Saturday, January 24, 2015

Like WEN, But Hate the Price? May I Suggest...

I've been a WEN user for years. I love the idea of cleansing my hair without the harsh sulfates that strip the natural oils. And WEN keeps my color strong for a good long time. But...

The price. 

Oh, the price. And the subscription packages. See, I really like the conditioning shampoo, the refresher mist, and the styling creme. But in order to get those three items, I have to buy the packages that include other items I don't use often. (Honestly, I have fourteen jars of deep conditioner. Fourteen!) And honestly, I've never liked any of the scents WEN had.

After a while, I just couldn't justify the cost vs. the waste. So I unsubscribed (a major pain in the butt because you have to do it via phone and the salespeople keep hassling you to hang on to the subscription) and began the search for something similar, but cheaper and more convenient. I started in my local beauty supply stores then moved on to the discount stores. I tried versions by Aveeno, L'Oreal, Organix, Paul Mitchell. Nothing seemed to give me the same results. Until I found...

...Wait for it...

ASIAM Coconut Cowash!

It's made with tangerine, coconut oil, and saw palmetto. It smells terrific and leaves my hair silky, shiny, and so soft. It's available at Amazon, but I've heard rumors you can also find it at your local Target or drug store. So, if you're interested, give it a shot. It's made a huge difference to my hair and my wallet.

Find me on Amazon!

Monday, January 19, 2015

How Modern Medicine Almost Destroyed My Life and How I'm Finding My Way Back

Warning! Long post. But it could be worth the read for a lot of you.

Sometimes, doctors don't know best. 

Seventeen years ago, I was diagnosed with Graves Disease, a hyperthyroid disorder that, in my case, had become so acute, I was urged to undergo radioactive iodine therapy. After the therapy came years (no, decades) of specialists and pills and bizarre new ailments. From the start, I was deceived by the medical community.

I was told if I didn't immediately undergo the RAI therapy, I was at high risk for a stroke. And the only other treatment available for me would require me to take medication for the rest of my life. And because the dosage levels of this medication were inconsistent and fluctuated, I would have to be under constant supervision by an endocrinologist who would adjust my dosages according to my routine blood test results. What I wasn't told was that, after RAI therapy, I would still be on medication for the rest of my life (just a different medication.) And because the dosage levels of Synthroid were inconsistent and fluctuated, I would be under constant supervision by an endocrinologist who would adjust my dosages according to my routine blood test results.

But that's not all...

No one told me that after the procedure, I would have to quarantine myself from everyone in my household. I had a newborn at home and had to scramble to find someone to take him from us for a week. My laundry had to be done separately from the rest of the family's. I couldn't use the same silverware, dishes, and glassware, and all my things had to be washed separately. I had to watch my iodine intake. I'd suffer from excessive dry mouth. No one mentioned the need for dental care prior to the procedure or warned me that the teeth in my mouth might crack in half, due to radiation in my saliva.

I won't go into the details of the treatment itself. (Just picture someone in a lead suit handing you a pill in a lead container with six-foot long lead tongs and saying, "Here. Swallow this. But wait 'til I'm out of the room.") From the moment I was put on Synthroid, I complained to my various specialists that I honestly believed the thyroid medication was not working for me. And over the last seventeen years, my symptoms and complaints have been ignored or dismissed.  

Since the RAI treatment, I've had seven different endocrinologists. I've never remained on the same level of thyroid hormone for more than six months. I gained fifty pounds--weight I still struggle to lose and can't, no matter what diet I try or how often I go to the gym. I went through peri-menopause for thirteen years and dealt with excessive hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings. I've battled with depression. I've suffered fibromyalgia and arthritis and constant pain that sometimes had me curled up on the bathroom floor, too debilitated to move. I have herniated discs and bursitis. My hair falls out at alarming rates. And TSH levels are considered within "normal range."

Two years ago, I finally said, "Enough. There has to be someone out there who can help me." I found a naturopath and, after reviewing my history, she agreed with me that the thyroid meds had not only not worked for me, they'd pretty much shut down my metabolism. My adrenal glands were overworked and underperforming. Big time. Don't believe me? Take a look at this chart:

These are my actual results. Start with the numbers. Column 1 are my numbers, column two are the normal ranges for each item. For example, in the morning, the normal range for cortisol levels is 13.0-24.0. What were mine? 5.7. During a typical day, the normal person has a cortisol sum of between 23.0 and 42.0. Mine was 11.9.

Let me repeat that: 11.9! Below normal by nearly half!

Numbers not your thing? Need a visual? Read the graph. The top line on the chart (with the triangle) is considered "high," the middle line with the diamond and circles is considered "low." Normal range would be a line somewhere between those two. The bottom line, with the Xs? Those are my results. What does this say? In essence, it says I'm already far below normal levels of adrenal function when I get up in the morning, and I'm slowly fading from that point on throughout the day, every day.

In other words, I was a walking zombie. And not the fun kind of fictional zombie. Clearly, I was right. And all those specialists were wrong. There was something seriously wacky going on with my thyroid meds. 

I started doing some online research, read several books on the subject (I highly recommend STOP THE THYROID MADNESS!I found out I was not the only one who'd fought with her endocrinologists, and my prolonged symptoms were actually quite common in others who'd undergone RAI and then been placed on Synthroid.

Time to take charge.

Together with my naturopath, my personal trainer at my gym, and a brand spankin' new endocrinologist who had an open mind, we developed a new health regimen for me. Bye-bye Synthroid. Hello, Thyroid Armour. Bye-bye dairy, sugar, and most (but not all) gluten. Hello, protein. Lots and lots of protein.

It's only been about six weeks, but I've already noticed the changes. The fibromyalgia is gone. Gone! I'm finding less hair on the floor after a shower. The nice me is back, and I smile a lot more. I sleep better, and I wake up refreshed. The weight's still an issue, but I have hope. I'm a work in progress. I'll know a little more next month when I go back for my follow-up with my endocrinologist.

Whether or not you're a thyroid patient, whether or not your symptoms and story are similar to mine, take note of the moral of the story. Doctors don't know everything. Doctors don't know your body the way you do. If your doctor won't listen to you and help you find answers, find another doctor! And keep looking until you find the right one for you.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Why Do Some Books Take So Long to Write?

I've been working (off and on) on WAITING IN THE WINGS for almost a year now. I know there are readers saying, "Come on already! How long can it take to write a book?"

Depends on the book. Some books basically write themselves and can be completed in a few months. 

But the books in the Afterlife Series are not quite so easy. First of all, I'm working within a new world: the Afterlife. Know anyone who's ever been there who told you about it? Yeah, so there's that problem. I can't exactly pull up photos from a friend's vacation. Keeping that world accurate as I continue to visit the Afterlife is a challenge that requires my steel-trap memory and scads of notes.

Complicating that issue is the fact I'm working in different departments of the Afterlife: Bounty-hunting, Probation, and now, Children's Services.

Add in the emotional component. Suicide, cancer, death. These aren't exactly breezy topics to explore. They take a toll on a writer's psyche.

And there's one more thing. I take great pride in my books. Every word I write is chosen for a reason. I toy with scenes, stretch my imagination, and stray outside the box over and over again. I never want to be known as an author who "used to write amazing stuff, but now just phones it in."

All these things take time. I hope you'll be patient with me as I finish this story. 

Find me on Amazon!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Where Have I Been? Do I Know How You've Worried?

Yeah, yeah, yeah. The truth is...

...I'm writing. 

Sssh! Don't tell anyone. 

WAITING IN THE WINGS must be ready for editing by the middle of next month so I'm burning my fingertips to get to the finish line on time. To prove it to you, here's a sample of what I've added this week.

“What happened? Where’s Xavia?”

“With her Elder Counselor. Things between the two of you progressed faster than we’d like.”

How did she know? Was she watching him? The thought he was under constant surveillance prodded his temper. “What business is it of yours? It’s not like you give a shit about me. If you did, you wouldn’t have abandoned me when I needed you.”

She shook her head. “That’s not true. No one has abandoned you.”

“Oh? Then Sherman lied when he told me you were ‘unavailable’ to me?”

“I was with another student at the time.”

“Student?” He quirked a brow. “Is that what we are to you guys? ‘Cuz you’re so much smarter than us, right? Like we’re beneath you or something?”

“None of those things. You’re getting angry over inconsequential issues, Osiris.”

Yeah, he was. Because what just happened with Xavia scared the crap outta him. He’d only meant to hug her—to thank her for what she’d given him. But the instant he pulled her into his arms, his circuits went haywire, and he found his synapses absorbing hers. He’d never experienced anything remotely close to this sensation, this…soul-sucking. Not in any life on Earth or in all his time here. In that perfect moment, Xavia became a drug he couldn’t resist. The more he tasted her, the more euphoria he felt, and his hunger for her grew insatiable. He would’ve gobbled her up, leaving nothing but stray blips of wasted energy if Rafaela hadn’t intervened and yanked him into this meeting.

“I was unavailable due to my work with another like yourself,” she said, now yanking him back into their current conversation. “And you didn’t really need me since you found the answers you sought through Xavia. The interaction between you benefits you both in the long run. As to why we call you students, it is neither due to malice nor arrogance. We Elders consider you students of the universe. You are here to learn from your past mistakes, to grow wiser and more in tune with the grand plan of life, and to graduate—to move on—with the knowledge you’ve attained from your time here.”

Smooth talk, but he didn’t completely buy into her smokescreen. One big siren blared in his head. “Yeah? Then how come that Jenny broad is moving on before the rest of us? As far as I’m concerned, she’s nowhere near ready. What’d she do to get special privileges? Bring an apple for the teacher? If I suck up to you and the others, will I get to graduate faster, too?”

She shook her head. “Jenny is an unusual case. Like you, she’s a suicide. Thus, she arrived before we were ready for her. Had she lived to see her punishment through, she would have faced earthly justice. Much like you, by choosing to end her life precipitously, she must now face karmic justice—which, as you know—is a much harsher fate. Unlike you, however, she shows no signs of remorse for her actions. She requires intensive reprogramming.”

“Well, she seems to think she’s a temp. That she’s doing a quick stint in Children’s Services and then moving on.”

“She’s not wrong.”

He slammed a fist on the desk. “But that’s bullshit! She’s a fucking monster! You just said so yourself.”

Rafaela held up her index finger in a warning signal. “Be mindful of what you say, Osiris. You’re trying my patience.”

He let out an exasperated breath and spoke again, this time with more care. “Look, I understand why I’m here. And if you think I’m not ready yet, fine. But what about Xavia? She’s a good person. She definitely deserves to move on before Jenny Widmark, the spider-wife.”

“The what?”

“Spider-wife.” As soon as he repeated the phrase, he realized he’d screwed it up, but his priorities lay outside of words. “Whatever she called herself. You know what I mean. That bitch has no business moving on so quickly.”

“Yes, I do know what you mean. But do you?”


“I’m not sure you understand the term, ‘move on,’ as well as you think you do. Many souls arrive here because they’ve nowhere else to go at first. Some only stay for a short time, once we’ve ascertained they clearly do not belong in our realm. We do offer them an opportunity to prove that, perhaps, they can be rehabilitated, that they can learn from their past mistakes, and express true penitence. Sadly, Jenny Widmark is not a good candidate for our intervention at this time. And we want her far away from our more deserving students as quickly as possible. Therefore, she has already been transferred to another realm more suited to dealing with her particular vices.”

I hope you'll stay tuned for info on this book and other exciting things to come. I promise I'll try to be better about keeping you informed on my progress.

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