Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Toddler gym equipment?

treadmill
image: dailymail

I came across a blog entry in the RW Daily about toddler treadmills. Yes, treadmills for those little tykes to combat childhood obesity. These treadmills first came out in 2006, made by the British company, Gymkids. This company also makes toddler and junior bikes, rowers, steppers, riders, etc. for kids ages 3-11. According to this Canadian article, the bikes even have read outs of time, distance travelled, and amount of energy expended! What young child needs to know that? Better yet, how is this going to help children develop good exercising habits?

This is when I think people need to be reminded of playgrounds, parks, fields to run in, all those sorts of things for young children, not exercise equipment. Children need to be children, not mini adults.


Monday, September 29, 2008

What's your reality?

This week is super busy, trying to get everything done before my trip. Since today was the only day I had off, I pretty much crammed a lot of errands. After my psych appt., my dermatology appt., my glove appt., and running around to various stores, I'm extremely exhausted. It didn't help that my eating and fluid intake were not so hot today either. I still have more to do, but I'm leaving that for tomorrow and Wednesday. Blogging this week may be a little light, but I still want to write a few posts.

My first appt. was with C. We talked a lot about my upcoming trip and my stress and anxiety of seeing my parents, as well as other catch-up stuff in my life. Something she said really sticks out.

"Remember, what your parents say do not have to become your reality."

She said she was saying this, so I had a different voice to hear, to put something else in my head. It was important that I heard that, because I think I do indeed hear my parents' voices a lot. And that tends to drown out my own voice, even when I don't exactly know what that is.

It reminded me of the different voices we hear--whether it is the ED voice, the voice of our parents, our friends, our relatives, a professor, etc. Sometimes, these voices can be overpowering, "controlling," and negative. In our vulnerability, we lose our own power, follow those voices, and try to make that our reality. And in the end, suffer because of it.

This is not to say that sometimes these voices are positive, encouraging, and supportive. Hopefully, we begin listening to that and finding our reality that way.




Sunday, September 28, 2008

Americaversary-Reflecting on adoption

I've been thinking about this post for a week and what to write without boring everyone with endless details of my early life. But then again, maybe you'd be interested? I have tendency to ramble on in posts, so conciseness isn't my forte unless it has to be. I hope you don't mind and read anyway.

America + versary = Americaversary

US Flag
image: flags image: worldatlas

It's a word my parents made up to celebrate the day I became theirs. Today, marks 24 years I've lived in this country! Although sometimes I feel like this day is more important to my parents than to me, it does allow me to reflect on my adoption and how I've dealt with it.

Every year, my parents would get me a small gift, or we would celebrate with a dinner at a nice Asian restaurant. Every year, my father has also sent me flowers. Most of the time, they were red, white, and blue carnations, while at other times, they were roses. Although I loved receiving the flowers, sometimes I felt a little awkward, especially if it was during school. People would come up and ask me why I was receiving flowers, and I had to explain my whole situation. Over the years, however, it really became a tradition which I enjoyed and looked forward to.

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People choose to adopt for different reasons. For some, it is because they are unable to conceive or may have a health condition, preventing them from having their own children. For others, it’s about giving a child a much needed home. For my parents, it was a bit of both. There was the factor that both had a history of depression which sparked fear that their genes might be passed on to any offspring. Then, there was the fact that my mom really wasn’t into babies. She didn’t want to deal with the diapers, sleepless nights, wailing, etc. She much preferred someone who was already “house trained.” My father preferred something that wasn’t a crier. He just couldn’t handle that. Plus, they figured they would have a better shot at adopting an older child versus an infant which had a list a mile long.

The other interesting thing was that both were interested in adopting overseas. Part of this was the likelihood that the adoption would be closed. Therefore, there was less chance that something catastrophic would happen like the birth mother demanding the child back (remember Baby Jessica). They decided on Korea for a few reasons. One was my mother had always wanted a Korean child. My grandfather (her father) who was in the Korean war used to tell her and her sister stories of a little girl he befriended whom he used to give candy bars to. My mom used to secretly wish that he would bring back a Korean child or trade her sister for one. My father just liked cute little Asian kids. Plus, he felt like they were very smart.

So they started their long, arduous journey through the adoption process. This was in the early 1980s, so adoption rates in Korea were very high. Within the last decade, Korean adoptions have dropped dramatically due to Korea's stricter policies and opening up their adoption to more populations, like single mothers, within the country. I don't know all the details, but the main agency was Minnesota's Children's Home Society. There, a social worker named T.B. discovered me at a Korean orphanage. My parents were thrilled to possibly have a daughter soon. During one of the calls with T.B., my dad asked if I was pretty. T.B. apparently said yes, but more than that, "I was a neat kid." More phone calls and photos were exchanged, and two days before September 28, 1984, my parents were notified to come to JFK airport to meet their new daughter, a 4 1/2 year old girl with short, straight, dark brown hair,weighing in at only 35 pounds, and had a physical congenital deformity of her hand. (They already knew about this but didn't care)

After 20+ hours of plane travel, I arrived at JFK airport. There were several children adopted that day, and each family was taken into a private room to meet their child. My parents tell me that I wore a pink and white checkered dress, socks with the number 45, and sneakers. I had a big wad of gum in my mouth (I think this is why I have an affinity for gum), a smooshed up cookie in one hand, and a Korean airline pin in the other. Apparently, I was very calm and silent. I'm sure I was pretty confused at what was going on and seeing all these strange people. Unfortunately, there are no pictures of that day, because my mother forgot to put film in the camera.


this is me and my grandmother the first night


After that, we went to my grandmother's house (my father's side) in NJ where I met a bunch of relatives and did not say a word. My parents recount that wherever someone left me, I just stayed there. The other thing is that I did not speak English and no one spoke Korean.

The first night was very tough. I cried for my "um ma" (mother in Koreans) my foster mother for several hours. I also put all my clothes back on that I had originally arrived in, giving the idea that I was to return to Korea. It took me a little while to understand things, but by the end of the night, I took off my shoes and placed them by my mother. Then, I fell asleep in her lap. Now, it's hard to say what I was thinking when I did this. We like to think that I had "accepted" that I was staying with them. Who knows for sure. I could have easily thought that that was the place where shoes go and put mine there. Or maybe I didn't like things being cluttered?

At any rate, I seemed to adjust better than expected. I met with my cousins the next morning, ate cereal for the first time (one morsel at a time), and spent time with relatives. A few days later, we returned home to our small, conservative town in VA where I grew up and stayed until I left for college.

Since I did not know English, my parents and I communicated through picture books. However, over the next few months, I learned English mostly by watching television--cartoons, "Sesame Street," etc. I spent a lot of time with my dad during this time since my mom went back to work soon after I was adopted. I took her leaving very hard and cried for the first few days until I realized she was coming back.

This new life wasn't easy, but things seemed to fall into place nicely. I met other children my age. I eventually enrolled in gymnastics after learning I really enjoyed being upside down. I excelled at school once it was learned that I was not mentally retarded (a school psychologist thought I was based on some test which was inappropriate for someone who did not know English). So far, I was living an All American life.

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For the most part, I think I understood the significance of my adoption from an early age. I remember in elementary school (maybe fifth grade) having to write an essay on our most special "gift." Many students chose material items, but I chose being adopted. I knew that by living in this country, I had many more opportunities than I would have had back in Korea. This was especially evident due to my hand and arm, macrodactylism, a birth defect in which my nerves and bones in my right arm and hand are larger than my left. It's a rare condition but more prevalent in Asian countries. Unfortunately, in Korea, there is still much stigma regarding those with disabilities. In the back of my mind, I've always wondered if this might have been one reason why my birth mother gave me up or abandoned me. It's not something I think about often, but the truth is, I'll never really know.
Record keeping in Korea is very poor, especially in orphanages. I'm sure by now my paperwork has gotten lost in the shuffle over the years. At one point when I had a real yearning to learn more of my past, I did attempt to contact my foster mother thorough a translated letter. Honestly, I don't know whether she ever received it. She is the only memory I have left of Korea.
At this point in time, I don't have that long, lost wondering about my birth parents that I used to. A number of years ago, I saw a psychic who gave me some interesting information. Whether it was true or not, it's hard to say. However, years later, when I saw this same psychic, she was right on the money about my life and circumstances. Now, I think the only thing I'd really want to know is my medical background. Although I certainly believe that some people are predisposed to eating disorders and other mental illnesses through genetics, at times, it's harder for me to see it in myself simply due to not having that ability. I can't point to my birth mother, birth father or uncle Joe, Aunt Sue to say there is a history of depression, eating disorder, or other mental illness. I can't point to personality traits I have and say my birth mother or birth father were like that. All I know is that I came with certain personality traits that had already developed--perfectionistic, serious, stoic, self-reliant, competitive, confident, hard-working. As a child, my parents would describe me a witty, athletic, cute, and loving.
When I look at pictures of myself from such an early age, it's hard to believe that is me. That girl looks so different. She is happy, care-free, confident, has fire and spunk, and is simply living in the moment. She isn't yet afraid of the future, or that she will fail or succeed, or give food morality. I think that is the part of me that I miss the most. Though I don't dwell on my past, I do wish I had a better memory of myself growing up. There are many stories my parents tell me which I have absolutely no recollection of. The memories I do have are in fragment, bits and pieces with some positive and some negative. It almost becomes like trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle, seeing where everything fits.

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I've kind of gone off tangent, and there is a lot more I could say (feel free to ask questions if you want), but I want to close with some other thoughts. I'm certainly thankful I was adopted as who knows what my life would be like now. I feel "lucky" to have been chosen out of so many other children. I still ask myself what made me standout, what made me "special." My father believes it was fate that brought us together. Perhaps so. Whatever the case, I would not be here now, in America, or even writing about this without the gift of adoption.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

"V" Formation

On my long run on Tuesday, I had what I call a "National Geographic" moment. There were probably about 50 or so birds on the ground, eating and doing other bird things. As I approached them running, they suddenly all took off in a whirlwind upward toward the sky. It was like a gigantic wind came across with all these black spots in the air. I just stood there in awe. I've seen this before many times, but it was beautiful to watch.

It reminded me that fall was here. Although the birds haven't started to migrate yet, they soon will, heading south for the winter. Birds fly in what is called the "V" formation, because of its efficiency. Essentially, it is less energy expenditure for flying long distances. You can read more about why birds fly in the V" formation here and here.

Years ago, I received an e-mail about the significance of the "V" formation in birds The e-mail said the author was Angeles Arrien, however, according to this website, it was written by a Robert McNeish. Whichever the case, it is a wonderful piece, and I wanted to share it with you.

Image:V-formation.jpg
image: Wikipedia

This fall, when you see geese heading south for the winter flying along in "V" formation, you might consider what science has discovered as to why they fly that way.

FACT: As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an "uplift" for the bird immediately following. By flying in a "V" formation, the whole flock has at least 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own.

LESSON: People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going more quickly and easily because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.

FACT: When a goose flies out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone. It quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the birds in front of it.

LESSON: If we have as much common sense as a goose, we stay in formation with those headed where we want to go. We are willing to accept their help and give our help to others. It is harder to do something alone than together.

FACT: When the lead goose gets tired, it rotates back into the formation, and another goose flies to the point position.

LESSON: It is sensible to take turns doing the hard and demanding tasks and sharing leadership. As with geese, people are interdependent of each others' skills, capabilities, and unique arrangements of gifts, talents, or resources.

FACT: The geese flying in formation honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.

LESSON: We need to make sure our honking is encouraging. In groups where there is encouragement, the production is much greater. The power of encouragement (to stand by one's heart or core values and encourage the heart and core of others) is the quality of honking we seek. We need to make sure our honking is encouraging and not discouraging.

FACT: When a goose gets sick, wounded, or shot down, two other geese will drop out of formation with that goose and follow it down to lend help and protection. They stay with the fallen goose until it dies or is able to fly again. Then, they launch out on their own, or with another formation to catch up with their flock.

LESSON: If we have the sense of a goose, we will stand by our colleagues and each other in difficult times as well as in good!

I hope each of you have a community or support network to help you along the way in recovery. No one should ever have to fight his alone.

Do I have "sucker" written on my forehead?

Within the past four days, I've had two encounters of people trying to either sell me something or leave pamphlets for me to read. Both of these encounters happened the old fashioned way with each individual coming to my door.

The first one were two Jehovah Witnesses. This is the not the only time they have come, more like the third time this year. You can read about another encounter here. They came in the middle of the day on Sunday when I was just about to take a nap, and of course the dogs alerted me that someone was there. Normally, I would not have opened the door at all and just pretended to not be home, but I thought it might have been my landlord. I opened the door and talked to them from afar, kind of nodded my head, even as they read some passage from the Bible, took their pamphlets, and then they left. They left, saying they hoped they could sit and chat with me sometime. Okay, that will never happen.

The second one happened yesterday. I had just gotten home and was about to feed my dogs, and then there was a knock on the door. It was a young kid--maybe seven or eight, selling some "spirit" card. It's essentially a card with a lot of different local restaurants, service places, and other businesses. Apparently, each time you shop there, you get a discount of some kind. This wouldn't have been so bad if I even remotely went to any of these restuarants or businesses. How could I say no to some sweet-looking young kid whose mom was in my driveway? I ended up giving up ten dollars I could have used elsewhere. As I was exchanging money with the kid, the mother yells out to me that she sees me all the time (I assumed out running). I guess this is one way to get to know the neighbors despite the fact that I've been here for oh six years.

It's encounters like these and this one too that happened this year which sometimes makes me feel like I have "sucker" written on my forehead. It's like there is a sign on my door that tells people to come by, because this person is nice, polite, and you can just get something from her. Any situation where people are "selling" their services at my door leave me feeling very uncomfortable, especially religious ones.

I have a hard time saying no anyway, but this doesn't make it feel any easier. Why is it I have no problem with some telemarketer who is trying to sell something over the phone that I am not interested? But face to face just seems so much harder, and if there is some cute kid, that just causes guilt. After all, who wants to reject a kid, even when it is like Girl Scout cookies which you don't even eat anyway. I've had that happen over the years as well with my landlord's daughter. There was a sense of "obligation" to buy from her.

I know I'm not the only one out there with this type of "problem" if you want to call it that. This is why they have classes for sales people to learn ways to entice you to buy something. I guess overall, it just reminds me of how I still have a problem with saying no and being assertive.

After all, isn't this just one other thing that can leave us feeling guilty, overworked, and stressed? So why do we do this to ourselves?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Empathy in physicians

This study, published today, about physicians missing opportunities for empathy, made me chuckle (okay, and kind of roll my eyes too). This specific study looked at patients with lung cancer and doctors' empathy to their concerns about mortality and treatment options.

The study defined empathy as, "
the identification with and understanding of another person's situation and feelings (and) is considered an important element of communication between patients and physicians and is associated with improved patient satisfaction and compliance with recommended treatment."

The results from the study showed that of 384 "empathic" moments, doctors were only empathic 39 times, a mere10%.

Here is one example of where a doctor missed using empathy skills:

Patient: I don't know what the average person does in just two year, three years, a year?

Physician: I think that . . . you certainly could live two or three years. I think it would be very unlikely . . . But I would say that an average figure would be several months to a year to a little bit more.

Though this study was small, consisting of 20 recorded and transcribed consultations, this is likely a scenario carried often. I bring this up, because I'm sure we have all run into a doctor or two who just did not have empathy skills and seemed to not care about our concerns. Some doctors are completely ignorant and make stupid remarks, but they're in a completely different category. For the most part, I've been pretty lucky to have physicians be concerned about me, but I've definitely had those that had horrible bedside manners, were completely ignorant, or didn't listen at all. They don't make you feel entirely secure about the medical profession as a whole. (but of course, there are those standouts that make a difference too)

The thing is, even with the hassles of insurance and time constraints, it doesn't take a doctor or anyone alike long to make a simple remark of concern about you, the patient. Sometimes, it's just comforting to know they are listening and for maybe a moment can feel what it is like to be in your shoes.

In another recent commentary in JAMA, there is a suggestion for training young doctors to have more emotional intelligence, the abilities to perceive, use, understand and manage emotions. While some doctors don't agree with the value of emotional intelligence, other research has showed its effectiveness in improving empathy skills among medical students.

In the end, whether it is a physician or another professional, communication skills are important for you to receive the appropriate care and treatment. This includes both the textbook knowledge as well as understanding emotions and empathy. A dose of concern certainly helps and can go a long way.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

All about weight awareness campaign

Even though this title, "all about weight" is very off putting, I think this Pennsylvannia campaign itself is actually promising. In conjunction with KidsPeace, a 126 year old private children's charity which helps kids overcoming various crises, and their web affiliate TeenCentral, their goal is to help children with the emotional roots of overeating or undereating, an often overlooked problem.

This campaign will reach 1000+ schools throughout PA and provide free access to TeenCentral.Net's websources, study and workshop guides, and TeenCentral's safe, anonymous online resource. Their online "all about weight" awareness campaign includes information on eating disorders, exercise, nutrition, genetics, body image & self-esteem, what's eating you?, and obesity & overweight.

I really like the fact that these experts are looking at not only the physical aspects of weight but also the emotional lives of teenagers. These days, it's hard being a teenager--trying to navigate issues of normal teenagedom as well as deal as with family, social, and environmental issues. I think this is a population that is often not given enough importance, so I'm really glad that there is a resource like this out there for them.

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I took a look through their website to see what it was all about. For the most part, I thought it was well done and age appropriate. There are several interactive gadgets to keep kids interested as well as good information on a number of topics. The new health "all about weight" module provides quizzes, graphics, and information arranged on a virtual scale. Their emphasis is, "sometimes it's not what you're eating, it's what's eating you!" My only qualm is that they do not address overexercising in the exercise portion.

I think the part I found most compelling was the "share a teen" story. This is where teens write in with a problem and receive advice from TeenCentral.Net's counselors. There were stories of dealing with divorce, relationships, sexuality, cutting, depression, eating disorders, and many more related to the angst of teenagehood. It's one of those nostalgic reminders of how much I hated being a teenager and couldn't wait until adulthood. Not that adulthood hasn't presented itself with it's own set of problems, but there is just more of an awareness now. It's where you wish you could tell any one of those teenagers to get help and to know that they can get through this difficult time period in their lives.

It's been a long day

I thought I'd give a quick update for those of you who might be interested in the lastest accounts of my oh-so-called-life. First, as I spoke about this weekend with my dad's and D.'s dog, Claude, the biopsy report was not favorable. He had two different types of cancer which metastatized and were ravaging his body. The decision was made to give him his wings. In the end, as difficult as it was for them, I think they felt better informed and able to "know" they made the right decision. Any situation like this gives me perspective of the time I too might have to make that decision for my wonderful four-legged companions. It's probably one of the only things that makes me cry and not many things do.

Secondly, I had my first therapy appt. with C. I was nervous and it felt awkward at first, but as I began to talk, there was a sense of comfort. The appt. itself was a normal intake type session, except that I tried to rehash the last six years of my life in 50 minutes. That really isn't an easy thing, and I'm sure she got a bit lost and confused. Hopefully, she got the basic idea. I'm sure as we go along, things will be clarified and better understood. One thing I did find sort of humorous was the fact she remembered meeting my dad. She said, "yes, and he did not listen just lik you said." My dad's impression of her consisted of "cute, Jewish woman--seemed nice" Hmm, slight differences in impressions.

The only catch to all this is my pesky insurance. I thought I had double the sessions allotted to me, and a mental health rider policy. Apparently, that is not the case, and I only have some horrible number of 10 sessions for a calendar year! I don't know what insurance companies think that you can really achieve on such a limited time. Besides that, my co-pay isn't really a co-pay but instead some co-insurance policy, making me pay half C.'s fee. I'm really unhappy about this and am now kicking myself for changing policies a few years ago. I could have sworn it was different. Everything would have worked out okay if I had met my deductible which is sky high. See folks, this is why you try desperately hard not to have an individual policy. They just run you into the ground with costs. So for now, I'm just going to have to work with what I've got and go from there. Sometimes, it feels unfair, but that's life for you.


Monday, September 22, 2008

When we try to reach the unobtainable...

Hats off to Dr. Deb for posting this on her blog. This video called "Doll Face" by Andrew Huang, a director, animator, and artist in Los Angelos, is very interesting. The opinions from you tube viewers were various. Some said this piece was beautiful, amazing, powerful, incredible, sad. Others said it was creepy, eerie, haunting. I think it could be described as any of these terms. Personally, I think it's a thought provoking work with a great message.



Sunday, September 21, 2008

"Voice of reason"



A month or so ago, I wrote a post about rational thinking versus emotional thinking. This week, I came across another example of it. The situation is similar to the post, but this time, it's not a client's dog but a family member's dog.

A few weeks ago, my dad called me and told me that Claude, their 12 year old shih tzu-poo was not doing well. He had an upper respiratory infection which later turned into bronchitis. Then early this week, they took him to the vet where the vet noticed some bumps on his neck. She wanted to check it out since there were a number of possibilities. It could be as simple as an enlarged lymph node to something worse, like cancer.

The official biopsy isn't back yet, but by mid-week, it looked to be some form of cancer. They decided to go ahead and start chemo and prednisone. The vet had said if the chemo was going to work, she thought it would work quickly, though she gave no indication to that time frame which left my dad and D., his wife, a bit puzzled.

Then, I received a phone call early Friday morning from D. I could tell she was very upset by her phone message. I dreaded the news since these early morning calls usually have a grim undertone. She said Claude had a rough night, and she didn't know what to do. She had thought about euthanizing him that day but couldn't do it. (I was thinking at this point, whoa, this is moving kind of fast here. I didn't say that though). I told her that it does take a little time for the medications to work and to give them a chance. I also said, "let's not make a rash decision here." I briefly spoke to my dad, since D. was sobbing by this point.

My dad said the vet thought it was "lymphoblastic," a rare form of cancer. So that afternoon, I did a little research to find out about this type of cancer. It basically depends on the exact diagnosis as there are several different forms with differing prognoses.

I called them this afternoon to see how Claude was. They said he was a little better--eating and drinking and had a few of his normal characteristics but had another rough night. D. said my dad told her he thought that "this was the day" which got her upset all over again. (Really, I couldn't believe he said that to her and did tell him that that only upset D. more and wasn't helpful to the situation.) I reiterated to both of them to hang on through the weekend, go to the appt. on Monday, talk to the oncologist, and just get all the information first before making a decision. D. thanked me for being there and being a "voice of reason."

This is a tough situation. Ultimately, we all know that Claude's days are numbered. My gut feeling is that since there are tumors in his lungs, the cancer metastatized. I'm not sure which type of cancer he has, whether it is indeed a form of lymphoblastic lymphoma or leukemia or hemangiosarcoma. Either way, the odds are not favorable for him.

I know both of them do not want Claude to suffer, but at the same time, so many emotions are flying around. I know it is easy for me, as an objective viewer, to tell them to do this, this, and this. I'm not in the thick of the moment, clouded by emotions However, I had a few fears. One was that my dad would pressure D. into making a decision. Claude is really her dog, so the decision should be hers. Two, I didn't think making a decision while upset was wise. Three, I was fearful that if she had made the decision to put him to sleep, she might regret it without knowing all the facts. This type of decision doesn't have a reversal. Once it's done, it's over. There are no electric shock paddles to bring the dog back to life. It's final.

The interesting thing about this conversation was I found myself getting very upset at the thought that they might euthanize Claude without having all the information, talking to the vet, or at least giving treatment a try. I wanted to scream into the phone, "what are you thinking?" But instead, I recognized this and knew my emotions were getting the best of me and quickly calmed down. They both called me the "voice of reason," but I don't know if it so much that or just the fact that this is how I react to this type of situation. It's important for me to have all the information, and then make a decision from there. Even when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer a number of years ago or my dad was diagnosed with colon cancer and melanoma, this was my demeanor. Some might say that I react this way not to let myself express emotions outwardly. Maybe that's part of the reason, but I think it's more that I want to keep a sense of optimism but know reality too.



In this situation, I hope for all involved that the best decisions are made from both the head and heart.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Recovery quote

I came across this paragraph yesterday as I was reading the book My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor. It's a memoir about a brain scientist who suffered a stroke and how she recovered. I have a lot more to say about her and her own thoughts on recovery. Although recovery from a brain trauma is vastly different from an eating disorder, I think there are some similarities. I'll post in more elaboration later.

Here's a paragraph about the importance of continuing to try:

"Most important I had to be willing to try. The try is everything. The try is me saying to my brain, hey, I value this connection and I want it to happen. I may have to try, try, and try again with no results for a thousand times before I get even an inkling of a result, but if I don't try, it may never happen."

Succession of a nut

Some days, I'm feeling like a nut.


The nut was once whole, naive, and innocent


The nut falls, becomes halved, missing a piece.


It continues to halve, leaving more pieces.


The pieces stand on their own.


The nuts leave shells where they once were.


And then, there is only one shell left.

Will the nut ever regain itself to become whole once again?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Events of the next month

I haven't given much of an update about what's coming up in the next month or so. It's actually a fairly busy time both personally and work wise, and there will be a lot to get done.

* My therapy appt. is next Monday. I'm already nervous about seeing Therapist C. after such a long time. Plus, I hate to admit it, but I worry about being "fat." :sigh:

* In 2 1/2 weeks, I'll be running my second marathon in New York. I'm excited but have anxiety over not performing well. My goal is to lower my time from my last marathon in May and to perhaps remember the race better. I hear at this marathon, there is actually champagne at the end of the race. Too bad, I don't drink.

* In 2 weeks, I'll be visiting my parents. This always causes me anxiety, especially because I am so afraid they are going to set up some kind of intervention thing. I would not put it past my father. After all, I've heard he's even written e-mails to Dr. Phil about me. And no, it has nothing to do with any eating disorder.

* In 2 1/2 weeks, I'll also be getting my hair cut. Some of you may remember me posting about my hair and identity issues. It won't be drastic but a lot shorter for me. I'm hoping it will give my hair some more "bounce" and trim all those pesky split ends.

* In mid-October, I'll be attending a large dog conference. I'll be part of the "staff" there which is a lot of work but rewarding. I've been to this conference 4 other times, but it still intimidates the heck out of me. Plus, I never do well with food while I'm there. My goal is to try to challenge myself to eat more while there.

These are all big events for me, so I'm going to have to figure out a way to cope with all the stimulation and not get stressed out to the point of standstill. Hopefully, I'll have a place to relax, breathe, visualize, and cry if need be.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Project Runway and NY Fashion Week

Okay, I admit, I watch Project Runway. I'm not exactly sure why, other than as a child, I wished I was 5'10 and could have been a model in a different life. Unfortunately or fortunately depending on how I'm feeling that day, that did not happen for me. Instead, I only reached a mere 5'1 1/2 (on a good day) with an absolutely different body shape--one of athleticism and musculature. A body I'm trying to learn, accept, and appreciate.

Still though, I watch the show. I think it's the creative aspect I enjoy. Plus, I find anyone who can sew amazing. I just can't imagine putting together those pieces so fast.
However, the funny thing is that I'd probably never buy most of the pieces featured on the show or during fashion week.

I'm kind of confused this season since NY Fashion Week was last week, and there are still 6 contestants left. According to this salon article, the 6 contestants showed their collections at Bryant Park. My guess is only that the top three or four will actually be shown on television, and there will be a few elimination challenges left. I guess that's the nice thing about the ability to edit. Still though, that kind of leaves the fun "live" aspect out of it, as well as Bryant park being the pinnacle, ultimate reward for the best designers. So any guesses on who is going to win?

On a side note, this is an interesting piece about NY Fashion Week and asking whether it is the economics of the fashion industry that perpetuate models to stay skinny. By the way, apparently, there was some applause because models were not size zero, just a barely size 2 and 4. Oh how curvaceous can we be?



Web based CBT versus face-to-face CBT

In a recent article from Psych Central, there is a new study underway assessing web based CBT )Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) versus face-to-face CBT for the treatment of bulimia. The principal investigators of this study are Cynthia Bulik, a well known researcher and head of the eating disorder program at UNC Chapel Hill and Marsha Marcus, professor and chief of the Center for Overcoming Problem Eating at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, part of the University of Pittsburgh. Half the study participants will be at UNC, while the other half in Pittsburgh. Through randomization, half will receive 20 face-to-face group therapy sessions, while the other half will receive web based CBT. The web based CBT (CBT4BN) will have traditional, manual based CBT online as well as weekly online chat sessions, moderated by experienced therapists.

The goals of the study are to compare the effectiveness of CBT4BN to traditional CBT in reducing bulimia and if the attrition rate (rate of dropout) will decrease. Follow-ups after the study has ended will be at 3, 6, and 12 months. The hope is that if the CBT4BN is effective, it will allow individuals who do not have access or have difficulties with standard CBT to receive treatment.

I believe this study is still recruiting, so if you're interested, it may be worthwhile.
More information here.


Monday, September 15, 2008

Declare yourself

I don't talk much about politics much on this blog and never will, however this ad featuring Jessica Alba with tape over her mouth and body, (like some bad porno bondage picture) and in tears, leaves me quite unsettled. The ad is for "Declare yourself,"a national, non-partisan, non-profit organization to encourage young people to vote.



In general, I think their premise is a good one--to increase youth registration and help them realize they have a voice in the upcoming election. After all, the youth vote is more difficult to achieve and there seems to be a specific type of catering to get the word out--anything from myspace to facebook to celebrities. In some ways, it seems kind of sad that we need all these external applications to understand the value of something as simple as voting.

:sigh: Maybe I'm just sensitive, old school, or just tired that everything has to be shock value in order for the masses to get the message.

By the way, the other images on the website are more toned down, I'm just using this one as an example.




Sunday, September 14, 2008

Oh the things my dogs put up with

These are some photos from this week. A mantis came flying in, and well, I took the grand opportunity to take some photos with my dogs. You have to admit, they really put up with my antics sometimes. These photos came out fairly good despite the hassling of both the mantis and dogs. It was a bit difficult to get all to cooperate, but in the end, everyone was a good sport, including the mantis. :grin:


The mantis



Hank hanging in there with the mantis on his head



Hank really hoping that he doesn't have to hold his head up much longer.



Daphne with mantis on her neck. Hank's now happy the mantis is off his head.



Daphne wonders how long she really has to stay in this position for this photo, since having an insect on her is quite tickly.



Daphne literally a nose away from the mantis.



Hank and Baxter intently staring at the mantis. This is the shot I wanted all three noses together, but Daphne refused to play along this go around. I can't blame her though. ;-)

Stay tuned for more photos of the Apple Festival.

BEDA

We all know about NEDA, National Eating Disorders Associations, and now, there is BEDA, Binge Eating Disorders Association. According to this pr news release, this new organization specifically caters to those who suffer from BED, providing a community-like environment with information and resources. Goals for the organization include "generating awareness of the disorder and champion for its own designation in the APA's DSM." (currently, it is under EDNOS, needing further research) says Chevese Turner, chief executive officer. Another goal is to "build a bridge between the binge eating disordered community and the obesity community, as so many of our issues are interrelated."

This is possibly a good thing since BED is one of those disorders on the radar but not yet recognized completely. This would allow for awareness and debunking the assumption it's just Compulsive Overeating. In fact, according to this study, BED was more prevalent than either anorexia or bulimia. This would conclude that there does seem to be a need for treatment and resources. Currently, the most popular forms of treatment are cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy and medications.

I don't know enough about BED to make a lengthy post, but it'll be interesting in the next few years whether BED will become an official disorder in the DSM-V. I know there has also been consideration for purging disorder as well.










Thursday, September 11, 2008

Your emotional age

Emotional Age. This is something I've always been curious about. People will say they are 50 but feel like they are 30 or vice versa. However, with those who have struggled with eating disorders, I've heard different things.

For example, I've heard people say that you are stuck at the emotional age in which your ED began. They say that through recovery, you have to play catch up from that age to your current chronological age.

I can see where this notion might come about, especially from those who theorize that a cause of an eating disorder is about escaping or fearing adulthood and responsibility. Or even from the social aspect of life since an eating disorder often has a tendency to isolate. Some people I've known have said that the ED socially "stunted" them, and they've had to relearn things at an older age where their peers have already dealt with it. This was especially evident of those people I knew who developed an eating disorder early in their adolescent years.

For some reason, even though logically, I can see this theory, I don't feel it. I hardly think or feel like I am 15 or 16 years old which is when the ED developed. Far from that really. Heck, even at that age, I was way ahead of my peers in maturity.

I don't know what kind of "emotional age" I'd label myself. I doubt it really matters to be honest. However, I do think the idea of emotional and physical age is interesting whether ED'd or non-ED'd. I've certainly known people who were 25 but acted like they were 12.

I'm interested if people understand what I'm talking about or if this makes no sense at all. Maybe someone can enlighten me or clarify for me.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Eating disorder exhibit

I've always found visuals quite interesting and powerful in explaining people's thoughts and feelings.. Visuals have the ability to convey stories that are often times unspoken but shared by many. It's a useful outlet in providing the public and those close to us information on the inner struggles that many of us have felt and deal with on a continuous basis.

I remember reading about the exhibit "Eating Disorders in a Disordered Culture" in 2001 and thinking what a wonderful way to combine personal, historical, and public awareness to eating disorders. At the time, it was really the first of its kind on a large scale (billboards, exhibits, big displays) that I'd seen be so upfront about the startling facts of eating disorders.

Then today, I was reading through news articles and I came across this exhibit by Joy Christiansen Erb, a photographer and installation artist. Joy uses a mixed media of photography, embroidery, text, and objects like furniture in her artwork. In her "Family Gatherings," "Furniture Series," and "Hidden Secrets" artwork, she takes viewers on an inside journey through eating disorders, emphasizing the "elephant in the room" mentality and family intricacies.


image: Joy Christiansen Erb

I have not seen this exhibit in person, but it looks fascinating. I think the fact that it is interactive makes it all the more effective. There's just something about pulling out a drawer, opening a cabinet, trying to fit into a too small space that is quite powerful in showing not only the "secrecy" of eating disorders, but also the perspectives of individuals suffering or who have suffered. I encourage you to look through th ewebsite at the images. I think many of you will find them interesting. Joy does take the exhibit on tour, so if you're interested, it might be a good exhibit for a campus or an EDAW-related event.

Here's one reviewer's opinion of the exhibit.


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Therapy call

A week or so ago, I mentioned To therapy or not. Yes, I have decided to go back, now I just had to make the call. I find calls like this to any professional very nerve-racking, at least initially. It's silly, all they ask is an appointment time, your name, phone number, reason why you want to be seen, etc. It's nothing earth shattering or explicit details (at least they shouldn't anyway).

So, shaking like a leaf and all, I called Therapist C. at the end of last week. I was secretly hoping to get her answering machine, but to no avail, she answered. I told her who I was, and she was very surprised. I don't know whether it was the fact that it was me or that I had somehow "found" her. She did ask that. Heck, she is on the web, it's not that hard. Plus, she's on my insurance list, and I've read a few pieces here and there about her over the years. She also asked if I'd seen Therapist A., the one who was too lackadaisical in her approach. I told her yes and that we just didn't mesh well and left it at that.

As we scheduled the appt. which is two weeks away, she reminded me of the fact that if it was about eating issues, her words were, "well, I'm not any better now than I was when you last saw me." This is the interesting part, at least to me anyway. I found myself saying, "I'm not completely recovered or anything, but I am better--more stable. I didn't want to work on eating issues as much as other stuff that I needed to address." She seemed to be okay with that. And I understand what she was saying--that there are other experts in that field which she could refer me to. But the thing is I chose her. I knew her expertise wasn't eating disorders, but because of the relationship I had with her.

After I said my statement about being better, I had one of those self-reflection moments of asking myself if I really was. Was I only justifying this to her, so she wouldn't be concerned and still see me? Logically, I really do know I am better behavior wise. When Therapist C. first saw me almost ten years ago (I saw her for three years), I was such a mess--depressed as ever, restricting, purging, overexercising, and just stressed to the max. So anything seems better than that. Still though, I have a tendency to be afraid to say when I'm better or happier or anything like that. It's like this fear of jinxing it--that once said, poof, it'll be gone in an instant, and I'll be left back at square one.

I guess I'm just feeling like this is pseudo-recovery right now, like it's not truly real, that I'm just a moment or step away from a relapse. That some traumatic, awful event will send me over the edge.

can of worms cartoons, can of worms cartoon, can of worms picture, can of worms pictures, can of worms image, can of worms images, can of worms illustration, can of worms illustrations But then again, maybe I'm just afraid of opening a huge can of worms again in therapy?

Monday, September 8, 2008

National Invisible Illness Awareness Week

Today kicks off National Invisible Illness Awareness week. It's an important week, recognizing everyone who has dealt and continues to deal with invisible illnesses. The illnesses scope in range, including eating disorders, migraines, chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, other mental illnesses, lupus, cancer, neurological disorders, lyme disease, thyroid disorders to name just a few. Any of these invisible illnesses have the ability to debilitate an individual's quality of life. Just because symptoms are not always prevalent on the outside doesn't mean the illness isn't real. I think for most people they just want validation and support. This includes not only from friends and family, but also professionals. An understanding ear can go a long way.

One website which I think is excellent is: But you don't look sick. The founder, Christine Miserandino, who suffers from lupus, created the site to give an outlet to those with invisible illnesses. The site is full of articles, essays, reviews, forums, and much more. For many, it has provided helpful information and support in feeling less alone.

A favorite on the site is Christine's Spoon Theory. If you haven't read it, it is well worth the read. I think it is applicable to many illnesses, including eating disorders. It reminds of spoons lost in my life and how I want to use the spoons I have left.

Christine is also going to be featured on blog talk radio today at 12 PM EST to kick off the week.



Sunday, September 7, 2008

"House"

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/images/ency/fullsize/1097.jpg
image: National Library Medicine

Normally, I don't talk about ethics much on this blog, but occasionally I find something that makes me ponder and want to know how others feel/think. So I guess I'm just putting this disclaimer that this post is about ethics and it's your choice to read or not. And if commenting, please be considerate.

**********

The USA Network is running a "House" marathon this weekend. This is a show I like but often don't watch since it conflicts with another program. That, and I rarely ever watch much of the Fox station. Occasionally, I watch a few episodes of "American Idol," but that's about it.

Although I like House, his sarcastic, dry wit, and think Hugh Laurie does a great job in the role, I'm not sure I could actually stand him as a doctor. The one thing going for him is that he is an excellent diagnostician. That's a good thing, because his bedside manner sucks. I'm sure if this was a real hospital (and there's bound to be a few in the US--egos and all), I'd probably be like one of his assistants in always worrying about getting fired or not doing the right thing. But if I was really dying or needed an answer, I do think I would maximize the situation and want him as a doctor.

Anyway, yesterday, I caught most of an episode from the first season, titled "Control." In this show, Carly, a 30+ year old comes in with what looks like paralysis of the left leg and pain in her right quadricep. She undergoes an angiogram for any clots as well as a virtual scope for colon cancer. During the second angiogram (the first one got botched), Carly's lungs fill with fluid which must be drained. Later, House examines her leg while she's sleeping and sees marks on her thigh, implicating she is a cutter. I'm not sure how he went from cutting to eating disorder and that she needed a new heart. Somehow that jump was made in his mind despite the fact that tests suggesting she had congestive heart failure had not come back yet. Of course, that's House for you.

Now, House, knowing she needs an immediate heart transplant and figuring out she has an eating disorder, must decide what to tell the committee. He sees Carly first, exchanging the details of the facts he knows about her. The ipecac syrup she had been using destroyed her heart and caused muscle damage. Then he says how he has an emergency meeting with the committee to rank how high in need her case is. Normally, her case would be ranked high since she has little time to live. However, due to her psychiatric history, the eating disorder can be an exclusionary factor, much like a suicide risk or substance/chemical dependency case.

I can't remember the exact dialogue between House and Carly, but one essential issue Carly felt was whether she was worth it or not. Really, House wanted to know whether she wanted to live. At the end, Carly said she didn't want to die.

House, then lied to the committe saying she had no exclusionary criteria for an immediate heart trasnplant. He fought hard for her and she got the heart. After the transplant, he visited her and basically told her not to screw it up. And then talks about how she would be on a strict diet and hands her some chicken or something. Okay, that wasa bit ironic, but I could see the point being made.

So, I think this episode brings up some interesting ethical type questions. If you were in the same situation as Carly, ie, needing an organ transplant due to your eating disorder, how would you feel? Would you feel worthy of a transplant or that you should even be considered or ranked high? Would you want your Dr. to be proactive for you and perhaps lie to the committee? How would you feel if your Dr. was truthful about the eating disorder, and you were ranked low on the list for an organ transplant? Would you then feel like you were not worth saving? Or, if you did receive an organ, would it be enough for you to adhere towards recovery?

I'm not sure how I'd feel honestly. If I knew someone was "ranked" the same as me, had a congenital heart defect, and there was only one heart...well, I'd feel that that person should get the heart over me. I'm not sure if I'd feel it was more of a worthiness issue or rather a fair issue. After all, some people wait months and years to receive an organ which is in high demand. And unfortunately, some die waiting.

On the flip side to this, if I did receive a heart over someone else, would I feel guilty?

I also wonder if eating disorders were looked at as more on a biological basis, thus taking out the assumed idea of "choice" which most people believe, would the exclusionary criteria be different? I know suicide and other psychiatric illnesses not being treated are also on the exclusionary list, as well as your lifestyle choices, like smoking and alcohol. BMI is also considered with those over 40 or 100 pounds overweight not recommended for transplant unless brought down to BMI of 30. Other factors are considered as well in terms of health and psychosocial aspects with some criteria recently broadened like age, having cancer, and other illnesses. I should note that any organ transplant case is looked at on an individual basis by each transplant/treatment team, so these guidelines are only suggestions.

Anyway, I just thought this was an interesting case and makes you realize the importance of well...your organs and how eating disorders can affect them. Personally, I do not know of anyone who has had to have an organ transplant due to their eating disorder (sadly, my feeling is that their organs might shut down before organ donation would be considered or they would have already passed away), though I have heard of people having organs like their gall bladder removed due to malnutrition. The point being is that this could happen. Maybe for some, it would be the impetus for change and recovery, while for others maybe not. But in the end, why do we even really want to take that chance?

Heart transplant criteria broadened
Transcript of show "Control"

Saturday, September 6, 2008

More photos

The first two photos are peaches on my peach tree in my backyard. Unfortunately, I'm not a huge peach fan. I did pick some, made a simple syrup and froze them. I figure if I ever have a desire to make a peach cobbler or preserves, it'll at least be there.








This is just a bird feather I saw lying around.





This is a catalpa (catawba) tree. In the spring, it blooms these fragrant white flowers with large heart -shaped leaves. The leaves are eaten by the catalpa caterpillars which actually make excellent fish bait. In the fall and winter, the tree produces these green bean-like stalks which store seeds. The only bad thing is that these stalks dry up and turn brown, and half the time, I mistaken them for snakes!




Here is a small white, hairy caterpillar. He was very active, wiggling all over the place.



Lastly, I just happen to see this critter. My guess is it is a type of praying mantis. He was quite the character, climbing the fence and hopping everywhere. I actually had him on my arm, but those photos came out blurry due to the close distance.






Argiope Aurantia--otherwise known as the yellow garden spider

A few weeks ago, I posted some random pictures. I've been trying to take various photos during the week of things I see. Most are animals, nature, and landscapes since I live in the country, but it's really just whatever pleases me at the time. Photographing on a weekly basis helps remind me that there is a lot of beautiful stuff out there which is in a way a form of therapy for me.

Although I already posted a picture of this yellow garden spider, I'm devoting a post to her. Now, I am not a spider fan by any means, but I find a few things quite interesting. First, I'm super amazed she has stayed in one place for over two weeks. Unfortunately, her location is not in the greatest spot. I try really hard not to ruin her web, but she continues to remake it. It's always there every morning, so figure she can't be that mad at me, or otherwise, she'd completely leave. Secondly, I've been able to get really close to her. Now, with this type of spider, it is harmless. A black widow or brown recluse, I'd be running the other direction. Both can give some nasty bites.




Here is a picture of the male spider. At the time, I did not realize it was the male, as it is so much smaller than the female. I saw him for a few days, and then he vanished. I'm honestly thinking that maybe she mated with him and then ate him. Ahh, the cycle of nature.



The next three photos are the spider making her web. The first one is her ventral side. If you look closely, you can see her making the silk. And yes, I was pretty darn close. The second and third are her forming her webs. I was really glad that I was able to get some photos of her webs this time. Doesn't she look larger to you?









And lastly, I think I'm going to give her a name. I'm thinking she looks like an Elvira. Any other suggestions?


Thursday, September 4, 2008

Is there harm in telling parents their children's weight?

I read this article today, published in Pediatrics about how there was little harm in telling parents their children were overweight. The article was from a survey in the UK looking at the National Child Measurement Program in which parents are told their children's weight upon request. While it may be true that a small percentage of parents and children were not upset about their weight feedback, I still question the repercussions of the children.

The study says that 96% of the children (ages 6-7 years and ages 10-11 years) said being weighed was "okay" or enjoyable and about the same percentage said they would be measured again in a year. Of those, 10% of healthy weight and overweight children did not like being weighed. 15% of healthy and overweight children did not want to be measured again in a year. And most of the ones who responded negatively were older which would be about right at the beginning of puberty for some.

The article also says that there was only a slight increase in restriction of food by parents of overweight girls, but that it wasn't apparent that parents were becoming overly vigilant about their eating habits after feedback.

There's a lot missing in this survey. Even if about half of the parents of overweight children changed their dietary and physical habits after feedback was given of their children's weight, there is no indication of how they did this, how they told their children, and whether it was merely to be "healthier" or to just lose weight. I think these are all important questions to ask. There's a lot to be said for how parents and other professionals talk to someone about weight. And I think with children, the utmost of care ought to be given with little emphasis on BMI or a number on a scale.