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Tag Archives: Health

Fasting

As a lot of you may know, it is the month of Ramadaan. A holy month for Muslims all over the world where they fast for 30 days. I have a lot of Muslim colleagues and friends. I may have said this before, but I lived a very sheltered life growing up. I went to an Afrikaans primary school (I was in the one English class) and an Afrikaans high school (again in the only English class). The pupils were predominantly white, with a pop of colour coming and going every now and then. Somehow the students of colour never seemed to stay long. My mother and stepfather didn’t really have friends that were not white, so I grew up in a little bubble of the things I knew. When I started working after school it was incredible culture shock for me. I was quite suddenly exposed to a lot of different races, cultures, religions and sexual orientations. Fortunately I am quite liberal and have never really judged people based on any of these things. I can tell you in my denomination of Christianity we were taught to respect the religions of others. I did visit a few different churches with my friends in high school, to see what different churces were like, but they were all Christian. Most of them quite different from my own, but all Christian.

Since working at the company I have been with for the last 16 years, I’ve always been intrigued with the Muslim faith and have the utmost respect for those who fast for Ramadaan. I couldn’t imagine how difficult it must be. Considering my intense love for food, I could not wrap my head around it. This year I decided to try and fast too. I wanted to know what it is like and I wanted to see if I can. Don’t get me wrong, my intention was not to fast for the entire Ramadaan, but I thought I would start by trying for one day. Everyone else was already a week into Ramadaan and I finally said goodbye to my monthly visitor so I decided to dive in.

Preparing:

I woke up a few minutes earlier than normal so I could prepare myself something to eat before leaving for work. I thought it would be a good idea to have a bowl of oats since this should give me energy and keep me full for long. I haven’t been eating breakfast for a couple of months, so eating a bowl of oats at 5:30 in the morning was a bit of a struggle for me. I pushed through though, knowing I would not be able to eat for the rest of the day. I made myself coffee in a travel mug as I do every morning which I had on the way to work. I made an exception and had a smoke in my car as well since the cut off time to begin fasting was around 6:30 and I knew I wouldn’t get to work before then. I always thought that Muslims fast between sunrise and sunset, but that isn’t so. There is a calendar with specific times and the times change as the month progresses.

I start work at 7:00. At 7:53 I was already missing the second cup of coffee I would have had by that time. My mouth felt dry. The coffee trolley at work whisked by. Normally this would have provided me with my third cup of coffee for the day, but I asked our lovely tea lady in the morning not to make me any. She thought I’m nuts. She will make me coffee even if I am not at my desk. She knows how much I love my coffee. She was very surprised when I asked her to skip me for the day.

Around 15:00:

It was my full intention to make notes throughout the day, but it has turned out to be a relatively busy work day and I didn’t get around to it. I must say my ability to focus was compromised. I found it hard to start something and then finish it or focus on it. Hunger was fine actually and I was also totally okay not smoking during the day (no, this is not the part where you ask me why I don’t just quit). I was seriously thirsty all day though. Since early in the morning. Around 11:20 they started packing out the lunch to be served downstairs in our canteen and the food smelled amazing. When the coffee trolley made her last round after 13:00 I needed to distract myself from the sound because it would normally mean I was getting coffee delivered to my desk and I really do look forward to that.

I had about another 3 hours to go before I could break fast. I didn’t really think it would be a problem. I was stiff from sitting down in my chair all day instead of getting up for loo breaks and smoke breaks. I had to make a point of getting up to stretch my legs, but I was also trying to conserve energy so that I could make it through the day. I felt quite tired and had a hint of a headache, but it would be a fleeting pain and then it would immediately go away.

About the night:

When I got home it was freezing and Rudi was sleeping after an overnight shift. I whipped off my jacket and shoes and crawled into bed with him immediately. By home time I was already really tired and to be honest I just wanted to lay and do nothing. I can understand now why my Muslim colleagues like to leave work an hour earlier, I would have been very happy to. I really didn’t want to cook and after much back and forth about who was going to go out in the blustering, windy, rainy weather to go and get pizza Rudi finally relented and agreed to go. He left 6 minutes before I was allowed to break fast…so I ended up breaking fast with a cup of coffee and a smoke. That warm cup of coffee was heavenly. I still wasn’t actually hungry by the time the pizza arrived, but I ate too much of it anyway. I drank another 3 cups of coffee before bed.

Since I made it through the first day relatively unscathed, I decided to fast for another day to see what it was like.

Next day:

So I wanted to know what two consecutive days would feel like and I wanted to see if adjusting what I did in the morning would impact how my day went. So I had a bowl of oats in the morning again, but this time I also had two glasses of water. This is UNHEARD of for me. I don’t like drinking water, but I realized I had to hydrate myself to face the day. I also stayed thirsty and woke up thirsty from the previous night, so knew that water was the answer. I had my regular cup of coffee on my way to work over and above breakfast.

This time I only got thirsty much later in the day, but I did still get thirsty. Maybe I didn’t drink enough water in the morning. I also got hungry at around 11:30 and again around 14:30, but it was manageable. I was a lot quieter than normal. I can be loud I guess. One reason for this was because my mouth is dry and my throat a bit sore from the drought therein. The other reason is to conserve energy and because I was tired and lethargic. The second day had it’s own set of challenges and was harder than the first day, but it was still doable.

I was very hungry by the time I was able to break fast. I was literally watching the clock waiting for the last minute to tick by. My neighbour was too sweet and sent me some dates (the traditional way to break fast) and savouries. While I was waiting for the time to pass Gabby decided to go to the loo and just as I was allowed to, she called me to help her. I was frustrated since I had waited the whole day to finally eat or drink something, but went to help her quickly. The kids raided my plate of savouries and I only managed to have a springroll and the dates. We had some soup for dinner, which is perfect for this cold weather.

Since the next day was a public holiday I put the fasting on hold. I would like to try for a full week as I’ve heard that day 3/4 can be pretty hectic.

I certainly have new insight into what it feels like to be fasting. While it may be considered “easier” to fast in the winter because the days are shorter and one doesn’t need to wake up after 3 in the morning to eat before starting to fast, fasting in winter is difficult too. I found that I got extremely cold while fasting. I guess your body is so busy trying to just run it’s normal processes like breathing, keeping your heart beating, etc that warming your body is lower on the priority list.

While I certainly don’t *have* to fast, I would like to try and fast for a full week next week. There are some health benefits to fasting as well and who doesn’t want to be more healthy? I have my own reasons for deciding to try fasting. My reasons are not religious, but I did want to see if I had the willpower to do it even if I didn’t have to. I did want to know how it would affect my body, but I was also keenly interested to see how it would affect my mind. I very seldom introspect and being still and quiet prevents me from distracting myself with all the outward things and being boisterous.

Heaven knows I could do with some introspection right now.

I would love to hear what your views are on fasting and whether you’ve ever done so for any reason. Thanks for reading!

Butterfly Signature

 

 

I’m a Quitter

Hi everyone. Today I want to talk about smoking. Both my mother and stepfather smoked growing up, so I guess it was inevitable for me to light up at some point. That coupled with the fact that my mother always told me that if I wanted to, I should smoke at home and not hang out on street corners to do it. That’s an open invitation, right? I’m not going to blame my mother for my decisions, even if I made them at a very young age where I could probably have used some firmer parenting. I can’t say that it would have made a difference, I might just have rebelled anyway. It is what it is.

I think I first lit a cigarette when I was around 14 years old. I remember it was a box of Benson & Hedges No 1 that my mother had purchased for me. I made a pretty big deal of it. I ran myself a bath, put out my cigarettes, ashtray and lighter and had a smoke while relaxing in the bath. So very grown up. At that point I decided I didn’t like it. Why would anyone want to make their mouth taste that way? No 1’s were so light, I didn’t even get light headed. I gave the pack back to my mother. This was a funny story to tell her friends, wasn’t it? Fast forward 2 years and I was in high school trying to fit in, just like everyone else. I took it up again, smoking a stronger brand this time. I smoked all through high school (not at school, although I did a few times. Shameful, I know!) and continued when I started work. I was never a heavy smoker. If I smoked 10 a day it was a lot. When I got married in 2007 I spontaneously quit. I had never had the desire to quit before and I always said I would quit when I am ready. I just didn’t see the point any more and quit cold turkey. It was during winter and I remember knitting at work to keep my hands busy when they were idle. I also went through a large number of lollipops for the oral fixation. It almost seemed too easy. I remember being really upset that I could quit smoking so easily and do something so good for myself/my body yet I struggle to lose weight.

Since then I have relapsed a few times. Usually during very stressful periods in my life. I managed not to smoke throughout all of my pregnancies, which I am grateful for. I lit up again when Jamie died and then I quit. I lit up again when my grandfather died and then I quit. Rudi started smoking full time again since starting to drive trucks. He says if he is sleepy it helps him stay awake. Yeah I know. Scary, but I would rather he stay awake. I started smoking socially while on a project in one of our other buildings and before I knew it I was buying smokes again. I started smoking full time for the first time in a long time. Again, not heavily. A pack of 20 would last me almost 5 days, but I was still smoking. So I’ve quit. Again.

By the time you read this post it will be 3 weeks. The cravings are still strong sometimes and it takes some willpower not to just go and have one if I’m annoyed about something at work or particularly stressed at home. For quite a long time I got away with smoking one here and there socially. Some people who always saw me smoke in social situations were puzzled when I told them I wasn’t actually a smoker. I guess I’ll never completely be a non smoker. Just like an alcoholic stays an alcoholic even if they are not drinking. I have had thoughts about having just one socially, but that’s a slippery slope for me as of late. Previously I could really just have one or 2. Now not so much. I’m not sure why. I am not particularly stressed right now. Not like I was when my loved ones died. Not even nearly. I felt that smoking again under those circumstances certainly was justified and a better coping mechanism than drugs or alcohol. Although…cigarettes are nothing more than a legal drug, aren’t they?

I have a little countdown app that displays how many days it has been since I last had a cigarette. I was thinking of quitting quitting and decided to put it on my home screen as a reminder of how well I’ve done and to motivate me to keep going. Will I relapse again? I’m not going to lie. It’s likely. This seems to be something that I will keep going back and forth on for the rest of my life. I’m just grateful that I do manage to put it down again every time I start. A quitter for life it would seem.

Do you have a vice? Something that you just keep going back to even though you shouldn’t?

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Kicking the Antibiotics

Early last month I posted about trying to get my children off what felt like constant antibiotic use. The post was well received and I was happy to see I wasn’t the only one worried about this. I realize that the weather is starting to warm up and that means less illness, but it is allergy season which has meant illness and infections for us in the past.

Since that post was published I have not taken the kids to the doctor once. They have had the snots, coughs, pukes and fevers since then…but never seemed limp and unable to play, so I held out and they recovered on their own. I still make use of over the counter medication and the kids are both taking an antihistamine to try and prevent allergy related post nasal drips which become monster coughs.

Another thing that has coincided with this is that we no longer have our family pet. I suspected for a while that having our cat was contributing to the problem. The children at the day mother where my children were picking up their germs were not constantly on antibiotics, but recovered on their own. The only logical explanation to me was that something environmental was aggravating my children’s condition to the point where they develop an infection. I am not saying that none of those other children have pets at home, but I was always aware that Elijah is susceptible to chest infections and it made sense to me that something he was inhaling could cause his condition to escalate. Yes, it could also have been grass, dust and a million other things. Testing for allergies is very costly, so finding out exactly what was setting them off was not financially viable.

We had Amber for many years and she was getting old. She had lost both her canines and was struggling to jump out of the window and up onto the bed. Amber was the first in our family who knew I was pregnant. It might sound weird, but she started sleeping by my tummy before I even took a pregnancy test. This was out of character for her. She always slept with Rudi and I found it strange that she suddenly wanted to sleep with me. After I took the test and she did it again, I made the connection. Once we bought the pram, she started having behavioral problems. She urinated in the pram more than once and she started defecating in the house. Since this started happening the moment we brought the pram into the house, we thought she was not having any of this new baby. She had lived through the arrival of one baby and refused to take this news in her stride. We tried to find her a new home for over two years, but nobody wanted her. We put a sign up in the local vet with a picture of her and a short explanation of why we could not keep her. Not one person called. Rudi and I fought about this constantly. I was unhappy, the kids and myself were constantly sick, our cat was acting out, our house constantly stank of cat urine (to the point where neighbours walking past our house commented about it) and we were at the end of our tether. My grandmother suggested we contact the animal anti-cruelty league and said they would likely be able to try and find a home for her. I called them and the lady that answered said we could bring her through and they would see what they could do. Rudi and Elijah took her early the next Saturday morning. Rudi said they examined her and said she was around 12 years old (we never knew her exact age as we started caring for her when she was no longer a kitten) and there was no way they could find a home for her and that they would put her to sleep. Rudi returned home without her. We were very sad. She wasn’t just a part of our family for around 10 years, she was also Elijah and Gabby’s first pet.

So far kicking the antibiotics is going well. I think a combination of a) the medical aid being depleted b) me not panicking at the first sign of a fever c) the onset of summer d) no more pet hair/dander to contend with and e) finding over the counter medication that works for us have all contributed to it going well so far. I know it has not even been 2 months and we have gone this long without antibiotics before, so you may think it is too early to assess. You might be right.  The reason I’m posting this now already is because we have experienced scenarios in this last two months that usually resulted in a visit to the doctor and a prescription for antibiotics, yet here we are. I don’t think they will never need antibiotics again. I’m sure they will. I hope to strengthen their immunity by letting their body fight these germs. It might take them a little longer to recover and it might still be costing me a small fortune in over the counter medication to alleviate their symptoms, but I am sure as their immunity increases this will pay off in the long run.

Have you tried to kick antibiotics? How did it go?

 

Stuff

So…I’m kind of limbo at the moment. There are pressing issues in my life that I am trying to sort out. Personal stuff. Medical stuff, concerning myself. Until I know exactly what I can say, there isn’t really much to say other that they are still investigating to see what is wrong with me. In the interim I am battling with doctors and medical aid and it looks like I will be sitting with quite a bill, despite forking over thousands of rands to the medical aid every month. This makes me so mad. Thanks to a friend I have managed to save *some* costs, but it looks like I’ll be liable for a lot of the account. Bloody doctors. WHY charge 200% of the medical aid rate? Why is the medical aid rate so low that doctors need to charge 200%? Whateverthfuck.  I’ll be going in for an investigative procedure on Tuesday next week. I managed to ask the doctor for discount, despite being terribly afraid to do so (again much cheering on here from friends). He agreed to a 20% discount. Not much, but I guess it is better than nothing.

 

So…since this is mentally consuming me at the moment there isn’t really anything else to say. I snapped a before GHD/after GHD pic of my hair the other day. Fluff much? Here it is:

 

Before

 

After

 
 
It’s a thing of beauty!