Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tenacious G and the Vacationing Memory Cells

Memory is a strange thing.

The other day, I decided to visit my 87-year-old mother earlier than usualwe get together every Sundaybecause her assisted-living facility was having a vintage car show with live music and food, and I wanted to get a parking space. They fill up quickly when there's a family event.
Mom poses by a vintage car.

I knocked on her apartment door and she answered, surprised to see me at 11:30 a.m. instead of our usual after-lunch meeting time. I reminded her that there was a car show downstairs. I came early so I didn't have to park way down the road from her facility.

"Oh!" she said. "Well that makes sense. But I have to go down to the dining room for lunch before we attend the party."

"Okay," I replied. "I'll wait here until you're finished, then we can attend the party together." She agreed and left for the downstairs dining room.

I sat on her bed and played card games on my iPhone and lost track of the time. I suddenly realized that more than an hour had gone by. The music outside was so loud that it filtered into the room. I decided to go downstairs to see what had become of my mother.

When I walked outside, I saw her dancing in the street with her geriatric friends. I watched for a while and realized that the dining room was probably closed and she had gone outside, eaten picnic food and forgotten I was in her apartment. After the music stopped, I walked over to her and asked if she remembered I was waiting upstairs.
The bell choir in action. Mom is in the middle.

"Oh!" she said, "I forgot about that!" So we walked around looking at all the old cars and I took her picture next to a few of them. The band started up again, but Mom opted to sit in the shade with me until the Big Show. Just as she used to come see me in school productions when I was growing up, I now see her in assisted-living productions.

As 2 p.m. rolled around, the activities director called her bell choir together and my mom took her seat in two rows of chairs that had been set up for them. The bell choir rocked to songs like "Good Old Summertime" and there was also a number where they all played the kazoo. Everyone was snapping pictures and the choir clearly enjoyed being the center of attention.

I found myself quietly chuckling. Whatever possessed me to wait in her room for an hour when they were serving picnic food outside? I had passed the outdoor grills as I walked inside. Was she the one with the bad memory or was it me?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Toe Wars

Or, My Left Foot (the Horror Story)

Last summer, I made the mistake of taking a discount cruise on the Walmart of the Seas. Well, okay, the ship was actually named the Explorer of the Seas, but when we got aboard we were horrified to see that it was populated by the People of Walmart. Unfortunately, the most lasting souvenir I picked up on that tropical cruise was a foot rash.

My unsuspecting toes enjoying a relaxing moment by the pool.
I've never had a foot rash before, so I guess I just assumed, like most rashes, it would eventually fade away. Several months later, it was still camped out on the toes of my left foot. So in the early fall, I dragged myself in to see the doctor, who gave me a prescription for MUPIROCIN 2%. This was an antibacterial cream. There was only one problem with that. I did not have foot bacteria; I had a foot fungus. So after a month of using this cream with no results, disgusted, I called my homeopath. By now, the rash was such a familiar feature on my left foot that I named it Melvin. It was a dysfunctional relationship; I wanted Melvin out of my life.

I'd never had a rash last so long, so it made me feel old and depressed. Why was Melvin making my life so miserable? What did I ever do to deserve this scourge on my left foot?

Winter was closing in as I spoke with my homeopath of 25-plus years. She is perhaps one of the most brilliant human beings on this planet and has never let me down, regardless of my niddling complaints. We spoke by Skype and she said the cause of any continuous rash was twofold. My body was not fighting it well and the topical eruption also needed to be addressed. It had to be battled inside and out. She gave me a constitutional remedy to bolster my immune system and diminish any tendencies toward yeast and other internal infections. Then she recommended I use Dr. Hauschka's organic Neem oil on the rash.
This ship's painting turned out to be a depiction of my foot rash.

In Chinese medicine, the belief is that the longer a cure takes, the better it is. So I try to be patient when using natural remedies. A few months later, I observed that the natural remedies shrank the rash considerably, but did not get rid of it. Instead of applying Neem oil once a day, I decided to apply it morning and evening and the rash actually disappeared. Unfortunately, thrilled it was gone, I stopped treating it with Neem oil and a week later Melvin was back.

As winter turned to spring, I decided to do some research of my own to see if there was something I could do in addition to my current Neem oil regimen that would tip the scales and chase Melvin out of town.

First the inside: To further boost my immune system, I began juicing vegetables every morning. This had the added benefit of making me feel more energetic. Next, the rash: I tried a variation of a remedy that appeared over and over in my research. People with skin problems often convalesced near the ocean to bathe in seawater with very positive effects. However, I could not afford to spend a month by the sea. Instead, I reasoned, why not soak my left foot for a half hour every morning in Epsom salts? It was also recommended that after your foot was soaked that you dry it with a hair dryer to make sure the skin was not damp. After that, I added the Neem oil.

So I did this for one week. Something I didn't realizealthough I should have since it is clearly stated on all packages of Epsom saltsis that it is a natural laxative. After one very uncomfortable week, I had to stop soaking my foot. However, during that unpleasant period, something magical happened. My foot rash disappeared!

That was two weeks ago. I am still coating my toes every morning and evening in Neem oil, but have not seen a sign of Melvin since then and I believe he finally hit the road.

Thus, ends my cautionary tale of Walmart cruises, bare feet and fungal co-dependence. May you never suffer the same.