Baby Steps

For those that read my more recent posts, I’m trying to get back into posting. I’m hesitant to give health advice ever since I was harassed by a supplement company.

To be honest, I don’t want to give health advice exactly… I want to just encourage each and every one of you to take it easy. Life is hard! We deserve to have a good life, all of us, don’t we?

I know how difficult it is to eat healthy, to breathe in and out, to go about your day with a smile on your face. I once had an acupuncturist tell me that I needed to cry.

He said, “Watch a sad movie. Let it all out. Do it often.”

And here is what I learned about feeling better. Crying is detoxing. The more we sleep, weep, sweat, pee, poop, breathe and laugh, we get better. Between toxins and emotions we all really need a good detox and we need it all the time. Beets for instance, are really great for detoxing our liver. Sleep detoxes our brains. Some chemicals I’ve heard, can only depart our bodies through sweat.

So give yourself a break. This stuff isn’t easy. There is no one “cure all” out there. But lots of baby steps along the way will get you where you’re going. Replenish what you’re missing. I’m sure you’re missing something! Most people in the United States are missing adequate amounts of iodine and magnesium for starters. But what else? How about B vitamins, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, etc. And how about probiotics? We pasteurize everything, cook everything, and forget that we are all just containers of live bacteria. We need bacteria to live, give us energy, fight viruses and help us lose weight. We have more bacteria in our bodies than we do human cells. In fact, bacteria tell our cells how to behave. They can even turn genes on and off. SO let’s get some probiotics in our lives…and let them have variety because variety is the spice of life! But try to do as much as you can with whole foods rather than supplements because this is how we stay balanced. For instance, an oyster has a unique amount of selenium and zinc but if you take it in supplement form, you might throw yourself off balance. Food naturally keeps this unique balance, so if you can, find the things you’re missing with food. Bone broth is great because it gives our bones all the things we’re probably missing in our bones! You’ll be pleased to see your skin loves it too. But don’t do any big change fast… Our bodies can’t handle that. Our livers can’t take it. Our kidneys need to take it easy. We need to allow ourselves to do little changes over time.

Baby steps. Anything more than that and we might not get there… but if we can allow ourselves to take the smallest steps, then maybe just maybe one day we’ll be somewhere delightfully unexpected, like in a body that’s finally taking it easy.

Gentle hugs to you all,

Sarah May

It’s nearly a decade later.

Dear readers, this will be an unusual post.

For those that have followed this blog, you noticed at first I didn’t write much towards the end, and then I didn’t write at all. But I never could explain why. Now I’m about to.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten how to write in a blog too, but hopefully this is like riding a bike.

First, I am still alive, still well, and I’m sorry I haven’t logged into my site until now.

A post I had written long ago caused quite a stir. So much of a stir that, a big stack of papers came in my mail, threatening to sue me. At first, I did not worry. I considered what I had to say an act of freedom of speech and that this giant company wouldn’t get very far. But the reality was, I was broke, and I was trying desperately to manage my career and manage my autoimmune disease, and I was in denial. The blog was a place to decompress, but for the first time, it added to undue stress in my life.

Over that year, new paperwork came, threatening me more and more. Calls came in. “Take down your blog” it read. But I did nothing and hoped they could do nothing to me.

A year later, a bigger stack of brand new paperwork came. This time, a new lawyer put their name to it, and this time they threatened they would put me in jail for giving advice on my blog. What? Can they really put me in jail?

I took the paperwork over to someone within my network, as a one time favor to ask for advice.

Yes they could sue me, of course, anyone can sue anyone for anything. But she didn’t think they would win and she didn’t think they could put me in jail because I occasionally gave advice. Still I felt scared and confused. All I wanted to do was be well. I didn’t have money for a lawyer and I was only starting to get control of my autoimmune disease and my career. I felt morally responsible to keep my blog visible, though I was told to take it down. To compromise, I took the original post down that caused so much trouble and stopped allowing comments along with responding to them. All of my writing energy disappeared in an instant.

Without even trying, a year or so passed. Every time I wanted to write, I stopped myself mid-sentence. And then Life happened. Stressful life changes impacted me deeply.

Eventually, I came back to my blog and the accounts associated with it, and realized, I didn’t know my passwords anymore. I didn’t know my usernames because I had changed everything to become “forgotten”. I had let emails expire. I didn’t connect back up emails to send “reset password” info to. There was no one to call. I couldn’t find any of the information I needed to get help. My twitter account was hacked and some other person or bot using my name took it for political propaganda. With all control lost, it seemed the world wanted me to stop writing and just hide.

And then yesterday happened.

I got an email that said one of my emails would be closed if I didn’t log in. I had thought that email no longer existed. I reset the password to the long forgotten email and wondered if somewhere in my emails, can I find my account # or other valid info for WordPress? I had been seaching for years and I was pretty sure I had searched here before.

But sometimes things change because maybe stars aline? I reset the search filter because something was wrong with it. Perhaps that’s why I couldn’t find this info before? I searched for WordPress. Ooodles of WordPress emails come up so I hit the arrow key for ten minutes or so until I got to the very first email that was ever sent to me from WordPress. And that’s all I ever needed.

Now that I have access again to this blog, I’m not even sure what to do with it. Should I even write at all? How much should I share? Is it possible to be anonymous? Do I ever give advice again?

It’s only been a day and I figure I’ll just take baby steps. I’ll figure things out one day at a time. I’m happy to at least now, have a choice.

I’ve decided to sign with the name, Sarah May, because she is the old me, long before I wrote this blog. She’s symbolic because RA once had ahold of me, and it no longer does. It’s still here, but it’s not invading my thoughts or preventing me from living. It still however, prevents me from a cartwheel, and I’m hoping in time I’ll change that too.

To my readers that never heard from me again, I’m truly sorry it happened, and any grief it has caused you.

Many gentle virtual hugs to you all,

Sarah May

In Case You Think I’ve fallen Off the Face of the Earth……..

artwork by Shel Silverstein

I’m back!

Hi everyone!  For those of you who have followed this blog, you may have noticed that I abandoned writing for an unusual length of time.   What you don’t know is a company that didn’t appreciate one of my articles was trying to sue me.   I had received stacks and stacks of paperwork and I read every sentence.  I was never actually sued, just threatened.  They even threatened to put me in jail.  Who knew, a young rheumatoid arthritis sufferer could get so much attention?  Handcuffs could really hurt.  ;P  I don’t believe even for a second that they had a case but just for the record, anyone can be sued for anything at any time.  Guilt seems like an unnecessary ingredient in the court room these days.  It didn’t matter that I was sharing an experience, and that freedom of speech is a right. What mattered was that I grew tired of dealing with it, and in turn, they had shut me up.  They had accomplished taking away my voice.  Because of this, I left the blog world for a long while.  I even stopped writing entirely.  I didn’t even notice when I hadn’t renewed my internet hosting account.  I was sort of turned off.  Even journal-ling felt like a chore.  I turned my focus on other things, other things that were also going on in my life and taking up all of my time.  But because I stepped out of the habit of writing for so long, when I sat in front of the computer, I was stumped.  How was I able to come up with words?  You know, those letters that are grouped together and with some effort, turned into an entire sentence and then a paragraph that then becomes an entire article?  Even the very first word seemed difficult.  Hello.  Hi.  Uh…..    This time, more determined than ever and knowing that the writer in me still lives, I decided to return to some of my old habits, otherwise that very first article would never appear.  I did in fact post an article but a friend of mine let me know that it sounded like I just wanted to hear myself think….  It was the equivalent of ordering 2buck chuck for guests that are expecting fine wine.  In the right circumstance this is great, but as my first post, it needed to sound like me, not a watered down, just going to write a bunch of mucky junk and call it a post.  No, that wasn’t going to get swallowed easily.  It needed to sound like me, the old me, the me that had an opinion and was fallible and was always searching for something more.  Just an fyi, if you do like wine, I’m all about the organic red Green Fin from Trader Joe’s.  Incredibly affordable!  Oops, that’s a secret because they’re always running out.  Leave me some!  My point is, my voice was still being suppressed because I had buried it so very deep.  I am proud to say I think I’m finding my voice all over again.  I think my writing is certainly rusty and grammatical errors are bound to appear, but I want to say thank you all for your support and thank you dear friend for giving me that critique. It was the permission I needed to bear my soul.   Ahh, I like the sound of that!

Earth Angels: Part Two (Pay it Forward)

One morning I was running late for work, per usual.  My gas gauge was noticeably low, but I didn’t stop for gas, knowing that stopping would add to my tardiness.  I guess you can say I like to live on the edge, or maybe it’s a genetic thing.

See, growing up, my father was notorious for letting his car run out of gas–while his kids were still in it.  It was so bad in fact, that there was this one spot on the road that we knew if we got past it, we were somehow in the clear.  We knew the spot well because we had walked the few miles from there to the gas station a few times.  Perhaps this was a game.   I don’t know why he would do this exactly.  He claimed the gas gauge was broken.  In fact, there were other places at other times, in other areas of California that we also ran out of gas, but that’s another story.  I think  he liked to live on the edge, or maybe it was something else, maybe his reasoning skills are broken.  And Dad, if you’re reading this, you know it’s true.  Back in those days, you could hitch-hike to a certain extent without the same kind of worries that you have today.  Needless to say, I grew up thinking running out of gas was sort of fun?  Now I know that it’s terrible for your car, ruining pipes and so forth and being in L.A., it’s definitely dangerous.  So let’s just say that I don’t wait until the last-minute any longer.

I had run out of gas a long time ago, around the age of 18.  The steering wheel had locked up, something I didn’t know about at that time.  It was scary, but I was lucky because a police officer had seen me, pulled over, and literally pushed my car with his car, around the corner to a gas station.  Was he another Earth Angel?

So here I was, driving to work, with a very low gas tank.  Traffic had come to a stand-still and I started to really worry.  I was on the freeway and I really didn’t know for sure if I was going to make it to the next exit.  Sitting there, in traffic, not moving, was lowering my chances of EVER making it to work.  It was a hot day, but I knew better than to run the air conditioning or else I definitely wouldn’t make it off the freeway.

I finally made it to my exit and my gas tank still hadn’t hit the R yet.  I was convinced that I could make it all the way to work as long as it didn’t hit the R.  That was, until that familiar feeling in my steering wheel hit.  Right as it did, it dawned on me that I had just passed a gas station.  I immediately flipped a u-turn, struggling with my steering wheel.  It just so happened that there were no cars on the street at that moment when I did this, and this is L.A. in the Wilshire district, making it a strange serendipitous coincidence.

As my car struggled on its last fumes, I attempted to roll up to a gas pump.  This was going slightly uphill in the drive-way.  I realized quickly that I wasn’t totally going to make it.  As my car started to drift backwards, I immediately pulled the emergency brake to stop it from rolling back into the street.  I had at least made it to the gas station.  This was a true miracle.

I was feeling REALLY lucky at this point.   I had just ran out of gas and for the life of me, I had no idea how I had been so lucky that I was able to literally roll right into a gas station.  I am a glass is half-full kind of person, so I knew no matter what, I was going to feel lucky for the rest of the day.  I felt like someone was watching over me.  What if I had run out of gas on the freeway?  I was in a fairly safe neighborhood in L.A.  There was nothing that could keep me from smiling for the rest of the day.

Stupidly, I was un-prepared though.  I didn’t know my debit card number by heart (still) and the gas station didn’t take credit cards.  I didn’t have any cash on me and I couldn’t call anyone because my phone was dead.  I didn’t have any change on me, not even a penny.  At this point I was feeling like quite the idiot.  I didn’t worry.  I knew if I had to, I could walk to work, even if I was in heels…… it was only a couple of miles away.   I knew there was a solution, I just didn’t know what it was going to be quite yet.  The guy at the gas station wasn’t going to help me, nor was anyone in line, so I started walking back to my car, wondering what I was going to do next.

Luckily an Earth Angel came to my rescue.  He asked me what happened to my car, (as he was getting gas) and I explained that I was an idiot and ran out of gas and that I’d use my credit card but they only take debit and I’d call someone for help but my phone was dead.  I told him not to worry, that I would figure something out.  He told me to hold on.  I didn’t know what he meant but I said ok.  And then he asked me to hold the gas pump.  “Don’t put the pump back,” he said.  He asked for my keys and so I gave my keys to him.  I wasn’t worried about him stealing my car.  It didn’t have any gas and his car was far nicer than mine, how would he drive two?  So I waited, wondering what his plan was.

He got in my car, took the break off and with the help of another person, (another Earth Angel) who kindly jumped in, pushed my car up to the pump.  He put $2 worth of gas in my car and told me where a nearby gas station was that took credit cards.  I thanked him profusely and said, “I wish there was something I could give to you.”  He said in return, “Just pay it forward.”

He was right.  That kind of kindness comes from somewhere unexplainable, somewhere so sweet and true, it gives me goosebumps.  I don’t know that I’ve paid it forward yet, not quite to that extreme, but I hope to be as kind, to be as wonderful as he and someday be someone else’s Earth Angel.

Can You Trust Your Doctor?

In my case, I don’t think so, but I’m hoping in your case that you CAN trust your doctor.

For those of you that have been following my blog posts, I have been out of insurance (but now have it) for the past three years.  Losing my insurance, because my husband lost his teaching job and we could not afford Cobra, was a blessing to a certain extent because it forced me to try alternative methods, and I found some excellent ones, including my two favorite, Low Dose Naltrexone and Serracor-NK.  Raising my Vitamin D levels and B12 have also been some excellent choices of mine along with other great choices like fish oil, etc., all improving my quality of life.  RA is very hard to control.  Just talk to anyone who’s on the conventional meds and you will find that many still haven’t found the right cocktail, and most are still experiencing joint damage despite taking DMARD’s.   I’m certainly not against drugs, but I will say that taking alternatives has opened my eyes to the possibility of healing my body rather than just suppressing the disease.  So now that I have insurance, it means for me, going back to the doctor, not to see what my choices are, but to get blood work done, x-rays and let the doctor know what choices I’m in favor of.

I hadn’t seen my favorite nurse in several years.  She gave me a giant hug.  “Wow, you look great!” she said.  She asked me what I was taking for my RA.  I told her supplements, but that I wasn’t on any drugs except for the occasional prednisone.  She said, “Wow, it’s really working, you look fantastic!”

Unfortunately, my Rheumatologist experience was definitely a poor one.  Before this Rheumatologist, I had researched and found a much older gentleman who became my Rheumatologist for approx one year.  He was open-minded, not against antibiotic therapy, not against supplements or icing my arm which proved to be the most beneficial in reducing the inflammation in my left forearm in particular, and he had enough experience and knowledge that I felt I had found a good doctor.  When I saw him for the first time, he ordered one x-ray of one hand.

After one year however, he retired.  He told me he found an excellent replacement, a young woman graduating from UCLA.  I was disappointed that I would no longer have my old doctor, but I was open to having a new doctor, especially a woman.  When I met her, she seemed nice enough.  She was young and beautiful and very friendly.  She sent me to x-rays and for blood work.  When the radiologist told me I had 30 x-rays to get done, I thought, “Really?”  At that time, I was not as forthright with my care.  I didn’t put my foot down and say, “that’s way too many.”  Instead, I let the x-rays happen, including one to my throat (which I have hypothyroidism and that’s never a good idea) and including one to my pelvis, (I am of child-bearing age and that’s never a good idea either).  And then I lost my insurance and I got a bill of $700 for all my x-rays.  I fought the bill for over 6 months, and eventually the insurance took care of it.  I was unhappy with the doctor because you should never expose yourself to that much radiation.  X-rays are cumulative, and even though there’s no clear evidence of how much is too much, I’m on a healing path, not a path of increasing the toxins in my body.   And having had a doctor, a great doctor, who only ordered one x-ray, and one later on to compare, I knew that 30 x-rays were approximately 29 too many.

What I find interesting, is that when you look for information on the internet, it’s always, “Well you’re exposed to radiation all the time from natural sources.”  But what makes this ok?  Why would you then want to increase your exposure?  Two wrongs don’t make a right, right?  It’s easy for doctor’s to poo poo the fear of two many x-rays, while billing your insurance, putting money in their pocket, but let me just say this, a close relative of mine who is a radiologist, was quite upset to hear that I was exposed to 30 x-rays before and thought my doctor was a quack and just trying to pay off her college loans.  He chooses not to get x-rays whenever they aren’t absolutely necessary.

I hadn’t seen my new Rheumatologist in almost 3 years and I was convinced that she had probably learned a thing or two since I had last seen her.  Or maybe she would at least know not to give ME so many x-rays.  I was open to the possibility that I just needed to give her a second chance.  Maybe before, she just didn’t know.  She was surprised how flexible I was and how little inflammation and deformity I appeared to have.  So there you have it, my supplement regimentation is working to a certain extent.

At the end of the apt., she asked if I was open to getting my hand x-rayed.  “Sure”, I said, “but please I don’t want any x-rays of my thyroid or ovaries because that can be very harmful.”  She didn’t say anything, so I wondered if she knew what I was referring to and sent me down for blood work and x-rays.

When I saw the technician, he said, “Ok, 18 x-rays today.”  I said, “What?  How can that be?”  And he explained that there were several of each hand, several of each feet, etc.  At first I thought, “well ok, it’s just the hands and feet.”  But thinking back to how many my previous Rheumatologist exposed me to, (totaling two) and considering just 3 years ago, this doctor had exposed me to 30, I told the technician I’d pass.

I walked back to my Rheumatologist office and handed the paper ordering the x-rays to the nurse and said, “Tell her this is simply too many” and left.

I just figured it was time for me to find a new Rheumatologist.  And so my quest begins….

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