Monday, July 27, 2015

The things I do for Psoriasis. Now it's Dandelion Tea

I've suffered from Psoriasis for about 15 years. It started off as a little spot on my right leg when I was camping with friends by the sea. I thought something in the sea had bitten me and my doctor gave me cortisone cream, which seemed to fix it.

It came back after a few months, with a friend. Cortisone cream sorta kinda kept it in check. Fast forward to 2015 and my lower legs are spattered with plaque Psoriasis. I am on a steroid ointment for four weeks, then I switch to a non-steroid cream. The ointment keeps it in check and my legs (and now, elbows and one wrist) look pretty normal for the weeks I'm on it. Once I'm back on the cream for a couple of days it flares up like you wouldn't believe and spreads. So I'm fighting a losing battle. Roll on 1 August so I can have my four weeks of ointment.

It's not painful, it's not itchy. It's just ugly. While I can cover up in winter (and it's usually worse in winter as there is less humidity and you don't get much opportunity for Dr Sunshine to do his stuff) summer is buggery for me. I still have to wear long trousers or tights with skirts.

So every so often I head to the interwebs and research more about this pesky auto-immune disease, which is incurable. It can be brought on by stress and is often inherited.

I'm deliberately trying to minimise the stress in my life by cutting back my work hours and spending time outdoors - working in the garden, going for a walk. As for the inherited bit, well, I'm adopted so I have no idea what my genetic cocktail is.

These are some of the ideas I've tried in the past couple of years:

  • Using olive oil, coconut oil or sesame oil on my plaques. All that did was make my jeans oily unless I then wrapped the offending area in cling wrap.
  • Using Vaseline on the plaques to keep them moist. See that bit about oily jeans above.
  • Drinking Organic Apple Cider Vinegar. I didn't notice any improvement. And let it be said that the smell of any vinegar makes me gag.
  • Taking Vitamin D capsules. I'm doing this at the moment as I don't get to strip off in the sun much in winter. Sunshine in small doses is the best way to let Psoriasis have its necessary dose of Vitamin D.
  • Smearing Aloe Vera on the plaques. I have an Aloe Vera bush so this is one is a nice free of charge idea. I've been doing that for about a week. No difference.
  • Cutting down on just about every food I love. This has been a real bummer. Spicy foods are a no-no apparently (and nobody enjoys a seriously good curry like I do). Gluten? Out! (Nooooo... I love my sourdough!) Dairy? Out aside from yoghurt. Tomatoes and potatoes and other members of the Solanaceae family shouldn't be eaten. Nor should my winter joy Ruby Red Grapefruit (but apparently lemons are OK). Mangoes -! Mangoes -! Why, why, why? My favourite fruit ever. Oats are out - and porridge is one of our breakfast staples. Wahhhhh!!! Seafood - I don't want to live if I can't have the occasional seafood treat. And I shouldn't drink alcohol. Humph. >:-((((( I do love my glass of wine with dinner and have no intention of becoming teetotaller.  Fags are out too. So I have failed on the Food To Cut Out front. Totally. If I have to give up all the food I love I won't get much enjoyment out of life. I might not have plaques but I'll be utterly miserable. I'll be suffering from depression!

These last few days I have been reading up on both the Mediterranean diet and the findings of Dr Irene Prantalos, who is based in Melbourne. She has been a lifelong and very serious sufferer of Psoriasis and through diet is now plaque free.

In general it seems a Mediterranean diet is a pretty good match for Psoriasis. Dr Prantalos has taken it one step further and created a Mediterranean Diet for Psoriasis, and today I bought the e-book of this on Amazon, together with her book Feel Great in Your Skin, 7 Simple Ways to Heal Psoriasis. (Note the word Heal... it can't be healed truly but it can be controlled so it goes into hiding. But most people will respond to the word Heal).

Both these books sound the knell of doom as far as my favourite foods go. Whether I can stick strictly to these recipes for any length of time I don't know. There will come a day when I will scream, "I hate bloody cabbage - and dammit, I want garlic on my chicken tonight! Or chilli! I need curry - now!"

I think if I can incorporate a few of them into my daily diet and be mindful of all the naughties and cut down on them I may see a difference. Some of the recipes just don't appeal to me, especially anything with cabbage. And while Dr Prantalos stresses it's important to use organic when you can, I don't have the budget. I can grow some leafy greens organically but our local organic grocer charges an arm and a leg. Oh, and eat lots of fish. I love fish but it's bloody expensive. Having a chronic illness is not a cheap business.

I'm sure G won't like some of the recipes much either, and he'll have to eat them as I'm not cooking two different meals at any time of the day.

One of the things Dr Prantalos suggests is Dandelion Tea. It's apparently a real goody for Psoriasis. So I bought a box of Dandelion and Chicory Tea at the supermarket today, in the absence of a simple Dandelion Tea. I can't say I'm hooked on the taste. It didn't exactly make me gag but it's not something I'd choose if I didn't think it would do my skin some good.

G is away for two nights from tomorrow so I'll have the opportunity to test drive some of the recipes in the book and read more about the 7 Simple Ways.  And drink a lot of Dandelion Tea.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The land of the long goodbye

We all have them. Friends and family who have trouble hanging up the phone or walking out the door. They like saying the long goodbye.

Most of the time I have no trouble with this but then there are situations such as when I'm on the phone to long-winded friend Val on a work day.

Val: "Is that call waiting beeping for you or me?"
Me: "Me."
Val: "Do you want to get it?"
Me: "I should. I'm expecting a call from XYZ. Call you back in a minute."
Val: "OK, then, lovely to talk to you and I'll be waiting for your call. Love to G, and say hi to all the animals for me and..."
Me: "Ok." Nervously. "I'd better get that."
Val: "Okeydokey, I'll let you go, love you lots, talk to you later. Bye."
Me: "Love you too. Bye."
Val: "Bye."
Call waiting: not there any more

Seriously, that is a woman who can take five minutes to get her goodbyes done with on the telephone. It's fifteen minutes in person.

I have another friend called Phil who understands what it's like taking a personal call at work. If either of us say, "Gotta go!" we understand. It's a quick, "Bye!" and we both hang up. No offence taken on either side. Some people understand that when you've gotta go, you've gotta go.

Another friend The Wildlife Photographer was most upset when I had to ring off quickly one day several years ago. A shelf on my desk had given way, with heavy reference books tumbling down onto my computer. Yikes!  I explained what had happened, and said I really should go and check the computer. I attempted a quick goodbye,  but TWP believes in long goodbyes, and considered my rather urgent, "Very sorry, but really, I should go and check that nothing's broken. Can I call you back? Bye." the height of rudeness. When I did call back he was nearly in tears. I learned: there could be no short goodbye with TWP.  Your goodbyes have to be long and polite.

G is the same on the phone. Long goodbyes. Love to the animals, love to me, and he HAS to be the last person to say goodbye. I've tried teasing and tricking him by saying one last goodbye at the last second but he manages to get one more in, every time. He travels quite a bit for work and insists on ringing every night he's away, often staying on the phone for nearly an hour driving from one place to the other before a long goodbye (at which time I'm usually busting to go to the loo and hopping from foot to foot); I think he gets a bit lonely on his drives.

I hated saying goodbye to Mum on the phone when she was getting older. I worried about her a lot, and had the awful knowledge that one day she wouldn't answer the phone. With Mum, I loved a long goodbye.

I suspect I am more a short goodbye person than a long goodbye one overall, however. Short goodbyes don't have to be brusque; nor do they have to be impolite. With close friends, a "Love you, bye!" is to my mind perfectly acceptable on the phone and a hug and kiss in person; just the one, not multiple over several minutes.

What about you? Are you a short goodbye or long goodbye person?

Or are you the type who hangs up the phone without saying goodbye? I can't bring myself to do this; it seems horribly rude. I have only done it once, to a boyfriend who was soon to become ex, and I was furious at the time.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Just when I was nice and calm...

Google stuffs me round. It made me change my password last week. I then couldn't log in with the new password. So I made another new password. All seemed fine and dandy until I went to log in today to write a new blog post - and guess what, the bastard bloody password didn't work so I had to reset it AGAIN. Then it blocked me at the 'make sure your account is secure' page and refused my shiny new password.

My blood pressure is up right this minute and I'm getting a headache. Why does technology have to be such a bitch?

I finally got into f*cking Google with the latest incarnation of my password - obviously, or I wouldn't be writing this. Unfortunately this post has started off with a very negative vibe, when it's supposed to be a positive one.

Positive because I've had two positive experiences with two very nice women over the last week.

The first was last Thursday, when I went for a free makeup lesson I'd won at a women's networking event. Now, I've never let ANYONE do my makeup. I'm not into being made over as I know what I like and what suits me. I've seen horror stories performed on the faces of friends, particularly for weddings. Both brides looked like freaks when the makeup artists had finished with them. Foundation applied apparently with a trowel and so thick that the wrinkles stayed in place after they'd finished smiling. I was NOT looking forward to this lesson, when a woman I shall call The Imager was going to give me a makeover and show me how to do it myself at home.

I could have given the prize to a friend but I'd been talking to The Imager at the networking event about my new venture as a Jeunesse Global anti-ageing skincare consultant, and she was interested in getting into that and selling the products in her shop. So I had to go. I had to consent to letting myself be made look ten years older.

Reader, The Imager was lovely. And I didn't look a freak when she'd finished. She very much approved of how I usually do my makeup and more or less did the same on me, only with a bit too much primer and spakfilla as the foundation on my nose afterwards looked a bit odd. We got on very well; she's into natural healing and gave me the name of someone who may be able to help my psoriasis - as it's terrible right now in the middle of winter - and pointers for books to read. She's into asking the universe; very much someone I can relate to and talk with. She's also interested in my business but having sold her house the day before she's going to be busy for a few weeks!

The second woman, who I met on Saturday, I shall call The Witch as that's what she is, the leader of an international coven. She's lovely; such a friendly warmth about her. I saw her for a tarot card reading as she has a reputation of being one of the best in Australia. She pulls no punches and tells it like it is. I adored her.

I like to have readings from two or three people at a fairly close time; if they all come up with the same thing, it's likely to happen. I saw a tarot reader in February and have compared my transcription of his reading with the Witch's and I see some consistencies with both, such as:

  • I will be doing business with a man. Could be a business partner, or a supporting role such as accountant.
  • I'm not going to get rich with any of the things I'm doing but I won't starve either. Consistent flow of $.
  • I had or was going to have a new business. The Witch shook her head and said, "You've got three jobs!" and gave an astonished laugh. 
  • There will be travel for me this year (and yes, we are planning a holiday towards the end of November).
  • Both said I "got the shits" with people. The Witch said I had a strong animal dreaming and only feel really calm in the company of other species ;-). 
  • I will be taking a course in something creative. The Witch said University, but I can't afford Uni.
  • G isn't that happy in his job and said that he would be doing something in the teaching line in the future.
  • Mum is hanging around. The Witch said that was perfectly normal and while our bodies die, *we* don't.
  • I would be purging people from my life who upset me; new beginnings, breaking away from people who disrupt my life. The Witch told me to stand up to Whingy, who showed up in the cards. "The choices you make regarding the people that shit you will liberate you. Choose how to respond to people. Whingy will bring conversations back to herself. Walk away from people like her who “use you as a fuckin’ wall”."

The Witch said I'd be going riding. I told her I used to ride but hadn't ridden in 20 years as I'd lost my nerve. "Get on a horse," she said. "You need to ride. Get on a slow horse." She told me I would be working with horses at some stage.

Both saw nothing bad in the next two or three years; the Witch told me any threat would come from the government, possibly the tax man, and told me to make sure I dotted every i and crossed every t with that. There's nothing hugely exciting there, no lottery wins, but on the other hand, 'interesting times' aren't what I want.

So until this morning I was calm and happy, delighted to have met these two lovely women. Just writing about them has calmed me down. I have to remember what the Witch told me when I asked her why I got the shits so easily and became so angry, particularly with technology: love is the key. My life is full of love and is basically happy. Just go the joy.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The haunted dinner party

It was my husband G's birthday last weekend, so I organised a dinner party with one of his friends, the Whingies and friends The Kayak Kouple (they are very much into marathon kayaking).

I was going to cook Boeuf Bourguignon, one of my absolute favourite dishes and G's too. I do a mean Bourguignon if I say so myself. A couple of weeks ago I bought beef cheeks from our local butcher and cooked a big pot up. It melted in our mouths. Divine! That was what G wanted for his birthday.

So my butcher cheerfully sold me about 2kg of beef cheeks, and I took them home and cut them up and marinated them in wine, juniper berries, bay leaves and brandy for nearly 24 hours.

Two hours before our dinner party they were coming to the simmer and the smell was divine. All going to plan.

As it's the middle of winter here I thought I'd get the log fire going as well as the electric heaters.  I'm a bit of a pyromaniac when it comes to log fires and can usually have them up and flaming very quickly and efficiently.

The bloody thing wouldn't light. I did what I usually do: scrunched up newspaper on the bottom with a tepee of kindling on top. The kindling was dry; it had been inside for a fortnight.

I struggled with it for twenty minutes then G took over while I got changed. Our guests arrived to find us both on our knees trying to fan the pathetic little flames into some kind of life. They helped. Between us all we spent about an hour and a half trying to get the bastard going before giving up as - joy! - the Boeuf Bourguignon, with new potatoes and a medley of fresh winter greens - was ready.

Proudly I put it on the table in a fresh casserole dish.

The bloody meat was tough as an old boot! Horrible! It had been cooking for around two hours and had determinedly retained every bit of muscle it had ever possessed.

Of course this WOULD happen when Whingy was over to dinner. She complained loudly that she couldn't cut her meat at least three times. I apologised at least five, feeling angry and embarrassed and worried that my reputation as a good winter cook with casseroles and roasts was compromised.

No fire. Crap meat.

I reckon Mum was on the go somewhere. She didn't like Whingy and probably, from wherever she is, still disapproves of Whingy visiting. I reckon she managed the fire if not the meat.

The Kayak Kouple and G's other mate took it all in good humour and everyone enjoyed the chocolate birthday cake I'd made for dessert. So THAT was alright. By the time I served the cake I had a horrible vision of cutting into it and finding it raw in the middle after everything else that had gone wrong.

It's perishing cold today, particularly in my office which doesn't get any sun. The sun's gone behind clouds and even the front of the house - where you can sit in the sun wearing a t shirt in winter - is chilly.

I'm going to try and light the fire. If it lights... well, I'll know SOMETHING was behind the goings on at our dinner party!