Tag Archives: Wellness

Naturally Adjusted: Treating Neck Pain (Part 1)

Part I: The Problem

My neck has been bothersome for a very long time… decades really.  Goodness knows why I never really did anything about it. I just got used to being stiff or sore and having tight shoulders.  Yoga always helped.  I just explained away the occasional tingles in my fingers as a result of my bag being too heavy.

After I fell in March of 2013, my neck issues became significantly worse.  I had so many other things to worry about, like how to get my mouth put back together, I couldn’t handle that too.  I just figured with yoga and time, it would improve.  It always did before.  Not this time.  By March of this year, it caused me so much pain and discomfort, I could barely stand it. It would start in the left side of my neck and radiate up to my temple and down my shoulder.  Sometimes, I even felt it in my fingers.  Desperate for some relief, I found a chiropractor who took my health insurance.

My first appointment was an eye-opener.  My new chiropractor spent about an hour and 20 minutes with me.  I was impressed by how thorough he was. He asked me a lot of questions about and in addition to the paperwork I filled out.  He observed my standing and sitting posture.  He weighed me to see if I put more weight on one foot than the other (I do…10 pounds.)  He checked the sensitivity on both sides of my body and compared one side to the other.  He checked my spinal alignment and flexibility.  He took several X-rays of my neck.  He had been cracking jokes and telling stories while he worked but when he saw the X-rays, he looked concerned and grew quiet.

He didn’t want to give me a full diagnosis until after he got my MRI from the hospital but he showed me the X-ray and pointed at three of my vertebrae.  “You see how jagged those three are compared to the others?”  I did.  He went on to explain that he never saw that much damage in someone as young as I was and it couldn’t have been caused by just the fall.  Since he mentioned it, I remembered older injuries: a car accident at 17.  A cyst had been removed from my neck as baby.  Oh yeah, I had been born with a broken collar bone!

My first adjustment was subtle.  He wanted to do a full work-up before he put a treatment plan together for me but it was obvious I was suffering.  He wanted me to be more comfortable.  I can’t say that first appointment or even the first several were like a miracle fix.  I had a lot of damage and it was going to take some time to reverse.  I felt enough of a shift though that I knew I was on the right track.

The MRI revealed a bulging disc and two herniated discs.  One of the hernias even had its own little hernia.  The discs were pressing on the surrounding nerves, creating the radiating pain, intermittent numbness and tingling. The X-ray had, as mentioned, shown the three degenerated vertebrae.  Essentially, I have spinal arthritis due to injury.  The overall functionality of my neck was at about 65%.  Suffice it to say, my neck was (pardon my French) fucked up!  Luckily, I do have a knack for finding very confident, competent practitioners. My chiropractor felt certain he could get me back up to 90-95% functionality and relieve the pain.

To be continued….

Many blessings,

 

Cynthia

Please follow me on Twitter.  Also, please LIKE my Facebook Page.

justdragonfly

Naturally Balanced: Halfway Check-in and Knowing When to Take Five

Fifteen blog posts in fifteen days! That is not bad at all. I am going to call this the half-way mark even though the month has 31 days in it. I figure it is the closest you can get without going over.

Curious thing started to set in the last couple of days: fatigue. Fatigue and injury are probably the only two legitimate reasons to stop or slow down when you are up against a challenge or establishing a new practice. Thankfully, I am only dealing with fatigue.

Fatigue and I are no strangers. I have mentioned in earlier blog entries that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) was a big part of why I became interested in learning about health and wellness. One of the things I have learned how to do; is pay attention to what is going on with my body, mind and spirit, to determine whether when I start feeling resistant, if I merely being lazy or if I am truly fatigued.

When we got let out of work a little early yesterday, my first thought was, “great, I can get started on my writing tonight then instead of tomorrow. My immediate bodily reaction to that thought was dread and a profound heaviness. Now to be clear, I am not tired of writing. I still currently have a lot of ideas jotted down. However the very thought of doing it yesterday just overwhelmed me. I knew then it was time to take a time out and relax for the evening.

Writing is a sedentary activity. So, the idea that it can be exhausting at all in a way sounds ridiculous but that’s actually why it can be exhausting. Sitting, as I wrote about in Naturally Fit: Keep It Moving… So, You CAN Keep It Moving!, for prolonged periods of time is terrible for the body! I have been doing a lot of sitting lately at work and at home. Additionally, I think probably what has been really getting to me is staring at a computer screen every day for hours on end between my job and increased writing practice.

Years ago, I might have been tempted to push through and not lose the extra time. I don’t do that anymore. More importantly, there was no reason to be so aggressive with myself. I was already on track; I didn’t need to get ahead.

I think we are far too willing to sacrifice our health and well-being here in the United States in order to gain approval or money or whatever it is that we think will make us somehow better in that moment. Sometimes, you need to take advantage of moments to rest and recharge yourself. Usually, when you do, you come back to your project or practice with renewed vigor and fresh insight that you wouldn’t have had if you just kept toiling, toiling, toiling… toiling!

Do you take care of yourself when you feel weary or do you constantly push yourself beyond the point of exhaustion, even when you don’t have to? Please leave me a reply in the comments section and let me know.

Many Blessings,

 

Cynthia

lease follow me on Twitter.  Also, please LIKE my Facebook Page.

justdragonfly

Unnatural Necessity: Making the Daily Commute Delightful!

Delightful Commuting? Okay, that may always be a bit of stretch but there are ways to make the daily crawl better. Trust me, I’m an expert! I’ve been driving on average three hours a day, five days a week for two years and 10 months. The first year really sucked but I have learned a few tips and tricks that I will now pass onto you.

Tip #1: Be prepared

Shit happens sometimes. When you have over 30 miles to cover each way like I do, you’re going to be late from time to time. I live on an island. So, when there’s an accident (or two or three) you just sit at a total standstill for a half hour, utterly trapped. However, if you’re already running late when you encounter a mess like that… you’re going to be massively late and you don’t want that to happen. So, make sure you are out the door in enough time to reasonably make it to work.

Tip #2: Get as much as you can done before you leave

This is something I just learned recently. The morning is when you will have the most energy. If you are like me and spend easily half the day at work or going to and from it, you’re going to be tired at night. I usually come home, shower, eat dinner, relax a little and go to sleep. Exercise is not going to happen at night for me. I would also recommend that you do something every day that makes you happy before you leave. So, you’ll have something to smile about on your way to work.

Tip #3 Make your nose happy

I am a fan of aromatherapy. I have an arsenal of essential oils that I use daily on me, around me and sometimes in me. I diffuse scent in my car as well as my home. You can too. All it takes is a little diffuser that you can plug into your car’s cigarette lighter socket. I can change the scent in the car to suit my mood (or improve it.) Stuck in traffic, I might go with lavender. If I feel sluggish, I might reach for grapefruit or peppermint. Peppermint, by the way, is really great for motion sickness!

Tip #4 Make your ears happy

I used to listen to news throughout my whole commute. Big mistake! I often felt crabby and irritable or sad by the time I got to work, about all the miserable things being reported that I felt helpless to change. Now, I mostly listen to audiobooks. A long commute is a great time to indulge in your favorite genre, finally “read” the classics you never seem to get to or take time for self-improvement. Of course, there is always music. Just make sure you’re paying attention and not playing a big air guitar or dashboard drum solo!

Tip#5 Stretch when you get out of the car

When you are stuck, seated, in your car for a long time, you tend to want to jump out of the car and run into your destination. Try slowly making your way out of your vehicle. Stretch your legs and rotate your feet before standing. Then stretch your arms overhead, shifting your weight to both sides and stretching up from center. Rotate your shoulders. Twist from side to side. Have you ever noticed your dog or cat doing this when they have been curled up for a while? It’s natural for them. Try it. You’ll like it!

Tip #6 Change up your route from time to time

Familiarity breeds contempt. Taking the same route five days a week, every week, year after year, can feel relentless, repetitive… boring! Change it up sometimes. Every once in a while, I’ll go a little out of my way and drive home along the water. Seeing the water always makes me happy. Instead of stopping for gas when you get home, pull off the parkway where the traffic backs up and get it early. You’ll get a little break and ensure you won’t leave it off until tomorrow because you were too tired when you got home. Also, it’s good for your brain! (More on this in another post.)

I hope you found some of these tips helpful. What do you do to make your commute bearable? Please leave a reply in the comments section. I would love to hear from you!

Blessings to all,

 

Cynthia

Please follow me on Twitter.  Also, please LIKE my Facebook Page.

justdragonfly

Being (a) Patient: Patience Rewarded

Today- two years, one month and eight days after I fell, I reached a milestone in my dental reconstruction.  My dental implants have been implanted and my periodontist said they look beautiful!  I saw the x-ray and I have to agree (even though the local is wearing off and my mouth is throbbing with pain.  Don’t worry; I can handle it!)

Have I mentioned my periodontist before?  I had consults with six different periodontists.  SIX!  Only two felt confident that they could do what I wanted.  I wanted all separate teeth, to keep my own teeth and to avoid pink porcelain.  It seems reasonable enough, right?  It would have been if I hadn’t lost bone in my upper jaw when my right front tooth was knocked out.

The first periodontist I went to, tried to tell me my only option was an eight tooth bridge.  After I finished crying, I set out to find someone who could give me what I needed and I did find him.  Although, there are never any guarantees when bone grafts are involved, my periodontist believed it would be possible to restore the missing bone enough to place two side-by-side implants, giving me the separate teeth I wanted.  He delivered on that today.

It’s been a loooooong process.  I had to have a tooth super-erupted through orthodontics.  That took around six months.  Then I received a socket graft. That needed to heal for three months.  I had to have a frenectomy.  That needed to heal for about six weeks. Then I had the BIG bone graft!  That healed for six months.  Today, I took a giant leap forward toward having a beautiful smile again!

Whether I am able to dodge the  pink porcelain remains to be seen.  So far though, so good!  I’m so grateful!

Many blessings to all,

Cynthia

Please follow me on Twitter.  Also, please LIKE my Facebook Page.

justdragonfly

Being (a) Patient: Progress Isn’t Always Pretty!

Five days from now,  I will go to my uber-talented prosthodontic clinician who will once again rebuild my much abused flipper.

What’s a flipper?  A flipper is a dental prosthesis that simulates teeth that are missing.  It’s used by damaged people like me and pint-sized beauty queens  who are in between their baby teeth and adult teeth.

I have not been able to wear my flipper for over a month, due to a complication with the augmentation bone graft, I had done in  September to restore the bone I lost when I fell.  Originally, my periodontist cut my flipper back to keep it away from the graft.  However, it was still cutting off the circulation to my gum.  So, I had to lose it to ensure the best possible result.

I have mixed feelings about wearing it again.  Physically, I am more comfortable without it.  It tastes like plastic.  It presses against my gum and hard palate all day.  It makes me gag.  It make me cough.  It makes me angry.  It reminds me to hold the handrail on stairs.  Emotionally though, it makes me feel safe.  It makes me feel like maybe people will think I just have adult braces.  It makes me feel less… vulnerable.  I don’t like to feel vulnerable.

I keep my top lip pulled down when talking to people.  When I laugh or even smile, my hand flies up to cover the gap left behind by my two missing front teeth.  I’ve realized since this has happened that a toothy grin can compensate for more than just physical insecurities though.  When you can’t flash a smile, tilt your head and toss your hair, your personality flaws become glaringly obvious.  When it comes to conversation, I’m not an artist.

I think, perhaps, writers are writers because it gives us a chance to express what we would have liked to have said in any given moment, if only we could have thought of it at the time.  If only…

I am determined to learn from this experience and be better for having gone through it.  I don’t know exactly what that looks like yet.  Habits form over decades; not all at once.  Change doesn’t happen all at once.  I hope that by the time this is all over that I can look back and see that I have taken one step at a time in the right direction.

Love and Many blessings to All,

Cynthia

justdragonfly

Naturally Fit: Keep It Moving… So, You CAN Keep It Moving!

“Get up off that thang!  And make yourself feel better!”  Okay, I know the lyric is really “…shake ‘til you feel better.”  Either way, studies are proving that James Brown had it right.  Sitting is BAD for you! And I mean bad; not, you know, like bad means good.  Sitting apparently is awful for you.

Just do a Google search on “sitting is bad” and everyone from Huff Post to ABC to the Washington Post etc. will tell you all about it.  Sitting has even been called, “the new smoking.” I heard about it on Leonard Lopate.  The gist is you need to move! We are not built to spend nine hours a day in front of a computer or tv.  When we sit around, we’re not burning fat and our circulation gets sluggish.  This creates all sorts of problems that can shorten our lives, like obesity, metabolic disorders, cardiovascular disease, increased blood pressure, high cholesterol levels etc. etc., etc.!

“Cynthia, I go to the gym 5 days a work. This isn’t a problem for me,” you say. Congrats on the commitment you’ve made to exercise.  Unfortunately, it’s not enough.  Prolonged daily sitting is still risky even if you do exercise regularly. When we sit our muscles get stiff and shorten and circulation slows down.  One hour of daily exercise isn’t going to compensate for 9 to 13 hours of being sedentary.

“I can’t quit my job or make my commute shorter, Cynthia! What am I supposed to do?” Oh, don’t I know it!  You CAN move your muscles every 15 minutes or so. Make it a habit to get up and walk around. Go for a lap around the block or just around the building.  Can’t spare the time? Walk to the bathroom and back.  Can’t get away from office at all? Just get up, stretch, walk in place… stand, just stand up and wiggle a little! The point is to move your body.

I found a few videos on youtube.com that I’ve found helpful to keep moving at work. They take just a couple of minutes. Here’s one to check out by Denise Austin. She has a bunch of these targeting different parts of the body.

Denise Austin Total Body Toning Office Workout

The benefits are not just physical either. Getting up and moving is also helpful for mental capacity. People who make the effort to move throughout the day have reported feeling more creative and having greater mental clarity. And that should make everyone at work happy!

How do you keep it moving at work? I would love to hear from you.

Love and Blessings to All,

 

Cynthia

 

Please follow me on Twitter.  Also, please LIKE my Facebook Page.

justdragonfly

 

What is a Quick, Easy, Natural Way to Chase the Blahs Away?

What is the quickest easiest way to chase the blahs away?  Buy new underwear!

I am not kidding.  Go look at your underwear drawer right now.  Pull out at least three pairs of panties that are ready for retirement.  Go ahead, I’ll wait… It’ll only take two seconds if you are anything like I used to be.

I have a confession to make.   I was something of an underwear hoarder.  My drawer was filled to the brim with old underpants.  If they didn’t fall off when I put them on, they were keepers.  Then one day while I was folding the laundry, I noticed the sorry, motley lot of undies that had been covering my tushy (Never know whether I am spelling that correctly,) in some cases for more than a decade.  Yikes!

You found more than three; didn’t you?  Why do we do this?  Why do we hold onto things that are ripped, frayed, old and faded?  Think about this for a minute.  Your underwear is the first item of clothing you put on every morning.  Look at the three pathetic has-beens you just pulled out of your dresser; is that really how you want to start your day?   Do you feel confident going out into the world with those on!?!  Please throw them out right now and go pick up new ones in the next 24 hours.  Don’t tell me you can’t afford it.  If you can read this blog right now, you can afford to treat yourself to some new underwear.

I am not talking about anything fancy.  They don’t have to be silk, satin, mink (please don’t buy mink!) or certainly not diamond-encrusted, but for Goodness’ sake, they better not have a safety-pin holding them together either!  (Yep, you know who you are!) Do yourself a favor; toss those three pairs right now and go buy yourself three, new, all-cotton panties… briefs, bikinis…whatever makes you happy but dammit they should be cute!  And you should feel cute when you put them on in the morning.

On a naturally healthy note, all cotton is a really good idea. Synthetic fabrics can be irritating to delicate skin. It’s also important to keep it breezy down there.  Cotton allows for more airflow and less moisture.  Moisture can lead to infections and unpleasant odor.  That’s not cute!

Okay, you have your orders, now go!  You’ll be glad you did.

Love and Blessings to All,

Cynthia

Please follow me on Twitter.  Also, please LIKE my Facebook Page.

justdragonfly

What is The Best Protein Shake? The One You Make Yourself!

I am not generally a fan of processed foods.  There is nothing natural about cookies that have a two year shelf life or a freeze-dried shake with ingredients almost no one can pronounce.  If you want to look good, feel good and perform optimally then I believe a varied, whole foods diet is the way to go.  However, there are times when you might need a little assistance from something comes in a plastic container.

I have been dealing with one of these situations on and off since I fell.  While my jaw was wired shut, I lived on protein shakes and soup.  More recently, I had braces put on which when combined with my flipper (a retainer with a fake tooth on it) makes eating solid food on my lunch hour a bit daunting.  So, I am back on liquids and very soft (i.e. easy to remove foods) during the day.

For a while, I was regularly picking up Nearly Naked Protein Drinks, thinking they were among the better options on the market.  I noticed that I was feeling really bloated and couldn’t understand why.  Then one day, I read the label and was surprised to learn that these shakes had WHEY, as well as, soy protein in them.  Ugh, no wonder why!  Then I went on a quest to find a vegan, organic ready-made protein shake.  There are a few but they are not always that easy to find and I wasn’t convinced ready-made was even the way to go.  When was it made?  How long had it sat on the shelf?…on the truck?… at the factory???

I decided to go back to making my own.  Although, I do use protein powder sometimes for the sake of convenience (other times I will blend down tofu or throw in some vegan yogurt,) I like having control over the freshness of the other ingredients.  Quite frankly, I think they taste a lot better because you can use fresh fruit, real vanilla bean or your favorite dark chocolate.  Also, you can put it in a reusable container.  So, that is kinder to Mama Earth.  And if you use a glass container (I like Ball Jars ’cause they’re neat!) it is kinder to you because you don’t have to worry about plastic contamination.  It is also kinder to your wallet.  I can make something twice the size of the Nearly Naked Shake I was buying for far less than half the price.

Protein shake

My country-inspired protein shake.

So, next time you find yourself reaching for a pricey protein shake, why not reach for your blender instead?  All you need is a banana, a glass of almond milk, a scoop of protein powder (or half a package of tofu,) maybe a lil pure vanilla extract and then just shake shake shake…

What do you like to blend up?  I would love to hear from you.

Love and blessings to all.

Cynthia

Please follow me on Twitter.  Also, please LIKE my Facebook Page.

justdragonfly

Naturally Beautiful: What does it mean?

This one is not so easy for me…

A week or so ago a video of Dustin Hoffmann went viral in which he described his experience of being perceived as a woman while prepping for his role in Tootsie.  It was very moving because he broke down when he realized that he couldn’t look as beautiful as he wanted to.  He realized that, as a woman, he would be passed over based on his appearance, despite being an interesting and worthwhile person in so many ways.  He realized that he, himself, had done that to many women who did not meet his physical requirements of beauty.

I found this particularly moving because I‘ve been struggling somewhat with my appearance since my top eight front teeth were damaged in March.  A friend of mine inquired about my “love life” recently, I sort of snorted and replied, “Hahahhaha, it would take a very special or very un-special man to look past my banged up grill.”

The funny part about all this is I am not a fussy gal.  Before this happened, you were just as likely to see me in sweats and no make-up, as you were to see me done up.  I’ve never been a perfect specimen but I was pretty and had learned over the years that I cleaned up well when I wanted to.  I just didn’t worry about it.  Now I do.  I am much more careful about putting myself together because I don’t feel like myself without my smile.  I wear a decent appliance that covers my missing front tooth but when I start to smile, I can feel my top lip getting close to the top edge of the device and I quickly yank it back down.  It really sucks being this self-conscious all the time.  And before I had the appliance, I did notice a difference in the way people reacted toward me.

I do know one special guy who never makes me feel self-conscious about the way I look, my dad.  A few weeks ago, he had to have a tooth pulled.  My dad is a handsome guy but he had a completely different attitude about it.  He made pirate noises and seemed to get a kick out of flashing his space at my mother.  He started referring to himself as Big Gap and me as Little Gap.  “You call that a gap, Cindy.  That’s not a gap.  This is a real gap!” He even convinced me to take this photo.  No small feat.  It is the first one since I fell.

Big Gap and Little Gap

I am not sure I can be as laid-back about my damaged teeth as Dad is, but this dental reconstruction is going to be a long haul and the final result is not guaranteed.  Soon I will have to wear braces for the first time in my life.  So, I realize it would be a good idea to figure how to handle the situation with grace and humor.  Maybe that is the most natural beauty you can acquire.  I haven’t got it all figured out yet but I am so grateful that I have Dad to light the way for me.

Love and blessings to all,

Cynthia

Please follow me on Twitter.   Also, please LIKE my Facebook Page.

justdragonfly

Back on The Mat: Inspiration for everyone!

I have a confession to make: as much as I love yoga and have gained many benefits from it over the years, my practice has been well…spotty.  Some months I have practiced every day; other years I have averaged once a month.  I’ve always been perplexed by my own faltering commitment, given how much better my life works when I do it.

Instead of devoting any more time to figure it out, back in January I decided to just have a daily practice again.  Then one day when I was tired and busy, I wanted to skip.  Like magic Arthur Boorman showed up in my life to inspire me.  You can bet after I watched this video, I got my ass on that mat:

Click here to watch Arthur’s video right now! You will be inspired!

I practiced every day after that until I fell.  I found I really missed yoga during my convalescence. I found myself thinking about Arthur Boorman and what he had achieved quite often.  I realized that if he could accomplish what he has, then I would not allow my injuries to become future excuses to avoid a daily practice.  So, I am pleased to report that I am now back on the mat again every day and it feels great!

Jack Canfield, mentioned in a lecture I was listening to earlier this week that, “it takes about 30 days of intensive focus to move a new habit or belief into your life.”  Similarly, (…and on the same day…freaky!) I saw another youtube video that Diamond Dallas Page put up, featuring a man named Slim.

Click here to watch Slim’s Video

Slim and his wife Laura started a website called http://www.thenextfortydays.com to share Slim’s experience. They explain their idea like this:

“The Next Forty Days is an idea. It is a notion that everyone can take a step, however small, to make life just a little bit better. The process is simple – define a goal, make a sacrifice, stay encouraged and enjoy a victory.  This is an opportunity for you to do something you’ve always said you would. It’s a chance to start making better food decisions. Maybe it’s finally time to quit smoking. Even in reading these words, something may have already come into your mind. Whatever the goal, The Next Forty Days will help you get there.  Is there any better time than right now? A year from now, you’ll wish you’d started today. The Next Forty Days is the beginning of the rest of your life. So decide a goal, take the pledge and make life better!”

I hope you have found Arthur’s and Slim’s stories to be as inspirational as I have.  Would you like to transform your life?  What habit or belief are you ready to establish?  Can you commit to practice it for the next 30 to 40 days to make it happen?  I would love to hear from you!

Love and Blessings to all,

Cynthia

Please follow me on Twitter.  Also, please LIKE my Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/naturallyhealthyhappy