Friday, 27 April 2012

Arrive Alive!

I am writing this down to remind myself to never book another appointment near 8:30 AM on a school day when you have to drive by a few schools!

I drove near a high school this morning @ 8:25AM, not in a school zone but a few blocks away.....I was so shocked,
What has happened to you parents that drive your kids to school?

  •  I was honked at for not turning left when the person behind thought I should have.....of course I would have turned if it was safe to do I waved at them, (maybe it was someone I knew?)  and I turned when it was safe to, they honked again (didn't recognize them)
  • That car behind me made a speedy turn, right behind me and then turned off to cut through a park's parking lot heading toward a school.
  • At the next intersection, 1/2 a block from the school, I was again waiting to turn left (at a light this time), when my light turned green, 3 cars went thru the red light turning left from the other direction....not one on a yellow, but 3 on a red???  They all have kids in their cars, and are obviously late for school, maybe you should leave your home earlier and arrive on time and alive!
I was on the way to an appointment and realized there were 2 other schools on my usual route, so I changed my route, and I was late, but alive.

I know I drove my kids to school for years, but I have either forgotten the chaos or it has gotten much worse!  I do remember hearing that most speeding tickets given out in school zones were to the parents of kids at that school.  What a great example to set!

While we are on the topic of bad driving, it really makes me crazy when you are backing out of a parking spot, you have looked in all directions, your car is more than half way out of the spot and someone either walks right behind your car, or drives around you.  Yes the majority of the responsibility is on the driver who is reversing, but pedestrians have to an onus to look at what is happening around them , and drivers who are passing any vehicle, can only pass when safe to do so!  It's a parking lot people, slow down and watch what is happening around you!

I have more pet peeves about lousy drivers, but that is enough to make me feel better today!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Blastocystis Hominis

I know I already told you about my vacation to Mexico a couple weeks ago, and I think I mentioned that my spouse and I both were not feeling well at the end of that trip.   Well it turns out to be more than my regular digestive problems, I knew it had to be because I had a lot more gas, and a serious case of the runs the 6th day of our vacation.  After being home for 5 days we both went to local clinics to be checked for Montezuma's because we just were not feeling any better.

My spouse went to one clinic on his way to work, and I went to another one later in the day.  Neither one of us thought it really mattered which clinic you go to, just try to find one with a short line (I didn't it took 2 hours to see a doctor).  

We both came home with lab requisitions, for what looked like the same tests, but we had different sample vials to put them in, strange but we followed the directions and dropped off the samples together at the same lab the next day.  (you notice I am not giving you the details of the samples or the tests cause you really don't want to know!)

I called the clinic I went to 5 days later, and was told my tests were all normal, but I was still not feeling any better.  So I made an appointment to see my family doctor, the earliest one was Monday, 4 days away.  I also called a dietitian, as I wanted to investigate that fructose intolerance or find any solution to my digestive problems!  The dietitian, said to make sure I am taking probiotics and Omega 3's and to see my doctor first to rule out any other bowel diseases.

They next day (Friday), my spouse was called by his clinic to say his tests were positive and to come back to see a doctor.  But he was feeling better by then, and I wasn't?  Turns out he has a parasite:

(Blastocystis Infection) 
What is Blastocystosis? 
Blastocystosis (BLAST-oh-sis-TOS-is) is an illness caused by a microscopic parasite, 
Blastocystis (also known as Blastocystis hominis). Once a person or animal has been 
infected with Blastocystis, the parasite lives in the intestine and is passed in feces. Because 
the parasite is protected by an outer shell, it can survive outside the body and in the 
environment for long periods in some cases. 
During the past 2 decades, Blastocystis infection has become recognized as a common 
cause of waterborne disease in humans in the United States. Blastocystis can be found 
worldwide and within every region of the United States. 

Blastocystis 'hominis' infection can cause a variety of intestinal signs or symptoms, which include
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Gas or flatulence
  • Greasy stools that tend to float
  • Upset stomach or nausea
Patients also report fatigue, skin rashes, and joint pain.  Some people with Blastocystis 'hominis'infection have severe symptoms, while others have no symptoms at all.  In this class of disease, researchers have found that people with more severe symptoms may be infected with more virulent types of microbes, and also may have a genetic makeup which causes the microbe to produce more severe illness.

How long after infection do symptoms appear?

That is difficult to say.  In animal studies, symptoms of Blastocystosis appear within two weeks after becoming infected.  In humans, some people may have few symptoms when initially infected, but the symptoms may become worse over a period of months or years.

How long will symptoms last?

In some patients, Blastocystosis is an acute illness, meaning that symptoms will last for a short time (several weeks).  In other patients, the disease may become chronic, and symptoms will last indefinitely.  Researchers are working to understand why some infections produce chronic illness, while others clear on their own."

So now I have to wonder why my test showed nothing?  I decided not to wait for my doctor's appointment on Monday, and went to the same clinic as my spouse.  The nice doctor there, gave me the kit to be retested, but in the mean time he told me to start taking the antibiotics right away.  Strangely the prescription he gave me was for "metronidazole", 
and the one my spouse got was for "Sulfatrim/trimethoprim".......why?   

I googled the medications and they are 2 of the 3 antibiotics used to treat this parasite.  As usual there are many websites about this parasite and it's treatment.  The more I read the more I wish I hadn't.  The medication I am taking, doesn't always work, depends on the person, not only that, it tasted awful, worse than awful, it is hard to put it on your tongue without gagging, and then my mouth tastes like metal, nothing I eat or drink will take that taste away, and of course the pill my spouse is taking doesn't do that! (is it just me, or are you starting to feel my frustration!)  Also of note, the pill my spouse is taking is mentioned on one website as 84% effective, much better than the pill I have, but on other sites, all antibiotics have a possibility of not working.

"What can be done for patients when treatments don't work?  Many patients report improvement with elaborate exclusion diets, which usually include avoiding sugar, coffee, tea, soda, frut, wheat, rice, corn, red meat, processed foods, breakfast cereals, and high carbohydrate foods.  Because there is extensive overlap between irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) patinets, and Blastocystis patients, treatments to reduce the symptoms of IBS may be effective in Blastocystis infection."

Now this is sounding more like me, maybe I have had this parasite for years? (I am hoping it wasn't me that gave it to my spouse, but I really was quite sick in Mexico, and he got it first!)

So back to the doctor I go, I see my family doctor, tell her the story, I am hoping to change medications to the one my spouse has to get rid of this awful metal taste.  She says I shouldn't be taking any antibiotics until I have a positive test!  She also says that the pill my spouse it taking is the wrong one, and then goes into the dangers of taking antibiotics, including the high risk of getting "C diff" (I'll let you look that up.  This is even worse and I should not risk taking a medication I might not need.

So what about my problems then, what else can I do?  Have we ruled out all other bowel diseases?  She reluctantly referred me to a G.I. specialist, but warned me there is only one in our area, so it will be a long wait.  In the mean time we wait for the 2nd lab results.

On the positive side, just being on that antibiotic for 36 hours, made my tummy feel better, stopped the runs and some of the gas, but still all I can taste is metal!

When we first started researching this parasite, we found this website of one person's struggle to get rid it.  It is interesting, but he did not use medications, and is selling a book, so I dismissed the site, but maybe I will have to go the natural route with a dietitian.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

I prefer my "dumb" meter

I have also been doing more research about those darn smart meters. Thankfully they have not shown up at my door to install one yet, cause I don't want to decide.

I thought I was comfortable with the wireless device (see my Feb 9th post), but now there is so much complaining about hydro bills increasing after the smart meter is put in, and even more recently the lack of security that goes with a wireless grid.

What does the "wireless grid" mean to me?  Well apparently there is no such thing as a computer system that cannot be hacked.  There are very secure systems that are really hard to hack, and very expensive to even try to hack, but that is not to say that someone, someday couldn't do it.

Now the information on your smart meter does not include your personal information, so do I care if someone hacks it?  Not really!.... what we are supposed to care about is, if someone were to hack into the "smart grid" that takes all the info from the smart meters and uses it to dole out the power.  If the smart grid is hacked and turned off, no one has power, or maybe our power is redirected to the evil side!  (think the villains in batman comics, only probably worse)

This is probably a better information link than me:

So why didn't the government research all of this before spending billions of dollars on these smart meters?  Maybe they did, and deemed it all to be an acceptable risk?

I am not comfortable with any of this, so I think I am sticking to my old meter as long as I can.

No, I am not a health nut (I just want to feel better)

I have spent the bulk of my morning today and yesterday, researching "the dangers of Fructose".   I was hoping not to find anything that really relates to me, cause I do not drink pop or eat junk food, (not counting cookies and chocolate of course, because it's not junk to me!).  

It was about 5 months ago that I decided to try 30 days without wheat, after my personal trainer read me an article about that "wheat belly" book.  So yesterday she starts telling me about how bad sugar is (well she didn't just start telling me yesterday, she has been telling me for years), mostly because she thinks that sugar is the cause of some of her recent health problems, including hang overs.  

So my research started with sugar (sucrose) and quickly lead to Fructose & Glucose (which are both in regular refined sugar)  There is so much information on the Web about fructose, a lot is not proven, but most everyone agrees we consume too much sweet stuff.  The worst being High Fructose Corn Syrup or HFCS, because it is hidden in so many things, ketchup, BBQ sauce, Salad dressing, snack foods, whole wheat bread & cereals.  

Basically the human body is designed to digest sugar in fruit, even small quantities of refined sugar are ok, because it has both fructose and glucose together.  However the body does not know what to do with too much fructose, or this new HFCS, so it just gets turned into fat.  Here is a simple explanation from Dr. Oz's website:

 "Your brain doesn't recognize the fructose in HFCS as regular food, so you can eat a lot of it and still be hungry, which means you eat even more. Our bodies have a nifty feedback mechanism -- a protein called leptin, which is released by our body's own fat -- that turns off our hunger signals, letting us know that we're satisfied and can step away from the buffet. But when we consume fructose in foods or drinks containing high fructose corn syrup, that feedback mechanism gets disrupted. So not only don't we get the message that we're full, but because the brain doesn't recognize this stuff as real food, it still wants us to eat.
• Sugar also sets us up for some wild swings in blood sugar highs and lows that make us crave -- you guessed it! -- more sugar, which in turn prompts the body to store more fat. Indeed, when people who are even slightly overweight -- in other words, most of us -- eat sugar, we store a whopping 35 percent of it as fat. All sugar does this, not just HFCS. But unlike regular sugar, HFCS is cheap and shelf-stable so you don't have to park yourself in the candy and cookie aisle to get a lot of it.
• The fructose in HFCS also seems to overwhelm your liver's ability to process it. "The liver doesn't particularly like it when there's fructose in there," Dr. Oz said. "It's irritating and the liver responds by producing inflammatory compounds." Among other things, like laying the groundwork for artery damage and heart disease, these compounds also encourage your body to store more fat. "You're literally turning the major organ responsible for detoxifying you into fat, which is hindering your ability to get thin," he said. "Fat people have a tougher time getting thin than thin people have staying thin. The odds are stacked against them because their livers can't keep up."

I can't help thinking how much HFCS I have let my kids eat in the past.  Not to mention what I have been consuming.  Then I discover websites, about IBS (irritable Bowel Syndrome) and fructose intolerance, now this really relates to me.  I have spent so much time trying to find the cause of my digestive problems in the past months, I am surprised I have not stubbled on this before.  

"Dietary Fructose and IBS
Dr. Rao's research team has shown that of the patients who have come to their clinic at the University of Iowa Health Care suffering from IBS symptoms (gas, bloating, belching, nausea, indigestion, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort/pain) over one third were found to have a fructose intolerance problem (malabsorption). Further, they found there was a direct relationship between escalating digestive symptoms and increasing the test dose of fructose.

Approximately 15% of North Americans suffer from IBS, so the connection between IBS and fructose malabsorption means many sufferers may be able to put down their medications and pick up dietary guidelines instead. Fructose intolerance can be effectively managed through dietary modification and lifestyle changes. So this is very good news for millions of people!"

Apparently there is a test to see if you have Fructose intolerance, or you can just do the elimination diet, to see if you feel better.  Every site seems to a different list of things to eliminate, starting with Honey, anything that has HFCS on the label, apples, pears, peaches, wheat etc.  

I think I am going to find a good dietitian to help me with this.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Sunny Huatulco

 This is a photo of Secrets Resort & Spa, in Sunny Huatulco, Mexico.  This was taken from one end of the beach, and the photo below, is a pretty good view of the pool, it was so large that it was hard to get into one photo.

The Beach does look nice, but notice no one is swimming, which was because of the jelly fish.  I am sure this is a seasonal thing, we were just there in the wrong season, April is really Hot!  And that is just the beginning of summer.

If you check the weather forecasts, and histories (as I did) on the temperature looks great at 28-31C, but notice in the small print "feels like" 37-40C, which was really more like it, during the day and at night.  Without a breeze, a pool to jump in, some shade and the air conditioned room, it would be hard to handle, even for a diehard sunbaker like me!                                                                                    

We did have a great 7 day get away for a good price $885.00 pp plus tax 340= 1225.00 ea.  This is a resort and a city we have always wanted to go to, so when we saw the price, we researched the resort, reading trip advisor reviews, and checking the weather.  I think 2 weeks after we booked the price went down to $645 +tax, grrr  but how could I have predicted that.  Sometimes if you wait, it is sold out.

The Good:  New Resort, Adults Only, New Beds, Nice Rooms, all have an ocean view, great pool, heated (maybe too much), Palapa's at the beach, good wine, top brands of Alcohol, Guacamole, No wrist bands, No dinner reservations (except the Teppanyaki table), good service most of the time, Moises in the skybar was the best bartender and most helpful employee we met.
The Disappointing: (notice I am not saying Bad, cause it really wasn't that Bad)
Beach, too short for a good walk, even with the path to the other bay (30 mins tops), not swimmable, either because of the high waves and undertow or the Jelly Fish.  Not enough shade by the pool, they need Palapas of some sort there.  The food, either the portions were too small, and service too slow to order more, or the fish was overcooked, or the selection was limited.  Maybe there are not enough fisherman in this town?  We both got a mild but yucky case of Montezuma's for a couple days, and didn't feel well enough to go into town.

This Secrets Resort only opened in Dec 2011, so it will hopefully improve as the staff gains experience.  During our stay we had some great meals, and some overcooked disappointing meals.  There was very little fish and too much beef offered for a Mexican resort, and we had to wonder what training the chefs had to overcook fish in Mexico, where it is their speciality.   The teppanyaki Chef at the japanese restaurant was young and new to the job, he did not know how to time the cooking of the meal, steak, fish and chicken were all cooked for the same amount of time, if was really bad!

The rooms were great, new beds that gave us a great nights sleep, great water pressure in the shower, although a very weird bathroom layout.  Not sure who designs these hotels, but for some reason they forgot about shade, in 10 years when the palm trees grow it should improve, but what about now?  They have some umbrella's, not enough of then and not strong enough to withstand the afternoon breeze, so half of them are broken, and all are put down by the staff around 3PM to prevent more breakage.  So the only shade is a Palapa at the beach, but you can't swim there, and there is no bathroom near the beach, again poor design.

We met many fun people mostly from Canada, and most everyone had something good to say about this resort. No one spent time complaining, we were all so glad to be under the blue sky and out of the cold and rain!

Having said all that, we enjoyed our stay and would recommend this Resort if you got a good deal, no more than $1000 pp + tax.   If we had a choice though we would pick a Riu palace for better food.  Also the Valentin Imperial Maya, had much better food.

I have seen Secrets Resorts regular prices up to $3000.pp and I am sure you would not be happy with the food and service if you were paying that kind of money.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Wohoo! Miley Cyrus is Gluten-free

I just got back from a little vacation to the hot and sunny Huatulco, Mexico....I'll write a blog about that later, (or see my review on , I am carcar47)

So catching up on the news, I hear Dr Art Hister talking about Miley Cyrus, .......(strange combination if you follow Dr. Art at all), anyway he wasn't impressed that Ms. Cyrus was encouraging people to go gluten free to loose weight.  Dr Art has celiac disease and has to be gluten free, so he is an expert on the topic.

Dr. Art says that only about 1% of the population needs to be gluten free, there are others like myself, that have intolerances and feel better without wheat or gluten.  Changing your diet can cause weight loss, but once you get used to the new way of eating, the weight will come back if you consume too many calories and don't get your exercise.  Dr. Art says for the average person it is more important to have whole grains in your diet.  (Trust me gluten free does not taste as good either)

So yes, it appears that Miley Cyrus has lost some weight, but telling her followers on Twitter that gluten is "Yuck"  and no one should eat it, is just her opinion.

My opinion, after being at an all inclusive resort for a week:  A lot of Americans could benefit from removing some carbs and hamburgers from their diets.   (how do I get Miley to tweet that)