BEYOND MERE SURVIVAL


Results! Results!

I felt pretty tentative sharing information publicly because I had little proof that things would work, besides saying “this is what I am learning, here it is…”. Finally, I can say that I have some really tangible ways to connect what I have learned, and how I changed lots of things in my life to respond to being sick, to actual results.

Last year, when I was diagnosed with fibroids, I was also found to be anemic, have a low white cell count, and high glucose.  I just got my blood work results, and 10 months after the abnormal ones, I am no longer anemic, and everything else is normal. On a practical/monetary note, I actually delayed getting blood work done because I could not find an affordable way to do it, but I discovered that the Chicago Women Health Center has a sliding scale blood test ranging from 25$ to 80$.

In addition the fibroid has not grown, and it has actually shrunk slightly. The symptoms ( heavy bleeding, pain, weakness, nausea, dizziness) have also improved severely.

It is a longer road to try to get better this way, but it feels much more permanent and deep than taking the pill to stanch the bleeding, or an operation to remove the fibroid without addressing the imbalance that caused it in the first place. In the past year, with the death of Steve Jobs, there has been so much talk of how he would not have died if he had not subscribed to “wacky”, “alternative” treatment like acupuncture or diet change. It sucks to think that such dissing may discourage people from taking care of themselves in ways that could be very helpful.

For me, at least, changing my diet, exercise routine, and adding yoga and acupuncture actually helped me manage and heal from a medical condition. I’ll be happy to share more in-depth info if anyone needs it.



Sharing Information V

What I know for sure now is that not going for traditional treatment is much more complicated than I hoped, and fraught with confusion.  I was doing my regiment of acupuncture,and a gluten-free, vegan diet. Then I had to go to Chile for 10 days with school and it all went out the window. The staple foods that I ate there were freshly baked white bread, avocados, other veggies, fresh cheese (non-pasturized), and the occasional glass of wine.

I would have expected to feel sick, and I did a bit, but not anymore than you would expect being in a new place, with new foods and a hectic schedule.

Some people may be fine with the gluten-free, vegan diet, but for me it was insanely expensive, and prohibitively time-consuming. Also many foods such as almond milk, tofu and soy yogurt are very processed.

My doctor suggested that I was fine in Chile because what I ate there was very simple and unprocessed, while in the US it’s very difficult to find unaltered foods.

So the new thing is to try to eat a bit of everything, but in the most unprocessed form that I can find. I am worried it will cost more than I can afford. In the whole city of Chicago google could not find a bread bakery. Panera came up for shit’s sake! I think it will have to be the farmer’s market, but again the cost factor is a bit terrifying. I could not find much research about the idea of a “simple” diet being helpful for digestion or fibroids, but unless I find a cheap nutritionist, it might just have to be a trial and error process for now.

I also have been boiling Astragalus for tea, but it’s too early to feel any effects from it.

All for now!



sharing information IV

The diet is really helping.

No dairy or gluten for now, but the symptoms of the fibroid have definitely taken a turn for the better. Less hemorrhaging, pain, bloating, etc.

Without a doubt it is very demanding to eat gluten-free and dairy free. It takes a lot of planning and it makes me feel like a party pooper. Food is absolutely a way of sharing experience and a means for people to spend time together, but the way I am eating poses a real challenge to that.

I am starting to think that isolation is another major impact of disease. It creates a wall between people. It has happen numerous times in the past two weeks that people have offered me food, or that communal food was bought to share at school, and I had to say no. When asked why I am not eating it’s very uncomfortable to explain the reasons behind my ‘no’, and just saying ‘I don’t eat dairy and gluten’ makes it seem like I am some self-righteous asshole. Even being vegetarian felt that way sometimes, as if saying “I am vegetarian” was read as really saying “I think that the fact you eat meat is very bad and I am better than you”.

I am trying to get better at figuring out how to not let my medical needs create an insurmountable distance between me and others.

The good news still is that the diet is making a difference, in conjunction with acupuncture, medicine ( Gui Zhi Fu Ling Wan ), and exercise.  No surgery or short-term palliatives.

I am also learning to cook foods I have never eaten before like amaranth and millet, so I will post recipes soon!



perpetuating rape myths, one child at the time

doing violence prevention work in middle and high school for over a year now, I have seen many scary, inaccurate stereotypes about sexual violence going around, but never like today I realized to what extent the schools are perpetuating false information about rape as part of the educational curriculum. During a break between two classes today I was looking at one of the Health class book for the 7th grade and stumbled upon the chapter on sexual violence. I took pictures, but I am transcribing it for clarity.

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Protecting Yourself from Rape

Rape is any kind of sexual intercourse against a person’s will. Over half of rape victims know their attackers. Whenever a person is forced to have sex, whether with someone he or she knows or with a stranger, a rape has occurred. Rape is always an act of violence, and it is illegal. To protect yourself from rape, you need to recognize and avoid situations that might increase the risk of an attack, here are some suggestions.,

 

  • if you go out alone with someone, make it clear that you are not interested in any sexual activity.
  • Avoid secluded places
  • Don’t drink alcohol or use other drugs or date people who do.
  • Always carry money so you can call home or tae a cab or bus if you feel unsafe.

 

PREVENTING VIOLENCE

 

People across the nation are making an effort to reduce and prevent violence. here are some of the actions they have taken

  • Holding stop violence rallies
  • Supporting stronger gun laws
  • Installing lighting in parks and playgrounds
  • Breaking up gang control of public parks
  • Starting neighborhood watch programs
  • Supporting teen curfew
  • Teaching non violent resolution
  • Assigning more police to street patrols  


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HOME

  • Lock doors and windows when you are alone
  • open the door only to people you know well
  • do not give personal information over the telephone or computer
  • never agree to meet alone with a person you met online
  • if someone comes to the door or window and you are frightened, call 911 or the police
  • never shoot firearms or pick them up, even if they are unloaded
  • when you come home, have your key ready before you reach the door. Do not enter if the door is ajar or appears to have been tampered with
  • never tell a stranger that you are home alone. Instead, say that your parents are busy and can’t come to the door or the phone.

OUTDOORS

  • do not walk alone at night
  • avoid poorly lit streets
  • if you think someone is following you, get into a store or other public place
  • never hitchhike or accept rides from strangers
  • do not look like an easy target. Stand tall and walk with confidence
  •  if someone wants your money or possessions, give them up
  •  if you are attacked, scream and get away any way you can
  •  do not carry a firearm or other weapon.

 

I underlined some the parts I found most appalling, even though much of the premise of the idea of prevention in the book is at best inaccurate, and at worst just plain fucked up. Prevention is only seen as a potential’s victim responsibility, where each person must recognize and avoid danger. No talk of accountability or responsibility on the perpetrator’s part is even mentioned.

 

But besides the theoretical framing of the issue, the chapter is just spreading false information. I have worked as a gender violence advocate since 2005, and I have listened to countless stories of sexual violence, besides being a survivor myself. Most people are assaulted by someone they know, not half like the book says, but more like 70% to 80%. Most times it is a date, or an intimate person that you trust, not a stranger in a dark alley.

 

None of the information provided will be helpful to avoid sexual assault, it will just make the kids (and mostly girls, who feel rape is their problem) scared, and limit their freedom and mobility. How can anyone not look like an easy target? We know that people that are young, or disables, or homeless, are at a higher risk of being assaulted. Are they telling 12 year olds that they should stop looking like themselves? Or that as a disabled person, I should magically rid of my disability?

 

The whole chapter sets up people to feel guilty and responsible for the assault, because they should have seen it coming, or they should have been able to protect themselves. And then there is a subtle (or maybe not so subtle) racist message in the whole bit about gangs and public parks! What are they even talking about?  Yes, gang rape does happen, but it is a much rarer occurrence than people being pressured into sex by who they are dating, or being assaulted by an acquaintance or even a family member.

 

There is no prevention, besides the decision taken by someone to not assault, to choose consensual sex, and to strive for healthy relationships. And better street lights or more cops will not cut it.