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Monday
Jul212014

Day 6: If You Were Looking For a Miracle

It’s been 6 days since I started a regime of essential oils. I’ve already posted one update which has held resounding truth throughout this entire experiement: I am more hydrated, softer, and likely overally healthier simply by nature of using essential oils properly.

Let’s try question and answer again, because who am I to re-invent the wheel?

How’s that asthma coming along?

I still want my inhaler. My inhaler is fast and efficient. My inhaler doesn’t require mix-matching oils, blending them with coconut oil or dropping them into my water (container-by-container). My inhaler takes 5 seconds to use from start to finish. I don’t have to rub my inhaler all over my feet, wrists or back of my neck.

But my inhaler has “other stuff” in it - honestly, I don’t even know the entire contents.

Have you ever thought about that? What the “other” is in your prescriptions? That birth control pill isn’t one big chalky compound of pure hormone - its got stuff in it to make it a pretty powder pink colored pill that is capable of being stamped and packaged. That extra “stuff” may very well be totally A-ok fine with human bodies, but it still bothers me that it’s not on the side of the dang bottle.
(What about kid’s medicines? What’s the other in those? Hmmm.. Now I’ve got googling to do.)  

I digress. You asked about my asthma, right?

Right. Can you breathe? Have you used your rescue inhaler?

I’m less congested (what I’ve learned to be inflammation - so less inflammed). That could be the essential oils. It could also be my additional water intake (I’m likely up from 16-24 ounces a day to double that) and coconut oil consumption (also very good for you). It could be a combo of those two things and a little placebo effect with me wishing something would provide relief.

With that said - let’s be real here. I don’t want to dig an unneccessary grave. My asthma symptoms are BETTER, but I don’t (as of this point) consider them to be under control. I still have an obvious, obnoxious cough. I’m still more lethargic in the mornings than I am when I’m using QVar.

But no, dear friends, I have not used my rescue inhaler.

So… whatcha thinking? Where to from here?

Fortunately for my blog content, I have enough EOs to keep going another week or two. I still have my rescue inhaler at hand should I need it.

I have been experiencing one not-so-awesome side effect in the Land of Stomach Happiness. Y’all - let’s call this “cleansing”. I’ve done a little research on the 3 essential oils I’m ingesting daily - lemon, lavender and peppermint - and once you cut through some of the over-marketed EO praise/ EO shaming, I found that lavender and peppermint essential oils can actually cause stomach distress in children and adults. 

I’m considering putting the oils in a capsule instead of in my water. Two problems here: annoying + I enjoy the water. I know I said lavender oil taste like lawn clippings, but you can’t taste it under a drop of peppermint and 2 drops of lemon. It’s refreshing. 

What about the children? Are they oily?

I didn’t want to bomb the house with oils or blindly throw a bunch of crap on my tiny humans without first trying it out. Saturday night, I let each of the boys pick out a scent they liked and I placed a drop or two on their pillows. At the very least, it was fun to watch them react to new scents. Chase picked peppermint and wintergreen - he burried his face a bit into his pillow, happy with his selection.

Conner loved lemon, which is no shock to me, but also enjoyed the Balance DoTerra blend which contains spruce, rosewood, frankincense and blue tansy. This was a perfect pick for bedtime as it has a very calming, earthy feel about it. He also slept quite well that night.

 

Here’s to another week of experimenting!

 

 

Wednesday
Jul162014

Hydrated & Moisturized: Day Two

 

I don’t really know how to approach this post halfway through the second day of my “To Oil Or Not” journey, but question and answer sounds like a randy good time, right?

So, how ya feeling?

Thanks for asking! Well, I can tell you that there are two types of medical people out there. The ones that know when they are pregnant, and those that have their children unsuspectedly during the neighbor’s quinceanera. To be fair - the majority of people seem to be a third type, the “I know enough not to die, but not enough to associate increased water intake with a healthier disposition”. I also fear many of those people end up in pyramid schemes.

Fortunately, I’m the first (and not preggers).

I feel good. I believe that most people would likely start drinking more water if they too intended to ingest essential oils (caution: not all are to be taken orally - consult the internet), and that’s no exception here. With lemon, peppermint and lavender (the allergy trio, Donya tells me), I ingest orally and with that come the added benefits associated with more water intake.

Including the disadvantages - hello, extra bathroom visits. 

I’m also softer. Although I consider myself heavy-handed with the coconut oil already, forcing myself to a nightly footrub (which debilitates me to the point my poor husband has to retrieve things like milk and vanilla roasted almonds) (it’s terrible) directly translates to softer piggies. I also put oils on my wrists and chest, so those things are softer too.

Bottom line is - having to use the oils makes you healthier overall. I hope people understand that if they start seeing major differences at first, perhaps it’s because you’ve cut a soda and replaced it with some lemon water. And hey - if the cost of some oils rewired that thought process? Worth it. 

Oh… ok. Well, that’s great! So overall you are feeling healthy, but what about the reason you started this whole oily, smelly experience - how is your asthma?

It’s day two. I wasn’t expecting a miracle in the asthma department. Inflammation builds and takes time to calm down. I will say these three things:

  1. I miss my QVar.
  2. I haven’t needed my rescue inhaler.
  3. I can mostly breathe, but still feel inflammed in my face. 

 

Anything you want to add?

The lavender essential oil tastes like concentrated grass. I will be placing it in a capsule le pronto. It smells great, still very woodsy and much like true lavender (thank everything, because fake lavender smells is that of cheap hooker).


The lemon will be bought no matter what. It’s just amazing. I feel like a fool for cutting as many lemons as I have in the past - especially for things like cleaning and mopping.


I want to try something for bug repellant. I consider that area to be one of my biggest household “cancer offenders”, and I know from gardening that bugs are very reactive to strong scents. In other words, I think it might work! 

 

Monday
Jul142014

To Oil Or Not

A long time ago, in a not-so-far-off land, a woman attempted to teach her young daughter the ways of the world, the ins and the outs, the ups and the downs. And during this time, the woman taught her daughter many important things, one of which was common sense.

It didn’t all stick.

Oh, I’m joking, mom - I like it when things make sense.

For example, if the juice of one lemon helps detoxify my body (with the evidence on my face in the form of non-existent zits), then naturally the juice of many more lemons would amplify the effect. This makes sense to me.

Essential oils are the slap bracelets of 30-year-old middle class women circa 2014. I’m telling you that you are either a) an oiler (www.your URL typically goes here.com) or b) a skeptic (pot. kettle. black). As I sit here, I can honestly think of one single person that has answered the “Do they really work?” question with a resounding “Not like people say they do”.

I thanked her for her honesty, and set forth with an agenda. I will not be the last kid with the slap bracelet, nor do I want to be the only kid left without her money from a Nigerian Prince for the low, low price of her childrens’ social security information. 

I am on week numero 2 without a steroid inhaler. You see, I spent most of my life fighting allergies. Around the age of 10, I was told I had a “touch of asthma” and was placed on a steroid inhaler. “She’ll grow out of it,” the Dr. would say. At some point, I ditched the inhaler thinking I was too big for it.

But every time the wind would blow a certain way or another plant would turn green/brown/moldy/yellow, my entire sinus cavity would go haywire and I’d chug Benadryl and allergy meds for relief.

I did this from essentially 12 to the age of 29. It stopped there after one amazing discovery on behalf of my primary care provider with a few simple words during an otherwise expected ‘I’m about to have a sinus infection’ appointment - “I used to have asthma”.

“You mean you have asthma and aren’t taking your medication… or you think you have asthma and would like to be tested?” he retorted.

I read his body language. He was being serious. I began to explain how yes, I was once diagnosed, but that I’d outgrown it. He quickly explained that this was old school logic. Yes, your airways get slightly bigger because your body gets larger, in general, but no (silly goose) you don’t outgrow true asthma.

I left his office with a very familiar inhaler - the same one Conner started nearly 6 years ago and one extremely similar to the one I was handed 20 years prior.

——

I took my QVar semi-as directed. Not daily, but at least every other. I made it through a Spring without decongestants. Y’all. I want to bold, underline, asterick, highlight, and otherwise shout that last sentence from the rooftops. I didn’t have to wad up toilet paper into each nostril. I didn’t have to breathe out of my mouth. I could taste my food. I wasn’t a zombie to my Benadryl or a bath-salts user due to decongestants. I was just… me.

Then, my QVar inhaler ran out and my pharmacist informed me it would be $100 a month.

WHAT.

$100 a month to BREATHE? There are no alternatives as QVar is a very tiny particule. There is not a generic. This is my only lifeline to anti-inflammation and oxygen.

And so, I did what any self-respecting, non-breathing person does in this golden age: Complained about it to Facebook. And just like my slap bracelet hustlers in 1991, I was immediately flooded with “THERE IS AN OIL FOR THAT!”

Hear me out. I love all things green and crunchy. We shop at the money suck known as Whole Foods. I love local farmers. No heated plastics here! And coconut oil goes on ALL THE THINGS. But smelling things to make me feel better? Nope.

$100 a month though? That’s not our only pharmaceutical expense a month, trust me there and I can’t afford that. I found myself thinking, just as The Robots wanted me to that those fancy oils are actually cheaper than $100 a month (if I didn’t lose my marbles like the rest of ‘em), and I didn’t even require fancy ones for my asthma. My inhaler though, it works, and I know it’s not working via placebo effect (which is my huge concern with how actually effective essential oils are). Courtesy of a friend, I’m in a cult full of slimy people.

I didn’t have the money to plop down at the pharmacy, so I took a friend up on a long standing offer: She would send me free samples of things to help with my asthma and inflammation (the inflammation being the reason for the asthma, in my case). All I had to do was try it out. No commitment. 

I threw the diffusing thing out the window before the oils arrived. I love the way natural things smell, but I also don’t firmly believe in aromatherapy (edited to add: My friend tells me I can put one of these blends (Breathe) in my nebulizer, so I may eat my words here). I was either going to ingest (via water or capsule) my essential oils (such as lavender and lemon) or apply them topically with a carrier oil (I use my beloved coconut oil). 

And today is my first day. I do not have an inhaler to fall on as far as steroids go, but I do have a rescue inhaler (albuterol) should I not be able to get past my inflammation. This has happened twice in the two weeks without my QVar. I will not take any anti-inflammatories (you know you have terrible inflammation when an Aleve can help alleviate your stuffy nose). 

Which essential oils I am trying to assist with my inflammatory asthma:

  • Lavender (twice a day, 2 drops in 4 ounces of water)
  • Lemon (4 drops to a gallon, and I’ll likely drink half this a day)
  • Wintergreen (topically using 1 tablespoon coconut oil, 1 drop, 2 times daily) mixed with…
  • Eucalyptus (topically using 1 tablespoon coconut oil, 1 drop 2 times daily)
  • Peppermint (either orally or topically. Haven’t decided yet)
  • A blend called “Breathe” a doTerra oil blend of Laurel Leaf, Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Melaleuca, Lemon and Ravensara (applied topically when I figure out how much).

My plan? To report back with all positive, all negative, and anything in between. Remember folks: I am not affiliated in any way with any essential oil representative. I just have really awesome friends who happen to know that I’m hurting, pretty granola, and totally willing to try new things. EVEN if that means all of my oiler friends hating me for calling them out on the stuff that doesn’t work. Because they know if any of these essential oils help with my asthma, I’ll be the first to hollar from the social medias.

 

 

Saturday
Jun282014

Oh, Little Man, You Are 9.

My sweet son, tomorrow you turn the last single digit - 9.

It seems like only yesterday you were turning 4. This year as you blow out the candles, I will pray and wish with all my might for time to slow down as best it can. I love you.

 

Monday
Apr282014

The Tornado That Brought Us Home

My boss calls me “OZ”, you know… like the Wizard. Mostly due to my former initials “A.O.Z.” and my ability to tinker with computers and things tech until I either fix it, break it further, or recognize it needs a professional (in no particular order).

Really, it’s a very fitting nickname. “OS” now – still pronounced the same, but I find humor in the “operating system” pun of the change.

I’m the Wizard behind the curtain. I’m not as grand as I appear. Like Dorothy though, I was at one point, far, far from home. But unlike Dorothy, a tornado didn’t rip me from what I knew and loved, it threw me towards it. A tornado brought me Home.

A screen grab from my computer - April 27, 2011


Three years ago… three years ago… three years ago

Sssshhh. I know.

My brain won’t hush. She’s up there churning and wincing at the pain. I close my eyes.

I can hear his voice, a local meteorological hero with a persuasive, yet caring tone. He’s calling out cities. He’s all but screaming to get down.

I was a newly, very newly, single mom. Chase was 3, Conner was 5. We lived 2 hours away from what I knew as Home – where all of my family lived – Birmingham, Alabama.

But I went to school at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa for 4 years, Montevallo for one, and had friends scattered throughout the state and the greater southeast.

I watched glued – stuck – a million percent unable to process the monster that gnashed through Tuscaloosa. My heart sank. There it, my heart and the city that forced me into adulthood, sat in pieces. But the tornadoes on April 27th didn’t stop in Tuscaloosa, nor did they stop that night. The skies roared on.

Birmingham – up next - when the tornado followed the I-59 corridor to downtown Birmingham, I panicked again.

The majority of my friends were downtown. And so was a murderer. Calls and texts wouldn’t go through. My phone, facebook and chat all went silent.

Birmingham went silent.

As you follow the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, you’ll notice a city founded in the boom of iron ore.

Those of us that fell in love with it at an early age have latched on. We move closer downtown, accepting those around us, and are here to nurture this great place until she shines again.

I wanted so desperately to be a part of her re-birth, driving up every other weekend to attend an event or gathering. And on the night of April 27th, while streaming ABC 33/40 weather from my laptop, I pulled the plug on staying in Montgomery.

I’d never been so convicted in my life. My home was being destroyed in front of my eyes. I could do nothing, and in retrospect that was ok. My family and friends that lived through the sounds and sights of that evening and the days and nights to come, they couldn’t do anything either.

Then the sun rose. Every piece of my soul that felt so broken from the divorce, from starting over, felt a fire to mend faster than kudzu can grow on a dirt hill in an Alabama August.

Go home.

She was right. Home…. Back to Birmingham.

Alena, a friend from Alabama that happened to also be away from the area, actually out-of-state, rallied through social media powers to create Toomers for Tuscaloosa – a way for Auburn alum, students, fans and family to help pick up the countless pieces left of Tuscaloosa. She organized supply gatherings, shipments, and drop-offs. The page connected direct needs to direct givers. It grew by leaps and bounds, thousands upon thousands of people helped one another.

It didn’t stop there. Three years later, we’ve put back so much.

Alena recently had the same “ah ha!” moment. I’m happy to say she too came back to Alabama… in what she called her #YearofHome.

That was three years ago…

I now live in Birmingham. I left Montgomery almost a month to the day that I cried out to God from my apartment floor for home. I kicked, screamed and drew blood (ok, I cut myself packing plates… that counts). It did not matter what I had to do. We needed family. We needed to be whole again. We had to heal with our city.

I re-married in late 2013. He has a daughter, so now so do I… (in the step sense). The boys, Conner nearly 9 and Chase 6, occasionally mention Montgomery, but say they never miss it. We live in a neighborhood that is scarred by the events of April 27, 2011, and they go to school with children that lived through the nightmare. Twisted trees. Empty house slabs. The stories.

Three years later…

I looked across the bedroom this morning. He was sitting on the bed putting his socks on for the day. We are expecting 3 days of severe weather, and my husband works both inside and out, so he’s preparing for getting soaked. He’s tired though, and I smile.

We’ve just spent the weekend having a yard sale, ridding ourselves of the old, cleaning and scrubbing and making our home ready for the summer. The kids spent most of their time outside. We camped in our tent with sleeping bags and lanterns while we watched The Incredibles on my Mac – evening complete with s’mores and a campfire.

He’s tired because we’ve been busy. Family stopped by. They can do that now we are back in Birmingham.

 “One block to the right… that’s as far as I could go.”

That’s what my next door neighbor said while recounting the events of morning after the tornado came through Cahaba Heights. He said something woke him, an eerie quiet from where he’d left open his bedroom window. The silence is what woke him. Then the pressure changed…. And he got up to shut the window, but the sound intrigued him and so he listened.

It’s not a sound you want to hear.

It’s not a siren.

It’s not stoppable.

And you have no idea if it is headed towards you.

But sometimes the things that destroy us cause a regrowth greater than anything we could have accomplished without the struggle.

“{…} The most impactful experiences of your life will happen in an instant. You can’t plan for it. It changed everything.” Source: Al.com

It happened in an instant. It changed everything. Three years later, I love my job as a professional in the healthcare real estate development and management industry. The kids sincerely love school and their friends. They see both sides of their family more than anyone else I know, really. So blessed. They’ve got a sister, a step-mom (as my ex re-married) and my husband that both love them all dearly.

We are home.

Although my husband and I may find ourselves shoving little feet into shoes at 3 a.m. while they struggle to both wake up and put on their helmets all while climbing into a tub as we throw a mattress over them, I know I wouldn’t want it any other way. We can live and love as a family, and can rebuild at any moment as one.

 


***If you live in the Southeast United States and know someone who could possibly be unaware of the weather events pending 4/28/2014-4/30/2014, please find a way to contact them. Bring them a weather radio, or assist them in finding someone with one. Go over their safety routine. We are southerners, and southerners help their neighbors.

If you need up-to-date pre-storm, during storm, and post-storm social updates, follow hashtag #ALWX on Twitter.

Live ABC 33/40 Weather coverage can be streamed during emergency situations from this website: http://www.abc3340.com/category/262714/live-stream-from-abc-news 

Here’s a list of safety precautions to take into consideration. http://www.ready.gov/tornadoes

DO NOT RELY ON SIRENS OR SIGHT. SIRENS FAIL. AND OUR TORNADOES ARE TYPICALLY “RAIN WRAPPED”.

Think. Plan. Act.