Day 95: Creating My Zen Garden

Day 95: Creating My Zen Garden

So, continuing on with my purge and sort approach to our house, I worked still more on the kitchen. The goal was to get the counter completely clear of any and all items. I want my kitchen to be my zen garden, a place of ease and simplicity. I have plenty of chaos in my life; and the kitchen is one of those places when in use, but to be able to start with a clean slate, everyday, would be heaven.

Surprisingly, there hasn’t been too much to actually get rid of, only small things here and there. Mostly it is a re imagining of the space and finding new homes for things to create a work-flow that actually works.

The counter started out looking like this:

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and ended up looking like this:

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So, the purging and sorting continues. More on that as it happens.

In regards to the eczema on my hands. It has not fully resolved, but it is at least, not extreme.While I traveled, especially in the hospital, it really flared. Then it calmed while I was at my mom and dad’s place for a few weeks and then flared again just before our trip back to Cali. So, it is at at least in part, triggered by stress. I also suspect that allergens in the air cause me to react a bit. As to whether diet has any effect, it is hard to really know. I had to toss aside my strict diet for the month I was away, and so I have not returned to it. The only foods I am avoiding are: pineapple, orange, lemon and mango as recommended by the Chinese doctor I saw while in Canada.

I also had another suggestion from a friend of a friend of my sister-in-law who suggested it might be a fungal or nano- bacterial infection. While this is worrying, I am also half hoping this is the case so that I don’t have to worry about dietary restrictions. As to how to treat something like that, I have no idea.

My own protocol that has been working to ease the itching and oozing is: as soon as itching occurs, I cover the affected area with green clay until the clay has dried. The longer the clay is on, the more of the oozing liquid it helps to absorb. Then I douse my hands with liquid nano-silver which is an antibacterial agent. Then I coat my hands in castor oil or coconut oil and put on cotton gloves for the night.

Now, sometimes, the mere act of trying to hydrate my hands causes more itching, so that piece is iffy. I did come across some eczema info that suggested that hydration is necessary, but should be with a water based cream. I may have to give that a go.

For now, the itching has been minimal enough that I can resist, for the most part, scratching which seems to be key in order to not open up wounds which take a long time to heal (but heal quite quickly using nano silver).

The other piece is that I am trying to have a micro meditation session every morning before I get out of bed into the chaos of my kid filled life. By micro, I mean micro, like maybe 5 minutes…maybe. But in that time I envision all my cells vibrating to the same frequency, out from my heart center. I try to feel deep gratitude for my life, acceptance of the moment and compassion for myself and everyone around me. To some of you this might sound a little too far out there. But I know myself to be not only a physical being but a being of energy and a product of my own mind. When I am stressed it affects my physiology, thus, if I can be at peace and calm, perhaps my eczema can react in kind.

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Days 57 & 58: Wedding!

Days 57 & 58: Wedding!

Gosh, by the time I get to writing these blogs it’s so late my brain is no longer working.

I will try to be brief.

This weekend I and my two kiddos along with my sister and brother-in-law got to go to a dear friend’s wedding. It was brilliant: ceremony, food, dancing and sleeping all in one place. Our hotel room was on the 3rd floor and the ceremony and dinner/party were on the main floor. Super set up for having kids in tow…which was exactly as the bride and groom had planned as they too have a little kiddo of their own. The dancing at the end was dominated by kids, actually, which made for a lot of fun and helped me feel not so worried about “ruining” the festivities with a potentially out of control toddler who hadn’t napped all day. Luckily, my girls did really well- little M slept through the ceremony and C slept through dinner and dancing.

I am quite exhausted without the hubs here to relieve me on night duty and diaper changes. My littlest is particularly clingy as all the new environments have her wanting to come back to the “Mother Ship” frequently for nursies…and she’s teething. It was quite the trick to put both girls down for the night, all of us on one queen bed. I managed to drag a heavy chair and ottoman tight to one side of the bed…which was good because in the middle of the night my toddler was sleeping on the ottoman with her head on the bed…she moves a lot! Luckily, no falls onto the floor as a result of this arrangement. I was snug in the middle with my 10 month old on my other side, blocked by a pillow to prevent her from falling off the other side. I left the dancing early because they were both looking so beat (and I didn’t want to be that mommy who ignores her kids and just does her own thing but I LOVE TO DANCE!)…but as soon as we got to our room they were both wide eyed and ready to partay. I considered returning to the dancing in our jammies, but instead we had a mini cartoon watching session. Eventually we all fell asleep close to midnight. A small miracle since my toddler also was sort of scared of the room, and sleeping in all these new environments has her a little confused. She said ” I want to leave this room right now”several times when we first arrived. I am so impressed that despite that, she listened to me, did not freak out, and eventually slept. I’m beat.

The annoying part of all of this is that  I’ve been flaring up eczema-wise every other day since flight day. I guess the stress has been a factor. But last night, my neck and face also joined the flair up party and I think it was purely environmental. When we walked into the hotel room I immediately smelled the cleaners and whatever it is that they wash the bedding in – very perfumey. Wherever my face touched the pillow it became itchy. I had to put gloves on so I wouldn’t scratch anything. Happily, in the morning, nothing was swollen.

I’m still itchy, but it’s not as bad as it was just having left that environment. I’m also using nano silver topically because all my aunties are recommending it very highly, and since I’ve also had a consult with a friend of a friend who thinks I might have some kind of nano bacterial infection…and silver is anti bacterial….I thought I’d give it a try. 20160605_231523.jpgIt really takes down the swelling fast and seals open wounds rapidly. I am going to stick with that for a while to see if I keep healing up. It can also be taken internally, but I’m just trying it topically for the moment. If it’s bacterial, this should help. If it’s internal, this won’t necessarily be the solution.It’s a process of elimination…unfortunately I am very impatient.

Also, because it was a wedding, and because I’ve been so restrictive for so long, I totally went whole hog and ate all the foods I haven’t been having…cheese, sugar, caffeine, wine, wheat. I did notice that my tummy did not want to process the cheese so much, but otherwise no immediate discomfort. Hard to discern, really, because I did it all at once, AND I was mixing foreign bedding in with the whole thing. Right now, as I type on this Sunday night, a day after the wedding, I have a returned rash on my neck, itchy face…but surprisingly calm fingers and hand. The silver is really soothing.

So, it’s back to eating predominantly healthy food with moderate off-the-tracking. I still do not know how to incorporate the advice from the Chinese doc. I’m really trying to feel things out at the moment.

More later. For now, I sleep.

Day 56: Processing

Today I went to the Chinese doctor my aunt recommended, Te-Ming, for a diagnosis and consult. He couldn’t prescribe me a brew because I am nursing, but he did give me advice on the foods I should and shouldn’t be eating…and it totally turned everything I’ve been doing on its head.

Among many things, according to the Chinese medical wisdom, I should be eating carbohydrates, sugar but NOT fruit sugar, no teas but coffee is okay, dairy is okay. My skin condition and based on a reading of my pulse he can see that I have weak digestion and a lot of “damp” that needs to be cured with “fire”. So alkalizing foods should be limited (ie vegetables) and acidic foods should not be avoided. I can still have veg, but in moderation and definitely cooked. I MUST avoid all citrus including lemon (which is alkalizing). Also, avoid GMO everything as it has an effect on the skin.

So now I need time to process this complete about change. I need to decide what could possibly work for me.

Feeling a little confused right now.

 

Days 53,54,55: Busy

Days 53,54,55: Busy

Where have I been?

Busy. Busy packing into the wee hours of the night (I hate packing, and packing for two kids and myself was a challenge) before an early morning flight.

Then, busy traveling with kiddos. I was SO nervous. But they did great. As was expected it was exhausting – how could it not be when you’ve got two littles that want to be held…usually at the same time…add in carry-on luggage etc. and it was….quite a work out. I was also surviving on a handful of nuts and two raw seed bars and nothing else, because there was nothing I could buy that fit my diet regimen at the moment. I had plenty for the kids though.

I’ve been having hand eczema flair ups through it all. Very annoying. I chose to do late night green clay treatments on my hands instead of blogging. Priorities. No doubt the flair ups are connected with stress ( and possibly the hormonal cycles of the month). I’m going to have to relax a bit on the whole green smoothie everyday etc. since I’m not home and can’t do my usual flow. It’s been over four weeks, so it is a good time to re-introduce more foods. Perhaps some sprouted wheat…more fruits. What I will stay away from is dairy and refined sugars for a bit longer.

I’m starting to think that there is definitely an emotional component to this whole eczema thing too. There seems to be a direct correlation between my itchiness and when I am agitated with the kids, or stressed out ( such as with the recent flight). I need to get to the bottom of it. So, not only addressing diet and exercise but my internal world as well. Easier said than done…but I will try.

I was also hoping to visit a Chinese doctor to get some advice on where to go with my diet. If nothing else, it will inform me and let me know if I am on the right track.

Not much to report, I guess I have been having more thoughts about purchasing stuff. In the last ditch effort to pack everything I needed, I did have to run to the store and grab some essentials like teething meds, snacks for the kids. Somehow, in so quickly grabbing and purchasing stuff it rekindled that part of me that likes to shop and not overthink things too much. As a result, I’ve caught myself thinking ‘oh, it would be nice to have this and that’ etc. So long as they are just thoughts, I will witness them and let them go.

Still quite tired. Goodnight!

Day 52: Self Diagnosis

Day 52: Self Diagnosis

I finally found, online, the name for the skin condition I seem to have. It’s called Dyshidrotic Eczema. Unfortunately, all the sites that cover it say that doctors don’t know the cause or how to cure it. One of the more depressing sites said that there was no cure and it could be a life-long condition…although its been known to spontaneously heal and not come back. This is when conventional medicine absolutely fails, because no where in any of the lists of treatments does it mention the food we nourish our bodies with. And it would seem that SO many people struggle with this condition. I would love to interview each and every person and see what it is they are eating. If the majority of people eat a conventional western diet, then I can’t see why it wouldn’t be helped by improved nutrition.

My hands have been itching, but I have been religious about putting those cotton gloves on, as well as latex gloves when diapering my kids and doing dishes. This has gone a long way in helping my skin heal. It doesn’t look nearly as angry and red or swollen as it was a few weeks ago.

…OMG…

I just took a moment, just now, because I suddenly had a thought about the baby wipes I’ve been using on the kids. I started getting the Costco brand recently, check this out, found on this site:

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recognized formaldehyde as a carcinogen. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has defined formaldehyde as “carcinogenic to humans.”

The Environmental Working Group has given it the highest (i.e. worst) score for its negative health impact. Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives are associated with widespread allergic contact dermatitis.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, allergic contact dermatitis is a type of eczema that develops on the skin as a result of allergic reaction. Allergic contact dermatitis usually develops a few hours after the allergen (i.e. the substance to which the person is allergic) touches the skin and causes symptoms.  The symptoms of exposure to formaldehyde may include the following:

  • “Itchy, swollen, and red skin or dry and bumpy skin
  • Blisters may develop if the reaction is more severe
  • Blisters may break, leaving crusts and scales
  • Skin may later flake and crack
  • With long-term exposure to an allergen, the skin becomes thick, red, and scaly.
  • Over time, the skin can darken and become leathery.”

Formaldehyde is a powerful chemical and a concentration of 30 ppm is enough to evoke an allergic reaction.  Some formaldehyde-releasing preservatives release a higher amount.  For example, quartenium-15 releases 100 ppm, way above the amount needed to cause allergic contact dermatitis.

Unfortunately, if you are trying to avoid formaldehyde, one of the hidden ingredients, you won’t find it listed as an ingredient. Instead, look for these formaldehyde-releasing preservatives.

 

  • Diazolidinyl Urea
  • DMDM Hydantoin
  • Imidazolidinyl urea
  • Quaternium-15
  • Tosylamide/Formaldehyde Resin
  • Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate
  • 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (bronopol)
  • Polyoxymethylene Urea
  • 5-Bromo-5-Nitro-1,3 Dioxane
  • Methenamine
  • Glyoxal
  • Benzylhemiformal

 

When I first did a study of the baby wipes industry in 2013, two brands – Kirkland Signature™ Baby Wipes and 365 Everyday Value® Wipes contained formaldehyde-releasing preservatives. A year later the formaldehyde preservatives were replaced with much safer preservatives. Coincidence? I’d like to think that our consumer pressure had to do something with it. Unfortunately, Kirkland Signature™ Moist Flushable Wipes still have a formaldehyde-releasing preservative 2-Bromo-2-Nitropropane-1,3-Diol. I included Kirkland Signature™ Moist Flushable Wipes in my Baby Wipes Rating List in case parents decide to use them on their babies.

I’m not using the flushable wipes, but still, could even the safer preservatives be having an effect on my hands? What is it doing to my baby’s bottoms? Appalling. We are surrounded by toxins everywhere, everything is suspect.

So, I will be looking into that a bit more!

Today was Memorial Day. As a last hurrah before heading to Canada we had some friends and family over for dinner and it was wonderful. The weather was gorgeous, the food was delish. Getting together with good people is food for the soul.

Got to get a good nights sleep as this will be the last full nights sleep; Tuesday we get up at, like, 3:30 to hit the road by 4:30 for a flight out of SanFran at 7:20am. Yay. Looks like the bubs is teething right now, so I hope it has eased by the time we fly or it’s going to be FUN (in not a good way). Gack!

Days 50-51: Getting Ready

It’s been a busy weekend. Some packing, some outdoor activities, a date night (yay!)

Through it all my eczema has been slowly healing up. My hands had an itch flair up but I was able to manage it and not do damage – cotton gloves save me. I just slip those on and try to think of anything but my itchy hands. The inflammation response is less, which is very encouraging.

Based off a lot of research on healing eczema, I went ahead and bought bones for bone broth. I boiled it for over 24 hours and now I’m just drinking it from a mug. Lots of good stuff in it. I like that though my diet may be somewhat restrictive, I still get to have some of my favorite things…namely delicious broth. I’m a soup girl. Most likely the result of my Asian heritage from mom’s side.

Tomorrow is Monday…and we leave for Canada at the crack of dawn on Wednesday. I should be very excited, and I will be, but right now I am more nervous about the flight. Travelling with the two girls by myself…anything is possible. I just pray that my toddler is having a good day that day and that none of us are sick. I also really pray that my eczema keeps a low profile so that I will have fully functioning hands to get me through the trip.

My work flow will not be the same once I’m there as, depending on where I am staying there may not be wifi etc., so I will probably be posting less frequently…but will find some way to track how I am doing because I still want to stay accountable.

I’m pretty beat. More packing and organizing tomorrow.

Night, night.

Days 48 & 49: Healing and…Illegal Spending Alert!!

Days 48 & 49: Healing and…Illegal Spending Alert!!

*This post is yesterday’s post, however, unexpectedly, like all the electronics in our house it would seem, the modem conked out mid-writing. $100 later, we now possess a new one. Sigh*

I chose sleep over writing yesterday. I think it was the right choice. I’ve had relief from itching going on for about three days and it is…heaven. I am a little…tentative in celebrating, however, because I fear that more relapses are in the future. One day at a time, and I continue to eat as well as I can.

Now, on the spending front: I had to enter the den of temptation, Costco, today in order to get my hands on some food stuffs and “sucky packs” as my girl calls them ( pureed fruit and veg in those convenient packs with lids) for our flight next week.

For the most part, we did great. Only the stuff on the list…and the stuff I forgot to put on the list but we truly needed. But then, I came to a display of backpacks. Now, these backpacks called because, 1. the backpack I (and my husband) have been using almost continuously as a baby bag is falling apart slowly, and 2. it has a laptop sleeve inside ( I plan on bringing my laptop for entertainment in flight).

I have a plan: I’m a mom of two under three, so I didn’t have much time to stand in the aisle trying to logic it out. Also, Costco is notorious for having stock one day and not the next. So, I decided to get it and I’ll do a trial pack at home to see if it is useful to me. It has got to work as my one carry-on. I want to be as light and compact as possible. If not, I have time to return it.

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Anyone have thoughts?? Am I just using some elaborate scheme to buy new? At this point, I just don’t know. I will have to run my test pack and see. Then, the old pack will have to move on out in order for this to be a legitimate switch.

Hey, check out the food I’ve been experimenting with. Since I’m going wheat free for a while, but love pizza, I sought out an alternative. Here is a cauliflower crust with smoked salmon, nitrite free salami, arugula, onion and cashew parmesan ( dairy free), with kraut on the side and anise stem pickles I made last week as an experiment :