Must Read Book

Short post today because I have a bunch of other things I need to get done but everyone PLEASE GO PICK UP THIS BOOK. It is available in hardcopy, digitally, or via Audible (and the audiobook is excellently narrated).

This book brings together a lot things I’ve seen other places in a cohesive, intelligent, empowering (and terrifying) way. It’s a book everyone needs to read. Women – we need this to understand and improve the sub-standard care we’re routinely receiving. Men – you need this to advocate for the women in your lives when they are ill or injured and can’t speak up for themselves.

Basically, the book explains:

  • How women present differently during life-threatening conditions like stroke and heart attack
  • How women respond differently to medication
  • Why women don’t get the care they need via the healthcare system
  • Why so many women are diagnosed with “anxiety” and similar conditions instead of heart disease and the other true causes of their symptoms
  • Why it takes literal years for women to get diagnosed with common conditions
  • How and why the medical system is rarely equipped to effectively help women even when it can figure out root causes
  • How to advocate for the best possible care

This comes recc’d by some of the functional medicine leaders whose opinions I highly respect and, as noted, echoes concerns and facts I’ve seen raised by other highly-trained and experienced professionals. I have to say that someone close to me experienced frustratingly elusive heart trouble years ago and listening to this book makes me furious that I didn’t have this information and couldn’t help her advocate for the care she should have gotten at the time.

Finally, on the more amusing end of things, one of the topics that has come up is that researchers often exclude women from research trials because dealing with standard hormonal fluctuations and the myriad of effects they have on absolutely every aspect of women’s lives and functioning is expensive and a pain.

Me, to researchers:


Comic Con is Going Digital

Compliments of COVID, conventions all over the US are going digital this year. While this cannot replace the whole con experience, it does carry one benefit: these digital versions are free.

In case anyone is interested and hasn’t seen, San Diego Comic Con (aka ComicCon International) will be running online from July 22 to July 26. Info on what they’re offering and when is available at this link.

Our local Con (in the fall) has posted that they’re going to try to host some things online as well, but no word on exactly what or when. I’m not sure if we’ll make any of the online events for SDCC but I wanted to share real quick in case anyone else can!

HIPAA Protects You… Except When It Doesn’t

Today’s rant is also brought to you by Things I Learned While Researching For Work.

In case you’re not familiar, HIPAA is a federal law that protects your personal health information (PHI). It regulates who can access it, who can share it, with whom, and when.

One of the things it expressly forbids is using your PHI for marketing purposes. But guess what? That’s super inconvenient for the national pandemic response plan! Why? Because if you’ve had Coronavirus the government wants your blood!

Technically, this is because they want the antibodies your immune system will have produced to fight the virus. In theory, they can use these antibodies as the basis of vaccines and other potential treatments to help severely impacted patients. And that’s fine — I don’t have a problem with that.

What irks me is that OCR (the people who oversee HIPAA) decided that it’s too inconvenient to not be able to call people who’ve had corona and nag them to donate blood. No, a nation-wide call via public media outlets and other venues just isn’t good enough. They have to nag you in person about it. So they’ve announced that your health care providers can use your PHI to compile lists of people who’ve had the virus and use their personal information to contact them with messages about why it’s so important to donate.

They’re literally offering guidance on what specific language to use to get around the marketing prohibition in this process and keep themselves technically on the right side of the law while doing exactly what the law was designed to prevent.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not against public health. But any time you smear the lines and disregard personal protections for the “greater good” — especially when it isn’t necessary — you are tiptoeing along a slippery slope and setting terrible precedents.

You can’t tell me that a public campaign wouldn’t be more than enough to get the blood and plasma they need for research/treatment purposes… especially if corona is as widespread as it’s reported to be. This just feels like reaching, and I resent it. You probably should, too.

Indoor Micro-Gardening

So I ran across these people while writing a thing for work and it was too cool not to share.

Babylon makes indoor micro-gardens. Each vertical unit takes up 15 square feet and produces the same yield as about 2000 sqft of outdoor garden space. Each month, the company sends you pre-seeded flats that you just stick in the unit. A digital app tells you exactly what to do and when, and your boxes include pre-mixed nutrient formulas so you don’t have to have a green thumb to keep things alive and thriving.

The entire set-up is pesticide free and uses heirloom, non-GMO crops. While it’s designed for commercial use, I can’t help imagining how cool it would be to have a home version of this. Particularly in this day and age when the food supply is a mess, quarantine is a thing, and greens in particular are such a common source of food-borne illness.

I don’t have time to ramble now about how the sprawling impacts it could have on health or a myriad of social issues, but I confess to being a little starry-eyed thinking about it all. This kind of innovation is absolutely the kind of thing that gives me hope for the future. ๐Ÿ’•

Hypocrisy for Money

This past week I spent a couple days writing for work about gastric weight loss procedures. One one hand, it was a little fascinating to see all the different options people have come up with and what insurance will or won’t pay for on the flimsiest of logic. On the other hand, the nutritionist in me was screaming.

I’ll be the first one to admit that bodies can be frustrating. But they’re designed as a whole system. You can’t just take out bits here and there and assume everything’s going to be fine! That’s just not how it works.

I was also super entertained by the way a bunch of procedures are presented, such as the gastric balloon. Apparently, they stick a silicone balloon in your stomach and fill it with saline, which supposedly helps you eat less and feel full sooner. You have it for six months, during which time you “create a new relationship with food” and take up some form of “healthy movement” … aka, you make diet and lifestyle changes.

The procedure costs around $4,000 and you can lose up to 40 pounds. Now, if I’m doing that math correctly, that leaves you paying $100 per pound lost and you still have to pay more for clean food and whatever activity you take up. So that’s more than $100 per pound of improvement plus you’re risking ulcers, stomach perforations, and other complications, all for the same results you’d get from just making the diet and lifestyle changes on your own by themselves in the first place!!!

Do you have any idea what kind of customized support you could risk-free get from nutritionists, health coaches, food services, and other providers for $4,000?? UGH.

The thing that really had me fried, though, was the bald-faced claim the a duodenal switch surgery will “cure” diabetes 98% of the time. A duodenal switch is where they remove up to 80% of your stomach and 3/4 of your intestines. Post-surgery, you have to take an entire bucket of supplements every day for the rest of your life to avoid potentially fatal nutritional deficiencies because you can absorb so little of what you’re eating. But it’s fine! It’ll cure your diabetes!

Mind you, if you completely eliminate your diabetes through diet and lifestyle interventions like exercise and therapeutic keto, the mainstream medical community will flatly insist that it’s just “under control” because “diabetes can’t be cured” by such things. It’s a Known Fact. ๐Ÿ™„

Entire industries have sprung/are springing up around medical tourism – sending people to other states or countries to get these speciality procedures, and they’re hardcore selling them to overweight and obese people as necessary to prevent their death by obesity-related diseases and complications. Insurance will even pay for a bunch of them!

But you want to go to the gym? To buy real food? To get help developing new skills and habits from a nutritionist or health coach?ra You are on your own, dude, because nobody with a lobby is making money on that.

The entire thing is appalling. Please, for the love of God, don’t let anyone you know get one of those surgeries or get sold on the idea that they’re somehow miracle cures. It’s a bunch of very expensive, very well-marketed baloney.

New Hair Color!

For a while, I very much enjoyed having all-over red hair. I was even happy about the way it faded to reddish-blonde.

My hair, unfortunately, didn’t love being dyed. Keeping up with all-over color, even when I tried to stretch out the amount of time between touch-ups, turned my hair to straw.

At the end of last year, I decided to just give it a while. I let my hair grow out and recover for a bit while I searched for alternatives. Then COVID happened and it got even more time because all the salons were closed.

Finally, everything started to open up again and I decided that I wanted to try streaks of color instead of all-over color. My reasoning was that if most of my hair wasn’t being dyed, it wouldn’t be straw-like and awful, even if little bits here and there were less soft than the rest.

Much to my dismay, the sweet girl who had been doing my hair had switched careers for health reasons! She kindly directed me to a friend at another salon, though, and I got an appointment this past Tuesday. I love the results!

We ended up doing a base dye of a brown slightly darker than my own naturally blah color (politely called “ashy brown”). Then she used a demi-permanent dye for the red, which is both brighter and much less harsh than a permanent dye. It will also be faster and cheaper to have touched up down the line.

I’m delighted with the results and I’ve gotten tons of compliments already, so we’re officially checking this off as a success!

Surfboards Made of Wool

One more random thing I found while researching something else for the “faith in humanity restored” and “the future doesn’t have to be terrible” file: did you know you can make surfboards out of wool?

While I don’t personally have any use for surfboards, I do think that stuff like this really challenges the status quo in important ways. We can make the world a more sustainable place… we just need to put our creative hats on. It’s a happy thought. ๐Ÿ„โ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ„โ€โ™‚๏ธ

How to Spend Your Retirement

I recently ran across this article about how a bunch of retired people in the Pacific Northwest started their own project tracking down, identifying, and saving Pioneer-era apples from abandoned homesteads.

My first thought was “why didn’t I know about this at our last house?!” Not only did we have extremely old heirloom trees on our property, we had a neighbor who knew where to find all the abandoned homesteads on what is now state land! I’d have loved to contribute!

My second thought was “THIS is how you spend a retirement! They are physically active when weather-appropriate and have a comfy, library-based project for when the weather is bad. They’re doing something that the whole of humanity benefits from that is interesting on multiple fronts. The entire thing is fantastic. If I live long enough to retire, sign me up for something just like this!

Anyway, there isn’t any other point to this article except that I think we could all use a few hits of “faith in humanity restored” right now, and this totally did it for me so I thought everyone else should know, too.

(If you do happen to know anyone who could contribute to the work via their own knowledge of lost homesteads, though, maybe pass it along?)


Dryer Balls

Eco Nuts Organic Soap Nuts ยป Set of 4 Plain Wool Dryer Balls

Last year, I got a set of wool dryer balls for free as a product review thing. I hadn’t been using dryer sheets, which is what the balls typically replace, and I was haphazard about using the balls, but generally I liked them pretty well.

Recently, I had opportunity to write an article about wool dryer balls for work and I was enough surprised by what I learned in the research for that piece that I thought I’d share some of it here.

Dryer sheets:

  • Contain a boatload of toxic and carcinogenic chemicals, including chloroform, endocrine disruptors, and things that aggravate skin conditions, asthma, and other pre-existing health concerns
  • Are just as terrrible for the environment as they are for you
  • Are stupidly expensive

Wool dryer balls:

  • Are sustainable, renewable, and all-around people and earth friendly
  • Even most people with wool allergies can safely use wool dryer balls as long as they don’t handle the balls themselves directly
  • Make your clothes dry faster!
  • Cut down on static and pet fur
  • Are good for an average of 1,000 loads of laundry (or between 2 and 5 years, depending on how much laundry you do)
  • Cost 1/4 to 1/2 of what it would cost to buy dryer sheets for an equivalent number of loads of laundry

Interestingly, I also learned that I should be using 3 balls for small loads and all six for big ones.

I feel slightly sheepish (pun intended) for not realizing what a great tool I had on hand and therefore failing to make good use of them. I’ll be remedying that. I’m also interested in trying soap nuts in place of laundry detergent, and I’ll post on that when I get a chance to experiment with them.

Days of Rest

I love working from home and I adore setting my own schedule. One of the things I’ve become very aware of in recent weeks, however, is that (like most people who work from home) I have developed the bad habit of assigning nearly all time not designated for something else as potential working time.

While I’m generally good at budgeting my time, I too easily tell myself that because I work from home and don’t have a commute I should be able to do everything. I set goals and, if I meet them, I automatically raise them as if I should be able to meet them all the time, which of course I can’t.

It’s not a good pattern.

I have also become aware that there have been some pretty big shifts in our schedule post-quarantine. The flow of the week is different, and the fact that it’s summer and there are a lot of one-off things hitting the schedule makes it that much harder to stick to a routine.

I was discussing this and related subjects with My Prince this past week, and we agreed that I should start taking Sunday afternoons off. Whatever else is going on, I’m going to shut everything off, pour myself something nice to drink, and that will be downtime, “us” time, and restorative time before we jump into a new week.

Knowing that this time is off-limits for other things will also help me enforce good boundaries and set reasonable expectations for the rest of the week (hopefully). It’s an experiment, of course, and subject to change. But I’m very aware that time is going by quickly these days. Rest and quiet have to be fiercely planned and protected or they won’t happen.

I’m starting today, so wish me luck!