I went back to bed. I got up again about 5 pm or so, feeling awful. Just exhausted and hurting and really bad arrhythmias. Everywhere from freezie cold to super hot; I don’t *think* I”m getting sick…

This blog post is about the extent of what I’ve done today. I have *so* much more that I need to take care of. *sigh* At least now, a few hours later, I only feel mildly exhausted and a little nauseated. I can work through that. My priorities right now are to finish up the bathroom (so I can take a shower in the morning!), and write my paper. If I have any more time, I’ll get to work processing my images from this weekend. Then, you’ll get to *see* what I’ve been up to!

Maybe I Should Have Been Frankenbabied…

Baby Frankenstein Costume

I was reading through my blog feed, trying to get caught up, when I happened upon this article regarding genetic modification of embryos. In a nutshell, the article takes a look at the morality (or immorality) of taking the nuclear DNA from an embryo and implanting it within a denucleated egg cell from a donor which contains healthy mitochondrial DNA as a “therapy” for patients with mitochondrial disease.

Is “therapy” the right word?

The article suggests that maybe not. The way they argue it, you aren’t “treating” a condition of the patient, but you are modifying the genetic make-up of the person from the beginning — taking some genes from the father, some from the mother and other genes (the mitochondrial ones) from a second woman (the donor egg). Then, you slap together all the pieces parts to Frankenbaby yourself a genetically “improved” embryo.

By the way, I just made up that word.

Frankenbaby = to genetically modify an embryo

Given that my condition is progressive and terminal and relatively uncommon, I’m kind of happy that the medical community is bothering to think up ways to help me out. However, (1) it’s a little too late at this point and (2) it’s not moral.

Keep trying, though…

Beautiful Day


What a day to celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord! 🙂

I woke up today feeling better than I have in *months* (if not longer)! Thank You, Jesus! I have no idea how long this will last, but I’m not particularly dwelling upon that question, but enjoying this while I can. 🙂 I got out of the door this morning on time and got a mocha from Starbucks. Then, I got to enjoy a beautiful sunrise while getting on the expressway. It was a pale rainbow with mountainous purple-pink clouds. Days like this make me wish I could just stop for a moment and take a picture.

I don’t want to waste this day of feeling well. I want to do everything! But I know that it is precisely this time which I need to give back to the Lord, so that I can use this time of feeling well to do what it is that He would like me to do. What He would have be do is infinitely more important than anything I could fill my day with. So, I prayed this morning on the way in to work and offered my health and my day back to Him. I prayed that I would be able to hear what it is that He would have me do.

I am looking forward to doing the Lord’s work today! 🙂 Thanks be to God!

Blessings on your Easter octave!

7 Quick Takes: Friday the 13th!

— 1 —

God’s grace has been enveloping me this week. I am in awe of the gifts that He gives me and the way in which his is protecting me from my own sinful nature and deformed will, so that my heart may be conformed more closely to His. I supposed I shouldn’t be *that* surprised, since I pray for this all the time, but seeing Him answer that prayer is simply amazing!

— 2 —

Garden of Gethsemane

The most beautiful sight of the week has to have been the sight of my priest praying, prostrate, in front of the empty tabernacle on Holy Thursday evening. I stumbled upon this scene by accident, but it took my breath away. I couldn’t help but think of our Lord in the garden of Gethsemane, praying to the point of sweating blood — for us. To see my priest doing the same thing… What else could I do, but to be one of the apostles? So, I stayed some distance away and prayed (I *didn’t* sleep!). I prayed for him and for our parish, but I also spent quite a bit of time in prayer just to the Father. If he was praying in the place of Jesus, as an alter Christi, then I wanted to unite my prayers to theirs (his and His). I prayed at a bunch of altars of repose that evening, and I participated (as best I could) in many wonderful liturgies and events during Holy Week, but none captured my heart so much as those few quiet minutes of prayer in the garden.

— 3 —

Just a little bit of medical irony this week…. I had my follow-up appointment with my Pulmonary Medicine/Critical Care doctor yesterday. I was tachycardic, my blood pressure (instead of the nice 106/70 that it was last time) was 131/91, and my O2 sats had dropped from 99 to 93 (although the nurse, after trying a couple different fingers, saw it blip up to 95 momentarily and back down to the 93 it had been for about 5 minutes and recorded the 95).

So, even though my numbers were worse, apparently I was “good enough,” because he walked in and said that “healthy people can’t stay,” and told me that if I continued to do as well as I have been, I can stay out of the clinic until NEXT YEAR! 🙂

— 4 —

Wall of Books

Hi! My name is Jenn, and I am a book addict. I recognized this truth about myself this morning as I was walking in the dawn light to my parish’s library to return a book. Typically, I run up book fines like crazy, but I am trying very hard, at this library anyway, to return my books on time. Nevermind the fact that I am currently reading something like 40 books. Or that I already have 2 other books checked out from this library, one on loan from the book exchange at work, about 7 checked out from the library at my other parish and several books at my house which I haven’t finished. Nevermind all that. Because when I stepped into the library this morning, aware that I was there not 12 hours previously (and I read 2 books at that time), I had the urge to check out yet another book

— 5 —

Writer’s Block… Who would have thought that it would happen on a 7 Quick Takes??? I know that a lot of things have happened this week, but when the time comes to put them into a blog post, I end up staring at the computer screen for an uncomfortable period of time. Does this ever happen to you, too?

I have been thinking that it might be helpful to keep some Sticky Notes on me, so that I can write myself a reminder during the week to prepare for Fridays…

— 6 —

Is it odd that in this highly digital age, having several computers and a smartphone, that I am still enamored of Sticky Notes? I have them everywhere in my house, in my books, in my purse… And, even though I have a Kindle, for books which are not purely for pleasure-reading (which is most of the books that I read these days), I prefer to have a physical book in hand. I used to be very anal about keeping my books looking as pristine as possible, but it seems like I have entered the phase in my life where I want to underline or highlight things which strike me and am enjoying the idea of having books which look “lived in.”

— 7 —


Speaking of Addictions…. I also seem to have a love for photography, which is perhaps not surprising to those of you who know me. I used to instruct photography. Probably the most useful Christmas present which I have received lately is a small point-n-shoot digital camera that my parents got me. I had mentioned wanting to get a small camera which I could keep in my purse, so that I always have one on hand.


So, I now have a small, purple Nikon that I take with me everywhere. Granted, it’s a point-n-shoot, with all of the weaknesses of such a camera (which is occasionally frustrating), but the ability to take photos at any time is so awesome! Like yesterday, while I was visiting the parish library, and happened to notice all of the flowers… 🙂 Photos will be coming… As soon as I get home where I can download them! For now, you can see a few I took with my phone (the day before, when I had left my purse in the car… while visiting (again) the parish library… 🙂

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

How Not to Wake Up


I believe there is a right way and a wrong way to wake up.

For example, screaming in pain. This is not the right way.

Unfortunately, this is how I woke up. I had a muscle cramp in my leg so bad, my entire limb was distorted. While screaming and trying to stretch it out — something to make it feel better — my thoughts were of earthquakes as I tried to determine the Richter number of this particular episode. The epicenter of this particular event seemed to be in my ankle and shooting up the lateral side of my calf.

“On fire” does not even begin to describe the feeling. Even through the screamy pain, I did unite my suffering to the cross for a particular person. You are going to have a fantastic day. You’re welcome! 🙂

In further achy news, my chronically tight and painful neck muscles have spread their misery to my surrounding upper back muscles. Way to share, guys.

Soon, it will be close enough to dawn to attempt a walk to the park to stretch these muscles out. Let’s all cheer. Neuromuscular disorder – yay. :/

Disease Progression

The infamous abs

It’s funny what upsets us.  Lately, I’ve noticed an increase in pain and weakness in new muscle groups.  Insertion points in my knees and shoulder…  Facial muscles (which is why I’ve been rubbing my cheeks lately)…

But the one that’s making me really sad is my abs.  Yep.  You wouldn’t have thought, would you?  I’ve always counted on my abs.  I could do crunches and sit-ups like crazy in the Navy.

And now…. they too are succumbing to the disease.  And I am not happy about that.  🙂

You’d think I’d be more concerned about my lungs, nausea, or my heart.  But this isn’t about those parts of me being attacked which are more life-threatening, but those which I will miss the most.

For you, my dear abdominal muscles:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. ~Dylan Thomas